1018-12 New York Times Crossword Answers 18 Oct 12, Thursday

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Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD SETTER: Samuel A. Donaldson
THEME: Back to Front … each of the theme answers are expressions in the format X in the Y, but with X and Y swapped:

17A. Bit of riding gear on a truck’s flatbed? : SADDLE IN THE BACK (from “back in the saddle”)
28A. Evidence of some marksmanship? : HOLE IN THE ACE (from “ace in the hole”)
37A. Lighting director’s woe? : DARK IN THE SHOT (from “shot in the dark”)
45A. Baking hazard at a manger? : HAY IN THE ROLL (from “roll in the hay”)
59A. Diagnosis for a stoned viper? : GRASS IN THE SNAKE (from “snake in the grass”)

COMPLETION TIME: 21m 51s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

7. Oscar winner who appeared in a Snickers ad : JOE PESCI
Joe Pesci won his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1990, for his performance in the film “Goodfellas”.

Joe Pesci got his big break in movies with a supporting role in “Raging Bull” starring Robert De Niro, earning Pesci an Oscar nomination early in his career. There followed a string of gangster roles played alongside De Niro, namely “Once Upon a Time in America”, “Goodfellas” and “Casino”. But I like Pesci’s comedic acting best of all. He was marvelous in the “Home Alone” films, the “Lethal Weapon” series, and my personal favorite, “My Cousin Vinny”. Pesci also gets a mention in the stage musical “Jersey Boys”, which isn’t too surprising as he is one of the show’s producers.

19. Humane org. : ASPCA
Unlike in other countries, there is no “umbrella” organization in the US with the goal of preventing cruelty to animals. Instead there are independent organizations set up all over the nation using the name SPCA. Having said that, there is an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that was originally intended to operate across the country, but really it now focuses its efforts in New York City.

21. Pampering place : SPA
The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as Spa is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.

25. Verizon subsidiary : MCI
MCI was a giant telecom company that suffered a similar fate to Enron, and around about the same time. MCI’s stock price fell in 2000 and in maneuvers designed to protect the price, the company committed illegal acts. The larger-than-life CEO back then, Bernie Ebbers, is now serving a 25-year sentence in Louisiana.

27. PBS’s Science Kid : SID
“Sid the Science Kid” is a children’s show aired by PBS. “Sid the Science Kid” is made using CGI technology, and is a production of the Jim Henson Company that was founded on the success of “The Muppets”.

28. Evidence of some marksmanship? : HOLE IN THE ACE (from “ace in the hole”)
Stud poker is the name given to many variants of the card game, all characterized by the dealer giving each player a mix of cards face-down and face-up. The cards facing downwards are called “hole cards”, cards only visible to the individual who holds that particular hand. That gives rise to the phrase “ace in the hole”, a valuable holding that only the player with the ace is aware of.

32. “Giant Brain” that debuted in 1946 : ENIAC
The acronym ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (although many folks insist that the C was for “Computer”). ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was designed to calculate artillery firing tables, but it ended up being used early on to make calculations necessary for the development of the hydrogen bomb. Given its uses, it’s not surprising to hear that development of ENIAC was funded by the US Army during WWII.

33. Doris Day hit “___ Magic” : IT’S
Doris Day first sang “It’s Magic” in the movie “Romance on the High Seas” in 1947. That film was the first big screen appearance for Ms. Day.

34. Cable channel owned by Time Warner : TBS
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) adopted the slogan “Very Funny” in 2004. The slogan is meant to contrast TBS with its sister channel TNT, which focuses on drama shows. The TNT slogan is “Drama, Period”.

41. Bygone flier, for short : SST
The most famous Supersonic Transport (SST) was the Concorde, a plane that’s no longer flying. Concorde had that famous “droop nose”. The nose was moved to the horizontal position during flight to create the optimum aerodynamic shape thereby reducing drag. The nose was lowered during taxi, takeoff and landing, so that the pilot had better visibility. The need for the droop nose was driven largely by the delta-shaped wings. A delta wing necessitates a higher angle of attack at takeoff and landing than conventional wing designs, so the pilot of Concorde needed the nose lowered so that he or she could see the ground.

42. Card game akin to euchre : LOO
The old card game of loo was popular in the 17th century. Loo was a game involving trumps and the taking of tricks. As part of the game, a player might be “looed”, not win any tricks at all in a particular round. As such, he or she had to pay a forfeit, a sum added to the pool awarded to the eventual winner.

43. ___ four : PETIT
A “petit four” is a small confection served at the end of a meal, either as a desert or with coffee. The name “petit four” is French for “small oven”.

49. Series ender, often : ETC
Et alii (et al.) is the equivalent of et cetera (etc.), with et cetera being used in place of a list of objects, and et alii used for a list of names. In fact “et al.” can stand for et alii (for a group of males, or males and females), aliae (for a group of women) and et alia (for a group of neuter nouns, or for a group of people where the intent is to retain gender-neutrality).

53. OPEC member, briefly : UAE
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates (states) in the Middle East. Included in the seven are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the city of Abu Dhabi being the UAE capital and cultural center.

The OPEC cartel (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) was formally established in 1960 and has been headquartered in Vienna since 1965. The US is actually the third largest oil producer in the world (after Russia and Saudi Arabia). One reason America isn’t in OPEC, even though we are a big producer, is that we import a lot more than we export. But you probably knew that already …

54. 1970s-’90s band with a euphoric-sounding name : XTC
XTC were a band from Swindon in the UK whose most famous hits were “Making Plans for Nigel” from 1979, and “Senses Working Overtime” from 1982.

55. Novelist Mary ___ Russell : DORIA
Mary Doria Russell is a novelist from Chicago. Russell wrote two novels that deal with the subject of first contact with aliens, namely “The Sparrow” (1996) and a sequel “Children of God” (1998).

57. Old F.D.A. guideline : US RDA
Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) were introduced during WWII, and were replaced by Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) in 1997.

68. Ones cast in “Wicked” : SPELLS
“Wicked” is a musical that debuted on Broadway in 2003. The stage show is based on a novel called “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”. The novel tells the same story as in “The Wizard of Oz”, but from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North.

Down
2. “The Big Read” sponsor, for short : NEA
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an agency funded by the federal government that offers support and financing for artistic projects. The NEA was created by an Act of Congress in 1965. Between 1965 and 2008, the NEA awarded over $4 billion to the arts, with Congress authorizing around $170 million annually through the eighties and much of the nineties. That funding was cut to less than $100 million in the late nineties due to pressure from conservatives concerned about the use of funds, but it is now back over the $150 million mark. I wonder how long that will last though …

The Big Read is a program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts with the purpose of revitalizing the role of literature in our culture. The program works by sponsoring events that encourage the reading of one chosen title in a community within a month-long period.

6. The first to go on a strike, usually : ONE-PIN
Bowling has been around for an awfully long time. The oldest known reference to the game is in Egypt, where pins and balls were found in an ancient tomb that is over 5,000 years old. The first form of the game to come to America was nine-pin bowling, which had been very popular in Europe for centuries. In 1841 in Connecticut, nine-pin bowling was banned due to its association with gambling. Supposedly, an additional pin was added to get around the ban, and ten-pin bowling was born.

7. Actress/country singer Kramer : JANA
Jana Kramer is an actress best-known for playing Alex Dupre on the TV show “One Tree Hill”. Kramer was able to use her success on “One Tree Hill” to launch a career in country music.

11. Island off the coast of Tuscany : ELBA
I had a lovely two-week vacation in Tuscany once, including what was supposed to be a two-night stay on the island of Elba. I had envisioned Elba as a place full of history, and maybe it is, but it is also overrun with tourists who use it as a beach getaway. We left after one day and we won’t be going back again …

14. Having tattoos : INKED
The word “tattoo” was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word “tatau” into our “tattoo”.

18. “O.G. Original Gangster” artist : ICE-T
Rapper Ice-T must be sick of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles. Maybe he should have stuck to his real name, Tracy Marrow? Then again, maybe not …

22. Skin care brand : POND’S
When Pond’s Cream was formulated in 1846 by Theron T. Pond, it was marketed as a medicine. The original product was a healing tea extracted from witch hazel that was effective in treating small cuts and other ailments.

25. ___ lab : METH
“Meth” is a street name used for the drug methamphetamine, also called “crank” and “crystal meth”.

26. Portmanteau, e.g. : CASE
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 like the suitcase). 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 famous “Jabberwocky” poem were actually portmanteau words. For example “slithy”, from “slimy” and “lithe”.

29. “Battlestar Galactica” destination : EARTH
“Battlestar Galactica” is a whole franchise these days, based on an original television series that aired in 1978. The executive producer of that first series was Glen A. Larson who had been trying get the show off the ground since the sixties. Larson was finally able to get some finances for his sci-fi show on the back of the success of the 1977 movie “Star Wars”.

31. Knockout number? : ETHER
Ethers are a whole class of organic compounds, but in the vernacular “ether” is specifically diethyl ether. Diethyl ether was once very popular as a general anesthetic.

35. Crow’s-feet treatment : BOTOX
Botulinum toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The toxin is a protein that can cause botulism, an extremely dangerous illness in humans and animals. Botulinum toxin is well known by the trade name Botox. Botox is used therapeutically and in cosmetic applications to weaken muscles, perhaps muscles that are in uncontrollable spasm. Of course the cosmetic application involves the paralyzing of facial muscles in order to eliminate or reduce wrinkles, at least for a few months.

38. ___ Ulyanov, Vladimir Lenin’s father : ILYA
“Ilya” is the Slavic form of the Hebrew name “Eliyahu, Elijah”. The name “Vladimir” means “regal’.

39. Film genre : NOIR
The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was “created” by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.

47. Rear : TUSH
“Tush” is a slang term for the backside, an abbreviation of “tochus” that comes from the Yiddish “tokhes”.

48. Old Turkish quarters : HAREMS
“Harem” is a Turkish word, derived from the Arabic for “forbidden place”. Traditionally a harem was the female quarters in a household in which a man had more than one wife. Not only wives (and concubines) would use the harem, but also young children and other female relatives. The main point was that no men were allowed in the area.

49. “J. ___,” 2011 film : EDGAR
“J. Edgar” is a 2011 film directed by Clint Eastwood that deals with much of the adult life of former FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. I saw it not too long ago, and I am afraid my high expectations weren’t really met …

50. Singer who co-wrote “The Christmas Song” : TORME
Mel Tormé was jazz singer, with a quality of voice that earned him the nickname “The Velvet Fog”. Tormé also wrote a few books, and did a lot of acting. He was the co-author of the Christmas classic known as “The Christmas Song”, which starts out with a line we all recognize:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …

57. Sch. whose fight song is “Miners Fight” : UTEP
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was founded in 1914, originally as the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy. To this day there is a mine shaft on the campus, and the mascot of the school’s sports teams is Paydirt Pete, a prospector from the mining industry.

62. Home of the Braves, on scoreboards : ATL
The Atlanta Braves are the only team to have won baseball’s World Series in three different home cities. They won as the Boston Braves in 1914, the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and the Atlanta Braves in 1995.

63. Kenan’s former Nickelodeon pal : KEL
“Kenan & Kel” is a sitcom that aired on Nickelodeon from 1996 to 2000. It starred Kenan Thompson (now of “Saturday Night Live”), and Kel Mitchell.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. “Changing the subject …” : ANYHOO
7. Oscar winner who appeared in a Snickers ad : JOE PESCI
15. Hold for questioning : DETAIN
16. Money for a ride? : AUTO LOAN
17. Bit of riding gear on a truck’s flatbed? : SADDLE IN THE BACK (from “back in the saddle”)
19. Humane org. : ASPCA
20. Parisian pastry : TARTE
21. Pampering place : SPA
24. Crooked line? : LIE
25. Verizon subsidiary : MCI
27. PBS’s Science Kid : SID
28. Evidence of some marksmanship? : HOLE IN THE ACE (from “ace in the hole”)
32. “Giant Brain” that debuted in 1946 : ENIAC
33. Doris Day hit “___ Magic” : IT’S
34. Cable channel owned by Time Warner : TBS
37. Lighting director’s woe? : DARK IN THE SHOT (from “shot in the dark”)
41. Bygone flier, for short : SST
42. Card game akin to euchre : LOO
43. ___ four : PETIT
45. Baking hazard at a manger? : HAY IN THE ROLL (from “roll in the hay”)
49. Series ender, often : ETC
52. Block : BAR
53. OPEC member, briefly : UAE
54. 1970s-’90s band with a euphoric-sounding name : XTC
55. Novelist Mary ___ Russell : DORIA
57. Old F.D.A. guideline : US RDA
59. Diagnosis for a stoned viper? : GRASS IN THE SNAKE (from “snake in the grass”)
65. Atmosphere : AMBIENCE
66. Grumble : MUTTER
67. Place to walk a dog, maybe : REST STOP
68. Ones cast in “Wicked” : SPELLS

Down
1. Spots : ADS
2. “The Big Read” sponsor, for short : NEA
3. Thus far, on a quarterly stmt. : YTD
4. “If I ___ nickel …” : HAD A
5. Film about the sea? : OIL SLICK
6. The first to go on a strike, usually : ONE-PIN
7. Actress/country singer Kramer : JANA
8. Published : OUT
9. Biblical suffix : -ETH
10. Kind of license : POETIC
11. Island off the coast of Tuscany : ELBA
12. Climbs swiftly : SOARS
13. They have sticking points : CACTI
14. Having tattoos : INKED
18. “O.G. Original Gangster” artist : ICE-T
21. “That’s what ___ said” : SHE
22. Skin care brand : POND’S
23. Name on a spy’s passport, perhaps : ALIAS
25. ___ lab : METH
26. Portmanteau, e.g. : CASE
29. “Battlestar Galactica” destination : EARTH
30. Tried to pick up : HIT ON
31. Knockout number? : ETHER
35. Crow’s-feet treatment : BOTOX
36. Circus clown prop : STILT
38. ___ Ulyanov, Vladimir Lenin’s father : ILYA
39. Film genre : NOIR
40. Hastens : SPEEDS UP
44. Pampering, in brief : TLC
46. Belittles : ABASES
47. Rear : TUSH
48. Old Turkish quarters : HAREMS
49. “J. ___,” 2011 film : EDGAR
50. Singer who co-wrote “The Christmas Song” : TORME
51. Beefs : CRABS
56. “That so?” : IS IT?
57. Sch. whose fight song is “Miners Fight” : UTEP
58. Get in on the deal : ANTE
60. QB’s blunder : INT
61. Cpl. or sgt. : NCO
62. Home of the Braves, on scoreboards : ATL
63. Kenan’s former Nickelodeon pal : KEL
64. Where you might see a lot of chest-pumping, for short? : ERS

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