0520-24 NY Times Crossword 20 May 24, Monday

Constructed by: Jack Scherban
Edited by: Joel Fagliano

Today’s Reveal Answer: You and What Army?

Themed answers are fictional characters with army ranks:

  • 49A Unfazed response to a threat from 20-, 31- or 38-Across? : YOU AND WHAT ARMY?!
  • 20A Beatles album character who apparently is an infantry leader : SERGEANT PEPPER
  • 31A Hotels.com mascot who must be a commanding officer : CAPTAIN OBVIOUS
  • 38A Fast-food icon who surely heads a brigade : COLONEL SANDERS

Bill’s time: 6m 07s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 ___ paint (graffiti artist’s canful) : SPRAY

Graffiti is the plural of “graffito”, the Italian for “scribbling”. The word was first used to describe ancient inscriptions on the walls in the ruins of Pompeii.

14 Yoga pose : ASANA

“Asana” is a Sanskrit word that translates literally as “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.

17 Ogre with a donkey sidekick : SHREK

In the 2001 animated feature “Shrek”, the title character is voiced by Mike Myers. Eddie Murphy voices Shrek’s sidekick Donkey, and Princess Fiona is voiced by Cameron Diaz.

18 This dice roll: [ • ] [ • ] : SNAKE EYES

“Snake eyes” is a slang term describing a roll of two dice in which one pip turns up on each die.

20 Beatles album character who apparently is an infantry leader : SERGEANT PEPPER

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was the alter-ego of the Beatles, and the title of a famous studio album released in 1967, as well as the name of the album’s title track.

24 Inits. on a food stamps card : EBT

Electronic benefit transfer (EBT)

26 Cool ___ cucumber : AS A

Apparently, scientists have shown that the inside of a cucumber (“cuke” for short) growing in a field can be up to twenty degrees cooler than the surrounding air. That’s something that was believed by farmers as early as the 1730s, at which time the phrase “cool as a cucumber” was coined.

31 Hotels.com mascot who must be a commanding officer : CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

The Hotels.com website gives the user the ability to book hotel rooms online. It was founded in 1991 as the Hotel Reservations Network (HRN). Expedia took over HRN in 2002, and purchased the domain name “Hotels.com”, just the domain name, for about $11 million!

35 Hot dish that sounds cold : CHILI

The full name of the dish that is often called simply “chili” is “chili con carne”, Spanish for “peppers with meat”. The dish was created by immigrants from the Spanish Canary Islands in the city of San Antonio, Texas (a city which the islanders founded). The San Antonio Chili Stand was a popular attraction at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and that stand introduced the dish to the rest of America and to the world.

38 Fast-food icon who surely heads a brigade : COLONEL SANDERS

The famous “Colonel” of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fame was Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur from Henryville, Indiana. Although not really a “Colonel”, Sanders did indeed serve in the military. He enlisted in the Army as a private in 1906 at the age of 16, lying about his age. He spent the whole of his time in the Army as a soldier in Cuba. It was much later, in the 1930s, that Sanders went into the restaurant business making his specialty deep-fried chicken. By 1935 his reputation as a “character” had grown, so much so that Governor Ruby Laffoon of Kentucky gave Sanders the honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel”. Later in the fifties, Sanders developed his trademark look with the white suit, string tie, mustache and goatee. When Sanders was 65 however, his business failed and in stepped Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s. Thomas simplified the Sanders menu, cutting it back from over a hundred items to just fried chicken and salads. That was enough to launch KFC into the fast food business. Sanders sold the US franchise in 1964 for just $2 million and moved to Canada to grow KFC north of the border. He died in 1980 and is buried in Louisville, Kentucky. The Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices is indeed a trade secret. Apparently there is only one copy of the recipe, a handwritten piece of paper, written in pencil and signed by Colonel Sanders. Since 2009, the piece of paper has been locked in a computerized vault surrounded with motion detectors and security cameras.

41 The “S” of GPS: Abbr. : SYST

A global positioning system (GPS) is known as a satellite navigation system (Sat Nav) in Britain and Ireland.

42 Extra part of a leap year : DAY

I wasn’t sure of the origin of the term “leap year”, and when I checked I found it to be fairly obvious. As a reference, let’s use March 25, 2007, a Sunday. The year before, in 2006, March 25th fell one weekday earlier on a Saturday. That follows the rule that any particular date moves forward in the week by one day, from one year to the next. However, the next year (2008) has an extra day, February 29th. So March 25, 2008 falls on a Tuesday, “leaping” two weekdays forward, not one, as 2008 is a “leap” year. I think I am more confused now than when I started this paragraph …

54 Penguin Random House or HarperCollins : PUBLISHER

The Random House publishing house was founded in 1925 by Donald Klopfer, and the marvelous Bennett Cerf of TV’s “What’s My Line”. Apparently, Klopfer and Cerf originally resolved to “publish a few books on the side at random”, and hence came up with the name “Random House”.

55 Wonderland girl : ALICE

The title character in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is based on a child named Alice Liddell. Lewis Carroll (real name “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson”) met the Liddell family while he was photographing Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, after which he befriended the Liddells. Carroll told the three Liddell sisters (including Alice) a story about a little girl named Alice and her adventures, in order to entertain the children while on a boating trip on the River Isis in Oxford. He elaborated on the story for the girls on a subsequent boat trip, and agreed to write down the tale as the children loved it so much. Carroll’s writings became a full-fledged manuscript, including the author’s own illustrations. It was first published in 1865, three years after that boat trip.

56 Change, as the Constitution : AMEND

The verb “to amend” means “to change for the better, put right, alter by adding”. The related verb “to emend” is used more rarely, and mainly in reference to the editing of professional writing. Both terms are derived from the Latin “emendare” meaning “to remove fault”.

59 Yucatán people of old : MAYAS

The Mayan civilization held sway in Central America and Mexico from about 350 AD, until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s.

Yucatán is one of Mexico’s 31 states and is located in the east of the country, on the northern tip of the Yucatán peninsula.

61 Swiss borders? : ESSES

The borders (start and finish) of the word “Swiss” are letters S (esses).

Down

1 Cattle-catching rope : LASSO

Our English word “lasso” comes from the Spanish “lazo”, and ultimately from the Latin “laqueum” meaning “noose, snare”.

3 Wall fixture in a ballet studio : BARRE

A barre is a handrail used by ballet dancers for warm-up exercises and to provide support when practicing certain moves.

4 Universal donor’s blood type, briefly : O-NEG

In general, a person with type O-negative blood is a universal donor, meaning that his or her blood can be used for transfusion into persons with any other blood type: A, B, AB or O, negative or positive (although there are other considerations). Also in general, a person with type AB-positive blood is a universal recipient, meaning that he or she can receive a transfusion of blood of any type: A, B, AB or O, negative or positive.

11 Comic actress Martha : RAYE

Martha Raye was a comic actress as well as a singer. Raye was famous for the size of her mouth, something that she used to her own advantage. As her nickname was “The Big Mouth”, she made a little money appearing in commercials for the Polident denture cleaner in the eighties. Her line was, “So take it from the Big Mouth: new Polident Green gets tough stains clean!”

19 Skewered meat dish of the Mideast : KEBAB

The term “kebab” (also “kabob”) covers a wide variety of meat dishes that originated in Persia. In the West, we usually use “kebab” when talking about shish kebab, which is meat (often lamb) served on a skewer. “Shish” comes from the Turkish word for “skewer”.

21 Opera set in ancient Egypt : AIDA

“Aida” is a celebrated opera by Giuseppe Verdi that is based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radamès is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then complications arise!

26 Fidgety : ANTSY

The word “antsy” embodies the concept of “having ants in one’s pants”, meaning being nervous and fidgety. However, “antsy” has been used in English since the 1830s, whereas “ants in the pants” originated a century later.

27 Microwave feature : TIMER

The microwave oven was invented in 1946 by Percy Spencer, an engineer at Raytheon. While he was standing beside an active radar unit, which used microwaves, he noticed that the candy bar in his pocket had melted. Spencer proceeded to expose various foods to microwaves in tests that would lead to the development of the first commercial microwave oven.

29 Wrinkly-faced dogs : PUGS

The pug is a dog breed of Chinese origin. Our current family pet is a boxer/pug cross, and is a good-looking mutt!

31 Bok ___ (Chinese vegetable) : CHOY

Bok choy is a variety of Chinese cabbage. “Bok choy” translates as “white vegetable”.

33 Travel from Kauai to Maui to Oahu, say : ISLAND HOP

Because the Hawaiian island of Kauai is one of the wettest places on earth, all the rainfall has helped to carve out magnificent canyons and left superb waterfalls. The island is often used as a backdrop for movies. The facilities at the island’s Lihue Airport reflect the pleasant climate enjoyed by the Hawaiian Islands. Check-in takes place completely outdoors!

Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian islands. It is sometimes called the “Valley Isle” as it is composed of two volcanoes to the northwest and southeast of the island, each with numerous beautiful valleys carved into them.

Oahu has been called “The Gathering Place”, although the word “O’ahu” has no translation in Hawaiian. It seems that “O’ahu” is simply the name of the island. One story is that it is named after the son of the Polynesian navigator who first found the islands. The island is made up of two volcanoes, Wai’anae and Ko’olau, joined together by a broad valley, the O’ahu Plain.

39 Utopias : EDENS

The word “Utopia” was coined by Sir Thomas More in his book “Utopia” published in 1516 to describe an idyllic fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More’s use of the name Utopia comes from the Greek “ou” meaning “not” and “topos” meaning “place”. By calling his perfect island “Not Place”, More was apparently making the point that he didn’t think that the ideal could actually exist.

40 Mardi Gras city, casually : NOLA

The city of New Orleans, Louisiana has the nickname “The Big Easy”. This name might come from the early 1900s when musicians found it relatively “easy” to find work there. The city is also known by the acronym NOLA, standing for New Orleans (NO), Louisiana (LA).

“Mardi Gras” translates from French as “Fat Tuesday”, and gets its name from the practice of eating rich foods on the eve of the fasting season known as Lent. Lent starts on the next day, called Ash Wednesday.

48 Mike who voiced 17-Across : MYERS

Mike Myers does a great British accent, witness his performance in the madcap “Austin Powers” movies. He has an advantage though, as both his parents are British, and live in Ontario, Canada.

49 Arizona city or county : YUMA

The city and county of Yuma, Arizona take their name from the Quechan (aka “Yuma”) Native American tribe that inhabited the area.

52 “This Is How ___ It” (1995 hit) : WE DO

1995’s “This Is How We Do It” was the first song released by Montell Jordan, an American R&B singer-songwriter.

54 Jim’s love on “The Office” : PAM

In the excellent sitcom “The Office”, the character Pam Halpert (née Beesly) is played very ably by Jenna Fischer. If you’ve seen the original version of “The Office” from the UK, then you’d have met Pam’s equivalent character, whose name is Dawn Tinsley.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 It’s working! : LABOR
6 Move back and forth, as a dog’s tail : WAG
9 ___ paint (graffiti artist’s canful) : SPRAY
14 Yoga pose : ASANA
15 Balloon filler : AIR
16 Depart : LEAVE
17 Ogre with a donkey sidekick : SHREK
18 This dice roll: [ • ] [ • ] : SNAKE EYES
20 Beatles album character who apparently is an infantry leader : SERGEANT PEPPER
22 Early afternoon hour : ONE
23 Use a chair : SIT
24 Inits. on a food stamps card : EBT
25 Show interest at an auction : BID
26 Cool ___ cucumber : AS A
27 Baking amts. : TSPS
31 Hotels.com mascot who must be a commanding officer : CAPTAIN OBVIOUS
35 Hot dish that sounds cold : CHILI
36 Norm: Abbr. : STD
37 Public perception : IMAGE
38 Fast-food icon who surely heads a brigade : COLONEL SANDERS
41 The “S” of GPS: Abbr. : SYST
42 Extra part of a leap year : DAY
43 Above, in poetry : O’ER
44 Guys : MEN
45 ___-mo (sports replay effect) : SLO
46 Precious stone : GEM
49 Unfazed response to a threat from 20-, 31- or 38-Across? : YOU AND WHAT ARMY?!
54 Penguin Random House or HarperCollins : PUBLISHER
55 Wonderland girl : ALICE
56 Change, as the Constitution : AMEND
57 Praiseful poem : ODE
58 Grocery bag option : PAPER
59 Yucatán people of old : MAYAS
60 Holder of peas : POD
61 Swiss borders? : ESSES

Down

1 Cattle-catching rope : LASSO
2 Very pale : ASHEN
3 Wall fixture in a ballet studio : BARRE
4 Universal donor’s blood type, briefly : O-NEG
5 Earns tons of money : RAKES IT IN
6 “Hey, that ___ so bad!” : WASN’T
7 Informal contraction : AIN’T
8 Purple pop : GRAPE SODA
9 Caught some z’s : SLEPT
10 Chick’s chirp : PEEP
11 Comic actress Martha : RAYE
12 Declare : AVER
13 “Of course!” : YES!
19 Skewered meat dish of the Mideast : KEBAB
21 Opera set in ancient Egypt : AIDA
25 Secondary story, in TV lingo : B PLOT
26 Fidgety : ANTSY
27 Microwave feature : TIMER
28 Fly sky-high : SOAR
29 Wrinkly-faced dogs : PUGS
30 Opposite of NNW : SSE
31 Bok ___ (Chinese vegetable) : CHOY
32 Troubles : AILS
33 Travel from Kauai to Maui to Oahu, say : ISLAND HOP
34 Medium for old home movies : VIDEOTAPE
35 Includes on an email, for short : CCS
39 Utopias : EDENS
40 Mardi Gras city, casually : NOLA
44 Cleaning professionals : MAIDS
45 Rip to pieces : SHRED
46 Holds tightly on to : GRIPS
47 Host an awards show : EMCEE
48 Mike who voiced 17-Across : MYERS
49 Arizona city or county : YUMA
50 Follow, as rules : OBEY
51 Bone in the forearm : ULNA
52 “This Is How ___ It” (1995 hit) : WE DO
53 “What a pity” : ALAS
54 Jim’s love on “The Office” : PAM

8 thoughts on “0520-24 NY Times Crossword 20 May 24, Monday”

  1. 6:45, no errors. I’m old enough to remember when Kentucky Fried Chicken was actually good eating. (Maybe they ought to let present-day cooks see the recipe … 😳🙂😜.)

  2. 8:32, no errors. In the same bucket as Dave regarding KFC. They used to be our go-to chicken take out place, then Popeye’s came along, and we haven’t looked back.

  3. 6:07. Same as Bill. Great minds..

    Just had a great post deleted…AGAIN. I guess I crapped out….like SNAKE EYES would do…

    Best –

    1. @Jeff … Check out the today’s syndie posts (for 04/15/24). If any word in a post includes a certain three-letter sequence, the post will be rejected. The remaining question is … are there other such sequences?

  4. I guess it does. “As soon” doesn’t need to be a$ $oon. They need to be continuous to trigger the censor

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