0920-21 NY Times Crossword 20 Sep 21, Monday

Constructed by: Pao Roy
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill) What, Lava?

Themed answers each end with one of the Earth’s geological layers. And, the grid starts with ROCKS and ends with MAGMA:

  • 17A Pizza feature for a specialized diet : GLUTEN-FREE CRUST
  • 34A Take on a position, along with its responsibilities : ASSUME THE MANTLE
  • 52A Lacking any moral compass : ROTTEN TO THE CORE
  • 1A What lava becomes after an eruption : ROCKS
  • 60A What lava is before an eruption : MAGMA

Bill’s time: 6m 09s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 The “S” of L.S.U. : STATE

LSU’s full name is Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, and is located in Baton Rouge. LSU was founded in 1860 as a military academy, with then-Colonel William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent.

11 Number of provinces in Canada : TEN

Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. The three territories lie to the north of the country, and are Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Territories differ from Provinces in that they only have governmental powers that are delegated to them by the federal government, whereas the provinces have constitutional powers in their own right.

17 Pizza feature for a specialized diet : GLUTEN-FREE CRUST

Gluten is a protein mixture found in foods processed mainly from wheat. The sticky properties of gluten are used in making bread, giving dough its elasticity and making the final product chewy. “Gluten” is the Latin word for “glue”.

22 Gossiping types : YENTAS

“Yenta” (also “Yente”) is actually a female Yiddish name. In Yiddish theater “yenta” came to mean a busybody, a gossip.

23 Products of Pilot and Bic : PENS

Pilot is a Japanese pen company, and the largest manufacturer of pens in Japan. The “Pilot” name was adopted in 1938, a change from the original Namiki Manufacturing Company.

Société Bic is a company based in Clichy in France. The first product the company produced, more than fifty years ago, was the Bic Cristal ballpoint pen that is still produced today. Bic also makes other disposable products such as lighters and razors.

25 River beneath 37 Parisian bridges : SEINE

There are 37 bridges spanning the River Seine in Paris, including 5 pedestrian-only bridges and 2 rail bridges.

28 Lucy of “Charlie’s Angels” : LIU

Lucy Liu is an actress from Queens, New York. Liu’s big break came when she was chosen to play the Ling Woo character in “Ally McBeal”. I liked her in the 2000 film “Charlie’s Angels” but as I am no fan of Quentin Tarantino, I did not enjoy the movie “Kill Bill”. I do enjoy one of Liu’s more recent projects in which she plays Joan Watson, one of the two lead characters in the TV crime drama “Elementary”.

“Charlie’s Angels” is a fun action movie from 2000 that is a spin-off from the iconic TV show of the same name from the seventies. The “Angels” in the movie version are Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, with Bill Murray as John Bosley. John Forsythe provides the voice of the unseen “Charlie”, just as he did in the original television show.

32 Classic arcade game set in outer space : ASTEROIDS

I remember being quite addicted to the Atari video arcade game called Asteroids back in the early eighties. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as Asteroids was Atari’s best selling game of all time.

34 Take on a position, along with its responsibilities : ASSUME THE MANTLE

Someone who assumes the mantle takes on the leadership role that was once held by someone else. The original mantle was a loose, sleeveless cloak. The phrase itself originated in the Bible, which tells of the prophet Elijah leaving behind his cloak when he ascended into heaven. Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantle, and assumed Elijah’s role as prophet.

The mantle of a terrestrial planet is the layer between the planetary core and planet’s crust. The Earth’s mantle has a thickness of just under 1,800 miles, and is a silicate rocky shell.

37 Cleaned, as a window : SQUEEGEED

The first squeegee was known as a “squilgee”, and was used to wash fish blood and scales off the decks of fishing vessels.

39 Sticky part of a gecko : TOE

Gecko is the “spokes-lizard” for GEICO. When Gecko was introduced in 1999, he was voiced by actor Kelsey Grammer of “Cheers” and “Frasier” fame. Since then, Gecko has been voiced by British radio presenter Dave Kelly and most recently by actor Jake Wood, who plays Max Branning on the British soap opera “EastEnders”.

43 Soccer great Mia : HAMM

Mia Hamm is a retired American soccer player. She played as a forward on the US national team that won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991. Hamm scored 158 international goals, which was more than any other player in the world, male or female, until the record was broken in 2013. Amazingly, Hamm was born with a clubfoot, and so had to wear corrective shoes when she was growing up.

44 Iota : WHIT

Both “whit” and “fig” are used to describe a trivial amount, a mere trifle.

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, and one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small, as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

45 Eastern place of worship : PAGODA

Pagodas are tiered (“storied”) towers, found in various parts of Asia, that are usually built for religious purposes.

48 James who played Sonny Corleone : CAAN

James Caan is an actor from the Bronx, New York City. He is noted for his appearances in some very big movies such as “The Godfather”, “Misery”, “A Bridge Too Far”, “Rollerball” and more recently “Elf”. Caan is quite the sportsman. He plays golf with an 8 handicap, and is a 6-Dan Black Belt Master of Gosoku Karate.

James Caan ad-libbed the phrase “bada-bing” when portraying Sonny in the classic 1972 film “The Godfather”. Years later, the writers of the TV mobster series “The Sopranos” used the name “Bada Bing!” for the fictional strip club in which Tony Soprano hangs out with his cronies.

49 Letters on a bottle of tanning lotion : SPF

In theory, the sun protection factor (SPF) is a calibrated measure of the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays. The idea is that if you wear a lotion with say SPF 20, then it takes 20 times as much UV radiation to cause the skin to burn than it would take without protection. I say just stay out of the sun …

52 Lacking any moral compass : ROTTEN TO THE CORE

The Earth’s core is divided into two zones, a relatively solid inner core and a liquid outer core. Both inner and outer cores are composed mainly of iron and nickel. It is believed that the Earth’s magnetic field is generated by electric currents created by convection currents in the outer core.

57 ___ noir (wine) : PINOT

The pinot noir wine grape variety takes its name from the French for “pine” and “black”. The grapes grow in tight clusters shaped like pine cones, and are very dark in color. The pinot noir grape is most closely associated with Burgundy wines in France, although in recent years the popularity (and price) of California pinot noir wine has soared after it featured so prominently in the wonderful 2004 movie “Sideways”. Grab a bottle of pinot, and go rent the movie …

59 Los Angeles N.B.A. player : LAKER

The Los Angeles Lakers basketball team started out in 1947 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The team chose the Lakers name in honor of the nickname of Minnesota, “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960.

60 What lava is before an eruption : MAGMA

Magma is the molten material below the Earth’s surface. When magma cools, it forms igneous rock. “Magma” is a Greek term that describes a thick ointment.

Down

1 Latvia’s capital : RIGA

Riga is the capital city of Latvia. The historical center of Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, declared as such because of the city’s magnificent examples of Art Nouveau architecture.

4 Dennings of “2 Broke Girls” : KAT

Kat Dennings is the stage name of actress Katherine Litwack, who is noted today for her co-starring role on CBS’s sitcom “2 Broke Girls”. Dennings is an avid blogger, and you can check out her video blog on YouTube.

5 Land between Norway and Finland : SWEDEN

The country of Sweden emerged during the Middle Ages, and became one of the great powers of Europe in the days of the Swedish Empire in the 17th and early 18th century. Since then Sweden’s influence has waned. What was the eastern part of Sweden was lost to Russia in the early 1800s, and is now modern-day Finland. In the 20th century Sweden has adopted a very non-aggressive stance and was neutral in both World Wars. Sweden is not a member of NATO, but is a member of the European Union, although the country does not use the euro as its currency.

6 Couches : SOFAS

“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.

10 “… and the list goes on” : ET CETERA

The Latin phrase “et cetera” translates as “and other things”. The term is usually abbreviated to “etc.”

12 Disney princess voiced by Idina Menzel : ELSA

Actress and singer Idina Menzel came to public attention when she was a member of the original Broadway cast of “Rent”. She is known on the small screen for playing Shelby Corcoran on the musical TV show “Glee”. On the big screen, her most noted performance was as the voice actor behind Queen Elsa in the Disney hit “Frozen”. It is Menzel who sings the Oscar-winning song “Let It Go” in “Frozen”.

18 Official bird of Hawaii : NENE

The nene is a bird that is native to Hawaii, and is also known as the Hawaiian goose. The name “nene” is an imitation of its call. When Captain Cook landed on the islands in 1778, there were 25,000 nene living there. By 1950, the number was reduced by hunting to just 30 birds. Conservation efforts in recent years have been somewhat successful. The nene was named State Bird of Hawaii in 1957.

19 Genetic “messenger” : RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

23 Excite, as curiosity : PIQUE

Our term “pique” meaning “fit of ill feeling” is a French word meaning “prick, sting, irritation”.

25 One-named R&B singer with the 1999 6x platinum album “Unleash the Dragon” : SISQO

“SisQó” is the stage name of R&B singer Mark Andrews. As well as being a solo artist, SisQó is the lead singer of the group Dru Hill.

31 Group in a playbill : CAST

I get quite a kick out of reading the bios in “Playbill” as some of them can be really goofy and entertaining. “Playbill” started off in 1884 in New York as an in-house publication for just one theater on 21st St. You can’t see any decent-sized production these days anywhere in the United States without being handed a copy of “Playbill”.

41 Former Iranian leader : SHAH

“Shah” was a title used by Persian emperors that translates into English as “king”. The full title in Persian is “Sahahsah”, which means “King of Kings”.

47 Classic Pontiac muscle cars : GTOS

The initialism “GTO” was used on several touring cars (including a famous Pontiac) and stands for “Gran Turismo Omologato”. Italian car manufacturers started the tradition of calling their luxury performance cars “Gran Turismo”, and calling those cars they approved for racing “Gran Turismo Omologato”. The phrase “gran turismo omologato” translates as “grand touring homologated”, “homologated” being a technical term signifying official approval.

48 Rapper J. ___ : COLE

“J. Cole” is the stage name of American rap artist Jermaine Cole. J. Cole was born in Germany, on the US Army base in Frankfurt.

49 Serenade, e.g. : SONG

A serenade is a musical performance in the open air, specifically at night. We tend to think of the term applying to a young man serenading his lover from below her window. We imported the word via French from the Italian “serenata” meaning “evening song”, influenced by the Italian “sera” meaning “evening”.

50 Big night for a high schooler : PROM

A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them “formals” over in Ireland). The term “prom” is short for “promenade”, the name given to a type of dance or ball.

51 Crumbly salad cheese : FETA

Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months before it is eaten.

54 “Zero Dark Thirty” org. : CIA

“Zero Dark Thirty” is a film directed by Kathryn Bigelow that tells of the long but ultimately successful hunt for Osama bin Laden. I found one aspect of this film to be particularly uplifting, namely the central role played by a remarkable CIA officer who was a woman operating against the odds in a man’s world.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 What lava becomes after an eruption : ROCKS
6 The “S” of L.S.U. : STATE
11 Number of provinces in Canada : TEN
14 Relative by marriage : IN-LAW
15 “This ___ to do the trick” : OUGHT
16 Pub brew : ALE
17 Pizza feature for a specialized diet : GLUTEN-FREE CRUST
20 Nay’s opposite : AYE
21 College official : DEAN
22 Gossiping types : YENTAS
23 Products of Pilot and Bic : PENS
24 Lead-in to girl or boy : ATTA …
25 River beneath 37 Parisian bridges : SEINE
27 Pain : ACHE
28 Lucy of “Charlie’s Angels” : LIU
31 Five, in French : CINQ
32 Classic arcade game set in outer space : ASTEROIDS
34 Take on a position, along with its responsibilities : ASSUME THE MANTLE
37 Cleaned, as a window : SQUEEGEED
38 Storage for garden tools : SHED
39 Sticky part of a gecko : TOE
40 Dress like, for a costume party, say : GO AS
41 Contemptuous look : SNEER
43 Soccer great Mia : HAMM
44 Iota : WHIT
45 Eastern place of worship : PAGODA
48 James who played Sonny Corleone : CAAN
49 Letters on a bottle of tanning lotion : SPF
52 Lacking any moral compass : ROTTEN TO THE CORE
55 Year, in Spain : ANO
56 “Cleanup on ___ 5!” : AISLE
57 ___ noir (wine) : PINOT
58 “Affirmative!” : YES!
59 Los Angeles N.B.A. player : LAKER
60 What lava is before an eruption : MAGMA

Down

1 Latvia’s capital : RIGA
2 Solitary : ONLY
3 Aid in solving a mystery : CLUE
4 Dennings of “2 Broke Girls” : KAT
5 Land between Norway and Finland : SWEDEN
6 Couches : SOFAS
7 Word before “the tables” or “the tide” : TURN …
8 Grow older : AGE
9 Nonbinary pronoun pair : THEY/THEM
10 “… and the list goes on” : ET CETERA
11 Opposite of loose : TAUT
12 Disney princess voiced by Idina Menzel : ELSA
13 Safeguards for tightrope walkers : NETS
18 Official bird of Hawaii : NENE
19 Genetic “messenger” : RNA
23 Excite, as curiosity : PIQUE
24 Played a part on stage : ACTED
25 One-named R&B singer with the 1999 6x platinum album “Unleash the Dragon” : SISQO
26 Follow shortly thereafter : ENSUE
27 Volcanic emissions : ASHES
28 Thin and graceful : LITHE
29 One just passing time : IDLER
30 Secondhand : USED
31 Group in a playbill : CAST
32 Starting squad : A-TEAM
33 Arrival : ONSET
35 Business announcement involving billions of dollars : MEGADEAL
36 It’s all about me, me, me : EGOMANIA
41 Former Iranian leader : SHAH
42 Prime-time hour : NINE PM
43 Sweltering : HOT
44 One piece of evidence of a planet’s habitability : WATER
45 Address God : PRAY
46 Top-notch : A-ONE
47 Classic Pontiac muscle cars : GTOS
48 Rapper J. ___ : COLE
49 Serenade, e.g. : SONG
50 Big night for a high schooler : PROM
51 Crumbly salad cheese : FETA
53 Chastising syllable : TSK
54 “Zero Dark Thirty” org. : CIA

3 thoughts on “0920-21 NY Times Crossword 20 Sep 21, Monday”

  1. 6:54. Pretty cool theme by Monday standards. One hiccup when I had GLUTEN FREE “dough” before CRUST.

    I actually did not like the movie “Sideways” the first time I saw it. Years later – largely because of Bill advocating it here on the blog – I rewatched it and loved it. I can understand (sort of) sales of PINOT noir spiking after that movie. However, the fact that merlot sales could plummet because of one line in a movie (I’m not drinking any f****** merlot!”) illustrates how pretentious most wine drinkers are. They drink what they’re supposed to more than what they actually enjoy. Sheesh.

    Best –

  2. 5:10 No issues

    My sister recently sent me a comic, and I don’t know to insert it, if possible. In any case picture this (if you will) – the merchant in the wine store is describing this bottle of wine to the customers, who appear to be “senior citizens”:
    “You’ll Like this one. It’s made from an anti-diuretic hybrid grape and reduces the number of trips that people your age go to the toilet during the night. It’s called PINO MORE!!”

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