0104-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Jan 17, Wednesday

QuickLinks:
Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
Solution to today’s SYNDICATED New York Times crossword in all other publications
Solution to today’s New York Times crossword found online at the Seattle Times website
Jump to a complete list of today’s clues and answers

CROSSWORD SETTER: Samuel A. Donaldson
THEME: The Dentist …
Each of today’s themed answers is a well-known phrase that is used to finish off a “punny” statement involving a DENTIST:

17A. The new dentist wanted to make a good … : … FIRST IMPRESSION
24A. The dentist helped the patient afford the visit with a … : … BRIDGE LOAN
45A. The dentist sorted all the bristled instruments into … : … BRUSH PILES
58A. When it was time for the filling, the dentist asked for, well, … : … YOU KNOW THE DRILL

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 28s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

6. Somewhat : A TAD
Back in the 1800s, “tad” was used to describe a young child, and this extended into our usage of “small amount” in the early 1900s. The original use of “tad” for a child is very likely a shortened version of “tadpole”.

15. Hedonistic sort : ROUE
“Roue” is a lovely word, I think, describing a less than lovely man. A roue could otherwise be described as a cad, someone of loose morals. “Roue” comes from the French word “rouer” meaning “to break on a wheel”. This describes the ancient form of capital punishment where a poor soul was lashed to a wheel and then beaten to death with cudgels and bars. I guess the suggestion is that a roue, with his loose morals, deserves such a punishment.

A hedonist is someone who seeks to maximise the amount of pleasure in his or her life. “Hedone” is the Greek word for “pleasure”.

16. Janis’s spouse in the comics : ARLO
The comic strip “Arlo and Janis” is written by Jimmy Johnson. Introduced in 1985, Arlo and Janis are a baby booming couple with an easy approach to life, and who are very much in love.

21. Secret group in “The Da Vinci Code” : OPUS DEI
Opus Dei is Roman Catholic institution that was founded in Spain in 1928, and officially approved by the church in 1950. In 2010, Opus Dei had over 90,000 members, mostly lay people. The institution’s mission is to promote certain aspects of the Roman Catholic doctrine. Opus Dei was portrayed as a sinister organization by Dan Brown in his novel “The Da Vinci Code”.

32. Mystical character : RUNE
A rune is a character in an alphabet that is believed to have mysterious powers. In Norse mythology, the runic alphabet was said to have a divine origin.

33. Albanian currency : LEK
The official currency of Albania is called the lek. The first lek was introduced in 1926, and was apparently named after Alexander the Great.

35. Target of crunches : ABS
The abdominal muscles (abs) are more correctly referred to as the rectus abdominis muscles. They are all called a “six-pack” in a person who has developed the muscles and who has low body fat. In my case, more like a keg …

36. Heads for the bar? : FOAMS
That would be the foam that forms the head of a glass of beer.

39. Org. that prohibits traveling : NBA
The National Basketball Association (NBA) was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America. The NBA name was adopted in 1949. Of the four major sports leagues in North America, the NBA has the highest average annual salary per player.

43. Big D.C. lobby : AARP
AARP is now the official name for the interest group that used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons. The name change reflects the current focus of the group on all Americans aged 50 or over, as opposed to just people who have retired.

44. Rogen of “Sausage Party” : SETH
Seth Rogen is a Canadian comedian who got a lot of credit for his supporting role in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”. That led to him being cast as the lead in the 1970 film “Knocked Up”. More recently, Rogen co-directed and and co-starred in the movie “The Interview”, which created a huge ruckus in North Korea.

51. Super 8 alternative : DAYS INN
The Days Inn hotel chain was founded in 1970 by a real estate developer called Cecil B. Day. One of the features of a Days Inn hotel in those early days was an on-site gas pump, which dispensed gasoline at discount prices.

Supposedly, Super 8 is the biggest budget hotel chain in the world. The chain got the name as the original room rate (back in 1972) was $8.88.

60. “Diana” singer Paul : ANKA
Canadian-born Paul Anka’s big hit was in 1957, the song entitled “Diana”. Anka was the subject of a much-lauded documentary film in 1962 called “Lonely Boy”.

61. Like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard : BARE
The English nursery rhyme “Old Mother Hubbard” was first printed in 1805:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

62. Insurance giant : AETNA
When the healthcare management and insurance company known as Aetna was founded, the name was chosen to evoke images of Mt. Etna, the European volcano.

63. Capone’s nemesis : NESS
Eliot Ness was the Treasury agent charged with the task of bringing down the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. When Ness took on the job in 1930, Chicago law-enforcement agents were renowned for being corrupt, for being on the take. Ness handpicked 50 prohibition agents who he thought he could rely on, later reducing the group to a cadre of 15 and ultimately just 11 trusted men. That group of 11 earned the nickname “The Untouchables”, the agents who couldn’t be bought.

64. Call in court : OYEZ!
“Oyez” is an Anglo-French word traditionally called out three times, meaning “hear ye!”

Down
1. Loose change “collector” : SOFA
“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.

2. Fillmore’s party : WHIG
The Whig Party (in the US) was active from 1833 to 1856, and was the opposition party to the Democrats at that time. One of the tenets of the Whig Party was the supremacy of Congress over the Executive branch. Prominent members of the party included Presidents Zachary Taylor and John Tyler. Abraham Lincoln was also a Whig while he served a two-year term as a US Representative for the state of Illinois. By the time he became President, Lincoln was a member of the Republican Party.

Vice President Millard Fillmore took over the US Presidency when Zachary Taylor died after only 16 months in office. Fillmore was born in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, but grew up around Buffalo. He was one of the founders of the University of Buffalo and served as chancellor there after he left office in 1853.

6. ___ ant : ARMY
Army ants are a collection of over two hundred different species of ants. Each species is known for aggressively raiding a certain area en masse, foraging for food. Army ants also stay on the move, never building permanent nests.

7. Word after carrot or muffin : TOP
The term “muffin top” is used to describe fatty tissue that spills over a tight waistline of a skirt or pants. I guess the idea is that such a phenomenon resembles the top of a muffin hanging over its case.

8. Night light up north : AURORA
The spectacular aurora phenomenon is seen lighting up the night sky at both poles of the earth (the Aurora Borealis in the north, and the Aurora Australis in the south). The eerie effect is caused by charged particles colliding with atoms at high latitudes.

12. Plum used to flavor gin : SLOE
The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush, and the main flavoring ingredient in sloe gin.

13. Singer Tennille : TONI
The seventies singing duo known as Captain & Tennille was made up of husband and wife Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille. Early in 2014, Tennille filed for divorce from Dragon after 39 years of marriage. Sad to see that …

23. Die : GO KAPUT
“Kaput” is a familiar term meaning “incapacitated, destroyed”, and comes to us from French (via German). The original word “capot” means “not having won a single trick” in the French card game called Piquet.

24. Pentagon V.I.P.s : BRASS
The incredible building known as the Pentagon was built during WWII, and dedicated on January 15, 1943. It is the largest office building in the world (by floor space) covering an area of about 6.5 million square feet. As it was built during the war years, a major requirement was that it use a minimum amount of steel. So the steel shortage dictated that the building be no more than four stories in height, covering an awful lot of real estate.

25. Belarussian money : RUBLE
The ruble (also “rouble”) is the unit of currency in Russia, as well as several other countries of the former Soviet Union. One ruble is divided into one hundred kopecks (also “kopeks”).

The Republic of Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, located east of Poland and north of Ukraine. Belarus didn’t exist as an entity until the Russian Revolution when it was created as one of the Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR) that made up the USSR. The Republic of Belarus was formed soon after the USSR dissolved in 1990, but unlike many of the former Soviet Republics, Belarus has retained many of the old Soviet policies. Alexander Lukashenko is the country’s president and he believes in state ownership of the economy. Belarus and Russia have formal agreements in place that pledge cooperation.

26. Atlas extra : INSET
The famous Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator published his first collection of maps in 1578. Mercator’s collection contained a frontispiece with an image of Atlas the Titan from Greek mythology holding up the world on his shoulders. That image gave us our term “atlas”.

27. Barack Obama, astrologically : LEO
Despite rumors to the contrary, Barack Hussein Obama II was indeed born in Hawaii. Future US President Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii.

29. Kidney-related : RENAL
Something described as “renal” is related to the kidneys. “Ren” is the Latin word for “kidney”.

30. Buffalo pro : SABRE
The Buffalo Sabres joined the National Hockey League in the 1970-71 season. The team took the name “Sabres” following a fan contest.

31. Bunkers : TRAPS
That would be golf.

37. M M M : MUS
The Greek letter mu is the forerunner to our Roman letter M.

41. Friskies rival : WHISKAS
The brand name “Whiskas” has been used for the cat food since 1988, but the product itself has been made in McLean, Virginia since 1936. Whiskas was originally sold under the name “Kal Kan”.

The Friskies brand is known today as a cat food, although it was first introduced as a dry dog food in 1930.

45. Congo ape : BONOBO
The Bonobo used to be called the Pygmy Chimpanzee, and is a cousin of the Common Chimpanzee. The Bonobo is an endangered species, found in the wild only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. Along with the Common Chimpanzee, the Bonobo is the closest species to humans genetically.

47. Some luxury bags : PRADAS
Prada was started in 1913 as a leathergoods shop in Milan, by the two Prada brothers. One of the brothers, Mario Prada, prevented the female members of his family participating in the company as he didn’t believe women should be involved in business (!). When the sexist brother died, his son had no interest in the business so it was his daughter who took over and ran the company for about twenty years, handing it over to her own daughter. I’d say the devil loved that …

49. Short amount of time? : MIN
The hour is subdivided into 60 parts, each of which was known as a “pars minuta prima” in Medieval Latin, translating as “first small part”. This phrase “pars minuta prima” evolved into our word “minute”. The “pars minuta prima” (minute) was further divided into 60 parts, each called a “secunda pars minuta”, meaning “second small part”. “Secunda pars minuta” evolved into our term “second”.

51. Cannon on screen : DYAN
The actress Dyan Cannon is perhaps best known for playing Alice in the 1969 film “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice”, for which she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Cannon is also famous for having been on Cary Grant’s long list of wives, from 1965 to 1968 (and he was 33 years her senior).

54. Word in some French restaurant names : CHEZ
“Chez” is a French term meaning “at the house of”, which comes from the Latin word “casa” meaning “cottage” or “hut”.

55. Franklin’s flier : KITE
Benjamin Franklin may not have discovered electricity, but he did important work that helped us understand the nature of electricity. He is reputed to have flown a kite at the end of wet string during a thunderstorm. At the end of the string was a key, and Franklin noted that sparks jumped from the key to the back of his hand, showing that lightning was an electrical phenomenon.

56. What’s got the upper hand? : ULNA
The radius and ulna are bones in the forearm. If you hold the palm of your hand up in front of you, the radius is the bone on the “thumb-side” of the arm, and the ulna is the bone on the “pinkie-side”.

57. Surveyor’s map : PLAT
A plat is a map showing actual and planned features, so a town might have a plat showing existing and intended buildings.

59. Numero after due : TRE
“One, two, three” in Italian is “uno, due, tre”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Bee ball? : SWARM
6. Somewhat : A TAD
10. Historian’s focus : PAST
14. Sarcastic “Amazing!” : OH GEE!
15. Hedonistic sort : ROUE
16. Janis’s spouse in the comics : ARLO
17. The new dentist wanted to make a good … : … FIRST IMPRESSION
20. Gymnast’s asset : AGILITY
21. Secret group in “The Da Vinci Code” : OPUS DEI
22. Important contacts : INS
23. Kind of cross or yogurt : GREEK
24. The dentist helped the patient afford the visit with a … : … BRIDGE LOAN
28. Previously, previously : ERST
32. Mystical character : RUNE
33. Albanian currency : LEK
34. Info on a wine label : YEAR
35. Target of crunches : ABS
36. Heads for the bar? : FOAMS
39. Org. that prohibits traveling : NBA
40. Dispatched, as a dragon : SLEW
42. Young sea lion : PUP
43. Big D.C. lobby : AARP
44. Rogen of “Sausage Party” : SETH
45. The dentist sorted all the bristled instruments into … : … BRUSH PILES
48. “Too rich for my blood” : I’M OUT
50. Flub : ERR
51. Super 8 alternative : DAYS INN
54. Burst out laughing : CRACK UP
58. When it was time for the filling, the dentist asked for, well, … : … YOU KNOW THE DRILL
60. “Diana” singer Paul : ANKA
61. Like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard : BARE
62. Insurance giant : AETNA
63. Capone’s nemesis : NESS
64. Call in court : OYEZ!
65. A workout works one up : SWEAT

Down
1. Loose change “collector” : SOFA
2. Fillmore’s party : WHIG
3. Prefix with cultural : AGRI-
4. Decline again : RESLIDE
5. Parceling (out) : METING
6. ___ ant : ARMY
7. Word after carrot or muffin : TOP
8. Night light up north : AURORA
9. Intensify : DEEPEN
10. It’ll open many doors : PASSKEY
11. Like much of Arizona : ARID
12. Plum used to flavor gin : SLOE
13. Singer Tennille : TONI
18. By ___ (alone) : ITSELF
19. Good name for a plaintiff? : SUE
23. Die : GO KAPUT
24. Pentagon V.I.P.s : BRASS
25. Belarussian money : RUBLE
26. Atlas extra : INSET
27. Barack Obama, astrologically : LEO
29. Kidney-related : RENAL
30. Buffalo pro : SABRE
31. Bunkers : TRAPS
37. M M M : MUS
38. Shape of the world : SPHERE
41. Friskies rival : WHISKAS
43. All plane attendants in attendance : AIRCREW
45. Congo ape : BONOBO
46. Where fashions debut : RUNWAY
47. Some luxury bags : PRADAS
49. Short amount of time? : MIN
51. Cannon on screen : DYAN
52. Best of the best : A-ONE
53. Big laughs : YUKS
54. Word in some French restaurant names : CHEZ
55. Franklin’s flier : KITE
56. What’s got the upper hand? : ULNA
57. Surveyor’s map : PLAT
59. Numero after due : TRE

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8 thoughts on “0104-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Jan 17, Wednesday”

  1. A little longer than most Wednesdays, but I'm coming off a night with very little sleep so there's my excuse.

    I wonder if Ben would fly a kite like that if he knew then what we know now about lightning – between 5000 and 200,000 amps!? I think he'd be shocked….

    Best-

  2. No errors. Only one erasure. Had DIAN for DYAN originally but that straightened out. Otherwise, a nice little challenge with several interesting comments to explore thanks to Bill.

  3. I tore through this one as if it were a Monday, and felt pretty proud. Then, after coming here, I saw that I had erred at the ARnO/SnOE cross, and felt pretty stupid.

  4. 10:42, and 3 errors: OYEZ (AYES), BONOBO and CHEZ (which I carelessly filled as CHES; I should know better). The punny theme? I'm at a floss for words….. (pa-DUM-pish!)

  5. No errors, but lost track of time. Very long slog – my guess is between about 60 and 75 minutes. Don't know how come though.

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