0726-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 26 Jul 17, Wednesday

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Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD CONSTRUCTOR: Brian Cox
THEME: Knock Knock! Who’s There? …
Each of today’s themed clue and answer combine to make the penultimate and ultimate lines of a “knock knock” joke, with each clue being a person’s name:

17A. Response to “Knock knock” : WHO’S THERE?

21A. “Esther …” : ANYONE HOME? (“is there” anyone home?)
36A. “Yvonne …” : TO BE ALONE (“I want” to be alone”)
42A. “Sadie …” : MAGIC WORD (“say the” magic word”)
52A. “Ken …” : I GET AN AMEN? (“can” I get an amen?)
62A. “Luke …” : MA, NO HANDS (“look, Ma, no hands!?)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 36s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. “Common Sense” pamphleteer : PAINE
Thomas Paine was an English author who achieved incredible success with his pamphlet “Common Sense” published in 1776 which advocated independence of colonial America from Britain. Paine had immigrated to the American colonies just two years before his pamphlet was published, and so was just in time to make a major contribution to the American Revolution.

6. Rambler maker of old, for short : AMC
When Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company came together in 1954, it was the largest US corporate merger to date. The new company was called American Motors Corporation (AMC), and was of a size that could compete with the “Big Three” automakers. A few months after the merger, George W. Romney was given the top job at AMC. George was father of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The Nash Rambler is credited with establishing a new segment in the North American auto market. It is often cited as the first successful American compact car.

9. Hindu on a bed of nails : FAKIR
A fakir (also “faqir”) is an ascetic in the Muslim tradition. The term “fakir” is derived from “faqr”, an Arabic word for “poverty”.

14. Yellowstone has more than two million of them : ACRES
Yellowstone was the first National Park to be established in the world, when it was designated as such by President Grant in 1872. What a great tradition it started! The American National Parks truly are a treasure.

16. 2006 Supreme Court appointee : ALITO
Associate Justice Samuel Alito was nominated to the US Supreme Court by President George W. Bush. Alito is the second Italian-American to serve on the Supreme Court (Antonin Scalia was the first). Alito studied law at Yale and while in his final year he left the country for the first time in his life, heading to Italy to work on his thesis about the Italian legal system.

17. Response to “Knock knock” : WHO’S THERE?

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Irish
Irish who?
Irish you in the name of the law!

19. Fr. misses : MLLES
“Señorita” (Srta.) is Spanish and “Mademoiselle” (Mlle.) is French for “Miss”.

25. Ore-___ (frozen food brand) : IDA
Ore-Ida frozen foods are all made using potatoes. The company is located in Oregon, just across the border from Idaho. “Ore-Ida” is a melding of the two state names.

31. Not genuine: Abbr. : IMIT
Imitation (imit.)

39. Natalie Portman or Gene Simmons, by birth : ISRAELI
The actress Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She moved to the US with her family when she was just three years old.

“Gene Simmons” is the stage name of musician Chaim Witz, who was born in Haifa, Israel. Simon’s adopts the stage persona “The Demon” when performing with Kiss the rock band that he formed in 1973 with Paul Stanley.

41. Some E.R. cases : ODS
Someone taking an overdose (OD) often ends up in an emergency room (ER).

47. Like all prime numbers but one : ODD
The only prime number that isn’t odd is the number 2.

A prime number is a number greater than 1 that can only be divided evenly by 1 and itself. There are still some unanswered questions involving prime numbers, perhaps most notably Goldbach’s Conjecture. This conjecture dates back to the 1740s and is assumed to be true, but has never been proven. It states that every even integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two prime numbers.

48. Where Dorothy and Toto are from : KANSAS
Toto is Dorothy’s dog in the film “The Wizard of Oz”, and in the original book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. Toto was played in the movie by a dog called Terry, but Terry’s name was soon changed to Toto in real life due to the success of the film.

49. Camera type, in brief : SLR
SLR stands for “single lens reflex”. Usually cameras with changeable lenses are the SLR type. The main feature of an SLR is that a mirror reflects the image seen through the lens out through the viewfinder, so that the photographer sees exactly what the lens sees. The mirror moves out of the way as the picture is taken, and the image that comes through the lens falls onto unexposed film, or nowadays onto a digital sensor.

52. “Ken …” : I GET AN AMEN? (“can” I get an amen?)
The word “amen” translates as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is also likely to be influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.

57. In ___ of (replacing) : LIEU
As one might perhaps imagine, “in lieu” comes into English from the Old French word “lieu” meaning “place”, which in turn is derived from the Latin “locum”, also meaning “place”. So, “in lieu” means “in place of”.

61. S.S.N., e.g. : TAX ID
The main purpose of a Social Security Number (SSN) is to track individuals for the purposes of taxation, although given its ubiquitous use, it is looking more and more like an identity number to me. The social security number system was introduced in 1936. Prior to 1986, an SSN was required only for persons with substantial income so many children under 14 had no number assigned. For some years the IRS had a concern that a lot of people were claiming children on their tax returns who did not actually exist. So, from 1986 onward, it is a requirement to get an SSN for any dependents over the age of 5. Sure enough, in 1987 seven million dependents “disappeared”.

64. General local weather pattern : CLIME
“Clime” is just another word for climate, as in the expression “in search of warmer climes”.

65. Like some stock trades, for short : OTC
Over-the-counter (OTC) trading of stocks is a way of trading directly between two parties, as opposed to exchange trading in which trading occurs in an exchange.

66. Like a merino : OVINE
The Latin word for “sheep” is “ovis”, giving us the adjective “ovine”, meaning “like a sheep”.

The Merino breed of sheep is prized for the soft quality of its wool.

69. Often-buggy software versions : BETAS
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.

Down
2. Need ibuprofen, say : ACHE
“Ibuprofen” is a shortened version of the drug’s name: Iso-BUtyl-PROpanoic-PHENolic acid. Ibuprofen is primarily an anti-inflammatory, but apparently it is good for headaches too.

7. Musical partner of Peter and Paul : MARY
Peter, Paul and Mary were a folk-singing trio who got together in 1961. The group’s members were Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers. Peter, Paul and Mary’s big hit was 1963’s “Puff, the Magic Dragon”.

8. Queen of the Nile, briefly : CLEO
Cleopatra was the last pharaoh to rule Egypt. After she died, Egypt became a province in the Roman Empire.

12. Subject for gossips : ITEM
An unmarried couple known to be involved with each other might appear in the gossip columns. This appearance as “an item” in the papers, led to the use of “item” to refer to such a couple, but only since the very early seventies.

13. Jack’s love in “Titanic” : ROSE
When James Cameron made his epic movie “Titanic”, released in 1997, it was the most expensive film ever made, costing about $200 million. It was a good investment for the studio as it became the highest-grossing film of all time, bringing in over $1.8 billion. “Titanic” remained the highest-grossing film until 2010, when Cameron eclipsed the prior record with “Avatar”.

18. ___ metal (1980s music subgenre) : HAIR
“Hair metal” is also known as “glam metal” and is a sub-genre of hard rock. Glam metal is a bit much for me, but I was a fan of glam rock in the seventies.

22. British pol Farage : NIGEL
British politician Nigel Farage used to be the leader of UKIP, the UK Independence Party. Farage is a noted “Eurosceptic” and was a leading voice in the movement that led to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. I note that Farage seems to have some credibility here in the US, but quite frankly he is the subject of considerable ridicule in the UK. He is a Member of the European Parliament, but has never managed to win a UK parliamentary election.

24. KenKen solver’s need : LOGIC
KenKen is an arithmetic and logic puzzle invented quite recently, in 2004 by a Japanese math teacher named Tetsuya Miyamoto. “Ken” is the Japanese word for “cleverness”.

26. Washington establishment, so to speak : SWAMP
Drain the swamp … we’re all drowning!

28. Many a September birth : VIRGO
The astrological sign of Virgo is associated with the constellation of the same name. The Virgo constellation is related to maidens (virgins), purity and fertility.

32. Eighth-century conquerors of Iberia : MOORS
The Ebro is the longest river in Spain. The river was known by the Romans as the Iber, and it is the “Iber” river that gives the “Iberian” Peninsula its name.

33. Second-most-populous nation : INDIA
The vast Asian country called India takes its name from the Indus River. The name “Indus” in turn comes from the Sanskrit “Sindhu” that can be translated as “a body of trembling water”. India is the second-most populous country in the world (after China), and the most populous democracy.

48. Vegas numbers game : KENO
The name “Keno” has French or Latin roots, with the French “quine” being a term for five winning numbers, and the Latin “quini” meaning “five each”. The game originated in China and was introduced into the West by Chinese immigrants who were working on the first Transcontinental Railroad in the 1800s.

50. Fills with cargo : LADES
The verb “lade” meaning “to load” comes from an Old English word “hladan”. Lade also used to mean “to draw water” and indeed gave us our word “ladle”. So “lade” and “ladle” are close cousins.

51. Biden’s successor as V.P. : PENCE
Mike Pence served as the 50th Governor of Indiana from 2013 until 2017, when he became the 48th Vice President of the US in the Trump administration. Famously, Vice President Pence has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”, although he grew up in an Irish Catholic Democrat family.

55. “Chicago” simpleton ___ Hart : AMOS
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 …

56. One to whom you might say “G’day!” : MATE
In Australia, one might say “G’day” to one’s mate/pal.

59. Pulitzer winner Ferber : EDNA
Edna Ferber was a novelist and playwright from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ferber won a Pulitzer for her novel “So Big”, which was made into a film a few times, most famously in 1953 starring Jane Wyman. Ferber also wrote “Show Boat”, “Cimarron” and “Giant”, which were adapted successful for the stage and/or big screen.

60. Plays for a sap : USES
“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.

63. Play ___ with (do mischief to) : HOB
“To play hob” is to make mischief, to play the clown. “Hob” is short for “hobgoblin”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. “Common Sense” pamphleteer : PAINE
6. Rambler maker of old, for short : AMC
9. Hindu on a bed of nails : FAKIR
14. Yellowstone has more than two million of them : ACRES
15. Guy’s square dance partner : GAL
16. 2006 Supreme Court appointee : ALITO
17. Response to “Knock knock” : WHO’S THERE?
19. Fr. misses : MLLES
20. On its way : SENT
21. “Esther …” : ANYONE HOME? (“is there” anyone home?)
23. Cut, as with a letter opener : SLIT
25. Ore-___ (frozen food brand) : IDA
26. One referred to as “my hero!” : SAVIOR
29. Witchy woman : HAG
31. Not genuine: Abbr. : IMIT
35. Squeeze moisture from : WRING
36. “Yvonne …” : TO BE ALONE (“I want” to be alone”)
38. Go public with : AIR
39. Natalie Portman or Gene Simmons, by birth : ISRAELI
41. Some E.R. cases : ODS
42. “Sadie …” : MAGIC WORD (“say the” magic word”)
44. Reason to earn a badge : MERIT
46. Whodunit’s essence : PLOT
47. Like all prime numbers but one : ODD
48. Where Dorothy and Toto are from : KANSAS
49. Camera type, in brief : SLR
51. Shelter rescues, e.g. : PETS
52. “Ken …” : I GET AN AMEN? (“can” I get an amen?)
57. In ___ of (replacing) : LIEU
61. S.S.N., e.g. : TAX ID
62. “Luke …” : MA, NO HANDS (“look, Ma, no hands!?)
64. General local weather pattern : CLIME
65. Like some stock trades, for short : OTC
66. Like a merino : OVINE
67. Can’t stomach : HATES
68. Drop in on : SEE
69. Often-buggy software versions : BETAS

Down
1. Handles clumsily : PAWS
2. Need ibuprofen, say : ACHE
3. Mineral plentiful in kale : IRON
4. Occupies, as a bird does a tree : NESTS IN
5. Ballpark fig. : EST
6. Secret ___ : AGENT
7. Musical partner of Peter and Paul : MARY
8. Queen of the Nile, briefly : CLEO
9. World-renowned : FAMED
10. Words of acclamation : ALL HAIL!
11. Scale unit, in most of the world : KILO
12. Subject for gossips : ITEM
13. Jack’s love in “Titanic” : ROSE
18. ___ metal (1980s music subgenre) : HAIR
22. British pol Farage : NIGEL
24. KenKen solver’s need : LOGIC
26. Washington establishment, so to speak : SWAMP
27. Typeface similar to Helvetica : ARIAL
28. Many a September birth : VIRGO
29. Overcollect? : HOARD
30. Tucked in : ABED
32. Eighth-century conquerors of Iberia : MOORS
33. Second-most-populous nation : INDIA
34. Components of some batteries : TESTS
36. Stepped heavily (on) : TROD
37. Align the cross hairs on : AIM AT
40. Like some testimony and enemies : SWORN
43. “The deadline has arrived” : IT’S TIME
45. Keep under one’s thumb : ENSLAVE
48. Vegas numbers game : KENO
50. Fills with cargo : LADES
51. Biden’s successor as V.P. : PENCE
52. Hankering : ITCH
53. Black-tie affair : GALA
54. Fire drill objective : EXIT
55. “Chicago” simpleton ___ Hart : AMOS
56. One to whom you might say “G’day!” : MATE
58. Rolling ___ (wealthy) : IN IT
59. Pulitzer winner Ferber : EDNA
60. Plays for a sap : USES
63. Play ___ with (do mischief to) : HOB

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12 thoughts on “0726-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 26 Jul 17, Wednesday”

  1. A little tougher than a usual Wednesday. ABED really threw me (in bed=ABED Sheesh) as did HOB. No errors in the end. KENO – worst odds in the house, I believe. I've never played it.

    @Anon –
    You have to set your mind back to when you were 5 years old (or in my case keep it as is). The names are the responses/puns to "Who's there?" used to create the knock knock jokes. Knock knock…who's there?…Esther…Esther who?…Esther (sounds like "Is there") ANYONE HOME? Who's there?….Luke..Luke who? Luke (Look) MA NO HANDS….etc.

    Best –

  2. Cute theme, and a fairly easy grid. Never heard HOB before but fortunately the crosses came through.
    ABED….sheesh is right. Words We Never Use Except In Crossword Puzzles, exhibit A.

  3. 19:16, no errors. Did not catch the 'theme' until about 60% through, with Yvonne TO BE ALONE. Recognized that the name formed part of a saying, but did not see the connection with knock-knock jokes. Thank you Bill and Jeff for the enlightenment.

    'Play HOB with' must be an across pond the expression, have not heard it before.

  4. No errors. I saw what was being done to the skewing of the first word in the expression but I did not catch on that it was a knock-knock joke. I actually thought that the puzzle was mocking Appalachian hillbilly speech. I am glad that it did not turn out that way. I would not want any localized speech variations to be mocked in a crossword.

  5. Good news: 10:19, no errors, so I'm off the schneid after 3 days of error-laden grids.

    Bad news: the name word play was shambolic, especially 36A, which is "forced" beyond belief. Even the famed actress' accent wasn't anywhere near that bad. I'm still not buying "HOB" for 63 down (who, in fact, says or said that, anyway??)

    This puzzle was embarrassingly bad. Shocking. Shortz' standards are slipping precipitously by the day.

  6. @Anonymous … IMHO, no one who says "off the schneid" (which I'd never heard of until now) should take umbrage at "plays hob with" (which I've heard and used my whole life). And the "knock, knock" references were right on (though they did, perhaps, require a tiny bit of imagination). Generational differences may be at work here. In any case: "Shortz Now, Shortz Forever!" shall be my new mantra! … 🙂

  7. I might differ with Shortz occasionally, but I always look at the bigger picture. Will Shortz has done more to elevate crossword puzzles than everyone else put together. To think of throwing this giant of the genre overboard is beyond the pale. Praises to you, Mr. Shortz, and do not let your critics get to you.

  8. 34 minutes, no errors. Completely terrible absurd and dumb grid. Most of that time was trying to figure out this completely asinine theme.

    FWIW, I'm with Anonymous. It's amazing how the New York Times has a reputation for being good when all the puzzles I've done have consistently been among the poorest quality grids put out on the market today. The Times would do exceedingly well with a change of editorial direction.

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