0831-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Aug 20, Monday

Constructed by: Anne Marie Crinnion
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Change Lanes

Themed answers each start with a synonym of “LANE” that has been CHANGED into a homophone of itself:

  • 64A What you might do to pass on an Interstate … or a phonetic hint to the starts of 18-, 28- and 50-Across : CHANGE LANES
  • 18A Traveled in the front passenger seat : RODE SHOTGUN (“ROAD” changed to “RODE”)
  • 28A Captain of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics teams : ALY RAISMAN (“ALLEY” changed to “ALY”)
  • 50A Main ingredient in a protein shake, maybe : WHEY POWDER (“WAY” changed to “WHEY”)

Bill’s time: 5m 42s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Criticize, in slang : DIS

“Dis” (also “diss”) is a slang term meaning “insult” that originated in the eighties. It is a shortened form of “disrespect” or “dismiss”.

4 Something computers cannot write to or erase : CD-ROM

“CD-ROM” stands for “compact disc read only memory”. The name indicates that you can read information from the disc (like a standard music CD for example), but you cannot write to it. You can also buy a CD-RW, which stands for “compact disc – rewritable”, with which you can read data and also write over it multiple times using a suitable CD drive.

14 “We ___ the World” : ARE

“We Are the World” is the 1985 charity single recorded by a whole host of celebrity singers who came together as “USA for Africa”. “We Are the World” was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and sold over 20 million copies. The idea for the USA for Africa recording came out of the great success of the UK project, Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”.

22 Lye, chemically : NAOH

Sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic salt, with the chemical formula NaOH. Often referred to as “lye”, sodium hydroxide is also known as “caustic soda” because of its caustic properties.

23 Rainbow’s shape : ARC

Sunlight reflected by airborne water droplets can produce rainbows. The water droplets act as little prisms, dispersing the white light into its constituent colors. Sometimes we see double rainbows. If we look carefully, we can see that the order of the colors in the first and second arcs is reversed.

28 Captain of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics teams : ALY RAISMAN (“ALLEY” changed to “ALY”)

Aly Raisman is a retired gymnast. She captained the US gold-winning teams in the Olympics in 2012 (“The Fierce Five”) and in 2016 (“The Final Five”).

31 Degs. for C.E.O.s : MBAS

The world’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was offered by Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, in 1908.

41 Monopoly properties you can’t put houses on, in brief : RRS

The four railroad (RR) properties in the Monopoly board game are:

  • Reading Railroad
  • Pennsylvania Railroad
  • B&O Railroad
  • Short Line

43 End of a lasso : NOOSE

Our English word “lasso” comes from the Spanish “lazo”, and ultimately from the Latin “laqueum” meaning “noose, snare”.

44 Screen ___ Guild : ACTORS

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was formed back in 1933, at a time when Hollywood stars were really being exploited by the big movie studios, especially the younger and less inexperienced performers. Early supporters of the Guild included famous names like Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney (you could imagine them in a negotiation!). Past presidents of SAG were also big names, such as Eddie Cantor, James Cagney, Ronald Reagan, Howard Keel, Charlton Heston, Ed Asner and Melissa Gilbert. SAG merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) in 2012 to create SAG-AFTRA.

49 Watermelon part that’s spit out : SEED

The watermelon that we find in the grocery store is actually a berry produced by the flowering, vine-like watermelon plant. Seedless watermelons were developed by Japanese scientists in 1939, and now seedless varieties account for over 80% of watermelon sales in the US.

50 Main ingredient in a protein shake, maybe : WHEY POWDER (“WAY” changed to “WHEY”)

When milk curdles it separates into two parts, the solid curds and the liquid whey.

53 Great Lake with the shortest name : ERIE

Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the five Great Lakes by area (Lake Ontario is the smallest). The lake takes its name from the Erie tribe of Native Americans that used to live along its southern shore. Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume and the shallowest, something for which nearby residents must be quite grateful. Being relatively shallow, much of Erie freezes over part way through most winters putting an end to most of the lake-effect snow that falls in the snow belt extending from the lake’s edge.

56 Kind of connection port on a PC : USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.

59 Overly fussy, say : ANAL

The use of the word “anal” to mean “stiffly conventional” is an abbreviated form of “anal-retentive”, a term derived from Freudian psychology. Regardless, I’m not a big fan of the term …

61 Hit Broadway musical set partly in Paris, for short : LES MIZ

The 1980 musical “Les Misérables” is an adaptation of the 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. The show opened in London in 1985, and is the longest running musical in the history of London’s West End. My wife and I saw “Les Miz” in the Queen’s Theatre in London many years ago, but were only able to get tickets in the very back row. The theater seating is very steep, so the back row of the balcony is extremely high over the stage. One of the big events in the storyline is the building of a street barricade over which the rebels fight. At the height we were seated we could see the stagehands behind the barricade, sitting drinking Coke, even smoking cigarettes. On cue, the stagehands would get up and catch a dropped rifle, or an actor who had been shot. It was pretty comical. I didn’t really enjoy the show that much, to be honest. Some great songs, but the musical version of the storyline just didn’t seem to hang together for me.

67 Letters before an assumed name : AKA

Also known as (aka)

72 Believer in Jah, informally : RASTA

I must admit that I don’t really know much about Rastafarianism. I do know that a “Rasta”, such as Bob Marley, is a follower of the movement. Some say that Rastafarianism is a religion, some not. I also know that it involves the worship of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.

73 Pack animal of Tibet : YAK

The English word “yak” is an Anglicized version of the Tibetan name for the male of the species. Yak milk is much prized in the Tibetan culture. It is made into cheese and butter, and the butter is used to make a tea that is consumed in great volume by Tibetans. The butter is also used as a fuel in lamps, and during festivals the butter is even sculpted into religious icons.

Down

1 Facts and figures : DATA

Our word “data” (singular “datum”) comes from the Latin “datum” meaning “given”. The idea is that data are “things given”.

2 Part of the eye : IRIS

The iris is the colored part of the eye. It has an aperture in the center that can open or close depending on the level of light hitting the eye.

8 Ancient fortification overlooking the Dead Sea : MASADA

The name “Masada” comes from the Hebrew word for fortress, and describes a plateau in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is home to the ruins of ancient palaces and fortifications that date back to the days of Herod the Great, father of Herod who figured in the lives of Jesus of Nazareth and John the Baptist. After the Romans invaded Jerusalem, Jewish extremists settled on the mountaintop using it as a base to harass the invaders. Eventually Romans mounted an attack on the elevated fortress, building an elaborate wall and rampart to get to the encampment with some cover. After months of preparation, the Romans breached the walls only to discover the inner buildings all ablaze, and the 1,000 rebels and their families dead after a mass suicide.

9 Hi in HI : ALOHA!

The Hawaiian word “aloha” has many meanings in English: affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. More recently, “aloha” has come to mean “hello” and “goodbye”, but only since the mid-1800s.

Hawaii (HI)

10 Spam spewer : BOT

A botnet is a network of computers running cooperatively to send spam messages. The computers are usually private machines infected with malware that run the bots without the owners’ knowledge.

11 Some quiet exercise : YOGA

In the West, we tend to think of yoga as just a physical discipline, a means of exercise that uses specific poses to stretch and strengthen muscles. While it is true that the ancient Indian practice of yoga does involve such physical discipline, the corporeal aspect of the practice plays a relatively small part in the whole philosophy. Other major components are meditation, ethical behavior, breathing and contemplation.

19 Elvis’s “___ Dog” : HOUND

The Elvis Presley classic “Hound Dog” was a big hit, but his wasn’t the first version of the song to make it to number one in the charts. Presley released “Hound Dog” in 1956, but Big Mama Thornton had brought the song to the top spot back in 1953.

25 Belgian river to the North Sea : YSER

The Yser is a river that originates in northern France and flows through Belgium into the North Sea. The Yser is often associated with WWI as it figured in a major battle early in the conflict. In the first three months of the war, the German Army pushed almost completely through Belgium, inflicting heavy losses on the Belgian Army as the defenders were forced to fight a fast-moving rearguard action. The Germans were intent on pushing right through Belgium and across France in a “race to the sea”. But the Belgians, with the help of their Allies, decided to make a final stand at the Yser Canal in an effort to prevent the Germans reaching the French ports of Calais and Dunkirk. The 22-mile long defensive line was chosen at the Yser because the river and canal system could be flooded to create a barrier that might be defended. The plan was successful and the front was “stabilized”. As we now know, millions of lives were lost over the coming years with very little movement of that battle line.

27 “Hilarious!,” in a text : LMAO!

Laughing my a** off (LMAO)

30 Join the flow of traffic : MERGE

The “zipper merge” or “late merge” is encouraged by most traffic authorities when two lanes of traffic are merging into one. The alternative “early merge”, where cars move out of the lane that is closing before reaching the merge point, tends to be discouraged. The favored technique is to use both lanes until the merge point, and then alternate (zipper) from each lane through the merge itself. That said, one should always obey whatever instructions are given by the traffic authorities at the scene. And I know, I know … a lot of people think it rude to merge late …

32 Cocktail with tomato juice : BLOODY MARY

The Bloody Mary is one of my favorite cocktails, perhaps because it seems to taste so differently depending on who makes it. It has numerous ingredients above and beyond the requisite vodka and tomato juice, and has been described as “the world’s most complex cocktail”.

38 World’s largest island nation : INDONESIA

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, and is the country with the largest population of Muslims. And, Indonesia has an amazing 17,508 islands.

40 Lymph ___ : NODE

Lymph is a fluid that exists alongside blood in the body that is transported through lymph vessels. One of the functions of the system is to pick up bacteria in the body, transporting them to lymph nodes where they are destroyed by lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Lymph can also carry metastatic cancer cells that can lodge in lymph nodes, making lymph nodes a common site where tumors may be found growing.

42 Tofu bean : SOYA

What are known as soybeans here in the US are called “soya beans” in most other English-speaking countries. So, I drink soy milk here in America, but when I am over in Ireland I drink “soya milk”.

“Tofu” is a name for bean curd, and is a Japanese word meaning just that … bean that has curdled. Tofu is produced by coagulating soy milk, using either salt or something acidic. Once the protein has coagulated, the curds are pressed into the familiar blocks. Personally I love tofu, but my wife, she absolutely hates it …

56 Sch. whose home football games used to include a live bear on the field : UCLA

The UCLA Bruins’ mascots are Joe and Josephine Bruin, characters that have evolved over the years. There used to be “mean” Bruin mascots but they weren’t very popular with the fans, so now there are only “happy” Bruin mascots at the games.

62 International furniture chain : IKEA

Every IKEA store features a restaurant that serves traditional Swedish food, including Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam. Each store also has a Swedish Food Market where customers can purchase specialty foods from Sweden.

65 Amnesty International, e.g., in brief : NGO

Non-governmental organization (NGO)

66 Super ___ (1990s game console) : NES

The name “Super NES” (or “SNES”) stands for “Super Nintendo Entertainment System”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Criticize, in slang : DIS
4 Something computers cannot write to or erase : CD-ROM
9 Bottomless pit : ABYSS
14 “We ___ the World” : ARE
15 Nice smell : AROMA
16 Like some handwriting … or tipplers : LOOPY
17 Up to, informally : ‘TIL
18 Traveled in the front passenger seat : RODE SHOTGUN (“ROAD” changed to “RODE”)
20 ___ at the wheel : ASLEEP
22 Lye, chemically : NAOH
23 Rainbow’s shape : ARC
24 “Heavens to ___!” : BETSY
26 Two-part : DUAL
28 Captain of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics teams : ALY RAISMAN (“ALLEY” changed to “ALY”)
31 Degs. for C.E.O.s : MBAS
35 Chap : LAD
36 Pants part that might need patching : KNEE
37 Join a conference call, say : DIAL IN
39 Silly : INANE
41 Monopoly properties you can’t put houses on, in brief : RRS
43 End of a lasso : NOOSE
44 Screen ___ Guild : ACTORS
46 Rating between excellent and fair : GOOD
48 Cry in a soccer stadium : OLE!
49 Watermelon part that’s spit out : SEED
50 Main ingredient in a protein shake, maybe : WHEY POWDER (“WAY” changed to “WHEY”)
53 Great Lake with the shortest name : ERIE
55 Mommy’s sister : AUNTY
56 Kind of connection port on a PC : USB
59 Overly fussy, say : ANAL
61 Hit Broadway musical set partly in Paris, for short : LES MIZ
64 What you might do to pass on an Interstate … or a phonetic hint to the starts of 18-, 28- and 50-Across : CHANGE LANES
67 Letters before an assumed name : AKA
68 Sudden forward thrust : LUNGE
69 “___ could’ve told you that!” : EVEN I
70 ___ center : REC
71 Choice words? : AND/OR
72 Believer in Jah, informally : RASTA
73 Pack animal of Tibet : YAK

Down

1 Facts and figures : DATA
2 Part of the eye : IRIS
3 Stamp on a milk carton : SELL-BY DATE
4 One tending a house during the owner’s absence : CARETAKER
5 Stops by : DROPS IN
6 Towel holder : ROD
7 Eclipse or a black cat, some say : OMEN
8 Ancient fortification overlooking the Dead Sea : MASADA
9 Hi in HI : ALOHA!
10 Spam spewer : BOT
11 Some quiet exercise : YOGA
12 Appendage on a cowboy’s boot : SPUR
13 Align, informally : SYNC
19 Elvis’s “___ Dog” : HOUND
21 Always, to a poet : E’ER
25 Belgian river to the North Sea : YSER
27 “Hilarious!,” in a text : LMAO!
28 Assumed name : ALIAS
29 Knight’s weapon : LANCE
30 Join the flow of traffic : MERGE
32 Cocktail with tomato juice : BLOODY MARY
33 Seating request on an airplane : AISLE
34 Mocking smile : SNEER
38 World’s largest island nation : INDONESIA
40 Lymph ___ : NODE
42 Tofu bean : SOYA
45 Hogs : SWINE
47 Luxurious : OPULENT
51 Doctor, ideally : HEALER
52 Lbs. and ozs. : WTS
54 Wild party, in slang : RAGER
56 Sch. whose home football games used to include a live bear on the field : UCLA
57 Avoid : SHUN
58 Extracurricular activity for a musician : BAND
60 Molten flow : LAVA
62 International furniture chain : IKEA
63 “The Suite Life of ___ & Cody” (bygone teen sitcom) : ZACK
65 Amnesty International, e.g., in brief : NGO
66 Super ___ (1990s game console) : NES

8 thoughts on “0831-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Aug 20, Monday”

  1. 6:15, no errors. “ALY RAISMAN” looked vaguely familiar after I got it (using crosses), but I would never have remembered that name by itself.

  2. 10:49, I apparently inherited Ron F’s fat finger disease…I lost track of how many times I had to correct an “s” to an “a” and an “r” to an “e”….boy my aim was off!!! (btw, in typing this I typed “ogg” instead of “off”….sigh…)

  3. 12:44. And fat fingers galore. It seems that my early week times are more a function of correcting fat finger errors than brain power. When I used to do these in the newspaper, my early week times were much faster. Alas, I’m a slave to technology.

    1. Some of my “fat-fingers” with the app are due to the settings. I have it skip over filled in squares and skip to new clues when answer is filled and sometimes I type the whole answer even if a few crosses are already there, so I have to go back and correct. Makes the solve generally faster but can lead to more errors. A week ago I was somewhat tired when solving after a long day and my pinky, which is normally on the TAB key fell on the Q as I was dozing – next thing I knew the whole grid was filled with Q in 2/3 of the squares!!

      Solving on paper, not wanting to write over too many things, I’m slower to fill in and always looking at the cross clues – takes some time for my eyes to re-locate all the clues. That makes the paper solve slower for me.

      1. Hmm. I may experiment a bit with the settings. I’m solving on a 10″ tablet so it’s pretty easy for my fingers to miss their intended letters. And you’re right about paper solving…but I still think I’m faster that way. Or if could be my old brain slowing down.😜

  4. I’m solving on an IPhone…small keyboard plus fat fingers=potential disaster, but except for yesterday, I’m usually fairly accurate….usually….

  5. 7:25. Forgot to post yesterday so I guess I’ll go back and post for the syndicated group. Did this puzzle after a 7 AM meeting this morning. Remind me not to do that to myself anymore. 7 AM is way too early for any meeting, and believe me I am NOT a morning person by nature.

    MASADA was new to me. I’m a big fan of ALY RAISMAN. The abuse she and her fellow female gymnasts endured was shocking. Their going public about it was courageous.

    Best –

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