1109-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 9 Nov 2017, Thursday

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Constructed by: Bruce Haight
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: Back End

Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase that ends in the word “BACK”. However, the “back” is implied by writing the previous word backwards:

  • 17A. Words spoken just before a TV commercial : WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK (THGIR)
  • 26A. Words of retraction : I TAKE THAT BACK (TAHT)
  • 39A. Comment upon making a fateful decision : THERE’S NO TURNING BACK (GNINRUT)
  • 49A. “Uh-oh, here they are again” : GUESS WHO’S BACK (S’OHW)
  • 58A. Angry words said after “Get out of here!” : AND DON’T COME BACK! (EMOC)

Bill’s time: 20m 19s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5. James or Luther of R&B : INGRAM

James Ingram is a soul vocalist and an accomplished self-taught musician known for playing piano, guitar, drums and keyboard.

Luther Ingram was an R&B singer whose biggest hit by far was 1972’s “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right”.

15. Orator who declared “Laws are silent in times of war” : CICERO

Cicero was a very influential senator in Ancient Rome, in part due to his renowned ability to deliver a persuasive speech. His full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero.

16. Drink mentioned in the chorus of “American Pie” : RYE

Don McLean released his greatest hit, “American Pie”, back in 1971. Despite the song’s iconic position in the pop repertoire, McLean has been remarkably reticent about its origins and the meaning of the lyrics. We do know that it was inspired by the death of Buddy Holly in a plane crash (“the day the music died”). McLean has also told us that he first read about the death of his idol when delivering newspapers the day after the crash (“February made me shiver/with every paper I’d deliver”). Although the lyrics have been analyzed and interpreted in depth by many, McLean’s stance remains that it is just a poem set to music.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

19. I.R.S. form 5498 subj. : IRA

Individual retirement account (IRA)

20. Powerful bloodline? : AORTA

The aorta originates in the heart and extends down into the abdomen. It is the largest artery in the body.

21. “The Black Tulip” author : DUMAS

“The Black Tulip” is an 1850 historical novel by the French author Alexandre Dumas, père. Central to the plot is competition in the Netherlands to grow a black tulip, and win a prize of 100,000 Dutch guilders.

23. Polo, for one : SHIRT

René Lacoste was a French tennis player who went into the clothing business, and came up with a more comfortable shirt that players could use. This became known as a “tennis shirt”. When it was adopted for use in the sport of polo, the shirts also became known as “polo shirts”. The “golf shirt” is basically the same thing.

29. Bad-weather gear : PONCHO

A poncho is a typical South American outer garment that has been used by Native American peoples since pre-Hispanic times. One of the iconic uses of a poncho was by Clint Eastwood in spaghetti westerns.

31. Transfer : DECAL

A decal is a decorative sticker, with the name a shortening of “decalcomania”. The latter term is derived from the French “décalquer”, the practice of tracing a pattern from paper onto glass or perhaps porcelain.

32. Hebrides isle : IONA

Although the small island of Iona lies just off the west coast of Scotland, it was the site of a monastery built in the Middle Ages by a monk from Ireland names Colm Cille (also known as Columba). Colm Cille and his followers were sent into exile from the Irish mainland and settled in Iona, as at that time the island was part of an Irish kingdom. This monastery in Iona expanded its influence over the decades and founded other institutions all over Ireland and Great Britain. It is believed that the famous Book of Kells may have been written, or at least started, at the monastery on Iona. Iona is also the burial site for Macbeth, King of Scotland who was immortalized in Shakespeare’s fictional account of the king’s life.

The Hebrides is a group of islands just off the west coast of Scotland. The Hebrides are divided into two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

36. Credit Suisse rival : UBS

“UBS” was adopted as the official name of what was intended to be the United Bank of Switzerland when it was formed by a merger in 1998.

43. Swim meet event : MEDLEY

Competitive medley swimming can be either individual medley (one swimmer) or medley relay (four swimmers). The four different swimming styles used are:

  1. Butterfly
  2. Backstroke
  3. Breaststroke
  4. Freestyle

44. Brand with “Thick & Fluffy” products : EGGO

Eggo is the brand name of a line of frozen waffles made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced “Froffles”, the original name chosen by melding “frozen” and “waffles”.

53. Second-generation Japanese-American : NISEI

There are some very specific terms used to describe the children born to Japanese immigrants in their new country. The immigrants themselves are known as “Issei”. “Nisei” are second generation Japanese, “Sansei” the third generation (grandchildren of the immigrant), and “Yonsei” are fourth generation.

54. Pro and Mini purchases : IPADS

The iPad Pro tablet computer, released in November 2015, features a larger screen than all prior iPad models.

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.

64. Munchkin : TOT

“Munchkin” is a word that we use quite commonly these days, usually to describe a young child. The first Munchkins were characters created by L. Frank Baum in his book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, published in 1900.

65. Battle of ___ (1797 Napoleon victory) : RIVOLI

The Battle of Rivoli was a 1797 victory for the French, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, over the Austrians. The battle took place at Rivoli Veronese, a commune in the north of Italy. The famous Rue de Rivoli that passes alongside the Louvre Palace in Paris is named for the battle.

68. Told tales : YARNED

The phrase “to spin a yarn”, meaning “to tell a tall tale”, originated in the early 1800s with seamen. The idea was that sailors would tell stories to each other while engaged in mindless work such as twisting yarn.

Down

3. Fashion inits. : YSL

Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) was a French fashion designer, actually born in Algeria. Saint Laurent started off working as an assistant to Christian Dior at the age of 17. Dior died just four years later, and as a very young man Saint-Laurent was named head of the House of Dior. However, in 1950 Saint Laurent was conscripted into the French Army and ended up in a military hospital after suffering a mental breakdown from the hazing inflicted on him by his fellow soldiers. His treatment included electroshock therapy and administration of sedatives and psychoactive drugs. He was released from hospital, managed to pull his life back together and started his own fashion house. A remarkable story …

6. Mob boss Frank : NITTI

Frank Nitti was one of the top henchmen working for Al Capone. Unlike American-born Capone, Nitti was actually from Italy and was born near the city of Salerno. When Capone was eventually put away for 11 years for tax evasion, Nitti was convicted of the same crime. Nitti was only imprisoned for 18 months, and when released he was labelled as the new head of Capone’s Chicago Outfit. However the truth seems to be that he was just a frontman, with others making the decisions.

7. I.M.’ing option : GCHAT

“Gchat” is a common name for the Google Talk instant messaging service. Google Talk offers both text and voice communication as well as a plugin that allows video chat. All of this works seamlessly with Gmail, my personal favorite email client. That said, much of this functionality seems to have been replaced with the Google Hangouts service, and more recently Google Duo.

9. NPR journalist Shapiro : ARI

Ari Shapiro was the very able White House correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) for several years. He became a co-host of network’s drive-time program “All Things Considered” in 2015.

10. He adopted Esther in the Book of Esther : MORDECAI

Esther was a Jewish queen, wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus, and the heroine of the Book of Esther in the Bible. By the way, Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn’t mention the word “God”.

12. Variety of dark-skinned grape : SYRAH

The Iranian city of Shiraz has long been associated with wine, but there is no proven link between the city and the wine/grape we know today as “Shiraz” (also called “Syrah”). Having said that, some clay jars were found just outside of the city of Shiraz that contained wine; wine that was 7,000 years old!

13. Winemaking need : YEAST

Yeasts are unicellular microorganisms in the Fungi kingdom. The species of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been used for centuries in the making of wine and beer, and in breadmaking. Saccharomyces cerevisiae converts carbohydrates into carbon dioxide and alcohol in the process of fermentation. When making beer and wine, the carbon dioxide and alcohol may be captured by the liquid. When making bread, the carbon dioxide and alcohol is driven off by heat.

22. Actress Hagen : UTA

Uta Hagen was a German-born American actress. Hagen married Jose Ferrer in 1938, but they were divorced ten years later after it was revealed that she was having a long-running affair with Paul Robeson. Her association with Robeson, a prominent civil rights activist, earned her a spot on the Hollywood Blacklist during the McCarthy Era. This forced her away from film, but towards a successful stage career in New York City.

24. Kerfuffle : HOO-HA

“Kerfuffle” comes from the Scottish “curfuffle”, with both words meaning “disruption”.

28. Musician with the 1987 instrumental hit “Songbird” : KENNY G

Saxophonist Kenny G’s full name is Kenneth Bruce Gorelick. Kenny’s “G” might also stand for “golfer”, as in 2006 he was ranked by “Golf Digest” magazine as the number one golfer working in the field of music.

35. Cambodia’s Lon ___ : NOL

Lon Nol was a soldier and politician in Cambodia who later served twice as the country’s president. When the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975, Nol escaped the country to Indonesia. He eventually found a home in Fullerton, California, where he died in 1985.

38. Absolut rival, informally : STOLI

Stolichnaya is a brand of Russian vodka made from wheat and rye grain. Well, “Stoli” originated in Russia but now it’s made in Latvia, which is of course a completely different country, so you won’t see the word “Russian” on the label.

I must admit, if I ever do order a vodka drink by name, I will order the Absolut brand. I must also admit that I do so from the perspective of an amateur photographer. I’ve been swayed by the Absolut marketing campaign that features such outstanding photographic images. I’m sure you’ve come across examples …

40. Go-between : EMISSARY

An emissary is an ambassador, an agent sent on a mission, usually from one government to another. The term derives from the Latin “emissarius” meaning “that is sent out”.

41. Bases of TED talks : NEW IDEAS

The acronym “TED” stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. TED is a set of conferences held around the world by a non-profit group called the Sapling Foundation. The conference subjects are varied, and the meetings are often led by big names such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Gates and Jane Goodall. The Sapling Foundation then makes recordings of the conferences available for free online with the intent of disseminating the ideas globally. These conferences are known as “TED Talks”.

46. Acid : LSD

LSD (known colloquially as “acid”) is short for lysergic acid diethylamide. A Swiss chemist called Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 in a research project looking for medically efficacious ergot alkaloids. It wasn’t until some five years later when Hofmann ingested some of the drug accidentally that its psychedelic properties were discovered. Trippy, man …

52. More than 1% or 2% : WHOLE

The fatty component of milk is known as butterfat (sometimes “milkfat”). To be labeled whole milk, the butterfat content must be at least 3.25%. Low-fat milk is defined as milk containing 0.5-2% fat, with levels of 1% and 2% commonly found on grocery store shelves. Skim milk must contain less than 0.5% fat, and typically contains 0.1%.

56. Tennyson’s “Geraint and ___” : ENID

“Idylls of the King” is a cycle of twelve poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson that retells the tale of King Arthur. One of the “idylls” is the story of Geraint and Enid. This story is told in two parts: “The Marriage of Geraint” and “Geraint and Enid”. Tennyson’s Enid gave her name to the city of Enid, Oklahoma.

59. Long in Hollywood : NIA

Nia Long is an American actress who is probably best known for playing Will Smith’s sometime girlfriend and fiancee Lisa Wilkes on the TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.

60. Binge-watching aid, in brief : DVR

DVR (Digital Video Recorder)

61. There’s one for every season, for short : MVP

MVP (most valuable player)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Delights : JOYS
5. James or Luther of R&B : INGRAM
11. Liberal arts dept. : PSY
14. Further : ALSO
15. Orator who declared “Laws are silent in times of war” : CICERO
16. Drink mentioned in the chorus of “American Pie” : RYE
17. Words spoken just before a TV commercial : WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK (THGIR)
19. I.R.S. form 5498 subj. : IRA
20. Powerful bloodline? : AORTA
21. “The Black Tulip” author : DUMAS
23. Polo, for one : SHIRT
26. Words of retraction : I TAKE THAT BACK (TAHT)
29. Bad-weather gear : PONCHO
31. Transfer : DECAL
32. Hebrides isle : IONA
33. Pie flavor : BANANA
36. Credit Suisse rival : UBS
39. Comment upon making a fateful decision : THERE’S NO TURNING BACK (GNINRUT)
42. Attention : EAR
43. Swim meet event : MEDLEY
44. Brand with “Thick & Fluffy” products : EGGO
45. Heaven : BLISS
47. Proceed smoothly : GO WELL
49. “Uh-oh, here they are again” : GUESS WHO’S BACK (S’OHW)
53. Second-generation Japanese-American : NISEI
54. Pro and Mini purchases : IPADS
55. Per person : A HEAD
57. Man’s name that’s three consecutive letters of the alphabet : STU
58. Angry words said after “Get out of here!” : AND DON’T COME BACK! (EMOC)
64. Munchkin : TOT
65. Battle of ___ (1797 Napoleon victory) : RIVOLI
66. State : AVER
67. Person using binoculars, maybe : SPY
68. Told tales : YARNED
69. Able to move nicely : SPRY

Down

1. Gab : JAW
2. Shout accented on the second syllable : OLE!
3. Fashion inits. : YSL
4. Vehicle that gets cell service? : SOLAR CAR
5. One doing a mob hit : ICER
6. Mob boss Frank : NITTI
7. I.M.’ing option : GCHAT
8. Agcy. issuance : REG
9. NPR journalist Shapiro : ARI
10. He adopted Esther in the Book of Esther : MORDECAI
11. Sex drive and others : PRIMAL URGES
12. Variety of dark-skinned grape : SYRAH
13. Winemaking need : YEAST
18. This and that : BOTH
22. Actress Hagen : UTA
23. Hurt maliciously : SPITE
24. Kerfuffle : HOO-HA
25. What kindness and honesty reveal : INNER BEAUTY
27. Saw : ADAGE
28. Musician with the 1987 instrumental hit “Songbird” : KENNY G
30. Stew (over) : OBSESS
34. “Whereupon …” : AND SO …
35. Cambodia’s Lon ___ : NOL
37. General Mills corn snack bit : BUGLE
38. Absolut rival, informally : STOLI
40. Go-between : EMISSARY
41. Bases of TED talks : NEW IDEAS
46. Acid : LSD
48. Go ___ great length : ON AT
49. Essences : GISTS
50. “Gimme a high-five!” : UP TOP!
51. Wore : HAD ON
52. More than 1% or 2% : WHOLE
56. Tennyson’s “Geraint and ___” : ENID
59. Long in Hollywood : NIA
60. Binge-watching aid, in brief : DVR
61. There’s one for every season, for short : MVP
62. Poetic contraction : O’ER
63. Shout : CRY

3 thoughts on “1109-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 9 Nov 2017, Thursday”

  1. 32:43. I had a hunch about this theme early, but it still took me a while to pin it down. I kind of got WE’LL BE THGIR and I THAT TAHT at the same time. Having SYRAz before trying SYRAH on faith took a long time as well. Once I saw the theme, the bottom half went very fast.

    Had some good guesses in this one as well – CICERO, DUMAS, MORDECAI were filled in when they looked reasonable – not that I knew they were the answers.

    Best –

  2. 18:35, no errors, and, for once, I lucked out a bit: I had intended to stare at the “B” of UBS and BUGLE (a personal Natick) for a bit, but I accidentally filled in the last letter of the grid and got the “success” message. It took me a while to understand the gimmick of this one, and I’m a little surprised that the puzzle didn’t have a title or a note hinting at it. But … no matter … eventually the light came on … 😜

  3. 16:53. I kind of stumbled into getting the theme at 17A. I read the clue and wrote in “We’ll be right” and just left if thinking it was right even though it doesn’t make any sense as a full answer. Once I started on the downs I realized it was wrong but “right” and “thgir” are close enough that I was able to figure it out. After that it was fairly easy. I was surprised there wasn’t a revealer.

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