0511-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 11 May 2018, Friday

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Constructed by: Sam Ezersky & David Steinberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 13m 07s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Adds horsepower to : SOUPS UP

The unit of horsepower was introduced along with the steam engine, where the output of the engine was compared with the power of draft horses. Largely, this comparison with the horse was a marketing ploy, as the intent was to demonstrate that one steam engine could negate the need for a number of draft horses used for work.

8. Sparta’s foe in “300” : PERSIA

“300” is a fantasy film released in 2006 that gives a fictional account of the Battle of Thermopylae that was fought between the Persians and the Greeks (most notably, the Spartans).

The Battle of Thermopylae took place in 480 BC, fought between the Persian Empire of Xerxes and an alliance of Greek city-states led by Sparta. The Greeks chose the narrow pass of Thermopylae to make a stand against the advancing Persian army, as there they could minimize the advantage that the Persians had with their large army. The pass of Thermopylae was so narrow that only one chariot could pass through at a time. Famously, the vastly outnumbered Spartan forces (the “300”) held this pass with hand-to-hand combat for two full days, until a local resident showed the Persians a way around the pass so that the Greek army could be attacked and annihilated from the rear.

16. Jolly “Roger”? : I HEAR YA

The term “roger”, meaning “yes” or “acknowledged”, comes from the world of radiotelephony. The British military used a phonetic alphabet in the fifties that included “Roger” to represent the letter “R”. As such, it became customary to say “Roger” when acknowledging a message, with R (Roger) standing for “received”.

17. 1950s heavyweight Johansson : INGEMAR

Ingemar Johansson was a Swedish boxer, and former world heavyweight champion.

18. Zippo output : FLAME

The first Zippo lighter was made in 1933, in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The name “Zippo” was simply a word invented by the company founder, George Blaisdell, as he liked the word “zipper”. You can buy one today for $12.95, or if you want the solid gold model … for $8,675.95.

19. Digs in the snow : IGLOO

The Inuit word for “house” is “iglu”, which we usually write as “igloo”. The Greenlandic (yes, that’s a language) word for “house” is very similar, namely “igdlo”. The walls of igloos are tremendous insulators, due to the air pockets in the blocks of snow.

“Digs” is short for “diggings” meaning “lodgings”. Where “diggings” came from, no one seems to know.

21. Mariana Islands neighbor, for short : IWO

Iwo Jima is a volcanic island located south of Tokyo that today is uninhabited. The name is Japanese for “Sulfur Island”, referring to the sulfur mining on which Iwo Jima’s economy once depended. There were about a thousand Japanese civilians living on the island prior to WWII. In 1944, there was a massive influx of Japanese military personnel in anticipation of the inevitable US invasion. As the Japanese military moved in, the civilians were forced out and no one has lived there since. Control of the island was wrested from the Japanese in the five-week Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Said battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific theater in WWII.

The “Marianas” is a familiar name for the Mariana Islands that lie in the Pacific Ocean south of Japan and north of New Guinea. The “Mariana” Trench (note there is no “s” on the end of Mariana) is the lowest elevation on the surface of the Earth’s crust. The Mariana Trench takes its name from the Islands, as it lies just to the east of the Marianas.

25. Groundbreaking 1990s sitcom : ELLEN

Ellen DeGeneres is a very, very successful TV personality, having parlayed her career in stand-up comedy into lucrative gigs as an actress and talk show host. Back in 1997 DeGeneres chose the “Oprah Winfrey Show” to announce that she was a lesbian. Her character on “The Ellen Show” also came out as a lesbian in a scene with her therapist, who was played by Oprah Winfrey. Nice twist!

27. Dashboard Confessional’s genre : EMO

Dashboard Confessional is an emo band from Boca Raton, Florida.

29. Midwest city that was home to the Wright brothers : DAYTON

Wilbur was the older of the two Wright brothers, and he was born in 1867 in Millville, Indiana. By the time that Orville was born in 1871, the family was living in Dayton, Ohio. The Wrights spent a few years of their youth back in Richmond, Indiana, before settling in Dayton for the rest of their lives. The brothers both died in Dayton; Wilbur in 1912 and Orville in 1948.

33. Product whose original slogan was “It floats” : IVORY SOAP

Ivory soap is one of Procter & Gamble’s oldest products, introduced way back in 1879. Ivory soap is noted for its “purity” and also because of its property of floating in water. Despite urban myths to the contrary, the property of floating in water was developed deliberately by a chemist at the time Ivory was being formulated. The soap floats because the ingredients are mixed longer than necessary for homogenization, which introduces more air into the product.

42. Dog woe : MANGE

Mange is a skin disorder in animals caused by parasitic mites that embed themselves in the skin, perhaps living in hair follicles. The same disorder in humans is called scabies.

43. One who might meet with a venture capitalist, for short : CEO

Chief executive officer (CEO)

45. Currency unit equal to 100 53-Down : KRONA
(53D. 45-Across divisions : ORE)

The Swedish Krona is divided into 100 öres, a term derived from the Latin “aureus” meaning “gold”.

48. Vessel that rhymes with a nautical direction : RAFT

“Raft” rhymes with “aft”.

49. Where Shaquille O’Neal played college ball : LSU

LSU’s full name is Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, and is located in Baton Rouge. LSU was founded in 1860 as a military academy, with then-Colonel William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent.

Retired basketball player Shaquille O’Neal now appears regularly as an analyst on the NBA TV show “Inside the NBA”. Shaq has quite a career in the entertainment world. His first rap album, called “Shaq Diesel”, went platinum. He also starred in two of his own reality show: “Shaq’s Big Challenge” and “Shaq Vs.”

50. ___ Khan, antagonist in “The Jungle Book” : SHERE

In Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book”, the author names his regal tiger character “Shere Khan”. Kipling chose this name as he had met an Afghan Prince in his travels named “Sher Shah Suri”, meaning “The Lion or Tiger King”.

52. To the point : LACONIC

Ancient Laconia was a region in southern Greece that was dominated by the city of Sparta. The people from Laconia were proud of their brevity of speech, which gives rise our modern term “laconic” meaning someone who uses few words.

54. Subject of the 2003 memoir “Jarhead” : GULF WAR

Marines are called jarheads because of their high and tight regulation haircuts, at least that’s the story I read …

58. Figure in a Nativity scene : JOSEPH

In the Christian tradition, a nativity scene (also “crèche”) is a display of representing the the scene of the birth of Jesus. Nativity scenes might be subjects for paintings, for example, although the term is usually used for seasonal displays associated with the Christmas season.

Down

1. Left without leaving anything : STIFFED

The etymology of our verb “to stiff”, meaning “to fail to tip”, seems unclear. The usage originated in the late 1930s, and is possibly an extension of the noun “stiff” meaning “corpse”. The idea is that dead men don’t leave tips.

4. They’re usually held on school nights : PTA MEETINGS

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

6. Quick turnaround? : UEY

Hang a “uey” or “uie”, make a u-turn, make a 180.

8. ___ gris : PINOT

The Pinot gris grape is used to make white wine called Pinot gris, which is also known as Pinot grigio. DNA analysis has shown that the Pinot gris grape mutated from the Pinot noir variety.

9. Breakfast brand : EGGO

Eggo is the brand name of a line of frozen waffles made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced “Froffles”, the original name chosen by melding “frozen” and “waffles”.

10. “1” preceder: Abbr. : RTE

US Route 1 runs from Fort Kent in Maine right down to Key West in Florida.

13. Oxygen consumers : AEROBES

An aerobe is an organism that lives in an environment rich in oxygen. An anaerobe, on the other hand, does not require oxygen for survival.

15. Peevishly ill-natured : BILIOUS

The term “bilious” means “relating to bile”. It has come to mean ”ill-humored”.

20. Chewy, fruity candy : GUMMY BEAR

Gelatin is a foodstuff that is used as a gelling agent in cooking, and for the shells of pharmaceutical capsules. Over 800 million pounds of gelatin are produced every year worldwide. It is produced from by-products of the meat and leather industries. Gelatin is basically modified collagen derived from pork skins and the bones of cattle, pigs and horses. So, vegans usually avoid things like gummy bears and marshmallows.

26. Pop stars? : NOVAE

A nova (plural “novae”) is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness of a nova is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different from a nova. A supernova is a very bright burst of light and energy created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a supernova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.

28. Much of a cattail : STALK

Cattails are flowering plants found in wetlands. We call them bullrushes back in Ireland …

32. Microsoft Word creation, briefly : DOC

Microsoft Word was introduced in 1981 as Multi-Tool Word for Xenix (Xenix is a discontinued version of the Unix operating system). I used to be a power user of Word, but now use Google Drive for all of my word processing needs.

35. Kid’s IHOP order, perhaps : SMALL OJ

The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) was founded back in 1958. IHOP was originally intended to be called IHOE, the International House of Eggs, but that name didn’t do too well in marketing tests!

36. Compadre : PAISANO

“Paisano” translates literally from Spanish as “fellow countryman”, but is also used to mean “pal”.

“Compadre” is Spanish for “godfather”.

44. Horseshoe lookalikes : OMEGAS

Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and is the one that looks like a horseshoe when in uppercase. The lowercase omega looks like a Latin W. The word “omega” literally means “great O” (O-mega). Compare this with the Greek letter Omicron, meaning “little O” (O-micron).

51. Got home safely, in a way : SLID

That would be baseball.

55. Actress Thurman : UMA

Uma Thurman started her working career as a fashion model, at the age of 15. She appeared in her first movies at 17, with her most acclaimed early role being Cécile de Volanges in 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons”. Thurman’s career really took off when she played the gangster’s “moll” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” in 1994. My favorite of all Thurman’s movies is “The Truth About Cats & Dogs”, a less acclaimed romcom released in 1996. She took a few years off from 1998 until 2002, doing very little work in favor of motherhood. It was Tarantino who relaunched her career, giving her the lead in the “Kill Bill” films.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Adds horsepower to : SOUPS UP
8. Sparta’s foe in “300” : PERSIA
14. Elite : TOP TIER
15. Major : BIG TIME
16. Jolly “Roger”? : I HEAR YA
17. 1950s heavyweight Johansson : INGEMAR
18. Zippo output : FLAME
19. Digs in the snow : IGLOO
21. Mariana Islands neighbor, for short : IWO
22. Rideshare app datum : FARE
23. Hearts, e.g. : SUIT
24. Hunk of meat : SLAB
25. Groundbreaking 1990s sitcom : ELLEN
27. Dashboard Confessional’s genre : EMO
28. Take in : SNARE
29. Midwest city that was home to the Wright brothers : DAYTON
31. Things that help you go off the beaten path? : MUD TIRES
33. Product whose original slogan was “It floats” : IVORY SOAP
35. Try to catch someone, metaphorically : SPIN A WEB
38. Bishop, for one : CLERIC
42. Dog woe : MANGE
43. One who might meet with a venture capitalist, for short : CEO
45. Currency unit equal to 100 53-Down : KRONA
46. Some are audiovisual : AIDS
47. Sound from a sock : WHAM!
48. Vessel that rhymes with a nautical direction : RAFT
49. Where Shaquille O’Neal played college ball : LSU
50. ___ Khan, antagonist in “The Jungle Book” : SHERE
51. Move crabwise : SIDLE
52. To the point : LACONIC
54. Subject of the 2003 memoir “Jarhead” : GULF WAR
56. Proceeding as planned : ON TRACK
57. Timely question? : AM I LATE?
58. Figure in a Nativity scene : JOSEPH
59. Blue in the face? : SAD-EYED

Down

1. Left without leaving anything : STIFFED
2. “How marvelous!” : OOH LA LA!
3. Like roosters : UP EARLY
4. They’re usually held on school nights : PTA MEETINGS
5. Beget : SIRE
6. Quick turnaround? : UEY
7. Tough love rarity : PRAISE
8. ___ gris : PINOT
9. Breakfast brand : EGGO
10. “1” preceder: Abbr. : RTE
11. Close : SIMILAR
12. “You don’t have to tell me that” : I’M AWARE
13. Oxygen consumers : AEROBES
15. Peevishly ill-natured : BILIOUS
20. Chewy, fruity candy : GUMMY BEAR
24. What’s far-sighted? : SNIPER RIFLE
26. Pop stars? : NOVAE
28. Much of a cattail : STALK
30. Right away : NOW
32. Microsoft Word creation, briefly : DOC
34. Look over again : RECHECK
35. Kid’s IHOP order, perhaps : SMALL OJ
36. Compadre : PAISANO
37. Initiates : INDUCTS
39. It’s found between the shoulders : ROADWAY
40. Blow up : INFLATE
41. Like some fancy parties : CATERED
44. Horseshoe lookalikes : OMEGAS
47. “This one or that one?” : WHICH?
50. “Oh, you got me!” : SNAP!
51. Got home safely, in a way : SLID
53. 45-Across divisions : ORE
55. Actress Thurman : UMA