1226-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 26 Dec 2017, Tuesday

Advertisement

[ad_above_grid]

Constructed by: Peter Gordon
Edited by: Will Shortz

Advertisement

Advertisement

Today’s Theme: AJ Jacobs

There’s a blurb with the puzzle:

“A couple of years ago I was the answer to number 1-Down in the New York Times crossword puzzle,” says best-selling author 1-Across. “At first I was like ‘This is the greatest day of my life.’ But then my brother-in-law pointed out that it was a Saturday puzzle,” which is the hardest of the week. “The clues are so obscure, no one is supposed to know them. He basically told me that until I’m in the Monday or Tuesday puzzle, I’m [24-, 38- and 52-Across].”

I guess this is a quote from journalist A. J, Jacobs, and refers to Jacobs’ appearance as an answer in the New York Times crossword back on March 8th, 2014. Themed answers provide us with a quip that the same brother-in-law might have uttered:

  • 1A. See blurb : AJ JACOBS
  • 24A. See blurb : STILL A FIVE-LETTER …
  • 38A. See blurb : … WORD STARTING WITH …
  • 52A. See blurb : … “LOS-” AND ENDING IN -”ER”

Bill’s time: 7m 02s

Bill’s errors: 0

Advertisement

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. See blurb : AJ JACOBS

A. J. Jacobs is a journalist and author from New York City who works for “Esquire” magazine. Jacobs is noted for his exploits as an “immersion journalist” where he immerses himself in a project or lifestyle and then writes about what he has learned. In one of his experiments, Jacobs read every volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, all 32 of them. This experience was the basis of his book “The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World”.

9. Sore spot : ABSCESS

An abscess, often on the skin, is a collection of pus that has built up, and is usually the result of a bacterial infection. The term comes from “abscessus”, the Latin name for the condition. “Abscessus” translates literally as “departure”, reflecting the belief that damaging humors in the body “depart” through the pus in the swollen tissue.

17. Region around San Francisco : BAY AREA

The San Francisco Bay Area comprises the nine counties that impinge on the San Francisco Bay itself: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma. The region also includes the major cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

20. On the ___ (fleeing) : LAM

To be on the lam is to be in flight, to have escaped from prison. “On the lam” is American slang that originated at the end of the 19th century. The word “lam” also means to “beat” or “thrash”, as in “lambaste”. So “on the lam” might derive from the phrase “to beat it, to scram”.

21. Zilch : NADA

“Nada” is the Spanish word for “nothing”.

We use the term “zilch” to mean “nothing”. Our current usage evolved in the sixties, before which the term was used to describe “meaningless speech”. There was a comic character called Mr. Zilch in the 1930s in “Ballyhoo” magazine. Mr. Zilch’s name probably came from the American college slang “Joe Zilch” that was used in the early 1900s for “an insignificant person”.

23. Ja Rule hit that includes the lyric “Wash away your tears” : I CRY

Ja Rule is the stage name of rapper Jeffrey Atkins. Apparently Ja Rule is noted not only for his music, but for his “feuds” with the likes of 50 Cent and Eminem.

30. Santa ___ winds : ANA

The Santa Ana winds are the very dry air currents that sweep offshore late in the year in Southern California. Because these air currents are so dry, they are noted for their influence over forest fires in the area, especially in the heat of the fall. The winds arise from a buildup of air pressure in the Great Basin that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Under the right conditions, that air spills over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and basically “falls” down the side of the Sierra range, heading for the ocean. As the air falls it becomes drier and heats up so that relative humidity can fall to below 10% by the time it hits the coast.

31. Playbill listing : CAST

I get quite a kick out of reading the bios in “Playbill” as some of them can be really goofy and entertaining. “Playbill” started off in 1884 in New York as an in-house publication for just one theater on 21st St. You can’t see any decent-sized production these days anywhere in the United States without being handed a copy of “Playbill”.

45. ___ Enterprise : USS

The USS Enterprise was Vice Admiral William Halsey’s flagship. It was also the ship he was aboard in the Pacific when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Apparently, Halsey remarked right after the attack, “Before we’re through with ’em, the Japanese language will only be spoken in hell.”

The USS Enterprise is a starship in the “Star Trek” universe (pun!). There have been several generations of starship with the name Enterprise, starting with the vessel numbered NCC-1701, which appeared in the original TV series. My favorite “Star Trek” series is “Next Generation”, which features USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.

46. “The Catcher in the ___” : RYE

“The Catcher in the Rye” is the most famous novel from the pen of J. D. Salinger. The main character and narrator in the book is Holden Caulfield, a teenager who gets expelled from a university prep school. Caulfield also makes appearances in several short stories written by Salinger, as do other members of the Caulfield family.

49. Apple apps use it : IOS

iOS is what Apple now call their mobile operating system. It was previously known as iPhone OS.

51. One of the Three Bears : PAPA

The story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was first recorded in 1837, in England, although the narrative was around before it was actually written down. The original fairy tale was rather gruesome, but successive versions became more family-oriented. The character that eventually became Goldilocks was originally an elderly woman, and the three “nameless” bears became Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.

57. The “A” of U.A.E. : ARAB

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates (states) in the Middle East. Included in the seven are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the city of Abu Dhabi being the UAE capital and cultural center.

59. Fútbol cheer : OLE!

“Fútbol” is the Spanish word for “football, soccer”.

68. Main city in Chile : SANTIAGO

Santiago is the capital of Chile. The city was founded in 1541 by the Spanish as Santiago de Nueva Extremadura. The name was chosen in honor of Saint James and the community of Extremadura in western Spain.

69. Snow White’s sister : ROSE-RED

“Snow White” is a traditional German fairy tale that was published in 1812 in the collection of the Brothers Grimm. There is also a second, very different Grimms’ Fairy Tale called “Snow-White and Rose-Red”, not to be confused with its more famous cousin. In the latter tale, Snow-White and Rose-Red are sisters who get into trouble with a dwarf, but are rescued by a bear who turns into a prince.

Down

2. Coffee, slangily : JOE

It seems that no one really knows why we refer to coffee as “joe”, but we’ve been doing so since early in WWII.

4. Islands surrounding lagoons : ATOLLS

An atoll is a coral island that is shaped in a ring and enclosing a lagoon. There is still some debate as to how an atoll forms, but a theory proposed by Charles Darwin while on his famous voyage aboard HMS Beagle still holds sway. Basically an atoll was once a volcanic island that had subsided and fallen into the sea. The coastline of the island is home to coral growth which persists even as the island continues to subside internal to the circling coral reef.

5. Venice thoroughfare : CANAL

The city of Venice in northeast Italy is built in a saltwater lagoon on the Adriatic Coast, on 117 small islands. The classic transportation along the waterways is the gondola, but this is really only used for tourists these days, as well as on ceremonial occasions. The locals rely on the motorized water-buses.

6. Appointer of Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court : OBAMA

Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice on the US Supreme Court, and the third female justice. Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace the retiring Justice David Souter.

Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States who replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. That made Justice Kagan the first female US Solicitor General and the fourth female US Supreme Court justice. I hear she is a fan of Jane Austen, and used to reread “Pride and Prejudice” once a year. Not a bad thing to do, I’d say …

7. Sandwich that’s often stuck with toothpicks : BLT

The BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) is the second most popular sandwich in the US, after the plain old ham sandwich.

10. Hackneyed : BANAL

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.

12. Chemical symbol for tungsten : CAPITAL W

Here is a list of all the single-letter chemical symbols:

  • B = boron
  • C = carbon
  • F = fluorine
  • H = hydrogen
  • I = Iodine
  • K = potassium
  • N = nitrogen
  • O = oxygen
  • P = phosphorus
  • S = sulfur
  • U = uranium
  • V = vanadium
  • W = tungsten
  • Y = yttrium

15. Lecherous deity : SATYR

The satyrs of Greek mythology came with a very high sex drive. They are the “rude” male subjects drawn on the side of old Greek vases. The nubile maidens known as nymphs were often an object of attention for the satyrs.

22. “Halt!,” to a sailor : 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”.

25. Chalupa alternative : TACO

A chalupa is a Mexican dish consisting of a tostada shaped into a “cup” and filled with various ingredients. “Chalupa” translates from Mexican Spanish as “small boat”.

26. Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant : IGOR

The lab assistant named Igor has turned up in many movies in recent decades, usually appearing as the aide to Dr. Frankenstein. Paradoxically, in Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein had no assistant at all. Further, the lab assistant introduced in 1931 in the first of the “Frankenstein” series of movies was named Fritz. Bela Lugosi played a character named Ygor in “Frankenstein” sequels in 1939 and 1946, but he was a blacksmith and didn’t work in the lab.

33. Burmese or Persian : ASIAN

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is the official name of the Asian country that some nations still recognize as the Union of Burma.

Before 1935, the country we know today as Iran was referred to as Persia by the Western world. The official name of the country since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 is the “Islamic Republic of Iran”.

36. Second-century pope : PIUS I

Pope Saint Pius I was one of the very early Bishops of Rome, governing the Roman Catholic church around 150 AD. One of his decrees was that Easter should only be celebrated on a Sunday.

40. Things used on a bridle path : REINS

A bridle path is a trail used by horses and their riders.

41. Neighbor of Afghanistan : IRAN

The countries of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan lie along Iran’s northern and eastern borders.

47. Bullfighter : TORERO

“Toreador” is an old Spanish word for a bullfighter, but it’s a term not used any more in Spain nor in Latin America. In English we use the term “toreador”, but in Spanish a bullfighter is a “torero”. A female bullfighter in a “torera”.

48. Yoga positions : ASANAS

“Asana” is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.

50. Ukrainian city on the Black Sea : ODESSA

The city of Odessa (also “Odesa”) in Ukraine was founded relatively recently, in 1794 by Catherine the Great. The city was originally meant to be called Odessos after an ancient Greek city believed to have been located nearby. Catherine liked the way the locals pronounced the name as “Odessa” and so went with the less Greek-sounding name.

51. Baking container for a cobbler : PIE TIN

The dessert called “cobbler” originated in colonial America when settlers invented it as a substitute for suet pudding as they didn’t have the necessary ingredients to make the more traditional dish. Instead, they stewed fruit and covered it with a layer of uncooked scones or biscuits, creating a surface that resembled a “cobbled” street, hence the name.

52. Debussy work whose title is French for “The Sea” : LA MER

“La Mer” is a lovely group of three symphonic sketches for orchestra by the French composer Claude Debussy. Listen to it, and you can feel yourself at the ocean. “La Mer” is French for “The Sea”.

53. Big name in tractors : DEERE

John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Prior to Deere’s invention, farmers used an iron or wooden plow that constantly had to be cleaned as rich soil stuck to its surfaces. The cast-steel plow was revolutionary as its smooth sides solved the problem of “stickiness”. The Deere company that John founded uses the slogan “Nothing Runs Like a Deere”, and has a leaping deer as its logo.

54. Dog-___ (like some well-read books) : EARED

The folded-down corner of the page of a book, a temporary placeholder, is known as a “dog-ear”. I suppose that’s because it looks like the ear of a dog …

55. Middays : NOONS

Our word “noon”, meaning “midday”, comes from the Latin “nona hora” that translates as “ninth hour”. Back in Ancient Rome, the “ninth hour” was three in the afternoon. Over the centuries, traditions such as church prayers and “midday” meals shifted from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m., and so “noon” became understood as 12 noon.

56. Butt muscle : GLUTE

There are three gluteal muscles in the human body, the largest of which is the gluteus maximus. It’s the gluteus maximus which really dictates the shape and size of the human buttocks. In evolutionary terms, the human “glutes” (also “glutei”) are larger than those in related species because they play a big role maintaining our erect posture.

64. Burmese or Persian : CAT

Most Burmese cats today can be traced back to a single ancestor, a female cat given the name Wong Mau that was brought from Burma to America in 1930. Amazing …

The Persian is that long-haired cat with a squashed muzzle. The breed takes its name from its place of origin, namely Persia (Iran).

66. ___ v. Wade : ROE

Roe v. Wade was decided in a US District Court in Texas in 1970, and reached the Supreme Court on appeal. The basic decision by the Supreme Court was that a woman’s constitutional right to privacy applied to an abortion, but that this right had to be balanced with a state’s interest in protecting an unborn child and a mother’s health. The Court further defined that the state’s interest became stronger with each trimester of a pregnancy. So, in the first trimester the woman’s right to privacy outweighed any state interest. In the second trimester the state’s interest in maternal health was deemed to be strong enough to allow state regulation of abortion for the sake of the mother. In the third trimester the viability of the fetus dictated that the state’s interest in the unborn child came into play, so states could regulate or prohibit abortions, except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger. I’m no lawyer, but that’s my understanding of the initial Supreme Court decision …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. See blurb : AJ JACOBS
9. Sore spot : ABSCESS
16. Convenient to carry : PORTABLE
17. Region around San Francisco : BAY AREA
18. Strike a chord : RESONATE
19. Check for flaws : INSPECT
20. On the ___ (fleeing) : LAM
21. Zilch : NADA
23. Ja Rule hit that includes the lyric “Wash away your tears” : I CRY
24. See blurb : STILL A FIVE-LETTER …
29. Falls behind : LAGS
30. Santa ___ winds : ANA
31. Playbill listing : CAST
32. ___-friendly : ECO
33. Perform in a play : ACT
35. Go bad : SPOIL
38. See blurb : … WORD STARTING WITH …
44. Bridal path : AISLE
45. ___ Enterprise : USS
46. “The Catcher in the ___” : RYE
47. “Later, old chap” : TA-TA
49. Apple apps use it : IOS
51. One of the Three Bears : PAPA
52. See blurb : … “LOS-” AND ENDING IN -”ER”
57. The “A” of U.A.E. : ARAB
58. Effortlessness : EASE
59. Fútbol cheer : OLE!
60. Threatening person : MENACER
62. Military vehicle used for reconnaissance : SCOUT CAR
67. Mark never seen in an online crossword : ERASURE
68. Main city in Chile : SANTIAGO
69. Snow White’s sister : ROSE-RED
70. No-show : ABSENTEE

Down

1. First full month of spring: Abbr. : APR
2. Coffee, slangily : JOE
3. Third-year students: Abbr. : JRS
4. Islands surrounding lagoons : ATOLLS
5. Venice thoroughfare : CANAL
6. Appointer of Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court : OBAMA
7. Sandwich that’s often stuck with toothpicks : BLT
8. Welcomed at the door : SEEN IN
9. Tolerate : ABIDE
10. Hackneyed : BANAL
11. Method: Abbr. : SYS
12. Chemical symbol for tungsten : CAPITAL W
13. Puts up : ERECTS
14. Like some handshakes and formulas : SECRET
15. Lecherous deity : SATYR
22. “Halt!,” to a sailor : AVAST!
24. Killed, as a dragon : SLEW
25. Chalupa alternative : TACO
26. Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant : IGOR
27. Deadly : FATAL
28. Vaping devices : E-CIGS
33. Burmese or Persian : ASIAN
34. The “75” of $1.75: Abbr. : CTS
36. Second-century pope : PIUS I
37. Clip-___ (certain sunglasses) : ONS
39. Collection of information : DATABASE
40. Things used on a bridle path : REINS
41. Neighbor of Afghanistan : IRAN
42. Write using a keyboard : TYPE
43. Get wind of : HEAR
47. Bullfighter : TORERO
48. Yoga positions : ASANAS
50. Ukrainian city on the Black Sea : ODESSA
51. Baking container for a cobbler : PIE TIN
52. Debussy work whose title is French for “The Sea” : LA MER
53. Big name in tractors : DEERE
54. Dog-___ (like some well-read books) : EARED
55. Middays : NOONS
56. Butt muscle : GLUTE
61. Mean dog : CUR
63. Hailed vehicle : CAB
64. Burmese or Persian : CAT
65. Birthday card number : AGE
66. ___ v. Wade : ROE