0531-21 NY Times Crossword 31 May 21, Monday

Constructed by: Michael Lieberman
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer Coco Chanel

Themed answers start with words that collectively spell out “LITTLE BLACK DRESS”, a wardrobe essential associated with designer COCO CHANEL:

  • 57A Fashion designer associated with the item spelled out by the starts of 17-, 26- and 42-Across : COCO CHANEL
  • 17A Arkansas’s capital : LITTLE ROCK
  • 26A Bicolor cookies also called half-moons : BLACK AND WHITES
  • 42A Final practice before the big show : DRESS REHEARSAL

Bill’s time: 4m 59s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Apple’s digital assistant : SIRI

Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

10 Sandwiches that may use Skippy and Smuckers, informally : PBJS

Peanut butter and jelly (PB&J or PBJ)

Skippy is a brand of peanut butter that has been around since 1933 when it was introduced by Rosefield Packing Co., just down the road here in Alameda, California. The companies that have owned the “Skippy” brand name have for decades been in dispute with the estate of Percy Crosby, the creator of the “Skippy” comic strip, over use of the name.

15 The “Odyssey,” for one : EPIC

“Odyssey” is one of two epic poems from ancient Greece that are attributed to Homer. “Odyssey” is largely a sequel to Homer’s other epic “Iliad”. “Odyssey” centers on the heroic figure Odysseus, and his adventures on his journey home to Greece following the fall of Troy. We now use the term “odyssey” to describe any long series of adventures.

16 ___ Canal, connector of the Hudson River to the Great Lakes : ERIE

The Erie Canal runs from Albany to Buffalo in the state of New York. What the canal does is allow shipping to proceed from New York Harbor right up the Hudson River, through the canal and into the Great Lakes. When it was opened in 1825, the Erie Canal had an immediate impact on the economy of New York City and locations along its route. It was the first means of “cheap” transportation from a port on the Atlantic seaboard into the interior of the United States. Arguably it was the most important factor contributing to the growth of New York City over competing ports such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. It was largely because of the Erie Canal that New York became such an economic powerhouse, earning it the nickname of “the Empire State”. Paradoxically, one of the project’s main proponents was severely criticized. New York Governor DeWitt Clinton received so much ridicule that the canal was nicknamed “Clinton’s Folly” and “Clinton’s Ditch”.

17 Arkansas’s capital : LITTLE ROCK

The city of Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas, and is located in the center of the state. Early French travelers used a small rock formation on the Arkansas River as a landmark, a formation that they named “La Petite Roche” (The Little Rock) in 1722. “The Little Rock” actually lies across the river from a large bluff known as “Big Rock”, which was once the site of a rock quarry.

19 “___ from New York, it’s …” : LIVE

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night” is a catchphrase heard near the start of the TV show “Saturday Night Live”. The show was originally titled “NBC’s Saturday Night”, a title for which the catchphrase makes a little more sense!

22 “Superbad” co-star Seth : ROGEN

Seth Rogen is a Canadian comedian who got a lot of credit for his supporting role in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”. That led to him being cast as the lead in the 2007 film “Knocked Up”. Rogen also co-directed and co-starred in “The Interview”, a movie that created a huge ruckus in the North Korean regime.

“Superbad” is a comedy movie released in 2007. The script for the film was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Rogen and Goldberg started work on the script when they were just thirteen years old, with the first draft being completed by the time they were fifteen.

25 Derrière : TUSH

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

“Derrière” is a French term meaning “back part, rear”.

38 Condition treated by Adderall, for short : ADHD

Adderall is a drug used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as narcolepsy. Adderall is also misused as a recreational drug as it is considered an aphrodisiac and a euphoriant.

39 Corp. giant spelled backward inside “giant” : AIG

“AIG” is an initialism used by the American International Group, a giant insurance corporation. After repeated bailouts by American taxpayers starting in 2008, the company made some serious PR blunders by spending large amounts of money on executive entertainment and middle management rewards. These included a $444,000 California retreat, an $86,000 hunting trip in England, and a $343,000 getaway to a luxury resort in Phoenix. Poor judgment, I’d say …

50 How many times the Washington Nationals have won the World Series : ONCE

The Washington Nationals (“Nats”) started out life as the Montreal Expos in 1969, and were the first Major League Baseball team in Canada. The Expos moved to Washington in 2005 becoming the Nats.

52 Chocolate candy with a caramel center : ROLO

Rolo was a hugely popular chocolate candy in Ireland when I was growing up. Rolo was introduced in the thirties in the UK, and is produced under license in the US by Hershey. I was a little disappointed when I had my first taste of the American version as the center is very hard and chewy. The recipe used on the other side of the Atlantic calls for a soft gooey center.

56 Rice-shaped pasta : ORZO

Orzo is pasta that has been formed into granular shapes, much like barley. And indeed, “orzo” is the Italian word for “barley”. Orzo is also called “risoni”, meaning “large rice”.

57 Fashion designer associated with the item spelled out by the starts of 17-, 26- and 42-Across : COCO CHANEL

Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer. I’m no fashionista, but if I had to pick a designer whose clothes I really liked, it would be Chanel. She had a way of creating simpler designs that look so elegant on a woman.

59 Clown of renown : BOZO

Bozo the Clown is a character created in 1946 by Alan Livingston. Bozo was introduced in the first ever “record reader”, a children’s illustrated read-along book that came with a vinyl recording of the story. The book/record was so successful that Bozo moved to television, and he has been around ever since.

60 Prerevolution Russian leader : CZAR

The term “czar” (also “tsar”) is a Slavic word that was first used as a title by Simeon I of Bulgaria in 913 AD. “Czar” is derived from the word “caesar”, which was synonymous with “emperor” at that time. We tend to use the “czar” spelling, as opposed to “tsar”, when we describe a person today with great power or authority, e.g. “Drug Czar”.

The year 1917 saw two revolutions in Russia, with the pair collectively called “the Russian Revolution”. As a result of the February Revolution that centered on Petrograd, the last Emperor of Russia (Tsar Nicholas II) abdicated and members of the Imperial parliament took control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The Provisional Government was itself overthrown in the October Revolution, which was led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik party.

62 Obsessive fan, in slang : STAN

“Stan” is a song by rapper Eminem (featuring Dido) that was recorded in 2000. The title refers to a fictional Eminem fan named “Stan” who becomes obsessed with the rapper, and who grows irate when his letters to his idol go unanswered. Stan’s final act is to make a voice recording as he drives into a river, with his pregnant girlfriend locked in the trunk. One of the legacies of the song is that “stan” is now used as a slang term for an obsessed and maniacal fan.

Down

1 Leaf-changing season : FALL

Leaves are green because of the presence of the pigment chlorophyll. There is so much chlorophyll in a leaf during the growing season that it masks out the colors of any other pigments. The amount of chlorophyll falls off in the autumn so that other pigments, present all year, become evident. These pigments are carotenoids which are orange-yellow in color, and anthocyanins which are red-purple.

2 Prima donna’s big moment : ARIA

The Italian operatic term “prima donna” is used for the lead female singer in an opera company. “Prima donna” translates from Italian as “first lady”. The lead male singer is known as the “primo uomo”. The term “prima donna assoluta” is reserved for a prima donna who is generally accepted as being an outstanding performer. We tend to use “prima donna” for a female performer who has an inflated ego.

3 Brooklyn basketball team : NETS

The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets were the New Jersey Nets until 2012, and were based in Newark. Prior to 1977, the team was known as the New York Nets and played in various locations on Long Island. Ten years earlier, the Nets were called the New Jersey Americans and were headquartered in Teaneck, New Jersey.

5 Big inits. in fashion : YSL

Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) was an Algerian-born French fashion designer. Saint Laurent started off working as an assistant to Christian Dior at the age of 17. Dior died just four years later, and as a very young man Saint-Laurent was named head of the House of Dior. However, in 1950 Saint Laurent was conscripted into the French Army and ended up in a military hospital after suffering a mental breakdown from the hazing inflicted on him by his fellow soldiers. His treatment included electroshock therapy and administration of sedatives and psychoactive drugs. He was released from hospital, managed to pull his life back together and started his own fashion house. A remarkable story …

6 Tennis star Williams : SERENA

Serena Williams is the younger of the two Williams sisters playing professional tennis. Serena has won more prize money in her career than any other female athlete.

7 Cher holder? : 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.

“Cher” is the stage name used by singer and actress Cherilyn Sarkisian. Formerly one half of husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher, she is often referred to as the Goddess of Pop. In her acting career, Cher was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar of 1984 for her performance in “Silkwood”. She went further in 1988 and won the season’s Best Actress Oscar for playing Loretta Castorini in “Moonstruck”.

8 Puerto ___ : RICO

Puerto Rico (PR) is located in the northeastern Caribbean (in the Atlantic Ocean), east of the Dominican Republic. The name “Puerto Rico” is Spanish for “rich port”. The locals often call their island Borinquen, the Spanish form of “Boriken”, the original name used by the natives.

10 House speaker Nancy : PELOSI

Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker of the House in 2007, and was the 60th person to hold that position. Ms. Pelosi represents a district not far from here, which covers most of San Francisco. She was the first Californian, the first Italian-American and the first woman to be Speaker of the House. As Speaker of the House is second-in-line to the presidency, after the Vice President, Nancy Pelosi was for many years the highest-ranking female politician in US history. That was until Kamala Harris became Vice President in 2021.

12 “___ Talkin’,” #1 hit for the Bee Gees : JIVE

The Brothers Gibb (hence, the name “Bee Gees”) were born in England but grew up and started their musical careers in Australia. They moved back to Manchester in the north of England as youths, and there hit the big time.

18 Composer Satie : ERIK

Erik Satie was a French composer best known for his beautiful composition, the three “Gymnopédies”. I have tried so hard to appreciate other works by Satie but I find them so very different from the minimalist simplicity of the lyrical “Gymnopédies”.

22 German industrial valley : RUHR

The Ruhr is a large urban area in western Germany. The area is heavily populated, and is the fifth largest urban area in the whole of Europe, after Istanbul, Moscow, London and Paris. The Ruhr became heavily industrialized due to its large deposits of coal. By 1850, the area contained nearly 300 operating coal mines. Any coal deposits remaining in the area today are too expensive to exploit.

25 Deuces : TWOS

A “two” playing card might be called a “deuce”, from the Middle French “deus” (or Modern French “deux”) meaning “two”.

26 Former British P.M. Tony : BLAIR

Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for ten years, from 1997 to 2007. Blair moved his Labour Party from the left towards the center, utilizing the moniker “New Labour”. Under his leadership, Labour won a landslide victory in 1997 and was comfortably elected into power again in 2001 and 2005. Blair stepped down in 2007 and Gordon Brown took over as prime minister. Labour was soundly defeated at the polls in the next general election, in 2010.

29 Banned pesticide, for short : DDT

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.

30 ___ alcohol (fuel source) : ETHYL

Ethyl alcohol is more usually known as ethanol. Ethanol is the alcohol found in intoxicating beverages, and nowadays is also used as a fuel for cars. It is also found in medical wipes and hand sanitizer, in which it acts as an antiseptic.

32 ___ Rutter, “Jeopardy!” contestant with the all-time highest winnings ($4.9+ million) : BRAD

On the game show “Jeopardy!”, Ken Jennings holds the record for longest winning streak, winning 74 episodes in a row, and amassing over $2.5 million. Brad Rutter holds the record for the highest winnings in cash and prizes overall, and has won over $5 million. The record holder for lifetime winnings by a woman is held by Larissa Kelly, who brought home over $650,000.

45 One of the Baldwin brothers : ALEC

The four acting Baldwin brothers are:

  • Alec Baldwin (b. 1958)
  • Daniel Baldwin (b. 1960)
  • William “Billy” Baldwin (b. 1963)
  • Stephen Baldwin (b. 1966)

51 Org. with bowl games : NCAA

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

54 Vegetable paired with potato in a soup : LEEK

The leek is a vegetable closely related to the onion and the garlic. It is also a national emblem of Wales (along with the daffodil), although I don’t think we know for sure how this came to be. One story is that the Welsh were ordered to wear leeks in their helmets to identify themselves in a battle against the Saxons. Apparently, the battle took place in a field of leeks.

55 Quaint shoppe descriptor : 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”.

57 Adds to an email chain, in a way : CCS

I wonder if the kids of today know that “cc” stands for carbon copy, and do they have any idea what a carbon copy was? Do you remember how messy carbon paper was to handle? A kind blog reader pointed out to me a while back that the abbreviation has evolved and taken on the meaning “courtesy copy” in our modern world.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 ___-schmancy : FANCY
6 Apple’s digital assistant : SIRI
10 Sandwiches that may use Skippy and Smuckers, informally : PBJS
14 Regions : AREAS
15 The “Odyssey,” for one : EPIC
16 ___ Canal, connector of the Hudson River to the Great Lakes : ERIE
17 Arkansas’s capital : LITTLE ROCK
19 “___ from New York, it’s …” : LIVE
20 Bonny young woman : LASS
21 Overhaul : REDO
22 “Superbad” co-star Seth : ROGEN
23 Loss offsetter : GAIN
25 Derrière : TUSH
26 Bicolor cookies also called half-moons : BLACK AND WHITES
32 Hold responsible : BLAME
33 Cause of some nose-wrinkling : ODOR
34 “How was ___ know?” : I TO
35 Red, as a steak : RARE
36 Portmanteau for denim cutoffs : JORTS
38 Condition treated by Adderall, for short : ADHD
39 Corp. giant spelled backward inside “giant” : AIG
40 Something tried out for in a tryout : PART
41 Follows, as orders : OBEYS
42 Final practice before the big show : DRESS REHEARSAL
46 Opening between mountains : PASS
47 Opening for a coin : SLOT
48 One of a pair of a carnival entertainer : STILT
50 How many times the Washington Nationals have won the World Series : ONCE
52 Chocolate candy with a caramel center : ROLO
56 Rice-shaped pasta : ORZO
57 Fashion designer associated with the item spelled out by the starts of 17-, 26- and 42-Across : COCO CHANEL
59 Clown of renown : BOZO
60 Prerevolution Russian leader : CZAR
61 Had a role to play : ACTED
62 Obsessive fan, in slang : STAN
63 Plane assignment : SEAT
64 Feed, as a fire : STOKE

Down

1 Leaf-changing season : FALL
2 Prima donna’s big moment : ARIA
3 Brooklyn basketball team : NETS
4 Tie in tic-tac-toe : CAT’S GAME
5 Big inits. in fashion : YSL
6 Tennis star Williams : SERENA
7 Cher holder? : IPOD
8 Puerto ___ : RICO
9 “Gross!” : ICK!
10 House speaker Nancy : PELOSI
11 Flash of genius : BRIGHT IDEA
12 “___ Talkin’,” #1 hit for the Bee Gees : JIVE
13 Observed : SEEN
18 Composer Satie : ERIK
22 German industrial valley : RUHR
24 There’s only one spot for this : ACE
25 Deuces : TWOS
26 Former British P.M. Tony : BLAIR
27 Circular food item that may come in a 16″ square box : LARGE PIZZA
28 Up, on a compass : NORTH
29 Banned pesticide, for short : DDT
30 ___ alcohol (fuel source) : ETHYL
31 Installs, as a lawn : SODS
32 ___ Rutter, “Jeopardy!” contestant with the all-time highest winnings ($4.9+ million) : BRAD
36 Places for tips : JARS
37 Valuable deposit : ORE
38 Existing in the mind only : ABSTRACT
40 “Hey, over here!” : PSST!
41 Spanish gold : ORO
43 Place for a brawl in a western : SALOON
44 Accompany on the red carpet, say : ESCORT
45 One of the Baldwin brothers : ALEC
48 Bawls : SOBS
49 Horse’s gait : TROT
50 Slowly seep (out) : OOZE
51 Org. with bowl games : NCAA
53 “Hold ___ your hat!” : ONTO
54 Vegetable paired with potato in a soup : LEEK
55 Quaint shoppe descriptor : OLDE
57 Adds to an email chain, in a way : CCS
58 Possesses : HAS

6 thoughts on “0531-21 NY Times Crossword 31 May 21, Monday”

  1. 6:08 Including about a minute to find a couple fat fingers all in the area of PSST, PASS, SALOON. I mistyped one of them and the auto-jump of a filled in character led me to make a few other typos.

    Unfamiliar with STAN and JORTS.

    How many wear their LITTLE BLACK DRESS when driving their LITTLE RED CORVETTE?

  2. 7:08 I’ll refrain from making any comment regarding pictures of Kate Upton in an LBD that showed up in Yahoo news today…. Oh wait, that was a comment 😜

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