0818-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 18 Aug 15, Tuesday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Bill Thompson
THEME: Middle East … each of today’s themed answers has the letter sequence EAST right in the middle:

59A. World hot spot … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues : MIDDLE EAST

17A. *Left the flock : GONE ASTRAY
23A. *Walk out : STAGE A STRIKE
37A. *Like baking dough : YEASTY
39A. *Sumptuous spreads : FEASTS
48A. *Half of a brother/sister dance duo : ADELE ASTAIRE

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 8m 15s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

14. Iridescent stone : OPAL
97% of the world’s opals come from Australia, so it’s no surprise perhaps that the opal is the national gemstone of the country. The state of South Australia provides the bulk of the world’s production, about 80%.

15. Prince Valiant’s love : ALETA
Aleta is the the wife of Prince Valiant in the long-running comic strip. Edward, Duke of Windsor, called the “Prince Valiant” comic strip the “greatest contribution to English Literature in the past one hundred years”. I’m not so sure …

16. ___ Reader : UTNE
The “Utne Reader” is known for aggregation and republishing of articles on politics, culture and the environment from other sources in the media. The “Utne Reader” was founded in 1984, with “Utne” being the family name of the couple that started the publication.

19. Greek earth goddess : GAEA
The Greek goddess personifying the earth was Gaea (meaning “land” or “earth” in Greek). The Roman equivalent goddess was Terra Mater, “Mother Earth”.

20. Kind of test for newborns : APGAR
The Apgar scale is used to assess the health of newborn babies. The newborn is evaluated in five categories that are given by the acronym APGAR, namely:

– Appearance
– Pulse
– Grimace
– Activity
– Respiration

The acronym is actually a “backronym”, as the test is name for Dr. Virginia Apgar who devised it in 1952.

21. “___ Bangs” (Ricky Martin hit) : SHE
“She Bangs” was a hit from the year 2000 from Ricky Martin’s album “Sound Loaded”.

Ricky Martin’s real name is Enrique Martin Morales, a native of Puerto Rico. Martin first achieved fame with the boy band Menudo before going solo in 1991.

22. ___ Sea, victim of Soviet irrigation projects : ARAL
The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet Union irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …

27. Tenor Carreras : JOSE
José Carreras is a celebrated tenor from Barcelona who is perhaps best known to a wider audience as one of the Three Tenors, alongside Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

33. Kyle ___, “The Terminator” hero : REESE
I sometimes forget that “the terminator” wasn’t the main character in the first “The Terminator” film. The story revolved around Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn). Reese is sent back from the future to protect Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) from the Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger).

44. Word that, spelled backward, can be a clue for itself : PAT
A “pat” is a “tap”.

45. Stalemate : IMPASSE
“Impasse” is a French word for a blind alley or an impassable road, and we use the term to mean “stalemate”.

47. Prefix with diluvian : ANTE-
Something “antediluvian” is very old. The term comes from “ante” meaning “before” and “diluvium” meaning “flood”. The idea is that something really old took place before Noah’s Flood.

48. *Half of a brother/sister dance duo : ADELE ASTAIRE
Adele Astaire was Fred Astaire’s elder sister. Before Fred made it big in movies, the two were a successful music hall act, particularly in England. Adele married into nobility in England, taking the name Lady Charles Cavendish.

53. Inits. for Windy City commuters : CTA
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

It seems that the derivation of Chicago’s nickname as the “Windy City” isn’t as obvious as I would have thought. There are two viable theories. First that the weather can be breezy, with wind blowing in off Lake Michigan. The effect of the wind is exaggerated by the grid-layout adopted by city planners after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The second theory is that “windy” means “being full of bluster”. Sportswriters from the rival city of Cincinnati were fond of calling Chicago supporters “windy” in the 1860s and 1870s, meaning that they were full of hot air in their claims that the Chicago White Stockings were superior to the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Our verb “to commute”, meaning “to go back and forth to work”, ultimately derives from the Latin “commutare”, meaning “to often change”. Back in the late 1800s, a “commutation ticket” was a season pass, so named because it allowed one to “change” one kind of payment into another. Quite interesting …

58. Leon who wrote “The Haj” : URIS
“The Haj” is a novel by the very successful American author Leon Uris. It is set in Palestine in first half of the 20th century.

59. World hot spot … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues : MIDDLE EAST
In geographical terms there are three “easts”. The Near East and Middle East are terms that are often considered synonymous, although “Near East” tends to be used when discussing ancient history and “Middle East” when referring to the present day. The Near/Middle East encompasses most of Western Asia and Egypt. The term “Far East” describes East Asia (including the Russian Far East), Southeast Asia and South Asia.

62. Labyrinth : MAZE
A labyrinth is another word for a maze, and is named after the maze in which the Minotaur was confined in Greek Mythology.

63. “That’s ___” : AMORE
“That’s Amore” is a pop standard written by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks in 1952. “That’s Amore” became the signature song for Dean Martin after he sang it (with some help from Jerry Lewis) in the 1953 comedy film “The Caddy”. “When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore …”

64. Mass-market furniture company : IKEA
The IKEA furniture stores use the colors blue and yellow for brand recognition. Blue and yellow are the national colors of Sweden, where IKEA was founded and is headquartered.

67. Two of diamonds? : DEES
There are two letters D (dee) in the word “diamonds”.

Down
1. Exercise discipline : YOGA
In the West we tend to think of yoga as a physical discipline, a means of exercise that uses specific poses to stretch and strengthen muscles. While it is true that the ancient Indian practice of yoga does involve such physical discipline, the corporeal aspect of the practice plays a relatively small part in the whole philosophy. Other major components are meditation, ethical behavior, breathing and contemplation.

3. First computer company to run an ad during the Super Bowl : WANG
The Wang computer company was founded in 1951 by computer engineers An Wang and G. Y. Chu. Wang was the first computer company to run ad during the Super Bowl, doing so in 1978. That ad went after IBM, casting Wang as David and IBM as Goliath. Experts say that Wang’s products eventually fell from favor due to the focus on word processing, without adapting to the growing demand for general-purpose computing.

5. Faux ___ : PAS
The term “faux pas” is French in origin, and translates literally as “false step” (or “false steps”, as the plural has the same spelling in French).

7. Slayer of Medusa : PERSEUS
In Greek mythology, Medusa was one of the monstrous female creatures known as Gorgons. According to one version of the Medusa myth, she was once a beautiful woman. But she incurred the wrath of Athena who turned her lovely hair into serpents and made her face hideously ugly. Anyone who gazed directly at the transformed Medusa would turn into stone. She was eventually killed by the hero Perseus, who beheaded her. He carried Medusa’s head and used its powers as a weapon, before giving it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield.

10. Legume with an edible pod : SUGAR PEA
Snap peas are also known as sugar peas. Snap peas are eaten before the seeds mature, and the whole pod is consumed.

11. Game company with a Japanese name : ATARI
At one point, the electronics and video game manufacturer Atari was the fastest growing company in US history. However, Atari never really recovered from the video game industry crash of 1983.

13. Bobby who co-founded the Black Panther Party : SEALE
Bobby Seale is the civil rights activist who co-founded the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton.

18. The “A” of MoMA : ART
The founding of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City was very much driven by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller, son of the oil magnate. Working with two friends, Abby managed to get the museum opened in 1929, just nine days after the Wall Street Crash. The MoMA’s sculpture garden bears the name of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and has done so since 1949.

26. Hackneyed : TIRED
Hackney is a location in London that probably gave it’s name to a “hackney”, an ordinary type of horse carriage around 1300. By 1700 a “hackney” was a person hired to do routine work, and “hackneyed” meant “kept for hire”. Around the same time, “hackneyed” came to describe something so overused that it is no longer interesting, sort of like crossword answers that turn up a little too often …

27. Rapper born Shawn Corey Carter : JAY Z
Jay Z, as well as being a successful and very rich rap artist, is married to singer Beyonce.

28. Product first released by the National Biscuit Company in 1912 : OREO
The Oreo was the best-selling cookie in the 20th century, and almost 500 billion of them have been sold since they were introduced in 1912 by Nabisco. In those early days the creme filling was made with pork fat, but today vegetable oils are used instead. If you take a bite out of an Oreo sold outside of America you might notice a difference from the homegrown cookie, as coconut oil is added in the overseas version to give a different taste.

The National Biscuit Company was formed in 1898 with the merger of three existing bakery businesses. The company name today is Nabisco, an abbreviated form of National Biscuit Company.

36. Villa d’___ : ESTE
The Villa d’Este is a beautiful Renaissance villa situated close to Tivoli near Rome, Italy.

42. Tabasco and Chihuahua, in México : ESTADOS
Tabasco is one of Mexico’s 31 states (estados), and is located in the very southeast of the country.

Chihuahua is a state in northern Mexico that shares a border with Texas and New Mexico. Chihuahua is the largest state in the country, so has the nickname “El Estado Grande”. The state takes its name from the Chihuahuan Desert which lies largely within its borders. And of course the Chihuahua breed of dog takes its name from the state.

46. Game with a “perfect score” of 3,333,360 : PAC-MAN
The Pac-Man arcade game was first released in Japan in 1980, and is as popular today as it ever was. The game features characters that are maneuvered around the screen to eat up dots and earn points. The name comes from the Japanese folk hero “Paku”, known for his voracious appetite. The spin-off game called Ms. Pac-Man was released in 1981.

47. Source of the Trojan horse story : AENEID
The story of the Wooden Horse of Troy is told in the Virgil’s poem “The Aeneid”. According to the tale, the city of Troy finally fell to Greeks after a siege that had lasted for ten years. In a ruse, the Greeks sailed away in apparent defeat, leaving behind a large wooden horse. Inside the horse were hidden 30 crack soldiers. When the horse was dragged into the city as a victory trophy, the soldiers sneaked out and opened the city’s gates. The Greeks returned under cover of night and entered the open city.

48. Grads : ALUMS
An “alumnus” (plural … alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural … alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.

49. Miami golf resort : DORAL
The Doral Golf Resort in Doral, Florida has five championship golf courses, including one called the Blue Monster.

50. Slave woman in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” : ELIZA
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe is an anti-slavery novel published in 1852. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” outsold every other novel in the 19th century, and is cited as greatly influencing the abolitionist cause and helping lay the groundwork for the Civil War.

51. “The Murders in the ___ Morgue” : RUE
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, and is recognized as the first “detective story” ever written. The murder is solved when it is determined that the murderer was actually an orangutan.

57. Data for airport chauffeurs, for short : ETAS
Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

60. Richard Gere title role : DR T
The 2000 movie “Dr. T & the Women” is a pretty good film, starring Richard Gere in the title role. There can’t be many romantic comedies about gynecologists …

61. French article : LES
“Les” is French for “the”, and is used with a plural noun.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Complain loudly : YAWP
5. “Proud” ones with cigars : PAPAS
10. Cheek : SASS
14. Iridescent stone : OPAL
15. Prince Valiant’s love : ALETA
16. ___ Reader : UTNE
17. *Left the flock : GONE ASTRAY
19. Greek earth goddess : GAEA
20. Kind of test for newborns : APGAR
21. “___ Bangs” (Ricky Martin hit) : SHE
22. ___ Sea, victim of Soviet irrigation projects : ARAL
23. *Walk out : STAGE A STRIKE
27. Tenor Carreras : JOSE
30. Catcher’s catch off a batter’s bat : FOUL TIP
31. Part of an oval : ARC
32. Competitor’s lament : I LOST
33. Kyle ___, “The Terminator” hero : REESE
37. *Like baking dough : YEASTY
39. *Sumptuous spreads : FEASTS
40. Crashes, with “out” : ZONKS
41. Got by word of mouth : HEARD
44. Word that, spelled backward, can be a clue for itself : PAT
45. Stalemate : IMPASSE
47. Prefix with diluvian : ANTE-
48. *Half of a brother/sister dance duo : ADELE ASTAIRE
52. Laze : LOLL
53. Inits. for Windy City commuters : CTA
54. Loosen, as a knot : UNTIE
58. Leon who wrote “The Haj” : URIS
59. World hot spot … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues : MIDDLE EAST
62. Labyrinth : MAZE
63. “That’s ___” : AMORE
64. Mass-market furniture company : IKEA
65. Furniture strip : SLAT
66. Homes for warblers and wasps : NESTS
67. Two of diamonds? : DEES

Down
1. Exercise discipline : YOGA
2. Individually : A POP
3. First computer company to run an ad during the Super Bowl : WANG
4. Entreaty that may follow “pretty” : PLEASE
5. Faux ___ : PAS
6. PC key : ALT
7. Slayer of Medusa : PERSEUS
8. Stopped : AT A HALT
9. Speak, in the Bible : SAYEST
10. Legume with an edible pod : SUGAR PEA
11. Game company with a Japanese name : ATARI
12. Weasel : SNEAK
13. Bobby who co-founded the Black Panther Party : SEALE
18. The “A” of MoMA : ART
24. Wouldn’t hurt ___ : A FLY
25. Wet gunk : GOO
26. Hackneyed : TIRED
27. Rapper born Shawn Corey Carter : JAY Z
28. Product first released by the National Biscuit Company in 1912 : OREO
29. Survey with binoculars, say : SCAN
32. Informal identification : IT’S ME
34. Sister company of ABC : ESPN
35. Runs, hits or errors, for short : STAT
36. Villa d’___ : ESTE
38. Everything one can do : SKILL SET
39. Without cost: Ger. : FREI
41. Isn’t at the deadline yet : HAS TIME
42. Tabasco and Chihuahua, in México : ESTADOS
43. Cool ___ cucumber : AS A
46. Game with a “perfect score” of 3,333,360 : PAC-MAN
47. Source of the Trojan horse story : AENEID
48. Grads : ALUMS
49. Miami golf resort : DORAL
50. Slave woman in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” : ELIZA
51. “The Murders in the ___ Morgue” : RUE
55. Grab : TAKE
56. “Mm-hmm” : I SEE
57. Data for airport chauffeurs, for short : ETAS
60. Richard Gere title role : DR T
61. French article : LES

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6 thoughts on “0818-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 18 Aug 15, Tuesday”

  1. A pleasantly Tuesday-ish puzzle. A minor quibble: "Left the flock" would seem to suggest WENT ASTRAY, rather than GONE ASTRAY.

    I often see complaints here that a particular theme is "stupid" or "lame" or "forced" and, in fact, I think I myself once complained that a puzzle was "a bit too clever for its own good". Upon reflection, though, I find myself increasingly astounded by the ability of the puzzle makers to find new themes day after day, week after week, month after month, etc. I am quite sure that I would have a very hard time coming up with even one new theme. (Actually, one idea does come to mind, but it's probably been done: How about a puzzle in which every single clue is one of the old familiar crossword standbys, but each answer is cleverly different from what one would expect? I can only imagine the howls of rage this would elicit … 🙂

  2. "Clever" is really subject to opinion. I often find this NYT puzzle a bit too "cute". Other days, I'd term the clue editing "mean-spirited"; if it's misleading, or relies on inferring one way of "saying it" but meaning a more obscure one, that tends to tick me off. IMO, you can make a puzzle challenging without resorting to such dirty tricks.

  3. DNF, six errors. Indeed "clever" is subjective to much opinion. As far as this grid went, I'm surprised I got as far as I did (15 squares not filled in) without getting any more errors than I did. But finally I ragequit this – the first grid to do so that way. It was good I did, seeing what some of the things were I didn't get.

  4. @Anonymous

    I think I enjoy doing the Times crossword for the very things that you call "mean-spirited". It is, after all, a puzzle, not just a test of vocabulary or of general knowledge.

    Some of the crosswords that I did as a child made use of very straightforward clues for very obscure answers. I remember having to go to the encyclopedia to find lists of things (like "tributaries of the Amazon" or "villages in New Hampshire"). Doing a puzzle using only the knowledge in my own head was seldom possible. (Of course, this was partly because I was a child and, despite what I probably thought, didn't know very much.)

    I started doing the NYT puzzles about 1970, just after Will Weng became the editor (I don't know if I ever did one edited by Margaret Farrar), and have been doing them ever since, through the terms of Eugene Maleska and Will Shortz. I recently came across a collection of Will Weng puzzles that I took with me on a mountaineering trip in 1989 and found them to be a bit drab and uninteresting compared to the ones being published now. That playful element that you call mean-spirited seems to be largely missing from them.

    I can't help but wonder if you're old, like me, and miss the days of Weng and Maleska?

    These days, I do the puzzle entirely from my own head, without referring to dictionaries or encyclopedias or on-line sources, and I think that's how the puzzle constructors intend them to be done. (Of course, I often end up making educated guesses, but the nature of the construction tends to make that possible.) Often, I learn things in the process; for example, much of what I know about pop culture comes from doing crossword puzzles (rather than the other way around).

    Well, it isn't my intent to start a flame war. Perhaps we can agree to disagree. As you say, many of these things are matters of opinion.

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