0120-21 NY Times Crossword 20 Jan 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: Natan Last, Andy Kravis and The J.A.S.A. Crossword Class
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: The United States

Themed answers are common phrases about UNITING, and including a four-letter word. That four-letter word can be reinterpreted as the two-letter abbreviations for two STATES:

  • 36A Red, white and blue land … or what 15-, 22-, 45- and 57-Across feature? : THE UNITED STATES
  • 15A Sharing thoughts like a Vulcan [Detroit, Fargo] : MIND-MELDING (MI/ND = Michigan/North Dakota)
  • 22A Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta, Bangor] : MATCH GAME (GA/ME = Georgia/Maine)
  • 45A Arthritis symptom [Altoona, South Bend] : JOINT PAIN (PA/IN = Pennsylvania/Indiana)
  • 57A Sommelier’s suggestion [Oshkosh, Omaha] : WINE PAIRING (WI/NE – Wisconsin/Nebraska)

Bill’s time: 9m 32s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 “God is the perfect ___”: Robert Browning : POET

Robert Browning met fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett in 1845. Elizabeth was a sickly woman, confined to her parents’ house in Wimpole Street in London, largely due to the conservative and protective nature of her father. Robert and Elizabeth eventually eloped in 1846, and lived in self-inflicted exile in Italy. Away from the country of his birth, Browning was moved to write his now famous “Home Thoughts, From Abroad”, the first line of which is “Oh, to be in England …”

5 Hormel product : SPAM

The Hormel food processing company was founded in 1891 by George Hormel as a meat packing operation. Personally, when I hear “Hormel”, I think of Spam …

9 “Avatar” f/x, e.g. : CGI

Computer-generated imagery (CGI)

“FX” (sometimes “f/x”) is an abbreviation for “effects”, as in “special effects”.

2009’s epic “Avatar” is a science fiction film from James Cameron, who was the director, writer and producer. It was an expensive movie to make and to promote, but was destined to become the highest-grossing film in the history of cinema. 20th Century Fox made a deal with Cameron to produce four “Avatar” sequels.

15 Sharing thoughts like a Vulcan [Detroit, Fargo] : MIND-MELDING (MI/ND = MIchigan/North Dakota)

Mr. Spock was the first to show us the Vulcan mind meld, in the original “Star Trek” series. Vulcans have the ability to meld with the minds of other Vulcans, and indeed humans, in order to see what’s “going on” in the other individual’s mind.

The city of Detroit was founded in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a French explorer. The original settlement was named for the Detroit River, which in turn takes its name from the French word “détroit” meaning “strait”. Detroit became inextricably linked with the automotive business from the very early 20th century when Henry Ford and others set up manufacturing in the area. This link to transportation led to Detroit’s nicknames “Motor City” and “Motown”. The city’s economic strength declined at the beginning of the 21st century, resulting in a 25% drop in population between 2000 and 2010. Detroit filed for the country’s largest municipal bankruptcy in history in 2013, facing a debt of $18.8 billion. The city exited bankruptcy at the end of 2014.

Fargo, North Dakota is the biggest city in the state. The original name for the city was Centralia, when it was a stopping point for steamboats that traveled the Red River in the late 19th century. The town really grew with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway, so the name “Fargo” was adopted in honor of one of the railroad company’s directors, William Fargo (of Wells Fargo Express fame).

16 Brillo rival : SOS

S.O.S is a brand of scouring pads made from steel wool impregnated with soap. The product was invented as a giveaway by an aluminum pot salesman in San Francisco called Ed Cox. His wife gave it the name “S.O.S” as an initialism standing for “Save Our Saucepans”. Note the punctuation! There is no period after the last S, and that is deliberate. When Cox went to register the trademark, he found that “S.O.S.” could not be a trademark because it was used as an international distress signal. So he dropped the period after the last S, and I hope made a lot of money for himself and his wife.

Brillo Pad is a soapy, steel wool pad, patented in 1913. The company claims that the name “Brillo” is derived from the Latin word for “bright”.

17 Wise alternative : UTZ

Utz is the largest privately-held producer of snack foods in the US. The company was founded in 1921 and is based in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

The Wise Potato Chip Company was founded in 1921 by Earl Wise, Sr. He adopted the owl as a company mascot, as the owl is reputed to be very “wise”.

20 “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics : MEIR

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.

22 Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta, Bangor] : MATCH GAME (GA/ME = Georgia/Maine)

“Match Game” is a television game show that had many incarnations. The original run was from 1962 until 1969, and it came back in varying formats several times after that. The best-known host of the show was Gene Rayburn. The most recent is Alec Baldwin, starting in 2016.

The city of Atlanta, Georgia (A-Town) had its beginnings in the late 1830s when the location was chosen as the terminus for a new railroad to be built connecting Georgia with the Midwestern United States. The city’s name was chosen by the Chief Engineer of the Georgia Railroad, apparently after the middle name of the daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin: “Atalanta”.

Bangor is the third-most populous city in the state of Maine (after Portland and Lewiston). The city was given its name in 1791, after the hymn “Antiphonary of Bangor” that was written at Bangor Abbey in Northern Ireland.

26 Germany’s von Bismarck : OTTO

Germany first became a country of her own in 1871 when the Princes of the various independent German states met at Versailles outside Paris to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as the Emperor of the German Empire. The man behind this historic development was Wilhelm’s Ministerpräsident, Otto von Bismarck. Von Bismarck was a powerful figure in Prussia and indeed on the world stage, earning him the nickname “Iron Chancellor”.

29 ___ Belt (part of a constellation) : ORION’S

A subset of three particularly bright stars in the constellation of Orion is named “Orion’s Belt”. The three bright stars sit almost in a straight line and are about equidistant. They’re usually the easiest way to spot the constellation of Orion in the night sky.

34 Health care hero, for short : EMT

Emergency medical technician (EMT)

36 Red, white and blue land … or what 15-, 22-, 45- and 57-Across feature? : THE UNITED STATES

Legend has it that Betsy Ross made the first American flag for General George Washington. However, this story only surfaced during the centennial celebrations of 1876, and although Betsy Ross was indeed one of several flag makers in Philadelphia in the days of George Washington, sadly there’s no definitive evidence that Ross provided that first Stars and Stripes.

39 “Shark Tank” network : ABC

“Shark Tank” is a reality television show that features aspiring entrepreneurs making pitches to potential investors (the “sharks”) as they try to grow their businesses. The show is a Mark Burnett production and is based in a British series called “Dragons’ Den”.

40 Berry that looks like a blueberry : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

41 Aircraft company headquartered in Kansas : CESSNA

The Cessna Aircraft manufacturing company was founded in 1911 by Clyde Cessna, a farmer from Kansas. Cessna is headquartered in Wichita and today has over 8,000 employees.

42 Emmy winner Carl or Rob : REINER

The multi-talented Carl Reiner was from the Bronx, New York. Reiner was married to singer Estelle Roberts. You might remember Roberts from the film “When Harry Met Sally” that was directed by Carl’s son, Rob Reiner. Estelle was the woman in the deli who said the famous line “ I’ll have what she’s having”, on seeing how excited Meg Ryan apparently was with her sandwich.

The great director and actor Rob Reiner first came to prominence playing “Meathead”, Archie and Edith Bunker’s son-in-law in “All in the Family”. Since then, Reiner has directed a long string of hit movies including, “The Princess Bride”, “Stand by Me”, “This Is Spinal Tap”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “Misery” and “A Few Good Men”.

45 Arthritis symptom [Altoona, South Bend] : JOINT PAIN (PA/IN = Pennsylvania/Indiana)

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. There are many types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis results in a breakdown of joint cartilage and bone, usually due to injury or inherited factors. Rheumatoid arthritis results in swollen and painful joints and is an autoimmune disorder, a condition arising from an abnormal immune response. The term “arthritis” ultimately comes from “arthron”, the Greek word for “joint”.

Altoona is in central Pennsylvania, and is home to the Ivyside Park Campus of Pennsylvania State University. Altoona is also home to Lakemont Park and Leap-The-Dips, the world’s oldest operating wooden roller coaster. Altoona was founded in 1849 by the Pennsylvania Railroad as the site of a large maintenance facility. Railroad enthusiasts flock to Altoona to stand at the center of Horseshoe Curve, a tightly curved section of track that allows trains to achieve the elevation necessary to cross the Allegheny Ridge. That section of track lends its name to the city’s minor league baseball team, the Altoona Curve.

The city of South Bend, Indiana is located on the St. Joseph River. The actual location is on the most southerly bend of the river, hence the name “South Bend”.

51 Off-road four-wheelers, for short : ATVS

All-terrain vehicle (ATV)

52 Pilfer, to Brits : NICK

“Pelf” is money that has been gained by illegal means. The exact origin of the term is unclear, but it is probably related to the verb “to pilfer”.

55 Wrinkly-faced dog : PUG

The pug is a dog breed of Chinese origin. Our current family pet is a boxer/pug cross, and is a good-looking mutt!

56 ___-Town (Midwest hub) : CHI

The city of Chicago is sometimes referred to as “Chi-Town”.

57 Sommelier’s suggestion [Oshkosh, Omaha] : WINE PAIRING (WI/NE – Wisconsin/Nebraska)

“Sommelier” is the French word for “wine steward”. If that steward is a female, then the term used in French is “sommelière”.

Oshkosh is a city in east-central Wisconsin that was named for Chief Oshkosh of the Menominee Native American people. The word “oshkosh” means “the claw” in the Ojibwe language.

Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska. It is located on the Missouri River, about 10 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River. When Nebraska was still a territory Omaha was its capital, but when Nebraska achieved statehood the capital was moved to the city of Lincoln.

61 He’s a doll : KEN

Barbie’s male counterpart doll is Ken, and Ken’s family name is Carson. Barbie’s full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. When Ken was introduced in 1959, it was as Barbie’s boyfriend. In 2004 it was announced that Ken and Barbie were splitting up, and needed to spend quality time apart. Soon after the split, Barbie “met” Blaine, a boogie boarder from Australia. Happily, Barbie and Ken reconciled and reunited on Valentine’s Day 2011.

63 End of many an address : ORG

The .org 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)

64 Granny, e.g. : KNOT

The granny knot is related to the reef knot (sometimes “square knot”) in that both are doubled overhand knots. The granny knot is formed by tying two left-handed (or two right-handed) overhand knots. The reef knot is formed by tying a right-handed and then a left-handed overhand knot (or vice versa). As a former sailor, I can attest that it is important to use a reef knot rather than a granny knot, as a granny knot is very difficult to untie whereas a reef knot is secure, yet can be released relatively easily.

65 Isle of ___ : SKYE

The Isle of Skye is off the northwest coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides. It is the second largest island in the country, and has been linked to the mainland by a road bridge since 1995. I’ve never been there, but I hear the views are spectacular.

Down

1 Kind of scheme : PONZI

Charles Ponzi was born in Luigi, Italy in 1882 and arrived in the US in 1903, flat broke having gambled away all his money on the voyage to Boston. Ponzi devised a scheme to buy what were known as “international reply coupons” through friends in Italy, which he had sent to him in the US so that he could redeem them on this side of the Atlantic. As the value in the US was greater than that in Italy, he could make a handsome profit. This was in itself an “illegal” transaction, buying an asset in one market at a low price, then immediately selling it in another market at a higher price. But it’s what he did next that became known as a Ponzi Scheme. He couldn’t redeem his coupons quickly enough due to red tape so he approached other investors, initially friends, and had them give him cash so that he could buy more coupons in Italy. He promised the investors he would double their money, which they did initially. Many people wanted to get in on the scheme seeing that Ponzi was able to make the new investors a profit and double the money of the original investors. Eventually, somebody did the math and word started to get out that the investment was risky, so the number of new investors started to fall. Without sufficient new investors Ponzi couldn’t double the money of his latest investors, and the whole scheme unraveled.

3 Muppet who once helped Emeril on “Emeril Live” : ELMO

The “Sesame Street” character named Elmo has a birthday every February 3rd, and on that birthday he always turns 3½ years old. The man behind/under Elmo on “Sesame Street” for many years was Kevin Clash. If you want to learn more about Elmo and Clash, you can watch the 2011 documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey”.

Emeril Lagasse is an American chef who was born in Massachusetts. Lagasse first achieved celebrity as executive chef in Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Now famous for his television shows, his cuisine still showcases New Orleans ingredients and influences. Lagasse started using his famous “Bam!” catchphrase in order to keep his crew awake during repeated tapings of his show.

4 One up, for example : TIED

I thought that “one up” meant “one ahead” in terms of points, goals, etc.. Maybe that’s only on the other side of the pond?

5 Libya’s Gulf of ___ : SIDRA

Sidra is a port on the Libyan coast. It is the country’s largest oil depot.

6 Taro dish : POI

I am a big fan of starch (being an Irishman I love potatoes). That said, I think that poi tastes horrible! Poi is made from the bulbous tubers (corm) of the taro plant by cooking the corm in water and mashing it until the desired consistency is achieved.

7 She’s a doll : ANN

Raggedy Ann is a rag doll that was created by Johnny Gruelle in 1915 for his daughter, Marcella. He decided to name the doll by combining the titles of two poems by James Whitcomb Riley, “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphan Annie”. Gruelle introduced Raggedy Ann in a series of books three years later. Sadly, Marcella died at 13 years of age with her father blaming a smallpox vaccination she was given at school. Gruelle became very active in the movement against mass vaccination, for which Raggedy Ann became a symbol.

8 Only ingredient in Accent, in brief : MSG

Accent is a brand of MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of a naturally-occurring,non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid. It is used widely as a flavor enhancer, particularly in many Asian cuisines. Whether or not it is harmful seems to be still under debate. I say that something produced in a test tube shouldn’t be in our food …

9 They might click on a dance floor : CASTANETS

Castanets are hand-held percussion instruments associated most notably with Spanish music. We tend to think of castanets being used in the flamenco style of dance, but in fact this is rarely the case. The name “castanets” comes from “castaña”, the Spanish word for “chestnut”, which they resemble.

13 It helps you see details : SLO-MO

Slow motion (slo-mo) replay of film.

15 Shh … it’s the word! : MUM!

The phrase “mum’s the word” has been around since the early 1700s. “Mum” has been used to mean “silent” for centuries, the idea being that “mum” is the sound made when the lips are tightly sealed.

21 Digital media player since 2008 : ROKU

Roku is a manufacturer of digital media players that allow access to audio and video programming over the Internet that is shown on television. Roku was founded in Los Gatos, California in 2002 by Anthony Wood. Wood chose the company name “Roku” as it is the Japanese word for “six”, and Roku is the sixth company that Wood founded. For what it’s worth, Rokus are my streaming devices of choice …

23 ___ Hall (“The Wind in the Willows” residence) : TOAD

Mr. Toad is one of the main characters in the children’s novel “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. A. A. Milne (of “Winnie-the-Pooh” fame) wrote several plays based on “The Wind in the Willows”, the first of which is “Toad of Toad Hall”.

24 Brand name derived from the phrase “crystallized cottonseed oil” : CRISCO

The Crisco brand of shortening was the first shortening to be made entirely from vegetable oil. Although that sounds like a good thing, it’s actually made by hydrogenating vegetable oil so that it has physical properties similar to the animal shortening it was designed to replace. This hydrogenation turns good fats into bad fats, so medical professionals suggest limited intake.

25 Gave an inkling : HINTED

Our word “inkling” apparently comes from the Middle English word “inclen” meaning “to hint”.

28 Muscle controlled by the radial nerve, informally : TRICEP

The triceps brachii muscle is found at the back of the upper arm. The muscle’s name translates to “three-headed arm muscle”, fitting as it is actually made up of three bundles of muscles.

30 Sports grp. founded by Billie Jean King : WTA

Former World No. 1 tennis player Billie Jean King founded the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in 1973.

33 Hawaiian ring : LEI

“Lei” is a Hawaiian word meaning “garland, wreath”, although in more general terms a lei is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

35 Grp. of inspectors : TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks who check passengers and baggage at airports.

37 Seat of ancient Irish kings : TARA

Tradition has it the Hill of Tara was the seat of the High King of Ireland. That was back in the 11th century. More recently, Margaret Mitchell referred to the Hill of Tara as being the inspiration for the name of the Tara plantation in her novel “Gone with the Wind”.

44 Wading bird with a long, slender bill : SNIPE

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.

45 King of Pop, in tabloids : JACKO

Michael Jackson introduced his one-glove look that same day that he debuted his little dance move known as the Moonwalk. It all took place on an NBC TV special in 1983 called “Motown 25”.

50 One might be deviled : EGG

Deviled eggs are hard-boiled eggs that have been shelled and sliced in two. The egg’s yolk is mixed with primarily mayonnaise and mustard, and then spooned into the hard-boiled egg white. The eggs are then sprinkled with paprika and served cold. Some people make deviled eggs on Halloween, dropping an olive slice in the middle so that the whole thing resembles an eyeball! The term “deviled” has been used for zesty or spicy foods since the 1700s.

53 Mustang and Pinto, for two : CARS

The Ford Mustang car was introduced in 1964. Back then the Mustang wasn’t a brand new design, but was based on the Ford Falcon. The Mustang was the first of the “pony cars”, American models that are compact and affordable, as well as sporty in image and performance.

The Pinto is a small car that was made by the Ford company from 1971 to 1980. The Pinto was named for the type of horse. Allegations were made in 1997 that the neck of the car’s fuel tank could easily break off in a collision leading to a deadly fire. However, the allegations were never really shown to be valid.

54 Rockette’s move : KICK

The famous Rockettes can be seen in Radio City Music Hall. They have an amazing schedule during the Christmas season when they perform five high-kicking shows every day, seven days a week. The troupe has been doing this every Christmas since 1932, until a COVID-19 pandemic hit …

57 Cooking utensil : WOK

“Wok” is a Cantonese word, and is the name for the frying pan now used in many Asian cuisines.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “God is the perfect ___”: Robert Browning : POET
5 Hormel product : SPAM
9 “Avatar” f/x, e.g. : CGI
12 Subjects of some insurance company reports : COLLISIONS
14 An oil, maybe : ART
15 Sharing thoughts like a Vulcan [Detroit, Fargo] : MIND-MELDING (MI/ND = MIchigan/North Dakota)
16 Brillo rival : SOS
17 Wise alternative : UTZ
18 What the nose knows : ODOR
19 Little matter : ATOM
20 “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics : MEIR
22 Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta, Bangor] : MATCH GAME (GA/ME = Georgia/Maine)
26 Germany’s von Bismarck : OTTO
29 ___ Belt (part of a constellation) : ORION’S
30 Certain ant : WORKER
33 Lie in the past? : LAIN
34 Health care hero, for short : EMT
36 Red, white and blue land … or what 15-, 22-, 45- and 57-Across feature? : THE UNITED STATES
39 “Shark Tank” network : ABC
40 Berry that looks like a blueberry : ACAI
41 Aircraft company headquartered in Kansas : CESSNA
42 Emmy winner Carl or Rob : REINER
44 Pop : SODA
45 Arthritis symptom [Altoona, South Bend] : JOINT PAIN (PA/IN = Pennsylvania/Indiana)
47 Peter or Paul, but not Mary : POPE
51 Off-road four-wheelers, for short : ATVS
52 Pilfer, to Brits : NICK
55 Wrinkly-faced dog : PUG
56 ___-Town (Midwest hub) : CHI
57 Sommelier’s suggestion [Oshkosh, Omaha] : WINE PAIRING (WI/NE – Wisconsin/Nebraska)
61 He’s a doll : KEN
62 Kind of milk : ONE-PERCENT
63 End of many an address : ORG
64 Granny, e.g. : KNOT
65 Isle of ___ : SKYE

Down

1 Kind of scheme : PONZI
2 Bygone : OLD
3 Muppet who once helped Emeril on “Emeril Live” : ELMO
4 One up, for example : TIED
5 Libya’s Gulf of ___ : SIDRA
6 Taro dish : POI
7 She’s a doll : ANN
8 Only ingredient in Accent, in brief : MSG
9 They might click on a dance floor : CASTANETS
10 Some bachelor party attendees : GROOMSMEN
11 Self proclamation? : IT’S ME
12 Mention : CITE
13 It helps you see details : SLO-MO
15 Shh … it’s the word! : MUM!
19 Way back when : AGO
21 Digital media player since 2008 : ROKU
23 ___ Hall (“The Wind in the Willows” residence) : TOAD
24 Brand name derived from the phrase “crystallized cottonseed oil” : CRISCO
25 Gave an inkling : HINTED
27 Leaseholder, e.g. : TENANT
28 Muscle controlled by the radial nerve, informally : TRICEP
30 Sports grp. founded by Billie Jean King : WTA
31 “No, you can’t be serious!” : OH BROTHER!
32 Not serving : RECEIVING
33 Hawaiian ring : LEI
35 Grp. of inspectors : TSA
37 Seat of ancient Irish kings : TARA
38 “Hurry!” : ASAP!
43 ___ and outs : INS
44 Wading bird with a long, slender bill : SNIPE
45 King of Pop, in tabloids : JACKO
46 Ham-handed : INEPT
48 Offer one’s two cents : OPINE
49 Get rid of the ball, in a way : PUNT
50 One might be deviled : EGG
53 Mustang and Pinto, for two : CARS
54 Rockette’s move : KICK
57 Cooking utensil : WOK
58 Stop on the road : INN
59 ___-Latin : NEO
60 Spanish king : REY

14 thoughts on “0120-21 NY Times Crossword 20 Jan 21, Wednesday”

  1. 11:51 Just a couple of early miscues. Did not understand the theme until coming here. Unfamiliar with UTZ. I remember Wise chips growing up in CT (another state code), but it’s not out here in the Seattle area

  2. 11:31, no errors. I also had never heard of Utz (though I did have a classmate in high school whose name was Dick Uetz).

    For once, I was aware of a theme as I did a puzzle, and I found it to be a bit distracting. I somehow wanted the theme entries to be entirely composed of state codes and it took me awhile to realize that the codes were restricted to forming a single four-letter word within each entry. My bad … 😜.

  3. 13:25. Ditto with UTZ. I also got the theme early. Nice Wednesday exercise. Oh, and got “Genius” on today’s NYT Spelling Bee.

  4. 16:35 I guess Utz is a New York//Pennsylvania thing(?) Not that I watch baseball much, but I seem to remember an Utz sign in the old Yankee Stadium. No issues, thought I finally caught onto a theme while solving with the uniting words, never noticed the 2 letter state codes until coming here….

    1. @Stan … You probably figured this out after posting, but … in 57A, the four-letter word is WINE, which is formed from WI (for Wisconsin) and NE (for Nebraska). The NG in the answer is on the end (“wine pairiNG”).

  5. 9:37, no errors. Frustrating that I had to stop the timer when I was on a roll when my pencil broke (the whole pressure problem, *). Time taken of course to get back into the flow of doing the puzzle.

    Utz is a fairly common snack food company, which I know of in the midwest. They primarily market cheese balls, pretzels, and animal crackers (I think Wise and Frito Lay got the markets pretty locked up in terms of chips), which I find fairly readily.

    * – I’ve been using some fairly old pencils in solving puzzles since I started doing this, mainly to get rid of a box ful I had on-hand. I wonder sometimes too if the lead breaks within the shaft if they receive a sharp rap and then reveals itself when the break gets close enough. I do have problems putting too much pressure on the writing device, which will be interesting to see how it works out when I transition to using up all these mechanical pencils I have on hand.

  6. 27:02 no errors …the theme was only an afterthought.
    UTZ is an east coast brand that is the best seller in Baltimore…there was n episode of Mad Men devoted to UTZ.
    Stay safe😀

  7. 21 minutes. No errors etc. For a while I thought that the state codes had to come at the end of each themed clue. Wrong

  8. pet peeve: asking what channel some tv show was/is on, especially one I would never watch. All of these “reality” shows are anything but!

  9. I got the theme idea from 15 across but took awhile to get that the states switched from first 4 letters then last 4 and back again. Never heard of UTZ or Wise but knew that my down answers were right.

  10. I learned UTZ only from its appearance in crosswords. Once learned, it is easy to remember since it has such an odd sound. My first actual sighting of an UTZ product happened recently in my local Sam’s Club. It was pretzels or some such. My teeth aren’t good enough to bite down on hard pretzels so I passed on buying them. But by the way, this was in Hawaii so it illustrates how such an East Coast brand can be spread far and wide by the big-box level of marketing.

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