0712-23 NY Times Crossword 12 Jul 23, Wednesday

Constructed by: Brooke Husic & Brian Thomas
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Daily Septet

Themed answers each start with the abbreviation for a day of the week, in order as we descend the grid:

  • 1A About 85%-90% of Muslims, globally [1st of 7] : SUNNI (SUN = Sunday)
  • 17A Hollywood’s Ricardo or Paolo [2nd of 7] : MONTALBAN (MON = Monday)
  • 26A French for “You are beautiful!” [3rd of 7] : TU ES BELLE (TUES = Tuesday)
  • 37A “Yippee for us!” [4th of 7] : WE DID IT! (WED = Wednesday)
  • 48A Digital confrontations? [5th of 7] : THUMB WARS (THU = Thursday)
  • 58A One of Robin Hood’s Merry Men [6th of 7] : FRIAR TUCK (FRI = Friday)
  • 69A One with horns [7th of 7] : SATAN (SAT = Saturday)

Bill’s time: 8m 36s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 About 85%-90% of Muslims, globally [1st of 7] : SUNNI (SUN = Sunday)
35A About 10%-15% of Muslims, globally : SHIA

The Islamic sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims differ in the belief of who should have taken over leadership of the Muslim faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Followers of the Sunni tradition agree with the decision that the Prophet Muhammad’s confidante Abu Bakr was the right choice to become the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. Followers of the Shia tradition believe that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet Muhammad’s own family, and favored the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali.

9 Weight : HEFT

The heft of something is its weight, its heaviness. The term “heft” is derivative of the verb “to heave” meaning “to lift, raise”.

14 Reddit Q&A session : AMA

Reddit.com is a networking and news website that started up in 2005. It is essentially a bulletin board system with posts that are voted up and down by users, which determines the ranking of posts. The name “Reddit” is a play on “read it”, as in “I read it on Reddit”. One popular feature of the Reddit site is an online forum that is similar to a press conference. Known as an AMA (for “ask me anything”), participants have included the likes of President Barack Obama, Madonna, Bill Gates, Stephen Colbert and Gordon Ramsay. President Obama’s AMA was so popular that the high level of traffic brought down many parts of the Reddit site.

15 Jacqueline du Pré’s instrument : CELLO

The cello is the second-largest instrument in the violin family, after the double bass. It is said that the cello produces a sound nearer the human voice than any other instrument in an orchestra. I can see/hear that …

16 Scottish cattle breed : ANGUS

The full name of the cattle breed is Aberdeen Angus, which is also the name used around the world outside of North America. The breed was developed by crossbreeding cattle from the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus in Scotland. The breed stands out in the US as Angus cattle don’t have horns.

17 Hollywood’s Ricardo or Paolo [2nd of 7] : MONTALBAN (MON = Monday)

Actor Ricardo Montalbán had such a long career and so many roles on the big and small screens. I suppose that I remember him most playing the title villain in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, as well as playing the same character on the original TV series. And of course, Montalbán portrayed Mr. Roarke on the TV show “Fantasy Island” in the seventies and eighties. His wife of many, many years was actress Georgiana Young, who was the younger half-sister of Hollywood star Loreta Young.

21 Spiky fruits with a noxious odor : DURIANS

Durian is a tropical fruit that is native to Southeast Asia. It has a spiky outer shell and a creamy, custard-like flesh that can vary in color from yellow to orange. Durian is known for its strong odor, which has been described as everything from rotten eggs to turpentine. Some people love the smell, while others find it offensive. The smell can be so offensive that it is illegal to carry durian on the Singapore subway system.

22 Sch. in Troy, N.Y. : RPI

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private school in Troy, New York. The university is named after its founder Stephen Van Rensselaer who set up the school in 1824. The goal of RPI has always been the “application of science to the common purposes of life”, an objective set by the founder. Given that, the name for the school’s sports teams is quite apt: the Engineers.

24 Place for garage sale receipts : CASHBOX

Our word “cash” comes from the Middle French “caisse” meaning “money box”.

28 Requests kibble, say : MEOWS

“To kibble” is to crush or grind coarsely. This verb evolved into the noun “kibble” meaning meat and/or grain that is ground into small pellets, especially when it is used for pet food.

32 End result : UPSHOT

Back in the 1500s, the “up shot” was the final shot in an archery match. We now use the term “upshot” to describe the end result, the conclusion.

36 Flutter, as eyelashes : BAT

At least as far back as the 1800s, the term “batting” was used in falconry to describe the fluttering of a hawk’s wings while on a perch or a fist, as if the bird intended to fly away. The usage of “batting” extended to the fluttering of a human’s eyelids, giving us the expressions “batting an eye” and “batting an eyelid”.

40 English suffix equivalent to Spanish’s -ando and -iendo : -ING

A gerund is a form of a verb that can be used as a noun. For example, the gerund of the verb “to solve” is “solving”, as in the phrase “we really enjoyed the solving of the crossword”.

41 Word in a traditional New Year’s Eve song : AULD

The song “Auld Lang Syne” is a staple at New Year’s Eve (well, actually in the opening minutes of New Year’s Day). The words were written by Scottish poet Robbie Burns. The literal translation of “Auld Lang Syne” is “old long since”, but is better translated as “old times”. The sentiment of the song is “for old time’s sake”.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

44 People for whom two states are named : DAKOTA

The Dakota Territory was formed in 1861 and ceased to exist with the admission to the Union of the states of North Dakota and South Dakota. The territory was split into two states in 1889 largely due to lobbying by the Republican Party, which enjoyed a lot of support in the Dakota Territory. The admission of two states added to the political power of the party in the US Senate, by adding four safe Republican seats.

48 Digital confrontations? [5th of 7] : THUMB WARS (THU = Thursday)

A thumb war (also “thumb wrestling”) is a kid’s game in which two players grasp each other’s hand, with thumbs pointing upwards. At the “go”, each competitor tries to pin his or her opponent’s thumb with their own.

50 ___ Bedingfield, 2000s pop star with the hits “Unwritten” and “Pocketful of Sunshine” : NATASHA

Natasha Bedingfield is a pop singer from England.

58 One of Robin Hood’s Merry Men [6th of 7] : FRIAR TUCK (FRI = Friday)

Friar Tuck is a character who appears in the legends of Robin Hood. He is a jovial man, fond of his food and wine, and a member of Robin’s merry band of outlaws.

60 Government program heads, informally : CZARS

The term “czar” (also “tsar”) is a Slavic word that was first used as a title by Simeon I of Bulgaria in 913 AD. “Czar” is derived from the word “caesar”, which was synonymous with “emperor” at that time. We tend to use the “czar” spelling, as opposed to “tsar”, when we describe a person today with great power or authority, e.g. “Drug Czar”.

65 Heaven knows where, for short : MIA

Missing in action (MIA)

67 Symbols of wisdom : OWLS

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.

69 One with horns [7th of 7] : SATAN (SAT = Saturday)

Satan is the bringer of evil and temptation in the Abrahamic religions. The name “Satan” is Hebrew for “adversary”.

Down

2 Archaeologist’s find : URN

“Archaeology” is a word that looks like it’s British English, and one might be forgiven for using the spelling “archeology” in American English. Even though the latter spelling has been around for a couple of hundred years, the former is the standard spelling on both sides of the Atlantic.

3 Holiday quaff : NOG

“Quaff” is both a verb and a noun. One “quaffs” (takes a hearty drink) of a “quaff” (a hearty drink).

6 Warm-blooded sort : MAMMAL

There are several main characteristics distinguishing mammals from other animals:

  • Mammals have fur or hair
  • Mammals are warm-blooded
  • Mammals are born alive
  • Mammals feed their young with milk produced by mammary glands
  • Mammals have relatively complex brains

9 Scary roller coaster twists : HELIXES

The plural of “helix” is “helices”. Well, it used to be …

10 Actor Idris of “The Wire” : ELBA

Idris Elba is a British actor and DJ. He was born in London to a Sierra Leonean father and a Ghanaian mother. Elba’s breakthrough role came in 2002, when he was cast as Stringer Bell in the HBO series “The Wire”.

11 Cousin of a tres leches cake : FLAN

Flan (also “crème caramel”) is a delicious dessert comprising a molded custard topped with a clear caramel sauce. The related crème brûlée is a dessert made from molded custard with a hard, burnt caramel layer on top.

A tres leches cake is a type of sponge cake that has been soaked in three kinds of milk, in heavy cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk.

12 Oodles : TONS

It’s thought that the term “oodles”, meaning “a lot”, comes from “kit and caboodle”.

15 Ricochet : CAROM

A carom is a ricochet, the bouncing of some projectile off a surface. “Carom” has come to describe the banking of a billiard ball, the bouncing of the ball off the side of the table.

18 Setting for a “Rubber Duckie” singalong : TUB

“Rubber Duckie” is a song performed by the muppet Ernie on “Sesame Street”. Rubber Duckie is also Ernie’s favorite toy, his rubber duck. The song was released as a single in 1970 and actually made it into the charts.

20 Winning blackjack combo : ACE-TEN

The card game known as “twenty-one” was first referred to in print in a book by Cervantes, the author famous for writing “Don Quixote”. He called the game “veintiuna” (Spanish for “twenty-one”). Cervantes wrote his story just after the year 1600, so the game has been around at least since then. Twenty-one came to the US but it wasn’t all that popular so bonus payments were introduced to create more interest. One of the more attractive bonuses was a ten-to-one payout to a player who was dealt an ace of spades and a black jack. This bonus led to the game adopting the moniker “Blackjack”.

22 “Queen of Drag” with 12 Emmys : RU PAUL

RuPaul is a famous drag queen who has developed a diverse career beyond performing on stage. He works as an actor, model, author and a recording artist. Famously, RuPaul doesn’t mind whether one addresses him as “he” or as “she” …

You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.

He currently hosts his own reality TV show called “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, which is billed as a search for “America’s next drag superstar”.

23 Mortar’s partner in food prep and chemistry : PESTLE

I’ve loved the sound of the words “mortar” and “pestle”, ever since I was first introduced to them in the chemistry lab. The Romans called a receptacle for pounding or grinding things a “mortarium”, giving us “mortar”. Mortarium was also the word for the product of pounding and grinding, which gives us our “mortar” that’s used with bricks to build a wall. And further, short stubby cannons used in the 16th century resembled a grinding bowl and so were called “mortars”, which evolved into our contemporary weapon of the same name. As far as the pestle is concerned, it is also derived from its Latin name “pistillum”, which comes from the word for “crush”.

26 Oom-pah-pah boomers : TUBAS

The tuba is the lowest-pitched of all brass instruments, and one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra (usually there is just one tuba included in an orchestral line-up). “Tuba” is the Latin word for “trumpet, horn”. Oom-pah-pah …

29 Buckeye : OHIOAN

Ohio is sometimes referred to as the Buckeye State, taking the name from the state tree. In turn, the buckeye tree gets its name from the appearance of its fruit, a dark nut with a light patch, thought to resemble a “buck’s eye”.

30 Like a snow globe scene : WINTRY

It is believed that the first snow globes were introduced in France in the early 1800s. They were a development of glass paperweights that were already common, and were initially used to do the same job. Do you know who owns the biggest collection of snow globes in the world, over 8,000 of them? That would be the actor Corbin Bernsen of “LA Law” and “Psych” fame.

34 “Big Little Lies” actress Nicole : KIDMAN

Nicole Kidman is an Australian-American actress whose breakthrough role was the female lead in 1989’s “Dead Calm”. Kidman was actually born in Hawaii, to Australian parents. As a result, she has dual citizenship of Australia and the US. Famously, Kidman was married to fellow-actor Tom Cruise from 1990 to 2001, and is now married to New Zealand-born country singer Keith Urban.

“Big Little Lies” is a 2017 TV miniseries that is based on a 2014 novel of the same name. It stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley as three women who, while dealing with their own emotional problems, find themselves involved in a murder investigation. I haven’t seen this one, but hear very good things …

45 Subject of the 2008 documentary “The Black Candle” : KWANZAA

Kwanzaa is a celebration of African heritage that lasts from December 26 to January 1 annually. The holiday was introduced in 1966 as an alternative to the existing holidays at the end of the year. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “first fruits of the harvest”. Part of the tradition is to light candles in a candelabra known as a kinara.

47 Deflect, as an insult or a sword : PARRY

In competitive fencing, a parry is a maneuver that blocks an attack by an opponent. There are actually nine defined ways to execute a parry.

51 Lunar New Year : TET

The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.

59 Surveillance org. : CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during WWII. The CIA was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947. The organization is often referred to familiarly as “the Company”.

62 Modern vaccine base : RNA

Traditional vaccines typically use weakened or inactivated viruses, or pieces of the virus, to stimulate an immune response. mRNA vaccines use a small piece of genetic material from the virus, called messenger RNA (mRNA), to instruct cells in the body to produce a harmless piece of the virus to trigger the immune response. mRNA vaccines are developed more quickly than traditional vaccines. This was demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, where mRNA vaccines were developed and authorized for emergency use within months of the emergence of the novel coronavirus.

63 Application info, often : SSN

Social Security number (SSN)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 About 85%-90% of Muslims, globally [1st of 7] : SUNNI (SUN = Sunday)
6 *shrug* : MEH
9 Weight : HEFT
13 Conjecture’s lack : PROOF
14 Reddit Q&A session : AMA
15 Jacqueline du Pré’s instrument : CELLO
16 Scottish cattle breed : ANGUS
17 Hollywood’s Ricardo or Paolo [2nd of 7] : MONTALBAN (MON = Monday)
19 Go here and there : ROAM
21 Spiky fruits with a noxious odor : DURIANS
22 Sch. in Troy, N.Y. : RPI
24 Place for garage sale receipts : CASHBOX
26 French for “You are beautiful!” [3rd of 7] : TU ES BELLE (TUES = Tuesday)
28 Requests kibble, say : MEOWS
32 End result : UPSHOT
33 Rocky Mountain National Park sight : ELK
35 About 10%-15% of Muslims, globally : SHIA
36 Flutter, as eyelashes : BAT
37 “Yippee for us!” [4th of 7] : WE DID IT! (WED = Wednesday)
40 English suffix equivalent to Spanish’s -ando and -iendo : -ING
41 Word in a traditional New Year’s Eve song : AULD
43 Bother and bother : NAG
44 People for whom two states are named : DAKOTA
46 Goal of a bedtime story reading : SLEEP
48 Digital confrontations? [5th of 7] : THUMB WARS (THU = Thursday)
50 ___ Bedingfield, 2000s pop star with the hits “Unwritten” and “Pocketful of Sunshine” : NATASHA
52 This, that or whichever : ANY
53 Looked up to : ADMIRED
56 “Come ___!” : ON IN
58 One of Robin Hood’s Merry Men [6th of 7] : FRIAR TUCK (FRI = Friday)
60 Government program heads, informally : CZARS
64 Come from behind : RALLY
65 Heaven knows where, for short : MIA
66 Brings home : EARNS
67 Symbols of wisdom : OWLS
68 Suffer the consequences : PAY
69 One with horns [7th of 7] : SATAN (SAT = Saturday)

Down

1 Place to unplug : SPA
2 Archaeologist’s find : URN
3 Holiday quaff : NOG
4 Give sustenance : NOURISH
5 In that case : IF SO
6 Warm-blooded sort : MAMMAL
7 Punk subculture : EMO
8 Like some drills and vacuums : HANDHELD
9 Scary roller coaster twists : HELIXES
10 Actor Idris of “The Wire” : ELBA
11 Cousin of a tres leches cake : FLAN
12 Oodles : TONS
15 Ricochet : CAROM
18 Setting for a “Rubber Duckie” singalong : TUB
20 Winning blackjack combo : ACE-TEN
22 “Queen of Drag” with 12 Emmys : RUPAUL
23 Mortar’s partner in food prep and chemistry : PESTLE
25 Some December lawn decorations : SLEIGHS
26 Oom-pah-pah boomers : TUBAS
27 Stick for a 15-Across player : BOW
29 Buckeye : OHIOAN
30 Like a snow globe scene : WINTRY
31 Major ordeals : SAGAS
34 “Big Little Lies” actress Nicole : KIDMAN
38 Load of information all at once : DATA DUMP
39 What Ctrl+T might open : TAB
42 “Nope,” “I’m innocent” and “Huh-uh” : DENIALS
45 Subject of the 2008 documentary “The Black Candle” : KWANZAA
47 Deflect, as an insult or a sword : PARRY
49 “Er … I suppose that works” : UH … OKAY
51 Lunar New Year : TET
53 Natural hairstyle : AFRO
54 Tie : DRAW
55 Structure historically found by a river : MILL
57 Frosts : ICES
59 Surveillance org. : CIA
61 Word with fine or folk : … ART
62 Modern vaccine base : RNA
63 Application info, often : SSN

13 thoughts on “0712-23 NY Times Crossword 12 Jul 23, Wednesday”

  1. 13:15, no errors. Concur with Alaska Steve, didn’t bother with the theme; let Bill figure it out.
    Many years ago we had neighbors who were Ohio State football fans. It was from them that we first heard OSU sports teams referred to as the “Bug Eyes”.

  2. 10:59, same as above regarding the theme. Still remember Ricardo Montalban selling Dodge Cordobas with rich Corinthian leather….

  3. 11:17. Pretty WEEK theme IMO….

    I always thought the instrument closest to the human voice isn’t the CELLO but the kazoo.

    Not really certain if I’m a MAMMAL. Fur? ok. Warm blooded? Sure. Born alive? As far as I can tell, yes. Feed my young via mammary glands? No. Relatively complex brain? Absolutely not. Can I be half a MAMMAL??

    Best –

  4. 7:37, no errors. I mention before I got swamped in puzzle books I find for cheap, but I just keep getting in deeper. Up to around 1500 puzzles now with a New York Times Crossword Calendar I picked up (~300 puzzles) used for $1. Funny how it all works.

  5. No errors.. a lot of odd names.

    Never saw the theme. Except they were a bit different.

    Did not know Ricardo was married to Loretta Youngs half sister.

  6. I scratched my head there re ordeals/saga too.

    It’s a badge of honour to get the drag queen’s name wrong. Is that supposed to be a household name? Interesting that it intersects with 46A, given the controversy around drag queens reading to kids. It took a fair bit of contortion to use that as a clue for the word “sleep.” I’m sure it’s a coincidence and not woke puzzle authors playing with your head.

    1. guess that post could be seen as provocative. I just don’t buy into all the hype around those performers or what makes them deserving of adulation or esteem in the same way as an athlete, musician, etc.

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