0717-18 NY Times Crossword 17 Jul 18, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Amanda Chung & Karl Ni
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Flying Colors

Themed answers are things that FLY, and whose name includes a COLOR:

  • 37A. With 40-Across, what a straight-A student passes with … or a hint to 17-, 27-, 46- and 62-Across : FLYING …
  • 40A. See 37-Across : … COLORS
  • 17A. W.W. I enemy ace : RED BARON
  • 27A. Quidditch ball that ends the game when it’s caught : GOLDEN SNITCH
  • 46A. Comics hero with a magic ring : GREEN LANTERN
  • 62A. Symbol of happiness : BLUEBIRD

Bill’s time: 5m 45s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Avocado dip, slangily : GUAC

Guacamole is one of my favorite dishes. It is prepared by mashing avocados and perhaps adding the likes of tomato, onion and lime juice. The guacamole recipe dates back as early as the 16th century, to the time of the Aztecs. “Guacamole” translates as “avocado sauce”.

5. “Peace be upon ___” (Muslim phrase about a prophet) : HIM

“Alayhi s-salam” is an Arabic phrase that translates as “peace be upon him”. The phrase is commonly attached to the names of prophets.

15. Prefix with center : EPI-

The epicenter is that point on the surface of the earth that is directly above the focus of an earthquake.

17. W.W. I enemy ace : RED BARON

Manfred von Richthofen was a famous WWI fighter pilot flying for the Germans and was known as the Red Baron. Von Richthofen was credited with more kills than any other pilot fighting on either side of the conflict, recording over 80 combat victories. He didn’t survive the war though, as he was shot down near Amiens in France in 1918.

19. Diamond judge : UMPIRE

That would be baseball.

21. Letters on a radio button : AM/FM

In telecommunications, a radio signal is transmitted using a sinusoidal carrier wave. Information is transmitted using this carrier wave in two main ways, by varying (modulating) the instantaneous amplitude (signal strength) of the carrier wave, and by modulating the instantaneous frequency of the carrier wave. The former is referred to as an AM signal (“amplitude modulation”), and the latter as an FM signal (“frequency modulation”).

27. Quidditch ball that ends the game when it’s caught : GOLDEN SNITCH

Quidditch is a game that is famously played in the “Harry Potter” series of books and films. The game is contended by two teams of seven wizards or witches flying on broomsticks. The are four animated balls and six ring-shaped goals floating in mid-air. One of the balls is the Golden Snitch, and one of the players is the Seeker. It is the Seeker’s sole purpose to capture the Golden Snitch and thereby end the game.

32. Jackson 5 hit with the lyric “It’s easy as 1, 2, 3” : ABC

“ABC” topped the charts for the Jackson 5 in 1970, and might perhaps be called the Jackson 5’s signature tune.

The Jackson 5 singing group was originally made up of brothers Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. The four eldest brothers continued to perform, using the name “The Jacksons”, after Michael went solo.

36. Artoo-___ : DETOO

Artoo’s proper name is R2-D2. R2-D2 is the smaller of the two famous droids from the “Star Wars” movies. British actor Kenny Baker, who stood just 3 ft 8 ins tall, was the man inside the R2-D2 droid for the first six of the “Star Wars” movies.

37. With 40-Across, what a straight-A student passes with … or a hint to 17-, 27-, 46- and 62-Across : FLYING …

40. See 37-Across : … COLORS

The phrase “to pass with flying colors” is a reference to the flying of the flag of a regiment or ship, i.e. the colors.

42. Swain : BEAU

A swain is a country lad, or a beau. Back in the 12th century, a swain was a young man who attended a knight.

46. Comics hero with a magic ring : GREEN LANTERN

The Green Lantern is a comic book superhero who has had a number of alter egos through the life of the character. The Green Lantern is a member of the Justice League of America superhero team. Other members of the League include Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

51. Des Moines resident : IOWAN

The city of Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, and takes its name from the Des Moines River. The river in turn takes its name from the French “Riviere des Moines” meaning “River of the Monks”. It looks like there isn’t any “monkish” connection to the city’s name per se. “Des Moines” was just the name given by French traders who corrupted “Moingona”, the name of a group of Illinois Native Americans who lived by the river. However, others do contend that French Trappist monks, who lived a full 200 miles from the river, somehow influenced the name.

55. W-2 ID : SSN

The main purpose of a Social Security Number (SSN) is to track individuals for the purposes of taxation, although given its ubiquitous use, it is looking more and more like an identity number to me. The social security number system was introduced in 1936. Prior to 1986, an SSN was required only for persons with substantial income so many children under 14 had no number assigned. For some years the IRS had a concern that a lot of people were claiming children on their tax returns who did not actually exist. So, from 1986 onward, it is a requirement to get an SSN for any dependents over the age of 5. Sure enough, seven million dependents “disappeared” in 1987.

Form W-2 is provided by US employers to their employees by January 31 each year. The form reports wages paid to the employees and taxes withheld.

59. Gibson of tennis fame : ALTHEA

Althea Gibson was known as “the Jackie Robinson of tennis” as she broke the “color barrier” and became the first African-American woman to win a Grand Slam title, in France in 1956. She was quite the athlete and was a great golfer as well as tennis player. She was the first African-American woman to play in the Ladies PGA tour, although she never had a win. Outside of sport, she sang a little and recorded an album, and even appeared in a movie (“The Horse Soldiers”) with John Wayne and William Holden. Sadly, towards the end of her life she ended up destitute and on welfare. When her plight was made known in a tennis magazine, well-wishers from all over the world sent her gifts of money, a total of nearly one million dollars. Quite a story …

60. Something a tabby can’t resist : CATNIP

About 50% of all cats are affected in some way by the plant catnip. There is a terpenoid in the oil of the plant called nepetalactone that the cat inhales and that can cause anything from drowsiness to anxiety.

Tabbies aren’t a breed of cat, but rather are cats with particular markings regardless of breed. Tabbies have coats with stripes, dots and swirling patterns, and usually an “M” mark on the forehead.

62. Symbol of happiness : BLUEBIRD

The “blue bird of happiness” is a phrase coined by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck in his 1908 play “The Blue Bird”. The bird in question happened to be just that, a bird that was blue. Since then, the phrase has become associated specifically with the bluebird species.

65. Jeremy of the N.B.A. : LIN

Jeremy Lin is a professional basketball player who was raised in the city of Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lin is the first American of Chinese descent to play in the NBA.

67. Annual internet awards : WEBBYS

The Webby Awards recognize excellent on the Internet, and have been presented since 1995. One interesting twist in the Webby version of the award ceremony is that (theoretically) recipients are limited to five-word acceptance speeches.

68. “Spring forward” hrs. in N.Y.C. : EDT

Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

On the other side of the Atlantic, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is known as “summer time”. The idea behind summer/daylight-savings is to move clocks forward an hour in spring (“spring forward”), and backwards in the fall (“fall back”) so that afternoons have more daylight.

Down

1. Prepares, as oneself for battle : GIRDS

The phrase “gird your loins” dates back to Ancient Rome. The expression describes the action of lifting “one’s skirts” and tying them between the legs to allow more freedom of movement before going into battle. Nowadays, “gird your loins” (or sometimes just “gird yourself”) is a metaphor for “prepare yourself for the worst”.

2. In ___ (unborn) : UTERO

“In utero” is a Latin term meaning “in the uterus”. The Latin “uterus” (plural “uteri”) translates as both “womb” and “belly”. The Latin word comes from the Greek “hystera” that also means “womb”, which gives us the words “hysterectomy”, and “hysterical”.

4. Half human, half machine : CYBORG

“Cyborg” is an abbreviation for “cybernetic organism”, a being that is made up of both organic and synthetic parts.

6. Tech start-up’s big moment : IPO

An initial public offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).

7. Part of a mosque from which the call to prayer is made : MINARET

A minaret is an architectural feature of Islamic mosques, a tall tower with an onion-shaped crown that is used for the call to prayer. The world’s oldest minaret is part of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia, having been completed in 836 BCE. The term “minaret” comes from the Arabic for “lighthouse”.

9. Military raider : COMMANDO

A commando unit is a body of troops specially trained for hit-and-run raids into enemy territory. We imported the term into English from Afrikaans in the early 1800s. We owe the modern usage of “commando” to Winston Churchill, who used it starting in 1940 to describe shock troops whose job it was to disrupt of the planned German invasion of Britain. Churchill was probably familiar with the word from his time as a war correspondent and military officer during the Second Boer War.

11. Children’s author Blyton : ENID

Enid Blyton wrote stories for children that were very popular when I was growing up in the British Isles. Not so long ago, I purchased and reread my favorite of her stories growing up, a children’s novel called “The Secret Island”.

13. First garden site : EDEN

According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve lived in a garden “in” Eden, with Eden being geographically located by reference to four rivers including the Tigris and the Euphrates. Some scholars hypothesize that Eden was located in Mesopotamia, which encompasses much of modern-day Iraq.

25. Smartphone predecessor, for short : PDA

Personal digital assistant (PDA)

26. Jessica of “7th Heaven” : BIEL

Jessica Biel is an actress who was known by television audiences Mary Camden on “7th Heaven”. Biel’s first film role was playing Peter Fonda’s granddaughter in “Ulee’s Gold”. Biel married singer and actor Justin Timberlake in 2012.

29. Roof style of some Corvettes : T-TOP

A T-top is a car roof that has removable panels on either side of a rigid bar that runs down the center of the vehicle above the driver.

The Chevrolet Corvette was introduced to the world in 1953, and was named after the small maneuverable warship called a corvette. The “vette” has legs. It is the only American sports car that has been around for over 50 years.

39. Product label looked for by the lactose intolerant : NON-DAIRY

The sugar known as lactose is a disaccharide, comprising a molecule of galactose combined with a molecule of glucose. Lactose is a major component in milk, and it is broken down in the body by an enzyme called lactase. The production of lactase used to diminish over time in humans, as babies stopped nursing and transitioned to solid food. Many human populations have evolved to maintain lactose production throughout life, in response to the inclusion of animal milk in the diet. Individuals and populations that do not have the genes enabling lifelong production of lactase are said to be lactose intolerant.

42. Cartoon boy who makes many prank calls : BART

On the animated TV comedy “The Simpsons”, Bart likes to prank-call Moe’s Tavern. Bart asks Moe to “page” someone in the bar using a fictitious name, a name which sounds like a rude phrase when called out loud. This running joke on “The Simpsons” is a homage to a series of legendary calls made in real life to the Tube Bar in Jersey City by John Elmo and Jim Davidson that were taped and circulated widely in the mid-seventies. Some of the milder names used in the original prank calls were:

  • Al Cholic (alcoholic)
  • Cole Kutz (cold cuts)
  • Sal Lammy (salami)
  • Anita Bath (I need a bath)

44. @@@ : 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 email addresses.

47. Jewelers’ glasses : LOUPES

A loupe is a small magnifying lens that is held in the hand. “Loupe” is the French name for such a device.

54. All-time low : NADIR

The nadir is the direction pointing immediately below a particular location (through to the other side of the Earth for example). The opposite direction, that pointing immediately above, is called the zenith. We use the terms “nadir” and “zenith” figuratively to mean the low and high points in a person’s fortunes.

55. Flat-bottomed boat : SCOW

A scow is a flat-bottomed boat with squared-off ends that’s often used for transportation, usually pushed or pulled by a barge. Often a scow can be seen carrying junk or garbage.

56. Sushi bar drink : SAKE

We refer to the Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice as “sake”. We’ve gotten things a bit mixed up in the West. “Sake” is actually the word that the Japanese use for all alcoholic drinks. What we know as sake, we sometimes refer to as rice wine. Also, the starch in the rice is first converted to sugars that are then fermented into alcohol. This is more akin to a beer-brewing process than wine production, so the end product is really a rice “beer” rather than a rice “wine”.

57. Accident investigation org. : NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for the investigation of major accidents involving transportation. Included in this broad definition is the transportation of fluids in pipelines. The organization is independent in that it has no ties to other government agencies or departments so that its investigations can be viewed as “impartial”. The NTSB also earns a little money for the US as it hires out its investigation teams to countries who don’t have the necessary resources available on their own soil.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Avocado dip, slangily : GUAC
5. “Peace be upon ___” (Muslim phrase about a prophet) : HIM
8. Devise a plot : SCHEME
14. Teeny-tiny : ITSY
15. Prefix with center : EPI-
16. Invented, as a new word : COINED
17. W.W. I enemy ace : RED BARON
19. Diamond judge : UMPIRE
20. Slobbers : DROOLS
21. Letters on a radio button : AM/FM
23. Lair : DEN
24. Parisian evenings : SOIRS
25. Like a house that might be built in a day : PREFAB
27. Quidditch ball that ends the game when it’s caught : GOLDEN SNITCH
32. Jackson 5 hit with the lyric “It’s easy as 1, 2, 3” : ABC
35. Feedbag feed : OATS
36. Artoo-___ : DETOO
37. With 40-Across, what a straight-A student passes with … or a hint to 17-, 27-, 46- and 62-Across : FLYING …
40. See 37-Across : … COLORS
41. Best : OUTDO
42. Swain : BEAU
45. Responsibility for a house sitter, maybe : PET
46. Comics hero with a magic ring : GREEN LANTERN
50. Decorates : ADORNS
51. Des Moines resident : IOWAN
55. W-2 ID : SSN
58. Opposite of manual : AUTO
59. Gibson of tennis fame : ALTHEA
60. Something a tabby can’t resist : CATNIP
62. Symbol of happiness : BLUEBIRD
64. “Fine by me” : OK, SURE
65. Jeremy of the N.B.A. : LIN
66. Et ___ (and others) : ALII
67. Annual internet awards : WEBBYS
68. “Spring forward” hrs. in N.Y.C. : EDT
69. Subject of road “Xing” signs : DEER

Down

1. Prepares, as oneself for battle : GIRDS
2. In ___ (unborn) : UTERO
3. “Likewise” : AS DO I
4. Half human, half machine : CYBORG
5. That lady’s : HERS
6. Tech start-up’s big moment : IPO
7. Part of a mosque from which the call to prayer is made : MINARET
8. Shoe blemishes : SCUFFS
9. Military raider : COMMANDO
10. Not square : HIP
11. Children’s author Blyton : ENID
12. Slight : MERE
13. First garden site : EDEN
18. Moreover : ALSO
22. Department store department : MEN’S
25. Smartphone predecessor, for short : PDA
26. Jessica of “7th Heaven” : BIEL
28. Fuel for a fire : LOG
29. Roof style of some Corvettes : T-TOP
30. Uneaten part of an apple : CORE
31. Parasite harborer : HOST
32. Lost in ___ : A FOG
33. Make fuzzy : BLUR
34. Suffix meaning “cell” : -CYTE
38. Notion : IDEA
39. Product label looked for by the lactose intolerant : NON-DAIRY
40. “You go onstage … now,” e.g. : CUE
42. Cartoon boy who makes many prank calls : BART
43. Elevate to royalty : ENNOBLE
44. @@@ : ATS
47. Jewelers’ glasses : LOUPES
48. Tick off : RILE
49. So-so : NOT BAD
52. Period of time : WHILE
53. American Eagle clothing line : AERIE
54. All-time low : NADIR
55. Flat-bottomed boat : SCOW
56. Sushi bar drink : SAKE
57. Accident investigation org. : NTSB
59. Family title with two pronunciations : AUNT
61. Worn-down pencil, e.g. : NUB
63. Slang for a hat : LID

9 thoughts on “0717-18 NY Times Crossword 17 Jul 18, Tuesday”

  1. 9:13, I had to chase down one wrong letter. Some day I’ll remember that the Japanese rice quaff is not spelled SAKi. Or, perhaps, I’ll actually read the clue to the crossing entry!

  2. 10:37. Did this one last night out by the pool around 11 PM Pacific time. It was still near 100 degrees here in Las Vegas at that hour. Marc – you enjoying the weather?

    I didn’t know GOLDEN SNITCH or Quidditch. Harry Potter is like Star Wars – if I was familiar with either one of them, many crosswords would go much more smoothly.

    Best –

  3. 5:56. Puzzle was fine

    @Jeff The weather here is not fine. I knew it would be hot but this is really ridiculous. How do you do anything outside during the day?

  4. 8:27, 2 errors: GOLDEN SN(E)TCH/B(E)EL. Have seen a couple of the Harry Potter movies, misremembered the Quiddich “ball” as a sneech, rather than a snitch. Corrected the second e using T-TOP, but didn’t catch the misspelling of BIEL.

  5. 7 mins 46 sec, no errors. Felt OK about it until I saw how badly Bill scorched my time: two whole minutes!!! 😮

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