0111-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 11 Jan 17, Wednesday

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Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD SETTER: Peter A. Collins
THEME: DNA
We have a DNA DOUBLE HELIX highlighted in circled letters running down the middle of the grid, and several references to DNA in themed down-answers:

4D. Co-discoverer of the contents of the circled letters : CRICK
47D. Co-discoverer of the contents of the circled letters : WATSON

11D. With 55-Down, form of the contents of the circled letters : DOUBLE
55D. See 11-Down : HELIX

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 8m 43s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Infomercial pioneer : RONCO
Ronco is a company the builds and sells products mainly for the kitchen. Over the years the company has been closely associated with the “-O-Matic” suffix, especially the “Veg-O-Matic” vegetable slicer. It is also associated with the phrase “set it and forget it”, which was used for Ronco’s Showtime Rotisserie Grill.

10. Mid-16th-century year : MDLI
MDLI is 1551 in Roman numerals.

14. Add bling to : ADORN
Bling-bling (often simply “bling”) is the name given to all the shiny stuff sported by rap stars in particular i.e. the jewelry, watches, metallic cell phones, even gold caps on the teeth. The term comes from the supposed “bling” sound caused by light striking a shiny metal surface.

15. Cross initials : INRI
The letters written on the cross on which Jesus died were “INRI”. INRI is an initialism for the Latin “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”, which translates into English as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.

16. 18 Louises : ROIS
“La reine” (the queen) is the wife of “le roi” (the king), in French.

Wow, we have one “Louis” and several “Louises”. New to me …

Louis XVI was king of France prior to the abolition of the monarchy during the French revolution. Louis and his wife Marie Antoinette were victims of the guillotine in 1792. After the execution, Louis’s son became the nominal king of France in the eyes of the royalists, as Louis XVII. Louis XVII was never made the official ruler, and died at the age of 10 in 1795 from as the result of an illness. The uncle of young Louis was then declared titular king in exile in 1795, taking the name Louis XVIII. Louis XVIII took over the throne of France in 1815, soon after Emperor Napoleon I was defeated. Louis XVIII died in 1824, with the crown passing to Charles X.

18. Apothecary container : VIAL
Nowadays, we would call an apothecary a pharmacist. “Apotecaire” is an Old French word from the 13th century meaning simply “storekeeper”.

19. Historic 2016 Obama destination : CUBA
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean. The exact etymology of the name “Cuba” seems a little unclear. Most believe “Cuba” to be derived from the Taíno terms for “where fertile land is abundant” (cubao) or “great place” (coabana).

20. Scorpion, for one : ARACHNID
Arachnids are creatures with eight jointed legs. The name of the class Arachnida comes from the Greek “aráchnē” meaning “spider”.

There are about 1750 different species of scorpion in the world, but only 25 or so have venom sufficiently toxic to kill a human.

28. Farmworker in a Millet painting : GLEANER
Jean-François Millet was a French painter of the Barbizon school who is famous for his depictions of peasant farming. I’ve had the privilege of viewing some of his paintings in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris a few times. Millet spent much of his time painting in the countryside surrounding Barbizon, where he lived in France. Millet’s most celebrated work is called “The Gleaners”, which depicts poor women taking advantage of their centuries-old right to remove the bits of grain left in the fields following the harvest.

30. Suffix with ranch : -ERO
A “ranchero” is someone who owns, operates or is employed on a ranch, and is a word with Spanish roots.

31. Mickey Mouse’s dog : PLUTO
Pluto is Mickey Mouse’s pet dog, as well as a star in his own right. Pluto is an unusual Disney character in that he is portrayed basically as a dog as opposed to a “humanized” version of a dog, as are the other Disney characters.

35. Lacoste product : POLO
René Lacoste was a French tennis player who went into the clothing business, and came up with a more comfortable shirt that players could use. This became known as a “tennis shirt”. When it was adopted for use in the sport of polo, the shirts also became known as “polo shirts”. And then the “golf shirt” is basically the same thing.

42. Jazz singer Carmen : MCRAE
Carmen McRae was a jazz singer from Harlem in New York City. McRae’s inspiration was singer Billie Holiday, whom McRae met when she was 17 years old.

45. Cousin of FWIW : BTW
By the way (BTW)

For what it’s worth (FWIW)

51. Like all primes except 2 : ODD
A prime number is a number greater than 1 that can only be divided evenly by 1 and itself. There are still some unanswered questions involving prime numbers, perhaps most notably Goldbach’s Conjecture. This conjecture dates back to the 1740s and is assumed to be true, but has never been proven. It states that every even integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two prime numbers.

52. Inflation-adjusted econ. stat : REAL GNP
A country’s Gross National Product (GNP) is the value of all services and products produced by its residents in a particular year. GNP includes all production wherever it is in the world, as long as the business is owned by residents of the country concerned. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is different, although related, and is the value of all services and goods produced within the borders of the country for that year.

54. “Gute ___” (German bedtime words) : NACHT
“Gute Nacht” is a German for “goodnight”.

60. Moscow news source : TASS
TASS is the abbreviation used for the former news agency that had the full name Telegraph Association of the Soviet Union (Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza). When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1992, the Moscow-based agency’s scope changed along with its name. It is now known as the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS).

63. Food Network host Brown : ALTON
Alton Brown is a celebrity chef who is behind the Food Network show “Good Eats”, and the host of “Iron Chef America”.

66. Attack on a walled city, maybe : SIEGE
Our word “siege” comes from a 13th century word for a “seat”. The military usage derives from the concept of a besieging force “sitting down” outside a fortress until it falls.

69. First Canadian M.L.B. team : EXPOS
The Washington Nationals (“The Nats”) baseball team started out life as the Montreal Expos in 1969, and were the first Major League Baseball team in Canada. The Expos moved to Washington in 2005 becoming the Nats. There are only two Major Leagues teams that have never played in a World Series, one being the Mariners and the other the Nats.

Down
1. Music often heard in Bollywood films : RAGA
Raga isn’t really a type of music, but has been described as the “tonal framework” in which Indian classical music is composed. Ravi Shankar was perhaps the most famous raga virtuoso (to us Westerners). Western rock music with a heavy Indian influence might be called raga rock.

Bollywood is the informal name given to the huge film industry based in Mumbai in India. The term “Bollywood” is a melding of “Bombay”, the old name for Mumbai, and “Hollywood”.

4. Co-discoverer of the contents of the circled letters : CRICK
47. Co-discoverer of the contents of the circled letters : WATSON
Francis Crick and James Watson discovered that DNA had a double-helix, chain-like structure, and published their results in Cambridge in 1953. To this day the discovery is mired in controversy, as some crucial results collected by fellow researcher Rosalind Franklin were used without her permission or even knowledge.

6. What “to forgive” is : DIVINE
Alexander Pope’s 1709 poem “An Essay on Criticism” is the source of at least three well-known quotations:

  • A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
  • To err is human, to forgive divine.
  • For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

7. Children’s author Blyton : ENID
Enid Blyton wrote stories for children that were very popular when I was growing up in the British Isles. Not so long ago, I purchased and reread my favorite of her stories growing up, a children’s novel called “The Secret Island”.

9. Pale lagers : PILSNERS
Pilsener (also “pilsner” or “pils”) is a pale lager. The name “pilsener” comes from the city of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic. It was in Pilsen, in 1842, that the first bottom-fermented lager was produced. A bottom-fermented beer is much clearer that a top-fermented beer, and has a crisper taste. The “top” and “bottom” refers to where the yeast gathers during the brewing process.

10. Ernie Banks, to fans : MR CUB
First baseman Ernie Banks was known as “Mr. Cub”, and played his entire 19-year professional career with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs retired Banks’ uniform number 14 in 1982, making him the first Cubs player to be so honored. Banks was known for his catchphrase, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame … Let’s play two!”, a reference to his love of the game, always wanting to play a doubleheader.

11. With 55-Down, form of the contents of the circled letters : DOUBLE
55. See 11-Down : HELIX
Famously, James Watson and Francis Crick worked out that the structure of DNA is a double helix. Well, it turns out that some strands of DNA can twist into different shapes. For example, the DNA at the ends of our chromosomes can form a rectangular structure called a triplex or quadruplex.

12. Ad-___ : LIBBER
Ad libitum is a Latin phrase meaning “at one’s pleasure”. In common usage the phrase is usually shortened to “ad lib”. On the stage the concept of an “ad lib” is very familiar.

13. Close of a parental veto : … I SAY SO
“Veto” comes directly from Latin and means “I forbid”. The word was used by tribunes of Ancient Rome to indicate that they opposed measures passed by the Senate.

21. Zilch : NIL
We use the term “zilch” to mean “nothing”. Our current usage evolved in the sixties, before which the term was used to describe “meaningless speech”. There was a comic character called Mr. Zilch in the 1930s in “Ballyhoo” magazine. Mr. Zilch’s name probably came from the American college slang “Joe Zilch” that was used in the early 1900s for “an insignificant person”.

23. Poi base : TARO
The corm of some taro plants is used to make poi, the traditional Hawaiian dish (that I think tastes horrible). When a taro plant is grown as an ornamental, it is often called Elephant Ears due to the shape of its large leaves.

25. Prefix with -morphic : ENDO-
The psychologist William Herbert Sheldon proposed a now-discredited theory that a person’s intelligence, future achievement and temperament could be associated with particular body types. Sheldon proposed three “somatotypes”, a classification that is still used today:

  • Ectomorphic: thin body build
  • Mesomorphic: muscular and sturdy body build
  • Endomorphic: heavy body build

27. Mop & ___ : GLO
Mop & Glo is brand of floor cleaner and polish.

36. Port city at one terminus of the Appian Way : BRINDISI
The Appian Way has to be the most famous of the amazing roads of Ancient Rome. It stretched from Rome right into the south of Italy, terminating in the city of Brindisi in the southeast. The first section of the military road was completed in 312 BC, by the Roman censor called Appius Claudius Caecus, who gave the road its name “Via Appia”, or “Appian Way”.

37. Org. whose magazine was once called Modern Maturity : 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.

39. Fitbit datum : FOOTSTEP
Fitbits are wearable activity trackers that are mainly used to track the number of steps walked. Fitbit Inc. was founded in 2007 in San Francisco.

46. Highish bridge combo : TENACE
In the wonderful card game of bridge, a tenace is a broken sequence of honor cards, like AQ or KJ.

49. East ___ (Norfolk and Suffolk’s locale) : ANGLIA
East Anglia is a region in on the east coast of England, located to the immediate northeast of London. East Anglia is home to the famous university city of Cambridge.

50. Cigarette stat : TAR
The partially-combusted particulate matter that is produced as a cigarette burns forms a resinous material called “tar”. Cigarette tar is different than the tar used on roads, but is very toxic. Marijuana smoke produces a very similar tar to cigarette smoke, and is just as dangerous.

53. Talks like Sylvester : LISPS
Sylvester J. Pussycat was also known as Puddy Tat, and was a character who appeared in “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” cartoons. Sylvester was the cat who was often trying to get the better of Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales and Hippety Hopper. Sylvester’s trademark line is the exclamation “Sufferin’ succotash!”, which emphasizes the characters pronounced lisp.

58. Deli option : TO GO
The word “delicatessen” (or “deli” for short) came into English from the German “Delikatessen”. The Germans borrowed the word from French, in which language “délicatesse” means “delicious things (to eat)”. The term’s ultimate root is “delicatus”, the Latin for “giving pleasure, delightful”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Infomercial pioneer : RONCO
6. Tough to grasp : DEEP
10. Mid-16th-century year : MDLI
14. Add bling to : ADORN
15. Cross initials : INRI
16. 18 Louises : ROIS
17. “Enough said!” : GOT IT!
18. Apothecary container : VIAL
19. Historic 2016 Obama destination : CUBA
20. Scorpion, for one : ARACHNID
22. Short and thick : STUBBY
24. Ball of yarn : SKEIN
25. Turns on, as notifications on a smartphone : ENABLES
26. In the past : AGO
28. Farmworker in a Millet painting : GLEANER
30. Suffix with ranch : -ERO
31. Mickey Mouse’s dog : PLUTO
33. PC drive insert : CD-ROM
35. Lacoste product : POLO
36. Spanish baths : BANOS
38. Three or four : A FEW
42. Jazz singer Carmen : MCRAE
44. ___ strike : DRONE
45. Cousin of FWIW : BTW
48. Broadcast time : AIR DATE
51. Like all primes except 2 : ODD
52. Inflation-adjusted econ. stat : REAL GNP
54. “Gute ___” (German bedtime words) : NACHT
56. Not in a knot, say : UNTIED
57. Accepts : AGREES TO
60. Moscow news source : TASS
61. Object of admiration : IDOL
63. Food Network host Brown : ALTON
64. Rent-___ (security guard) : A-COP
65. Clean, in product names : SANI
66. Attack on a walled city, maybe : SIEGE
67. Light beam bender : LENS
68. “I had no ___!” : IDEA
69. First Canadian M.L.B. team : EXPOS

Down
1. Music often heard in Bollywood films : RAGA
2. Concern regarding a litter box : ODOR
3. Absolutely nobody : NOT A SOUL
4. Co-discoverer of the contents of the circled letters : CRICK
5. Constantly moving : ON THE GO
6. What “to forgive” is : DIVINE
7. Children’s author Blyton : ENID
8. Baseball’s dead-ball ___ : ERA
9. Pale lagers : PILSNERS
10. Ernie Banks, to fans : MR CUB
11. With 55-Down, form of the contents of the circled letters : DOUBLE
12. Ad-___ : LIBBER
13. Close of a parental veto : … I SAY SO
21. Zilch : NIL
23. Poi base : TARO
25. Prefix with -morphic : ENDO-
26. Smartphone download : APP
27. Mop & ___ : GLO
29. Spotted at the prom, perhaps? : ACNED
32. Lead-in to boy or girl : TOM
34. Spray-paint, say : MAR
36. Port city at one terminus of the Appian Way : BRINDISI
37. Org. whose magazine was once called Modern Maturity : AARP
39. Fitbit datum : FOOTSTEP
40. One may be bitter : END
41. Enter an altared state? : WED
43. Pet store purchase : CAGE
44. Death : DECEASE
45. Like winters in Antarctica : BRUTAL
46. Highish bridge combo : TENACE
47. Co-discoverer of the contents of the circled letters : WATSON
49. East ___ (Norfolk and Suffolk’s locale) : ANGLIA
50. Cigarette stat : TAR
53. Talks like Sylvester : LISPS
55. See 11-Down : HELIX
57. Top-shelf : A-ONE
58. Deli option : TO GO
59. ___ place : ONE’S
62. Junior’s senior : DAD

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9 thoughts on “0111-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 11 Jan 17, Wednesday”

  1. 13:25, no errors. Glad to be reminded of Brindisi. I passed through that city early in 1969. I didn't see much of it, though, as I basicallly got off the train from Rome and got on a small ship to Athens. Ought to go back …

  2. For some reason I had an easier time with this than today's LAT puzzle. One error is I initially spelled VIAL as "vile"….uh wrong.

    I read the bridge hand as TEN ACE, but I don't play bridge so there's my excuse.

    The Spanish word for toasting (as in drink) is "brindar". Etymology dictionaries say it's derived from BRINDISI, but I don't know the connection. Maybe a celebration of reaching the end of the road? Research for another day.

    Best –

  3. Two errors at the BRINDISI/REALGDP cross. Did not know of Brindisi and was looking for some kind of cost-of-living "gap" on the economic statistic. Had to guess at a few of the other answers but ultimately I came out not too shabby.

  4. 17:19, no errors. Caught on to the theme once I reached 55D HELIX, and then filled in the DNA's in all the circles. That helped, since I was having difficulty with many of the center words. Had not heard of BRINDISI before.

    The typesetters for my local newspaper cut off the clues after 57D, fortunately able to complete using the across entries.

  5. BRINDISI and ANGLIA could have been problems but crosses insisted on them. Theme put the puzzle as a whole on the easy side of medium.

  6. 12 minutes 30 seconds, no errors. Cute little theme with a bit of challenge to it. Had to struggle with memory a bit until both Watson and Crick came to mind. Above average! I'd rather see this than a punny, rebus-ridden puzzle full of "stretchy" clues.

  7. 5 letter DNF on this grid after 30 minutes centering around the Natick crossing of 42A and 36D. Never heard of either. Of course like I always say, I probably will never see either one again. Other than that, pretty average for a Wednesday outing.

  8. I did well on this one, but am totally stumped at clue for 29 down – spotted at the prom. ACNED? What the heck is that? Got it through fill, but…
    I see this was conspicuously left out of the clue explanations. Any help?

  9. @Rob Campbell
    Teens go to prom. Some teens have acne. Having acne makes one spotted. So those who are spotted at the prom are ACNED.

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