0521-21 NY Times Crossword 21 May 21, Friday

Constructed by: Sam Ezersky
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme None

Bill’s time: 9m 36s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Schooner feature : MAST

By definition, a schooner is a sailing vessel with two or more masts, but one on which the foremast is shorter than the rear mast(s).

5 Shock treatment, for short : DEFIB
(54A 5-Across administrator : EMT)

A defibrillator (defib) might be operated by an emergency medical technician (EMT).

15 Stamp collector’s purchase : PANE

Stamp collectors (philatelists) might purchase a whole pane of stamps.

17 One going the distance? : MARATHONER

The marathon commemorates the legendary messenger-run by Pheidippides from the site of the Battle of Marathon back to Athens, and is run over 26 miles and 385 yards. The first modern Olympic marathon races were run over a distance that approximated the length of the modern-day Marathon-Athens highway, although the actual length of the race varied from games to games. For the 1908 Olympics in London, a course starting at Windsor Castle and ending in front of the Royal Box at White City Stadium was defined. That course was 26 miles and 385 yards, the standard length now used at all Olympic Games. Organizers of subsequent games continued to vary the length of the race, until a decision was made in 1921 to adopt the distance used in London in 1908.

21 A ton of bricks? : LEGO SET

Lego produces some wonderful specialized sets with which you can build models of celebrated structures, including:

  • The Statue of Liberty (2,882 pieces)
  • The Sydney Opera House (2,989 pieces)
  • The Eiffel Tower (3,428 pieces)
  • Tower Bridge (4,295 pieces)
  • The Taj Mahal (5,922 pieces)

22 Source of heart-shaped leaves : ASPEN

The “quaking” aspen tree is so called because the structure of the leaves causes them to move easily in the wind, to “tremble, quake”.

25 Name on a vintage red, white and blue cap : PEPSI-COLA

The Pepsi-Cola formulation was developed by one Caleb Bradham who made the drink at home and sold it as Brad’s Drink. Bradham’s aim was to provide a drink that was pleasant to taste, that would aid digestion and boost energy. Included in the formula were pepsin (a digestive enzyme) and kola nuts. These two ingredients inspired the brand name we use today: Pepsi-Cola.

32 Realm of the Valkyries : NORSE MYTH

In Norse mythology, the valkyries are beautiful female attendants of Odin who choose those who must die in battle and those who must live. Half of those who die go to Fólkvangr, the “army field” ruled over by the goddess Freyja. The other half of those who perish go to Valhalla, the hall of the slain that is ruled over by the god Odin. The etymology of “valkyrie” is Old Norse for “chooser of the slain”.

33 2007 film with the tagline “The last man on earth is not alone” : I AM LEGEND

“I Am Legend” is a 1955 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson that tells of an apparent sole survivor of a pandemic. The survivor has to fight off zombie-like vampires who come out at night. “I Am Legend” was famously adapted into a 1971 movie called “The Omega Man” starring Charlton Heston, and then into a 2007 film using the same title as the novel that stars Will Smith.

34 Competitor of Dick’s Sporting Goods : REI

REI is a sporting goods store, with the initialism standing for Recreational Equipment Inc. REI was founded in Seattle by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 as a cooperative that supplies quality climbing gear to outdoor enthusiasts. The first full-time employee hired by the Andersons was Jim Whittaker, who was the first American to climb Mount Everest.

39 Dish rack accessories : TEA TOWELS

What we know as a dish towel, is usually referred to as a tea towel and tea cloth in Britain and Ireland.

41 Eel order at a sushi bar : UNAGI ROLL

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

50 “Sir” might be found at the start of it : -LOIN

There’s a folk tale that has been going around since the 1600s that the sirloin cut of beef is so called because a king so enjoyed it that he dubbed it a knight. The list of kings associated with “Sir Loin” includes Henry VIII, James I and Charles II.

51 Colleen : LASS

“Cailín” is the Irish word for “girl”, and is usually anglicized as “colleen”.

53 Mario who wrote “The Godfather” : PUZO

Mario Puzo created the Corleone Mafia family in his 1969 novel “The Godfather”. The head of the family is Vito Corleone (whose birth name was Vito Andolini), a native of Corleone in Sicily. He was given the name Corleone by immigration officers at Ellis Island. Don Corleone was played so very memorably, with a distinctive rasping voice, by Marlon Brando in the 1972 movie adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Down

2 Victim of a 20th-century environmental tragedy : ARAL SEA

The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …

6 Org. established partly in response to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” : EPA

DDT is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (don’t forget now!). DDT was used with great success to control disease-carrying insects during WWII, and when made available for use after the war it became by far the most popular pesticide. And then Rachel Carson published her famous book “Silent Spring”, suggesting there was a link between DDT and diminishing populations of certain wildlife. It was the public outcry sparked by the book, and reports of links between DDT and cancer, that led to the ban on the use of the chemical in 1972. That ban is touted as the main reason that the bald eagle was rescued from near extinction.

7 The “Tannen” of Tannenbaum : FIR

“O Tannenbaum” is a traditional German Christmas carol, the title of which is usually translated as “O Christmas Tree”. “Tannenbaum” is the German name for a fir tree.

9 Data base? : BYTES

In the world of computing, a bit is the basic unit of information. It has a value of 0 or 1. A “byte” is a small collection of “bits” (usually 8), the number of bits needed to uniquely identify a character of text. The prefix mega- stands for 10 to the power of 6, so a megabyte (meg) is 1,000,000 bytes. The prefix giga- means 10 to the power of 9, and so a gigabyte (gig) is 1,000,000,000 bytes. Well, those are the SI definitions of megabyte and gigabyte. The purists still use 2 to the power of 20 for a megabyte (i.e. 1,048,576), and 2 to the power of 30 for a gigabyte.

10 Quarters that could be worth a lot : MANSION

We use the term “quarters” for a place of abode, especially housing for military personnel. Back in the late 16th century, quarters were a portion (quarter) of a town reserved for a military force.

15 Muckety-muck : POOH-BAH

The term “pooh-bah” (also “poobah”), meaning an ostentatious official, comes from the world of opera. Pooh-Bah is a character in the wonderful Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera “The Mikado”. Famously, Pooh-Bah holds many, many offices, including that of “Lord High Everything Else”.

18 Fig. on a driver’s license : HGT

One’s driving license (lic.) usually specifies one’s height (hgt.).

20 Sleep aid brand : UNISOM

ZzzQuil, Benadryl, Unisom and Sominex are all brand names for the antihistamine diphenhydramine, which is a drug that also has sedative properties.

30 Peer of Ibsen : GYNT

Henrik Ibsen’s play “Peer Gynt” is based on a Scandinavian fairy tale “Per Gynt”. The incidental music to the play, written by Edvard Grieg, is some of the most approachable classical music ever written, at least in my humble opinion …

31 Where the Ring is destroyed in “The Lord of the Rings” : MT DOOM

J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is the second best-selling novel ever written, with only “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens having sold more copies around the world. Remarkably, I think, the third best-selling novel is “The Hobbit”, which was also written by Tolkien.

33 Recovering orthopedically, maybe : IN A CAST

Plaster made using gypsum is commonly referred to as plaster of Paris. The original plaster of Paris came from a large deposit of gypsum mined at Montmartre in Paris, hence the name.

Orthopedics (orth.) is the branch of surgery that deals with the musculoskeletal system. The term “orthopedics” was coined in 1741 by French physician Nicolas Andry. Actually, Andry used the French term “Orthopédie” for the title of a book. The term comes from the Greek “orthos” meaning “straight” and “paidon” meaning “child”.

35 Write à la Thomas Gray or John Donne : ELEGIZE

Thomas Gray was an 18th-century poet from England. Gray’s most famous work is his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, which is the source of many oft-quoted phrases, including:

  • Celestial fire
  • Far from the Madding Crowd
  • Kindred spirit

John Donne was one of England’s most celebrated poets, and was active at the start of the 17th century. He spent much of his life in poverty and even spent a short time in prison for having married his wife without procuring the appropriate permissions. After his release, his wife bore him 12 children in 16 years, passing away a few days after the twelfth child was born.

40 Gives birth to, as puppies : WHELPS

A whelp is a young dog, and also a young wolf, bear, lion, tiger and seal. The term has largely been replaced by “pup” or “puppy”.

43 Toxic protein prepared on “Breaking Bad” : RICIN

Ricin is a highly toxic chemical found in the seeds of the castor oil plant. It is so poisonous because it inhibits one of the most basic metabolic processes, the synthesis of protein. One famous use of ricin as a weapon was the assassination of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London in 1978. An agent of the Bulgarian secret police injected a tiny pellet of ricin into his victim’s leg using a modified umbrella.

48 Run, like a Deere? : MOW

John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Prior to Deere’s invention, farmers used an iron or wooden plow that constantly had to be cleaned as rich soil stuck to its surfaces. The cast-steel plow was revolutionary as its smooth sides solved the problem of “stickiness”. The Deere company that John founded uses the slogan “Nothing Runs Like a Deere”, and has a leaping deer as its logo.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Schooner feature : MAST
5 Shock treatment, for short : DEFIB
10 Subject of the 2011 Jon Roberts memoir “American Desperado,” with “the” : … MOB
13 Tongue-in-cheek : ARCH
14 “So sad …” : A PITY …
15 Stamp collector’s purchase : PANE
16 Impetus behind a prank, maybe : DARE
17 One going the distance? : MARATHONER
19 Refuse to talk : CLAM UP
21 A ton of bricks? : LEGO SET
22 Source of heart-shaped leaves : ASPEN
23 Like water at the shallow end of a pool : WAIST HIGH
25 Name on a vintage red, white and blue cap : PEPSI-COLA
27 Weighs (down) : BOGS
28 Lead-in to a crazy idea : SAY …
29 Part of an old circus act : STRONGMAN
32 Realm of the Valkyries : NORSE MYTH
33 2007 film with the tagline “The last man on earth is not alone” : I AM LEGEND
34 Competitor of Dick’s Sporting Goods : REI
37 Be a rat : SING
39 Dish rack accessories : TEA TOWELS
41 Eel order at a sushi bar : UNAGI ROLL
44 “Land sakes alive!” : OH GEE!
45 Severely self-disciplined sort : ASCETIC
46 Appear : EMERGE
47 Men’s grooming items : BEARD COMBS
50 “Sir” might be found at the start of it : -LOIN
51 Colleen : LASS
52 Investor’s “No deal” : I’M OUT
53 Mario who wrote “The Godfather” : PUZO
54 5-Across administrator : EMT
55 Makeover result, maybe : NEW DO
56 Go on and on bitterly : SPEW

Down

1 Eccentrics : MADCAPS
2 Victim of a 20th-century environmental tragedy : ARAL SEA
3 Small but full of fight : SCRAPPY
4 Some bars returned to again and again? : THEMES
5 Conducive to mold, maybe : DAMP
6 Org. established partly in response to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” : EPA
7 The “Tannen” of Tannenbaum : FIR
8 One might consist of a primo, secondo and digestivo : ITALIAN MEAL
9 Data base? : BYTES
10 Quarters that could be worth a lot : MANSION
11 Brownie mix add-in, often : ONE EGG
12 Playoff positions : BERTHS
15 Muckety-muck : POOH-BAH
18 Fig. on a driver’s license : HGT
20 Sleep aid brand : UNISOM
23 Prognosis that a problem has only just begun : WORSE TO COME
24 Sunburn-soothing substance : ALOE GEL
26 Lead-in to P or C on a PC : CTRL-
30 Peer of Ibsen : GYNT
31 Where the Ring is destroyed in “The Lord of the Rings” : MT DOOM
32 Constant reminders? : NAGGERS
33 Recovering orthopedically, maybe : IN A CAST
34 Get back together : REGROUP
35 Write à la Thomas Gray or John Donne : ELEGIZE
36 “Ahhh” : I SEE NOW
37 Fit to be tried : SUABLE
38 Line at a clothing store : INSEAM
40 Gives birth to, as puppies : WHELPS
42 “___ be nice if …” : IT’D
43 Toxic protein prepared on “Breaking Bad” : RICIN
46 El de aquí : ESTO
48 Run, like a Deere? : MOW
49 Homie : BUD

20 thoughts on “0521-21 NY Times Crossword 21 May 21, Friday”

  1. 13:37. I found this one to be a nice challenge. I didn’t get a foothold until the SW. Tough but fair cluing that hit a couple of blind spots.

  2. 27:57 My first few passes yielded about 6 answers. Finally I got WHELPS and that seemed to open up the SE as some of the answers started to EMERGE. I worked my way up from there. I had HAUNTS for 4D for a long time. Still don’t get what THEMES refers to – same with ARCH for “tongue in cheek”.

    I recently learned of TEATOWELS from a British friend, but it was still not a gimme.

  3. 21:19, no errors. A halting solve, for some reason …

    @Ron F, re 4-Down: Think music. (For a while, I had CHORUS instead of THEMES.)

  4. This morning’s New Yorker crossword contains a clue/answer pair that I find quite shocking: “Dick, but longer” for “RICHARD”! What is this world coming to, when a pretentious literary lion like the New Yorker can wantonly indulge in overtly suggestive wordplay? I’m appalled, I tell you … simply appalled!

    Even worse: The author is one Robyn Weintraub! That one of the feminine persuasion should be the source of this transgression is simply astonishing! Margaret Farrar is no doubt turning over in her grave!

  5. Gee Nonny, “Richard” was the first and only thing I thought of…is there some secondary meaning I’m missing? 🙂

  6. Long slog but I finished. DEERE had me thinking big tractors, now MOWers… didn’t know PUZO so for the cross it was ELEGIES, ELEGIST, … then when LOIN and SPEW fell into my lap, it was all PUZO!!!!!

  7. Took a while, but finally got traction and finished clean despite my issues with some of the cluing. Good Friday test, though.

    1. @Jim …

      I know only a little Spanish, so take this a grain of salt, but … Google translates “the one here” (pretty close to “this”, yes?) into “el de aquí”. (On the other hand, it translates “el de aquí” as “local”.) Maybe someone fluent in Spanish will chime in … ?

    2. el de aqui can mean a lot of things. Very loosely it can mean this (ESTO) as in “this from here” or “this that I am pointing at”. It can also mean “ours” – “Ambos – el de alla y el de aqui” can mean “Both theirs and ours” as well as several other things.

      Interesting choice for a clue given that this is an English puzzle, however

      Best –

  8. @ Ron F I don’t get ARCH for “tongue in cheek” either I always knew it as “not serious” or “Kidding” I suppose you could say you are creating an arch on your face with your tongue but still.

  9. Merriam-Webster uses the following in defining one of the meanings of the adjective “arch”: mischievous, saucy, marked by a deliberate and often forced playfulness, irony, or impudence (as in “known for her arch comments”). IMO, the idiom “tongue in cheek” is not too far off the mark …

  10. BRUTAL!!! Didn’t get anything for the longest time.
    Finally got a foothold and finished with no errors.
    But, BRRRUUUTAAAL!

  11. 16:07, no errors. Challenging puzzle. Fortunately the Spanish trap ESTO was filled in entirely by crosses.

  12. @Alaska Steve and @DuncanR — sorry, folks, the napping hare award for this solve is, humbly, myself, docking in at over an hour. For whatever reason(s) I could not get in step with the cluing. At least I had no errors. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for Saturday!

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