0221-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 21 Feb 2018, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Ori Brian and Zachary Spitz
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Reveal Answer: PO Box

We have a rebus puzzle today, with some BOXES in the grid taking the letters PO:

  • 41A. Certain mailing address, for short … or a hint to 14 squares in this puzzle : PO BOX

Bill’s time: 11m 24s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

10. Cheerleader’s handful : POM-POM

The French call a ball made of tufted wool a “pompon”, a word that we imported into English directly as “pompon”. We use “pompon” to describe perhaps bobbles on some hats, or the tufted balls that are shaken by cheerleaders at sports events. Over time, the spelling “pompom” has become common in English, probably due to mishearing. To confuse matters a little, we also use the word “pom-pom”, which is a nickname for a British autocannon used mainly as an anti-aircraft weapon, particularly during WWII.

14. Jong who wrote “Fear of Flying” : ERICA

The author Erica Jong’s most famous work is her first: “Fear of Flying”, a novel published in 1973. Over twenty years later, Jong wrote “Fear of Fifty: a midlife memoir”, published in 1994.

15. Amy Winehouse, vocally : ALTO

Amy Winehouse was a much ridiculed singer from the UK, and whose life was fraught with very public bouts of drug and alcohol abuse. Winehouse’s lifestyle caught up with her in 2011 when she was found dead from alcohol poisoning. The unfortunate singer was only 27 years old when she died, which means she is now viewed as a member of the “27 Club”. This “club” is made up of famous musicians who all died at the age of 27, including Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison of the Doors, and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.

16. Obama’s stepfather ___ Soetoro : LOLO

Barack Obama, Sr. was first married at the age of 18 in his home country of Kenya, and had two children during that marriage. He left his wife and children back in Kenya when he enrolled in the University of Hawaii in 1959 as the school’s first African foreign student. There, Obama met Ann Dunham in a Russian language course. The two entered into a romantic relationship and Dunham became pregnant. Obama told Dunham that he was divorced from his first wife (not true), and the pair were married on Maui in 1961. Six months later, Barack Obama II was born, destined to become the 44th President of the United States. The couple divorced in 1964. After the divorce, Dunham was able to marry Lolo Soetoro, a Javanese surveyor who she met while he was studying for a masters degree at the university. Soetoro returned to Indonesia in 1966, and Dunham joined him there the following year with her 6-year-old son. Barack Obama spent four years in Indonesia before returning to Hawaii to live with his grandparents.

17. Ice cream parlor orders : MALTS

Walgreens claims to have introduced the malted milkshake, back in 1922.

18. Marx with a curly wig : HARPO

Harpo Marx was the second oldest of the Marx brothers. Harpo’s real name was Adolph, and he earned his nickname because he played the harp. Famously, Harpe didn’t speak on screen, a routine that he developed after reading a review that he performed really well when he just didn’t speak! He would usually whistle or toot a hand-held horn instead of speaking.

23. Genius Bar staffer : TECH

The technical support desk found in Apple Retail Stores is rather inventively called the Genius Bar. The certified support technicians are known as “Geniuses”. The trainees are called GYOs: Grow-Your-Own-Geniuses.

27. Ian McKellen’s role in “X-Men” movies : MAGNETO

In the Marvel Comics universe, Magneto is a powerful mutant, and an enemy of the X-Men. As his name implies, Magneto’s superhuman ability is that he can generate and control magnetic fields. Magneto has been portrayed on the big screen in the “X-Men” series of films by Sir Ian McKellen, and by Michael Fassbender.

Sir Ian McKellen is a marvelous English actor, someone who is comfortable playing anything from Macbeth on stage to Magneto in an “X-Men” movie. On the big screen, McKellen is very famous for playing Gandalf in “The Lord of Rings”. In the UK, Sir Ian is noted for being at the forefront of the campaign for equal rights for gay people, a role he has enthusiastically embraced since the eighties.

30. Instagram upload, for short : PIC

Instagram is a photo-sharing application, one that is extremely popular. Instagram was started in San Francisco in 2010. Facebook purchased Instagram two years later, paying $1 billion. The billion-dollar Instagram company had just 13 employees at the time of the sale …

32. Soviet labor camp : GULAG

The Gulag was a government agency in the Soviet Union that administered forced labor camps. The term “gulag” was used for the camps themselves, especially when used for political dissidents. “GULag” is actually an acronym standing for the Russian “Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies”.

35. Game fish that can breathe air : TARPON

There are two species of the fish known as the tarpon: the Atlantic tarpon and Indo-Pacific tarpon. Many fish have swim bladders, organs that are related evolutionarily to the lungs, and are used to control buoyancy. What is unique about the tarpon is that it uses its swim bladder not only for buoyancy, but also as an accessory respiratory organ. In fact, unless the tarpon gets access to air at the water’s surface, it will die.

39. Place to board a bus or train : DEPOT

Our term “depot”, meaning “station, warehouse”, comes from the French word “dépôt”. The French term translates into English as “deposit” or “place of deposit”.

43. “___ Means I Love You” (1968 top 10 hit by the Delfonics) : LA-LA

1968’s “La-La (Means I Love You)” is maybe the best known song from the Philadelphia vocal group, the Delfonics.

44. Underworld boss? : SATAN

Satan is the bringer of evil and temptation in the Abrahamic religions. The name “Satan” is Hebrew for “adversary”.

46. Places for channel surfers : SOFAS

“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.

48. Long of “Alfie,” 2004 : NIA

Nia Long is an American actress who is probably best known for playing Will Smith’s sometime girlfriend and fiancee Lisa Wilkes on the TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.

There have been two versions of the movie “Alfie”. The original, and for my money the best, was made in 1966 with Michael Caine. The remake came out in 2004 and stars Jude Law in the title role. The theme song was performed by Cher in the 1966 movie, but it was Dionne Warwick’s cover version from 1967 that was the most successful in the charts.

49. Underworld boss : CAPO

More properly called a caporegime, a capo is a high-ranking member of the Mafia (Cosa Nostra).

51. Mixed martial arts cage shape : OCTAGON

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport in which competitors use a variety of techniques from a variety of traditional combat sports and martial arts.

58. ___ Clooney, human rights lawyer : AMAL

Amal Alamuddin married celebrated Hollywood actor George Clooney in 2014. Alamuddin was born in Beirut, Lebanon and moved with her family to London when she was a toddler. She is a lawyer specializing in international law, with one of her more renowned clients being the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.

60. Marsupial with a grasping tail : OPOSSUM

Although they are both marsupials, the opossum and the possum are two distinct animals. True possums are found in Australia and other places in the South Pacific. Opossums are found in North America.

65. Bird in Egyptian hieroglyphics : IBIS

The ibis is a wading bird that was revered in ancient Egypt. “Ibis” is an interesting word grammatically speaking. You can have one “ibis” or two “ibises”, and then again one has a flock of “ibis”. And if you want to go with the classical plural, instead of two “ibises” you would have two “ibides”!

69. Explorer Hernando de ___ : SOTO

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish conquistador who led expeditions throughout the southeastern US. De Soto’s travels were unsuccessful in that he failed to bring gold or silver back to Spain, and nor did he found any colonies. What de Soto did achieve was the exposure of local populations to devastating Eurasian diseases. De Soto was the first European to cross the Mississippi River, in 1541. The first European to see the Mississippi (but not cross it) was Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, in 1519.

70. Atlas close-up : INSET

The famous Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator published his first collection of maps in 1578. Mercator’s collection contained a frontispiece with an image of Atlas the Titan from Greek mythology holding up the world on his shoulders. That image gave us our term “atlas” that is used for a book of maps.

71. Goddess with cow’s horns : ISIS

Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, as well as the protector of the dead and the goddess of children. She was the personification of the pharaoh’s power. The name “Isis” translates as “throne”, and she is usually depicted with a headdress shaped like a throne.

72. Merino mothers : EWES

The Merino breed of sheep is prized for the soft quality of its wool.

73. Pre-1917 autocrats : TSARS

The year 1917 saw two revolutions in Russia, with the pair collectively called “the Russian Revolution”. As a result of the February Revolution that centered on Petrograd, the last Emperor of Russia (Tsar Nicholas II) abdicated and members of the Imperial parliament took control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The Provisional Government was itself overthrown in the October Revolution, which was led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik party.

Down

1. Something to keep in a band? : TEMPO

The tempo (plural “tempi”) of a piece of music is usually designated with an Italian word on the score. For example, “grave” is slow and solemn, “andante” is at a walking pace, “scherzo” is fast and light-hearted, and “allegro” is fast, quickly and bright.

6. Scroogian exclamation : BAH!

The classic 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens has left us with a few famous phrases and words. Firstly, it led to popular use of the phrase “Merry Christmas”, and secondly it gave us the word “scrooge” meaning a miserly person. And thirdly, everyone knows that Ebenezer Scrooge uttered the words “Bah! Humbug!”.

7. Alternative to Dollar or Budget : ALAMO

The third largest car rental company over recent years is Alamo, which was founded in 1974. Alamo made inroads (pun!) into the market by popularizing the idea of “unlimited mileage”.

9. Dr. Seuss book that introduces phonics : HOP ON POP

“Hop on Pop” is a Dr. Seuss book that was first published in 1963 with the subtitle “The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use”. “Hop on Pop” was listed by former First Lady Laura Bush as her favorite title, citing the memories evoked of family life with her young daughters.

11. Claude who painted water lilies : MONET

“Water Lilies” by French Impressionist Claude Monet is actually a whole series of paintings, numbering about 250 in total. The subjects of the works were the water lilies in Monet’s flower garden at Giverny in northern France.

12. Coppers : POLICE

“To cop” was northern British dialect for “to seize, catch”, and is still a slang term meaning “to get hold of, steal”. This verb evolved in the noun “copper”, describing a policeman, someone who catches criminals. “Copper” is often shortened to “cop”.

13. Clothes closet pests : MOTHS

The larvae of several types of moth are noted for eating fabrics made from natural fibers such as wool or cotton. Many people store woolens in cedar chests believing that the scent of the wood prevents a moth infestation. In fact, the only known effective repellent is the naphthalene found in mothballs, which might be a health concern for humans. One way to kill moth larvae in fabric is to freeze the garment for several days at a temperature below -8 degrees centigrade.

25. Hershey’s caramel candies : ROLOS

Rolo was a hugely popular chocolate candy in Ireland when I was growing up. Rolo was introduced in the thirties in the UK, and is produced under license in the US by Hershey. I was a little disappointed when I had my first taste of the American version as the center is very hard and chewy. The recipe used on the other side of the Atlantic calls for a soft gooey center.

27. Rx items : MEDS

There seems to some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.

29. Woman’s erogenous zone : G-SPOT

The full name for the G-Spot is the “Gräfenberg Spot”, named after German doctor Ernst Gräfenberg. Gräfenberg is best known for developing the intrauterine device (IUD).

33. Blood-typing letters : ABO

The most important grouping of blood types is the ABO system. Blood is classified as either A, B, AB or O, depending on the type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A secondary designation of blood is the Rh factor, in which other antigens are labelled as either positive or negative. When a patient receives a blood transfusion, ideally the donor blood should be the same type as that of the recipient, as incompatible blood cells can be rejected. However, blood type O-neg can be accepted by recipients with all blood types, A, B, AB or O, and positive or negative. Hence someone with O-neg blood type is called a universal donor.

36. Summoned, as a butler : RANG

A butler is the head servant in a household. The butler is often in charge of the wine stores in the house. The term “butler” comes from the Old French “boteillier” meaning “officer in charge of wine”, which in terms comes from the Old French “boteille”, the word for a “bottle”.

37. Salk vaccine target : POLIO

Jonas Salk was an American medical researcher who developed the first safe polio vaccine. In the fifties, especially after the 1952 epidemic, polio was the biggest health fear in the US because it killed thousands, left even more with disabilities and most of the victims were children. The situation was dire and the authorities immediately quarantined the family of any polio victim, and that quarantine was so strict that in many cases the families were not even permitted to attend the funeral of a family member who died from the disease.

38. Tandoor-baked bread : NAAN

Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.

40. Like boorish behavior : TACTLESS

Back in the early 1500s, a boor was a rustic person, a peasant farmer, someone associated with the countryside. The term “boor” ultimately comes from the Latin “bos” meaning “cow, ox”. By the mid-1500s, someone described as boorish was considered rude in manner, which is our usage today.

42. Craft knife brand : X-ACTO

The X-Acto knife was invented in the thirties by a Polish immigrant, although his intention was to come up with a scalpel for surgeons. The knife couldn’t cut it as a scalpel though (pun!), because it was difficult to clean. The inventor’s brother-in law suggested it be used as a craft knife, and it is still around today.

45. “Street Dreams” rapper : NAS

Rapper Nas used to go by another stage name, “Nasty Nas”, and before that by his real name, “Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones”. Nas released his first album “Illmatic” in 1994, and inventively titled his fifth studio album “Stillmatic”, released in 2001. Not my cup of tea, I would say …

53. Mecca native : SAUDI

Mecca is in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. It was the birthplace of Muhammad and is the holiest city in Islam. Every year several million Muslims perform the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

55. “Amazing” magician : RANDI

James Randi is a retired Canadian-American magician who had a stage career using the name “The Amazing Randi”. Now he spends his time investigating the paranormal, or in fact mainly challenging claims of paranormal activity. If you’re interested, the James Randi Educational Foundation is offering one million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal activity under controlled test conditions.

61. Baseball’s Slammin’ Sammy : SOSA

Sammy Sosa was firmly in the public eye in 1998 when he and Mark McGwire were vying to be the first to surpass the home run record held by Roger Maris. McGwire fell out of public favor due to stories of steroid abuse (stories which he later admitted were true) while Sosa fell out of favor when he was found to be using a corked bat in a 2003 game.

63. “Miracle” team of 1969 : METS

The New York Mets baseball team was founded in 1962 as a replacement for two teams that the city had lost, namely the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. For several years the Mets played very poorly, finishing no better than second-to-last in their division. Then of course along came the “Miracle Mets” (aka “Amazin’ Mets”) who beat the Baltimore Orioles in 1969 to claim the World Series in a huge upset.

66. Call to the Coast Guard : SOS

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots), although in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so SOS is in effect only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are also mnemonics, introduced after the “SOS” signal was adopted.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has the distinction of being the country’s oldest continuous seagoing service. The USCG was founded as the Revenue Cutter Service by Alexander Hamilton in 1790.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Damage beyond repair : TOTAL
6. Talk trash about : BASH
10. Cheerleader’s handful : POM-POM
14. Jong who wrote “Fear of Flying” : ERICA
15. Amy Winehouse, vocally : ALTO
16. Obama’s stepfather ___ Soetoro : LOLO
17. Ice cream parlor orders : MALTS
18. Marx with a curly wig : HARPO
19. Still competitive : IN IT
20. Belch fumes, say : POLLUTE
22. “Holy smokes!” : MAN!
23. Genius Bar staffer : TECH
24. Ultraliberals, to ultraconservatives : POLAR OPPOSITES
27. Ian McKellen’s role in “X-Men” movies : MAGNETO
30. Instagram upload, for short : PIC
31. Busy hosp. sites : ERS
32. Soviet labor camp : GULAG
35. Game fish that can breathe air : TARPON
39. Place to board a bus or train : DEPOT
41. Certain mailing address, for short … or a hint to 14 squares in this puzzle : PO BOX
43. “___ Means I Love You” (1968 top 10 hit by the Delfonics) : LA-LA
44. Underworld boss? : SATAN
46. Places for channel surfers : SOFAS
48. Long of “Alfie,” 2004 : NIA
49. Underworld boss : CAPO
51. Mixed martial arts cage shape : OCTAGON
53. One doing a locker room interview : SPORTS REPORTER
58. ___ Clooney, human rights lawyer : AMAL
59. Survey : POLL
60. Marsupial with a grasping tail : OPOSSUM
64. Barely ahead : UP ONE
65. Bird in Egyptian hieroglyphics : IBIS
67. It may be at the end of one’s rope : NOOSE
68. Fizzling fireworks : DUDS
69. Explorer Hernando de ___ : SOTO
70. Atlas close-up : INSET
71. Goddess with cow’s horns : ISIS
72. Merino mothers : EWES
73. Pre-1917 autocrats : TSARS

Down

1. Something to keep in a band? : TEMPO
2. Taken in tablet form, say : ORAL
3. Work with a plow : TILL
4. Do something about : ACT UPON
5. End of a relay race : LAST LEG
6. Scroogian exclamation : BAH!
7. Alternative to Dollar or Budget : ALAMO
8. Leave in financial difficulty : STRAP
9. Dr. Seuss book that introduces phonics : HOP ON POP
10. Like cartoons on the editorial page : POLITICAL
11. Claude who painted water lilies : MONET
12. Coppers : POLICE
13. Clothes closet pests : MOTHS
21. “Dig in!” : EAT UP!
25. Hershey’s caramel candies : ROLOS
26. Take a load off : SIT
27. Rx items : MEDS
28. Geometry calculation : AREA
29. Woman’s erogenous zone : G-SPOT
33. Blood-typing letters : ABO
34. Like a lot : GO FOR
36. Summoned, as a butler : RANG
37. Salk vaccine target : POLIO
38. Tandoor-baked bread : NAAN
40. Like boorish behavior : TACTLESS
42. Craft knife brand : X-ACTO
45. “Street Dreams” rapper : NAS
47. “Hurry up!” : STEP ON IT!
50. Relative of a dolphin : PORPOISE
52. Firebugs’ felonies : ARSONS
53. Mecca native : SAUDI
54. Self-important, as an ass : POMPOUS
55. “Amazing” magician : RANDI
56. Nudge rudely : ELBOW
57. Always saying “please,” say : POLITE
61. Baseball’s Slammin’ Sammy : SOSA
62. ___-friendly : USER
63. “Miracle” team of 1969 : METS
66. Call to the Coast Guard : SOS