0104-23 NY Times Crossword 4 Jan 23, Wednesday

Constructed by: Laura Breiman & Tom Bachant
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Celestial Bodies

The circled letters in the grid spell out the names of CELESTIAL BODIES. Their “shape” in the grid represents the appearance of each body:

  • 39A Astronomical objects represented by the circled letters in this puzzle : CELESTIAL BODIES

The CELESTIAL BODIES are:

  • MOON
  • COMET
  • GALAXY
  • ASTEROID
  • STAR

Bill’s time: 8m 16s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Nonmagical sort, in the Harry Potter universe : MUGGLE

In the word of “Harry Potter”, a “muggle” is someone born without any magical ability, and who wasn’t born into the magical world. There is also a “Squib”, who is someone born to magical parents but who has no magical abilities.

7 What’s found in cafés but not coffee shops? : ACCENT

In French, accents over the letter E can be acute (é, “accent aigu”) or grave (è, “accent grave”).

14 St. Bernard or mastiff, often : DROOLER

The St. Bernard dog originated in the Italian and Swiss alps, and was indeed specially bred for rescue. The breed dates back at least to the early 1700s when the dogs worked from the traveler’s hospice at the St. Bernard Pass in the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. The breed took its name from this famously treacherous route through the mountains.

There are a number of mastiff breeds of dog, all of which are noted for their large size. Even though modern mastiffs generally have an easy temperament, over the centuries the mastiff breeds have been used as guard dogs and war dogs, even back to ancient Roman times.

15 Hoity-toity types : SNOOTS

“Snoot” is a variant of “snout”, and is a word that originated in Scotland. The idea is that someone who is snooty, or “snouty”, tends to look down his or her nose at the rest of the world.

Believe it or not, the term “hoity-toity” has been in the English language since the 1660s, but back then it meant “riotous behavior”. It began to mean “haughty” in the late 1800s, simply because the “haughty” sounds similar to “hoity”.

17 Wireless speaker brand : SONOS

Sonos is a manufacturer of audio products, mainly of speakers and amplifiers. Founded in 2002, Sonos differentiates itself from other suppliers of similar items by focusing on multi-room applications and compatibility with voice assistants, i.e. Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri.

19 Fencing equipment : EPEES

There are three fencing events in the modern Olympics, with each distinguished by the weapon used:

  • Foil
  • Épée
  • Sabre

20 Shade akin to fuchsia : MAGENTA

The colors fuchsia and magenta are identical when used on the Web. The name “magenta” comes from an aniline dye that was patented in 1859 in France and called “fuchsine”. The dye was renamed in honor of a victory against the Austrians in the Battle of Magenta of 1859, which was fought near the northern Italian town of Magenta.

23 Part of Q.E.D. : ERAT

The initialism “QED” is used at the end of a mathematical proof or a philosophical argument. QED stands for the Latin “quod erat demonstrandum” meaning “that which was to be demonstrated”.

28 “Black gold” or “Texas tea” : OIL

Crude oil is sometimes referred to as “black gold”, or “Texas tea”.

32 Nine-digit ID : SSN

A Social Security number (SSN) is divided into three parts, i.e AAA-GG-SSSS. Originally, the Area Number (AAA) was the code for the office that issued the card. Starting in 1973, the Area Number reflected the ZIP code from which the application was made. The GG in the SSN was the Group Number, and the SSSS number the Serial Number. This is all moot today. Since 2011, SSNs have been assigned randomly. Some random numbers, however, have been excluded from use, i.e. Area Numbers 000, 666 (!) and 900-999.

43 “The lowest form of humor — when you don’t think of it first,” per Oscar Levant : PUN

Here are some of my favorite puns:

  • A man died today when a pile of books fell on him. He only had his shelf to blame.
  • I hate negative numbers and will stop at nothing to avoid them.
  • I wasn’t going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.
  • I should have been sad when my flashlight batteries died, but I was delighted.

Oscar Levant was a multi-talented Hollywood personality. He was a classical pianist, and a friend of George Gershwin. Levant wrote music for over twenty films, and also appeared as a supporting actor in several hit movies, often playing a pianist or composer. He was also a regular panelist on the radio quiz show “Information Please” in the 1930s and 1940s, and on the game show “Who Said That” in the 1950s.

44 “The Song of the ___” (Willa Cather novel) : LARK

American author Willa Cather wrote what’s referred to as the “Prairie Trilogy”, novels that tell the story of Swedish immigrants living in Nebraska. The titles in the trilogy are “O Pioneers!”, “The Song of the Lark” and “My Ántonia”. Cather won the Pulitzer Prize for another novel “One of Ours”, which is set in Nebraska and the French battlefields of WWI.

45 First of the Chinese dynasties : XIA

The Xia (also “Hsia”) dynasty was the first Chinese dynasty, lasting from about 2070 to 1600 BCE.

47 Broadcaster of “The Price Is Right” for more than four decades : CBS

CBS used to be known as the Columbia Broadcasting System. CBS introduced its “eye” logo in 1951. That logo is based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign.

“The Price is Right” game show started airing in its current format in 1972, with Bob Barker hosting. Drew Carey took over as host in 2007. There was an earlier version of the show that had a somewhat different format, and it aired from 1956 to 1965. Apparently, “The Price is Right” is the longest running TV game show in the world.

49 Letters requesting help : SOS

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots). That said, in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so “SOS” is really only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are back-formations that were introduced after the SOS signal was adopted.

54 Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, for two : CUBISTS

In the art movement known as Cubism, objects that are the subject of a painting are broken up and reassembled in an abstract form. The pioneers of the Cubist movement were Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

Artist Pablo Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name he was given right from birth. Got that?

Georges Braque was a French artist who is perhaps best known as “the other cubist”, not the more famous cubist Pablo Picasso. Braque and Picasso were friends and colleagues, both working in Paris in the early 1900s.

57 Offering in church : TITHE

Traditionally, a tithe is a payment of one tenth of a person’s annual income and is usually given to a church. Tithing is a practice taught in many traditions, and according to a 2002 survey, about 3% of American adults donate 10% or more of their income to a church.

59 Noche’s counterpart : DIA

“Noche y dia” translates from Spanish as “night and day”.

60 Nevada senator Jacky : ROSEN

Jacky Rosen took her seat as the junior US senator from Nevada in 2019. She had previously served in the US House of Representatives from 2017 to 2019. Rosen was the only Democratic candidate to beat a Republican incumbent senator in the 2018 election, defeating Senator Dean Heller.

64 Low-calorie cookie spinoff : OREO THIN

For those of us counting calories, Oreo Thins were introduced in 2015. There are only 40 calories in each thin cookie, compared to 53 calories in the real deal.

66 Adverb in a contract : HERETO

The word “hereto” is legalese for “to here”, as in “attached hereto” meaning “attached to here”.

69 Author Hemingway : ERNEST

Ernest Hemingway moved around a lot. He was born in Illinois, and after leaving school headed to the Italian front during WWI. There he served as an ambulance driver, an experience he used as inspiration for “A Farewell to Arms”. He returned to the US after being seriously wounded, but a few years later moved to Paris where he worked as a foreign correspondent. He covered the Spanish War as a journalist, from Spain, using this experience for “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. During the thirties and forties he had two permanent residences, one in Key West, Florida and one in Cuba. In the late fifties he moved to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in 1961.

Down

1 Service that might be in Latin : MASS

The principal act of worship in the Roman Catholic tradition is the Mass. The term “Mass” comes from the Late Latin word “missa” meaning “dismissal”. This word is used at the end of the Latin Mass in “Ite, missa est” which translates literally as “Go, it is the dismissal”.

6 Intro to sociology? : ESS

The intro letter in the word “sociology” is a letter S (ess).

7 “Evita” setting: Abbr. : ARG

Argentina is the second largest country in South America (after Brazil), and the world’s largest Spanish-speaking nation. The name “Argentina” comes from the Latin “argentum”, the word for “silver”. It is thought that the name was given by the early Spanish and Portuguese conquerors who also named the Rio de la Plata (the “Silver River”). Those early explorers got hold of lots of silver objects that they found among the native population.

“Evita” was the follow-up musical to “Jesus Christ Superstar” for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Both of these works were originally released as album musicals, and very successful ones at that (I remember buying them when they first came out). “Evita” was made into a film in 1996, with Madonna playing the title role and Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce playing her husband Juan Perón.

9 Type of car whose name comes from the French word for “cut” : COUPE

The type of car known as a “coupe” or “coupé” is a closed automobile with two doors. The name comes from the French word “couper” meaning “to cut”. In most parts of the English-speaking world the pronunciation adheres to the original French, but here in most of North America we go with “coop”. The original coupé was a horse-drawn carriage that was cut (coupé) to eliminate the rear-facing passenger seats. That left just a driver and two front-facing passengers. If the driver was left without a roof and out in the open, then the carriage was known as a “coupé de-ville”.

10 Toon hunting for a “scwewy wabbit” : ELMER

Elmer Fudd is one of the most famous Looney Tunes cartoon characters, and is the hapless nemesis of Bugs Bunny. If you have never seen it, check out Elmer and Bugs in the marvelous “Rabbit of Seville”, a short cartoon that parodies Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”. Wonderful stuff …

11 Site of a mythical lion slaying : NEMEA

“The Twelve Labors of Hercules” is actually a Greek myth, although Hercules is the Roman name for the hero that the Greeks called “Heracles”. The first of these labors was to slay the Nemean lion, a monster that lived in a cave near Nemea. Hercules had a tough job as the lion’s golden fur was impenetrable to normal weapons. One version of the story is that Hercules killed the lion by shooting an arrow into its mouth. Another version says that Hercules stunned the monster with a club and then strangled him with his bare hands.

12 Romantic rendezvous : TRYST

In the most general sense, a tryst is a meeting at an agreed time and place. More usually we consider a tryst to be a pre-arranged meeting between lovers. The term comes from the Old French “triste”, a waiting place designated when hunting. Further, a tryst taking place at lunchtime is sometimes referred to as a nooner.

14 “Me, too!” : DITTO!

The word “ditto” was originally used in Italian (from Tuscan dialect) to avoid repetition of the names of months in a series of dates. So, “ditto” is another wonderful import from that lovely land …

18 ___ Challenge (famous taste test) : PEPSI

The Pepsi Challenge is a marketing campaign that PepsiCo introduced in 1975 as a tactic in the Cola Wars with the Coca-Cola Company. The challenge itself involves a blind taste test.

22 Some short-term rentals : AIRBNBS

Airbnb is a website-based service that matches people wanting to rent out short-term living quarters to people seeking accommodation. The company was founded in 2008 as AirBed & Breakfast. The original concept was renting out an “air bed” and providing “breakfast” to someone looking for cheap, temporary accommodation. Yeah, the “Air” in “Airbnb” has nothing to do with “air” travel …

26 Island between Java and Lombok : BALI

Bali is both an island and a province in Indonesia. It is a popular tourist spot, although the number of visitors dropped for a few years as a result of terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 that killed mainly tourists. Bali became more popular starting in 2008 due to a significant and favorable change in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Indonesian rupiah.

29 W.C. : LOO

It has been suggested that the British term “loo”, meaning “toilet”, comes from “Waterloo” (water closet … water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of “lanterloo”, in which the pot was called the loo!

36 Sorento and Telluride : KIAS

The Sorento is an SUV made by Kia since 2002. I’ve always assumed that the car is named for the Italian city, although the spelling is different (“Sorrento”).

The Kia Telluride is a mid-size SUV that was launched in 2019. It is named for the Colorado town of Telluride, and is the largest vehicle that Kia ever made for the US market.

37 Amazon-owned home Wi-Fi brand : EERO

“Wi-Fi” is nothing more than a trademark, a trademark registered by an association of manufacturers of equipment that use wireless LAN (Local Area Network) technology. A device labeled with “Wi-Fi” has to meet certain defined technical standards, basically meaning that the devices can talk to each other. The name “Wi-Fi” suggests “Wireless Fidelity”, although apparently the term was never intended to mean anything at all.

40 Part of some “Red” or “White” uniforms : SOX

The Boston Red Sox are one of the most successful Major League Baseball teams and so command a large attendance, but only when on the road. The relatively small capacity of Boston’s Fenway Park, the team’s home since 1912, has dictated that every game the Red Sox have played there has been a sell-out from May of 2003 to April 2013. I recently had the pleasure of touring Fenway Park. It’s quite a place …

The Boston Red Sox are one of the most successful Major League Baseball teams and so command a large attendance, but only when on the road. The relatively small capacity of Boston’s Fenway Park, the team’s home since 1912, has dictated that every game the Red Sox have played there has been a sell-out from May of 2003 to April 2013. I recently had the pleasure of touring Fenway Park. It’s quite a place …

41 St. ___ (Caribbean isle) : LUCIA

The Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia has a population of less than 200,000. Remarkably, Saint Lucia has produced two Nobel Laureates: economist Arthur Lewis and poet Derek Walcott.

46 Some German cars : AUDIS

The Audi name has an interesting history. The Horch company was founded by August Horch in 1909. Early in the life of the new company, Horch was forced out of his own business. He set up a new enterprise and continued to use his own name as a brand. The old company sued him for using the Horch name so a meeting was held to choose something new. Horch’s young son was studying Latin in the room where the meeting was taking place. He pointed out that “horch” was German for “hear” and he suggested “Audi” as a replacement, the Latin for “listen”.

50 “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” author : STOWE

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s most famous and most successful work is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. It was also her first novel. Her second was published in 1856, i.e. “Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp”.

52 Oktoberfest vessel : STEIN

Oktoberfest is a 16-day beer festival in Munich that actually starts in September. About six million people attend every year, making it the largest fair in the world. I’ve attended twice, and it really is a remarkable party …

55 Son of, in Arabic surnames : BIN

In Arabic names, “ibn” is a word meaning “son of”. The words “bin” and “ben” are also used for “son of”. The word “bint” means “daughter of”. Similarly, in Hebrew “ben” is used to mean “son of”, and “bat” is used to mean “daughter of”.

61 Circus barker? : SEAL

There are three families of seals. The first is the walrus family, the second the eared seals (like sea lions), and thirdly the earless seals (like elephant seals).

62 “Not you, too!?” : ET TU?

It was Shakespeare who popularized the words “Et tu, Brute?” (meaning “And you, Brutus?”). They appear in his play “Julius Caesar”, although the phrase had been around long before he penned his drama. It’s not known what Julius Caesar actually said in real life (if anything at all) as he was assassinated on the steps of the Senate in Rome.

63 Disappointing R.S.V.P.s : NOES

“RSVP” stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is French for “answer, please”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Nonmagical sort, in the Harry Potter universe : MUGGLE
7 What’s found in cafés but not coffee shops? : ACCENT
13 Spanish loves : AMORES
14 St. Bernard or mastiff, often : DROOLER
15 Hoity-toity types : SNOOTS
16 Goofus : BIG DUMMY
17 Wireless speaker brand : SONOS
18 Place : PUT
19 Fencing equipment : EPEES
20 Shade akin to fuchsia : MAGENTA
23 Part of Q.E.D. : ERAT
24 ___ blind : ROB
27 Dispenser of drafts : TAP
28 “Black gold” or “Texas tea” : OIL
30 Out of the office : AWAY
32 Nine-digit ID : SSN
34 One leaving its pad quickly : ROCKET
39 Astronomical objects represented by the circled letters in this puzzle : CELESTIAL BODIES
42 One righting writing : EDITOR
43 “The lowest form of humor — when you don’t think of it first,” per Oscar Levant : PUN
44 “The Song of the ___” (Willa Cather novel) : LARK
45 First of the Chinese dynasties : XIA
47 Broadcaster of “The Price Is Right” for more than four decades : CBS
49 Letters requesting help : SOS
50 Back talk : SASS
54 Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, for two : CUBISTS
57 Offering in church : TITHE
59 Noche’s counterpart : DIA
60 Nevada senator Jacky : ROSEN
64 Low-calorie cookie spinoff : OREO THIN
66 Adverb in a contract : HERETO
67 Eccentrics : WEIRDOS
68 Produce oxidation in : AERATE
69 Author Hemingway : ERNEST
70 Tablet tool : STYLUS

Down

1 Service that might be in Latin : MASS
2 “Yeah, that won’t work for me” : UM, NO
3 “I’m listening …” : GO ON …
4 Many a wedding cake topper : GROOM
5 Unleashes on : LETS AT
6 Intro to sociology? : ESS
7 “Evita” setting: Abbr. : ARG
8 Word with tax or cheat : … CODE
9 Type of car whose name comes from the French word for “cut” : COUPE
10 Toon hunting for a “scwewy wabbit” : ELMER
11 Site of a mythical lion slaying : NEMEA
12 Romantic rendezvous : TRYST
14 “Me, too!” : DITTO!
16 Patty’s place : BUN
18 ___ Challenge (famous taste test) : PEPSI
21 Gut-related : GASTRIC
22 Some short-term rentals : AIRBNBS
24 Hightail it : RACE
25 Was behind : OWED
26 Island between Java and Lombok : BALI
29 W.C. : LOO
31 As of now : YET
33 Bit of shut-eye : NAP
35 450, in ancient Rome : CDL
36 Sorento and Telluride : KIAS
37 Amazon-owned home Wi-Fi brand : EERO
38 Scolding sounds : TSKS
40 Part of some “Red” or “White” uniforms : SOX
41 St. ___ (Caribbean isle) : LUCIA
46 Some German cars : AUDIS
48 Word on the ___ : STREET
50 “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” author : STOWE
51 Broadcaster : AIRER
52 Oktoberfest vessel : STEIN
53 Place to wash up? : SHORE
55 Son of, in Arabic surnames : BIN
56 “___, not ___!” : SORRY
58 Approx. when planes take off : ETDS
61 Circus barker? : SEAL
62 “Not you, too!?” : ET TU?
63 Disappointing R.S.V.P.s : NOES
65 Over 100, say : HOT
66 Gives birth to : HAS

5 thoughts on “0104-23 NY Times Crossword 4 Jan 23, Wednesday”

  1. 12:25. Fun theme. Had to get GALAXY in order to get the X at XIA/SOX. In retrospect, SOX was obvious; I just missed it at first.

    By the lower left, I guessed that the word would be ASTEROID which expedited that section. Impressive construction overall.

    Best –

  2. 12:19, no errors. I assume the “visual art” involved in “ASTEROID” is based on the fact that asteroids tend to be small, loose, low-gravity, aggregations of “stuff” (rocks, ice, dust, and so on) that is poorly cemented together, giving them irregular shapes?

  3. Reminds me of the old character based pictures we use to come up with on the old Daisy wheel printers.

    Messed up on 56D. Had BEN instead of BIN. And ST LUCIE instead of ST LUCIA.

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