0119-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 19 Jan 17, Thursday

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

THEME: Checkered Past
We have four x-like, CHECKERBOARD patterns in today’s grid. The white squares within the mini-checkerboards contain the letters P-A-S-T:

36A. Liability for a political candidate … as depicted four times in this puzzle? : CHECKERED PAST


Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies

7. Like some R-rated movies : SMUTTY
“Smut” means “dirt, smudge” and more recently “pornographic material”. The term comes from the Yiddish “schmutz”, which is a slang word used in English for dirt, as in “dirt on one’s face”.

18. School basics, informally : RRR
The “three Rs” (RRR) are reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

19. Ability of some of the heroes on NBC’s “Heroes” : ESP
“Heroes” is a television show that ran on NBC from 2006 to 2010. It’s all about ordinary folk developing superhuman powers, sort of like many comic book characters.

21. ___ Aviv : TEL
The full name of Israel’s second largest city is Tel Aviv-Yafo. Tel Aviv translates into “Spring Mound”, a name chosen in 1910.

24. Word before or after Alexander : POPE
There have been eight popes who took the name Alexander.

Alexander Pope was an English poet, famous for his own compositions as well as for a translation of Homer’s works. One of Pope’s most notable poems is “Ode on Solitude” that opens with:

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Pope wrote that when he was just twelve years old!

30. George who sang “I Want Your 7-Down” : MICHAEL
(7D. See 30-Across : SEX)

I found out relatively recently that the eighties pop duo that we knew on the other side of the Atlantic as “Wham!” were better known as “Wham! UK” in North America. Apparently there already was a band called Wham! here in the US. Wham! UK was composed of singers George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. George Michael made it big as a solo artist after the pair broke up, but Ridgeley kind of faded into obscurity, relatively speaking.

38. Bill Haley’s backup band : THE COMETS The famed rock & roll singer and songwriter Bill Haley started out his career as the frontman of Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, playing country and western music. The name was changed to Bill Haley and His Comets in 1952 as the band started performing rock & roll songs. The name “Comets” was imitative of the common mispronunciation of the famous Halley’s comet (sometimes written incorrectly as “Haley’s” comet). The group recorded “Rock Around the Clock” a year later, in 1953.

42. “True Detective” airer : HBO “True Detective” is a crime drama made by HBO that has an interesting format. Each series has its own narrative and cast. The show seems to be attracting some great actors. The first season was led by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and the second by Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams.

46. Sister company of Applebee’s : IHOP The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) was founded back in 1958. IHOP was originally intended to be called IHOE, the International House of Eggs, but that name didn’t do too well in marketing tests!

The Applebee’s chain of “Neighborhood Bar & Grill” restaurants was founded in 1980, with the first Applebee’s eatery opening in Decatur, Georgia. When it comes to “chain” restaurants, I like Applebee’s …

47. Native-born Israeli : SABRA Jewish people born in the State of Israel, or the historical region of israel, are known as Sabras. “Sabra” is actually the name of the prickly pear, the thorny desert cactus. Apparently the name “Sabra” is used because someone born in the region is said to be tough on the outside and sweet on the inside, just like a prickly pear.

49. Kiss ___ : CAM The “kiss cam” is a diversion during some sporting events in which a video camera picks out random couples in the crowd, projecting their image onto the giant screen at the venue. The couples are encouraged to kiss, for the entertainment of the fans. Famously, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama kissed for the kiss cam at a basketball game a few years ago, as did former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

51. Looks for ganders, e.g.: Abbr. : SYN The word “looks” is a synonym of “ganders”.

To take “a gander” is to take a long look. It’s a term we’ve been using since the 1880s and comes from the idea that in taking a long look one might be craning one’s neck like a goose (or gander).

54. Modifier on a dessert menu : A LA MODE In French, “à la mode” simply means “fashionable”. In America, the term has also come to describe a way of serving pie. Pie served à la mode includes a dollop of cream or ice cream, or as I recall from my time living in Upstate New York, with a wedge of cheddar cheese.

61. Leader targeted in 1989’s Operation Nifty Package : NORIEGA Manuel Noriega was the forcibly removed from power by US forces in 1989 after he spent six years as military dictator of Panama. Noriega was found guilty of several crimes in a US court, including drug-trafficking. He served time with prisoner-of-war status in Florida for 17 years, until 2007. Noriega was extradited from the US to France in 2010, where he served more time for money-laundering. He was then extradited from France to Panama to face trial for human rights violations. Noriega remains in a Panamanian prison to this day.

63. Cloth insert : GUSSET A gusset is a triangular insert in the seam of a garment, for added expansion.

4. Economic benchmark, briefly : CPI
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures changes in the price of services and goods purchased by households. The United States CPI fell in 2009, for the first time since 1955. That’s how bad the 2009 recession was …

6. French possessive : SES “Ses” is the French word for “his”, “her” or “its”, when referring to a group of items.

8. Groening who created “The Simpsons” : MATT Matt Groening is a cartoonist. He created two successful animated shows for television, namely “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” (neither of which I understand!).

9. Actress Hagen : UTA Uta Hagen was a German-born American actress. Hagen married Jose Ferrer in 1938, but they were divorced ten years later after it was revealed that she was having a long-running affair with Paul Robeson. Her association with Robeson, a prominent civil rights activist, earned her a spot on the Hollywood Blacklist during the McCarthy Era. This forced her away from film, but towards a successful stage career in New York City.

14. They present hurdles : STEEPLECHASES Back in the 1700s there was a race called a “steeplehunt”, a horse race from a fixed location to some church in the distance which had a steeple visible. This evolved into the race that we know as a “steeplechase”.

15. Cork opener? : TOP O’ THE MORNIN’ “Top o’ the mornin’” is a greeting usually associated with the Irish, although I’ve never heard it used except in jest …

Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland. Cork has been a major port for many years, and was the last port of call for many, many Irish emigrants to America. When these Irish people reached the US it was common for them to give their point of origin as “Cork”, whereas they may have come from almost anywhere in Ireland. It’s because of this that many descendants of Irish immigrants who had been told they were from a Cork family often find out they were under a misapprehension as their ancestors just sailed from Cork.

20. Title that anagrams to another title : SRI “Sri” is a title of respect for a male in India.

26. Satirist ___ Baron Cohen : SACHA Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedian and comic actor from England. Baron Cohen is perhaps most famous for playing the characters Borat and Ali G on the small and large screens. I’m not a fan …

31. Worked (up) : HET Someone who is “het up” is “worked up, angry”. “Het” is an archaic word meaning “heated”.

34. “Coronation ___” (Elgar composition) : ODE 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”.

35. They bring speakers into classrooms, briefly : PAS Public address (PA) system

40. Place to come in from the cold : CHALET “Chalet” is a Swiss-French word for an Alpine cottage.

41. Asiago alternative : ROMANO “Romano” is actually an American term, and is used for a selection of hard and salty cheeses that are typically grated. One of these cheeses is the Italian Pecorino Romano, from which we get the more generic term “Romano”.

Asiago is a crumbly cheese, named after the region in northeastern Italy from where it originates.

43. Patterned fabrics : MOIRES A moiré pattern is a phenomenon in physics, a so-called interference pattern. If you lay two sheets of mesh over each other for example, slightly offset, then what you see is a moiré pattern. “Moiré” is the French name for a textile that we know simply as “moire”. The rippled pattern of the textile resembles that of the interference pattern.

44. “The most unexpected of all things that happen to a man,” per Leon Trotsky : OLD AGE Leon Trotsky was a Soviet politician and revolutionary, the founder and first leader of the Red Army as well as one of the first members of the Politburo. Trotsky was ousted and deported in 1929 when he opposed the policies of Joseph Stalin. Trotsky continued to be vocal in opposition to Stalin in Mexico, his place of exile. Stalin had him assassinated there in 1940.

52. Source of the Amazon : PERU The Amazon River of South America is the world’s largest in terms of volume, and accounts for an amazing one-fifth of the world’s total river flow. Perhaps even more amazing is that there are no bridges across the Amazon! There isn’t even one, mainly because the river flows through tropical rainforest where there are few roads and cities.

56. Actress Susan : DEY The actress Susan Dey first appeared on “The Partridge Family” when she was 17-years-old when she had no acting experience. Years later, Dey won a Golden Globe for playing the leading role of Grace Van Owen in “L. A. Law”.

59. “___ the Voice of the Lobster” (“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” poem) : ‘TIS In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, at one point Alice recites a poem to the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon. The poem is called “‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
1. Blows : SHOCKS
7. Like some R-rated movies : SMUTTY
13. Top secrets? : TOUPEES
15. Plant with fragrant leaves : TEA TREE
16. Most pretentious : ARTIEST
17. Ingredients in a Jamaican stew : OXTAILS
18. School basics, informally : RRR
19. Ability of some of the heroes on NBC’s “Heroes” : ESP
21. ___ Aviv : TEL
22. Trim the fat : DIET
23. Planes, old-style : AEROS
24. Word before or after Alexander : POPE
25. ___ piece : OF A
27. Mine, e.g. : PIT
29. Kidder’s cry : NOT!
30. George who sang “I Want Your 7-Down” : MICHAEL
33. Lottery ball containers : HOPPERS
36. Liability for a political candidate … as depicted four times in this puzzle? : CHECKERED PAST
38. Bill Haley’s backup band : THE COMETS
39. Blu-ray forerunner : VCR
42. “True Detective” airer : HBO
43. Swab : MOP
46. Sister company of Applebee’s : IHOP
47. Native-born Israeli : SABRA
48. Ring : TOLL
49. Kiss ___ : CAM
51. Looks for ganders, e.g.: Abbr. : SYN
53. Wash. neighbor : IDA
54. Modifier on a dessert menu : A LA MODE
57. You might empty it into a bucket : ICE TRAY
60. Gives a new handle : RENAMES
61. Leader targeted in 1989’s Operation Nifty Package : NORIEGA
62. Visit : STOP BY
63. Cloth insert : GUSSET

1. Celebrity : STARDOM
2. Awful : HORRIFIC
3. Public relations effort : OUTREACH
4. Economic benchmark, briefly : CPI
5. Retain : KEEP
6. French possessive : SES
7. See 30-Across : SEX
8. Groening who created “The Simpsons” : MATT
9. Actress Hagen : UTA
10. Musical intervals from F to B, e.g. : TRITONES
11. Travel sci-fi style : TELEPORT
12. “Count me in!” : YES, LET’S!
14. They present hurdles : STEEPLECHASES
15. Cork opener? : TOP O’ THE MORNIN’
20. Title that anagrams to another title : SRI
26. Satirist ___ Baron Cohen : SACHA
28. Sched. listings : APPTS
31. Worked (up) : HET
32. Stretch (out) : EKE
34. “Coronation ___” (Elgar composition) : ODE
35. They bring speakers into classrooms, briefly : PAS
37. ___ Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager : ROBBY
39. Flock leaders : VICARS
40. Place to come in from the cold : CHALET
41. Asiago alternative : ROMANO
43. Patterned fabrics : MOIRES
44. “The most unexpected of all things that happen to a man,” per Leon Trotsky : OLD AGE
45. Do unseriously : PLAY AT
50. Many a monument : TOMB
52. Source of the Amazon : PERU
55. Plot : MAP
56. Actress Susan : DEY
58. Part of the works : COG
59. “___ the Voice of the Lobster” (“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” poem) : ‘TIS

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7 thoughts on “0119-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 19 Jan 17, Thursday”

  1. 20:48, no errors. An embarrassingly slow time for what should have been an abnormally easy Thursday puzzle. The last entry I filled in was AERO, which gave me the "almost there" message, so then I spent several minutes looking for an alternative (ZERO?) before deciding that my first choice had to be correct, at which point I searched the rest of the grid and discovered that I had mistakenly typed an "O" instead of an "A" at the intersection of CHALET and CAM – the sort of mistake I still occasionally make on this new-fangled gadget (he said, shaking his cane and turning red in the face… :-). Of course, if I had fully understood the theme, which I did not until I came here, it would have helped a lot … 🙂 So … a day of taking my lumps … 🙂

  2. Ditto here as far as the "embarrassingly slow time" goes. I'll cut myself some slack after SHOCKS (Blows?), POPE (Alexander POPE is a name not a word), SMUTTY (you have to go over R-rated to get to SMUTTY), HET (Ugh, but I remember it from other puzzles now), and GUSSET was new to me.

    That said, it was a clever theme. Interesting origin of the STEEPLECHASE as well.

    Dave – I did't know who Jon Secada was either, and I didn't get the cicada reference until just now. I'm definitely slow today.

    Best –

  3. I got it all rather quickly except for "SABRA". I didn't know the word and the first and last letters had no crosses so I had no chance. Words with letters without crosses should be restricted to "OREO" or "EPEE" or other klee-shays.

  4. 26:22, no errors. I made it through 3/4 of the puzzle fairly quickly. Caught the theme early on, with enough fills in the upper two checkerboards to see CHECKERED PAST in 36A. However, probably spent close to 15 minutes trying to complete the upper left corner. 1A, did not see the emotional connection between 'Blows' and SHOCKS; thinking more along the lines of SMACKS. 16A still don't like the connection of 'Most pretentious' to ARTIEST, but, after finishing, I did look it up and saw a connection. Have not heard the expression 'OF A piece'; learned something new, I guess. TOUPEES for 'Top secret' and DIET for 'Trim the fat' were clever, but diabolical. The entry of RRR for 'School basics' also threw me. Have seen 'the three R's' or 'Readin', Ritin' and Rithmatic', but never as RRR. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

  5. Wow, what a titanic struggle. 20:25 and somehow, no errors. I had to "get" the theme and apply in two quadrants to finish this… it was touch-and-go for several minutes there!!

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