1121-20 NY Times Crossword 21 Nov 20, Saturday

Constructed by: Sam Ezersky
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 14m 59

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

15 Natural ingredient in mouthwash : ALOE VERA

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.

16 Record at the register : RING UP

What we usually call a cash register here in North America, we mostly call a “till” in Ireland and the UK. I haven’t heard the word “till” used much here in that sense …

19 Bootlegger’s foe : T-MAN

A T-man is a law-enforcement agent of the US Treasury (T stands for “Treasury”).

To bootleg is to make or smuggle alcoholic drinks illegally. The term arose in the late 1800s as slang for the practice of concealing a flask of liquor down the leg of a high boot. The term has been extended to mean the illegal production and sale of just about anything.

20 Award winners : LAUREATES

A poet laureate is a poet who is officially pointed by some institution to compose works for special occasions. The US Poet Laureate is more correctly known as the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. To be “laureate” is to be “crowned with laurels”. In ancient Greece, poets and heroes were honored with a crown or wreath made from laurels.

22 Modern health risk, informally : E-CIG

An electronic cigarette (also called an “e-cigarette”) is a battery-powered device that resembles a real cigarette. The e-cigarette vaporizes a solution that contains nicotine, forming a vapor that resembles smoke. The vapor is inhaled in a process called “vaping”, delivering nicotine into the body. The assumption is that an e-cigarette is healthier than a regular cigarette as the inhaled vapor is less harmful than inhaled smoke. But, that may not be so …

24 Composer whose name is one letter off from an international peace grp. : ENESCO

George Enescu (aka Georges Enesco) was a Romanian composer and performer. Enescu’s most popular works are two “Romanian Rhapsodies” (1901-2) and the opera “Oedipe” (1936).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is better known by the acronym “UNESCO”. UNESCO’s mission is to help build peace in the world using programs focused on education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. The organization’s work is aimed in particular at Africa, and gender equalization. UNESCO also administers a World Heritage Site program that designates and helps conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to humanity across the world.

27 Subject of Shakespeare’s line “Come, thou mortal wretch” : ASP

In William Shakespeare’s play “Antony and Cleopatra”, the heroine of the piece addresses the asp as she uses the snake to commit suicide:

Come, thou mortal wretch,
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool,
Be angry, and dispatch.

Later she says:

Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?

32 ___/hr. (power meas.) : BTU

In the world of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), the power of a heating or cooling unit can be measured using the British Thermal Unit (BTU). This dated unit is the amount of energy required to heat a pound of water so that the water’s temperature increases by one degree Fahrenheit.

33 Condescending term of address : BUB

“Bub” is American slang, and a term used to address males. “Bub” is possibly a variation of “bud”.

35 Couscous tidbit : PINE NUT

Couscous is a dish made from semolina, tiny balls of durum wheat, that is cooked by steaming. Couscous is particularly common in North African cuisines.

40 Ally of Britain during the Seven Years’ War : PRUSSIA

Prussia was a German kingdom that had the city of Berlin as its capital. The German monarchies were abolished after WWI, and Prussia ceased to exist as an entity right after WWII.

What the British call the Seven Years’ War is usually called the French and Indian War over here in the US. In the broader context, the war was fought between alliances led by Britain and France, and in the American theater was fought between British and French forces alongside their Native American allies.

41 Human Genome Project org. : NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) organization is made up of 27 different institutes that coordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.

The genome is all the hereditary information needed to reproduce an organism, in other words, all of its chromosomes. When scientists unravel the human genome, it takes up an awful lot of computer storage space, and yet all of this information is in almost every cell in our bodies. Each and every cell “knows” how to make a whole human being.

42 1980s cable competitor of CMT : TNN

The Nashville Network (TNN) was a country music cable channel that operated from 1983 to 2003. When TNN closed down it was relaunched with a completely different format as Spike, which was marketed as “the first television channel for men”.

44 Book before Deut. : NUM

The Book of Numbers in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles relates much of the journey of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land. The title comes from the numbering of the people that is described in the beginning of the book.

48 Having a little of this, a little of that : RAGTAG

“Ragtag and bobtail” is a colorful phrase that’s used to describe the lowest classes, or the rabble. A “bobtail” is a horse that has had its tail cut short, a word that goes back as least as far as Shakespeare as he used it in “King Lear”. A “tag” is a piece of cloth that is torn and hanging, which was readily combined with “rag” in the original phrase “tag, rag and bobtail”. This idiom, perhaps originally quoted from Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1659, referred to the lower classes as “tag, rag and bobtail, dancing, singing and drinking”. The phrase evolved, giving us our contemporary word “ragtag” meaning ragged and unkempt.

51 Bird that sometimes sings in a duet : WREN

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

52 Cal Ripken Jr. or Pee Wee Reese : SHORTSTOP

Cal Ripken played his entire, 20-year professional baseball career for the Baltimore Orioles. Ripken was known as the “Iron Man” because he showed up for work every day, come rain or shine. He played 2,632 straight games, blowing past the previous 2,130-game record held by Lou Gehrig.

Pee Wee Reese was a shortstop who played his professional career with the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers. Reese is remembered not only for his skill on the field, but for his very visible support for teammate Jackie Robinson, who famously struggled to be accepted as the first African-American player in the majors. As he was an outstanding marbles player as a child, Reese was given the nickname “pee wee” after the name for a small marble.

55 Latin word that’s 12-Down backward : ERGO

“Ergo” is a Latin word meaning “hence, therefore”, and one that we absorbed directly into English.

61 Longtime locale of Mideast conflict : THE SINAI

The Sinai Peninsula is in the eastern part of Egypt, and is a triangular landform bounded by the Mediterranean to the north and the Red Sea to the south. It is the only part of Egypt that lies in Asia as opposed to Africa. The eastern land border of the peninsula is shared with Israel, and Israel occupied the Sinai during the 1956 Suez Crisis and the Six Day War of 1967.

Down

3 Bill and Hillary Clinton have each won one : IOWA CAUCUS

The Iowa caucuses have been the first major electoral event in the nominating process for US presidential candidates since 1972.

4 Judith who was the second American woman in space : RESNIK

Judith Resnik was an engineer and astronaut, and one of the crew that died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. Prior to the accident, Resnik had logged 145 hours in orbit, and was the second American woman in space.

7 Alpha ___ Minoris (the North Star) : URSAE

Because the orientation of the Earth’s axis shifts, albeit very slowly, the position of north relative to the stars changes over time. The bright star that is closest to true north is Polaris, and so we call Polaris the “North Star” or “Pole Star”. 14,000 years ago, the nearest bright star to true north was Vega, and it will be so again in about 12,000 years time.

8 With 45-Down, Disney song written by Elton John and Tim Rice : HAKUNA … (45D See 8-Down : … MATATA)

“Hakuna matata” is a Swahili phrase, with a literal translation of “there are no worries”, or more colloquially perhaps, “no problem”. The phrase is used as the title for a hit song from the musical “The Lion King”.

9 Maverick : FREE SPIRIT

The concept of being one’s own person, going it alone, is popularly known as being a “maverick”. In the days of open range ranching, a maverick was a steer that didn’t carry a brand. An unbranded animal was usually the result of a branded animal giving birth on the open range, with the young growing up without having been captured and claimed by an owner. The use of the name “maverick” comes from Texas rancher Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. He stated that he did not want to inflict pain on his cattle, and so laid claim to any cattle on the range that weren’t branded. His stubborn refusal to cooperate with the neighboring ranchers gave rise to our modern description of a single-minded individual as a “maverick”.

10 Machine in a particle physics lab, in brief : LINAC

Nowadays, we call an “atom smasher” a “particle accelerator”. An accelerator creates highly focused beams of fast-moving ions that can be “smashed” into various atoms. Those collisions can produce new particles. Important work, I hear …

12 Despotic boss : OGRE

A despot is a ruler with absolute power, and often one who wields that power oppressively. “Despot” is an old French term from the 14th century that is ultimately derived from the Greek “despotes” meaning “master of a household, absolute ruler”.

13 Challenges for Roombas : RUGS

The Roomba vacuum cleaner is a cool-looking device that navigates its way around a room by itself, picking up dirt as it goes. Like I said, it’s cool-looking but I am not sure how effective it is …

23 Lead agent on “NCIS” : GIBBS

NCIS is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which investigates crimes in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The service gives its name to the CBS TV show “NCIS”, a spin-off drama from “JAG” in which the main “NCIS” characters were first introduced. The big star in “NCIS” is the actor Mark Harmon. “NCIS” is now a franchise, with spin-off shows “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans”.

25 28-pound debut of 1981 : IBM PC

The IBM PC entered the personal computer market in 1981 and was by all accounts a surprising success, even to many IBM executives. The PC was directed at the business world, and in 1983 IBM made its first foray into the home computing world with the introduction of the PCjr. Codenamed “Peanut” during development, the PCjr has been described as one of the biggest commercial flops in computing history. Various reasons have been cited for the failure, including the poorly-designed keyboard, relatively high price and lack of compatibility with existing IBM products.

26 Topic in artificial intelligence : TURING TEST

Alan Turing created the Turing test in 1950 as a way of checking a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior indistinguishable from a human. The essence of the test is an evaluation of a text conversation between machine and human. The evaluation is carried out by someone who only knows that one of the conversants is a machine, but not which one is which.

30 Annual mass event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert : BURNING MAN

Burning Man is an annual festival that is held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, although the first such gathering was held in 1986 on Baker Beach near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The name of the festival comes from the burning of a wooden effigy of “the man”.

31 Blockage unblocker : STENT

In the world of surgical medicine, a stent is an artificial tube inserted inside a vessel in the body, say an artery, in order to reduce the effects of a local restriction in the body’s conduit.

34 Humdingers : BEAUTS

A humdinger or a pip is someone or something outstanding. “Humdinger” is American slang dating back to the early 1900s, and was originally used to describe a particularly attractive woman.

36 In any possible way, in dialect : NOHOW

The peculiarly American term “nohow” means “not at all”. It comes from the words “no” and “how” constructed in the same way as the earlier word “nowhere”.

50 Foes of the Romans : GOTHS

The East Germanic tribe called the Goths had two main branches, called the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. The Visigothic capital was the city of Toulouse in France, whereas the Ostrogoth capital was the Italian city of Ravenna just inland of the Adriatic coast. It was the Visigoths who sacked Rome in 410 CE, heralding the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

56 Last words? : OBIT

Our word “obituary” comes from the Latin “obituaris”. The Latin term was used for “record of the death of a person”, although the literal meaning is “pertaining to death”.

57 3x platinum Kendrick Lamar song with the lyric “I was born like this” : DNA

Kendrick Lamar is a hip-hop singer from Compton, California. Lamar’s full name is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, with the singer’s given name honoring Motown artist Eddie Kendricks. Notably, his 2017 album “Damn” won a Pulitzer Prize for Music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz album to do so.

59 Big Sky Conference sch. : MSU

Montana State University (MSU) was founded in 1893 as the Agricultural College of the State of Montana. Class sizes were a little smaller back then, with five males and three females attending on the first day of school. MSU’s main campus is located in Bozeman, in the southwestern part of the state

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “Isn’t it strange?” : WEIRD, HUH?
9 1, 2, 3, 4 … 11, 12, 14, etc. : FLOORS
15 Natural ingredient in mouthwash : ALOE VERA
16 Record at the register : RING UP
17 Times table? : NEWS DESK
18 Juice : ENERGY
19 Bootlegger’s foe : T-MAN
20 Award winners : LAUREATES
22 Modern health risk, informally : E-CIG
24 Composer whose name is one letter off from an international peace grp. : ENESCO
25 How model airplane parts are sold : IN A KIT
27 Subject of Shakespeare’s line “Come, thou mortal wretch” : ASP
28 Closers of some boxes : TABS
32 ___/hr. (power meas.) : BTU
33 Condescending term of address : BUB
35 Couscous tidbit : PINE NUT
37 Dark : MACABRE
39 Shipment to a mill : IRON ORE
40 Ally of Britain during the Seven Years’ War : PRUSSIA
41 Human Genome Project org. : NIH
42 1980s cable competitor of CMT : TNN
43 Nonvital surgery target : CYST
44 Book before Deut. : NUM
46 Finale of a radio countdown : TOP HIT
48 Having a little of this, a little of that : RAGTAG
51 Bird that sometimes sings in a duet : WREN
52 Cal Ripken Jr. or Pee Wee Reese : SHORTSTOP
55 Latin word that’s 12-Down backward : ERGO
57 Joint : DOOBIE
58 Einstein referred to his endorsement of it as “one great mistake” : ATOM BOMB
60 Neutral at worst : NO LOSS
61 Longtime locale of Mideast conflict : THE SINAI
62 “Nevertheless …” : AND YET …
63 90s kid? : A-STUDENT

Down

1 In ___ of : WANT
2 Uncomplicated : ELEMENTARY
3 Bill and Hillary Clinton have each won one : IOWA CAUCUS
4 Judith who was the second American woman in space : RESNIK
5 Part of a box set, maybe : DVD
6 Part of a foot : HEEL
7 Alpha ___ Minoris (the North Star) : URSAE
8 With 45-Down, Disney song written by Elton John and Tim Rice : HAKUNA …
9 Maverick : FREE SPIRIT
10 Machine in a particle physics lab, in brief : LINAC
11 Like some ranking systems : ONE-TO-TEN
12 Despotic boss : OGRE
13 Challenges for Roombas : RUGS
14 ___-fi : SPY
21 Extra shot at the slots : RESPIN
23 Lead agent on “NCIS” : GIBBS
25 28-pound debut of 1981 : IBM PC
26 Topic in artificial intelligence : TURING TEST
29 What’s more : ANOTHER ONE
30 Annual mass event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert : BURNING MAN
31 Blockage unblocker : STENT
34 Humdingers : BEAUTS
36 In any possible way, in dialect : NOHOW
38 Titular android of early anime cartoons : ASTRO BOY
45 See 8-Down : … MATATA
47 Offer in advance : PRE-BID
49 What unexpected problems may do : ARISE
50 Foes of the Romans : GOTHS
52 “So ___?” : SOON
53 Stock market recommendation : HOLD
54 Expert on feet : POET
56 Last words? : OBIT
57 3x platinum Kendrick Lamar song with the lyric “I was born like this” : DNA
59 Big Sky Conference sch. : MSU

6 thoughts on “1121-20 NY Times Crossword 21 Nov 20, Saturday”

  1. 31:40 Today I had the entire right side filled with little on the left other than 52A and 23D. Also had BOY vs. BUB for a long while. Then worked my way up from SW corner. I had IBxxx for 25D and wanted it to be some sort of Apple / mac product. Then DUH – IBMPC. WEIRDHUH?? The E of URSAE brought me the jingle, early this Sat, morn.

  2. 31:34, no errors, but missteps galore (including the ones Ron mentioned). For me, a struggle from beginning to end, though it all finally made sense. One of those I affectionately call “a good tussle” (after cycling through a few other terms … 😜).

  3. 49:53 NW didn’t fall until remembered “Hakuna Matata” from back when my daughter was young, and I took a chance on “aloe vera”, which upon closer inspection is not in my Listerine Total Care 🙂

  4. 32:04 with 2 errors a.k.a. bad guesses. Tough one. “lieu” before WANT and “sci” before SPY were two traps I fell into. HAKUNA MATATA was cruel for those of us that don’t go to Disney movies.

    Never noticed that OGRE was ERGO spelled backwards.

    I was never a smoker, but it’s obvious that people that do truly enjoy smoking a cigarette. However, people that puff on those ECIGS never look like they enjoy it. They just look like they’re trying to be trendy. Maybe it’s the cynic in me.

    Let’s see if I can get my name right today unlike yesterday.

    Best –

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