0512-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 12 May 15, Tuesday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Paul Hunsberger
THEME: Elastic Band … the circled letters in the grid depict an elastic BAND. The band stretches as we move down the grid, before finally SNAPPING:

56A. Office item suggested visually by this puzzle : ELASTIC BAND

18A. Layout of city streets, parks, etc. : URBAN DESIGN (band)
23A. It’s so crazy it just might work : HAREBRAINED IDEA (b-a-n-d)
37A. Tolerant : BROAD-MINDED (b–a—n–d)
48A. Presumptuous sorts : WHIPPERSNAPPERS (snap!)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 08s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Slow Wi-Fi woe : LAG
“Wi-Fi” is nothing more than a trademark, a trademark registered by an association of manufacturers of equipment that use wireless LAN (Local Area Network) technology. A device labeled with “Wi-Fi” has to meet certain defined technical standards, basically meaning that the devices can talk to each other. The name “Wi-Fi” suggests “Wireless Fidelity”, although apparently the term was never intended to mean anything at all.

4. House smaller than a villa : CASITA
“Casita” is the diminutive form of “casa”, the Spanish word for “house”.

10. Italian wine city : ASTI
Asti is in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The region is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine.

15. Ran amok : RIOTED
The phrase “to run amok” (sometimes “to run amuck”) has been around since the 1670s and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was also used as a noun to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. Given Malaya’s troubled history, the natives probably had good reason for that frenzy …

16. Word before dive or song : SWAN
A swan dive is one in which the diver holds the arms outspread until just before hitting the water. Over on the other side of the Atlantic, the same dive is often called a swallow dive. Sometimes we use the verb “to swan-dive” to describe something that plummets, suddenly decreases. The stock markets swan-dives every so often …

The phrase “swan song” is used for a final gesture, a lat performance. The expression derives from an ancient belief that swans are silent for most of their lives, but sing a beautiful song just before they die.

17. “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” network : NPR
Chicago Public Radio produces one of my wife’s favorite shows, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” It is indeed a fun game show, hosted by Peter Sagal. The “Morning Edition” newsreader Carl Kasell used to act as judge and scorekeeper, until he retired in 2014. There should be more game shows of that ilk on the radio in my humble opinion …

22. The “A” of E. A. Poe : ALLAN
Edgar Allan Poe lived a life of many firsts. Poe is considered to be the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He was also the first notable American author to make his living through his writing, something that didn’t really go too well for him as he was always financially strapped. In 1849 he was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious from either drugs or alcohol. Poe died a few days later in hospital at 39 years of age.

28. Ye ___ Shoppe : OLDE
The word “olde” wasn’t actually used much earlier than the 1920s. “Olde” was introduced to give a quaint antique feel to brand names, shop names etc.

29. Winter hrs. in Calgary : MST
Mountain Standard Time (MST)

Calgary, the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta, is named for Calgary on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.

30. Cariou who played Sweeney Todd : LEN
Len Cariou is a Canadian actor, famous for his Broadway portrayal of “Sweeney Todd”. I most recognize him from supporting roles in “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Thirteen Days”, two great movies.

“Sweeney Todd” was originally a 1936 film, and later in 1973 a play, then a 1979 musical and a movie adaptation of the musical in 2007. After Sweeney Todd has killed his victims, his partner in crime Mrs. Lovett helped him dispose of the bodies by taking the flesh and baking it into meat pies that she sold in her pie shop. Ugh!

31. Cardiologist’s procedure, for short : ANGIO
Angioplasty is a mechanical widening of a narrowed artery. In the surgical procedure, a balloon catheter is inflated at the point of the obstruction to open up the artery. A stent may then be inserted to make sure the vessel remains open.

41. Ostentatious display : ECLAT
“Éclat” can mean a brilliant show of success, or the applause or accolade that one receives. The word derives from the French “éclater” meaning “to splinter, burst out”.

44. Language of Pakistan : URDU
Urdu is one of the two official languages of Pakistan (the other being English), and is one of 22 scheduled languages in India. Urdu partly developed from Persian and is written from right to left.

55. Capital of the Bahamas : NASSAU
Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, used to be called Charles Town. After having been burnt to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, it was rebuilt and named Nassau in honor of King William III of England, a Dutchman from the House of Orange-Nassau (aka William of Orange). Nassau is a favored location for the James Bond series of movies. The city and surroundings feature in “Thunderball”, “Never Say Never Again”, “Casino Royale” and “For Your Eyes Only”.

60. The “A” of U.S.D.A.: Abbr. : AGR
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) actually dates back to 1862, when it was established by then-president Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln referred to the USDA as the “people’s department” as our economy had such a vast agrarian base back then.

61. Dancer in “a club down in old Soho” : LOLA
“Lola” is a fabulous song, written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks back in 1970. Inspired by a real life incident, the lyrics tell of young man who met a young “lady” in a club, danced with her, and then discovered “she” was actually a transvestite. The storyline isn’t very traditional, but the music is superb.

64. City NW of München : KOLN
Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany, and is known as “Koln” in German.

Munich is the capital of the German state of Bavaria, and is the third largest city in the country (after Berlin and Hamburg). The city is called “München” in German, a term that derives from the Old German word for “by the monks’ place”, which is a reference to the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city in 1158.

65. ___ Wilkes, obsession of Scarlett O’Hara : ASHLEY
Rhett Butler woos Scarlett O’Hara at the Tara plantation in Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”. Tara was founded by Scarlett’s father, Irish immigrant Gerald O’Hara. Gerald named his new abode after the Hill of Tara back in his home country, the ancient seat of the High King of Ireland. Rhett’s rival for the affections of Scarlet is Ashley Wilkes who lives at the nearby Twelve Oaks plantation.

66. Coast Guard rank: Abbr. : ENS
Ensign (ens.)

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has the distinction of being the country’s oldest continuous seagoing service. The USCG was founded as the Revenue Cutter Service by Alexander Hamilton in 1790.

Down
1. Cry from a crow’s-nest : LAND HO!
“Land ho!” yelled the sailor, when he caught sight of land …

A crow’s nest is a structure atop the mainmast of a ship that is used as a lookout point. The first crow’s nest was erected in 1807, and was simply a barrel that was lashed to the tallest mast. Supposedly, the structure is named for the crows or ravens that Vikings carried with them on their voyages. The birds were released and used as navigation aids as invariably, the crow or raven headed straight for the nearest land.

3. Actor Butler or Depardieu : GERARD
Gerard Butler is an actor from Scotland, an actor who actually trained as a lawyer. While studying the law, Butler sang with a rock band. Perhaps that helped him land the title role in the 2003 musical film “The Phantom of the Opera”.

8. Any one of the company in “Three’s Company” : TENANT
The tremendously successful US sitcom “Three’s Company” ran from 1977 to 1984. The show was actually a remake of an equally successful British sitcom called “Man About the House”. I must, I was a fan of both shows …

10. Allegro ___ (very quick, in music) : ASSAI
The Italian term “assai” translates as “very”, and is used in music with the same meaning.

The tempo of a piece of music is usually designated with an Italian word on the score. For example, “grave” is slow and solemn, “andante” is at a walking pace, and “allegro” is fast, quickly and bright.

11. Hornswoggled : SWINDLED
“To hornswoggle” is to cheat, to deceive, to bamboozle.

19. Ancient times, in ancient times : ELD
“Eld” is an archaic word meaning “antiquity, olden times”.

25. Chemical cousins, in a way : ISOMERS
In the world of chemistry, isomers are two compounds with chemical formula i.e. the same atomic constituents, but with a slightly different arrangement of the atoms relative to each other. The differing arrangement of atoms often leads to different chemical properties.

26. ___ eyes (potion ingredients at Hogwarts) : EEL
In J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” universe, The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded by the four most brilliant witches and wizards of their time: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. Each of the founders lent their name to a House in the school, i.e. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

32. Pitch-selecting gesture : NOD
A baseball pitcher might nod to indicate to a catcher that he accepts the suggested signal.

33. Like the apparel in a certain Christmas carol : GAY
“Don we now our gay apparel” is a line from the Christmas carol “Deck the Halls”.

The music for “Deck the Halls” is a traditional Welsh tune that dates back to the 16th century. The same tune was used by Mozart for a violin and piano duet. The lyrics with which we are familiar (other than the “tra-la-la”) are American in origin, and were recorded in 19th century.

34. Pre-Letterman gig for Paul Shaffer, for short : SNL
Paul Shaffer is the bandleader and sidekick for David Letterman on his late-night talk show, and has been for the show’s entire run from 1982 until 2015. From 1975 to 1980, Schaffer played the piano as part of the house band on “Saturday Night Live”.

35. Nabokov heroine : ADA
The reference here is to the 1969 novel by Vladimir Nabokov called “Ada”. The story takes place in the 1800s on Antiterra, an Earth-like planet that has a history similar to ours but with interesting differences. For example, there is a United States, but the country covers all of North and South America. What we call eastern Canada is a French-speaking province called “Canady”, and western Canada is a Russian-speaking province “Estody”. The plot-line is about a man called Van Veen who, when 14 years old, meets for the first time his cousin, 11-year-old Ada. The two cousins eventually have an affair, only to discover later that they are in fact brother and sister.

38. Compass for the web browser Safari, e.g. : ICON
Safari is Apple’s flagship Internet browser, mainly used on its Mac line of computers. Personally, I use Google Chrome …

46. “Game of Thrones” menace : DRAGON
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is a fantasy television drama that was adapted from a series of novels by George R. R. Martin called “A Song of Ice and Fire”. “Game of Thrones” is actually made in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland.

47. Takes over : USURPS
“To usurp” is to seize and hold by force, say the power or authority of a ruler. The term “usurp” comes to us from Latin via French, from “usus” (a use) and “rapere” (to seize).

49. Galileo, for one : PISAN
Galileo Galilei may be the most famous son of the city of Pisa in Italy and was considered by many to have been the father of modern science. In the world of physics, Galileo postulated that objects of different masses would fall at the same rate provided they did so in a vacuum (so there was no air resistance). There is a story that he dropped two balls of different masses from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate this, but this probably never happened. Centuries later, Astronaut David Scott performed Galileo’s proposed experiment when he dropped a hammer and feather on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission and we all saw the objects hit the moon surface, at exactly the same time.

51. Author Jong : ERICA
The author Erica Jong’s most famous work is her first: “Fear of Flying”, a novel published in 1973. Over twenty years later she wrote “Fear of Fifty: a midlife memoir”, published in 1994.

52. “Bonne ___!” (cry on le premier janvier) : ANNEE
“Bonne année!” is French for “Happy New Year!” That’s something we might hear in France on the first of January (le premier janvier).

53. Rice ___ : PADDY
A paddy field is the flooded piece of land used to grow rice. The water reduces competition from weeds allowing the rice to thrive. The word “paddy” has nothing to do with us Irish folk, and is an anglicized version of the word “padi”, the Malay name for the rice plant.

56. Big bugler : ELK
Male elks are called bulls, and females are known as cows. Bull elks are known for their very loud screaming, which is called bugling. Cow elks are attracted to bulls that bugle more often and most loudly.

57. Place to go in England? : LOO
When I was growing up in Ireland, a “bathroom” was a room that had a bath and no toilet. The separate room with the commode was called “the toilet” or sometimes the W.C. (the water closet). Apparently the term closet was used because in the 1800s when homeowners started installing toilets indoors they often displaced clothes and linens in a “closet”, as a closet was the right size to take the commode. It has been suggested that the British term “loo” comes from Waterloo (water-closet … water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of “lanterloo” in which the pot was called the loo!

59. What might be seen in the corner of a TV screen: Abbr. : ASL
It’s really quite unfortunate that American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one cannot understand someone signing in the other.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Slow Wi-Fi woe : LAG
4. House smaller than a villa : CASITA
10. Italian wine city : ASTI
14. Big lug : APE
15. Ran amok : RIOTED
16. Word before dive or song : SWAN
17. “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” network : NPR
18. Layout of city streets, parks, etc. : URBAN DESIGN
20. “Oh heavens!” : DEAR ME!
22. The “A” of E. A. Poe : ALLAN
23. It’s so crazy it just might work : HAREBRAINED IDEA
28. Ye ___ Shoppe : OLDE
29. Winter hrs. in Calgary : MST
30. Cariou who played Sweeney Todd : LEN
31. Cardiologist’s procedure, for short : ANGIO
34. With wisdom : SAGELY
37. Tolerant : BROAD-MINDED
39. In vogue : TRENDY
41. Ostentatious display : ECLAT
42. Bran source : OAT
43. Slangy pal : BRO
44. Language of Pakistan : URDU
48. Presumptuous sorts : WHIPPERSNAPPERS
54. Dress-up item for a little girl : TIARA
55. Capital of the Bahamas : NASSAU
56. Office item suggested visually by this puzzle : ELASTIC BAND
60. The “A” of U.S.D.A.: Abbr. : AGR
61. Dancer in “a club down in old Soho” : LOLA
62. Desisted : CEASED
63. Big prune? : LOP
64. City NW of München : KOLN
65. ___ Wilkes, obsession of Scarlett O’Hara : ASHLEY
66. Coast Guard rank: Abbr. : ENS

Down
1. Cry from a crow’s-nest : LAND HO!
2. What some losers in court do : APPEAL
3. Actor Butler or Depardieu : GERARD
4. Remnant : CRUMB
5. Broadcaster : AIRER
6. Melodramatic sound : SOB
7. “Let’s call ___ day” : IT A
8. Any one of the company in “Three’s Company” : TENANT
9. Mix up : ADDLE
10. Allegro ___ (very quick, in music) : ASSAI
11. Hornswoggled : SWINDLED
12. Chasing game : TAG
13. Stopover : INN
19. Ancient times, in ancient times : ELD
21. Win back : RE-EARN
24. In the thick of : AMID
25. Chemical cousins, in a way : ISOMERS
26. ___ eyes (potion ingredients at Hogwarts) : EEL
27. Some : ANY
32. Pitch-selecting gesture : NOD
33. Like the apparel in a certain Christmas carol : GAY
34. Pre-Letterman gig for Paul Shaffer, for short : SNL
35. Nabokov heroine : ADA
36. Costumes : GETUPS
37. Go for broke : BET IT ALL
38. Compass for the web browser Safari, e.g. : ICON
39. What tugboats do : TOW
40. Big cheer : RAH!
43. Orthodontist’s recommendation : BRACES
45. Many a flea market transaction : RESALE
46. “Game of Thrones” menace : DRAGON
47. Takes over : USURPS
49. Galileo, for one : PISAN
50. Bit of butter : PAT
51. Author Jong : ERICA
52. “Bonne ___!” (cry on le premier janvier) : ANNEE
53. Rice ___ : PADDY
56. Big bugler : ELK
57. Place to go in England? : LOO
58. Cousin of “Harrumph!” : BAH!
59. What might be seen in the corner of a TV screen: Abbr. : ASL

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3 thoughts on “0512-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 12 May 15, Tuesday”

  1. Up late tonight working on a PowerPoint slideshow, so I tried this. Very amusing theme. I'm sure the "crossword snoots" with poo-pooh this effort, but I for one enjoyed it. Especially after 3 hours of slides. 🙂

    A good Tuesday to all.

  2. Did the puzzle all right, but didn't understand the theme until I came here and had it explained to me. Cute.

    Also didn't understand the ASL reference. I guess my TV, even when it's turned on, which is seldom, doesn't have that feature. And it's a bummer that ASL and BSL are different. Kinda gives another meaning to that old saw "the Americans and the British – two peoples, divided by a common language."

  3. Trouble with these visual pun grids is, once they're filled with letters, you can lose the visual relationship to the circled spaces and just totally miss the little joke. Way too many mistakes for me on this one….

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