1022-20 NY Times Crossword 22 Oct 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Sid Sivakumar
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Runs on Empty

There are three cases of “RUN” appearing in the grid, and each sits ON three EMPTY squares that signify the answer “nothing”:

  • 61A Keeps going despite fatigue … or a hint to three features of this puzzle : RUNS ON EMPTY
  • 17A They put in long hours to get better hours : LABOR UNIONS
  • 21A What’s theorized to have preceded the Big Bang : “NOTHING”
  • 30A Telephone when all lit up? : DRUNK-DIAL
  • 36A What polar opposites have in common : “NOTHING”
  • 46A Founder of the Sikh religion : GURU NANAK
  • 50A What’s uttered by a mime : “NOTHING”

Bill’s time: 15m 44s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Rock band with a 1980 album that went 25x platinum : AC/DC

The Heavy Metal band known as AC/DC was formed by two brothers Malcolm and Angus Young in Australia. The group is usually called “Acca Dacca” down under.

15 Place : LIEU

As one might imagine perhaps, “in lieu” came into English from the Old French word “lieu” meaning “place”, which in turn is derived from the Latin “locum” that also means “place”. So, “in lieu” translates as “in place of”.

19 Emmy-winning actress Aduba : UZO

Uzo Aduba is an actress best known for playing prison inmate Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix TV show “Orange Is the New Black”.

20 Strong base : LYE

What we call “lye” is usually sodium hydroxide, although historically the term “lye” was used for potassium hydroxide. Lye has many uses, including to cure several foodstuffs. Lye can make olives less bitter, for example. The chemical is also found in canned mandarin oranges, pretzels and Japanese ramen noodles. More concentrated grades of lye are used to clear drains and clean ovens. Scary …

21 What’s theorized to have preceded the Big Bang : “NOTHING”

According to the Big Bang theory, the universe came into being just under 14 billion years ago. The theory posits that the universe started out as a hot and dense mass that began to expand rapidly (in a “big bang”). Within three minutes of the “bang”, the universe cooled so that energy was converted into subatomic particles like protons, electrons and neutrons. Over time, subatomic particles turned into atoms. Clouds of those atoms formed stars and galaxies.

24 Down-hearted softies? : DUVETS

A duvet is a large flat bag that is filled with down, feathers or a synthetic substitute that is used as a top cover for a bed. Although a duvet is similar to what is called a “comforter” in the US, there is a difference. A duvet often has an easily removed cover that is usually laundered at the same time as the bottom sheet and pillowcases. We use them a lot in Europe, and generally without a top sheet due to the ease of laundering.

27 Slimeball : CAD

Our word “cad”, meaning “person lacking in finer feelings”, is a shortening of the word “cadet”. “Cad” was first used for a servant, and then students at British universities used “cad” as a term for a boy from the local town. “Cad” took on its current meaning in the 1830s.

30 Telephone when all lit up? : DRUNK-DIAL

“Fried” and “lit” are two slang terms meaning “drunk”.

34 Word seen above a mug shot : WANTED

A mug shot is a photograph of a person’s face, one often taken for a police record.

37 Graceful leap : JETE

A jeté is a leap in ballet, with the term “jeté” coming from the French word “jeter” meaning “to throw”. A “jeté en avant” is a “leap to the front”, towards the audience. A “grand jeté” is a long horizontal jump, a split in the air, leaping from one foot to the other.

42 Red slips of paper? : IOUS

I owe you (IOU)

43 ___ Bengal (five-star hotel in Kolkata) : TAJ

Kolkata (formerly “Calcutta”) is the capital of West Bengal, India. Kolkata grew up around a fort that the British built in the area in 1712. Prior to the arrival of the British, there were three villages at the site, one named Kalikata. Kalikata gave its name to the city that eventually developed. This was anglicized to “Calcutta” which became the official name for centuries, until it was changed back to Kolkata in 2001.

46 Founder of the Sikh religion : GURU NANAK

Sikhism is a religion that was founded in the Punjab region, which straddles the India-Pakistan border. Even though Sikhism was established relatively recently, it is now the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak.

49 Actress Laura : DERN

Actress Laura Dern is the daughter of the actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Among her many notable roles, Laura played the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the 2008 movie “Recount”, and Dr. Ellie Sattler in the 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park”.

51 Potshots : SNIPES

Snipes are wading birds with very long and thin bills that they use to search for small invertebrates in mud. In bygone days, a shot taken by a hunter at one of these wading birds became known as a “snipe”. This usage evolved into the word “sniper” applying to anyone shooting from a hidden position.

When firing a gun, a “potshot” is a “shot” taken purely to get the prey into the “pot” for cooking. The term “potshot” was coined in the 1830s, hence distinguishing between a shot taken for sport or marksmanship and a shot taken while hunting for game.

56 Second-busiest airport in the U.S. : LAX

Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and the busiest here on the West Coast of the US. The airport was opened in 1930 as Mines Field and was renamed to Los Angeles Airport in 1941. On the airport property is the iconic white structure that resembles a flying saucer. This is called the Theme Building and I believe it is mainly used as a restaurant and observation deck for the public. The airport used to be identified by the letters “LA”, but when the aviation industry went to a three-letter standard for airport identification, this was changed to “LAX”. Apparently, the “X” has no significant meaning.

57 ___ ears : JUG

I think the idea is that someone who has ears that stick out might be described unkindly as having “jug ears”.

60 Houseware brand that’s easy to read in a mirror : OXO

The OXO line of kitchen utensils and housewares is designed to be ergonomically superior to the average household tools. The intended user of OXO products is someone who doesn’t have the normal range of motion or strength in the hands e.g. someone suffering from arthritis.

Down

4 Fracas : ADO

“Fracas”, meaning “noisy quarrel”, is a French word that we absorbed into English. In turn, the French usage evolved from the Italian “fracasso” meaning “uproar, crash”.

6 Oscar winner Mahershala : ALI

Mahershala Ali is an actor and sometime rapper. Among the more memorable roles Ali has had are lobbyist Remy Danton in TV’s “House of Cards”, and Colonel Boggs in “The Hunger Games” series of movies. He also won Best Supporting Actor Oscars for playing Juan in the 2016 drama “Moonlight”, and Dr. Don Shirley in 2018’s “Green Book”.

7 Corp. leader in charge of 35-Down : CIO
(35D Figures, e.g. : DATA)

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

9 John of “Being John Malkovich” : CUSACK

John Cusack is an actor from Evanston, Illinois. John is noted for appearing in several films with his equally-talented actress sister, Joan Cusack. I think the John Cusack film that I most enjoy is 1997’s “Grosse Pointe Blank”.

“Being John Malkovich” is a 1999 fantasy comedy starring John Cusack and Cameron Diaz, and of course John Malkovich playing himself. The crazy storyline features a puppeteer (played by Cusack) who discovers a portal into Malkovich’s mind.

14 Many a 4WD ride : SUV

“SUV” is an initialism standing for “sports utility vehicle”, and is a term that was introduced by our marketing friends. Using the phrase “sports utility vehicle” was a very clever way to get us to pay a lot of money for what was essentially a station wagon on a truck chassis, or at least it was back then.

Four-wheel drive (4WD)

25 Misleading malware : TROJAN

In the world of computing, a “Trojan horse” is an apparently useful computer program that is actually a piece of malicious code. The user is fooled into installing the program, hence the name. “Trojan horse” is a reference to the Ancient Greek story of the Wooden Horse of Troy.

28 Place to catch shrimp : BAYOU

A bayou is a marshy inlet or outlet of a lake or river, usually with stagnant or slow-moving water. The exact origins of the term “bayou” is uncertain, but it is thought perhaps to come from the Choctaw (a Native American people from the southeast) word “bayuk”, meaning “small stream”.

33 Observance once known as Quadragesima (Latin for “fortieth”) : LENT

In Latin, the Christian season that is now called “Lent” was termed “quadragesima” (meaning “fortieth”), a reference to the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry. When the church began its move in the Middle Ages towards using the vernacular, the term “Lent” was introduced. “Lent” comes from “lenz”, the German word for “spring”.

34 Harrison, e.g., but not Ford : WHIG

The Whig Party (in the US) was active from 1833 to 1856, and was the opposition party to the Democrats at that time. One of the tenets of the Whig Party was the supremacy of Congress over the Executive branch. Prominent members of the party included Presidents Zachary Taylor and John Tyler. Abraham Lincoln was also a Whig while he served a two-year term as a US Representative for the state of Illinois. By the time he became President, Lincoln was a member of the Republican Party.

President William Henry Harrison died in 1841, after only one month in office, simply from complications arising from a cold. Harrison was the oldest person to assume the office of US president, until President Reagan in 1981. He was the first president to die in office, and served the shortest tenure.

Gerald Ford was the only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the US, without having been elected to those positions. Ford was nominated by President Richard Nixon to replace Vice President Spiro Agnew after he resigned in 1973. Vice President Ford assumed the presidency the following year after President Nixon resigned.

35 Figures, e.g. : DATA

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

48 Approximate weight of a liter of water : KILO

Today, the gram is defined as one thousandth of a kilogram, with the kilogram being equal to the mass of a physical sample preserved by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Prior to 1960, the gram was defined as the weight of a cubic centimeter of pure water (at the temperature of melting ice).

52 Green splats, on Rotten Tomatoes : PANS

Rotten Tomatoes is a website that mainly provides reviews and ratings of movies, although it now covers TV shows as well. The site was launched in 1998 and takes its name from the practice of audience members throwing rotten tomatoes at an unappreciated performer on stage.

57 Format of a digital pic : JPEG

The JPEG file format (also “.jpg”) was created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), hence the name.

59 Where squatters may be seen : GYMS

Our word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek “gymnasion” meaning “public place where exercise is taken”. The Greek term comes from “gymnos” meaning “naked”, as that physical training was usually done unclothed in ancient Greece.

63 Word that becomes its own synonym if you change its first letter to “WI” : SLY

That would be “sly” and “wily”.

64 3-D test : MRI

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine uses powerful magnetic fields to generate its images so there is no exposure to ionizing radiation (such as X-rays). We used MRI equipment in our chemistry labs at school, way back in the days when the technology was still called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI). Apparently the marketing folks didn’t like the term “nuclear” because of its association with atomic bombs, so now it’s just called MRI.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Wristwatch part : STRAP
6 Rock band with a 1980 album that went 25x platinum : AC/DC
10 “That’s amazing!” : WOW!
13 Crumbles away : ERODES
15 Place : LIEU
16 “That’s amazing!” : OOH!
17 They put in long hours to get better hours : LABOR UNIONS
19 Emmy-winning actress Aduba : UZO
20 Strong base : LYE
21 What’s theorized to have preceded the Big Bang : “NOTHING”
22 Puts off, in a way : TABLES
24 Down-hearted softies? : DUVETS
27 Slimeball : CAD
28 Showy wraps : BOAS
30 Telephone when all lit up? : DRUNK-DIAL
34 Word seen above a mug shot : WANTED
36 What polar opposites have in common : “NOTHING”
37 Graceful leap : JETE
38 It may lead up to a letdown : HYPE
39 When some people break for lunch : AT ONE
41 ___-fresh : OVEN
42 Red slips of paper? : IOUS
43 ___ Bengal (five-star hotel in Kolkata) : TAJ
44 Endure punishment : TAKE IT
46 Founder of the Sikh religion : GURU NANAK
49 Actress Laura : DERN
50 What’s uttered by a mime : “NOTHING”
51 Potshots : SNIPES
53 Sprinkle (with) : PEPPER
56 Second-busiest airport in the U.S. : LAX
57 ___ ears : JUG
60 Houseware brand that’s easy to read in a mirror : OXO
61 Keeps going despite fatigue … or a hint to three features of this puzzle : RUNS ON EMPTY
65 Military missions, informally : OPS
66 Wedding wear : VEIL
67 Laugh riot : SCREAM
68 Opposition : FOE
69 Spot : ESPY
70 They may be given in relief : SIGHS

Down

1 Promote : SELL
2 It’s used to carry out an order : TRAY
3 Gear for the bench : ROBE
4 Fracas : ADO
5 Look over : PERUSE
6 Oscar winner Mahershala : ALI
7 Corp. leader in charge of 35-Down : CIO
8 Not-so-great depression : DENT
9 John of “Being John Malkovich” : CUSACK
10 Enthusiastic reply to “Wanna try?” : WOULD I EVER!
11 Go slowly : OOZE
12 “___ with me?” : WHO’S
14 Many a 4WD ride : SUV
18 Name on both “The Simpsons” and “South Park” : NED
23 They cause rolling of the eyes, not rolling in the aisles : BAD JOKES
24 Woos outside one’s league, so to speak : DATES UP
25 Misleading malware : TROJAN
26 It brings the heat : SUN
28 Place to catch shrimp : BAYOU
29 Not accidental : ON PURPOSE
31 Aid in catching shrimp : NET
32 Had a home-cooked meal : ATE IN
33 Observance once known as Quadragesima (Latin for “fortieth”) : LENT
34 Harrison, e.g., but not Ford : WHIG
35 Figures, e.g. : DATA
40 Gets darker, in a way : TANS
45 Ones arranging spots : AD EXECS
47 Gall : NERVE
48 Approximate weight of a liter of water : KILO
52 Green splats, on Rotten Tomatoes : PANS
53 [And … it’s gone!] : [POOF!]
54 Fair : EXPO
55 Bemoans : RUES
57 Format of a digital pic : JPEG
58 Its name is said to mean “people of the mountains” : UTAH
59 Where squatters may be seen : GYMS
62 Defeat just barely : NIP
63 Word that becomes its own synonym if you change its first letter to “WI” : SLY
64 3-D test : MRI

15 thoughts on “1022-20 NY Times Crossword 22 Oct 20, Thursday”

  1. 34:31 with 4+ minutes fiddling with the squares to get the jingle. Early on I thought there had to be a blank square in a few of the down answers but not sure where. Stepping thru it became a bit more obvious. Even with the reveal it took a bit to realize the three across answers 21A, 36A, and 50A were all blank. I got that all set up in about 30 minutes but no jingle. Didn’t realize that RUN was above all those. Came here and looked thru Bill’s answers side by side with mine – clock ticking.

    Then I tried RUN in 21, 36, and 50 but no joy. So I typed in XXX in all three – got the jingle and then the app set them all to blank, which is what they originally were.

    Unfamiliar with GURUNANAK, which was part of the problem trying to fill in the corresponding downs and figure where the space went. Also had HOPE before HYPE for quite a while.

    This one was a challenge!

  2. 21:32 Lots of tough spots today including taking awhile to figure out what was going on with the theme. I had a sense there was some sort of skip a letter thing happening but it took me awhile to get it. Sometimes I really wish the revealer was earlier in the puzzle. Pretty clever idea. I liked it despite the struggle.

  3. Bill : 48 Down needs an update. Last year a new definition of the kilogram was adapted involving the speed of light and Planks constant. ( way over my head). The physical bar well preserved for decades is no longer the ultimate reference.

    1. Pix is correct about the kilogram.

      They changed the standard last year. It’s now based on energy. Without getting too arcane it melds Planck’s constant h (E=hf) with Einstien’s formula, E=m(c squared), to come up with the mass of a kilo , which of course is a mass and not a weight. Interestingly, they based the calculations on the energy of a certain number of photons oscillating at the same speed as the cesium 133 atoms they use in atomic clocks.

      Best –

  4. 29:01….or so. I had an experience similar to Ron’s. I finished the puzzle, and the clock kept running. I figured the app was looking for something in the blank squares so I peeked at the answer key which had “NOTHING” filled in as a rebus in the blanks. So I went back and entered “NOTHING” 9 times into all the blank squares, got the congratulatory music, and after all that effort the app reset the squares to be blank again. sheesh.

    The theme part was easy. Most of my issues were in the fill. OOZE and UZO crossing was amusing. I liked the “Harrison but not Ford” clue as well.

    Best –

  5. Yeah. This on got me. Had to do some peeking, but happy to finish filling after my hints. 31;03. Not one of my favorites.

  6. 35:59 Where would I be without Fearless Leader’s pointing out the themes? I figured out the blank squares gimmick, but didn’t notice the “run”(I’ll not use the plural….) until reading the blog. And between Jeff and PIX, I got a science lesson to boot! I have a feeling I wish I knew half the stuff you guys have forgotten….oh, and I got last place!

  7. 26:29, 2 errors. Been doing old NYT puzzles lately (ready for 1101-01) and definitely they are a reminder compared to this two-flusher (hearkening to 61A) of a puzzle as to how far the NYT has fallen.

  8. I had this one almost finished but didn’t realize it because of the blank spaces which I can’t remember ever seeing before…this may not be the worst puzzle ever…then again.
    Have a happy Thanksgiving despite this rather different gentleman…trying to be polite.
    Stay safe😀

  9. I was a bit slow to catch the theme but when the fog cleared I rearranged a few letters and finished up with no errors. Tricky.

  10. Uzo Aduba and Guru Nanak made this one challenging. Like others I got the trick of the empty squares but missed Run being on them.

  11. I liked it. I kept saying the answers over and over to 21,36,& 50A aloud. NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING. Didn’t figure out it was literally nothing to fill in until I got that words other answers had letters missing. Good one. I like the RUN on top of the “Empties” as well. Clever.

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