1117-20 NY Times Crossword 17 Nov 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Kyle Dolan
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Grow a Spine

The ends of themed answers end with a progression building from “I” to “SPINE”:

  • 16A Cousin of Simon Says : MOTHER MAY I?
  • 24A 2012 Ang Lee film set largely at sea : LIFE OF PI
  • 38A Support for an updo : HAIRPIN
  • 49A What a chop shot imparts : BACKSPIN
  • 61A “Show some courage!” … as this puzzle’s theme can do? : GROW A SPINE!

Bill’s time: 5m 24s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

10 Studio behind Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” : MGM

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film studio was founded in 1924 by Marcus Loew. Loew was already a successful movie theater owner when he purchased Metro Pictures Corporation in 1919, and then Goldwyn Pictures in 1924. Later in 1924, Loew also purchased Louis B. Mayer Pictures, mainly so that Louis B. Mayer could merge all three studios and run them himself as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a remarkably well-received television adaptation of the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. The story is set in a future United State after the Second American Civil War. The “Handmaids” are the few remaining fertile women in the world, who are ritually raped and forced to bear children by their masters.

16 Cousin of Simon Says : MOTHER MAY I?

“Mother May I?” is a kids’ game in which one might say “Mother, may I take 3 steps forward”, perhaps.

“Simon Says” is a kids’ game. The idea is for the players of the game to obey the “controller” who gives instructions. But the players should only obey when the controller uses the words, “Simon says …”. The game has very old roots, with a Latin version that uses the words “Cicero dicit fac hoc” (Cicero says do this).

18 Flight board listings, for short : ETAS

Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

19 Stainless ___ : STEEL

In order to resist the tendency to rust, stainless steel (as opposed to carbon steel) has about 11% chromium. Stainless steel does in fact tend to rust, but just not as easily as regular carbon steel.

20 Bugler in the Rockies : ELK

Male elks are called bulls, and females are known as cows. Bull elks are known for their very loud screaming, which is called bugling. Cow elks are attracted to bulls that bugle more often and most loudly.

24 2012 Ang Lee film set largely at sea : LIFE OF PI

The 2012 movie “Life of Pi” is based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Yann Martel. The “Pi” in the title is an Indian boy named Pi Patel who finds himself adrift for 227 days in a small boat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

45 Liveliness, in music : BRIO

“Brio” is borrowed from Italian, in which language the term means “vigor and vivacity”. “Con brio” is a musical direction often found on a score, instructing the musicians to play “with energy, vigor”.

53 Many a Punjabi : SIKH

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.

Punjab is the most populous province in Pakistan and is home to over half of the country’s citizens. “Punjab” (also “Panjab”) translates as “Five Waters”, a reference to five rivers that form tributaries to the Indus River: Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.

54 “Kate & ___” (1980s sitcom) : ALLIE

The sitcom “Kate & Allie” ran from 1984 to 1989, starring Susan Saint James as Kate, and Jane Curtin as Allie. Jane Curtin won two Emmy awards for her work on the series, while Susan Saint James … did not.

Down

1 Some mainframe computers : IBMS

Tech giant IBM was founded as the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. The company changed its name to the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) in 1911 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1916. The name “International Business Machines” (IBM) was given first to the company’s Canadian subsidiary, and then to its South American subsidiary. In 1924, it was decided to adopt the International Business Machines name for the whole company. Good choice …

In contemporary usage, “mainframe” describes a large and powerful computer tasked with high-volume and processor-intensive tasks. Mainframes are typically used by large businesses and scientific institutes. In the ranking of computers, mainframes would sit below supercomputers, and above the personal computers with which we are all so familiar.

3 Photo posted days or weeks after it was taken, on social media : LATERGRAM

A “latergram”, as opposed to an Instagram.

8 Aid for a home repair project, informally : DIY KIT

Back in Ireland, we don’t have “hardware stores” as such, but rather “DIY centres” (and that’s the spelling of “centres”). “DIY” is an initialism standing for “do-it-yourself”.

10 The “da-da-da-DUM!” of Beethoven’s Fifth : MOTIF

Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” has one of the most recognizable openings in the whole of the classical repertoire, and comprises just four simpel notes. The work is sometimes referred to as the “Fate Symphony”, with that opening motif representing Fate knocking at the door.

12 Soccer superstar Lionel : MESSI

Lionel “Leo” Messi is a soccer player from Argentina. Messi was awarded FIFA’s Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) award from 2009 to 2013. The Ballon d’Or is presented to the player who is considered the best in the world in the prior year.

15 House speaker Nancy : PELOSI

Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker of the House in 2007, and was the 60th person to hold that position. Ms. Pelosi represents a district not far from here, which covers most of San Francisco. She was the first Californian, the first Italian-American and the first woman to be Speaker of the House. As Speaker of the House is second-in-line to the presidency, after the Vice President, Nancy Pelosi is the highest-ranking female politician in US history. Coming soon though, Vice President Kamala Harris …

25 Build-your-own Mexican dishes, at times : FAJITAS

“Fajita” is a Tex-Mex term that refers to grilled meat served on a tortilla. The original Mexican-Spanish term “fajita” is used to describe a small strip of chicken or beef. Nowadays, fajitas are often served on a sizzling platter with the tortillas and condiments on the side.

26 Big Mideast inits. : OPEC

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in 1960 at a conference held in Baghdad, Iraq that was attended by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Nine more countries joined the alliance soon after, and OPEC set up headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and then Vienna, Austria in 1965. The basic aim of OPEC was to wrest control of oil prices from the oil companies and put it in the hands of the sovereign states that own the natural resource.

28 Race that requires a swimsuit, helmet and running shoes, for short : TRI

An Ironman Triathlon is a race involving a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon run of just over 26 miles. The idea for the race came out of a debate between some runners in the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay. They were questioning whether runners, swimmers or bikers were the most fit athletes. The debaters decided to combine three local events to determine the answer, inviting athletes from all three disciplines. The events that were mimicked in the first triathlon were the Waikiki Roughwater swim (2.4 miles), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles). The idea was that whoever finishes first would be called “the Iron Man”. The first triathlon was run in 1978, with fifteen starters and only twelve finishers. The race format is used all over the world now, but the Hawaiian Ironman is the event that everyone wants to win.

35 “Jane ___” : EYRE

“Jane Eyre” is a celebrated novel written by Charlotte Brontë, under the pen name Currer Bell. The love story is perhaps represented by the oft-quoted opening lines of the last chapter, “Reader, I married him”. There is a wonderful 4-hour television adaptation made by the BBC that I highly recommend to fans of the novel …

36 Clarinet piece : REED

The clarinet is a lovely-sounding instrument, isn’t it? The name “clarinet” comes from the Italian word “clarino” meaning “trumpet”, with the “-et” suffix indicating “small”.

38 Derby entrant : HORSE

Our use of the word “derby” to mean a race started in 1780 with the English Derby horse race, which was founded then by the 12th Earl of Derby. Ultimately, the term “derby” derives from the old English shire of “Deorby”, a word meaning “deer village”.

42 Blues legend with the hit “The Thrill Is Gone” : BB KING

“B.B. King” was the stage name of Riley B. King, the celebrated blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. Referred to as the King of the Blues, King truly was a dedicated performer. He was doing gigs for over 50 years, and made over 15,000 appearances on stage. King’s first hit was “3 O’Clock Blues”, recorded in 1952. He passed away in May of 2015.

46 Sight off the Gulf Coast : OIL RIG

The Gulf of Mexico is a notorious site for oil exploration. There are about 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells on the Gulf’s seabed.

49 Light wood : BALSA

Balsa is a very fast-growing tree that is native to parts of South America. Even though balsa wood is very soft, it is actually classified as a hardwood, the softest of all the hardwoods (go figure!). Balsa is light and strong, so is commonly used in making model airplanes. Amazingly, in WWII a full-size British plane, the de Havilland Mosquito, was built largely from balsa and plywood. No wonder they called it “The Wooden Wonder” and “The Timber Terror”.

51 Groups identified by tartans : CLANS

Tartan is sometimes called “plaid” over here in the US, and is a word not used in the same sense outside of this country. In Scotland, a “plaid” is a blanket or a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder.

56 Rocker Stefani : GWEN

Gwen Stefani is lead singer with the rock band No Doubt. She joined the band in 1986, focused on a solo career from 2004-2008, but is now back singing and working with No Doubt. She joined the reality show “The Voice” as a coach in 2014, replacing Christina Aguilera. A year later, Stefani announced a relationship with Blake Shelton, a fellow coach on “The Voice”.

58 Lady of Camelot : ENID

Enid is a Welsh name, from “einit” an old Welsh word meaning “purity”. Enid was the wife of Geraint, one of King Arthur’s knights. Enid is described as “the personification of spotless purity”.

Camelot is featured in Arthurian legend. “Camelot” is the name of King Arthur’s castle and his court.

59 Casino actions : BETS

The term “casino” originated in the 1700s, then describing a public room for music or dancing. “Casino” is a diminutive of “casa” meaning “house”.

61 “Today” rival, for short : GMA

“Good Morning America” (GMA) is ABC’s morning show, and has been since 1975. There was even a spin-off show called “Good Afternoon America”, although that only lasted for a few months in 2012.

62 “Life beats down and crushes the soul, and ___ reminds you that you have one”: Stella Adler : ART

Stella Adler was an actress turned acting teacher. The Stella Adler Studio of Acting’s list of graduates includes the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert De Nero and Harvey Keitel. Adler has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that is located in front of the Stella Adler Theater.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Piece of land in el océano : ISLA
5 Lemon juice and vinegar, e.g. : ACIDS
10 Studio behind Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” : MGM
13 Ferry or wherry : BOAT
14 Charged for a chemistry class? : IONIC
15 Study, with “over” : PORE …
16 Cousin of Simon Says : MOTHER MAY I?
18 Flight board listings, for short : ETAS
19 Stainless ___ : STEEL
20 Bugler in the Rockies : ELK
21 Marital ___ : BLISS
22 Proceeding headlong without thinking : RASH
24 2012 Ang Lee film set largely at sea : LIFE OF PI
26 “Man, just my luck!” : OH GREAT!
29 Identifies, as in a social media post : TAGS
30 Sassy : PERT
31 Mrs., in Mexico : SRA
33 Turnkey : JAILER
37 Obama ___ (2009-17) : ERA
38 Support for an updo : HAIRPIN
40 “Yes, captain!” : AYE!
41 Jazz ensembles : COMBOS
43 Hotel room extra : COT
44 Medical breakthrough : CURE
45 Liveliness, in music : BRIO
47 Not in usable condition, say : DAMAGED
49 What a chop shot imparts : BACKSPIN
53 Many a Punjabi : SIKH
54 “Kate & ___” (1980s sitcom) : ALLIE
55 Fireplace fuel : LOG
57 Sort seen walking a red carpet : CELEB
60 Student ___ : LOAN
61 “Show some courage!” … as this puzzle’s theme can do? : GROW A SPINE!
63 Like hymns, unlike most poems : SUNG
64 Person who really digs working? : MINER
65 “I’ll get right to work!” : ON IT!
66 Some app interruptions : ADS
67 15%-er : AGENT
68 Children’s medicine, in doctor-speak : PEDS

Down

1 Some mainframe computers : IBMS
2 Chimney coating : SOOT
3 Photo posted days or weeks after it was taken, on social media : LATERGRAM
4 Deep down inside : AT HEART
5 Every breath you take : AIR
6 Accept an invitation, say : COME
7 Counting everything : IN ALL
8 Aid for a home repair project, informally : DIY KIT
9 ___-fi : SCI
10 The “da-da-da-DUM!” of Beethoven’s Fifth : MOTIF
11 Take firm hold of : GRASP
12 Soccer superstar Lionel : MESSI
15 House speaker Nancy : PELOSI
17 “Is there anything ___?” : ELSE
21 Launched : BEGAN
23 Tastes some : HAS A SIP
25 Build-your-own Mexican dishes, at times : FAJITAS
26 Big Mideast inits. : OPEC
27 Captain Marvel, e.g. : HERO
28 Race that requires a swimsuit, helmet and running shoes, for short : TRI
32 Part of a circle : ARC
34 Facial wrinkle suggesting a jovial spirit : LAUGH LINE
35 “Jane ___” : EYRE
36 Clarinet piece : REED
38 Derby entrant : HORSE
39 “___ Save America” (political show) : POD
42 Blues legend with the hit “The Thrill Is Gone” : BB KING
44 Baked treat on a stick : CAKE POP
46 Sight off the Gulf Coast : OIL RIG
48 Speakers’ aids, in brief : MICS
49 Light wood : BALSA
50 Audibly : ALOUD
51 Groups identified by tartans : CLANS
52 Everybody’s opposite : NO ONE
56 Rocker Stefani : GWEN
58 Lady of Camelot : ENID
59 Casino actions : BETS
61 “Today” rival, for short : GMA
62 “Life beats down and crushes the soul, and ___ reminds you that you have one”: Stella Adler : ART

6 thoughts on “1117-20 NY Times Crossword 17 Nov 20, Tuesday”

  1. 10:12 One error and a couple fat fingers – immediately put in GOD save America for 39D before reading the whole clue. But that gave me HAIRGIN and I knew that wasn’t right. Was sort of looking for HAIRGEL but that didn’t fit with 21D and 25D. Didn’t think of a podcast and it’s midnight and wasn’t thinking quite straight. Think I’ll head to bed now – MOTHERMAYI ??

  2. 7:44 No real problems today other than not knowing LATERGRAM so that slowed me down a bit. Didn’t notice the theme until I was done.

  3. 10:38 after changing JAILOR to JAILER (didn’t notice OYRE at first).

    (Actually, I’m sure I did it on purpose just to demonstrate my humanity … 😜.)

  4. 8:22 Another theme that I couldn’t see until after reading the blog, no surprise there… Congrats to NASA/SpaceX on a successful docking to the ISS last night!

  5. 8:20. Didn’t see the theme until the reveal. Had to get LATERGRAM entirely by crosses. I didn’t know CAKEPOP either, but it sounds good. What have I been missing?

    I do these online, but if I had done this on paper I wouldn’t have had any erasures. A clean solve with no missteps is rare for me.

    Best –

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