0204-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Feb 17, Saturday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Patrick Berry
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 19m 52s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

13. Best-selling celebrity tell-all book of 1978 : MOMMIE DEAREST
“Mommie Dearest” is a 1978 memoir written by Christian Crawford, the daughter of actress Joan Crawford. The book did not paint Joan in a good light, with claims of alcoholism and neglect of her four children.

15. Forgivable : VENIAL
In some Christian denominations, sins can be either venial or mortal in terms of severity, with mortal sins being the more grievous.

22. Sitcom set in Lanford, Ill. : ROSEANNE
The comedian Roseanne Barr is perhaps best known as the star of her own sitcom called “Roseanne” in which she played the character Roseanne Conner. In 2012 Barr unsuccessfully vied for the Green Party’s nomination for US President. She didn’t give up though, and was successful in winning the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party. In the 2012 presidential election she earned over 60,000 votes, and placed sixth in the list of candidates.

26. Ben-___ (N.F.L. cheerleading squad) : GALS
The Cincinnati Ben–Gals are the cheerleading squad for Cincinnati Bengals NFL team.

27. Final car built in Buick City before its shutdown : LESABRE
The Buick Special was a car produced by General Motors in various forms from 1936, making a final brief appearance in 1975. The Buick Special was given the name “LeSabre” in 1959, and a “Skylark” option was introduced in 1961. The engine was changed from a V8 in 1962, making the Buick Special the first American production car to use a V6.

28. Estadio cheer : OLE!
In Spain, one might hear a shout of “ole!” in an “estadio” (stadium).

33. Physicist who formulated the two laws of electrolysis : FARADAY
Michael Faraday was a scientist from England who discovered electromagnetic induction among other things. It was Faraday who first observed that a conductor carrying an electric current has an associated magnetic field. Amazingly, the sum total of Faraday’s formal education was little more than a seven-year apprenticeship as a bookbinder and bookseller.

Electrolysis is a chemical process that uses direct current passing through a solution to separate out individual chemicals in that solution. One chemical moves to the anode, and the other to the cathode.

34. What bugs are found in : BETA
In the world of software development, the first tested issue of a new program is usually called the “alpha” version. Expected to have a lot of bugs that need to be fixed, the alpha release is usually distributed to a small number of testers. After reported bugs have been eliminated, the refined version is called a “beta” and is released to a wider audience, but with the program clearly labeled as “beta”. The users generally check functionality and report further bugs that are encountered. The beta version feeds into a release candidate, the version that is tested just prior to the software being sold into the market, hopefully bug-free.

37. Gas in an ion thruster : XENON
An ion thruster is a type of engine used to propel spacecraft. Orbiting satellites might have several ion thrusters, which are used to maintain orbit and for repositioning. Basically, ion thrusters use power generated by solar panels to force ions out of a nozzle. The mass of the ions creates movement in the required direction using the principle of conservation of momentum.

38. Medieval invader of Spain : MOOR
The most famous Moor in literature has to be Othello, the title character in William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello, the Moor of Venice”. The word “Moor” describes various peoples of North Africa, usually of the Muslim faith. At the height of their geographic influence the Moors occupied much of the Iberian peninsula, calling it Al Andalus (from which modern Andalusia gets its name).

39. Tops of the Mounties : STETSONS
Stetson is a brand name of hat, manufactured by the John B. Stetson Company of St. Joseph, Missouri. The so called “cowboy hat” that Stetson pioneered was such a success that the company became the largest hat maker in the world, producing over 3.3 million hats per year.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the Mounties; RCMP) is an unusual police force in that it provides all policing for the whole country. The RCMP works on the national level, and right down to the municipal level. The force’s distinctive uniform of red serge tunic, blue pants with a yellow stripe, stetson hat etc. is known internally as “Review Order”. The red uniform dates back to the days of the North-West Mounted Police, which was one of the existing forces that were merged in 1920 to form the RCMP.

41. Onetime White House family : OBAMAS
By tradition, the Secret Service code names used for the US President and family all start with the same letter. For the current First Family, that letter is R:

  • Barack Obama: Renegade
  • Michelle Obama: Renaissance
  • Malia Obama: Radiance
  • Sasha Obama: Rosebud

44. Parlor fixture : SETTEE
“Settee” is another word for a couch. The term come from the Old English “setl”, which was a long bench with a high back and arms.

45. They’re known as “Viennese bread” in Scandinavia : DANISH PASTRIES
The Danish pastry that we know so well over here in the US is indeed a Danish specialty, although the recipe was brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers. A “Danish” is called “Viennese bread” in Denmark.

Down
5. Plumeria creation : LEI
The genus of plants Plumeria has the common name “Frangipani”. The genus is named after French botanist Charles Plumier. The common name comes from an Italian noble family with roots in Ancient Rome.

7. Wants : YENS
The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium!

9. “Bacchus and ___” (Titian painting) : ARIADNE
“Bacchus and Ariadne” is an oil painting by Italian Renaissance painter Titian that can be seen in the National Gallery in London.

12. Changes back : STETS
“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.

14. Post box’s contents : CEREAL
C. W. Post decided to get into the cereal business after visiting the Battle Creek Sanitarium operated by John Harvey Kellogg. Post was interested in the chemistry of digestion and was inspired by the dietary products offered by Kellogg at his sanitarium. The first breakfast cereal Post introduced was Grape-Nuts, way back in 1897.

15. Spica’s constellation : VIRGO
Spica is the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo, and the 15th brightest star in the night sky. Spica is actually a “binary star”, meaning that it is composed of two individual stars so close together that they cannot be resolved through a telescope. The two stars orbit each other every four days.

19. Back-to-back moves : DO-SI-DOS
The term “do-si-do” is actually a corruption of a French phrase “dos-à-dos”, meaning back-to-back. And parenthetically, this is just the opposite to the familiar French term “vis-à-vis”, meaning face-to-face. In the do-si-do dance move, the partners start facing each other and then advance past each other’s right shoulder, and then move to the right without turning so that they are now facing away from each other (back-to-back). They complete the move facing in the same direction, passing each other’s left shoulders by moving backwards until they return to the starting position. Did you get that …?

23. Eminent scholar : SAVANT
A “savant” is a learned person. The term “savant” can also be short for “idiot savant”, the outdated name for someone with a mental disability but who has above-normal capabilities in perhaps calculation or musical expression.

24. Company that bought (and later sold) Skype : EBAY
The main feature of the Skype application is that it allows voice communication to take place over the Internet (aka VoIP). Skype has other features such as video conferencing and instant messaging, but the application made its name from voice communication. Skype was founded by two Scandinavian entrepreneurs and the software necessary was developed by a team of engineers in Estonia. The development project was originally called “Sky peer-to-peer” so the first commercial name for the application was “Skyper”. This had to be shortened to “Skype” because the skyper.com domain name was already in use.

27. Old Roman coins : LIRE
The word “lira” is used in a number of countries for currency. “Lira” comes from the Latin for “pound” and is derived from a British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. For example, the lira (plural “lire”) was the official currency of Italy before the country changed over to the euro in 2002.

32. Parson’s residence : MANSE
A manse is a minister’s home in various Christian traditions. “Manse” derives from “mansus”, the Latin for “dwelling”. The term can also be used for any stately residence.

37. Nissan model discontinued in 2015 : XTERRA
The Xterra is a compact SUV built by Nissan in Smyrna, Tennessee (and in Brazil).

38. Statistical calculations : MODES
In a set of numbers, the mean is the average value of those numbers. The median is the numeric value at which half the numbers have a lower value, and half the numbers a higher value. The mode is the value that appears most often in the whole set of numbers.

40. Name on a bottle of Pleasures perfume : ESTEE
Estée Lauder was a very successful businesswoman, with a reputation as a great salesperson. Lauder introduced her own line of fragrances in 1953, a bath oil called “Youth Dew”. “Youth Dew” was marketed as a perfume, but it was added to bathwater. All of a sudden women were pouring whole bottles of Ms. Lauder’s “perfume” into their baths while using only a drop or two of French perfumes behind their ears. That’s quite a difference in sales volume …

42. City near Turin : ASTI
Asti is a city in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The region is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine.

Turin (“Torino” in Italian) is a major city in the north of Italy that sits on the Po River. Back in 1861, when the Kingdom of Italy was formed, Turin was chosen as the first capital of the country.

43. Hebrew letter on a dreidel : SHIN
A dreidel is a spinning top with four sides, often associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Each of the four sides on a dreidel bears a letter from the Hebrew alphabet (nun, gimel, hei and shin). The four letters are the initials of the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” meaning “a great miracle happened there”. According to tradition, children would be taught Torah while hiding in caves away from the Greeks. When Greek soldiers approached, the children would hide their torah scrolls and play with their dreidels instead.

48. National Grandparents’ Day mo. : SEP
National Grandparents’ Day is celebrated in the US on the first Sunday after Labor Day. The first observance of the holiday took place in 1978.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. You’ll see things in them you can’t handle : DISPLAY CASES
13. Best-selling celebrity tell-all book of 1978 : MOMMIE DEAREST
14. Something work-related : COMPANION PIECE
15. Forgivable : VENIAL
16. Answer rudely : SNAP AT
17. Inflexible, as rules : IRONCLAD
20. Stock market events : DIPS
21. Edited for television, maybe : RECUT
22. Sitcom set in Lanford, Ill. : ROSEANNE
26. Ben-___ (N.F.L. cheerleading squad) : GALS
27. Final car built in Buick City before its shutdown : LESABRE
28. Estadio cheer : OLE!
29. A little cleaner : MINIVAC
30. Fish ladder site : DAM
33. Physicist who formulated the two laws of electrolysis : FARADAY
34. What bugs are found in : BETA
35. Completes the purchase of : CLOSES ON
37. Gas in an ion thruster : XENON
38. Medieval invader of Spain : MOOR
39. Tops of the Mounties : STETSONS
41. Onetime White House family : OBAMAS
44. Parlor fixture : SETTEE
45. They’re known as “Viennese bread” in Scandinavia : DANISH PASTRIES
49. Helped someone move into an office, say : ELECTIONEERED
50. Common baby food : STRAINED PEAS

Down
1. “___ vobiscum” (“the Lord be with you”) : DOMINUS
2. Influence : IMPACT
3. Minor : SMALL
4. One rolling dough : PIN
5. Plumeria creation : LEI
6. Stir : ADO
7. Wants : YENS
8. ___ Bill Weedles (Land of Oz character) : CAP’N
9. “Bacchus and ___” (Titian painting) : ARIADNE
10. Gradually become noticeable : SEEP IN
11. Slip away : ESCAPE
12. Changes back : STETS
13. Item worn by the Count on “Sesame Street” : MONOCLE
14. Post box’s contents : CEREAL
15. Spica’s constellation : VIRGO
18. Concert venues : ARENAS
19. Back-to-back moves : DO-SI-DOS
23. Eminent scholar : SAVANT
24. Company that bought (and later sold) Skype : EBAY
25. Cannonball’s path : ARC
27. Old Roman coins : LIRE
29. More south of the border? : MAS
30. Stood for : DENOTED
31. Makes up (for) : ATONES
32. Parson’s residence : MANSE
33. Over-the-counter product? : FORMICA
34. Inseparable duo : BESTIES
35. Permanent magnet metal : COBALT
36. Repair shop amenity : LOANER
37. Nissan model discontinued in 2015 : XTERRA
38. Statistical calculations : MODES
40. Name on a bottle of Pleasures perfume : ESTEE
42. City near Turin : ASTI
43. Hebrew letter on a dreidel : SHIN
46. Noted writer who married his first cousin when she was 13 : POE
47. Along with : AND
48. National Grandparents’ Day mo. : SEP

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7 thoughts on “0204-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Feb 17, Saturday”

  1. 17:17, no errors. Had a hard time starting this one, but once I got a toehold (near the bottom), things went pretty quickly. Unlike yesterday, my NYT crossword app worked all right for this puzzle, but some of the stats are now messed up again. I may try to reinstall it later, but I'm fearful that I will thereby lose access to the record it's keeping of the 400+ puzzles I've done with it. (On the other hand, that could be a blessing, I suppose … 🙂

  2. 34:23, DNF. Only about 75%. The top was impenetrable for me.

    Looking at the answers, this looks to me to be a puzzle made much more difficult by cynical editing and misdirection.

  3. "Cynical", I think, is often in the eye of the beholder, and "misdirection" is a standard feature of a good NYT puzzle. This is a good one by a first-rate constructor.

  4. We agree it's a good puzzle. We finished without having to look anything up. Usually, when we look something up, it's a director, a song we never heard of, etc. So this puzzle left all those obscure things out. Hooray!

  5. Patrick Berry generally (but not always) does quality work when you step away enough from it to take it objectively – though it's a little bit of a dry voice at this point having done one of his (very excellent) puzzle books as completely as I could.

    As for my effort on this one, finished it in 34 minutes with 5 errors. Four of them were semi-dumb errors on the upper-right (hardest corner to resolve, caught the rest of it in 21 minutes) off of attempts to address it. The other one was just a guess that went wrong (30A-34D).

    Decent effort and from a cluing standpoint, I really don't have any problems with it. "Misdirection" as it was put, is par for the course for a Saturday grid anyway. Now, when the stuff shows up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as it's known to do with NYT, that's when I start having problems with it.

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