0116-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 16 Jan 2018, Tuesday

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Constructed by: David Steinberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: Four-Letter Words

Themed answers are WORDS comprising just FOUR different LETTERS:

  • 39A. Curses … or what 18-, 20-, 26-, 48-, 57- and 63-Across are, literally? : FOUR-LETTER WORDS
  • 18A. Its root was once used in root beer : SASSAFRAS
  • 20A. Process of aging : SENESCENCE
  • 26A. What always deserves a good licking? : LOLLIPOP
  • 48A. Poppycock : NONSENSE
  • 57A. Snitch : TATTLETALE
  • 63A. Exotic : RECHERCHE

Bill’s time: 6m 42s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6. What a divorce may generate for a celeb : BAD PR

Public relations (PR)

11. Cab alternative : ZIN

Zinfandel is one of my favorite red wine varietals. It amazes me that the rich and heavy red Zinfandel comes from the same grape as does the sweet White Zinfandel.

14. Pharmaceutical giant that makes Valium : ROCHE

The giant pharmaceutical and medical diagnostics company Hoffmann-La Roche is based in Basel, Switzerland. The company was founded back in 1896 by Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche, and initially produced vitamins.

15. Visitor to Roswell, supposedly : ALIEN

The Roswell UFO Incident took place in 1947. Some people believe that an extraterrestrial spacecraft crashed, with aliens aboard. After the initial reports the public accepted the US Military’s explanation of the crash, that the debris recovered belonged to an experimental high-altitude surveillance balloon. The whole incident was dug up again over 30 years later when a claim was made that there was a cover-up in 1947, and that the armed forces had recovered an alien craft and brought it to Roswell Army Air Field. “The National Enquirer” ran the story, and it has been running ever since.

16. Post-truth ___ : ERA

The term “post-truth” was coined by playwright Steve Tesich in an essay in the “The Nation”. Referencing Watergate, Iran-Contra and the Persian Gulf War, Tesich said “we, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world.” The derivative phrase “post-truth era” was introduced by author Ralph Keyes when he used it for the title of a 2004 book “The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life”.

17. Neighborhood where kimchi might be found, informally : K-TOWN

Koreatown (K-Town)
Kimchi is a traditional dish from Korea. The original kimchi is made from fermented vegetables, and is pretty strong stuff …

18. Its root was once used in root beer : SASSAFRAS

Root beer is a beverage that is very North American, and is rarely found elsewhere in the world. Root beer originated in the 1700s and was made from the root of the sassafras plant. The traditional root beer was a beverage with a very low alcohol content, and today there are many versions that contain no alcohol at all. The sassafras root was used as the primary flavor ingredient right up until 1960, when the FDA banned its use as tests determined that it was a carcinogen.

20. Process of aging : SENESCENCE

Something or someone described as senescent is aging, growing old. The term comes from the Latin “senex” meaning “old”.

22. Minuscule amount : IOTA

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

23. Only three-letter astrological sign : LEO

Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac. People born from July 23 to August 22 are Leos.

24. Yankees great dubbed “The Old Perfessor” : STENGEL

Casey Stengel was a professional baseball player, playing from 1912-1925 and managing from 1934-1965. Stengel was born in Kansas City. He had German heritage, and so was called “Dutch” for much of his early life. As he acquired fame on the baseball field, Stengel was given the nickname “Casey”, largely because he came from Kansas City (“KC”) and also because of the popularity of the poem “Casey at the Bat”. He was a smart and erudite guy when it came to baseball, so sportswriters tended to call him “The Old Professor”.

26. What always deserves a good licking? : LOLLIPOP

A lollipop is piece of candy on a stick. The name “lollipop” surfaced in 1908, and was taken from a prominent race horse of the day named Lolly Pop.

31. Sushi bar tuna : AHI

Yellowfin and bigeye tuna are usually marketed as “ahi”, the Hawaiian name. They are both big fish, with yellowfish tuna often weighing over 300 pounds, and bigeye tuna getting up to 400 pounds.

32. Like guyliner, stylistically : EMO

The emo musical genre originated in Washington D.C. in the 80s, and takes its name from “emotional hardcore”. “Emo” is also the name given to the associated subculture. Not my cup of tea …

35. 10th-century Holy Roman emperor : OTTO I

Charlemagne was the first king to use the title “Holy Roman Emperor”, even though the Holy Roman Empire was not actually founded until over a century later when Otto I was crowned Emperor. Otto was the first of an unbroken line of Holy Roman Emperors who ruled Central Europe until 1806.

43. Schleps : TOTES

Our word “schlep” means “to carry, drag”. “Schlep” comes from Yiddish, with “shlepen” having the same meaning.

45. Pablo Neruda composition : ODE

“Pablo Neruda” was the pen name, and eventually the legal name, used by Chilean writer Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. Basoalto chose the name as a homage to Czech poet Jan Neruda.

48. Poppycock : NONSENSE

It is thought that the relatively gentle term “poppycock”, meaning “nonsense”, comes from a Dutch word for “dung” combined with a Latin word for “excrete”. Not so gentle after all …

51. Chichi chihuahua accessory : SWEATER

Chihuahua is a state in northern Mexico that shares a border with Texas and New Mexico. Chihuahua is the largest state in the country, so has the nickname “El Estado Grande”. The state takes its name from the Chihuahuan Desert which lies largely within its borders. The Chihuahua breed of dog takes its name from the state.
Someone or something described as chichi is showily trendy and pretentious. “Chichi” is a French noun meaning “airs, fuss”.

55. Montgomery is its cap. : ALA

Montgomery is the capital of Alabama, and is the state’s second biggest city (after Birmingham). Montgomery is a port city, located on the Alabama River. The city is actually named for an Irishman. Richard Montgomery was an Irish-born soldier who served in the British Army and later in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

56. Units of resistance : OHMS

The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every school kid knows as Ohm’s Law.

57. Snitch : TATTLETALE

Something described as tattletale is revealing, it gives away a secret. The term is a combination of “tattle” and “tale”, and is probably patterned on the similar word “telltale”. “To tattle” means “to tell secrets”, and the noun “tattletale” applies to someone who tells secrets and informs.

63. Exotic : RECHERCHE

The adjective “recherché” can mean “exquisite, choice” or “exotic, rare”. The term is French in origin, in which language it means “sought out”. We use it in the sense of carefully seeking out something special.

65. English horse-racing venue : ASCOT

Ascot Racecourse is used for thoroughbred horse racing, and is located in the town of Ascot, Berkshire in England. The course is located just six miles from Windsor Castle, and is often visited by members of the royal family. Royal Ascot is the name given to the most famous race meeting in the year, at which members of the royal family attend each day, arriving in horse-drawn carriages amidst great ceremony.

67. Expressways with tolls : PIKES

Back in the 15th century, a turnpike was a defensive barrier across a road. By the 17th century the term was used for a barrier that stopped travelers until a toll was paid. By the 18th century a turnpike was the name given to a road with a toll.

68. Dance-based fitness program : ZUMBA

The exercise program known as “Zumba” was developed in the mid-nineties in Cali, Colombia by dancer and choreographer Beto Perez. Along with two partners, Perez introduced a series of fitness videos that they sold using infomercials. The name “Zumba” is just an arbitrary brand name.

69. The “A” of I.P.A. : ALE

India pale ale (IPA) is a style of beer that originated in England. The beer was originally intended for transportation from England to India, hence the name.

71. Olympic blades : EPEES

There are three fencing events in the modern Olympics, with each distinguished by the weapon used:

  • Foil
  • Épée
  • Sabre

Down

1. Torah holders : ARKS

The Torah ark is found in a synagogue, and is the ornamental container in which are stored the Torah scrolls. The word “Torah” best translates as “teaching”, I am told.

2. Fawn over, with “on” : DOTE

The verb “to fawn” has a different etymology to that of the noun “fawn”. The Old English “faegnian” meant “to rejoice, be glad”. In particular, the Old English verb applied to a dog wagging its tail. From there, “to fawn” came to mean “to court favor, to grovel”.

3. Blue “W” for Microsoft Word, e.g. : ICON

Microsoft Word was introduced in 1981 as Multi-Tool Word for Xenix (Xenix is a discontinued version of the Unix operating system). I used to be a power user of Word, but now use Google Drive for all of my word processing needs.

5. Martial arts pro : SENSEI

“Sensei” is a Japanese form of address used for figures of authority, from lawyers to martial arts instructors.

6. Word before metal or instinct : BASE

A base metal is one that corrodes very easily, reacts with oxygen. Examples are iron, nickel, lead and zinc.

7. Rickman of the Harry Potter films : ALAN

Alan Rickman was a marvelous English actor, famous for playing bad guy Hans Gruber in the original “Die Hard” film, Severus Snape in the “Harry Potter” series and my personal favorite, Eamon de Valera in “Michael Collins”. Sadly, Rickman passed away in January 2016, after which fans created a memorial under the “Platform 9¾” sign in London’s Kings Cross Railway Station, from where the Hogwarts Express is said to depart in the “Harry Potter” universe.

8. The winks in tiddlywinks, e.g. : DISCS

Tiddlywinks is a game played by children, and sometimes competitively by adults. The idea is to propel “winks” into a pot using a “squidger”.

9. Old Spanish coin : PESETA

The peseta is the former currency of Spain, and the de facto currency of Spain’s neighbor, the Principality of Andorra. The peseta was replaced by the euro in 2002.

10. Genetic molecule : 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.

11. Weightless state, informally : ZERO G

The force of gravity (g-force) that we all feel is referred to as “one G”. As gravity is a actually an accelerating force, acceleration is measured relative to that force of gravity. So, if we are sitting in a vehicle that accelerates at 3G, then we are experiencing a force that is three times that which we feel from the gravitational pull of the earth. Zero G is weightlessness that is experienced when in space, and outside the influence of the earth’s gravity.

19. Over and done : FINITO

“Finito” is an Italian word meaning “finished”.

21. Thicket : COPSE

A copse is a small stand of trees. The term “copse” originally applied to a small thicket that was specifically grown for cutting.

25. Popular D.I.Y. website : EHOW

eHow is a how-to website that was founded in 1999. eHow has an awful lot of content but doesn’t do a great job of assessing the value of that content. I wouldn’t recommend it …
Back in Ireland we don’t have “hardware stores” as such, but rather “DIY Centres” (and that’s the spelling). “DIY” is an initialism standing for “Do It Yourself”.

27. 1847 Melville novel : OMOO

Herman Melville mined his own experiences when writing his novels. Melville sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1841 on a whaler heading into the Pacific Ocean (a source for “Moby-Dick”). Melville ended up deserting his ship 18 months later and lived with natives on a South Pacific Island for three weeks (a source for “Typee”). He picked up another whaler and headed for Hawaii, where he joined the crew of a US navy frigate that was bound for Boston (a source for “Omoo”).

30. Climber’s spike : PITON

A piton is a piece of mountaineering equipment, an anchor designed to protect a climber if he or she falls. It is a metal spike driven into a crack in the rock face with a hammer. Pitons have eye holes through which a rope is attached using carabiners. “Piton” is a French word for a “hook”.

36. “___: Legacy” (sci-fi sequel) : TRON

Released in 1982, Disney’s “Tron” was one of the first mainstream films to make extensive use of computer graphics. The main role in the movie is played by Jeff Bridges. The original spawned a 2010 sequel called “Tron: Legacy”, as well as a 2012 TV show called “Tron: Uprising”.

41. Exam with logic games, in brief : LSAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

42. Of the kidneys : RENAL

Something described as “renal” is related to the kidneys. “Ren” is the Latin word for “kidney”.

47. Video game inspired by pentominoes : TETRIS

Tetris is a very addictive video game that was developed in the Soviet Union in 1984. The name Tetris comes from a melding of the prefix “tetra-” (as all the game pieces have four segments) and “tennis” (a favorite sport played by the developer). Since 2005 there have been more than 100 million copies of the game installed on cell phones alone.
A pentomino is a shape comprised of five squares of the same size, with the squares touching at an edge or edges. There are 12 different pentomino shapes in all.

53. Awards show V.I.P. : EMCEE

The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism standing for Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.

54. Pool hall items : RACKS

The more correct name for the game of pool is pocket billiards. The name “pool” arose after pocket billiards became a common feature in “pool halls”, places where gamblers “pooled” their money to bet on horse races.

58. “Get ___ to a nunnery”: Hamlet : THEE

In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Ophelia is courted by Hamlet. In Act III, Hamlet is pretty depressed and upset, and addresses Ophelia with the famous line “Get thee to a nunn’ry, why woulds’t thou be a breeder of sinners?” In this scene, Hamlet is denying that he ever loved Ophelia, and exhorts her to “become a nun”, so that she may never have to give birth to someone as pitiful and sinful as himself.

62. H’s, in fraternity names : ETAS

Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was eventually used as a long vowel in ancient Greek.

64. Org. concerned with soil and water : EPA

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. “Later, alligator!” : ADIOS!
6. What a divorce may generate for a celeb : BAD PR
11. Cab alternative : ZIN
14. Pharmaceutical giant that makes Valium : ROCHE
15. Visitor to Roswell, supposedly : ALIEN
16. Post-truth ___ : ERA
17. Neighborhood where kimchi might be found, informally : K-TOWN
18. Its root was once used in root beer : SASSAFRAS
20. Process of aging : SENESCENCE
22. Minuscule amount : IOTA
23. Only three-letter astrological sign : LEO
24. Yankees great dubbed “The Old Perfessor” : STENGEL
26. What always deserves a good licking? : LOLLIPOP
31. Sushi bar tuna : AHI
32. Like guyliner, stylistically : EMO
33. Word after he or she : … SAID
35. 10th-century Holy Roman emperor : OTTO I
39. Curses … or what 18-, 20-, 26-, 48-, 57- and 63-Across are, literally? : FOUR-LETTER WORDS
43. Schleps : TOTES
44. Catcher’s place : HOME
45. Pablo Neruda composition : ODE
46. Accessory for a bad hair day : HAT
48. Poppycock : NONSENSE
51. Chichi chihuahua accessory : SWEATER
55. Montgomery is its cap. : ALA
56. Units of resistance : OHMS
57. Snitch : TATTLETALE
63. Exotic : RECHERCHE
65. English horse-racing venue : ASCOT
66. Informal top : TEE
67. Expressways with tolls : PIKES
68. Dance-based fitness program : ZUMBA
69. The “A” of I.P.A. : ALE
70. A liquid one is easy to trade : ASSET
71. Olympic blades : EPEES

Down

1. Torah holders : ARKS
2. Fawn over, with “on” : DOTE
3. Blue “W” for Microsoft Word, e.g. : ICON
4. “That’s a bummer” : OH WELL
5. Martial arts pro : SENSEI
6. Word before metal or instinct : BASE
7. Rickman of the Harry Potter films : ALAN
8. The winks in tiddlywinks, e.g. : DISCS
9. Old Spanish coin : PESETA
10. Genetic molecule : RNA
11. Weightless state, informally : ZERO G
12. Hopping mad : IRATE
13. “m” or “n,” in phonetics : NASAL
19. Over and done : FINITO
21. Thicket : COPSE
25. Popular D.I.Y. website : EHOW
26. What “←” signifies : LEFT
27. 1847 Melville novel : OMOO
28. Uncouth fellow : LOUT
29. ___ of office : OATH
30. Climber’s spike : PITON
34. Show in a showroom, say : DEMO
36. “___: Legacy” (sci-fi sequel) : TRON
37. Bookie’s quote : ODDS
38. “Mm-hmm” : I SEE
40. Unoriginal piece : REHASH
41. Exam with logic games, in brief : LSAT
42. Of the kidneys : RENAL
47. Video game inspired by pentominoes : TETRIS
49. Slimeball : SLEAZE
50. Really, really likes : EATS UP
51. “Ish” : SORTA
52. A unicycle has one : WHEEL
53. Awards show V.I.P. : EMCEE
54. Pool hall items : RACKS
58. “Get ___ to a nunnery”: Hamlet : THEE
59. Word repeated during a mic check : TEST
60. Pinnacle : ACME
61. Place for a piercing : LOBE
62. H’s, in fraternity names : ETAS
64. Org. concerned with soil and water : EPA

8 thoughts on “0116-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 16 Jan 2018, Tuesday”

  1. 22:41. Really struggled by Tuesday standards. I was unfamiliar with RECHERCHE but got it via crosses and knowing the word only had 4 letters.

    Best –

  2. 9:21 Defintiely a bit more difficult than most Tuesdays. I’ve never seen RECHERCHE before. According to xwordinfo it’s only been in the puzzle once before (in the Shortz era) and that was in 1996

  3. 11:34, no errors. Fortunately, I had heard of RECHERCHE. But, even after seeing the theme, I thought that FOUR LETTER WORDS referred to words which used a single letter four times (eg, SASSAFRAS has four S’s; SENESCENCE four E’s). RECHERCHE didn’t fit the mold. Tough for a Tuesday.

    @Warren Johnson: CAB (in this case) is slang for Cabernet wine, the alternative would be a Zinfandel.

  4. My newspaper had a bungled clue for 32-Across. It had the clue written as What “ ” signifies. That is to say that they had not put in the arrow. I ended up putting in LIFT for the answer (in the sense of how one might “lift” a quote). I thought EMO was correct for the cross but went ahead with IMO. It would have been an easy fill if only I had been given the arrow. Needless to say, I am not counting this as an error. So…

    No errors. I had much the same experiences as the other posters have already commented.

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