0731-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Jul 20, Friday

Constructed by: Claire Rimkus & Erik Agard
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 9m 53s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Ball in a gym, maybe : PROM

A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them “formals” over in Ireland). The term “prom” is short for “promenade”, the name given to a type of dance or ball.

5 More than buds : BFFS

Best friend forever (BFF)

9 Country whose name is believed to come from ancient Greek for “honey-sweet” : MALTA

The island state of Malta is relatively small (122 square miles), but its large number of inhabitants makes it one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. Malta’s strategic location has made it a prized possession for the conquering empires of the world. Most recently it was part of the British Empire and was an important fleet headquarters. Malta played a crucial role for the Allies during WWII as it was located very close to the Axis shipping lanes in the Mediterranean. The Siege of Malta lasted from 1940 to 1942, a prolonged attack by the Italians and Germans on the RAF and Royal Navy, and the people of Malta. When the siege was lifted, King George VI awarded the George Cross to the people of Malta collectively in recognition of their heroism and devotion to the Allied cause. The George Cross can still be seen on the Maltese flag, even though Britain granted Malta independence in 1964.

15 Superhero in “The Incredibles” : ELASTIGIRL

“The Incredibles” is a 2004 animated feature from Pixar, and not a great movie if you ask me. But asking me probably isn’t a good idea, as the film won two Oscars …

17 Sports org. headquartered in Indianapolis : NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) dates back to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. When his son broke his nose playing football at Harvard, President Roosevelt turned his attention to the number of serious injuries and even deaths occurring in college sports. He instigated meetings between the major educational institutions, leading to the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) in 1906, which was given the remit of regulating college sports. The IAAUS became the NCAA in 1910. The NCAA has been headquartered in Indianapolis since 1999.

21 Ram sign : ARIES

Aries the Ram is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries you would know that! “Aries” is the Latin word for “ram”.

22 Director Lee : ANG

Taiwanese director Ang Lee sure has directed a mixed bag of films, mixed in terms of genre but not in terms of quality. He was at the helm for such classics as “Sense & Sensibility” (my personal favorite), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hulk”, “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi”.

24 Columbia athlete : LION

Columbia University is an Ivy League school in New York City. Columbia’s athletic teams are called the Lions, which is thought to be a reference to the lion on the English coat of arms. Prior to the American Revolution, Columbia was called King’s College as it was chartered by King George II in 1754.

25 “The Color Purple” protagonist : CELIE

Whoopi Goldberg played Celie Harris Johnson in Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple”, the 1985 screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by Alice Walker.

28 Org. for good drivers : PGA

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) was founded in 1916 and today has its headquarters (unsurprisingly) in Florida, where so many golfers live. Back in 1916, the PGA was based in New York City.

33 1980s-’90s series set in California : LA LAW

“L.A. Law” ran on NBC from 1986 to 1994, and was one of the network’s most successful drama series. It took over from the equally successful “Hill Street Blues” in the Thursday night 10 p.m. slot until, after a six-year run, it was itself replaced by yet another respected drama, “E.R.” The opening credits showed that famous California licence plate. The plate was on a Jaguar XJ for most of the series, but moved onto a Bentley towards the end of the run. For each series the registration sticker was updated, so no laws were being broken.

39 Trainees known to work notoriously long hours : RESIDENTS

A resident is a physician who has graduated from medical school, and who is receiving specialized graduate training in a hospital. The concept of residency developed in the late 1800s. Back then, the doctors would often “reside” in hospital-provided housing while receiving the training, hence the term “resident”.

41 Med. device regulator : FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its roots in the Division of Chemistry (later “Bureau of Chemistry”) that was part of the US Department of Agriculture. President Theodore Roosevelt gave responsibility for examination of food and drugs to the Bureau of Chemistry with the signing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Bureau’s name was changed to the Food, Drug and Insecticide Organization in 1927, and to the Food and Drug Administration in 1930.

51 Stage for a big star? : RED GIANT

Red giants are very large stars with a relatively low mass. The atmosphere of a red giant is also very inflated and extends a long way into space so the surface of that atmosphere that we see is relatively cool, which gives it a red color. Stars are classified by their spectral characteristics, basically the color of the light they emit. As such, red giants are classified as M stars. Cool red giants are of a color beyond the usual range, and are classified as S stars.

55 Pants, slangily : TROU

“Trou” is short for “trousers”.

The term “pants”, meaning “trousers”, is an abbreviated form of “pantaloons” and first appeared in the 1840s. Pantaloons were a kind of tights named for a silly old male character in Italian comedy named “Pantaloun” who always wore tight trousers over skinny legs.

56 TV host in the World Golf Hall of Fame : DINAH SHORE

Dinah Shore had a lot of success as a singer in the forties and fifties in the Big Band Era, and then in the sixties as a hostess of variety programs on television. Shore was also a big fan of golf, both as a player and a spectator. She founded the Colgate Dinah Shore golf tournament which is now the Kraft Nabisco Championship, one of the four majors on the LPGA Tour.

59 The Forest Service is part of it, in brief : USDA

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dates back to 1862, when it was established by then-president Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln referred to the USDA as the “people’s department” as our economy had such a vast agrarian base back then.

60 Brand with “Classic” and “Wavy” varieties : LAY’S

Lay’s potato chips were introduced in 1938 by Herman W. Lay. Lay started selling his chips out the trunk of his car, travelling all over the US. In those days the chips were pretty much handmade, but Lay put an end to that in 1942. He invented the first continuous potato processor in 1948, and chips started to take over the world!

Down

1 Diplomatic gift from China : PANDA

The phrase “panda diplomacy” is used to describe China’s practice of presenting giant pandas to other countries as diplomatic gifts. One of the more famous examples of panda diplomacy was the presentation of Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing to the US following President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972.

3 Crush something? : ORANGE SODA

The Crush brand of soft drinks was formulated in 1916. The first product was an orange-flavored beverage sold as Ward’s Orange Crush.

4 Feature of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace : MOAT

The Tokyo Imperial Palace is a beautiful estate in the center of Tokyo and is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan and many of his family members. It is a relatively large park-like area, featuring a number of moats and bridges. The palace covers about seven and a half square kilometers of prime real estate in the city. During the Japanese property bubble of the eighties, the palace grounds were believed to have been worth more money than all of the real estate in the state of California!

27 Gymnastics eponym of a double back somersault with three twists : BILES

Simone Biles holds the record for the most gold medals won by an American gymnast in a single Olympic Games. She achieved the feat at the 2016 games held in Rio.

28 Meteor showers? : PLANETARIA

A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body travelling through space. Once in the atmosphere, the meteoroid is referred to as a “meteor” or “shooting star”. Almost all meteoroids burn up, but if one is large enough to survive and reach the ground then we call it a meteorite. The word “meteor” comes from the Greek “meteōros” meaning “high in the air”.

31 Like 50 U.S. senators : HALF

The US Senate comprises 100 senators, with each of the fifty states being represented by two popularly elected senators. US senators were appointed by their state legislators from 1798 through 1913, until the Seventeenth Amendment called for popular elections.

43 Los ___ (city in Silicon Valley) : ALTOS

Los Altos is a wealthy city located not far from here, and is a largely residential community serving Silicon Valley and San Francisco. “Los Altos” is Spanish for “the heights”.

50 Act like a shark, in a way : LEND

Usury used to be the practice of simply lending money at interest, but the term now refers to lending at rates of interest that are excessive.

51 Density symbols : RHOS

Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.

54 Day when the Last Supper is commemorated: Abbr. : THU

Maundy Thursday (also “Holy Thursday”) is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. The celebration commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The exact origins of the name “Maundy” are unclear. The Washing of Feet is a traditional rite performed on the day, with the washing of feet intended to be a sign of humility.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Ball in a gym, maybe : PROM
5 More than buds : BFFS
9 Country whose name is believed to come from ancient Greek for “honey-sweet” : MALTA
14 Prefix with static or dynamic : AERO-
15 Superhero in “The Incredibles” : ELASTIGIRL
17 Sports org. headquartered in Indianapolis : NCAA
18 They’re made up of stacked sheets : LAYER CAKES
19 “Whatever” : DON’T CARE
21 Ram sign : ARIES
22 Director Lee : ANG
23 Whiskey or beer choice : RYE
24 Columbia athlete : LION
25 “The Color Purple” protagonist : CELIE
27 It’s used in a flash : BULB
28 Org. for good drivers : PGA
31 Like some monogrammed towels : HIS AND HIS
33 1980s-’90s series set in California : LA LAW
35 Way to go … or, as two words, lead-in to “way to go” : ALONG
36 ___-pop : ALT
37 Bring down : ABASE
38 Overlook : LEDGE
39 Trainees known to work notoriously long hours : RESIDENTS
41 Med. device regulator : FDA
42 Scrunches up : WADS
44 Some like it hot : CIDER
45 Lead-in to amorous : POLY-
46 One may be cooped up : HEN
47 How-___ : TOS
49 Not sleepy : ALERT
51 Stage for a big star? : RED GIANT
53 “Preach!” : AMEN TO THAT!
55 Pants, slangily : TROU
56 TV host in the World Golf Hall of Fame : DINAH SHORE
57 Life partner : LIMB
58 “The funny thing is …” : ODDLY …
59 The Forest Service is part of it, in brief : USDA
60 Brand with “Classic” and “Wavy” varieties : LAY’S

Down

1 Diplomatic gift from China : PANDA
2 Made peace : RECONCILED
3 Crush something? : ORANGE SODA
4 Feature of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace : MOAT
5 Secured, as a sailor’s rope : BELAYED
6 Signal for help : FLARE
7 Actress Alice of old Hollywood : FAYE
8 Abbr. aptly hidden in COMPASSES : SSE
9 Eyebrow-filling technique : MICROBLADING
10 “What’s that ___?” : AGAIN
11 “What’s that ___?” : LIKE
12 Número atómico of lithium : TRES
13 Hilton ___, Pulitzer-winning critic for The New Yorker : ALS
16 Be behind : TRAIL
20 Beyond awkward : CRINGEWORTHY
24 Groin pulls? : LUSTS
26 A.P. English subj. : LANG
27 Gymnastics eponym of a double back somersault with three twists : BILES
28 Meteor showers? : PLANETARIA
29 Food-filled field : GASTRONOMY
30 Blows away : AWES
31 Like 50 U.S. senators : HALF
32 Indefatigable : HARDY
34 Not yet astir : ABED
40 Cold brew : ICED TEA
43 Los ___ (city in Silicon Valley) : ALTOS
45 ___ code : PENAL
46 In one ear? : HEARD
48 Movie reviewers often trash them : STUBS
49 During : AMID
50 Act like a shark, in a way : LEND
51 Density symbols : RHOS
52 “___ pass” : IT’LL
53 Fuss : ADO
54 Day when the Last Supper is commemorated: Abbr. : THU

18 thoughts on “0731-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Jul 20, Friday”

  1. 28:11 back to reality for me… Q: “lusts” for “groin pulls”… is that implying what I think it is?

  2. 14:13, no errors. I don’t think Margaret Farrar would have approved of “Groin pulls?” for “LUSTS” (even assuming that it means what I think it means … 🤪).

  3. Nope. Just nope. Not on the right wavelength today. 35:51 with a look up. Spent a lot of time staring at the puzzle…and off into space.

  4. 19:53. Left side of this went much faster than the right for some reason.

    MICROBLADING? I guess that’s a big thing now, but I’d never heard of it.

    57A LIMB for “Life partner” ?? Sheeesh.

    Best –

  5. 19:09 Seemed to go slower than it actually did. Just kind of chipped away at it. As with the majority, also puzzled by LUSTS, not to mention crossing it with HISANDHIS??

    1. It is useful to remember, when working on a puzzle from one of the younger setters (like Erik Agard) that (to use a slang term I’ve been seeing recently) they are “woke” and are not above using a bit of social commentary in their puzzles.

  6. This one was a bit distasteful. They force a long misguided word like HIS AND HIS to fit so they can get LUSTS to fit with a clue for “groin pull”?

    Worse yet, the editor let it go? In the words of some of the most overused clues … NOT COOL.

  7. 40:10 with 2 errors…I had his and her

    for 31A…I notice that Bill very tactfully left that one alone…oh well it’s Agard and a partner again so that’s what you get 👎👎👎👎
    Stay safe

  8. Thought I survived an Agard WNE until I checked in here. One error due to a poor review on my part. Might have caught it, maybe not.
    Quite a few “groaners” today. I can guess what some are thinking about groin pull; I just associate pull with “urge.” Anyway….

  9. Wow is all I can say about some of these comments. Lighten up and enjoy life you all. Thank you Erik, Claire and Will for an enjoyable Friday diversion.

  10. 25:13, no errors. Even after reading Bill’s explanation of 28D PLANETARIA, I have to assume: 1) that a planetarium shows meteors; 2) it is, therefore, a ‘meteor shower’; 3) the plural of planetarium is ‘PLANETARIA’; 4) ergo PLANETARIA are “Meteor showers”. Ugh!

  11. I have seen the same three-word comment (that @Tom M is referring to) three or four times now (each time from the same anonymous poster, probably) and Bill has removed it on each previous occasion.

    I don’t understand why Erik Agard sometimes provokes such extreme responses. It’s true that his cluing can be a bit challenging, but that’s not always the case; in fact, this particular puzzle really isn’t all that difficult (perhaps because of collaborator Claire Rimkus, who is a novice constructor).

    As it happens, I’ve been revisiting Agard puzzles that occasion such responses, five weeks after I first do them, and trying to analyze what it is that other posters find so difficult and/or outrageous. Earlier today, I spent two hours on this one without adding much to my understanding..

    (I have speculated that it’s a psychological thing: like, maybe it’s the giant Afro that strikes fear into the hearts of men?) … 😜

    (BTW, my interpretation of “groin pull” was the same as Dave’s. Shame on anyone who interpreted it differently … 😜.)

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