0311-23 NY Times Crossword 11 Mar 23, Saturday

Constructed by: Tom Pepper
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 33m 16s

Bill’s errors: 4

  • OH HELL (Oh Well)
  • HORCRUX (Worcrux)
  • FAVEA (fovea)
  • ALOHA ‘OE (Alaha ‘Oe!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 Patisserie offering : BRIOCHE

“Brioche” is a French bread that has been enriched with lots of egg and butter, to the extent that it is also considered a pastry.

15 Author of the influential 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” : TURING

Alan Turing was an English mathematician. He was well-respected for his code-breaking work during WWII at Bletchley Park in England. However, despite his contributions to cracking the German Enigma code and other crucial work, Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952. He agreed to chemical castration, treatment with female hormones, and then two years later he committed suicide by taking cyanide. Turing’s life story is told in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the lead. I thoroughly enjoyed that film …

16 Piffle : CLAPTRAP

“Claptrap” these days means nonsense talk. It was originally a term used on the stage meaning a trick to attract applause, hence the name “clap trap”.

17 It’s northwest of 1 : ESC

That would be on a keyboard.

20 Jack Bauer’s wife on “24” : TERI

“24” is an action-packed TV show with Kiefer Sutherland starring as counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in the show’s original incarnation. The title refers to the structure of the series. Each season has 24 episodes, with each episode representing an hour of real-time action in the story. The collection of 24 episodes builds up to a plot that lasts a full 24 hours.

23 Messing around on a TV set? : DEBRA

Debra Messing is most famous for playing Grace Adler on the television series “Will & Grace”.

25 Fund-raising attractions at carnivals : DUNK TANKS

A dunk tank is a funfair attraction consisting of a large tank filled with water, over which a volunteer sits on a collapsing seat. Balls that are successfully thrown at a target cause the seat to collapse, and the unfortunate volunteer gets dunked.

29 Word with dance or date : RAIN …

A rain date is an alternative date scheduled if an event is postponed due to rain.

30 Ones getting under your skin? : X-RAY TECHS

X-rays were first studied comprehensively by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen (also “Roentgen”), and it was he who gave the name “X-rays” to this particular type of radiation. Paradoxically, in Röntgen’s native language of German, X-rays are routinely referred to as “Röntgen rays”. In 1901, Röntgen’s work on X-rays won him the first Nobel Prize in Physics that was ever awarded.

32 Blast maker : TNT

“TNT” is an abbreviation for “trinitrotoluene”. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

33 Apt anagram of “I sew a hole” : ELIAS HOWE

Elias Howe was an American inventor. Howe wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of a sewing machine, but he was the first to develop one that was functional.

35 Some coll. degrees : BAS

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

38 Winsome : ENDEARING

“Winsome” is such a lovely-sounding word, with a lovely meaning. Someone described as winsome has a childlike charm and innocence.

44 Tiny pit in the 55-Across : FOVEA
(55 See 44-Across : RETINA)

The fovea centralis is a small depression on the retina and is the point of sharpest vision. About half of the nerve fibers in the optic nerve terminate at the fovea, with the other half carrying signals from the rest of the retina. “Fovea” is Latin for “pit”, and is a term used from several anatomical depressions found in the body.

The retina is the tissue that lines the inside of the eye, and is the tissue that is light-sensitive. There are (mainly) two types of cells in the retina that are sensitive to light, namely rods and cones. Rods are cells that best function in very dim light and only provide black-and-white vision. Cones on the other hand function in brighter light and can perceive color.

46 Skin blemish : WEN

“Wen” is the common name for any of a number of different growths that can occur on or under the skin. A wen can be a lipoma for example, a benign fatty growth that can form under the skin.

47 Potential cause of a respiratory problem : SMOG

“Smog” is a portmanteau formed by melding “smoke” and “fog”. The term was first used to describe the air around London in the early 1900s. Several cities around the world have a reputation of being particularly smoggy. For example, the most smog-plagued city in Latin America is Mexico City, which is located in a highland “bowl” that traps industrial and vehicle pollution.

58 Tripping : ON ACID

Someone taking the drug LSD is often said to be “dropping acid”. The use of the verb “to drop” was popular slang long before LSD came on the scene, and back then applied to the taking of any illegal drug.

Down

3 Bit of dark magic in Harry Potter : HORCRUX

A Horcrux is a magical object found throughout the Harry Potter series of novels, one that comes to the fore in the final two books. It is a very resilient receptacle, difficult to destroy. The evil Lord Vlodemort’s soul was divided and resides in a number of Horcruxes, all of which are destroyed by different characters using various weapons.

5 TV journalist Lisa : LING

Lisa Ling is a journalist who is best known as a former co-host of the television show “The View”. Lisa’s younger sister is Laura Ling. Laura is one of the pair of journalists who were sentenced to 12 years hard labor in prison for illegal entry to North Korea, but who were released in 2009 after a visit from former President Bill Clinton.

7 Asia’s ___ Sea : ARAL

The Aral Sea is a great example of how humankind can have a devastating effect on the environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …

9 “Why ___?” : BOTHER

Why indeed …

10 Word from the Greek for “walking on tiptoe” : ACROBAT

An acrobat is someone who performs gymnastic feats. The term “acrobat“ comes into English via French from the Greek “akrobatos” meaning “going on tip-toe, climbing up high”.

14 Cryptocurrency technologies : BLOCKCHAINS

A blockchain is … well, you know … need I say more …? 🙂

A cryptocurrency is a digital asset that I simply do not understand. Apparently, an essential aspect of cryptocurrency is that it has no central administration. The first, and most famous, decentralized cryptocurrency is bitcoin.

24 Subject for a myrmecologist : ANT

The study of ants is known as myrmecology. The term “myrmecology” derives from the Greek “myrmex” meaning “ant”.

31 “Hot Lips” Houlihan portrayer : SWIT

Loretta Swit started playing Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan on “M*A*S*H” in 1972. She and Alan Alda were the only actors who appeared in both the pilot and the series finale. Swit has written a book on needlepoint, would you believe? It’s called “A Needlepoint Scrapbook”.

34 Genesis 5 figure : ENOS

Enos was the son of Seth, and therefore the grandson of Adam and Eve, and nephew of Cain and Abel. According to the ancient Jewish work called the Book of Jubilees, Enos married his own sister Noam.

35 Close one, in brief : BFF

Best friend forever (BFF)

36 Folk song whose name translates to “Farewell to Thee” : ALOHA ‘OE

“Aloha ‘Oe” is a song of Hawaii composed by Liliuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii and her only queen. The title translates as “Farewell to Thee”.

37 Habitat for giraffes : SAVANNA

A savanna (also “savannah”) is a grassland. If there are any trees in a savanna, by definition they are small and widely spaced so that light can get to the grasses allowing them to grow unhindered.

The giraffe is the tallest terrestrial animal on the planet. Its main source of food is acacia leaves that they eat from high, high up in trees, where other herbivores cannot reach.

43 Coin with a polar bear on its reverse, informally : TOONIE

“Toonie” is the familiar name for a two-dollar coin in Canada. The toonie was introduced in 1996, and gets its familiar name from the one-dollar coin known as a “loonie”.

52 U.S. government product made at twice the cost of what it’s worth : CENT

The original one-cent coin was introduced in the US in 1793 and was made of 100% copper, giving rise to the nickname “copper”. The composition varied over time, and was 100% bronze up to the 1940s. During WWII there was a shortage of copper to make bronze, so the US Mint switched to zinc-coated steel for production of one-cent coins in 1943. The “steelie” is the only coin ever issued by the US mint that can be picked up by a magnet. Today’s one-cent coin consists mainly of zinc.

56 Natural order of the universe, in East Asian philosophy : TAO

The name of the Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Taoism signifies the true nature of the world.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Trick-taking card game : OH HELL
7 Monastery head’s jurisdiction : ABBACY
13 “Sweet!” : COOLIO!
14 Patisserie offering : BRIOCHE
15 Author of the influential 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” : TURING
16 Piffle : CLAPTRAP
17 It’s northwest of 1 : ESC
18 Fully commit : GO WHOLE HOG
20 Jack Bauer’s wife on “24” : TERI
22 Here, in Latin : HIC
23 Messing around on a TV set? : DEBRA
25 Fund-raising attractions at carnivals : DUNK TANKS
29 Word with dance or date : RAIN …
30 Ones getting under your skin? : X-RAY TECHS
32 Blast maker : TNT
33 Apt anagram of “I sew a hole” : ELIAS HOWE
35 Some coll. degrees : BAS
38 Winsome : ENDEARING
40 Stir : FLAP
42 Started fighting : GOT INTO IT
44 Tiny pit in the 55-Across : FOVEA
46 Skin blemish : WEN
47 Potential cause of a respiratory problem : SMOG
49 “Hold up …” : HANG ON A SEC …
53 Low sound : MOO
54 Some garage conversions : MAN CAVES
55 See 44-Across : RETINA
57 Air-purifying device : IONIZER
58 Tripping : ON ACID
59 One holding all the cards : DEALER
60 Pumps up : STOKES

Down

1 Four + four : OCTET
2 Accommodated, in a way : HOUSED
3 Bit of dark magic in Harry Potter : HORCRUX
4 Name in “fuel injection” : ELI
5 TV journalist Lisa : LING
6 Business card feature : LOGO
7 Asia’s ___ Sea : ARAL
8 One standing on one’s own two feet? : BIPED
9 “Why ___?” : BOTHER
10 Word from the Greek for “walking on tiptoe” : ACROBAT
11 Discomfiture : CHAGRIN
12 Informal agreement : YEP
14 Cryptocurrency technologies : BLOCKCHAINS
16 Green, black, white and yellow are varieties of these : CHINESE TEAS
19 “Bummer!” : WHAT A DOWNER!
21 Memo starter : IN RE
24 Subject for a myrmecologist : ANT
26 Ingredient in the Tuscan soup ribollita : KALE
27 Evening : TYING
28 Cut off : SHORN
31 “Hot Lips” Houlihan portrayer : SWIT
34 Genesis 5 figure : ENOS
35 Close one, in brief : BFF
36 Folk song whose name translates to “Farewell to Thee” : ALOHA ‘OE
37 Habitat for giraffes : SAVANNA
39 Attention-getter, maybe : GIMMICK
41 Makeup kit item : PENCIL
43 Coin with a polar bear on its reverse, informally : TOONIE
45 Looking steadily : AGAZE
48 Provokes : GOADS
50 No longer affected by : OVER
51 Versace ___ (high-end fragrance) : EROS
52 U.S. government product made at twice the cost of what it’s worth : CENT
54 Prefix with section : MID-
56 Natural order of the universe, in East Asian philosophy : TAO

20 thoughts on “0311-23 NY Times Crossword 11 Mar 23, Saturday”

  1. 38:16, 2 errors: OH (T)ELL/(T)ORCRUX. Have never heard of the card game, and not very familiar with Harry Potter (only watched the first movie). So many unknowns, frustrating to miss by one letter.

  2. 42:28. Several errors where I guessed. Tough one.

    I was surprised to learn that giraffes can weigh as much as 4200 lbs. Pretty heavy for a vegetarian…

    If you were afraid of retinas, would that be FOVEAphobia? Say that 5 times fast.

    Best –

  3. 21:13, no errors. I’ve actually read all of the Harry Potter books (twice 😜!) and it does come in handy occasionally.

    I just finished today’s “Saturday Stumper”, from the WSJ, five hours and forty-four minutes after starting it. Much of that was necessary walkaway time due to hanging up in one obstinate corner, but still … this week’s incarnation of that series definitely lived up to its name! (Either that, or I’m totally losing it … 😳.)

      1. @Nick …

        No. The “admission” you’re talking about occurred on the March 2nd blog. Please go back and reread it. I said what “some” posters here do, not what “I” do. I assure you that I did not cheat in any way on either of the two puzzles I mentioned here since, if I had, I would have said so explicitly in my post. (And, actually, I think most posters here would do the same.)

        In the past, some posters have made a point of criticizing others for advertising results that do not conform to their rules; I’m glad to hear that this was not your intention, but I hope you understand that past history has made some of us a little sensitive about the issue.

        The bottom line, as I said on the March 2nd blog: This is not a contest. Enjoy the puzzles in your own way and, if you’re comparing yourself with others, be aware that their way may be different.

      2. @Nick …

        One more (slightly less conciliatory) comment: On the March 2nd blog, you said that you were merely telling us your rules (as opposed to insisting that others obey them). But then you misunderstood my comments and accused me of cheating … by your rules! I’m not sure you understand your own motivations … 🤨.

        I would also add that there are puzzles on the internet so difficult as to almost require lookups in order to make any progress at all. For me, such puzzles are not to be found in the NYT or the LAT. (The “Saturday Stumper” in the Wall Street Journal very occasionally strays into this territory, but most of the ones I do are on indie sites.) Now, I’m not talking about using an answer key for such a puzzle, but about researching an area that is simply outside one’s knowledge base. Such puzzles can be frustrating, but also, in the end, very rewarding, and well worth side-stepping an arbitrary rule against “looking up s—t” (as you put it).

        Enough … 🙂.

        1. So you’re saying you solved this puzzle in 21:13 with no errors without cheating? So you blew away Bill? I”m new here but I thought Bill was the master.

          I never thought of posting my results until recently when stumbled on this site which allows you to post without creating an account. I’ve been doing crosswords for the intrinsic satisfaction of it for a long time without talking about them to anyone.

          My interest in posting the rules was to compare how people are defining success. I never used to do crosswords on a computer, I did them on paper, usu. the newspaper. In my view, if you complete all the squares in the grid but you don’t get a success message, if you correct your wrong answers, you completed it with assistance from the computer because the computer clued you in that you have errors. I found it odd that people posted ‘completed with no lookups’. I didn’t think you had to say that because ‘completed with lookups to me is an inherent contradiction.

          I think you’re taking the ‘woke’ approach to crosswords , that anything goes, and I’m being told to ‘lighten up’ meaning accept people who cheat as equivalent solvers to those who do not. Sorry, they’re not. An A+ means something, it’s not the equivalent of a participation recognition certificate. The game has rules.

          1. Since you said you completed this one with no look ups or assistance I take that at face value and withdraw any implication you cheated. That means you da man.
            I think the invitations thrown my way to lighten up wierd. All I did was mind my own business and post my rules and definition of solved etc. and that set Dave off on a harangue that I’ve let myself get drawn into. I never would have dreamed that an innocent pastime like crosswords might lead to fisticuffs. I find the people offended by normal behaviour (i.e. not cheating at solitaire, so to speak) are the ones who need to lighten up. What I’m hearing is, if some opt to cheat at solitaire that should be considered as a valid and normal behaviour.It’s not normal. And I’m not talking about super hard puzzles, we’re talking about the NYT puzzle published in a major newspaper and designed to be accessible not abstruse. It may contain an abstruse word but most adjoining answers are generally accessible enough to help you get the abstruse one.
            I may go back to what I did for a very long time and just do the puzzle for fun and shut up about it lest blogging about it spoil the pleasure. I just wanted to see what my level of skill was compared to expert solvers. Hence it was a disappointment when Dave said “many or most” of the posters here cheat at solitaire. I don’t know how he’d know that nor do I believe it. I think I already got an answer and I’m about intermediate. My times are slower and I have more errors but overall I’m good with how I stacked up. I was always happy with 95% + completion and that kept it relaxing and fun. I don’t think I need to keep posting here but may check in to see how others found the puzzle to get a sense of the level of difficulty. That was the main motivation originally for seeking out this site. But it does inevitably become a pissing contest and nothing else if you all blog how far you pissed. Let’s get real.

          2. @Nick
            For what it’s worth, people have about as many “rule sets” they use for solving crosswords as there are people. It’s unfortunate you’ve run into what you’ve encountered, and (partly) for that reason I’ve stopped posting my times on either of Bill’s blogs.

            People do get touchy about this because they can feel it’s a competition (or others see it as a competition) or get sucked into exactly *how* they define success as a great many do feel they “finished” the puzzle when they get tons of help. Personally I always thought the idea of habitually Google searching answers defeats the exercise of doing puzzles at all, but as you noted others do and a lot of the editors openly encourage that.

            For me when I’ve posted here lately, it’s always been if I receive any help that I didn’t finish the puzzle (DNF). I usually have hand-written the NYT and electronically did the LAT. Course the problem with doing it online (I never set anything to prompt errors) it’s unavoidable to get that “almost” or “done” screen at the end, so if I know right then I want to change something I go with it, but I leave the puzzle alone if I don’t know anything is wrong when I get the “almost” message. Admittedly another big “standards” war is how errors are reported (by squares or words?). But at other times, I’ve had more laxer standards, because I indeed start posting on Bill’s LAT blog when I started into crosswords. Each person tends to have their own standard of success and times are relative anyway.

            That said, I do think you probably could have communicated your intentions a little bit more directly in a way that doesn’t make others feel you’re challenging their standards.

            As for standards, Bill or myself or anyone else here are far from “masters” at this if you see how well some of the ones that are (mainly ACPT high finishers and winners) do these things.

  4. DNF. got halfway.

    Got about halfway after an hour then gave up.

    If I had know it took Bill 33 minutes, I wouldn’t have even started.

    ZOUNDS, EGAD, OH MY,

  5. 58:50, 95+% solved.
    Stymied by:
    Alohaoe
    Chineseteas
    Eliashowe
    Horcrux

    I had most of the correct letters filled by crosses, just didn’t know the words; unable to seal the deal.

  6. congrats puzzle maker. such a bunch of obscure and misleading clues that it made me say “why bother”. great job making a puzzle no one can have any fun solving. because that is the objective, right?

  7. Too tough for me. I got seven crosses and thirteen downs before giving up. Piffle? Congrats to those who finished. Bah to those crying about nonconformists.

  8. Challenging one today! Finished with 2 errors Hoc instead of Hic and Win instead of Wen. Darn vowels!

  9. Has the spirit of the current American “civil war” now entered and become “la guerre incivile des mots croisses”?!
    Incroyable!!

    Lighten up, America!!

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