0826-21 NY Times Crossword 26 Aug 21, Thursday

Constructed by: Ashish Vengsarkar
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer Cross Country

Themed answers are COUNTRY names from which a letter is dropped. The aforementioned COUNTRIES are in pairs that CROSS each other in the grid. The common letter of each pair is the one that is dropped:

  • 40A One way to run … or a hint to four geographical intersections found in this grid : CROSS COUNTRY
  • 9A “Not a chance!” : NO WAY! (from NORWAY)
  • 11D Title character in a classic John Cleese comedy : WANDA (from “RWANDA”)
  • 21A It comes first in China, but second in the U.S. : SURNAME (from “SURINAME”)
  • 4D Bad start? : MAL- (from “MALI”)
  • 68A Media exec Robert : IGER (from “NIGER”)
  • 58D Hippie happening : BE-IN (from “BENIN”)
  • 72A First airline to complete a round-the-world flight : PAN AM (from “PANAMA”)
  • 57D Grab by pinching, as an ice cube : TONG (from “TONGA”)

Bill’s time: 31m 13s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Pink alcoholic drink, for short : COSMO

Like so many famous cocktails, the actual origins of the cosmopolitan are disputed. It is a very nice drink, in my humble opinion. One of the standard recipes is 4 parts citrus vodka, 1.5 parts Cointreau, 1.5 parts lime juice and 3 parts cranberry juice.

9 “Not a chance!” : NO WAY! (from NORWAY)

Norway has been ranked as the country in the world with the highest standard of living almost every year since 2001. It is rich in natural resources and has a relatively low population. The people benefit from a comprehensive social security system, subsidized higher education for all citizens and universal health care. And Norway is famous for her success at the Winter Olympic Games, having won more gold medals than any other nation in the world.

15 Music rights org. : ASCAP

ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) collects licence fees for musicians and distributes royalties to composers whose works have been performed. BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) provides the same service.

19 Measure of conductance : MHO

Conductance (measured in “mhos”) is the inverse of resistance (measured in “ohms”). The mho has been replaced by the SI unit called the siemens.

21 It comes first in China, but second in the U.S. : SURNAME (from “SURINAME”)

The Republic of Suriname is located on the northeast coast of South America, and is the continent’s smallest country. What is now Suriname fell under Dutch rule in the late 1600s, gaining independence in 1975.

25 Need for making pochoir prints : STENCIL

A stencil is a sheet of impervious material with perforations in the shape of letters or a design. The stencil is placed over a surface to be printed and then the printing medium is applied, so that the medium only attaches to the surface beneath the perforations.

27 Raid shelfmate : D-CON

d-CON is a line of rodent control products that has been around for over 50 years. The name is an abbreviation for “decontamination”. The d-CON Company was founded in 1950 by Chicago businessman Lee Ratner, yes, “Ratner” …

31 2019 World Series champs : NATS

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.

34 “Uh-oh. Better get ___” (auto repair slogan) : MAACO

MAACO Collision Repair & Auto Painting was founded by Anthony A. Martino ten years after he launched AAMCO Transmissions. The names of both companies were derived from the first letters of his name, i.e. “AAM”.

37 Together, in music : A DUE

“A due” is a musical term meaning “together”, and literally translates from Italian as “by two”.

39 Indefinite ordinal : NTH

Ordinal numbers express a position in a series, i.e. first, second, third etc.

46 Real first name of Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus : OTTO

Otto Octavius is a supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe. Also known as Doctor Octopus or Doc Ock, Octavius is primarily a foe of Spider-Man.

52 Cover story : ALIBI

“Alibi” is the Latin word for “elsewhere” as in, “I claim that I was ‘elsewhere’ when the crime was committed, I have an ‘alibi’”.

56 Datum : FACT

Our word “data” (singular “datum”) comes from the Latin “datum” meaning “given”. The idea is that data are “things given”.

57 English channel, familiarly : THE BEEB

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is also known as “the Beeb”, a name given to the network by the great Peter Sellers on the classic British radio comedy called “The Goon Show”. The BBC was founded in 1922, and was the world’s first national broadcasting organization.

60 Statue of Ganesha, e.g. : IDOL

Ganesha is a Hindu deity usually depicted with the head of an elephant.

68 Media exec Robert : IGER (from “NIGER”)

Robert Iger took over from Michael Eisner as CEO in 2005. Iger worked for ABC when it was taken over by Disney in 1996, and in 1999 he was named president of Walt Disney International. Iger is doing okay for himself; he earned more than $29 million in 2009.

The Republic of Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa that gets its name from the Niger River. 80% of the country lies within the bounds of the Sahara Desert.

69 Small storage unit : ONE MEG

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.

70 Part of STEM: Abbr. : SCI

The acronym “STEM” stands for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. An alternative acronym with a similar meaning is MINT, standing for mathematics, information sciences, natural sciences and technology. The acronym STEAM adds (liberal) arts to the STEM curriculum.

71 Naming, informally : ID’ING

Identity document (ID)

72 First airline to complete a round-the-world flight : PAN AM (from “PANAMA”)

Pan American World Airways (usually just “Pan Am”) started out as a mail and passenger service between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba in 1927. From very early in the company’s life it was the de facto representative air carrier of the United States. For many years, Pan Am’s fleet was built around the Boeing 314 Clipper, a long-range flying boat that was one of the largest aircraft around at the time. Pan Am adopted the Clipper as part of its image, even using “clipper” as the call sign for its flights.

The nation that we now know as Panama sits on an isthmus that formed about 3 million years ago. The isthmus was the result of a land bridge forming between North and South America as two tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust slowly collided. Man first attempted to create a waterway across the Isthmus of Panama in 1881, but the 48-mile long Panama Canal only opened for business in 1914.

73 L.A. winter hrs. : PST

Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Down

2 Kissing-related : OSCULAR

To osculate is to kiss. The term “osculate” comes from Latin, specifically from “os” meaning “mouth” via “osculum” meaning “little mouth”.

4 Bad start? : MAL- (from “MALI”)

The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa located south of Algeria. Formerly known as French Sudan, the nation’s most famous city is Timbuktu. Mali is the third-largest producer of gold on the continent, after South Africa and Ghana.

7 To whom the Greeks dedicated the Parthenon : ATHENA

The Greek goddess Athena (sometimes “Athene”) is often associated with wisdom, among other attributes. In many representations. Athena is depicted with an owl sitting on her head. It is this linkage of the owl with the goddess of wisdom that led to today’s perception of the owl as being “wise”. Athena’s Roman counterpart was Minerva.

The Parthenon is the ruined temple that sits on the Athenian Acropolis. Although the Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena as a sacred building in the days of the Athenian Empire, it was actually used primarily as a treasury. In later centuries, the Parthenon was repurposed as a Christian Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and was also used as a mosque after Ottoman conquest.

8 Bygone Chevrolet division : GEO

Geos were small vehicles manufactured by General Motors, mainly in the nineties. They were designed to compete head-to-head with the small imports that were gaining market share at the time in the US. Some Geo models that you might remember are the Metro, the Prizm and the Storm. The cars were actually built as joint-ventures with Japanese manufacturers. The Prizm was a GM/Toyota project, the Metro was GM/Suzuki, and the Storm was GM/Isuzu.

11 Title character in a classic John Cleese comedy : WANDA (from “RWANDA”)

The 1988 comedy “A Fish Called Wanda” is a favorite of mine. The film was co-written by and stars John Cleese, and has an exceptional cast including Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Cleese’s friend from “Monty Python”, Michael Palin. Kevin Kline won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. The “fish” in the film is the con artist Wanda, played by Curtis.

The magnificent actor and comedian John Cleese came to the public’s attention as a cast member in the BBC’s comedy sketch show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Cleese then co-wrote and starred in the outstanding comedy “Fawlty Towers”. He even had a role in two “James Bond” films.

Rwanda is a sovereign nation in central Africa that is populated by three groups: the Hutu, Tutsi (aka “Watusi”) and Twa. The Tutsi are the second largest population of people in Rwanda, with the Hutu being the largest group. The bloody conflict that has existed between the Tutsi and Hutu peoples dates back to about 1880 when Catholic missionaries arrived in the region. The missionaries found that they had more success converting the Hutus than the Tutsi, and when the Germans occupied the area during WWI they confiscated Tutsi land and gave it to Hutu tribes in order to reward religious conversion. This injustice fuels fighting to this very day.

13 “A jealous mistress,” per Emerson : ART

The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

Art is a jealous mistress, and if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider, and should be wise in season and not fetter himself with duties which will embitter his days and spoil him for his proper work.

14 Sari measure: Abbr. : YDS

The item of clothing called a “sari” (also “saree”) is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that it is unstitched along the whole of its length. The strip of cloth can range from four to nine meters long (that’s a lot of material!). The sari is usually wrapped around the waist, then draped over the shoulder leaving the midriff bare. I must say, it can be a beautiful item of clothing.

23 One studying the Vedas : HINDU

The Vedas are a body of ancient Indian texts, the oldest Hindu scriptures. The word “véda” is Sanskrit, and means “knowledge, wisdom”.

26 “Bye now!” : CIAO!

“Ciao” is Italian for “‘bye”. “Arrivederci” is more formal, and translates as “goodbye”.

30 Japanese dance/drama : NOH

Noh is a form of musical drama in Japan that has been around since the 14th century. Many of the Noh performers are masked, allowing all the roles to be played by men, including the female parts.

34 Drug in “Breaking Bad” : METH

“Meth” is a street name used for the drug methamphetamine, which is also called “crank” and “crystal meth”.

The AMC drama “Breaking Bad” is a well-written show about a high school teacher stricken by lung cancer who turns to a life of crime to make money. It turns out that the teacher has a talent for making high-quality crystal meth. The show was created by Vince Gilligan who had spent many years as a producer and writer of “The X-Files”. There is a “Breaking Bad” spin-off show running on AMC called “Better Call Saul” that focuses on the life of lawyer Saul Goodman. To be honest, I enjoyed “Better Call Saul” even more than the original show …

41 Lesley of “60 Minutes” : STAHL

Television journalist Lesley Stahl first appeared on “60 Minutes” in 1991, after serving as moderator of “Face the Nation” for almost 8 years starting in 1983. Stahl is married to author and journalist Aaron Latham. One of Latham’s claims to fame is that he wrote the article that inspired the movie “Urban Cowboy”.

The marvelous news magazine program “60 Minutes” has been on the air since 1968. The show is unique among all other regularly-scheduled shows in that it has never used theme music. There is just the ticking of that Aristo stopwatch.

42 Suitable-sounding name for a kid on Santa’s naughty list? : COLE

Apparently, the tradition of putting coal in the Christmas stocking of a poorly-behaved child comes simply from the proximity of the stocking (hanging on the fireplace) to a source of coal!

43 Elem. school basics : RRR

The “three Rs” (RRR) are reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

45 Where some keys are found: Abbr. : FLA

The Florida Keys are a chain of low islands that stretch from the tip of the Florida peninsula, about 15 miles south of Miami. The westernmost inhabited island is Key West, and the westernmost uninhabited island is Dry Tortugas. Most of the inhabited islands are connected by US Highway 1, which traverses several impressive bridges.

48 U, V, W or Y, but not X : ELEMENT

Here is a list of all the single-letter element symbols:

  • B = boron
  • C = carbon
  • F = fluorine
  • H = hydrogen
  • I = Iodine
  • K = potassium
  • N = nitrogen
  • O = oxygen
  • P = phosphorus
  • S = sulfur
  • U = uranium
  • V = vanadium
  • W = tungsten
  • Y = yttrium

51 Blot : STIGMA

A stigma (plural “stigmata), in a social sense, is a distinguishing mark of disgrace. For example, one might have to suffer the stigma of being in prison. The term derives from the Greek “stigma” meaning “mark, brand”.

53 Predecessors of Lenovos : IBM PCS

Lenovo is a Chinese manufacturer of computers. Lenovo was founded as “Legend” in 1984. The name was changed to “Lenovo” in 2002. “Lenovo” is a portmanteau of “Le” (from “Legend”) and “novo” (Latin for “new”). IBM sold off its personal computer division to Lenovo in 2005.

54 “Amscray!” : BEAT IT!

Pig Latin is in effect a game. One takes the first consonant or consonant cluster of an English word and moves it to the end of the word, and then adds the letters “ay”. So, the Pig Latin for the word “nix” is “ixnay” (ix-n-ay), and for “scram” is “amscray” (am-scr-ay).

57 Grab by pinching, as an ice cube : TONG (from “TONGA”)

A pair of tongs is a tool with a scissor-like hinge used to pick up things, like meat cooking on a barbecue grill or ice from an ice bucket. The verb “to tong” means “to handle with tongs”.

The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of 176 islands in the South Pacific, 52 of which are inhabited and scattered over an area of 270,000 square miles. Tonga was given the name Friendly Islands in 1773 when Captain James Cook first landed there, a reference to the warm reception given to the visitors. The nation’s capital is the city of Nukuʻalofa on the island of Tongatapu.

58 Hippie happening : BE-IN (from “BENIN”)

Just before 1967’s “Summer of Love” in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, a Human Be-In was held in the city’s Golden Gate Park. The Be-In is described as a “happening”, a gathering triggered by a new state law banning the use of LSD. The term “Human Be-In” is a play on “humanist sit-in”.

The Republic of Benin is a country in West Africa. Benin used to be a French colony, and was known as Dahomey. Dahomey gained independence in 1975, and took the name Benin after the Bight of Benin, the body of water on which the country lies.

61 Per ___ : DIEM

“Per diem” is the Latin for “by the day”. We tend to use the term for a daily allowance for expenses when traveling for work.

65 Carrier to Japan : ANA

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is a Japanese airline, one that is now larger in size than the nation’s flag carrier Japan Airlines (JAL).

66 Rapper MC ___ : REN

“MC Ren” is the stage name of rapper Lorenzo Patterson. The “Ren” in his stage name comes from the middle letters in his given name “Lorenzo”.

67 Shakespeare’s “poor venomous fool” : ASP

In William Shakespeare’s play “Antony and Cleopatra”, the heroine of the piece addresses the asp as she uses the snake to commit suicide:

Come, thou mortal wretch,
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool,
Be angry, and dispatch.

Later she says:

Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Pink alcoholic drink, for short : COSMO
6 Spree : JAG
9 “Not a chance!” : NO WAY! (from NORWAY)
15 Music rights org. : ASCAP
16 Absorbed, as a loss : ATE
17 Where to turn for self-knowledge : INWARD
18 Important map information : SCALE
19 Measure of conductance : MHO
20 Bikes without pedaling : COASTS
21 It comes first in China, but second in the U.S. : SURNAME (from “SURINAME”)
23 Important part of a taxi : HORN
24 Suffix with infant : -ILE
25 Need for making pochoir prints : STENCIL
27 Raid shelfmate : D-CON
31 2019 World Series champs : NATS
33 Coach : TRAIN
34 “Uh-oh. Better get ___” (auto repair slogan) : MAACO
35 Poker declaration : I RAISE
37 Together, in music : A DUE
39 Indefinite ordinal : NTH
40 One way to run … or a hint to four geographical intersections found in this grid : CROSS COUNTRY
44 O’er and o’er : OFT
46 Real first name of Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus : OTTO
47 Pangs : THROES
50 V.I.P.s : A-LIST
52 Cover story : ALIBI
55 Neat and orderly : RULY
56 Datum : FACT
57 English channel, familiarly : THE BEEB
59 Animal house : DEN
60 Statue of Ganesha, e.g. : IDOL
62 Found an occasion : MADE TIME
64 Wiggle room : MARGIN
67 Apposite : APT
68 Media exec Robert : IGER (from “NIGER”)
69 Small storage unit : ONE MEG
70 Part of STEM: Abbr. : SCI
71 Naming, informally : ID’ING
72 First airline to complete a round-the-world flight : PAN AM (from “PANAMA”)
73 L.A. winter hrs. : PST
74 Meshlike : NETTY

Down

1 First space probe to enter Saturn’s orbit : CASSINI
2 Kissing-related : OSCULAR
3 Strategy that stokes fear : SCARE TACTIC
4 Bad start? : MAL- (from “MALI”)
5 Warms up the crowd, in a way : OPENS
6 Signal-blocking device : JAMMER
7 To whom the Greeks dedicated the Parthenon : ATHENA
8 Bygone Chevrolet division : GEO
9 Actor Williamson who played Merlin in “Excalibur” : NICOL
10 ___ about : ON OR
11 Title character in a classic John Cleese comedy : WANDA (from “RWANDA”)
12 Functioned as : WAS
13 “A jealous mistress,” per Emerson : ART
14 Sari measure: Abbr. : YDS
22 Validate, with “to” : ATTEST …
23 One studying the Vedas : HINDU
26 “Bye now!” : CIAO!
28 “Capisce?,” in ’70s slang : CAN YOU DIG IT?
29 Bat Appreciation Month, appropriately: Abbr. : OCT
30 Japanese dance/drama : NOH
32 Dear fellow : SIR
34 Drug in “Breaking Bad” : METH
36 Pipe buildup : SOOT
38 Loose : UNTIED
41 Lesley of “60 Minutes” : STAHL
42 Suitable-sounding name for a kid on Santa’s naughty list? : COLE
43 Elem. school basics : RRR
44 Bungler : OAF
45 Where some keys are found: Abbr. : FLA
48 U, V, W or Y, but not X : ELEMENT
49 Jargony rationale for a business merger : SYNERGY
51 Blot : STIGMA
53 Predecessors of Lenovos : IBM PCS
54 “Amscray!” : BEAT IT!
57 Grab by pinching, as an ice cube : TONG (from “TONGA”)
58 Hippie happening : BE-IN (from “BENIN”)
61 Per ___ : DIEM
63 Current event : TIDE
64 Swab : MOP
65 Carrier to Japan : ANA
66 Rapper MC ___ : REN
67 Shakespeare’s “poor venomous fool” : ASP

18 thoughts on “0826-21 NY Times Crossword 26 Aug 21, Thursday”

  1. 18:53 I knew something was amiss with SURNAME but wasn’t initially sure what 4D would be MALA, MALO, etc. as a prefix for “bad” and I had not yet made the country connection. Getting the revealer at 40A confirmed the 21A / 4D crossing. But I thought that an “I” would be the inserted letter on the answers that didn’t quite make sense – and they still didn’t make sense. Once I filled it all in and didn’t get the jingle, I had to go looking where I put in those “I”s – on 9A and 72A. However, for 58D I had BEDIN – thinking of John & Yoko’s (in)famous “bed-in” around 1969. So that was the last cookie to crumble for me.

  2. 23:00. Very clever A+ theme. Had to have been difficult to construct this. Sheesh.

    I did have one embarrassing error. I had NOoWAY as if they were emphasizing the word “no”. I thought oWANDA was something known in the movie which I’ve never seen. This was before I realized the theme.

    My first thought as to the predecessor of Lenovo was the Thinkpad, but it didn’t fit.

    I still say COSMOs are red not pink, but who listens to me? I don’t drink then anyway so I shouldn’t care…

    Best –

  3. 14:08, no errors. Very clever, indeed.

    Curiously, yesterday’s non-viewing of the International Space Station enabled a successful viewing today. Because I had used “Sky Guide” on my iPad and left it active, it notified me a little before six that the ISS was about to appear, and, even though I was not in a good position for the event, I was able to find and watch it for about a minute (after which clouds came in with a vengeance and obscured everything in the sky – stars, moon, sun, absolutely everything – for the rest of my morning walk). I’ve seen the ISS many times before, but it always gives me a sense of awe to think that people are living and working up there and that, in less than an hour, they will have gone halfway around the earth.

    1. @Duncan … I’m not sure I can adequately explain “spree:jag”, but think of their meanings in “spending spree” and “crying jag” – sort of an extended (and perhaps excessive) period of some activity.

  4. 16:16, evidently 4 errors (8 words) due to the horrifically bad theme in this one. Spots left blank due to the general idiocy behind this. Bad. Just bad.

  5. I very much enjoyed revisiting this puzzle. It was the one that made me aware of Ashish Vengsarkar. One very clever fellow!

  6. Very clever indeed.. no errors but I took a long time with this. Catching those empty boxes before the became a country was a crawl for me. But I enjoyed it… I got distracted and had to look up Nicol Williamson. I rember him now… then there was A Fish Called Wanda next to that! I loved that movie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.