1024-20 NY Times Crossword 24 Oct 20, Saturday

Constructed by: Byron Walden
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 14m 51s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 Muralla de ___ (Spanish landmark) : AVILA

Ávila is famous for the walled defenses around the old city (“la muralla de Ávila”) that date back to 1090. They were constructed out of brown granite, and are still in excellent repair. There are nine gateways and eighty-towers in all. Even the cathedral built between the 12th and 14th centuries is part of the city’s defenses, so it looks like an imposing fortress.

21 Sazerac cocktail ingredient : RYE

The classic New Orleans cocktail known as a Sazerac is a mixture of rye, absinthe, bitters and sugar. The use of rye is a little incongruous, given that the cocktail is named for Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac that was originally the base spirit.

24 Perambulate : STROLL

To perambulate is to travel by foot. The original Latin “perambulare” translated more specifically as “to walk through”.

26 Supporting frame : CHASSIS

Before we used the word “chassis” for the base frame of a car, in 1903, the term applied to the carriage base of a large gun, and indeed a window frame (later “sash”), “Châssis” is French for “frame”.

31 Drag enthusiast : HOTRODDER

A hot rod is an American car that has been modified for speed by installing a larger than normal engine. A street rod is generally a more comfortable type of hot rod, with the emphasis less on the engine and more on custom paint jobs and interiors. By definition, a street rod must be based on an automobile design that originated prior to 1949.

Back in the 18th century, “drag” was slang for a wagon or buggy, as it was “dragged” along by a horse or horses. In the 1930s, the underworld adopted “drag” as slang for an automobile. This sense of the word was imported into automobile racing in the forties, giving the name to “drag racing”. A drag race is basically a competition between two cars to determine which can accelerate faster from a standstill.

35 Things relied on in desperation : A WING AND A PRAYER

The phrase “on a wing and a prayer” comes from the title of a 1943 patriotic song called “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer”. The WWII song was a number one hit for the Song Spinners and tells of a damaged aircraft limping home, barely making it back to base.

37 Takes a ride? : REPOS

Repossession (repo)

39 Staged attention-getter : PR STUNT

Public relations (PR)

42 Discount shoe retailer : PAYLESS

Payless ShoeSource is a discount shoe store that was founded in 1956 in Topeka, Kansas.

45 In-person setting for the Emmys, but not the Oscars: Abbr. : PDT

Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)

46 Passing options : A, B, C & D

A, B, C & D are passing grades in an exam.

51 Not kosher : TREF

According to Jewish dietary laws, kosher food is fit to eat, and food that is not fit to eat is referred to as treif (or “tref”). The usage of “kosher” has extended to include anything considered legitimate.

52 Going from petticoats to pants, once : BREECHING

A petticoat is an undergarment worn from the waist that goes under a skirt or dress. That said, the term “petticoat” was used in my day back in Britain and Ireland for a full-length slip. The name translates literally as “small coat” and originally described a padded coat worn by men under armor.

The term “pants”, meaning “trousers”, is an abbreviated form of “pantaloons” and first appeared in the 1840s. Pantaloons were a kind of tights named for a silly old male character in Italian comedy named “Pantaloun” who always wore tight trousers over skinny legs.

54 Icelandic currency : KRONA

The króna is the currency of Iceland. Iceland is the second-least populous country with its own currency (after the Seychelles).

55 Challenge for an infielder : BAD BOUNCE

That would be baseball.

56 Sans ___ (carefree) : SOUCI

“Sans souci” is a French term that translates literally as “without worry”, so we use it to mean “carefree”.

Down

2 Intellectual property? : IVORY TOWER

In modern usage, an ivory tower is an environment focused on education and intellectual pursuits while isolated from the practicalities of everyday life. The term is often used to describe academia. “Ivory tower” originated in the Song of Solomon in the Bible with the line “Your neck is like an ivory tower”.

5 HAL’s earthbound “twin,” in Arthur C. Clarke’s “2010: Odyssey Two” : SAL

In Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey” (famously adapted for the big screen as “2001: A Space Odyssey”) the computer system that went rogue was called HAL 9000, or simply “HAL”. HAL stands for “Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer”. Even though Clarke denied it, there’s a good argument that can be made that the acronym HAL is a veiled reference to IBM, the big player in the world of computing at the time of the novel’s publication (1968). The acronym HAL is just a one-letter shift from the initials “IBM”.

6 ___ fraîche : CREME

The French term “crème fraîche” translates as “fresh cream”, although the cream itself isn’t really fresh as it is soured with a bacterial culture.

8 The Hokies of the A.C.C., for short : VA TECH

The sports teams of Virginia Tech are known as the “Hokies”. The name comes from a spirit yell that dates back to 1896:

Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy.
Techs, Techs, V.P.I.
Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah.
Polytechs – Vir-gin-ia.
Rae, Ri, V.P.I.

11 “This is prophetic” in “Nixon in China,” e.g. : ARIA

“Nixon in China” is an opera by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman. The piece was inspired by President Nixon’s famous visit to China in 1972.

13 Word with hot or spit : … TAKE

The term “hot take” is from the world of journalism, and was coined relatively recently. It describes the shabby technique of making a provocative comment about a news event, usually with the intent of encouraging angry responses from readers or listeners.

The comic maneuver in which someone spits out a drink in response to a joke or a surprising statement, that’s called a “spit take”.

15 Tesla, for one : UNIT

The Tesla unit measures the strength of a magnetic field, and is named after the physicist Nikola Tesla. Tesla was born in Serbia, but later moved to the US. His work on mechanical and electrical engineering was crucial to the development of alternating current technology, the same technology that is used by equipment at the backbone of modern power generation and distribution systems.

19 First name of Israel’s first female prime minister : GOLDA

Golda Meir was known as the “Iron Lady” when she was Prime Minister of Israel, long before that sobriquet came to be associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Golda Meir was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev (in modern-day Ukraine), and when she was a young girl she moved with her family to the United States and settled in Milwaukee. As a teenager she relocated to Denver where she met and married Morris Meyerson, at the age of 19. She and her husband joined a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921, when she was in her twenties. Meir had been active in politics in the US, and continued her political work in Palestine. She was very influential during WWII, and played a leading role in negotiations after the war leading to the setting up of the state of Israel. By the time she was called on to lead the country, Meir had already retired, citing exhaustion and ill health. But serve she did, and led Israel during turbulent times (e.g. the massacre at the Munich Olympics, and the Yom Kippur War). She eventually resigned in 1974, saying that was what the people wanted.

32 Forensic lab activity : DNA TYPING

Something described as forensic is connected with a court of law, or with public discussion or debate. The term comes from the Latin “forensis” meaning “of a forum, of a place of assembly”. We mainly use the word today to mean “pertaining to legal trials” as in “forensic medicine” and “forensic science”.

33 Extension for 54-Down : EDU
(54D The Wildcats of the Big 12 Conf. : KSU)

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)

36 Squad : POSSE

Our word “posse” comes from an Anglo-Latin term from the early 15th century “posse comitatus” meaning “the force of the county”.

40 New Hampshire’s “Gate City” : NASHUA

The New Hampshire city of Nashua was named for the Nashaway people who inhabited the upstream portions of the Nashua River Valley. The name “Nashaway” translates as “river with a pebbled bottom”.

43 Charging implement : LANCE

Lancers (also “lancemen”) were a special type of cavalry soldier, ones who fought with lances!

46 “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” band, 1975 : ABBA

“I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” was the second of ABBA’s long, long string of smash hits. It was particularly successful in Australia, where there is a huge ABBA fan base to this day. The song was featured in a really great Australian film called “Muriel’s Wedding” from 1994. This was the movie that launched the career of the wonderful actress Toni Collette.

51 “___: Uprising” (Disney animated series) : TRON

Released in 1982, Disney’s “Tron” was one of the first mainstream films to make extensive use of computer graphics. The main role in the movie is played by Jeff Bridges. The original spawned a 2010 sequel called “Tron: Legacy”, as well as a 2012 TV show called “Tron: Uprising”.

54 The Wildcats of the Big 12 Conf. : KSU

The athletic teams of Kansas State University (KSU) are called the Wildcats. The Wildcats official “colors” are just one: the color royal purple.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Comic improvisations : RIFFS
6 Jacket material : COVER ART
14 Muralla de ___ (Spanish landmark) : AVILA
15 Home to about 4 in 5 Americans, per the census : URBAN AREA
16 Categorized by district : ZONAL
17 “Ooh … impressive!” : NEAT TRICK
18 Function with no limits? : ORGY
19 Simple shot : GIMME
20 Facility : EASE
21 Sazerac cocktail ingredient : RYE
22 Share a course, perhaps : COTEACH
24 Perambulate : STROLL
26 Supporting frame : CHASSIS
31 Drag enthusiast : HOTRODDER
34 “This is too much for me” : I CAN’T
35 Things relied on in desperation : A WING AND A PRAYER
37 Takes a ride? : REPOS
38 Car feature with hands-free steering : AUTODRIVE
39 Staged attention-getter : PR STUNT
41 Teddy bear : SOFTIE
42 Discount shoe retailer : PAYLESS
45 In-person setting for the Emmys, but not the Oscars: Abbr. : PDT
46 Passing options : A, B, C & D
50 Hole maker : SPADE
51 Not kosher : TREF
52 Going from petticoats to pants, once : BREECHING
54 Icelandic currency : KRONA
55 Challenge for an infielder : BAD BOUNCE
56 Sans ___ (carefree) : SOUCI
57 Eternally, in religious parlance : AGE TO AGE
58 Sedated : UNDER

Down

1 Superquick on the uptake : RAZOR SHARP
2 Intellectual property? : IVORY TOWER
3 Digital access points : FINGERTIPS
4 Savagely criticize : FLAY
5 HAL’s earthbound “twin,” in Arthur C. Clarke’s “2010: Odyssey Two” : SAL
6 ___ fraîche : CREME
7 Certain liberal of the 21st century : OBAMACRAT
8 The Hokies of the A.C.C., for short : VA TECH
9 Suffix with insist : -ENT
10 Pink or close to it : RARE
11 “This is prophetic” in “Nixon in China,” e.g. : ARIA
12 Requests made to profs for postgrad programs : RECS
13 Word with hot or spit : … TAKE
15 Tesla, for one : UNIT
19 First name of Israel’s first female prime minister : GOLDA
22 Obstructs : CLOGS UP
23 Arrangements of locks : HAIRDOS
25 “… eh, scratch that” : … OR NOT
27 Quaint accessory for an aviator : SCARF
28 Speak up boldly : SAY IT PROUD
29 Noticeable : IN EVIDENCE
30 Local celebration, of a sort : STREET FAIR
32 Forensic lab activity : DNA TYPING
33 Extension for 54-Down : EDU
36 Squad : POSSE
40 New Hampshire’s “Gate City” : NASHUA
43 Charging implement : LANCE
44 One of 30 on a regular dodecahedron : EDGE
46 “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” band, 1975 : ABBA
47 Engage in rodomontade : BRAG
48 Give up : CEDE
49 Pileup after digging a hole : DEBT
51 “___: Uprising” (Disney animated series) : TRON
53 Say “You’re so-o-o cute!,” say : COO
54 The Wildcats of the Big 12 Conf. : KSU

22 thoughts on “1024-20 NY Times Crossword 24 Oct 20, Saturday”

  1. 36:14 This seemed like a more typical (i.e. a struggle) Saturday for me. Got maybe 6 answers in my first pass thru and slowly chipped away at it, trying various options and seeing what worked. Too many false starts to mention. NW corner was the final section – blank. Stared and stared. Then put in the E for 21A leading to RYE, leading to IVORY and then the rest of that block. Amazing how at times one letter can open up a whole section.

    Unfamiliar with TREF, the Abba “I do” song, and the 52A meaning for BREECHING.

  2. 23:04 I was cruising through this pretty quickly but got stuck in the SW. It took me forever to get 55A and 57A and had no idea on rodomontade.

  3. 27:20, but that time means absolutely nothing. I was in a hurry last night so I cheated in just about every part of the puzzle. Cheated (looked something up) 4 or 5 times. This was a toughie for me anyway. Not sure I could have finished it with any amount of time.

    RIFFS caused me all sorts of problems. I know what it is for music, but “comic improv”? I can’t find a definition in the dictionary that fits. Maybe I’m missing something.

    Petticoats to pants being BREECHING. Nothing about that is familiar to me. NASHUA was unknown also.

    Best –

  4. DNF 🙁 NE stumped me. Tried to use “fire” instead of “take”(spit take is either new or forgotten by me) “Serb” for Tesla, figured Jacket material was likely regarding books, but just hit the wall in NE. Does a DNF imply even worse than last place? 🙂 Good thing nobody will see this for 5 weeks…

  5. Well, I thought I had this, but a poor post-completion edit allowed two errors to go uncorrected. Found this to be one of the more difficult Saturday offerings so I’m happy to get as close as I did. Good thing I don’t post my times.

  6. After1:05:00 this was a DNF…the NE and NW corners did me in…I guess every so often the setters need to demonstrate their knowledge of the world of big words that I don’t understand with my blue collar background but that’s ok for you guys who excel at it …enjoy.
    Stay safe😀

  7. 1:03 (that’s one hour and three minutes); 2 errors CO(N)/AGET(N)AGE. For me, it felt like a puzzle designed to go unsolved. Happy for a 2 error fill. Vaguely remembered the term BREECHING as a ‘coming of age’ ritual. Here is the description from Wiki: “Breeching was the occasion when a small boy was first dressed in breeches or trousers. From the mid-16th century until the late 19th or early 20th century, young boys in the Western world were unbreeched and wore gowns or dresses until an age that varied between two and eight.”

  8. Very much enjoyed solving this one. It was brutal, but I was able to finish with no errors. Started at 6 AM and finished in the morning. That is all I will admit.

    1. I like your comment. I’m not a speed solver , myself. I don’t find that enjoying, I like to savor puzzles while doing other things as well I.e. drinking ,watching tv , or snacking. Perhaps all three!

  9. 49 minutes. No errors. This one was hard! I still don’t understand breeching even after reading the explanation and I’ve also never heard of Coteaching.

  10. Completed today’s and yesterday’s WNE. I don’t keep time; add up all the others’ for a good estimate of mine 😢.

    The movies helped me today: In “Speed” Sandra Bullock wore a KSU sweatshirt. In a Startrek movie, Kirk says something like “They caught me with my breeches down!”

  11. Typical: Once again you don’t discuss the only answer I don’t understand. 12d RECS ??????????????????????
    Abbrev. for what?
    Also 6. Jacket material should be Jacket material?

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