0202-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 2 Feb 17, Thursday

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: Alex Eaton-Salners
THEME: Left, Right, Left, Right …
Today’s theme only affects the across-answers. We start off at the top of the grid writing in those answers from left to right, as usual. When we hit the answer BACK TO FRONT, we enter the letters of each across-answer in reverse order. That is, until we hit the answer FORWARD HO!, and we go back to normal. After getting to the answer IN REVERSE, we revert to reverse order again. Finally, we get back to normal after reaching the answer LEFT TO RIGHT in the lower part of the grid:

20A. How a book in Hebrew is read [watch out now!] : BACK TO FRONT
33A. Wagon train cry [you can relax …] : FORWARD HO!
39A. Ready to leave the garage [here we go again!] : IN REVERSE
50A. How people are usually listed in photo captions [phew, all done!] : LEFT TO RIGHT

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 05s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

9. Idle laughter source? : ERIC
Eric Idle is one of the founding members of the Monty Python team. Idle was very much the musician of the bunch, and is an accomplished guitarist. If you’ve seen the Monty Python film “The Life of Brian”, you might remember the closing number “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. It was sung by Idle, and was indeed written by him. That song made it to number 3 in the UK charts in 1991.

16. Lyra’s brightest star : VEGA
Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. Vega (along with Altair and Deneb from other constellations) is also part of the group of three stars that is called the Summer Triangle. Vega is the star at the right-angle of this triangle.

17. British crown colony from 1937 to 1963 : ADEN
Aden is a seaport in Yemen, located on the Gulf of Aden by the eastern approach to the Red Sea. Aden has a long history of British rule, from 1838 until a very messy withdrawal in 1967. A native of Aden is known as an Adeni. Some believe that Cain and Abel are buried in the city.

18. Animal that resembles a raccoon : COATI
A coati is a member of the raccoon family and is also known as the Brazilian aardvark, or the snookum bear. The coati is native to Central and South America, but can also be found in the southwest of the United States.

19. Grp. that promised Trump “We’ll see you in court” : ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its roots in the First World War when it was founded to provide legal advice and support to conscientious objectors. The ACLU’s motto is “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”. The ACLU also hosts a blog on the ACLU.org website called “Speak Freely”.

23. London lav : LOO
It has been suggested that the British term “loo” comes from Waterloo (water-closet … water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of “lanterloo”, in which the pot was called the loo!

25. Language in which “hello” is “annyeonghaseyo” : KOREAN
One say “annyeonghaseyo” in Korean when greeting someone, saying “hello”. The Korean term translates literally as “are you at peace?”

32. Zellweger of “Chicago” : RENEE
Renée Zellweger’s big break came in the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire”. A few years later, Zellweger followed that up with a string of successes in “Bridget Jones Diary” (2001), “Chicago” (2002) and “Cold Mountain” (2003). My wife and I love watching her play Bridget Jones, and as someone coming from the British Isles, I have to say that Zellweger does a remarkable job with the accent. She worked hard to perfect that accent, and of course she had a voice coach. She also went “undercover” and worked as a temp in an office for three weeks fine-tuning her skills.

The wonderful 1975 musical “Chicago” is based on a 1926 play of the same name written by a news reporter called Maurine Dallas Watkins. Watkins had been assigned to cover the murder trials of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the “Chicago Tribune”, and used the story that unfolded as the basis for her play. Annan became the character Roxie Hart, and Gaertner became Velma Kelly. I’ve only ever seen the movie version of “Chicago” and never a live performance …

37. Boxer Lennox : LEWIS
The boxer Lennox Lewis was born in London, England but moved with his family to Ontario, Canada when he was 12-years-old. He won a gold medal for Canada in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and soon after moved back to his native England. In 1993 he was declared WBC heavyweight champion for the first time. In his spare time, Lewis is an avid chess player, and funded an after-school chess program for disadvantaged youths.

58. Mr. Bean portrayer Atkinson : ROWAN
Rowan Atkinson is an English comedian and actor who is most famous for playing the title role in the comedy shows “Mr. Bean” and “Blackadder”. In the world of movies, Atkinson had memorable supporting performances (in my opinion) in the Bond film “Never Say Never Again”, and in the romcoms “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Love Actually”. A very talented man …

59. Crime film genre : NOIR
The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.

60. Bone in a wing or arm : ULNA
The humerus is the long bone in the upper arm. The bones in the forearm are the radius and ulna. “Ulna” is the Latin word for “elbow”, and “radius” is Latin for “ray”.

63. William ___, early British P.M. : PITT
William Pitt, the Elder was the Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1766 to 1768. Although a prominent figure in British politics for many years, he refused to accept a title until he took over government of the country. For this refusal, he earned the nickname “The Great Commoner”. It is William Pitt, the Elder who lent his name to the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

William Pitt, the Younger was Prime Minister of Britain from 1783 to 1801, and again from 1804 until 1806. When Pitt first took office, he was only 24 years of age, making him the nation’s youngest ever PM. William Pitt is known as “the Younger” as his father, William Pitt the Elder also served as prime minister, from 1766 to 1768.

65. February 13, e.g. : IDES
There were three important days in each month of the old Roman calendar. These days originally depended on the cycles of the moon but were eventually “fixed” by law. “Kalendae” were the first days of each month, originally the days of the new moon. “Nonae” were originally the days of the half moon. And “idus” (the ides) was originally the day of the full moon, eventually fixed at the 15th day of a month. Well, actually the ides were the 15th day of March, May, July and October. For all other months, the ides fell on the 13th. Go figure …

Down
4. Conjunctivitis : PINKEYE
The conjunctivae are membranes on the outer surface of the eye and in the inner surface of the eyelid. If the conjunctivae get inflamed, due to an infection or perhaps an allergy, then this condition is called conjunctivitis, or more commonly “pinkeye”.

7. Open a bit : AJAR
Our word “ajar” is thought to come from Scottish dialect, in which “a char” means “slightly open”.

8. Grp. that has added 12 members since the end of the Cold War : NATO
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded not long after WWII in 1949 and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The first NATO Secretary General was Lord Ismay, Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant during WWII. Famously, Lord Ismay said the goal of NATO was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

9. Mendes of “2 Fast 2 Furious” : EVA
I best know the actress Eva Mendes as the female lead in the movie “Hitch”, playing opposite Will Smith. Mendes was known off the screen for dating actor Ryan Gosling from 2011 to 2013.

12. Leak fixer : CAULK
The term “caulk” comes from old Norman French “cauquer”, and described the action of filling gaps with lime. “Caulk”has the same root as our word “chalk”.

15. Some baitfish : MINNOWS
“Minnow” are small fish often used as bait when fishing. The term is used figuratively to for someone who is comparatively insignificant or perhaps small in stature.

21. Bygone Winter Palace resident : TSAR
The Winter Palace is a magnificent building in St. Petersburg in Russia, home to the Russian tsars (and tsarinas). The Winter Palace houses the famous Hermitage Museum. I was lucky enough to visit the Palace and museum some years ago, and I have to say that I have rarely been more impressed by a historical building.

22. Janowitz who wrote “Slaves of New York” : TAMA
Tama Janowitz is an American writer. Janowitz was born in San Francisco but has lived much of her life in New York City. In New York she hung around with the likes of Andy Warhol and became well known in literary circles. Her most famous work is a collection of short stories called “Slaves of New York”, which was made into a film of the same name in 1989.

27. Spice Girl Halliwell : GERI
Geri Halliwell was nicknamed Ginger Spice when she was with the Spice Girls, because of her red hair. Halliwell was quite a bit older than the rest of the group and so sometimes she was less charitably referred to as “Old Spice”. After launching her solo career, Halliwell released a fabulous 2001 version of the song “It’s Raining Men”, which was originally recorded by the Weather Girls in 1982. Great song …

30. Divine water : DOWSE
Dowsing is the practice of divining for not just water, but also buried metals and gemstones for example. Often a dowser will use a Y-shaped or L-shaped rod as a tool, which can also be called a dowser. Here in the US, the tool used might be referred to as a “witching rod”, as it is usually made from witch-hazel.

31. Port with lots of lake-effect snow : ERIE
Erie is a city in the very north of Pennsylvania, right on the southern shore of Lake Erie. The city takes its name from the Erie Native American tribe that resided in the area. Erie is nicknamed the Gem City, a reference to the “sparkling” Lake Erie.

33. Plant with spores : FERN
Ferns are unlike mosses, in that they have xylem and phloem, making them vascular plants. They also have stems, leaves and roots, but they do not have seeds and flowers, and reproduce using spores. Spores differ from seeds in that they have very little stored food.

43. “Vitruvian Man” artist : DA VINCI
You know that drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, of a man with his arms outstretched, confined in a circle? Well, that drawing is known as the Vitruvian Man. Da Vinci was trying to illustrate the thesis by Roman architect Vitruvius, that pleasing architectural proportions were related to proportions found in the human boy.

45. James Parkinson or Alois Alzheimer : EPONYM
An eponym is a name for something derived from the name of a person, as in the “sandwich”, named for the Earl of Sandwich.

English apothecary surgeon James Parkinson wrote “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy” in 1817. This work was the first to describe the disorder that was later to be called Parkinson’s disease in his honor.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, the most common form of the condition. The disease is named for German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906.

46. Rendezvoused (with) : MET UP
A rendezvous is a meeting, from the French “rendez vous” meaning “present yourselves”.

47. Cause of some poisoning : E COLI
Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.

52. Blockhead : TWIT
“Twit” is a word not used very often here in America. It’s a slang term that was quite common in England where it was used for “someone foolish and idiotic”.

53. Egg on : GOAD
The verb “edge” has been used to mean to incite, to urge on, from the 16th century. Somewhere along the way “edge” was mistakenly replaced with “egg”, giving us our term “to egg on” meaning “to goad”.

57. Used sofa? : SAT
“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Echoing sound in a hallway, maybe : STEP
5. “Not this again!,” e.g. : MOAN
9. Idle laughter source? : ERIC
13. Call with a raised hand : TAXI!
14. Clear, as a printer : UNJAM
16. Lyra’s brightest star : VEGA
17. British crown colony from 1937 to 1963 : ADEN
18. Animal that resembles a raccoon : COATI
19. Grp. that promised Trump “We’ll see you in court” : ACLU
20. How a book in Hebrew is read [watch out now!] : BACK TO FRONT
23. London lav : LOO
24. Part of a bomb : FUSE
25. Language in which “hello” is “annyeonghaseyo” : KOREAN
27. Proverb : SAYING
30. Showed, as in a showroom : DEMOED
32. Zellweger of “Chicago” : RENEE
33. Wagon train cry [you can relax …] : FORWARD HO!
36. 18-wheeler : RIG
37. Boxer Lennox : LEWIS
38. Really long time : EON
39. Ready to leave the garage [here we go again!] : IN REVERSE
42. Little hoppers : TOADS
44. Whole : ENTIRE
45. Recently : OF LATE
46. Kind of bike : TANDEM
48. Some line cutters, in brief : VIPS
49. Treatment for a sprain : ICE
50. How people are usually listed in photo captions [phew, all done!] : LEFT TO RIGHT
56. Stretchers may touch them : TOES
58. Mr. Bean portrayer Atkinson : ROWAN
59. Crime film genre : NOIR
60. Bone in a wing or arm : ULNA
61. Like some moussed hair : SPIKY
62. Become clumped : CAKE
63. William ___, early British P.M. : PITT
64. Part of a flower : STEM
65. February 13, e.g. : IDES

Down
1. Attack with a sword : STAB
2. “All done!” : TADA!
3. Boardroom fig. : EXEC
4. Conjunctivitis : PINKEYE
5. Kind of membrane : MUCOUS
6. Switch words : ON/OFF
7. Open a bit : AJAR
8. Grp. that has added 12 members since the end of the Cold War : NATO
9. Mendes of “2 Fast 2 Furious” : EVA
10. Aspiring band’s goal : RECORD DEAL
11. Brand of cooler : IGLOO
12. Leak fixer : CAULK
15. Some baitfish : MINNOWS
21. Bygone Winter Palace resident : TSAR
22. Janowitz who wrote “Slaves of New York” : TAMA
26. Poetic adverb : E’ER
27. Spice Girl Halliwell : GERI
28. Rhineland refusal : NEIN
29. Food label listing : INGREDIENT
30. Divine water : DOWSE
31. Port with lots of lake-effect snow : ERIE
33. Plant with spores : FERN
34. Its sound in old westerns was often simulated by a coconut : HOOF
35. Latch ___ : ONTO
37. High school athletic awards : LETTERS
40. Southwest terminal? : -ERN
41. Perfume container : VIAL
42. Mix : STIR
43. “Vitruvian Man” artist : DA VINCI
45. James Parkinson or Alois Alzheimer : EPONYM
46. Rendezvoused (with) : MET UP
47. Cause of some poisoning : E COLI
48. Shares held by a shareholder : STAKE
51. Dandies : FOPS
52. Blockhead : TWIT
53. Egg on : GOAD
54. Trail activity : HIKE
55. Very: Fr. : TRES
57. Used sofa? : SAT

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11 thoughts on “0202-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 2 Feb 17, Thursday”

  1. Much silliness in this puzzle, but I did get a kick out of it. Agreed that once you got the theme/gimmick the rest was not difficult. When in doubt, check the down answers…

    Did this one last night so had to wait until this morning to check all my answers here.

    Best –

  2. @all, in general
    As for this conversation on "finished" versus "not finished", I read it with great interest. Part of that is for me getting started on doing crossword puzzles relatively late, in comparison to when I gather most of the people here. Hopefully, a perspective from someone relatively new to this who "grew up" around this stuff will be both helpful and welcome.

    In the beginning of the conversation, I echoed Dave, which reflects where I'm at now. But reflecting on where I started about two years ago (one can actually track my general progress, frustration, and answer-seeking on Bill's LAT blog if they really wanted to), I wouldn't say I was delusional about what I was able to accomplish. Frustrated, yes, but I could look pretty readily at Bill and others and say that the puzzles were possible.

    If I can say anything, the challenge for me throughout has been managing my expectations so I don't end up completely discouraged from continuing. While this included not "ducking" any of the grids I did, this included trying to test the market everywhere I could find grids, in order to locate grids at my proper level that I had a snowball's chance to complete, especially for the late week grids. When I started looking at the late week grids, I'd leave them unfilled or with one or two items filled after five minutes.

  3. (Part 2)
    To describe the history of the puzzles I did, in addition to the LA Times, I started with a very easy grid called "The Daily Commuter" and a Dell "Easy" puzzle book, which I got bored with pretty quickly after two weeks for completing them well. I moved on from there to the Universal/USA Today and Newsday grids, some Sunday specials, the WSJ, and then the NYT when I could get those consistently.

    It also included being a little "easier" on my standards than most, but being honest. To that end, DNF for me has always been "Did not finish the grid without a degree of assistance". This assistance can be Googling answers or using instant "Red letters" (which can be shut off in software that does that). The problem with that I still have is when you check blogs, it's hard to look at a post from yesterday without catching a glimpse of puzzles you haven't done for yourself yet – especially seeing the trick of a gimmick grid. Or using the answer key now since I don't have consistent Internet access while I do puzzles. Hard to avoid being "spoiled" sometimes? As people will remember, I counted from "clues" to "letters", simply because I was getting better. I recently started timing puzzles that are known quantities because I realized finishing grids wasn't mostly an issue anymore for me.

    As habit, when I would encounter something I couldn't do, I'd look up as little as I could in order to continue, but would always end up with a completely filled grid. Often times now, I just need one or two in order to finish just about any grid I genuinely don't finish. I'd use it as an exercise to learn, to see how the clues fit in with the answers (a habit I need to pick up again). Indeed, there is a difference in not being able to do a grid at all versus getting 3/4 of the way through, but if you don't get to the end of the grid, it's still a DNF (Did Not Finish – the word "Finish" says something there).

  4. (Part 3)
    The differing definitions of DNF seem to be a conflict since there are schools within the crossword community that say that using Google is just the same as doing it yourself (note my quoting of Patti Varol about one or two months ago on Bill's LAT blog). As I recall, I would say that "Google solved it for me" or something akin to that. Never that I completed the puzzle – merely filling out the grid is different than doing it yourself without assistance.

    Then there's the issue of errors, which are a measure of your ability too. Of course, there's a difference between filling in letters just to fill them in and real errors. There's times I've simply guessed a letter and got it wrong, and other times I thought I faithfully filled in a grid and found a half-dozen or more errors staring back at me when it came time to check it (it happens!). It's disingenuous to say you DNF a grid when you earnestly complete it, even when you consider that even the best make errors every once in a while (see Bill for one example). One thing I've been trying for is to get through an entire week of LAT grids error-free, but it really hasn't happened for this reason or that.

    Anyhow, I think the general moral standards of honesty in this day and age, coupled with technology as it is (good to note that the ACPT is still paper-administered), has clouded a lot in people's minds in terms of what constitutes real accomplishment. It also doesn't help when you have numerous editors and constructors "shallowing" such standards. But I think there are objective standards out there that most all can definitely agree upon as to what constitutes "self-accomplishment".

  5. (Part 4)

    @Dave (31/1/17 10:31)
    Good thought. Even some of Shortz' earlier puzzles are nightmares in difficulty compared to the ones from today. Part of that is the pop culture elements in them getting stale from memory, but I think some of it is just higher difficulty in the base fill, too. One of those B-level syndie grids I mentioned last week (four successful fills) will correct them on this matter, too.

    @Dave (31/1/17 14:20)
    Interestingly enough, I've found some online tools that will count very typo you make against you as an error. It's hard to figure out when they do that, but it makes you have to be very careful when you do figure out.

    @Dave (1/2/17 08:24)
    If I recall that thread right, I'm not sure anyone was particularly "offended". One reason why I chose to relay all of what I did to @all was this comment. Objective measurement (especially in light of others) is definitely needed to keep one honest, but one has their own measure of "progress", which definitely shouldn’t be slighted by anyone.

  6. No errors. After I had finished I went back and tried to figure out the theme. I saw the obvious patterns (only Acrosses spelled backwards, all backward spellings in two groups of six, etc.) but I did not really care that much to pursue the theme any further. I knew I had every entry correct and that was all I cared about. Bill's explanation, of course, made it all clear to me and ultimately I ended up with a respect for the way in which the setter crafted the puzzle.

  7. Glenn thoughtfully covers some history that I've more or less been through. I'm a ten plus years solver and still learning, particularly at the end of the week and some Sundays. When I'm blocked from finishing, I'll look up the answers and fill them in for whatever they can teach me.

    I liked the tricky theme and execution of this one, and enjoyed the solve.

  8. 18 min, zero errors. The trick revealed itself pretty quickly, so no problems with it. Fun grid for something different.

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