1121-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 21 Nov 2017, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Brian Thomas
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: Race from State Capitals

Today’s themed answers sound like common phrases used in auto racing, but refer to various nations. Those nations are referenced in the clues by citing the the country’s capital:

  • 19A. “The race has just begun, and it looks like the car from Warsaw will ___!” : POLE INTO FIRST (sounds like “pull into first”)
  • 30A. “Listen! You can hear the thundering roar as the car from Moscow goes ___!” : RUSSIAN PAST (sounds like “rushing past”)
  • 39A. “We’re getting close to the end as the car from Helsinki leads the way to the ___!” : FINNISH LINE (sounds like “finish line”)
  • 52A. “Wow! The car from Prague ekes out the victory by a nose and takes the ___!” : CZECHERED FLAG (sounds like “checkered flag”)

Bill’s time: 6m 32s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

8. Dwells (on) : HARPS

“To harp on” something is to talk too much about it. The original expression with the same meaning was “to harp on the same string”, which is a reference to the musical instrument.

13. Victor who wrote “Les Misérables” : HUGO

Victor Hugo was a French poet and playwright, known in his native country mainly for his poetry. However, outside of France, Hugo is perhaps more closely associated with his novels such as “Les Misérables” and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”.

Victor Hugo’s famous 1862 novel “Les Misérables”, has been translated into English several times. However, the title is usually left in the original French as a successful translation of “les misérables” seems to be elusive. Some suggestions for an English title are “The Wretched”, “The Victims” and “The Dispossessed”. The novel follows the lives of several characters including an ex-convict Jean Valjean, a fanatic police inspector Javert, a beautiful prostitute Fantine, and Fantine’s illegitimate daughter Cosette.

16. Tennis score just before winning a game : AD IN

In tennis, if the score reaches “deuce” (i.e. when both players have scored three points), then the first player to win two points in a row wins the game. The player who wins the point immediately after deuce is said to have the “advantage”. If the player with the advantage wins the next point then that’s two in a row and that player wins the game. If the person with the advantage loses the next point, then advantage is lost and the players return to deuce and try again. If the one of the players is calling out the score then if he/she has the advantage then that player announces “ad in” or more formally “advantage in”. If the score announcer’s opponent has the advantage, then the announcement is “ad out” or “advantage out”. Follow all of that …?

19. “The race has just begun, and it looks like the car from Warsaw will ___!” : POLE INTO FIRST (sounds like “pull into first”)

Warsaw is the capital of Poland. The city’s name translates into English as “belonging to Warsz”. Legend has it that Warsz was a fisherman who fell in love with a mermaid called Sawa. It’s a nice story, but actually Warsz was a nobleman from the 12th or 13th century who owned a local village.

22. Religious recluse : EREMITE

The Greek word for “uninhabited” is “eremos”, which is the root for “eremia” meaning both “desert” and “solitude”. The Greek word eremites then means “a person of the desert”. This was absorbed into Latin as “ermita”, meaning someone who lived in solitude or in an uninhabited area. We use “eremite” to mean the same thing, although the derivative term “hermit” is more common.

27. Hook’s henchman : SMEE

In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is Hook’s right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on the pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.

30. “Listen! You can hear the thundering roar as the car from Moscow goes ___!” : RUSSIAN PAST (sounds like “rushing past”)

Moscow is the capital of Russia. If one considers Europe to be all points west of the Ural Mountains, then Moscow is the most populous city on the European continent. Moscow also is home to more billionaires than any other city in the world, according to “Forbes” magazine. The city is named for the Moskva River which flows through Moscow. People from Moscow are referred to as Muscovites.

34. Letters on a wanted poster : AKA

Also known as (aka)

35. Supermarket IDs : UPCS

Universal Price Code or Universal Product Code (UPC)

39. “We’re getting close to the end as the car from Helsinki leads the way to the ___!” : FINNISH LINE (sounds like “finish line”)

Helsinki is the capital city of Finland, and is by far the country’s biggest urban area. In English we tend to stress the “-sink-” in “Helsinki”, whereas the Finns stress the “Hel-”.

43. Animal whose name sounds like a Greek letter : GNU

A gnu is also known as a wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. Wildebeest is actually the Dutch word for “wild beast”.

The Latin equivalent of the Greek letter “nu” is “N”. An uppercase nu looks just like the Latin capital N. However, the lowercase nu looks like our lowercase “v”. Very confusing …

44. Andy’s partner in old comedy : AMOS

“Amos ‘n’ Andy” was originally a radio sitcom that was on the air from the twenties right up to the fifties. It was about Amos Jones and Andy Brown, two farm workers from outside Atlanta who head to Chicago to make good for themselves. They eventually start up the Fresh Air Taxi Company. The show was somewhat groundbreaking for the time, as it depicted African Americans for the first time in positions of influence as business owners. There was a TV adaptation that aired from 1951 to 1953 and ran in syndication right up to 1966. I have never seen/heard the show, but it sounds like it is a classic …

45. Luau accessory : LEI

Nowadays the word “luau” denotes almost any kind of party on the Hawaiian Islands, but to the purist a luau is a feast that always includes a serving of poi, the bulbous underground stems of taro baked with coconut milk.

46. Wife in Oaxaca : SENORA

Oaxaca is a state in the southern part of Mexico on the Pacific coast. The state takes the name of Oaxaca, its largest city.

52. “Wow! The car from Prague ekes out the victory by a nose and takes the ___!” : CZECHERED FLAG (sounds like “checkered flag”)

The beautiful city of Prague is today the capital of the Czech Republic. Prague’s prominence in Europe has come and gone over the centuries. For many years, it was the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire.

55. World Golf Hall-of-Famer Lorena : OCHOA

Lorena Ochoa is a retired professional golfer from Mexico who was ranked as the number one female golfer in the world from 2007 to 2010.

57. “On the double!” : ASAP

As soon as possible (ASAP)

60. Bonkers : ZANY

Something described as “zany” is clownish and bizarre. “Zany” can also be a noun, a term used for a clown or a buffoon. The original noun was “Zanni”, a Venetian dialect variant of Gianni, short for Giovanni (John). Zanni was a character who appeared in comedy plays of the day, and was someone who aped the principal actors.

The word “bonkers” meaning “crazy” originated in the fifties. The term might come from navy slang meaning “slightly drunk”, behaving as though one received a “bonk” on the head.

61. Eclipse, to some : OMEN

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the shadow cast by the earth from the light of the sun, in other words when the earth is positioned directly between the sun and the moon. The more spectacular solar eclipse takes place when moon passes in front of the sun, so that the earth falls into the shadow cast by the moon.

Down

2. Old royal house : TUDOR

The Wars of the Roses was a series of civil wars fought for the throne of England between the rival Houses of Lancaster (with a symbol of a red rose) and York (with a symbol of a white rose). Ultimately the Lancastrians emerged victorious after Henry Tudor defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Henry was crowned King Henry VII, and so began the Tudor dynasty. Henry Tudor united the rival houses by marrying his cousin Elizabeth of York. Henry VII had a relatively long reign of 23 years that lasted until his death, after which his son succeeded to the throne as Henry VIII, continuing the relatively short-lived Tudor dynasty. Henry VIII ruled from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry VIII was the last male to lead the the House of Tudor, as his daughter Queen Elizabeth I died without issue. When Elizabeth died, the Scottish King James VI succeeded to the throne as James I of England and Ireland. James I was the first English monarch of the House of Stuart.

5. Hustler’s game : MONTE

Three-card monte is a confidence trick in which someone is goaded into betting money on the assumption that he or she can find the “money card” (usually a queen) among three cards placed face down. The “mark” who is being duped has all sorts of ways to lose and there are usually several people in on the scam, including others playing who seem to be winning.

6. Cartridge contents : AMMO

The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.

8. Tubman of the Underground Railroad : HARRIET

“Underground Railroad” is the name given to the network of people who helped slaves escape from the South to the free states in the North and Canada. The name was also used for the network of safe houses where the slaves could hide out en route. Some suggest that about 100,000 men, women and children were able to escape from slavery using the “Railroad”.

9. Sailor’s “Stop!” : AVAST!

“Avast” is a nautical term used to tell someone to stop or desist from what they are doing. The word comes from the Dutch “hou vast” meaning “hold fast”.

10. Person with dreads : RASTAFARI

Dreadlocks are matted coils of hair nowadays usually formed intentionally, although if one lets hair grow out without grooming then it naturally forms twisted and matted dreadlocks. The hairstyle is associated with the Rastafarian movement in which “dread” is a very positive term meaning “fear of the Lord”.

11. Circle on a cube : PIP

A pip is a dot on a die or a domino, or a mark on a playing card.

14. Sandinista’s foe : CONTRA

The Iran-Contra affair (also called “Irangate”) came to light in 1986. The “Iran” part of the scandal was the sale of arms to Iran by the Reagan administration, initially to facilitate the release of US hostages. This was done in secret largely because there was ostensibly a US arms embargo in place against Iran. The “Contra” part of the scandal arose when the man in charge of the operation, Oliver North, took funds from the arms sales and funneled the cash to the Contra militants who were fighting to topple the government in Nicaragua.

20. Rare grandfather clock numeral : IIII

Benjamin Franklin is featured on one side of the hundred-dollar bill (also called a “C-spot”), and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on the other side. There is a famous error in the image of Independence Hall. If you look closely at the clock face at the top of the building you can see that the “four” is written in Roman numerals as “IV”. However, on the actual clock on Independence Hall, the “four” is denoted by “IIII”, which has been the convention for clock faces for centuries.

There are several sizes of longcase clocks, tall and freestanding clocks driven by a pendulum swinging inside a tower below the clock face. A longcase clock over 6 feet tall is called a grandfather, and one below five feet is a granddaughter, One that falls between five and six feet is known as a grandmother. The name of the clock derives from an 1876 song called “My Grandfather’s Clock”.

21. Currier’s partner in lithography : IVES

Currier and Ives was a printmaking concern in New York City, run by Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives from 1834 to 1907. The firm specialized in making affordable, hand-colored black and white lithographs.

27. “Wheel of Fortune” turns : SPINS

Contestants have been spinning the “Wheel of Fortune” since the game show first aired in 1975.

28. Timbuktu’s land : MALI

The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa, south of Algeria. Formerly known as French Sudan, the nation’s most famous city is Timbuktu. Mali is the third-largest producer of gold on the continent, after South Africa and Ghana.

39. Where China is : FAR EAST

In geographical terms there are three “Easts”. The Near East and Middle East are terms that are often considered synonymous, although “Near East” tends to be used when discussing ancient history and “Middle East” when referring to the present day. The Near/Middle East encompasses most of Western Asia and Egypt. The term “Far East” describes East Asia (including the Russian Far East), Southeast Asia and South Asia.

40. Desktop computer that runs Safari : IMAC

Safari is Apple’s flagship Internet browser, one that is used on its Mac line of computers. A mobile version of Safari is included with all iPhones.

41. Like many a new parent : SLEEPY

Ain’t that the truth …

47. Absorber of UV rays : OZONE

Ozone gets its name from the Greek word ozein, meaning “to smell”. It was given this name as ozone’s formation during lightning storms was detected by the gas’s distinctive smell. Famously, there is a relatively high concentration of the gas in the “ozone layer” in the Earth’s stratosphere. This ozone layer provides a vital function for animal life on the planet as it absorbs most of the sun’s UV radiation. A molecule of ozone is made up of three oxygen atoms, whereas a “normal” oxygen has just two atoms.

48. Quaffed : DRANK

“Quaff” is both a verb and a noun. One “quaffs” (takes a hearty drink) of a “quaff” (a hearty drink).

51. James Bond, e.g. : AGENT

Ian Fleming is most famous for writing the “James Bond” series of spy novels. You might also know that he wrote the children’s story “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, which was made into a cute movie released in 1968 and even a stage musical that opened in 2002.

54. Son of Rebekah : ESAU

Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When their mother Rebekah gave birth to the twins “the first emerged red and hairy all over (Esau), with his heel grasped by the hand of the second to come out (Jacob)”. As Esau was the first born, he was entitled to inherit his father’s wealth (it was his “birthright”). Instead, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of a “mess of pottage” (a meal of lentils).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Wound on a dueler : STAB
5. Tarnish : MAR
8. Dwells (on) : HARPS
13. Victor who wrote “Les Misérables” : HUGO
14. “Here, boy!” : COME!
15. Benefit : AVAIL
16. Tennis score just before winning a game : AD IN
17. “This round’s ___” : ON ME
18. Like many a smoker’s voice : RASPY
19. “The race has just begun, and it looks like the car from Warsaw will ___!” : POLE INTO FIRST (sounds like “pull into first”)
22. Religious recluse : EREMITE
23. Basic readings for a hospital patient : VITALS
26. Lungful : AIR
27. Hook’s henchman : SMEE
29. In good health : FIT
30. “Listen! You can hear the thundering roar as the car from Moscow goes ___!” : RUSSIAN PAST (sounds like “rushing past”)
34. Letters on a wanted poster : AKA
35. Supermarket IDs : UPCS
36. Something kept in reserve? : OIL
37. Worry : FRET
38. Negative conjunction : NOR
39. “We’re getting close to the end as the car from Helsinki leads the way to the ___!” : FINNISH LINE (sounds like “finish line”)
43. Animal whose name sounds like a Greek letter : GNU
44. Andy’s partner in old comedy : AMOS
45. Luau accessory : LEI
46. Wife in Oaxaca : SENORA
48. Kind of fishing or diving : DEEP-SEA
52. “Wow! The car from Prague ekes out the victory by a nose and takes the ___!” : CZECHERED FLAG (sounds like “checkered flag”)
55. World Golf Hall-of-Famer Lorena : OCHOA
57. “On the double!” : ASAP
58. It “keeps the cold out better than a cloak,” per Longfellow : LOVE
59. Nuisances : PAINS
60. Bonkers : ZANY
61. Eclipse, to some : OMEN
62. Message to one’s followers : TWEET
63. Hearty laugh : YUK!
64. Online comment : POST

Down

1. Diamond, e.g. : SHAPE
2. Old royal house : TUDOR
3. Limber : AGILE
4. Factor in diagnosing osteoporosis : BONE MASS
5. Hustler’s game : MONTE
6. Cartridge contents : AMMO
7. Shallow water obstacle : REEF
8. Tubman of the Underground Railroad : HARRIET
9. Sailor’s “Stop!” : AVAST!
10. Person with dreads : RASTAFARI
11. Circle on a cube : PIP
12. Foxy : SLY
14. Sandinista’s foe : CONTRA
20. Rare grandfather clock numeral : IIII
21. Currier’s partner in lithography : IVES
24. Compare : LIKEN
25. Word in many university names : STATE
27. “Wheel of Fortune” turns : SPINS
28. Timbuktu’s land : MALI
30. Steps up? : RUNGS
31. Barely ahead : UP ONE
32. Ponytail holder : SCRUNCHIE
33. Off-limits activity : NO-NO
37. Switch positions : FLIP-FLOP
39. Where China is : FAR EAST
40. Desktop computer that runs Safari : IMAC
41. Like many a new parent : SLEEPY
42. Obey : HEED
47. Absorber of UV rays : OZONE
48. Quaffed : DRANK
49. Instant replay effect : SLO-MO
50. Sites for Christmas lights : EAVES
51. James Bond, e.g. : AGENT
53. Imprecise, as a memory : HAZY
54. Son of Rebekah : ESAU
55. Make a decision : OPT
56. Crow’s cry : CAW!