0226-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 26 Feb 2018, Monday

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Constructed by: Andrea Carla Michaels and Mark Diehl
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Reveal Answer: Saw

If we take the first word from each of the four themed answers in turn, we get a wise old SAW, i.e. STILL WATERS RUN DEEP:

  • 57D. Wise old saying … like the first words of 20-, 32-, 41- and 52-Across : SAW
  • 20A. Not dead yet! : STILL KICKING
  • 32A. Dilutes : WATERS DOWN
  • 41A. Pick up dry cleaning, go to the post office, etc. : RUN ERRANDS
  • 52A. “What is life?,” “Why are we here?,” etc. : DEEP THOUGHTS

Bill’s time: 6m 02s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4. Discontinued Swedish cars : SAABS

“SAAB” stands for Svenska Aeroplan AB, which translates into English as Swedish Aeroplane Limited. Although we usually think of SAAB as an auto manufacturer, it is mainly an aircraft manufacturer. If you take small hops in Europe you might find yourself on a SAAB passenger plane. The SAAB automotive division was acquired by General Motors in the year 2000, who then sold it to a Dutch concern in 2010. However, SAAB (automotive) finally went bankrupt in 2011. A Chinese consortium purchased the assets of SAAB Automotive in 2012, and so SAAB vehicles are in production again. The new vehicles are using the SAAB name, but cannot use the SAAB griffin logo, the rights to which have been retained by the mother company.

14. ___ Zedong : MAO

Mao Zedong (also “Mao Tse-tung”) was born on December 16, 1893 in the Hunan Province of China. As Mao was the son of a peasant farmer, his prospects for education were limited. Indeed he left school at age 13 to work on the family farm but did eventually get to secondary school in Changsha, the provincial capital. In the years following, Mao continued his education in Beijing and actually turned down an opportunity to study in France.

15. ___ Vanilli, group with three #1 hits in 1989 : MILLI

Milli Vanilli famously won a Grammy and had it revoked when it was discovered that they didn’t even provide the lead vocals for the award-winning recording, and just lip-synced when performing on stage.

18. Drip-dry fabric : ORLON

Orlon is the brand name used by the DuPont Corporation for the acrylic fibers the company developed in 1941.

24. Laceless shoe fastener : VELCRO

The hook-and-loop fastener that we now call Velcro was invented in 1941 by Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer. Mestral noticed that the seeds of the burdock plant (burrs or burs) stuck to his clothes. Under the microscope he found hooks on the burrs that grabbed hold of loops in his clothing. After years of development, he came up with a way of simulating the natural hook using man-made materials, and Velcro was born.

28. Horror director Craven : WES

Wes Craven was a very successful film director and writer specializing in movies of the horror genre, which means that I don’t watch them! He was responsible for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Scream” films. Craven passed away in August 2015.

31. Baseball’s Gehrig : LOU

Baseball legend Lou Gehrig was known as a powerhouse. He was a big hitter and just kept on playing. Gehrig broke the record for the most consecutive number of games played, and he stills holds the record for the most career grand slams. His durability earned him the nickname “The Iron Horse”. Sadly, he died in 1941 at 37-years-old suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an illness we now call “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. The New Yankees retired the number four on 4th of July 1939 in his honor, making Lou Gehrig the first baseball player to have a number retired.

36. ___ ex machina : DEUS

“Deus ex machina” is a Latin phrase that translates as “god out of the machine”. “Deus ex machina” is a plot device used in some works whereby some apparently inextricable problem is suddenly resolved by an unexpected intervention. The term was first used in Horace’s “Ars Poetica”.

38. Sí : Spain :: ___ : France : OUI

“Oui” is “yes” in French, and “non” is “no”.

39. “Fee-fi-fo-fum” sayer : GIANT

The line “fee-fi-fo-fum” (with various spellings) comes from the famous English fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Within the story, the giant at the top of the beanstalk utters a little poem when he detects the presence of Jack:

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

43. ___ 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 …

44. Author Vonnegut : KURT

Kurt Vonnegut was an writer from Indianapolis whose most famous work is probably the novel “Slaughterhouse-Five” from 1969. Beyond his writing, Vonnegut was noted for his support of the American Civil Liberties Union and American Humanist Association. Kurt had a brother who made a big contribution to society. Bernard Vonnegut was the atmospheric scientist who discovered that silver iodide could be used to seed clouds and artificially create rain.

46. Avenging spirits of Greek myth : FURIES

The Furies of Greek and Roman mythology were the female personification of vengeance. They were also known as the Dirae, “the terrible”. There were at least three Furies:

  • Alecto: the “unceasing”
  • Megaera: the “grudging”
  • Tisiphone: the “avenging murder”

59. Soph. and jr. : YRS

The term “sophomore” has been used for a student in the second year of university since the 1680’s. The original meaning of the word was “arguer”. The term has Greek roots, from two Greek words that have been artificially combined in English. The Greek “sophos” means “wise”, and “moros” means “foolish”.

62. Fannie ___ (mortgage company) : MAE

The Federal National Mortgage Association is commonly called “Fannie Mae”, a play on the initialism FNMA. Fannie Mae was founded in during the Great Depression as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.

65. Midlength records, for short : EPS

An extended-play record, CD or download (EP) contains more music than a single, but less than an LP.

Down

2. Bonnie who sang “I Can’t Make You Love Me” : RAITT

Bonnie Raitt is a blues singer originally from Burbank, California. Raitt has won nine Grammys for her work, but she is perhaps as well known for her political activism as she is for her music. She was no fan of President George W. Bush while he was in office, and she sure did show it.

3. First ___ (Shakespeare volume) : FOLIO

“First Folio” is the name commonly used for a collection of William Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623 under the title “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies”. The “First Folio” originally sold for one pound, which is about $230 in today’s money. About 750 copies were made, and there are just under 230 copies believed to still exist. A copy stolen from Durham University in 1998 was recovered in 2008, and was valued at about 15 million pounds.

6. Like a poker player who’s either very confident or really bluffing : ALL IN

The official birthplace of the incredibly popular poker game of Texas hold ’em is Robstown, Texas where the game dates back to the early 1900s. The game was introduced into Las Vegas in 1967 by a group of Texan enthusiasts including Doyle Brunson, a champion often seen playing on TV today. Doyle Brunson published a poker strategy guide in 1978, and this really helped increase the popularity of the game. But it was the inclusion of Texas hold ‘em in the television lineup that really gave the game its explosive surge in popularity, with the size of the prize money just skyrocketing.

9. Mercury or Mars : PLANET

The eight planets of our solar system can be sorted into two categories. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are “terrestrials” as they are largely composed of rock. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are “gas giants”, as they are largely composed of gaseous material. Uranus and Neptune can be called “ice giants”, a subcategory of gas giants. Ice giants have a lower mass than other gas giants, with very little hydrogen and helium in their atmospheres and a higher proportion of rock and ice.

10. Katherine of “27 Dresses” : HEIGL

Katherine Heigl is best associated with the television show “Grey’s Anatomy” on which she plays Dr. Izzie Stevens. That’s not a show I ever watched, but I did enjoy the espionage show “State of Affairs” in which Heigl played the lead. I guess I was in the minority though, as NBC cancelled “State of Affairs” after only one season …

11. Settlers of tied games, for short : OTS

Overtime (OT)

12. Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ___ You Get Enough” : ‘TIL

“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is a 1979 song written and recorded by Michael Jackson. It is considered by many to be a breakthrough song for Jackson as a solo artist and songwriter. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” won Jackson his first solo Grammy Award.

21. Brings to half-mast : LOWERS

Some say that flags are flown at “half-mast” as a sign of respect or mourning in order to leave room for “the invisible flag of death” that flies at the top of the flagpole.

22. ___ the Terrible : IVAN

The Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan IV became known as “Ivan the Terrible”. The name “terrible” is a translation from Russian, and perhaps creates the wrong impression about the man. The Russian word is “Grozny”, which is more akin to “strict” and “powerful” rather than “cruel” or “abominable”.

33. “Wheel of Fortune” purchases : A-E-I-O-U

Contestants have been spinning the “Wheel of Fortune” since the game show first aired in 1975.

49. What the first, second and fifth lines in a limerick do : RHYME

No one knows for sure how the limerick got its name, although there does seem to be agreement the name does indeed come from the city or county of Limerick in Ireland. Try this one for size:

There was a young lady named Bright
who traveled much faster than light.
She set out one day
in a relative way,
and came back the previous night.

50. Pocketbook part : STRAP

“Pocketbook”, meaning a woman’s purse, is a peculiarly American word. I was flabbergasted by the term when I first heard it used, soon after arriving in the US. A pocketbook doesn’t go into a pocket, and there’s no book!

51. Slalom curves : ESSES

“Slalom” is an anglicized version of the Norwegian word “slalam” that translates as “skiing race”. There is a longer version of the traditional slalom that is called giant slalom

54. Pianist/radio host John : TESH

John Tesh is a pianist and composer, as well as a radio and television presenter. For many years Tesh presented the show “Entertainment Tonight”. For “ET” he once covered the filming of an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. As part of the piece, he volunteered to act as a Klingon warrior. If you see the “Star Trek: TNG” episode called “The Icarus Factor” in reruns, watch out for John Tesh engaging in ritual torture with Mr. Worf as his victim.

55. AOL alternative : MSN

The Microsoft Network (MSN) used to be an Internet service provider (ISP). These days, MSN is mainly a web portal.

57. Wise old saying … like the first words of 20-, 32-, 41- and 52-Across : SAW

A saw is an old saying, one that is often repeated and is very familiar. The term “old saw” is actually a tautology, as by definition a “saw” is “old”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Sound from a pound : ARF!
4. Discontinued Swedish cars : SAABS
9. Snapshot : PHOTO
14. ___ Zedong : MAO
15. ___ Vanilli, group with three #1 hits in 1989 : MILLI
16. Open the door for : LET IN
17. Be sick : AIL
18. Drip-dry fabric : ORLON
19. Preferred seat request in an airplane : AISLE
20. Not dead yet! : STILL KICKING
23. Substituted (for) : STOOD IN
24. Laceless shoe fastener : VELCRO
28. Horror director Craven : WES
29. Warm winter wear : COAT
31. Baseball’s Gehrig : LOU
32. Dilutes : WATERS DOWN
36. ___ ex machina : DEUS
37. Listens to : HEARS
38. Sí : Spain :: ___ : France : OUI
39. “Fee-fi-fo-fum” sayer : GIANT
40. Objectives : AIMS
41. Pick up dry cleaning, go to the post office, etc. : RUN ERRANDS
43. ___ v. Wade : ROE
44. Author Vonnegut : KURT
45. Snakelike fish : EEL
46. Avenging spirits of Greek myth : FURIES
48. With possibly even direr consequences : OR WORSE
52. “What is life?,” “Why are we here?,” etc. : DEEP THOUGHTS
55. Bricklayer, e.g. : MASON
58. Slight advantage : LEG UP
59. Soph. and jr. : YRS
60. Bathroom unit : STALL
61. Be of ___ (avail) : USE TO
62. Fannie ___ (mortgage company) : MAE
63. Full of the latest : NEWSY
64. Glossy finish : SHEEN
65. Midlength records, for short : EPS

Down

1. Stockpile : AMASS
2. Bonnie who sang “I Can’t Make You Love Me” : RAITT
3. First ___ (Shakespeare volume) : FOLIO
4. Burns slowly : SMOLDERS
5. Simulated smooch : AIR KISS
6. Like a poker player who’s either very confident or really bluffing : ALL IN
7. Like-minded voting group : BLOC
8. Swim’s alternative : SINK
9. Mercury or Mars : PLANET
10. Katherine of “27 Dresses” : HEIGL
11. Settlers of tied games, for short : OTS
12. Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ___ You Get Enough” : ‘TIL
13. Tip jar bill : ONE
21. Brings to half-mast : LOWERS
22. ___ the Terrible : IVAN
25. Fresh from the laundry : CLEAN
26. Circular : ROUND
27. Ejects : OUSTS
29. Go “1, 2, 3, 4 …” : COUNT
30. Injury, in totspeak : OWIE
32. Where ships dock : WHARF
33. “Wheel of Fortune” purchases : A-E-I-O-U
34. Circus whip-cracker : TAMER
35. Gloomy : DOUR
36. Conversation : DIALOG
39. Enjoyed frequently as a child : GREW UP ON
41. Trick : RUSE
42. Send on a detour, say : REROUTE
44. With enthusiasm : KEENLY
47. Personal heroes : IDOLS
48. “Well, shucks!” : OH GEE!
49. What the first, second and fifth lines in a limerick do : RHYME
50. Pocketbook part : STRAP
51. Slalom curves : ESSES
53. + : PLUS
54. Pianist/radio host John : TESH
55. AOL alternative : MSN
56. Breakfasted or lunched : ATE
57. Wise old saying … like the first words of 20-, 32-, 41- and 52-Across : SAW