0416-21 NY Times Crossword 16 Apr 21, Friday

Constructed by: Tom Pepper
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 12m 06s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Game on an erasable court : HOPSCOTCH

I remember the children’s game called “hopscotch” being a favorite of mine as a young kid. Also known as “potsy” (mainly in New York City), it involves tossing a stone into a pattern of rectangles drawn in chalk on the ground. After tossing the stone into the correct square, the player hops through the rectangular pattern, pausing to retrieve the stone.

16 Kirkuk resident : IRAQI

Kirkuk is a city in northern Iraq, in the Kurdish region of the country.

18 Official gemstone of Utah and Texas : TOPAZ

Topaz is a semiprecious stone made from silicate containing aluminum and fluorine. Topaz is the state gemstone of Utah, and the rare blue topaz is the state gemstone of Texas.

19 Post ___ analysis : HOC

The term “post hoc” is used to describe a conclusion made about an earlier event at the time of a later event. Post hoc reasoning is basically an argument made late in the day, an argument that the earlier event caused the later event. If you know what I mean …!

20 The “Z” in “XYZ” : ZIPPER

The slang term “XYZ” stands for “examine your zipper”.

23 Yappy lap dogs, for short : POMS

The Pomeranian is a small breed of dog named for the Pomerania region of Europe (part of eastern Germany and northern Poland). The breed was much loved by the royalty of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria owned a particularly small Pomeranian. Due to the notoriety of the monarch’s pet, the Pomeranian was bred for small size, so that during the Queen’s admittedly long reign, the size of the average “pom” was reduced by 50% …

24 Fast time : RAMADAN

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is traditionally a period of fasting. The faithful who observe Ramadan refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn to dusk everyday, a lesson in patience, humility and spirituality.

26 Former name of Kazakhstan’s capital : ASTANA

Nur-Sultan (formerly “Astana”) is the capital of Kazakhstan, although only since 1997. Prior to 1997, the nation’s capital was Almaty. The decision to move the capital was made as Almaty is in a part of the country populated by ethnic Russians and the new government wanted to distance itself even further from its Soviet history. Astana was renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019 in honor of the nation’s first president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

29 Johnny who used to cry “Come on down!” : OLSON

Johnny Olson was the announcer on “The Price is Right” from day one in 1972, until he passed away in 1985. Come on down!

31 Wild-goose chase : SNIPE HUNT

Snipes are wading birds with very long and thin bills that they use to search for small invertebrates in mud. In bygone days, a shot taken by a hunter at one of these wading birds became known as a “snipe”. This usage evolved into the word “sniper” applying to anyone shooting from a hidden position.

35 Last U.S. president to have facial hair : TAFT

William Howard Taft may have been the 27th President of the United States, but his lifelong ambition was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The future president had served as dean and professor at the Cincinnati Law School. President Taft was able to realize that dream in 1921, eight years after losing his bid for re-election as president. As Chief Justice, this former US President swore in two new presidents: Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929). William Howard Taft is also remembered as the most obese president. In the last year of his presidency, he weighed about 340 pounds (he was 5 feet 11 inches tall). Twelve months after leaving the White House, President Taft had dropped 80 pounds and substantially lowered his blood pressure.

36 One team in an intramural match : SKINS

In a casual game of say basketball, teams can be identified by one side wearing shirts, and the other not. You’d want me to be on the shirts team, trust me. Not a pretty sight on the skins team …

Intramural sports are conducted within a certain geographic area, as opposed to varsity sports which are played with teams outside that area. The term “intramural” comes from the Latin for “within walls” and first applied to events held between teams based within the walls of a city.

37 Birthplace of 35-Across : OHIO
(35A Last U.S. president to have facial hair : TAFT)

The state of Ohio shares the nickname “Mother of Presidents” with the state of Virginia, as seven US presidents were born there:

  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Rutherford B. Hayes
  • James A. Garfield
  • Benjamin Harrison
  • William McKinley
  • William Howard Taft
  • Warren G. Harding

Additionally, Virginia born Henry Harrison lived most of his life in Ohio, and indeed is buried there.

41 Ham it up : EMOTE

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

42 Rears : TUSHES

“Tush”, a word meaning “backside”, is an abbreviation of “tochus” that comes from the Yiddish “tokhes”.

43 Backdrop of many John le Carré novels : COLD WAR

The term “Cold War” was coined by novelist George Orwell in a 1945 essay about the atomic bomb. Orwell described a world under threat of nuclear war as having a “peace that is no peace”, in a permanent state of “cold war”. The specific use of “cold war” to describe the tension between the Eastern bloc and the Western allies is attributed to a 1947 speech by Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“John le Carré” is the pen name of David Cornwell, an English author who is famous for his spy novels. Cornwell worked for British Intelligence during the fifties and sixties, even as he was writing his spy thrillers. He left MI6 soon after his most famous 1963 novel “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, became such a great success.

47 Device outmoded by the smartphone : IPOD

The iPod is Apple’s signature line of portable media players. The iPod first hit the market in 2001 with a hard drive-based device, now known as the iPod Classic. Later models all use flash memory, allowing a smaller form factor. The smallest of the flash-based models is the iPod Shuffle, which was introduced in 2005.

50 Smartphone capability, for short : GPS

A global positioning system (GPS) is known as a satellite navigation system (Sat Nav) in Britain and Ireland.

58 Longtime morning TV co-host : KATHIE LEE

Kathie Lee Gifford is most famous for working alongside Regis Philbin on the talk show “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee”, in a stint that lasted for about 15 years.

59 Grammy-winning Kravitz : LENNY

Lenny Kravitz is a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter from New York City. More recently Kravitz is making quite a name for himself as an actor. He plays the character Cinna in the 2012 hit film “The Hunger Games”.

60 Grands costing many grand : STEINWAYS

Steinway & Sons is a supplier of handmade pianos based in New York City and in Hamburg, Germany. The company was founded in Manhattan in 1853 by German immigrant Henry E. Steinway. One element of Steinway’s business model is to offer a “piano bank” service. Performing artists can “borrow” a particular piano from the bank for a particular concert or tour. About 400 pianos are in the bank, and are located all over the world. The value of the bank’s collection of pianos is estimated at over $25 million.

Down

3 Tiny fraction of a min. : PSEC

A picosecond is one trillionth of a second, and is correctly abbreviated to “ps” in the SI system of measurements. I guess that’s what “psec” is meant to be …

4 “Isn’t ___ Lovely” : SHE

“Isn’t She Lovely” is a Stevie Wonder song that he released in 1976. The song refers to Wonder’s daughter Aisha Morris, who was born in the prior year.

5 Dish akin to a stromboli : CALZONE

A calzone is like a pizza but with the dough base folded in half, forming a semicircle.

7 They joined the Big Ten in ’14 : TERPS

The sports teams of the University of Maryland are called the Maryland Terrapins, or “the Terps” for short. The name dates back to 1932 when it was coined by the university’s president at the time, Curley Byrd. He took the name from the diamondback terrapins that are native to the Chesapeake Bay.

9 It takes you to another site : HYPERLINK

In essence, the World Wide Web (WWW) is a vast collection of documents that is accessible using the Internet, with each document containing hyperlinks which point to other documents in the collection. So the “Web” is different from the Internet, although the terms are often used interchangeably. The Web is a collection of documents, and the Internet is a global network of computers on which the documents reside. The Web was effectively the invention of British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee. The key to Berner-Lee’s invention was bringing together two technologies that already existed: hypertext and the Internet. I, for one, am very grateful …

11 Malicious “gift” : TROJAN HORSE

In the world of computing, a “Trojan horse” is an apparently useful computer program that is actually a piece of malicious code. The user is fooled into installing the program, hence the name. “Trojan horse” is a reference to the Ancient Greek story of the Wooden Horse of Troy.

13 Seaport whose name derives from the Arabic for “obstacle” : AQABA

The coastal city of Aqaba is the only seaport in the country of Jordan. The city lies at the very northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, which is off the Red Sea.

14 Dry up with age : WIZEN

“Wizen” is such a lovely word, I think. It means “dry up”, especially with age.

25 Good name for a landscaper? : MOE

… because “Moe” sounds like “mow”.

26 Follower of John : ACTS

The Acts of the Apostles is the fifth book of the Christian New Testament. It is believed that the author of the Gospel of Luke was the same person who wrote “Acts”.

27 The Big Aristotle of the N.B.A. : SHAQ

Retired basketball player Shaquille O’Neal now appears regularly as an analyst on the NBA TV show “Inside the NBA”. Shaq has quite a career in the entertainment world. His first rap album, called “Shaq Diesel”, went platinum. He also starred in two of his own reality shows: “Shaq’s Big Challenge” and “Shaq Vs.”

28 Mapo ___ (traditional Sichuan dish) : TOFU

Sichuan (also “Szechuan”) is a province in southwest China. Sichuan is noted for its cuisine, which is hot and spicy as it uses plenty of garlic, chili peppers and the Sichuan peppercorn. A famous Szechuan dish in the US is Kung Pao chicken or shrimp.

33 Yellow-striped ball : NINE

Eight-ball and nine-ball are arguably the most popular variants of pool played in North America. In eight-ball, one player sinks the striped balls and the other the solid balls. The first to sink all his or her balls and then the black 8-ball, without fouling, wins the game. In nine-ball, each player must hit the lowest numbered ball on the table first with the cue ball. The first player to sink the 9-ball wins. Sinking the nine ball can happen when first hitting the lowest bowl on the table, or possibly when balls numbered 1-8 have been sunk.

34 Outfits : TOGS

The verb “to tog up”, meaning “to dress up”, comes from the Latin “toga” describing the garment worn in ancient Rome. “Tog” can also be used as an informal word for a coat or a cloak. Back in Ireland, togs are what we call swimming shorts.

36 “To your health!” : SKOAL

“Skoal” is a Scandinavian toast that has roots in the old Norse word “skaal” meaning “cup”.

39 Mini production company : BMW

The original mini was a fabulous car, one that I drove all over Ireland in my youth. It had a unique front-wheel-drive layout that took up very little space, allowing for a lot of room (relatively speaking) for passengers and baggage. One space-saving trick was to mount the engine transversely, so it sits rotated 90 degrees from the norm. That engine had a capacity of only 848cc. In 1961, a Mini Cooper model was introduced, which was a sporty version. The Mini Cooper was a phenomenal hit, especially after repeated wins in the Monte Carlo Rally. The Mini marque has been owned by BMW since 1994.

42 Discipline with postures like White Crane Spreads Its Wings and Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail : TAI CHI

More correctly called “t‘ai chi ch‘uan”, tai chi is a martial art that is mostly practiced to improve overall health and increase longevity.

44 Offer one’s two cents : OPINE

To put in one’s two cents is to add one’s opinion. The American expression derives from the older English version, which is “to put in one’s two pennies’ worth”.

45 2017 sequel to “The Wolverine” : LOGAN

“Logan” is a 2017 movie that is the tenth (yes, tenth) installment of the “X-Men” series of films. It is also the third movie to center on the character Wolverine (aka “Logan”), who is played by Hugh Jackman. This one was very, very successful at the box office. Anyone interested in a retro-style “Logan” might want to look for the black-and-white version of the film that’s available under the title “Logan Noir”.

46 Tabasco, for one : STATE

Tabasco is one of Mexico’s 31 “estados” (states), and is located in the very southeast of the country.

50 Soiree, say : GALA

“Soir” is the French word for “evening” and a soirée is an evening party. The French word “soirée” has an acute accent over the first “e”, but we tend to drop this when using the word in English.

52 Matches at a table : SEES

That might be the card game poker.

54 Spanish chess piece : REY

In Spanish, a “rey” (king) is a key chess piece.

56 Quantity that sounds like an expression of relief : FEW

“Few” sounds like “phew!”

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Game on an erasable court : HOPSCOTCH
10 Dispenser item : STRAW
15 Ill-proportioned : UNSHAPELY
16 Kirkuk resident : IRAQI
17 Sharp mind, so to speak : STEEL TRAP
18 Official gemstone of Utah and Texas : TOPAZ
19 Post ___ analysis : HOC
20 The “Z” in “XYZ” : ZIPPER
22 Agree (with) : JIBE
23 Yappy lap dogs, for short : POMS
24 Fast time : RAMADAN
26 Former name of Kazakhstan’s capital : ASTANA
29 Johnny who used to cry “Come on down!” : OLSON
30 Sweeping, say : CHORE
31 Wild-goose chase : SNIPE HUNT
35 Last U.S. president to have facial hair : TAFT
36 One team in an intramural match : SKINS
37 Birthplace of 35-Across : OHIO
38 Football tactic to prevent a long return : SQUIB KICK
40 Sticking point : PRONG
41 Ham it up : EMOTE
42 Rears : TUSHES
43 Backdrop of many John le Carré novels : COLD WAR
46 Reasonable : SANE
47 Device outmoded by the smartphone : IPOD
48 Kind of acid produced during exercise : LACTIC
50 Smartphone capability, for short : GPS
53 Get-up-and-go : VIGOR
55 Cost of the cheap seats? : COACH FARE
57 Flabbergasted : IN AWE
58 Longtime morning TV co-host : KATHIE LEE
59 Grammy-winning Kravitz : LENNY
60 Grands costing many grand : STEINWAYS

Down

1 Reaction to someone tapping a microphone, maybe : HUSH
2 Not falling for : ONTO
3 Tiny fraction of a min. : PSEC
4 “Isn’t ___ Lovely” : SHE
5 Dish akin to a stromboli : CALZONE
6 Best conditions : OPTIMA
7 They joined the Big Ten in ’14 : TERPS
8 Keep time, in a way : CLAP
9 It takes you to another site : HYPERLINK
10 Something one can’t stand to do : SIT
11 Malicious “gift” : TROJAN HORSE
12 Fleet : RAPID
13 Seaport whose name derives from the Arabic for “obstacle” : AQABA
14 Dry up with age : WIZEN
21 File types : RASPS
23 Had a blast at a bash : PARTIED DOWN
25 Good name for a landscaper? : MOE
26 Follower of John : ACTS
27 The Big Aristotle of the N.B.A. : SHAQ
28 Mapo ___ (traditional Sichuan dish) : TOFU
29 Postponed : ON ICE
31 Evidence of having gone on a run : SKI TRACKS
32 “This looks bad” : UH-OH
33 Yellow-striped ball : NINE
34 Outfits : TOGS
36 “To your health!” : SKOAL
39 Mini production company : BMW
40 Start working, perhaps : PUNCH IN
42 Discipline with postures like White Crane Spreads Its Wings and Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail : TAI CHI
43 Courteous : CIVIL
44 Offer one’s two cents : OPINE
45 2017 sequel to “The Wolverine” : LOGAN
46 Tabasco, for one : STATE
49 Cover : COAT
50 Soiree, say : GALA
51 Small game, often : PREY
52 Matches at a table : SEES
54 Spanish chess piece : REY
56 Quantity that sounds like an expression of relief : FEW