0519-21 NY Times Crossword 19 May 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: Ashish Vengsarkar
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill) Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Themed answers include words indicating a progression in time, from PAST to PRESENT to FUTURE:

  • 16A At an ungodly hour : PAST ONE’S BEDTIME
  • 39A Tomorrow’s cash flow assessed today : NET PRESENT VALUE
  • 64A Classic film series that anticipated the invention of hoverboards : BACK TO THE FUTURE

Bill’s time: 8m 29s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 This is the way the world began, per 51-Across : BIG BANG

According to the Big Bang theory, the universe came into being just under 14 billion years ago. The theory posits that the universe started out as a hot and dense mass that began to expand rapidly (in a “big bang”). Within three minutes of the “bang”, the universe cooled so that energy was converted into subatomic particles like protons, electrons and neutrons. Over time, subatomic particles turned into atoms. Clouds of those atoms formed stars and galaxies.

20 OPEC unit: Abbr. : BBL

The volume of one oil barrel is equivalent to 42 US gallons. A barrel is correctly abbreviated to “bbl”. Barrels aren’t really used for transporting crude oil anymore. Instead, oil moves in bulk through pipelines and in tankers. “Barrel” is just used as a unit of volume these days.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in 1960 at a conference held in Baghdad, Iraq that was attended by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Nine more countries joined the alliance soon after, and OPEC set up headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and then Vienna, Austria in 1965. The basic aim of OPEC was to wrest control of oil prices from the oil companies and put it in the hands of the sovereign states that own the natural resource.

24 Literature Nobelist who penned 71-Across : TS ELIOT

T. S. Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, largely due to his “Four Quartets”, a set of four poems that Eliot himself considered to be his life’s masterpiece. He also won a Tony Award in 1950 for Best Play, for “The Cocktail Party”, as well as two posthumous Tony Awards in 1983 for his poems that are used in the musical “Cats”.

33 Salon brand with 100% vegan products : AVEDA

Horst Rechelbacher was travelling in India in 1970 when he was introduced to the Hindu science of longevity called Ayurveda, which inspired him to set up his own company of skin and hair care products that he called Aveda. The company opened its doors in 1978 and is based in Blaine, Minnesota.

43 Boris Godunov, for one : TSAR

Boris Godunov was Tsar of Russia from 1598 to 1605. He is perhaps better known these days because of the artistic works that are based on his life. Alexander Pushkin wrote the play “Boris Godunov”, partially using Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” to structure the storyline of Godunov’s life. Modest Mussorgsky then wrote a famous opera, also titled “Boris Godunov”, that is based on the Pushkin play.

44 World capital NE of Vientiane : HANOI

Hanoi (“Hà Nội” in Vietnamese) was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

Vientiane is the capital city of Laos, and is situated on the famous Mekong River. The city was originally called the “city of sandalwood” by Buddhist monks, naming it after the valued trees that grew in the area. The French took the Pali words for “city of sandalwood” and rewrote it as the French-sounding “Vientiane”.

49 Fictional N.Y.C. locale on children’s TV : SESAME ST

Back in 1966, the Carnegie Institute allocated money to study the use of television to help young children prepare for school. The institute gave an $8million grant to set up the Children’s Television Workshop with the task of creating an educational TV program for young people. The program began to come together, especially after Jim Henson (of Muppet fame) got involved. The name “Sesame Street” was chosen simply because it was the “least disliked” of all names proposed just before the program went on the air.

56 Home of the Rosa Parks Museum: Abbr. : ALA

Rosa Parks was one of a few brave women in days gone by who refused to give up their seats on a bus to white women. It was the stand taken by Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 that sparked the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. President Clinton presented Ms. Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. When she died in 2005, Rosa Parks became the first ever woman to have her body lie in honor in the US Capitol Rotunda.

60 E.P.A. targets since the ’70s : PCBS

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were banned with good reason. Apart from their link to cancer and other disorders in humans and animals, they are extremely persistent in the environment once contamination has occurred. Among other things, PCBs were used as coolants and insulating fluids in electrical gear such as transformers and large capacitors, as well as a transfer agent in carbonless copy paper.

64 Classic film series that anticipated the invention of hoverboards : BACK TO THE FUTURE

In the fun 1985 movie “Back to the Future”, Marty McFly finds himself back in 1955, and is trying to get back to HIS future, 1985. But on the other hand, 1985 is really Marty’s present, before he went back in time. Why does time travel have to be so complicated …?

68 Mosey : STROLL

“Mosey” is American slang for “amble”, and is of unknown origin.

70 Conical construction : TEEPEE

A tepee (also written as “tipi” and “teepee”) is a cone-shaped tent traditionally made from animal hides that is used by the Great Plains Native Americans. A wigwam is a completely different structure and is often a misnomer for a tepee. A wigwam is a domed structure built by Native Americans in the West and Southwest, intended to be a more permanent dwelling. The wigwam can also be covered with hides but more often was covered with grass, reeds, brush or cloth.

Down

4 Chinese dumpling : BAO

A baozi (also “bou, bao”) is a steamed, filled bun in Chinese cuisine.

8 “This land,” in “This Land Is Your Land” : THE USA

Woody Guthrie was a singer-songwriter. He was best known for his recording of the folk song “This Land is Your Land”, the lyrics of which were written by Guthrie himself.

9 It’s west of Yemen : RED SEA

There are four seas named in English for colors:

  • the Yellow Sea
  • the Black Sea
  • the Red Sea
  • the White Sea.

13 Like C-O-L-O-U-R or M-E-T-R-E : SPELT

Both “spelled” and “spelt” are valid past tenses for the verb “to spell”, although the former is way more common on this side of the Atlantic. I grew up with “spelt” on the other side of the Pond, but its usage is rapidly being replaced by “spelled” in the UK and Ireland.

25 Dalai ___ : LAMA

The Dalai Lama is a religious leader in the Gelug branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th to hold the office. He has indicated that the next Dalai Lama might be found outside of Tibet for the first time, and may even be female.

28 James played by Beyoncé in a 2008 biopic : ETTA

Etta James was portrayed by singer Beyoncé Knowles in the 2008 movie “Cadillac Records”.

34 Actress Hathaway : ANNE

Actress Anne Hathaway is a favorite of mine, I must say. She starred in “The Devil Wears Prada” in 2006 and in 2007’s “Becoming Jane”, a film that I particularly enjoyed. And yes, baby Anne was named after Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare.

36 Ye ___ Shoppe : OLDE

The word “olde” wasn’t actually used much earlier than the 1920s. “Olde” was introduced to give a quaint antique feel to brand names, shop names etc. as in “Ye Olde Shoppe”.

42 Container for nitroglycerin, say : VIAL

Nitroglycerin (also known as “nitro”) is a very unstable, oily, colorless liquid. It is usually used as the explosive ingredient in a stabilized product like dynamite or cordite. Nitroglycerin is also used medically, as a vasodilator. Right after it hits the bloodstream, nitroglycerin causes the blood vessels to dilate so that the heart has less work to do. I had occasion to take it a couple of times, and boy, what a speedy and fundamental effect it has …

47 Dot in “i” or “j” : TITTLE

A tittle is a small diacritical mark used in writing. Examples are the cedilla and tilde used in some languages, and the dot over the lowercase letters i and j in English.

48 King of music : CAROLE

Carole King is a marvelous singer-songwriter from Manhattan, New York. King started her career writing a string of hit songs with her partner and eventual husband Gerry Goffin (although they later divorced). King’s first composition to get to number one was “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, which she wrote at 18 years of age for the Shirelles. Not so long ago, my wife and I saw the stage musical “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”, which tells the story of King’s music and life. I highly recommend “Beautiful” …

50 Hairstyle popularized by the Beatles : MOP TOP

The classic Beatles haircut is called a mop top. Apparently John Lennon and Paul McCartney saw someone wearing the style in Hamburg, and they liked it. The pair hitchhiked from Hamburg to Paris, and when they arrived at their destination, they had their hair cut that way for the first time.

51 ___ Blue Ribbon : PABST

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is the most recognizable brand of beer from the Pabst Brewing Company. There appears to be some dispute over whether or not Pabst beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle until it was dropped in 1916 and incorporated into the label.

53 Shiny button material : NACRE

Nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, is the strong iridescent material laid down by some mollusks on the inside of their shells, and it’s also what makes up pearls. The creature lays down nacre as a defensive mechanism, protecting the soft tissue of its body from the rough surface of the outer shell. Similarly, it uses nacre to encapsulate harmful debris or a parasite that penetrates the shell, and that’s how a pearl is formed. Cultured pearls are made by inserting a tissue graft from a donor oyster, around which the nacre is laid down.

54 Day after 66-Down: Abbr. : SAT
66 Day before 54-Down: Abbr. : FRI

The days of the week are named for celestial bodies and gods

  • Sunday — Sun’s Day
  • Monday — Moon’s Day
  • Tuesday — Tiu’s day
  • Wednesday — Woden’s day
  • Thursday — Thor’s day
  • Friday — Freya’s day
  • Saturday — Saturn’s day

59 Two-time Emmy winner Remini : LEAH

Leah Remini is an actress and comedian who is best known for playing Carrie Heffernan on the sitcom “The King of Queens”. More recently, in 2013, Remini competed on “Dancing with the Stars”. After that, Remini appeared as a guest co-host on the show several times. Famously, Remini was a member of the Church of Scientology, and left the organization in 2013. Since leaving, Remini has been very vocal in her criticism of the practices and policies of the church.

62 Family member, in rural dialect : BR’ER

“Br’er” is an abbreviated form of “brother”.

63 French possessive : SES

“Ses” is the French word for “his”, “her” or “its” when referring to a group of items or individuals.

65 Keystone ___ (character in slapstick comedy) : KOP

The Keystone Cops (sometimes “Keystone Kops”) were a band of madcap policemen who appeared in silent movies. A 1914 short film called “A Thief Catcher” that was believed lost was rediscovered in 2010. “A Thief Catcher” featured the magnificent Charlie Chaplin in an early role as a Keystone Cop.

67 Einstein’s German birthplace : ULM

Ulm is a city in the south of Germany that sits on the River Danube. Ulm is famous as home to the tallest church in the world, Ulm Minster, a Gothic building with a steeple that is 530 feet tall, with 768 steps to climb. Ulm is also the birthplace of Albert Einstein, and is where the entire Austrian army surrendered to Napoleon after the Battle of Ulm in 1805.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 This is the way the world began, per 51-Across : BIG BANG
8 Track makers : TREADS
14 Refuge : SAFE AREA
15 Form a scab, say : HEAL UP
16 At an ungodly hour : PAST ONE’S BEDTIME
18 Words before a date : AS OF …
19 Just below C level? : D-PLUS
20 OPEC unit: Abbr. : BBL
21 Develop wrinkles, say : AGE
24 Literature Nobelist who penned 71-Across : TS ELIOT
26 Question from one who’s lost : WHERE AM I?
31 Small battery type : AAA
32 Away : OUT
33 Salon brand with 100% vegan products : AVEDA
35 Throngs : MOBS
39 Tomorrow’s cash flow assessed today : NET PRESENT VALUE
43 Boris Godunov, for one : TSAR
44 World capital NE of Vientiane : HANOI
45 ___ lab : DNA
46 “Yadda, yadda, yadda” : ETC
49 Fictional N.Y.C. locale on children’s TV : SESAME ST
51 Physics Nobelist who co-discovered cosmic microwave background radiation, confirming 1-Across : PENZIAS
55 ___-mo : SLO
56 Home of the Rosa Parks Museum: Abbr. : ALA
57 Fishing net : TRAWL
60 E.P.A. targets since the ’70s : PCBS
64 Classic film series that anticipated the invention of hoverboards : BACK TO THE FUTURE
68 Mosey : STROLL
69 Spots for hoops : EARLOBES
70 Conical construction : TEEPEE
71 “This is the way the world ends,” per 24-Across : WHIMPER

Down

1 What do ewe say? : BAAS
2 “In that case …” : IF SO …
3 Make good progress : GET FAR
4 Chinese dumpling : BAO
5 Man’s nickname that omits “-old” : ARN
6 It’s a must : NEED
7 [OMG!] : [GASP!]
8 “This land,” in “This Land Is Your Land” : THE USA
9 It’s west of Yemen : RED SEA
10 “Dig in!” : EAT!
11 “It was my evil twin!” is not a convincing one : ALIBI
12 ___ octopus, creature so named for its large, earlike fins : DUMBO
13 Like C-O-L-O-U-R or M-E-T-R-E : SPELT
14 Spot for a soothing scrub : SPA
17 All-consonant diner order : BLT
22 Reverse, e.g. : GEAR
23 Rain gutter locale : EAVE
25 Dalai ___ : LAMA
26 “I ___ bite” : WON’T
27 Shades : HUES
28 James played by Beyoncé in a 2008 biopic : ETTA
29 Gym shorts material : MESH
30 Notions : IDEAS
34 Actress Hathaway : ANNE
36 Ye ___ Shoppe : OLDE
37 Supply at a barbecue : BUNS
38 Airline assignment : SEAT
40 Head of a country, informally : PREZ
41 Chuck : TOSS
42 Container for nitroglycerin, say : VIAL
47 Dot in “i” or “j” : TITTLE
48 King of music : CAROLE
50 Hairstyle popularized by the Beatles : MOP TOP
51 ___ Blue Ribbon : PABST
52 Bring joy to : ELATE
53 Shiny button material : NACRE
54 Day after 66-Down: Abbr. : SAT
58 “That was close!” : WHEW!
59 Two-time Emmy winner Remini : LEAH
61 27, to 3 : CUBE
62 Family member, in rural dialect : BR’ER
63 French possessive : SES
65 Keystone ___ (character in slapstick comedy) : KOP
66 Day before 54-Down: Abbr. : FRI
67 Einstein’s German birthplace : ULM

12 thoughts on “0519-21 NY Times Crossword 19 May 21, Wednesday”

  1. 10:27 Struggled a bit in the NW. Wanted 1A to somehow be “With a Bang”, but of course that’s way too long for the slot. Never heard of PENZIAS, but should have thought of the TV show, BIG BANG Theory.

    Didn’t get the theme at all until coming here.

    @Bill – Just in the past week Carole King was rightfully and finally inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

  2. 12:42. I didn’t get the theme either @Ron. Also never heard of PENZIAS. A few years back (before Covid-19) I saw the Carole King musical “Beautiful” in London’s West End.

  3. 12:32. I completely missed the theme as I assumed it had to do with PENZIAS and the BIG BANG etc. I should have paid closer attention.

    From today’s Wordplay: The setter used to work with PENZIAS when he was head of Bell Labs in the 90’s. I guess this puzzle was personal for him.

    Who knew that KGB agent chasing after Rocky and Bullwinkle all those years was actually a TSAR??

    Best –

  4. 13:28 after changing “PRES” to “PREZ”. (I also had not heard of “PENZIAS”.) Still dealing with the nasty cut on the tip of my right index finger (and the psychological pain of knowing that I have only myself to blame for its being there 😳). At least it’s not infected … 🤨.

  5. No errors…also the Penzias thing…teepee seems to be spelled however is needed to fit the grid.
    Guess who needs a route canal?👎👎
    Stay safe😀

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