0101-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 1 Jan 2018, Monday

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Constructed by: Matthew Sewell
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: Torch Songs

Happy New Year, everyone! Themed clues each refer to a “torch song”, a song with a “torch-ish” title, recorded by a famous artists or group:

  • 17A. Jon Bon Jovi torch song? : BLAZE OF GLORY
  • 29A. Elvis Presley torch song? : BURNING LOVE
  • 36A. Bangles torch song? : ETERNAL FLAME
  • 45A. The Doors torch song? : LIGHT MY FIRE
  • 59A. The Trammps torch song? : DISCO INFERNO

Bill’s time: 5m 58s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. ___ Polo, traveler at the court of Kublai Khan : MARCO

Marco Polo was a merchant from Venice and a famous traveler throughout Asia. Polo journeyed with his father and uncle on an epic tour of Central Asia and China that lasted 24 years. Marco tends to be the member of the party we remember today though, because it was he who documented their travels in a book called “Il Milione”.

Kublai Khan was leader of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294. Kublai Khan was a grandson of Genghis Khan. Kublai Khan had a summer garden at Kanadu, which famously was the subject of the 1797 poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

6. Rings of water around castles : MOATS

A moat is a protective trench that surrounds a castle, say, or a an exhibit in a zoo. A moat may or may not be filled with water.

11. Russian fighter jet : MIG

The Russian fighter jets that we know as “MiGs” are so called because they were designed by the Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau, and MiG is an acronym for “Mikoyan-and-Gurevich” in Russian.

15. Property defacer : VANDAL

A vandal is someone who destroys something beautiful or valuable. The term comes from the Germanic tribe called the Vandals who sacked Rome in the year 455. Our contemporary term “vandalism” was coined by Henri Grégoire in 1794, when he was describing the destruction of artwork during the French Revolution.

16. Signature Obama legislation, for short : ACA

The correct name for what has been dubbed “Obamacare” is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA).

17. Jon Bon Jovi torch song? : BLAZE OF GLORY

“Blaze of Glory” is a 1990 song by Jon Bon Jovi. It was Bon Jovi’s debut single, and made it all the way to number one in the charts. It was originally recorded for the soundtrack of the 1990 movie “Young Guns II” and subsequently became the title track of Jon Bon Jovi’s first solo album.

20. Stick in one’s ___ : CRAW

“Craw” is another name for the “crop”, a portion of the alimentary tract of some animals, including birds. The crop is used for the storage of food prior to digestion. It allows the animal to eat large amounts and then digest that food with efficiency over an extended period. The expression “to stick in one’s craw” is used one when one cannot accept something, cannot “swallow” it.

21. Province west of Que. : ONT

The Canadian province of Ontario takes its name from the Great Lake. In turn, Lake Ontario’s name is thought to be derived from “Ontari:io”, a Huron word meaning “great lake”. Ontario is home to the nation’s capital of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Canada’s most populous city (and the capital of the province).

22. Chest muscles, for short : PECS

“Pecs” is the familiar name for the chest muscle, which is more correctly known as the pectoralis major muscle. “Pectus” is a the Latin word for “breast, chest”.

23. J.F.K.’s W.W. II command : PT BOAT

PT boats were motor torpedo boats: small speedy vessels that used torpedoes as their primary weapon against large surface ships. The “PT” stands for “Patrol Torpedo”. The most famous PT boats that served during WWII were probably PT-41 that carried General Douglas MacArthur and his family from Corregidor to Mindanao in his escape from the Philippines, and PT-109 that was commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, future President of the United States.

29. Elvis Presley torch song? : BURNING LOVE

“Burning Love” is 1972 song first recorded by Arthur Alexander, but made famous when Elvis Presley released a cover version later that same year. The Presley version made it to the number-two spot in the charts, while Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling” was number one. “Burning Love” was Presley’s 40th top-ten hit, and it turned out to be his last.

32. Squid, in Italian cuisine : CALAMARI

“Calamaro” is the Italian word for “squid” (plural “calamari”).

36. Bangles torch song? : ETERNAL FLAME

“Eternal Flame” was released as a single by the Bangles in 1989, after initially recording it as a track on their 1988 album “Everything”. The single made it to the top of the charts, almost three years after the group achieved the same feat with “Walk Like An Egyptian”. That made the Bangles only the third all-female band to have multiple number ones in the US, after the Supremes and the Shirelles.

45. The Doors torch song? : LIGHT MY FIRE

“Light My Fire” was released by the Doors in 1966, and recorded Jose Feliciano did a Grammy-winning cover version in 1969. In one live performance by the Doors on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, the band agreed ahead of time to change the line “girl, we couldn’t get much higher” because of the drug reference. However, they sang the original words anyway, and were never asked back on the show. Ed Sullivan wouldn’t even shake Jim Morrison’s hand as he left the stage.

51. Horse of a certain color : ROAN

A roan horse has an even mixture of white and colored hairs on the body with the head, lower legs, mane and tail having a more solid color.

55. Fat used in mincemeat : SUET

Fat, when extracted from the carcass of an animal, is called suet. Untreated suet decomposes at room temperature quite easily so it has to be rendered or purified to make it stable. Rendered fat from pigs is what we call lard. Rendered beef or mutton fat is known as tallow.

59. The Trammps torch song? : DISCO INFERNO

“Disco Inferno” is a 1976 song recorded by the Trammps that really only became popular after it was featured on the soundtrack of the 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever”. The lyrics of the song were inspired by a scene in the 1974 movie “The Towering Inferno”, in which a discotheque is consumed in the blaze.

66. Diplomat : ENVOY

An envoy works at an embassy and is a representative of a government, and someone ranking below an ambassador. The name comes from the concept of the envoy being a “messenger” from his or her government. “Envoyer” is the French word for “to send”.

68. Drives the getaway car for, say : ABETS

The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (it literally means “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.

Down

3. Genetic carrier, briefly : RNA

Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by what is called transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

4. Ancient Incan capital : CUZCO

Cusco (also “Cuzco”) is a city in the southeast of Peru. Historically, Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

5. “Madama Butterfly,” for one : OPERA

Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” is the most-performed opera in the US. The opera that we see today is actually the second version that Puccini produced. The original version was first staged in 1904 at La Scala in Milan where it received a very poor reception. Puccini reworked the piece, breaking the second act into two new acts and making some other significant changes. The opera was relaunched a few months later and it was a resounding success.

6. S.I. or GQ : MAG

“Sports Illustrated” is read by 23 million people every week, including a whopping 19% of adult males in the US. That’s every week, and not just the swimsuit issue …

The Men’s magazine known today as “GQ” used to be titled “Gentlemen’s Quarterly”. It was known as “Apparel Arts” when launched in 1931.

9. Scottish pattern : TARTAN

Tartan is sometimes called “plaid” over here in the US, and is a word not used in the same sense outside of this country. In Scotland a “plaid” is a blanket or a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder.

11. Speak gobbledygook : MAKE NO SENSE

Gobbledygook is pompous, officious talk. The term is the 1944 invention of US Congressman Maury Maverick from Texas. He said he wanted to come up with a word that was imitative of a turkey.

15. Ex-G.I.’s org. : VFW

The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization (VFW) is the largest association of US combat veterans in the US.

22. Pablo Picasso’s designer daughter : PALOMA

Paloma Picasso is a fashion designer based in Paris. Paloma is the youngest daughter of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and French author and painter Françoise Gilot.

23. Army E-3: Abbr. : PFC

Private First Class (PFC)

24. Pekoe, for one : TEA

A pekoe (or more commonly “orange pekoe”) is a medium-grade black tea. There is no orange flavor in an orange pekoe tea. The “orange” name most likely derived from the name of the trading company that brought the tea to Europe from Asia.

25. Under siege : BELEAGUERED

Something described as “beleaguered” is beset with troubles. More literally, the term means “besieged”, from the Dutch or Low German word for “camp around”.

31. Transcript figs. : GPAS

Grade point average (GPA)

33. To boot : AT THAT

The noun “boot” was used once to describe something of advantage in trying to accomplish a goal. This obsolete term really only exists in the adverb “to boot” meaning “in addition, over and above”, literally “to advantage”.

38. Christmas tree : FIR

Firs are evergreen coniferous trees, with several species being popular as Christmas trees. The most commonly used species during the holidays are the Nordmann fir, noble fir, Fraser fir and balsam fir. We also see a lot of Douglas fir trees at Christmas, but they’re not actually true firs.

39. “Inside ___ Davis” (Coen brothers film) : LLEWYN

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is a 2013 film from the Coen brothers that stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and John Goodman. The movie is about a week in the life of a folk singer in New York City in the early sixties. “Inside Llewyn Davis” has been well received, but based on the trailers I’ve seen, it looks a little too depressing for my taste. I could be wrong …

41. Pleasingly tangy : PIQUANT

Something that is piquant is pleasantly sharp in taste and zesty. “Piquant” is the French word for “prickly”.

43. FedEx competitor : DHL

Back in the sixties, Larry Hillblom was making pocket money as a Berkeley law student by doing courier runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After law school, Hillblom decided to parlay his experience into his own business and set up a courier service flying bills of lading ahead of freight from San Francisco to Honolulu. He brought in two buddies, Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn, as partners and the three were soon hopping on and off commercial flights and gradually making more and more money. And DHL was born … D (for Dalsey) H (for Hillblom) L (for Lynn).

46. Onetime Dr Pepper rival : MR PIBB

The soft drink on the market today called Pibb Xtra used to be known as Mr Pibb, and before that was called Peppo. Peppo was introduced in 1972 as a direct competitor to Dr Pepper.

57. Kim, to Kourtney or Khloé : SIS

They would all be Kardashians.

60. Yoga chants : OMS

“Om” is a sacred mystic word from the Hindu tradition. “Om” is sometimes used as a mantra, a focus for the mind in meditation.

61. #vanlife homes, briefly : RVS

Recreational vehicle (RV)

63. Kvetchers’ cries : OYS

The word “kvetch” comes to us from Yiddish, with “kvetshn” meaning “to complain” or “squeeze”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. ___ Polo, traveler at the court of Kublai Khan : MARCO
6. Rings of water around castles : MOATS
11. Russian fighter jet : MIG
14. Come clean : OWN UP
15. Property defacer : VANDAL
16. Signature Obama legislation, for short : ACA
17. Jon Bon Jovi torch song? : BLAZE OF GLORY
19. Centerpiece of a frat party : KEG
20. Stick in one’s ___ : CRAW
21. Province west of Que. : ONT
22. Chest muscles, for short : PECS
23. J.F.K.’s W.W. II command : PT BOAT
26. Tiny battery size : AAAA
27. Med. school subject : ANAT
28. Lawyer’s charge : FEE
29. Elvis Presley torch song? : BURNING LOVE
32. Squid, in Italian cuisine : CALAMARI
35. Tough puzzle : POSER
36. Bangles torch song? : ETERNAL FLAME
40. Sudden outpouring : SPATE
42. Some Canadian petroleum deposits : OIL SANDS
45. The Doors torch song? : LIGHT MY FIRE
49. “Lower your voice, please” : SHH!
50. Pale blue hue : AQUA
51. Horse of a certain color : ROAN
52. With prudence : WISELY
55. Fat used in mincemeat : SUET
56. Place : PUT
57. Match up : SYNC
58. Sarcastic laugh syllable : HAR
59. The Trammps torch song? : DISCO INFERNO
64. Opposite of WSW : ENE
65. Letter-shaped girders : I-BEAMS
66. Diplomat : ENVOY
67. Norm: Abbr. : STD
68. Drives the getaway car for, say : ABETS
69. Grabs some Z’s : RESTS

Down

1. Unruly throng : MOB
2. Leatherworker’s punch : AWL
3. Genetic carrier, briefly : RNA
4. Ancient Incan capital : CUZCO
5. “Madama Butterfly,” for one : OPERA
6. S.I. or GQ : MAG
7. Given out for a time : ON LOAN
8. Hebrew for “my Lord” : ADONAI
9. Scottish pattern : TARTAN
10. Crafty : SLY
11. Speak gobbledygook : MAKE NO SENSE
12. Glacial chamber : ICE CAVE
13. Joke writer : GAGSTER
15. Ex-G.I.’s org. : VFW
18. Crunchy, healthful snack : OAT BAR
22. Pablo Picasso’s designer daughter : PALOMA
23. Army E-3: Abbr. : PFC
24. Pekoe, for one : TEA
25. Under siege : BELEAGUERED
26. “Madama Butterfly” highlight : ARIA
30. Server with a spigot : URN
31. Transcript figs. : GPAS
33. To boot : AT THAT
34. Chance upon : MEET
37. Pork cut : LOIN
38. Christmas tree : FIR
39. “Inside ___ Davis” (Coen brothers film) : LLEWYN
40. Cuts drastically, as prices : SLASHES
41. Pleasingly tangy : PIQUANT
43. FedEx competitor : DHL
44. Like a wallflower : SHY
46. Onetime Dr Pepper rival : MR PIBB
47. “Get it?” : YOU SEE?
48. Wealthy sort, informally : FAT CAT
53. Derive via logic : INFER
54. Public outburst : SCENE
57. Kim, to Kourtney or Khloé : SIS
59. A day in Spain : DIA
60. Yoga chants : OMS
61. #vanlife homes, briefly : RVS
62. “Let’s ___ and say we did” : NOT
63. Kvetchers’ cries : OYS