0220-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 20 Feb 16, Saturday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: James Mulhern
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 26m 46s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

10. Taken alone : PER SE
“Per se” is a Latin phrase that translates as “by itself”. We use “per se” pretty literally, meaning “in itself, intrinsically”.

15. It has you covered : EPIDERMIS
The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. The thickest piece of epidermal tissue in humans is on the soles of the feet and the palms, measuring about 1.5 mm. The thinnest measures 0.1 mm, and that would be the human eyelid.

16. Longtime comic strip queen : 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 …

17. Single-speed two-wheeler : FIXIE BIKE
A fixed-gear bicycle (sometimes “fixie”) is a bike with a drivetrain that lacks a freewheel mechanism. A freewheel mechanism allows coasting without movement of the pedals, but does not allow slowing using the pedals. Fixed-gear bicycles have become popular again with cyclists in cities and towns who appreciate the simplicity of the design.

18. Hip-hop artist Kendrick ___ : LAMAR
Kendrick Lamar is a hip hop singer from Compton, California. Lamar’s full name is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, with the singer’s given name in honor of Motown artist Eddie Kendricks.

19. Basket weave? : NET
That would be the net that makes up the basket in basketball.

21. It may cover all the bases : TARP
Originally, tarpaulins were made from canvas covered in tar that rendered the material waterproof. The word “tarpaulin” comes from “tar” and “palling”, with “pall” meaning “heavy cloth covering”.

24. Taco stand add-on, in brief : GUAC
Guacamole is one of my favorite dishes, and is made by mashing avocados and perhaps adding the likes of tomato, onion and lime juice. The guacamole recipe dates back as early as the 16th century, to the time of the Aztecs. “Guacamole” translates as “avocado sauce”.

26. Salt sack? : BERTH
“Salt” is a slang word for a sailor.

27. Teflon, e.g. : RESIN
Teflon is a brand name for the polymer called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). Teflon is used as a coating for nonstick pans, a lubricant in machinery and as a graft material in surgery.

29. The way it is : STATUS QUO
“Status quo” translates from Latin as “state in which”, and in English is used to mean the existing condition or state of affairs.

31. Alley-oop starter : LOB
An “alley-oop” is a play in basketball in which one player throw the ball close to the basket for a teammate who usually scores with a slam dunk.

34. Old TV channel that aired XFL games : UPN
The United Paramount Network (UPN) was a TV channel that launched in 1995, and shut down in 2006. Some of UPN’s programming was moved to the CW channel at the time of UPN’s demise.

The XFL was an American Football league that only survived for one season. The intention of the league was to provide football fans with something to watch in the off-season, but the fans didn’t bother. There was discussion when the league was founded that “XFL” would stand for “Extreme” Football League, but the decision was made to let the “X” stand for nothing at all.

35. People’s Sexiest Man Alive of 2001 : BROSNAN
Pierce Brosnan is an Irish actor, from Drogheda, north of Dublin. Brosnan’s big break in the US came when he was given the title role in the eighties television show “Remington Steele”. Of course he also played James Bond on the big screen. Brosnan’s first appearance as Bond was in 1995’s “Golden Eye”. He was asked to take the role much earlier, in 1987, but Brosnan couldn’t get out of his contract for “Remington Steele”. Bond was the fifth actor to play Bond, after Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.

There used to be a “People” page in each issue of “Time” magazine. This page was spun-off in 1974 as a publication of its own, which we now call “People” magazine. “People” is noted for its annual special editions with features such as “Best & Worst Dressed” and “Sexiest Man Alive”. The “Sexiest Man Alive” edition now appears at the end of November each year. The first choice for “Sexiest Man” was Mel Gibson, in 1985.

39. Language in which “thank you” is “grazzi” : MALTESE
The island state of Malta is relatively small, but its large number of inhabitants makes it one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. Malta’s strategic location has made it a prized possession for the conquering empires of the world. Most recently it was part of the British Empire and was an important fleet headquarters. Malta played a crucial role for the Allies during WWII as it was located very close to the Axis shipping lanes in the Mediterranean. The Siege of Malta lasted from 1940 to 1942, a prolonged attack by the Italians and Germans on the RAF and Royal Navy, and the people of Malta. When the siege was lifted, King George VI awarded the George Cross to the people of Malta collectively in recognition of their heroism and devotion to the Allied cause. The George Cross can still be seen on the Maltese flag, even though Britain granted Malta independence in 1964.

42. Homer’s “bulwark of the Achaeans” : AJAX
Ajax was a figure in Greek mythology, and was the cousin of Achilles. Ajaz is an important figure in Homer’s “Iliad”. According to Homer, Ajax was chosen by lot to meet Hector in an epic duel that lasted a whole day. The duel ended in a draw.

Homer was a famous poet of Ancient Greece, believed to be the author of the two classic epic poems, the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”. However, some scholars believe that Homer did not actually exist, but rather he is the personification of oral tradition that was passed down through the ages.

53. List in a 36-Down: Abbr. : APTS
(36D. Lessor’s log : RENT ROLL)
Apartment (apt.)

55. Part of many an emoticon : NOSE
An emoticon is a glyph created using text characters to represent facial features, and usually oriented sideways. The emoticon is designed to indicate emotion or attitude. The classic example is the smiley face 🙂

64. Master of the King’s Music under George V : ELGAR
Sir Edward Elgar was the quintessential English composer, inextricably associated with his “Pomp and Circumstance” marches (including “Land of Hope and Glory”) and the “Enigma Variations”.

King George V was ruler of the United Kingdom during WWI. It was George V who changed the Royal Family’s name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, creating the House of Windsor in 1917. He did this in response to anti-German feeling in Britain during the war.

65. Cry after “Freeze!” on a 1980s TV show : MIAMI VICE!
“Miami Vice” is a detective television show that first aired in 1984-1989. Stars of the show are Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. There is a 2006 film adaptation of “Miami Vice” that stars Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx.

Down
1. Defendant in a 1963 obscenity trial : HEFNER
Hugh Hefner published an issue of “Playboy” magazine in 1963 that feature actress Jayne Mansfield posing in the nude. As a result, Hefner was arrested and charged with selling obscene literature. At the end of his trial, the jury deadlocked 7 to 5, and so the judge declared a mistrial.

3. Pie wedges in Trivial Pursuit, e.g. : SIXTHS
Trivial Pursuit was invented in 1979 by two Canadians from Montreal. The pair decided to come up with their own game after they discovered that there were pieces missing from the game of Scrabble that they wanted to play. There was a full blown launch of a commercial version of the game in 1982. In 2008, Hasbro bought the complete rights to Trivial Pursuit, for US$80 million! On a personal note, I met my lovely wife over a game of Trivial Pursuit …

4. Tyrant Amin : IDI
Idi Amin received most of his military training in the British armed forces, eventually achieving the highest rank possible for a Black African in the British Colonial Army in 1959, that of Warrant Officer. On his return to Uganda Amin joined his country’s military and quickly rose to the rank of Deputy Commander of the Army. During that time he was quite the athlete. He was a noted rugby player and swimmer, and for nine years held the Ugandan national light-heavyweight boxing title. By the early seventies, Amin was commander of all the armed forces of Uganda and in 1971 seized power in a military coup, displacing the country’s president Milton Obote. There followed seven years of brutal rule by Amin during which it is estimated that between 100,000 and 500,000 people were murdered. Amin was ousted from power in 1979 after a war with Tanzania, and fled to Libya where he stayed for a year. He then moved to Saudi Arabia, where he was financially supported by the Saudi Royal Family for the remainder of his life. Amin died in 2003.

7. Third grade? : A-MINUS
The top three grades possible in an exam might be A-plus, A, and A-minus, in order.

8. Orders : DIKTATS
“Diktat” is a German word meaning “dictate” that we have absorbed into English. We use “diktat” to describe a decree or authoritative statement, particularly one that is harsh or punitive.

9. Sri Lanka-to-Singapore dir. : ESE
The name Sri Lanka translates from Sanskrit into English as “venerable island”. Before 1970, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon, a name given to the country during British rule.

The Asian city-state of Singapore takes its name from the Malay word “Singapura” which means “Lion City”. However, lions in the wild never made it to Singapore, so the city is probably misnamed and perhaps should have been called “Tiger City”.

12. “All Quiet on the Western Front” novelist : REMARQUE
“All Quiet on the Western Front” is a 1928 novel by German WWI veteran Erich Maria Remarque. In the book, Remarque describes the awful trials experienced by German soldiers during the war, and then after the war as they try to return to civilian life. The book was adapted into a Hollywood movie of the same name in 1930. The film won Oscars for Outstanding Production and for Best Director (Lewis Milestone).

14. Bit of Secret Service gear : EARPHONE
The Secret Service was created by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, with the mission of fighting currency counterfeiters. The additional task of protecting the US President was added by Congress in 1902 following the assassination of President William McKinley in the prior year. Only one Secret Service agent has given his life in the course of an assassination attempt. That was Private Leslie Coffelt, who was killed when two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Harry S. Truman in 1950 while he was residing in Blair House.

26. Murder mystery staple : BUTLER
The cliché “the butler did it” is often attributed to a 1930 crime novel called “The Door” by Mary Roberts Rinehart. In “The Door”, the butler actually did commit the crime.

32. ___ Fresh (Tex-Mex chain) : BAJA
Baja Fresh is a chain of Tex Mex restaurants based in Irvine, California. The first Baja Fresh outlet was opened in Newbury Park, California in 1990. There are now well over 200 franchises nationwide.

40. Many an Instagram user : TEEN
Instagram is a photo-sharing application, one that is extremely popular I hear. Instagram was started in San Francisco in 2010. Facebook purchased Instagram two years later, paying $1 billion. The billion-dollar Instagram company had just 13 employees at the time …

43. ___ process (sternum part) : XIPHOID
The xiphoid process is a small extension at the bottom of the sternum or breastbone. The process is made from cartilage, although it usually becomes ossified in adults. The process resembles the tip of a straight sword, and “xiphos” is Greek for “sword”.

46. Bit from “Poor Richard’s Almanack” : OLD SAW
“Poor Richard’s Almanack” was an annual publication authored by none other than Benjamin Franklin. The first edition hit the shelves in 1732, and was very, very successful, selling about 10,000 copies a year. Apparently Napoleon Bonaparte was a big fan.

47. Like many Second Viennese School works : ATONAL
The Second Viennese School is a group of early 20th-century composers led by Arnold Schoenberg. Schoenberg and his cohorts embraced the concept of expanded tonality, and in particular the serial twelve-tone technique. I’m not a fan …

49. Posthumous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee of 2014 : COBAIN
Kurt Cobain was famous as the lead singer of the band Nirvana. Cobain was constantly in the spotlight for the last few years of his short life. The media was fascinated with his marriage to fellow rock star Courtney Love, and continually reported on Cobain’s heroin addiction. He finally succumbed to the pressure and committed suicide by inflicting a gunshot wound to his head in 1994, at only 27 years of age.

51. Big Cup brand : REESE’S
Hershey’s produces three sizes of peanut butter cup now. Alongside “standard”, we can buy “mini” and “big cup”.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented by Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese. Peanut Butter Cups were originally called penny cups, reflecting the price at which they were sold. Then inflation took over, and maybe that’s why they were broken into smaller “Pieces” …

58. ___-poo (designer dog) : SHIH
The designer dog known as a Shih-poo is a cross between a poodle and Shih Tzu.

62. Fitness mag stat : BMI
The body mass index (BMI) is the ratio of a person’s height to his or her mass.

63. Stowe heroine : EVA
Little Eva is a character in the 1852 novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Eva’s full name is Evangeline St. Clare.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Lives the dream : HAS IT MADE
10. Taken alone : PER SE
15. It has you covered : EPIDERMIS
16. Longtime comic strip queen : ALETA
17. Single-speed two-wheeler : FIXIE BIKE
18. Hip-hop artist Kendrick ___ : LAMAR
19. Basket weave? : NET
20. Still in the box, perhaps : MINT
21. It may cover all the bases : TARP
22. Audio engineer’s concern : ECHO
24. Taco stand add-on, in brief : GUAC
26. Salt sack? : BERTH
27. Teflon, e.g. : RESIN
29. The way it is : STATUS QUO
31. Alley-oop starter : LOB
33. Screw feature : SLOT
34. Old TV channel that aired XFL games : UPN
35. People’s Sexiest Man Alive of 2001 : BROSNAN
39. Language in which “thank you” is “grazzi” : MALTESE
41. Ruling body? : REF
42. Homer’s “bulwark of the Achaeans” : AJAX
44. Girl’s name that sounds like a letter : DEE
45. Facebook-checking fixation, e.g. : INFOMANIA
48. Come back : RECUR
52. Approach : STYLE
53. List in a 36-Down: Abbr. : APTS
55. Part of many an emoticon : NOSE
56. Stamped : TROD
57. Cultivation aids : HOES
59. Wax source : BEE
60. Rotten : LOUSY
62. Half-wits : BONEHEADS
64. Master of the King’s Music under George V : ELGAR
65. Cry after “Freeze!” on a 1980s TV show : MIAMI VICE!
66. Loses momentum : SLOWS
67. Proverbial tools for wrongdoing : IDLE HANDS

Down
1. Defendant in a 1963 obscenity trial : HEFNER
2. Severally : APIECE
3. Pie wedges in Trivial Pursuit, e.g. : SIXTHS
4. Tyrant Amin : IDI
5. Be thick (with) : TEEM
6. Hotshot : MR BIG
7. Third grade? : A-MINUS
8. Orders : DIKTATS
9. Sri Lanka-to-Singapore dir. : ESE
10. Hang (around) : PAL
11. Lifts a lot : ELATES
12. “All Quiet on the Western Front” novelist : REMARQUE
13. Brand-new outfits : STARTUPS
14. Bit of Secret Service gear : EARPHONE
23. Gallery fill : OILS
25. Chill, so to speak : CALM
26. Murder mystery staple : BUTLER
28. Little-known : NO-NAME
30. Vile sort : TOAD
32. ___ Fresh (Tex-Mex chain) : BAJA
35. What toothpaste goes on : BRISTLES
36. Lessor’s log : RENT ROLL
37. “Run along now!” : OFF YOU GO!
38. Babe watcher, maybe : NANA
40. Many an Instagram user : TEEN
43. ___ process (sternum part) : XIPHOID
46. Bit from “Poor Richard’s Almanack” : OLD SAW
47. Like many Second Viennese School works : ATONAL
49. Posthumous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee of 2014 : COBAIN
50. Bargain bin buy at a record store : USED CD
51. Big Cup brand : REESE’S
54. Dreaded classroom note : SEE ME
58. ___-poo (designer dog) : SHIH
61. Alumni data: Abbr. : YRS
62. Fitness mag stat : BMI
63. Stowe heroine : EVA

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6 thoughts on “0220-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 20 Feb 16, Saturday”

  1. Hi Bill,
    We enjoy following your blog after doing the NY Times crossword puzzle. Today, there is one letter in the grid at 53 across that shold be changed instead of amts it should be: apts.

  2. Thanks for spotting that. That amts/apts error was the one mistake that I made in solving the puzzle. I forgot to correct the grid before posting. All fixed now, thanks to your help. Much appreciated!

  3. This was an enjoyable Saturday grid. Tough but fair. or perhaps I was just stumbled into a few answers that the constructor thought would be tough. I don't know and don't care. :27 for me.

  4. 31:10, no errors. Got stuck for awhile at the end with an empty upper left corner, but finally had the necessary epiphany and finished. Then, I spent some time staring at FIXIE BIKE, which I'd never heard of, before finally deciding there was no other logical choice. Thanks to Bill, I now know what it is, at least. "Third grade" for "A MINUS" deserves some kind of award for Excellence in Misdirection. A pleasant Saturday outing …

  5. Not a chance in hell of finishing this one. Clues just too vague, non-evocative… plus lots I just didn't know. I mean, who knows who George V's music guru was??? Are they serious?

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