0719-18 NY Times Crossword 19 Jul 18, Thursday

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Constructed by: Mike Knobler
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Next Please!

Themed answers are written in SECRET CODE. The answer has been disguised by writing the NEXT letter in the alphabet for each letter in that answer:

  • 17A. What the answers to the six starred clues follow, as hinted at by 66-Across : SECRET CODE
  • 66A. Cry from behind a counter : NEXT PLEASE!
  • 23A. *Firework that doesn’t work : EVE (from “DUD”)
  • 24A. *Crafts site : FUTZ (from “ETSY”)
  • 36A. *Contemptuous smile : TOFFS (from “SNEER”)
  • 44A. *Military vehicles : U-BOLT (from “TANKS”)
  • 56A. *Resistance units : PINT (from “OHMS”)
  • 57A. *Shakespearean prince : IBM (from “HAL”)

Bill’s time: 11m 39s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Christmastime purchases : FIRS

Firs are evergreen coniferous trees, with several species being popular as Christmas trees. The most commonly used species during the holidays are the Nordmann fir, noble fir, Fraser fir and balsam fir. We also see a lot of Douglas fir trees at Christmas, but they’re not actually true firs.

5. Vessel that’s 1% full? : YACHT

I’m not sure if I understand this one or not. Maybe the idea is that the elite, the 1%, are the kind to own yachts?

10. American ally in W.W. II : USSR

At the outset of WWII in 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a nonaggression treaty. When the Germans invaded Poland, the Russians did the same thing a few weeks later, helping to complete the defeat of the Polish military. Soon after, the Soviets invaded Finland, a move that angered France and the UK who deemed that the USSR was entering the war on the side of the Nazis. There followed a trade pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. When Japan, Italy and Germany formally established the Axis Powers, they declared that an attack on any of the three members by any country other than the USSR would be an act of war against all three. In 1940, Hitler made perhaps the worst decision of the war for Nazi Germany, by ordering German military forces to invade Russia. The resulting Eastern Front of WWII saw the 30 million deaths, out of a total of 70 million for the whole conflict.

15. God, to many : ALLAH

The name “Allah” comes from the Arabic “al-” and “ilah”, meaning “the” and “deity”. So “Allah” can be translated as “God”.

16. ___ Minderbinder, lieutenant in “Catch-22” : MILO

Milo Minderbinder is the mess officer in Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel “Catch-22”. In the 1970 film adaptation of the book, the Minderbinder character is played by Jon Voight.

19. Old PalmPilot products, in brief : PDAS

The PalmPilot was one of the most successful PDAs (personal digital assistants) in its day.

20. Sauce for falafels : TAHINI

“Tahini” is the Arabic name for a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Tahini is a major ingredient in hummus, one of my favorite dishes.

Falafel is a ball of ground chickpeas or fava beans that has been deep fried and served in pita bread. I love chickpeas, but falafel is often too dry to me …

21. Lucy’s bandleader husband : DESI

Lucille Ball was at the height of her success while she was married to Desi Arnaz. The couple met in 1940 and not long afterwards eloped. Lucy had several miscarriages before she gave birth to her first child in 1951, just one month before her fortieth birthday. A year and a half later, while “I Love Lucy” was garnering large audiences, she became pregnant with her second child, a pregnancy that was written into the television show’s script. In fact, the day that Lucy gave birth on the show, was the same day that she gave birth in real life.

24. *Crafts site : FUTZ (from “ETSY”)

Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.

28. Neighbor of a Montanan : ALBERTAN

Alberta (Alta.) is a big province, one about the size of Texas. Alberta is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Princess Louise also donated her name to Lake Louise, the large glacial lake in the province, now within the bounds of Banff National Park.

32. Soft ball material : NERF

Nerf is soft material used in a whole series of toys designed for “safe” play indoors. The Nerf product is used to make darts, balls and ammunition for toy guns. “NERF” is an acronym, standing for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam.

33. Short, for short : LI’L

“Li’l” is a little, abbreviated, form of “little”.

34. Poet who wrote “Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity” : ELIOT

T. S. Eliot was born in New England but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Much of Eliot’s college education was at Oxford, and clearly he became comfortable with life in England. In 1927 he became a British citizen and lived the rest of life in the UK.

39. 1847 novel partly set on a whaler : OMOO

Herman Melville mined his own experiences when writing his novels. Melville sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1841 on a whaler heading into the Pacific Ocean (a source for “Moby-Dick”). Melville ended up deserting his ship 18 months later and lived with natives on a South Pacific Island for three weeks (a source for “Typee”). He picked up another whaler and headed for Hawaii, where he joined the crew of a US navy frigate that was bound for Boston (a source for “Omoo”).

41. Western New York Iroquois : ERIES

The Erie people lived on lands south of Lake Erie, in parts of the modern-day US states of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Erie were sometimes referred to as the Cat Nation, a reference to the mountain lions that were ever-present in the area that they lived. The name “Erie” is a shortened form of “Erielhonan” meaning “long tail”, possibly a further reference to the mountain lion or cat, which was possibly used as a totem. The Erie people gave their name to the Great Lake.

48. Windy City rail org. : CTA

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

It seems that the derivation of Chicago’s nickname as the “Windy City” isn’t as obvious as I would have thought. There are two viable theories. First that the weather can be breezy, with wind blowing in off Lake Michigan. The effect of the wind is exaggerated by the grid-layout adopted by city planners after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The second theory is that “windy” means “being full of bluster”. Sportswriters from the rival city of Cincinnati were fond of calling Chicago supporters “windy” in the 1860s and 1870s, meaning that they were full of hot air in their claims that the Chicago White Stockings were superior to the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

51. Chunnel train : EUROSTAR

The English Channel is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, the narrow part that separates the south of England from northern France. The French call the same body of water “La Manche”, which translates literally as “the sleeve”. At its narrowest point the Channel is just over 20 miles wide, and it indeed possible to see France from England and vice versa. Nowadays of course there is a tunnel under the channel making travel extremely convenient. When I was living and working in Europe, with the help of the Channel Tunnel, one day I had a breakfast meeting in Brussels, a lunch meeting in London, and a dinner meeting in Paris. That said, it’s a lot more fun sitting here blogging about the crossword …

56. *Resistance units : PINT (from “OHMS”)

The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every school kid knows as Ohm’s Law.

57. *Shakespearean prince : IBM (from “HAL”)

“Prince Hal” is a term used for Prince Henry, the son of the title character in Shakespeare’s plays “Henry IV, Part 1” and “Henry IV, Part 2”. Prince Hal then becomes king in Shakespeare’s “Henry V”.

60. Short, for one : MARTIN

Martin Short’s father emigrated to Canada as a refugee from Ireland during the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence. In fact, I worked closely with one of Martin’s cousins back in Ireland. Martin Short started out his career as a comedian with “SCTV” before moving to “Saturday Night Live” where he became one of the show’s most celebrated stars. Back in 1972 Short appeared in a production of “Godspell” alongside Gilda Radner. Short and Radner dated for a while, then Short started going out with Radner’s understudy, Nancy Dolman. Dolman and Short married in 1980. Any of you that follow British politics will know of Clare Short, a minister in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Clare and Martin are first cousins.

64. Opposite of plummet : SOAR

To plummet is to plunge downwards. The verb comes from the noun “plummet”, which is an alternative name for a plumb bob. A plumb bob is a weight that is suspended from a string so as to provide a vertical reference line.

69. Woman’s name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet : ELSIE

“Elsie” sounds like L-C.

71. Band with the top 10 hits “Lady” and “Babe” : STYX

Styx is a band that formed in Chicago in 1972. Their biggest hit was “Babe” from 1979, and “Mr. Roboto” from 1983.

72. Participated in a bee : SEWED

Back in 18th-century America, when neighbors would gather to work for the benefit of one of their group, such a meeting was called a bee. The name “bee” was an allusion to the social nature of the insect. In modern parlance, a further element of entertainment and pleasure has been introduced, for example in a quilting bee, or even a spelling bee.

Down

5. First N.F.L. player on the cover of Sports Illustrated : YA TITTLE

Y. A. Tittle is a former professional football player, a quarterback. There’s a famous photograph of Tittle taking during a game in 1964 in which he is kneeling without his helmet, bloodied after a tackle. The image is regarded as iconic in the world of sports photography as it is one of the first pictures to focus on a player’s reaction as opposed to focusing on just action.

6. Wine label abbr. : ALC

Alcohol (alc.)

8. He was accompanied by the guard dog Cerberus : HADES

Hades was the god of the underworld to the ancient Greeks. Over time, Hades gave his name to the underworld itself, the place where the dead reside. The term “Hades” was also adopted into the Christian tradition, as an alternative name for hell. But, the concept of hell in Christianity is more akin to the Greek “Tartarus”, which is a dark and gloomy dungeon located in Hades, a place of suffering and torment.

Cerberus is a dog with three heads that appears in both Greek and Roman mythology. Cerberus had the job of guarding the gates of Hades and preventing those who had crossed the River Styx from ever escaping. A sop is a piece of food that has been dipped in some liquid, as one might sop a piece of bread in soup. There is an idiomatic expression, “to give a sop to Cerberus”, which means to give someone a bribe, or pay someone off. The idea is that if one could bribe Cerberus, give him a sop to eat, then he would let you pass and escape from Hades.

9. Biggest-selling newspaper in England : THE SUN

The tabloid newspaper “The Sun” has the largest circulation of any daily newspaper in Britain. “The Sun” was the paper that introduced the infamous “Page 3”, a page almost completely taken up with a photo of a topless model. The feature was finally pulled in 2015, after 40 years.

10. First, second or third person : UMP

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

12. Major European ethnic group : SLAVS

The Slavic peoples are in the majority in communities covering over half of Europe. This large ethnic group is traditionally broken down into three smaller groups:

  • the West Slavic (including Czechs and Poles)
  • the East Slavic (including Russians and Ukrainians)
  • the South Slavic (including Bulgarians and Serbs)

13. What Moses supposes his toeses are, in an old verse : ROSES

Moses supposes his toeses are roses,
but Moses supposes erroneously.
For Moses he knowses his toeses aren’t roses
as Moses supposes his toeses to be.

22. Rapper with the 1999 album “The Seventh Deadly Sin” : ICE-T

Rapper Ice-T must be sick of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles (I know I am!). Ice-T has been interested in acting for decades and made his film debut in the 1984 movie about breakdancing called “Breakin’”. He has also played Detective Fin Tutuola in the TV show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” since the year 2000.

25. Where Ali won his 1974 world heavyweight title : ZAIRE

The African nation once called Zaire is a neighbor of Rwanda. The genocide and war in Rwanda spilled over into Zaire in 1996, with the conflict escalating into what is now called the First Congo War. As part of the war’s fallout there was a regime change, and in 1997 Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Rumble in the Jungle was the celebrated 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman that took place in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The fight was set in Zaire because of financial arrangements between promoter Don King and Zaire’s President Mobutu Seko. Ali coined the term “Rope-a-dope” to describe his incredibly successful strategy in the contest. From the second round onwards, Ali adopted a protected stance on the ropes letting Foreman pound him with blows to the body and head, with Ali using his arms to dissipate the power of the punches. He kept this up until the eighth round, and then opened up and downed the exhausted Foreman with a left-right combination. I hate boxing but I have to say, that was an fascinating fight …

28. Surname of three baseball brothers : ALOU

Jesus Alou played Major League Baseball, as did his brothers Matty and Felipe, and as does Felipe’s son Moises.

30. Vodka and tomato juice cocktail : BLOODY MARY

The Bloody Mary is one of my favorite cocktails, perhaps because it seems to taste so differently depending on who makes it. It has numerous ingredients above and beyond the requisite vodka and tomato juice, and has been described as “the world’s most complex cocktail”.

31. Like la nuit : NOIRE

In French, “la nuit” (the night) might be described as “noire” (dark, black).

35. Prepare to drive : TEE UP

That would be golf.

37. Greek salad ingredient : FETA

Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months before it is eaten.

40. Margarine : OLEO

Emperor Louis Napoleon III of France announced a competition to develop a substitute for butter, a substitute that would be more accessible to the lower classes and more practical for the armed forces. A French chemist called Hippolyte Mege-Mouries came up with something he called oleomargarine in 1869, which was eventually manufactured under the trade name “margarine”. The name “oleomargarine” also gives us our generic term “oleo”.

50. Old Beatles rival, with “the” : STONES

Even though Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been the driving force behind the Rolling Stones for decades, they didn’t start the group. The band was the idea of guitarist and harmonica player Brian Jones, and it was he who invited Richards and Jagger to join, as well as Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts to make an original lineup of six band members. Jones called the band “Rollin’ Stone” back then in 1962, named for the song by Muddy Waters. Jones was the leader, manager and decision maker for the first few years until songs written by Richards and Jagger became hits and he started to lose artistic control. In 1967, Jones was arrested for drug possession, and again in 1968. When his trouble with the law prevented him from getting a US work visa, Jones wasn’t able to accompany the Stones on a 1969 US tour. That was the last straw, it seems, and Jones and the Stones parted company. Famously, one month later, Jones was found dead, at the bottom of his swimming pool.

52. 17-time Best Actress nominee : STREEP

Meryl Streep has had more nominations for an Academy Award than any other actor, which is both a tribute to her talent and the respect she has earned in the industry. I am not a huge fan of her earlier works but some of her recent movies are now on my list of all-time favorites. I recommend “Mamma Mia!” (you’ll either love it or hate it!), “Julie & Julia”, “It’s Complicated” and ”Hope Springs”.

55. Many an ancient tombstone : STELE

Stelae (singular “stele” or “stela”) were used all over the world, sometimes as territorial markers and sometimes to commemorate military victories. In later times stelae were commonly erected as commemorative markers in graveyards or other religious sites.

59. Annual Austin media event, informally : SXSW

South by Southwest, also known as “SXSW”, is an annual festival that has been taking place in Austin, Texas since 1987. SXSW is a melded event, combining a music festival, a film festival and an interactive festival.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Christmastime purchases : FIRS
5. Vessel that’s 1% full? : YACHT
10. American ally in W.W. II : USSR
14. Twist someone’s words, say? : EDIT
15. God, to many : ALLAH
16. ___ Minderbinder, lieutenant in “Catch-22” : MILO
17. What the answers to the six starred clues follow, as hinted at by 66-Across : SECRET CODE
19. Old PalmPilot products, in brief : PDAS
20. Sauce for falafels : TAHINI
21. Lucy’s bandleader husband : DESI
23. *Firework that doesn’t work : EVE (from “DUD”)
24. *Crafts site : FUTZ (from “ETSY”)
26. Something said to smell sweet : SUCCESS
28. Neighbor of a Montanan : ALBERTAN
32. Soft ball material : NERF
33. Short, for short : LI’L
34. Poet who wrote “Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity” : ELIOT
36. *Contemptuous smile : TOFFS (from “SNEER”)
39. 1847 novel partly set on a whaler : OMOO
41. Western New York Iroquois : ERIES
43. Slightest protest : PEEP
44. *Military vehicles : U-BOLT (from “TANKS”)
46. Upright : ERECT
48. Windy City rail org. : CTA
49. Places to hibernate : DENS
51. Chunnel train : EUROSTAR
53. Page designs : LAYOUTS
56. *Resistance units : PINT (from “OHMS”)
57. *Shakespearean prince : IBM (from “HAL”)
58. Adds (up) : TOTS
60. Short, for one : MARTIN
64. Opposite of plummet : SOAR
66. Cry from behind a counter : NEXT PLEASE!
68. Unadulterated : PURE
69. Woman’s name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet : ELSIE
70. She: Sp. : ELLA
71. Band with the top 10 hits “Lady” and “Babe” : STYX
72. Participated in a bee : SEWED
73. Look (into) : PEER

Down

1. Ending with song or slug : -FEST
2. “You have no ___” : IDEA
3. Worth a great deal : RICH
4. Conflict : STRIFE
5. First N.F.L. player on the cover of Sports Illustrated : YA TITTLE
6. Wine label abbr. : ALC
7. Lump : CLOD
8. He was accompanied by the guard dog Cerberus : HADES
9. Biggest-selling newspaper in England : THE SUN
10. First, second or third person : UMP
11. Unintended consequence : SIDE EFFECT
12. Major European ethnic group : SLAVS
13. What Moses supposes his toeses are, in an old verse : ROSES
18. Harden : ENURE
22. Rapper with the 1999 album “The Seventh Deadly Sin” : ICE-T
25. Where Ali won his 1974 world heavyweight title : ZAIRE
27. Trim : CROP
28. Surname of three baseball brothers : ALOU
29. Arm : LIMB
30. Vodka and tomato juice cocktail : BLOODY MARY
31. Like la nuit : NOIRE
35. Prepare to drive : TEE UP
37. Greek salad ingredient : FETA
38. Not fight seriously : SPAR
40. Margarine : OLEO
42. Economized : SCRIMPED
45. Flush fastener : T-NUT
47. Like the Vietnamese language : TONAL
50. Old Beatles rival, with “the” : STONES
52. 17-time Best Actress nominee : STREEP
53. Targets for speech therapists : LISPS
54. Approximately : ABOUT
55. Many an ancient tombstone : STELE
59. Annual Austin media event, informally : SXSW
61. Whodunit, e.g. : TALE
62. It may be surrounded by beaches : ISLE
63. Approximately : NEAR
65. Alternative to Bowser : REX
67. Word with tongue or twist : -TIE

17 thoughts on “0719-18 NY Times Crossword 19 Jul 18, Thursday”

  1. 21:21, no errors. This was quite the brain twister and a horrible thing to do to a person on his first cup of coffee! Well done, constructor!

    Bill: I’m with you on the 1%/YACHT thing.

  2. 24:43. No errors, but I was clueless as to why until I came to the blog. I didn’t try to figure out the theme. Instead, I just came here and looked at it. Clever. I also had NEXTinline before seeing NEXT PLEASE which threw me off as well. Solvable as a themeless as long as you were able to ignore the starred answers.

    Finished the puzzle without actually getting the theme. Feels like a failure in this instance.

    Best –

    1. My thoughts (and time [!] give or take the 43 seconds) exactly, except that I don’t consider it a failure for not grasping the theme.

  3. 14:57, no errors. Pretty sneaky theme, but I got it early on, at DUD/EVE. I did not understand the YACHT reference, however,

    1. @Dave –
      To chime in more specifically YACHTS would, in theory, be full of 1%-ers…whether they be owners, guests or whoever. That’s how I read it.

      1. Ah. What I meant to say was that I didn’t understand the 1% thing as I was doing the puzzle. EmGee’s comment reminded me of this and Bill’s comment then made sense to me. But … thanks! These days, I need all the help I can get! 😜

  4. Approx. one hr. And one error. I had Ellie for Elsie and had no clue what 59 down was.
    I actually got the theme and it really helped unlike that fiasco from yesterday and Mr. Steinberg

  5. Ah! All those Caesar ciphers with my kids finally helped me out. But for at least 20 seconds I was sure YACHT was part of the theme. (ZBDIU? XZBGS?)

  6. 23:23, 2 errors: TOT(E)/(E)XSW. Have vaguely heard of SXSW, but have never heard TOTS UP used in place of TOTES UP. Learn something new. Also spent some time deciding between ELLEN, ELLIE and ELSIE.

    My time never includes figuring out the theme, I spent about a minute or two, and was able to get the theme before checking in here.

  7. No errors. I got the theme at about 2/3 through and it helped tremendously for numerous other fills. I liked this clever puzzle very much. All is forgiven for the fiasco yesterday.

  8. 20:14 and 5 errors:UBOL(T)/(T)NUT, MAR(T)IN/(T)ALE/E(L)LA.

    I’ve said a few times that one of these days, we’re just going to get a puzzle where none of the clues have anything to do with the fills, and we’re going to be expected to just read the setter’s mind and “divine” it somehow. This puzzle, sadly, gets us one step closer to that cynical prediction. One can surely work out “SECRET CODE” from cross fills, but how we’re expected to figure out what that code is, is way beyond me. I don’t come here to break codes, I come to solve crossword puzzles. And so, another overstepping constructor goes on my SH*T list. It’s about time I put Shortz on there, too, as he’s an accomplice in this erosion of the New York Times crossword.

  9. Got all the right letters in, but didn’t get the theme. Instead of NEXT PLEASE, the revealer might have made more sense (to me) if it had been something like “You go first”.

  10. I did not understand the YACHT entry either. The clue doesn’t really ask who “owns” the YACHT but rather what a YACHT is “filled” with. That would mean the people who would be aboard. To my way of thinking that would mostly mean the crew. And really no one in the 1% would be out crewing on a YACHT. In fact the crew of a YACHT gets paid very modest wages and usually do it just because they like sailing. One could say that the guests on a YACHT might also be from the 1% but I rather doubt that that is what is being implied either.

    Ultimately I think that probably @Bill had it right to begin with and that the elite 1% is what the constructor was looking for.

  11. Maybe the clue for 5a should have read…
    “Vessel that’s 1%ful”. ?!?
    Nah, still doesn’t work for me.
    It was a tough puzzle that I finished with no errors (yay?). I did eventually understand the theme although the entire mess was far-fetched and contrived, IMHO

  12. This one was a bit gimmicky. Still, I never cease to be amazed at the flexibility and nuance of the English language. It seems like the possibilities for exploiting word, letter, and meaning combinations are endless. This bodes well for me as I look ahead to enjoying my favorite pastime for many years to come.

  13. DNF at 36 minutes with 3 errors and 50% filled. Terrible grid that I got terribly bored with rather quickly and powered through to get that far. Another data point against Shortz on a puzzle that should have never saw the light of day.

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