0520-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 20 May 17, Saturday

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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 CONSTRUCTOR: Paolo Pasco & David Steinberg
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 27m 25s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 3

LOW-TAR (non-tar!)
SOREL (Soren)
FACE SWAP (Facesnap!)

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Part of a modern circuit : SILICON CHIP
Silicon is a semiconducting material. This means it is sort of halfway between an insulator and a conductor. Silicon acts as an insulator until a voltage is applied, an if that voltage is sufficiently high then the silicon becomes a conductor. The electronics industry uses this phenomenon to make devices that can “switch” (turn from insulator to conductor) by application of a voltage.

12. Onetime MTV figures : VJS
MTV (the Music Television Network) started using “video jockey” (VJ) to describe the media personalities who introduced music videos. The term is a derivative of the already well-established “disk jockey” (DJ).

15. Vegan sushi option : AVOCADO ROLL
The wonderful avocado comes from a tree that is native to Mexico and Central America. The avocado fruit is sometime called an avocado pear, because of its shape, even though it is not related to the pear at all. The fruit might also be referred to as an alligator pear, due to the roughness of the green skin of some avocado cultivars.

17. Regional coverage plan? : ZONE DEFENSE
In some team sports, there is a choice between man-to-man defense and zone defense. In the former, each defensive player guards a corresponding player on the other team. In the latter, each defensive player covers a particular “zone” of the playing area.

19. Bit of work : ERG
An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, as there are 10 million ergs in one joule. it has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off. The term comes from “ergon”, the Greek word for work.

23. Muckraker who pushed for “model tenements” : RIIS
Jacob Riis is famous for his photographs and newspaper articles that highlighted the plight of the impoverished in New York City. He wrote “How the Other Half Lives”, originally an extensive article that appeared in “Scribner’s Magazine” at Christmas 1889. The article had such an impact that Riis was commissioned to expand it into a book, which was published the following year.

27. Actor Ansari : AZIZ
Aziz Ansari is an actor and comedian from Columbia, South Carolina who is best known for playing Tom Haverford on the sitcom “Parks and Recreation”. Ansari also stars in the Netflix comedy-drama series “Master of None”.

28. “Look before you leap” source : AESOP
Aesop is remembered today as a fabulist, a writer of fables. Aesop lived in Ancient Greece, probably around the sixth century BC. Supposedly he was born a slave, somehow became a free man, but then met with a sorry end. Aesop was sent to the city of Delphi on a diplomatic mission but instead insulted the Delphians. He was tried on a trumped-up charge of stealing from a temple, sentenced to death and was thrown off a cliff.

31. Reading block? : CODE
The act of reading might be blocked if the text is in code.

38. Hamilton settings : TENS
The US ten-dollar bill features the image of Alexander Hamilton, the first US Secretary of the Treasury, on the obverse. As such, ten-dollar bills are sometimes called “Hamiltons”. By the way, the $10 bill is the only US currency in circulation in which the portrait faces to the left. The reverse of the ten-dollar bill features the US Treasury Building.

47. Played for a sap : USED
“Sap” is slang for a fool, someone easily scammed. The term arose in the early 1800s in Britain when it was used in “saphead” and “sapskull”. All these words derive from “sapwood”, which is the soft wood found in tree trunks between the bark and the heartwood at the center.

50. Brazil’s fourth-largest state by population : BAHIA
Bahia is the fifth largest of the 26 Brazilian states. The capital of Bahia is the city of Salvador.

51. The Philippines’ ___ Archipelago : SULU
The Sulu Sea is found to the southwest of the Philippines, and the northeast of Borneo. Gene Roddenberry named the “Star Trek” character Hikaru Sulu after the Sulu Sea.

52. Egyptian sky god : HORUS
Horus was one of the oldest gods in Ancient Egyptian religion. Usually, Horus was depicted as a falcon or a man with a falcon head. The Eye of Horus was a common symbol used in Ancient Egypt, a symbol of protection and royal power.

58. Celebratory move popularized by Cam Newton : DAB
Cam Newton plays quarterback for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. One interesting thing about Newton is that he is a pescetarian, eating seafood but not the flesh of other animals. Sounds fishy to me …

59. “Mr.” who has stitches in his face : MET
Mr. Met is the mascot of the New York Mets. He is a guy with a large baseball as a head, and has been elected to the Mascot Hall of Fame. There’s also a Mrs. Met, a mascot that was previously known as Lady Met.

60. Sloppy joe ingredient : TOMATO SAUCE
Sloppy joe is a dish usually made of ground beef, onions, ketchup and seasonings, all served on a bun. There are two stories that supposedly explain the origin of the name “sloppy joe”. One is that it comes from Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida; the other is that it was invented by a cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa.

65. “Meridian” and “The Temple of My Familiar” novelist : ALICE WALKER
Alice Walker is an author and poet. Walker’s best known work is the novel “The Color Purple”, which earned her the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. “The Color Purple” was adapted into a very successful film of the same name, directed by Steven Spielberg.

66. Edamame discard : POD
Edamame is a simple dish made of immature soybeans still in the pod. The pods are boiled and then salted before serving, usually as a snack or side dish. The name “edamame” translates as “twig bean”.

67. Metric for gauging female representation in works of fiction : BECHDEL TEST
American cartoonist Alison Bechdel introduced what’s now known as the Bechdel test in 1985. The test is used to highlight gender inequality in works of fiction. To pass the test, a work must feature at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a boy or a man. Apparently, only half of movies made meet this criterion.

Down
1. New Orleans cocktail : SAZERAC
The New Orleans cocktail known as a Sazerac is a mixture of rye, absinthe, bitters and sugar. The use of rye is a little incongruous given that the cocktail is named for Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of Cognac that was originally the base spirit.

2. They can’t stay quiet when tickled : IVORIES
The traditional materials used for the manufacture of piano keys were ebony (black) and ivory (white). Ebony is still used, but this is now covered with plastic instead of ivory to make the white keys.

5. Player, perhaps : CAD
Our word “cad”, meaning “a person lacking in finer feelings”, is a shortening of the word “cadet”. “Cad” was first used for a servant, and then students at British universities used “cad” as a term for a boy from the local town. “Cad” took on its current meaning in the 1830s.

6. “None but the Lonely Heart” writer/director, 1944 : ODETS
Clifford Odets was a playwright, screenwriter and director from Philadelphia.

10. French pronoun : ILS
“Ils” is the French for “they”, if not referring to feminine nouns (when “they” translates as “elles”).

12. Sprint competitor : VERIZON
The telecommunications company that we know today as Verizon was founded in 1983 as Bell Atlantic, and was one of the “Baby Bells” that were formed after the breakup of AT&T. Bell Atlantic merged with fellow Baby Bell NYNEX in 1997, and then merged with GTE in 2000 to form Verizon. The new company name is a portmanteau of “veritas” (“truth” in Latin) and “horizon”.

The company that we know today as Sprint has a history that is linked with the Southern Pacific railroad company. Southern Pacific developed a microwave communication system for its internal use across its network using rights-of-way associated with the company’s extensive railway lines. In the early seventies, the company laid huge lengths of fiber optic cable in those rights-of-way, alongside the tracks, primarily for internal use. The railroad sold excess fiber capacity to private companies, allowing those companies to operate long distance telephone service outside of AT&T, which at that time had a long-distance monopoly. Southern Pacific took advantage of changing FCC regulations and started offering voice service directly to consumers. That service was offered under the name SPRINT, an acronym that stood for Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Networking Telephony. Very interesting …

22. Snapchat feature that alters one’s features : FACE SWAP
Snapchat is a messaging system that allows users to send photos and video clips to a limited list of recipients. The photos and clips, called “snaps”, can be viewed for only a few seconds before they are deleted from the recipient’s device, and from the Snapchat servers.

26. Political cartoonist Edward : SOREL
Edward Sorel is an illustrator and cartoonist from New York City. He is noted for creating content that is critical of right-wing politics and organized religion.

33. Lab, for one : POOCH
The Labrador (Lab) breed of dog has been around at least since 1814. The breed comes in three registered colors: black, yellow and chocolate.

44. Western legend, familiarly : THE DUKE
John Wayne was called Marion Mitchell Morrison at birth, named after his grandfather who was a Civil War veteran. When young Marion was a little boy, a local fireman used to call him “Little Duke” because he was always seen walking with his large dog called “Duke”. Marion liked the name “Duke” and so he called himself Duke Morrison for the rest of his life. That said, Duke Morrison also used John Wayne as a stage name.

45. Some shooting stars : AIR ACES
A flying ace is an aviator who has shot down a number of enemy planes during combat. The qualifying number of kills seems to vary, but five is common. The first use of “ace” was during WWI when the French newspapers dubbed pilot Adolphe Pegoud “l’as” (French for “the ace”) when he shot down his fifth German plane.

46. Gullible rodent in a Scott Adams comic : RATBERT
“Dilbert” is a comic strip written by Scott Adams, a “neighbor” of mine here in the Bay Area. Adams used to be co-owner of a restaurant at the end of my street that had a menu replete with “Dilbertesque” comments.

53. Ski town near Mount Mansfield : STOWE
Stowe ski resort is located on the slopes of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, near the town of Stowe, Vermont. Alpine skiing was brought first to Mount Mansfield, after the Civilian Conservation Corps cut trails back in 1933. The following year, Mount Mansfield was home to the first ski patrol in the nation, which became the model for the National Ski Patrol.

62. Spanish seasoning : SAL
In Spanish, “sal” (salt) is a “condimento” (seasoning).

63. ___-tab : ALT
By pressing the Alt and Tab key at the same time on a PC, a user can alternate between windows open on the desktop. This keyboard shortcut is known as Task Switcher or Flip.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Part of a modern circuit : SILICON CHIP
12. Onetime MTV figures : VJS
15. Vegan sushi option : AVOCADO ROLL
16. Extended stretch : EON
17. Regional coverage plan? : ZONE DEFENSE
18. Marble ___ : RYE
19. Bit of work : ERG
20. Bit of work : TASK
21. Lit : AFIRE
23. Muckraker who pushed for “model tenements” : RIIS
25. Things with periods in their names : SITES
27. Actor Ansari : AZIZ
28. “Look before you leap” source : AESOP
30. Control+Y on a PC : REDO
31. Reading block? : CODE
32. Optometrist’s favorite musical note? : C-SHARP
34. Became clouded over : DARKENED
36. [Just like that!] : POOF!
38. Hamilton settings : TENS
39. Real-life ice age beast seen on “Game of Thrones” : DIRE WOLF
43. Like some light smokes : LOW-TAR
47. Played for a sap : USED
48. Place to pick up chicks : COOP
50. Brazil’s fourth-largest state by population : BAHIA
51. The Philippines’ ___ Archipelago : SULU
52. Egyptian sky god : HORUS
54. Smart : PERT
55. Some chess sacrifices : TRAPS
57. Let : RENT
58. Celebratory move popularized by Cam Newton : DAB
59. “Mr.” who has stitches in his face : MET
60. Sloppy joe ingredient : TOMATO SAUCE
64. Work that shows love : ODE
65. “Meridian” and “The Temple of My Familiar” novelist : ALICE WALKER
66. Edamame discard : POD
67. Metric for gauging female representation in works of fiction : BECHDEL TEST

Down
1. New Orleans cocktail : SAZERAC
2. They can’t stay quiet when tickled : IVORIES
3. Like a film that’s 2 1/2 hours or so : LONGISH
4. Fish market supply : ICE
5. Player, perhaps : CAD
6. “None but the Lonely Heart” writer/director, 1944 : ODETS
7. “That’s cheating!” : NO FAIR!
8. Like a blue jay : CRESTED
9. Like bad drivers, often : HONKED AT
10. French pronoun : ILS
11. “Listen!,” e.g. : PLEA
12. Sprint competitor : VERIZON
13. Driving the wrong way? : JOYRIDE
14. Welcomed blessing? : SNEEZED
22. Snapchat feature that alters one’s features : FACE SWAP
24. Got into a lather : SOAPED UP
26. Political cartoonist Edward : SOREL
29. Stem : PROW
33. Lab, for one : POOCH
35. Gearshift part : KNOB
37. Amplifier for stage actors : FLOOR MIC
39. Bunny picker-upper? : DUST MOP
40. “Heck yeah!” : I SURE DO!
41. Kin : RELATED
42. Individually : FOR EACH
44. Western legend, familiarly : THE DUKE
45. Some shooting stars : AIR ACES
46. Gullible rodent in a Scott Adams comic : RATBERT
49. Kicked : PUNTED
53. Ski town near Mount Mansfield : STOWE
56. Run through : STAB
61. Stadium cry : OLE!
62. Spanish seasoning : SAL
63. ___-tab : ALT

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10 thoughts on “0520-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 20 May 17, Saturday”

  1. When I "finished" this puzzle and got the "almost there" message, 35 or 40 minutes had gone by and I had exactly the same errors as Bill. By the time I realized that LOW-TAR was a better answer than NON-TAR and entered it, the clock read 42:25. (And I'm surprised I did that well, given the number of rather obscure entries and some difficult cluing.)

    One of the clues goes well beyond clever misdirection and comes close to outright error: "Welcomed blessing?" for SNEEZED. I would certainly accept "Invited blessing?" or "Evoked blessing", but I am unable to come up with an interpretation of the original clue that makes good sense to me. (It doesn't have that "just-right" feel I have come to expect from a clue in an NYT puzzle.) Still, I got it …

    Another challenging romp at the hands of young Mr. Steinberg (and an accomplice) … 🙂

  2. Another difficult one from David Steinberg (Grrr) and, in this case, Paolo Pasco.

    Spent 67 minutes on it and gave up when I just couldn't fuigure out the lower left corner. Finished everything else error free. I wanted to put "swaps" for chess sacrifices as they are definitely swaps of pieces – sacrificing one for another. That led to "yes we do" rather than I SURE DO. Didn't think of Mr. MET the baseball mascot at all. Stitches? Grr.

    I cheated on SAZERAC. I just saw it on a special on drinking called The United States of Drinking on The Smithsonian Channel, of all places. The special was about distilling and spirits, not temperance, fortunately. At first I thought a hurricane, but it didn't fit.

    I actually got the part that stumped Bill and Dave. Mark this date down. In fact LOW TAR unlocked that little area for me.

    Not a huge fan of AVOCADO, but I'll tolerate them. Didn't realize they're technically a fruit like a tomato. Reminded me of this saying: A wise man knows a tomato is a fruit. A man with wisdom knows not to put one in fruit salad….. Words to live by.

    Good tough challenge.

    Best –

  3. Dave as far as the clue for SNEEZED – In these instances, I use my own heuristic in that if you can create a sentence – any sentence; even just one – where you can substitute the clue for the answer, it should be ok. By that test, I couldn't come up with a scenario where I could get the syntax right. I tend to agree with you that it isn't quite right.

    I SNEEZED vs I welcomed a blessing (i.e. after I sneezed) is as close as I could come. This will disturb me today. Perhaps I should seek solice in a SAZERAC…

    Best –

  4. 32:36, 3 errors. 12A VJK; 27A AZIL; 14D KNEELED. Thought I made it through this with no errors, then I read the above comments and realized that 14D was supposed to be SNEEZED. Agree with previous poster that this was a very poor clue. VJ'S and AZIZ Ansari were unfamiliar to me, and therefore no help. A lot of other unfamiliar subjects today, but was able to suss out the rest.

  5. 45:17, and about 65% *correctly* filled. Had numerous errors in what I had managed to fill in. This one was ***devilishly*** hard, and seeing that even Bill had three errors, now I don't feel so bad.

  6. Just plain too tough today. Couldn't hack it. Mr. Steinberg is very good, and sometimes very tough, this time aided and abetted by Mr. Pasco. Thank you (I think), gentlemen.

  7. There's that "mic" again!

    Hi — I've never posted, but sure do appreciate your blog, Bill.

    But I have to chime in on the discussion about "mic" from a few weeks ago. Surely that has to be pronounced like Mick — cf. tic, sic, Bic — if it's to rhyme with bike, it really has to be spelled mike, no?

    I'm not even going to tell how long it takes me to do these!

  8. In my experience, English spelling and pronunciation are consistently inconsistent … 😳 … I'm just glad no one decided to spell it MIQ … 😄 … or, even better, MYQUE … 😄

  9. We thought it was pretty tough, but we didn't make any misteaks. We DID have to look up ALICE WALKER, which to many means we didn't finish, or cheated, or whatever. We thought we had it with ALICE WALTON, and looked her up to check. She is a WalMart heir, but not the novelist. C'est la vie.

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