0129-21 NY Times Crossword 29 Jan 21, Friday

Constructed by: Robyn Weintraub
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 11m 03s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Article of attire akin to a tarboosh : FEZ

A fez is a red, cylindrical hat worn mainly in North Africa, and by Shriners here in the US. The fez used to be a very popular hat across the Ottoman Empire. The etymology of “fez” is unclear, although it might have something to do with the Moroccan city named Fez.

“Tarboosh” is the Arabic name for the hat called a “fez” in Turkish.

4 Facetious response to “How’d you know that?” : ESP

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

7 One might be forever : STAMP

The forever stamp for first-class postage was introduced in 2006 (and about time!). Now we have stamps that are good for first-class postage forever, no matter how often the rates change.

16 ___ Plus (brand with a “Lubrastrip”) : ATRA

Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977, as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.

17 Brownish-orange shade : TERRA-COTTA

The tem “terra-cotta” comes to us from Latin via Italian and means “baked earth”. Terra-cotta is a ceramic made from clay which is left unglazed. Maybe the most famous work in terra-cotta is the Terracotta Army, the enormous collection of life-size figures that was buried with Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China around 210 BC. I had the privilege of seeing some of this collection when it toured the US a few years ago, and even the few pieces on display were very impressive.

18 Big brass : TROMBONE

The brass instrument known as a trombone takes its name from the trumpet. The Italian for trumpet is “tromba”, and the suffix “-one” means “big”. So, “trombone” means “big trumpet”.

22 Spacewalk, e.g., in NASA shorthand : EVA

Extravehicular activity (EVA) is the name given to any work done by an astronaut outside of his or her spacecraft. The term would encompass walking on the moon, as well as making a space walk i.e. floating around in space tethered to spacecraft.

23 Insect repellent ingredient : DEET

“DEET” is short for “N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide”, an active ingredient in insect repellents. DEET is most often used to repel mosquitoes by applying it to the skin and/or clothing. It is also used to protect against tick bites.

31 Bar exam? : PUB TRIVIA

Trivia are things of little consequence. “Trivia” is the plural of the Latin word “trivium” which means “a place where three roads meet”. Now that’s what I call a trivial fact …

33 Early trans-Atlantic voyager : PINTA

Famously, Christopher Columbus used three ships in his first voyage across the Atlantic: the Santa Maria, the Niña and the Pinta. The Pinta was the fastest of the three, and it was from the Pinta that the New World was first spotted by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana who was a lookout on the fateful day. Pinta was a nickname for the ship that translated as “the painted one”. The Pinta’s real name has been lost in the mists of time.

34 Creature in Liberty Mutual ads : EMU

Liberty Mutual is an insurance company based in Boston. The business was founded in 1912 as the Massachusetts Employees Insurance Association (MEIA). Liberty Mutual has a famous advertising icon named LiMu Emu.

38 Material harvested for its hydrophobic properties : CORK

The cork tree is a genus of tree with a corky bark that is native to east and northeast Asia. The cork tree’s bark isn’t sufficiently thick for use in commercial cork production. Most cork comes from the cork oak, a tree that is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa.

39 Basic cleaner : LYE

What we call “lye” is usually sodium hydroxide, although historically the term “lye” was used for potassium hydroxide. Lye has many uses, including to cure several foodstuffs. Lye can make olives less bitter, for example. The chemical is also found in canned mandarin oranges, pretzels and Japanese ramen noodles. More concentrated grades of lye are used to clear drains and clean ovens. Scary …

40 Actor who voiced the title character in 2018’s “Sherlock Gnomes” : DEPP

Johnny Depp got his big break as an actor on television, in the eighties television show “21 Jump Street”. Depp’s first film success came when he played the title role in 1990’s “Edward Scissorhands”. He has twice been named Sexiest Man Alive by “People” magazine.

44 Exec with a noted mansion : HEF

Hugh Hefner (often called “Hef”) was from Chicago. His first publishing job was in the military, where he worked as a writer for a US Army newspaper from 1944-46. He went to college after his military service and then worked as a copywriter for “Esquire” magazine. He left “Esquire” to found his own publication that he called “Playboy”, which first hit the newsstands in 1953. “Playboy” has been around ever since.

The Playboy Mansion is the former home of Hugh Hefner, although much of the building and grounds are also used for corporate events. The mansion was built in 1927 for Arthur Letts, Jr., the son of Arthur Letts who founded the Broadway chain of department stores. Playboy bought the property in 1971 for just over a million dollars, and it’s now worth about 50 times that amount.

46 “The weapon of the powerless against the powerful,” according to Molly Ivins : SATIRE

Molly Ivins was a newspaper columnist, journalist and political commentator. One of Ivins’ books is “Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch’s Assault on America’s Fundamental Rights”.

53 One with briefs, briefly : ATTY

Attorney (atty.)

54 Defcon 1 mentality : CRISIS MODE

The US military uses the DEFCON scale to move to different stages of readiness (DEFCON: the defense readiness condition). DEFCON 5 denotes normal peacetime readiness. DEFCON 1 is maximum readiness. The scale was created in 1959 by the Joint Chiefs. The highest DEFCON level ever reached (as far as we public folk know) was DEFCON 2 during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, although this only applied to Strategic Air Command. The military reached DEFCON 3 during the Yom Kippur War, and also during the attacks of September 11, 2001.

55 Lisa with the 1994 hit “Stay” : LOEB

Singer Lisa Loeb was discovered by actor Ethan Hawke, who lived just across the street from her in New York City. Hawke took a demo of her song “Stay (I Missed You)” and gave it to director Ben Stiller, who in turn used it over the ending credits of his 1994 movie “Reality Bites”. The movie was a hit, the song went to number one, and Loeb became the first artist ever to hit that number one spot without having signed up with a record label. Good for her!

56 Fuji, e.g. : APPLE

The Fuji apple is a cross between two American varieties of apple that was developed in Japan, i.e. a cross is between Red Delicious and old Virginia Ralls Genet.

57 ___ Lovett of “Sweeney Todd” : MRS

“Sweeney Todd” was originally a 1936 film, and later in 1973 a play, then a 1979 musical and a movie adaptation of the musical in 2007. After Sweeney Todd has killed his victims, his partner in crime Mrs. Lovett helped him dispose of the bodies by taking the flesh and baking it into meat pies that she sold in her pie shop. Ugh!

Down

4 First name on the Supreme Court : ELENA

Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States from 2009 until 2010, when she replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. That made Justice Kagan the first female US Solicitor General and the fourth female US Supreme Court justice. Kagan also served as the first female dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009.

13 Uncle ___ : SAM

The Uncle Sam personification of the United States was first used during the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” term was so widely accepted that even the Germans used it during WWII, choosing the code word “Samland” for “America” in intelligence communiques.

19 TV roommates for 50+ years : BERT AND ERNIE

For many years, I believed that the “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie were named after two roles played in the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In the movie, the policeman’s name is Bert and his taxi-driving buddy is named Ernie. However, the “Sesame Street” folks have stated that the use of the same names is just a coincidence. Aww, I don’t wanna believe that’s a coincidence …

23 Fix, as in beta : DEBUG

Back in 1947, famed computer programmer Grace Hopper noticed some colleagues fixing a piece of equipment by removing a dead moth from a relay. She remarked that they were “debugging” the system, and so Hopper has been given credit for popularizing the term “bug” in the context of computing.

25 Penny-___ : ANTE

Penny Ante poker is a game in which bets are limited to a penny, or some other small, friendly sum. The expression “penny-ante” has come to describe any business transaction that is on a small scale.

31 Some guest roles on cop shows : PERPS

Perpetrator (perp)

37 Convictions : TENETS

A tenet is an article of faith, something that is held to be true. “Tenet” is Latin for “he holds”.

41 Le ___ (newspaper) : MONDE

“Le Monde” is a newspaper published each evening in France. “Le Monde” is one of the two most famous French papers, along with “Le Figaro”.

42 Von Trapp daughter who sings “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” : LIESL

The von Trapps portrayed in the musical “The Sound of Music” were a real family, as is well known. In the musical and film, the eldest daughter is Liesl, although in real life her name was Agathe. Agathe came with her family to the US in 1938, and operated a private kindergarten in Baltimore, Maryland for 35 years. Agathe passed away in 2010.

46 Org. concerned with lab safety? : SPCA

Unlike most developed countries, the US has no umbrella organization with the goal of preventing cruelty to animals. Instead there are independent organizations set up all over the nation using the name SPCA. Having said that, there is an organization called the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that was originally intended to operate across the country, but really it now focuses its efforts in New York City.

47 50+ group : AARP

“AARP” is now the official name for the interest group that used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons. The name change reflects the current focus of the group on all Americans aged 50 or over, as opposed to just people who have retired.

50 Indian lentil dish : DAL

I love dal dishes, which are prepared from various peas or beans (often lentils) that have been stripped of their outer skins and split. Dal is an important part of Indian cuisines. I suppose in Indian terms, split pea soup (another of my favorites) would be called a dal.

52 What you might say after reading a tricky crossword clue : HMM

Arthur Wynne is generally credited with the invention of what we now known as a crossword puzzle. Wynne was born in Liverpool, England and emigrated to the US when he was 19-years-old. He worked as a journalist and was living in Cedar Grove, New Jersey in 1913 when he introduced a “Word-Cross Puzzle” in his page of puzzles written for the “New York World”. The first book of crossword puzzles was published by Shuster & Shuster, in 1924. The collection of puzzles was a huge hit, and crosswords were elevated to the level of “a craze” in 1924 and 1925.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Article of attire akin to a tarboosh : FEZ
4 Facetious response to “How’d you know that?” : ESP
7 One might be forever : STAMP
12 Union deserters : EXES
14 Choice for those eager to retire and travel? : SLEEPER CAR
16 ___ Plus (brand with a “Lubrastrip”) : ATRA
17 Brownish-orange shade : TERRACOTTA
18 Big brass : TROMBONE
20 Reliable : TRUSTY
21 Baglike structure : SAC
22 Spacewalk, e.g., in NASA shorthand : EVA
23 Insect repellent ingredient : DEET
24 Twitter : retweet :: Facebook : ___ : SHARE
26 Email notification, maybe : SENT
27 Go (for) : OPT
30 Hot dogs do this : PANT
31 Bar exam? : PUB TRIVIA
33 Early trans-Atlantic voyager : PINTA
34 Creature in Liberty Mutual ads : EMU
35 Build : ERECT
36 Small bit of floor décor : ACCENT RUG
38 Material harvested for its hydrophobic properties : CORK
39 Basic cleaner : LYE
40 Actor who voiced the title character in 2018’s “Sherlock Gnomes” : DEPP
41 Like some toothpastes : MINTY
42 Choice for a cinematographer : LENS
43 Swab : MOP
44 Exec with a noted mansion : HEF
46 “The weapon of the powerless against the powerful,” according to Molly Ivins : SATIRE
49 “100% happening!” : DONE DEAL!
51 State in which you might get a tax deduction : PARENTHOOD
53 One with briefs, briefly : ATTY
54 Defcon 1 mentality : CRISIS MODE
55 Lisa with the 1994 hit “Stay” : LOEB
56 Fuji, e.g. : APPLE
57 ___ Lovett of “Sweeney Todd” : MRS
58 Snoop : PRY

Down

1 Achievements : FEATS
2 Really, really hot : EXTRA SPICY
3 “100% not happening!” : ZERO CHANCE!
4 First name on the Supreme Court : ELENA
5 Desertlike : SERE
6 /, maybe : PER
7 Something you can’t get in a restaurant : SECRET RECIPE
8 Food for a grizzly bear : TROUT
9 Doesn’t hesitate : ACTS
10 Apt name for a yoga instructor? : MATT
11 Talk up? : PRAY
13 Uncle ___ : SAM
14 Hot spot : STOVE
15 George Washington signed America’s first one in 1790 : PATENT
19 TV roommates for 50+ years : BERT AND ERNIE
23 Fix, as in beta : DEBUG
25 Penny-___ : ANTE
26 Recapitulate : SUM UP
27 Excessive : OVER THE TOP
28 Unlikely member of the “clean-plate club” : PICKY EATER
29 Bit of ink : TAT
31 Some guest roles on cop shows : PERPS
32 Pressing need : IRON
33 Bud : PAL
37 Convictions : TENETS
41 Le ___ (newspaper) : MONDE
42 Von Trapp daughter who sings “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” : LIESL
43 Indicative and subjunctive, e.g. : MOODS
45 Spacecraft activity : FLYBY
46 Org. concerned with lab safety? : SPCA
47 50+ group : AARP
48 Word with round or road : -TRIP
49 Symbol of opportunity : DOOR
50 Indian lentil dish : DAL
52 What you might say after reading a tricky crossword clue : HMM

16 thoughts on “0129-21 NY Times Crossword 29 Jan 21, Friday”

  1. 15:43. As with most Fridays, some early miscues, but once I got going it filled in nicely and ended up being fairly quick for a Friday.

  2. Hmmm. No fat-fingering as I did the puzzle last night, but,this morning, I seem to have somehow fat-fingered my attempt at posting … and I don’t know what I ended up with … so … second attempt:

    9:56, no errors. Relatively easy, I thought … 😳 … 🤪

  3. 14:05. Easy by Friday standards, but this week I’ll take it. NE was last to fall. I did have ARID before SERE but otherwise a very smooth solve.

    Best –

  4. 17:20, no errors. A good time for me on Friday. I’ve started noting my halfway times and I seem to always slow down on the 2nd half. 6:58 at the halfway point today.

  5. 41:38, no errors when I finally got done with this absolute schlock. 52D is very FAR from the reaction I had to the cluing in this one, especially when I had to do the bottom WITHOUT them. Terrible.

    1. @Glenn …

      Are you saying that some of the clues were missing from the version you did? That would certainly be a bummer (and would account for your time).

      I wish you had pointed out what it was about the cluing that struck you as “absolute shlock”. I went back and did it again, on paper this time (11:27, no errors, my lame excuse being that I’m kind of worn out from recent activities 😜) and didn’t see anything I would describe as “shlock”.

      As it happens, Robyn Weintraub did today’s New Yorker puzzle (8:42, no errors) – about as easy a puzzle as you could ask for (as befits a Friday New Yorker, I guess, though I sometimes question their judgement in that regard).

  6. 29:41 no errors…when I saw who the setter was I was SURPRISED to finish and SURPRISED at no errors and SURPRISED AT my time…so as Gomer Pyle would say SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE.
    Stay safe😀
    If you haven’t gotten you’re vaccination yet be patient and keep trying…it worked for me finally

  7. One Error. “Trambone” is a real slang word in my vocab.
    It crossed nicely with my “not-a-chance”.

  8. 15:21, no errors. Any sub 20 minute Friday, with no errors makes me happy. I really wanted to put OBI in 1A (it’s always OBI, isn’t it?).

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