0219-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 19 Feb 2018, Monday

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Constructed by: Bruce Haight
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Anagrams Plus a Letter

Just in time for President’s Day, today’s themed answers are anagrams of the family names of a US president, plus a letter:

  • 46D. There’s one to honor presidents every February : HOLIDAY
  • 17A. GARFIELD + U = Beach V.I.P. : LIFEGUARD
  • 26A. MADISON + A = “Me, too!” : AND SO AM I!
  • 39A. FILLMORE + V = Movie buff : FILM LOVER
  • 54A. HARDING + P = Squeezable exercise tool : HAND GRIP
  • 66A. COOLIDGE + P = Narc’s four-footed helper : POLICE DOG

Bill’s time: 6m 26s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5. Ticklish Muppet : ELMO

The toy called Tickle Me Elmo was a sensational fad in the late nineties, with stores raising prices dramatically above the recommended retail price to take advantage of demand. Reportedly, prices as high as $1500 were paid at the height of the craze. The toy’s manufacturer, Tyco, originally planned to market the “tickle” toy as Tickle Me Tasmanian Devil (after the “Looney Tunes” character), but then went with “Elmo” after they bought the rights to use “Sesame Street” names.

15. Banquet : MEAL

A banquet is an elaborate feast. “Banquet” is a term that seems to have reversed in meaning over time. Coming into English via French from Old Italian, “banquet” is derived from “banco” meaning “bench”. The original “banco” meal was simply a snack eaten on a bench, rather than at a table. I guess we eat more these days …

16. Lewis and ___ Expedition : CLARK

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were soldiers in the US Army. Lewis was a personal aide to President Thomas Jefferson, even residing in the Presidential Mansion. This exposure contributed to his selection as leader of the famous “Lewis and Clark Expedition”, which was known at the time as the Corps of Discovery Expedition. William Clark was actually Lewis’s boss for a while before Clark retired. Lewis asked Clark to come out of retirement to accompany him on his three-year exploration.

17. GARFIELD + U = Beach V.I.P. : LIFEGUARD

James Abram Garfield, the 20th President, was assassinated in office. He was shot twice, and one bullet could not be found (it was lodged in his spine). The inventor Alexander Graham Bell developed a metal detector in an attempt to locate the bullet, but apparently he was unsuccessful because of interference from the metal bed frame on which the president lay. Garfield died two months after being shot.

19. “___ at the Bat” : CASEY

“Casey at the Bat” is a poem written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer, first published in the San Francisco Examiner. The poem became very popular due to repeated live performances in vaudeville by DeWolf Hopper. Casey played for the Mudville Nine, and the last line of the poem is “But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.”

20. City NW of Detroit : FLINT

Flint, Michigan is perhaps best known as the original home to General Motors (now headquartered in Detroit). The city of Flint takes its name from the Flint River on which it lies. The local Native Americans called the river, “River of Flint”, hence the name in English.

21. “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” e.g. : PLEA

In the first “Star Wars” movie, Princess Leia hides plans for the Galactic Empire’s Death Star in the droid named R2-D2. She also records a holographic message, so when it is played we can see Princess Leia as a hologram, asking for help to destroy the Death Star:

I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.

23. Home for Nixon and Reagan: Abbr. : CAL

President Richard Milhous Nixon (RMN) used “Milhous” in his name in honor of his mother Hannah Milhous. Richard was born in a house in Yorba Linda, California. You can visit that house today as it is on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. It’s a really interesting way to spend a few hours if you ever get to Yorba Linda …

Ronald Reagan started out his political career as a member of the Democratic Party, but switched to the Republicans in the early fifties. Reagan served as Governor of California for eight years, and vied unsuccessfully for the nomination for US President on two occasions. He finally succeeded in 1980 and defeated President Jimmy Carter to become the 40th US President in 1981.

26. MADISON + A = “Me, too!” : AND SO AM I!

James Madison was one of the Founding Fathers, and the fourth President of the US. Madison played a key role in drafting the the US Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights, and so is sometimes referred to as the Father of the Constitution. Along with future president Thomas Jefferson, Madison founded the Democratic-Republican Party, which was one of the nation’s first two major political parties along with Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party.

30. Bounding main : SEA

When one thinks of the word “main” in the context of the sea, the Spanish Main usually comes to mind. Indeed, the use of the more general term “main” to mean “sea”, originates from the more specific “Spanish Main”. “Spanish Main” originally referred to land and not water, as it was the name given to the mainland coast around the Caribbean Sea in the days of Spanish domination of the region.

33. Mysterious sighting in the Himalayas : YETI

The yeti, also called the abominable snowman, is a beast of legend. “Yeti” is a Tibetan term, and the beast is fabled to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Our equivalent legend in North America is that of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. The study of animals whose existence have not yet been substantiated is called cryptozoology.

35. Some rulings on PolitiFact : LIES

PolitiFact is a project in which reporters and editors primarily from the “Tampa Bay Times” fact-check statements made by politicians and related parties. Statements can be graded from “True” at one extreme, to “Pants on Fire” at the other.

38. Mortgage, e.g. : LOAN

Our word “mortgage” comes from the Old French “mort gaige” which translated as “dead pledge”. Such an arrangement was so called because the “pledge” to repay “dies” when the debt is cleared.

39. FILLMORE + V = Movie buff : FILM LOVER

Vice President Millard Fillmore took over the US Presidency when Zachary Taylor died after only 16 months in office. Fillmore was born in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, but grew up around Buffalo. He was one of the founders of the University of Buffalo and served as chancellor there after he left office in 1853. He was also the last Whig to occupy the White House, as the party broke up after Fillmore’s presidency.

44. Who asks “What can I help you with?” on an iPhone : SIRI

Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

45. Author Silverstein : SHEL

Author Shel Silverstein had a varied career and did a lot more than write books. Silverstein was a poet, composer, cartoonist and screenwriter among other things. One of his successful children’s books is “The Giving Tree”, which was first published in 1964. “The Giving Tree” tells of a young boy who has a special relationship with a tree in a forest. The message of the book seems to be that the tree provides the little boy with everything he needs.

49. Soccer blocker : GOALIE

In soccer, the goalie (goalkeeper) is the only player who can handle the ball.

51. President pro ___ : TEM

“Pro tempore” can be abbreviated to “pro tem” or “p.t.” “Pro tempore” is a Latin phrase that best translates as “for the time being”. It is used to describe a person who is acting for another, usually a superior. The President pro tempore of the US Senate is the person who presides over the Senate in the absence of the Vice President of the US. It has been tradition since 1890 that the president pro tem is the most senior senator in the majority party. The president pro tem ranks highly in the line of succession to the presidency, falling third in line after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House.

54. HARDING + P = Squeezable exercise tool : HAND GRIP

Warren G. Harding became US president in 1921. His presidency was viewed positively while he was in office, but his reputation tarnished quite dramatically due to subsequent revelations of political and personal intrigue. For example, a bribery incident known as the Teapot Dome Scandal resulted in one of Harding’s cabinet members going to jail. Also, several years later it was revealed that Harding fathered a child with his secretary just before he moved into the White House, and had an affair with the lady in question right through his presidency. Harding died in office, after suffering a heart attack in San Francisco at the end of a West Coast tour. He was succeeded by his vice president, Calvin Coolidge.

57. Actor Snipes of “White Men Can’t Jump” : WESLEY

Wesley Snipes is a movie actor, and a martial artist. The role most associated with Snipes is the title character in the “Blade” series of films. Snipes was sent to federal prison in 2010 to serve a 3-year sentence for wilful failure to file tax returns, and was released earlier this month.

“White Men Can’t Jump” is a comedy film about two street basketball hustlers played by Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.

60. Famous ___ cookies : AMOS

Wally Amos was a talent agent, one who was in the habit of taking home-baked cookies with him as an enticement to get celebrities to see him. He was urged by friends to open a cookie store (the cookies were that delicious, I guess) and this he did in Los Angeles in 1975 using the name “Famous Amos”. The store was a smash hit and he was able build on the success by introducing his cookies into supermarkets. The brand was eventually purchased, making Wally a rich man, and Famous Amos cookies are still flying off the shelf. Wally Amos also became an energetic literacy advocate. He hosted 30 TV programs in 1987 entitled “Learn to Read” that provided reading instruction targeted at adults.

62. River of Cologne : RHINE

The river running through Europe that we know in English as the Rhine, is called “Rhein” in German, “Rhin” in French and “Rijn” in Dutch.

Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany, and is known as “Koln” in German.

63. Uncle Sam’s land, for short : US OF A

The Uncle Sam personification of the United States was first used during the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” term was so widely accepted that even the Germans used it during WWII, choosing the codeword “Samland” for “America” in intelligence communiques.

66. COOLIDGE + P = Narc’s four-footed helper : POLICE DOG

President Calvin Coolidge, the only US President to have been born on July 4th, was known as a man of few words. It was while he was serving as Vice-President to in the administration of Warren G. Harding, that Coolidge earned the nickname “Silent Cal”. There is a famous story told about Coolidge’s reticence that I would love to think is true, attributed to the poet Dorothy Parker. Sitting beside him at dinner, she remarked to him, “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” His famous reply: “You lose.”

68. Humdingers : LULUS

We call a remarkable thing or a person a “lulu”. The term is used in honor of Lulu Hurst, the Georgia Wonder, who was a stage magician active in the 1880s.

A humdinger or a pip is someone or something outstanding. “Humdinger” is American slang dating back to the early 1900s, and was originally used to describe a particularly attractive woman.

69. Panache : ELAN

Our word “élan” was imported from French, in which language the word has a similar meaning to ours, i.e “style” or “flair”.

Someone exhibiting panache is showing dash and verve, and perhaps has a swagger. “Panache” is a French word used for a plume of feathers, especially in a hat.

71. Hybrid picnic utensil : SPORK

“Spork” is the more common name for the utensil that is a hybrid between a spoon and a fork. The same utensil is less commonly referred to as a “foon”.

Down

2. Wicked look : EVIL EYE

The evil eye is a curse that is cast by giving a malicious glare.

4. National Mall, for a presidential inauguration : SCENE

The National Mall is a park in downtown Washington, D.C. The National Mall is home to several museums that are part of the Smithsonian, as well as the National Gallery of Art.

5. Six-foot bird : EMU

Emu eggs are very large, with a thick shell that is dark-green in color. One emu egg weighs about the same as a dozen chicken eggs.

6. ___ years (when presidents are elected) : LEAP

I wasn’t sure of the origin of the term “leap year”, and when I checked I found it to be fairly obvious. As a reference, let’s use March 25, 2007, a Sunday. The year before, in 2006, March 25th fell one weekday earlier on a Saturday. That follows the rule that any particular date moves forward in the week by one day, from one year to the next. However, the next year (2008) has an extra day, February 29th. So March 25, 2008 falls on a Tuesday, “leaping” two weekdays forward, not one, as 2008 is a “leap” year. I think I am more confused now then when I started this paragraph …

7. Maples formerly married to Donald Trump : MARLA

Marla Maples was the second wife of Donald Trump. Maples and Trump dated secretly for a couple of years while Trump was still married to his first wife Ivana. When Ivana discovered the affair, she filed for divorce, and eventually Donald and Marla married. It was Trump’s turn to file for divorce several years later after the National Enquirer outed Marla for having an affair with a Florida bodyguard.

9. Send covertly, as an email : BCC

A blind carbon copy (bcc) is a copy of a document or message that is sent to someone without other recipients of the message knowing about that extra copy.

10. Leader in a state roll call: Abbr. : ALA

In an alphabetical list of the names of US states, Alabama appears first, and Wyoming appears last.

11. Milan opera house : LA SCALA

La Scala Opera House opened in 1778. It was built on the site of the church of Santa Maria della Scala, which gave the theater its name: “Teatro alla Scala” in Italian.

13. Like atria : SKYLIT

In modern architecture an atrium (plural “atria” or “atriums”) is a large open space usually in the center of a building and extending upwards to the roof. The original atrium was an open court in the center of an Ancient Roman house. One could access most of the enclosed rooms of the house from the atrium.

18. Onetime Pontiac muscle cars : GTOS

The Pontiac GTO was produced by GM from 1964 to 1974, and again by a GM subsidiary in Australia from 2004 to 2006. The original GTO’s design is credited to Pontiac chief engineer at the time John DeLorean, who later was found the DeLorean Motor Company.

25. Dickens’s Little ___ : NELL

“The Old Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens tells the story of 14-year-old “Little Nell” Trent and her grandfather who live in the Old Curiosity Shop in London. If you visit London, there actually is an “Old Curiosity Shop”, in Westminster. It is an establishment selling odds and ends, old curiosities, and is believed to have been the inspiration for the shop in the Dickens story. The building has been around since the 1500s, but the name “The Old Curiosity Shop” was added after the book was published.

36. QB Manning : ELI

Eli Manning plays as quarterback for the New York Giants. Eli’s brother Peyton Manning retired from football as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2015. Eli and Peyton’s father is Archie Manning, who was also a successful NFL quarterback. Eli, Peyton and Archie co-authored a book for children titles “Family Huddle” in 2009. It describes the Mannings playing football together as young boys.

41. ABC show on weekday mornings, with “The” : VIEW

“The View” is a talk show that was created by Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie in 1997. The show features a panel of five women as co-hosts.

43. “Star Wars” pilot : HAN SOLO

Han Solo is the space smuggler in “Star Wars” played by Harrison Ford. Ford was originally hired by George Lucas just to read lines for actors during auditions for “Star Wars”, but over time Lucas became convinced that Ford was right for the pivotal role of Han Solo.

46. There’s one to honor presidents every February : HOLIDAY

What many of us know today as “Presidents’ Day” started out as Washington’s Birthday in 1879. It was originally only observed in the District of Columbia, and on the actual birthday of President Washington: February 22. The holiday was moved to the third Monday in February by Congress in 1971. Paradoxically, this shift means that the holiday takes place between February 15-21, and never on Washington’s actual birthday, the 22nd.

49. Grave robbers : GHOULS

Our word “ghoul” comes from the Arabic “ghul”, the name for an evil spirit that feeds on corpses.

52. Bygone Ford make, briefly : MERC

The Mercury brand of car was made by Ford from 1938 until 2011. Mercury was introduced by Henry Ford’s son Edsel Ford. Mercury vehicles were positioned as being more luxurious that the regular Ford models, and more economical than Ford’s high-end Lincoln models.

55. Celebrated Chinese-born architect : IM PEI

I. M. Pei (full name: Ieoh Ming Pei) is an exceptional American architect who was born in China. Of Pei’s many wonderful works, my favorite is the renovation of the Louvre in Paris, especially the Glass Pyramid in the courtyard.

58. Queen of ___ (visitor of King Solomon, in the Bible) : SHEBA

Sheba is referenced in the Bible several times. The Queen of Sheba is mentioned as someone who traveled to Jerusalem to behold the fame of King Solomon. No one knows for sure where the kingdom of Sheba was located, although there is evidence that it was actually the ancient Semitic civilization of Saba. The Sabeans lived in what today is Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula.

61. Poetry competition : SLAM

A poetry slam is a competition in which poets read their own work (usually), with winners being chosen by members of audience. Apparently the first poetry slam took place in Chicago in 1984. Now there is a Nation Poetry Slam that takes place each year, with representatives from the US, Canada and France.

64. Mink or sable : FUR

There are two species of mink extant: the European Mink and the American Mink. There used to be a Sea Mink which was much larger than its two cousins, but it was hunted to extinction (for its fur) in the late 1800s. American Minks are farmed over in Europe for fur, and animal rights activists have released many of these animals into the wild when raiding mink farms. As a result the European Mink population has declined due to the presence of its larger and more adaptable American cousin.

Sables are small mammals about two feet long that are found right across northern Europe and northern Asia. The sable’s pelt is highly prized in the fur trade. Sable is unique among furs in that it feels smooth no matter which direction it is stroked.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Skirt bottoms : HEMS
5. Ticklish Muppet : ELMO
9. Gets thin on top : BALDS
14. With: Fr. : AVEC
15. Banquet : MEAL
16. Lewis and ___ Expedition : CLARK
17. GARFIELD + U = Beach V.I.P. : LIFEGUARD
19. “___ at the Bat” : CASEY
20. City NW of Detroit : FLINT
21. “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” e.g. : PLEA
23. Home for Nixon and Reagan: Abbr. : CAL
24. “It’s a date!” : WE’RE ON!
26. MADISON + A = “Me, too!” : AND SO AM I!
29. Shakespearean cries : AYS
30. Bounding main : SEA
32. Pathetic group : SAD LOT
33. Mysterious sighting in the Himalayas : YETI
35. Some rulings on PolitiFact : LIES
38. Mortgage, e.g. : LOAN
39. FILLMORE + V = Movie buff : FILM LOVER
42. Like racehorses’ feet : SHOD
44. Who asks “What can I help you with?” on an iPhone : SIRI
45. Author Silverstein : SHEL
49. Soccer blocker : GOALIE
51. President pro ___ : TEM
53. Lab eggs : OVA
54. HARDING + P = Squeezable exercise tool : HAND GRIP
57. Actor Snipes of “White Men Can’t Jump” : WESLEY
59. Approves : OKS
60. Famous ___ cookies : AMOS
62. River of Cologne : RHINE
63. Uncle Sam’s land, for short : US OF A
66. COOLIDGE + P = Narc’s four-footed helper : POLICE DOG
68. Humdingers : LULUS
69. Panache : ELAN
70. Pistol sound : BANG!
71. Hybrid picnic utensil : SPORK
72. Philosophies : ISMS
73. First half of a Senate vote : AYES

Down

1. Two-year mark, in a presidential term : HALFWAY
2. Wicked look : EVIL EYE
3. Egoistic demand : ME FIRST
4. National Mall, for a presidential inauguration : SCENE
5. Six-foot bird : EMU
6. ___ years (when presidents are elected) : LEAP
7. Maples formerly married to Donald Trump : MARLA
8. Like the days of yore : OLDEN
9. Send covertly, as an email : BCC
10. Leader in a state roll call: Abbr. : ALA
11. Milan opera house : LA SCALA
12. “You wish!” : DREAM ON!
13. Like atria : SKYLIT
18. Onetime Pontiac muscle cars : GTOS
22. What a majority of campaign spending goes toward : ADS
25. Dickens’s Little ___ : NELL
27. Store sign on Presidents’ Day : SALE
28. Aromas : ODORS
31. Gets ready to shoot : AIMS
34. “Too rich for my blood” : I FOLD
36. QB Manning : ELI
37. Separate, as whites from colors : SORT
40. “Got it!,” beatnik-style : I DIG!
41. ABC show on weekday mornings, with “The” : VIEW
42. Absorbs : SOAKS UP
43. “Star Wars” pilot : HAN SOLO
46. There’s one to honor presidents every February : HOLIDAY
47. The slightest amount : EVEN ONE
48. What hens do : LAY EGGS
49. Grave robbers : GHOULS
50. Word after many presidents’ names : ERA
52. Bygone Ford make, briefly : MERC
55. Celebrated Chinese-born architect : IM PEI
56. Diving venues : POOLS
58. Queen of ___ (visitor of King Solomon, in the Bible) : SHEBA
61. Poetry competition : SLAM
64. Mink or sable : FUR
65. Query : ASK
67. Political connections : INS