0411-23 NY Times Crossword 11 Apr 23, Tuesday

Themed answers each start and end with a state postal code. The starting code is on the West Coast, and the ending code on the East Coast:

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Tibetan monk : LAMA

“Lama” is a Tibetan word meaning “chief, high priest”.

5 On the ___ (fleeing) : LAM

To be on the lam is to be in flight, to have escaped from prison. “On the lam” is American slang that originated at the end of the 19th century. The word “lam” also means “beat” or “thrash”, as in “lambaste”. So “on the lam” might derive from the phrase “to beat it, scram”.

8 Something caught in a theater : FLICK

The slang term “flick” meaning “movie” came into use in the mid-1920s. It comes from the “flickering” appearance of films back then.

15 Saoirse of “Lady Bird” : RONAN

Saoirse Ronan is an Irish-American actress, having been born in the Bronx, New York and raised in Carlow and Dublin in Ireland. Ronan’s big break came when she was cast in the 2007 film “Atonement” at 12 years of age, a role for which she was nominated for that season’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar. “Saoirse” is the Irish word for “freedom”.

“Lady Bird” is a 2017 coming-of-age movie starring Saoirse Ronan in the title role, a high school senior who has a strained relationship with her mother (played by Laurie Metcalf). Roman and Metcalf earned themselves Oscar nominations for their performances.

19 High-maintenance star : DIVA

The term “diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. It is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

20 Spiritual leader who rides in a customized car : THE POPE

The popemobile is actually a whole series of vehicles used since the days of Pope John Paul II. The popemobiles used on foreign visits are often manufactured locally and then stay in the country after the visit has been concluded. The British-built popemobile used for a 2006 visit to the UK was ultimately sold for over $70,000 at auction.

21 Musician Bartók or Fleck : BELA

Béla Bartók was a composer and a pianist. After Liszt, Bartók is considered by many to have been Hungary’s greatest composer.

Béla Fleck is a banjo player who performed with the bands New Grass Revival and Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He was born in New York City and was given the name Béla Anton Leoš Fleck. He was named after Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, Austrian composer Anton Webern, and Czech composer Leoš Janáček. That’s quite a name to live up to, but by all accounts Fleck is one of the most technically proficient banjo players the world has ever known.

29 Good number to shoot for : PAR

That would be golf.

31 “Tightrope” singer Janelle : MONAE

Janelle Monáe is a singer and actress. I’m not familiar with her as a singer, but did see Monáe play NASA engineer Mary Jackson in the excellent 2016 film “Hidden Figures”.

34 Uberfan, in modern lingo : STAN

“Stan” is a song by rapper Eminem (featuring Dido) that was recorded in 2000. The title refers to a fictional Eminem fan named “Stan” who becomes obsessed with the rapper, and who grows irate when his letters to his idol go unanswered. Stan’s final act is to make a voice recording as he drives into a river, with his pregnant girlfriend locked in the trunk. One of the legacies of the song is that “stan” is now used as a slang term for an obsessed and maniacal fan.

37 Machines that remove cotton seeds : GINS

The term “cotton gin” is a contraction of “cotton eng-ine”. The gin is a machine that mechanically separates cotton fibers from the cotton seed. The modern version of the cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793.

40 Web crawler, of a sort : BOT

A bot is a computer program designed to imitate human behavior. It might crawl around the Web doing searches for example, or it might participate in discussions in chat rooms by giving pre-programmed responses. It might also act as a competitor in a computer game.

43 Color-matching puzzle game with billions of downloads : CANDY CRUSH SAGA

“Candy Crush Saga” is an “app” version of the browser video game “Candy Crush”. Apparently it is very, very popular. Not with me, though …

47 Acronym for a champion among champions : GOAT

Greatest of all time (GOAT)

48 100 cents : EURO

The euro is divided into 100 cents, sometimes referred to as “euro cents”. Some countries within the European Union (Ireland, for example) have taken steps to withdraw the 1-cent and 2-cent coins from circulation by allowing cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest five cents. I found it a little odd when buying something in Ireland recently that was priced at 99 cents, and getting no change after handing over a euro coin …

53 “My Sister’s Keeper” author Picoult : JODI

American author Jodi Picoult has had two books debut at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list: “Nineteen Minutes” and “Change of Heart”.

“My Sister’s Keeper” is a 2004 novel by Jodi Picoult that was made into a 2009 movie of the same name. The novel addresses the thorny issue of a 13-year-old girl who fights for her right not to have to donate a kidney to her sister, who is dying from leukemia. The title derives from the words spoken by Cain in the Bible, “I know not: am I my brother’s keeper”.

58 Sch. founded by Ben Franklin : UPENN

The University of Pennsylvania (also “Penn” and “UPenn”) was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. Penn was the first school in the country to offer both graduate and undergraduate courses. Penn’s sports teams are known as the Quakers, and sometimes the Red & Blue.

Benjamin Franklin came from a large family. He was his father’s fifteenth child (Josiah Franklin had seventeen children in all, with two wives). Benjamin was born in Boston in 1706. He had very little schooling, heading out to work for his father when he was ten years old. He became an apprentice printer to his older brother at the age of twelve. Benjamin did quite well with that limited education …

59 Old “You’ve got mail” sloganeer : AOL

The iconic phrase “You’ve got mail” was first used by AOL in 1989. The greeting was recorded by voice actor Elwood Edwards. Edwards has parlayed his gig with AOL into some other work. He appears in an episode of “The Simpsons” as a doctor who says the line “You’ve got leprosy”. Edwards also worked as a weatherman for a while and got to use the line “You’ve got hail” …

63 “Neither rain nor snow …” org. : USPS

There is no official creed or motto for the US Postal Service (USPS). However, there is the oft-quoted inscription that is posted (pun!) over the entrance to the James Farley Post Office in New York City:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Down

1 Hammurabi’s area of expertise : LAW

The Code of Hammurabi is a code of laws that dates back to 1772 BCE, enacted by the Babylonian king Hammurabi. . Partial copies of the code have been found on stone steles and clay tablets. The most complete copy of the code can be found on a large stele that is on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

2 Chicken ___ king : A LA

A dish prepared “à la king” (usually chicken or turkey), is prepared in a cream sauce with mushrooms, pimentos, green peppers and sherry.

3 Misunderstood song lyric like “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy” : MONDEGREEN

A mondegreen is a series of words that have been misheard, often with comical effect. For example “I led the pigeons to the flag” is a mondegreen for “I pledge allegiance to the flag”. The term “mondegreen” was created by American author Sylvia Wright citing the mishearing of words from the Scottish ballad “The Bonny Earl of Murray”. The line “laid him on the green” might be heard as “Lady Mondegreen”.

4 Hun from whom Dracula claims to be descended, in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” : ATTILA

In his day, Attila the Hun was the most feared enemy of the Roman Empire, until he died in 453 AD. Attila was the leader of the Hunnic Empire of central Europe and was famous for invading much of the continent. However, he never directly attacked Rome.

“Dracula” is a novel written by the Irish author Bram Stoker and first published in 1897. Dracula wasn’t the first vampire of literature, but he certainly was the one who spawned the popularity of vampires in theater, film and television, and indeed more novels. Personally, I can’t stand vampire fiction …

5 Pop star Dua ___ : LIPA

Dua Lipa is a singer-songwriter and fashion model from England. She was born in London to Albanian parents, and considers her native language to be Albanian. She also speaks English with a British accent.

6 Horror director Aster : ARI

Ari Aster is a film director from New York City. He is into horror films, and I am not …

7 Rendezvous (with) : MEET UP

A rendezvous is a meeting. The noun used in English comes from the French phrase “rendez vous” meaning “present yourselves”.

8 Battle cry in “Braveheart” : FREEDOM!

“Braveheart” is an excellent 1995 historical drama that was directed by and stars Mel Gibson. “Braveheart” tells the story of William Wallace, the warrior who led the Scottish against King Edward I of England. Much of the movie was filmed on location in Ireland, and I visited Trim Castle not so long ago where that filming took place …

10 What is offered when you call 411 : INFO

Several large US cities started using the telephone number “411” in the 1930s for local directory assistance. “411” was used in markets where the Bell System of telephone companies was prevalent. The number “113” served the same purpose on markets dominated by GTE and other telephone companies, with the last such usage of “113” disappearing in the 1980s. The term “4-1-1” is now used in North America as slang for “information”.

17 ___-garde : AVANT

Someone or something described as avant-garde is especially innovative. “Avant-garde” is French for “advance guard”.

18 “Clueless” protagonist : CHER

The 1995 movie “Clueless” is apparently based on Jane Austen’s “Emma”, which is a favorite novel of mine. As a result, I am going to have to check out the film …

21 Hindu god of creation : BRAHMA

The Hindu Trinity comprises Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva (also “Siva”) the destroyer or transformer.

22 Ewan McGregor or Craig Ferguson, by birth : SCOT

Ewan McGregor is a very talented Scottish actor, one who got his break in the 1996 film “Trainspotting”. McGregor’s first big Hollywood role was playing the young Obi-Wan-Kenobi in the “Star Wars” prequels. Less known is his televised marathon motorcycle journey from London to New York via central Europe, Ukraine, Siberia, Mongolia and Canada. The 2004 trip was shown as “Long Way Round” on TV. McGregor did a similar trip in 2007 called “Long Way Down”, which took him and the same traveling companion from the north of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa.

The Scottish stand-up comedian Craig Ferguson is best known these days as host of CBS’s “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”. For several years Ferguson played Drew Carey’s boss on “The Drew Carey Show”.

23 That’s some nerve! : OPTIC

The optic nerve enters the eyeball at a location on the retina called the optic disc. Because there are no light-sensitive cells at the optic disc, there is a “hole” in our visual field that is called the blind spot. People with normal vision don’t usually notice this blind spot as the brain “fills in” the blind spot with information from the other eye.

24 Siri’s platform : IOS

Siri was originally developed as a standalone app by a startup company of the same name. Apple acquired the company in 2010 and integrated the technology into their operating system.

28 Scientist on one side of the “War of the Currents” : TESLA

Nikola Tesla was born in Serbia, but later moved to the US. Tesla’s work on mechanical and electrical engineering was crucial to the development of alternating current technology, the same technology that is used by equipment at the backbone of modern power generation and distribution systems.

41 Teen drama that inspired “Laguna Beach” : THE OC

“The O.C.” is a teen drama that aired for four seasons on Fox finishing up in 2007. I never watched it, but I understand that it is set in Newport Beach in Southern California. And, “O.C.” stands for “Orange County”.

45 Motley : RAGTAG

“Ragtag and bobtail” is a colorful phrase that’s used to describe the lowest classes, or the rabble. A “bobtail” is a horse that has had its tail cut short, a word that goes back as least as far as Shakespeare as he used it in “King Lear”. A “tag” is a piece of cloth that is torn and hanging, which was readily combined with “rag” in the original phrase “tag, rag and bobtail”. This idiom, perhaps originally quoted from Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1659, referred to the lower classes as “tag, rag and bobtail, dancing, singing and drinking”. The phrase evolved, giving us our contemporary word “ragtag” meaning ragged and unkempt.

Something described as motley is mottled, marked with different-colored spots. The term probably comes from the Old English word “mot” meaning “speck”. We can use the term “motley” figuratively to mean “diverse, heterogeneous”.

46 Puzzle craze of 2006 : SUDOKU

Number puzzles similar to our modern-day Sudoku first appeared in French newspapers in the late 1800s. The format that we use today was created by Howard Garns, a 74-year-old freelance puzzle constructor from Connersville, Indiana and first published in 1979. The format was introduced in Japan in 1984 and given the title of “Sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru”, which translates to “the digits are limited to one occurrence”. The rather elaborate Japanese title was eventually shortened to Sudoku. No doubt many of you are fans of Sudoku puzzles. I know I am …

50 Brooms : Roombas :: ___ : Scoobas : MOPS

The Roomba vacuum cleaner is a cool-looking device that navigates its way around a room by itself, picking up dirt as it goes. Like I said, it’s cool-looking, but I am not sure how effective it is …

51 “Pocket rockets,” in poker : ACES

A pair of aces are referred to as pocket rockets, particularly when holding them in the hand (the pocket) in the popular variant of poker known as Texas hold ‘em. The term “rockets” is used as the letters A written side-by-side look like two small rockets on the launchpad (AA).

52 The “Z” of ZIP code : ZONE

ZIP codes were introduced in 1963. The acronym “ZIP” stands for “Zone Improvement Plan”, a name indicating that mail travels more efficiently when the codes are included in the postal address.

53 Cola brand with a lightning bolt in its logo : JOLT

Jolt Cola is a sugary beverage with a whole load of caffeine in it (hence the name “Jolt”).

57 Onetime network for Conan O’Brien : TBS

“Conan” was a late-night talk show on TBS that was hosted by Conan O’Brien and aired from 2010 to 2021. “Conan” came about as a result of the so-called “War for Late Night”, when Jay Leno ceded the chair of “The Tonight Show” to “O’Brien” only to launch “The Jay Leno Show” competing on the same network.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Tibetan monk : LAMA
5 On the ___ (fleeing) : LAM
8 Something caught in a theater : FLICK
13 Bajillions : A LOT
14 Emotion that may be pent up : IRE
15 Saoirse of “Lady Bird” : RONAN
16 Famous fighting words : WANT A PIECE OF ME?!
19 High-maintenance star : DIVA
20 Spiritual leader who rides in a customized car : THE POPE
21 Musician Bartók or Fleck : BELA
22 Took to court : SUED
23 Item made of ingredients grown without pesticides : ORGANIC PRODUCT
29 Good number to shoot for : PAR
30 As well : TOO
31 “Tightrope” singer Janelle : MONAE
32 They’s pronoun partner : THEM
34 Uberfan, in modern lingo : STAN
37 Machines that remove cotton seeds : GINS
38 “Honestly, though …” : I MEAN …
40 Web crawler, of a sort : BOT
42 Up to, informally : ‘TIL
43 Color-matching puzzle game with billions of downloads : CANDY CRUSH SAGA
47 Acronym for a champion among champions : GOAT
48 100 cents : EURO
49 “Mind … blown!” : AMAZING!
53 “My Sister’s Keeper” author Picoult : JODI
54 Travel cross-country … or a description of what 16-, 23- and 43-Across do? : GO COAST TO COAST
58 Sch. founded by Ben Franklin : UPENN
59 Old “You’ve got mail” sloganeer : AOL
60 Radio dial : KNOB
61 Good thing to have on the books : ASSET
62 Pick up : GET
63 “Neither rain nor snow …” org. : USPS

Down

1 Hammurabi’s area of expertise : LAW
2 Chicken ___ king : A LA
3 Misunderstood song lyric like “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy” : MONDEGREEN
4 Hun from whom Dracula claims to be descended, in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” : ATTILA
5 Pop star Dua ___ : LIPA
6 Horror director Aster : ARI
7 Rendezvous (with) : MEET UP
8 Battle cry in “Braveheart” : FREEDOM!
9 Roller coaster feature : LOOP
10 What is offered when you call 411 : INFO
11 Overly theatrical, as a B-movie : CAMP
12 Part of pants that may be well worn : KNEE
17 ___-garde : AVANT
18 “Clueless” protagonist : CHER
21 Hindu god of creation : BRAHMA
22 Ewan McGregor or Craig Ferguson, by birth : SCOT
23 That’s some nerve! : OPTIC
24 Siri’s platform : IOS
25 Jackapoo or schnoodle : DOG
26 Christians who don’t believe in the Trinity : UNITARIANS
27 “Are we done here?” : CAN I GO?
28 Scientist on one side of the “War of the Currents” : TESLA
33 Fuming : MAD
35 Share a border with : ABUT
36 Votes against : NOS
39 Lawrence Taylor, for his entire N.F.L. career, in brief : NY GIANT
41 Teen drama that inspired “Laguna Beach” : THE OC
44 Pulls a fast one on : CONS
45 Motley : RAGTAG
46 Puzzle craze of 2006 : SUDOKU
49 The rain in Spain? : AGUA
50 Brooms : Roombas :: ___ : Scoobas : MOPS
51 “Pocket rockets,” in poker : ACES
52 The “Z” of ZIP code : ZONE
53 Cola brand with a lightning bolt in its logo : JOLT
55 Single digit? : TOE
56 Soak (up) : SOP
57 Onetime network for Conan O’Brien : TBS


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