0211-21 NY Times Crossword 11 Feb 21, Thursday

Constructed by: Alex Eaton-Salners
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Plurals

Circled letters in the grid are pairs of singular nouns that we replace with the plural, to make sense of the clue:

  • 17A What a pratfall may be done for : COMEDIC EFFECT (DIE + DIE = DICE)
  • 25A Program followed in Alcoholics Anonymous : TWELVE STEPS (ELF + ELF = ELVES)
  • 46A Sing under pressure : NAME NAMES (MAN + MAN = MEN)
  • 59A Where magazines may be laid out : COFFEE TABLE (FOOT + FOOT = FEET)

Bill’s time: 12m 17s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Spider-Man villain ___ Octavius : OTTO

Otto Octavius is a supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe. Also known as Doctor Octopus or Doc Ock, Octavius is primarily a foe of Spider-Man.

5 Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire : GINS

Beefeater Gin is a brand of spirit from the UK, with a Yeoman Warder (beefeater) on the label.

In one use of the word, a “yeoman” is a lower level official or attendant in a royal household. A famous group of yeomen are the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London. The role is ceremonial these days, theoretically safeguarding the crown jewels and guarding any prisoners in the Tower. More correctly, the Yeoman Warders are called Beefeaters, and nobody’s really sure why! If you get over to London, the Yeoman Warders will be your tour guide around the Tower of London … a great day out!

The Star of Bombay is a huge sapphire that was mined in Sri Lanka, with a weight of 182 carats. The gemstone was given as a gift to actress Mary Pickford by her husband Douglas Fairbanks. Pickford left the Star of Bombay in her will to the Smithsonian Institute, where it can be seen today. The British gin called Bombay Sapphire is named for the stone.

13 Prefix for many Ocean Spray products : CRAN-

When early European settlers came across red berries growing in the bogs of the northern part of America, they felt that the plant’s flower and stem resembled the head and bill of a crane. As such, they called the plant “craneberry”, which evolved into “cranberry”.

The Ocean Spray brand is owned by a cooperative of growers in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, growers of cranberries and grapefruit.

14 Oak, in a nutshell? : ACORN

These days, we don’t usually consider acorns as a foodstuff. But in days past, many cultures around the world have used acorns as food. Usually, bitter tannins that occur in acorns need to be leached out in water. Acorn meal can be a substitute for grain flour, which can then be used to make bread. Acorns have also been used as a substitute for coffee, especially when coffee was rationed. Notably, acorn coffee was brewed up by Confederates during the American Civil War, and by Germans during World War II.

16 The Big Easy : NOLA

The city of New Orleans, Louisiana has the nickname “The Big Easy”. This name might come from the early 1900s when musicians found it relatively “easy” to find work there. The city is also known by the acronym NOLA, standing for New Orleans (NO), Louisiana (LA).

17 What a pratfall may be done for : COMEDIC EFFECT (DIE – DIE = DICE)

“Prat” is a relatively new word for me, and is a slang term for the buttocks. A “prat-fall” is when someone falls and lands on the buttocks.

20 Communist party systems : APPARATS

An apparat is a political power structure. The term “apparat” comes into English via Russian ultimately from the Latin word “apparatus” meaning “tools”. The use of “apparat” is usually derogatory due to the terms’ historical association with the oppressive communist political structure that held sway in the Soviet Union.

21 YouTube count : VIEWS

YouTube is a video-sharing website that was launched in 2005 by three ex-PayPal employees. Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. Yep, $1.65 billion, less than two years after it was founded …

22 Actress Anne with four Emmy nominations : MEARA

Anne Meara married fellow comedic actor Jerry Stiller in 1954. The couple’s children are actors Ben and Amy Stiller. Meara co-starred with Carroll O’Connor and Martin Balsam in the eighties sitcom “Archie Bunker’s Place”, a spin-off from “All in the Family”.

23 Some theater honors : OBIES

The Obies are the Off-Broadway Theater Awards. The Obies have been presented annually since 1956. The recipients used to be chosen by “The Village Voice” newspaper, but now are jointly administered with the American Theatre Wing.

25 Program followed in Alcoholics Anonymous : TWELVE STEPS (ELF – ELF = ELVES)

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. As the organization grew, the guiding principles established by the founders were formatted into a 12-step program that was in place by the forties.

34 Sour-tasting fruit : SLOE

The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush, and the main flavoring ingredient in sloe gin. A sloe looks like a small plum, but is usually much more tart in taste.

35 A Stooge : MOE

If you’ve seen a few of the films starring “The Three Stooges” you might have noticed that the line-up changed over the years. The original trio was made up of Moe and Shemp Howard (two brothers) and Larry Fine (a good friend of the Howards). This line up was usually known as “Moe, Larry and Shemp”. Then Curly Howard replaced his brother when Shemp quit the act, creating the most famous trio, “Moe, Larry And Curly”. Shemp returned when Curly had a debilitating stroke in 1946. Shemp stayed with the troupe until he himself died in 1955. Shemp was replaced by Joe Besser, and then “Curly-Joe” DeRita. When Larry Fine suffered a stroke in 1970, it effectively marked the end of the act.

36 What a swish misses : RIM

A swish shot is a basketball shot that goes through the hoop without touching the rim or the backboard, and you can hear that “swish” as it just passes through the net, so they tell me …

37 Agency HQ’d in Atlanta : CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based in Atlanta, Georgia. The CDC started out life during WWII as the Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities. The CDC worries about much more than malaria these days …

40 May day celebrant : MOM

Note the official punctuation in “Mother’s Day”, even though one might think it should be “Mothers’ Day”. President Wilson and Anna Jarvis, who created the tradition, specifically wanted Mother’s Day to honor the mothers within each family and not just “mothers” in general, so they went with the “Mother’s Day” punctuation.

41 Bedouin, e.g. : ARAB

Bedouin tribes are Arab ethnic groups that predominantly live in the Middle East, in desert areas. Bedouin tribes tend to be nomadic, not settling permanently in one location.

43 Title that translates to “great sage” : MAHARISHI

A maharishi is a Hindu guru or spiritual teacher. “Maharishi” is derived from Sanskrit for “great seer”.

50 Change in the Middle East, say : DINAR

The dinar is the official currency in many countries, such as Iraq, Tunisia and Serbia. The gold dinar dates back to the early days of Islam, with the name deriving from the Roman currency called “denarius” meaning “ten times” (as it was originally a coin worth ten asses).

64 ___ Scamander, protagonist of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” : NEWT

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a 2016 spin-off and prequel to the incredibly successful “Harry Potter” series of films. The film is an adaptation of a book of the same name written by J. K. Rowling that purports to be a guide book about the magical creatures in the “Harry Potter” universe. Harry Potter carries a copy of the guide book as one of his school books in the original novel “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.

Down

1 Razor handle? : OCCAM

In the world of philosophy, a razor is a technique used to eliminate those explanations for a phenomenon that are unlikely. The most famous such technique is Occam’s razor, which asserts that the simpler explanations are the most likely. The use of the term “razor” comes from the concept of “shaving off” what is less likely to be true.

2 Meet-cute in a romance film, e.g. : TROPE

A trope is a figure of speech. The term “trope” comes from the Greek word “tropos” that has the same meaning.

3 2021 Super Bowl host city : TAMPA

The Florida city of Tampa has been known as “the Big Guava” since the seventies. The term is imitative of New York’s “Big Apple”, and refers to the unsuccessful search for the reported wild guava trees that were once hoped to be the basis of a new industry for the area. Tampa has also been called “Cigar City”, a reference to the cigar industry that fueled the area’s growth starting in the 1880s.

5 Mother to the Titans : GAIA

In ancient Greek religion, Gaia was the Earth goddess, the mother of everything. The Roman equivalent was the goddess Terra.

6 “Rhyme Pays” rapper : ICE-T

“Rhyme Pays” is a 1987 album released by musician Ice-T. It was the rapper’s first studio album, and is considered in retrospect to be perhaps the album that defined the genre now known as “gangsta rap”.

8 Honorific from Sanskrit : SRI

“Sri” is a title of respect for a male in India.

Sanskrit is an Indo-Aryan language and one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. Sanskrit has a rich tradition and is the language in which many historical and religious texts are written. There aren’t many speakers of the language today although efforts are underway to revive spoken Sanskrit.

10 Movie magnate Marcus : LOEW

Marcus Loew was a New Yorker born into a poor Jewish family. He started out in a penny arcade business and used its profits to buy into a nickelodeon. He built a whole chain of movie theaters, and then moved into the production of films so that he could guarantee supply of features that he could show in his theaters. Eventually he pulled together the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film production company, and sadly passed away just three years after he inked the deal.

11 Entities with pass-through taxation, briefly : LLCS

A limited liability company (LLC) has a structure that limits the liability of the owner or owners. It is a hybrid structure in the sense that it can be taxed as would an individual or partnership, while also maintaining the liability protection afforded to a corporation.

15 ___ Shute, “A Town Like Alice” novelist : NEVIL

“Nevil Shute” was the pen name of English-Australian novelist Nevil Shute Norway. Several of Shute’s more famous novels have been adapted for the big screen, including “On the Beach”, “No Highway” and “A Town Like Alice”. I was a big fan of Nevil Shute novels in my younger days …

“A Town Like Alice” is a 1950 novel by British author Nevil Shute. Shute set his story in Australia, as he had just settled in the country. The “Alice” in the title is the Australian city of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

19 Vassal’s plot of land : FIEF

Feudalism was a legal and military system that flourished in medieval Europe. Central to the system were the concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs. Lords would grant fiefs (land or rights) to vassals in exchange for allegiance and service.

24 “___ By Golly, Wow” (1972 hit by the Stylistics) : BETCHA

The Stylistics are a Philadelphia soul group that were very big in the seventies. Their biggest hit was “You Make Me Feel Brand New” from 1974.

26 Judge of the Bible : ELI

In the Bible, Eli is the High Priest of Shiloh and teacher of Samuel. As such, his story is told in the Book of Samuel. Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, both of whom are described as wicked. As a result of their wayward lifestyle, it is prophesied that all of Eli’s male descendents will die before reaching old age.

27 Proof parts : LEMMAS

A lemma is a helping theorem, a subsidiary proposition that helps prove some other proposition.

31 Its flag displays a curved dagger known as a khanjar : OMAN

The national flag of Oman is made up of three stripes (white, red and green) alongside a red bar which bears the national emblem of the country (a dagger and two swords).

32 Filmmaker Ephron : NORA

Nora Ephron had many talents, including writing film scripts and novels. Many of the movies that she wrote, she also directed. These would include some of my favorite movies of all time like “Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail” and most recently, the wonderful “Julie & Julia”. And, did you know that Nora Ephron’s second marriage was to journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame? She wrote an autobiographical novel based on her life with Bernstein, which deals in particular with Bernstein’s affair with the daughter of British Prime Minister James Callaghan.

39 Props, so to speak : CREDIT

“Props” is North American slang for “proper respect”.

42 Something kids often lose : BABY FAT

Adipocytes are fat storage cells. The prefix “adipo-” refers to “fat”, and the suffix “-cyte” indicates a “cell”. There are two types of fat cells. White fat cells contain just one large droplet of fat per cell. White fat cells are created when a body is carrying excess weight. Brown fat cells have many fat droplets within the cell’s cytoplasm. Brown fat is also called “baby fat”, and is not normally associated with excess weight as it is readily metabolized to generate heat.

47 ___ contendere : NOLO

“Nolo contendere” (sometimes shortened to “nolo”) is a legal term that translates from Latin as “I do not wish to contend”. It’s the plea of no contest, and is an alternative to guilty and not guilty, meaning that one doesn’t admit guilt but nor does one dispute the charge.

51 Padmé Amidala’s home planet in “Star Wars” : NABOO

In the “Star Wars” universe, Padmé Amidala is the Queen of the planet Naboo. Played very ably by Natalie Portman, Padmé becomes the secret wife of Anakin Skywalker, later revealed to be Darth Vader. As such, Padmé is also the mother of Luke Skywalker and his sister, Princess Leia Organa.

52 Rockefeller Center statue : ATLAS

The iconic bronze statue of Atlas that faces Fifth Avenue in Rockefeller Center is the work of sculptor Lee Lawrie. It is not to be confused with the bronze gilded statue of a reclining Prometheus that looks over Rockefeller Plaza.

Rockefeller Center is actually made of nineteen buildings in Midtown Manhattan. The site was developed by John D. Rockefeller, who first leased the 22-acre lot back in 1928. The original plan was to build a new opera house for the Metropolitan Opera, but the stock market crash of 1929 led to those plans being canceled. Because of the Great Depression, Rockefeller was forced to fund the whole development project himself, a huge undertaking, but a very successful one.

57 Cowboys QB-turned-broadcaster : ROMO

Tony Romo is a former quarterback who spent his entire NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys. Romo is also an avid amateur golfer and has even tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to qualify for the US Open golf championship.

58 Antarctica’s ___ Sea : ROSS

The Ross Sea is a bay in the Southern Ocean of Antarctica. It was discovered by one James Ross in 1841. A more recent discovery, in the waters of the Ross Sea, was a 33 feet long giant squid that was captured in 2007.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Spider-Man villain ___ Octavius : OTTO
5 Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire : GINS
9 Woes : ILLS
13 Prefix for many Ocean Spray products : CRAN-
14 Oak, in a nutshell? : ACORN
16 The Big Easy : NOLA
17 What a pratfall may be done for : COMEDIC EFFECT (DIE – DIE = DICE)
20 Communist party systems : APPARATS
21 YouTube count : VIEWS
22 Actress Anne with four Emmy nominations : MEARA
23 Some theater honors : OBIES
25 Program followed in Alcoholics Anonymous : TWELVE STEPS (ELF – ELF = ELVES)
31 Proper way to pass : ON THE LEFT
34 Sour-tasting fruit : SLOE
35 A Stooge : MOE
36 What a swish misses : RIM
37 Agency HQ’d in Atlanta : CDC
40 May day celebrant : MOM
41 Bedouin, e.g. : ARAB
43 Title that translates to “great sage” : MAHARISHI
46 Sing under pressure : NAME NAMES (MAN – MAN = MEN)
49 Talk a big game : BOAST
50 Change in the Middle East, say : DINAR
54 In a jubilant fashion : GAYLY
56 Bug : IRRITATE
59 Where magazines may be laid out : COFFEE TABLE (FOOT – FOOT = FEET)
61 Apartment listing info : AREA
62 Apartment listing info : ROOMS
63 Way to go : ROAD
64 ___ Scamander, protagonist of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” : NEWT
65 They may be set aside in a collaboration : EGOS
66 Chuck : TOSS

Down

1 Razor handle? : OCCAM
2 Meet-cute in a romance film, e.g. : TROPE
3 2021 Super Bowl host city : TAMPA
4 Where we are : ON EARTH
5 Mother to the Titans : GAIA
6 “Rhyme Pays” rapper : ICE-T
7 Doesn’t make it through a lecture, say : NODS OFF
8 Honorific from Sanskrit : SRI
9 Overruns : INFESTS
10 Movie magnate Marcus : LOEW
11 Entities with pass-through taxation, briefly : LLCS
12 Got into the swing? : SAT
15 ___ Shute, “A Town Like Alice” novelist : NEVIL
18 Part of a cabinet : DRAWER
19 Vassal’s plot of land : FIEF
24 “___ By Golly, Wow” (1972 hit by the Stylistics) : BETCHA
26 Judge of the Bible : ELI
27 Proof parts : LEMMAS
28 California : palms :: New England : ___ : ELMS
29 “That’s nonsense” : POOH
30 Match before the final : SEMI
31 Its flag displays a curved dagger known as a khanjar : OMAN
32 Filmmaker Ephron : NORA
33 ___ player : TEAM
38 It holds water : DAM
39 Props, so to speak : CREDIT
42 Something kids often lose : BABY FAT
44 Like some glasses : ANTI-FOG
45 Question one might ask when looking at a banana taped to the wall : IS IT ART?
47 ___ contendere : NOLO
48 ___ McCheese of old fast-food fame : MAYOR
51 Padmé Amidala’s home planet in “Star Wars” : NABOO
52 Rockefeller Center statue : ATLAS
53 Orchestra section : REEDS
54 Feature of a creature feature, perhaps : GORE
55 Some : A FEW
57 Cowboys QB-turned-broadcaster : ROMO
58 Antarctica’s ___ Sea : ROSS
59 Let go : CAN
60 Part of Italy where Calabria is found : TOE

16 thoughts on “0211-21 NY Times Crossword 11 Feb 21, Thursday”

  1. 15:16. Good thing the crosses were fairly straightforward because I didn’t really get the “trick” since in 3 of the 4 themed answers the final letter stood on its own as part of the answer. Realized that there was repetition early on, but didn’t translate that into plurals and use that in the gray squares. What can I say – it’s early, early.

  2. 10:10. Took me a little while to figure out what the theme was doing, and I had a couple misentries that had to be corrected (I had OCTO for 1A and POSH for 29D, and realized that “CROPE” and “MSM” made no sense…)

  3. Okay folks, I had the same issue as Ron, but in my typical style of savoring the experience, I took 30 minutes longer…
    44:33 and it wasn’t until about 2 hours after completing it that it hit me what the trick was….technically does that make my completion time 2:44:33? 🙂

  4. 24:06, and I was surprised when I didn’t need to search for any errors. I kinda got the gimmick but never put it together until I read Bill’s explanation. Grandkids were practicing Marcello’s Sonata in G Major. Hard to concentrate with that ear worm.

  5. 21:46. Didn’t get the theme until the very last one with COFFEE TABLE. Better late than never, I suppose.

    APPARAT is a very versatile (twisted?) word in Russian. APPARATchik is well known to refer to a communist party functionary. More generally APPARAT just means “apparatus” as Bill says – including photographic apparat means camera and flying APPARAT can mean aircraft. Interestingly, the word APPARATchik refers to someone in the communist party, but it also simply means “maintenance man”. Have fun equating those two.

    Best –

  6. Got the theme and got those right. I got messed up on OCCAM and APPARATS. didn’t know either one and guessed wrong.

    As for 39D,… “PROPS” ,never heard of it in this part of North america.

    1. 39D: you would most likely be exposed to the term watching an award show on TV, where an honoree would “Give a shout-out and props to all my peeps”.

      1. If you listen to Aretha Franklin’s 1967 chart-topper “Respect”, you will hear her refer to your “propers”….which is the longer version of “props”.

  7. 54:35 no errors although the theme eluded me until I read Bills explanation…add to that a bunch of crosses only solves and “never heard of” clues and that’s me.
    Stay safe😀
    Play ball!!

  8. 19:51, no errors. When the letters in shaded boxes didn’t seem to make any sense, just went with the flow to see where things went. Finally saw the theme after completing the puzzle (and before coming here, which is unusual for me). APPARATS was a new word for me.

  9. I got through this puzzle, but found the gimmick irritating rather than clever. Maybe I wish I was that clever, but when I get the creator’s explanation and react with…okay rather than OKAY!! that tells me a lot.

  10. I still don’t understand the theme. If you roll 2 sixes on 2 dice you get 12. One foot is 12 inches. But what is man-man? Two men who are 6 foot tall each is 12. Can any one explain it better?

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