1015-20 NY Times Crossword 15 Oct 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Lindsey Hobbs
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Down Under

Themed answers require us to go DOWN to the row UNDER in the grid for completion:

  • 18A Locale suggested by this puzzle’s theme : AUSTRALIA
  • 55A Nickname for 18-Across, and a hint to how four answers in this puzzle are to be entered : DOWN UNDER
  • 14A Web-footed mammals : PLATY/PUSES
  • 31A Big hopper : KANG/AROO
  • 40A Brand of spread for sandwiches and toast : VEGE/MITE
  • 59A Instrument played using circular breathing : DIDGE/RIDOO

Bill’s time: 10m 58s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • VEGEMITE (Vegamite)
  • EFREM (Efram)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Key for Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” : E- FLAT

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous “1812 Overture” is more correctly called “The Year 1812 (festival overture in E-flat major)”. Tchaikovsky wrote the piece in 1880 as a commemoration of Russia’s successful defence in face of an 1812 invasion by Napoleon’s French Army and allies. The “1812” is renowned for its use of cannon fire, ringing bells and a robust brass fanfare at its climax.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was one of Russia’s most celebrated composers of the romantic period. Tchaikovsky was helped in his career by Russian businesswoman Nadezhda von Meck, who served as his patroness for 13 years. Famously, von Meck provided financial support so that he could devote himself to composition, but on condition that Tchaikovsky was never to meet her. The pair never did meet, but they did exchange over 1,200 letters.

6 A house may be built on it : SPEC

Something that is created on spec is done so without having a specific buyer or consumer in mind. Many crosswords are constructed on spec, and then submitted to the likes of the “New York Times” or “Los Angeles Times” in the hope of publication.

10 Burlesque accessories : BOAS

The word “burlesque” came into English from French, although the word is rooted in the Italian “burla”, the word for a joke, or mockery. A burlesque is work of literature, drama or music that is intended to amuse and cause laughter. Burlesques in the US took on a variety show format and were popular in the US from the 1860s. Over time, the variety acts started to include female striptease, and the term “burlesque” has come to be mainly associated with such entertainment. The derivative verb “to burlesque” means “to imitate mockingly”.

14 Web-footed mammals : PLATYPUSES

The platypus (plural “platypuses” or “platypi”) is one of only five mammalian species that we know of that lay eggs rather than give birth to live young. The platypus is a native of Eastern Australia, and it is a weird creature to say the least. It’s appearance is bizarre enough, with its bill that resembles that of a duck, but it is also poisonous. The platypus has a spur on its hind foot that can inject venom and cause severe pain in humans.

15 A goose egg : NADA

The use of the phrase “goose egg” to mean “zero” is baseball slang that dates back to the 1860s. The etymology is as expected: the numeral zero and a goose egg are both large and round.

16 Gimlet garnish : LIME

A gimlet is a relatively simple cocktail that is traditionally made using just gin and lime juice. The trend in more recent times is to replace the gin with vodka.

18 Locale suggested by this puzzle’s theme : AUSTRALIA

The nation and continent of Australia takes its name from the Latin “Terra Australis” meaning “South Land”. The term “Terra Australis Incognita” (unknown land to the south) dates back to ancient Rome, when it described a land of legend.

23 Virginia Woolf’s “___ Dalloway” : MRS

“Mrs. Dalloway” is a novel by Virginia Woolf that was first published in 1925. The story tells of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a day in which she is preparing for a party that she is hosting. The novel has been compared to “Ulysses” by James Joyce, a story about a day in the life of Leopold Bloom.

24 Statue of ___, figure atop the U.S. Capitol : FREEDOM

The bronze statue that sits atop the US Capitol is today called the Statue of Freedom. When the statue was designed by Thomas Crawford and installed in 1863, it was named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace. Crawford created the plaster model in his workshop, but passed away in 1857, some years before his work was set in place on its magnificent platform.

26 ___ culpa : MEA

Many Roman Catholics are very familiar with the Latin phrase “mea culpa” meaning “my fault”, as it is used in the Latin Mass. The additional term “mea maxima culpa” translates as “my most grievous fault”.

29 Autobahn hazard : EIS

In German, “Eis” (ice) is frozen “Wasser” (water).

30 Elflike : FAY

Something “elfin” or “fay” is like an elf or a fairy.

31 Big hopper : KANGAROO

The word “kangaroo” comes from the Australian Aborigine term for the animal. There’s an oft-quoted story that the explorer James Cook (later Captain Cook) asked a local native what was the name of this remarkable-looking animal, and the native responded with “Kangaroo”. The story is that the native was actually saying “I don’t understand you”, but as cute as that tale is, it’s just an urban myth.

38 Capote sobriquet : TRU

The larger-than-life Truman “Tru” Capote was an author and comedian. Capote is perhaps most associated with his novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and his true crime novel “In Cold Blood”. Truman Capote grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. There he met, and became lifelong friends with, fellow novelist Harper Lee. Capote was the inspiration for the character “Dill” in Lee’s celebrated work “To Kill a Mockingbird”. In turn, Harper Lee was the inspiration for the character “Idabel” in Capote’s “Other Voices, Other Rooms”.

A sobriquet is an affectionate nickname. The term “sobriquet” is French, in which language it has the same meaning.

39 Cartomancy tool : TAROT

Tarot cards have been around since the mid-1400s, and for centuries were simply used for entertainment as a game. It has only been since the late 1800s that the cards have been used by fortune tellers to predict the future. The list of tarot cards includes the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man and the Lovers.

Cartomancy is fortune-telling using a deck of cards. “Carto” is a combining form meaning “card”, and “-mancy” is a suffix meaning “divination by means of”. Other “-mancies” are hydromancy (divination using water), aeromancy (divination using weather) and arithmancy (divination using numbers).

40 Brand of spread for sandwiches and toast : VEGEMITE

Vegemite is a spread made from spiced-up brewers’ yeast extract. I’m told that it resembles Marmite, a spread that I used to eat as a kid back in Ireland. I’m also told that Vegemite has a flavor similar to beef bouillon.

41 Bouncer’s equipment : TRAMPOLINE

The first modern trampoline was developed in 1936. The apparatus was given its name from the Spanish “trampolín” meaning “diving board”. Trampolines were used during WWII in the training of pilots, to give them exposure to some spatial orientations that would be encountered during flight. Trampolines were also used by astronauts training in the space flight program. The sport of trampolining became an Olympic event starting in the 2000 Games.

44 Ingredient in a Cuban sandwich : HAM

A Cuban sandwich almost always includes Cuban bread filled with roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese and sliced dill pickles. The Cuban was designated the city of Tampa’s signature sandwich in 2102.

45 Spanish 23-Across: Abbr. : SRA
(23A Virginia Woolf’s “___ Dalloway” : MRS)

The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame), in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora) and in Portuguese is also “Sra.” (Senhora).

46 Holy Trinity part : SON

In the Christian tradition, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost are three persons in one divine being, the Holy Trinity.

47 Ones coming for a ride? : REPO MEN

Repossession (repo)

52 Wood rich in tannins : OAK

The terms “tannic acid” and “tannin” are often used interchangeably, but strictly speaking this usage is incorrect. Tannic acid is a specific type of tannin, a tannin that doesn’t occur naturally in wines to any significant amount. Tannic acid can
be added to wines as a clarifying agent, color stabilizer or even taste enhancer.

53 “Yankee Doodle” epithet that’s also the name of a food : MACARONI

In many cases, the name given to a type of pasta comes from its shape. However, the name macaroni comes from the type of dough used to make the noodles. Here in the US, macaroni is usually elbow-shaped, but it doesn’t have to be.

“The Yankee Doodle Boy” is a song from the musical “Little Johnny Jones” by George M. Cohan. It is a patriotic number, well known for its opening line “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”. The musical tells the story of American jockey Johnny Jones who rides a horse called Yankee Doodle in the English Derby. Jimmy Cagney played Cohan in the 1942 biopic called “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, and gave a famous rendition of the song.

59 Instrument played using circular breathing : DIDGERIDOO

The didgeridoo is a wind instrument that was developed in northern Australia over a thousand years ago by the indigenous people. Despite the instrument’s origins, the name “didgeridoo” is not aboriginal, and is thought perhaps to be onomatopoetic and imitative of the sound made.

60 Nashville music mecca, informally : OPRY

The Grand Ole Opry started out as a radio show in 1925 originally called the WSM “Barn Dance”. In 1927, the “Barn Dance” radio show was broadcast in a slot after an NBC production called “Musical Appreciation Hour”, a collection of classical works including Grand Opera. In a December show, the host of “Barn Dance” announced, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the ‘Grand Ole Opry'”. That name was used for the radio show from then on.

61 “Old MacDonald” sound : OINK

There was an old American version of the English children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (E-I-E-I-O) that was around in the days of WWI. The first line of the older US version goes “Old MacDougal had a farm, in Ohio-i-o”.

63 Where Achilles took a dip? : STYX

Achilles is the protagonist in Homer’s “Iliad”. When Achilles was born, his mother attempted to make him immortal by dipping him into the River Styx. As he was held by the heel as he was immersed, this became the only vulnerable point on his body. Years later he was killed when a poisoned arrow struck him in the heel. That arrow was shot by Paris.

65 They can be treated with warm compresses : STYES

A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.

Down

1 English town known for its salt : EPSOM

The Surrey town of Epsom in England is most famous for its racecourse (Epsom Downs), at which runs the Epsom Derby every year, one of the three races that make up the English Triple Crown. We also come across “Epsom salts” from time to time. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters. Epsom was indeed a spa town at one time. The town is also home to Epsom College, an English “public school” (which actually means “private, and expensive”). One of Epsom’s “old boys” was the Hollywood actor Stewart Granger.

2 ___ de sel : FLEUR

Fleur de sel is form of sea salt that forms as a thin crust on the surface of seawater as it evaporates. It is now used mainly as a finishing salt in the cooking process, meaning that it is sprinkled on the surface of a dish just before it is served. The name “fleur de sel” translates from French as “flower of salt”, which is a reference to the flowery patterns that form in the salty crust as seawater evaporates.

8 S.I. V.I.P.s : EDS

“Sports Illustrated” is read by 23 million people every week, including a whopping 19% of adult males in the US. That’s every week, and not just the swimsuit issue …

13 “SpongeBob SquarePants” setting : SEA

SpongeBob SquarePants is a cartoon character in a Nickelodeon television series. Spongebob first appeared in 1999, and he “lives in a pineapple under the sea”. The character was created by marine biologist, cartoonist and animator Stephen Hillenburg.

21 Language that gave us “spunk” and “slogan” : ERSE

There are actually three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be “Gaeilge” (in Ireland), “Gaelg” (on the Isle of Man) and “Gaidhlig” (in Scotland).

25 Piece of information : DATUM

Our word “data” (singular “datum”) comes from the Latin “datum” meaning “given”. The idea is that data are “things given”.

26 Performers of the ceremonial haka dance : MAORI

The haka is a war dance used by the Maori people of New Zealand. Famously, the New Zealand rugby team performs a haka before each of their matches.

27 Noted example of corporate misconduct : ENRON

After all the trials following the exposure of fraud at Enron, several of the key players ended up in jail. Andrew Fastow was the Chief Financial Officer. He plea-bargained and received ten years without parole, and became the key witness in the trials of others. Even Fastow’s wife was involved and she was sentenced to one year for helping her husband hide money. Jeffrey Skilling (ex-CEO) was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months. Kenneth Lay (CEO) died in 2006 after he had been found guilty but before he could be sentenced. The accounting firm Arthur Andersen was found guilty of obstruction of justice for shredding thousands of pertinent documents and deleting emails and files (a decision that the Supreme Court later overturned on a technicality). But still, Arthur Andersen collapsed under the weight of the scandal and 85,000 people lost their jobs (despite only a handful being directly involved with Enron).

28 Stone with curved bands : AGATE

Agate is a micro-crystalline form of quartz (and so is related to sand/silica). Some agate samples have deposited layers that give a striped appearance, and these are called “banded agate”.

29 Violinist Zimbalist : EFREM

Efrem Zimbalist was a prominent concert violinist from Russia. Zimbalist was married to the famous American soprano Alma Gluck. The couple had a son called Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. who became a well-known actor (co-star on “77 Sunset Strip”). Zimbalist, Sr. was therefore also the grandfather of actress Stephanie Zimbalist (co-star on “Remington Steele”).

31 Dweller in a eucalyptus forest : KOALA

The koala bear really does look like a little bear, but it’s not even closely related. The koala is an arboreal marsupial and a herbivore, native to the east and south coasts of Australia. Koalas aren’t primates, and are one of the few mammals other than primates who have fingerprints. In fact, it can be very difficult to tell human fingerprints from koala fingerprints, even under an electron microscope. Male koalas are called “bucks”, females are “does”, and young koalas are “joeys”. I’m a little jealous of the koala, as it sleeps up to 20 hours a day …

Eucalyptus is a genus of flowering trees and shrubs that is particularly widespread in Australia. The species known as mountain ash or swamp gum is the tallest flowering plant in the world, with the tallest example located in Tasmania and standing at over 325 feet tall.

35 Letter-shaped part of a sink : P-TRAP

Most sinks in a home have a P-trap in the outlet pipe that empties into the sewer line. This P-trap has at its heart a U-bend that retains a small amount of water after the sink is emptied. This plug of water serves as a seal to prevent sewer gases entering into the home. By virtue of its design, the U-bend can also capture any heavy objects (like an item of jewelry) that might fall through the plughole. But the “trapping” of fallen objects is secondary to the P-trap’s main function of “trapping” sewer gases.

42 Time it takes light to travel .3 mm: Abbr. : PSEC

A picosecond is one trillionth of a second, and is correctly abbreviated to “ps” in the SI system of measurements. I guess that’s what “psec” is meant to be …

47 Novelist Santha Rama ___ : RAU

Santha Rama Rau was a travel writer from India who lived much of her life in the US. As well as writing her own books, Rau also adapted the E. M. Forster novel “A Passage to India” for the stage.

49 Hot alcoholic drink : TODDY

The word “toddy” has come a long way. Its origins lie in the Hindi word for a palm tree, which is “tar”. The derivative word “tari” was used for palm sap, which came into English as “tarrie”, then “taddy” and “toddy”, all of which described an alcoholic drink made from fermented palm sap. That was back around 1600. Late in the 18th century, the palm sap drink called “toddy” had morphed into meaning any alcoholic drink made with liquor, hot water, sugar and spices.

50 1973 #1 Rolling Stones love ballad : ANGIE

For my money, “Angie” is the greatest ballad ever performed by the Rolling Stones. Despite rumors to the contrary, “Angie” doesn’t refer to a particular woman. In fact, songwriter Keith Richard says that “Angie” is a pseudonym for heroin, and the lyrics tell of his efforts to get off the drug at a detox facility in Switzerland.

52 Traditional gemstone for a seventh wedding anniversary : ONYX

Onyx is a form of quartz that comes in many different shades, but most often it’s the black version that’s used for jewelry. The name “onyx” comes from the Greek word for “fingernail”, as onyx in the flesh color is said to resemble a fingernail.

Some traditional gifts for wedding anniversaries are:

  • 5th: wooden
  • 10th: tin
  • 15th: crystal
  • 20th: china
  • 25th: silver
  • 30th: pearl
  • 40th: ruby
  • 50th: gold
  • 60th: diamond

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Key for Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” : E- FLAT
6 A house may be built on it : SPEC
10 Burlesque accessories : BOAS
14 Web-footed mammals : PLATYPUSES
15 A goose egg : NADA
16 Gimlet garnish : LIME
18 Locale suggested by this puzzle’s theme : AUSTRALIA
20 Malcolm Gladwell best seller that explores the 10,000-hour rule : OUTLIERS
22 Ice cream container : TUB
23 Virginia Woolf’s “___ Dalloway” : MRS
24 Statue of ___, figure atop the U.S. Capitol : FREEDOM
26 ___ culpa : MEA
29 Autobahn hazard : EIS
30 Elflike : FAY
31 Big hopper : KANGAROO
32 Things with perks? : COFFEE POTS
37 “I need to speak with you,” briefly : A WORD
38 Capote sobriquet : TRU
39 Cartomancy tool : TAROT
40 Brand of spread for sandwiches and toast : VEGEMITE
41 Bouncer’s equipment : TRAMPOLINE
44 Ingredient in a Cuban sandwich : HAM
45 Spanish 23-Across: Abbr. : SRA
46 Holy Trinity part : SON
47 Ones coming for a ride? : REPO MEN
49 Select : TAP
52 Wood rich in tannins : OAK
53 “Yankee Doodle” epithet that’s also the name of a food : MACARONI
55 Nickname for 18-Across, and a hint to how four answers in this puzzle are to be entered : DOWN UNDER
59 Instrument played using circular breathing : DIDGERIDOO
60 Nashville music mecca, informally : OPRY
61 “Old MacDonald” sound : OINK
63 Where Achilles took a dip? : STYX
64 Little ones : TOTS
65 They can be treated with warm compresses : STYES

Down

1 English town known for its salt : EPSOM
2 ___ de sel : FLEUR
3 Goes the distance : LASTS
4 ___ Gawande, author of the 2014 best seller “Being Mortal” : ATUL
5 Embodied : TYPIFIED
6 Catch : SNARE
7 Take five : PAUSE FOR A MOMENT
8 S.I. V.I.P.s : EDS
9 Balls of yarn, fake mice, etc. : CAT TOYS
10 Gossip : BLAB
11 Big Alaska export : OIL
12 “You think that’s true about me?” : AM I?
13 “SpongeBob SquarePants” setting : SEA
19 ___ Rebellion, 1808 uprising in New South Wales : RUM
21 Language that gave us “spunk” and “slogan” : ERSE
25 Piece of information : DATUM
26 Performers of the ceremonial haka dance : MAORI
27 Noted example of corporate misconduct : ENRON
28 Stone with curved bands : AGATE
29 Violinist Zimbalist : EFREM
31 Dweller in a eucalyptus forest : KOALA
32 Capitulates : CAVES
33 Have a loan from : OWE TO
34 Strand at the airport, maybe : FOG IN
35 Letter-shaped part of a sink : P-TRAP
39 Whirled powers? : TORNADOS
41 What it takes two to tie : THE KNOT
42 Time it takes light to travel .3 mm: Abbr. : PSEC
47 Novelist Santha Rama ___ : RAU
48 Grades : MARKS
49 Hot alcoholic drink : TODDY
50 1973 #1 Rolling Stones love ballad : ANGIE
51 Fishing spots : PIERS
52 Traditional gemstone for a seventh wedding anniversary : ONYX
54 Gas : RIOT
55 Galas : DOS
56 Make a decision : OPT
57 Sardonic : WRY
58 Italian god : DIO

6 thoughts on “1015-20 NY Times Crossword 15 Oct 20, Thursday”

  1. 14:53, no errors. Cute.

    Oddly enough, five weeks ago, in the NYT puzzle that appears today in syndication, one of the key entries was the rebus “E-FLAT”, which appears as 1-Across in this puzzle.

  2. 27:16 – Including about 4 minutes to find the one bad letter. Not being quite familiar, I spelled it VEGOMITE rather than VEGEMITE – guess I was thinking of a VEG-o-matic. I was about 2/3 finished when I realized what the “-” clues referred to, having just gotten the theme reveal.

  3. 26:06 So this week we have been both iced in and fogged in at the airport. Thank goodness Brian Eno doesn’t perform emo…. 🙂

  4. 25:15. Paradoxically, I got the theme early because I couldn’t fill in anything in the NW to start the puzzle. I was hunting words I could fill in and came across the KANG AROO stack and the race was on.

    I knew EFREM because that’s “Jeff” in Russian. My Russian teacher of many years used to call me that. In fact, I don’t think she ever called me Jeff. It’s pronounced “ye-FREM” in Russian.

    Didn’t know DIDGERIDOO, FAY or VEGEMITE. “Yes, I’ll have a spiced-up brewer’s yeast extract sandwich please” is likely a sentence I’ll never utter.

    A little known fact about a PSEC is that it was actually first used as a measure of time on Manhattan streets as the time between a light turning green and a driver behind you honking at you to go. One-trillionth of a second sounded about right so they invented a word for it.

    Best –

    1. To quote Men at Work from their “Down Under” hit from about 1981

      Buying bread from a man in Brussels
      He was six-foot-four and full of muscle
      I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
      He just smiled and gave me a VEGEMITE sandwich
      And he said
      I come from a land down under ….

      I tried vegemite once – had to rinse my mouth out with castor oil to make it taste better. The stuff is absolutely wretched!!

  5. 25:19, no errors. Fun puzzle today. I actually knew all the Australian references. I got AUSTRALIA and KANGAROO early which “clued” me in. Would have been faster if not for my fat fingers.

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