0824-20 NY Times Crossword 24 Aug 20, Monday

Constructed by: David Alfred Bywaters
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Former Lover’s Cross Words

Themed answers are words beginning with the prefix ex- that have been reformatted as two-word phrases starting with the word “Ex” meaning “FORMER LOVER”:

  • 17A Stress between you and your former lover? : EX TENSION
  • 26A Thing your former lover said about you? : EX CLAIM
  • 41A Former lover’s text, e.g.? : EX COMMUNICATION
  • 51A Former lovers’ stances in photos? : EX POSES
  • 66A Current lover who seems suspiciously preoccupied? : EX PENDING

Bill’s time: 4m 44s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 Undercoat of an oil painting : GESSO

“Gesso” is the Italian word for “chalk” and gives its name to the powdered calcium carbonate that is used as a primer coat under artistic panel paintings. Gesso is mixed with glue and applied to wood so that it acts as an absorbent surface for paint.

14 Cabernet, e.g. : WINE

The cabernet sauvignon (often just “cab”) grape has been around since the 17th century, and is the result of a chance crossing in southwestern France of the cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc grapes.

20 “In excelsis ___” : DEO

“Gloria in excelsis Deo” is a Latin hymn, the title of which translates as “Glory to God in the Highest”.

21 One of a pair of Old Testament books with female names : ESTHER

The only books in the Old Testament named for females are “Ruth” and “Esther”.

Esther was a Jewish queen, wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus and the heroine of the Book of Esther in the Bible. By the way, Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn’t mention the word “God”.

24 Canada’s Prince ___ Island : EDWARD

Prince Edward Island (PEI) is a maritime Canadian province. The island at the center of the province was named for Prince Edward, the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria. PEI is the smallest Canadian province, both in terms of land area and population.

32 The Beatles’ “___ Leaving Home” : SHE’S

“She’s Leaving Home” is a 1967 song released by the Beatles on the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. None of the four members of the band play an instrument in this song, and instead the music is played by a small string orchestra. The lyrics are performed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. In fact, George Harrison and Ringo Starr weren’t even in the studio at the time of the recording.

36 “QB VII” author Leon : URIS

“QB VII” is a novel by American author Leon Uris. It is a story about the events leading up to a libel trial in the UK. The title refers to the courtroom in which the trial takes place, i.e. Queen’s Bench, Courtroom Seven.

59 Juneau’s home : ALASKA

Given that it’s the capital of the vast state of Alaska, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that the municipality of Juneau is almost as big as the area of the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. And yet, Juneau only has a population of about 31,000 people!

62 Singer Grande, informally : ARI

Ariana Grande is a singer and actress from Boca Raton, Florida. Grande plays the role of Cat Valentine on the sitcom “Victorious” that aired for four season on Nickelodeon. Grande’s singing career took off with the release of the 2011 album “Victorious: Music from the Hit TV Show”.

69 Panache : ELAN

Our word “élan” was imported from French, in which language the word has a similar meaning to ours, i.e “style, flair”.

Someone exhibiting panache is showing dash and verve, and perhaps has a swagger. “Panache” is a French word used for a plume of feathers, especially one in a hat.

70 Author unknown, for short : ANON

Anonymous (anon.)

72 Things janitors keep on rings : KEYS

A janitor is someone who takes care of the maintenance or cleaning of a building. An older definition of the term is “doorman”. Our word comes from the Latin “ianitor” meaning “doorkeeper”.

Down

1 Neighbor of a Norwegian : SWEDE

The country of Sweden emerged during the Middle Ages, and became one of the great powers of Europe in the days of the Swedish Empire in the 17th and early 18th century. Since then Sweden’s influence has waned. What was the eastern part of Sweden was lost to Russia in the early 1800s, and is now modern-day Finland. In the 20th century Sweden has adopted a very non-aggressive stance and was neutral in both World Wars. Sweden is not a member of NATO, but is a member of the European Union, although the country does not use the euro as its currency.

2 Vetoed : NIXED

The use of “to nix” as a verb, meaning “to shoot down”, dates back to the early 1900s. Before that, “nix” was just a noun meaning “nothing”. “Nix” comes from the German “nichts”, which also means “nothing”.

The verb “veto” comes directly from Latin and means “I forbid”. The term was used by tribunes of ancient Rome to indicate that they opposed measures passed by the Senate.

4 Prop for a golf ball : TEE

The first golf balls had smooth surfaces. The idea of adding dimples grew out of the empirical observation that used balls flew further. These older balls were beaten up and had nicks in the surface. The nicks, and the dimples in a modern ball, create a turbulent layer of air that “sticks” to the surface of the ball, and this sticky layer of turbulent air has less drag as it slices through the rest of the air between the golfer and the ball’s destination.

7 Texter’s transition : OTOH

On the other hand (OTOH)

8 Actress Zellweger : RENEE

Renée Zellweger’s big break came in the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire”. A few years later, Zellweger followed that up with a string of successes in “Bridget Jones’ Diary” (2001), “Chicago” (2002) and “Cold Mountain” (2003). My wife and I love watching her play Bridget Jones, and as someone coming from Britain and Ireland, I have to say that Zellweger does a remarkable job with the accent. She worked hard to perfect that accent, and of course she had a voice coach. She also went “undercover” and worked as a temp in an office for three weeks fine-tuning her skills.

9 Gift of ___ : GAB

Blarney is a town in County Cork in the south of Ireland. Blarney is home to Blarney Castle, and inside the castle is the legendary Blarney Stone. “Kissing the Blarney Stone” is a ritual engaged in by many, many tourists (indeed, I’ve done it myself!), but it’s not a simple process. The stone is embedded in the wall of the castle, and in order to kiss it you have to sit on the edge of the parapet and lean way backwards so that your head is some two feet below your body. There is a staff member there to help you and make sure you don’t fall. The Blarney Stone has been labelled as the world’s most unhygienic tourist attraction! But once you’ve kissed it, supposedly you are endowed with the “gift of the gab”, the ability to talk eloquently and perhaps deceptively without offending. The term “blarney” has come to mean flattering and deceptive talk.

12 Mideast’s ___ Peninsula : SINAI

The Sinai Peninsula is in the eastern part of Egypt, and is a triangular landform bounded by the Mediterranean to the north and the Red Sea to the south. It is the only part of Egypt that lies in Asia as opposed to Africa. The eastern land border of the peninsula is shared with Israel, and Israel occupied the Sinai during the 1956 Suez Crisis and the Six Day War of 1967.

18 Emperor just before the Year of the Four Emperors : NERO

AD 69 was a year of civil war in ancient Rome. The unrest started with the death of emperor Nero in AD 68, after which followed the brief rule of Galba, of Otho, of Vitellius, and of Vespasian all in the same year. As a result, AD 69 became known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

22 Prescriptions, for short : RXS

There seems to be some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.

25 Villain in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” : ANTONIO

William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” tells the story of Prospero, who was removed from the throne of Milan and banished to a deserted island along with his daughter Miranda. The island is home to a devilish character called Caliban, who is forced into slavery on the arrival of the exiles. Prospero learns sorcery while cast away, and eventually conjures up a tempest that drives those who usurped his throne onto the island’s shores (in particular his own brother, Antonio). On the island, Prospero is eventually successful in revealing Antonio’s lowly nature.

27 With 58-Across, 1980s fad that “sprouted” : CHIA …
(58 See 27-Down : … PET)

Chia is a flowering plant in the mint family. Chia seeds are an excellent food source and are often added to breakfast cereals and energy bars. There is also the famous Chia Pet, an invention of a San Francisco company. Chia Pets are terra-cotta figurines to which are applied moistened chia seeds. The seeds sprout and the seedlings become the “fur” of the Chia Pet.

28 Soup legumes : LENTILS

Plants called legumes are notable in that they work symbiotically with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, microorganisms found in the root nodules that convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium ions. As nitrogen is an essential component of proteins, legumes are exceptionally rich sources of plant protein. Examples of legumes are peas, beans, lentils and peanuts.

33 The “p” of b.p.s. : PER

Bits per second (bps)

In the world of computing, a bit is the basic unit of information. It has a value of 0 or 1. A “byte” is a small collection of “bits” (usually 8), the number of bits needed to uniquely identify a character of text. The prefix mega- stands for 10 to the power of 6, so a megabyte (meg) is 1,000,000 bytes. The prefix giga- means 10 to the power of 9, and so a gigabyte (gig) is 1,000,000,000 bytes. Well, those are the SI definitions of megabyte and gigabyte. The purists still use 2 to the power of 20 for a megabyte (i.e. 1,048,576), and 2 to the power of 30 for a gigabyte.

52 Arc lamp gas : XENON

Metal halide lamps that are called xenons don’t actually rely on the incorporated xenon gas to generate light. The xenon gas is added so that the lamp comes on “instantly”. Without the xenon, the lamp would start up rather like an older streetlamp, flickering and sputtering for a while before staying alight.

The first electric light was an “arc lamp”, a lamp in which light is produced by an arc of ionized gas between two electrodes. The arc lamp was largely replaced by incandescent lighting, in which light was produced by a glowing filament that was heated by passing an electric current through it.

55 Augusta’s home : MAINE

As well as being the easternmost state capital, Augusta, Maine is the third smallest, with a population of under 20,000. The least populous state capitals are Montpelier, Vermont (~7,000) and Pierre, South Dakota (~14,000).

61 Fix, as a dog : SPAY

Our verb “to spay”, meaning “to surgically remove the ovaries of” (an animal) comes from an old Anglo-French word “espeier” meaning “to cut with a sword”.

67 Smidgen : DAB

Our word “smidgen” (sometimes shortened to “smidge”) is used to describe a small amount. The term might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 State of irritability : SNIT
5 Oaf : BOOR
9 Undercoat of an oil painting : GESSO
14 Cabernet, e.g. : WINE
15 Opening stake : ANTE
16 “Oh, no, not ___!” : AGAIN
17 Stress between you and your former lover? : EX TENSION
19 Carried : BORNE
20 “In excelsis ___” : DEO
21 One of a pair of Old Testament books with female names : ESTHER
23 Place for a baseball team’s insignia : CAP
24 Canada’s Prince ___ Island : EDWARD
26 Thing your former lover said about you? : EX CLAIM
29 Straight up on a compass : NORTH
32 The Beatles’ “___ Leaving Home” : SHE’S
33 Historian’s concern : PAST
36 “QB VII” author Leon : URIS
38 Halved : IN TWO
41 Former lover’s text, e.g.? : EX COMMUNICATION
44 What alumni do on important anniversaries : REUNE
45 Write with a chisel on stone : ETCH
46 Cold summer treats : ICES
47 Something Santa makes (and checks twice) : LIST
49 Aptitude : SKILL
51 Former lovers’ stances in photos? : EX POSES
54 Absolutely everything : COSMOS
58 See 27-Down : … PET
59 Juneau’s home : ALASKA
62 Singer Grande, informally : ARI
63 Busy, as a restroom : IN USE
66 Current lover who seems suspiciously preoccupied? : EX PENDING
68 Chef’s item for preparing apples : CORER
69 Panache : ELAN
70 Author unknown, for short : ANON
71 Arrogant look : SNEER
72 Things janitors keep on rings : KEYS
73 Wagers : BETS

Down

1 Neighbor of a Norwegian : SWEDE
2 Vetoed : NIXED
3 Dragging behind : IN TOW
4 Prop for a golf ball : TEE
5 Percussion instrument in a marching band : BASS DRUM
6 Hop ___ (get to work) : ON IT
7 Texter’s transition : OTOH
8 Actress Zellweger : RENEE
9 Gift of ___ : GAB
10 Latin “I” : EGO
11 Like “Yeah, that’ll ever happen” : SARCASTIC
12 Mideast’s ___ Peninsula : SINAI
13 End of a lunch hour, maybe : ONE PM
18 Emperor just before the Year of the Four Emperors : NERO
22 Prescriptions, for short : RXS
25 Villain in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” : ANTONIO
27 With 58-Across, 1980s fad that “sprouted” : CHIA …
28 Soup legumes : LENTILS
30 Factual : TRUE
31 Clues : HINTS
33 The “p” of b.p.s. : PER
34 It can chop a tree down … and then chop a tree up : AXE
35 Three-dimensional art : SCULPTURE
37 Ailing : SICK
39 Tale of ___ : WOE
40 Come-___ (enticements) : ONS
42 Target of a cleanup : MESS
43 Fraidy-cats : CHICKENS
48 Throat soother : TEA
50 Money to tide you over : LOAN
51 Long stories : EPICS
52 Arc lamp gas : XENON
53 Aerodynamic : SLEEK
55 Augusta’s home : MAINE
56 “Believe It ___!” : OR NOT
57 Yield and Right Turn Only, e.g. : SIGNS
60 Connector of a pair of wheels : AXLE
61 Fix, as a dog : SPAY
64 “Get it?” : SEE?
65 Go wrong : ERR
67 Smidgen : DAB

15 thoughts on “0824-20 NY Times Crossword 24 Aug 20, Monday”

  1. 7:11 after first dealing with a fat-fingering that changed the fill direction, causing a long entry to go astray and wreak havoc, and then, at the end, entering “EX PENSIVE” rather than “EX PENDING” for 66A (“Current lover who seems suspiciously preoccupied?”) and dealing with the resulting crossing errors. I would argue that the clue more strongly suggests my initial answer (to the point that I have to wonder if it was an editing error … but … it’s only a puzzle, Nonny! … only a puzzle! … 😜).

    1. As I read my half-asleep comment from early this morning, I could not help but hear Marlon Brando’s voice in my head, saying, “I coulda been somebody! I coulda been a contender!” … 😜.

      In any case, there seem to have been some strange vibes in the crossword universe this morning: I just finished the latest puzzle from Brendan Emmet Quigley’s web site, using a PDF that I downloaded earlier, and two of the clues in it were “No Clue”, making for a bit more difficult solve than usual … 😜.

  2. 7:17 With one/two errors. skimmed over the b.p.s. clue, having an e in the middle and wrote SEC. Had to look at the clue a bit to realize it said the “p” in b.p.s. Then I got the chime

  3. 6:40. Pretty good theme by Monday standards. I had EXTENDING- as in she was tending to him. That made SPAY turn into STAY, but I never bothered to notice that. Might work anyway. Fix a dog – STAY? Kind of a stretch.

    QB VII is a great book. The accuser is actually the alleged nazi war criminal a journalist had outed. The case is the alleged nazi suing the journalist for libel. Without giving too much away, the verdict was very cleverly done.

    Best –

    1. I’ve never read “QB VII”. Maybe I’ll put it on my list …

      As I may or may not have mentioned here before, one of my co-workers (back when I was gainfully employed) was Leon Uris’s son.

    1. Growing up in NYC, we used to refer to Popsicles as ‘ICES’. Not sure if this was what the setter intended, but it justified the answer to me.

  4. 15:43 no errors…who really knew what B.P.S meant?
    @Anon Mike …I guess it’s a drink with ice in in.
    Stay safe and go Ravens

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.