0712-21 NY Times Crossword 12 Jul 21, Monday

Constructed by: Kevin Christian
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer Africa

Themed answers each include the name of an AFRICAN nation as a hidden word:

  • 18D Band with the 1983 #1 hit “62-Across” : TOTO
  • 62A Where this puzzle’s circled letters can be found : AFRICA
  • 17A Song lyric before “short and stout” : I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT (hiding “MALI”)
  • 26A Attorney general under George W. Bush : ALBERTO GONZALES (hiding “TOGO”)
  • 43A Appeasing, idiomatically : THROWING A BONE TO (hiding “GABON”)
  • 56A Grilled Japanese dish on skewers : CHICKEN YAKITORI (hiding “KENYA”)

Bill’s time: 5m 14s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Hard to understand : ARCANE

Something that is arcane is understood by only a few, something that might be described as mysterious.

7 Vegan protein source : TOFU

“Tofu” is a name for bean curd, and is a Japanese word meaning just that … bean that has curdled. Tofu is produced by coagulating soy milk, using either salt or something acidic. Once the protein has coagulated, the curds are pressed into the familiar blocks. Personally I love tofu, but my wife, she absolutely hates it …

11 Electric guitarist’s need : AMP

An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier (amp) to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.

15 Spirited horse : ARAB

The Arab (also “Arabian”) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.

16 Luau finger food : POI

I am a big fan of starch (being an Irishman I love potatoes). That said, I think that poi tastes horrible! Poi is made from the bulbous tubers (corm) of the taro plant by cooking the corm in water and mashing it until the desired consistency is achieved.

The Hawaiian party or feast known as a “luau” really dates back to 1819, when King Kamehameha II removed religious laws that governed the eating of meals. These laws called for women and men to eat separately. At the same time as he changed the laws, the king initiated the luau tradition by symbolically eating with the women who moved in his circle.

17 Song lyric before “short and stout” : I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT (hiding “MALI”)

The children’s song “I’m a Little Teapot” was written and published in 1939, composed by a married couple who ran a dance school for children. They needed a simple tune that young ones could use to learn a simple tap routine, and came up with this:

I’m a little teapot,
Short and stout,
Here is my handle,
Here is my spout,
When I get all steamed up,
Hear me shout,
Tip me over and pour me out!

23 “The Simpsons” character voiced by Nancy Cartwright : BART

Bart Simpson is the main character in television’s “The Simpsons”. Bart’s name was chosen by the writers as it is an anagram of “brat”. Bart is voiced by actress and comedian Nancy Cartwright.

26 Attorney general under George W. Bush : ALBERTO GONZALES (hiding “TOGO”)

Togo is a country on the West African coast, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. It is located between Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north.

33 Sully : TAINT

To sully is to stain, tarnish. The term is often used in the context of sullying or tarnishing a reputation.

34 1960s Ron Howard TV role : OPIE

Opie Taylor is the character played by Ron Howard on “The Andy Griffith Show”. Opie lives with widowed father Andy Taylor (played by Andy Griffith) and his great-aunt Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (played by Frances Bavier). Ron Howard first played the role in 1960 in the pilot show, when he was just 5 years old. Howard sure has come a long way since playing Opie Taylor. He has directed some fabulous movies including favorites of mine like “Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Da Vinci Code”.

39 Nephew of Donald Duck : HUEY
30D Nephew of Donald Duck : LOUIE

Donald Duck’s nephews are identical triplets called Huey, Dewey and Louie, and they first appeared on the screen in 1938. Once in a while, due to errors in production, a fourth duck can be seen in the background. This little “mistake” is affectionately called “Phooey Duck” by folks in the industry.

41 Morrison who said “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity” : TONI

Writer Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Amongst other things, Morrison is noted for coining the phrase “our first black President”, a reference to President Bill Clinton.

43 Appeasing, idiomatically : THROWING A BONE TO (hiding “GABON”)

The nation of Gabon lies on the west coast of Central Africa. Since it became independent from France in 1960, Gabon has become one of the most prosperous countries on the continent, by making use of the abundant natural resources and willing foreign investment.

52 Taurus symbol : BULL

Taurus (Latin for “bull”) is a large constellation seen in the winter sky in the northern hemisphere. The brightest star in Taurus is the red giant Aldebaran. NASA space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972, is heading towards Aldebaran after having completed its primary mission close to Jupiter. The probe should get to Aldebaran in two million years time. Watch this space …

56 Grilled Japanese dish on skewers : CHICKEN YAKITORI (hiding “KENYA”)

Kenya lies on the east coast of Africa, right on the equator. The country takes her name from Mount Kenya, the second-highest peak on the continent (after Kilimanjaro). The official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili.

60 What a dipstick measures the level of : OIL

One form of measuring dipstick is used to measure the level of oil in an internal combustion engine.

62 Where this puzzle’s circled letters can be found : AFRICA

The North African nation of Tunisia takes its name from its capital city Tunis. Present-day Tunisia is roughly equivalent to the Roman province known as “Africa Proconsularis”, which gave its name to the whole continent.

65 ___ network : NEURAL

It used to be that “neural network” was just the name given to a network of nerve cells in an organism. In the modern world, the term “neural net” (short for “neural network”) also applies to virtual or electronic devices designed to mimic the function of the human brain, and in particular learning from past experiences.

Down

1 The “A” of DNA : ACID

The two most common nucleic acids are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA), both of which play crucial roles in genetics. The DNA contains the genetic instructions used to keep living organisms functioning, and RNA is used to transcribe that information from the DNA to protein “generators” called ribosomes.

2 Oscar-winning Malek : RAMI

Actor Rami Malek’s big break came with the leading role in the television series “Mr. Robot”. In 2018, Malik gave an Oscar-winning performance playing Freddie Mercury in the hit biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody”. That marked the first time that an actor of Egyptian descent won an Academy Award for Best Actor.

6 Squeeze money from : EXTORT

To extort is to obtain by force or intimidation. The term “extort” comes from the Latin “ex” (out) and “torquere” (to twist).

9 What Jack Sprat couldn’t eat, in a nursery rhyme : FAT

“Jack Sprat” is a nickname given in the 16th century to people of small stature. Jack featured in a proverb of the day:

Jack will eat not fat, and Jull doth love no leane. Yet betwixt them both they lick the dishes cleane.

Over time, this mutated into a nursery rhyme that is still recited in England:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so between them both, you see, they licked the platter clean.

11 TikTok and Zoom, for two : APPS

TikTok is a video-sharing service that is based in China, and is very popular with the younger set. The TikTok mobile app provides tools that facilitate production of sophisticated selfie videos that use special effects.

Zoom is a videoconferencing app that became remarkably popular in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The market deemed Zoom to be the easiest to use of the free videoconferencing apps. I’ve been using it, but really prefer Google’s Meet offering …

12 Not worth debating : MOOT

To moot is to bring up as a subject for discussion or debate. So, something that is moot is open to debate. Something that is no longer moot, is no longer worth debating. We don’t seem to be able to get that right, which drives me crazy …

18 Band with the 1983 #1 hit “62-Across” : TOTO
62D Where this puzzle’s circled letters can be found : AFRICA

Toto is an American rock band dating back to 1977. As well as their big hit “Rosanna”, Toto also sang another good tune titled “Africa”.

19 Surrounding glow : AURA

An aura (plural “aurae”) is an intangible quality that surrounds a person or thing, a “je ne sais quoi”. “Je ne sais quoi” is French for “I don’t know what”.

25 Oklahoma city : ENID

Enid, Oklahoma takes its name from the old railroad station around which the city developed. Back in 1889, that train stop was called Skeleton Station. An official who didn’t like the name changed it to Enid Station, using a character from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King”. Maybe if he hadn’t changed the name, the city of Enid would now be called Skeleton, Oklahoma! Enid has the nickname “Queen Wheat City” because it has a huge capacity for storing grain, the third largest grain storage capacity in the world.

41 Brought up the rear? : TWERKED

Twerking is a dancing move in which someone (usually a woman) shakes her hips up and down causing a lot of “wobbling”. It’s possible that “twerk” is a portmanteau of “twist” and “jerk”. The term may have been coined back in the early 2000s with the song “Whistle While You Twurk” released by the Ying Yang Twins. Twerking became a real phenomenon in 2013 when Miley Cyrus posted a video of herself twerking in a unicorn suit to the 2011 song “Wop” by J. Dash. That video went viral on YouTube, amassing over 4 million views in no time at all.

44 International grp. with a 1970s U.S. embargo : OPEC

The 1973 Oil Crisis started when the Arab members of OPEC imposed an oil embargo. The action was taken as retaliation for the decision by President Nixon to resupply the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur War.

46 Southeast Europe’s ___ Peninsula : BALKAN

The Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe is usually referred to as “the Balkans”. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains located in present-day Bulgaria and Serbia. “Balkan” is Bulgarian for “mountain”.

49 Person who may speak with a brogue : SCOT

It’s possible that the use of the term “brogue”, meaning “Celtic or Irish accent”, is related to the use of “brogue” to mean “stout, heavy shoe”. According to one source, the footwear was “characteristic of the wilder Irish”. I suppose that the accent of the “wilder Irish” came to be known as a “brogue” as a result.

50 Home of Cincinnati : OHIO

Cincinnati, Ohio was the first major city to be founded after the American Revolution, and indeed was the first major inland city to be founded in the whole country. Cincinnati was a boomtown in the 1800s, but it’s growth slowed as the railroads displaced the steamboats as the major form of transportation. The city was founded in 1788, and was named “Cincinnati” two years later. It was named for the Society of Cincinnati, an organization with a mission to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the officers of the Revolutionary War. The society was in turn named for Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. Cincinnatus was a farmer in ancient Rome who left his land to serve as Consul and then lawful dictator of Rome during a war emergency, before happily handing back power to the Senate after the war was won.

51 Ill humor : BILE

In days past, health was said to depend on the balance between the body’s four “humors”, four vital fluids. These humors were blood, phlegm, yellow bile (aka “choler”) and black bile. Excesses of yellow and black bile were thought to produce aggression and depression. As a result, we use the terms “bile” and “choler” today to mean “ill temper” and “anger”.

52 Unit that may be preceded by kilo-, mega- or giga- : BYTE

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.

54 Killer whale : ORCA

The taxonomic name for the killer whale is “Orcinus orca”. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.

57 Univ. URL ending : EDU

The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

  • .com (commercial enterprise)
  • .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
  • .mil (US military)
  • .org (not-for-profit organization)
  • .gov (US federal government entity)
  • .edu (college-level educational institution)

59 ___TV (cable channel with “Impractical Jokers”) : TRU

truTV is a Turner Broadcasting cable network that launched in 1991 as Court TV. The name, and programming, was changed to truTV in 2008.

“Impractical Jokers” is a show that first aired in 2011 that falls into the “Candid Camera” genre, with the hosts pranking the public.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hard to understand : ARCANE
7 Vegan protein source : TOFU
11 Electric guitarist’s need : AMP
14 It makes an auto shine : CAR WAX
15 Spirited horse : ARAB
16 Luau finger food : POI
17 Song lyric before “short and stout” : I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT (hiding “MALI”)
20 Turn down, as lights : DIM
21 “Check this out!” : LOOK!
22 Out of practice : RUSTY
23 “The Simpsons” character voiced by Nancy Cartwright : BART
24 ___ to the throne : HEIR
26 Attorney general under George W. Bush : ALBERTO GONZALES (hiding “TOGO”)
33 Sully : TAINT
34 1960s Ron Howard TV role : OPIE
35 Eggs in a fertility lab : OVA
36 End of a cigarette or rifle : BUTT
37 Were in accord : JIBED
39 Nephew of Donald Duck : HUEY
40 Number that never goes down : AGE
41 Morrison who said “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity” : TONI
42 Some pork cuts : LOINS
43 Appeasing, idiomatically : THROWING A BONE TO (hiding “GABON”)
47 Writes : PENS
48 Gape : GAWK
49 What designated drivers should be : SOBER
52 Taurus symbol : BULL
53 Give silent approval : NOD
56 Grilled Japanese dish on skewers : CHICKEN YAKITORI (hiding “KENYA”)
60 What a dipstick measures the level of : OIL
61 Prep for publication : EDIT
62 Where this puzzle’s circled letters can be found : AFRICA
63 Part of the body that’s stubbed : TOE
64 Trick : DUPE
65 ___ network : NEURAL

Down

1 The “A” of DNA : ACID
2 Oscar-winning Malek : RAMI
3 Do some last-minute studying : CRAM
4 Leatherworker’s pointed tool : AWL
5 Fancy work from a manicurist : NAIL ART
6 Squeeze money from : EXTORT
7 Format of much AM radio : TALK
8 Metal in a mine : ORE
9 What Jack Sprat couldn’t eat, in a nursery rhyme : FAT
10 Transform using mobile technology, as a market : UBERIZE
11 TikTok and Zoom, for two : APPS
12 Not worth debating : MOOT
13 Feel sorry for : PITY
18 Band with the 1983 #1 hit “62-Across” : TOTO
19 Surrounding glow : AURA
23 Like the wire in paper clips : BENT
24 “Cross my heart and ___ to die” : HOPE
25 Oklahoma city : ENID
26 Facing the pitcher : AT BAT
27 Ha-ha : LAUGH
28 Dog to avoid : BITER
29 Pull out all the stops : GO BIG
30 Nephew of Donald Duck : LOUIE
31 100- or 200-meter, e.g. : EVENT
32 Final authority : SAY-SO
37 Enlist : JOIN
38 Quaint lodgings : INNS
39 Sound of a car or goose : HONK
41 Brought up the rear? : TWERKED
42 Disreputable sort : LOWLIFE
44 International grp. with a 1970s U.S. embargo : OPEC
45 Water: Sp. : AGUA
46 Southeast Europe’s ___ Peninsula : BALKAN
49 Person who may speak with a brogue : SCOT
50 Home of Cincinnati : OHIO
51 Ill humor : BILE
52 Unit that may be preceded by kilo-, mega- or giga- : BYTE
53 Black: Fr. : NOIR
54 Killer whale : ORCA
55 Telephone : DIAL
57 Univ. URL ending : EDU
58 ___ in the bud : NIP
59 ___TV (cable channel with “Impractical Jokers”) : TRU

11 thoughts on “0712-21 NY Times Crossword 12 Jul 21, Monday”

  1. 7:15. Interesting twist to the theme – relating it to a TOTO song.

    Obviously familiar with KENYA, TOGO, MALI, and GABON, but I’ve never Benin any of them….

    Best –

  2. 10:15 now on to finish Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s puzzles!! This going back to full time employment is cutting into my crossword time!!! : – (

  3. Never heard of CHICKEN YAKITORI and I’ve never twerked. Tried to – but never able to watch an entire Simpsons episode every thing I know about the show I learned from crosswords.

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