0909-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Sep 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Jakob Weisblat
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): 99 Clues

Themed clues each include the number 99:

  • 17A 99, in chemistry : EINSTEINIUM
  • 28A 99, in Islam : NAMES OF ALLAH
  • 47A 99, in hockey : WAYNE GRETZKY
  • 60A 99, in pop music : LUFTBALLONS

Bill’s time: 7m 38s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Citizens United, e.g., for short : PAC

A political action committee (PAC) is a private group that works to influence the outcome of a particular election or group of elections. Any group becomes a PAC by law when it receives or spends more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election. In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that PACS that did not make direct contributions to candidates or parties could accept unlimited contributions. These “independent, expenditure-only committees” are commonly referred to as “super PACs”.

15 Louis ___, “My Dinner With Andre” director : MALLE

Louis Malle was a French film director who is perhaps best known in this country for the 1981 film “My Dinner with Andre”. Malle was married to American actress Candice Bergen.

“My Dinner With Andre” is a rather unusual 1981 film, written by and starring Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn. The whole film is a conversation between the two actors, although they do play different parts as the film progresses.

16 Bird able to run faster than the fastest human : EMU

The emu has had a tough time in Australia since man settled there. There was even an “Emu War” in Western Australia in 1932 when migrating emus competed with livestock for water and food. Soldiers were sent in and used machine guns in an unsuccessful attempt to drive off the “invading force”. The emus were clever, breaking their usual formations and adopting guerrilla tactics, operating as smaller units. After 50 days of “war”, the military withdrew. Subsequent requests for military help for the farmers were ignored. The emus had emerged victorious …

17 99, in chemistry : EINSTEINIUM

Einsteinium is an artificially produced element with the atomic number 99. It was discovered in the debris of the first explosion of a hydrogen bomb in 1952, and of course was named for the great physicist Albert Einstein. That same debris also contained the previously undiscovered element with an atomic number of 100, which was named Fermium in honor of nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi.

21 “My gal” of song : SAL

“My Gal Sal” is a song written by composer Paul Dresser. “My Gal Sal” is also the name of the movie recounting Dresser’s life made in 1942. It stars Victor Mature as Dresser, and Rita Hayworth as Sally “Sal” Elliott.

23 Lump in the throat : TONSIL

The palatine tonsils are located at the back of the human throat. The exact role that tonsils play isn’t completely understood, but it is known that they are in the first line of defense in the body’s immune system. They provide some level of protection against pathogens that are ingested and inhaled.

28 99, in Islam : NAMES OF ALLAH

In the Muslim tradition, God is believed to have 99 names. Some of those names are used in theophoric given names (names bearing the name of a god). An example would be “Jabbar” as in “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar”.

32 Stereotypical dog name that isn’t actually used much : FIDO

“Fido”, the name for many a dog, is Latin for “I trust”.

37 “Who ___?” (end of a riddle) : AM I

Here are a few riddles:

  1. Imagine you are in a dark room. How do you get out?
  2. What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?
  3. There is a word and six letters it contains. Take one away and twelve is what remains. What word is it?
  4. Two girls were born to the same mother, on the same day, at the same time, in the same month and year and yet they’re not twins. How can this be?
  5. What is so delicate that even saying its name will break it?
  6. What word in the English Language is always spelled incorrectly?

And the answers:

  1. Stop imagining.
  2. A stamp
  3. Dozens
  4. They’re in a set of triplets
  5. Silence
  6. Incorrectly

38 U.S.A.F. honor : DFC

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

39 Saucer, perhaps : UFO

Unidentified flying object (UFO)

42 “Hidden Figures” actress Janelle : MONAE

Janelle Monáe is a singer and actress. I’m not familiar with her as a singer, but did see Monáe play NASA engineer Mary Jackson in the excellent 2016 film “Hidden Figures”.

“Hidden Figures” is an excellent 2016 film based on a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. Both book and film tell the story of female African-American mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Mercury and Apollo programs in the 1960s.

44 The “A” in A.D. : ANNO

The Latin word for year is “annus”. We often see it used in Latin phrases, but usually with a different spelling. In “anno Domini”, the “anno” is the ablative case of “annus” as the phrase means “in the year of the Lord”. Another example is “per annum”, in which “annum” is the accusative case as the literal translation of the phrase is “during the year”.

46 Looks for gold : PANS

When prospectors pan for gold, they do so by mixing soil and water in a pan. Because gold is very dense, gravel and soil can be washed over the side of the pan leaving the heavy precious metal at the bottom. The gold has been “panned out”, and so we often use “pan out” figuratively to mean “turn out, succeed”.

47 99, in hockey : WAYNE GRETZKY

Wayne Gretzky is regarded by many as the greatest ever player of ice hockey, and indeed he has the nickname “The Great One”.

55 Letters of “good” cholesterol : HDL

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is a compound that is used to transport fats around the body. When HDL is combined with (i.e. is transporting) cholesterol, it is often called “good cholesterol”. This is because HDL seems to remove cholesterol from where it should not be, say on the walls of arteries, and transports it to the liver for reuse or disposal. Important stuff …

57 Former Ohio governor John : KASICH

John Kasich was the Governor of Ohio, and a former member for Ohio of the US House of Representatives. Kasich ran unsuccessfully for Republican Party’s nominee for US president in 2000 and 2016. Kasich has had his eye on the Oval Office for some time. When he was a freshman at Ohio State, he wrote a letter expressing his concerns about the nation, and as a result was granted a 20-minute meeting with President Nixon at the White House.

60 99, in pop music : LUFTBALLONS

Nena is a German singer (“Nena” became the name of her band as well) who had a big hit with one of my favorite songs of the eighties “99 Luftballons”. The English translation of the German title (“99 Red Balloons”) isn’t literal, with the color “red” added just so that the title had the right number of syllables for the tune. “Luftballon” is the name given to a child’s toy balloon in German.

64 December 1st? : DEE

The 1st letter in the word “December” is a letter D (dee).

65 Spice that comes in stars : ANISE

Star anise is a spice similar to anise in flavor, even though it is obtained from an evergreen tree native to Vietnam and southwest China that is unrelated to the anise plant. The spice is obtained from the tree’s star-shaped fruits.

66 Dugout, e.g. : CANOE

The boat known as a canoe takes its name from the Carib word “kenu” meaning “dugout”. It was Christopher Columbus who brought “kenu” into Spanish as “canoa”, which evolved into our English “canoe”.

68 Expensive violin, for short : STRAD

Generations of the Stradivari family produced violins and other stringed instruments, the most famous of which were constructed by Antonio Stradivari.

70 Mountain seen in “The Sound of Music” : ALP

“The Sound of Music” is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that was made into a celebrated movie in 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The musical is based on “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”, a memoir by Maria von Trapp. The von Trapp family ended up in Stowe, Vermont after the war. One family descended from the Vermont von Trapps lives in the same town in which I used to live in California.

Down

2 Pinnacle : ACME

The acme is the highest point. The term “acme” comes from the Greek word “akme” that has the same meaning.

5 Immeasurably long time : EON

Geological time is divided into a number of units of varying lengths. These are, starting from the largest:

  • supereon
  • eon (also “aeon”)
  • era
  • period
  • epoch
  • age

6 ___ Equis (beer) : DOS

Dos Equis lager was originally brewed in 1897, and back then was called “Siglo XX” (20th century) to celebrate the arrival of the new century. The name was changed later to simply “Dos Equis” (two exes).

7 First responders, for short : EMTS

Emergency medical technician (EMT)

8 Mexican revolutionary Zapata : EMILIANO

Emiliano Zapata was a leader in the Mexican Revolution that took place from 1910 to 1920. Zapata was the leader of the Liberation Army of the South, a force more commonly referred to as the Zapatistas.

9 When M.L.K. was born: Abbr. : JAN

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a US Federal holiday taking place on the third Monday of each year. It celebrates the birthday of Dr. King, and was signed into law by President Reagan in 1983, and first observed in 1986. However, some states resisted naming the holiday MLK Day, and gave it alternative names (like “Civil Rights Day”). It was officially celebrated as MLK Day in all 50 states from the year 2000 onwards.

14 Major component of chili : BEANS

The full name of the dish that is often called simply “chili” is “chili con carne”, Spanish for “peppers with meat”. The dish was created by immigrants from the Spanish Canary Islands in the city of San Antonio, Texas (a city which the islanders founded). The San Antonio Chili Stand was a popular attraction at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and that stand introduced the dish to the rest of America and to the world.

18 Jazz pianist Hines : EARL

Earl “Fatha” Hines is considered one of the greats in the history of jazz. Hines played his piano twice at the White House, and once even played solo for the Pope.

20 Either of two directing brothers : COEN

I think it’s great to see two brothers working together and being so successful. Joel and Ethan Coen are two movie producers and directors who both live in New York City. The Coen brothers do love the movie-making business and they even married industry “insiders”. Ethan’s wife is film editor Tricia Cooke, and Joel is married to one of my favorite actresses, the talented Frances McDormand.’

27 Symbol of the golden ratio : PHI

The golden ratio, sometimes called the “golden mean” and denoted by the Greek letter phi, is a mathematical constant that often turns up in the world of art. Phi is approximately equal to 1.61, and is represented by the two distances, a and b, where (a+b)/a = a/b. Somehow we perceive the ratio of 1.61 as “pleasing” so it appears in many works of art and in building design. For example, many aspects of the Parthenon in Athens have a ratio of 1.61 (width compared to height). Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man also illustrates the golden ratio in the proportions of the human body, where he shows that the distance from the foot to the navel, compared to the distance from the navel to the head, is 1.61.

28 Linguist Chomsky : NOAM

Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at MIT. Chomsky is known as one of the fathers of modern linguistics.

29 Arsenal supply : AMMO

The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.

Our word “arsenal” comes from the Italian “arzenale”, a work adapted from the Arabic for “workshop”. There was a large wharf in Venice called the Arzenale that became associated with the storage of weapons and ammunition, and this led to our contemporary usage of “arsenal”.

36 E-commerce site with handmade crafts : ETSY

Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.

40 The United States Bullion Depository, familiarly : FORT KNOX

Fort Knox is actually a US Army base that lends its name to the adjacent facility that is more correctly called the United States Bullion Depository. Most of the US gold reserves are in “Fort Knox”, although it isn’t the biggest gold repository in the US. That honor goes to the vault under the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Manhattan. Most of the gold stored in the New York vault belongs to foreign nations and banks.

45 Bird’s beak : NEB

“Nib” is a Scottish variant of the Old English word “neb”, with both meaning the beak of a bird. This usage of “nib” as a beak dates back to the 14th century, with “nib” meaning the tip of a pen or quill coming a little later, in the early 1600s.

46 School-supporting orgs. : PTAS

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

50 Book often stored horizontally : ATLAS

The famous Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator published his first collection of maps in 1578. Mercator’s collection contained a frontispiece with an image of Atlas the Titan from Greek mythology holding up the world on his shoulders. That image gave us our term “atlas” that is used for a book of maps.

52 Fermented milk drink : KEFIR

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus region of Eurasia.

56 Hybrid business entities: Abbr. : LLCS

A limited liability company (LLC) has a structure that limits the liability of the owner or owners. It is a hybrid structure in the sense that it can be taxed as would an individual or partnership, while also maintaining the liability protection afforded to a corporation.

58 Holder of mitochondria : CELL

Mitochondria are structures found in most living cells. Some called cellular power plants, mitochondria generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s source of chemical energy.

59 Source of canvas and cannabis : HEMP

Hemp, also known as “cannabis”, is a hardy, fast-growing plant that has many uses mainly due to the strength of the fibers in the plant’s stalks. Hemp is used to make rope, paper and textiles. The term “hemp” is sometimes reserved for varieties of the plant grown for non-drug use.

61 They take a look at fliers, for short : TSA

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

62 Length of a 400-meter run : LAP

The distance around a newer running track is 400 meters, as measured in the inside lane. Tracks used to be 440 yards around, so that four laps added up to an even mile (1,760 yards). As race distances changed to meters, the mile race was dropped in favor of the “metric mile”, 1600 meters, which is equivalent to 1,750 yards or 0.994 miles.

63 Washington’s bill : ONE

The nation’s first president, George Washington, is on the US one-dollar bills produced today. When the original one-dollar bill was issued in 1863, it featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Citizens United, e.g., for short : PAC
4 Give up : CEDE
8 Button whose icon consists of a triangle over a horizontal line : EJECT
13 Prefix with friendly : ECO-
14 What fire poppies do after a wildfire : BLOOM
15 Louis ___, “My Dinner With Andre” director : MALLE
16 Bird able to run faster than the fastest human : EMU
17 99, in chemistry : EINSTEINIUM
19 Something removed before signing : PEN CAP
21 “My gal” of song : SAL
22 Terminal abbr. : DEP
23 Lump in the throat : TONSIL
26 Most likely to be picked, say : RIPEST
28 99, in Islam : NAMES OF ALLAH
31 Black cat, some think : OMEN
32 Stereotypical dog name that isn’t actually used much : FIDO
33 Area of expertise : NICHE
37 “Who ___?” (end of a riddle) : AM I
38 U.S.A.F. honor : DFC
39 Saucer, perhaps : UFO
41 Fall into decay : ROT
42 “Hidden Figures” actress Janelle : MONAE
44 The “A” in A.D. : ANNO
46 Looks for gold : PANS
47 99, in hockey : WAYNE GRETZKY
50 Invites out for : ASKS TO
53 Stab in the back : BETRAY
54 Fill-in-___-blank : THE
55 Letters of “good” cholesterol : HDL
57 Former Ohio governor John : KASICH
60 99, in pop music : LUFTBALLONS
64 December 1st? : DEE
65 Spice that comes in stars : ANISE
66 Dugout, e.g. : CANOE
67 Tree with oval-shaped saw-toothed leaves : ELM
68 Expensive violin, for short : STRAD
69 Glasses, in adspeak : SPEX
70 Mountain seen in “The Sound of Music” : ALP

Down

1 Look-see : PEEP
2 Pinnacle : ACME
3 “Sure, I’m game” : COUNT ME IN
4 Shears : CLIPS OFF
5 Immeasurably long time : EON
6 ___ Equis (beer) : DOS
7 First responders, for short : EMTS
8 Mexican revolutionary Zapata : EMILIANO
9 When M.L.K. was born: Abbr. : JAN
10 Omit, as a syllable : ELIDE
11 Parts of a crossword that the constructor works on last : CLUES
12 Entice : TEMPT
14 Major component of chili : BEANS
18 Jazz pianist Hines : EARL
20 Either of two directing brothers : COEN
24 “Will do my best” : IF I CAN
25 Chap : LAD
27 Symbol of the golden ratio : PHI
28 Linguist Chomsky : NOAM
29 Arsenal supply : AMMO
30 Upscale section of an airport : LOUNGE
34 Something that just might work : CRAZY IDEA
35 “Out of my way!” indicator : HONK!
36 E-commerce site with handmade crafts : ETSY
38 Place for final words : DEATHBED
40 The United States Bullion Depository, familiarly : FORT KNOX
43 Responses of disappointment : AWS
45 Bird’s beak : NEB
46 School-supporting orgs. : PTAS
48 Baby ___, character in “The Mandalorian” : YODA
49 Clear, as a computer’s memory : ERASE
50 Book often stored horizontally : ATLAS
51 Push aside : SHUNT
52 Fermented milk drink : KEFIR
56 Hybrid business entities: Abbr. : LLCS
58 Holder of mitochondria : CELL
59 Source of canvas and cannabis : HEMP
61 They take a look at fliers, for short : TSA
62 Length of a 400-meter run : LAP
63 Washington’s bill : ONE

7 thoughts on “0909-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Sep 20, Wednesday”

  1. 19:29. Yes I’m alive and well like Jacques Brel as I posted late yesterday. I beat Bill’s time as long as you don’t count the first 12 minutes I spent on the puzzle.

    I like that list of riddles, but the first one makes me laugh every time.

    Best –

  2. 8:43, no errors. Also appreciated the riddles. And I always liked the song “99 Luftballons” (enough so that I remembered how to spell it, even 😳).

  3. 13:12 Got stuck in the upper right, tho not sure why. When I finished it, it all seemed pretty straightforward, tho I did not know EMILIANO.

  4. 15:08 I’d heard the “Americanized” version of “99 Luft Balons“ announced by radio DJ’s as “99 Red Balloons” and “99 Love Balloons”, fortunately neither would fit given the down clues. It wasn’t one of my favorites, probably because all the indie stations and Top 40 stations overplayed the poop out of it.

  5. 15:41 after spending two minutes searching for one goober before changing OWS to AWS. I enjoyed the “99s.” Neat puzzle.

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