0127-21 NY Times Crossword 27 Jan 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: Mike Knobler
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Where This Answer Goes

Themed answers are placed literally in the grid, relative to another answer:

  • 15A “Silence is the most perfect expression of ___” (line in a Shaw play) : SCORN
  • 17A Despicable … or where this answer goes? : BENEATH CONTEMPT (beneath “SCORN”)
  • 36A What to expect between June and September in India : MONSOON
  • 39A Sick … or where this answer goes? : UNDER THE WEATHER (under the “MONSOON”)
  • 57A Side to be considered : FACET
  • 62A Latent … or where this answer goes? : BELOW THE SURFACE (below the “FACET”)

Bill’s time: 8m 26s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 ___ California : BAJA

Baja California is both the most northern and the most western of the Mexican states. The name translates from Spanish as “Lower California”.

5 Frequent sights in Road Runner cartoons : CACTI

The cactus (plural “cacti”) is a member of a family of plants that are particularly well-adapted to extremely dry environments. Almost all cacti are native to the Americas, although some succulent plants from the old world are similar in appearance and are often mislabeled as “cacti”.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner are two much-loved cartoon characters from Warner Bros. Wile E. Coyote was created first, and Road Runner was invented as someone for Wile E. to play off. I love this cartoon; it’s definitely one of the best …

14 Vegetarian substitute for gelatin : AGAR

Agar (also “agar-agar”) is a jelly extracted from seaweed that has many uses. Agar is found in Japanese desserts, and can also be used as a food thickener or even as a laxative. In the world of science, it is the most common medium used for growing bacteria in Petri dishes.

Gelatin is a foodstuff that is used as a gelling agent in cooking, and for the shells of pharmaceutical capsules. Over 800 million pounds of gelatin are produced every year worldwide. It is produced from by-products of the meat and leather industries. Gelatin is basically modified collagen derived from pork skins and the bones of cattle, pigs and horses. So, vegans usually avoid things like gummy bears and marshmallows.

15 “Silence is the most perfect expression of ___” (line in a Shaw play) : SCORN

George Bernard Shaw (GBS) was a very successful Irish playwright. Shaw is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature, and an Oscar. He won his Oscar for adapting his own play “Pygmalion” for the 1938 film of the same name starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller. Most people are more likely to have seen the musical adaptation of “Pygmalion” that goes by the title “My Fair Lady”.

16 Philosopher David : HUME

David Hume was a philosopher and historian from Scotland. One of his greatest works is the massive “The History of England”, which was published in six volumes from 1754 to 1762. The massive tome covers the nation’s history from the Roman conquest of Britain led by Julius Caesar in 55 BCE, up to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that removed King James II from the throne and replaced him with William III and Mary II.

23 Dandies : FOPS

A dandy is a man who is overly fastidious with regard to his personal appearance. There’s a suggestion that the term originated in Scotland, where “Dandy” is a diminutive of the name “Andrew”. Back in the early 1800s, when the use of “dandy” was at its height, the female equivalent was a dandizette.

36 What to expect between June and September in India : MONSOON

The term “monsoon” was first used in India in the days of the British Raj, when it described the seasonal winds that brought rain from the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea from June to September. “Monsoon” is derived from the Portuguese “monção”, which in turn comes from the Arabic “mawsim” meaning “season”.

42 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord …,” e.g. : PSALM

The Greek word “psalmoi” originally meant “songs sung to a harp”, and gave us the word “psalms”. In the Jewish and Western Christian traditions, the Book of Psalms contains 150 individual psalms, divided into five sections.

44 Habitat for bitterns and herons : REEDS

Bitterns are wading birds in the heron family. Unlike most of their heron cousins, bitterns tend to have short necks.

Herons are birds with long legs that inhabit freshwater and coastal locales. Some herons are routinely referred to as egrets, and others as bitterns. Herons look a lot like storks and cranes, but differ in their appearance in flight. Herons fly with their necks retracted in an S-shape, whereas storks and cranes have their necks extended.

45 ___ walk : PERP

When a crime suspect in the custody of the police is walked through a public place, often to and from a courthouse, it is known as a “perp walk”.

47 University whose name is also a food : RICE

Rice University is a private school in Houston, Texas. William Marsh Rice had made a will endowing the funds for the establishment of the school at the time of his death. When he was found dead one morning in his bed, his lawyer announced that his will had been changed, with the bulk of Rice’s estate actually going to the lawyer making the announcement. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the lawyer had paid Rice’s valet to murder his employer using chloroform and a fake will was written. Eventually, the original will was deemed valid and the funds were disbursed so that the school could be built.

52 Knuckleheaded act? : NOOGIE

A noogie is a childish move in which someone rubs his (and it’s always a guy!) knuckles into a person’s head to create a little soreness.

61 “I only got a seventh-grade education, but I have a doctorate in ___”: James Brown : FUNK

Funk is a genre of music that originated in the late sixties with African-American musicians, and has been described as a mix of soul, jazz and R&B. One of the more famous names associated with funk was James Brown.

Singer James Brown was often referred to as “The Godfather of Soul” and sometimes “Mr. Dynamite”. Brown was born in Barnwell, South Carolina and had a rough and impoverished upbringing. He lived for some years in his aunt’s house which she ran as a brothel, and when he was sixteen he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to reform school. While in reform school, Brown was noticed by the R&B star Bobby Byrd, who took him under his wing. Byrd helped secure the young man an early release, and thereafter Brown turned his energies to music.

68 Servius Tullius, e.g., in ancient Rome : REX

Ancient Rome went through three distinct periods. From 753 to 509 BC, Rome was a kingdom founded by the legendary Romulus. From 509 to 27 BC, Rome was a republic. The Roman Republic started with the overthrow of the last monarch Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. He was replaced by two elected consuls who were advised by a senate. The Republic evolved over time, but came to an end when Octavian expanded his power and declared himself “First Citizen”. Octavian effectively became Rome’s first emperor, and took the name “Caesar Augustus”. The “Fall of the Western Roman Empire” took place in the 5th century, formally ending in 476 CE when the last emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. The Eastern Roman Empire survived as the Byzantine Empire, which was centered on Constantinople.

69 Part of w.p.m.: Abbr. : WDS

Words per minute (WPM)

70 One-eighty : UEY

Hang a “uey” or “uie”, make a u-turn, make a 180.

Down

2 Like sharp cheddar : AGED

Cheddar cheese takes its name from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset. Over 50% of the cheese sold in the UK is cheddar. Here in the US, cheddar is the second-most popular cheese sold, behind mozzarella.

3 Longtime actress co-starring in Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” : JANE FONDA

Jane Fonda is the daughter of Henry Fonda, sister of Peter Fonda, and aunt of Bridget Fonda, making the Fondas quite the acting family. Jane Fonda had many memorable screen performances, but is equally memorable for her anti-war activism. Most famously she was outspoken against the Vietnam War, going so far as to visit North Vietnam during the height of the conflict in 1972, posing for photographs and making radio broadcasts denouncing American leaders as “war criminals”. For her stance, Fonda was nicknamed “Hanoi Jane”.

“Grace and Frankie” is a Netflix original comedy series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the title roles, alongside Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. Grace & Frankie are two ex-wives who decide to live together after their longtime husbands announce that they are in love and intend to get married.

5 Winter hrs. in the Midwest : CST

Central Standard Time (CST)

6 Fünf + drei : ACHT

In German, “drei + fünf” (three + five) is “acht” (eight).

7 2017 Pixar hit : COCO

“Coco” is a 2017 Pixar movie about a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who ends up in the land of the dead by accident. There, he seeks out the help of the great-great-grandfather to get back to his family in the land of the living.

8 Where Paris took Helen : TROY

The ancient city of Troy was located on the west coast of modern-day Turkey. The Trojan War of Greek mythology was precipitated by the elopement of Helen, the wife of the king of Sparta, with Paris of Troy. The war itself largely consisted of a nine-year siege of Troy by the Greeks. We know most about the final year of that siege, as it is described extensively in Homer’s “Iliad”. The city eventually fell when the Greeks hid soldiers inside the Trojan Horse, which the Trojans brought inside the city’s walls. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts …

According to Greek mythology, Helen (later “Helen of Troy”) was the daughter of Zeus and Leda. When Helen reached the age of marriage, she had many suitors as she was considered the most beautiful woman in the world. Menelaus was chosen as her husband, and he took her back to his home of Sparta. Paris, a Trojan prince, seduced Helen, as she eloped with him and travelled to Troy. This event sparked the Trojan War that waged between the city of Troy and Greece. Because of this war, Helen was said to have “the face that launched a thousand ships”. And because of this phrase, it has been suggested, probably by author Isaac Asimov, that the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship is one “millihelen”.

9 Holiday ___ : INN

The first Holiday Inn hotel opened in 1952. The name for the hotel chain was inspired by the 1942 movie “Holiday Inn” starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. The Holiday Inn chain has been British-owned since 1988.

12 Roadies’ loads : AMPS

A “roadie” is someone who loads, unloads and sets up equipment for musicians on tour, on the “road”.

18 “Poor venomous fool,” to Cleopatra : 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?

25 Old woman’s home, in a children’s rhyme : SHOE

“There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” is an English nursery rhyme.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

30 Tiny fraction of a min. : NSEC

“Nanosecond” is more correctly abbreviated to “ns” (as opposed to “nsec”) and really is a tiny amount of time: one billionth of a second.

36 Citi Field mascot : MR MET

Mr. Met is the mascot of the New York Mets. He is a guy with a large baseball as a head. There’s also a Mrs. Met, a mascot who was previously known as Lady Met.

Citi Field is the relatively new baseball stadium used by the New York Mets that sits right next door to the site of Shea stadium, where the Mets had played for decades. And the new facility’s name comes from corporate sponsor Citigroup.

40 City across the Rio Grande from Juárez : EL PASO

Although there have been human settlements in the El Paso area for thousands of years, the first European settlement was founded in 1659 by the Spanish. That first community was on the south bank of the Rio Grande, and was called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). Most of the urban development under Spanish rule took place on the south side of the river, with El Paso del Norte acting as the center of governance for the Spanish for the territory of New Mexico. The Rio Grande was chosen as the border between Mexico and the US in 1848, so most of the city of El Paso del Norte became part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua (and is now called Ciudad Juárez ). The area north of the river developed as a US military post, eventually becoming the modern city of El Paso, Texas.

The Mexican city sitting across the border from El Paso is more correctly called Ciudad Juárez. Juárez used to be called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). It was to be the younger settlement on the northern side of the Rio Grande which would retain the “El Paso” name.

50 Quaint contraction : ‘TWERE

“‘Twere” is a quaint contraction for “it were”.

59 Animated frame : CEL

In the world of animation, a cel is a transparent sheet on which objects and characters are drawn. In the first half of the 20th century the sheet was actually made of celluloid, giving the “cel” its name.

60 Biblical twin : ESAU

Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When their mother Rebekah gave birth to the twins “the first emerged red and hairy all over (Esau), with his heel grasped by the hand of the second to come out (Jacob)”. As Esau was the first born, he was entitled to inherit his father’s wealth (it was his “birthright”). Instead, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of a “mess of pottage” (a meal of lentils).

63 Indianapolis-to-St. Louis dir. : WSW

Indianapolis is the largest city in Indiana, and is the state capital. The state of Indiana was formed in 1816, with Corydon chosen as the state capitol. The capital was changed to Indianapolis in 1825. Indianapolis is the closest of all capitals to the center of its state.

The city of St. Louis, Missouri was settled by French explorers in 1763. Sitting on the Mississippi River, it grew into a very busy port. By the 1850s, it was the second busiest port in the country, with only New York moving more freight. St. Louis was named for Louis IX of France. Louis was canonized in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII, and was the only French king to be declared a saint.

64 Female Jedi in “Star Wars” : REY

Rey is a central character in the “Star Wars” universe who first appeared in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Rey is played by British actress Daisy Ridley.

The Jedi are the good guys in the “Star Wars” series of movies. The most famous Jedi knights from the films are Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Alec Guinness, and later Ewan McGregor) and Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz). Well, they’re my favorites anyway …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 ___ California : BAJA
5 Frequent sights in Road Runner cartoons : CACTI
10 Attempt : STAB
14 Vegetarian substitute for gelatin : AGAR
15 “Silence is the most perfect expression of ___” (line in a Shaw play) : SCORN
16 Philosopher David : HUME
17 Despicable … or where this answer goes? : BENEATH CONTEMPT (beneath “SCORN”)
20 Paradises : EDENS
21 Output of Santa’s workshop : TOY
22 Retort to 4-Down : I AM SO!
23 Dandies : FOPS
25 Moving around very nicely, thank you : SPRY
26 Nonstop joker : RIOT
28 Midday break : LUNCH
32 Merit badge holder : SASH
35 Nearly forever : EON
36 What to expect between June and September in India : MONSOON
38 What’s what, in Italy : CHE
39 Sick … or where this answer goes? : UNDER THE WEATHER (under the “MONSOON”)
42 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord …,” e.g. : PSALM
43 “Diamonds” : ICE
44 Habitat for bitterns and herons : REEDS
45 ___ walk : PERP
47 University whose name is also a food : RICE
49 Levels : STRATA
52 Knuckleheaded act? : NOOGIE
56 Is indebted to : OWES
57 Side to be considered : FACET
61 “I only got a seventh-grade education, but I have a doctorate in ___”: James Brown : FUNK
62 Latent … or where this answer goes? : BELOW THE SURFACE (below the “FACET”)
65 Notable time : ERA
66 Shipping route : SEA LANE
67 Burnish : RUB
68 Servius Tullius, e.g., in ancient Rome : REX
69 Part of w.p.m.: Abbr. : WDS
70 One-eighty : UEY
71 Like some wines and humor : DRY

Down

1 Hon : BABE
2 Like sharp cheddar : AGED
3 Longtime actress co-starring in Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” : JANE FONDA
4 Schoolyard denial : ARE NOT!
5 Winter hrs. in the Midwest : CST
6 Fünf + drei : ACHT
7 2017 Pixar hit : COCO
8 Where Paris took Helen : TROY
9 Holiday ___ : INN
10 Heavy scissors : SHEARS
11 Possible result of overeating, informally : TUMMY ACHE
12 Roadies’ loads : AMPS
13 Texas politico O’Rourke : BETO
18 “Poor venomous fool,” to Cleopatra : ASP
19 A hot one is timely : TIP
24 Place for a coin : SLOT
25 Old woman’s home, in a children’s rhyme : SHOE
26 Enlist again : REUP
27 Na+ and Cl- : IONS
29 Square : UNHIP
30 Tiny fraction of a min. : NSEC
31 Shrink in fear : COWER
33 What dogs do in the spring : SHED
34 One of a pair of towel markings : HERS
36 Citi Field mascot : MR MET
37 Drug trafficker, informally : NARCO
40 City across the Rio Grande from Juárez : EL PASO
41 Drive … or drive mad? : TEE OFF
46 Drifted downriver, say : RAFTED
48 Not off key : IN TUNE
49 Not drunk : SOBER
50 Quaint contraction : ‘TWERE
51 “Stop worrying!” : RELAX!
53 Play defense against : GUARD
54 Run up, as charges : INCUR
55 Barely make it : EKE BY
58 Cries of discovery : AHAS
59 Animated frame : CEL
60 Biblical twin : ESAU
63 Indianapolis-to-St. Louis dir. : WSW
64 Female Jedi in “Star Wars” : REY

9 thoughts on “0127-21 NY Times Crossword 27 Jan 21, Wednesday”

  1. 8:12, no errors. I like the fact that each of the theme entries exactly fills a fifteen-character line, with an associated word exactly centered above it. How elegant! I also imagine that a bit of grid art is involved: there’s a foxy little face peering out at me … 😜.

  2. 9:03 Seems like I struggled a bit with the right side of the puzzle and had to cycle thru the partially filled answers several times. So it felt to me that the solve took longer than it actually did. I like the clues for 15A and 61A (though I originally entered LIFE as my first 10A at it and then worked my way to FUNK)

    Also enjoyed the movie “Get On Up” about the life of James Brown, in which Chadwick Boseman (R.I.P.) did a tremendous job portraying The Godfather of Soul. Thought he deserved an Oscar nomination for his performance.

  3. 9:42. I saw the theme and where it was headed early, but I don’t know how much that helped me. Biggest headache was the SE corner. NOOGIE is not something that came quickly.

    I went to RICE as an undergrad. What’s happened to that place is illustrative of higher education in general. Up until 1970, if you got into RICE, tuition was free. When I went in the early 80’s it was roughly $2000 or so per semester, but it was still one of the least expensive private schools to attend anywhere. It’s now the most expensive school in Texas – with tuition being right at $50,000/year. That’s a long way from free….

    Best –

  4. No errors. Seemed to solve relatively easy but i was in some kind of slow motion.. took much longer than usual for a wednesday.. like @anonnymus said, elegant puzzle.

  5. 23:56 no errors…the theme actually helped for a change.
    I just got my first COVID shot and so far so good…I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to say that.😀😀
    Stay safe😀

  6. 9:12, no errors. Less difficulty, for me today, than Monday or Tuesday.
    @Jeff: I hope RICE (and other college) graduates can get jobs which allow them to pay off those exorbitant student loans.

  7. Pretty easy for me. I got the theme early and it helped somewhat for the remaining fills. I like Nonny’s word for this puzzle—“elegant”. I know I could never do an intricate layout construction like this.

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