0415-21 NY Times Crossword 15 Apr 21, Thursday

Constructed by: Brendan Emmett Quigley & Ben Zimmer
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Middle C

Themed answers are all trisyllabic, with the MIDDLE syllable sounding like the letter C:

  • 58A Starting point for a piano student, or a phonetic hint to 17-, 18-, 22-, 33-, 41-, 49- and 55-Across : MIDDLE C
  • 17A City transport, redundantly : TAXICAB (tack-C-cab)
  • 18A Most common mineral in the human body : CALCIUM (cal-C-um)
  • 22A Gentle, mild-mannered sort : PUSSYCAT (puss-C-cat)
  • 33A Warm-up time for pro athletes : PRESEASON (pre-C-sun)
  • 41A On a need-to-know basis : TOP SECRET (top-C-cret)
  • 49A Camping pests : NO-SEE-UMS (no-C-ums)
  • 55A Happy, as bygone days : HALCYON (hal-C-yun)

Bill’s time: 10m 19s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

8 King-like, in a way : MACABRE

Stephen King is a remarkably successful author. He has sold well over 350 million copies of his books, with many of them made into hit movies. I’ve tried reading two or three of the novels, and didn’t get too far. I really don’t do horror …

15 Turn into a cliché : OVERUSE

“Cliché” is a word that comes from the world of printing. In the days when type was added as individual letters into a printing plate, for efficiency some oft-used phrases and words were created as one single slug of metal. The word “cliché” was used for such a grouping of letters. It’s easy to see how the same word would become a term to describe any overused phrase. Supposedly, “cliché” comes from French, from the verb “clicher” meaning “to click”. The idea is that when a matrix of letters was dropped in molten metal to make a cliché, it made a clicking sound.

17 City transport, redundantly : TAXICAB (tack-C-cab)

We call cabs “taxis”, a word derived from “taximeter cabs” that were introduced in London in 1907. A taximeter was an automated meter designed to record distance travelled and fare to be charged. The term “taximeter” evolved from “taxameter”, with “taxa” being Latin for “tax, charge”.

A hansom cab is a very specific design of horse and buggy that was patented by Joseph Hansom in 1834 in England. The “cab” in the name is short for “cabriolet”, an earlier design of carriage on which the hansom was based. It’s from “hansom cab” that we get our modern term “cab”.

18 Most common mineral in the human body : CALCIUM (cal-C-um)

The name of the element calcium comes from the Latin “calcis” meaning “lime”. “Quicklime” and “burnt lime” are common names for calcium oxide.

21 Court proceedings : ACTA

Actum (plural “acta”) is the Latin word for “deed”. “Acta” is used in English to describe many official records, including minutes, proceedings etc.

29 Eel, on a menu : UNAGI

“Unagi” is the Japanese term for” freshwater eel”, and “anago” is the term for “saltwater eel”.

37 ___ Jima : IWO

Iwo Jima is a volcanic island located south of Tokyo that today is uninhabited. The name is Japanese for “Sulfur Island”, referring to the sulfur mining on which Iwo Jima’s economy once depended. There were about a thousand Japanese civilians living on the island prior to WWII. In 1944, there was a massive influx of Japanese military personnel in anticipation of the inevitable US invasion. As the Japanese military moved in, the civilians were forced out and no one has lived there since. Control of the island was wrested from the Japanese in the five-week Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Said battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific theater in WWII.

40 G.I. with stripes : NCO

Non-commissioned officer (NCO)

47 Astronaut Cooper as portrayed in “The Right Stuff” : GORDO

Gordon “Gordo” Cooper was an American astronaut who went into space as part of both the Mercury and Gemini Programs. Cooper had the honor of being the first American to have a snooze in space!

The 1983 movie “The Right Stuff” was adapted from a 1979 book of the same name by Tom Wolfe. It tells the story of the group of test pilots who were selected as the first astronauts, those who flew in space in the Project Mercury program.

49 Camping pests : NO-SEE-UMS (no-C-ums)

“No-see-um” is a familiar term used in North America for the small flies known as biting midges. We call them “midgies” in Ireland …

53 Bell Biv DeVoe or Bananarama : TRIO

Bananarama is a female singing group that formed in London in 1979. Their biggest hit was the 1986 hit “Venus” that topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. “Venus” was originally a number-one hit for the Dutch band Shocking Blue, back in 1969/1970.

58 Starting point for a piano student, or a phonetic hint to 17-, 18-, 22-, 33-, 41-, 49- and 55-Across : MIDDLE C

On the keyboard of a standard piano, the fourth C-key from the left is in the center of the keyboard and is referred to as “middle C”.

64 Emperor who abdicated in 2019 after 30 years : AKIHITO

Akihito was Emperor of Japan from 1989 until his abdication in 2019. He is the eldest son of Emperor Hirohito, who occupied the throne during World War II.

65 Topping for a vegan burger : SPROUTS

A vegan is someone who stays away from animal products. A dietary vegan eats no animal foods, not even eggs and dairy that are usually eaten by vegetarians. Ethical vegans take things one step further by following a vegan diet and also avoiding animal products in other areas of their lives e.g. items made from leather or silk.

Down

1 Lush : SOT

Our word “sot” comes from the Old English “sott”, meaning “fool”. The word “sot” started to be associated with alcohol and not just foolery in the late 1500s. The derivative term “besotted” means “muddled with drunkenness”, or more figuratively “infatuated”.

2 A.C.C. school : UVA

The University of Virginia (UVA) was founded by Thomas Jefferson, who then sat on the original Board of Visitors alongside former US Presidents James Madison and James Monroe. In fact, the original UVA campus was built on land near Charlottesville that was once a farm belonging to President Monroe.

The collegiate athletic conference known as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) was founded in 1953. The seven charter members of the ACC were Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Wake Forest.

3 “Regal” pet name : REX

The name “Rex” translates from Latin as “king”.

4 Verdi’s “___ tu” : ERI

Every crossword constructor’s favorite aria “Eri tu” is from Verdi’s opera “Un ballo in maschera” (“A Masked Ball”). The opera tells the story of the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden during a masked ball.

5 Luxembourg is a grand one : DUCHY

Luxembourg is a relatively small country in the middle of Europe that is just 1,000 square miles in area with a population of over half a million. The country is a representative democracy (just like the United Kingdom) and it has a constitutional monarch, namely Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. As such, Luxembourg is the only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy in the world.

6 Hayes who scored “Shaft” : ISAAC

Isaac Hayes was a soul singer and songwriter. Hayes wrote the score for the 1971 film “Shaft”, and the enduring “Theme from ‘Shaft’” won him an Academy Award in 1972.

7 Messing of “Will & Grace” : DEBRA

Debra Messing is most famous for playing Grace on the television series “Will & Grace”.

8 State whose northern residents are known as Yoopers: Abbr. : MICH

Michigan is the only US state that comprises two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is mitten-shaped, and it is separated from the Upper Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac. My wife is from the “U.P”, and is proud to call herself a Yooper (from the “UP”).

9 Newswoman Navarro : ANA

Ana Navarro is a Nicaraguan-born, American political strategist and commentator. Navarro is a lifelong Republican who worked for Governor Jeb Bush and for Senator John McCain. However, she was very critical of presidential candidate Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign. She was so vehement in her anti-Trump views that she ended up voting for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the election.

10 Frame in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” : CEL

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is a clever 1988 film featuring cartoon characters that interact directly with human beings. The most memorable cartoon characters have to be goofy Roger Rabbit, and vampish Jessica Rabbit. The film is based on a novel written by Gary K. Wolf called “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” There is a prequel floating around that has never been produced, which is titled “Who Discovered Roger Rabbit”.

11 Idyllic spot of myth : ARCADIA

Arcadia is a mountainous region of ancient Greece that was noted in times past for the innocence and contentment of its people who lived a simple, pastoral life. “Arcadia” has been used ever since as the name of a place offering peace and simplicity.

12 Streisand role in “Funny Girl” : BRICE

The movie “Funny Girl” stars Barbra Streisand in the title role of Fanny Brice. The real Fanny Brice was a theater and film actress, and “Funny Girl” is very loosely based on her life story. Fanny Brice was born into a Hungarian Jewish family in New York City, with the real name of Fania Borach.

14 Aretha’s sister who sang “Piece of My Heart” : ERMA

Erma Franklin was an R&B and gospel singer. She was the elder sister of Aretha Franklin. Erma toured with Aretha for a while, and even recorded backup vocals on her sister’s big hit “Respect”.

20 Once-plentiful endangered fish nicknamed “Albany beef” : STURGEONS

Several species of sturgeon are farmed for their roe, which is made into caviar.

23 Leading by a basket : UP TWO

That would be basketball.

25 ID datum : SSN

Social Security number (SSN)

32 Make corrections to : EMEND

The verb “to amend” means “to change for the better, put right, alter by adding”. The related verb “to emend” is used more rarely, and mainly in reference to the editing of professional writing. Both terms are derived from the Latin “emendare” meaning “to remove fault”.

33 Surname of the Incredibles : PARR

“The Incredibles” is a 2004 animated feature from Pixar, and not a great movie if you ask me. But asking me probably isn’t a good idea, as the film won two Oscars …

34 Big bungle : SNAFU

“SNAFU” is an acronym standing for “situation normal: all fouled up” (well, that’s the polite version!). As one might perhaps imagine, the term developed in the US Army, during WWII.

35 Philosopher who favored simple explanations : OCCAM

Ockham’s Razor (also “Occam’s Razor”) is a principle in philosophy and science that basically states that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. This explanation is a corollary to the more exact statement of the principle, that one shouldn’t needlessly use assumptions in explaining something. The principle is referred to as “lex parsimoniae” in Latin, or “the law of parsimony”. Parsimony is being thrifty with money or resources.

36 Gritty films, informally : NOIRS

The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.

39 Prefix with -plasmic : ECTO-

The endoplasm is the inner part of a cell’s cytoplasm, and the ectoplasm is the outer part.

42 Dry wind in the Sahara : SIROCCO

A sirocco is a warm, dry and often dusty wind that originates in the Arabian or Sahara desert, and blows across the Mediterranean onto the Southern European coast.

44 Issa of “Insecure” : RAE

Issa Rae is a Stanford University graduate who created a YouTube web series called “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”. Rae also plays the title role in the series, a young lady named “J”. “Awkward Black Girl” was adapted into an HBO comedy-drama called “Insecure”, in which Issa Rae stars.

48 Many a sight on the Suez Canal : OILER

The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. The canal took ten years to construct, and opened in 1869. The northern terminus of the waterway is Port Said, and the southern is Port Tewfik in the city of Suez, which gives the canal its name. There are no locks on the Suez Canal, and there is only “one-lane” navigation available. There are two spots in the canal where ships travelling in opposing directions can pass each other. A second canal is now under construction that will cover half the route of the existing canal. When completed, the Suez Canal will be able to handle 97 ships a day, up from the current capacity of 49 ships per day.

51 Brand name that means “exquisite” in Japanese : SEIKO

Watch manufacturer Seiko was founded as a watch and jewelry shop in Tokyo in 1881. The store was opened by one Kintaro Hattori, who started to produce clocks under the name Seikosha, which can be translated as “House of Exquisite Workmanship”. The first Seiko watches went on sale in 1924, and today the company suggests that the name “Seiko” is Japanese for “exquisite” and “success”.

57 8-Down’s northern neighbor: Abbr. : ONT

The Canadian province of Ontario takes its name from the Great Lake. In turn, Lake Ontario’s name is thought to be derived from “Ontari:io”, a Huron word meaning “great lake”. Ontario is home to the nation’s capital of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Canada’s most populous city (and the capital of the province).

59 M.L.B.’s “10th men” : DHS

Baseball’s American League (AL) allows a designated hitter (DH) in each team’s lineup, whereas the National League (NL) does not.

61 1940s combat zone, in brief : ETO

European Theater of Operations (ETO)

62 Extra in a procedural : COP

“To cop” was northern-English dialect for “to seize, catch”, and is still a slang term meaning “to get hold of, steal”. This verb evolved in the noun “copper”, describing a policeman, someone who catches criminals. “Copper” is often shortened to “cop”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “Yep, took care of it!” : SURE DID!
8 King-like, in a way : MACABRE
15 Turn into a cliché : OVERUSE
16 Wrongly : IN ERROR
17 City transport, redundantly : TAXICAB (tack-C-cab)
18 Most common mineral in the human body : CALCIUM (cal-C-um)
19 Severe : HARSH
21 Court proceedings : ACTA
22 Gentle, mild-mannered sort : PUSSYCAT (puss-C-cat)
26 Gets one’s feet wet? : WADES
28 Goes (for) : OPTS
29 Eel, on a menu : UNAGI
31 Ring thing : STONE
33 Warm-up time for pro athletes : PRESEASON (pre-C-sun)
37 ___ Jima : IWO
38 “I’m back” : ME AGAIN
40 G.I. with stripes : NCO
41 On a need-to-know basis : TOP SECRET (top-C-cret)
43 One of the sisters on TV’s “Braxton Family Values” : TRACI
45 It’s a start : INTRO
46 A ways away : AFAR
47 Astronaut Cooper as portrayed in “The Right Stuff” : GORDO
49 Camping pests : NO-SEE-UMS (no-C-ums)
53 Bell Biv DeVoe or Bananarama : TRIO
54 Pale as a ghost : ASHEN
55 Happy, as bygone days : HALCYON (hal-C-yun)
58 Starting point for a piano student, or a phonetic hint to 17-, 18-, 22-, 33-, 41-, 49- and 55-Across : MIDDLE C
63 Words supporting a motion : I SECOND
64 Emperor who abdicated in 2019 after 30 years : AKIHITO
65 Topping for a vegan burger : SPROUTS
66 On and on and on : NONSTOP

Down

1 Lush : SOT
2 A.C.C. school : UVA
3 “Regal” pet name : REX
4 Verdi’s “___ tu” : ERI
5 Luxembourg is a grand one : DUCHY
6 Hayes who scored “Shaft” : ISAAC
7 Messing of “Will & Grace” : DEBRA
8 State whose northern residents are known as Yoopers: Abbr. : MICH
9 Newswoman Navarro : ANA
10 Frame in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” : CEL
11 Idyllic spot of myth : ARCADIA
12 Streisand role in “Funny Girl” : BRICE
13 Hammerings : ROUTS
14 Aretha’s sister who sang “Piece of My Heart” : ERMA
20 Once-plentiful endangered fish nicknamed “Albany beef” : STURGEONS
22 Put forth, as a hypothesis : POSIT
23 Leading by a basket : UP TWO
24 Go low, in a way : STOOP
25 ID datum : SSN
26 “___ close?” : WAS I
27 Word with free or double : … AGENT
30 Straight up : NEAT
32 Make corrections to : EMEND
33 Surname of the Incredibles : PARR
34 Big bungle : SNAFU
35 Philosopher who favored simple explanations : OCCAM
36 Gritty films, informally : NOIRS
39 Prefix with -plasmic : ECTO-
42 Dry wind in the Sahara : SIROCCO
44 Issa of “Insecure” : RAE
47 Get : GRASP
48 Many a sight on the Suez Canal : OILER
50 “Hoo-ee!” : OH MAN!
51 Brand name that means “exquisite” in Japanese : SEIKO
52 ___ a tie : END IN
53 “Get ___ …” (“Here’s the best part …”) : THIS
54 They may lead to longer sentences : ANDS
56 Thou, now : YOU
57 8-Down’s northern neighbor: Abbr. : ONT
59 M.L.B.’s “10th men” : DHS
60 Happening, in slang : LIT
61 1940s combat zone, in brief : ETO
62 Extra in a procedural : COP

14 thoughts on “0415-21 NY Times Crossword 15 Apr 21, Thursday”

  1. 13:29 Seemed pretty straightforward for a Thurs. other than what also seemed like a number of proper names.

    1. Advertisers found a way to be more irritating!

      They are posting their ads between the clue and your answer and explanation!

      They should know that readers are more apt now to ignore whatever it is they’re selling!

  2. 16:35, no errors.

    Hmmm. Just got a “Hosting Server Read Timeout” error … whatever that may mean. I’ll try one more time to post this … but I have other things to do …

  3. 8:07, no errors. BEQ posted it electronically to his site and I did it like that. Will be fun to see how it looks in five weeks when I do this on paper per usual.

  4. 37:13 “macabre” totally confounded myself and my daughter until we read the blog…both of us got too locked in on something related to royalty apparently…finally guessed it after filling in the down clues

  5. Advertisers found a way to be more irritating!

    They are posting their ads between the clue and your answer and explanation!

    They should know that readers are more apt now to ignore whatever it is they’re selling!

  6. 8:28. Like Ron, I thought this was pretty straightforward for a Thursday. With no puns or misdirections in the theme, it felt like a Wednesday puzzle to me.

  7. 19:31. Doing this late in the day and at the end of a long week. Agree that the theme didn’t seem Thursday-tricky-worthy. Was a good Wednesday puzzle.

    Was thrown off by MICH because I didn’t see the “Abbr.” part of the clue. It helps to read, I’m learning.

    Best –

  8. Well that was some grid.. I was cruising along just fine then I hit SIROCCO HALYCYON NOSEEUMS and AKIHITO…. whoosh, like a slam-on-the-brakes stop…
    I eventually sussed it out but what a crap shoot. A real time killer..

  9. DNF…the SE corner was blank…when I saw 2 setters and one being Quigley I should have known I was wasting my time. 👎👎
    Stay safe😀

  10. 12:47, no errors. Learned the word ACTA today. Initially tried to write STURGEON in 20A, but erased it because it didn’t fill all the boxes. Always thought the plural of STURGEON was STURGEON. I also needed to look up the meaning of ‘procedural’ to understand why the answer to 62D was COP.

    Today’s theme was another one, which seemed to matter to no one but the setter.

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