Edited by: Will Shortz
There’s a note with today’s puzzle:
To mark the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword, which debuted in 1942, we are publishing a series of puzzles co-created by famous people who solve the Times crossword, working together with regular Times puzzle contributors.
This collaboration is by the actor, comedian and emcee Neil Patrick Harris – the star of TV’s “Doogie Howser, M.D.” and “How I Met Your Mother” – working together with Stanford University student David Steinberg, who has been editing a weekly puzzle for the Orange County Register since he was 15. This is Mr. Steinberg’s 66th crossword for The Times.
The celebrity collaborations will continue periodically through the year.
More information about the making of today’s puzzle appears in the Times’s daily crossword column (nytimes.com/column/wordplay).
The famous ESCAPE ARTIST named HARRY HOUDINI does a DISAPPEARING ACT in today’s grid. In order to make sense of the down-answers crossing the HARRY HOUDINI answer, we have to make the letters in HARRY HOUDINI “disappear”:
- 20A. 58-Across, notably : ESCAPE ARTIST
- 39A. Part of a magic show : DISAPPEARING ACT
- 58A. Subject of this puzzle (who has himself done a 39-Across) : HARRY HOUDINI
- 36D. Home of Arizona State University : TEMPE (R disappears from TEMPER)
- 42D. D, in an emoticon : GRIN (D disappears from GRIND)
- 47D. Crushing, as a test : ACING (H disappears from ACHING)
- 48D. One who probably doesn’t get out much : LONER (A disappears from LOANER)
- 49D. Spills : SLOPS (O disappears from SLOOPS)
- 52D. Recyclable item : CAN (Y disappears from CYAN)
- 53D. Country whose national anthem is “Nashid As-Salaam as-Sultani” : OMAN (H disappears from OH MAN)
- 55D. Picnic coolers : ADES (I disappears from AIDES)
- 56D. Needing Bengay, say : SORE (N disappears from SNORE)
- 57D. Reid of Hollywood : TARA (I disappears from TIARA)
- 59D. “r,” in a text : ARE (R disappears from RARE)
- 60D. Pretoria’s land: Abbr. : RSA (U disappears from URSA)
Bill’s errors: 2
- ADORBS (adorbe)
- ETS (ETE)
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
7. Spongy sweet : TRIFLE
Trifle is a splendid dessert from England comprising layers of sponge soaked in sherry, fruit, custard and whipped cream. The sponge and fruit is usually suspended in jello. The Italian version of the same dessert if known as “zuppa inglese”, which translates from Italian as “English soup”.
16. Billy : HE-GOAT
Male goats are called “bucks” or “billies”, although castrated males are known as “wethers”. Female goats are called “does” or “nannies”, and young goats are referred to as “kids”.
18. Apex predator of the ocean : ORCA
The taxonomic name for the killer whale is Orcinus orca. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.
24. Elsa’s sister in “Frozen” : ANNA
“Frozen” is a 2013 animated feature from Walt Disney Studios that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”.
33. Bids “one club,” say : OPENS
That would be the card game called Bridge.
36. British Invasion band that launched Van Morrison’s career : THEM
Van Morrison is a singer-songwriter from Belfast in Northern Ireland. Back in Ireland we refer to him as “Van the Man”. Some of his more famous songs are “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Moondance”, “Gloria” and “Have I Told You Lately”.
44. All-vegetarian frozen food brand : AMY’S
Amy’s Kitchen is a company making organic and easy-to-prepare frozen food, all of which is vegetarian. The company was founded in 1987 by Andy and Rachel Berliner, and Amy is their daughter.
45. Like the smiling eyes of song : IRISH
“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” is an American song of tribute to Ireland that dates back to 1912. The lyrics were written by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr., and the tune was composed by Ernest Ball.
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.
50. Mexican silver city : TAXCO
Taxco de Alarcón is a small city in southern Mexico. Taxco is a center for silver mining, and is also well known for the production of silverware and fine items made using silver.
54. Cartoonist who popularized Uncle Sam : NAST
Thomas Nast was an American caricaturist and cartoonist. Nast was the creator of the Republican Party elephant, the Democratic Party donkey, Uncle Sam and the image of the plump and jocular Santa Claus that we use today.
58. Subject of this puzzle (who has himself done a 39-Across) : HARRY HOUDINI
“Harry Houdini” was the stage name of Hungarian-born escapologist and magician Erik Weisz (later changed to “Harry Weiss”). Many people are under the impression that Houdini died while performing an escape that went wrong, an impression created by the storyline in a couple of movies about his life. The truth is that he died of peritonitis from a burst appendix. It is also true that a few days prior to his death Houdini took a series of punches to his stomach as part of his act, but doctors believe that his appendix would have burst regardless.
61. Lily Tomlin’s role in “All of Me” : EDWINA
“All of Me” is a very entertaining 1984 comedy film starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, and directed by Carl Reiner. The storyline is a little fantastic, but hilarious. The Lily Tomlin character ends up occupying the Steve Martin character’s body. Two years after meeting on the “All of Me” film set, Steve Martin ended up marrying supporting actress Victoria Tennant.
Lily Tomlin is a comedian and actress who got her big break as a regular member of the cast of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” in the late sixties and early seventies. Tomlin created several great characters on the show. My personal favorite is Ernestine, the condescending telephone operator with the marvelous nasal voice and snorting laugh. Ernestine was fond of saying “One ringy dingy …” I really enjoy Tomlin’s performances as an actress, notably in the movies “9 to 5” and “All of Me”, and on the TV shows “The West Wing” and “Grace and Frankie”. I went to her stage show many years ago in San Francisco, and just did not enjoy it. I was devastated …
64. Latin lover’s love : AMOR
“Amor” is Latin for “love”.
69. Asylum seeker, maybe : EMIGRE
An “émigré” is an emigrant. The term is French in origin, and particularly applies to someone who is a political refugee from his or her native land.
“Asylum” (plural “asyla”) is a Latin word meaning “sanctuary”.
70. Org. whose budget is classified : NSA
National Security Agency (NSA)
71. Lead-in to horse or lion : SEA
Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus. The genus name comes from the Greek “hippo” meaning “horse” and “kampos” meaning “sea monster”. It’s the male seahorse who carries the fertilized eggs, and not the females. The region of the brain known as the hippocampus, is so called because it resembles a seahorse in shape.
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).
1. Portmanteau ride : MOPED
The word “moped” was coined in 1952 by a Swedish journalist called Harald Nielsen. The term is a portmanteau of “motor” and “pedal”.
A portmanteau was a large suitcase, one that could be taken apart into two separate pieces. The word “portmanteau” is French for a “travelling bag”, from “porter” (to carry) and “manteau” (a coat, cloak). We also use “portmanteau” to mean a word that has been melded together from two parts (just as the suitcase comprised two parts). This usage was introduced to the world by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. He explained to Alice that the nonsense words in the “Jabberwocky” poem were actually portmanteau words. For example “slithy” comes from from “slimy” and “lithe”.
5. Old-style hacker : PHREAK
Phreaking is the equivalent of computer hacking in the world of telecommunication systems. “Phreak” is a portmanteau of “phone” and “freak”.
7. Cuisine with many curries : THAI
Curry powder is a mixture of spices used in South Asian cuisine. The actual composition of curry powder varies depending on the cuisine. The term “curry” is an anglicization of the Tamil “kari” meaning “sauce”.
8. 2013 World Series champs : RED SOX
The Boston Red Sox is one of the most successful Major League Baseball teams and so commands a large attendance, but only when on the road. The relatively small capacity of Boston’s Fenway Park, the team’s home since 1912, has dictated that every game the Red Sox has played there has been a sell-out since May of 2003.
11. Chocolate ___ : LAB
The Labrador (Lab) breed of dog has been around at least since 1814. The breed comes in three registered colors: black, yellow and chocolate.
12. A.P. exam inits. : ETS
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) was founded in 1947, and produces standardized tests for students from kindergarten through college. Perhaps most famously, ETS operates the SAT testing process.
26. Hawaii’s ___ City, on an island of the same name : LANAI
Lanai is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Lanai was first spotted by Europeans just a few days after Captain Cook was killed on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1779. In 1922, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company bought the whole island of Lanai and turned most of it into the world’s largest pineapple plantation. Since then, Lanai has been known as “The Pineapple Island”. Today, 98% of the island is owned by Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, and 2% is owned by the State of Hawaii.
27. “Cleopatra” and “Spartacus” : EPICS
The 1963 movie “Cleopatra” really is an epic work. It was the highest grossing film of the year, taking in $26 million dollars at the box office, yet it still lost money. The original budget for the film was just $2 million, but so many things went wrong the final cost swelled to a staggering $44 million dollars, making it the second most expensive movie ever made (taking into account inflation). Elizabeth Taylor was supposed to earn a record amount of $1 million for the film, and ended up earned seven times that amount due to delays. But she paid dearly, as she became seriously ill during shooting and had to have an emergency tracheotomy to save her life. The scar in her throat can actually be seen in some of the shots in the film.
“Spartacus” is a famous 1960 historical drama directed by Stanley Kubrick. Based on a true story, the film tells the story of Spartacus and his role in the Third Servile War, the last of the unsuccessful slave rebellions of Ancient Rome. Spartacus is played by Kirk Douglas, and indeed Douglas was very much the driving force behind making the movie. He had failed to win the title role in “Ben-Hur”, losing out to Charlton Heston. Douglas then decided to make a competing film, with a similar theme and setting. You judge which is best …
30. Mysterious gift? : ESP
Extrasensory perception (ESP)
32. Classic record label : EMI
EMI was a British music company, with the initialism standing for Electric and Musical Industries.
34. Fastest of three historic ships : PINTA
Famously, Christopher Columbus used three ships in his first voyage across the Atlantic: the Santa Maria, the Niña and the Pinta. The Pinta was the fastest of the three, and it was from the Pinta that the New World was first spotted, by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana who was a lookout on the fateful day. Pinta was a nickname for the ship that translated as “the painted one”. The Pinta’s real name has been lost in mists of time.
35. Geographical name that comes from Old English for “East Saxons” : ESSEX
Essex is a county in England that is referred to as one of the “home counties”. The home counties are those that surround the city of London, outside of London itself. “Home county” is not an official designation but has been in popular use since the 1800s.
36. Home of Arizona State University : TEMPE
Arizona State University (ASU) has a long history, and was founded as the Tempe Normal School for the Arizona Territory in 1885. The athletic teams of ASU used to be known as the Normals, then the Bulldogs, and since 1946 they’ve been called the Sun Devils.
40. ___ Gasol, six-time N.B.A. All-Star : PAU
Pau Gasol is a Spanish basketball player who started his professional career with FC Barcelona Bàsquet. He started playing in the NBA in 2001, turning out for the Memphis Grizzlies. Pau’s younger brother Marc also signed up with the Memphis Grizzlies, in 2008.
41. Actor Cage, informally : NIC
The actor Nicolas “Nic” Cage was born Nicolas Coppola. Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, both of whom are his father’s siblings.
53. Country whose national anthem is “Nashid As-Salaam as-Sultani” : OMAN
Oman lies on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is neighbored by the OAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Oman is a monarchy, and the official name of the state is the Sultanate of Oman. All of the country’s legislative, executive and judiciary power resides with the hereditary sultan.
56. Needing Bengay, say : SORE
Bengay is sold as a painkilling heat rub, to relieve aching muscles. It was developed in France by a Dr. Jules Bengue (hence the name) and was first sold in America way back in 1898.
57. Reid of Hollywood : TARA
Tara Reid is an actress known for roles she played on television and the big screen. My guess is her most remembered performances were in the “American Pie” series of movies in which she played Vicky. Sadly, Reid succumbed to the pressure to alter her looks with plastic surgery. In interviews, she has shared that her first experience under the knife “went wrong” leading to more surgeries in attempts to rectify the resulting deformity.
60. Pretoria’s land: Abbr. : RSA
Pretoria is the executive capital of South Africa (RSA), and one of three capital cities in the country. Cape Town is the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.
61. Hieroglyphic symbol : EYE
The prefix “hiero-” comes from the Greek word “hieros” meaning sacred or holy. The classic use of the prefix is in the term “hieroglyphics”, meaning “sacred carving”, the writing system that uses symbols and pictures.
63. “A Farewell to Arms” setting, briefly : WWI
“A Farewell to Arms” is a somewhat autobiographical novel written by Ernest Hemingway, telling the story of an American ambulance driver serving with the Italian army during WWI. The most famous screen adaptation is probably the 1957 version starring Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones.