1011-21 NY Times Crossword 11 Oct 21, Monday

Constructed by: Ben Pall
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme It’s Your Choice

Themed answers are all in the format “x IT OR y IT”:

  • 17A “This is my final offer” : TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
  • 25A Like something that’s polarizing : LOVE IT OR HATE IT
  • 43A “Get out of the way!” : MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!
  • 57A Having no middle ground between success and failure : MAKE IT OR BREAK IT

Bill’s time: 6m 51s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Large seashell : CONCH

Although “conch” is now used as a generic term for largish sea snails and their shells, the true conch belongs to a specific group of gastropods. The “meat” is very popular, and so the conch is the second most popular edible snail after “escargot”. The conch shell can be used as a wind instrument, and the true conch is also a good source for pearls.

6 “Uncle ___ Wants You” : SAM

The Uncle Sam personification of the United States was first used during the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” term was so widely accepted that even the Germans used it during WWII, choosing the code word “Samland” for “America” in intelligence communiques.

14 Director Kurosawa : AKIRA

Akira Kurosawa was an Oscar-winning Japanese film director. His most famous movie to us in the West has to be “The Seven Samurai”, the inspiration for “The Magnificent Seven” starring Yul Brynner, and indeed a basis for “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”.

16 Reddish-brown dye : HENNA

Henna has been used for centuries as a dye, for leather and wool as well as hair and skin. In modern days, henna is often used for temporary tattoos.

22 Attire for Caesar : TOGA

In ancient Rome, the classical attire known as a toga (plural “togae” or “togas”) was usually worn over a tunic. The tunic was made from linen, and the toga itself was a piece of cloth about twenty feet long made from wool. The toga could only be worn by men, and only if those men were Roman citizens. The female equivalent of the toga was called a “stola”.

32 Licoricelike flavoring : ANISE

The essential oil in the anise plant is anethole. Anethole has a licorice-like flavor, and is used extensively in cooking and to flavor several distilled alcoholic drinks.

36 Opening of an article, in journalism lingo : LEDE

The opening paragraph in any work of literature is often just called “the lead”. In the world of journalism, this is usually referred to as “the lede”. The derivative phrase “bury the lede” means to fail to stress the most important aspect of a story.

37 Put off until later, as a motion : TABLE

These “tabling” and “shelving” idioms drive me crazy, because they are often misused. If a topic is shelved, it is set aside. If a topic is tabled, it is brought “off the shelf” and put “on the table” for discussion. I know that language evolves, but I think that it should at least make sense …

40 King Kong or Donkey Kong : APE

1933’s “King Kong” really is a classic. It stars Fay Wray as the young woman (Ann Darrow) with whom Kong falls in love. Wray was very interested in the role as she was told that she would be playing opposite the “tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood”. She thought it might be Clark Gable. At least that’s how the story goes …

The first video game featuring the ape called Donkey Kong was created in 1981. That same game introduced the world to the character known as Mario, four years before the game Super Mario Bros became such a big hit.

42 Official language of Iran : FARSI

“Farsi” is one of the local names used for the Persian language.

48 Tip (over) : KEEL

To keel over is to capsize, to turn a boat over so that her keel lies up from the surface. We also use the phrase “keel over” figuratively to mean “collapse, faint”.

49 D.C. mayor Muriel : BOWSER

Muriel Bowser was elected mayor of the District of Columbia in 2014, and assumed office the following January. In 2018, she became the first woman to be re-elected to the position.

52 Not-quite-in-shape male physiques : DAD BODS

A “dad bod” is a man’s body that is softly rounded. Well, that’s the description I like to use …

59 Country singer Steve : EARLE

Steve Earle is an American songwriter and performer, and someone with a reputation of having lived a hard life. Earle’s brushes with the law and drug addiction problems have earned him the nickname “the hardcore troubadour”.

61 German river to the North Sea : RHINE

The river running through Europe that we know in English as the Rhine, is called “Rhein” in German, “Rhin” in French and “Rijn” in Dutch.

62 Material for Cinderella’s slipper : GLASS

The folktale usually known as “Cinderella” was first published by French author Charles Perrault in 1697, although it was later included by the Brothers Grimm in their famous 1812 collection. The storyline of the tale may date back as far as the days of ancient Greece. A common alternative title to the story is “The Little Glass Slipper”.

63 “On the Basis of ___” (film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg) : SEX

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) served on the US Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg was the second woman to join the Court, and was nominated by President Bill Clinton. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. During that time she did not miss one day on the bench. In 2009 Justice Ginsburg had surgery for pancreatic cancer, and was back to work 12 days later. She had left-lung lobectomy to remove cancerous nodules in 2018, which forced Justice Ginsburg to miss oral argument in January 2019, for the first time since joining the court 25 years earlier. She finally succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2020. Much of Ginsburg’s life is recounted in the excellent 2018 movie “On the Basis of Sex”.

Down

1 Actress Blanchett : CATE

Cate Blanchett is a great actress from Australia, and a winner of an Academy Award for playing Katherine Hepburn in “The Aviator”. Winning for that role made Blanchett the first person to win an Academy Award for playing an actor (Hepburn) who had also won an Oscar. Now that, that is trivial information …

3 Brand with a swoosh logo : NIKE

I remember seeing a lady named Carolyn Davidson on the television show “I’ve Got a Secret”. Davidson created the Nike “swoosh” back in 1971 when she was a design student at Portland State. She did it as freelance work for Blue Ribbon Sports, a local company introducing a new line of athletic footwear. The “swoosh” is taken from the wing of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. Years later, BRS changed its name to Nike, so I suppose the company should be grateful to Carolyn for both the great design, and a great company name.

8 Small mammal that lives mostly underground : MOLE

One of the more commonly known facts about my native Ireland is that there are no snakes in the country (outside of politics, that is). A less known fact is that there are no moles either. There are plenty of snakes and moles in Britain, just a few miles away. Over a pint we tend to give the credit to Saint Patrick, but the last ice age is more likely the responsible party …

9 Homes in the Alps : CHALETS

“Chalet” is a Swiss-French name for an alpine cottage.

10 Adam ___, longtime panelist on “The Voice” : LEVINE

Adam Levine is the lead vocalist of the pop rock band Maroon 5. Levine also served as one of the coaches on the reality show “The Voice” from 2011 through 2019.

“The Voice” is yet another reality television show. It is a singing competition in which the judges hear the contestants without seeing them in the first round. The judges then take on chosen contestants as coaches for the remaining rounds. “The Voice” is a highly successful worldwide franchise that originated in the Netherlands as “The Voice of Holland”.

11 Half of the digits in binary code : ONES

We use a base-ten numbering system, with ten digits (0 – 9). The binary system, or base-two, uses just two digits (0 & 1). The binary system is used at a fundamental level in computing, because the number 0 and 1 can be represented by microcircuits being switched “on” or “off”.

12 Cubit or karat : UNIT

The ancient unit of length called a cubit was chosen as the length of the forearm. In some cultures a cubit was divided into 7 palms, the width of the hand excluding the thumb.

A karat (also “carat”, the spelling outside of North America) is a measure of the purity of gold alloys, with 24-karat representing pure gold.

13 Pic that might use 16-Across : TAT
(16A Reddish-brown dye : HENNA)

The word “tattoo” (often shortened to “tat”) was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word “tatau” into our “tattoo”. Tattoos are sometimes referred to as “ink”.

19 Command to the helmsman from Jean-Luc Picard : ENGAGE!

When I think of words spoken by Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the TV show “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, the first quote to come to mind is his catchphrase “Make it so”. The second quote that comes to mind is the introduction that is spoken during the opening credits:

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before!

This introduction comes from the lines spoken by Captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” series, but those lines have been updated. Kirk’s “five year mission” became “continuing mission”, and Kirk’s “no man” became “no one”. However, the famous split infinitive “to boldly go” was left in place, in all its glory.

23 Purchase at the Met museum, maybe : ART BOOK

New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (“the Met”) was founded in 1870 by a group of private citizens. The current museum is huge, with 2 million square feet of floor space.

25 In ___ land : LA-LA

“La-la land” is a euphemism for a state of unconsciousness or a dreamworld.

26 Time in New York when it’s noon in Chicago : ONE PM

Local solar time was replaced with standard time zones due to the increasing use of rail travel and telecommunications as the variations in local solar times became somewhat inconvenient. Time zones in the US vary in hourly increments, but in some parts of the world a 30-minute or even 15-minute difference can apply.

27 Feature introduced to the iPhone in 2009 : VIDEO

Apple started development of the iPhone in 2004 in collaboration with Cingular Wireless (now AT&T Mobility). The confidential program was given the name “Project Purple”, and took thirty months to complete at a cost of about $150 million. The iPhone was introduced in 2007 at the Macworld convention in San Francisco.

29 Rogue computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey” : HAL

In Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey” (famously adapted for the big screen as “2001: A Space Odyssey”) the computer system that went rogue was called HAL 9000, or simply “HAL”. HAL stands for “Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer”. Even though Clarke denied it, there’s a good argument that can be made that the acronym HAL is a veiled reference to IBM, the big player in the world of computing at the time of the novel’s publication (1968). The acronym HAL is just a one-letter shift from the initials “IBM”.

31 Former Hawaii representative Gabbard : TULSI

Tulsi Gabbard was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2012, and so became the first Hindo member of Congress. She was born in American Samoa, and relocated with her family at a very young age to Hawaii. Gabbard enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard in 2003, served a tour of duty in Iraq, and continues in the service at the rank of major. She is a Democrat, and campaigned to become the party’s nominee for US president in the 2020 election.

37 W.C. : TOILET

When I was growing up in Ireland, a bathroom was a room that had a bath and no toilet. The separate room with the commode was called the toilet or sometimes the W.C. (the water closet). Apparently the term “closet” was used because in the 1800s when homeowners started installing toilets indoors they often displaced clothes and linens in a closet, as a closet was the right size to take the commode.

38 Tiny builder of tunnels and hills : ANT

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

39 Some college grads, for short : BAS

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

41 Hit 2012 musical about paperboys : NEWSIES

“Newsies” is a 1992 musical drama film that is based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899. Starring in the film are Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret. Back in the late 1800s, “newsies” were young homeless children selling newspapers as a living. The boys organized themselves and went on strike for two weeks in protest against the money they were paid. The strike was successful and the rates were raised.

45 Big name in DVD rental kiosks : REDBOX

Redbox is known for renting DVDs from automated retail kiosks placed in locations such as grocery stores and fast food restaurants. Perhaps in an obvious move, Redbox now offers a video streaming service called “Redbox Instant”, a joint-venture with Verizon.

46 Titular Shakespearean king : LEAR

Shakespeare was inspired to write his famous drama “King Lear” by the legend of “Leir of Britain”, the story of a mythological Celtic king.

49 Biblical false god : BAAL

The name “Baal” was used for several gods and sometimes human officials by ancient Semitic peoples. In the Hebrew Bible, Baal is notably cited as a false god. As a result, we sometimes use the term “baal” today to mean a false god or an idol.

50 Vegetable used to thicken stews : OKRA

The plant known as okra is mainly grown for its edible green pods. The pods are said to resemble “ladies’ fingers”, which is an alternative name for the plant. Okra is known as “ngombo” in Bantu, a name that might give us the word “gumbo”, the name for the name of the southern Louisiana stew that includes okra as a key ingredient.

53 Thai currency : BAHT

The baht is the currency of Thailand. One baht is subdivided into 100 satang.

54 1930s migrant : OKIE

“Okies” is a derogatory term used during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s for farming families who migrated from Oklahoma (hence the name), Arkansas, Kansas and Texas in search of agricultural jobs in California. The road used by many of these migrant families was Route 66, which is also called “Mother Road”.

57 Actress Ryan : MEG

Meg Ryan is the stage name of the actress Margaret Mary Hyra. Ryan’s big break came with the excellent 1989 movie “When Harry Met Sally …”, from which she went on to star in some of the most popular romantic comedies ever made.

58 ___ v. Wade : ROE

Roe v. Wade was decided in a US District Court in Texas in 1970, and reached the Supreme Court on appeal. The basic decision by the Supreme Court was that a woman’s constitutional right to privacy applied to an abortion, but that this right had to be balanced with a state’s interest in protecting an unborn child and a mother’s health. The Court further defined that the state’s interest became stronger with each trimester of a pregnancy. So, in the first trimester the woman’s right to privacy outweighed any state interest. In the second trimester the state’s interest in maternal health was deemed to be strong enough to allow state regulation of abortion for the sake of the mother. In the third trimester the viability of the fetus dictated that the state’s interest in the unborn child came into play, so states could regulate or prohibit abortions, except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger. I’m no lawyer, but that’s my understanding of the initial Supreme Court decision …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Large seashell : CONCH
6 “Uncle ___ Wants You” : SAM
9 Social influence : CLOUT
14 Director Kurosawa : AKIRA
15 Uncle: Sp. : TIO
16 Reddish-brown dye : HENNA
17 “This is my final offer” : TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
20 What may have the solution to your vision problems? : EYE DROP
21 Sign up : ENLIST
22 Attire for Caesar : TOGA
24 Next-___ technology : GEN
25 Like something that’s polarizing : LOVE IT OR HATE IT
32 Licoricelike flavoring : ANISE
33 Mentions by name, in a tweet : TAGS
34 Word after “That’s my” or “right on” : … CUE
36 Opening of an article, in journalism lingo : LEDE
37 Put off until later, as a motion : TABLE
39 Lip service? : BALM
40 King Kong or Donkey Kong : APE
41 Forbidden action : NO-NO
42 Official language of Iran : FARSI
43 “Get out of the way!” : MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!
47 Bird in a barn : OWL
48 Tip (over) : KEEL
49 D.C. mayor Muriel : BOWSER
52 Not-quite-in-shape male physiques : DAD BODS
57 Having no middle ground between success and failure : MAKE IT OR BREAK IT
59 Country singer Steve : EARLE
60 Try to win over romantically : WOO
61 German river to the North Sea : RHINE
62 Material for Cinderella’s slipper : GLASS
63 “On the Basis of ___” (film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg) : SEX
64 Like some hills and prices : STEEP

Down

1 Actress Blanchett : CATE
2 “Sure, why not” : OKAY
3 Brand with a swoosh logo : NIKE
4 Good reputation, in slang : CRED
5 Ponytail necessity : HAIR TIE
6 Halting, as rush-hour traffic : STOP-GO
7 Put on TV : AIR
8 Small mammal that lives mostly underground : MOLE
9 Homes in the Alps : CHALETS
10 Adam ___, longtime panelist on “The Voice” : LEVINE
11 Half of the digits in binary code : ONES
12 Cubit or karat : UNIT
13 Pic that might use 16-Across : TAT
18 Play a trumpet, e.g. : TOOT
19 Command to the helmsman from Jean-Luc Picard : ENGAGE!
23 Purchase at the Met museum, maybe : ART BOOK
25 In ___ land : LA-LA
26 Time in New York when it’s noon in Chicago : ONE PM
27 Feature introduced to the iPhone in 2009 : VIDEO
28 Opposite of WNW : ESE
29 Rogue computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey” : HAL
30 “You have my sympathy” : I CARE
31 Former Hawaii representative Gabbard : TULSI
35 Send off, as rays : EMIT
37 W.C. : TOILET
38 Tiny builder of tunnels and hills : ANT
39 Some college grads, for short : BAS
41 Hit 2012 musical about paperboys : NEWSIES
42 Documents, Downloads, Desktop, etc. : FOLDERS
44 A, E, I, O, U … and sometimes Y : VOWELS
45 Big name in DVD rental kiosks : REDBOX
46 Titular Shakespearean king : LEAR
49 Biblical false god : BAAL
50 Vegetable used to thicken stews : OKRA
51 Counterpart of columns : ROWS
53 Thai currency : BAHT
54 1930s migrant : OKIE
55 Have a nice meal : DINE
56 Any rung on a ladder : STEP
57 Actress Ryan : MEG
58 ___ v. Wade : ROE

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