0315-22 NY Times Crossword 15 Mar 22, Tuesday

Constructed by: Michael Lieberman
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: It’s the Pits

Themed answers all feature PITS:

  • 58A “Awful!” … or a hint to the common element of 17-, 23-, 36- and 50-Across : IT’S THE PITS
  • 17A Classic martini garnish : GREEN OLIVE
  • 23A Locale for baccarat or roulette : CASINO FLOOR
  • 36A Daytona International Speedway, for one : NASCAR TRACK
  • 50A Philharmonic’s home : CONCERT HALL

Bill’s time: 6m 20s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 90° from norte : ESTE

The cardinal directions in Spanish are “norte” (north), “este” (east), “sur” (south) and “oeste” (west).

5 Bit in Bartlett’s : QUOTE

“Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” is a popular reference work containing tons of quotations. Bartlett’s was first issued in 1855, and as such is the longest-lived collection of quotations that we have available to us. The book started as a private list of quotes gathered by John Bartlett who ran the University Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He kept the list as he was always being asked “who said?” by customers.

10 Dogs’ “dogs” : PAWS

“Dogs” is a slang term meaning “feet”. I couldn’t unearth the etymology though …

14 Start of a description of a nursery rhyme spider : … ITSY

The Itsy Bitsy Spider crawled up the water spout.
Down came the rain, and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain,
And the Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the spout again.

15 Remove from a U.P.S. package, maybe : UNBOX

United Parcel Service (UPS) is based in Sandy Springs, Georgia and has its own airline that operates out of Louisville, Kentucky. UPS often goes by the nickname “Brown”, because of its brown delivery trucks and brown uniforms.

17 Classic martini garnish : GREEN OLIVE

The olive tree developed in and around the Mediterranean Basin, but has been cultivated in many locations around the world for thousands of years. The fruit of the olive tree is prized as a foodstuff, as well as a source of olive oil. Our word “oil” ultimately derives from the Greek “elaia” meaning “olive”.

The term “martini” probably takes its name from the “Martini & Rossi” brand of dry vermouth, although no one seems to be completely sure. What is clear is that despite the Martini name originating in Italy, the martini drink originated in the US. The original martini was made with gin and sweet vermouth, but someone specifying a “dry” martini was given gin and dry vermouth. Nowadays we use dry vermouth for all martinis, and the term “dry” has become a reference to how little vermouth is included in the drink. Famously, Noël Coward liked his drink very dry and said that a perfect martini is made by “filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy”. The German-American journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken referred to the martini as “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet”.

19 Laura of 2017’s “Twin Peaks” : DERN

Actress Laura Dern is the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Among her many notable roles, Laura Dern played the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the 2008 movie “Recount”, and Dr. Ellie Sattler in the 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park”.

“Twin Peaks” is an ABC TV drama about an FBI murder investigation in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The show originally ran for just two seasons, from 1990 to 1991. There followed a 1992 feature film called “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me”, and Showtime came up with “Twin Peaks: The Return” that started airing in 2017. I haven’t seen any incarnations of the show, but I hear good things …

20 Reason to get gussied up : HOT DATE

To gussy up is to dress showily. The term “gussy” was a slang term that was used to describe an overly-dressed person.

21 Rapper with the line “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” : JAY-Z

Jay-Z, as well as being a successful and very rich rap artist, is married to singer Beyoncé. Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter in Brooklyn, New York. As Carter was growing up, he was nicknamed “Jazzy”, a reference to his interest in music. “Jazzy” evolved into the stage name “Jay-Z”. Jay-Z and Beyoncé have a daughter named Blue Ivy Carter, and twins named Rumi and Sir Carter.

22 “Conan” channel : TBS

“Conan” was a late-night talk show on TBS that was hosted by Conan O’Brien and aired from 2010 to 2021. “Conan” came about as a result of the so-called “War for Late Night”, when Jay Leno ceded the chair of “The Tonight Show” to “O’Brien” only to launch “The Jay Leno Show” competing on the same network.

23 Locale for baccarat or roulette : CASINO FLOOR

The term “casino” originated in the 1700s, then describing a public room for music or dancing. “Casino” is a diminutive of “casa” meaning “house”.

Baccarat, in all of its three variants, is a relatively simple casino card game. Baccarat is the favored game of chance for James Bond 007, and it looks so cool when he plays it! Banco!

The term “roulette” means “little wheel” in French, and the game as we know it today did in fact originate in Paris, in 1796. A roulette wheel bears the numbers 1-36. A French entrepreneur called François Blanc introduced the number “0” on the wheel, to give the house an extra advantage. Legend has it that Blanc made a deal with the devil in order to unearth the secrets of roulette. The legend is supported by the fact that the numbers 1 through 36 add up to a total of “666”, which is the “Number of the Beast”. Spooky …

30 Nosh : SNACK

Our word “nosh” has been around since the late fifties, when it was imported from the Yiddish word “nashn” meaning “to nibble”. We use “nosh” as a noun that means “snack”, or as a verb meaning “to eat between meals”.

31 Game with Skip cards : UNO!

UNO! is a card game that was developed in the early seventies and that has been sold by Mattel since 1992. UNO falls into the shedding family of card games, meaning that the goal is to get rid of all your cards while preventing opponents from doing the same.

32 Mauna ___ : LOA

Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii is the largest volcano on the planet (in terms of volume). The name “Mauna Loa” is Hawaiian for “Long Mountain”.

34 Barbecue residue : ASH

It is believed that our word “barbecue” (BBQ) comes from the Taíno people of the Caribbean in whose language “barbacoa” means “sacred fire pit”.

35 Unlike Eton College : COED

Eton College near Windsor in the south of England was founded way back in 1440 by King Henry VI. Originally known as “The King’s College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor”, the school was intended to provide free education to poor boys. Free education today at Eton? Not so much …

36 Daytona International Speedway, for one : NASCAR TRACK

The coastal city of Daytona Beach in Florida is known for hard-packed sand on the beach. This makes a good surface for driving motorized vehicles, and resulted in Daytona Beach becoming a center for motorsports. The Daytona 500 is the event with the largest purse on the NASCAR calendar.

39 Company originally called AuctionWeb : EBAY

eBay was founded in 1995 as AuctionWeb. One of the first items purchased was a broken laser pointer, for $14.83. The buyer was a collector of broken laser pointers …

41 1989 play about Capote : TRU

The larger-than-life Truman “Tru” Capote was an author and comedian. Capote is perhaps most associated with his novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and his true crime novel “In Cold Blood”. Truman Capote grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. There he met, and became lifelong friends with, fellow novelist Harper Lee. Capote was the inspiration for the character “Dill” in Lee’s celebrated work “To Kill a Mockingbird”. In turn, Harper Lee was the inspiration for the character “Idabel” in Capote’s “Other Voices, Other Rooms”.

42 Bird in Liberty Mutual ads : EMU

Liberty Mutual is an insurance company based in Boston. The business was founded in 1912 as the Massachusetts Employees Insurance Association (MEIA). Liberty Mutual has a famous advertising icon named LiMu Emu.

46 English town known for its salt : EPSOM

The Surrey town of Epsom in England is most famous for its racecourse (Epsom Downs), at which the Epsom Derby is run every year, one of the three races that make up the English Triple Crown. We also come across “Epsom salts” from time to time. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters. Epsom was indeed a spa town at one time. The town is also home to Epsom College, an English “public school” (which actually means “private, and expensive”). One of Epsom’s “old boys” was the Hollywood actor Stewart Granger.

54 Reminder to arrive with good spirits? : BYOB

Bring Your Own Beer/Bottle/Booze (BYOB)

55 Gymnast Aly with three Olympic gold medals : RAISMAN

Aly Raisman is a retired gymnast. She captained the US gold-winning teams in the Olympics in 2012 (“The Fierce Five”) and in 2016 (“The Final Five”).

61 Worship leader : IMAM

An imam is a Muslim leader, and often the person in charge of a mosque and/or perhaps a Muslim community.

62 Capital near Casablanca : RABAT

Rabat is the capital city of the Kingdom of Morocco. After WWII, the United States maintained a major Air Force Base in Rabat, part of Strategic Air Command (SAC). Responding to pressure from the Moroccan government of King Mohammed V, the USAF pulled out in 1963.
Casablanca is a major city in western Morocco that sits on the Atlantic coast in Northern Africa. It is the country’s largest city (although the capital is Rabat), and the country’s largest port.

63 Guinness of film : ALEC

Sir Alec Guinness played many great roles over a long and distinguished career, but nowadays is best remembered (sadly, I think) for playing the original Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars”.

64 Some G.I. attire : CAMO

Our word “camouflage” (often abbreviated to “camo”) evolved directly from a Parisian slang term “camoufler” meaning “to disguise”. The term was first used in WWI, although the British navy at that time preferred the expression “dazzle-painting” as it applied to the pattern painted on the hulls of ships.

Down

1 Fourscore : EIGHTY

Our verb “to score” meaning “to tally”, comes from the Old Norse “skor”, which is a “mark, notch”. It is likely that items such as livestock were counted by placing a notch in a stick for each set of twenty, hence our use of the noun “score” to mean “twenty”.

2 Flashing light : STROBE

A strobe light is a device that produces regular flashes, like the light on top of a police car. The term derives from the Greek “strobos” meaning “twisting, whirling”.

3 Tropical African fly : TSETSE

The tsetse fly is responsible for the transmission of sleeping sickness, a disease that is more correctly called African trypanosomiasis. The disease is only observed in humans who have been bitten by a tsetse fly that is infected with the trypanosome parasitic protozoan.

5 Target percentage : QUOTA

A quota is an allotment. The term “quota” was used originally with reference to the number of soldiers or quantity of supplies required from a particular town or district.

7 Kimono sash : 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.

8 “Mazel ___!” : TOV

“Tov” is a Hebrew word meaning “good”, as in “mazel tov” meaning “good luck”.

9 PC file name extension : EXE

In the Windows operating system, a file with the extension “.exe” is an “executable” file.

13 Govt.-issued ID : SSN

The main purpose of a Social Security Number (SSN) is to track individuals for the purposes of taxation, although given its ubiquitous use, it is looking more and more like an identity number to me. The social security number system was introduced in 1936. Prior to 1986, an SSN was required only for persons with substantial income, so many children under 14 had no number assigned. For some years the IRS had a concern that a lot of people were claiming children on their tax returns who did not actually exist. So starting in 1986, the IRS made it a requirement to get an SSN for any dependents over the age of 5. Sure enough, seven million dependents “disappeared” in 1987. Today, a SSN is required for a child of any age in order to receive a tax exemption.

18 Cheesy restaurant order : NACHOS

The dish known as “nachos” was supposedly created by the maître d’ at a restaurant called the Victory Club in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. The name of the maître d’ was Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya.

21 D.D.E. follower : JFK

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE) was replaced in office by President John F. Kennedy (JFK).

25 Cartoonist who created the G.O.P. elephant : NAST

Thomas Nast was an American caricaturist and cartoonist. He was the creator of the Republican Party elephant, the Democratic Party donkey, Uncle Sam and the image of the plump and jocular Santa Claus that we use today.

The Republican Party has had the nickname Grand Old Party (GOP) since 1875. That said, the phrase was coined in the “Congressional Record” as “this gallant old party”. The moniker was changed to “grand old party” in 1876 in an article in the “Cincinnati Commercial”. The Republican Party’s elephant mascot dates back to an 1874 cartoon drawn by Thomas Nast for “Harper’s Weekly”. The Democrat’s donkey was already an established symbol. Nast drew a donkey clothed in a lion’s skin scaring away the other animals. One of the scared animals was an elephant, which Nast labeled “The Republican Vote”.

26 Earthy pigment : OCHRE

Ocher is a light, yellowish-brown color, although variations of the pigment are possible such as red ocher and purple ocher. “Ocher” is usually spelled “ochre” on the other side of the pond.

27 Word after hot or lightning : … ROD

A hot rod is an American car that has been modified for speed by installing a larger than normal engine. A street rod is generally a more comfortable type of hot rod, with the emphasis less on the engine and more on custom paint jobs and interiors. By definition, a street rod must be based on an automobile design that originated prior to 1949.

36 Home-monitoring device : NANNY CAM

From what I’ve read, it is legal to record video with a hidden camera, at least to monitor the behavior of a caregiver in your home. Apparently there is also a law that prohibits the recording of audio. So, “nanny cams” are sold without audio capability. But (disclaimer) that’s just what I read, so don’t take my word for it!

38 Title heroine of a 2001 French film : AMELIE

“Amélie” is a 2001 French film, a romantic comedy about a shy waitress in Montmartre, Paris played by Audrey Tautou (who also played the female lead in “The Da Vinci Code”). The movie was originally released under the French title, “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” (“The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain”).

40 Four-footed resident of the White House from 2009-17 : BO OBAMA

Sunny and Bo are Portuguese water dogs owned by the Obama family. The former First Family chose the Portuguese water dog largely because it is a hypoallergenic breed, and Malia Obama suffers from an allergy to most dogs.

44 Yank’s opponent : REB

During the Civil War, the personification of the Southern states was “Johnny Reb”. The northern equivalent was “Billy Yank”.

45 Calculus, in dentistry : TARTAR

Calculus (also “tartar”) is dental plaque that has hardened on the surface of teeth. Plaque is removed relatively easily by brushing and flossing. Once plaque has hardened into tartar, a dental hygienist usually needs to intervene.

49 Person of integrity : MENSCH

“Mensch” is a word that comes to us via Yiddish, and is ultimately derived from the German “mensch” meaning “human being”. We use the term to describe someone of integrity and honor.

51 First name of Kramer on “Seinfeld” : COSMO

Cosmo Kramer is the outrageous character played by Michael Richards on “Seinfeld”. “Seinfeld” co-creator, Larry David, introduced Kramer into the story, basing the character on real-life comedian Kenny Kramer who used to live across the hall from him.

52 Christine of “The Blacklist” : LAHTI

Christine Lahti is an actress probably best known for playing Dr. Kate Austen on the TV medical drama “Chicago Hope”. If you read “The Huffington Post” you might run across her as well, as Lahti is a contributing blogger.

“The Blacklist” is an entertaining, albeit a little formulaic, crime drama TV show starring James Spader and Megan Boone. Spader plays a successful criminal who surrenders to the FBI in order to help catch a “blacklist” of high-profile criminals.

56 Target of a filter : SPAM

The term “spam”, used for unwanted email, is taken from a “Monty Python” sketch. In the sketch (which I’ve seen) the dialog is taken over by the word Spam, a play on the glut of canned meat in the markets of Britain after WWII. So “spam” is used for the glut of emails that takes over online communication. I can just imagine nerdy Internet types (like me) adopting something from a “Monty Python” sketch to describe an online phenomenon …

58 Savings plan inits. : IRA

Individual retirement account (IRA)

59 Bit of ink : TAT

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”.

60 Lender to a mom-and-pop shop: Abbr. : SBA

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency with the mission of assisting small businesses. The SBA doesn’t give loans itself, but it does act as a guarantor under the right circumstances. The SBA was set up in 1953, and isn’t a favorite with fiscal conservatives.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 90° from norte : ESTE
5 Bit in Bartlett’s : QUOTE
10 Dogs’ “dogs” : PAWS
14 Start of a description of a nursery rhyme spider : ITSY …
15 Remove from a U.P.S. package, maybe : UNBOX
16 Periods in history : ERAS
17 Classic martini garnish : GREEN OLIVE
19 Laura of 2017’s “Twin Peaks” : DERN
20 Reason to get gussied up : HOT DATE
21 Rapper with the line “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” : JAY-Z
22 “Conan” channel : TBS
23 Locale for baccarat or roulette : CASINO FLOOR
28 “Gimme a break!” : YEESH!
30 Nosh : SNACK
31 Game with Skip cards : UNO!
32 Mauna ___ : LOA
34 Barbecue residue : ASH
35 Unlike Eton College : COED
36 Daytona International Speedway, for one : NASCAR TRACK
39 Company originally called AuctionWeb : EBAY
41 1989 play about Capote : TRU
42 Bird in Liberty Mutual ads : EMU
43 Huge amount : TON
44 Big entree from the oven : ROAST
46 English town known for its salt : EPSOM
50 Philharmonic’s home : CONCERT HALL
53 Outrage : IRE
54 Reminder to arrive with good spirits? : BYOB
55 Gymnast Aly with three Olympic gold medals : RAISMAN
57 PC alternatives : MACS
58 “Awful!” … or a hint to the common element of 17-, 23-, 36- and 50-Across : IT’S THE PITS
61 Worship leader : IMAM
62 Capital near Casablanca : RABAT
63 Guinness of film : ALEC
64 Some G.I. attire : CAMO
65 Crystal Castles console : ATARI
66 Work well together : MESH

Down

1 Fourscore : EIGHTY
2 Flashing light : STROBE
3 Tropical African fly : TSETSE
4 Sized up : EYED
5 Target percentage : QUOTA
6 “Wait, what if …” : UNLESS …
7 Kimono sash : OBI
8 “Mazel ___!” : TOV
9 PC file name extension : EXE
10 Brake or accelerator : PEDAL
11 Words of concern : ARE YOU OK?
12 Combat area : WAR ZONE
13 Govt.-issued ID : SSN
18 Cheesy restaurant order : NACHOS
21 D.D.E. follower : JFK
24 Hurriedly : IN A RUSH
25 Cartoonist who created the G.O.P. elephant : NAST
26 Earthy pigment : OCHRE
27 Word after hot or lightning : … ROD
29 Vanquish, as a dragon : SLAY
33 Person in a cast : ACTOR
35 Certain bra spec : C-CUP
36 Home-monitoring device : NANNY CAM
37 “I smell ___” (words of suspicion) : A RAT
38 Title heroine of a 2001 French film : AMELIE
39 List-shortening abbr. : ETC
40 Four-footed resident of the White House from 2009-17 : BO OBAMA
44 Yank’s opponent : REB
45 Calculus, in dentistry : TARTAR
47 “Snug as a bug in a rug,” e.g. : SIMILE
48 Speaks grandly : ORATES
49 Person of integrity : MENSCH
51 First name of Kramer on “Seinfeld” : COSMO
52 Christine of “The Blacklist” : LAHTI
56 Target of a filter : SPAM
57 Source of unwanted feedback? : MIC
58 Savings plan inits. : IRA
59 Bit of ink : TAT
60 Lender to a mom-and-pop shop: Abbr. : SBA

8 thoughts on “0315-22 NY Times Crossword 15 Mar 22, Tuesday”

  1. 6:21. Missed Bill’s time by a second. Now I’ll spend all day trying to think of how I could have shaved a second off of my time.

    No bbq (pit) reference in this one??

    Best –

  2. 15:04 – missed AMELIE, LAHTI, RABAT – c’mon, have some pity on us “noobs”, especially on a Tuesday. They ate me alive.

    Aw, I’m probably still in a bad mood from the LAT and it’s PPPs today …

    Be Well.

  3. No errors.
    How does a French foreign film and actress find its way into this crossword? 🤔

    Oh well. On to wednesday.

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