0427-23 NY Times Crossword 27 Apr 23, Thursday

Themed answers all require literal interpretation with reference to the published grid, which has EDGES of some squares in the grid removed (unlike my grid; apologies!):

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 The tiniest bit : A SMIDGE

Our word “smidgen” (sometimes shortened to “smidge”) is used to describe a small amount. The term might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.

15 International medical group that won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize, literally : DOCTORS (WITHOUT BORDERS)

“Médecins Sans Frontières” (Doctors Without Borders) is an international aid organization that was founded in France in 1971. The organization is usually referred to as Doctors Without Borders here in North America, but goes by the initialism MSF in much of the world.

20 Film character who says “Donkey, two things, OK? Shut … up” : SHREK

Before “Shrek” was a successful movie franchise and Broadway musical, it was a children’s picture book called “Shrek!” that was authored and illustrated by William Steig. The title “Shrek!” came from the German/Yiddish word Schreck, meaning “fear” or “terror”.

22 The Three Lions, on World Cup scoreboards : ENG

The terms “United Kingdom”, “Great Britain” and “England” can sometimes be confused. The official use of “United Kingdom” originated in 1707 with the Acts of Union that declared the countries of England and Scotland as “United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain”. The name changed again with the Acts of Union 1800 that created the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” (much to the chagrin of most of the Irish population). This was partially reversed in 1927 when the current name was introduced, the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, in recognition of an independent Irish Free State in the south of the island of Ireland.

36 Netflix heroine Holmes : ENOLA

“The Enola Holmes Mysteries” is a series of detective novels for young adults by American author Nancy Springer. The title character is the 14-year-old sister of 34-year-old Sherlock Holmes, the detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Springer’s novels were adapted into a 2020 film “Enola Holmes” that Netflix picked up at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I saw this one, and the sequel, and enjoyed both …

43 Beach letters : SPF

In theory, the sun protection factor (SPF) is a calibrated measure of the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays. The idea is that if you wear a lotion with say SPF 20, then it takes 20 times as much UV radiation to cause the skin to burn than it would take without protection. I say just stay out of the sun …

45 Make lace : TAT

One is tatting when one is making lace. The word “tatting” has been around since the 1830s, but no one seems to have unearthed its etymology.

51 Passes out in front of a T.S.A. agent? : ID CARDS

Identity document (ID)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks who check passengers and baggage at airports.

57 Bird that becomes an emotion if an “r” is added to the front : EGRET

Egrets are a group of several species of white herons. Many egret species were faced with extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s due to plume hunting, a practice driven by the demand for egret plumes that could be incorporated into hats.

65 Mattel game with colorful cards : UNO

UNO is a card game that was developed in the early seventies and that has been sold by Mattel since 1992. It falls into the shedding family of card games, meaning that the goal is to get rid of all your cards while preventing opponents from doing the same.

68 Sch. with satellite campuses in Salt Lake City and Jerusalem : BYU

Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah has about 34.000 students on campus making it the largest religious university in the country. The school was founded in 1875 by Brigham Young, then President of the Church of Latter-day Saints.

69 Hosp. locales : ORS

An operating room (OR) is usually found in a hospital (hosp.).

70 Drag one’s feet : SHAMBLE

“To shamble” is to walk awkwardly, to shuffle along. The term may derive from the use of “shamble” as a noun meaning a butcher’s shop. A shambling gait might involve the leg’s being splayed, resembling the legs on a butchers’ table. As an aside, the most famous old street in York in the north of England is called “the Shambles”. Back in the late 1800s, the relatively short street was home to twenty-five butchers’ shops, although all are long gone now.

Down

3 Exam for a future OB/GYN : MCAT

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN)

5 One of many in a Seurat painting : DOT

Pointillism is a style of painting that grew out of Impressionism. The pointillist technique calls for the artist to use small, distinct dots of bold color to build up the image. Pointillism was developed in the late 1800s by the great French painter, Georges Seurat. You can go see his magnificent work “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” at The Art Institute of Chicago the next time you’re in town.

6 Useful information, metaphorically : GRIST

When grain has been separated from its chaff, to prepare it for grinding, it is called “grist”. Indeed, the word “grist” is derived from the word “grind”. Grist can be ground into a relatively coarse meal, or into a fine flour. The names can be confusing though. For example, the grist from maize when ground to a coarse consistency is called “grits”, and when ground to a fine consistency is called “corn meal”. There is an idiomatic phrase “grist for one’s mill”, meaning something used to one’s advantage. The grinding mechanism, or the building that holds the mechanism, is known as a “gristmill”.

7 Swear off : ESCHEW

“To eschew”, meaning “to avoid, shun”, comes from the Old French word “eschiver” that means the same thing.

8 Things that may stand near thrones? : BIDETS

“Bidet” is a French word that we imported into English. In French, the word “bidet” originally described a small horse or a pony. The bidet bathroom fixture was so called because one straddles it like a horse in order to use it.

9 Mushroom in ramen : ENOKI

Enokitake (also known as “enoki”) are long and thin white mushrooms often added to soups or salads.

10 Sch. with a Big Easy medical center : LSU

Louisiana State University (LSU)

The city of New Orleans, Louisiana has the nickname “The Big Easy”. This name might come from the early 1900s when musicians found it relatively “easy” to find work there. The city is also known by the acronym NOLA, standing for New Orleans (NO), Louisiana (LA).

11 Ad ___ : LIB

“Ad libitum” is a Latin phrase meaning “at one’s pleasure”. In common usage, the phrase is usually shortened to “ad-lib”. On the stage, the concept of an ad-lib is very familiar.

14 Kind of beetle : STAG

Stag beetles are so called as the males of the species have large mandibles that resemble the antlers of stags.

21 Tiny 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 transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA. An added complication is that small changes in the sequence of amino acids specified by DNA sometimes takes place in a process known as RNA editing. This RNA editing occurs after the nucleotide sequence has been transcribed from DNA, but before it is translated into protein.

26 Zip : NONE

The use of the words “zip” and “zippo” to mean “nothing” dates back to the early 1900s, when it was student slang for being graded zero on a test.

27 Some times, in brief : AFTS

Afternoon (aft.)

28 Bar on a dish : SOAP

Soap is basically made by adding a strong alkali (like lye) to a fat (like olive oil or palm oil). The fats break down in the basic solution in a process called saponification. The crude soap is extracted from the mixture, washed, purified and finished in molds.

33 Spider in a garage, informally? : ALFA

The Spider is a roadster that was manufactured by Italian auto company Alfa Romeo. It was in production from 1966 to 1993, and is considered a design classic.

The “Alfa” in “Alfa Romeo” is actually an acronym, one standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.

34 Chief justice before Hughes : TAFT

William Howard Taft may have been the 27th President of the United States, but his lifelong ambition was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The future president had served as dean and professor at the Cincinnati Law School. President Taft was able to realize that dream in 1921, eight years after losing his bid for re-election as president. As Chief Justice, this former US President swore in two new presidents: Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929). William Howard Taft is also remembered as the most obese president. In the last year of his presidency, he weighed about 340 pounds (he was 5 feet 11 inches tall). Twelve months after leaving the White House, President Taft had dropped 80 pounds and substantially lowered his blood pressure.

Charles Evans Hughes was an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1910 until he resigned his position in order to run as the Republican candidate for US president in 1916. He was narrowly defeated by incumbent President Woodrow Wilson, after which Hughes did not assume another public office until he was made Secretary of State in 1921 by President Warren G. Harding. Hughes was returned to the US Supreme Court in 1930 when he was nominated as Chief Justice by President Herbert Hoover. It was Chief Justice Hughes who swore in President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his three terms in office.

39 Cassette background noise : HISS

The French for “box” is “casse”. So, a “cassette” is a “little box”.

40 Greenhouse gas regulator, for short : EPA

Greenhouse gases are those that absorb and emit infrared radiation, meaning that they act as an insulator for our planet. The most abundant greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased by about 40% since 1750, and levels of methane have increased over 150% in the same time frame.

41 “Not you, too?!” : ET TU?!

Julius Caesar was assassinated on the 15th (the ides) of March, 44 BC. He was attacked by a group of sixty people in the Roman Senate, and was stabbed 23 times. The first to strike a blow was Servilius Casca, who attacked Caesar from behind and stabbed him in the neck. In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, Casca utters the words “Speak, hands, for me!” just before making the fatal blow. The following line, uttered by Caesar, is more famous though: “Et tu, Brute?”

49 Danish birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen : ODENSE

Odense is a city in Denmark named after the Norse god Odin. One of the most famous sons of Odense was Hans Christian Andersen, the celebrated author of children’s stories.

The wonderful storyteller Hans Christian Andersen became very successful in his own lifetime. In 1847 he visited England for the summer and made a triumphal tour of English society’s most fashionable drawing rooms. There Andersen met with the equally successful Charles Dickens, and the two seemed to hit it off. Ten years later Andersen returned to England and stayed for five weeks in Dickens’ home as his guest. Dickens published “David Copperfield” soon after, and supposedly the less than lovable character Uriah Heep was based on Dickens’ house guest Hans Christian Andersen. That wasn’t very nice!

50 December drink : NOG

It’s not really clear where the term “nog” (as in “eggnog”) comes from although it might derive from the word “noggin”, which was originally a small wooden cup that was long associated with alcoholic drinks.

51 Source of more than half of the trout sold in the U.S. : IDAHO

Trout are freshwater fish that are closely related to char and salmon. Most trout live exclusively in freshwater lakes and rivers, but a few species live at sea and return to freshwater to spawn.

52 Locale known for its slang : DINER

Diner lingo, the verbal slang used by the staff, can be very colorful. Here are a few examples:

  • Adam & Eve on a raft: two poached eggs on toast
  • Adam & Eve on a raft and wreck ’em: two scrambled eggs on toast
  • Burn one: put a hamburger on the grill
  • Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it: hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion
  • Down: on toast
  • Whiskey down: on rye toast
  • Cluck and grunt: ham and eggs

54 Endpoint of the Great Wildebeest Migration : KENYA

Kenya lies on the east coast of Africa, right on the equator. The country takes her name from Mount Kenya, the second-highest peak on the continent (after Kilimanjaro). The official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili.

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch word meaning “wild beast”.

61 Actress de Armas : ANA

Ana de Armas is an actress from Cuba. Having attended the National Theater School of Cuba, she moved to Spain at the age of 18. Thre, she made a name for herself in a Spanish TV series called “El Internado”. De Armas moved to Los Angeles in 2014, after which her performance opposite Ryan Gosling in 2017’s “Blade Runner 2049” earned her critical acclaim.

62 Channel for a cinephile : TCM

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is one of my favorite television channels as it delivers just what its name promises, i.e. classic movies.

63 2/ : FEB

The name of the month February comes from the Latin word “februum” meaning “purification”. The Romans had a ritual named Februa (purification) on February 15th every year. I don’t think many people pronounce the first letter R in “February”, leaving it silent, but I could be wrong …

64 Link letters : URL

An Internet address (like NYXCrossword.com and LAXCrossword.com) is more correctly called a uniform resource locator (URL).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 The tiniest bit : A SMIDGE
8 Windbag? : BELLOWS
15 International medical group that won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize, literally : DOCTORS (WITHOUT BORDERS)
16 Characteristic of an interminable slog, literally : (NO END) IN SIGHT
17 Radical : DRASTIC
18 Like some batteries and baseball teams : DOUBLE-A
19 Good to go : SET
20 Film character who says “Donkey, two things, OK? Shut … up” : SHREK
22 The Three Lions, on World Cup scoreboards : ENG
23 Absolute concentration, literally : (UNDIVIDED) ATTENTION
27 Digression : ASIDE
30 Is no more : WAS
31 Lite : LO-FAT
35 “Think harder!” : FOCUS!
36 Netflix heroine Holmes : ENOLA
37 Alleviates pain a little … or what this puzzle does to certain squares for literal effect : TAKES THE EDGE OFF
43 Beach letters : SPF
44 Conscious of : HIP TO
45 Make lace : TAT
46 Charges lacking merit, literally : (BASELESS) ACCUSATIONS
51 Passes out in front of a T.S.A. agent? : ID CARDS
53 Separates from the mother ship, say : UNDOCKS
56 “Same” : DITTO
57 Bird that becomes an emotion if an “r” is added to the front : EGRET
58 “I’ll take that as ___” : A NO
59 “How entertaining!” : WHAT FUN!
65 Mattel game with colorful cards : UNO
66 ___ Excellency : HER
67 Some adult nightclub entertainers, literally : (TOPLESS) DANCERS
68 Sch. with satellite campuses in Salt Lake City and Jerusalem : BYU
69 Hosp. locales : ORS
70 Drag one’s feet : SHAMBLE
71 Held a session : SAT

Down

1 Throws in : ADDS
2 Tender : SORE
3 Exam for a future OB/GYN : MCAT
4 “___ not you …” : IT’S
5 One of many in a Seurat painting : DOT
6 Useful information, metaphorically : GRIST
7 Swear off : ESCHEW
8 Things that may stand near thrones? : BIDETS
9 Mushroom in ramen : ENOKI
10 Sch. with a Big Easy medical center : LSU
11 Ad ___ : LIB
12 Gawk at : OGLE
13 “Say ___” : WHEN
14 Kind of beetle : STAG
21 Tiny messenger : RNA
23 Together, musically : A DUE
24 Actress Harper of “Tender Mercies” : TESS
25 Slavic name that’s an anagram of 12-Down : OLEG
26 Zip : NONE
27 Some times, in brief : AFTS
28 Bar on a dish : SOAP
29 Traits that trigger repulsion : ICK FACTORS
32 Some pedicure treatments : FOOT SCRUBS
33 Spider in a garage, informally? : ALFA
34 Chief justice before Hughes : TAFT
38 Haunted house sound : THUD
39 Cassette background noise : HISS
40 Greenhouse gas regulator, for short : EPA
41 “Not you, too?!” : ET TU?!
42 Slay : DO IN
47 Dude in a jazz ensemble : CAT
48 Gaggles : CROWDS
49 Danish birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen : ODENSE
50 December drink : NOG
51 Source of more than half of the trout sold in the U.S. : IDAHO
52 Locale known for its slang : DINER
54 Endpoint of the Great Wildebeest Migration : KENYA
55 Of heavy build : STOUT
60 Laugh track bit : HAH
61 Actress de Armas : ANA
62 Channel for a cinephile : TCM
63 2/ : FEB
64 Link letters : URL


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