0916-20 NY Times Crossword 16 Sep 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Paul Coulter
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Happy Meal

Themed answers are each common phrases reinterpreted as “negative fast-food reviews”, things that wouldn’t be part of “HAPPY” MEALS:

  • 64A Certain fast-food offering … or what 17-, 27- and 47-Across certainly don’t add up to? : HAPPY MEAL
  • 17A Negative fast-food review? : WEAK SAUCE
  • 27A Negative fast-food review? : NOTHING BURGER
  • 48A Negative fast-food review? : NO GREAT SHAKES

Bill’s time: 9m 18s!

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 Youngest M.L.B. player to hit 500 homers : A-ROD

Baseball player Alex Rodriguez, nicknamed “A-Rod”, broke a lot of records in his career, albeit under a shroud of controversy due to his use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. When he signed a 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers for $252 million in 2000, it was the most lucrative contract in sports history. In 2007, Rodriguez signed an even more lucrative 10-year contract with the New York Yankees, worth $275 million. Rodriguez retired in 2016.

15 Sports sword : EPEE

The French word for sword is “épée”. In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.

17 Negative fast-food review? : WEAK SAUCE

Someone who is described by the slang term “weak sauce” is no fun at all, not cool.

19 Scooter ___, former White House adviser convicted in the Plame affair : LIBBY

Scooter Libby served as Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was indicted by a grand jury of lying about his role in the leak that identified Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. Libby always professed his innocence, but was found guilty and sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000. President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s jail sentence, but the fine and conviction were allowed to stand.

21 One of 14 in “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” : SYLLABLE

The title of the “Mary Poppins” song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” has been broken into it’s individual components and given the meaning “Atoning for educability through delicate beauty”. I am none the wiser …

23 Madison Avenue award : CLIO

The Clio Awards are the Oscars of the advertising world and are named after Clio, the Greek Muse of History. Clio was also the recorder of great deeds, the proclaimer and celebrator of great accomplishments and a source of inspiration and genius. The Clio Awards were first presented in 1959.

Madison Avenue became the center of advertising in the US in the twenties, and serves as the backdrop to the great TV drama “Mad Men”. There aren’t many advertising agencies left on Madison Avenue these days though, as most have moved to other parts of New York City. The street takes its name from Madison Square, which is bounded on one side by Madison Avenue. The square in turn takes its name from James Madison, the fourth President of the United States.

25 Arles affirmative : OUI

Quite a few years ago now, I had the privilege of living just a short car-ride from the beautiful city of Arles in the South of France. Although Arles has a long and colorful history, the Romans had a prevailing influence over the city’s design. Arles has a spectacular Roman amphitheater, arch, circus as well as old walls that surround the center of the city. In more modern times, it was a place Vincent van Gogh often visited, and was where he painted many of his most famous works, including “Cafe Terrace at Night” and “Bedroom in Arles”.

26 Droopy feature of a cocker spaniel : EAR

The cocker spaniel originated in the UK, where the breed was developed for hunting the Eurasian woodcock. It is the hunting of the woodcock that led to the breed’s name.

32 Home of Mount Carmel: Abbr. : ISR

“Mount” Carmel is actually a mountain range, one located on the coast of northern Israel. Haifa, the country’s third largest city, is located on the northern slope of Mount Carmel.

33 “Despicable Me” supervillain : GRU

The main protagonist in the “Despicable Me” movies is the supervillain Felonius Gru, usually referred to simply as “Gru”.

“Despicable Me” is a 2010 animated comedy film. The main voice actor in the movie is the very funny Steve Carell. “Despicable Me” is a Universal Pictures production, although all of the animation was done in France. The 2010 film was followed by a sequel “Despicable Me 2” released in 2013, with a prequel/spin-off film called “Minions” released in 2015.

34 Julie ___, voicer of Marge Simpson : KAVNER

Julie Kavner is an actress whose big break came playing the role of Brenda Morgenstern on the sitcom “Rhoda” in the 1070s. Nowadays, she is known for voicing Marge Simpson on “The Simpsons”. Kavener leads a very, very private life. She even has a clause in her contract with the producers of “The Simpsons” that she never has to promote the show on video.

37 Ending with cyto- or proto- : -PLASM

All of the material within a cell membrane, excluding the cell nucleus, is referred to as the cytoplasm. The cytoplasm comprises 80% water.

The word “protoplasm” comes from the Greek, meaning first (protos) thing formed (plasma). It is the name given to the cell contents, everything that is surrounded by the plasma membrane. The protoplasm in most cells is divided into two parts, the cytoplasm which surrounds the nucleus, and the nucleoplasm found within the nucleus.

43 Do after dark : SOIREE

“Soir” is the French word for “evening” and a soirée is an evening party. The French word “soirée” has an acute accent over the first “e”, but we tend to drop this when using the word in English.

47 Inc., in France : CIE

“Cie.” is an abbreviation used in French. “Cie.” is short for “compagnie”, the French word for “company”, and is used as we would use “Co.”

55 “Get outta here!” : SCAT!

Our word “scat!” means “get lost!” It comes from a 19th-century expression “quicker than s’cat”, which meant “in a great hurry”. The original phrase probably came from the words “hiss” and “cat”.

56 Cirque du Soleil stars, e.g. : ACROBATS

Cirque du Soleil is an entertainment company basedThe McDonald’s Happy Meal was introduced in 1977. The Happy Meal was inspired by a selection of food designed in a Guatemalan McDonald’s to suit children that was called “Menu Ronald”. The toys in Happy Meals often tie-in with some movie and so are part of an advertising campaign.

66 Musical direction for silence : TACET

“Tacet” is a musical direction meaning “be silent”. It is typically written on a score to instruct a particular voice or instrument to remain silent for a whole movement. “Tacet” is Latin for “it is silent”.

Down

3 Rock around the Christmas tree? : COAL

Apparently, the tradition of putting coal in the Christmas stocking of a poorly-behaved child comes simply from the proximity of the stocking (hanging on the fireplace) to a source of coal!

4 N.Y.C. mayor of the 1970s-’80s : ED KOCH

Ed Koch was a Democratic Representative in the US Congress from 1969-73, and then Mayor of New York City from 1978-89. From 1997 to 1999 Koch was a “judge” on the TV show “The People’s Court”. And in 2004, he collaborated with his sister Pat Koch, and wrote a children’s book called “Eddie, Harold’s Little Brother”, a tale about Ed’s own childhood experiences.

5 Like Pisa’s tower : LEANING

The city of Pisa sits right on the Italian coast, at the mouth of the River Arno. The city is perhaps most famous for its Leaning Tower. The tower is actually the campanile (bell tower) of the city’s cathedral, and it has been leaning since it was completed in 1173. Just shows you how important good foundations are …

6 “The Simpsons” storekeeper : APU

The fictional Kwik-E-Mart store is operated by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on “The Simpsons” TV show. Apu is married to Manjula, and the couple have eight children. The convenience store owner doesn’t seem to be making much use of his Ph.D in computer science that he earned in the US. Apu’s undergraduate degree is from Caltech (the Calcutta Technical Institute), where he graduated top of his class of seven million students …

7 Chest muscles, informally : PECS

“Pecs” is the familiar name for the chest muscle, which is more correctly known as the pectoralis major muscle. “Pectus” is the Latin word for “breast, chest”.

9 Do-over : MULLIGAN

There doesn’t seem to be a definitive account for the origin of the term “mulligan”, which is most often used for a shot do-over in golf. There are lots of stories about golfers named Mulligan though, and I suspect that one of them may be true …

10 Polo grounds? : ASIA

Marco Polo was a merchant from Venice and a famous traveler throughout Asia. Polo journeyed with his father and uncle on an epic tour of Central Asia and China that lasted 24 years. Marco tends to be the member of the party we remember today though, because it was he who documented their travels in a book called “Il Milione”.

12 Drum used in Indian music : TABLA

A tabla is a percussion instrument used mainly in the Indian subcontinent. The tabla consists of a pair of hand drums and is similar to bongos.

13 More Machiavellian : SLYER

Niccolo Machiavelli’s political treatise entitled “The Prince”, and the philosophical opinions expressed therein, gave rise to the term “Machiavellian” meaning “cunning and devious”, especially at the level of state politics. Indeed, it is said that the reception of Machiavelli’s work was such that he lent his name “Niccolo” to the language as the derivation of the term “Old Nick”, meaning “the Devil”,

27 Cheese ___ (snack) : NIPS

Cheese Nips are cheese-flavored crackers that first hit the shelves in 1955.

28 City called a “kommune” by its inhabitants : OSLO

Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an ancient city that was founded around 1048. The medieval city was destroyed by fire in 1624 and was rebuilt by the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV and renamed to Christiana. In 1877 there was an official change of the spelling of the city’s name to “Kristiana”, and then more recently in 1925 the name was restored to the original Oslo. Things have almost gone full circle and now the center of Oslo, the area that would have been contained by the original medieval walls, has apparently been renamed to Christiana.

30 Myanmar, formerly : BURMA

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is the official name of the Asian country that some nations still recognize as the Union of Burma.

35 Falco with four Emmys : EDIE

Actress Edie Falco won three Emmy Awards for playing Carmela Soprano on HBO’s outstanding drama series called “The Sopranos”. Falco also won an Emmy in 2010 for playing the title role in “Nurse Jackie”, an excellent black comedy.

38 Theater sign letters : SRO

Standing room only (SRO)

39 Storage unit : MEGABYTE

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.

44 Singer Franklin, Aretha’s older sister : ERMA

Erma Franklin was an R&B and gospel singer. She was the elder sister of Aretha Franklin. Erma toured with Aretha for a while, and even recorded backup vocals on her sister’s big hit “Respect”.

49 Purim heroine : ESTHER

Purim is a festival commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to wipe them out by Haman the Agagite, as recorded in the Book of Esther.

51 Kind of number in chemistry : ATOMIC

Purim is a festival commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to wipe them out by Haman the Agagite, as recorded in the Book of Esther.

52 Country from which the name “Buttigieg” comes : 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.

57 1988 Cy Young winner Hershiser : OREL

Orel Hershiser is big into poker now that he has retired from Major League Baseball. Hershiser lives in Las Vegas and when he isn’t working for ESPN, apparently he is at the poker tables, playing professionally. When Hershiser is eliminated in a poker tournament, he is in the habit of presenting the person who ousts him with an autographed baseball.

Cy Young was a pitcher in the major leagues from 1890-1911. Young is remembered for pitching the first perfect game of baseball’s modern era. Soon after he died in 1955, the Cy Young Award was created and is presented to the best pitcher in each baseball season.

65 Free ad, for short : PSA

Public service announcement (PSA)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 With 5-Across, warm-up circuits for race car drivers : PACE …
5 See 1-Across : … LAPS
9 Shoppers’ stops : MARTS
14 Youngest M.L.B. player to hit 500 homers : A-ROD
15 Sports sword : EPEE
16 Established : USUAL
17 Negative fast-food review? : WEAK SAUCE
19 Scooter ___, former White House adviser convicted in the Plame affair : LIBBY
20 Where shots might be served (or fired) in a western : SALOON
21 One of 14 in “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” : SYLLABLE
23 Madison Avenue award : CLIO
25 Arles affirmative : OUI
26 Droopy feature of a cocker spaniel : EAR
27 Negative fast-food review? : NOTHING BURGER
32 Home of Mount Carmel: Abbr. : ISR
33 “Despicable Me” supervillain : GRU
34 Julie ___, voicer of Marge Simpson : KAVNER
37 Ending with cyto- or proto- : -PLASM
40 Make a boo-boo : ERR
42 Emotionally demanding : NEEDY
43 Do after dark : SOIREE
45 Nickname for Maurice : MOE
47 Inc., in France : CIE
48 Negative fast-food review? : NO GREAT SHAKES
52 Charge (through) : MOW
54 Early hrs. : AMS
55 “Get outta here!” : SCAT!
56 Cirque du Soleil stars, e.g. : ACROBATS
59 Archipelago that’s a part of Portugal : AZORES
63 Guarded : LEERY
64 Certain fast-food offering … or what 17-, 27- and 47-Across certainly don’t add up to? : HAPPY MEAL
66 Musical direction for silence : TACET
67 “Anyone ___?” : ELSE
68 Keen on : INTO
69 Spot for a sprain : ANKLE
70 Inbox label counterpart of “New” : READ
71 Number written in parentheses on an income statement : COST

Down

1 Print sources, maybe : PAWS
2 Surveyor’s calculation : AREA
3 Rock around the Christmas tree? : COAL
4 N.Y.C. mayor of the 1970s-’80s : ED KOCH
5 Like Pisa’s tower : LEANING
6 “The Simpsons” storekeeper : APU
7 Chest muscles, informally : PECS
8 “Later!” : SEE YOU!
9 Do-over : MULLIGAN
10 Polo grounds? : ASIA
11 Gawk : RUBBERNECK
12 Drum used in Indian music : TABLA
13 More Machiavellian : SLYER
18 Divas’ deliveries : SOLI
22 Browse online without commenting, informally : LURK
24 Folklore fiend : OGRE
27 Cheese ___ (snack) : NIPS
28 City called a “kommune” by its inhabitants : OSLO
29 Complete disaster : TRAIN WRECK
30 Myanmar, formerly : BURMA
31 The “E” of N.Y.E. : EVE
35 Falco with four Emmys : EDIE
36 Choices at bakeries and liquor stores : RYES
38 Theater sign letters : SRO
39 Storage unit : MEGABYTE
41 Doesn’t keep : ROTS
44 Singer Franklin, Aretha’s older sister : ERMA
46 Got out : ESCAPED
49 Purim heroine : ESTHER
50 Indistinct : HAZY
51 Kind of number in chemistry : ATOMIC
52 Country from which the name “Buttigieg” comes : MALTA
53 Vast expanse : OCEAN
57 1988 Cy Young winner Hershiser : OREL
58 Attention-getting store sign : SALE
60 Western home of the National Automobile Museum : RENO
61 Grub : EATS
62 Opening for a time … or a dime : SLOT
65 Free ad, for short : PSA

22 thoughts on “0916-20 NY Times Crossword 16 Sep 20, Wednesday”

  1. 12:28 Had GYMNASTS before ACROBATS. The revealer for 64A is mis-clued. It should refer to 17, 27, and 48 Across. Bad editing by Mr. Shortz.

    Bill – your explanation for MULLIGAN falls under 7D, when it should have its own 9D entry.

  2. 23:24 stared at SW and NE for far too long. You’d think “ocean” would be obvious when I had the C and the N, but nooooo….. 🙂

  3. Woo hoo. 11:16, no errors, no lookups, no looking for fat finger goofs. This one restored some of my shattered ego from yesterday. @Ron, on my tablet app 64A was correct and highlighted the correct lines. Were you doing the print version?

    1. Interesting. Just now, I rechecked the app on my iPad, and found that 64A is indeed incorrect. Then, I downloaded an Across Lite version on my iMac and found that it has been corrected there. So it appears that, at least, attempts are being made to correct the error.

      Given my own record of making errors and having to correct them, I’m inclined to be forgiving. (“To err …” and all that … 😜.)

    2. Steve, I was doing the online version (from my desktop) actually late Tues. night and checked it again around 05:30 Pacific this morning and the backlight was for 17, 27, and 47, but 47 shows up as CIE – as Bill has it. I just did a refresh of my browser and it has now been fixed. Guess someone caught it and fixed both the clue and the linkage in the clues. So you started “after the fix was in” 🙂

      Bill – -will now have to update his explanation again.

  4. 11:39, no errors. Didn’t notice the cluing issue pointed out by Ron F. A bit difficult for a Wednesday, I thought …

    I’m not sure I should bring this up, but … sadly … one of my two remaining older brothers died this morning, at the age of 83. The first indication I had that he was ill was a couple of weeks ago, when he was said to be showing signs of dementia. Recent reports indicate that dementia may be one of the side effects of Covid-19. He was undoubtedly one of those refusing to take real precautions against the virus, on the grounds that the pandemic is just a politically-inspired myth. Do I have reason to wonder if these facts are related?

    Be safe, everyone … 😳.

    1. I’m sorry for your loss, Nonny. In February I lost my wife of 49 years to cancer. It’s tough…but I try to live in the present as much as possible.

  5. 14:08. Started a little slowly but got some momentum and crossed the finish line.

    WEAK SAUCE? I’d think anyone who uses that word is no fun at all and not cool….

    That meaning of Supercalifrag… doesn’t make any sense. Why would someone need to atone for educability? Perhaps they’re referring to a lack of educability? Maybe they should have used “incorrigible” instead? Am I really fretting about a Mary Poppins song on a Wednesday morning?? I need to get more productive.

    Totally whiffed on ASIA for “Polo grounds” until I came to the blog. Aha moment.

    Nonny – sorry for the loss. At times like these I want to say something meaningful and helpful, but really words don’t help in these situations.

    Best –

  6. Nonny, my condolences on your brother’s passing, the final earthly good bye is never easy. And of course you should mention it, we’re all kind of our own little family here. Stay strong.

  7. Was cruising, got sidetracked with the first game of world series and prolonged my solution time.. Got stuck in NE corner but I wasn’t sure as the cluing in this puzzle got more questionable as I moved along. Others picked up on a couple… Let alone trying to make something out of 47A as part of the theme.. Ppfffft.. Theme was of no value anyway.

    PAWS for prints? COAL around the tree? Shop at MARTS? What’s the opposite of a NOTHING BURGER??

  8. Bill — you’re right about the coal in the stocking, of course, but also, eons ago when I was little and growing up in a coal-producing area, we would stand the tree up in a washtub and pack coal around it to prop it up — that was my first association for the clue.

  9. Never heard of WEAK SAUCE so my initial guess for 1D was PADS thinking of stamp pads but after further consideration figured it out.

  10. 13:19, no errors. Initally guessed AEROBATS before ACROBATS and ORAL before OREL. Otherwise pretty clean today.
    Belated condolences to Nonny.

    1. Thanks, Bruce … I appreciate it … and it turns out that Covid-19 was not the cause of my brother’s death: best guess is that he had a kind of bone cancer and was doing his manly best to ignore it and keep on keeping on … 😳.

  11. Three words wrong. Did not know LURK, EVE, or KAVNER. All are connected in the grid. Guessed LURF (as a takeoff of SURF), guessed FARNER (since I know it is a real surname), and was stuck with ERE (since I could not get N.Y. as standing for anything other than NEW YORK).

    LURK seems like too strong of a word to mean simply not making comments. It is no big deal if someone does not want to leave comments. LURK conveys something more sinister.

    Belated condolences to you Nonny on the loss of your brother. I hope by now that the COVID question has been answered. If he did indeed have it then it should appear on the death certificate. Hang in there, my friend.

    1. Thanks, Joe. See my comment to Bruce, above. (Your comment only just now appeared. The time lag on the blog complicates things considerably.)

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