0319-24 NY Times Crossword 19 Mar 24, Tuesday

Constructed by: Lynn Lempel
Edited by: Joel Fagliano

Today’s Reveal Answer: Halftime

Themed answers are common phrases, but with the first, 4-letter word split in HALF:

  • 63A Game break … or a hint to interpreting the first parts of 17-, 26-, 36-, and 52-Across? : HALFTIME
  • 17A Parent dressed up at a pride parade, perhaps? : MA IN DRAG (from “main drag”)
  • 26A Choice between a haircut and manicure? : DO OR NAILS (from “doornails”)
  • 36A “Meet me under Big Ben”? : BE AT THE CLOCK (from “beat the clock”)
  • 52A “Continue with your routine, cheerleaders”? : GO ON, SQUAD (from “goon squad”)

Bill’s time: 6m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Spider’s spot : WEB

The silk that makes up a web is a protein fiber that is “spun” by a spider. Spider silk is about one sixth of the density of steel, yet has a comparable tensile strength.

8 Common car rentals : SEDANS

The American sedan car is the equivalent of the British and Irish saloon car. By definition, a sedan car has two rows of seating and a separate trunk (boot in Britain and Ireland), although in some models the engine can be at the rear of the car.

16 Soldier’s shoulder adornment : EPAULET

An epaulet (also “epaulette”) is an ornamental shoulder pad, particularly one worn with a military uniform. The term “epaulet”comes from French, and translates literally as “little shoulder”.

17 Parent dressed up at a pride parade, perhaps? : MA IN DRAG (from “main drag”)

The first gay pride parades were held all on the same weekend in 1970, in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The etymology of the term “drag”, as used in the transvestite world, seems to be unclear. It perhaps relates to the tendency of a transvestite’s skirts to drag along the ground in days of old (although why they just didn’t hitch up their skirts is beyond me!).

The main street of a city or town is often referred to as the “main drag”. The main drag is where horses would “drag” along most of the wagons and buggies back in the day.

20 “Slippery” tree : ELM

The slippery elm is a species of elm native to North America that is also known as the Red Elm. The inner bark of the slippery elm can be used in a medicinal tea. Elm bark tea is said to ease a sore throat or irritated stomach.

22 Vietnamese noodle soup : PHO

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a noodle soup from Vietnam that is a popular street food. It is often ordered with a side of hanh dam, pickled white onions.

26 Choice between a haircut and manicure? : DO OR NAILS (from “doornails”)

“As dead as a doornail” is one of our older expressions, and dates back at least to the 14th century. You might have seen very old doors in castles or old houses that have large studs all over the front in a regular pattern. The studs are the heads of nails driven through the door, originally for strength, but later for decoration. They are “doornails”.

31 Llama habitat : ANDES

The Andes range is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world. It runs down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles, from Venezuela in the north to Chile in the south. The highest peak in the Andes is Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the planet. That’s because of the equatorial “bulge” around the Earth’s “waist”.

32 Oklahoma city named for a Tennyson character : ENID

Enid, Oklahoma takes its name from the old railroad station around which the city developed. Back in 1889, that train stop was called Skeleton Station. An official who didn’t like the name changed it to Enid Station, using a character from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King”. Maybe if he hadn’t changed the name, the city of Enid would now be called Skeleton, Oklahoma! Enid has the nickname “Queen Wheat City” because it has a huge capacity for storing grain, the third largest grain storage capacity in the world.

36 “Meet me under Big Ben”? : BE AT THE CLOCK (from “beat the clock”)

“Big Ben” is the name commonly used for the large bell in the Clock Tower (“Elizabeth Tower” since 2012) of the Palace of Westminster (aka “Houses of Parliament”). Big Ben’s official name is the Great Bell, and there is some debate about the origins of the nickname. It may be named after Sir Benjamin Hall who supervised the bell’s installation, or perhaps the English heavyweight champion of the day Benjamin Caunt. Big Ben fell silent in 2017 to make way for four years of maintenance and repair work to the clock’s mechanism and the tower.

43 Alan of “Bridge of Spies” : ALDA

“Bridge of Spies” is a 2015 historical thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and starring his friend Tom Hanks. The story is all about the arrest and trial of U-2 pilot Gary Powers, who was shot down over the Soviet Union while on a spying mission for the CIA. Hanks plays lawyer James B. Donovan, the lawyer who negotiates Powers’ release. Powers was actually exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, with the exchange taking place at the bridge connecting Potsdam with Berlin, the “Bridge of Spies”.

46 Musical based on a comic strip : ANNIE

The Broadway musical “Annie” is based on the Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie”. There have been two film adaptations of the musical. Both were really quite successful, including one released in 1982, directed by John Huston of all people. It was his only ever musical.

“Little Orphan Annie” is a comic strip created in 1924 by Harold Gray. The title was taken from a poem written in 1885 by James Whitcomb Riley called “Little Orphant Annie” (and yes, that spelling “orphant” is correct). Strangely enough, the original name of the poem was “Little Orphant Allie”, changed forever at its third printing, purely because of a typesetter’s error!

50 Starchy tropical root : TARO

Taro is a root vegetable that is grown for its edible underground plant stems (corms). The English name “taro” is borrowed from the Maori language of New Zealand. The same plant is known as “gabi” in the Philippines, “arbi” in much of India, and “jimbi” in parts of Africa where Swahili is spoken.

51 Erotica : PORN

The word “pornography” comes from the Greek “pornographos” meaning “writing of prostitutes”.

55 Milk curdler in cheesemaking : RENNET

Rennet is an enzyme complex that is produced in the stomach of mammals. Rennet is used by children to digest a mother’s milk. It is also used to coagulate milk in cheese production.

58 Kind of PC port : USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and dealing with electrical power through those connections.

60 Lentils, on an Indian menu : DAL

I love dal dishes, which are prepared from various peas or beans (often lentils) that have been stripped of their outer skins and split. Dal is an important part of Indian cuisines. I suppose in Indian terms, split pea soup (another of my favorites) would be called a dal.

67 Hershey toffee bar : SKOR

The candy bar named “Skor” is produced by Hershey’s. “Skor” is Swedish for “shoes”, and the candy bar’s wrapping features a crown that is identical to that found in the Swedish national emblem. What shoes have to do with candy, I don’t know …

Down

1 Gargantuan : IMMENSE

Our term “gargantuan” meaning “enormous” comes from a series of five novels titled “The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel” written in the 1500s by François Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel are two giants in the tale, a father and a son.

2 Marine mammal that barks : SEA LION

There are three families of seals. The first is the walrus family, the second the eared seals (like sea lions), and thirdly the earless seals (like elephant seals).

3 Tender cut of beef : PRIME RIB

“Standing rib roast” is another name for “prime rib”. The use of the term “standing” is a reference to the practice of standing the cut on the rib bones when roasting, so that the meat does not touch the pan.

8 Wild animal’s trail : SPOOR

“Spoor” is both a verb and a noun. The word describes the track left by an animal, or the act of following said track. We’ve been using it in English since the early 1800s, having imported it from the Afrikaans language.

9 Thirst quencher in Québec : EAU

The name of the province Québec comes from an Algonquin word “kebec” meaning “where the river narrows”. This refers to the area around Quebec City where the St. Lawrence River narrows as it flows through a gap lined by steep cliffs.

10 Scottish king murdered by Macbeth : DUNCAN

In William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth”, Duncan is the King of Scotland. The title character assassinates the king, by stabbing him in his sleep. Duncan’s son Malcolm then succeeds to the Scottish throne.

11 “Curiously strong” mint : ALTOID

Altoids breath mints have been around since 1780, when they were introduced in Britain. The famous tin in which Altoids are sold is often reused for other purposes. The most famous use is as a container for a mini-survival kit.

18 Go kaput : DIE

“Kaput” is a familiar term meaning “incapacitated, destroyed”, and comes to us from French (via German). The original word “capot” means “not having won a single trick” in the French card game Piquet.

27 Alliance that Ukraine seeks to join, in brief : NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded not long after WWII in 1949 and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The first NATO Secretary General was Lord Ismay, Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant during WWII. Famously, Lord Ismay said the goal of NATO was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

39 Crunch of cereal? : CAP’N

The first Cap’n Crunch commercials aired in 1963, at the time the product line was launched. The Cap’n’s full name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch, would you believe? Crunch’s voice was provided for many years by Daws Butler, the same voice actor who gave us Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound. Cap’n Crunch is commander of the S.S. Guppy.

40 Yukon gold rush site : KLONDIKE

The Klondike River in Canada is a tributary of the Yukon River. The name “Klondike” comes from the Hän word “Tr’ondëk” meaning “hammerstone”. A hammerstone was a tool used to hammer down stakes used to secure nets when salmon fishing. When gold was discovered in the river’s tributaries in 1896, it started the Klondike Gold Rush that brought about 100,000 prospects to the area.

45 Features of bucks, but not does : ANTLERS

The antlers on a deer come to points. The higher the number of points, the more prized the head of the deer as a trophy, so I am told …

50 Keyboard key next to Q : TAB

Like most features on our computer keyboards, the tab key is a hangover from the days of typewriters. When using a typewriter, making entries into a table was very tedious, involving lots of tapping on the spacebar and backspace key. So, a lever was added to typewriters that allowed the operator to “jump” across the page to positions that could be set by hand. Later this was simplified to a tab key which could be depressed, causing the carriage to jump to the next tab stop in much the same way that the modern tab key works on a computer.

53 The “Q” in L.G.B.T.Q. : QUEER

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ)

54 Cold War power, for short : USSR

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

There is some debate about the timing of the start and end of the Cold War, the period of geopolitical tension between the US and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. One significant factor at the start of the Cold War was the Truman Doctrine, the foreign policy adopted by President Harry S. Truman that firmly ended America’s pre-WWII isolationism in favor of support for nations threatened by Soviet influence. A clear sign of the end of the Cold War was the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

62 Highlighted path on Google Maps: Abbr. : RTE

Google Maps was developed as a web mapping service for desktops. The (wonderful!) Google Maps mobile app was released in 2008, and is now the most popular smartphone app in the world.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Kids’ guessing game : I SPY
5 Spider’s spot : WEB
8 Common car rentals : SEDANS
14 Trifling : MERE
15 Vein contents : ORE
16 Soldier’s shoulder adornment : EPAULET
17 Parent dressed up at a pride parade, perhaps? : MA IN DRAG (from “main drag”)
19 Booth alternative at a diner : COUNTER
20 “Slippery” tree : ELM
21 T.S.A. requirements : IDS
22 Vietnamese noodle soup : PHO
23 Cryptographer’s creation : CODE
24 Some family reunion attendees : NIECES
26 Choice between a haircut and manicure? : DO OR NAILS (from “doornails”)
28 Achy : SORE
29 Word after black or before box : MAIL
31 Llama habitat : ANDES
32 Oklahoma city named for a Tennyson character : ENID
33 Org. with a lot of returns : IRS
34 Toward the rear : AFT
36 “Meet me under Big Ben”? : BE AT THE CLOCK (from “beat the clock”)
41 “___ bother?” : WHY
42 Prefix with -metric or -logic : GEO-
43 Alan of “Bridge of Spies” : ALDA
46 Musical based on a comic strip : ANNIE
50 Starchy tropical root : TARO
51 Erotica : PORN
52 “Continue with your routine, cheerleaders”? : GO ON, SQUAD (from “goon squad”)
55 Milk curdler in cheesemaking : RENNET
57 Shopper’s aid : LIST
58 Kind of PC port : USB
59 Low mil. rank : CPL
60 Lentils, on an Indian menu : DAL
61 Sticks (to) : ADHERES
63 Game break … or a hint to interpreting the first parts of 17-, 26-, 36-, and 52-Across? : HALFTIME
65 Come back in : REENTER
66 Savings for the golden yrs. : IRA
67 Hershey toffee bar : SKOR
68 Good day for a hunt : EASTER
69 Bear’s lair : DEN
70 Farm enclosures : PENS

Down

1 Gargantuan : IMMENSE
2 Marine mammal that barks : SEA LION
3 Tender cut of beef : PRIME RIB
4 Strong desire : YEN
5 Skilled writer, say : WORDSMITH
6 Slices of history : ERAS
7 Implore : BEG
8 Wild animal’s trail : SPOOR
9 Thirst quencher in Québec : EAU
10 Scottish king murdered by Macbeth : DUNCAN
11 “Curiously strong” mint : ALTOID
12 Part of a record player or pine tree : NEEDLE
13 What an accent mark indicates : STRESS
16 Reverberation : ECHO
18 Go kaput : DIE
22 Capitol wheeler-dealer, informally : POL
25 Give up : CEDE
26 Chef’s creation : DISH
27 Alliance that Ukraine seeks to join, in brief : NATO
30 Highbrow : ARTY
34 Maker of Aspire laptops : ACER
35 Architectural diagram : FLOOR PLAN
37 Bowls over : AWES
38 “Holy cow!” : EGAD!
39 Crunch of cereal? : CAP’N
40 Yukon gold rush site : KLONDIKE
44 “You wish!” : DREAM ON!
45 Features of bucks, but not does : ANTLERS
46 Shining brightly : AGLARE
47 “I’m completely at a loss” : NO IDEA
48 Eats between meals : NOSHES
49 Purpose : INTENT
50 Keyboard key next to Q : TAB
53 The “Q” in L.G.B.T.Q. : QUEER
54 Cold War power, for short : USSR
56 Pointy-eared being : ELF
59 Give a hoot : CARE
62 Highlighted path on Google Maps: Abbr. : RTE
63 Kept out of sight : HID
64 Recipe meas. : TSP

6 thoughts on “0319-24 NY Times Crossword 19 Mar 24, Tuesday”

  1. 10:34. One error – had FLOOdPLAN as I read it as FLOOD PLANE. Didn’t know the cross, RENNER.

    Mt Chimborazo in the ANDES is also the point on earth that comes closest to the moon..for all the same reasons Bill described.

    Best –

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