0131-24 NY Times Crossword 31 Jan 24, Wednesday

Constructed by: Nathan Hale
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Crossed a Bear

Themed answers each sound like a common phrase in the format “X TO Y”. Also, each themed answer CROSSES the name of a celebrated BEAR in the grid:

  • 51A Betrayed Paddington? … or what 20-, 34- and 41-Across did in this puzzle : CROSSED A BEAR (sounds like “cross to bear”)
  • 20A Prepared to fight Goliath? : READIED A ROCK (sounds like “ready to rock”)
  • 34A Practiced changing one’s costume by the clock? : TIMED A GETUP (sounds like “time to get up”)
  • 41A Invested on Broadway, say? : BACKED A WORK (sounds like “back to work”)
  • 6D Presidential nickname of the early 20th century : TEDDY (giving “teddy bear”)
  • 24D Owie : BOO-BOO (giving “Boo-Boo Bear”)
  • 29D Motown legend Robinson : SMOKEY (giving “Smokey Bear”)

Bill’s time: 8m 13s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Seize : USURP

To usurp is to seize and hold by force. The term “usurp” comes to us from Latin via French, from “usus” (a use) and “rapere” (to seize).

9 Pizazz : OOMPH

Pizazz (also “pizzazz”) is energy, vitality. There’s a kind of cool thing about the “pizzazz” spelling, namely that it is the only 7-letter word in English that cannot be played in Scrabble. You can get close by using the Z-tile with the two blank tiles to get to three of the required four Zs, but there’s no way to get to the fourth Z.

15 One of the Manning brothers : ELI

Eli Manning is a retired footballer who played quarterback for the New York Giants. Eli’s brother Peyton Manning retired from football as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2015. Eli and Peyton’s father is Archie Manning, who was also a successful NFL quarterback. Eli, Peyton and Archie co-authored a book for children titled “Family Huddle” in 2009. It describes the Mannings playing football together as young boys.

17 Fly the coop : SKEDADDLE

“Skedaddle” is a slang term meaning “run away”, one that dates back to the Civil War.

19 Spanish restaurant fare : TAPAS

“Tapa” is the Spanish word for “lid”. There is no clear rationale for why this word came to be used for an appetizer. There are lots of explanations cited, all of which seem to involve the temporary covering of one’s glass of wine with a plate or item of food to either preserve the wine or give one extra space at the table.

20 Prepared to fight Goliath? : READIED A ROCK (sounds like “ready to rock”)

In the story of David and Goliath, the Israelites and the Philistines faced each other in battle at the Valley of Elah. Goliath was the warrior champion of the Philistines and each day he challenged the Israelites to send out their champion to decide the battle in a one-on-one fight. No one was courageous enough to accept the challenge until young David agreed to face the mighty Goliath. David felled the giant soldier with a stone from his sling.

23 Like the numerals 1, 2 and 3 : ARABIC

The numbers that we use in English and most other languages (0, 1, 2, 3 etc.) are Arabic numerals, also called Hindu-Arabic or Indo-Arabic numerals. The concept of positional numbers was developed by the Babylonians, and the first use of “zero” is attributed to mathematicians in the Indian subcontinent.

27 Dutch beer named for a river : AMSTEL

Amstel is a Dutch beer and brewery that was founded in 1870 in Amsterdam. The brewery takes its name from the Amstel river that runs through the city.

31 ___-chic : BOHO

Boho-chic is a style of fashion that grew out of the bohemian and hippie looks.

36 The Cowboys and Cowgirls of the N.C.A.A. : OSU

The athletic teams of Oklahoma State University (OSU) are called the Cowboys and the Cowgirls.

37 Private university of North Carolina : ELON

Elon is a city in the Piedmont region of North Carolina located close to the city of Burlington. Elon University is a private liberal arts school founded in 1889.

38 Leader who was the author of “On Protracted War” : MAO

Mao Zedong (also “Mao Tse-tung”) was born on December 16, 1893 in the Hunan Province of China. As Mao was the son of a peasant farmer, his prospects for education were limited. Indeed he left school at age 13 to work on the family farm but did eventually get to secondary school in Changsha, the provincial capital. In the years following, Mao continued his education in Beijing and actually turned down an opportunity to study in France.

39 First murder victim : ABEL

In the story of Cain and Abel in the Book of Genesis, Cain murders his brother Abel. Subsequently, God asks Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” Cain replies, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

40 Common wine barrel material : OAK

Oak barrels are sometimes used to store wine during fermentation and aging. The oak wood has a profound effect, usually changing the wine’s color, flavor and texture. If the wine is stored in stainless steel barrels, then a similar effect can be achieved by adding oak chips or staves to the liquid.

45 Article in Le Monde : UNE

“Le Monde” is a newspaper published each evening in France. It is one of the two most famous French papers, along with “Le Figaro”.

48 Matchbox, e.g. : TOY CAR

The Matchbox brand of toy cars were introduced in 1953, and how I loved them growing up. They were called Matchbox cars because they were packed in boxes that looked like regular matchboxes. The brand was English, but the name spread around the world. The brand was so popular that the term “matchbox car” came to mean any small, die-cast toy car, regardless of who made it.

50 NBC staple since 1975, in brief : SNL

NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1975 under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. Back then “The Tonight Show” had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to put together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and he came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.

51 Betrayed Paddington? … or what 20-, 34- and 41-Across did in this puzzle : CROSSED A BEAR (sounds like “cross to bear”)

Paddington Bear is a character from a series of books written by Michael Bond. Paddington is an immigrant from Peru who is found sitting on his suitcase in Paddington Railway Station in London. He is a beloved character in the UK. When the two sides of the Channel Tunnel were linked in 1994 during construction, the first item passed by the British to the French was a Paddington Bear soft toy.

58 Arm bones : RADII

The radius and ulna are bones in the forearm. If you hold the palm of your hand up in front of you, the radius is the bone on the “thumb-side” of the arm, and the ulna is the bone on the “pinky-side”.

61 Something you shouldn’t take lying down? : POLYGRAPH

We are most familiar with the word “polygraph” as the generic name for a lie detector instrument. This usage began in 1921, although the term had been around since the end of the 18th century. Back then, a polygraph was a mechanical device used to make multiple copies as something was written or drawn. Famously, Thomas Jefferson used a polygraph to preserve copies of letters that he wrote to correspondents.

62 Philly school : UPENN

The University of Pennsylvania (also “Penn” and “UPenn”) was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. Penn was the first school in the country to offer both graduate and undergraduate courses. Penn’s sports teams are known as the Quakers, and sometimes the Red & Blue.

63 In which the pinky and thumb pointing out represents Y, in brief : ASL

American Sign Language (ASL)

The use of “pinkie” or “pinky” for the little finger or toe comes into English from “pinkje”, the Dutch word for the same digit. Who knew …?

65 ___ Popovich, longtime coach for the Spurs : GREGG

Gregg Popovich took over as coach of the San Antonio Spurs in 1996. He is often referred to as “Pop” or “Coach Pop”. Popovich holds the record for the NBA coach with the longest run of consecutive winning seasons.

67 Latin dance : SALSA

The genre of music called salsa is a modern interpretation of various Cuban traditional music styles.

Down

1 It’s written as “C.C.C.P.” in Cyrillic : USSR

The abbreviation CCCP stands for “Сою́з Сове́тских Социалисти́ческих Респу́блик”, which translates from Russian as “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”, the USSR.

Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers, and Christian missionaries among the Slavic peoples. As well as introducing Christianity to the region in the 9th century, the brothers taught many illiterate people to write. They invented two Slavic alphabets for use in translating the Bible into Slavic languages. One is the Glagolitic alphabet, but the more famous is the Cyrillic alphabet that developed into the Cyrillic script that is used widely today across Eastern Europe and much of Asia.

2 Japanese rice wine : SAKE

We refer to the Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice as “sake”. We’ve gotten things a bit mixed up in the West. “Sake” is actually the word that the Japanese use for all alcoholic drinks. What we know as sake, we sometimes refer to as rice wine. Also, the starch in the rice is first converted to sugars that are then fermented into alcohol. This is more akin to a beer-brewing process than wine production, so the end product is really a rice “beer” rather than a rice “wine”.

3 Pupil’s place : UVEA

The uvea is the middle of the three layers that make up the eyeball. The outer layer is called the fibrous tunic, and the inner layer is the retina.

4 Chris formerly of 50-Across : REDD
[50A NBC staple since 1975, in brief : SNL]

Actor and stand-up comedian Chris Redd joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 2017, after a stint with the Second City Touring Company based in Chicago.

6 Presidential nickname of the early 20th century : TEDDY (giving “teddy bear”)

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any field. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role in negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War.

The stuffed toy known as a teddy bear was introduced in the early 1900s and was named for President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. The toy was inspired by a political cartoon that was drawn in 1902 showing President Roosevelt on a bear hunt and refusing to kill a black bear cub. That event is celebrated annually on September 9th as National Teddy Bear Day.

7 Penne ___ vodka : ALLA

Penne alla vodka is a pasta dish with a sauce made of vodka, cream, tomatoes, onions and sausage or bacon.

8 Spot from which to say “bon voyage” : PIER

“Bon voyage” translates literally from French into English as “good journey”.

10 Tennis star Naomi : OSAKA

Naomi Osaka is a Japanese-born tennis professional who became the first Asian player to be ranked number-one in singles. She was also the first ever tennis player to light the Olympic cauldron during an opening ceremony, doing so for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

12 Sports org. with an annual championship on the weekend before Memorial Day : PGA

The four major golf competitions in men’s golf are:

  • the Masters Tournament
  • the US Open
  • the Open Championship (aka “the British Open”)
  • the PGA Championship

13 “___ So Shy” (1980 Pointer Sisters hit) : HE’S

“He’s So Shy” was a hit in 1980 for the Pointer Sisters. Although the title is reminiscent of the 1963 hit for the Chiffons called “He’s So Fine”, there is no relationship between the two numbers. The original lyrics were written for a male singer, but the Pointer Sisters decided to change the lyrics to fit their all-female group.

18 Actress Reese of “Touched by an Angel” : DELLA

Della Reese is the stage name of actress, singer and all-round entertainer Deloreese Patricia Early. Her career started as a singer in the fifties and was revived in the nineties when she played the lead character in the TV show “Touched by an Angel”.

21 Waikiki locale : OAHU

Waikiki is a neighborhood of Honolulu that is home to the famous Waikiki Beach. The name “Waikiki” means “spouting fresh water” in Hawaiian.

24 Owie : BOO-BOO (giving “Boo-Boo Bear”)

Boo-Boo Bear was the sidekick to Yogi Bear on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon classic “The Yogi Bear Show”.

26 Seals, in a way : CAULKS

The term “caulk” comes from old Norman French “cauquer”, and described the action of filling gaps with lime. “Caulk” has the same root as our word “chalk”.

28 City in which to see “Il Cenacolo” (“The Last Supper”) : MILANO

Milan (“Milano” in Italian) is Italy’s second-largest city, second only to Rome. It is a European fashion capital, the headquarters for the big Italian fashion houses of Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Armani, Prada and others. Mario Prada was even born in Milan, and helped establish the city’s reputation in the world of fashion.

Leonardo da Vinci’s famous mural “The Last Supper” can be seen on an end wall of the dining hall in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. If you want to see the painting in person, you have to make a reservation ahead of time. And once you get there, you’re only allowed 15 minutes of viewing time. It’s very popular …

29 Motown legend Robinson : SMOKEY (giving “Smokey Bear”)

Singer Smokey Robinson started his musical career in 1955 when he formed a singing group called the Five Chimes in his native Detroit. The group’s name changed to the Matadors in 1957, and eventually to the Miracles. In 1959, Robinson married Claudette Rogers, who was in the Miracles lineup at the time.

Smokey Bear is the mascot of the US Forest Service. Smokey first appeared in 1944, in an advertising campaign directed towards preventing forest fires.

31 Prominent parts of toucans : BEAKS

The toucan is a brightly-marked bird with a large, colorful bill. The name “toucan” comes into English via Portuguese from the Tupi name “tukana”. The Tupi were an indigenous people of Brazil.

35 Sonoma and Yukon : GMCS

GMC is a division of General Motors (GM) that was established in 1901 and started out as “GMC Truck”.

54 La ___ Tar Pits : BREA

The La Brea Tar Pits are located right in the heart of the city of Los Angeles. At the site there is a constant flow of tar that seeps up to the surface from underground, a phenomenon that has been around for tens of thousands of years. What is significant is that much of the seeping tar is covered by water. Over many, many centuries animals came to the water to drink and became trapped in the tar as they entered the water to quench their thirst. The tar then preserved the bones of the dead animals. Today a museum is located right by the Tar Pits, recovering bones and displaying specimens of the animals found there. It’s well worth a visit if you are in town …

55 Rank associated with tea and sandwiches? : EARL

The Earl Grey blend of tea is supposedly named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey who was Prime Minister of the UK from 1830 to 1834. Earl Grey tea has a distinctive flavor that is largely due to the addition of oil from the rind of the bergamot orange.

56 Honeybees’ genus : APIS

Something described as apian is related to bees. “Apis” is Latin for “bee”.

There are over 16,000 species of bees, with the best-known probably being the western honey bee, the most common of the honey bees worldwide. Bees feed on nectar and pollen, and in so doing play a crucial role in the pollination of many plants. That’s one of the main reasons there is great concern about diminishing populations of wild bees.

57 Large flightless bird : RHEA

The rhea is a flightless bird that is native to South America. It takes its name from the Greek Titan Rhea. That’s an apt name for a flightless bird as “rhea” comes from the Greek word meaning “ground”.

59 Borrower’s concern, for short : APR

Annual percentage rate (APR)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Seize : USURP
6 Alternative to “swipe” for a credit card : TAP
9 Pizazz : OOMPH
14 Word with life or screen : -SAVER
15 One of the Manning brothers : ELI
16 Measurement on an electric meter : USAGE
17 Fly the coop : SKEDADDLE
19 Spanish restaurant fare : TAPAS
20 Prepared to fight Goliath? : READIED A ROCK (sounds like “ready to rock”)
22 Scheming : SLY
23 Like the numerals 1, 2 and 3 : ARABIC
27 Dutch beer named for a river : AMSTEL
31 ___-chic : BOHO
33 “I’m ___ Boat” (Lonely Island song) : ON A
34 Practiced changing one’s costume by the clock? : TIMED A GETUP (sounds like “time to get up”)
36 The Cowboys and Cowgirls of the N.C.A.A. : OSU
37 Private university of North Carolina : ELON
38 Leader who was the author of “On Protracted War” : MAO
39 First murder victim : ABEL
40 Common wine barrel material : OAK
41 Invested on Broadway, say? : BACKED A WORK (sounds like “back to work”)
45 Article in Le Monde : UNE
46 Taking off : LESS
47 Earmarks : ALLOTS
48 Matchbox, e.g. : TOY CAR
50 NBC staple since 1975, in brief : SNL
51 Betrayed Paddington? … or what 20-, 34- and 41-Across did in this puzzle : CROSSED A BEAR (sounds like “cross to bear”)
58 Arm bones : RADII
61 Something you shouldn’t take lying down? : POLYGRAPH
62 Philly school : UPENN
63 In which the pinky and thumb pointing out represents Y, in brief : ASL
64 Like a cemetery at night, maybe : EERIE
65 ___ Popovich, longtime coach for the Spurs : GREGG
66 Turndowns : NOS
67 Latin dance : SALSA

Down

1 It’s written as “C.C.C.P.” in Cyrillic : USSR
2 Japanese rice wine : SAKE
3 Pupil’s place : UVEA
4 Chris formerly of 50-Across : REDD
5 Gave positive reinforcement : PRAISED
6 Presidential nickname of the early 20th century : TEDDY (giving “teddy bear”)
7 Penne ___ vodka : ALLA
8 Spot from which to say “bon voyage” : PIER
9 Protruding feature on a cliff : OUTCROP
10 Tennis star Naomi : OSAKA
11 Hiker’s aid : MAP
12 Sports org. with an annual championship on the weekend before Memorial Day : PGA
13 “___ So Shy” (1980 Pointer Sisters hit) : HE’S
18 Actress Reese of “Touched by an Angel” : DELLA
21 Waikiki locale : OAHU
24 Owie : BOO-BOO (giving “Boo-Boo Bear”)
25 Ad section in a newspaper, maybe : INSERT
26 Seals, in a way : CAULKS
27 Dined at a restaurant : ATE OUT
28 City in which to see “Il Cenacolo” (“The Last Supper”) : MILANO
29 Motown legend Robinson : SMOKEY (giving “Smokey Bear”)
30 Perfect score, often : TEN
31 Prominent parts of toucans : BEAKS
32 Plains tribe : OTOE
35 Sonoma and Yukon : GMCS
39 Leatherworker’s tool : AWL
41 Extra-loud, as a loudspeaker : BLARING
42 Prefix with nautical : AERO-
43 Fine partner? : DANDY
44 Audience for which a G-rated film is appropriate : ALL AGES
49 Keeping in the loop, in a way : CC’ING
50 Unloads, so to speak : SELLS
52 Bridge : SPAN
53 Meh : SO-SO
54 La ___ Tar Pits : BREA
55 Rank associated with tea and sandwiches? : EARL
56 Honeybees’ genus : APIS
57 Large flightless bird : RHEA
58 Toupee, slangily : RUG
59 Borrower’s concern, for short : APR
60 Poor grade : DEE

5 thoughts on “0131-24 NY Times Crossword 31 Jan 24, Wednesday”

  1. 17:15, no errors. I guess the key to the theme is recognizing that many people pronounce ‘to’ as ‘duh’.

  2. 15:16. Getting this done just a few minutes before Thursday. Helps keep my still single-digit streak alive.

    Not a whole lot to say. Just the bare necessities…

    Best –

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