0920-18 NY Times Crossword 20 Sep 18, Thursday

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Constructed by: Sam Ezersky
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Stranded while Solving

Themed answers each include one of the words THREAD, LACE or STRING. Those words snake up and down between two rows as they work across the grid:

  • 17A. Series of exchanges in a chat window : MESSAGE THREAD
  • 34A. Woven into : INTERLACED WITH
  • 47A. Group that bows onstage : STRING SECTION

Bill’s time: 21m 08s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. African menace : MAMBA

Mambas, and most famously black mambas, are highly venomous snakes that used to be responsible for a great number of fatalities before anti-venoms became available. Mamba venom is a deadly mix of neurotoxins that attack the nervous system and cardiotoxins that attack the heart. A bite, if left untreated, causes the lungs and the heart to shut down.

13. Six-time M.L.B. All-Star Rusty : STAUB

Rusty Staub had a relatively long career in baseball, having played his first game at the age of 19 and his last at age 41. Staub was one of only three players who hit home runs in the majors before the age of 20 as well as after the age of 40. The others are Gary Sheffield (never heard of him!) and Ty Cobb (heard of him!).

16. Place securely : ENSCONCE

To ensconce oneself, one settles securely or comfortably somewhere. Back in the late 1500s, “to ensconse” meant “to cover with a fort” as a “sconse” is a small defensive fort or earthwork.

19. Longtime parent of Parlophone : EMI

EMI was a British music company, with the initialism standing for Electric and Musical Industries.

Parlophon was founded in 1896 as a German company, with the British branch called Parlophone Records opening for business in 1923. The biggest act to record with Parlophone was undoubtedly the Beatles, before the band launched its own label called Apple.

26. Part of a Disneyland postal address : ANAHEIM, CA

Walt Disney came up with the idea of building Disneyland after visiting other theme parks with his daughters in the thirties and forties. He started building the park at Anaheim, California in 1954, and the facility opened just one year and one day later. The total cost of construction was $17 million. Opening day did not go smoothly, largely because over 28,000 people visited the park compared to the 11,000 people expected at the invitation-only event. The opening day went so badly that for years Disney executives referred to it as “Black Sunday”.

30. “Jay Leno’s Garage” channel : CNBC

CNBC is a business news channel owned by NBC. Launched in 1989, CNBC was known as the Consumer News and Business Channel up until 1991.

“Jay Leno’s Garage” is a weekly show that has aired on TV since 2015. The show originated as a web series for NBC, but popularity dictated a move to primetime. The show focuses on Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage located in Burbank, California that houses his huge collection of cars and motorcycles.

32. Hosp. procedure with a readout : ECG

An EKG measures electrical activity in the heart. Back in my homeland of Ireland, an EKG is known as an ECG (for electrocardiogram). We use the German name in the US, Elektrokardiogramm, giving us EKG. Apparently the abbreviation EKG is preferred as ECG might be confused (if poorly handwritten, I guess) with EEG, the abbreviation for an electroencephalogram.

38. ___ soda : SAL

Sodium carbonate is a well known as a water softener sold for use in laundry, and is variously described as Sal Soda, Washing Soda and Soda Crystals.

45. 1950s title lyric after “When we are dancing and you’re dangerously near me …” : I GET IDEAS

Tony Martin was an actor and singer from San Francisco. He had hits in the thirties, forties and fifties such as “Walk Hand in Hand”, “Stranger in Paradise” and “I Get Ideas”. Martin’s second wife was actress and singer Cyd Charisse.

46. One from the Land of Cakes : SCOT

Scotland is sometimes referred to as the Land of Cakes. The name is a reference to the unleavened and unsweetened oatcakes that were a traditional staple.

58. In a frenzy : AMUCK

The phrase “to run amok” (sometimes “to run amuck”) has been around since the 1670s and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was also used as a noun to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. Given Malaya’s troubled history, the natives probably had good reason for that frenzy …

Down

1. Venue near Penn Station, for short : MSG

Madison Square Garden (MSG) is an arena in New York City used for a variety of events. In the world of sports it is home to the New York Rangers of the NHL, as well as the New York Knicks of the NBA. “The Garden” is also the third busiest music venue in the world in terms of ticket sales. The current arena is the fourth structure to bear the name, a name taken from the Madison Square location in Manhattan. In turn, the square was named for James Madison, the fourth President of the US.

2. Alter ego for Lex Luthor : ATOM MAN

Lex Luthor is the arch-nemesis of Superman in comics. Luthor has been portrayed in a number of guises in the comic world as well in movies and on the small screen. For example, he appeared as Atom Man in the 1950 film series “Atom Man vs. Superman”, and was played by actor Lyle Talbot, opposite Kirk Alyn’s Superman.

4. Prickly plant parts : BURS

“Bur” is a variant spelling of the word “burr”. Both terms apply to a seed vessel that has hooks or prickles on the outside.

8. Fantasy creature spawned from mud : ORC

Orcs are mythical humanoid creatures that appear in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. Since Tolkien’s use of orcs, they have also been featured in other fantasy fiction and in fantasy games.

9. “___: Ragnarok” (2017 film) : THOR

“Thor: Ragnarok” is a 2017 superhero film in the “Thor” series. Not my cup of tea …

“Ragnarök” is the name given to a set of events in Norse mythology that resulted in the deaths of many famous gods, including Odin and Thor.

10. Wine vessel : TUN

A “tun” is a barrel, often a large barrel used in winemaking. The term “tun” came to be a measure of volume, originally 252 gallons of wine. The weight of such a volume of wine was referred to as a “tun”, which evolved into our contemporary unit “ton”.

11. Worshiper of the sun god Inti : INCA

Inti was the sun god worshiped by the Incas. Images depicting Inti are featured on the national flags of several nations, including Argentina and Uruguay.

12. Part of an office building address: Abbr. : STE

Suite (ste.)

18. “___, ’tis true …” (start of a Shakespearean sonnet) : ALAS

William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Here is Sonnet 110:

Alas! ’tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made my self a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new;
Most true it is, that I have looked on truth
Askance and strangely; but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
Now all is done, have what shall have no end:
Mine appetite I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confined.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.

28. In-state attendees of Drake University, e.g. : IOWANS

Drake University is a private school in Des Moines, Iowa.

34. The rainbow personified : IRIS

Iris is a genus of flowering plants that come in a wide variety of flower colors. The term “iris” is a Greek word meaning “rainbow”. Many species of irises are called “flags”. One suggestion is that the alternate name comes from the Middle English “flagge” meaning “reed”. This term was used because iris leaves look like reeds.

41. Tiny amount of time: Abbr. : NSEC

“Nanosecond” is more correctly abbreviated to “ns” (as opposed to “nsec”) and really is a tiny amount of time: one billionth of a second.

44. Brand at a garage : STP

STP is a brand name for automotive lubricants and additives. The name “STP” is an initialism standing for “Scientifically Treated Petroleum”.

49. Hackneyed : STALE

Hackney is a location in London, and it probably gave it’s name to a “hackney”, an ordinary type of horse around 1300. By 1700 a “hackney” was a person hired to do routine work, and “hackneyed” meant “kept for hire”, and then “stale, uninteresting”. This morphed into a hackney carriage, a carriage or car for hire, and into “hack”, a slang term for a taxi driver or cab.

51. Fashionably high-class : TONY

Something described as tony is elegant or exclusive. “Tony” is derived from the word “tone”.

53. Some dip, informally : GUAC

Guacamole is one of my favorite dishes. It is prepared by mashing avocados and perhaps adding the likes of tomato, onion and lime juice. The guacamole recipe dates back as early as the 16th century, to the time of the Aztecs. “Guacamole” translates as “avocado sauce”.

55. Tour division : GIG

Musicians use “gig” to describe a job, a performance. The term originated in the early 1900s in the world of jazz. The derivative phrase “gig economy” applies to a relatively recent phenomenon where workers find themselves jumping from temporary job to temporary job, from gig to gig.

57. ___ Speedwagon : REO

REO Speedwagon is an American rock band that formed in 1967, and is still going strong. The band’s biggest hits are “Keep On Loving You” (1980) and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” (1985). The founding members chose the name for the REO Speed Wagon flatbed truck. Note that the band’s name is one word “Speedwagon”, whereas the vehicle’s name uses two words “Speed Wagon”.

59. Only 5-point tile in Scrabble : KAY

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. African menace : MAMBA
6. Opening between the vocal cords : GLOTTIS
13. Six-time M.L.B. All-Star Rusty : STAUB
14. Outing at which participants go hog-wild? : BOAR HUNT
15. Run out, as a well : GO DRY
16. Place securely : ENSCONCE
17. Series of exchanges in a chat window : MESSAGE THREAD
19. Longtime parent of Parlophone : EMI
20. Gross figure : SLOB
24. “Ciao!” : TA-TA!
26. Part of a Disneyland postal address : ANAHEIM, CA
30. “Jay Leno’s Garage” channel : CNBC
31. They’re connected to arteries : SIDE ROADS
32. Hosp. procedure with a readout : ECG
34. Woven into : INTERLACED WITH
38. ___ soda : SAL
39. Rodenticide : RAT POISON
42. Catches : NABS
45. 1950s title lyric after “When we are dancing and you’re dangerously near me …” : I GET IDEAS
46. One from the Land of Cakes : SCOT
47. Group that bows onstage : STRING SECTION
48. For all ___ : AGES
50. Trophy : CUP
55. Completely fall apart : GO TO RUIN
58. In a frenzy : AMUCK
60. Without intermission : IN ONE ACT
61. First fill-in on many a form : LINE A
62. Contributor to a locker room odor : GYM SOCK
63. Door : ENTRY

Down

1. Venue near Penn Station, for short : MSG
2. Alter ego for Lex Luthor : ATOM MAN
3. Improved the situation : MADE IT BETTER
4. Prickly plant parts : BURS
5. You’ll never get to the bottom of this : ABYSS
6. Rotted : GONE BAD
7. In the cellar : LAST
8. Fantasy creature spawned from mud : ORC
9. “___: Ragnarok” (2017 film) : THOR
10. Wine vessel : TUN
11. Worshiper of the sun god Inti : INCA
12. Part of an office building address: Abbr. : STE
14. Brightly colored perennial : BEGONIA
18. “___, ’tis true …” (start of a Shakespearean sonnet) : ALAS
19. Series finale? : ETC
21. Drives in a field : HERDS
22. Corresponding need? : EMAIL ACCOUNT
23. Jet (off) : DASH
25. Stomach : ACCEPT
27. Half a laugh : HEE
28. In-state attendees of Drake University, e.g. : IOWANS
29. Summer hrs. for 28-Down : CDT
33. Something it’s bad to pull : GROIN
34. The rainbow personified : IRIS
35. Badger or hound : NAG
36. Top : LID
37. Associate in finance, say : CO-AGENT
40. Blue-green? : SEASICK
41. Tiny amount of time: Abbr. : NSEC
43. Nightclub hiree : BOUNCER
44. Brand at a garage : STP
49. Hackneyed : STALE
51. Fashionably high-class : TONY
52. Makeup of some sci-fi beams : IONS
53. Some dip, informally : GUAC
54. “Let’s do this thing!” : I’M IN!
55. Tour division : GIG
56. Barnyard male : TOM
57. ___ Speedwagon : REO
59. Only 5-point tile in Scrabble : KAY