0403-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 3 Apr 2018, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Damon Gulczynski
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Reveal Answer: Think Quickly

Themed answers end with a word that sounds like a letter. Those letters spell out the word “QUICKLY”:

  • 67A. To understand this puzzle’s theme, read the ends of the answers to the starred clues and … : THINK QUICKLY
  • 18A. *List for some binge watchers : NETFLIX QUEUE (sounds like “Q”)
  • 25A. *Response to “Who, me?” : YES, YOU (sounds like “U”)
  • 29A. *”Balderdash!” : MY EYE! (sounds like “I”)
  • 40A. *Lowest point on the earth’s surface : DEAD SEA (sounds like “C”)
  • 43A. *Avon competitor : MARY KAY (sounds like “K”)
  • 53A. *Superman’s alien name : KAL-EL (sounds like “L”)
  • 57A. *”For what reason, though?” : BUT WHY? (sounds like “Y”)

Bill’s time: 7m 48s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. 10% donation : TITHE

Traditionally, a tithe is a payment of one tenth of a person’s annual income and is usually given to a church. Tithing is a practice taught in many traditions, and according to a 2002 survey, about 3% of American adults donate 10% or more of their income to a church.

12. Air ticket abbr. : ARR

Arrival (arr.)

15. Disney mermaid : ARIEL

In the 1989 Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid”, the title character is given the name “Ariel”. In the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that dates back to 1836, the Little Mermaid is given no name at all. There is a famous statue of the unnamed Little Mermaid sitting in Copenhagen Harbor, in Andersen’s homeland of Denmark.

17. “Seinfeld” uncle : LEO

On the sitcom “Seinfeld”, Jerry’s eccentric maternal uncle is Leo, played by actor Len Lesser. Lesser acted in movies and television for many years, alongside some of the greats of stage and screen. He was fond of telling a marvelous story about acting in the 1973 film “Papillon” starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. In his role as a prison guard, Lesser was required to shove McQueen, but McQueen didn’t think that Lesser was pushing him roughly enough. He turned to Lesser and told him “Don’t think of me as a movie star. Think of me as a character in a show”, encouraging him to be more aggressive. When McQueen walked away, Hoffman was left standing there beside Lesser. He paused and quietly said to Lesser, “Think of me as a movie star …”

18. *List for some binge watchers : NETFLIX QUEUE (sounds like “Q”)

Netflix was founded in Los Gatos, California in 1997 as a DVD rental company that sent out titles by mail. Netflix no longer focuses on distribution by mail, and instead provides programming on demand. The company is now making a big player in the production of films and TV programs.

21. Bearded beast : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

23. Setting of Kubla Khan’s palace : XANADU

Shangdu (also “Xanadu”) was located in Inner Mongolia in China, just over 200 miles north of China. Shangdu was the capital of the Yuan dynasty that was established in 1271 by Kublai Khan. The Venetian traveller Marco Polo visited Shangdu in about 1272, and the city was destroyed by the Ming army in 1369. Centuries later in 1797, the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge immortalized the city (as “Xanadu”) in his celebrated poem “Kubla Khan”.

“Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is my wife’s favorite poem. Coleridge wrote his masterpiece one night in 1797 after a vivid dream heavily influenced by opium.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

29. *”Balderdash!” : MY EYE! (sounds like “I”)

“Balderdash” means “senseless jumble of words”. The original balderdash (back before the late 1600s) was a jumbled mix of liquids like maybe beer and wine, or even beer and milk!

30. Much-used Twitter symbols : ATS

The “at symbol” (@) originated in the commercial word, as shorthand for “each at, per” and similar phrases. I suppose we see the symbol most commonly these days as part of all email addresses.

31. Line around the globe : TROPIC

The Earth has five geographical zones defined by the major circles of latitude:

  • The North Frigid Zone lies north of the Arctic Circle
  • The North Temperate Zone lies between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer
  • The Torrid Zone lies between the two Tropical Circles
  • The South Temperate Zone lies between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle
  • The South Frigid Zone lies south of the Antarctic Circle

36. “Gil Blas” writer : LESAGE

Alain-René Lesage was a novelist and playwright from France. Lesage is best known for his novels “The Devil upon Two Sticks” (1707) and “Gil Blas” (1715-1735).

37. Lou Gehrig’s disease, for short : ALS

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.

40. *Lowest point on the earth’s surface : DEAD SEA (sounds like “C”)

The Middle East’s Dead Sea lies more than 1,400 feet below sea level, making it the lowest point on the Earth’s landmass. It is also one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, with a salt content that is almost ten times that of most oceans.

43. *Avon competitor : MARY KAY (sounds like “K”)

Mary Kay Ash founded her skincare and cosmetics company, somewhat ominously on Friday, 13th September 1963. In 1968, Mary Kay Ash bought herself a pink Cadillac, specially painted to match the color of one of her compacts. The car became so famous that she gave away five of them to her top saleswoman, a tradition that endures to this day.

In 1886, a young man called David McConnell was selling books door-to-door. To enhance his sales numbers he was giving out free perfume to the ladies of the houses that he visited. Seeing as his perfume was more popular than his books, he founded the California Perfume Company in New York City and started manufacturing and selling across the country. The company name was changed to Avon in 1939, and the famous “Avon Calling” marketing campaign was launched in 1954.

46. Like a curmudgeon : CRUSTY

“Curmudgeon” is a favorite term used by my wife to describe me. A curmudgeon is a bad-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions. I am sure she means it very affectionately …

49. Quaker ___ : OATS

The Quaker Oats Company was founded in 1901 when four oat mills merged, including the Quaker Mill Company of Ravenna, Ohio. Quaker Mill’s owner Henry Parsons Crowell played the key role in creating the new company and remained at the helm until 1943.

51. “Six-pack” : ABS

The abdominal muscles (abs) are more correctly referred to as the rectus abdominis muscles. They might be referred to as a “six-pack” in a person who has developed the muscles and who has low body fat. In my case, more like a keg …

53. *Superman’s alien name : KAL-EL (sounds like “L”)

Jor-El was a scientist on the planet Krypton who was married to Lara. Jor-El and Lara had an infant son named Kal-El who they were able to launch into space towards Earth just before Krypton was destroyed. Kal-El became Superman. In the 1978 movie “Superman”, Jor-El was played by Marlon Brando, Lara was played by Susannah York, and Kal-El/Superman was played by Christopher Reeve.

56. Longtime U.K. record label : EMI

EMI was a British music company, with the initialism standing for Electric and Musical Industries.

61. War-torn Syrian city : ALEPPO

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and is located not far from Damascus, the nation’s capital. Aleppo owes it size and history of prosperity to its location at the end of the Silk Road, the trade route that linked Asia to Europe (and other locations). The Suez Canal was opened up in 1869 bringing a new route for transport of goods, and so Aleppo’s prosperity declined over the past one hundred years or so. The city’s population has suffered terribly since the start of the Syrian Civil War, with the Battle of Aleppo raging from 2012 to 2016.

65. Tow job provider, in brief : AAA

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit organization focused on lobbying, provision of automobile servicing, and selling of automobile insurance. The AAA was founded in 1902 in Chicago and published the first of its celebrated hotel guides back in 1917.

70. ___ Dunham, mother of Barack Obama : ANN

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.

75. “Chocolat” director Hallström : LASSE

Lasse Hallström is a film director from Sweden who made his name directing almost all of the music videos for the sensational group ABBA. The list of movies he directed includes “The Cider House Rules” (1999), “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (1993 and “Chocolat” (2000). Hallström has been married to Swedish actress Lena Olin, star of “Chocolat”, since 1994.

Down

2. Cara who sang “Flashdance … What a Feeling” : IRENE

Irene Cara (as well as acting in “Fame”) sang the theme songs to the hit movies “Fame” and “Flashdance”.

3. Emperor who finished the Colosseum : TITUS

Titus Flavius Verspasianus was a successful military commander and Roman Emperor from 79 to 81 AD. It was Titus who laid siege to and destroyed the city and temple of Jerusalem, for which he was honored with the erection of the Arch of Titus that stands in Rome to this day. The Arch of Titus is the inspiration for many other famous arches around the world including the l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The Colosseum of Rome was the largest amphitheater in the whole of the Roman Empire in its day, and could seat about 50,000 people. The structure was originally called the “Amphitheatrum Flavium” but the name changed to “Colosseum” after a colossal statue of Emperor Nero was located nearby.

4. Mag mogul with a mansion : HEF

Hugh Hefner (often called “Hef”) was from Chicago. His first publishing job was in the military, where he worked as a writer for a US Army newspaper from 1944-46. He went to college after his military service and then worked as a copywriter for “Esquire” magazine. He left “Esquire” to found his own publication that he called “Playboy”, which first hit the newsstands in 1953. “Playboy” has been around ever since.

5. Mama Cass : ELLIOT

Cass Elliot was one of the four singers in the Mamas and the Papas, a sensational group from the sixties. “Mama Cass” was performing sold-out concerts in London in 1974 when she was found dead one morning, having had a heart attack. She was only 32 years old. Eerily, Elliot died in the same flat (on loan from Harry Nilsson) in which the Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die just four years later.

6. Prix ___ : FIXE

On a restaurant menu, items that are “à la carte” are priced and ordered separately. A menu marked “table d’hôte” (also called “prix fixe”) is a fixed-price menu with limited choice. “Table d’hôte” translates as “table of the host”.

10. French waters : EAUX

“Eau” (plural “eaux”) is the French for “water”.

19. Hosp. areas : ICUS

Many a hospital (hosp.) includes an intensive care unit (ICU).

24. Big Apple inits. : NYC

Apparently the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:

Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.

Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.

32. Org. concerned with eagles and birdies : PGA

The following terms are routinely used in golf for scores relative to par:

  • Bogey: one over par
  • Par
  • Birdie: one under par
  • Eagle: two under par
  • Albatross (also “double eagle”): three under par
  • Condor: four under par

No one has ever recorded a condor during a professional tournament.

33. First few minutes of many podcasts : ADS

A podcast is basically an audio or video media file that is made available for download. The name comes from the acronym “POD” meaning “playable on demand”, and “cast” from “broadcasting”. So, basically a podcast is a broadcast that one can play on demand, simply by downloading and opening the podcast file.

34. Geese formation : VEE

Apparently, geese fly in a V-formation for a couple of reasons. One is that it makes for efficient flight and conserves energy. The leading bird gets no advantage, but every following bird gets to “slipstream” a little. It has been noted that the lead bird drops to the back of the formation when he/she gets fatigued. It’s also thought that the flock can stick together more easily when in formation, so it is more difficult to lose someone along the way.

36. Summa cum ___ : LAUDE

When an academic degree is awarded, a level of distinction can be noted depending on the degree of success achieved by the student. There are three types of honor, each with a Latin name:

  • cum laude: meaning “with honor” (literally “with praise”)
  • magna cum laude: meaning “with great honor”
  • summa cum laude: meaning “with highest honor”

37. Rap sheet letters : AKA

Also known as (aka)

38. Muscle below a delt : LAT

The muscles known as the “lats” are the latissimi dorsi, the broadest muscles in the back. “Latissimus” is the Latin for “broadest” and “dorsum” is Latin for “back”.

The deltoid “muscle” is actually a group of muscles, the ones that cover the shoulder and create the roundness under the skin. The deltoids (delts) are triangular in shape resembling the Greek letter delta, hence the name.

39. Lead-in to “ops” : SYS-

System operator (sysop)

41. Rodin, for one : SCULPTOR

Auguste Rodin was a French sculptor who was known for realistic representations of the human form. Two of Rodin’s most famous works started out as details from a larger work called “The Gates of Hell”. One of these details is “The Thinker”, and the other “The Kiss”.

44. World Series-winning manager Ned : YOST

Ned Yost is the manager of the Kansas City Royals, and a former Major League Baseball catcher. Yost played baseball at high school in Dublin, California, just a few miles from where I am now right now.

47. Spanish weeks : SEMANAS

In Spanish, an “año” (year) comprises 52 “semanas” (weeks).

48. When repeated, what little stars do : TWINKLE

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is an English nursery rhyme. The words for the rhyme are taken from a poem called “The Star” written by Jane Taylor, by far her most famous work (although she rarely gets the credit). The rhyme is sung to a French folk tune called “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman”, the same tune used by Mozart for a charming and famous set of variations.

50. Equinox mo. : SEP

An equinox is a phenomenon dictated by the tilt of the earth’s axis. Twice every year, that tilt “evens out” and the sun is equidistant from points at the same latitude both north and south of the equator. It is as if the earth has no tilt relative to the sun. The term “equinox” comes from the Latin for “equal night”, inferring that night and day are equally long, as the effect of the earth’s “tilt” is nullified. Equinoxes occur each year around March 21st (the vernal equinox) and September 23rd (the autumnal equinox).

51. “___ Ben Adhem” (Leigh Hunt poem) : ABOU

Abou Ben Adhem, also known as Ibrahim Bin Adham, was an Arab Muslim saint. He was made famous in the western world with the publication in 1838 of the poem “Abou Ben Adhem” that was composed by the English poet James Henry Leigh Hunt.

53. Alternative to Travelocity or Orbitz : KAYAK

KAYAK is a travel search engine that was founded in 2004 and has been owned by the Priceline Group since 2012.

55. Comedian Bruce : LENNY

“Lenny Bruce” was the stage name of comedian Leonard Schneider. Bruce was noted for his edgy style and material on stage, as well as his edgy lifestyle offstage. He was arrested several times and charged with obscenity because of language used in his routines. He was eventually found guilty of one of the charges and sentenced to four months in a workhouse. He was set free on bail while making a much-publicized appeal. Sadly, he died before the appeal process was completed. After his death, the Governor of the New York granted Lenny Bruce a pardon.

59. Papa Bear of Chicago Bears history : HALAS

The NFL’s George Stanley Halas, Sr. was nicknamed “Papa Bear”. He also earned the well-deserved nickname of “Mr Everything” as he was a player, coach, inventor, jurist, producer, philanthropist, philatelist and NFL owner. He led the Chicago Bears from 1921 to 1967.

64. Tossed out of the game, informally : DQ’ED

“DQ” is short for “disqualify”.

68. The Cyclones of the Big 12 Conf. : ISU

Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU) is located in Ames, Iowa. Among many other notable milestones, ISU created the country’s first school of veterinary medicine, in 1879. The sports teams of ISU are known as the Cyclones.

69. Windy City rail inits. : CTA

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

It seems that the derivation of Chicago’s nickname as the “Windy City” isn’t as obvious as I would have thought. There are two viable theories. First that the weather can be breezy, with wind blowing in off Lake Michigan. The effect of the wind is exaggerated by the grid-layout adopted by city planners after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The second theory is that “windy” means “being full of bluster”. Sportswriters from the rival city of Cincinnati were fond of calling Chicago supporters “windy” in the 1860s and 1870s, meaning that they were full of hot air in their claims that the Chicago White Stockings were superior to the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. 10% donation : TITHE
6. Makes a to-do about this and that : FUSSES
12. Air ticket abbr. : ARR
15. Disney mermaid : ARIEL
16. Because : IN THAT
17. “Seinfeld” uncle : LEO
18. *List for some binge watchers : NETFLIX QUEUE (sounds like “Q”)
20. Bit of a comic : GAG
21. Bearded beast : GNU
22. Freeze over : ICE UP
23. Setting of Kubla Khan’s palace : XANADU
25. *Response to “Who, me?” : YES, YOU (sounds like “U”)
27. Body blow reaction : OOF!
29. *”Balderdash!” : MY EYE! (sounds like “I”)
30. Much-used Twitter symbols : ATS
31. Line around the globe : TROPIC
33. State firmly : AVER
36. “Gil Blas” writer : LESAGE
37. Lou Gehrig’s disease, for short : ALS
40. *Lowest point on the earth’s surface : DEAD SEA (sounds like “C”)
43. *Avon competitor : MARY KAY (sounds like “K”)
45. Move low toward the horizon : SET
46. Like a curmudgeon : CRUSTY
49. Quaker ___ : OATS
50. Sticky-leaved plant that feeds on insects : SUNDEW
51. “Six-pack” : ABS
53. *Superman’s alien name : KAL-EL (sounds like “L”)
56. Longtime U.K. record label : EMI
57. *”For what reason, though?” : BUT WHY? (sounds like “Y”)
61. War-torn Syrian city : ALEPPO
63. Flexible conjunction : AND/OR
65. Tow job provider, in brief : AAA
66. Thither : YON
67. To understand this puzzle’s theme, read the ends of the answers to the starred clues and … : THINK QUICKLY
70. ___ Dunham, mother of Barack Obama : ANN
71. Marked down : ON SALE
72. First-stringers : A-TEAM
73. Crucial : KEY
74. Excited, as a crowd : ROUSED
75. “Chocolat” director Hallström : LASSE

Down

1. Having a zesty taste : TANGY
2. Cara who sang “Flashdance … What a Feeling” : IRENE
3. Emperor who finished the Colosseum : TITUS
4. Mag mogul with a mansion : HEF
5. Mama Cass : ELLIOT
6. Prix ___ : FIXE
7. Ending ” : UNQUOTE
8. Drunken dazes : STUPORS
9. Ship’s pronoun : SHE
10. French waters : EAUX
11. More passionate : STEAMIER
12. Fish tank buildup : ALGAE
13. Having bags all packed, say : READY
14. Animal that has strayed from the herd : ROGUE
19. Hosp. areas : ICUS
24. Big Apple inits. : NYC
26. Almost a meter : YARD
28. Like whitecaps : FOAMY
32. Org. concerned with eagles and birdies : PGA
33. First few minutes of many podcasts : ADS
34. Geese formation : VEE
35. Sup : EAT
36. Summa cum ___ : LAUDE
37. Rap sheet letters : AKA
38. Muscle below a delt : LAT
39. Lead-in to “ops” : SYS-
41. Rodin, for one : SCULPTOR
42. Suffix with north or south : -ERN
44. World Series-winning manager Ned : YOST
47. Spanish weeks : SEMANAS
48. When repeated, what little stars do : TWINKLE
50. Equinox mo. : SEP
51. “___ Ben Adhem” (Leigh Hunt poem) : ABOU
52. Interment : BURIAL
53. Alternative to Travelocity or Orbitz : KAYAK
54. Without assistance : ALONE
55. Comedian Bruce : LENNY
58. Boat trailers? : WAKES
59. Papa Bear of Chicago Bears history : HALAS
60. “I rule!” : YAY ME!
62. “Egads!” : OH NO!
64. Tossed out of the game, informally : DQ’ED
68. The Cyclones of the Big 12 Conf. : ISU
69. Windy City rail inits. : CTA