1007-18 NY Times Crossword 7 Oct 18, Sunday

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Constructed by: Tom McCoy
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Mind the Gap

The grid includes several circled letters that are GAPS in the across-answers, that we need to skip over. Appropriately enough, the across-answers with the GAPS make reference to gaps of sorts (splitter, space, divider, etc.). The circled letters in the GAPS spell out the words SQUARE PEG, and so we have a SQUARE PEG in a round hole, as it were:

  • 22A. Another nickname for Old Abe … or a description of the circled letter? : RAILSPLITTER
  • 27A. Astronaut’s place … : OUTER SPACE
  • 42A. Screen or partition … : ROOM DIVIDER
  • 51A. Where decongestant spray goes … : NASAL CAVITY
  • 64A. Cyberexpert’s worry … : SECURITY BREACH
  • 84A. Office device … : PAPER CUTTER
  • 90A. Heist figure … : SAFECRACKER
  • 106A. Bit of good fortune … : LUCKY BREAK
  • 114A. Store banner … : GRAND OPENING

Bill’s time: 24m 09s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Experts : GURUS

“Guru” is a Hindi word meaning “teacher” or “priest”.

12. The Harry Potter novels, e.g. : SEPTET

The titles of the seven “Harry Potter” books are:

  1. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (“… Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S)
  2. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”
  3. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”
  4. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
  5. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
  6. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
  7. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

I tried reading the first one, and gave up three-quarters of the way through …

22. Another nickname for Old Abe … or a description of the circled letter? : RAILSPLITTER

Before Abraham Lincoln was elected president, his political campaign used the nickname “Rail-Splitter” to emphasize the candidate’s humble upbringing. Lincoln had worked at splitting fence rails in his youth.

25. Funny Brooks : MEL

Mel Brooks’ real name is Melvin Kaminsky. Brooks is one of very few entertainers (there are only ten) who have won the “Showbiz Award Grand Slam” i.e. an Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy. He is in good company, as the list also includes the likes of Richard Rogers, Sir John Gielgud, Marvin Hamlisch and Audrey Hepburn.

27. Astronaut’s place … : OUTER SPACE

The exploration and use of outer space is governed by the Outer Space Treaty that came into force in 1967. The initial signatories were the US, UK and USSR, and now 102 nations are party to the treaty. For the purposes of the treaty, outer space begins at the Kármán line, a theoretical sphere that lies at an altitude of 100km about the Earth’s sea level.

33. Venus, but not Serena : PLANET

The planet Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky, after our Moon.

Venus Williams is the older of the two Williams sisters playing professional tennis. In 2002, Williams became the first African-American woman to earn the World No. 1 ranking by the Women’s Tennis Association in the Open Era.

Serena Williams is the younger of the two Williams sisters playing professional tennis. Serena has won more prize money in her career than any other female athlete.

35. A lid usually covers it at night : IRIS

The iris is the colored part of the eye. It has an aperture in the center that can open or close depending on the level of light hitting the eye.

37. Naval rank: Abbr. : ENS

Ensign (ens.)

38. Counterpart of Venus : MARS

The surface of the planet Mars has a very high iron oxide content, so Mars is red because it is rusty!

53. Animal with a snout : TAPIR

All four species of tapir are endangered. Even though the tapir looks much like a pig, it is more closely related to the horse and the rhinoceros.

61. Cellular messenger : RNA

Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by what is called transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

73. Each “O” of BOGO : ONE

Buy one, get one (BOGO) or buy one, get one free (BOGOF).

74. “___ and the Real Girl” (2007 comedy) : LARS

“Lars and the Real Girl” is a pretty weird film about a shy young man who develops a relationship with an anatomically-correct, life-size doll. Said shy, young man is played by actor Ryan Gosling.

81. Hawaiian mash-up? : POI

I am a big fan of starch (being an Irishman I love potatoes). That said, I think that poi tastes horrible! Poi is made from the bulbous tubers (corm) of the taro plant by cooking the corm in water and mashing it until the desired consistency is achieved.

93. General ___ chicken : TSO’S

General Tso’s chicken is an American creation, and a dish often found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. The name General Tso may be a reference to General Zuo Zongtang of the Qing Dynasty, but there is no clear link.

94. Bear: Sp. : OSO

In Spanish, an “oso” (bear) might be found in “un zoológico” (a zoo).

96. Soon : ANON

“Anon” originally meant “at once”, but the term’s meaning evolved into “soon” apparently just because the word was misused over time.

101. “Spider-Man” baddie : DOC OCK

Otto Octavius is a supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe. Also known as Doctor Octopus or Doc Ock, Octavius is primarily a foe of Spider-Man.

103. ___ drive : USB

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

120. Worry in East Africa : TSETSE

The tsetse fly is responsible for the transmission of sleeping sickness, a disease that is more correctly called African trypanosomiasis. The disease is only observed in humans who have been bitten by a tsetse fly that is infected with the trypanosome parasitic protozoan.

Down

1. Common phobia source : GERMS

Here are some phobias that I find quite interesting:

  • Somniphobia – fear of falling asleep
  • Coulrophobia – fear of clowns
  • Omphalophobia- fear of the navel
  • Nomophobia- fear of being without mobile phone coverage
  • Triskaidekaphobia- fear of the number 13

3. Omani money : RIALS

Rial is the name of the currency of Oman (as well as Yemen, Iran, Cambodia and Tunisia). Generally, there are 1,000 baisa in a rial.

4. Powerful arm : UZI

The first Uzi submachine gun was designed in the late 1940s by Major Uziel “Uzi” Gal of the Israel Defense Forces, who gave his name to the gun.

6. City from which the U.S. moved its embassy in 2018 : TEL AVIV

The full name of Israel’s second largest city is Tel Aviv-Yafo. “Tel Aviv” translates into “Spring Mound”, a name chosen in 1910.

7. Big retailer of camping gear : REI

REI is a sporting goods store, with the initialism standing for Recreational Equipment Inc. REI was founded in Seattle by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 as a cooperative that supplies quality climbing gear to outdoor enthusiasts. The first full-time employee hired by the Andersons was Jim Whittaker, who was the first American to climb Mount Everest.

8. Middle-earth denizen : ENT

Ents are those tree-like creatures that live in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth in his series of books “The Lord of the Rings”. “Ent” is an Old English word for “giant”.

11. Dr. Seuss title animal : YERTLE

“Yertle the Turtle” is a story by Dr. Seuss. The book is noted for the inclusion of the word “burp”. Back in 1958 when it was published, “burp” was considered to be vulgar. But, no one seemed to mind!

13. Physicist Mach : ERNST

The Mach number of a moving object (like say an airplane) is its speed relative to the speed of sound. A plane travelling at Mach 2, for example, is moving at twice the speed of sound. The term “Mach” takes its name from the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach who published a groundbreaking paper in 1877 that even predicted the “sonic boom”.

16. Cabinet dept. : EDUC

The largest government department in the cabinet is the Department of Defense (DOD), with a permanent staff of over 600,000. The smallest department, by far, is the Department of Education, with a mere four or five thousand employees.

23. Mom-and-pop org. : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

31. “___ tu” (Verdi aria) : ERI

Every crossword constructor’s favorite aria “Eri tu” is from Verdi’s opera “Un ballo in maschera” (“A Masked Ball”). The opera tells the story of the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden during a masked ball.

34. Whigs’ opponents : TORIES

“Tory” comes from the Irish word “tóraí” meaning “outlaw, robber”. The term “tory” was originally used for an Irish outlaw and later became a term of abuse for Irish rebels. At the end of the reign of King Charles II in Britain, there was a political divide with one side being called “Whigs” and the other “Tories”. Historically, the term “Tory” evolved to basically mean a supporter of the British monarchy, and today is used for a member of the British Conservative Party.

36. “Water, water, everywhere,” per Coleridge : SEA

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is an epic poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge that was first published in 1798. The publication of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is said to mark the beginning of the Romantic period of British literature. Perhaps the lines most often quoted from the poem are:

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where
Nor any drop to drink

40. Rizzo in “Midnight Cowboy” : RATSO

Enrico Salvatore “Ratso” Rizzo is one of the characters in the groundbreaking 1969 movie “Midnight Cowboy”. Rizzo is a down-and-out con man played by Dustin Hoffman.

48. Visits a school, maybe : SCUBAS

The self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) was co-invented by celebrated French marine explorer Jacques Cousteau.

49. Feeling with a deadline approaching : PANIC

In Greek mythology, Pan was a lecherous god, one who fell in love with Echo the mountain nymph. Echo refused Pan’s advances so that he became very angry. Pan’s anger created a “panic” (a word derived from the name “Pan”) and a group of shepherds were driven to kill Echo.

52. Like carbon 12, but not carbon 14 : STABLE

Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon that is found in nature in small amounts Carbon-14 is used in the technique known as radiocarbon dating, a relatively accurate way of determining the age of something up to about 60,000 years old. When an organism is alive, the amount of radioactive carbon-14 it has compared to the amount of regular carbon-12, is a fixed ratio. After the organism dies, it is no longer exchanging carbon with the atmosphere through metabolism. So, the stable carbon-12 stays in the body as it rots but the radioactive carbon-14 gradually decays, causing the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 to fall. Scientists can determine the age of remains by measuring this carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio.

60. Eyeball layer : SCLERA

The sclera is the white part of the human eye. The sclera is white in most mammals, but in horses it is black. Really, go check!

61. Calif.’s 101, e.g. : RTE

US Route 101 runs in the north-south direction along the west coast of the country, through California, Oregon and Washington. US 101 is an important thoroughfare here in the San Francisco Bay Area, but along most of its length, traffic tends to use the parallel Interstate 5.

62. Containing iron : FERRIC

Something described as ferric contains iron, or is related to iron. “Ferrum” is Latin for “iron”.

65. Gung-ho : EAGER

“Kung ho” is a Chinese expression meaning “work together, cooperate”. The anglicized version “gung-ho” was adopted by a Major Evans Carlson as an expression of combined spirit for his 2nd Marine Raider Battalion during WWII. From there the term spread throughout the Marine Corps and back to America where it persists to this day.

66. Quick signatures, quickly : INITS

Initial (init.)

67. Grammy winner Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE

Corinne Bailey Rae is a British singer from Yorkshire in the north of England.

68. Poet who originated the phrase “harmony in discord” : HORACE

One of Ancient Rome’s leading lyric poets was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, or “Horace” as we tend to know him. Horace’s most famous work is probably his collection of Latin lyric poems titled “Carmina” (the Latin for “Odes).

69. Apostle of Ireland, for short : ST PAT

There is a fair amount known about Saint Patrick, some of which comes from two letters written in his own hand. St. Patrick lived in the fifth century, but was not born in Ireland. He was first brought to Ireland at about 16 years of age from his native Britain, by Irish raiders who made him a slave for six years. Patrick managed to escape and returned to his homeland where he studied and entered the Church. He went back to Ireland as a bishop and a missionary and there lived out the rest of his life. There seems to be good evidence that he died on March 17th (now celebrated annually as Saint Patrick’s Day), although the year is less clear. The stories about shamrock and snakes, I am afraid they are the stuff of legend.

81. Distant source of radio waves : PULSAR

A pulsar is a rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. As the beam is not emitted in all directions, it is only seen from Earth when at particular rotations, hence creating a cycle of pulsed gamma rays known as the lighthouse effect.

86. Org. founded under Nixon : EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was set up during the Nixon administration and began operation at the end of 1970.

95. Literally, “great O’s” : OMEGAS

Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and is the one that looks like a horseshoe when in uppercase. The lowercase omega looks like a Latin W. The word “omega” literally means “great O” (O-mega). Compare this with the Greek letter Omicron, meaning “little O” (O-micron).

99. Expression of dismay : OY VEY!

“Oy vey” is a Yiddish expression of dismay that literally translates as “oh, pain”. The more usual translation is “woe is me”.

105. Bring into the world : BEGET

Despite the fact that “beget” appears in the English translation of the Bible, the use of “beget” in the sense of procreation only dates back to about 1200 AD. Prior to that, “beget” meant “to acquire, seize”.

116. Scottie’s warning : GRR!

The Aberdeen Terrier is also known as the Scottish Terrier, and is commonly referred to as the Scottie. One of the most famous Scotties in American history was Fala, the much-loved dog belonging to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also, the Scottie is famous as one of the playing pieces in the original game of Monopoly.

117. ___ Amsterdam (name on colonial maps) : NEW

The city of New Amsterdam was taken over by the English from the Dutch in 1664. the city was promptly renamed to “New York” in honor of the Duke of York, who was destined to become King James II of England.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Experts : GURUS
6. Accord : TREATY
12. The Harry Potter novels, e.g. : SEPTET
18. External parasites : EPIZOA
20. Minuscule, cutesily : EENSIE
21. Not yet packed, say : UNREADY
22. Another nickname for Old Abe … or a description of the circled letter? : RAILSPLITTER
24. Got fit : TONED UP
25. Funny Brooks : MEL
26. Eight: Prefix : OCTA-
27. Astronaut’s place … : OUTER SPACE
29. Aves. : STS
30. Let out, as a sigh : HEAVED
33. Venus, but not Serena : PLANET
34. Truckful : TON
35. A lid usually covers it at night : IRIS
37. Naval rank: Abbr. : ENS
38. Counterpart of Venus : MARS
42. Screen or partition … : ROOM DIVIDER
47. Kitchen sink attachment : DISPOSAL
50. Much-disputed part of an airplane : ARMREST
51. Where decongestant spray goes … : NASAL CAVITY
53. Animal with a snout : TAPIR
54. Candidate’s goal : SEAT
57. “___ time” : IT’S
58. Discontent : UNEASE
59. Alternatively : ELSE
60. Kind : SORT
61. Cellular messenger : RNA
62. CBS drama beginning in 2018 : FBI
63. Negative connector : NOR
64. Cyberexpert’s worry … : SECURITY BREACH
69. ___ Poke (caramel candy) : SLO
72. ___-rock : ALT
73. Each “O” of BOGO : ONE
74. “___ and the Real Girl” (2007 comedy) : LARS
75. “What have I done!” : OH NO!
79. Part of an auto garage’s business : TOWAGE
81. Hawaiian mash-up? : POI
82. Product much advertised during football games : BEER
83. Clutch : BROOD
84. Office device … : PAPER CUTTER
87. “That’s my intention” : I PLAN TO
89. At the end of the day : AFTER ALL
90. Heist figure … : SAFECRACKER
93. General ___ chicken : TSO’S
94. Bear: Sp. : OSO
96. Soon : ANON
97. Memphis-to-Nashville dir. : ENE
98. Coinage during the 2008 presidential election : NOBAMA
101. “Spider-Man” baddie : DOC OCK
103. ___ drive : USB
106. Bit of good fortune … : LUCKY BREAK
111. Something you might get your mitts on : OVEN
112. By birth : NEE
113. Away from work for a while : ON LEAVE
114. Store banner … : GRAND OPENING
118. Early ___ : ADOPTER
119. Scowling : AGLARE
120. Worry in East Africa : TSETSE
121. Something to chew on : DOG TOY
122. Some see-through curtains : SHEERS
123. “Ni-i-i-ice!” : SWEET!

Down

1. Common phobia source : GERMS
2. Overturn : UPSET
3. Omani money : RIALS
4. Powerful arm : UZI
5. What a “singleton” is, in baseball lingo : SOLO HOMER
6. City from which the U.S. moved its embassy in 2018 : TEL AVIV
7. Big retailer of camping gear : REI
8. Middle-earth denizen : ENT
9. About : AS TO
10. Keep busy : TIE UP
11. Dr. Seuss title animal : YERTLE
12. Be a lousy bedmate, say : SNORE
13. Physicist Mach : ERNST
14. Little protestation : PEEP
15. “Ain’t I somethin’?!” : TA-DA!
16. Cabinet dept. : EDUC
17. Kind : TYPE
19. Is on the up and up? : ASCENDS
21. Part of a place setting : UTENSIL
23. Mom-and-pop org. : PTA
28. Followers of talks : Q AND A’S
31. “___ tu” (Verdi aria) : ERI
32. Chose not to : DIDN’T
34. Whigs’ opponents : TORIES
36. “Water, water, everywhere,” per Coleridge : SEA
38. “You’re in my spot!” : MOVE!
39. Like an increasing amount of immigration to the U.S. nowadays : ASIAN
40. Rizzo in “Midnight Cowboy” : RATSO
41. More cunning : SLYER
42. The “r” of r = d/t : RATE
43. Kind of hygiene : ORAL
44. Experts in the field? : UMPS
45. Publisher’s announcement : IT’S OUT
46. Wet : RAINY
48. Visits a school, maybe : SCUBAS
49. Feeling with a deadline approaching : PANIC
52. Like carbon 12, but not carbon 14 : STABLE
55. Trip up : ERR
56. Intrinsically : AT ROOT
60. Eyeball layer : SCLERA
61. Calif.’s 101, e.g. : RTE
62. Containing iron : FERRIC
65. Gung-ho : EAGER
66. Quick signatures, quickly : INITS
67. Grammy winner Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE
68. Poet who originated the phrase “harmony in discord” : HORACE
69. Apostle of Ireland, for short : ST PAT
70. Lounges : LOAFS
71. Have because of : OWE TO
76. Respond to a bumper sticker, maybe : HONK
77. Bill : NOTE
78. Lilac or lavender : ODOR
80. Section at a zoo : APES
81. Distant source of radio waves : PULSAR
82. “X” isn’t really one : BRAND
83. Void : BLANKNESS
85. Wallop : CLOBBER
86. Org. founded under Nixon : EPA
88. General rule : PRECEPT
91. “Aw, nuts!” : FOO!
92. Converts to binary, e.g. : ENCODES
95. Literally, “great O’s” : OMEGAS
98. “Pretty slick!” : NEATO!
99. Expression of dismay : OY VEY!
100. “Gah!” : AARGH!
102. Egg: Prefix : OVO-
103. Join : UNITE
104. Have a feeling : SENSE
105. Bring into the world : BEGET
106. Truckful : LOAD
107. Computer command : UNDO
108. Problem for a plumber : CLOG
109. Remained fresh : KEPT
110. ___ chips (trendy snack food) : KALE
115. Scot’s refusal : NAE
116. Scottie’s warning : GRR!
117. ___ Amsterdam (name on colonial maps) : NEW