0208-24 NY Times Crossword 8 Feb 24, Thursday

Constructed by: Samuel A. Donaldson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Opposites Attract

Themed answers contain two words and come in pairs, side by side in the grid. The words in the answers at the left and right edges of the grid are OPPOSITES in meaning, and have been ATTRACTED to each other. The result is the inversion of the two words in each themed answer:

  • 40A Dating axiom … or a hint to interpreting four pairs of answers in this puzzle : OPPOSITES ATTRACT
  • 18A Highway crossing : OVERPASS (from PASSOVER)
  • 19A Fail : GO UNDER (from UNDERGO)
  • 24A Sequentially arranged : IN ORDER (from ORDER IN)
  • 28A Explains in detail : LAYS OUT (from OUTLAYS)
  • 54A Like an impromptu remark : OFFHAND (from HAND OFF)
  • 56A Keep wearing : LEAVE ON (from ON LEAVE)
  • 62A Rehearsed to perfection : DOWN PAT (from PAT DOWN)
  • 66A Excite, as a crowd : CHARGE UP (from UPCHARGE)

Bill’s time: 11m 54s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Reality checks? : CAPTCHAS

A CAPTCHA is a challenge-and-response test that is used to determine if a user is a human or some automated program. The acronym “CAPTCHA” stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

16 Austin Powers catchphrase : OH, BEHAVE!

The Austin Powers character was created by the actor who plays him, namely Mike Myers. Apparently Myers came up with the idea for Powers while listening to the Burt Bacharach song “The Look of Love”.

21 Perp alert : APB

An All Points Bulletin (APB) is a broadcast from one US law enforcement agency to another.

23 Mob man : DON

In the Mafia, a don is a head of a family, someone who might order a hit, a killing.

33 Clever quip : EPIGRAM

An epigram is a short and clever statement, poem or discourse.

35 LAX scanners (but not lax ones, one hopes) : TSA

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and the busiest here on the West Coast of the US. The airport was opened in 1930 as Mines Field and was renamed to Los Angeles Airport in 1941. On the airport property is the iconic white structure that resembles a flying saucer. This is called the Theme Building and I believe it is mainly used as a restaurant and observation deck for the public. The airport used to be identified by the letters “LA”, but when the aviation industry went to a three-letter standard for airport identification, this was changed to “LAX”. Apparently, the “X” has no significant meaning.

37 Uncle Sam’s land, informally : US OF A

The Uncle Sam personification of the United States was first used during the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” term was so widely accepted that even the Germans used it during WWII, choosing the code word “Samland” for “America” in intelligence communiques.

46 “Natural” at the craps table : SEVEN

In the gambling game of craps, a throw of seven or eleven on the first cast of the dice is called a “natural”.

47 “Unbelievable!,” in internet shorthand : SMH!

Shaking my head (SMH)

52 Jazz great Shaw : ARTIE

Artie Shaw was a composer, bandleader and jazz clarinetist. His real name was Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, born in New York City in 1910. One of Shaw’s many claims to fame is that he (a white bandleader) hired Billie Holiday (a black vocalist) and toured the segregated South in the late thirties. Holiday chose to leave the band though, due to hostility from Southern audiences back then. Artie Shaw was married eight times in all. The list of his wives includes the actresses Lana Turner and Ava Gardner, as well as Betty Kern, daughter of songwriter Jerome Kern.

58 Name for two Spice Girls : MEL

“Mel B” is the stage name of Melanie Brown, who came to fame as a member of the Spice Girls musical group. She took the name Mel B to distinguish herself from fellow band member Melanie Chisholm (Melanie C). Mel B was also known as “Scary Spice”, a nickname given to her by the media. American viewers saw Mel B on the TV show “America’s Got Talent” from 2013 through 2019, on which show she served as a judge.

Melanie C is a member of the English girl band the Spice Girls, with whom she has the nickname “Sporty Spice”. “Mel C” got the gig with the Spice Girls by replying to an ad in “The Stage” magazine, and auditioning alongside about 40 women who responded to the same ad. Sporty Spice really is quite sporty, and has completed the London Triathlon … twice.

72 Some desert dwellers : SAHARANS

The name “Sahara” means “greatest desert” in Arabic. The Sahara is just that, a great desert covering almost 4 million square miles of Northern Africa. That’s almost the size of the United States.

Down

2 “Now I remember who sang ‘Take On Me’!” : AHA!

Here’s a 2002 list of one-hit wonders that VH1 dubbed the top-10 greatest of all time:

  1. “Macarena” – Los del Río (1996)
  2. “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell (1982)
  3. “Come on Eileen” – Dexys Midnight Runners (1982)
  4. “I’m Too Sexy” – Right Said Fred (1991)
  5. “Mickey” – Toni Basil (1982)
  6. “Who Let the Dogs Out?” – Baha Men (2000)
  7. “Ice Ice Baby” – Vanilla Ice (1990)
  8. “Take On Me” – A-ha (1985)
  9. “Rico Suave” – Gerardo (1990)
  10. “99 Luftballons” – Nena (1984)

3 “Washington Week” airer : PBS

“Washington Week” is a public affairs TV program that has been on the air since 1967. The show features a moderated panel discussion between 2-4 Washington-based journalists.

7 Boston’s Mass. ___ : AVE

Massachusetts Avenue in Boston (and beyond) is known to locals simply as Mass Ave. It was along part of Mass Ave (then called the Great Road) that Paul Revere made his famous ride in 1775.

8 Lab liquids : SERA

Blood serum (plural “sera”) is the clear, yellowish part of blood i.e. that part which is neither a blood cell nor a clotting factor. Included in blood serum are antibodies, the proteins that are central to our immune system. Blood serum from animals that have immunity to a particular disease can be transferred to another individual, hence providing that second individual with some level of immunity. Blood serum used to pass on immunity can be called “antiserum”.

9 It goes viral in winter : FLU BUG

Influenza (the “flu”) is an ailment that is caused by a virus. The virus is readily inactivated by the use of soap, so washing hands and surfaces is especially helpful in containing flu outbreaks, and other virus pandemics …

10 Director Justin of the “Fast & Furious” franchise : LIN

Justin Lin is an American movie director who was born in Taiwan. Lin directed three of the six films in “The Fast and the Furious” series. I’m not really a fan of “The Fast and the Furious” films …

12 Prop used for kickoffs : TEE

A tee is a small device on which, say, a golf ball is placed before striking it. The term “tee” comes from the Scottish “teaz”, which described little heaps of sand used to elevate a golf ball for the purpose of getting a clean hit with a club.

14 Food items originally called Froffles : EGGOS

Eggo is a line of frozen waffles and related products made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced “Froffles”, the original name chosen by melding “frozen” and “waffles”.

15 It may glow in the dark : NEON

The basic design of neon lighting was first demonstrated at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Such lighting is made up of glass tubes containing a vacuum into which has been introduced a small amount of neon gas. When a voltage is applied between two electrodes inside the tube, the neon gas “glows” and gives off the familiar light.

24 Title role for Tom Hanks in 2022 : OTTO

“A Man Called Otto” is a marvelous 2022 comedy-drama movie starring Tom Hanks as a grumpy old man who gets dragged, reluctantly, into the lives of his neighbors. It is a remake of the 2015 Swedish film “A Man Called Ove”, which in turn is an adaptation of the 2012 novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman. In flashbacks, young Otto is played by Truman Hanks, one of Tom Hanks’ sons.

38 Colorful Coke brand : FANTA

The soft drink Fanta has quite an interesting history. As WWII approached, the Coca-Cola plant in Germany had trouble obtaining the ingredients it needed to continue production of the cola beverage, so the plant manager decided to create a new drink from what was available. The new beverage was built around whey (leftover from cheese production) and pomace (left over after juice has been extracted from fruit). The inventor asked his colleagues to use their “imagination” (“Fantasie” in German) and come up with a name for the drink, so they piped up “Fanta!”

39 End of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” : ACT IV

“The Crucible” is a 1952 play by Arthur Miller that tells the story of the Salem witch trials. Miller wrote it as an allegory for the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings that were being chaired by Senator Joe McCarthy around that time. Miller was called before the Committee himself, and was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to “name names”.

43 Brasilia-to-Rio dir. : SSE

Brasília is the capital of Brazil, and is located in the central-west of the country. A decision was made in 1956 to move the nation’s capital from Rio de Janeiro on the coast, to a more central location. So, Brasília was founded in 1960, and is now the fastest growing city in the country.

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil (after São Paulo). “Rio de Janeiro” translates as “January River”. The name reflects the discovery of the bay on which Rio sits, on New Year’s Day in 1502.

45 “America” pronoun : THEE

The patriotic song “America” is also known by its first line, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. The song was written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831, and was the de facto national anthem of the country until “The Star-Spangled Banner” was declared the official anthem in 1931. The melody of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” is identical with the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen”.

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!

54 Where Lear exclaims “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!” : HEATH

William Shakespeare’s play “King Lear” is one of his tragedies. Lear demands homage from his three daughters as he divides up his kingdom between them. The two older daughters, Goneril and Regan, pretend to be devoted to their father, but the youngest, Cordela, refuses to be insincere. Goneril and Regan assume power, but turn on their father, who chooses to become destitute and goes insane.

57 ___ cheese : NACHO

The dish known as “nachos” was supposedly created by the maître d’ at a restaurant called the Victory Club in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. The name of the maître d’ was Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya.

58 Video format : MPEG

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) was established in 1988 to set standards for audio and video compression. The standards they’ve come up with use the acronym “MPEG”.

64 L.G.B.T. History Mo. : OCT

LGBT History Month has been celebrated annually since 1994. The month of October was chosen so that it coincided with the already-existing National Coming Out Day, which is observed annually on October 11th.

65 Mart start : WAL-

Walmart (previously “Wal-Mart”) takes in more revenue than any other publicly traded company in the world. Over in my homeland, Walmart operates under the name Asda. Walmart’s worldwide headquarters are in Bentonville, Arkansas, the home of Sam Walton’s original Five and Dime. You can actually go into the original store, as it is now the Walmart Visitor Center.

67 Dog on a cat? : PAW

Apparently, the phrase “my dogs are barking” meaning “my feet are hurting” originated in America in the 1920s. From there evolved the use of the term “dogs” for “feet”.

68 Emmy-nominated Issa : RAE

Issa Rae is a Stanford University graduate who created a YouTube web series called “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”. Rae also plays the title role in the series, a young lady named “J”. “Awkward Black Girl” was adapted into an HBO comedy-drama called “Insecure”, in which Issa Rae stars.

69 Economic fig. : GNP

A country’s Gross National Product (GNP) is the value of all services and products produced by its residents in a particular year. GNP includes all production wherever it is in the world, as long as the business is owned by residents of the country concerned. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is different, although related, and is the value of all services and goods produced within the borders of the country for that year.

70 End of days? : ESS

The end of the word “days” is a letter S (ess).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Reality checks? : CAPTCHAS
9 Raze : FLATTEN
16 Austin Powers catchphrase : OH, BEHAVE!
17 Family tree : LINEAGE
18 Highway crossing : OVERPASS (from PASS OVER)
19 Fail : GO UNDER (from UNDERGO)
20 N.B.A. impossibility : TIE
21 Perp alert : APB
23 Mob man : DON
24 Sequentially arranged : IN ORDER (from ORDER IN)
28 Explains in detail : LAYS OUT (from OUTLAYS)
32 Container weight allowances : TARES
33 Clever quip : EPIGRAM
35 LAX scanners (but not lax ones, one hopes) : TSA
36 Unit of cellphone reception : BAR
37 Uncle Sam’s land, informally : US OF A
40 Dating axiom … or a hint to interpreting four pairs of answers in this puzzle : OPPOSITES ATTRACT
46 “Natural” at the craps table : SEVEN
47 “Unbelievable!,” in internet shorthand : SMH!
48 Hypothetical degree : NTH
49 Road runners? : ENGINES
52 Jazz great Shaw : ARTIE
54 Like an impromptu remark : OFFHAND (from HAND OFF)
56 Keep wearing : LEAVE ON (from ON LEAVE)
58 Name for two Spice Girls : MEL
59 Well-seasoned : OLD
61 Mobile ___ : APP
62 Rehearsed to perfection : DOWN PAT (from PAT DOWN)
66 Excite, as a crowd : CHARGE UP (from UPCHARGE)
71 Conforming to accepted values : ETHICAL
72 Some desert dwellers : SAHARANS
73 Eerie : GHOSTLY
74 Many country-and-western dances : TWO-STEPS

Down

1 Admit (to) : COP
2 “Now I remember who sang ‘Take On Me’!” : AHA!
3 “Washington Week” airer : PBS
4 One being quizzed : TESTEE
5 Conductors may conduct them : CHOIRS
6 “Never ___ ever …” : HAVE I
7 Boston’s Mass. ___ : AVE
8 Lab liquids : SERA
9 It goes viral in winter : FLU BUG
10 Director Justin of the “Fast & Furious” franchise : LIN
11 “Wait, there’s more …” : AND …
12 Prop used for kickoffs : TEE
13 Entering after the bell : TARDY
14 Food items originally called Froffles : EGGOS
15 It may glow in the dark : NEON
22 Luau side dish : POI
24 Title role for Tom Hanks in 2022 : OTTO
25 Scraping tools : RASPS
26 Arrange loosely : DRAPE
27 Without ice or mixer : NEAT
29 “Agreed!” : TRUTH!
30 Where trailers wind up : LAST
31 Spanish love : AMOR
34 Start to fix? : PRE-
36 “You got it!” : BINGO!
38 Colorful Coke brand : FANTA
39 End of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” : ACT IV
41 Place to put the dough : OVEN
42 Email function depicted with a paper plane icon : SEND
43 Brasilia-to-Rio dir. : SSE
44 Playground retort : AM SO!
45 “America” pronoun : THEE
50 “I wish!” : IF ONLY!
51 Jets pass in it, for short : NFL
52 Lead dogs : ALPHAS
53 Split hairs again? : RE-PART
54 Where Lear exclaims “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!” : HEATH
55 Despite the fact that, informally : ALTHO’
57 ___ cheese : NACHO
58 Video format : MPEG
60 Tidy up, in a way : DUST
63 Bad-mouth : DIS
64 L.G.B.T. History Mo. : OCT
65 Mart start : WAL-
67 Dog on a cat? : PAW
68 Emmy-nominated Issa : RAE
69 Economic fig. : GNP
70 End of days? : ESS

7 thoughts on “0208-24 NY Times Crossword 8 Feb 24, Thursday”

  1. 15:03, no errors. I did the puzzle late last night and didn’t fully understand the theme until now. Cool beans (as, it is alleged, some individuals, somewhere, once upon a time, perhaps for a brief period, said … 😜)!

  2. 19:26, no errors. I lost a few minutes looking for a few fat fingers and changing JPEG to MPEG cuz I didn’t read the clue correctly. I got the theme quickly with PASSOVER.

  3. 24:11 and I actually got the theme, which actually assisted in my solve. Top that with learning what the acronym “CAPTCHA” stood for(heck, I didn’t even know it was an acronym) and it’s been a good day👍

  4. 16:12. Would have finished quicker, but I didn’t. For once I had the sense to look at the reveal early on (sort of) which gave me the theme pretty quickly.

    Most Thursdays once you get the theme, the puzzle is easy. Today seemed the other way around. Easy theme, tricky fill.

    Overall pretty smooth. I did raise an eyebrow at ALTHO, but I went with it.

    Best –

  5. The Theme Building restaurant is long closed, as is its observation level. A USO facility occupies one level. It’s unlikely much will be done with it as it is in an awkward spot without any natural foot traffic near it. We ate there before a flight back in 2004. Food was meh, but the setting was interesting. Better than sitting around in the terminal. It’s been named a monument structure so I guess it’s futuristic lines will continue to impress for the foreseeable future.

    1. I think I’m missing something here. What is this Theme Building of which you speak? I don’t see anything about it in the puzzle. What city is it in? Just curious.

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