0904-18 NY Times Crossword 4 Sep 18, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Bruce Haight
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: The Eighties

Themed answers each comprise two words beginning with the letters AT (sounds like “eighty”):

  • 58A. When Pac-Man and Rubik’s Cube were popular … or a phonetic hint for 17-, 23-, 37- and 48-Across : THE EIGHTIES (sound like “The ATs”)
  • 17A. In unison : ALL TOGETHER
  • 23A. The idea that matter is composed of small, distinct components : ATOMIC THEORY
  • 37A. Common taxi destination : AIRPORT TERMINAL
  • 48A. Big department store in a mall, e.g. : ANCHOR TENANT

Bill’s time: 6m 08s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

11. Snub-nosed dog : PUG

The pug is a breed of dog of Chinese origin. Our current family pet is a boxer/pug cross, and is a good-looking mutt!

14. ___ panel (rooftop installation) : SOLAR

Solar panels are arrays of solar cells that make use of what’s known as the photovoltaic effect. We are more likely to have learned about the photoelectric effect in school, in which electrons were ejected from the surface of some materials when it was exposed to light or other forms of radiation. The photovoltaic effect is related but different. Instead of being electrons ejected from the surface, in the photovoltaic effect electrons move around in the material creating a difference in voltage.

16. Wall St. debut : 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).

21. “Right now!,” to a surgeon : STAT!

The exact etymology of “stat”, a term meaning “immediately” in the medical profession, seems to have been lost in the mists of time. It probably comes from the Latin “statim” meaning “to a standstill, immediately”. A blog reader has helpfully suggested that the term may also come from the world of laboratory analysis, where the acronym STAT stands for “short turn-around time”.

22. Hoity-toity sort : SNOB

Believe it or not, the term “hoity-toity” has been in the English language since the 1660s, but back then it meant “riotous behavior”. It began to mean “haughty” in the late 1800s, simply because the “haughty” sounds similar to “hoity”.

34. 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.

41. Show with many notable alums : SNL

“Saturday Night Live” (SNL)

43. Late playwright Simon : NEIL

Neil Simon was one of my favorite playwrights. Simon wrote over thirty plays and about thirty screenplays. He received more nominations for Oscars and Tony Awards than any other writer. My favorite play penned by Simon has to be “Brighton Beach Memoirs”, but the list of his great stage works seems endless and includes “Barefoot in the Park”, “The Odd Couple”, “Sweet Charity”, “Plaza Suite”, “California Suite”, “Biloxi Blues” and “The Goodbye Girl”.

44. ___ Lama : DALAI

The Dalai Lama is a religious leader in the Gelug branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th to hold the office. He has indicated that the next Dalai Lama might be found outside of Tibet for the first time, and may even be female.

52. Pepsi, e.g. : COLA

The Pepsi-Cola formulation was developed by one Caleb Bradham who made the drink at home and sold it as Brad’s Drink. Bradham’s aim was to provide a drink that was pleasant to taste, that would aid digestion and boost energy. Included in the formula were pepsin (a digestive enzyme) and kola nuts. These two ingredients inspired the brand name we use today: Pepsi-Cola.

53. Word spoken before and after “James” : BOND

My name is Butler, Bill Butler …

54. Star athlete, for short : MVP

MVP (most valuable player)

57. Network showing “Suits” and “Mr. Robot” : USA

The USA Network cable television channel has been around since 1971. Back in 1971 it was called the Madison Square Garden Network, becoming USA in 1979.

“Suits” is an entertaining, albeit formulaic, legal drama that is set in New York City. One of the main characters in the show Mike Ross, a brilliant law school dropout who poses as a law associate. Mike Ross’ love interest is paralegal Rachel Zane. Zane is played by actress Meghan Markle, who married the UK’s Prince Harry in 2018.

“Mr. Robot” is an engaging drama series about an anxious and clinically depressed computer hacker. Said hacker joins an anarchic group of hackers known as “Mr. Robot” who are intent on taking down the largest conglomerate in the world. I binge-watched the first two series, and really enjoyed the experience …

58. When Pac-Man and Rubik’s Cube were popular … or a phonetic hint for 17-, 23-, 37- and 48-Across : THE EIGHTIES (sound like “The ATs”)

The Pac-Man arcade game was first released in Japan in 1980, and is as popular today as it ever was. The game features characters that are maneuvered around the screen to eat up dots and earn points. The name comes from the Japanese folk hero “Paku”, known for his voracious appetite. The spin-off game called Ms. Pac-Man was released in 1981.

What was originally called the “Magic Cube” became better known as Rubik’s Cube, named for its inventor Ernő Rubik. Rubik’s Cube is the world’s biggest selling puzzle game, with over 350 million sold in just over 30 years.

62. “Whether ___ nobler …” : ‘TIS

There has been centuries of debate about how one interprets Hamlet’s soliloquy that begins “To be or not to be …”. My favorite opinion is that Hamlet is weighing up the pros and cons of suicide (“to not be”).

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles …

63. Department store that once famously put out catalogs : SEARS

Richard Sears was a station agent on the railroad. In the late 1800s, he bought up a shipment of unwanted watches that was left at his depot and sold the watches to other agents up and down the line. He was so successful that he ordered more watches and then came up with the idea of using a catalog to promote more sales. The catalog idea caught on, and his success allowed Sears to open retail locations in 1925. By the mid 1900s, Sears was the biggest retailer in the whole country.

64. Pop music’s Hall & ___ : OATES

Daryl Hall & John Oates are a pop music duo who were most successful in the late seventies and early eighties. They had six number one hits, including the 1982 release “Maneater”.

66. Rockne of Notre Dame fame : KNUTE

Knute Rockne, America’s most famous football coach many say, was born in the city of Voss in Norway. He came to the United States with his family when he was 5-years-old. Years later he graduated Notre Dame with a degree in Chemistry, but abandoned that career path when he was offered his first real coaching job.

67. Seize forcibly : WREST

The verb “to wrest” can mean to obtain by violent twisting and pulling. The term comes from the Middle English “wresten” meaning “to twist”. Our word “wrestling” has the same etymology.

Down

1. Words before “old chap” : I SAY, …

“Chap” is an informal term for “lad, fellow”, that is used especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.

3. Earthen pot : OLLA

An olla is a traditional clay pot used for the making of stews. “Olla” was the Latin word used in Ancient Rome to describe a similar type of pot.

5. Snowman of song who’s “a jolly, happy soul” : FROSTY

“Frosty the Snowman” is a song that was recorded first by Gene Autry, in 1950. The song was specifically written in the hope that it would become a follow-up hit to Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” that topped the charts the previous year.

6. Sauna sight : STEAM

As my Finnish-American wife will tell you, “sauna” is a Finnish word, and is pronounced more correctly as “sow-nah” (with “sow” as in the female pig).

7. Musical Page : PATTI

“Patti Page” is the stage name of Clara Ann Fowler, the best-selling female artist in the 1950s. Patti Page’s signature song is “Tennessee Waltz”, a big hit for her that spent 13 weeks at number one in the charts in 1950. She also had a number one with “(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window” in 1953.

10. “Morning Edition” airer : NPR

NPR’s flagship news program is “Morning Edition”, a 2-hour show broadcast from Monday through Friday. The sister show “Weekend Edition” is broadcast on Saturday and Sunday.

11. One involved with a grand opening? : PIANO TUNER

A grand piano is one with the frame supported horizontally on three legs. An upright piano has the frame and strings running vertically. Grand pianos come in many sizes. For example, the length of a concert grand is about 9 feet, a parlor grand is about 7 feet, and a baby grand is about 5 feet.

18. Sporty Pontiacs of old : GTOS

The Pontiac GTO was produced by GM from 1964 to 1974, and again by a GM subsidiary in Australia from 2004 to 2006. The original GTO’s design is credited to Pontiac chief engineer at the time John DeLorean, who later was found the DeLorean Motor Company.

22. Mo : SEC

“Hold on a mo” is a Britishism for “wait a sec”, with “mo” being short for “moment”.

23. Seniors’ org. : AARP

“AARP” is now the official name for the interest group that used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons. The name change reflects the current focus of the group on all Americans aged 50 or over, as opposed to just people who have retired.

26. Soccer star Mia : HAMM

Mia Hamm is a retired American soccer player, a forward who played on the US national team that won the FIFA women’s World Cup in 1991. Hamm has scored 158 international goals, more than other player in the world, male or female. Amazingly, Hamm was born with a clubfoot, and so had to wear corrective shoes when she was growing up.

27. You love: Lat. : AMAS

“Amo, amas, amat” translates from Latin as “I love, you love, he/she/it loves”.

33. Nascar additive : STP

STP is a brand name for automotive lubricants and additives. The name “STP” is an initialism standing for “Scientifically Treated Petroleum”.

“NASCAR” stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. NASCAR is very, very popular and commands the second-largest television audience of any professional sport in America, second only to football.

36. Italy, to Germany, in W.W. II : ALLY

Before WWII, Hungary’s prime minister was lobbying for an alliance between Germany, Hungary and Italy and worked towards such a relationship that he called an “axis”. The main Axis powers during the war were Germany, Italy and Japan. However, also included in the relationship were Romania, Bulgaria and the aforementioned Hungary.

38. Capital due north of the northern tip of Denmark : OSLO

The Norwegian capital of Oslo is located at the northern end of a fjord known as Oslofjord. The fjord is home to 40 islands that lie within the city’s limits. Oslo also has 343 lakes.

39. Keister : REAR

Back in the early 1900s a “keister” was a safe or a strongbox. It has been suggested that this term was then used as slang by pickpockets for the rear trouser pocket in which one might keep a wallet. From this usage, keister appeared as a slang term for the buttocks in the early 1930s.

50. Film critic Roger : EBERT

Roger Ebert was a film critic for “The Chicago Sun-Times” for 50 years. He also co-hosted a succession of film review television programs for over 23 years, most famously with Gene Siskel until Siskel passed away in 1999. Siskel and Ebert famously gave their thumbs up or thumbs down to the movies they reviewed. Ebert was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which he did in 1975. He was diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer in 2002, and finally succumbed to a recurrence of the disease in April 2013.

54. Smidgen : MITE

A mite is a small amount, as in “The Widow’s Mite”, a story from the Bible.

Our word “smidgen” (sometimes shortened to “smidge”) is used to describe a small amount. The term might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.

55. Pair of skivvies? : VEES

There is a pair of letters V (vees) in the middle of the word “skivvies”.

The word “skivvies” is used to describe underwear, usually a cotton t-shirt and shorts. Such usage of “skivvies” originated in the thirties as naval slang. “Skivvy” has also been used as a derogatory term since the early 1900s for a female domestic servant.

60. ___ Claire, Wis. : EAU

Eau Claire, Wisconsin is named for the Eau Claire River, which in turn was named by French explorers. The explorers had been travelling down the muddy Chippewa River and diverted into the clear water of what is now called the Eau Claire River. They exclaimed “Voici l’eau claire!” meaning “Here is clear water!” The French phrase “Voici l’eau claire” is now the city’s motto that appears on the city seal.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. “Gotta go!” : I’M OFF!
6. Reject, as a lover : SPURN
11. Snub-nosed dog : PUG
14. ___ panel (rooftop installation) : SOLAR
15. Retouch a base after a fly-out : TAG UP
16. Wall St. debut : IPO
17. In unison : ALL TOGETHER
19. Sternward : AFT
20. Vote in favor : YEA
21. “Right now!,” to a surgeon : STAT!
22. Hoity-toity sort : SNOB
23. The idea that matter is composed of small, distinct components : ATOMIC THEORY
27. Unfailingly : ALWAYS
30. Respond to a stimulus : REACT
31. Secure, as a ship : MOOR
32. Just the way you see me : AS I AM
34. Actress Thurman : UMA
37. Common taxi destination : AIRPORT TERMINAL
41. Show with many notable alums : SNL
42. Oozes : SEEPS
43. Late playwright Simon : NEIL
44. ___ Lama : DALAI
46. Without bias : FAIRLY
48. Big department store in a mall, e.g. : ANCHOR TENANT
52. Pepsi, e.g. : COLA
53. Word spoken before and after “James” : BOND
54. Star athlete, for short : MVP
57. Network showing “Suits” and “Mr. Robot” : USA
58. When Pac-Man and Rubik’s Cube were popular … or a phonetic hint for 17-, 23-, 37- and 48-Across : THE EIGHTIES (sound like “The ATs”)
62. “Whether ___ nobler …” : ‘TIS
63. Department store that once famously put out catalogs : SEARS
64. Pop music’s Hall & ___ : OATES
65. Hesitant speech sounds : ERS
66. Rockne of Notre Dame fame : KNUTE
67. Seize forcibly : WREST

Down

1. Words before “old chap” : I SAY, …
2. Double agent : MOLE
3. Earthen pot : OLLA
4. Chubby : FAT
5. Snowman of song who’s “a jolly, happy soul” : FROSTY
6. Sauna sight : STEAM
7. Musical Page : PATTI
8. “Yecch!” : UGH!
9. Lament : RUE
10. “Morning Edition” airer : NPR
11. One involved with a grand opening? : PIANO TUNER
12. Enthused about : UP FOR
13. Coped, barely : GOT BY
18. Sporty Pontiacs of old : GTOS
22. Mo : SEC
23. Seniors’ org. : AARP
24. Gets emotional at a wedding, maybe : CRIES
25. Sheds a ___ (24-Down) : TEAR
26. Soccer star Mia : HAMM
27. You love: Lat. : AMAS
28. Beef cut : LOIN
29. Top-of-the-line : WORLD-CLASS
32. Wiped out, as while skateboarding : ATE IT
33. Nascar additive : STP
35. A lot of it is junk : MAIL
36. Italy, to Germany, in W.W. II : ALLY
38. Capital due north of the northern tip of Denmark : OSLO
39. Keister : REAR
40. “What’s ___ for me?” : IN IT
45. “Now I see!” : AHA!
46. Vampire’s telltale sign : FANG
47. “You can say that again!” : AND HOW!
48. Severe but short, as an illness : ACUTE
49. Polite refusal : NO, SIR
50. Film critic Roger : EBERT
51. Racket : NOISE
54. Smidgen : MITE
55. Pair of skivvies? : VEES
56. [Over here!] : PSST!
58. “You should know better!” : TSK!
59. One laying an egg : HEN
60. ___ Claire, Wis. : EAU
61. Paving goo : TAR

14 thoughts on “0904-18 NY Times Crossword 4 Sep 18, Tuesday”

  1. I found a different phonetic interpretation of 48A. I read it as “the eight t’s”, and indeed there are eight t’s in the other three thematic clues.

  2. 7:03. Quick Tuesday grid.
    @Rhodes –
    Interesting observation. FWIW that’s not mentioned in the NYT blurb about the grid so it may just be an odd coincidence.

    Best –

  3. Butler, Bill Butler?? I had a good chuckle reading that answer for 53A. Wonder if anyone else saw that. Pretty easy solve for a Tuesday.

    1. @ Elizabeth—-I know very little about the James Bond movies. Not that I have anything against them, I have just never had the time to watch more than one or two of them. However, I do know that James Bond has a memorable way of introducing himself. It goes like this. “And what is your name, sir? Bond, James Bond.” The “Bond, James Bond” has to be said oozing with gravitas and charisma. It is a good actor who can say it right.

  4. 7:48, no errors. Did not understand the theme until I saw Bill’s explanation; the alternate explanation was interesting also. If I were the setter, I would say “Yes, I meant it both ways.” And walk away like I knew what I was doing. 😀

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