0923-20 NY Times Crossword 23 Sep 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Margit Christenson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Paper Trail

Themed answers each require PAPER at the front in order to make sense. And, those answers TRAIL through the grid, are connected:

  • 56A Series of documents that trace a path, as suggested by this puzzle : PAPER TRAIL
  • 1A Kitchen item on a roll : (PAPER) TOWEL
  • 23A Classroom missile that might be grounds for detention : (PAPER) PLANE
  • 25A Minor injury for an office clerk : (PAPER) CUT
  • 44A Lunch carrier, often : (PAPER) BAG
  • 45A One making empty threats : (PAPER) TIGER
  • 15D Lower-priced edition of a book : (PAPER)BACK
  • 27D Old-fashioned newsboy’s assignment : (PAPER) ROUTE
  • 28D Toy with tabs and interchangeable outfits : (PAPER) DOLL
  • 31D Alternative to a staple : (PAPER) CLIP
  • 47D Forms to process : (PAPER)WORK

Bill’s time: 6m 31s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Serum vessel : VIAL

Blood serum (plural “sera”) is the clear, yellowish part of blood i.e. that part which is neither a blood cell nor a clotting factor. Included in blood serum are antibodies, the proteins that are central to our immune system. Blood serum from animals that have immunity to a particular disease can be transferred to another individual, hence providing that second individual with some level of immunity. Blood serum used to pass on immunity can be called “antiserum”.

10 End of a “happy” simile : CLAM

Our phrase “happy as a clam” dates back to the mid-1600s. Back then it was a more lengthy expression: “happy as a clam in the mud at high tide”. The idea was that a clam would be happy in its muddy home at high tide, because no one from land could get to it and eat it.

A simile is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made between two things that are unalike. For example, a person might be described as “cute as a kitten” or as “busy as a bee”.

14 The Pequod and others : WHALEBOATS

The most famous whale-hunting ship in fiction has to be Herman Melville’s Pequod, which is featured in his novel “Moby Dick”. The Pequod is skippered by the maniacal Captain Ahab, and the young chief mate is the thoughtful and intellectual Starbuck. Starbuck’s name was lifted and used by the Seattle-based coffee company.

16 University of New Mexico mascot : LOBO

The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a school in Albuquerque, founded in 1889. The sports teams of UNM are called the Lobos, and there are two mascots who work the crowds called Lobo Louie and Lobo Lucy.

18 Milk sources for feta cheese : EWES

Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months before it is eaten.

19 One of 10 when one “hangs ten” : TOE

“To hang ten” is a verb used in surfing. A surfer hangs ten when he or she is able to walk forward and hang ten toes over the nose of the board because the back of the board is covered by the waves being ridden.

20 Philosopher who posited that the simplest explanation is the most likely one : OCCAM

Ockham’s Razor (also “Occam’s Razor”) is a principle in philosophy and science that basically states that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. This explanation is a corollary to the more exact statement of the principle, that one shouldn’t needlessly use assumptions in explaining something. The principle is referred to as “lex parsimoniae” in Latin, or “the law of parsimony”. Parsimony is being thrifty with money or resources.

26 Major attack : BROADSIDE

A broadside is a harshly spoken or written attack. The term comes from a naval attack in which all guns on one side of a warship are fired at the same time.

30 Musical riffing from Ella Fitzgerald : SCAT

Scat singing is a vocal improvisation found in the world of jazz. There aren’t any words as such in scat singing, just random nonsense syllables made up on the spot.

Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song”, had a hard and tough upbringing. She was raised by her mother alone in Yonkers, New York. Her mother died while Ella was still a schoolgirl, and around that time the young girl became less interested in her education. She fell in with a bad crowd, even working as a lookout for a bordello and as a Mafia numbers runner. She ended up in reform school, from which she escaped, and found herself homeless and living on the streets for a while. Somehow Fitzgerald managed to get herself a spot singing in the Apollo Theater in Harlem. From there her career took off and as they say, the rest is history.

32 “Kitchy-kitchy-___!” : KOO

“Kitchy-kitchy-koo” is a taunt uttered while tickling someone.

33 Number on a yarn skein : DYE LOT

As the color of dyed yarn can vary slightly from batch to batch, yarn manufacturers put a dye lot number on their product so that consumers can be sure to purchase yarn for a single project that has all been dyed in the same vat.

34 Mtn. measure : ALT

Altitude (alt.)

35 Some Japanese luxury cars : LEXUSES

Lexus is the luxury brand of the Toyota Motor Company. As an aside, Infiniti is the equivalent luxury brand for the Nissan Motor Company, and Acura is the more luxurious version of Honda’s models.

37 They: Fr. : ILS

“Ils” is the French for “they”, if not referring to feminine nouns (when “they” translates as “elles”).

41 Start for the Top 40 song titles “Sixteen,” “Time” and “You” : ONLY…

“Only Sixteen” was a hit for Sam Cooke in 1959. Dr. Hook released a cover version in 1976 that was even more successful than Cooke’s. The Dr. Hook version was actually banned by the BBC.

“Only Time” is a song written and recorded by Irish singer Enya. Released in 2000, “Only Time” is the biggest solo hit for Enya in the US.

The 1955 hit by the Platters is more completely called “Only You (and You Alone)”.

42 Focal point of an earthquake : EPICENTER

The epicenter is the point on the surface of the Earth that is directly above the focus of an earthquake.

45 One making empty threats : (PAPER) TIGER

A paper tiger is something that appears to be threatening like a tiger, but when challenged tends to back down. The term “paper tiger” is a direct translation of the Chinese phrase that has the same meaning.

46 Furry Endor resident : EWOK

The Ewoks are creatures that live on the moon of Endor in the “Star Wars” universe. First appearing in “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”, they’re the cute and cuddly little guys that look like teddy bears.

48 Primer libro del Nuevo Testamento : MATEO

In Spanish, “Mateo” (Matthew) is the “primer libro del Nuevo Testamento” (first book of the New Testament”).

52 Audio brand Beats by ___ : DRE

Beats by Dre is a brand of audio products made by Beats Electronics, a company that was co-founded by rapper Dr. Dre. Apple bought Beats for $3 billion in 2014, the largest acquisition by far in the company’s history.

55 Environmental activist Brockovich : ERIN

Erin Brockovich is an environmental activist who is famous for the role she played in building a case against Pacific Gas & Electric for contaminating drinking water. Her story was told in a 2000 film title “Erin Brockovich” starring Julia Roberts in the title role. Brockovich herself actually appeared in the film, as she was given a cameo as a waitress in a restaurant scene.

58 Immunity-boosting element : ZINC

The metal zinc is an essential trace element in the human diet. There are 2-4 grams of zinc in the body typically, with the highest concentrations in the eyes and the male prostate gland.

61 “Out of Africa” writer Dinesen : ISAK

“Isak Dinesen” was the pen name of the Danish author Baroness Karen Blixen. Blixen’s most famous title by far is “Out of Africa”, her account of the time she spent living in Kenya.

62 Bird on the Mexican flag : EAGLE

The Mexican flag consists of three vertical stripes of green, white and red. The national coat of arms is displayed in the center of the white stripe.

Down

4 Chicago trains : ELS

Elevated railroad (El)

6 Larynx : VOICE BOX

The voice box or larynx is where pitch and volume of sound are manipulated when we talk. The structure called the Adam’s apple that protrudes from the human neck is formed by the thyroid cartilage that surrounds the larynx. The Adam’s apple of males tends to increase in size during puberty, so the feature tended to be associated more with males in days gone by, perhaps leading to the name “Adam’s” apple. A doctor specializing in treating the larynx is a laryngologist.

7 Ending with Louis : -IANA

In the Louisiana Purchase, the US government bought French Louisiana from France. Soon after the purchase was made, the newly acquired land was split into the Orleans Territory (lands south of the 33rd parallel) and the Louisiana Territory (lands north of the 33rd parallel). The Louisiana Territory stretched northwards as far as the Great Lakes, and the seat of government was chosen as the city of St. Louis. Just to confuse everyone (such as foreigners like me), the Orleans Territory was admitted to the Union in 1812 as the State of Louisiana. At the same time, in a measure designed to prevent confusion, the Louisiana Territory was renamed to the Territory of Missouri.

8 At the previous speed, in scores : A TEMPO

“A tempo” is a Italian for “in time”. The phrase is used on a musical score to instruct a performer to return to the main tempo of the piece, perhaps after slowing down or speeding up.

9 It’s dropped before a trip : LSD

LSD (known colloquially as “acid”) is lysergic acid diethylamide. A Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 in a research project looking for medically efficacious ergot alkaloids. It wasn’t until some five years later when Hofmann ingested some of the drug accidentally that its psychedelic properties were discovered. Trippy, man …

22 Granola bit : NUT

The names “Granola” and “Granula” were trademarked back in the late 1800s for whole-grain foods that were crumbled and baked until crisp. Granola was created in Dansville, New York in 1894.

24 Full of cargo : LADEN

Cargo is freight carried by some vehicle. The term “cargo” comes into English via Spanish, ultimately deriving from the Latin “carricare” meaning “to load on a cart”.

29 Handicraft e-tail site : 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.

30 Fulfill : SATE

“Sate” is a variant of the older word “satiate”. Both terms can mean either to satisfy an appetite fully, or to eat to excess.

32 Writer Carolyn, the pen name of more than 10 authors of the Nancy Drew series : KEENE

The “Nancy Drew” mystery stories were produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The founder of the Syndicate hired a team of writers to produce the “Nancy Drew” novels, but listed the author of each book as the fictional Carolyn Keene.

35 “Hasta ___!” : LUEGO

“Hasta luego” translates literally from Spanish as “until later”, and is used to say “see you later”.

39 Something that’s “true whether or not you believe in it,” per Neil deGrasse Tyson : SCIENCE

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist who is noted for his ability to communicate science to the masses. Tyson is well known for his appearances on the great PBS show “Nova”.

41 Flavor imparter to chardonnay : OAK

The Chardonnay grape is believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region of France. Now it’s grown “everywhere”. Drinkers of California “Chards” seem to be particularly fond of oak flavor, so most Chardonnay wines are aged in oak barrels.

48 Mediterranean appetizer : MEZE

Meze is a platter of small dishes served as appetizers in several Mediterranean locales.

51 Longtime film rating org. : MPAA

The Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) film-rating system (PG-13, R, etc.) is purely voluntary and is not backed by any law. Movie theaters agree to abide by the rules that come with the MPAA ratings in exchange for access to new movies.

53 Cambodian currency : RIEL

The rial is the currency of Cambodia (as well as Yemen, Iran, Oman and Tunisia). Generally, there are 1,000 baisa in a rial.

The Kingdom of Cambodia is located in the Indochina Peninsula of Southeast Asia, and is bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand. “Cambodia” is the English version of the country’s name, which in Khmer is “Kampuchea”.

56 Letters on a tire : PSI

Pounds per square inch (PSI) is a measure of pressure.

57 Coastal inlet : RIA

A drowned valley might be called a ria or a fjord, and both are formed as sea levels rise. A ria is a drowned valley created by river erosion, and a fjord is a drowned valley created by glaciation.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Kitchen item on a roll : (PAPER) TOWEL
6 Serum vessel : VIAL
10 End of a “happy” simile : CLAM
14 The Pequod and others : WHALEBOATS
16 University of New Mexico mascot : LOBO
17 Like an illustrator’s fingertips, maybe : INK-STAINED
18 Milk sources for feta cheese : EWES
19 One of 10 when one “hangs ten” : TOE
20 Philosopher who posited that the simplest explanation is the most likely one : OCCAM
21 Tongue ties? : LACES
22 Microwave : NUKE
23 Classroom missile that might be grounds for detention : (PAPER) PLANE
25 Minor injury for an office clerk : (PAPER) CUT
26 Major attack : BROADSIDE
30 Musical riffing from Ella Fitzgerald : SCAT
32 “Kitchy-kitchy-___!” : KOO
33 Number on a yarn skein : DYE LOT
34 Mtn. measure : ALT
35 Some Japanese luxury cars : LEXUSES
37 They: Fr. : ILS
38 Need for a sobfest : TISSUE
40 Whole load : TON
41 Start for the Top 40 song titles “Sixteen,” “Time” and “You” : ONLY …
42 Focal point of an earthquake : EPICENTER
44 Lunch carrier, often : (PAPER) BAG
45 One making empty threats : (PAPER) TIGER
46 Furry Endor resident : EWOK
48 Primer libro del Nuevo Testamento : MATEO
50 “___ a doctor, but …” : I’M NOT
52 Audio brand Beats by ___ : DRE
55 Environmental activist Brockovich : ERIN
56 Series of documents that trace a path, as suggested by this puzzle : PAPER TRAIL
58 Immunity-boosting element : ZINC
59 Bouncy strips that test one’s balance : SLACKLINES
60 Fringe : EDGE
61 “Out of Africa” writer Dinesen : ISAK
62 Bird on the Mexican flag : EAGLE

Down

1 Ninny : TWIT
2 “Ai-yi-yi!” : OH NO!
3 What’s aft a ship’s aft : WAKE
4 Chicago trains : ELS
5 Make less tight, as a waistband : LET OUT
6 Larynx : VOICE BOX
7 Ending with Louis : -IANA
8 At the previous speed, in scores : A TEMPO
9 It’s dropped before a trip : LSD
10 Detox : CLEANSE
11 Feature of a crawl space : LOW CEILING
12 Have ___ in one’s bonnet : A BEE
13 Something soft to sit on : MOSS
15 Lower-priced edition of a book : (PAPER)BACK
21 ___-slipper : LADY’S
22 Granola bit : NUT
24 Full of cargo : LADEN
25 Activity that might involve setting out saucers of milk : CAT-SITTING
27 Old-fashioned newsboy’s assignment : (PAPER) ROUTE
28 Toy with tabs and interchangeable outfits : (PAPER) DOLL
29 Handicraft e-tail site : ETSY
30 Fulfill : SATE
31 Alternative to a staple : (PAPER) CLIP
32 Writer Carolyn, the pen name of more than 10 authors of the Nancy Drew series : KEENE
35 “Hasta ___!” : LUEGO
36 Result of whiplash, maybe : SORE NECK
39 Something that’s “true whether or not you believe in it,” per Neil deGrasse Tyson : SCIENCE
41 Flavor imparter to chardonnay : OAK
43 Tests : TRIALS
44 Hide, with “up” : BOTTLE …
47 Forms to process : (PAPER)WORK
48 Mediterranean appetizer : MEZE
49 Desertlike : ARID
51 Longtime film rating org. : MPAA
52 “Oh, fudge!” : DANG!
53 Cambodian currency : RIEL
54 Otherwise : ELSE
56 Letters on a tire : PSI
57 Coastal inlet : RIA

12 thoughts on “0923-20 NY Times Crossword 23 Sep 20, Wednesday”

  1. I finished it. That’s about all I can say. Got the theme early. This time it was the fill that messed me up. Lots of missteps. 20:49, no errors.

  2. 10:47. Got the theme very early and leaned on it heavily. 1 square wrong with RIAL/SLACK LINAS (??). I need to start proofreading.

    Best –

  3. 10:45, no errors.

    Did it last night while running an experiment aimed at shedding light on the posting issue: I posted a comment on an NYX blog page for my birthday and then checked every fifteen minutes to see whether it had shown up yet on nine device (iMac, old iPad, new iPad) and browser (Safari, FireFox, Chrome) combinations. It appeared immediately in Firefox on all devices and on my iMac in all browsers, but took three hours to appear for all other combinations. However, experiments this morning have given contradictory results, so about all I am able to conclude is that: 1) as others have said, there seems to be some magic in a 3-hour time span; and 2) your choice of a device and a browser definitely makes a difference.

    The other thing I learned from my experiment is that, no matter what choices I make, having an ad blocker in place is going to be essential. The profit motive has made the internet a rather unfriendly place … 😳.

  4. No errors…, speaking of ad blockers, my son gave me a search engine tool that rides on the internet and when I started using it, there were no ads popping up when I went to Bills blogs on both the LATIMES and NYTIMES. Lasted about a year.. Those ad folks eventually got through.. Can’t seem to stop any of them.. Now even Google home page allows ads.

  5. 28:56 no errors…48A, REALLY?
    I would have thought that 21D would be LADIES but I could be wrong.
    As far as ad blockers I just ignore them (sounds like Occam).
    Stay safe😀
    Go Ravens😀

  6. My usual gripe: 48A and 48 down. Why do I have to understand multiple foreign languages to solve an English language puzzle?
    I guessed right but it was a pure guess. Bah Humbug!

  7. 14:46, no errors. Figured out the theme about 1/2 way through, and used it to expedite the remaining fill. Agree with @Jack, 48A is an example of the egregious use of foreign language in an English language puzzle.
    39D: I have to disagree with Dr. Tyson. To me, “Science is true until it is proven to be untrue.”

  8. No errors but a couple of comments. In reference to 14-Across, the Pequod was a whaling “ship” and not a “boat”. The Pequod ship carried boats which were lowered when the whales were nearby.

    Also, Bill, you have given commentary about “the Rial”. However, the Cambodian currency is “the RIEL”. The two are not the same.

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