0519-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 19 May 2018, Saturday

Constructed by: John Guzzetta
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 13m 20s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Geological feature of Zion National Park : SLOT CANYON

To me, the most spectacular feature of Zion National Park, in southwestern Utah, is the magnificent Zion Canyon. The canyon cuts through red Navajo sandstone and is a truly beautiful sight.

11. Pandora and others : APPS

Pandora is a clever music-streaming site that runs what’s called the Music Genome Project. The idea behind the project is that particular pieces of music can be classified by specific characteristics (genes). The assumption is that given a person’s liking for the genome of a particular song, then a recommendation of another song with a similar genome will also be enjoyed by that person. I’ve used Pandora quite a lot, and it seems to work!

18. E. S. ___, game company that produced Yahtzee and Bingo : LOWE

The dice game called Yahtzee was introduced in 1956 and is a variant of earlier dice games, especially the game “Yacht” (which even has a similar name). Yahtzee is required playing in our house at holidays. The game involves the rolling of five dice, with the intent of getting certain combinations. A lot of those combinations resemble poker hands, such as “three of a kind”, “four of a kind” and “full house”.

Our modern bingo is a derivative of an Italian lottery game called “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia” that became popular in the 16th-century.

20. Scottish hillside : BRAE

“Brae” is a lowland Scots word for the slope or brow of a hill.

23. Senate majority leader after Frist : REID

Democrat Harry Reid was the Senate Majority leader from 2007 until 2015. Reid had a big day in the Senate from a Democratic perspective with the successful passage of the so-called ObamaCare Bill. Paradoxically, Harry Reid’s wife was in hospital at the time, having broken her back in a car accident. Reid took over as Senate Majority leader from Republican Bill Frist who retired from politics in 2007. Reid was replaced in 2015 by Republican Mitch McConnell.

Bill Frist was Senate Majority Leader for the Republican Party from 2003 to 2007. Prior to becoming a politician, Frist was a heart and lung transplant surgeon. He has also been a pilot since he was 16-years-old, and has run seven marathons.

25. Ham go-with? : CAMERA

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is apparently a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

30. Smithereens : ATOMS

“Smithereens” is such a lovely word and I am proud to say that it comes from Irish. The Irish word “smiodar” means fragment. We add the suffix “-in” (anglicized as “-een”) to words to indicate the diminutive form. So, “little fragment” is “smidirin”, anglicized as “smithereens”.

31. Sport featuring the eggbeater kick : WATER POLO

The sport of water polo is thought to have originated in Scotland, where it was a feature of fairs and festivals. Men’s water polo was introduced into the Olympic Games in 1900, making it one of the oldest team sports in the games.

33. Activist Guinier : LANI

Lani Guinier was the first African-American woman to achieve tenure at Harvard Law School.

34. Checked out before going in? : CASED

The term “case the joint” is American slang dating back at least to 1915, meaning to examine a location with the intent of robbing it. The origins of the phrase are apparently unknown.

39. Diamond club : BAT

That would be baseball.

40. Fraternal club : ELKS

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a “club” in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren’t welcome.

44. Some deer : ROES

Roe deer are found mainly in Europe. They would be the deer shown on television and in movies when Robin Hood was out hunting in Sherwood Forest.

46. Dark beer : BOCK

A bock is a strong lager from Germany that was first brewed in the town of Einbeck. The famous brewers of Munich adopted the style of beer, calling it Einbeck after the town of its origin. However, with the Bavarian accent “Einbeck” came out as “ein Bock”, the German for “a billy goat”. The name “bock” stuck, and so you’ll very often see a billy goat on the labels of bock beers.

Down

1. On base : SAFE

That would be baseball.

4. Sched. letters : TBA

Something not yet on the schedule (“sked” or “sched.”) is to be advised/announced (TBA).

5. Slight upward curves, as in roads or beams : CAMBERS

“To camber” is “to arch slightly, curve upwards in the middle”. “Camber” was originally a nautical term, and ultimately derives from the Latin “camurum” meaning “bent, arched”.

6. Voice actor Hank : AZARIA

Hank Azaria is one of my favorite American actors, and is someone who I think can really expertly portray a vast array of characters. I can’t stand “The Simpsons” mind you, a show to which Azaria is inextricably linked, but if you look at his role in “The Birdcage” as a flamboyant gay houseboy, and his role in “Shattered Glass” as a stoic magazine editor, you’ll get a taste for Azaria’s extensive range.

7. Org. based near Colorado Springs : NORAD

The North American Defense Command (NORAD) isn’t just a US operation but is a cooperative arrangement between Canada and the United States. The two countries entered into an agreement to establish NORAD in 1958, mainly due to the concern that there would be little or no warning of a missile attack from the Soviet Union that came over the North Pole. NORAD also tracks Santa Claus coming from the North Pole every Christmas, and these days publishes Santa’s location on Christmas Eve on its website. The tracking of Santa started into 1955 when a local Sears store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper with a phone number that could be used to call Santa Claus. The newspaper accidentally printed the number for the Continental Air Defense Command (a precursor to NORAD). The officer on duty instructed his staff to give all children who called a “current location” for Santa. Today, NORAD gets about 120,000 phone queries about Santa’s location every year, and website gets about 20 million visitors.

8. Join : YOKE

A yoke is a wooden beam used between a pair of oxen so that they are forced to work together.

11. Lots : A SLEW

Our usage of “slew” to mean “large number” has nothing to do with the verb “to slew” meaning “to turn, skid”. The noun “slew” come into English in the early 1800s from the Irish word “sluagh” meaning “host, crowd, multitude”.

22. River of central Germany : EDER

The Eder is a river in Germany, and a tributary of the Fulda River. The Eder has a dam near the small town of Waldeck which holds water in the large Edersee reservoir. This was one of the dams that was attacked by the RAF during WWII with the famous Barnes Wallis bouncing bombs. It was destroyed in the Dam Busters raid in 1943, but rebuilt the same year.

37. Emeritus: Abbr. : RETD

“Emeritus” (female form “emerita”, and plural “emeriti”) is a term in the title of some retired professionals, particularly those from academia. Originally an emeritus was a veteran soldier who had served his time. The term comes from the Latin verb “emerere” meaning to complete one’s service.

43. Half of a stock market index name : POOR’S

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is a financial services company, famous for its stock market indices, especially the S&P 500. The company also publishes credit ratings for sovereign governments, and in 2011 famously lowered the rating of the US federal government from AAA to to AA+.

44. One who acts without thinking : ROBOT

Karel Čapek was a Czech writer noted for his works of science fiction. Čapek’s 1920 play “R.U.R.” is remembered in part for introducing the world to the word “robot”. The words “automaton” and “android” were already in use, but Capek gave us “robot” from the original Czech “robota” meaning “forced labor”. The acronym “R.U.R.”, in the context of the play, stands for “Rossum’s Universal Robots”.

47. Locale for the southernmost part of U.S. Route 1, with “the” : KEYS

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

49. Biotech products, for short : GMOS

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is one with genetic material that has been altered by genetic engineering. One might argue that the oldest form of genetic engineering is selective breeding, the use of animals or plants with desired traits for the creation of the next generation.

53. Martial arts word meaning “kick” : TAE

Tae Bo isn’t an ancient martial art, even though it perhaps sounds like one. The discipline was developed as a form of aerobic exercise in the 1990s by taekwondo expert Billy Blanks who gave it the name Tae Bo, a melding of “taekwondo” and “boxing”.

Tae kwon do is the national sport of Korea. “Tae” means “to strike or break with foot”; “kwon” means “to strike or break with fist”; “do” means “way” or “art”. Along with judo, tae kwon do is one of only two martial arts included in the Olympic Games.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Geological feature of Zion National Park : SLOT CANYON
11. Pandora and others : APPS
15. Toy that’s a type of vortex cannon : AIR BAZOOKA
16. Word with coffee or gift : … SHOP
17. Stalls alongside the road? : FLEA MARKET
18. E. S. ___, game company that produced Yahtzee and Bingo : LOWE
19. & & &, in France : ETS
20. Scottish hillside : BRAE
21. Be in danger of falling : TEETER
23. Senate majority leader after Frist : REID
24. Common bait for fishing : REDWORM
25. Ham go-with? : CAMERA
28. Concern : CARE
29. Foundation : BED
30. Smithereens : ATOMS
31. Sport featuring the eggbeater kick : WATER POLO
33. Activist Guinier : LANI
34. Checked out before going in? : CASED
35. Butcher’s cut : LOIN
36. Parts of research papers : ABSTRACTS
38. Words to live by : MOTTO
39. Diamond club : BAT
40. Fraternal club : ELKS
41. Situated beneath the earth’s surface : NETHER
42. With skill : ADEPTLY
44. Some deer : ROES
45. Walked confidently : STRODE
46. Dark beer : BOCK
47. Beer holder : KEG
50. Cheery cry : HI-HO!
51. Gang up on, in a way : DOUBLE-TEAM
54. Title meaning “commander” : EMIR
55. “I’m not convinced, but … all right” : IF YOU SAY SO …
56. Firms : SETS
57. Coke and Pepsi have had many of them : TASTE TESTS

Down

1. On base : SAFE
2. Carousel music : LILT
3. Contents of some dollies : ORES
4. Sched. letters : TBA
5. Slight upward curves, as in roads or beams : CAMBERS
6. Voice actor Hank : AZARIA
7. Org. based near Colorado Springs : NORAD
8. Join : YOKE
9. Fine and dandy, in old slang : OKE
10. Blathered on and on : NATTERED
11. Lots : A SLEW
12. Where couples may be seen kissing : PHOTO BOOTH
13. Corporate, military and business leaders, collectively : POWER ELITE
14. One making deposits in a bank? : SPERM DONOR
22. River of central Germany : EDER
23. Pay : REMIT
24. Sizes up : RATES
25. Fruits also known as bottle gourds : CALABASHES
26. Inopportunely : AT A BAD TIME
27. Mega-seller : MONSTER HIT
28. Flings : CASTS
31. Off-the-wall : WACKY
32. Novel ideas : PLOTS
34. Guessed right : CALLED IT
37. Emeritus: Abbr. : RETD
38. Most easy to walk on : MEEKEST
41. “I haven’t the foggiest!” : NO CLUE!
43. Half of a stock market index name : POOR’S
44. One who acts without thinking : ROBOT
46. Accepts : BUYS
47. Locale for the southernmost part of U.S. Route 1, with “the” : KEYS
48. Around 90° : EAST
49. Biotech products, for short : GMOS
52. ___ piece : OF A
53. Martial arts word meaning “kick” : TAE