0314-24 NY Times Crossword 14 Mar 24, Thursday

Constructed by: Jeffrey Martinovic
Edited by: Joel Fagliano

Today’s Reveal Answer: Pi Day

There are several references to PI DAY in today’s puzzle, including to famous scientists who were either born or died on that day:

  • 33D An irrational reason to celebrate? : PI DAY
  • 3D Scientist who notably passed away on 33-Down (2018) : STEPHEN HAWKING
  • 7D First digit of this puzzle’s subject, whose next four digits are the number of rows and then columns of the grid : THREE
  • 11D Scientist who was notably born on 33-Down (1879) : ALBERT EINSTEIN

Bill’s time: 10m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Pair on a schooner : MASTS

By definition, a schooner is a sailing vessel with two or more masts, but one on which the foremast is shorter than the rear mast(s).

9 It may be thrown by a vaquero : RIATA

A riata is a lariat or a lasso. “Riata” comes from “reata”, the Spanish word for “lasso”.

The Spanish suffix “-ero” can be added to a noun to describe someone who works with that “noun”. Examples would be a “vaquero” (a cowboy working with a “vaca”, a cow) and a “torero” (a bullfighter fighting a “toro”, a bull).

16 Like an obelisk at night, maybe : UPLIT

An obelisk is a rectangular column that tapers to the top and is capped by a pyramid shape. An image of an obelisk was used by the ancient Egyptians as a hieroglyph.

17 Origin story in Genesis 11:1-9 : THE TOWER OF BABEL

We use the word “babel” now to describe a scene of confusion, lifting the term from the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The Tower was built in the city of Babylon, and the construction was cursed with a confusion of languages due to the varied origins of all the builders.

20 Colorful language? : PURPLE PROSE

Purple prose is writing that is overly ornate and flowery, so much so that it draws attention to itself, and detracts from the narrative.

21 Radar gun stat, for short : MPH

Radar speed guns were first used to monitor traffic by Connecticut State Police in the town of Glastonbury, way back in 1947!

30 World capital noted for its French colonial architecture : HANOI

Hanoi (“Hà Nội” in Vietnamese) was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

In the strict sense of the term, “Indochina” is a region in Southeast Asia that corresponds to the former French territory known as French Indochina. Today this region is made up of the countries of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. However, the term “Indochina” is more generally used to describe Mainland Southeast Asia, and in this usage it also encompasses Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

32 Geocaching necessity, in brief : GPS

Geocaching is a game rather like hide and seek that is played outdoors using hi-tech equipment. The idea is that someone places a waterproof container in a specific location with known GPS coordinates. The container has a logbook inside, so that players who find the “cache” can record their discovery along with any notes of interest. The location of the container is listed on special sites on the Internet for anyone to access. You can check out caches near you at www.geocaching.com. You will probably be surprised at how many there are! I know I was …

36 Actor Hawke : ETHAN

Ethan Hawke is a Hollywood actor who made his breakthrough in a supporting role in “Dead Poet’s Society”, playing opposite Robin Williams. Hawke used to be married to Uma Thurman, with whom he has two children.

38 1979 movie with the line “This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off” : ALIEN

Ellen Ripley is the protagonist in the “Alien” movie franchise, and is played by actress Sigourney Weaver. Weaver’s casting as Ripley for 1979’s “Alien” marked her first lead role in a film, and indeed her career breakthrough. English actress Veronica Cartwright was initially cast as Ripley, but she was recast as navigator Joan Lambert when Weaver was brought on board.

41 Like lead or gold, notably : DENSE

Lead is a heavy metallic element with the symbol Pb (standing for “plumbum”, Latin for “lead”). Although lead proves to be a very useful metal, it is very toxic and is poisonous if absorbed into the body.

Gold is a metallic chemical element with the symbol “Au”. It is extremely unreactive. Silver and other base metals dissolve in nitric acid, and so testing an unknown sample with nitric acid can confirm the presence of gold. This assaying practice gave rise to the figurative use of the term “acid test” to describe any definitive test.

42 Mario Kart platform : WII

“Mario Kart” is a go-kart racing video game series from Nintendo.

43 Tuber that can be candied : YAM

Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the world than they are in this country, and are especially common in Africa.

44 A majority of the characters on TV’s “St. Elsewhere,” in brief : DRS

“St. Elsewhere” is a comedy-drama TV series that originally ran from 1982 to 1988. Set in an old hospital in Boston called St. Eligius, the show starred Ed Flanders, Norman Lloyd and William Daniels. This was in fact the first TV show that I started to watch regularly when I moved the US in the early eighties. That actors I remember most are Ed Begley, Jr. and Howie Mandel …

45 Neighbor of India: Abbr. : PAK

The suffix “-stan” in many place names is Persian for “place of”. One example is “Pakistan”, the Place of the Pure. “Pakistan” is a relatively recent name, coined in 1933. It comes from the abbreviation PAKSTAN, standing for Punjab – Afghan Province – Kashmir – Sindh – BaluchisTAN, all regions in the north of India. The “I” was added to Pakistan to make it easier to pronounce, and to fit the translation “Land of the Pure”.

50 “___, ___, it looks like rain!”: Christopher Robin : TUT

Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne was an English author who is best known for his delightful “Winnie-the-Pooh” series of books. He had only one son, Christopher Robin Milne, born in 1920. The young Milne was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin character in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Winnie-the-Pooh was named after Christopher Robin’s real teddy bear, one he called Winnie, who in turn was named after a Canadian black bear called Winnie that the Milnes would visit in London Zoo. The original Winnie teddy bear is on display at the main branch of the New York Public Library in New York.

55 What professional tennis has been in since 1968 : OPEN ERA

In the sport of tennis, the Grand Slam tournaments were opened up to professional players, and not just amateurs, in 1968. So, the period since 1968 has been called the “Open Era”.

58 System that ended in 1917 : TSARISM

The House of Romanov was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, after the Rurik dynasty. The reign of the Romanovs ended when Emperor Nicholas II abdicated following the February Revolution of 1917. Famously, Nicholas II and his immediate family were murdered soon after he stepped down, and other members of the Romanov Dynasty were sent into exile by the Bolsheviks.

59 Purplish red : MAGENTA

The colors fuchsia and magenta are identical when used on the Web. The name “magenta” comes from an aniline dye that was patented in 1859 in France and called “fuchsine”. The dye was renamed in honor of a victory against the Austrians in the Battle of Magenta of 1859, which was fought near the northern Italian town of Magenta.

Down

1 Player at Citi Field : MET

Citi Field is a relatively new baseball stadium used by the New York Mets (NYM) that sits right next door to the site of Shea stadium, where the Mets had played for decades. The new facility’s name comes from corporate sponsor Citigroup.

3 Scientist who notably passed away on 33-Down (2018) : STEPHEN HAWKING

Stephen Hawking was a theoretical physicist from Oxford, England. Hawking owed much of his fame in the world of popular science to his incredibly successful book called “A Brief History of Time”. “A Brief History of Time” has sold over 10 million copies and was on London’s “Sunday Times” bestseller list for over four years. Hawking does a wonderful job of explaining many aspects of cosmology without losing the average reader. There is only one equation in the whole book, and that equation is “E = mc²”. Hawking’s life story is recounted in the excellent 2014 film “The Theory of Everything”.

4 You might go on tiptoe while wearing this : TUTU

The word “tutu”, used for a ballet dancer’s skirt, is actually a somewhat “naughty” term. It came into English from French in the early 20th century. The French “tutu” is an alteration of the word “cucu”, a childish word meaning “bottom, backside”.

5 Fungus-to-be : SPORE

Spores are produced by many bacteria, fungi and non-flowering plants. A spore is a reproductive body encased in a protective shell that is highly resistant to damage, and resistant to heat in particular.

6 Celebratory seasons : NOELS

“Noël” is the French word for the Christmas season, and ultimately comes from the Latin word for “birth” (natalis). “Noel” has come to be used as an alternative for “Christmas carol”.

7 First digit of this puzzle’s subject, whose next four digits are the number of rows and then columns of the grid : THREE

If you count the letters in each word of the mnemonic “How I wish I could calculate pi easily”, the sequence gives you the first eight digits of the value of pi, i.e. 3.1415926.

8 B-ball : HOOPS

Basketball is truly a North American sport. It was created in 1891 by Canadian James Naismith at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. His goal was to create something active and interesting for his students in the gym. The first “hoops” were actually peach baskets, with the bottoms of the baskets intact. When a player got the ball into the “net”, someone had to clamber up and get the ball back out again in order to continue the game!

9 Apply, as sunscreen : RUB ON

In theory, the sun protection factor (SPF) is a calibrated measure of the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays. The idea is that if you wear a lotion with say SPF 20, then it takes 20 times as much UV radiation to cause the skin to burn than it would take without protection. I say just stay out of the sun …

10 Some craft drafts, for short : IPAS

India pale ale (IPA) is a style of beer that originated in England. The beer was originally intended for transportation from England to India, hence the name.

11 Scientist who was notably born on 33-Down (1879) : ALBERT EINSTEIN

After Albert Einstein moved to the US in 1933, he became quite a celebrity and his face was readily recognizable. Einstein was frequently stopped in the street by people who would naively ask him if he could explain what “that theory” (i.e. the theory of relativity) was all about. Growing tired of this, he finally learned to tell people that he was sorry, but folks were constantly mistaking him for Albert Einstein!

13 Home of the Braves, for short : ATL

The Atlanta Braves are the only team to have won baseball’s World Series in three different home cities. They won as the Boston Braves in 1914, the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and the Atlanta Braves in 1995.

18 New Deal org. : WPA

The Work Progress Administration (WPA) was the largest of the New Deal agencies. The WPA employed millions of people during the Depression, putting them to work on various public works projects. The total spending through the WPA from 1936 to 1939 was nearly $7 billion. We have to give the federal government credit for taking an enlightened view of what types of projects qualified for financial support, so artists who could not get commissions privately were hired by the government itself. The result is a collection of “New Deal Art”, including a series of murals that can be found in post offices around the country to this day.

19 What some thank God for: Abbr. : FRI

“Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF)

21 Comedian and political commentator Bill : MAHER

Bill Maher is a stand-up comedian and political commentator. Maher has an HBO television show called “Real Time with Bill Maher” which is essentially a follow-on from the very successful “Politically Incorrect” program that started out on Comedy Central.

22 Who said “Courage is knowing what not to fear” : PLATO

Plato was a Greek philosopher and mathematician. He was a student of the equally famous and respected Socrates, and Plato in turn was the teacher and mentor of the celebrated Aristotle. Plato wrote a series of about 30 Socratic dialogues, prose works that feature Socrates as the main character.

25 Carolina N.H.L.’ers, informally : CANES

The Carolina Hurricanes are a professional hockey team based in Raleigh, North Carolina. The team was founded as the New England Whalers, when they were located in Boston, and then Hartford, Connecticut. The Whalers moved to Raleigh in 1997, and became the Hurricane.

29 Mathematician known for the constant “e” (2.71828) : EULER

Leonhard Euler was a brilliant Swiss mathematician and physicist, and a pioneer in the fields of logarithms and graph theory. Euler’s eyesight deteriorated during his working life, and he eventually became almost totally blind.

33 An irrational reason to celebrate? : PI DAY

The first three digits of the mathematical constant pi are 3.14. Pi Day has been celebrated on March 14th (3/14) every year since 1988, when it was inaugurated at the San Francisco Exploratorium. In countries where the day is usually written before the month, Pi Day is July 22nd, reflecting the more accurate approximation of pi as 22/7. Interestingly, March 14th is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

A rational number is a number that can be written as a simple fraction, i.e. a ratio of two integers. For example 1.5 is rational, as it can be written as 3/2. An irrational number is the opposite, a number that cannot be written as a simple fraction. The classic example of an irrational number is “pi”, which is 3.14159… and cannot be written as a ratio of two integers. All rational and irrational numbers are real numbers, numbers that can be written on a number line. Almost all numbers that we can think of are real numbers. Infinity is not a real number, and nor are imaginary numbers, e.g. the square root of minus 1.

34 Captcha targets : SPAMBOTS

Spambots are nasty little computer programs that send out spam emails and messages, often from fake accounts. This blog gets about 300 spam comments a day that I have to delete, almost all of which are written by spambots.

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”.

45 Something read by a chiromancer : PALM

The practice of telling fortunes by studying palms is known as palmistry, palm reading, chiromancy or chirology. The term “chiromancy” comes from the Greek “kheir” (hand) and “mateia” (divination).

46 Actress Shawkat of “Search Party” : ALIA

Alia Shawkat is an actor who might be best known for playing Maeby Fünke on the sitcom “Arrested Development”. Shawkat is best friends with fellow actor Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page), whom she met while filming the 2009 movie “Whip It”.

“Search Party” is a sitcom that started airing in 2016. It is a dark comedy that is noted for its changing themes from season to season. For example, the first season focuses on a mystery, and is reminiscent of Nancy Drew stories. The second season includes elements used by Hitchcock in his psychological thrillers. The third season features a courtroom drama narrative, reminiscent of the novels of John Grisham. Interesting idea …

49 Where the Chair of St. Peter can be found in St. Peter’s Basilica : APSE

The Basilica of St. Peter in Rome was built during the late Renaissance and has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, capable of holding 60,000 people. There is a popular misconception that St. Peter’s is the cathedral of Rome, but actually it isn’t, and instead is a papal basilica. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral church of Rome.

51 ___ Major : URSA

The constellation Ursa Major (Latin for “Larger Bear”) is often just called “the Big Dipper” because of the resemblance of its main stars to a ladle or dipper. Those stars also resemble a plow, and that’s what we usually call the same constellation back in Ireland the “Plough”.

52 Relatives of berets : TAMS

A tam o’shanter is a man’s cap worn traditionally by Scotsmen. “Tams” were originally all blue (and called “blue bonnets”) but as more dyes became readily available they became more colorful. The name of the cap comes from the title character of the Robert Burns poem “Tam o’ Shanter”. A pom-pom adorning a tam is known as a toorie.

56 Gun lobby grp. : NRA

National Rifle Association (NRA)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Pair on a schooner : MASTS
6 Last in a series : NTH
9 It may be thrown by a vaquero : RIATA
14 “Hurry with your dinner!” : EAT UP!
15 “Gotcha!” : OHO!
16 Like an obelisk at night, maybe : UPLIT
17 Origin story in Genesis 11:1-9 : THE TOWER OF BABEL
20 Colorful language? : PURPLE PROSE
21 Radar gun stat, for short : MPH
23 Parks carefully : EASES IN
24 Co. that launched the world’s first communications satellite : RCA
27 Part of 10-Down : ALES
29 Last in a series : ET AL
30 World capital noted for its French colonial architecture : HANOI
32 Geocaching necessity, in brief : GPS
35 “No ___” (“Unacceptable”) : BUENO
36 Actor Hawke : ETHAN
37 Headstone heading : RIP
38 1979 movie with the line “This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off” : ALIEN
39 Goes around : ROAMS
40 Legal position in municipal govt. : ADA
41 Like lead or gold, notably : DENSE
42 Mario Kart platform : WII
43 Tuber that can be candied : YAM
44 A majority of the characters on TV’s “St. Elsewhere,” in brief : DRS
45 Neighbor of India: Abbr. : PAK
47 Component in a car’s suspension system : SWAY BAR
50 “___, ___, it looks like rain!”: Christopher Robin : TUT
53 Big movie star, e.g. : A-LISTER
55 What professional tennis has been in since 1968 : OPEN ERA
57 Where an important call may be directed : LINE ONE
58 System that ended in 1917 : TSARISM
59 Purplish red : MAGENTA
60 Weeks in Spain : SEMANAS

Down

1 Player at Citi Field : MET
2 “That feels nice!” : AAH!
3 Scientist who notably passed away on 33-Down (2018) : STEPHEN HAWKING
4 You might go on tiptoe while wearing this : TUTU
5 Fungus-to-be : SPORE
6 Celebratory seasons : NOELS
7 First digit of this puzzle’s subject, whose next four digits are the number of rows and then columns of the grid : THREE
8 B-ball : HOOPS
9 Apply, as sunscreen : RUB ON
10 Some craft drafts, for short : IPAS
11 Scientist who was notably born on 33-Down (1879) : ALBERT EINSTEIN
12 Make even : TIE
13 Home of the Braves, for short : ATL
18 New Deal org. : WPA
19 What some thank God for: Abbr. : FRI
21 Comedian and political commentator Bill : MAHER
22 Who said “Courage is knowing what not to fear” : PLATO
25 Carolina N.H.L.’ers, informally : CANES
26 Like the main character in many a horror film … or so they believe : ALONE
28 “Same here” : SO AM I
29 Mathematician known for the constant “e” (2.71828) : EULER
31 Require : INSIST ON
32 Starting point for a slippery slope argument : GRAY AREA
33 An irrational reason to celebrate? : PI DAY
34 Captcha targets : SPAMBOTS
35 One might center around being unprepared for a test : BAD DREAM
45 Something read by a chiromancer : PALM
46 Actress Shawkat of “Search Party” : ALIA
48 Took a turn : WENT
49 Where the Chair of St. Peter can be found in St. Peter’s Basilica : APSE
51 ___ Major : URSA
52 Relatives of berets : TAMS
54 “Get it?” : SEE?
56 Gun lobby grp. : NRA

5 thoughts on “0314-24 NY Times Crossword 14 Mar 24, Thursday”

  1. 9:54, no errors. My granddaughter was born on “Pi Day” in 2015 (i.e., 3/14/15).

    Very distracted by current events in Chez Kennison, so I haven’t been posting much.

  2. 8:43. A Thursday best for me.

    I knew ALBERT EINSTEIN was born on PI DAY, but I didn’t know HAWKING was.

    Best –

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