0517-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 17 May 17, Wednesday

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Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
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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 CONSTRUCTOR: Paul Hunsberger
THEME: Split Clues, Split Answers
Each of today’s themed answers and clues are “split” into two, with each element contributing to a chain that runs through the puzzle. The second part of each themed clue joins with the first part of the following themed clue resulting in a composite clue that makes sense. The second part of the matching themed answer joins with the first part of the following themed answer, giving the composite answer to the composite clue:

18A. … for a loop, say / Area that an N.B.A. team has eight … : DOUBLE BACK
23A. … seconds to clear / Successful detective’s … : COURT CASE
35A. … declaration / Critical computer … : CLOSED CIRCUIT
54A. … component / Dreaded words in a video … : BOARD GAME
59A. … arcade / Knocked … : OVERSEEING

The above themed clues/answers can be split and recombined into:

18A … 23A. Area that an N.B.A. team has eight … seconds to clear : BACKCOURT
23A … 35A. Successful detective’s … declaration : CASE CLOSED
35A … 54A. Critical computer … component : CIRCUIT BOARD
54A … 59A. Dreaded words in a video … arcade : GAME OVER
59A … 18A. Knocked … for a loop, say : SEEING DOUBLE

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 48s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Muscles worked by bench presses : PECS
“Pecs” is the familiar term for the chest muscle, more correctly known as the pectoralis major muscle. “Pectus” is a the Latin word for “breast, chest”.

10. Queen of the Greek gods : HERA
In Greek mythology, Hera was the wife of Zeus and was noted for her jealous and vengeful nature, particularly against those who vied for the affections of her husband. The equivalent character to Hera in Roman mythology was Juno. Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea.

15. Hosiery shades : ECRUS
The shade called ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.

16. Alternative to Thrifty or Dollar : AVIS
Avis has been around since 1946, and is the second largest car rental agency after Hertz. Avis has the distinction of being the first car rental company to locate a branch at an airport.

17. Tributary of the Colorado : GILA
The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado that flows through New Mexico and Arizona. From 1848 to 1853, the Gila marked part of the border between the US and Mexico.

The state of Colorado took its name from the prior Territory of Colorado that existed from 1861 to 1876. The name was chosen for the Colorado river that originated in the territory. The river in turn was named by the Spanish as “Rio Colorado”, meaning “ruddy, reddish river”.

20. Passage off Gibraltar, e.g. : STRAIT
The Strait of Gibraltar is the very narrow strait connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. On one side of the strait is Spain (and the tiny British Territory of Gibraltar), and on the other is Morocco. At its narrowest point, the strait is only 9 miles wide, that’s just 9 miles of water separating the continents of Europe and Africa.

22. Laughing gas and rust, for two : OXIDES
Laughing gas is the common name for nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is used as an anesthetic, particularly by dentists. It is also used in motor racing to increase the power output of engines. Laughing gas was first synthesized by the English chemist Joseph Priestly, but it was Humphrey Davy who discovered its potential as an anesthetic. Once it was realized that the gas could give the patient a fit of the giggles, “laughing gas parties” became common among those could afford them.

Rust is iron oxide. Rust forms when iron oxidizes, reacts with oxygen.

26. “S.N.L.” alum Cheri : OTERI
Cheri Oteri was the SNL (“Saturday Night Live”) cast member who regularly appeared with Will Ferrell in the skit featuring a pair of Spartan cheerleaders.

27. “Fireside chats” monogram : FDR
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) gave a total of thirty evening radio addresses that were termed “fireside chats”. President Roosevelt had used similar addresses to further his political agenda while he was Governor of New York. In New York, he faced opposition from a Republican legislature and so Roosevelt appealed directly to voters to apply pressure for him.

28. “Baby Got Back” Grammy winner Sir ___ : MIX-A-LOT
Sir Mix-a-Lot is the stage name used by record producer and rap artist Anthony Ray.

30. Fig. on a W-9 : SSN
Social Security number (SSN)

IRS form W-9 is a Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification. The W-9 is filled out by employees and used by employers for payroll purposes. The form is not submitted to the IRS.

31. Hemsworth of “The Hunger Games” : LIAM
Liam Hemsworth is an Australian actor who is best known these days for playing Gale Hawthorne in “The Hunger Games” series of films. Hemsworth met Miley Cyrus while working on the movie “The Last Song”, and the two actors were engaged for a while. Liam is a younger brother of actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays the superhero “Thor” on the big screen.

41. John’s running mate in 2008 : SARAH
When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as candidate for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she became the first Alaskan to go on the national ticket for a major party. She also became the first woman nominated for Vice President by the Republican Party.

42. Website for D.I.Y.ers : EHOW
eHow is a how-to website that was founded in 1999. eHow has an awful lot of content but doesn’t do a great job of assessing the value of that content. I wouldn’t recommend it …

44. Merino mother : EWE
The Merino breed of sheep is prized for the soft quality of its wool.

52. Soccer superstar Lionel : MESSI
Lionel Messi is a soccer player from Argentina. Messi was awarded FIFA’s Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) award from 2009 to 2013. The Ballon d’Or is presented to the player who is considered the best in the world in the prior year.

62. “Noob” : TYRO
A tyro (also “tiro”) is a beginner or a novice. “Tyro” comes into English from Latin, in which “tiro” means “a recruit”.

“Noob” is a not-so-nice slang term for a “newbie”, often someone new to an online community.

64. ___ wave (oscilloscope output) : SINE
A sine wave is a mathematical function that describes a simple, smooth, repetitive oscillation. The sine wave is found right throughout the natural world. Ocean waves, light waves and sound waves all have a sine wave pattern.

65. Obsolete repro machine : MIMEO
A mimeograph (also “mimeo”) is a cheap printing press that applies ink to paper through a stencil wrapped around a rotating drum. Mimeographs are still around, but have largely been replaced by offset printers and photocopiers.

69. Results of sacrifices : OUTS
That would be baseball.

Down
4. Beatle who sang “Octopus’s Garden” : STARR
Ringo Starr’s real name is Richard Starkey. Before he joined the Beatles (replacing drummer Pete Best), Starkey played with the Raving Texans. It was with the Raving Texans that he adopted the name “Ringo Starr”, because he wore a lot of rings and he thought it sounded “cowboyish”. Back then his drum solos were billed as “Starr Time”.

“Octopus’s Garden” is a song released by the Beatles in 1969, one that was written and performed by drummer Ringo Starr. This was only Ringo’s second musical composition and he gets sole credit for the writing, even though it is well established that George Harrison gave him quite a bit of “help”. The idea for the song came to Ringo while he was on holiday with his family in Sardinia. The captain of the boat on which they were staying told Ringo that an octopus would spend its time traveling the seabed collecting shiny objects with which to make itself a garden. I don’t know how true that is, but Ringo seemed to find it inspiring.

5. Ruling family of old Florence : MEDICI
The House of Medici was a dynasty from the the Italian Republic of Florence. The Medici family went into the world of finance and built the largest bank in Europe in the 15th century. Significantly, the Medicis produced four Popes around this time, and then the family moved from the status of common citizens to become hereditary Dukes of Florence. By the middle of the 18th century the family ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, but ended up fiscally bankrupt.

7. Play about Capote : TRU
“Tru” was written by Jay Presson Allen and is a one-man play about Truman Capote that premiered in 1989. There is a classic anachronism in the piece. It is set in Capote’s New York City apartment at Christmas 1975. At one point the Capote character talks about suicide, saying that he has enough pills to stage his own Jonestown Massacre. The Jonestown Massacre didn’t happen until three years later, in 1978.

8. Marinade alternative : RUB
Our verb “to marinate” comes from the French “mariner” meaning “to pickle in sea brine”, which in turn comes from the Latin “marinus” meaning “of the sea”. So, “marinade” is related to “marine”.

9. World capital on the 60th parallel : OSLO
Oslo is the capital of Norway. The city of Oslo burns trash to fuel half of its buildings, including all of its schools. The problem faced by the city is that it doesn’t generate enough trash. So, Oslo imports trash from Sweden, England and Ireland, and is now looking to import some American trash too.

12. Utensils for making hash browns : RICERS
Hash, meaning a dish of beef and vegetables mashed together, is a very American dish and one that really surprised me when I first came across it. “Hash” just seems like such an unappetizing item, but I soon found out how delicious it was. The name “hash” in this context comes from the French “hacher” meaning “to chop”. Back in the early 1900s the dish called “hashed browned potatoes” was developed, which quickly morphed into “hash browns”. From there the likes of corned beef hash was introduced.

23. Grid org. with a 110-yard field : CFL
Canadian Football League (CFL)

24. “Hello, Dolly!” singer, informally : SATCHMO
Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans in 1900. Armstrong had a poor upbringing, and only stayed in school till he was 11 years old. The exact origin of Louis’s nickname “Satchmo” seems to be a little unclear. One story is that he used to dance for pennies in New Orleans as a youngster and would hide those pennies in his mouth away from the other kids. For this he earned the nickname “satchel mouth”, which was shortened to “Satchmo”.

29. Dory propeller : OAR
A dory is a small boat, around 20 feet long with a shallow draft, a flat bottom and a sharp bow. Dories are commonly used for fishing.

32. Crooks’ patterns, to cops : MOS
“Modus operandi” (plural “modi operandi”) is the Latin for “mode of operating”, a term we’ve been using since the mid-1600s. It’s often used by the police when referring to the methods typically employed by a particular perpetrator of a crime, and is usually abbreviated to “M.O.”

39. “Roger that” : I HEAR YOU
The term “roger”, meaning “yes” or “acknowledged”, comes from the world of radiotelephony. The British military used a phonetic alphabet in the fifties that included “Roger” to represent the letter “R”. As such, it became customary to say “Roger” when acknowledging a message, with R (Roger) standing for “received”.

45. Cotton planter’s headache : WEEVIL
A weevil is a small beetle, known for the damage that it can do to crops. The boll weevil damages cotton plants by laying eggs inside cotton bolls. The young weevils then eat their way out. Some weevils have snouts that are as long as their body.

46. Dead Sea Scrolls writer : ESSENE
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered over a period of years, between 1947 and 1956, in eleven caves on the shores of the Dead Sea. The scrolls are believed to have been written by an ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although this has been called into question recently. Many of the texts are copies of writings from the Hebrew Bible.

49. Home to Henry VIII’s Catherine : ARAGON
Catherine of Aragon was the first wife of King Henry VIII. Catherine had been married to Henry’s older brother Prince Arthur, who was the heir apparent to the English throne at that time of their betrothal. Arthur died, five months after the marriage, leaving Henry as heir. Almost eight years later, Catherine married the newly crowned Henry, in 1509. Famously, Catherine bore no living sons with Henry, but they did have a daughter who was later to become Queen Mary I. By 1525, the lack of sons and an infatuation with Anne Boleyn led Henry to seek an annulment of the marriage with Catherine. Pope Clement VII’s refusal to declare the marriage invalid led to Henry splitting with Rome and establishing the Church of England.

50. Pesticide banned in the ’70s : DDT
DDT is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (don’t forget now!). DDT was used with great success to control disease-carrying insects during WWII, and when made available for use after the war it became by far the most popular pesticide. And then Rachel Carson published her famous book “Silent Spring”, suggesting there was a link between DDT and diminishing populations of certain wildlife. It was the public outcry sparked by the book, and reports of links between DDT and cancer, that led to the ban on the use of the chemical in 1972. That ban is touted as the main reason that the bald eagle was rescued from near extinction.

57. Moore of “G.I. Jane” : DEMI
Demi Moore was born Demetria Guynes and took the name Demi Moore when she married her first husband, Freddy Moore. Moore’s second husband was Bruce Willis. She changed her name to Demi Guynes Kutcher a few years after marrying her third husband, Ashton Kutcher. But, Kutcher and Moore split in 2013.

G.I. Joe was the original “action figure”, the first toy to carry that description. G.I. Joe first hit the shelves in 1964. There have been a few movies based on the G.I. Joe figure, but, more famous than all of them I would say is the 1997 movie “G.I. Jane” starring Demi Moore in the title role. I thought that “G.I. Jane” had some potential, to be honest, but it really did not deliver in the end.

60. “Ich bin ___ Berliner” : EIN
“Ich” is the German for “I”, as in “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner), the famous words of support uttered by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 in a speech in West Berlin. The supposed translation of “Ich bin ein Berliner” as “I am a jelly doughnut” … that’s just an urban myth. President Kennedy’s use of German was perfectly correct.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Muscles worked by bench presses : PECS
5. Transport de Montréal : METRO
10. Queen of the Greek gods : HERA
14. “Hmm, how shall ___ this?” : I PUT
15. Hosiery shades : ECRUS
16. Alternative to Thrifty or Dollar : AVIS
17. Tributary of the Colorado : GILA
18. … for a loop, say / Area that an N.B.A. team has eight … : DOUBLE BACK
20. Passage off Gibraltar, e.g. : STRAIT
22. Laughing gas and rust, for two : OXIDES
23. … seconds to clear / Successful detective’s … : COURT CASE
26. “S.N.L.” alum Cheri : OTERI
27. “Fireside chats” monogram : FDR
28. “Baby Got Back” Grammy winner Sir ___ : MIX-A-LOT
30. Fig. on a W-9 : SSN
31. Hemsworth of “The Hunger Games” : LIAM
33. Asians who play elephant polo : THAIS
35. … declaration / Critical computer … : CLOSED CIRCUIT
41. John’s running mate in 2008 : SARAH
42. Website for D.I.Y.ers : EHOW
44. Merino mother : EWE
47. Thing to practice percussion on : DRUM PAD
51. Angsty music genre : EMO
52. Soccer superstar Lionel : MESSI
54. … component / Dreaded words in a video … : BOARD GAME
56. One-upped : BESTED
58. Like light beers : WATERY
59. … arcade / Knocked … : OVERSEEING
62. “Noob” : TYRO
64. ___ wave (oscilloscope output) : SINE
65. Obsolete repro machine : MIMEO
66. Helped oneself to : TOOK
67. Did in, as a dragon : SLEW
68. How confident solvers may solve : IN PEN
69. Results of sacrifices : OUTS

Down
1. Eat, eat, eat, with “out” : PIG
2. Like soap operas : EPISODIC
3. Like some international exchanges : CULTURAL
4. Beatle who sang “Octopus’s Garden” : STARR
5. Ruling family of old Florence : MEDICI
6. Levy on polluters, e.g. : ECOTAX
7. Play about Capote : TRU
8. Marinade alternative : RUB
9. World capital on the 60th parallel : OSLO
10. Something to kick, maybe : HABIT
11. Gives the slip to : EVADES
12. Utensils for making hash browns : RICERS
13. Invites for tea, say : ASKS IN
19. Kind of dancer : EXOTIC
21. Drive-up convenience : ATM
23. Grid org. with a 110-yard field : CFL
24. “Hello, Dolly!” singer, informally : SATCHMO
25. For grades K-12 : ELHI
29. Dory propeller : OAR
32. Crooks’ patterns, to cops : MOS
34. Be litigious : SUE
36. Nicknames for 41-Acrosses : SADIES
37. Muff : ERR
38. Apply sloppily : DAUB
39. “Roger that” : I HEAR YOU
40. “Horsefeathers!” : TOMMYROT
43. Hand-wringer’s emotion : WOE
44. Adorn with raised designs : EMBOSS
45. Cotton planter’s headache : WEEVIL
46. Dead Sea Scrolls writer : ESSENE
48. Oklahoma tribe : PAWNEE
49. Home to Henry VIII’s Catherine : ARAGON
50. Pesticide banned in the ’70s : DDT
53. Scatter, as seeds : STREW
55. Succeed in annoying : GET TO
57. Moore of “G.I. Jane” : DEMI
60. “Ich bin ___ Berliner” : EIN
61. Prank-pulling sort : IMP
63. Good-to-go signals : OKS

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11 thoughts on “0517-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 17 May 17, Wednesday”

  1. 12:30, no errors. Strange puzzle. I finished it by filling in as many of the non-theme answers as possible and flat-out guessing the five theme entries. I then spent several more minutes staring at it before fully understanding the gimmick involved. I think the whole process might have gone faster on paper, by allowing me to see all the theme clues at once. More fun for the constructor than for the solver, I would say (but hey, I'm easy) … 🙂

  2. I could use a little laughing gas after this puzzle. 29 minutes for a Wednesday. It would have been longer had I been required to understand the theme. I gave a gigantic "HUH??" while doing the puzzle and an even bigger one when I read Bill's explanation (I'm not as smart as I look…).

    I finally figured it out after reading the answer and thinking about it for a few minutes. I guess I couldn't figure the purpose of the theme. Usually there's a hint as to the what and how of a theme like this. I suppose the very first theme answer -DOUBLEBACK – was indeed the clue to the theme as you sort of had to keep doubling back to get the answers.

    I couldn't figure out how I actually knew Catherine of ARAGON until I realized it was from reading it a few different times in Bill's blog.

    After yesterday's and today's puzzles, I can't imagine what kind of theme is in store for us tomorrow. Yikes. Can we just skip to Friday??

    Best –

  3. DNF after 20 min, got most of it except the bottom right corner. Didn't understand the theme and blindly guessed, it also took me a sec after reading the explanation!

  4. Whaaaat??!! What's with the convoluted theme?? Jeez!! I'm just glad the themed answers were relatively familiar phrases. I just wrote them in without getting the connection to the other themed clues. Had to "reveal" a couple of words just to get outta the weeds. Still had two errors besides those lookups. 16:44 and plenty of lil red triangles.

  5. @Glenn … Thank you for Sunday's post in response to "Anonymous", who expressed skepticism about Bill's times. This issue comes up from time to time and your comments covered all the bases. I just hope "Anonymous" does check out the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament times …

  6. 14:35, no errors. Seemed easier to me than yesterdays puzzle. However, the opaque, convoluted theme did nothing to enhance the experience. I am with previous posters who needed to read Bill's explanation and review the answers to get what the setter was doing.

    Another learning experience today; I was not aware that the NBA had an 8 second backcourt violation; thought it was 10 seconds.

  7. Convoluted indeed. Got the theme answers linked up after studying the thing, but didn't see that the clues linked up as well. A somewhat confusing exercise.

  8. No errors. I got everything filled in without ever knowing the theme. Even after completing, I went back to try to figure out the theme. I could see that there was some connection between the answers but it seemed pointless to waste anymore time on it. I came here to Bill's blog and frankly did not even bother to read Bill's explanation. No offense, Bill. Usually, I almost always respect the constructor but in this case I really do not see any point in this mess.

  9. 12:23, and three "forced errors" due to this monumentally STUPID excuse-for-a-theme. Hunsberger goes on my s*** list.

    I appeal for instant replay, and a do-over.

    Shortz, why the hell are you printing this kind of CRAP??? Do your friggin' JOB!!!!! (And that is, NOT to annoy your dedicated solvers!!!) 🙁

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