0502-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 2 May 2018, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Bryant White
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Hidden Staircase

Today’s grid features circled letters wending their way through the grid from the TROPHY ROOM down to the WINE CELLAR, and those letters spell out “HIDDEN STAIRCASE”. We also have a HIDEAWAY that might be revealed in the TROPHY ROOM by secretly pushing a WALL SCONCE, or perhaps a FALSE PANEL in a BOOKCASE. Wow!

  • 9D. Something you might secretly push in a 24-Down : FALSE PANEL
  • 24D. Where you might adjust the volume? : BOOKCASE
  • 28D. Something you might secretly push in a 19-Across : WALL SCONCE
  • 19A. Where gold and silver cups may be displayed : TROPHY ROOM
  • 59A. Temperature- and humidity-controlled place : WINE CELLAR
  • 20D. Secret spot : HIDEAWAY

Bill’s time: 6m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Christmas Island’s closest neighbor : JAVA

Java is a large island in Indonesia that is home to the country’s capital, Jakarta. With a population of over 130 million, Java is the most populous island in the world, with even more people than Honshu, the main island of Japan.

Christmas Island is an Australian territory located in the Indian Ocean. The island is so named because it was discovered by an English East India Company vessel on Christmas Day, in 1643.

5. Rites of passage for college-bound students : SATS

Today, the standardized test for admission to colleges is known as the SAT Reasoning Test, but it used to be called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, which led to the abbreviation “SAT”.

9. “The X-Files” extra : FED

What we know today as the FBI was set up in 1908 as the BOI, the Bureau of Investigation. The name was changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. The Bureau was set up at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt. President Roosevelt was largely moved to do so after the 1901 assassination of President McKinley, as there was a perception that anarchists were threatening law and order. The FBI’s motto uses the organization’s initialism, and is “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity”.

“The X-Files” is a very successful science fiction show that originally aired on the Fox network from 1993 to 2002. The stars of the show are David Duchovny (playing Fox Mulder) and the very talented Gillian Anderson (playing Dana Scully). By the time the series ended, “The X-Files” was the longest running sci-fi show in US broadcast history. An “X-Files” reboot started airing in 2016 with Duchovny and Anderson reprising their starring roles.

12. “Metamorphoses” poet : OVID

The Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso is known today simply as Ovid. Ovid is usually listed alongside the two other great Roman poets: Horace and Virgil. Although he was immensely popular during his own lifetime, Ovid spent the last ten years of his life in exile. He fell foul of Emperor Augustus, although what led to this disfavor isn’t truly understood.

“The Metamorphoses” is a narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid that deals with a lofty subject. It describes the history of the world from creation until the “present day”, that is Ovid’s “present day”, the era of Julius Caesar. A lot of the storyline makes use of Greek mythology (rather than Roman).

13. Throws of the dice, maybe : TURNS

The numbers on dice are arranged so that the opposite faces add up to seven. Given this arrangement, the numbers 1, 2 and 3 all meet at a common vertex. There are two ways of arranging the 1, 2 and 3 around the common vertex, a so called right-handed die (clockwise 1-2-3) or a left-handed die (counterclockwise 1-2-3). Traditionally, dice used in Western cultures are right-handed, whereas Chinese dice are left-handed. Quite interesting …

16. ___ the Hyena of old comics : LENA

In the “Li’l Abner” comic strip, Lena the Hyena was supposed to be the world’s ugliest woman. She appeared occasionally in the storyline with her face always covered, supposedly to protect the readers.

17. Key parts of a so-called supervocalic word : AEIOU

A supervocalic word is one that contains just one occurence of each of the five vowels. Examples are lovely words like sequoia, ambidextrous and milquetoast, as well as … supervocalic.

18. Seaweed, e.g. : ALGA

Algae are similar to terrestrial plants in that they use photosynthesis to create sugars from light and carbon dioxide, but they differ in that they have simpler anatomies, and for example lack roots.

25. “The X-Files” extras, for short : ETS

Extraterrestrial (ET)

29. W.W. II inits. : DDE

General Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE) was in command of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during WWII.

31. Fowl places : COOPS

The Old English word “cypa”, meaning “basket”, evolved in the 14th century to the word “coop” to describe a small cage for poultry. We still use that word today.

33. “… ___ which will live in infamy” : A DATE

The Infamy Speech was delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The speech takes its name for the opening line:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The phrase “a date which will live in infamy” is often misquoted as “a day which will live in infamy”. The term “infamy” was inserted in the speech just before it was delivered. A previous version read “… a date which will live in world history”.

40. Dance often accompanied by an accordion : POLKA

The polka is a dance from central Europe, one that originated in Bohemia in the mid-1800s. It’s thought that “polka” comes from a Czech word meaning “little half”, reflecting the little half-steps included in the basic dance.

41. Railroad terminus: Abbr. : STA

A station (“stn.” or “sta.”) is a railroad (RR) stop.

44. Automotive pioneer Ransom ___ Olds : ELI

Ransom Eli Olds was a pioneer in the automotive industry, and the founder of the Oldsmobile and REO brands. Olds introduced the first modern “stationary” assembly line (Henry Ford’s famous innovation was the “moving” assembly line). As a result, it can be argued that the Oldsmobile Curved Dash was the first mass-produced, low-priced automobile, rather than the Ford’s Model T.

45. Guiding set of principles : CREED

A creed or credo is a confession of faith, or a system of belief or principles. “Credo” is Latin for “I believe”.

48. Nipper’s co. : RCA

Nipper is the name of the dog that appears in the RCA logo. Nipper was a real dog from England. His owner, Francis Barraud, made a painting of Nipper listening to a gramophone. Barraud then approached several gramophone manufacturers in the hope they would be interested in using the image for advertising. Nipper’s likeness was indeed picked up, and around that time it was Barraud himself who came up with the slogan “His Master’s Voice”.

50. Mormon grp. : LDS

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is known colloquially as the Mormon Church.

51. Corner keyboard key : ESC

The escape key (Esc) was originally used to control computer peripherals. It was a key that allowed the computer operator to stop what the peripheral was doing (cancel a print job, for example). Nowadays the escape key is used for all sorts of things, especially in gaming programs.

52. Meditative practice : YOGA

In the West we tend to think of yoga as a physical discipline, a means of exercise that uses specific poses to stretch and strengthen muscles. While it is true that the ancient Indian practice of yoga does involve such physical discipline, the corporeal aspect of the practice plays a relatively small part in the whole philosophy. Other major components are meditation, ethical behavior, breathing and contemplation.

55. Hieroglyphic figure : ASP

The prefix “hiero-” comes from the Greek word “hieros” meaning sacred or holy. The classic use of the prefix is in the term “hieroglyphics” (meaning “sacred carving”), the writing system that uses symbols and pictures.

57. Nobel Prize subj. : ECON

The Peace Prize is the most famous of the five prizes bequeathed by Alfred Nobel. The others are for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. There is also a Nobel Prize in Economics that is awarded along with the original five, but it is funded separately and is awarded “in memory of Alfred Nobel”. Four of the prizes are awarded by Swedish organizations (Alfred Nobel was a Swede) and so the award ceremonies take place in Stockholm. The Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and that award is presented in Oslo.

64. City near the California/Nevada border : RENO

Reno, Nevada was named in honor of Major General Jesse Lee Reno, a Union officer killed in the Civil War. The city has a famous “Reno Arch”, a structure that stands over the main street. The arch was erected in 1926 to promote an exposition planned for the following year. After the expo, the city council decided to keep the arch and held a competition to decide what wording should be displayed, and the winner was “The Biggest Little City in the World”.

69. Extra in “The Producers” : NAZI

“The Producers” is a 1968 satirical movie written and directed by Mel Brooks, and was indeed the first film he ever directed. Brooks adapted the movie into a hugely successful Broadway musical that won a record 12 Tony Awards. The original leads in the stage show, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, then appeared in a 2005 movie adaptation of the musical version of the original film.

70. Good time for un pique-nique : ETE

In French, “été” (summer) is “la saison chaude” (the warm season).

Our term “picnic” comes from the French word that now has the same meaning, namely “pique-nique”. The original “pique-nique” was a fashionable potluck affair, and not necessarily held outdoors.

72. Tax evasion investigators, quaintly : T-MEN

A T-man is a law-enforcement agent of the US Treasury (T stands for “Treasury”).

Down

3. Chianti or Asti Spumante : VINO

Chianti is a red wine from the Chianti region of central Tuscany in Italy. Historically, Chianti was stored in a characteristically bulbous bottle wrapped in a straw basket. However, the pragmatists have won the day and regular wine bottles tend to be used nowadays.

Asti is a sparkling white wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, and is named for the town of Asti around which the wine is produced. The wine used to be called Asti Spumante, and it had a very bad reputation as a “poor man’s champagne”. The “Spumante” was dropped in a marketing attempt at rebranding associated with a reduction in the amount of residual sugar in the wine.

6. Violinist Leopold : AUER

Leopold Auer was a Hungarian violinist, as well as a conductor and composer. Auer wrote a small number of works for the violin, the most famous of which is the “Rhapsodie Hongroise” written for violin and piano.

8. High-and-mighty sort : SNOOT

“Snoot” is a variant of “snout” and is a word that originated in Scotland. The idea is that someone who is snooty, or “snouty”, tends to look down his or her nose at the rest of the world.

11. Heavy carts : DRAYS

A dray is a sideless 4-wheeled cart that is used for hauling goods.

14. Poison ___ : SUMAC

Sumacs are a group of flowering shrubs and small trees that includes poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac (nasty stuff!). The leaves of some species of sumac contain tannins that are used for tanning leather. Morocco leather is an example of the use of sumac tannins.

15. Branch of the Dept. of Transportation : FAA

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

28. Something you might secretly push in a 19-Across : WALL SCONCE

A sconce is a light fixture that today uses electric bulbs, but in the past used candles and torches. The defining feature of a sconce is that it is supported by a wall and does not have a base that stands on the ground. Usually the light is indirect, projected upwards towards the ceiling.

30. Start of Massachusetts’ state motto : ENSE

The motto of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem”, a Latin phrase that can be translated as “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty”. The quotation is from a passage written by English politician Algernon Sidney who was executed for treason by King Charles II.

34. Some ring decisions : TKOS

Technical knockout (TKO)

36. CNN’s home: Abbr. : ATL

CNN (Cable News Network) was launched in 1980 by the Turner Broadcasting System, and was the first television channel in the world to provide news coverage 24 hours a day.

39. Subjects of meltdowns : RODS

A common nuclear fuel is uranium dioxide (UO2). The UO2 comes in powder form and is compacted into pellets that are fired at high temperature producing ceramic pellets. The pellets are ground into a near-perfect cylindrical shape and are then stacked inside tubes made of zirconium alloy. These tubes are what we usually refer to as nuclear fuel rods.

47. Some caterwauling : YOWLS

“To caterwaul” is a utter long cries, to “wail” like a “cat”.

49. Prestige : CACHET

“Cachet” is a French word that we use in English for an official seal, usually one applied to a document. We also use the term figuratively. When we say that something has “a certain cachet”, we are implying that it has a certain level of prestige, as if some authority has given it a seal of approval.

53. “Fee, fi, fo, fum” speaker in a fairy tale : 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.

54. Author Chekhov : ANTON

Anton Chekhov was a Russian writer of short stories and a playwright, as well as a physician. He wrote four classic plays that are often performed all around the world, namely “The Seagull”, “Uncle Vanya”, “Three Sisters” and “The Cherry Orchard”. All the time Chekhov was writing, he continued to practice medicine. He is quoted as saying “Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress.”

58. Japanese drama : NOH

Noh is a form of musical drama in Japan that has been around since the 14th century. Many of the Noh performers are masked, allowing all the roles to be played by men, including the female parts.

60. Khaki-like color : ECRU

The shade called ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.

“Khaki” is an Urdu word that translates literally as “dusty”. The word was adopted for its current use as the name of a fabric by the British cavalry in India in the mid-1800s.

61. One of Hollywood’s Hemsworths : LIAM

Liam Hemsworth is an Australian actor who is best known these days for playing Gale Hawthorne in “The Hunger Games” series of films. Hemsworth met Miley Cyrus while working on the movie “The Last Song”, and the two actors were engaged for a while. Liam is a younger brother of actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays the superhero “Thor” on the big screen.

62. Shaping tool : ADZE

An adze (also “adz”) is similar to an axe, but is different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool’s shaft. An axe blade is set in line with the shaft.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Christmas Island’s closest neighbor : JAVA
5. Rites of passage for college-bound students : SATS
9. “The X-Files” extra : FED
12. “Metamorphoses” poet : OVID
13. Throws of the dice, maybe : TURNS
15. Within bounds : FAIR
16. ___ the Hyena of old comics : LENA
17. Key parts of a so-called supervocalic word : AEIOU
18. Seaweed, e.g. : ALGA
19. Where gold and silver cups may be displayed : TROPHY ROOM
21. Like a hearth : ASHY
22. Word with twist and neck : TIE
23. Impale : STAB
25. “The X-Files” extras, for short : ETS
26. Foot with claws : PAW
29. W.W. II inits. : DDE
31. Fowl places : COOPS
33. “… ___ which will live in infamy” : A DATE
35. Snooze : NAP
38. Broadcasting live : ON AIR
40. Dance often accompanied by an accordion : POLKA
41. Railroad terminus: Abbr. : STA
42. Martial art with bamboo swords : KENDO
43. Green-light : ALLOW
44. Automotive pioneer Ransom ___ Olds : ELI
45. Guiding set of principles : CREED
46. Try : ESSAY
48. Nipper’s co. : RCA
50. Mormon grp. : LDS
51. Corner keyboard key : ESC
52. Meditative practice : YOGA
55. Hieroglyphic figure : ASP
57. Nobel Prize subj. : ECON
59. Temperature- and humidity-controlled place : WINE CELLAR
64. City near the California/Nevada border : RENO
65. Gate feature : LATCH
66. Number two : AIDE
67. Creep (along) : INCH
68. Elicit a slug with a pillow, maybe : SNORE
69. Extra in “The Producers” : NAZI
70. Good time for un pique-nique : ETE
71. Fastener with a flange : T-NUT
72. Tax evasion investigators, quaintly : T-MEN

Down

1. What a double shot of caffeine provides : JOLT
2. State : AVER
3. Chianti or Asti Spumante : VINO
4. Not be a dinosaur : ADAPT
5. Didn’t leave : STAYED
6. Violinist Leopold : AUER
7. Quartets after some infighting? : TRIOS
8. High-and-mighty sort : SNOOT
9. Something you might secretly push in a 24-Down : FALSE PANEL
10. Octagonal : EIGHT-SIDED
11. Heavy carts : DRAYS
14. Poison ___ : SUMAC
15. Branch of the Dept. of Transportation : FAA
20. Secret spot : HIDEAWAY
24. Where you might adjust the volume? : BOOKCASE
26. Family nickname : PAPA
27. Teen, e.g. : ADOLESCENT
28. Something you might secretly push in a 19-Across : WALL SCONCE
30. Start of Massachusetts’ state motto : ENSE
32. Extraordinary thing, in slang : ONER
34. Some ring decisions : TKOS
36. CNN’s home: Abbr. : ATL
37. Glove purchase : PAIR
39. Subjects of meltdowns : RODS
47. Some caterwauling : YOWLS
49. Prestige : CACHET
51. Spooky : EERIE
53. “Fee, fi, fo, fum” speaker in a fairy tale : GIANT
54. Author Chekhov : ANTON
56. Purposely placed evidence : PLANT
58. Japanese drama : NOH
60. Khaki-like color : ECRU
61. One of Hollywood’s Hemsworths : LIAM
62. Shaping tool : ADZE
63. Control, with “in” : REIN

14 thoughts on “0502-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 2 May 2018, Wednesday”

  1. 23:51 – Kudos to the setter and the theme. I think I spent so much time staring at and trying to figure out the theme that I stopped on a few occasions actually solving the puzzle. This might be a case of the theme inhibiting the solve rather than aiding it….

    Regardless, learning the term “supervocalic” made the puzzle worthwhile for me. I remember a major league pitcher named Aurelio Lopez. Is there such a thing as a supervocalic name?

    Best –

  2. Agreed, cute theme.

    Didn’t know KENDO, LENO, ENSE, AUER, supervocalic (thank you for new word), but that didn’t stop me from solving w/o Google.

  3. @Allen Dickerson (regarding yesterday’s post) …

    My online solves are done on an iPad mini, which has a screen about 4.75 inches wide by 6.25 inches high, and I type with one finger on a virtual keyboard, so I have to watch my finger do the typing and then read what I typed to make sure that my finger always went where it was supposed to. This is by no means an error-free process and I often end up with actual typos: letters that I did not intend to put in or that went somewhere other than where they were supposed to. I’ve gotten better at catching and fixing these typos as they happen, but sometimes they get away from me, something that essentially never happens when I solve on paper. It can be really annoying to blitz through an easy puzzle in what seems like record time and then spend an additional minute or two trying to find an error that wouldn’t have happened on paper.

    I do puzzles on paper using a red pen and I typically press rather lightly, so that, if I need to correct a misstep, I can go back and write over it with a little more pressure. (I also keep a black pen handy for the occasional correction of a correction. I have honed this process over many decades and only very, very occasionally have to print a clean copy and start over.)

    I would go back to doing the NYT on paper (as I have done with all the other crosswords I do), but I’ve gotten sucked in by the fact that the NYT app keeps track of all my solves for me (896 so far) and a bunch of stats for them. I could also switch to doing them on my iMac, which has a much bigger screen and an actual keyboard, but it’s upstairs and I want to be down here, at my kitchen table … 😜.

    1. The iPad sounds like more trouble than it’s worth (and I say that based on its small role in my day job, too). I also mildly “resent” that electronic solvers get aids like “almost there” messages and instant corrections. I have to commit to what I have on paper, and get no help in “proofreading” besides my own eyes; and once I check here for answers, that puzzle is DONE, for better or worse. I live with the results, no matter what they may be.

      It’s sort of like golf: yes, I *can* improve my lie, boot a ball into the fairway, or flat out lie on my scorecard, and nobody’s the wiser. But I don’t because *I* know I’m cheating.

      So, although you can “fat-finger” the occasional letter, you still can change it without ink clotting up the 1/8″ square we paper folks have to use. (And yes, I understand we can wimp out and use a pencil, but where’s the fun in THAT?) 🙂

      Also, for record keeping, may I suggest a spreadsheet? Although I curse the evil little things in my professional career, they do do yeoman duty in my private life, chronicling my progress with both crosswords and my golf “handicap” … and Suduko as well.

  4. 14:42, no errors. As with previous posters, I enjoyed the clever theme and learned a new word (supervocalic) in the process.

  5. Proudly, no errors. Thank you Bryant White for a wonderfully enjoyable theme. I could just feel myself walking down that hidden staircase to the wine cellar. Film noir applied to a puzzle. Great.

  6. 12:09, two errors (so sue me that I don’t need latin, or remember the full name of the inventor of Oldsmobile: ENS(E)/(E)LI). But in this rare case, the theme and the little hidden device actually helped me finish.

  7. This was a real delight to solve. If you didn’t enjoy working through this one, I really don’t think crossword puzzles are your thing. Thanks Will and Bryant
    eurekajoe – It says it will save my data but it never does and I end up anonymous

  8. it took me longer than usual for a wednesday. guessed on the ‘auer’ ‘aeiou’ and ‘ense’ and ‘eli’ crosses and fortunately got them right.

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