0329-21 NY Times Crossword 29 Mar 21, Monday

Constructed by: Lynn Lempel
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: To Be, or Not to Be

Themed answers come in two pairs. One element of each pair either starts or ends with a word containing “one B” (not “two Bs”), and the others starts or ends with a word containing “two Bs”:

  • 36A Hamlet’s dilemma … with a phonetic hint for the last words of 17- and 29-Across and the first words of 45- and 63-Across : TO BE, OR NOT TO BE
  • 17A Equestrian outfit : RIDING HABIT (not two B)
  • 29A Children’s character who lives in a briar patch : BR’ER RABBIT (two B)
  • 45A 🎼 : TREBLE CLEF (not two B)
  • 63A California golf resort that has hosted six U.S. Opens : PEBBLE BEACH (two B)

Bill’s time: 5m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Team sport with scrums : RUGBY

If you’ve ever seen a rugby match, you’ll recognize the “scrum”, in which the players designated as “forwards” bind together and push against the forwards on the opposing team. It’s a way of restarting the game after various types of stoppages. Scrum is short for “scrummage”, which in itself is a variation of “scrimmage”. And “scrimmage” has its roots in the word “skirmish”. If you get the chance, take a look at the Matt Damon-Morgan Freeman movie called “Invictus”, directed by Clint Eastwood. It’s all about rugby in South Africa after Nelson Mandela came to power. A powerful film …

11 Naked ___ jaybird : AS A

The phrase “naked as a jaybird” dates back at least to 1943. Before that, back into the late 1800s, the equivalent phrase was “naked as a robin”. Going back further in time, the phrase “naked as a needle” was used in the late 1500s.

15 Writer Zola : EMILE

The most famous work by French writer Émile Zola is his 1898 open letter “J’Accuse!” written to French president Félix Faure. The letter was published on the front page of a leading Paris newspaper, and accused the government of anti-Semitism in its handling of the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus was a Jewish military officer in the French army, falsely accused and convicted of spying for Germany. Even after the error was discovered, the government refused to back down and let Dreyfus rot away on Devil’s Island rather than admit to the mistake. It wasn’t until 1906, 12 years after the wrongful conviction, that Dreyfus was freed and reinstated, largely due to the advocacy of Emile Zola.

16 Fractional amt. : PCT

Percent (pct.)

17 Equestrian outfit : RIDING HABIT

Something described as equestrian is related to horses or horsemanship. The term “equestrian” comes from the Latin “equus” meaning “horse”.

21 Perfect example : EPITOME

The more common meaning of “epitome” is “perfect example of a group, quality, type”. An epitome is also an abstract or summary of a book or article.

26 Home plate officials, informally : UMPS

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

29 Children’s character who lives in a briar patch : BR’ER RABBIT

Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox are characters in the Uncle Remus stories, written by Joel Chandler Harris. The “Uncle Remus” stories are adaptations of African American folktales that Harris collected across the Southern States. “Br’er” is an abbreviated form of “brother”.

“Briar” (sometimes “brier”) is a generic name describing several plants that have thorns or prickles, including the rose. Famously, Br’er Rabbit lives in a briar patch.

36 Hamlet’s dilemma … with a phonetic hint for the last words of 17- and 29-Across and the first words of 45- and 63-Across : TO BE, OR NOT TO BE

There has been centuries of debate about how one interprets Hamlet’s soliloquy that begins “To be or not to be …”. My favorite opinion is that Hamlet is weighing up the pros and cons of suicide (“to not be”).

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles …

42 ___ vera : ALOE

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.

45 🎼 : TREBLE CLEF

“Clef” is the French word for “key”. In music, a clef is used to indicate the pitch of the notes written on a stave. The bass clef is also known as the F-clef, the alto clef is the C-clef, and the treble clef is the G-clef.

52 Schemer against Othello : IAGO

Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare’s “Othello”. He is a soldier who fought alongside Othello and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. Iago hatches a plot designed to discredit his rival Cassio by insinuating that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello’s wife.

53 What the Supremes said to do “in the name of love” : STOP

The Supremes were the most successful vocal group in US history based on number-one hits. The group started out in 1959 as a four-member lineup called the Primettes. The name was changed to the Supremes in 1961. One member dropped out in 1962, leaving the Supremes as a trio. Lead singer Diana Ross began to garner much of the attention, which eventually led to a further name change, to Diana Ross & the Supremes.

55 Test for an advanced deg. seeker : GRE

Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is usually a requirement for entry into graduate school here in the US.

56 Requirement for sainthood : MIRACLE

The act of creating a saint is known as “canonization”. The term derives from the process of placing someone in the canon (or “calendar”) of saints.

60 Peninsula with Oman and Yemen : ARABIA

The Arabian Peninsula (also “Arabia”) is part of Western Asia that is located just north-east of Africa. The peninsula is bordered to the west by the Red Sea, to the northeast by the Persian Gulf, and to the southeast by the Indian Ocean. Most of the Arabian Peninsula is taken up by Saudi Arabia, but also included are Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. And, it’s the largest peninsula in the world, covering about 1¼ million square miles.

62 Suffix with Sudan or Japan : -ESE

Sudan was the largest country in Africa until 2011, when the Southern Sudan region opted by referendum to become independent. “North Sudan” retained the name of Sudan, and the new state is called South Sudan. Sudan is now the third largest country in the continent, after Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The island nation of Japan comprises 6,852 islands in total. The five main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa.

63 California golf resort that has hosted six U.S. Opens : PEBBLE BEACH

Pebble Beach Golf Links, located just south of Monterey, California, is a public course. It was the first public golf course to be chosen as the top course in the country by “Golf Digest”.

66 Tennis do-over : LET

Our modern sport of tennis evolved from the much older racquet sport known as “real tennis”. Originally just called “tennis”, the older game was labeled “real tennis” when the modern version began to hold sway. Real tennis is played in a closed court, with the ball frequently bounced off the walls.

67 Garlicky sauce : AIOLI

To the purist, especially in Provence in the South of France, aioli is prepared just by grinding garlic with olive oil. However, other ingredients are often added to the mix, particularly egg yolks.

68 Slow, musically : LENTO

A lento passage is a piece of music that has a slow tempo. “Lento” is Italian for “slow”.

70 One who laughs “Ho, ho, ho!” : SANTA

The Santa Claus with whom we are familiar today largely comes from the description in the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, and from the 1863 caricature created by the political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Nast is also responsible for locating Santa’s workshop at the North Magnetic Pole, a fact that he revealed to the world in a series of drawings in 1879.

Down

1 Mo. with many (not so) happy returns? : APR

April 15th wasn’t always Tax Day in the US. The deadline for returns was March 1st from 1913-18, when it was moved to March 15th. Tax Day has been April 15th since 1955.

2 Popular Girl Scout cookie : THIN MINT

Depending on which bakery makes the particular variety of Girl Scout cookies, the name can vary. For example, Little Brownie Bakers makes Samoa cookies, while ABC Bakers uses the same recipe and calls the cookies Caramel deLites. The assumption is that these cookies have the exotic name “Samoa” because they contain the tropical ingredients of coconut and cocoa. The most popular variety of Girl Scout cookies sold are Thin Mints.

3 Undertake with gusto : WADE INTO

“Gusto” is an Italian word meaning “taste”. We use it in English in the phrase “with gusto” meaning “with great enjoyment”.

5 Monopoly payments : RENTS

The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman named Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.

7 Actress Thurman : UMA

Robert Thurman was the first westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Robert raised his children in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and called his daughter “Uma” as it is a phonetic spelling of the Buddhist name “Dbuma”. Uma’s big break in the movies came with her starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction”. My favorite Uma Thurman film is the wonderful 1996 romantic comedy “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”.

9 Spot on a radar screen : BLIP

Scientists have been using radio waves to detect the presence of objects since the late 1800s, but it was the demands of WWII that accelerated the practical application of the technology. The British called their system RDF standing for Range and Direction Finding. The system used by the US Navy was called “Radio Detection And Ranging”, which was shortened to the acronym “RADAR”.

10 Supposed source of mysterious footprints in the Himalayas : YETI

The yeti, also known as the abominable snowman, is a beast of legend. “Yeti” is a Tibetan term, and the beast is fabled to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Our equivalent legend in North America is that of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. The study of animals whose existence have not yet been substantiated is called cryptozoology, and a cryptid is a creature or plant that isn’t recognized by the scientific community, but the existence of which has been suggested.

The magnificent Himalaya range of mountains in Asia takes its name from the Sanskrit for “abode of snow”. Geographically, the Himalaya separates the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau to the north.

11 Self-assurance : APLOMB

“Aplomb” is such a lovely word, one meaning “confidence, assurance”. It is a French word that literally means “perpendicularity”, or “on the plumb line”. The idea is that someone with aplomb is poised, upright, balanced.

12 Shrimp ___ (seafood dish) : SCAMPI

The Italian dish known as “scampi” is a serving of shrimp in garlic butter and dry white wine.

23 Kerfuffle : ADO

“Kerfuffle” comes from the Scottish “curfuffle”, with both words meaning “disruption”.

25 Shelters for shelties : KENNELS

Our word “kennel” meaning “doghouse” comes from the Vulgar Latin word “canile” meaning the same thing. A sheep (“ovus”) was kept in an “ovile”, a horse (“equus”) in an “equile”, and a dog (“canis”) in a “canile”.

30 Outback hopper, informally : ROO

The word “kangaroo” comes from the Australian Aborigine term for the animal. There’s an oft-quoted story that the explorer James Cook (later Captain Cook) asked a local native what was the name of this remarkable-looking animal, and the native responded with “Kangaroo”. The story is that the native was actually saying “I don’t understand you”, but as cute as that tale is, it’s just an urban myth.

37 Mississippi’s ___ Miss : OLE

“Ole Miss” is the nickname for the University of Mississippi. The name “Ole Miss” dates back to 1897, the first year a student yearbook was published. The graduating class held a competition to name the yearbook and “Ole Miss” emerged as the winner. The name stuck to the yearbook, and also as a nickname for the school itself. The University of Mississippi sports teams have been known as the Rebels since 1936. Prior to 1936, they were known as the Mississippi Flood.

38 Huge bird of lore : ROC

The mythical roc is a huge bird of prey, one reputedly able to carry off and eat elephants. The roc was said to come from the Indian subcontinent. The supposed existence of the roc was promulgated by Marco Polo in the accounts that he published about his travels through Asia.

39 In vitro fertilization needs : OVA

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process in which egg cells are fertilized by sperm cells outside of the body in vitro. The phrase “in vitro” translates from Latin as “in glass”. The process is usually carried out in a glass culture dish.

40 Citizens of Brussels and Antwerp : BELGIANS

The Belgian capital Brussels is famous for its food and drink. The list of goodies includes the city’s special waffles, chocolate, French fries and beer.

The port city of Antwerp is the second most populous urban area in Belgium after the capital Brussels. To most of the French-speaking population of the country, Antwerp is known as Anvers. The city’s economy is driven by the volume of traffic through the port, as well as trade in diamonds.

41 Theatergoer’s break : ENTR’ACTE

The term “entr’acte” comes to us from French, and is the interval “entre deux actes” (between two acts) of a theatrical performance. The term often describes some entertainment provided during that interval.

44 What a ballerina twirls on : TOE

“En pointe” is the name given to ballet dancing on the tips of the toes, and is a French term. A ballerina wears pointe shoes (sometimes “toe shoes”) to perform this delightful-looking, albeit unhealthy, feat (pun!).

47 White wetlands birds : EGRETS

Egrets are a group of several species of white herons. Many egret species were faced with extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s due to plume hunting, a practice driven by the demand for egret plumes that could be incorporated into hats.

48 ___ constrictor : BOA

Boa constrictors are members of the Boidae family of snakes, all of which are non-venomous. Interestingly, the female boa is always larger than the male.

50 Shout after an errant drive : FORE!

No one seems to know for sure where the golfing term “fore!” comes from. It has been used at least as far back as 1881, and since then has been called out to warn other golfers that a wayward ball might be heading their way. My favorite possibility for its origin is that it is a contraction of the Gaelic warning cry “Faugh a Ballagh!” (clear the way!) which is still called out in the sport of road bowling. Road bowling is an Irish game where players bowl balls along roads between villages, trying to reach the end of the course in as few bowls as possible, just like in golf!

Someone described as errant is roving around, especially in search of adventure, as in “knight-errant”.The term “errant” has come to mean “behaving wrongly” and “straying outside the bounds”.

54 Artist Picasso : PABLO

Artist Pablo Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name he was given right from birth. Got that?

57 Tax pros, for short : CPAS

Certified public accountant (CPA)

58 “Star Wars” princess : LEIA

The full name of the character played by Carrie Fisher in the “Star Wars” series of films is Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, and later Leia Organa Solo. Leia is the twin sister of Luke Skywalker, and the daughter of Anakin Skywalker (aka “Darth Vader”) and Padmé Amidala. Leia is raised by her adoptive parents Bail and Breha Organa. She eventually marries Han Solo.

64 Toasted sandwich, familiarly : BLT

The BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) is the second-most popular sandwich in the US, after the plain old ham sandwich.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Fighting, as countries : AT WAR
6 Team sport with scrums : RUGBY
11 Naked ___ jaybird : AS A
14 Stage of development : PHASE
15 Writer Zola : EMILE
16 Fractional amt. : PCT
17 Equestrian outfit : RIDING HABIT
19 Part of a chem class : LAB
20 Lie snugly : NESTLE
21 Perfect example : EPITOME
23 French friend : AMI
24 Take a lo-o-ong bath : SOAK
26 Home plate officials, informally : UMPS
27 Minor job at a body shop : DING
29 Children’s character who lives in a briar patch : BR’ER RABBIT
33 Not bottled or canned, as beer : ON TAP
35 Word that might be “proper” : NOUN
36 Hamlet’s dilemma … with a phonetic hint for the last words of 17- and 29-Across and the first words of 45- and 63-Across : TO BE, OR NOT TO BE
42 ___ vera : ALOE
43 Wedding or parade : EVENT
45 🎼 : TREBLE CLEF
51 Voice below mezzo-soprano : ALTO
52 Schemer against Othello : IAGO
53 What the Supremes said to do “in the name of love” : STOP
55 Test for an advanced deg. seeker : GRE
56 Requirement for sainthood : MIRACLE
60 Peninsula with Oman and Yemen : ARABIA
62 Suffix with Sudan or Japan : -ESE
63 California golf resort that has hosted six U.S. Opens : PEBBLE BEACH
66 Tennis do-over : LET
67 Garlicky sauce : AIOLI
68 Slow, musically : LENTO
69 Units on a football field: Abbr. : YDS
70 One who laughs “Ho, ho, ho!” : SANTA
71 Beginning : ONSET

Down

1 Mo. with many (not so) happy returns? : APR
2 Popular Girl Scout cookie : THIN MINT
3 Undertake with gusto : WADE INTO
4 Buyer’s warning : AS IS
5 Monopoly payments : RENTS
6 Try, try again? : REHEAR
7 Actress Thurman : UMA
8 Taunt : GIBE
9 Spot on a radar screen : BLIP
10 Supposed source of mysterious footprints in the Himalayas : YETI
11 Self-assurance : APLOMB
12 Shrimp ___ (seafood dish) : SCAMPI
13 Optimally : AT BEST
18 Amorphous lump : GLOB
22 Place to take a bath : TUB
23 Kerfuffle : ADO
25 Shelters for shelties : KENNELS
28 Run one’s mouth : GAB
30 Outback hopper, informally : ROO
31 Routine that one might get stuck in : RUT
32 Pay to play : ANTE
34 Ring, as church bells : PEAL
37 Mississippi’s ___ Miss : OLE
38 Huge bird of lore : ROC
39 In vitro fertilization needs : OVA
40 Citizens of Brussels and Antwerp : BELGIANS
41 Theatergoer’s break : ENTR’ACTE
44 What a ballerina twirls on : TOE
45 At just the right moment : TIMELY
46 Made a higher poker bet : RAISED
47 White wetlands birds : EGRETS
48 ___ constrictor : BOA
49 And others: Lat. : ET ALIA
50 Shout after an errant drive : FORE!
54 Artist Picasso : PABLO
57 Tax pros, for short : CPAS
58 “Star Wars” princess : LEIA
59 Black, in poetry : EBON
61 Has-___ : BEEN
64 Toasted sandwich, familiarly : BLT
65 All the rage : HOT

11 thoughts on “0329-21 NY Times Crossword 29 Mar 21, Monday”

  1. 10:39, lost a minute searching for a “fat finger” My daughter thought it would be fun to play rugby in college. She ended up in the hospital before the end of her first game…..

  2. 5:32, no errors. Very distracted while doing it, and totally missed the theme. (And, just now, it took me a couple of minutes to simply understand the theme, so it’s possible that “bewildered” is a better word for my current condition. Time to check into the funny farm? … 😜)

  3. 5:57. I still haven’t done yesterday’s puzzle as it was my 58th bday and I was otherwise occupied. Maybe I’ll get to it later today.

    I saw the theme early via the reveal and thought it was clever – especially for a Monday.

    I thought I’d made an error with 49D ETALIA. I thought maybe it was TREBLE CLiF to make ITALIA. Then I finally bothered to look at the clue for 49D.

    Note to self: Reading the clues helps…

    Best –

  4. 7:46, no errors. I, also, didn’t connect the theme with the two B or not two B words. Clever in retrospect.

  5. No errors. I always thoroughly enjoy Lynn Lempel puzzles. 41-Down, ENTR’ACTE, gave me much pause. I made a last minute erasure from an A to the correct R. Thanks also to Bill for his excellent commentary about this particular French contraction.

  6. I did not like the theme. It would’ve been more elegant if all answers had the first word have two b’s and the second word one b. >:(

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