0604-24 NY Times Crossword 4 Jun 24, Tuesday

Constructed by: Daniel Bodily
Edited by: Joel Fagliano

Today’s Reveal Answer(s): Can’t Touch This

Themed answers are things that we CAN’T TOUCH:

  • 66A With 67- and 68-Across, MC Hammer lyric that applies to each of the answers to the starred clues : CAN’T …
  • 67A See 66-Across : … TOUCH …
  • 68A See 66-Across : … THIS
  • 17A *Equipment for zooming : CAMERA LENS
  • 31A *Subject of a “Caution” sign on a park bench : WET PAINT
  • 38A *Shocking thing found on a farm : ELECTRIC FENCE
  • 44A *Challenge for an under-achiever? : LIMBO BAR
  • 60A *Where to look for fingerprints : CRIME SCENE

Bill’s time: 6m 17s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Florida panther, e.g. : PUMA

The mountain lion is found in much of the Americas from the Yukon in Canada right down to the southern Andes in South America. Because the mountain lion is found over such a vast area, it has many different names applied by local peoples, such as “cougar” and “puma”. In fact, the mountain lion holds the Guinness record for the animal with the most number of different names, with over 40 in English alone.

5 “Inside with Jen ___” (MSNBC show) : PSAKI

The very able Jen Psaki served as the first White House press secretary for the Biden administration. During the Obama administration, she held several positions including White House deputy secretary and spokesperson for the Department of State. After leaving the White House, Psaki started to carve out a new career as TV pundit and began hosting her own MSNBC talk show in 2023.

10 The Crimson Tide, to fans : BAMA

The athletic teams of the University of Alabama (“Bama”) are nicknamed the Crimson Tide, which is a reference to the team colors of crimson and white.

14 Noted whale watcher of literature : AHAB

In Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” the obsessed Captain Ahab manages with a final effort to lodge his harpoon in the whale’s flesh. He yells out “… to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” With that, the injured whale dives, and Captain Ahab is pulled under to his doom with a loop of the harpoon’s rope wrapped around his neck.

16 Wide-screen theater option : IMAX

The IMAX Corporation, which is behind the IMAX film format, is a Canadian company. The impetus for developing the system came after Expo ’67 in Montreal. Back then large format screenings were accomplished using multiple projectors with multiple screens, with images basically stitched together. The team behind the IMAX technology set out to simplify things, and developed a single-camera, single-projector system.

19 The last “O” of YOLO : ONCE

You only live once (YOLO)

20 “Woman in a ___” (Degas painting) : TUB

Edgar Degas was a French artist who was famous for both his paintings and his sculptures. Some of Degas’ most beautiful works feature female ballet dancers, and others depict women bathing.

30 Vegetable whose name means “to eat” in some West African languages : 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.

33 Egyptian viper : ASP

The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.

37 Major muddle : SNAFU

“SNAFU” is an acronym standing for “situation normal: all fouled up” (well, that’s the polite version!). As one might perhaps imagine, the term developed in the US Army, during WWII.

41 The Swinging ___, robe-wearing mascot for the Padres : FRIAR

The San Diego Padres baseball team was founded in 1969, and immediately joined the ranks of Major League Baseball as an expansion team. The Padres took their name from a Minor League team that had been in the city since 1936. The name is Spanish for “fathers” and is a reference to the Franciscan Friars from Spain who founded San Diego in 1769.

42 O’Rourke of Texas politics : BETO

Texas politician Beto O’Rourke really came to the nation’s attention when he ran for the US Senate in 2018, and was narrowly beaten by the incumbent Ted Cruz. He followed up that close-run campaign with a run for the 2020 Democratic nomination for US president.

43 Drug whose name can be found in “spells danger” : LSD

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)

44 *Challenge for an under-achiever? : LIMBO BAR

The limbo dance originated on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean. The name “limbo” is an alteration of our word “limber”, which isn’t surprising given what one has to do to get under that bar!

46 Issa of “American Fiction” : RAE

“American Fiction” is a 2023 comedy-drama movie based on a 2023 novel by Percival Everett titled “Erasure”. Jeffrey Wright plays a black writer whose publishers reject his latest story as not being “black enough”. The writer reacts to his lack of success by submitting a satirical novel that panders to black stereotypes. To his surprise, and dismay, the book is a great success.

49 Get 21 in blackjack, say : WIN

The card game known as “twenty-one” was first referred to in print in a book by Cervantes, the author famous for writing “Don Quixote”. He called the game “veintiuna” (Spanish for “twenty-one”). Cervantes wrote his story just after the year 1600, so the game has been around at least since then. Twenty-one came to the US but it wasn’t all that popular so bonus payments were introduced to create more interest. One of the more attractive bonuses was a ten-to-one payout to a player who was dealt an ace of spades and a black jack. This bonus led to the game adopting the moniker “Blackjack”.

60 *Where to look for fingerprints : CRIME SCENE

In the world of criminology, there are three classes of fingerprints:

  • Patent prints are those which are obvious, easily spotted by the naked eye.
  • Impressed prints are those made when the fingertips apply pressure to a soft material or surface, such as the skin.
  • Latent prints are those that are invisible to the naked eye, but which can be detected using special equipment and materials.

63 Fuzzy fruit : KIWI

What we call kiwifruit today (and sometimes just “kiwi”) used to be called a Chinese gooseberry. Marketing folks in the fifties decided to call it a “melonette”, and then New Zealand producers adopted the name “kiwifruit”.

65 The gemstone Olympic Australis, for one : OPAL

The largest opal ever found, and the most valuable, is the Olympic Australis. It was discovered in South Australia in 1956. That same year, the Summer Olympics were being held in Melbourne so the newly discovered stone was given the name “Olympic Australis”.

66 With 67- and 68-Across, MC Hammer lyric that applies to each of the answers to the starred clues : CAN’T …
67 See 66-Across : … TOUCH …
68 See 66-Across : … THIS

Rapper MC Hammer (aka Hammer and Hammertime) was born Stanley Kirk Burrell, and was very popular in the 80s and 90s. Being around that early, MC Hammer is considered to be one of the forefathers of rap. Nowadays, MC Hammer is a preacher, and uses the initials MC to stand for “Man of Christ”. If you are so inclined, you can learn a little about Hammer and his family life by watching past episodes of the reality TV show “Hammertime”, which aired in 2009.

Down

2 Rental for a D.I.Y. mover : U-HAUL

The U-Haul company was started by married couple Leonard Shoen and Anna Mary Carty in Ridgefield, Washington in 1945. The Shoens used $5,000 of seed money to build trailers in their garage, and then cleverly recruited gas station owners as franchisees with whom they would split the rental revenue. There are now about 15,000 U-Haul dealers across the country.

3 Black ___ (snake) : MAMBA

Mambas, most famously black mambas, are highly venomous snakes that used to be responsible for a great number of fatalities before anti-venoms became available. Mamba venom is a deadly mix of neurotoxins that attack the nervous system and cardiotoxins that attack the heart. A bite, if left untreated, causes the lungs and the heart to shut down.

4 Tallest president in U.S. history, familiarly : ABE

Abraham Lincoln was the first US president to come from outside of the original Thirteen Colonies. He was born in 1809, famously in a log cabin, on Sinking Spring Farm near Hodgenville, Kentucky. His family moved when he was two years old to another farm a few miles away. The creek running through the farm gave the name “Knob Creek Farm”. That same creek gave its name to the Knob Creek brand of bourbon.

9 Cricket, e.g. : INSECT

The sound made by crickets is usually referred to as chirping, although the scientific term is “stridulation”. The sound is made by male crickets as they rub the top of one wing along a serration on the other wing.

11 The main characters in “The Bourne Identity” and “Memento,” notably : AMNESIACS

“Amnesia”, meaning “loss of memory”, is a Greek word that we imported into English in the 17th century. The Greek term comes from combining the prefixes “a-” meaning “not” and “mnesi-” meaning “remembering”.

“The Bourne Identity” is a great spy novel written by Robert Ludlum, and first published in 1980. It has been ranked as the second best spy novel of all time, just behind the even more enjoyable “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” by John le Carré. Ludlum wrote two sequels, and all three parts of the Bourne Trilogy have been made into very successful movies now, starring Matt Damon in the title role. Ludlum died before he could write more than three novels featuring Jason Bourne, but five more titles in the series have been published, each written by Eric Van Lustbader. I must check them out …

“Memento” is a 2000 mystery movie with an interesting storyline. Guy Pearce stars as a man suffering from short-term memory loss after an attack by two men who raped and killed his wife. He searches for the killers, and is forced to use tattoos and polaroids to track information that he knows he will not recall.

18 “Lovely” lady in a Beatles hit : RITA

“Lovely Rita” is a Beatles song on the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. When the album was released in 1967, the term “meter maid” wasn’t used in the UK, although it was a slang term used in the US. The song helped spread the usage of “meter maid” all around the English-speaking world. Apparently the inspiration for the song was McCartney getting a parking ticket one day outside the Abbey Road Studios. He accepted the ticket with good grace, from a warden named Meta Davis. McCartney felt that Meta “looked like a ‘Rita’”, so that was the name she was given in the song.

25 Like about 4% of human blood : TYPE-AB

Here is an approximate distribution of blood types across the US population:

  • O-positive: 38 percent
  • O-negative: 7 percent
  • A-positive: 34 percent
  • A-negative: 6 percent
  • B-positive: 9 percent
  • B-negative: 2 percent
  • AB-positive: 3 percent
  • AB-negative: 1 percent

29 A/C meas. : BTU

In the world of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), the power of a heating or cooling unit can be measured using the British Thermal Unit (BTU). This dated unit is the amount of energy required to heat a pound of water so that the water’s temperature increases by one degree Fahrenheit.

32 Founder of the American Shakers : ANN LEE

Mother Ann Lee was the leader of the Shakers, members of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. Lee was born and raised in Manchester, England. It was there that she became prominent as a speaker declaring faith in the second coming of Christ. Lee took a band of her followers to America in 1774 and eventually settled just outside Albany, New York.

33 Nest for a raptor : AERIE

An aerie (sometimes “eyrie”) is an eagle’s nest. The term “aerie” can also more generally describe any bird’s nest that is located on a cliff or a mountaintop.

“Raptor” is a generic term for a bird of prey, one that has talons to grip its victims.

39 Feature of the Rolex logo : CROWN

My most-prized possession is a beautiful stainless steel Rolex watch that my uncle bought while serving with the RAF in Canada during WWII. Rolex watches were made available to the Canadian servicemen at that time as they were shipping overseas. My uncle brought his Rolex home to Ireland after the war. He needed money one weekend and so sold the watch to my Dad, for five pounds. My Dad gave it to me just before he died, as he knew I loved the watch, and my brothers weren’t interested in it all. Not so long ago I had the watch appraised ($3,000), and my brothers suddenly took a liking to it! Still, it’s not something that will ever be sold, that’s for sure …

40 Like zirconium on the periodic table : FORTIETH

The metallic element we know as zirconium takes its name from the mineral “zircon” from which it is extracted.

45 1-Across, for one : BIG CAT
[1A Florida panther, e.g. : PUMA]

The four “big cats” are the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard. The largest of the big cats is the tiger, and the smallest is the leopard.

50 “Poison” shrub : SUMAC

Poison sumac is a nasty plant (from a human perspective). Also known as thunderwood, it produces the resin urushiol that irritates human skin. Inhaling the smoke from burning poison sumac can irritate the lining of the lungs causing pain, and maybe even death.

51 N.B.A. star Curry : STEPH

Basketball great Wardell Stephen “Steph” Curry II was born in Akron, Ohio, the son of former NBA player Dell Curry and former volleyball player Sonya Curry. Off the court, Curry is an avid golfer, playing off a low handicap. He regularly participates in celebrity golf tournaments, and has played alongside President Barack Obama.

52 Where Moses received the Ten Commandments : SINAI

According to the Bible, Mount Sinai is the mountain on which Moses was given the Ten Commandments. The Biblical Mount Sinai is probably not the mountain in Egypt that today has the same name, although this is the subject of much debate. The Egyptian Mount Sinai has two developed routes that one can take to reach the summit. The longer gentler climb takes about 2 1/2 hours, but there is also the steeper climb up the 3,750 “steps of penitence”.

55 Actor Liu of “Barbie” : SIMU

Simu Liu is a Chinese-born Canadian actor. One of his more famous roles was the title character in the Marvel Comics 2021 superhero movie “Shang-Chi and the legend of the Ten Rings”.

57 Ursula’s slithery pets in “The Little Mermaid” : EELS

In the 1989 Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid”, the title character is given the name “Ariel”. In the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that dates back to 1836, the Little Mermaid is given no name at all. There is a famous statue of the unnamed Little Mermaid sitting in Copenhagen Harbor, in Andersen’s homeland of Denmark.

58 Dog show org. : AKC

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the organization that handles registration of purebred dogs The AKC also promotes dog shows around the country, including the famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

59 La hermana de mamá : TIA

In Spanish, the “hermana” (sister) of your “madre” (mother) is your “tia” (aunt).

61 2016 Olympics host, informally : RIO

Even though the 2016 Olympic Games was a summer competition, it was held in Rio de Janeiro in winter. As Rio is in the southern hemisphere, the opening ceremony on 5th August 2016 fell in the local winter season. The 2016 games was also the first to be held in South America, and the first to be hosted by a Portuguese-speaking country.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Florida panther, e.g. : PUMA
5 “Inside with Jen ___” (MSNBC show) : PSAKI
10 The Crimson Tide, to fans : BAMA
14 Noted whale watcher of literature : AHAB
15 Enter a username and password : LOG IN
16 Wide-screen theater option : IMAX
17 *Equipment for zooming : CAMERA LENS
19 The last “O” of YOLO : ONCE
20 “Woman in a ___” (Degas painting) : TUB
21 With 24-Across, some summer coffee orders : ICED …
22 Conditional word in coding : ELSE
24 See 21-Across : … LATTES
26 Kind of connector for a VCR cable : RCA
27 Fill-in teacher, informally : SUB
30 Vegetable whose name means “to eat” in some West African languages : YAM
31 *Subject of a “Caution” sign on a park bench : WET PAINT
33 Egyptian viper : ASP
35 Vibe : AURA
37 Major muddle : SNAFU
38 *Shocking thing found on a farm : ELECTRIC FENCE
41 The Swinging ___, robe-wearing mascot for the Padres : FRIAR
42 O’Rourke of Texas politics : BETO
43 Drug whose name can be found in “spells danger” : LSD
44 *Challenge for an under-achiever? : LIMBO BAR
46 Issa of “American Fiction” : RAE
48 “Of course!” : YES!
49 Get 21 in blackjack, say : WIN
50 Emphasize : STRESS
53 Small dent : DING
55 Dressy attire : SUIT
56 Accessory for dressy attire : TIE
58 Lots and lots : A TON
60 *Where to look for fingerprints : CRIME SCENE
63 Fuzzy fruit : KIWI
64 Set one’s sights on : AIM AT
65 The gemstone Olympic Australis, for one : OPAL
66 With 67- and 68-Across, MC Hammer lyric that applies to each of the answers to the starred clues : CAN’T …
67 See 66-Across : … TOUCH …
68 See 66-Across : … THIS

Down

1 Diplomat’s success : PACT
2 Rental for a D.I.Y. mover : U-HAUL
3 Black ___ (snake) : MAMBA
4 Tallest president in U.S. history, familiarly : ABE
5 Something a kids’ menu might double as : PLACE MAT
6 Boot bottoms : SOLES
7 Developed, in a way : AGED
8 Family : KIN
9 Cricket, e.g. : INSECT
10 Book jacket profiles : BIOS
11 The main characters in “The Bourne Identity” and “Memento,” notably : AMNESIACS
12 Computer debut of 1984 : MAC
13 Rail-splitter’s tool : AXE
18 “Lovely” lady in a Beatles hit : RITA
23 Expire : LAPSE
25 Like about 4% of human blood : TYPE-AB
26 Blink or jump, say : REACT
28 Hungry : UNFED
29 A/C meas. : BTU
31 More sardonic : WRIER
32 Founder of the American Shakers : ANN LEE
33 Nest for a raptor : AERIE
34 Gets thinner : SLIM DOWN
36 ___ Outfitters (clothing chain) : URBAN
39 Feature of the Rolex logo : CROWN
40 Like zirconium on the periodic table : FORTIETH
41 “A ___ Went By” (classic children’s book) : FLY
45 1-Across, for one : BIG CAT
47 Ceramics and sculpture, for two : ARTS
50 “Poison” shrub : SUMAC
51 N.B.A. star Curry : STEPH
52 Where Moses received the Ten Commandments : SINAI
54 Still competing : IN IT
55 Actor Liu of “Barbie” : SIMU
57 Ursula’s slithery pets in “The Little Mermaid” : EELS
58 Dog show org. : AKC
59 La hermana de mamá : TIA
61 2016 Olympics host, informally : RIO
62 Collapsible camping convenience : COT

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