0315-23 NY Times Crossword 15 Mar 23, Wednesday

Constructed by: Michael B. Berg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Name of the Game

Themed answers are all video games. Themed clues are common phrases that might describe those games:

  • 17A Barrel of monkeys : DONKEY KONG
  • 28A With 50-Across, blue streak : SONIC THE …
  • 50A See 28-Across : … HEDGEHOG
  • 32A Shapes up : TETRIS
  • 48A Ghost in the machine : PAC-MAN
  • 64A Knock me down with a feather : ANGRY BIRDS

Bill’s time: 6m 40s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

15 Buildup of tanks? : ALGAE

Algae are similar to terrestrial plants in that they use photosynthesis to create sugars from light and carbon dioxide, but they differ in that they have simpler anatomies, and for example lack roots.

16 Atmospheric glow : 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”.

17 Barrel of monkeys : DONKEY KONG

The first video game featuring the ape named 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.

To have more fun than a barrel of monkeys is to have a great time, lots of fun. Apparently, the expression dates back at least to 1840, when it took the form “cage of monkeys”. There was a “wagonload of monkeys” by the end of the 19th century, and somehow a subsequent relocation into a “barrel”.

21 Person you might see in August? : GUS

The name “Gus” is found within the word “August”.

22 Whac-A-___ : MOLE

The Whac-A-Mole arcade game was invented in 1976. Players use a mallet to force five plastic moles back into their holes. Whacking the moles can be so frustrating that we sometimes use the term “whac-a-mole” to describe a repetitive and futile task.

23 Word after high or seven : … SEAS

The phrase “international waters” is generally understood to mean the “high seas”, parts of oceans and seas that fall outside of national jurisdiction. There are also semi-enclosed bodies of water that have been declared international waterways. One example is the Danube River, which is deemed to be an international waterway so that it gives secure access to the Black Sea for the landlocked nations Austria, Hungary, Moldova, Serbia and Slovakia.

The phrase “the seven seas” has been used for centuries by many different peoples. The actual definition of what constitutes the collection of seven has varied depending on the period and the culture. Nowadays we consider the seven largest bodies of water as the seven seas, namely:

  • The North Pacific Ocean
  • The South Pacific Ocean
  • The North Atlantic Ocean
  • The South Atlantic Ocean
  • The Indian Ocean
  • The Southern Ocean
  • The Arctic Ocean

26 Rice option : PILAF

“Pilaf” is a Persian word, one that we use to describe rice that is browned in oil and then cooked in a seasoned broth. It can also be called “pilau”.

28 With 50-Across, blue streak : SONIC THE …
50A See 28-Across : … HEDGEHOG

Sonic the Hedgehog is a title character in a videogame and the mascot of Sega, the computer game developer. Sonic was set up as a rival to Nintendo’s mascot Mario.

32 Shapes up : TETRIS

Tetris is a very addictive video game that was developed in the Soviet Union in 1984. The name Tetris comes from a melding of the prefix “tetra-” (as all the game pieces have four segments) and “tennis” (a favorite sport played by the developer). Since 2005 there have been more than 100 million copies of the game installed on cell phones alone.

36 Barrier in certain zoo enclosures : MOAT

A moat is a protective trench that surrounds a castle, say, or an exhibit in a zoo. A moat may or may not be filled with water.

38 Dora the Explorer’s cousin : DIEGO

“Dora the Explorer” is a cartoon series shown on Nickelodeon. Part of Dora’s remit is to introduce the show’s young viewers to some Spanish words and phrases. Dora’s constant companion is an anthropomorphic monkey named “Boots”, because he always wears red boots. She also hangs out with Isa, an iguana.

42 Landon who lost in a landslide to F.D.R. : ALF

Alf Landon was the Governor of Kansas from 1933-37, and was the Republican Party’s nominee against Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 Presidential election. Landon is remembered as the candidate who “disappeared” after winning the nomination. He rarely traveled during the campaign, and made no appearances at all in its first two months. FDR famously won by a landslide, with Landon only winning the states of Maine and Vermont. Landon wasn’t even able to carry his home state of Kansas.

43 Sch. with campuses in Amherst and Lowell : UMASS

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) is the largest public university in New England. UMass was founded back in 1863, although it took a while to get the school into service. Construction work was delayed and the college went through two presidents before William S. Clark took charge. He cracked the whip, completed the construction and enrolled the first students in the same year that he took over the reins, in 1867. As a result, although Clark was the third President of UMass, he is regarded by most as the school’s founding father.

46 Eye affliction : STYE

A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.

48 Ghost in the machine : PAC-MAN

The Pac-Man arcade game was first released in Japan in 1980, and is as popular today as it ever was. The game features characters that are maneuvered around the screen to eat up dots and earn points, while being pursued by ghosts named Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. The name of the game comes from the Japanese folk hero “Paku”, who is known for his voracious appetite. The spin-off game called Ms. Pac-Man was released in 1981.

55 Blue-green shade : TEAL

The beautiful color teal takes its name from the duck called a teal, which has dark greenish-blue (teal) markings on its head and wings.

59 “Toodles,” but more formally : ADIEU

“Adieu” is French for “goodbye, farewell”, from “à Dieu” meaning “to God”. The plural of “adieu” is “adieux”.

64 Knock me down with a feather : ANGRY BIRDS

Angry Birds is a video game developed for smartphones. Angry Birds is the third most downloaded game, after Tetris and Pac-Man. There is a whole series of Angry Birds games now, including Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Star Wars and Angry Birds Transformers.

67 Start of a fairy tale : ONCE …

The stock phrase “Once upon a time …” has been used in various forms as the start of a narrative at least since 1380. The stock phrase at the end of stories such as folktales is often “and they all lived happily ever after”. The earlier version of this ending was “happily until their deaths”.

68 Actress Messing : DEBRA

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

69 What the fourth little piggy had : NONE

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.

70 Batik worker : DYER

Genuine batik cloth is produced by applying wax to the parts of the cloth that are not to be dyed. After the cloth has been dyed, it is dried and then dipped in a solvent that dissolves the wax. Although wax-resist dyeing of fabric has existed in various parts of the world for centuries, it is most closely associated historically with the island of Java in Indonesia.

72 Shred the ___ (skiing slang for conquering difficult terrain) : GNAR

A ski bum might use the term “gnar pow” for the quality of fresh snow, meaning “gnarly powder”.

Down

2 Noodles often served in broth : UDON

Udon noodles are made from wheat-flour and are very popular in Japanese cuisines such as tempura.

10 Rice option : BASMATI

Basmati is a long grain rice that is commonly used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. The name “basmati” comes from the Sanskrit word “vasmati” meaning “fragrant”. I am a big fan …

18 C.T.O. or C.F.O. : EXEC

Chief technology officer (CTO)

Chief financial officer (CFO)

31 “Mostly harmless” place, per “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” : EARTH

One of the themes in the Douglas Adams novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is the search for the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything”. The supercomputer called Deep Thought ponders this question for 7½ million years and comes to the conclusion that the answer is … 42.

33 Home with a dome : IGLOO

The Inuit word for “house” is “iglu”, which we usually write as “igloo”. The Greenlandic (yes, that’s a language) word for “house” is very similar, namely “igdlo”. The walls of igloos are tremendous insulators, due to the air pockets in the blocks of snow.

34 Giant head? : SOFT G

The head/start of the word “giant” is a soft letter G.

49 One side of the Hoover Dam : NEVADA

When the magnificent Hoover Dam was completed in 1936 it was the largest hydroelectric plant in the world, as well as being the world’s largest concrete structure. The edifice was originally known as Boulder Dam, due to its location near Boulder City, Nevada. The dam was eventually named after Herbert Hoover for his role in having the dam built when he was Secretary of Commerce, and his later support as US President. There was a formal dedication ceremony held in September 1935 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the area, when only work on the powerhouse was incomplete. President Roosevelt managed to make his dedication speech without once referring to the name of his former opponent President Hoover. When the dam was finally put into service in 1936, the project was two years ahead of schedule. Those were the days …

58 Orientation inits. : LGBT

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)

61 ___ Mode, “no capes” advocate in “The Incredibles” : EDNA

“The Incredibles” is a 2004 animated feature from Pixar, and not a great movie if you ask me. But asking me probably isn’t a good idea, as the film won two Oscars …

65 B&O and others : RRS

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) was one of the oldest in the country. Construction started on the railroad in 1828 in order to offer a method of transportation inland from Baltimore. This was deemed necessary as Baltimore was losing business to New York City after the completion of the Erie Canal (which cheaply and efficiently moved goods inland).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Many a rescue : MUTT
5 Bit of wisdom : PEARL
10 Playful sound while tapping someone’s nose : BOOP!
14 Brainchild : IDEA
15 Buildup of tanks? : ALGAE
16 Atmospheric glow : AURA
17 Barrel of monkeys : DONKEY KONG
19 Symbol seen on more than 30% of the world’s flags : STAR
20 Catalog : INDEX
21 Person you might see in August? : GUS
22 Whac-A-___ : MOLE
23 Word after high or seven : … SEAS
26 Rice option : PILAF
28 With 50-Across, blue streak : SONIC THE …
32 Shapes up : TETRIS
35 Black, in verse : EBON
36 Barrier in certain zoo enclosures : MOAT
38 Dora the Explorer’s cousin : DIEGO
39 Bit of ink : TAT
40 Leather band used to sharpen razors : STROP
42 Landon who lost in a landslide to F.D.R. : ALF
43 Sch. with campuses in Amherst and Lowell : UMASS
46 Eye affliction : STYE
47 Voter on a failed 2014 independence referendum : SCOT
48 Ghost in the machine : PAC-MAN
50 See 28-Across : … HEDGEHOG
52 Partner of dreams : HOPES
54 Life-or-death : DIRE
55 Blue-green shade : TEAL
57 Florida politico Demings : VAL
59 “Toodles,” but more formally : ADIEU
63 Rip : REND
64 Knock me down with a feather : ANGRY BIRDS
67 Start of a fairy tale : ONCE …
68 Actress Messing : DEBRA
69 What the fourth little piggy had : NONE
70 Batik worker : DYER
71 Like many theater camp productions : ARTSY
72 Shred the ___ (skiing slang for conquering difficult terrain) : GNAR

Down

1 Skirt covering the knees : MIDI
2 Noodles often served in broth : UDON
3 Oversee, as a flock : TEND
4 Adopts : TAKES IN
5 Insert a token, say : PAY
6 Sight at Rocky Mountain National Park : ELK
7 Excited : AGOG
8 Accumulated, as charges : RAN UP
9 Goes by foot, informally : LEGS IT
10 Rice option : BASMATI
11 Unobtainable : OUT OF REACH
12 ___ motor skills (baby’s development) : ORAL
13 Trim : PARE
18 C.T.O. or C.F.O. : EXEC
24 Paper pushers? : ATMS
25 They can be parting : SHOTS
27 Captained : LED
28 Sting operation, e.g. : SETUP
29 “A Promised Land” author, 2020 : OBAMA
30 “No way!” : NOT A CHANCE!
31 “Mostly harmless” place, per “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” : EARTH
33 Home with a dome : IGLOO
34 Giant head? : SOFT G
37 Messed (with) : TOYED
41 Spa treatment, informally : PEDI
44 Burn like embers : SMOLDER
45 Chump : SAP
47 Playoff ranking : SEEDING
49 One side of the Hoover Dam : NEVADA
51 Get, as a quick lunch : GRAB
53 More even-keeled : SANER
55 Walked (on) : TROD
56 Tiny, informally : EENY
58 Orientation inits. : LGBT
60 It makes up about a third of our planet’s mass : IRON
61 ___ Mode, “no capes” advocate in “The Incredibles” : EDNA
62 Operator : USER
65 B&O and others : RRS
66 “Huzzah!” : YAY!

11 thoughts on “0315-23 NY Times Crossword 15 Mar 23, Wednesday”

  1. 11:37. Not a big video game person. Knew the names of the games but not how to play any of them.

    I live about 20 miles from Hoover Dam. I just hope it doesn’t become a meaningless wall with no water on either side of it. Boulder City is really just a suburb of Las Vegas so Hoover Dam is only about 40 miles from the Vegas strip.

    Best –

  2. 11:51, no errors. Familiar with the names of all the games, have played all except Birds. Raising a granddaughter in the early 2000’s, spent a lot of time watching Dora. Remember thinking that if I hear “I’m the map” one more time…

    1. You’re right. It’s a reference to a well -known counting rhyme for babies’ toes. Maybe they don’t have it in Ireland!

  3. @glen and @dave – Ref to yesterday’s dialog.. I have watched some of video of the ACT and also looked at the different groups and their times.. I believe Billy Butler has competed. I am just amazed at the number of people that can whiz through these things so fast.

    There is no way I would compete but I would love to take in the atmosphere!

    As for today, knowing ANGRY BIRDS saved me. Not that I’ve played, but just knew of the game.

  4. FWIW with yesterday’s discussion, this one ranked “Average” with an average time of 9:24. Bill did well again, but I think I did a whole lot better job today than I did yesterday, maybe putting forth my point that the whole timeliness of the thing might have helped to do it when it first came out than five weeks later. I do get the feeling comparing how I do writing versus electronic that I’d probably post better efforts if I was doing it in the NYT app (as it is, xwstats is far from apples-to-apples for me looking at it). But just amazes me how well I do do with writing lately.

    @Mike
    Me too, but it’d be hard resist not being able to get on the field as it were. I wouldn’t actually make the trip until I feel I could do this respectably, especially as I’m still way too slow on Sundays (though the last one was surprisingly not too bad) and make way too many errors – in other words, I just know I have too many weaknesses to not completely fail at least twice given the time caps they impose in process of doing it.

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