1130-21 NY Times Crossword 30 Nov 21, Tuesday

Constructed by: Billy Ouska
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill) Tournaments’ Signs

Themed answers are each common phrases reinterpreted as signs outside a games tournament cited in the clue:

  • 20A Sign outside a Stratego tournament? : CAPTURE THE FLAG
  • 25A Sign outside a Scrabble tournament? : SIT FOR A SPELL
  • 48A Sign outside a Taboo tournament? : DON’T SAY A WORD
  • 56A Sign outside a dominoes tournament? : CONNECT THE DOTS

Bill’s time: 6m 36s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Exam for some coll. seniors : MCAT

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

5 Actress Kurylenko : OLGA

Olga Kurylenko is a Ukrainian actress and model. Kurylenko played the Bond girl Camille Montes in the James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace”.

14 The singer Lorde’s given name : ELLA

“Lorde” is a stage name of the singer-songwriter Ella Yelich-O’Connor from New Zealand. Lorde’s cover version of the great Tears for Fears song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was used in the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013). Her song “Yellow Flicker Beat” is included in the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”.

15 Home of many of the world’s alpacas : PERU

Alpacas are like small llamas, but unlike llamas were never beasts of burden. Alpacas were bred specifically for the fleece. As such, there are no known wild alpacas these days, even in their native Peru.

16 Philadelphia N.F.L.er : EAGLE

The Philadelphia Eagles football team play in Lincoln Financial Stadium (“The Linc”). Lincoln Financial Group paid the princely sum of just under $140 million for the naming rights of the new stadium while it was under construction in 2002.

17 Cadillac rims? : CEES

The “rims”, start and finish, of the word “Cadillac” are letters C (cees).

The Cadillac Automobile Company was founded in 1902. The company was named for French explorer Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who founded the city of Detroit in 1701. The brand name was taken over by GM in 1909. Over the next thirty years, GM did a great job establishing Cadillac as the luxury car one just had to own.

19 Bygone Italian coins : LIRAS

The word “lira” is used in a number of countries for currency. “Lira” comes from the Latin for “pound” and is derived from the British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. For example, the lira (plural “lire”) was the official currency of Italy before the country changed over to the euro in 2002.

20 Sign outside a Stratego tournament? : CAPTURE THE FLAG

The kid’s game “Capture the Flag” has gone hi-tech. There are computer versions of the game now, as well as an intriguing “urban game” version. In the urban game, players head out into the city streets and play in teams while communicating by cell phone.

The wonderful board game called Stratego derives from a traditional Chinese game called “Jungle” or “Animal Chess”. The major difference between Stratego and Jungle is that in the latter, the identity of the pieces is not hidden from one’s opponent.

23 Greek goddess of wisdom : 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.

24 2011 Jay-Z/Kanye West hit that pays tribute to singer Redding : OTIS

Otis Redding is often referred to as the “King of Soul”, and what a voice he had. Like so many of the greats in the world of popular music it seems, Redding was killed in a plane crash, in 1967 when he was just 26 years old. Just three days earlier he had recorded what was to be his biggest hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”.

25 Sign outside a Scrabble tournament? : SIT FOR A SPELL

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

31 Web portal owned by Verizon : AOL

Telecom giant Verizon acquired AOL in 2015, and Yahoo! in 2017. Just after the latter purchase, Verizon launched Oath, a subsidiary company that served as the umbrella under which AOl and Yahoo! continued to operate. Oath was renamed to Verizon Media Group after a corporate reorganization at the end of 2018.

The telecommunications company that we know today as Verizon was founded in 1983 as Bell Atlantic, and was one of the “Baby Bells” that were formed after the breakup of AT&T. Bell Atlantic merged with fellow Baby Bell NYNEX in 1997, and then merged with GTE in 2000 to form Verizon. The new company name is a portmanteau of “veritas” (“truth” in Latin) and “horizon”.

40 Astronomical event : NOVA

A nova (plural “novae”) is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness of a nova is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different from a nova. A supernova is a very bright burst of light and energy created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a supernova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.

48 Sign outside a Taboo tournament? : DON’T SAY A WORD

Taboo is a guessing game that was introduced by Parker Brothers in 1989. Players must encourage their teammates to guess a word on a card, without using that word or related words defined on the card. It’s a fun game that’s played regularly around here …

51 Mystique : 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”.

52 Many a plaza has one : STATUE

“Plaza” is a Spanish word meaning “square, place”.

56 Sign outside a dominoes tournament? : CONNECT THE DOTS

White masks with black spots were commonly seen in the old Venetian Carnival. The masks were known as “domini”. The domini lent their name to the game of dominoes, due to the similarity in appearance between the mask and a domino tile.

60 Finland’s largest company by revenue : NOKIA

I do enjoy classical guitar music, but there isn’t a huge choice on CD. There is one very special piece called “Gran Vals” by Francisco Tárrega, written in 1902. This piece has a unique reputation as it contains a phrase that was once the most listened-to piece of music in the whole world. Just a few bars into the work one can hear the celebrated Nokia ringtone!

62 Certain sausage, informally : BRAT

A bratwurst (sometimes “brat” in the US) is a German sausage. The name comes from “brät-” meaning “finely chopped meat”, and “Wurst” meaning “sausage”.

65 Workplace org. created in 1970 : OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 during the Nixon administration. It is a direct successor to the Bureau of Labor Standards that dealt with some work safety issues since its founding in 1934. OSHA regulates workplaces in the private sector and regulates just one government agency, namely the US Postal Service.

68 Mafia V.I.P.s : DONS

In the Mafia, a don is a head of a family, someone who might order a hit, a killing.

Down

1 Destination for many pilgrims : MECCA

We’ve been using “mecca” to mean “a place one holds sacred” since the 1850s, and have since extended the usage to include any center of activity. The term derives from the sacred city of Islam, the birthplace of Muhammad.

3 The beginning of the Hebrew world? : ALEPH

Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and beth is the second.

6 Start of an article, in journalist 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.

7 Moxie : GRIT

Back as far as 1876, “Moxie” was a brand name of a “medicine” peddled with the claim that it “built up your nerve”. In 1924, “Moxie” was registered as a trademark for a bitter, non-alcoholic beverage (no more claims of nerve-building). We’ve used the term “moxie” to mean “nerve” ever since …

8 Wilde or Wilder : AUTHOR

Oscar Wilde was an Irish writer who led a very public life in his adopted home of London. Although he was a prolific writer of many forms of literature, Wilde penned only one novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. He was perhaps more renowned in his own time as a dramatist. Several of his plays are performed regularly today, including “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, “An Ideal Husband” and “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Wilde’s last work was a poem titled “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, which recounted his time in prison after being convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years’ hard labor. Oscar Wilde died in 1900 at the age of 46 in Paris, destitute.

Thornton Wilder was a playwright and novelist from Madison, Wisconsin. Wilder won three Pulitzer Prizes, including one for his 1937 play “Our Town”.

11 Noted mausoleum site : AGRA

The most famous mausoleum in the world has to be the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal was built after the death of the fourth wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal (hence the name of the mausoleum). The poor woman died in childbirth delivering the couple’s 14th child. When Shah Jahan himself passed away 35 years later, he was buried beside his wife Mumtaz, in the Taj Mahal.

12 Smelting byproduct : SLAG

The better ores are processed in a blast furnace, to extract the metal. The waste from this process is called “slag”. Slag does contain some residual metal and it can be processed further in a slag furnace to extract the balance. Slag furnaces also accept lower-quality ores as a raw material.

13 “___ a real nowhere man” (Beatles lyric) : HE’S

“Nowhere Man” is an early song by the Beatles, one released in 1966. “Nowhere Man” was one of the first songs that John Lennon wrote that was more philosophical than romantic in nature, indicative of songs to come. Apparently, Lennon himself was the inspiration for the “Nowhere Man” persona.

22 Data for airport limo drivers, for short : ETAS

The word “limousine” derives from the name of the French city of Limoges. The area around Limoges is called the Limousin, and it gave its name to a cloak hood worn by local shepherds. In early motor cars, a driver would sit outside in the weather while the passengers would sit in the covered compartment. The driver would often wear a limousin-style protective hood, giving rise to that type of transportation being called a “limousine”. Well, that’s how the story goes …

26 Destroy, as a motherboard : FRY

The motherboard is the main printed circuit board in devices such as portable computers and smartphones. Usually included on the motherboard are essential components such as the central processing unit (CPU, memory chips, and connectors used by peripherals.

27 The end of the Greek world? : OMEGA

The Greek alphabet starts with the letter “alpha”, and ends with the letter “omega”.

28 Carbon compound : ENOL

An enol is an alkene with a hydroxyl group, and so is part-alkene and part-alcohol. The term “enol”, therefore, is a portmanteau of “alkene” and “alcohol”.

29 First name in denim : LEVI

Levi Strauss was the founder of the first company in the world to manufacture blue jeans. Levi Strauss & Co. opened in 1853 in San Francisco. Strauss and his business partner were awarded a patent in 1873 for the use of copper rivets to strengthen points of strain on working pants.

30 Exam for some coll. seniors : LSAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

37 Element named after a group in Greek myth : TITANIUM

The chemical element titanium is a silver-colored metal. Discovered in 1791 by British clergyman and mineralogist William Gregor, the element is named for the Titans of Greek mythology. Titanium has the highest tensile strength to density ratio of any metallic element, so it is strong and yet relatively light. As a result, titanium and titanium alloys are used extensively in aircraft and spacecraft.

42 Overwhelming amount : TSUNAMI

Even though the terms “tidal wave” and “tsunami” are often used interchangeably by the lay person, scientists use the terms to describe two related but different phenomena. A tsunami is an ocean wave triggered by the large displacement of water caused by a large earthquake (usually). A tidal wave is a wave triggered by the displacement of water under the gravitational influence of the Sun, Moon and Earth.

43 Notoriously fast starter : HARE

“The Tortoise and the Hare” is perhaps the most famous fable attributed to Aesop. The cocky hare takes a nap during a race against the tortoise, and the tortoise sneaks past the finish line for the win while his speedier friend is sleeping.

45 Where you might bump into a metal fan : MOSH PIT

Moshing (also “slam dancing”) is the pushing and shoving that takes place in the audience at a concert (usually a punk or heavy metal concert). The area directly in front of the stage is known as the mosh pit. When a performer does a “stage dive”, it is into (or I suppose “onto”) the mosh pit. It doesn’t sound like fun to me. Injuries are commonplace in the mosh pit, and deaths are not unknown.

46 Art Deco icon : ERTE

“Erté” was the pseudonym of French (Russian-born) artist and designer Romain de Tirtoff. “Erté” is the French pronunciation of his initials “R.T.” Erté’s diverse portfolio of work included costumes and sets for the “Ziegfeld Follies” of 1923, productions of the Parisian cabaret show “Folies Bergère”, as well as the 1925 epic movie “Ben-Hur”. Erté’s most famous work by far is an image titled “Symphony in Black”. It depicts a tall and slender woman dressed in black, holding a black dog on a leash.

50 Flabby male physique (that’s not exclusive to fathers) : DAD BOD

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

53 Work of art that goes to waist? : TORSO

“Torso” (plural “torsi”) is an Italian word meaning the “trunk of a statue”, and is a term that we imported into English.

54 Beehive State resident : UTAHN

When Mormon pioneers were settling what is today the state of Utah, they referred to the area as Deseret, a word that means “beehive” according to the Book of Mormon. Today Utah is known as the Beehive State and there is a beehive symbol on the Utah state flag. In 1959, “Industry” was even chosen as the state motto, for the term’s association with the beehive.

55 These, in Madrid : ESTAS

Madrid is the most populous city in Spain, and is the nation’s capital. It is located very close to the geographical center of the country. Madrid is the second-largest city in the European Union by population, after Berlin. People from Madrid called themselves Madrileños.

57 Vegetable that’s often fried : OKRA

Okra seeds can be processed just like coffee beans, roasted and ground to make a coffee-like beverage that contains no caffeine. Okra seeds were a popular substitute for coffee beans when the supply of coffee from South America was disrupted during the American Civil War.

59 One seeing red? : TORO

Bulls, like all cattle, are color blind, so the cape that’s used in bullfighting isn’t colored red to attract the unfortunate beast. Rather, it’s the movement of the cape that causes the bull to charge. The red is chosen just because it is a dramatic color.

In Spanish, a “toro” (bull) attacks the “capa” (cape) in a bullfight.

60 Home to many cybersafety experts, in brief : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) runs an annual Codebreaker Challenge that is aimed mainly at the student population. As best I can tell, the focus of the challenge is reverse software engineering. Checking out the Codebreaker Challenge website suggests that the NSA runs this program in order to identify and attract potential new employees.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Exam for some coll. seniors : MCAT
5 Actress Kurylenko : OLGA
9 Stow away : STASH
14 The singer Lorde’s given name : ELLA
15 Home of many of the world’s alpacas : PERU
16 Philadelphia N.F.L.er : EAGLE
17 Cadillac rims? : CEES
18 Work at a news desk, maybe : EDIT
19 Bygone Italian coins : LIRAS
20 Sign outside a Stratego tournament? : CAPTURE THE FLAG
23 Greek goddess of wisdom : ATHENA
24 2011 Jay-Z/Kanye West hit that pays tribute to singer Redding : OTIS
25 Sign outside a Scrabble tournament? : SIT FOR A SPELL
31 Web portal owned by Verizon : AOL
34 Contract period : TERM
35 Dazzles : SHINES
36 Facebook Messenger activity : CHAT
38 “You rang?” : YES?
40 Astronomical event : NOVA
41 Among, as friends : IN WITH
44 Up for anything : GAME
47 Happenin’, modernly : LIT
48 Sign outside a Taboo tournament? : DON’T SAY A WORD
51 Mystique : AURA
52 Many a plaza has one : STATUE
56 Sign outside a dominoes tournament? : CONNECT THE DOTS
60 Finland’s largest company by revenue : NOKIA
61 Circular earring : HOOP
62 Certain sausage, informally : BRAT
63 Play, as a guitar : STRUM
64 Doughnuts, topologically : TORI
65 Workplace org. created in 1970 : OSHA
66 “Same with me” : AS AM I
67 Schedule opening : SLOT
68 Mafia V.I.P.s : DONS

Down

1 Destination for many pilgrims : MECCA
2 Shoe spike : CLEAT
3 The beginning of the Hebrew world? : ALEPH
4 Takes a first bite of : TASTES
5 Do surgery : OPERATE
6 Start of an article, in journalist lingo : LEDE
7 Moxie : GRIT
8 Wilde or Wilder : AUTHOR
9 Not willing to share : SELFISH
10 Dizzying decline : TAILSPIN
11 Noted mausoleum site : AGRA
12 Smelting byproduct : SLAG
13 “___ a real nowhere man” (Beatles lyric) : HE’S
21 Mile or mole : UNIT
22 Data for airport limo drivers, for short : ETAS
26 Destroy, as a motherboard : FRY
27 The end of the Greek world? : OMEGA
28 Carbon compound : ENOL
29 First name in denim : LEVI
30 Exam for some coll. seniors : LSAT
31 Very harsh, as comments : ACID
32 Cry of horror : OH NO!
33 Spot for a campaign sign : LAWN
37 Element named after a group in Greek myth : TITANIUM
39 Noticed : SAW
42 Overwhelming amount : TSUNAMI
43 Notoriously fast starter : HARE
45 Where you might bump into a metal fan : MOSH PIT
46 Art Deco icon : ERTE
49 Sails in style, in a way : YACHTS
50 Flabby male physique (that’s not exclusive to fathers) : DAD BOD
53 Work of art that goes to waist? : TORSO
54 Beehive State resident : UTAHN
55 These, in Madrid : ESTAS
56 Camp beds : COTS
57 Vegetable that’s often fried : OKRA
58 Level or lever : TOOL
59 One seeing red? : TORO
60 Home to many cybersafety experts, in brief : NSA

12 thoughts on “1130-21 NY Times Crossword 30 Nov 21, Tuesday”

  1. 9:43. Never played Stratego or Taboo, nor do I know anything about the games so those theme answers were guesswork….which actually IS part of the game Taboo.

    Still recovering from an insane day yesterday dealing with the Nevada DMV. I accidentally threw away my drivers license (a story of stupidity I’ll save for another day) and was working on getting a duplicate made. I needed it fast as I’m going to Houston tomorrow on business and need to rent a car, something you can’t do without a license no matter what status you have with Hertz.

    The best way is to do it all online. However, I saw you need your license number to do it. When I checked how to find it, the site just told me where on the license to find it. Of course I don’t have my license and we get into a chicken/egg thing….

    I was giving up and decided to call Hertz and ask if there was any way I could rent without my license, being a gold member and having rented at that airport a thousand times. Uhhh….no. Passport? Uhhhh….no.

    While looking all over Hertz’ site, I saw in my profile that my license number is in there. But only the last 4 numbers were showing. I called the company back, they switched me to another dept and they gave me the entire number. Hooray!? Right? Wrong.

    I go back to the DMV site, all excited about now being armed with my license number, and start setting up my account so I can get a temporary license. Then I see they also ask for the date of issue. Huh?? I sure as hell don’t know that. So I call the DMV. Yikes. It takes me an hour of dialing just to get in the phone queue (finally) which was another 45 minute wait to speak to a human being.

    I explained to the woman my plight, but she said she could not give me the date of issue of my license for security reasons. Sheesh. She asked if I knew the year I got it. I did. Then she asked if I knew the month. I did not, but she gave me enough hints that I finally got it.

    Then I had to figure out the day of the month. Bureaucracy at its finest said I could have three guesses as to the day, and she could tell me if I was right or wrong. No more. This is actually a government policy to give me no more than three guesses!!?? I argued that fact for about 5 more minutes, but I got nowhere. So I just said ok – how about the 6th?…(drumroll)… Correct! Got it on the first try – a 1/30 shot (June was the month). Went back to the site, ordered a duplicate and was able to print out a temporary license. Sheesh (again).

    So I had to dig my license number up via my Hertz profile, and then I had to GUESS the day of the month of the date of issue. That stroke of luck is the ONLY reason I can rent a car tomorrow when I get to Houston.

    Lesson learned. Keep a copy of your license for such occasions, or better yet just don’t throw it away in the first place!!

    Apologies for venting at such length, but it was a traumatic day…

    Best –

    1. Two years ago my wife and I made a trip to the east coast to see some plays in NYC and visit some long-time friends – one near Albany and one outside Philly. To really shorten the story – it turns out that the car we rented from Newark airport was reported stolen in Texas (it had Louisiana commercial plates).

      This came home to roost as we were driving N of NYC when police pulled us over at gunpoint, 7 police cars instantly materialized as well as a chopper (we got stopped next to the police HQ on the turnpike). We both got frisked, my wife temporarily cuffed, and us on the side of the road for an hour trying to straighten it out. The ACTUAL car that was stolen was one number off from our plate. Not sure who made the mistake, but we had one heck of a story to tell. Welcome to NY, the police said. HAH!!

      I told my wife that’s why I don’t go east anymore.

      Hope your rental is uneventful.

    2. Reading this story 5 weeks hence is like having a flashback to a nightmare. This whole thing feels like it happened 5 YEARS ago, not 5 weeks ago.

      Best –

  2. 8;50 no apologies required Jeff, some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the hydrant. Glad it worked out for ya!

  3. 6:53 No issues. Seems like there could have also been a 15 long answer to a clue “Sign at a Xword tournament” –> FILL IN THE BLANKS. That would have been a capper.

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