0812-20 NY Times Crossword 12 Aug 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Adesina O. Koiki
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Ohio Players

Themed answers each start with a PLAYER on an OHIO sports team:

  • 60A Chart-topping 1970s R&B/funk band suggested by the starts of 17-, 26-, 39- and 50-Across : OHIO PLAYERS
  • 17A Animal accompanying Pi in “Life of Pi” : BENGAL TIGER (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • 26A Cousin of an apple cobbler : BROWN BETTY (Cleveland Browns)
  • 39A U.S. flag, with “the” : RED, WHITE AND BLUE (Cincinnati Reds)
  • 50A Biryani or vindaloo : INDIAN FOOD (Cleveland Indians)

Bill’s time: 6m 11s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Emotional low point : NADIR

The nadir is the direction pointing immediately below a particular location (through to the other side of the Earth for example). The opposite direction, that pointing immediately above, is called the zenith. We use the terms “nadir” and “zenith” figuratively to mean the low and high points in a person’s fortunes.

6 Weasellike animal with dark fur : SABLE

Sables are small mammals, about two feet long, that are found right across northern Europe and northern Asia. The sable’s black pelt is highly prized in the fur trade. Sable is unique among furs in that it feels smooth no matter which direction it is stroked.

11 H.S. students applying to college, typically : SRS

Senior (sr.)

15 At full speed, at sea : AMAIN

“Amain” is an old term meaning “at great speed” or “of great strength”.

17 Animal accompanying Pi in “Life of Pi” : BENGAL TIGER (Cincinnati Bengals)

The Bengal tiger is the most populous subspecies of tiger in the world, yet it is still in danger of extinction. There are estimated to be under 2,500 individual Bengal tigers on the planet, with most in India and Bangladesh. The Bengal tiger is the national animal of both countries.

The 2012 movie “Life of Pi” is based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Yann Martel. The “Pi” in the title is an Indian boy named Pi Patel who finds himself adrift for 227 days in a small boat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

The NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals team was founded in 1966 as a member of the American Football League (AFL). There was an earlier team called the Bengals in the city that played from 1937 to 1941. That team used the “Bengal” name because Cincinnati Zoo was home to a very rare Bengal tiger.

20 Basketball Hall-of-Famer Baylor : ELGIN

Elgin Baylor is a retired NBA player and a former NBA general manager. Baylor spent 22 years as GM for the LA Clippers.

23 Auto safety feature preventing skidding, for short : ABS

The first anti-lock braking system (ABS) was developed for use on aircraft, in 1929. The system reduced braking distances for aircraft by 30% because pilots were able to apply a full braking force immediately on landing instead of applying gradual pressure to avoid skidding.

26 Cousin of an apple cobbler : BROWN BETTY (Cleveland Browns)

Brown Betty is a simple dessert made from apples (usually) with sweetened crumbs on top, and then baked.

The dessert called “cobbler” originated in colonial America when settlers invented it as a substitute for suet pudding as they didn’t have the necessary ingredients to make the more traditional dish. Instead, they stewed fruit and covered it with a layer of uncooked scones or biscuits, creating a surface that resembled a “cobbled” street, hence the name.

The Cleveland Browns football team was a charter member of the All-American Football Conference, formed in 1946. Cleveland is the only NFL city that has never hosted nor sent a team to the Super Bowl. And, the Browns are the only NFL team without a logo on their helmets.

32 Stiletto, e.g. : HEEL

The stiletto knife was developed in Italy, and is a knife intended for thrusting and stabbing as opposed to slashing and cutting. The term “stiletto” comes from the Latin “stilus”, which was a thin pointed writing instrument used in ancient Rome to engrave wax or clay tablets. And, there are also stiletto heels on some women’s shoes, heels that are long and thin.

33 ___ Heep, “David Copperfield” antagonist : URIAH

Uriah Heep is a sniveling and insincere character in the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. The character is such a “yes man” that today, if we know someone who behaves the same way, then we might call that person a “Uriah Heep”.

39 U.S. flag, with “the” : RED, WHITE AND BLUE (Cincinnati Reds)

Legend has it that Betsy Ross made the first American flag for General George Washington. However, this story only surfaced during the centennial celebrations of 1876, and although Betsy Ross was indeed one of several flag makers in Philadelphia in the days of George Washington, sadly there’s no definitive evidence that Ross provided that first Stars and Stripes.

The Red Scare (i.e. anti-communist sentiment) following WWII had such an effect on the populace that it even caused the Cincinnati baseball team to change its name from the Reds. The team was called the Cincinnati Redlegs from 1953-1958, as the management was fearful of losing money due to public distrust of any association with “Reds”.

44 Rome’s ___ Appia : VIA

The Appian Way has to be the most famous of the amazing roads of ancient Rome. It stretched from Rome right into the south of Italy, terminating in the city of Brindisi in the southeast. The first section of the military road was completed in 312 BC, by the Roman censor called Appius Claudius Caecus, who gave the road its name “Via Appia”, or “Appian Way”.

46 The Thunderbirds are in it, for short : USAF

The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the USAF, based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron grew out of the 3600th Air Demonstration Team founded in 1953, and flew their first exhibition in June of that year. I visited the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs some time back(what an impressive campus it is!). Every year at graduation, the Thunderbird jets fly over the academy’s commencement, gathering precisely at the moment when the graduating cadets throw their hats in the air.

48 “Dr.” of 1960s TV : KILDARE

Dr. Kildare started out as the main character in a series of films in the thirties and forties. He then became the central persona in a fifties radio show, and a very successful sixties television drama starring Richard Chamberlain in the title role.

50 Biryani or vindaloo : INDIAN FOOD (Cleveland Indians)

Biryani is a mixed rice dish found on the menu in many Indian restaurants.

Vindaloo is a very spicy Indian curry dish, and one of my favorites. The dish’s name comes from the Portuguese dish “Carne de vinha d’alhos”, which translates as “meat with wine and garlic”. Vindaloo originated in the Indian state of Goa, which was once a Portuguese province.

The Cleveland baseball franchise started out in 1869 as the Forest Citys, named after Forest City, the nickname for Cleveland. After a number of transitions, in 1914 the team took on the name “Indians”. The media came up with the name “Indians” after being asked for suggestions by the team owners. “Indians” was inspired by the successful Boston team of the day, the Boston Braves.

54 Pizzeria owner in “Do the Right Thing” : SAL

“Do the Right Thing” is a Spike Lee movie that was released in 1989. Much of the action in the film is centered on a local pizzeria called “Sal’s” owned by Italian-American Salvatore Frangione (played by Danny Aiello).

55 Medicare section that covers X-rays : PART B

Medicare is divided into four parts:

  • A: Hospital Insurance
  • B: Medical Insurance
  • C: Medicare Advantage Plans
  • D: Prescription Drug Plans

56 “Mr.” of 1960s TV : SPOCK

Mr. Spock was the first to show us the Vulcan mind meld, on the original “Star Trek” series. Vulcans have the ability to meld with the minds of other Vulcans, and indeed humans, in order to see what’s “going on” in the other individual’s mind.

66 ___ Na Na : SHA

Do you remember the band “Johnny Casino & The Gamblers” in the movie “Grease”? That was actually the real-world group named Sha Na Na. Johnny Casino & the Gamblers sang “Those Magic Changes” at the high school dance, in between “Rock’N Roll Is Here to Stay” and “Hound Dog”. Sha Na Na got together in the sixties, hosted the variety show “Sha Na Na” from 1977 to 1981, and are still performing today.

67 Something typically found on a spine : TITLE

In the US, the convention is to write the title on the spine of a book from top-to-bottom. In most of Europe, the convention is to write the title from bottom-to-top. We have a lot of books in the “library” in our house from both sides of the Atlantic, and so there is much moving of the head from left to right as we glance along our bookshelves.

68 Opening shot in billiards : BREAK

The name of the game billiards comes from the French word “billiard” that originally described the wooden cue stick. The Old French “bille” translates as “stick of wood”.

70 Gird (oneself) : STEEL

The phrase “gird your loins” dates back to ancient Rome. The expression describes the action of lifting “one’s skirts” and tying them between the legs to allow more freedom of movement before going into battle. Nowadays, “gird your loins” (or sometimes just “gird yourself”) is a metaphor for “prepare yourself for the worst”.

Down

2 Pub order : ALE

The many, many different styles of beer can generally be sorted into two groups: ales and lagers. Ales are fermented at relatively warm temperatures for relatively short periods of time, and use top-fermenting yeasts, i.e. yeasts that float on top of the beer as it ferments. Lagers ferment at relatively low temperatures and for relatively long periods of time. Lagers use bottom-fermenting yeasts, i.e. yeasts that fall to the bottom of the beer as it ferments.

3 Mafia big : DON

Apparently, “Cosa Nostra” is the real name for the Italian Mafia. “Cosa Nostra” translates as “our thing” or “this thing of ours”. The term first became public in the US when the FBI managed to turn several members of the American Mafia. The Italian authorities established that “Cosa Nostra” was also used in Sicily when they penetrated the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s. The term “Mafia” seems to be just a literary invention that has become popular with the public.

4 “Picnic” dramatist William : INGE

During his career, dramatist William Inge was known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”, as many of his works were set in the American heartland and explored small town life. When Inge was 60 years old, he committed suicide by poisoning himself with carbon monoxide. He was buried in his hometown of Independence, Kansas. Inge’s grave is marked with a headstone that reads simply “Playwright”.

Playwright William Inge had a run of success on Broadway in the early fifties. Inge’s most celebrated work of that time is the play “Picnic”, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. The original 1953 cast of “Picnic” included a young male actor making his debut on Broadway. His name was Paul Newman. Many of Inge’s works are set in the American heartland and so he became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.

6 Genre for David and Amy Sedaris : SATIRE

David Sedaris is a humorist and author from Binghamton, New York who grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is one of my wife’s favorite authors so we attended an event where Sedaris read some of his works a few years back. He was very, very entertaining. David’s sister is actress and comedienne Amy Sedaris who plays the lead in the Comedy Central series “Strangers with Candy”.

The actress, author and comedian Amy Sedaris plays a character called Jerri Blank on the television series “Strangers with Candy”. Amy is the younger sister of the humorist and author David Sedaris.

7 ___ acid : AMINO

Amino acids are essential to life in many ways, not least of which is their use as the building blocks of proteins. Nine amino acids are considered “essential” for humans. These nine must be included in the diet as they cannot be synthesized in the body.

11 Iconic 1971 blaxploitation film : SHAFT

“Blaxploitation” is a subgenre of the “exploitation” class of movies, films that make money by exploiting a genre of subject matter. Such films tend to be labelled “B movies”. “Blaxploitation” films were targeted at urban African American audiences, hence the name. One movie associated with the emergence of blaxploitation is the classic 1971 production “Shaft”.

12 Reference book next to Webster : ROGET

Peter Mark Roget was an English lexicographer. Roget was an avid maker of lists, apparently using the routine of list-making to combat depression, a condition he endured for most of his life. He published his famous thesaurus in 1852, with revisions and expansions being made years later by his son, and then in turn by his grandson.

Not only is Noah Webster’s name inextricably linked with his series of dictionaries, but he is also renowned as an advocate for English spelling reform. He argued that “traditional” English is hard to learn, and that it should be simplified and standardized (instead of “standardised”). He published spelling books that were used in schools, and from edition to edition he changed the spelling of words in order to simplify the language. Examples are the use of “s” over “c” in words like “defense” (in Ireland we have defence and defense depending on usage), “-re” became “-er” as in center instead of centre (reversing the influence of French), and he dropped one of the Ls in words like traveler (I learned “traveller”). Mind you, he also spelled “tongue” as “tung”, but he didn’t get very far with that one.

18 Pride Month initials : LGBT

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)

The police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn on June 29th, 1969. That raid triggered a spate of violent demonstrations led by the LGBT community. Now known as the Stonewall riots, those demonstrations are viewed by many as a significant event leading to the modern-day fight for LGBT rights in the US. Since then, June has been chosen as LGBT Pride Month in recognition of the Stonewall riots.

23 Competitor of Lexus and Infiniti : ACURA

Acura is the luxury brand of the Honda Motor Company. As an aside, Infiniti is the equivalent luxury brand for the Nissan Motor Company, and Lexus is the more luxurious version of Toyota’s models.

25 Electric ___ (dance) : SLIDE

The Electric Slide is a line dance that purportedly dates back to 1976. It’s a dance often associated with the 1983 song “Electric Boogie” performed by Marcia Griffiths.

28 Like some lights : NEON

The basic design of neon lighting was first demonstrated at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Such lighting is made up of glass tubes containing a vacuum into which has been introduced a small amount of neon gas. When a voltage is applied between two electrodes inside the tube, the neon gas “glows” and gives off the familiar light.

36 Nom de plume : ALIAS

“Nom de plume” translates from French simply as “pen name”.

37 Jazz great with an Egyptian-sounding name : SUN RA

“Sun Ra” was the stage name of jazz composer and performer Herman Blount. Sun Ra was a bit “out there”, and claimed that he wasn’t from Earth, but rather was of the Angel Race from the planet Saturn.

38 ___ One (vodka brand) : KETEL

Ketel One is a brand of vodka from the Netherlands. The vodka is distilled from wheat in copper pot stills, and “ketel” is Dutch for “pot still, kettle”.

40 The fourth one was “terrible” : IVAN

The Grand Prince of Moscow, and first Tsar of Russia, Ivan IV became known as “Ivan the Terrible”. The name “terrible” is a translation from Russian, and perhaps creates the wrong impression about the man. The Russian word is “Grozny”, which is more akin to “strict” and “powerful” rather than “cruel” or “abominable”.

42 Certain internet option, for short : DSL

The initialism “DSL” originally stood for Digital Subscriber Loop, but is now accepted to mean (Asymmetric) Digital Subscriber Line. DSL is a technology that allows Internet service to be delivered down the same telephone line as voice service, by separating the two into different frequency signals.

47 Wooden shoes : SABOTS

There is a story that disgruntled textile workers would kick their wooden shoes, called “sabots”, into the looms in order to disable them so that they didn’t have to work. This act of vandalism was named for the shoe, an act of … “sabotage”.

48 Longtime “Nightline” anchor Ted : KOPPEL

Broadcast journalist Ted Koppel is most associated with his long run as anchor for the “Nightline” program on ABC. Koppel was actually born in England, to a Jewish family that had fled from Germany. He emigrated with his family to the US when he was 13 years old. Koppel is great friends with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who was a frequent guest on his television show.

51 “What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? ___ cheese!” (dad joke) : NACHO

The dish known as “nachos” was supposedly created by the maître d’ at a restaurant called the Victory Club in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. The name of the maître d’ was Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya.

I tell dad jokes all the time, just to annoy the kids …

  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down!
  • If you see a robbery at an Apple Store does that make you an iWitness?
  • A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Is the bar tender here?”
  • Two guys walk into a bar, the third one ducks.
  • What’s the best part about living in Switzerland? I don’t know, but the flag is a big plus.

53 “___ Mio” : O SOLE

“O sole mio” is a famous Italian song from Naples, written in 1898. The song’s lyrics are usually sung in the original Neapolitan, as opposed to Italian. The title translates from Neapolitan into “My Sun” (and not into “O, My Sun” as one might expect). It’s a love song, sung by a young man declaring that there is a sun brighter than that in the sky, the sun that is his lover’s face. Awww …

57 Metered vehicles : CABS

A hansom cab is a very specific design of horse and buggy that was patented by Joseph Hansom in 1834 in England. The “cab” in the name is short for “cabriolet”, an earlier design of carriage on which the hansom was based. It’s from “hansom cab” that we get our modern term “cab”.

62 Suffix with Manhattan or Brooklyn : -ITE

The island we know as Manhattan was inhabited by the Lenape Indians when the first Europeans explorers arrived in the area. According to the logbook of one of the officers on explorer Henry Hudson’s yacht, the island was called “Manna-hata” in the local language, from which the modern name derives.

The New York City borough of Brooklyn has the same boundaries as Kings County, which is the most populous county in the state of New York.

64 Chinese zodiac animal of 2020 : RAT

The Chinese Zodiac is a scheme that relates each year to the attributes of a particular animal in a 12-year cycle. So, the Chinese Zodiac has one sign for each of twelve years, whereas the Western Zodiac has one sign for each of the twelve months.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Emotional low point : NADIR
6 Weasellike animal with dark fur : SABLE
11 H.S. students applying to college, typically : SRS
14 Solely : ALONE
15 At full speed, at sea : AMAIN
16 Stolen : HOT
17 Animal accompanying Pi in “Life of Pi” : BENGAL TIGER (Cincinnati Bengals)
19 Give it ___ : A GO
20 Basketball Hall-of-Famer Baylor : ELGIN
21 Basis of a negotiation : OFFER
23 Auto safety feature preventing skidding, for short : ABS
26 Cousin of an apple cobbler : BROWN BETTY (Cleveland Browns)
29 Advanced photocopier instruction : COLLATE
32 Stiletto, e.g. : HEEL
33 ___ Heep, “David Copperfield” antagonist : URIAH
34 Overly : TOO
35 Job to do : TASK
39 U.S. flag, with “the” : RED, WHITE AND BLUE (Cincinnati Reds)
43 Summer drink endings : -ADES
44 Rome’s ___ Appia : VIA
45 Peter, Paul or Mary : SAINT
46 The Thunderbirds are in it, for short : USAF
48 “Dr.” of 1960s TV : KILDARE
50 Biryani or vindaloo : INDIAN FOOD (Cleveland Indians)
54 Pizzeria owner in “Do the Right Thing” : SAL
55 Medicare section that covers X-rays : PART B
56 “Mr.” of 1960s TV : SPOCK
59 Tiptop : ACE
60 Chart-topping 1970s R&B/funk band suggested by the starts of 17-, 26-, 39- and 50-Across : OHIO PLAYERS
66 ___ Na Na : SHA
67 Something typically found on a spine : TITLE
68 Opening shot in billiards : BREAK
69 Golf course purchase : SOD
70 Gird (oneself) : STEEL
71 Full of curses, say : SALTY

Down

1 Catch in the act : NAB
2 Pub order : ALE
3 Mafia big : DON
4 “Picnic” dramatist William : INGE
5 Unimagined? : REAL
6 Genre for David and Amy Sedaris : SATIRE
7 ___ acid : AMINO
8 Word with sleeping or punching : … BAG
9 Don’t believe it! : LIE
10 Dress in vestments : ENROBE
11 Iconic 1971 blaxploitation film : SHAFT
12 Reference book next to Webster : ROGET
13 Tale : STORY
18 Pride Month initials : LGBT
22 Had regrets : FELT BAD
23 Competitor of Lexus and Infiniti : ACURA
24 Doodling away, maybe : BORED
25 Electric ___ (dance) : SLIDE
27 “What just happened here …?!” : WHOA …!
28 Like some lights : NEON
30 What might help right a wrong : LAWSUIT
31 “That feels so-o-o good!” : AHH!
34 China is its largest exporter : TEA
36 Nom de plume : ALIAS
37 Jazz great with an Egyptian-sounding name : SUN RA
38 ___ One (vodka brand) : KETEL
40 The fourth one was “terrible” : IVAN
41 Petty quarrel : TIFF
42 Certain internet option, for short : DSL
47 Wooden shoes : SABOTS
48 Longtime “Nightline” anchor Ted : KOPPEL
49 Teen ___ : IDOL
50 “Not for me, thanks” : I PASS
51 “What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? ___ cheese!” (dad joke) : NACHO
52 Horrible fear : DREAD
53 “___ Mio” : O SOLE
57 Metered vehicles : CABS
58 Actress Sedgwick : KYRA
61 Super success : HIT
62 Suffix with Manhattan or Brooklyn : -ITE
63 Twisty fish : EEL
64 Chinese zodiac animal of 2020 : RAT
65 The limit, they say : SKY

17 thoughts on “0812-20 NY Times Crossword 12 Aug 20, Wednesday”

  1. 9:55. I’m always the last of you early risers to post so I wanted to be first today…uhh…tonight. Nice theme. I’m a big sports fan, but it went over my head until I was finished. Then I noticed it.

    SUN RA is Egyptian sounding? How am I supposed to know that?

    Duncan – Indeed – try the vermicelli bowls. I lived up in The Woodlands and moved out here to Las Vegas about 3 years ago after Hurricane Harvey dumped 51 inches of water into my house. That’s not the reason I moved out here, but it did speed up the decision making process.

    Best –

  2. 8:05 After finishing and looking at the reveal, the theme made sense, but was not a factor in solving. Seems like a bit easy for a Weds. for me – according to the NYT stats tracker, this is my fastest Weds. in the 3 months I’ve been using the app. Guess it all just fell into place today.

  3. 7 seconds quicker than yesterday. 11:51, no errors. When will I remember KYRA uses a “y” in her name? I see it often and I always goof it up. Had grandkids swarming me as I did this. On to the NT Times Spelling Bee…

  4. 9:01, I saw the theme, but it wasn’t until reading Fearless Leader’s blog that I connected “Red, White and Blue” with the Cincinnati Reds, the rest of them made sense. Agree with Ron F., easy for a Wednesday…no complaints.

  5. 31:30 no errors but it was for some reason almost a DNF on a Wednesday even though most of you found it easy…old age I guess…Am I the only one who thought that 51D was a little “cheesy”?
    Stay safe😀

  6. Why are you advertising Skincell on your site . I could be wrong but everyone is saying it’s a big scam. I almost bought it because though you wouldn’t allow that.

    1. Wade – Bill doesn’t control what ads pop up on his site. Consult Mr. Google as to why that is showing up on your device. It’s usually based on your browsing history. I suggest browsing Victoria Secret catalogs online. It leads to much nicer pop ups….

      Best –

  7. No errors. Very easy for a Wednesday. The theme entirely eluded me. I had never heard of the R&B band nor could I piece together what the sports team names had in common. Enjoyed Bill’s sampling of dad jokes.

  8. I get the puzzle about a month after the syndication date. When I google “syndicated puzzle 0812-20” on 9/16/2020 I get this page. There are no ads that I can see.

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