0418-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 18 Apr 2018, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Peter A. Collins & Bruce Haight
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Reveal Answer: I Put a Spell on You

Today’s grid features three incidents of HEX sitting right on top of YOU. So, the constructors PUT A SPELL ON YOU:

  • 16A. It creates an opening at the dentist’s office : TOOTH EXTRACTION
  • 19A. Leave en masse : EMPTY OUT
  • 33A. It might involve x, y and z : MATH EXAM
  • 40A. With glee : JOYOUSLY
  • 58A. Part of party mix, often : CORN CHEX
  • 61A. Much-covered 1956 Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song … hinting at what happens three times in this puzzle’s solution : I PUT A SPELL ON YOU

Bill’s time: 9m 19s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Southeastern Conference football powerhouse, for short : BAMA

The athletic teams of the University of Alabama (“Bama”) are nicknamed the Crimson Tide, which is a reference to the team colors of crimson and white.

5. Pretentious sort : SNOB

Back in the 1780s, a “snob” was a shoemaker or a shoemaker’s apprentice. By the end of the 18th century the word was being used by students at Cambridge University in England to refer to all local merchants and people of the town. The term evolved to mean one who copies those who are his or her social superior (and not in a good way). From there it wasn’t a big leap for “snob” to include anyone who emphasized their superior social standing and not just those who aspired to rank. Nowadays a snob is anyone who looks down on those considered to be of inferior standing.

9. Charlie Brown lamentation : RATS!

The characters in the cartoon series “Peanuts” were largely drawn from Charles Schultz’s own life, with shy and withdrawn Charlie Brown representing Schultz himself.

14. Cork’s land : EIRE

Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland. Cork has been a major port for many years, and was the last port of call for many, many Irish emigrants to America. When these Irish people reached the US it was common for them to give their point of origin as “Cork”, whereas they may have come from almost anywhere in Ireland. It’s because of this that many descendants of Irish immigrants who had been told they were from a Cork family often find out they were under a misapprehension as their ancestors just sailed from Cork.

15. Mr. ‘iggins in “My Fair Lady” : ‘ENRY

George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion” was adapted by Lerner and Loewe to become the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady”. The musical spun off the wonderful 1964 film of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. To cockney Eliza Doolittle, Professor Henry Higgins was “‘Enry ‘Iggins”.

19. Leave en masse : EMPTY OUT

“En masse” is a French term, one that best translates as “as a group”

20. “Old MacDonald” cry : MOO! MOO!

There was an American version of the English children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (E-I-E-I-O), that was around in the days of WWI. The first line of the US version goes “Old MacDougal had a farm, in Ohio-i-o”.

21. River isle : AIT

Aits are little islands found in a river. Aits aren’t formed by erosion, but by the deposition of silt over time. As a result, aits often have a long and narrow shape running parallel to the banks as the sediment builds up with the flow of the water. Many of the islands in the River Thames in England have been given the name “Ait”, like Raven’s Ait in Kingston-upon-Thames, and Lot’s Ait in Brentford.

22. News inits. : UPI

Founded in 1958, United Press International (UPI) used to be one of the biggest news agencies in the world, sending out news by wire to the major newspapers. UPI ran into trouble with the change in media formats at the end of the twentieth century and lost many of its clients as the afternoon newspapers shut down due to the advent of television news. UPI, which once employed thousands, still exists today but with just a fraction of that workforce.

23. ___ Family Singers (group that inspired “The Sound of Music”) : TRAPP

The von Trapps portrayed in the musical “The Sound of Music” were a real family, as is well known. In the musical and film, the eldest daughter is “Liesl”, although in real life her name was Agathe. Agathe came with her family to the US in 1938, and operated a private kindergarten in Baltimore, Maryland for 35 years. Agathe passed away in 2010.

30. Cheers for toreadors : OLES

“Toreador” is an old Spanish word for a bullfighter, but it’s a term not used any more in Spain nor in Latin America. In English we use the term “toreador”, but in Spanish a bullfighter is a “torero”. A female bullfighter in a “torera”.

32. One who talks on the phone a lot? : 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.

33. It might involve x, y and z : MATH EXAM

Algebra (alg.) is a branch of mathematics in which arithmetical operations are performed on variables rather than specific numbers (x,y etc). The term “algebra” comes from the Arabic “al jebr” meaning “reunion of broken parts”.

42. Egyptian menaces : ASPS

The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.

48. Central Asian plains : STEPPES

A steppe is a grassland that is devoid of trees, apart from those growing near rivers and lakes. The term “steppe” is Russian in origin, and is used to describe the geographical feature that extends across Eurasia. In South Africa, the same feature is called a “veld”, and in North America it is called a “prairie”.

52. Flynn of film : ERROL

Actor Errol Flynn was born 1909 in Tasmania, Australia where he was raised. In his twenties, Flynn lived in the UK where he pursued his acting career. Around the same time he starred in an Australian film “In the Wake of the Bounty” and then appeared in a British film “Murder at Monte Carlo”. It was in the latter film that he was noticed by Warner Brothers who brought him to America. Flynn’s non-American heritage shone through even while he was living the American dream in California. He regularly played cricket, along with his friend David Niven, in the Hollywood Cricket Club.

53. Apt name for a worrier : STU

“Stu” sounds like “stew”.

56. Beverage for a flu sufferer : HOT TEA

Influenza (flu) is an ailment that is caused by a virus. The virus is readily inactivated by the use of soap, so washing hands and surfaces is especially helpful in containing flu outbreaks.

58. Part of party mix, often : CORN CHEX

The original Chex cereal was introduced in 1937 by Ralston Purina, although it is now produced by General Mills. Ralston Purina had a logo with a checkerboard square on it, which gave the pattern to the cereal as well as its name. Chex used characters from the “Peanuts” comic strip in its advertising for many years.

61. Much-covered 1956 Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song … hinting at what happens three times in this puzzle’s solution : I PUT A SPELL ON YOU

“I Put a Spell on You” is a song written and recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins that was released in 1956. Nina Simone recorded a popular cover version that was released in 1965, and re-released in 1969. Another cover version of the song was released in 2010 by Shane MacGowan and Friends, a record that was sold to help Concern Worldwide’s work in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed so many. Included in the list of “friends” was Johnny Depp, playing the guitar.

64. Adjust, as a piano : TUNE

What was remarkable about the piano when it was invented, compared to other keyboard instruments, was that notes could be played with varying degrees of loudness. This is accomplished by pressing the keys lightly or firmly. Because of this quality, the new instrument was called a “pianoforte”, with “piano” and “forte” meaning “soft” and “loud” in Italian. We tend to shorten the name these days to just “piano”.

65. Day-Glo colors : NEONS

“Dayglo” is a registered trademark used for an ink or paint that glows when exposed to a black light in a darkened room. When Dayglo paint is viewed in daylight the colors can look particularly vivid because they respond to the UV light that is present in sunlight.

68. ___ Reader : UTNE

The “Utne Reader” is known for aggregation and republishing of articles on politics, culture and the environment from other sources in the media. The “Utne Reader” was founded in 1984 by Eric Utne, with management taken over by Eric’s wife Nina Rothschild Utne in 1990.

Down

3. Groening who created “The Simpsons” : MATT

Matt Groening is a cartoonist. He created two successful animated shows for television, namely “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” (neither of which I understand!).

6. Frank who was a cohort of Al Capone : NITTI

Frank Nitti was one of the top henchmen working for Al Capone. Unlike American-born Capone, Nitti was actually from Italy and was born near the city of Salerno. When Capone was eventually put away for 11 years for tax evasion, Nitti was convicted of the same crime. Nitti was only imprisoned for 18 months, and when released he was labelled as the new head of Capone’s Chicago Outfit. However the truth seems to be that he was just a frontman, with others making the decisions.

7. Hockey great whose jersey number rhymed with his name : ORR

Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn’t skate anymore. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking.

10. Kingdom that’s spread throughout the world : ANIMALIA

Taxonomy is the classification of organisms or maybe even just items into groups or categories. We are most familiar with the classification of organisms in the major taxonomic ranks of:

  • Life
  • Domain
  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus
  • Species

26. Key of Pachelbel’s Canon: Abbr. : D MAJ

Johann Pachelbel was a composer from Germany active in the Baroque Era. Pachelbel’s music was very popular during his own lifetime. Today, his best-known work is his “Canon in D”, which has become a very popular choice for contemporary wedding ceremonies.

28. Those, in Madrid : ESAS

Madrid is the largest city in Spain and the capital. Madrid is located very close to the geographical center of the country. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (after London and Paris). People from Madrid called themselves Madrileños.

31. Rock’s Kings of ___ : LEON

Kings of Leon is an American rock band formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 1999. The band members are all related to each other and chose the group’s name in honor of their common grandfather whose given name is Leon.

34. Weighty work : TOME

“Tome” first came into English from the Latin “tomus” which means “section of a book”. The original usage in English was for a single volume in a multi-volume work. By the late 16th century, “tome” had come to mean “large book”.

35. Swiss miss, maybe: Abbr. : MLLE

“Señorita” (Srta.) is Spanish, and “Mademoiselle” (Mlle.) is French, for “Miss”.

Switzerland is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is a country comprising four distinct linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Switzerland is a very developed nation, and has the highest nominal wealth per adult in the world. Having visited, I can attest to the steep prices encountered by tourists …

39. Camera setting : APERTURE

Varying the f-stop in a lens varies how big the lens opening (the aperture) is when a photograph is taken. Smaller apertures (higher f-stop values) admit less light, but result in a greater depth of field (more of the photograph is in focus).

46. Hypothetical particle that travels faster than light : TACHYON

A tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle, one that actually travels faster than the speed of light. Many physicists think that such particles cannot exist, as the known laws of physics don’t permit anything to travel at faster than the speed of light.

47. Location of “Yellow Submarine” on the album “Yellow Submarine” : SIDE ONE

Paul McCartney wrote the song “Yellow Submarine” with Ringo Starr in mind as the lead singer. As he said himself, because it was for Ringo, he wrote something that wasn’t “too rangey”. It turned out be more like a children’s song, and a couple of years later in 1968, the song was used as the title for an animated film. The song is full of sound effects, including John Lennon blowing through a straw into a bowl of water to create a “bubbling”, and Lennon and McCartney speaking into tin cans to create the sound of the captain and officer exchanging orders. And at one point in the recording, a backing vocalist led everyone around the studio on a conga line, while pounding on a bass drum. What a way to make money, and lots of it …

51. BMW alternative : LEXUS

Lexus is the luxury brand of the Toyota Motor Company. As an aside, Infiniti is the equivalent luxury brand for the Nissan Motor Company, and Lexus is the more luxurious version of Honda’s models.

54. Flat sign : TO LET

“Flat”, in the sense of an apartment or condominium, is a word more commonly used in the British Isles than on this side of the pond. The term “flat” is Scottish in origin, in which language it used to mean “floor in a house”.

57. Italian province known for sparkling wine : ASTI

Asti is a city in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The region is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine.

59. Like Cockneys, in British lingo : NON-U

“Non-U” is a term used in the UK that originated in the fifties, referring to those who are “not upper class”. i.e. working class. In effect, “the U” are the “upper” class, and “the non-U” are the working class.

60. Popular tech news site : CNET

c|net is an excellent technology website. c|net started out in 1994 as a television network specializing in technology news. The host of “American Idol”, Ryan Seacrest, started off his career as host of a c|net show.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Southeastern Conference football powerhouse, for short : BAMA
5. Pretentious sort : SNOB
9. Charlie Brown lamentation : RATS!
13. Ones making a case for drinking? : SODAS
14. Cork’s land : EIRE
15. Mr. ‘iggins in “My Fair Lady” : ‘ENRY
16. It creates an opening at the dentist’s office : TOOTH EXTRACTION
19. Leave en masse : EMPTY OUT
20. “Old MacDonald” cry : MOO! MOO!
21. River isle : AIT
22. News inits. : UPI
23. ___ Family Singers (group that inspired “The Sound of Music”) : TRAPP
24. Works, as dough : KNEADS
27. Gets comfortable : NESTLES
29. Cause of a cold : GERM
30. Cheers for toreadors : OLES
32. One who talks on the phone a lot? : SIRI
33. It might involve x, y and z : MATH EXAM
36. Buffoon : ASS
37. When repeated, “Old MacDonald” cry : BAA!
40. With glee : JOYOUSLY
42. Egyptian menaces : ASPS
44. Section of a clothing catalog : MEN’S
45. Auction units : LOTS
48. Central Asian plains : STEPPES
50. Loudly mourn : BEWAIL
52. Flynn of film : ERROL
53. Apt name for a worrier : STU
55. Alphabet run : CDE
56. Beverage for a flu sufferer : HOT TEA
58. Part of party mix, often : CORN CHEX
61. Much-covered 1956 Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song … hinting at what happens three times in this puzzle’s solution : I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
63. Raced : TORE
64. Adjust, as a piano : TUNE
65. Day-Glo colors : NEONS
66. Raced : SPED
67. “Fat chance!” : I BET!
68. ___ Reader : UTNE

Down

1. Taking off, as business : BOOMING
2. Pet from a pet shelter, e.g. : ADOPTEE
3. Groening who created “The Simpsons” : MATT
4. Wan : ASHY
5. Make more alluring : SEX UP
6. Frank who was a cohort of Al Capone : NITTI
7. Hockey great whose jersey number rhymed with his name : ORR
8. Headlight : BEAM
9. “Fat chance!” and others : RETORTS
10. Kingdom that’s spread throughout the world : ANIMALIA
11. Highway patrollers : TROOPERS
12. Quick rundown : SYNOPSIS
13. Tuna cut : STEAK
17. Suffix with right : -EOUS
18. Items at an emergency shelter : COTS
25. Get ready to fight, say : ARM
26. Key of Pachelbel’s Canon: Abbr. : D MAJ
27. Meeting point : NEXUS
28. Those, in Madrid : ESAS
30. “Definitely!” : OH YES!
31. Rock’s Kings of ___ : LEON
34. Weighty work : TOME
35. Swiss miss, maybe: Abbr. : MLLE
37. Singles, doubles and triples : BASE HITS
38. Colorful, conical candy on a stick : ASTRO POP
39. Camera setting : APERTURE
41. “That HURTS!” : YOW!
43. Like leopards and dominoes : SPOTTED
46. Hypothetical particle that travels faster than light : TACHYON
47. Location of “Yellow Submarine” on the album “Yellow Submarine” : SIDE ONE
49. Court proposition : PLEA
50. Lump on a trunk : BURL
51. BMW alternative : LEXUS
53. Public spat : SCENE
54. Flat sign : TO LET
57. Italian province known for sparkling wine : ASTI
59. Like Cockneys, in British lingo : NON-U
60. Popular tech news site : CNET
62. ___ crawl : PUB

12 thoughts on “0418-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 18 Apr 2018, Wednesday”

  1. 22:07. A little tricky in spots. Didn’t understand NON-U or TOLET (TO LET…duh) until I came here. Got the theme…so I thought. Saw HEX but failed to see the “on YOU” part. Clever.

    I wonder if scorpions are considered Day-Glo? Apparently in desert regions people use black lights to look for them in their house as the black light lights them up like a Christmas tree.

    Best –

  2. 7:24, no errors. Spent a minute or two (after finishing) trying to grok the theme … and failed … again … ?. Very cute … ?.

  3. 11:51, 3 errors: TO(T)E; LEO(E); (T)E(E)S. Very easy puzzle, except when it wasn’t. NON-U completely unfamiliar, UTNE Reader only vaguely recollected. 34D TOTE and 44A TEES seemed to fit since I was unfamiliar with Kings of LEON. Also seems that TENS (as in size tens) would work in 44A as well.

    I, too, saw the HEX in the grid, but didn’t see it ‘on YOU’, clever construction.

  4. Two errors. Had NONE for NON-U and ETNE for UTNE. Likewise, I got the HEX part okay but did not notice the YOU part until coming here. Even then, that would not have helped me to avoid my two mistakes. I thought that I knew just about all of the songs from 1956 but I PUT A SPELL ON YOU and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins were both new to me. Bottom line, nice puzzle.

  5. 11:42 and no errors. I guess I got a bit lucky, as I see some people who are usually better than I am at this having fallen prey to a few traps.

    @Jeff: I, too, get bent out of shape when I miss something because I can’t “see” the separation of multiple words. I recall TO LET didn’t come flying out of my ballpoint pen tip when I was working this.

    I didn’t see the revealed “magic trick” until I came here. I dunno… yes, I suppose it’s right clever… but if most people don’t ever notice it, what good is it, really? Especially since it’s the word “hex” and not “spell” as suggested by the song title. A “reach”.

    1. Pretty simple. You don’t use a synonym in the grid of a crossword; you use it for a clue, so as not to give the fill away. If you’re talking SPELLS, then have the word SPELL appear atop YOU. Or, find a song title you can make work.

      Otherwise, it’s a reach.

  6. 13 minutes. Couple dumb errors. Interesting episode of Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel (HBO) this week, which asks whether crossword solving is a sport. Guess it depends on how you define the term. I don’t think so but I’m not staying up nights reflecting on it. Nice pieces on Shortz and Eric Agard, whom you can thank for all those rapper clues😏

    1. It’s a “skill” or a “talent”, not a sport. A sport involves some kind of physical effort or ability with a ball, or a stick or some implement. By the same token, poker is not a sport, either. It’s a game (of chance and of skill), and there, there is a distinction.

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