0712-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 12 Jul 2018, Thursday

Constructed by: Joe DiPietro
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Reveal Answer: Hands Down

Themed answers include a type of HAND, but that HAND has detoured in the DOWN-direction in the grid:

  • 34D. Easily … and a hint to four answers in this puzzle : HANDS DOWN
  • 1A. Clear of trees : DEFOREST (FORE down, from “forehand”)
  • 22A. “Desperate Housewives” co-star : EVA LONGORIA (LONG down, from “longhand”)
  • 38A. Surrounding area : ENVIRONS (IRON down, from “iron hand”)
  • 51A. It often features an “X” : TREASURE MAP (SURE down, from “sure hand”)

Bill’s time: 23m 33s!

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6. Smack-dab : SPANG

“Spang” is an informal term (that’s relatively new to me) meaning “precisely, squarely”, as in “spang in the middle of this mess”.

15. Musical instrument almost anyone can play : KAZOO

The modern instrument we know today as the kazoo was invented by one Alabama Vest of Macon, Georgia in the 1800s. The kazoo first came to the public’s attention at the Georgia State Fair of 1852, when it was known as the “Down-South Submarine” (because of its shape, I would imagine).

17. Third-stringer : SCRUB

Scrubs and benchwarmers are players of a sport who aren’t on the first team.

18. 1973 Jim Croce hit : I GOT A NAME

Jim Croce’s most successful songs were “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle”. Like so many great singers it seems, Croce died in a plane crash. He was killed along with five others just after takeoff when the small commercial plane in which he was traveling hit a tree, possibly because the pilot had a heart attack. Croce died just a few days before the release of his album “I Got a Name”.

22. “Desperate Housewives” co-star : EVA LONGORIA (LONG down, from “longhand”)

Eva Longoria is a fashion model and actress who had a regular role on TV’s “Desperate Housewives” playing Gabrielle Solis.

23. J’s value in Words With Friends : TEN

“Words With Friends” is a word game application that can be played on smartphones and other electronic devices. “Words With Friends” is basically Scrabble under a different name, or so I hear.

24. “Lux” composer of 2012 : ENO

“Lux” is a 2012 album released by musician Brian Eno. The album is a collection of ambient music that Eno previously composed as background “soundscapes” for art galleries and airport terminals.

29. Pro wrestling star John : CENA

John Cena is a professional wrestler turned rapper and actor. Although wrestling, rapping and “Cena-style” movies wouldn’t be my cup of tea, I have to admire Cena’s philanthropic record. He holds the title for the most wishes granted by a single individual for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that benefits children with life-threatening medical conditions.

32. One of Popeye’s foes : SEA HAG

The Sea Hag is Popeye’s archenemy, and sails the seas with her pet vulture Bernard on her boat called “The Black Barnacle”.

38. Surrounding area : ENVIRONS (IRON down, from “iron hand”)

“Environ” is the French word for “round” or “round about”. We use “environ” as a verb in English, meaning to surround, form a circle around. The related plural noun “environs” is used to mean “surroundings, environment”.

40. Self starter? : ESS

The letter S (ess) is the starting letter in the word “self”.

41. V8 component : CELERY

The beverage V8 is a mixture of eight different vegetable juices, hence the name. It was introduced in 1933 by the New England Products Company as “ege-min 8”.

43. Lamarr of old Hollywood : HEDY

Hedy Lamarr was an American actress who was actually born in Vienna in modern-day Austria. Not only was Lamarr a successful Hollywood performer, during WWII she was the co-inventor of the frequency-hopping spread-spectrum method of transmitting radio signals that is still used to this day in wireless communication. Impressive …

46. Poet Conrad : AIKEN

Conrad Aiken was a novelist and poet. Aiken won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1930 for his “Selected Poems”, and was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 1950.

50. “___ uncle” : SAY

“To say uncle” is an American expression meaning “to submit, yield”. Its usage dates back to the early 1900s, but nobody seems to know how “uncle!” came to mean “stop!”

55. Four-time winner of the Masters : WOODS

The golfer Tiger Woods’ real name is Eldrick Tont Woods. “Tont” is a traditional Thai name. Tiger’s father Earl Woods met his second wife Kultida Punsawad in 1966 while on a tour of duty in Thailand.

59. iPhone rival : DROID

The Droid is a smartphone from Motorola that runs on Google’s Android operating system.

61. Atmospheric pollution meas. : AQI

The air quality index (AQI) is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

63. ___ flask (lab container) : DEWAR

The vacuum flask was invented in 1892 by Sir James Dewar. It comprises two flasks, one inside the other, joined at the neck. The air between the walls of the two flasks is expelled, creating a near-vacuum. This vacuum minimizes heat transfer, so that liquids in the inner flask remain hot or cold longer. Two German glassblowers commercialized Dewar’s design, starting in 1904, and sold the flasks under the trademarked name “Thermos”. Thermos is still a registered trademark in some countries, but was deemed a genericized trademark in the US in 1963.

Down

1. “___ Rheingold” : DAS

“Das Rheingold” is an 1869 opera by Richard Wagner, and is the first of four works that comprise his famous “Ring Cycle”.

3. Field of “CSI” : FORENSICS

Something described as forensic is connected with a court of law, or with public discussion or debate. The term comes from the Latin “forensis” meaning “of a forum, of a place of assembly”. We mainly use the word today to mean “pertaining to legal trials” as in “forensic medicine” and “forensic science”.

4. Synagogue : SHUL

“Shul” is another name for a synagogue. “Shul” is the term mostly used in Orthodox Judaism, “synagogue” in Conservative Judaism, and “temple” in Reform Judaism.

8. Sea of ___ (arm of the Black Sea) : AZOV

The Sea of Azov lies east of the Crimean Peninsula and is linked to the larger Black Sea via the narrow Strait of Kerch. The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world, with the depth never going above forty-six feet.

9. ___ bene : NOTA

“Nota bene” is Latin for “note well”.

13. “Intelligence … is really a kind of taste — taste in ___”: Susan Sontag : IDEAS

Susan Sontag was a writer and political activist from New York City. Sontag wrote extensively on a number of subjects, including photography. She spent the last decade of her life in a relationship with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

19. Salmon variety : NOVA

Nova lox is salmon that has been cured with a mild brine and then cold-smoked. The term originally applied to salmon from Nova Scotia.

21. Ouzo flavorer : ANISEED

Ouzo is an apéritif from Greece that is colorless and flavored with anise. Ouzo is similar to French pastis and Italian sambuca.

23. “Voilà!” : THERE!

The French word “voilà” means “there it is”, and “voici” means “here it is”. The terms come from “voi là” meaning “see there” and “voi ici” meaning “see here”.

29. “Wisest and justest of all the centaurs,” in Greek myth : CHIRON

The hunter of Greek mythology called Actaeon was trained by the centaur Chiron, as was Achilles.

33. Abbr. on a GPS screen : AVE

Avenue (ave.)

43. When repeated, a cry of approval : HEAR

The phrase “Hear! Hear!” is an expression of support that is perhaps more commonly used in the UK than on this side of the Atlantic. The phrase evolved from “Hear him! Hear him!”, which was the original utterance used in the UK parliament in the 17th century.

52. Degrees for many execs : MBAS

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

54. Capital of Colombia : PESO

The coin called a “peso” is used in many Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The coin originated in Spain where the word “peso” means “weight”. The original peso was what we know in English as a “piece of eight”, a silver coin of a specific weight that had a nominal value of eight “reales”.

The South American country of Colombia takes its name from the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (“Cristoforo Colombo” in Italian).

56. Treat with a Thins variety : OREO

For those of us counting calories, Oreo Thins were introduced in 2015. There are only 40 calories in each thin cookie, compared to 53 calories in the real deal.

60. Having less vermouth than the norm : DRY

The term “martini” probably takes it name from the “Martini & Rossi” brand of dry vermouth, although no one seems to be completely sure. What is clear is that despite the Martini name originating in Italy, the martini drink originated in the US. The original martini was made with gin and sweet vermouth, but someone specifying a “dry” martini was given gin and dry vermouth. Nowadays we use dry vermouth for all martinis and the term “dry” has become a reference to how little vermouth is included in the drink. Famously, Noël Coward liked his drink very dry and said that a perfect martini is made by “filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy”. The German-American journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken referred to the martini as “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet”.

Vermouth is a fortified wine that is infused with various aromatic flavors. The vermouth that we use today originated in Turin, Italy in the mid-1700s. The various vermouths produced all use a neutral grape wine as a base, with alcohol added to fortify it. Dry ingredients like herbs or roots are added to give a distinctive flavor, and then sugar can be added to make the drink sweeter. Today, most vermouth comes from Italy and France.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Clear of trees : DEFOREST (FORE down, from “forehand”)
6. Smack-dab : SPANG
11. Sushi fish : AHI
14. ___ shirt (colorful garment) : ALOHA
15. Musical instrument almost anyone can play : KAZOO
16. Joined : WED
17. Third-stringer : SCRUB
18. 1973 Jim Croce hit : I GOT A NAME
20. Extremely, in slang : HELLA
22. “Desperate Housewives” co-star : EVA LONGORIA (LONG down, from “longhand”)
23. J’s value in Words With Friends : TEN
24. “Lux” composer of 2012 : ENO
26. Rack sites : OVENS
27. Samples some, as beer or wine : HAS A SIP
29. Pro wrestling star John : CENA
31. “Awesome, dude” : EPIC
32. One of Popeye’s foes : SEA HAG
34. Sight on a rack : HAT
37. One radio format : ROCK
38. Surrounding area : ENVIRONS (IRON down, from “iron hand”)
39. One way to play it : SAFE
40. Self starter? : ESS
41. V8 component : CELERY
42. About : IN RE
43. Lamarr of old Hollywood : HEDY
44. Protractedly : ON AND ON
46. Poet Conrad : AIKEN
49. What “-” may represent in a Google search : NOT
50. “___ uncle” : SAY
51. It often features an “X” : TREASURE MAP (SURE down, from “sure hand”)
55. Four-time winner of the Masters : WOODS
57. Accelerate a vehicle suddenly : LAY RUBBER
59. iPhone rival : DROID
61. Atmospheric pollution meas. : AQI
62. Bump, in poker-speak : RAISE
63. ___ flask (lab container) : DEWAR
64. Something credited to a pitcher : WIN
65. Bar in court : ESTOP
66. Young lad : SONNY

Down

1. “___ Rheingold” : DAS
2. Tightwads : EL CHEAPOS
3. Field of “CSI” : FORENSICS
4. Synagogue : SHUL
5. Some addenda in research papers : TABLES
6. Go downhill in a hurry? : SKI
7. Beep : PAGE
8. Sea of ___ (arm of the Black Sea) : AZOV
9. ___ bene : NOTA
10. Concur : GO ALONG
11. Up on stuff : AWARE
12. Leave no way out for : HEM IN
13. “Intelligence … is really a kind of taste — taste in ___”: Susan Sontag : IDEAS
19. Salmon variety : NOVA
21. Ouzo flavorer : ANISEED
23. “Voilà!” : THERE!
25. Aboveboard : OPENLY
28. Cry of dismay : ACK!
29. “Wisest and justest of all the centaurs,” in Greek myth : CHIRON
30. “Slow down, big fella” : EASY NOW
33. Abbr. on a GPS screen : AVE
34. Easily … and a hint to four answers in this puzzle : HANDS DOWN
35. Like a sizable proportion of Caribbeans, ethnically : AFRO-ASIAN
36. Wee : TEENY
39. Confession topic : SIN
41. Public rebuke : CENSURE
43. When repeated, a cry of approval : HEAR
45. Unable to agree : AT ODDS
46. Attorneys ___ : AT LAW
47. Neighbor of a Syrian : IRAQI
48. Record, as data : KEY IN
52. Degrees for many execs : MBAS
53. Slightly : A BIT
54. Capital of Colombia : PESO
56. Treat with a Thins variety : OREO
58. Account exec : REP
60. Having less vermouth than the norm : DRY