0901-21 NY Times Crossword 1 Sep 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: Sean Yamada-Hunter
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer That’s a Big If

THAT’S A BIG “IF” made with black squares in the center of the grid.

Bill’s time: 7m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4 Midsection section, informally : ABS

The abdominal muscles (abs) are more correctly referred to as the rectus abdominis muscles. They might be referred to as a “six-pack”, or even a “ten-pack”, in a person who has developed the muscles and who has low body fat. In my case, more like a keg …

14 Pop singer known for performing in a face-obscuring wig : SIA

“Sia” is the stage name of Australian singer Sia Furler from Adelaide. Sia is a cousin of Australian Christian Rock musician Peter Furler.

15 Sch. whose campus contains Washington Square Park : NYU

The main campus of the private New York University (NYU) is located right in Manhattan, in Washington Square in the heart of Greenwich Village. NYU has over 12,000 resident students, the largest number of residents in a private school in the whole country. NYU’s sports teams are known as the Violets, a reference to the violet and white colors that are worn in competition. Since the 1980s, the school’s mascot has been a bobcat. “Bobcat” had been the familiar name given to NYU’s Bobst Library computerized catalog.

17 “Lookout” signal, in brief : APB

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

20 Carmichael who composed “Heart and Soul” : HOAGY

Singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael was born Hoagland Howard Carmichael. Carmichael’s remarkable first name was given to him in honor of a circus troupe called “The Hoaglands” who stayed at the Carmichael house during his mother’s pregnancy. Now that’s a story …

22 Letter after pi : RHO

Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.

23 Wallet items : IDS

Identity document (ID)

24 Body feature for roughly 90% of people : INNIE

The navel is basically the scar left behind when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby. One interesting use of the umbilicus (navel, belly button) is to differentiate between identical twins, especially when they are very young.

25 McKellen who played Gandalf : IAN

Sir Ian McKellen is a marvelous English actor, one who is comfortable playing anything from Macbeth on stage to Magneto in an “X-Men” movie. On the big screen, McKellen is very famous for playing Gandalf in “The Lord of Rings”. In the UK, Sir Ian is noted for being at the forefront of the campaign for equal rights for gay people, a role he has enthusiastically embraced since the eighties.

Gandalf is an important character in the J. R. R. Tolkien novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. He is a wizard known as Gandalf the Grey during his lifetime, and as Gandalf the White after he returns from the dead.

26 Online help page, for short : FAQ

Most websites have a page listing answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Even this blog has one!

28 Young newt : EFT

Newts wouldn’t be my favorite animals. They are found all over the world living on land or in water depending on the species, but always associated with water even if it is only for breeding. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental stages during their lives. They start off as larvae in water, fertilized eggs that often cling to aquatic plants. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, the first developmental form of the newt. After living some months as tadpoles swimming around in the water, they undergo another metamorphosis, sprouting legs and replacing their external gills with lungs. At this juvenile stage they are known as efts, and leave the water to live on land. A more gradual transition takes place then, as the eft takes on the lizard-like appearance of the adult newt.

29 Health class subj. : STD

Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

33 Anybody home? : EARTH

Our “blue planet” has such a color because the oceans that cover 71% of the area of the Earth reflect blue light.

39 Nickname for the Miami Dolphins, with “the” : … FINS

The Miami Dolphins football team was founded in 1966 by politician Joe Robbie and comedian Danny Thomas.

41 U.K. honour : OBE

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry in the UK that was established in 1917 by King George V. There are five classes within the order, which are in descending seniority:

  • Knight Grand Cross (GBE)
  • Knight Commander (KBE)
  • Commander (CBE)
  • Officer (OBE)
  • Member (MBE)

42 ___ Stardust, alter ego of David Bowie : ZIGGY

David Bowie was the stage name of English singer David Jones. Bowie adopted the alter ego Ziggy Stardust during his glam rock phase in the 1970s. Sadly, Bowie passed away from liver cancer in early 2016.

44 Word on either side of “à” : VIS

We can use the French phrase “vis-à-vis” as a preposition meaning “compared with”. When used as an adverb or adjective, it means “face-to-face”, which is a more literal translation from French.

45 Rose of rock : AXL

Axl Rose is the lead vocalist of the American rock band Guns N’ Roses.

46 Bench with a back : PEW

A pew is a church bench, one usually with a high back. The original pews were raised and sometimes enclosed seats in the church used by women and important men or families. “Pew” comes from the Old French “puie” meaning “balcony, elevation”.

51 Easy ___ : AS PIE

The idiom “as easy as pie” is used to describe something that is simple to do. It appears that the reference here is to the simplicity of eating pie, rather than making a pie.

53 Onetime Russian space station : MIR

Russia’s Mir space station was a remarkably successful project. It held the record for the longest continuous human presence in space at just under 10 years, until the International Space Station eclipsed that record in 2010. Towards the end of the space station’s life however, the years began to take their toll. There was a dangerous fire, multiple system failures, and a collision with a resupply ship. The Russian commitment to the International Space Station drained funds for repairs, so Mir was allowed to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in 2001. “Mir” is a Russian word meaning “peace” or “world”.

55 1948 western starring Bob Hope as “Painless” Potter : THE PALEFACE

I remember my first non-business visit to Los Angeles. I was a typical tourist and bought a map showing the homes of the stars and drove around Beverly Hills absorbing all the glitz. At one point I drove past a Rolls Royce that was stopped in oncoming traffic, waiting to make a left turn. The window was down, and the driver was puffing away on a big cigar. It was none other than Bob Hope. Seeing him there right beside me; that was a big thrill …

59 Budget carrier from 1993 to 2014 : AIRTRAN

AirTran Airways was a budget airline that has its principal hub in Atlanta. The company was founded in 1993 as ValuJet Airlines. AirTran had been owned by Southwest Airlines since 2011 and was fully integrated into the parent company in 2014, when the AirTran brand was shelved.

60 Message often written in large letters : SOS

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots). That said, in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so “SOS” is really only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are back-formations that were introduced after the SOS signal was adopted.

61 Suffix with Gator : -ADE

Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida by a team of researchers at the request of the school’s football team. And so, Gatorade is named after the Gators football team.

62 Actress Angela of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” : BASSETT

Angela Bassett is an actress from New York who is perhaps best known for playing Tina Turner in the film about her life “What’s Love Got to Do with It”.

“How Stella Got Her Groove Back” is a 1998 romantic comedy based on a novel of the same title by Terry McMillan. The romantic leads are played by Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs.

63 Weed : POT

“Potiguaya” is the Mexican-Spanish word for “marijuana leaves”. The slang name “pot” comes from “potiguaya”.

64 The “S” of iOS: Abbr. : SYS

“iOS” is what Apple now calls their mobile operating system. It was previously known as iPhone OS.

Down

1 Japan’s largest beer brand : ASAHI

Asahi is a Japanese beer, and the name of the brewery that produces it. “Asahi” is Japanese for “morning sun”. Asahi introduced a “dry beer” in 1987, igniting a craze that rocketed the brewery to the number one spot in terms of beer production in Japan, with Sapporo close behind.

3 They can rate up to 350,000 on the Scoville scale : HABANERO PEPPERS

The habanero chili has a very intense flavor. Interestingly, the correct spelling of the chili’s name is “habanero”. We often try to be clever in English and add a tilde making it “habañero”, which isn’t right at all …

5 Party invite inits. : BYO

Bring Your Own Beer/Bottle/Booze (BYOB)

8 G.I. entertainers : USO

The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.

9 The Spartans of the N.C.A.A. : MSU

Michigan State University (MSU) is located in East Lansing, Michigan. MSU has the largest study-abroad program of any single-campus university in the US. Programs are offered on all continents of the world, including Antarctica. The MSU athletic teams are known as the Spartans.

11 Performer known as the “King of Latin Pop” : ENRIQUE IGLESIAS

Enrique Iglesias is the singer-songwriter son of pop star Julio Iglesias. Both Julio and Enrique are from Madrid in Spain.

26 Mo. during which the N.B.A. All-Star Game is usually played : FEB

Major League Baseball’s first All-Star Game was held as part of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. The longest All-Star games since then went to 15 innings, in 1967 and 2008, with the 2008 game lasting 4 hours and 50 minutes.

32 Website with much custom-designed jewelry : ETSY

Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.

33 Channel owned by Disney : ESPN

The initialism “ESPN” stands for Entertainment Sports Programming Network. ESPN is a cable network that broadcasts sports programming 24 hours a day, and was launched back in 1979. ESPN has a lot of ardent fans. Several parents have named their children Espn (usually pronounced “Espen”) in honor of the network.

34 Dark purple fruit : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

42 Most out there : ZANIEST

Something described as zany is clownish and bizarre. “Zany” can also be a noun, a term used for a clown or buffoon. The original noun was “Zanni”, a Venetian dialect variant of Gianni, short for Giovanni (John). Zanni was a character who appeared in comedy plays of the day, and was someone who aped the principal actors.

49 Hunky-dory : DANDY

Something that is a dandy or a oner is remarkable or outstanding.

Surprisingly (to me), the term “hunky-dory” has been around a long time, and is documented back in the mid-1800s. Nobody’s really sure of its origin, but some say it is an Anglicization of Honcho dori, that back in the day was a street of ill repute in Yokohama, Japan.

50 Comedian Wanda : SYKES

Wanda Sykes is a very successful American comedian and comic actress. Interestingly, Sykes spent her first five years out of school working for the NSA. I saw her perform in Reno some years ago, and she is very, very funny.

51 Open ___ (plan to pay later) : A TAB

When we run a “tab” at a bar, we are running a “tabulation”, a listing of what we owe. Such a use of “tab” is American slang that originated in the 1880s.

52 Like the majority of Iraqis and Bahrainis : SHIA

The Islamic sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims differ in the belief of who should have taken over leadership of the Muslim faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Followers of the Sunni tradition agree with the decision that the Prophet Muhammad’s confidante Abu Bakr was the right choice to become the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. Followers of the Shia tradition believe that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet Muhammad’s own family, and favored the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali.

Iraq is often called the “Cradle of Civilization” as it was home to Sumer, which was the earliest known civilization on the planet. By 5000 BC the Sumerian people were practicing year-round agriculture and had a specialized labor force. For the first time, a whole race was able to settle in one place by storing food, instead of having to migrate in a pattern dictated by crops and grazing land.

Bahrain is an island nation located off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia by a series of causeways and bridges that were constructed in the eighties.

56 Pull-up muscle, for short : LAT

The muscles known as the “lats” are the latissimi dorsi, and are the broadest muscles in the back. “Latissimus” is the Latin for “broadest” and “dorsum” is Latin for “back”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Fire proof? : ASH
4 Midsection section, informally : ABS
7 Bad break : BUM DEAL
14 Pop singer known for performing in a face-obscuring wig : SIA
15 Sch. whose campus contains Washington Square Park : NYU
16 Core : ESSENCE
17 “Lookout” signal, in brief : APB
18 “Come now, it’ll be OK” : DON’T YOU FRET
20 Carmichael who composed “Heart and Soul” : HOAGY
22 Letter after pi : RHO
23 Wallet items : IDS
24 Body feature for roughly 90% of people : INNIE
25 McKellen who played Gandalf : IAN
26 Online help page, for short : FAQ
28 Young newt : EFT
29 Health class subj. : STD
30 Slip past : ELUDE
33 Anybody home? : EARTH
35 This, in Spanish : ESO
36 Farm cry : BLEAT
37 Put numbers on the board : SCORE
38 “Wowza!” : MAN!
39 Nickname for the Miami Dolphins, with “the” : … FINS
40 Certain recyclable : PAPER
41 U.K. honour : OBE
42 ___ Stardust, alter ego of David Bowie : ZIGGY
43 Rose Granger-Weasley, to Harry Potter : NIECE
44 Word on either side of “à” : VIS
45 Rose of rock : AXL
46 Bench with a back : PEW
47 Main ingredient in the Japanese dish tamagoyaki : EGG
48 Requirements : NEEDS
51 Easy ___ : AS PIE
53 Onetime Russian space station : MIR
54 “My take is …” : I’D SAY …
55 1948 western starring Bob Hope as “Painless” Potter : THE PALEFACE
58 Sign : INK
59 Budget carrier from 1993 to 2014 : AIRTRAN
60 Message often written in large letters : SOS
61 Suffix with Gator : -ADE
62 Actress Angela of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” : BASSETT
63 Weed : POT
64 The “S” of iOS: Abbr. : SYS

Down

1 Japan’s largest beer brand : ASAHI
2 Nurse, as a beer : SIP ON
3 They can rate up to 350,000 on the Scoville scale : HABANERO PEPPERS
4 “Nevertheless … look at our current situation” : AND YET … HERE WE ARE
5 Party invite inits. : BYO
6 Grass-roots group focused on addressing climate change : SUNRISE MOVEMENT
7 Difficult to understand : BEYOND ONE’S GRASP
8 G.I. entertainers : USO
9 The Spartans of the N.C.A.A. : MSU
10 Letters on the “3” button : DEF
11 Performer known as the “King of Latin Pop” : ENRIQUE IGLESIAS
12 Performed very well on : ACED
13 “I’m game” : LET’S
19 Exclamation upon seeing this puzzle : THAT’S A BIG IF
21 Priceless keepsakes? : GIFT RECEIPTS
26 Mo. during which the N.B.A. All-Star Game is usually played : FEB
27 Good as new : ALL FIXED
31 “Shoot!” : DANG!
32 Website with much custom-designed jewelry : ETSY
33 Channel owned by Disney : ESPN
34 Dark purple fruit : ACAI
42 Most out there : ZANIEST
49 Hunky-dory : DANDY
50 Comedian Wanda : SYKES
51 Open ___ (plan to pay later) : A TAB
52 Like the majority of Iraqis and Bahrainis : SHIA
56 Pull-up muscle, for short : LAT
57 Soft murmur : COO