0921-20 NY Times Crossword 21 Sep 20, Monday

Constructed by: Daniel Larsen
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: We Might Write Rhymes

Themed answers each comprise two words that rhyme with “write”, for example:

  • 17A Time to watch boxing on TV : FIGHT NIGHT
  • 30A One rushing in to save the day : WHITE KNIGHT
  • 47A It makes your pupils constrict : BRIGHT LIGHT
  • 64A “Precisely!” : QUITE RIGHT!

Bill’s time: 4m 57s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 Literary heroine who cries “Curiouser and curiouser!” : ALICE

In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, Alice follows the white rabbit down a rabbit hole and finds a bottle labelled “DRINK ME”. When she drinks the contents, it causes her to shrink. She also sees a cake adorned with the words “EAT ME” written using currants, and when she eats the cake she grows so big she finds it hard to stand up. After eating the cake, she utters the words, “Curiouser and curiouser”.

15 Apex predator of the ocean : ORCA

An apex predator is at the top of a food chain, and has no other natural predators. Examples are the orca (“killer whale”) in the oceans, the lion in Africa, and the Tyrannosaurus in the days of the dinosaurs.

16 Bear whose bed is too soft, in a children’s story : MAMA

The story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was first recorded in 1837 in England, although the narrative was around before it was actually written down. The original fairy tale was rather gruesome, but successive versions became more family-oriented. The character that eventually became Goldilocks was originally an elderly woman, and the three “nameless” bears became Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.

24 Like getting a $2 bill in change : RARE

The US two-dollar bill features a portrait of Thomas Jefferson. The bill was introduced in 1862, and withdrawn in 1966. It was reintroduced in 1976, and is still legal tender. That said, there are relatively few two-dollar bills in circulation. Some people even hold that possession of a two-dollar bill is bad luck.

38 One of the housewives on “Desperate Housewives” : BREE

The “Desperate Housewives” character Bree Van de Kamp is played by Marcia Cross.

The TV drama “Desperate Housewives” ran for eight seasons. During pre-production, the show was called “Wisteria Lane” and then “The Secret Lives of Housewives”. The “desperate housewives” lived on the fictional Wisteria Lane in the fictional town of Fairview in the fictional Eagle State. That’s a lot of fiction …

43 Noggin : BEAN

Slang terms for “head” are “bean”, “coconut”, “gourd”, “noodle” and “noggin”.

47 It makes your pupils constrict : BRIGHT LIGHT

The pupil of the eye is the hole located in the center of the iris through which light enters the retina. The term “pupil” came into English via French from the latin “pupilla”, which is the diminutive form of “pupa” meaning “girl, doll”. The term came about due to the tiny doll-like image that one can see of oneself when looking into the center of another’s eyes.

50 Hawaiian kind of porch : LANAI

A lanai is a type of veranda, and a design that originated in Hawaii. A kind blog reader tells me that the etymology of “lanai” seems unclear, but that the island name of “Lana’i” is not related.

51 Floral wreath : LEI

“Lei” is a Hawaiian word meaning “garland, wreath”, although in more general terms a lei is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

56 Venusians and Martians, in brief : ETS

Extraterrestrial (ET)

60 Martial art with a belt system : KARATE

“Karate” is a Japanese word meaning “empty hand”, and the related word “karaoke” translates as “empty orchestra”.

67 Greek counterpart of Cupid : EROS

Cupid was the god of love in Roman mythology. Cupid’s name comes from the Latin verb “cupere” meaning “to desire”. Cupid’s Latin name was Amor, and his Greek counterpart was Eros.

68 Citrus fruit that won’t win any beauty contests? : UGLI

The ugli fruit is a hybrid of an orange and a tangerine that was first discovered growing wild in Jamaica where most ugli fruit comes from today. “UGLI” is a trademark name that is a variant of “ugly”, a nod to the fruit’s unsightly wrinkled rind.

69 First-stringers : A-TEAM

We’ve been using the phrases “first string” and “second string” in athletics since the mid-19th century. The expressions come from archery, in which a competitor would carry a second bowstring in case the first broke.

70 Snakes spawned by Medusa’s blood, in Greek myth : ASPS

In Greek mythology, Medusa was one of the monstrous female creatures known as Gorgons. According to one version of the Medusa myth, she was once a beautiful woman. She incurred the wrath of Athena who turned her lovely hair into serpents and made her face hideously ugly. Anyone who gazed directly at the transformed Medusa would turn into stone. She was eventually killed by the hero Perseus, who beheaded her. He carried Medusa’s head and used its powers as a weapon, before giving it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. One myth holds that as Perseus was flying over Egypt with Medusa’s severed head, drops of her blood fell to the ground and formed asps.

Down

2 Tony who played for 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins : OLIVA

Tony Oliva is a former Major League Baseball player who played his whole career for the Minnesota Twins. Oliva suffered from severe knee problems due to multiple injuries, forcing him to play the last four years of his career as a designated hitter (DH). On the bright side, he went into the history books in 1973 when he became the first DH to hit a MLB home run.

3 Large hybrid cat : LIGER

The tiger is the largest species in the cat family. Tigers have been known to breed with lions. A liger is a cross between a male lion and female tiger. A tigon is a cross between a female lion and a male tiger.

4 Brownish-yellow : OCHRE

Ocher is a light, yellowish-brown color, although variations of the pigment are possible such as red ocher and purple ocher. “Ocher” is usually spelled “ochre” on the other side of the pond.

6 Kind of pond in a Japanese garden : KOI

Koi are fish that are also known as Japanese carp. Koi have been bred for decorative purposes and there are now some very brightly colored examples found in Japanese water gardens.

7 Small work unit : ERG

An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, with one joule comprising 10 million ergs. It has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off. The term comes from “ergon”, the Greek word for work.

9 Alliance HQ’d in Brussels : NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an international military alliance that was established in 1949. NATO headquarters was initially set up in London, moved to Paris in 1952, and then to Brussels 1967.

10 Bird in Liberty Mutual ads : EMU

Liberty Mutual is an insurance company based in Boston. The business was founded in 1912 as the Massachusetts Employees Insurance Association (MEIA). Liberty Mutual has a famous advertising icon named LiMu Emu.

11 Annual New Orleans celebration : MARDI GRAS

“Mardi Gras” translates from French as “Fat Tuesday”, and gets its name from the practice of eating rich foods on the eve of the fasting season known as Lent. Lent starts on the next day, called Ash Wednesday.

13 Pepsi Challenge, for one : TASTE TEST

The Pepsi Challenge is a marketing campaign that PepsiCo introduced in 1975 as a tactic in the Cola Wars with the Coca-Cola Company. The challenge itself involves a blind taste test.

18 Witness to the first rainbow in the Bible : NOAH

According to the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Noah was instructed to build his ark 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. That’s about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.

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.

26 Glittery addition to a Christmas tree : TINSEL

Back in the mid-1400s, the word “tinsel” applied to cloth into which was woven gold or silver thread. The term came from the Middle French word “estincelle” meaning “spark, spangle”, which ultimately derived from the Latin “scintilla” meaning “spark”. By the end of the 1500s, “tinsel” described thin strips of shiny metal. The word “Tinseltown” wasn’t applied to Hollywood until 1972.

27 Info on an airport monitor, for short : ETA

Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

30 Repeated question from an owl? : WHO

Much of an owl’s diet consists of small mammals. As a result, humans have used owls for centuries to control rodent populations, usually by placing a nest box for owls on a property. Despite the fact that owls and humans live together in relative harmony, owls have been known to attack humans from time to time. Celebrated English bird photographer Eric Hosking lost an eye when attacked by a tawny owl that he was trying to photograph. Hosking wrote a 1970 autobiography with the wry title “An Eye for a Bird”.

32 When doubled, a popular number puzzle : KEN

KenKen is an arithmetic and logic puzzle invented quite recently, in 2004 by a Japanese math teacher named Tetsuya Miyamoto. “Ken” is the Japanese word for “cleverness”.

33 Foamy drink invented in Taiwan : BUBBLE TEA

Bubble tea, sometimes called “boba tea”, is a tea-based drink from Taiwan. The “bubbles” are chewy tapioca balls that are usually added to the drink.

36 Cuban line dance : CONGA

The conga line is a dance that originated as a Cuban carnival march. It became popular in the US starting in the thirties. The dance is apparently named after the Congo region of Africa, and it was originated by slaves who were brought from there to Cuba.

40 Explosive stuff : TNT

“TNT” is an abbreviation for “trinitrotoluene”. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

48 Au courant : HIP

“Au courant” means “up-to-date” and comes into English directly from French, in which language it has the same meaning.

52 ___-Lay (corn chip maker) : FRITO

The manufacturers of Frito and Lay potato chips merged to form Frito-Lay in 1961. Frito-Lay then merged with Pepsi-Cola in 1965 to form PepsiCo.

54 ___ Hunt, role for Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible” : ETHAN

It was Tom Cruise’s idea to adapt the “Mission: Impossible” television series for the big screen, and it became the first project for Cruise’s own production company. Tom Cruise took on the starring role of Ethan Hunt, the point man for the Impossible Missions Force (IMF).

61 Horse developed in the desert : ARAB

The Arab (also “Arabian”) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.

66 “My country, ___ of thee …” : ‘TIS

The patriotic song “America” is also known by its first line, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. The song was written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831, and was the de facto national anthem of the country until “The Star-Spangled Banner” was declared the official anthem in 1931. The melody of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” is identical with the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen”.

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Musical pieces for one instrument : SOLOS
6 Enthusiastic : KEEN
10 Shoot out : EMIT
14 Literary heroine who cries “Curiouser and curiouser!” : ALICE
15 Apex predator of the ocean : ORCA
16 Bear whose bed is too soft, in a children’s story : MAMA
17 Time to watch boxing on TV : FIGHT NIGHT
19 Vases : URNS
20 To the greatest extent : EVER SO
21 “Hmm, I’m intrigued …” : OOH …
23 . : DOT
24 Like getting a $2 bill in change : RARE
25 Gulped : ATE
28 Modern request to attend : E-VITE
30 One rushing in to save the day : WHITE KNIGHT
33 Mess up : BOTCH
37 “___ your price!” : NAME
38 One of the housewives on “Desperate Housewives” : BREE
39 Tears out of the ground : UPROOTS
41 Ingratiates : ENDEARS
43 Noggin : BEAN
44 ___ at hand : NEAR
46 It’s on the plus side : ASSET
47 It makes your pupils constrict : BRIGHT LIGHT
50 Hawaiian kind of porch : LANAI
51 Floral wreath : LEI
52 Stay in touch? : FEEL
56 Venusians and Martians, in brief : ETS
57 Motion accompanying the words “There, there” : PAT
60 Martial art with a belt system : KARATE
62 Carry : TOTE
64 “Precisely!” : QUITE RIGHT!
67 Greek counterpart of Cupid : EROS
68 Citrus fruit that won’t win any beauty contests? : UGLI
69 First-stringers : A-TEAM
70 Snakes spawned by Medusa’s blood, in Greek myth : ASPS
71 Requests : ASKS
72 Carried : BORNE

Down

1 Less risky : SAFER
2 Tony who played for 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins : OLIVA
3 Large hybrid cat : LIGER
4 Brownish-yellow : OCHRE
5 Goes down, as the sun on the horizon : SETS
6 Kind of pond in a Japanese garden : KOI
7 Small work unit : ERG
8 Sound in a long, empty hallway : ECHO
9 Alliance HQ’d in Brussels : NATO
10 Bird in Liberty Mutual ads : EMU
11 Annual New Orleans celebration : MARDI GRAS
12 Paradoxical response to a door knock : I’M NOT HERE!
13 Pepsi Challenge, for one : TASTE TEST
18 Witness to the first rainbow in the Bible : NOAH
22 Rooster’s mate : HEN
26 Glittery addition to a Christmas tree : TINSEL
27 Info on an airport monitor, for short : ETA
29 Emanations to be picked up : VIBES
30 Repeated question from an owl? : WHO
31 Come out : EMERGE
32 When doubled, a popular number puzzle : KEN
33 Foamy drink invented in Taiwan : BUBBLE TEA
34 Ones “standing by” in an infomercial : OPERATORS
35 Railroad station : TRAIN STOP
36 Cuban line dance : CONGA
40 Explosive stuff : TNT
42 Slangy pronoun : DAT
45 Be sick : AIL
48 Au courant : HIP
49 Walk in the woods : HIKE
52 ___-Lay (corn chip maker) : FRITO
53 Enthusiastic : EAGER
54 ___ Hunt, role for Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible” : ETHAN
55 “I’ve got this” : LET ME
58 Water color : AQUA
59 Harbor boats : TUGS
61 Horse developed in the desert : ARAB
63 Curve in the road : ESS
65 Kind : ILK
66 “My country, ___ of thee …” : ‘TIS

7 thoughts on “0921-20 NY Times Crossword 21 Sep 20, Monday”

    1. Oops. This post was supposed to have gone on the LAT blog. Very distracted today … 😳.

      Does anyone know a priest who can perform an exorcism on a calendar year? We need one … 😳.

  1. 9:51, no errors (but I made a royal mess out of it, for some reason) … nevertheless, what ends well and all that … 😜

    Hoping posting problems have been fixed …

  2. 8:53. A little tricky in spots by Monday standards. Strange origin of the word “pupil”.

    I’d never heard of a LIGER or a “tigon”. I Googled images of them, and they are odd looking creatures indeed. They look like something out of Greek mythology – a lion’s head and a tiger’s body or vice versa.

    Best –

  3. 7:40, no errors. Relatively smooth by my paper standards, but slow none the less.

    Programming note for Bill’s post: “The Wave Learning Festival Crossword Class” is also credited on this grid. Kind of interesting in a way.

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