1115-20 NY Times Crossword 15 Nov 20, Sunday

Constructed by: Caitlin Reid
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Theme Shmeme

Unusually, today’s Sunday puzzle has no theme!

Bill’s time: 15m 07s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Round number? : BAR TAB

When we run a “tab” at a bar, we are running a “tabulation”, a listing of what we owe. Such a use of “tab” is American slang that originated in the 1880s.

11 Hoops : B-BALL

Basketball is truly a North American sport. It was created in 1891 by Canadian James Naismith at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. His goal was to create something active and interesting for his students in the gym. The first “hoops” were actually peach baskets, with the bottoms of the baskets intact. When a player got the ball into the “net”, someone had to clamber up and get the ball back out again in order to continue the game!

16 Piano keys : IVORIES

The traditional materials used for the manufacture of piano keys were ebony (black) and ivory (white). Ebony is still used, but now for both white and black keys. The white keys are made by covering ebony with white plastic.

23 Source of a trendy health juice : ALOE

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that grows in relatively dry climates. The plant’s leaves are full of biologically-active compounds that have been studied extensively. Aloe vera has been used for centuries in herbal medicine, mainly for topical treatment of wounds.

24 Alternative to tarot cards : TEA LEAVES

Tasseography is the reading of fortunes by interpreting the patterns of tea leaves, coffee grounds and wine sediments that are left in the bottom of a cup or glass.

30 Hill worker : ANT

Anthills are actually underground nests. The ants in the colony excavate below ground, resulting in a pile of sand or soil above ground.

32 Small bird with complex songs : WREN

The wren is a small songbird belonging to the family troglodytidae and the genus troglodytes. Wrens are known for making dome-shaped nests.

33 He was told to “take a sad song and make it better” : JUDE

“Hey Jude” was originally a song titled “Hey Jules” written by Paul McCartney. He wrote the original song for John Lennon’s son Julian, in an attempt to comfort the boy during his parents’ divorce. There’s a phenomenal coda in “Hey Jude” after the fourth verse that lasts for over four minutes.

34 “SmackDown” org. : WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is a company promoting professional wrestling as a form of entertainment.

38 Olympic figure skater Johnny : WEIR

Johnny Weir is a figure skater from Pennsylvania who was US national champion for three consecutive years starting in 2004.

46 “The ___ Locker,” 2009 Best Picture winner : HURT

The 2008 movie “The Hurt Locker” is a disturbing drama about a US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team on the front lines during the Iraq War. The film appears to be very realistic, and was filmed in Jordan just a few miles from the Iraqi border. The screenplay was written by Mark Boal, a journalist who was embedded with an EOD team in 2004. “The Hurt Locker” won six Academy Awards, including Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to be so honored.

48 “Surely you don’t think it could be me?!” : MOI?!

“Moi” is the French word for “me”. One might say “Moi?” when feigning innocence.

49 Bank, at times : LIENOR

A lien is a right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.

51 Hayek of Hollywood : SALMA

Salma Hayek is a Mexican actress. Hayek was the first Mexican national to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, earning that nomination with her portrayal of artist Frida Kahlo in the 2002 movie “Frida”.

60 Family secret, perhaps : RECIPE

The Latin “recipere” means “to take”, and the imperative form “recipe” was written at the top of medical prescriptions as an instruction, i.e. “take (the following)”. This use of “recipe” evolved into the instruction for preparing a dish of food in the mid-1700s.

64 Seasonal song with lyrics in Latin : ADESTE FIDELES

The lovely Christmas hymn “Adeste Fideles” (entitled “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in English) was written by one John Francis Wade in the 13th century. Well, he wrote the original four verses, with four more verses being added over time. A kind blog reader pointed out to me that the English translation is in fact a little “off”. The term “adeste” best translates from Latin as “be present, attend”, rather than “come”. The verb “come” appears later in the lyrics in “venite adoremus”, meaning “come, let us worship”.

69 Fashion expert Gunn : TIM

Tim Gunn is a fashion consultant, and these days a television personality as well. He makes regular appearances on the reality TV show “Project Runway”, and is so popular a character that he now has his own show called “Tim Gunn’s Guide in Style”.

70 It’s sedimentary, my dear : SILT

Today, we mostly think of silt as a deposit of sediment in a river. Back in the mid-1400s, silt was sediment deposited by seawater. It is thought that the word “silt” is related to “salt”, as found in seawater.

72 Filmmaker Gerwig : GRETA

Greta Gerwig is an actress from Sacramento whose best-known role is probably opposite Russell Brand in the remake of the film “Arthur”. Gerwig has turned to directing, and was at the helm for the 2019 movie “Little Women”.

80 ___ card : ATM

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)

83 Where to find the radius : ARM

The radius and ulna are bones in the forearm. If you hold the palm of your hand up in front of you, the radius is the bone on the “thumb-side” of the arm, and the ulna is the bone on the “pinky-side”.

87 “Big Little Lies” co-star of Witherspoon and Kidman : DERN

“Big Little Lies” is a 2017 TV miniseries that is based on a 2014 novel of the same name. It stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley as three women who, while dealing with their own emotional problems, find themselves involved in a murder investigation. I haven’t seen this one, but hear very good things …

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”.

“Reese” is not actually actress Witherspoon’s given name. She started out life as Laura Jeanne Witherspoon. “Reese” is her mother’s maiden name.

Nicole Kidman is an Australian-American actress whose breakthrough role was the female lead in 1989’s “Dead Calm”. Kidman was actually born in Hawaii, to Australian parents. As a result, she has dual citizenship of Australia and the US. Famously, Kidman was married to fellow-actor Tom Cruise from 1990 to 2001, and is now married to New Zealand-born country singer Keith Urban.

94 Mail lady on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” : REBA

Actress S. Epatha Merkerson is best known for playing NYPD Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the TV cop show “Law & Order” from 1993 to 2010. Merkerson actually appeared in more episodes of the show than any other member of the cast. The actress made her TV debut on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse”, as Reba the Mail Lady.

Pee-wee Herman is a comic character portrayed by Paul Reubens. Reubens introduced the character into his stage act, and from there to an HBO special that led to a 1985 movie “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”. There followed a children’s TV series called “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” that ran from 1986 to 1991, and a 1988 movie “Big Top Pee-wee”.

101 He made a pact with the Devil : FAUST

Faust is a character from a classic German legend who makes a pact with the devil. He agrees to exchange his soul for worldly gratification and unlimited knowledge.

103 One of three for “Mississippi” : SHORT I

The first three letters I in the word “Mississippi” are short letters I.

Down

2 Arthurian isle : AVALON

Avalon is a legendary island featured in the Arthurian legends. The name Avalon probably comes from the word “afal”, the Welsh word for “apple”, reflecting the fact that the island was noted for its beautiful apples. Avalon is where King Arthur’s famous sword “Excalibur” was forged, and supposedly where Arthur was buried.

6 Potter of children’s literature : BEATRIX

Beatrix Potter was an English author famous for the children’s books she wrote and illustrated. The most famous character in her stories was Peter Rabbit, whose sisters were Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. Potter put her talent as an artist to good use in the scientific world as well. She recorded many images of lichens and fungi as seen through her microscope. As a result of her work, she was respected as an expert mycologist.

8 Proverbial tortoise or hare, e.g. : RACER

“The Tortoise and the Hare” is perhaps the most famous fable attributed to Aesop. The cocky hare takes a nap during a race against the tortoise, and the tortoise sneaks past the finish line for the win while his speedier friend is sleeping.

10 Branch of the U.N. in 2020 news : WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a United Nations agency. The WHO was set up in 1948, and has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

12 1989 Tom Hanks black comedy, with “The” : … ‘BURBS

“The ‘Burbs” is a 1989 comedy movie starring Tom Hanks as a young suburban who suspects that his odd neighbors are ritualistic murderers. The suburban neighborhood used for filming is a set in the Universal Studios backlot. The same set had been used in the 1987 movie “Dragnet”, which also stars Tom Hanks.

14 Aspiring D.A.’s exam : LSAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

17 Result of eating the poisoned apple in “Snow White” : SLEEP

“Snow White” is a traditional German fairy tale that was published in 1812 in the collection of the Brothers Grimm. There is also a second, very different Grimms’ Fairy Tale called “Snow-White and Rose-Red”, not to be confused with its more famous cousin. In the latter tale, Snow-White and Rose-Red are sisters who get into trouble with a dwarf, but are rescued by a bear who turns into a prince.

19 Mudbug, by another name : CRAWDAD

“Crawdad” and “crawfish” are alternative names for crayfish, with “crawdad” being more common in the south of the country.

29 Boring things : AUGERS

An auger is a drill, a boring tool [yawn].

33 Hera’s Roman counterpart : JUNO

Juno was the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, and also looked after the interests of the women of Rome. Juno was the sister and wife of Jupiter, the king of the Roman gods.

In Greek mythology, Hera was the wife of Zeus and the goddess of women, marriage, family and childbirth. She was noted for her jealous and vengeful nature, particularly against those who vied for the affections of her husband. The equivalent character to Hera in Roman mythology was Juno. Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea.

36 First name in jazz : ETTA

“Etta James” was the stage name of celebrated blues and soul singer Jamesetta Hawkins. James’ most famous recording was her 1960 hit “At Last”, which made it into the pop charts. James performed “At Last” at the age of 71 in 2009 on the reality show “Dancing with the Stars”, which was to be her final television appearance. She passed away in 2012.

37 Quagmire : MARE’S NEST

The term “mare’s nest” has two meanings these days. More commonly it refers to a confused mess, although this usage is really an error, confusion with the idiom “rat’s nest”, which has that meaning. The correct usage of “mare’s nest”, dating back to the 16th century, is to describe a hoax, a promising discovery that turns out to be next to nothing.

38 Mom jeans have a high one : WAIST

“Mom jeans” and “dad jeans” are not-so-nice names for high-waisted jeans, jeans usually worn by older women and men.

44 Pluto, e.g. : GOD

In classical mythology, the god of the underworld was named Hades. Over time, “Hades” came to mean the underworld itself and the name for the god became “Pluto”. Pluto’s character was more positive than the god Hades, and he represented a more rewarding afterlife compared to that offered by the darker Hades.

53 They’re on the case, in slang : TECS

“Tec” is a slang term meaning “private detective” or “private investigator” (PI).

54 Garrulous : CHATTY

To be garrulous is to be tiresomely talkative. To be reticent is to be inclined to keep one’s thoughts to oneself.

61 Abbr. on a cornerstone : ESTD

Established (“est.” or “estd.”)

66 Pro ___ : RATA

“Pro rata” is a Latin phrase meaning “in proportion”.

72 Food connoisseur : GOURMET

A gourmand is someone who takes great pleasure in consuming food and drink, often eating and drinking to excess. The related term “gourmet” refers to someone who has a refined palate.

74 ___ a clue (was lost) : HADN’T

I know how that feels …

75 Scaredy-cat : WIMP

Our term “wimp”, describing a “timid person”, is probably an alteration of “whimper”, the sound that such an individual might make.

77 Frozen dessert : SHERBET

Sherbet, the frozen dessert, is very similar to sorbet, the difference being that sherbet contains a small amount of milkfat.

78 Golfer Jordan who won the 2015 U.S. Open : SPIETH

Jordan Spieth is a golfer from Dallas who made a name for himself in 2015 by becoming the second-youngest person to win the Masters, with only Tiger Woods being younger.

79 Republican politico Reince : PRIEBUS

Reince Priebus was chosen in 2017 by President Donald Trump as the first White House Chief of Staff in his administration. Priebus had held the office of Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Prior to serving as chairman, Priebus was general counsel for the RNC.

82 Hybrid bottoms : SKORTS

The garment called a “skort” is a hybrid between shorts and a skirt.

84 Keto adherent, e.g. : DIETER

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. When a body consumes insufficient carbohydrates to meet the need for energy, then the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies in order to make up the energy deficit. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the bloodstream is known as “ketosis”, a term that gives rise to the name “ketogenic diet”. Medical professionals sometimes prescribe a ketogenic diet in order to control epilepsy in children. A condition of ketosis can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures.

86 Andre who won the 1994 and 1999 U.S. Opens : AGASSI

Retired tennis professional Andre Agassi has been married to fellow player Steffi Graf since 2001. Agassi wrote an autobiography called “Open”, published in 2009. An amazing revelation in the book is that Agassi’s famous head of hair was actually a wig for much of his playing career. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to play tennis at his level with a rug stuck on?

91 ___ breve (cut time) : ALLA

The musical term “alla breve”, meaning “at the breve (i.e. the note)”, denotes a meter equivalent to 2/2. This implies quite a fast tempo, one often found in military marches. 2/2 is also known as “cut time”.

92 Beach ball? : LUAU

The Hawaiian party or feast known as a “luau” really dates back to 1819, when King Kamehameha II removed religious laws that governed the eating of meals. These laws called for women and men to eat separately. At the same time as he changed the laws, the king initiated the luau tradition by symbolically eating with the women who moved in his circle.

93 Do a veterinarian’s job on : SPAY

Our verb “to spay”, meaning “to surgically remove the ovaries of” (an animal) comes from an old Anglo-French word “espeier” meaning “to cut with a sword”.

95 Beach lotion abbr. : SPF

In theory, the sun protection factor (SPF) is a calibrated measure of the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays. The idea is that if you wear a lotion with say SPF 20, then it takes 20 times as much UV radiation to cause the skin to burn than it would take without protection. I say just stay out of the sun …

98 Texter’s “I can’t believe this” : SMH

Shaking my head (SMH)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Round number? : BAR TAB
7 Pick a card, any card : DRAW
11 Hoops : B-BALL
16 Piano keys : IVORIES
18 Quick study : CRASH COURSE
20 Quick studies : NATURALS
22 Line delivered in costume : TRICK OR TREAT
23 Source of a trendy health juice : ALOE
24 Alternative to tarot cards : TEA LEAVES
26 Opportunity to hit : AT-BAT
27 Hearing aid? : COURT REPORTER
29 Hole-making tools : AWLS
30 Hill worker : ANT
31 Split : RIP
32 Small bird with complex songs : WREN
33 He was told to “take a sad song and make it better” : JUDE
34 “SmackDown” org. : WWE
37 Upper limit : MAX
38 Olympic figure skater Johnny : WEIR
39 Make more pleasant : SUGARCOAT
41 First attempt : FORAY
44 Attire : GARB
45 In key : TUNED
46 “The ___ Locker,” 2009 Best Picture winner : HURT
47 Declare : AVER
48 “Surely you don’t think it could be me?!” : MOI?!
49 Bank, at times : LIENOR
51 Hayek of Hollywood : SALMA
52 Some movie extras : DELETED SCENES
55 Acts like money grows on trees : SPENDS
57 Tool for a difficult crossword, say : ERASER
58 Added water to, as a sauce : THINNED
60 Family secret, perhaps : RECIPE
62 In lock step (with) : SYNCED
64 Seasonal song with lyrics in Latin : ADESTE FIDELES
66 Sacrament of holy matrimony and others : RITES
67 Throughway, e.g. : ARTERY
69 Fashion expert Gunn : TIM
70 It’s sedimentary, my dear : SILT
71 Seemingly forever : AGES
72 Filmmaker Gerwig : GRETA
73 Info on an invitation : WHEN
75 Command, as influence : WIELD
76 “Don’t worry about it” : THAT’S OKAY
78 Brown or blacken : SEAR
79 Hole in the ground : PIT
80 ___ card : ATM
81 Shaded : HUED
82 Went over the limit, say : SPED
83 Where to find the radius : ARM
84 ___ Lipa, Grammy-winning pop artist : DUA
87 “Big Little Lies” co-star of Witherspoon and Kidman : DERN
88 Barely afloat? : SKINNY-DIPPING
91 Buzz in the morning : ALARM
93 Place you may go just for kicks? : SHOE STORE
94 Mail lady on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” : REBA
95 Occasion to stay up late : SLUMBER PARTY
97 Some surfing destinations : WEBSITES
99 You are here : PLANET EARTH
100 Pounds : PUMMELS
101 He made a pact with the Devil : FAUST
102 Makes blue, say : DYES
103 One of three for “Mississippi” : SHORT I

Down

1 Brand of breath spray : BINACA
2 Arthurian isle : AVALON
3 Decay, as wood : ROT OUT
4 “___ words were never spoken” : TRUER
5 Voice, as grievances : AIR
6 Potter of children’s literature : BEATRIX
7 Ambitious : DRIVEN
8 Proverbial tortoise or hare, e.g. : RACER
9 Poses : ASKS
10 Branch of the U.N. in 2020 news : WHO
11 Soda factory worker : BOTTLER
12 1989 Tom Hanks black comedy, with “The” : … ‘BURBS
13 Math measurement : AREA
14 Aspiring D.A.’s exam : LSAT
15 Tennis do-over : LET
17 Result of eating the poisoned apple in “Snow White” : SLEEP
18 Quickly go from success to failure : CRATER
19 Mudbug, by another name : CRAWDAD
21 Easy target : SAP
22 Many a dare, in hindsight : TERRIBLE IDEA
25 Bring down : LOWER
28 Part of a high chair : TRAY
29 Boring things : AUGERS
33 Hera’s Roman counterpart : JUNO
34 “Don’t you trust me?” : WOULD I LIE?
35 Heat of the moment? : WARM SPELL
36 First name in jazz : ETTA
37 Quagmire : MARE’S NEST
38 Mom jeans have a high one : WAIST
39 Picturesque time for a walk : SUNSET
40 Goes out on a limb : CHANCES IT
41 Tapered hairstyle : FADE
42 Act of omission … or of a commission : OVERSIGHT
43 Four for a 4×400, say : RELAY TEAM
44 Pluto, e.g. : GOD
45 Pint-size and then some : TEENSY-WEENSY
48 ___ mortal : MERE
50 Central : INNER
51 Bird feeder bit : SEED
53 They’re on the case, in slang : TECS
54 Garrulous : CHATTY
56 Like a pearl-clutcher : PRIM
59 Discourage : DETER
61 Abbr. on a cornerstone : ESTD
63 What skies do before a storm : DARKEN
65 Worrisome beach sighting : FIN
66 Pro ___ : RATA
68 Email status : READ
72 Food connoisseur : GOURMET
74 ___ a clue (was lost) : HADN’T
75 Scaredy-cat : WIMP
77 Frozen dessert : SHERBET
78 Golfer Jordan who won the 2015 U.S. Open : SPIETH
79 Republican politico Reince : PRIEBUS
82 Hybrid bottoms : SKORTS
83 Spot seller, in brief : AD REP
84 Keto adherent, e.g. : DIETER
85 Prepare to deplane : UNBELT
86 Andre who won the 1994 and 1999 U.S. Opens : AGASSI
87 Curses : DAMNS
88 Piece of the pie : SHARE
89 “That smarts!” : YOW!
90 De-e-eluxe : PRIMO
91 ___ breve (cut time) : ALLA
92 Beach ball? : LUAU
93 Do a veterinarian’s job on : SPAY
95 Beach lotion abbr. : SPF
96 Rare color? : RED
98 Texter’s “I can’t believe this” : SMH

10 thoughts on “1115-20 NY Times Crossword 15 Nov 20, Sunday”

  1. 36:42 Was 3/4 done in 23 minutes, but struggled mightily in the NW 2/3 of the puzzle. Had SPELL vs SLEEP; ACAI vs ALOE; CAP vs MAX; GOOGLE vs ERASER; BANTAM vs BARTAB (somewhere I recall seeing something about early stages of a tourney being a Bantam round); so it took a while to unravel that whole section. Have not heard of MARESNEST, and don’t think I’ve seen the word LIENOR (tho lender is with “er”); Just more of a struggle late last night than perhaps it should have been.

  2. 24:27, no errors. Clever cluing in places; somehow, I got a real kick out of “One of three in Mississippi” (and yes, Brian, the last one has a “long e” sound – that’s why there are only three with a “short i” sound).

  3. Ah, and I (belatedly) saw Brian’s point: Bill’s comment about 103-Across is indeed slightly off (and the time lag prevents me from correcting my previous comment).

  4. 35:58. @Ron, I also had the most trouble in the NW. That’s where I finally finished. As usual, I started faster than I finished. At least I was under 40 minutes for a Sunday puzzle. 😊

  5. 35:25. I really like these Sunday themelesses (themelessi? no). If it were up to me they’d all be like this… so obviously it isn’t up to me.

    Bill’s reference to the word “reticent” is correct. It’s the opposite of garrulous or CHATTY. I hear it used incorrectly so often these days as a synonym for “hesitant” that it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. “He was reticent to pick up the newborn.” Ugh!

    Enough of my soapbox. Good puzzle.

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