0208-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 8 Feb 17, Wednesday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Ned White
THEME: Letter Drop
Today’s themed clues are all common two-word phrases, but the ending letters -TER are DROPPED, we have LET “TER” DROP:

55A. Opening at the post office … or, when read as three words, a hint to the answers to the starred clues : LETTER DROP (or “LET TER DROP”)

16A. *Great Plains plaints? : PRAIRIE OYS (from “prairie oyster”)
24A. *”Get Silverstein on the phone now!” : GIMME SHEL! (from “Gimme Shelter”)
29A. *Command like “Let me be direct: Get lost!”? : STRAIGHT SHOO (from “straight shooter”)
38A. *Cramps from posing too long? : PORTRAIT PAIN (from “portrait painter”)
46A. *Teach Dick and Jane’s dog new tricks? : TRAIN SPOT (from “train spotter”)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 34s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Bottom topper? : TALC
Talc is a mineral, actually hydrated magnesium silicate. Talcum powder is composed of loose talc, although these days “baby powder” is also made from cornstarch.

9. Terminal info : ETAS
Expected time of arrival (ETA)

15. Tirade : RANT
A “tirade” is a long and vehement speech, and is a word that came into English from French. “Tirade” can have the same meaning in French, but is also the word for “volley”. So, a tirade is a “volley of words”.

16. *Great Plains plaints? : PRAIRIE OYS (from “prairie oyster”)
A dish made from bull, pig or sheep testicles is known in the US as Rocky Mountain oysters, and as prairie oysters in Canada. The “oysters” are usually served deep fried.

A “plaint” is a grouse, a complaint.

20. Café lightener : LECHE
In Spanish, one might have “café con leche” (coffee with milk).

24. *”Get Silverstein on the phone now!” : GIMME SHEL! (from “Gimme Shelter”)
Author Shel Silverstein had a varied career and did a lot more than write books. Silverstein was a poet, composer, cartoonist and screenwriter among other things. One of his successful children’s books is “The Giving Tree”, which was first published in 1964. “The Giving Tree” tells of a young boy who has a special relationship with a tree in a forest. The message of the book seems to be that the tree provides the little boy with everything he needs.

The 1969 Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter” is in essence a duet featuring lead singer Mick Jagger and guest vocalist, American soul singer Merry Clayton. In the original and some subsequent releases, Clayton’s given name was written mistakenly as “Mary”.

26. Caterpillar’s Illinois home : PEORIA
Back in the early 1900s, Benjamin Holt invented a steam tractor that was able to move over soggy land. The new vehicle crawled over the ground using wheels that drove tracks. Someone apparently noted that the tractor moved along like a caterpillar, and so the enterprise that was to be known as the Caterpillar Tractor Company was born.

Peoria is the oldest European settlement in the state of Illinois, having been settled by the French in 1680. The city is famous for being cited as “the average American city”. The phrase, “Will it play in Peoria?” is used to mean, “Will it appeal to the mainstream?” It is believed the expression originated as a corruption of, “We shall play in Peoria”, a line used by some actors in the 1890 novel “Five Hundred Dollars” by Horatio Alger, Jr.

34. City destroyed by Godzilla : OSAKA
The Japanese city of Osaka used to be called Naniwa, with the name changing to Osaka sometime before 1500. “Osaka” can be translated either as “large hill” or “large slope”. Osaka is sometimes referred to as “the Chicago of Japan” as it is a major center of commerce and industry. The city has also been named the “nation’s kitchen”, and was a center for Japan’s rice trade for centuries.

Godzilla is a Japanese invention. The first in a very long series of “Godzilla” films was released way back in 1954. The original name in Japanese was “Gojira”, but this was changed to Godzilla for audiences outside of Japan. “Gojira” is a combination of “gorira” and “kujira”, the Japanese words for gorilla and whale, apt because Godzilla is a big ape-like creature that came out of the deep.

35. “You’re oversharing!” : TMI
Too Much Information! (TMI)

42. California wine valley : SONOMA
Did you know that there are far more wine grapes produced in Sonoma than Napa? Within Sonoma County some of the more well-known appellations are Chalk Hill, Anderson Valley and Russian River Valley. Personally, when I want to visit the wine country, I head for the Russian River Valley as it’s far less crowded and much more fun than Napa Valley.

46. *Teach Dick and Jane’s dog new tricks? : TRAIN SPOT (from “train spotter”)
In the “Dick and Jane” series of book for children, Spot was a cat back in the thirties, but then became a dog in later editions.

The “Dick and Jane” beginning reader series of books was originally written by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp and first published in the 1930s. There are claims of plagiarism from an earlier pair of books published throughout the British Commonwealth that featured the characters Dick and Dora. Indeed, I grew up in the British Isles with “Dick and Dora”, and always assumed that “Dick and Jane” were somehow their American cousins!

51. Martini & ___ : ROSSI
The company that is today known as Martini & Rossi was started in the mid-1800s in Italy, by Alessandro Martini and Luigi Rossi (and a third partner who sold out years later). From day one it was focused on bottling the fortified wine known as vermouth. Nowadays, the company is also famous for its sparkling wines, and its sponsorship of Grand Prix racing teams. And yes, the famous cocktail is probably named for Mr. Martini.

60. Leaps on the ice : AXELS
An Axel is a forward take-off jump in figure skating. It was first performed by Norwegian Axel Paulsen at the 1882 World Figure Skating championships.

61. Commercial lead-in to pass : EURO-
In my days as a student, the way to backpack around Europe was using a Europass. Nowadays that is known as a Eurail pass. The Eurail pass gives you access to most trains (and some shipping lines) right across the continent.

62. ___-chef : SOUS
The “sous-chef de cuisine” is the “under-chef of the kitchen”, the second-in-command.

63. Where Kellogg’s is “K” : NYSE
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) can give some quite descriptive ticker symbols to companies, for example:

  • Anheuser-Busch (BUD, for “Budweiser”)
  • Molson Coors Brewing Company (TAP, as in “beer tap”)
  • Steinway Musical Instruments (LVB, for “Ludwig van Beethoven”)
  • Sotheby’s (BID, for the auction house)

64. Visa concern : DEBT
Visa doesn’t actually issue any credit or debit cards. Visa just sells the electronic systems and infrastructure to banks who then put the Visa logo on their own cards. And so, both the customer and merchant know to use the VISA system when making a transaction.

Down
3. New York hub for Delta, briefly : LGA
Fiorello La Guardia was the Mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945, racking up three full terms in office. The famous airport that bears La Guardia’s name was built at his urging, stemming from an incident that took place while he was in office. He was taking a TWA flight to “New York” and was outraged when the plane landed at Newark Airport, in the state of New Jersey. The Mayor demanded that the flight take off again and land at a small airport in Brooklyn. A gaggle of press reporters joined him on the short hop and he gave them a story, urging New Yorkers to support the construction of a new commercial airport within the city’s limits. The new airport, in Queens, opened in 1939 as New York Municipal, often called “LaGuardia” as a nickname. The airport was officially relabeled as “LaGuardia” (LGA) in 1947.

4. Fire-breathing monster of myth : CHIMERA
In Greek mythology, a chimera was a female monster with the body of a lioness, a tail that ended in a snake’s head, and the head of a goat that emanated from the lioness’s spine. The term chimera has entered into our modern language and means a fanciful illusion or fabrication.

5. Shrek creator William : STEIG
Before “Shrek” was a successful movie franchise and Broadway musical, it was a children’s picture book called “Shrek!” authored and illustrated by William Steig. The title “Shrek!” came from the German/Yiddish word Schreck, meaning “fear” or “terror”.

6. Watts of “The Impossible” : NAOMI
The actress Naomi Watts was born in the UK and moved to Australia when she was 14 years of age. It was in Australia that Watts got her break in television and movies. Probably her most acclaimed role was in the 2003 film “21 Grams” with Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro. Watts is best friends with fellow Australian actress Nicole Kidman.

7. Bottomless pit : ABYSM
“Abysm” is an alternative word for “abyss”.

8. Often-overlooked email parts, briefly : PSS
One adds a PS (post scriptum, or simply “postscript”) at the end of a letter (ltr.). A second postscript is a post post scriptum, a PPS.

9. Auto designer Maserati : ERNESTO
Maserati is a manufacturer of luxury cars in Italy. The company was founded in Bologna in 1914 by five brothers: Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto Maserati. The company uses a trident logo that is based on the trident depicted in the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza Maggiore in Bologna.

10. Meditative exercises : TAI CHI
More correctly called tai chi chuan, tai chi is a martial art that is mostly practiced to improve overall health and increase longevity.

11. “La Marseillaise,” for France : ANTHEM
“La Marseillaise” is the very stirring national anthem of France. The song was composed in 1792 by a French Army officer. It was adopted as a rallying call for volunteers during the French Revolution and was first sung out in Marseille. As a result, the anthem is called “The Marseillaise”, or “The Song of Marseille”. I think that the most moving rendition that I’ve personally heard is in the magnificent movie “Casablanca”.

12. TV’s “Remington ___” : STEELE
The eighties detective show “Remington Steele” stars Stephanie Zimbalist as a private detective Laura Holt, and Pierce Brosnan as the handsome bad boy Remington Steele, who’s really a good boy. The show successfully melds the detective genre with elements of romantic comedy.

14. Eighty-___ (toss) : SIX
“To eighty-six” something is to eject it, to throw it out. The origin of the term is unclear. One story is that it originated in the days of prohibition in the West Village of Lower Manhattan, New York City. Whenever there was a scheduled raid on the establishment called Chumley’s, an informant would call ahead and tell the bartender to “86” his customers i.e. to send them out the door on 86 Bedford Street. The cops would then turn up at the entrance on Pamela Court.

17. Pie chart lines : RADII
A “pie chart” can also be referred to as a “circle graph”. It is often stated that Florence Nightingale invented the pie chart. While this is not in fact true, she is due the credit for popularizing it, and for developing the pie chart variation known as the polar area diagram. The earliest known pie chart appears in a book published in 1801 by Scottish engineer William Playfair.

20. Longtime host who wrote “Leading With My Chin” : LENO
Jay Leno was born James Leno in New Rochelle, New York. Jay’s father was the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother was from Scotland. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and actually dropped out of school on the advice of a high school guidance counsellor. However, years later he went to Emerson college and earned a Bachelor’s degree in speech therapy. Leno also started a comedy club at Emerson in 1973. Today Jay Leno is a car nut and owns about 200 vehicles of various types. You can check them out on his website: www.jaylenosgarage.com.

22. Like thinking about thinking : META
In recent decades the prefix “meta-” has started to be used as a standalone adjective. In this sense “meta” means “self-referential”, describing something that refers to itself. For example, “This sentence starts with the word ‘this’ and ends with the word ‘this’” might be called a meta sentence. A movie that is about the making of the very same movie could also be described as meta.

23. Bill fatteners : PORK
Pork barrel politics have been around for a long time. The term originated in 1863 in a story by Edward Everett Hale called “The Children of the Public”. Hale used “pork barrel” in a positive way, describing any public spending by government for the benefit of citizens. By the 1870s the term “pork” had negative connotations, with references in the press to “pork barrel bills” in Congress. Nowadays “pork” really applies to any government project designed to benefit a relatively small group of citizens (usually potential voters for a particular politician) with the bill being paid by the citizenry as a whole.

25. Material for a warm sweater : MOHAIR
Angora wool comes from the Angora rabbit. On the other hand, the Angora goat produces the wool known as mohair.

27. Ancient markets : AGORAS
In early Greece the “agora” was a place of assembly. Often the assemblies held there were quite formal, perhaps for the reading of a proclamation. Later in Greek history, things became less formal as the agora evolved into a market place. Our contemporary word “agoraphobia” comes from these agorae, in the sense that an agoraphobe has a fear of open spaces, a fear of “public meeting places”.

30. F.D.R.’s last veep : HST
The letter “S” in the middle of the name Harry S. Truman (HST) doesn’t stand for anything. The future-president was named “Harry” in honor of his mother’s brother Harrison “Harry” Young. The initial “S” was chosen in honor of young Harry’s two grandfathers: Anderson S-hipp Truman and S-olomon Young.

31. La Brea goo : TAR
The La Brea Tar Pits are located right in the heart of the city of Los Angeles. At the site there is a constant flow of tar that seeps up to the surface from underground, a phenomenon that has been around for tens of thousands of years. What is significant is that much of the seeping tar is covered by water. Over many, many centuries animals came to the water to drink and became trapped in the tar as they entered the water to quench their thirsts. The tar then preserved the bones of the dead animals. Today a museum is located right by the Tar Pits, recovering bones and displaying specimens of the animals found there. It’s well worth a visit if you are in town …

32. Reggae grew from it : SKA
Ska originated in Jamaica in the late fifties and was the precursor to reggae music. No one has a really definitive etymology of the term “ska”, but it is likely to be imitative of some sound.

36. iPad ___ : MINI
The iPad mini is line of smaller iPads that was introduced by Apple in 2012. The iPad mini has a screen size of 7.9 inches, whereas the regular iPad’s screen is 9.7 inches.

37. “Picnic” Pulitzer winner William : INGE
Playwright William Inge had a run of success on Broadway in the early fifties. Inge’s most celebrated work of that time was the play “Picnic”, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. The original 1953 cast of “Picnic” included a young male actor making his debut on Broadway. His name was Paul Newman. Many of Inge’s works are set in the American heartland and so he became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.

38. Bottles marked with a skull and crossbones : POISONS
We’ve been using the skull and crossbones symbol to mark poisons since the 1800s. The image itself dates back to the Late Middle Ages, when it was a symbol of death.

39. Former Dodge : OMNI
The Dodge Omni is basically the same car as the Plymouth Horizon, and was produced by Chrysler from 1978-90. The Omni is a front-wheel drive hatchback, the first in a long line of front-wheel drive cars that were very successful for Chrysler. The Omni was actually developed in France, by Chrysler’s Simca division. When production was stopped in the US in 1990, the tooling was sold to an Indian company that continued production for the Asian market for several years.

43. Call from Juliet : O ROMEO
In William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”, the lovers discuss the sad fact that they have been born into two feuding families in the famous balcony scene. Juliet says:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Romeo’s reply includes the famous lines:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

44. Bahamian capital : NASSAU
Nassau, on the island of New Providence, is the capital of the Bahamas, and used to be called Charles Town. After being burnt to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, it was rebuilt and named Nassau in honor of King William III of England, a Dutchman from the House of Orange-Nassau (aka William of Orange). Nassau is a favored location for the James Bond series of movies. The city and surroundings feature in “Thunderball”, “Never Say Never Again”, “Casino Royale” and “For Your Eyes Only”.

47. College honcho : PREXY
“Prexy” (and “prex”, I guess) is a slang term for the president of a college or university.

“Honcho” is a slang term for a leader or manager. The term comes to us from Japanese, in which language a “hancho” is a squad (han) leader (cho).

48. Hall’s partner in pop : OATES
Daryl Hall & John Oates are a pop music duo, most successful in the late seventies and early eighties. They had six number one hits, including the 1982 release “Maneater”.

53. Some, along the Somme : DES
The Somme is a department in the very north of France, in the Picardy region. The Somme is famous as the site of devastating battles during WWI.

55. Office PC connection : LAN
Local Area Network (LAN)

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Bottom topper? : TALC
5. “Oh, ___!” : SNAP
9. Terminal info : ETAS
13. [Oh, well] : SIGH
14. Attempts : STABS
15. Tirade : RANT
16. *Great Plains plaints? : PRAIRIE OYS (from “prairie oyster”)
18. Late hours, in ads : NITE
19. “Better safe than sorry” and others : MAXIMS
20. Café lightener : LECHE
21. Did home work? : UMPED
24. *”Get Silverstein on the phone now!” : GIMME SHEL! (from “Gimme Shelter”)
26. Caterpillar’s Illinois home : PEORIA
28. As per schedule : ON TIME
29. *Command like “Let me be direct: Get lost!”? : STRAIGHT SHOO (from “straight shooter”)
33. Chin-wag : YAK
34. City destroyed by Godzilla : OSAKA
35. “You’re oversharing!” : TMI
38. *Cramps from posing too long? : PORTRAIT PAIN (from “portrait painter”)
42. California wine valley : SONOMA
45. Supreme Court action : RULING
46. *Teach Dick and Jane’s dog new tricks? : TRAIN SPOT (from “train spotter”)
50. “I kid you not!” : NO LIE!
51. Martini & ___ : ROSSI
52. Like refrigerators, at times : RAIDED
54. “Are not!” rejoinder : AM SO!
55. Opening at the post office … or, when read as three words, a hint to the answers to the starred clues : LETTER DROP (or “LET TER DROP”)
59. Withdraw slowly : WEAN
60. Leaps on the ice : AXELS
61. Commercial lead-in to pass : EURO-
62. ___-chef : SOUS
63. Where Kellogg’s is “K” : NYSE
64. Visa concern : DEBT

Down
1. 1/48 of a cup: Abbr. : TSP
2. Part of many carrier names : AIR
3. New York hub for Delta, briefly : LGA
4. Fire-breathing monster of myth : CHIMERA
5. Shrek creator William : STEIG
6. Watts of “The Impossible” : NAOMI
7. Bottomless pit : ABYSM
8. Often-overlooked email parts, briefly : PSS
9. Auto designer Maserati : ERNESTO
10. Meditative exercises : TAI CHI
11. “La Marseillaise,” for France : ANTHEM
12. TV’s “Remington ___” : STEELE
14. Eighty-___ (toss) : SIX
17. Pie chart lines : RADII
20. Longtime host who wrote “Leading With My Chin” : LENO
21. “___-daisy!” : UPSY
22. Like thinking about thinking : META
23. Bill fatteners : PORK
25. Material for a warm sweater : MOHAIR
27. Ancient markets : AGORAS
30. F.D.R.’s last veep : HST
31. La Brea goo : TAR
32. Reggae grew from it : SKA
35. Meaty lobster part : TAIL
36. iPad ___ : MINI
37. “Picnic” Pulitzer winner William : INGE
38. Bottles marked with a skull and crossbones : POISONS
39. Former Dodge : OMNI
40. Stereo component : TUNER
41. Trudged : PLODDED
42. Attachments to juice boxes : STRAWS
43. Call from Juliet : O ROMEO
44. Bahamian capital : NASSAU
47. College honcho : PREXY
48. Hall’s partner in pop : OATES
49. Dr. or Mr. : TITLE
53. Some, along the Somme : DES
55. Office PC connection : LAN
56. Paris’s ___ de Rivoli : RUE
57. Heavenly object : ORB
58. Collection of bets : POT

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9 thoughts on “0208-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 8 Feb 17, Wednesday”

  1. 14:02, no errors. A slow solve for me. Didn't get the theme until I filled in the "key" theme answer. Also didn't realize the chimeras of mythology were thought of as fire-breathers. Interesting.

  2. Almost the identically slow time I had on the LA Times today. Judging by Dave and Bill's time, I think I"m just off today. That said, I found this an enjoyable and (for me) challenging grid despite all the non English material. STRAIGHTSHOO(ter) was my "aha" moment

    PREXY?? If someone tried to use that in scrabble, it would cause a war. PREXY?? I've been dealing with university professors and administrations in one form or another ever since I got to college, and I have never heard PREXY. Sheesh. I just Googled it and saw a portmanteau of "pretty" and "sexy" in the urban dictionary. I'll go with that definition instead….

    I wonder if The Giving Tree was any kind of response to the communist teachings. Old Soviet grade schools used to leave a young plant in the classroom for "God" to care for over a weekend, and they had another that the teacher (i.e. the State) took care of. By Monday "God's plant" died and "the State's plant" lived. It was their way of showing you cannot count on God religion; you can only rely on the State to take care of you.

    Lastly, interesting use of META I was not aware of. I guess looking up the word "dictionary" in the dictionary or Googling "Google" would qualify?

    Best –

  3. 16:27, and 3 errors caused by ABYS*M* (and not ABYSS) and the proper name STEIG.

    I've also never heard of PREXY. The setter is really *reaching* to finish this grid.

    Incredibly bad theme today: "Let…TER…. get it? GET IT?" No. We don't. That's just plain weak.

  4. No errors. The only real problem I had was ABYSM. I knew ABYSS and I knew CHASM would both fit but had never heard the word ABYSM. The fact that GIMME SHELTER couldn't be anything else saved me having the error.

  5. 25:37, no errors. Getting back into the crossword groove after a week vacation. Several difficult spots for me. Was sure that 4D should be CHIMERA, but equally sure that 1A should be BELT. Originally had 7D as ABYSS, giving SNAP and STABS, but erased everything to enter CHASM. ABYSM is a new word for me.

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