0923-21 NY Times Crossword 23 Sep 21, Thursday

Constructed by: Simeon Seigel
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer Blacks Out

Themed answers each include a three-letter sequence that has been BLACKED OUT, is behind black squares in the grid. Those letter sequences (SSN, PIN, DOB) spell out things that we’d probably like blacked out at times:

  • 67A Redacts, as sensitive information (suggested by three of this puzzle’s answers) : BLACKS OUT
  • 19A Insomniacs have them : SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
  • 38A Failing spectacularly : GOING UP IN FLAMES
  • 59A Members of a wartime skywatching corps : GROUND OBSERVERS

Bill’s time: 13m 51s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Proto-smartphones, in brief : PDAS

Personal digital assistant (PDA)

14 Performance traditionally accompanied by the ipu heke (double gourd drum) : HULA DANCE

The hula is a native dance of Hawaii that uses arm movements to relate a story. The hula can be performed while sitting (a noho dance) or while standing (a luna dance).

16 Protein-building acid type : AMINO

Proteins are synthesised in the body from amino acids, which are linked together in specific sequences that are determined by the genetic code. The language of the code is a sequence of nucleotides. The nucleotides are arranged in groups of three called “codons”, with each codon determining a specific amino acid.

17 Marley of “Marley & Me,” for one : YELLOW LAB

“Marley & Me” (subtitled “Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog”) is a 2005 autobiographical book by journalist John Grogan. It’s all about the up-and-down relationship that Grogran had over 13 years with his yellow Labrador retriever named “Marley”. The book spawned a 2008 movie “Marley & Me” starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, and a lesser-known prequel “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years” that was released in 2011.

22 Parts of essential oils : ESTERS

Essential oils are concentrated liquids containing volatile chemical compounds that have a smell or odor. The term “essential” oil comes from the fact that it contains the “essence” of a plant’s fragrance.

26 It’s a wrap : OBI

The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied at the back in what is called a butterfly knot. The term “obi” is also used for the thick cotton belts that are an essential part of the outfits worn by practitioners of many martial arts. The color of the martial arts obi signifies the wearer’s skill level.

29 Eye ailments : STYES

A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.

31 Evian, par exemple : EAU

Évian-les-Bains (or simply “Évian”) is in the very east of France, on the shores of Lake Geneva directly across the lake from Lausanne, Switzerland. As one might imagine, Évian is the home of Évian mineral water, the most successful business in town. Personally, I can’t stand the distinctive taste of Évian water …

33 Food item that may be candied : YAM

Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the world than they are in this country, and are especially common in Africa.

36 Blue Angels, e.g. : AEROBATS

“Blue Angels” is the popular name for the US Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron. The group was formed in 1946 and is the oldest of the US military’s flying aerobatic teams. The squadron took its nickname back in ‘46 from the Blue Angel nightclub that was around at that time in New York City.

42 Colonies construct them : ANT NESTS

Anthills are actually underground nests. The ants in the colony excavate below ground, resulting in a pile of sand or soil above ground.

45 Anderson Cooper, to Gloria Vanderbilt : SON

Anderson Cooper is a respected news personality on CNN and on various shows around the dial. Among my favorite appearances of his, although he would call them trivial I am sure, was as host of a great reality game show called “The Mole” that aired in 2001. Cooper’s mother was fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt.

Fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt was an heiress to the fortune of the Vanderbilt family of New York. After her father died, and when she was quite young, Gloria was the subject of a custody battle between her mother and her aunt. Her mother was depicted as living a raucous lifestyle, and so Gloria was made a ward of her Aunt Gertrude. The young girl came to side with her Aunt over the years, to the extent that Gloria cut off her mother completely from the family fortune when she came of age. Famously, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is Gloria Vanderbilt’s son with her fourth husband Wyatt Emory Cooper.

46 Network operated by the U.S. Space Force : GPS

The modern Global Positioning System (GPS) system that we use today was built by the US military who received the massive funding needed because of fears during the Cold War of the use of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. We civilians, all round the world, owe a lot to President Ronald Reagan because he directed the military to make GPS technology available to the public for the common good. President Reagan was moved to do so after the Soviet Union shot down KAL flight 007 carrying 269 people, just because the plane strayed accidentally into Soviet airspace.

The United States Space Force (USSF) was established in 1982 as the Air Force Space Command. The USSF became an independent service branch in 2019, although it still falls under the Department of the Air Force.

53 What starts with janeiro, in Rio : ANO

In Portuguese, the “ano” begins in “janeiro” (January).

55 Like mortgagors : IN DEBT

Our word “mortgage” comes from the Old French “mort gaige” which translated as “dead pledge”. Such an arrangement was so called because the “pledge” to repay “dies” when the debt is cleared.

58 Actress Hagen with three Tonys : UTA

Uta Hagen was a German-born American actress. Hagen married Jose Ferrer in 1938, but they were divorced ten years later after it was revealed that she was having a long-running affair with Paul Robeson. Her association with Robeson, a prominent civil rights activist, earned her a spot on the Hollywood Blacklist during the McCarthy Era. This forced her away from film, but towards a successful stage career in New York City.

63 Frothy order : LATTE

The term “latte” is an abbreviation of the Italian “caffelatte” meaning “coffee (and) milk”. Note that in the correct spelling of “latte”, the Italian word for milk; there is no accent over the “e”. An accent is often added by mistake when we use the word in English, perhaps meaning to suggest that the word is French.

64 Symbols often accompanying the phrase “Legalize it” : POT LEAVES

“Potiguaya” is the Mexican-Spanish word for “marijuana leaves”. The slang name “pot” comes from “potiguaya”.

68 Feinted on the ice : DEKED

A deke, also known as a dangle, is a technique used to get past an opponent in ice hockey. “Deke” is a colloquial shortening of the word “decoy”.

69 Adam and Eve’s third child : SETH

According to the Bible, Adam and Eve had several children, although only the first three are mentioned by name: Cain, Abel and Seth.

70 Standard Oil offshoot : ESSO

The Esso brand has its roots in the old Standard Oil company as it uses the initial letters of “Standard” and “Oil” (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but ESSO is still used in many other countries.

Down

1 Gym : PHYS ED

Our word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek “gymnasion” meaning “public place where exercise is taken”. The Greek term comes from “gymnos” meaning “naked”, as that physical training was usually done unclothed in ancient Greece.

2 Burr, famously : DUELER

Aaron Burr was the third vice-president of the US, and served under Thomas Jefferson from 1801 to 1805. In the final year of his term in office, Burr fought an illegal duel and killed his political rival Alexander Hamilton. Burr was charged with several crimes as a result, but those charges were eventually dropped. The Democratic-Republican Party had already decided not to nominate Burr as candidate for vice president to run alongside Jefferson in the 1804 election, largely because the relationship between Vice President Burr and President Jefferson was so poor. The subsequent fallout resulting from the killing of Alexander Hamilton effectively ended Burr’s political career.

3 Genetic variant : ALLELE

A gene is a section of a chromosome that is responsible for a particular characteristic in an organism. For example, one gene may determine eye color and another balding pattern. We have two copies of each gene, one from each of our parents, with each copy known as an allele.

8 Type of socialite officially discontinued in the U.K. in 1958 : DEB

“Deb” is short for “debutante”, which translates from French as “beginner” when referring to a female.

9 It’s a wrap : SARI

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.

11 Flashy car feature? : HIGH BEAM

The high-beam setting on a car’s headlights directs a bright light to the front of the vehicle. The low-beam setting causes the light to “dip” towards the side of the road to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. This causes a few problems for some vacationing drivers in Europe. Many moons ago, I remember taking my car from Ireland (where we drive on the left), over to France (where cars drive on the right) . By law, I had to place adhesive blackout strips over the headlamps so that the lights did not dazzle oncoming traffic.

15 Lowdown : DOPE

Our use of the word “dope” to mean “inside information” probably comes from horse racing. The idea is that a bettor might have information about which horse has been drugged (doped) to influence its performance.

25 Peons : SERFS

A serf was a member of the lowest feudal class, someone attached to land owned by a lord. “Serf” comes from the Latin “servus”, meaning “slave”.

A peon is a lowly worker who has no real control over his/her working conditions. The word “peon” comes into English from Spanish, in which language it has the same meaning.

28 Casino next to the Venetian in Vegas : WYNN

Steve Wynn is a businessman who made most of his fortune building and refurbishing casinos during the resurgence of Las Vegas in the 1990s. Today, Wynn is quite the art collector and has paid record prices for paintings by both Turner and Rembrandt. Wynn stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts in 2018 as he faces dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct.

30 2018 sci-fi prequel : SOLO

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a 2018 installment in the “Star Wars” anthology series of films. This one tells the story of a young Han Solo and his young (190-year-old) sidekick Chewbacca. Solo, famously played by Harrison Ford in the original movies, is portrayed by American actor Alden Ehrenreich.

32 ___ Enterprise : USS

The USS Enterprise is a starship in the “Star Trek” universe (pun!). There have been several generations of starships with the name Enterprise, starting with the vessel numbered NCC-1701, which appeared in the original TV series. My favorite “Star Trek” series is “Next Generation”, which features USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.

37 Like Supreme Court hearings, with “en” : … BANC

“En banc” is a French term, translating as “on a bench”. It refers to the cases in which all the judges of a court hear a case, as opposed to a case heard just by a panel, a subset of the full complement. The phrase is sometimes written as “in banc” in the US.

48 Titular vampire in Anne Rice novels : LESTAT

Lestat de Lioncourt is the central character in Anne Rice’s series of erotic and Gothic novels “The Vampire Chronicles”. Lestat was played by Tom Cruise in the 1994 movie adaptation of Rice’s first novel “Interview with the Vampire”.

50 Parts of a Spanish omelet : HUEVOS

In Spanish, one needs at least one “huevo” (egg) to make an omelet.

51 Father-in-law of Helen of Troy : ATREUS

In Greek mythology, Atreus was the father of Agamemnon and Menelaus. It was Menelaus who married Helen of Troy who was abducted by Paris, and Agamemnon who led the Greeks in the resulting Trojan War.

54 Off-the-wall : OUTRE

The word “outré”, meaning “unconventional, bizarre”, comes to us from French, as one might imagine. It is derived from the verb “outrer” meaning “to overdo, exaggerate”. “Outrer” is also the ultimate root of our word “outrage”.

57 Enterprise voyage : TREK

When Gene Roddenberry first proposed the science fiction series that became “Star Trek”, he marketed it as “Wagon Train to the Stars”, a pioneer-style Western in outer space. In fact, his idea was to produce something more like “Gulliver’s Travels”, as he intended to write episodes that were adventure stories on one level, but morality tales on another. Personally, I think that he best achieved this model with the spin-off series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TNG). If you watch individual episodes you will see thinly disguised treatments of moral issues such as racism, homosexuality, genocide etc. For my money, “The Next Generation” is the best of the whole franchise …

59 Hefty rival : GLAD

Glad is a company making plastic products, especially food containers and trash bags. Glad was launched in 1963 to make Glad Wrap, a polyethylene wrap used to preserve food.

64 Network supported by “Viewers Like You” : PBS

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was founded in 1970, and is my favorite of the broadcast networks. I love PBS’s drama and science shows in particular, and always watch election results coming in with the NewsHour team.

65 ___ Miss of the N.C.A.A. : OLE

“Ole Miss” is the nickname for the University of Mississippi located in Oxford, Mississippi. The name “Ole Miss” dates back to 1897, the first year a student yearbook was published. The graduating class held a competition to name the yearbook and “Ole Miss” emerged as the winner. The name stuck to the yearbook, and also as a nickname for the school itself. The University of Mississippi sports teams have been known as the Rebels since 1936. Prior to 1936, they were known as the Mississippi Flood.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Proto-smartphones, in brief : PDAS
5 It may be flipped in anger, with “the” : … BIRD
9 Companion, in Arabic : SAHIB
14 Performance traditionally accompanied by the ipu heke (double gourd drum) : HULA DANCE
16 Protein-building acid type : AMINO
17 Marley of “Marley & Me,” for one : YELLOW LAB
18 Unbending : RIGID
19 Insomniacs have them : SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
21 A pelican gulper is a type of one : EEL
22 Parts of essential oils : ESTERS
26 It’s a wrap : OBI
27 Didn’t win or lose : DREW
29 Eye ailments : STYES
31 Evian, par exemple : EAU
33 Food item that may be candied : YAM
36 Blue Angels, e.g. : AEROBATS
38 Failing spectacularly : GOING UP IN FLAMES
42 Colonies construct them : ANT NESTS
45 Anderson Cooper, to Gloria Vanderbilt : SON
46 Network operated by the U.S. Space Force : GPS
47 Part of a bar line : STOOL
49 Get red in the face? : CHAP
53 What starts with janeiro, in Rio : ANO
55 Like mortgagors : IN DEBT
58 Actress Hagen with three Tonys : UTA
59 Members of a wartime skywatching corps : GROUND OBSERVERS
63 Frothy order : LATTE
64 Symbols often accompanying the phrase “Legalize it” : POT LEAVES
66 Seriously fancy : ADORE
67 Redacts, as sensitive information (suggested by three of this puzzle’s answers) : BLACKS OUT
68 Feinted on the ice : DEKED
69 Adam and Eve’s third child : SETH
70 Standard Oil offshoot : ESSO

Down

1 Gym : PHYS ED
2 Burr, famously : DUELER
3 Genetic variant : ALLELE
4 Something that’s no good unless it’s closed : SALE
5 Blubbers : BAWLS
6 Some safe harbors : INLETS
7 Electronics company that founded NBC : RCA
8 Type of socialite officially discontinued in the U.K. in 1958 : DEB
9 It’s a wrap : SARI
10 Mexican ally : AMIGO
11 Flashy car feature? : HIGH BEAM
12 New member : INITIATE
13 Gym figures, for short : BODS
15 Lowdown : DOPE
23 Flight tracker info : ETA
24 Alternative to white : RYE
25 Peons : SERFS
28 Casino next to the Venetian in Vegas : WYNN
30 2018 sci-fi prequel : SOLO
32 ___ Enterprise : USS
34 Range on a game box : AGES
35 “Are you giving me no choice?” : MUST I?
37 Like Supreme Court hearings, with “en” : … BANC
38 Shut up : GAG
39 For all to see : ON PARADE
40 Response to rule-breaking : IT’S NOT OK
43 Whole lot : TON
44 Cover some ground? : SOD
48 Titular vampire in Anne Rice novels : LESTAT
50 Parts of a Spanish omelet : HUEVOS
51 Father-in-law of Helen of Troy : ATREUS
52 Target with a toss : PASS TO
54 Off-the-wall : OUTRE
56 Something that might come up after a big meal? : BELCH
57 Enterprise voyage : TREK
59 Hefty rival : GLAD
60 Have to have : NEED
62 Container whose name is pronounced with either a long “a” or an “ah” : VASE
64 Network supported by “Viewers Like You” : PBS
65 ___ Miss of the N.C.A.A. : OLE

4 thoughts on “0923-21 NY Times Crossword 23 Sep 21, Thursday”

  1. 14:49, no errors. About the time I got to 19-Across, I more or less guessed what the gimmick was, but I skipped to 67-Across, looking for the reveal, and it was a big help.

  2. 20:21 Took a while to catch one about the missing letters and didn’t realize they were “sensitive” numbers until the online app essentially highlighted them for me. Several miscues hung me up – TIED vs. DREW; Ant HILLS vs. NESTS; etc. Interesting that the ant nest is actually underground. It’s like that hill almost resembles one from a giant mole also excavating.

    On one of my previous jobs at that major aerospace Co. in Seattle, I got tagged for safeguarding that sensitive data on a particular project. We called it PII – Personally Identifiable Information. The procedures were a real pain in the butt. I lasted a year on that project and was glad to hand it over to someone else. 🙂

  3. 23:40. Getting to this a day late, but better late than never.

    Took me a while to see the theme. For whatever reason I was stuck on the left side of the grid and never bothered to look over to see the blank clues on the right side. Eventually I saw what was going on.

    Pretty impressive construction to drop SSN, DOB and PIN in those black squares.

    Best –

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