1122-18 NY Times Crossword 22 Nov 18, Thursday

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Constructed by: Randolph Ross
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Less of a Clue

Themed clues are words less one letter. The position of the lost letter in the clue points us toward a common phrase, which is the answer:

  • 17A. OWARD : HEADLESS CHICKEN (from “coward”)
  • 25A. QUARR : BOTTOMLESS PIT (from “quarry”)
  • 42A. SEASO : ENDLESS SUMMER (from “season”)
  • 57A. IKINI : TOPLESS SWIMSUIT (from “bikini”)

Bill’s time: 10m 17s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Green rock : EMERALD

The mineral beryl is a source of a number of different semi-precious stones, depending on the nature of the impurities present. Pure beryl is colorless; blue beryl is called aquamarine, and green beryl is emerald. Traces of iron cause the blue color, and traces of chromium give the green hue.

8. Goes down a steep rock face, in a way : RAPPELS

What we call “rappelling” in this country is known as “abseiling” in the rest of the world (from the German “abseilen” meaning “to rope down”).

15. Danger for sailors : LORELEI

Lorelei is the name of a legendary mermaid or nymph who lured fishermen by singing a beautiful song. Lorelei’s aim was to have the fishermen steer their boats onto rocks lurking beneath the water’s surface.

22. Neighbor of Moldova : UKRAINE

Ukraine is a large country in Eastern Europe that was a Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) before the dissolution of the USSR. In English, we often call the country “the Ukraine”, but I am told that we should say just “Ukraine”.

The Republic of Moldova (usually referred to as “Moldova”) was the Moldavian Socialist Republic before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

31. Bygone orchard spray : ALAR

The chemical name for Alar, a plant growth regulator and color enhancer, is daminozide. Alar was primarily used on apples but was withdrawn from the market when it was linked to cancer.

35. Superior floor, e.g. : LAKEBED

Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes, and the largest freshwater lake in the world by area. The lake was referred to by the first French explorers as “le lac supérieur”, which translates literally as “the upper lake”. The British anglicized the name to “Lake Superior”.

37. To each accordingly : PRO RATA

“Pro rata” is a Latin phrase meaning “in proportion”.

40. Concept embodying yin and yang : TAO

The name of the Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Taoism signifies the true nature of the world.

The yin and the yang can be illustrated using many different metaphors. In one, as the sun shines on a mountain, the side in the shade is the yin and the side in the light is the yang. The yin is also regarded as the feminine side, and the yang the masculine. The yin can also be associated with the moon, while the yang is associated with the sun.

41. John, abroad : IVAN

The name “John” translates into Scottish as “Ian”, into Russian as “Ivan”, into Italian as “Giovanni”, into Spanish as “Juan”, and into Irish as “Seán”.

47. Environmental concern : SMOG

“Smog” is a portmanteau formed by melding “smoke” and “fog”. The term was first used to describe the air around London in the early 1900s. Several cities around the world have a reputation of being particularly smoggy. For example, the most smog-plagued city in Latin America is Mexico City, which is located in a highland “bowl” that traps industrial and vehicle pollution.

51. Swimmer Torres with 12 Olympic medals : DARA

Dara Torres is a US swimmer who has won twelve Olympic medals. Torres is also the only American swimmer to have competed in five Olympic Games, and is the oldest swimmer to have made it onto the Olympic team, at 41.

57. IKINI : TOPLESS SWIMSUIT (from “bikini”)

The origin of the word “bikini”, describing a type of bathing suit, seems very uncertain. My favorite story is that it is named after the Bikini Atoll, site of American A-bomb tests in the forties and fifties. The name “bikini” was chosen for the swim-wear because of the “explosive” effect it had on men who saw a woman wearing the garment!

63. America’s Cup participant : YACHTER

The America’s Cup is a trophy that has been awarded for yacht racing since 1851. It was first presented to the winner of a race around the Isle of Wight in England that was won by a schooner called “America”. The trophy was eventually renamed to “The America’s Cup” in honor of that first race winner.

Down

1. K-12 : ELHI

“Elhi” is an informal word used to describe anything related to schooling from kindergarten through grade 12, i.e. elementary through high school.

2. Hangout for Homer : MOE’S

Moe Szyslak is the surly bartender and owner of Moe’s Tavern in “The Simpsons” animated TV show. I don’t really care for “The Simpsons”, but Hank Azaria who supplies the voice for the Moe character … him I like …

3. Quod ___ faciendum : ERAT

“Quod erat faciendum” (QEF) is similar to the phrase “quod erat demonstrandum” (QED), both of which were used by Euclid in his theorems. “Quod erat faciendum” means “what was to have been done”, and is used at the end of a proposition that was not intended as a proof, but rather as a construction.

6. Linda ___, Supergirl’s alias : LEE

Kara Zor-El is Superman’s cousin, and is also known as Supergirl. Supergirl’s father and Superman’s father were brothers. On Earth, Supergirl uses the name “Linda Lee”.

7. Took the heat off of? : DISARMED

“Packing” and “packing heat” are underworld slang for “carrying a gun”.

8. Friend of the Fonz : RICHIE

Richie Cunningham was originally written as the lead character on the sitcom “Happy Days”, but the role became overshadowed by the colorful Fonzie. Richie was played by the great Ron Howard, and the Fonz by Henry Winkler.

9. 2004 Olympics site : ATHENS

Athens is the capital city of Greece and is one of the world’s oldest cities, with a history that goes back around 3,400 years. In its heyday, Classical Athens was a remarkable center for the arts and philosophical debate, and was home to Plato and Aristotle. Athens is often called “the cradle of Western civilization” and “the birthplace of democracy”. The city was named for the Greek goddess Athena.

10. Letter that appears twice in the Schrödinger equation : PSI

Erwin Schrödinger was an Austrian theoretical physicist, one of the so-called “fathers of Quantum Mechanics”. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933 for developing the Schrödinger Equation, the “Newton’s Law” of Quantum Mechanics. Famously, Schrödinger devised a thought experiment that illustrates the concept of a paradox. The scenario, known as “Schrödinger’s cat”, presents us with a cat that can be both alive and dead at the same time. I used to be able to understand Schrödinger’s Cat, and then I got old …

12. Nevada county or its seat : ELKO

The city of Elko, Nevada came into being in 1868 as a settlement built around the eastern end of a railway line that was constructed from California and that was destined for Utah. When that section of the line was completed, the construction crews moved on towards the Nevada/Utah border, and the settlement was left behind to eventually form the city of Elko

23. Kind of beef : KOBE

Kobe is a city on the island of Honshu in Japan. Here is North America, the city of Kobe is perhaps most famous for its beef. And yes, basketball star Kobe Bryant is named after that very same beef.

24. Gas station in Canada : ESSO

The brand name Esso has its roots in the old Standard Oil company as it uses the initial letters of “Standard” and “Oil” (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but ESSO is still used in many other countries.

26. Like many chardonnay barrels : OAKEN

The Chardonnay grape is believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region of France. Now it’s grown “everywhere”. Drinkers of California “Chards” seem to be particularly fond of oak flavor, so most Chardonnay wines are aged in oak barrels.

28. Jewish holiday with costumes : PURIM

Purim is a festival commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to wipe them out by Haman the Agagite, as recorded in the Book of Esther.

30. Golden Horde member : TATAR

Tatars (sometimes “Tartars”) are an ethnic group of people who mainly reside in Russia (a population of about 5 1/2 million). One of the more famous people with a Tatar heritage was Hollywood actor Charles Bronson. Bronson’s real name was Charles Buchinsky.

The Golden Horde was a group of Mongols who ruled over what is now Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova and the Caucasus, from the 1240s until 1502. It has been suggested that the name of the group derives from the yellow tents used by the rulers of the Golden Horde. And, the Golden Horde’s influence and rule led to the term “horde” entering the English language, via many languages spoken in Slavic Eastern Europe.

36. So-called “Island of the Gods” : BALI

Bali is both an island and a province in Indonesia. It is a popular tourist spot, although the number of visitors dropped for a few years as a result of terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 that killed mainly tourists. Bali became more popular starting in 2008 due to a significant and favorable change in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Indonesian rupiah.

44. California forest name : SHASTA

Mount Shasta is in northern California. The origin of the name “Shasta” seems to be unclear. It may have come from the Russian “tchastal” meaning “white, clean, pure”, a name given to the volcanic peak by early Russian immigrants.

45. Home planet of TV’s ALF : MELMAC

“ALF” is a sitcom that aired in the late eighties. The title character is a hand-puppet, and supposedly an alien named Gordon Shumway from the planet Melmac. The alien crash-landed into the house of amateur radio enthusiast Willie Tanner. Tanner renamed the intruder “ALF”, standing for “alien life form”.

49. Like some columns : OP-ED

“Op-ed” is an abbreviation for “opposite the editorial page”. Op-eds started in “The New York Evening World” in 1921 when the page opposite the editorials was used for articles written by a named guest writer, someone independent of the editorial board.

54. Ravel’s “Gaspard de la ___” : NUIT

Maurice Ravel was a great French composer of the Romantic Era. Ravel’s most famous piece of music by far is his “Bolero”, the success of which he found somewhat irksome as he thought it to be a trivial work. Personally though, I love the minimalism and simplicity …

55. Small change : DIME

The term “dime”, used for a 10-cent coin, comes from the Old French word “disme” meaning “tenth part”.

58. Starfleet Academy grad. : ENS

In the “Star Trek” universe, Starfleet is the military service maintained by the United Federation of Planets. Famously, Starfleet is also tasked with deep-space exploration, to boldly go where no man has gone before …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Green rock : EMERALD
8. Goes down a steep rock face, in a way : RAPPELS
15. Danger for sailors : LORELEI
16. “Fake news!” : IT’S A LIE!
17. OWARD : HEADLESS CHICKEN (from “coward”)
19. Playground retort : IS TOO!
20. Distress signal? : ACHE
21. Talk up : TOUT
22. Neighbor of Moldova : UKRAINE
25. QUARR : BOTTOMLESS PIT (from “quarry”)
31. Bygone orchard spray : ALAR
32. Worker in a garden : BEE
33. Some lumps : SUGAR
35. Superior floor, e.g. : LAKEBED
37. To each accordingly : PRO RATA
39. Combat zone : ARENA
40. Concept embodying yin and yang : TAO
41. John, abroad : IVAN
42. SEASO : ENDLESS SUMMER (from “season”)
46. Without attention to detail, say : IN HASTE
47. Environmental concern : SMOG
51. Swimmer Torres with 12 Olympic medals : DARA
52. Advances : LENDS
57. IKINI : TOPLESS SWIMSUIT (from “bikini”)
60. Blood drive donation : ONE UNIT
61. Simultaneously : AT A TIME
62. John in the Clinton and Obama administrations : PODESTA
63. America’s Cup participant : YACHTER

Down

1. K-12 : ELHI
2. Hangout for Homer : MOE’S
3. Quod ___ faciendum : ERAT
4. Overhaul : REDO
5. With full effort : ALL-OUT
6. Linda ___, Supergirl’s alias : LEE
7. Took the heat off of? : DISARMED
8. Friend of the Fonz : RICHIE
9. 2004 Olympics site : ATHENS
10. Letter that appears twice in the Schrödinger equation : PSI
11. Hostilities ender : PACT
12. Nevada county or its seat : ELKO
13. Place : LIEU
14. On its way : SENT
18. Step on it : SCALE
23. Kind of beef : KOBE
24. Gas station in Canada : ESSO
25. Roar : BLARE
26. Like many chardonnay barrels : OAKEN
27. Statistician’s observation : TREND
28. Jewish holiday with costumes : PURIM
29. Comment when turning down a charity appeal : I GAVE
30. Golden Horde member : TATAR
31. Resembling : A LA
34. Published : RAN
36. So-called “Island of the Gods” : BALI
37. Expire : PASS AWAY
38. Drubbing : ROUT
40. Peter and Paul : TSARS
43. Breaks off a relationship : ENDS IT
44. California forest name : SHASTA
45. Home planet of TV’s ALF : MELMAC
47. Check : STOP
48. Like early recordings : MONO
49. Like some columns : OP-ED
50. Sticker : GLUE
53. O.T. book read during 28-Down : ESTH
54. Ravel’s “Gaspard de la ___” : NUIT
55. Small change : DIME
56. Suffix with trick : -STER
58. Starfleet Academy grad. : ENS
59. Spanish diminutive : -ITA