1014-20 NY Times Crossword 14 Oct 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Rich Proulx
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Digit

Themed clues each refer to the DIGITS used in a specific hand signal. Themed answers are the meanings of those signals:

  • 66A What each number in the starred clues represents : DIGIT
  • 18A *1st and 5th : HANG LOOSE (shaka sign)
  • 24A *1st separate, 2nd and 3rd together, and 4th and 5th together : VULCAN SALUTE (“Live long and prosper”)
  • 39A *2nd and 3rd separated : VICTORY (v-sign)
  • 49A *1st : CAN I GET A LIFT (thumbing a ride)
  • 60A *2nd and 3rd crossed : HOPEFULLY (fingers crossed)

Bill’s time: 10m 59s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 View from Liechtenstein : ALP

There are eight Alpine countries:

  • Austria
  • Slovenia
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Germany
  • Monaco
  • Italy

Liechtenstein is a tiny European country with an area of just over 61 square miles that is located in the Alps between Switzerland and Austria. It is one of only two doubly-landlocked nations in the world, the other being Uzbekistan. Liechtenstein has the highest gross domestic product per person in the world. The country is a winter sports haven attracting lots of visitors, and is also a tax haven with a strong financial center. There are actually more registered companies in Liechtenstein than there are citizens!

14 Water slide : CHUTE

A chute is an inclined plane or channel through which things pass under the influence of gravity.

15 Word that becomes its own opposite if its first letter is removed : SHE

“She” becomes “he” …

16 Hall’s partner : OATES

Daryl Hall & John Oates are a pop music duo who were most successful in the late seventies and early eighties. They had six number one hits, including the 1982 release “Maneater”.

22 Garment often made of silk : SARI

The item of clothing called a “sari” (also “saree”) is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that it is unstitched along the whole of its length. The strip of cloth can range from four to nine meters long (that’s a lot of material!). The sari is usually wrapped around the waist, then draped over the shoulder leaving the midriff bare. I must say, it can be a beautiful item of clothing.

23 Kid-centric org. : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

24 *1st separate, 2nd and 3rd together, and 4th and 5th together : VULCAN SALUTE

The Vulcan salute is the hand gesture devised and introduced by Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock on the original “Star Trek” TV series. The salute is made by raising the hand with the palm forward and with the fingers parted between the middle and ring finger. The gesture is often accompanied with the words “live long and prosper”.

28 Encourage : EGG ON

The verb “to edge” has been used to mean to incite, to urge on, from the 16th century. Somewhere along the way “edge” was mistakenly replaced with “egg”, giving us our term “to egg on” meaning “to goad”.

32 Spongy growth : MOSS

There is a traditionally-held belief that in the northern hemisphere there is a heavier growth of moss on the north-facing side of trees. The assumption is that the sun creates a drier environment on the south side of the tree, an environment that is less conducive to the growth of moss.

37 Chateaux-lined river : LOIRE

The Loire is the longest river in France. It is so long that it drains one-fifth of the nation’s land mass. The Loire rises in the southeast, in the Cevennes mountain range, then heads north then due west, emptying into the Bay of Biscay at the city of Nantes. The Loire Valley is home to some of France’s most famous wine production, and includes the wine regions of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Muscadet.

39 *2nd and 3rd separated : VICTORY

One has to be careful making that V-sign depending where you are in the world. Where I came from, the V-for-victory (or peace) sign has to be made with the palm facing outwards. If the sign is made with the palm facing inwards, it can be interpreted as a very obscene gesture.

55 “The Simpsons” shopkeeper : 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 …

58 Four-time Grammy winner Lovett : LYLE

As well as being famous in his own right, country singer Lyle Lovett is known for his 1993 marriage to actress Julia Roberts. The pair had a whirlwind romance lasting just three weeks before they eloped and were wed. The marriage itself was also relatively whirlwind, lasting less than two years.

63 Adult insect stage : IMAGO

The imago is an intermediate stage in the development of an insect. All four stages are embryo, larva, pupa and imago.

65 Playbill part, informally : BIO

I get quite a kick out of reading the bios in “Playbill” as some of them can be really goofy and entertaining. “Playbill” started off in 1884 in New York as an in-house publication for just one theater on 21st St. You can’t see any decent-sized production these days anywhere in the United States without being handed a copy of “Playbill”.

67 “They’re creepy and they’re ___” (start of the “Addams Family” theme song) : KOOKY

“Kooky” is a slang word meaning “out there, crazy”. The term has been around since the beatnik era, and it may be a shortened version of the word “cuckoo”.

In the television sitcom “The Addams Family”, the family had a frequent visitor called Cousin Itt. Itt is a short man with long hair that runs from his head to the floor. Cousin Itt was played by Italian actor Felix Silla.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re altogether ooky,
The Addams Family.

68 Dot follower : EDU

The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

  • .com (commercial enterprise)
  • .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
  • .mil (US military)
  • .org (not-for-profit organization)
  • .gov (US federal government entity)
  • .edu (college-level educational institution)

69 14 pounds, in Britain : STONE

We used pounds and stones in Ireland, for all my life there. However, such measures no longer have any “official” status in the country, as the Irish made the conversion to the metric system. Having said that, many folks still tend to measure body weight in stones and pounds. One stone is equal to fourteen pounds.

Down

1 When Aida dies in Verdi’s “Aida” : ACT IV

“Aida” is a celebrated opera by Giuseppe Verdi that is based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radames is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then complications arise!

2 Former performing orca : SHAMU

Shamu was the name of the third orca (aka “killer whale”) ever to be featured in a public exhibition. Shamu starred in a popular SeaWorld show in San Diego in the sixties. After she died in 1971, her name lived on as the “stage name” of orca shows in different SeaWorld parks. That original Shamu was retired after she grabbed and refused to let go of the leg of one of her trainers.

5 Extra on “Star Trek” : YEOMAN

In the US Navy, a yeoman is tasked with administrative and clerical work. In fact, the position of yeoman is the oldest rating in the navy. You’ll also see a lot of yeomen in the background on “Star Trek”.

7 Capital at an elevation of 12,000 feet : LHASA

Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet, with the name “Lhasa” translating as “place of the gods”. However, Lhasa used to be called Rasa, a name that translates into the less auspicious “goat’s place”. Lhasa was also once called the “Forbidden City” due to its inaccessible location high in the Himalayas and a traditional hostility exhibited by residents to outsiders. The “forbidden” nature of the city has been reinforced since the Chinese took over Tibet in the early 1950s as it has been difficult for foreigners to get permission to visit Lhasa.

10 Language with more than 25 vowel sounds : LAO

Lao, the language of Laos, does not use spaces between words (or periods!), although this is apparently changing. Spaces are used between sentences and clauses.

12 Soap that comes in blue-green bars : ZEST

Zest is a brand of soap owned by Procter & Gamble in 1958. Actually, Zest was originally promoted as a cleansing product that wasn’t soap at all, one that did not leave a soap scum. However, the “not-soap” concept has now been dropped, and Zest has been used as the name of a regular old bar of soap since 2007.

19 Minions’ leader in “Despicable Me” : 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.

21 Long-stemmed mushroom : ENOKI

Enokitake (also known as “enoki”) are long and thin white mushrooms often added to soups or salads.

30 Gold and silver have them, but not bronze : ORES

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Compare this with bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. Brass and bronze are often mistaken for each other.

32 Biblical kingdom in modern-day Jordan : MOAB

In the Bible, Moab was the first son of Lot, and the founder of the Kingdom of Moab. Moab was located on a plateau above the Dead Sea.

33 Cajun cooking staple : OKRA

The plant known as okra is mainly grown for its edible green pods. The pods are said to resemble “ladies’ fingers”, which is an alternative name for the plant. Okra is known as “ngombo” in Bantu, a name that might give us the word “gumbo”, the name for the name of the southern Louisiana stew that includes okra as a key ingredient.

36 Goddesses of the seasons : HORAE

The Horae of Greek mythology were the goddesses of the seasons. There were several Horae, many of them associated with natural portions of time. Most commonly there were three, and sometimes ten (later twelve) Horae, or “Hours”, associated with the times of the day. For example, Auge was the goddess of first light, Gymnastika was the goddess of the morning hour for exercise, and Dysis was the goddess of sunset.

43 [Not my error] : [SIC]

[Sic] indicates that a quotation is written as originally found, perhaps including a typo. “Sic” is Latin for “thus, like this”. The term is more completely written as “sic erat scriptum”, which translates as “thus was it written”.

50 Where Ross taught paleontology on “Friends,” for short : NYU

New York University (NYU) comprises fifteen schools, one of which is the Tisch School of the Arts. The Tisch is famous for its acting program, with notable alumni such as Debra Messing, Christopher Guest and Josh Radnor.

Ross Geller is the character on “Friends” played by David Schwimmer. The role was actually written with Schwimmer in mind, and so Ross was the first of the “Friends” to be cast.

Paleontology is the study of prehistoric life. My favorite “paleontologist” is Dr. David Huxley played by Cary Grant opposite Katharine Hepburn in the wonderful 1938 comedy “Bringing Up Baby”.

56 Word with shirt or grounds : POLO

René Lacoste was a French tennis player who went into the clothing business, and came up with a more comfortable shirt that players could use. This became known as a “tennis shirt”. When it was adopted for use in the sport of polo, the shirts also became known as “polo shirts”. The “golf shirt” is basically the same thing.

The original Polo Grounds in New York city was built in 1876 and as one might expect, it was used to play polo. The property was leased in 1880 by the New York Metropolitans and was converted into a baseball stadium. Over the years, the stadium was replaced, three times in all, but the “Polo Grounds” name was retained.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Lab test : ASSAY
6 View from Liechtenstein : ALP
9 Square : PLAZA
14 Water slide : CHUTE
15 Word that becomes its own opposite if its first letter is removed : SHE
16 Hall’s partner : OATES
17 So much, in music : TANTO
18 *1st and 5th : HANG LOOSE
20 “Count me in” : I’M GAME
22 Garment often made of silk : SARI
23 Kid-centric org. : PTA
24 *1st separate, 2nd and 3rd together, and 4th and 5th together : VULCAN SALUTE
27 Tied in ___ : A KNOT
28 Encourage : EGG ON
32 Spongy growth : MOSS
34 Potent strain of marijuana : KUSH
37 Chateaux-lined river : LOIRE
38 Sanctions : OKS
39 *2nd and 3rd separated : VICTORY
41 Irk : VEX
42 Response to “Am not!” : ARE SO!
44 Newswoman Phillips : KYRA
45 Spot for a sitting duck : NEST
46 101 : BASIC
47 Some natural hairstyles : AFROS
49 *1st : CAN I GET A LIFT
55 “The Simpsons” shopkeeper : APU
58 Four-time Grammy winner Lovett : LYLE
59 Display contempt for, in a way : SPIT ON
60 *2nd and 3rd crossed : HOPEFULLY
63 Adult insect stage : IMAGO
64 ___ and wiser : OLDER
65 Playbill part, informally : BIO
66 What each number in the starred clues represents : DIGIT
67 “They’re creepy and they’re ___” (start of the “Addams Family” theme song) : KOOKY
68 Dot follower : EDU
69 14 pounds, in Britain : STONE

Down

1 When Aida dies in Verdi’s “Aida” : ACT IV
2 Former performing orca : SHAMU
3 Popular beachwear : SUNGLASSES
4 Charges : ATTACKS
5 Extra on “Star Trek” : YEOMAN
6 Outcome of being fired? : ASH
7 Capital at an elevation of 12,000 feet : LHASA
8 Disciplinary : PENAL
9 With “please” or “if I may,” say : POLITELY
10 Language with more than 25 vowel sounds : LAO
11 Perched on : ATOP
12 Soap that comes in blue-green bars : ZEST
13 Far from harbor : ASEA
19 Minions’ leader in “Despicable Me” : GRU
21 Long-stemmed mushroom : ENOKI
25 Unable to answer any more clues, say : STUCK
26 ___ trip : EGO
29 Tries something : GIVES IT A GO
30 Gold and silver have them, but not bronze : ORES
31 “Step right up!” : NEXT!
32 Biblical kingdom in modern-day Jordan : MOAB
33 Cajun cooking staple : OKRA
35 Pen that’s full of oink? : STY
36 Goddesses of the seasons : HORAE
39 Low, creaky speaking register : VOCAL FRY
40 Traverses 48-Down, in a way : RAFTS
43 [Not my error] : [SIC]
45 High rollers’ preference, perhaps : NO LIMIT
48 Water hazards : RAPIDS
50 Where Ross taught paleontology on “Friends,” for short : NYU
51 “Goodness me!” : I’LL BE!
52 Extremely cold : GELID
53 Strand at an airport, maybe : FOG IN
54 Govt.-backed security : T-NOTE
55 “Well, I guess so” : AH, OK
56 Word with shirt or grounds : POLO
57 Off-the-neck style : UPDO
61 Apt rhyme for “shriek” : EEK!
62 This puzzle’s solver : YOU

8 thoughts on “1014-20 NY Times Crossword 14 Oct 20, Wednesday”

  1. 11:56, no errors. I got all the theme answers from crosses and figured out what they meant only after finishing the puzzle. Cute idea, in any case.

  2. 15:09 Once I got DIGIT, it made more sense. Then I used my hand to complete the missing letters for the theme since I had not made sense of them early on. Had VULCAN early, but did not know it was called a SALUTE. Several early errors such as ROBE vs. SARI, KNOTS vs. AKNOT, COM vs. EDU, etc.

    1. @Ron F …

      You used your hand?! Cheat, cheat!!! … 😜

      Actually, of course, I’m impressed (and a bit envious) that you figured out the gimmick in time to make use of it … 🙂.

  3. 18:38. I had no idea what was going on with the theme. Once I finished I figured it out. I wonder if it would behoove me to take the time to figure out the theme and use it while solving. Hmm

    I’m still having delay issues – usually in the 3 hour range. Just curious if everyone else is as well. Once in a while my posts will show up right away. Occasionally the blog will say there are 5 comments but only 2 are showing. I know 3 will follow shortly. I’ve tried to figure out a pattern or a reason, but I’m at a loss. Any ideas?

    Best –

    1. I also see the 3 hr. delay for the last 3 or so weeks and the same thing with the comment count. I have not had anything show up in 5-10 minutes. Always about 3 hrs. The same is true with Bill’s blog for the LA times puzzle. I figure something changed with his hosting S/W.

      Posted this at 12:37 pm, Pacific.

  4. 18:45, no errors. Very clever theme. This week continues with what I consider harder than normal puzzles. Can’t wait to see what Hell is in store for me tomorrow. 🤯

  5. Dang…I still took last place!! Oh well, it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it…

    Also getting the posting delay. With that also seeing “no comments”, so I post mine, it doesn’t show up, Nonny’s and Ron F’s will be there. Our parents didn’t have these problems!!! 🤣

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