1003-18 NY Times Crossword 3 Oct 18, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Jennifer Nutt
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): (X) Marks the Constellation

Themed answers all refer to Queen CASSIOPEIA of Greek mythology. Also, the constellation CASSIOPEIA is represented visually by the letters X in the grid:

  • 18A. Sea nymphs, in Greek mythology : THE NEREIDS
  • 63A. Vain queen who boasted that she was more beautiful than 18-Across : CASSIOPEIA
  • 3D. Where 63-Across ruled prior to her banishment : ETHIOPIA
  • 41D. God who banished 63-Across to the sky, as depicted by the constellation formed by the X’s in this puzzle’s finished grid : POSEIDON

Bill’s time: 7m 35s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5. Sailor’s quaff : GROG

Edward Vernon was a naval officer with the nickname “Old Grog”. In 1740, Vernon ordered that the daily ration of rum for his sailors should be watered down, in order to reduce discipline problems caused by drunkenness. The diluted rum was sweetened with sugar, and lemon or lime added to help preserve it on long voyages. This recipe, found to reduce scurvy among sailors (because of the citrus) spread throughout the Royal Navy, and “grog” was born. As an aside, George Washington’s older half-brother named the famous Washington Mount Vernon Plantation in honor of Edward Vernon.

“Quaff” is both a verb and a noun. One “quaffs” (takes a hearty drink) of a “quaff” (a hearty drink).

9. Presidential perk until 1977 : YACHT

The US has had several presidential yachts over the years, the most recent being the USS Sequoia that was used by presidents from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter. The Sequoia was retrofitted with an elevator for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but President Lyndon Johnson had that removed, and replaced with a bar!

14. Speck : IOTA

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, and one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small, as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

17. Roald who wrote “James and the Giant Peach” : DAHL

Roald Dahl’s name is Norwegian. Dahl’s parents were from Norway, although Dahl himself was Welsh. Dahl became one of the most successful authors of the twentieth century. Two of his most famous titles are “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

“James and the Giant Peach” is a 1961 children’s novel by British author Roald Dahl. The title character is a young orphan who enters into a surreal world inside a huge, magical peach.

18. Sea nymphs, in Greek mythology : THE NEREIDS

In Greek mythology, Nereus and Doris had fifty daughters, and these were called the sea nymphs or nereids. The nereids often hung around with Poseidon and were generally very helpful creatures to sailors in distress. Mainly they were to be found in the Aegean, where they lived with their father in a cave in the deep. Some of the more notable names of the nereids were: Agave, Asia, Calypso, Doris, Erato, Eunice and Ione.

20. Like Edward Snowden : EXILED

Edward Snowden is a former NSA contractor who leaked several top secret NSA documents to the media beginning in June 2013. After disclosing his name as the source of the leaks, Snowden tried to seek asylum in Ecuador. While travelling to Ecuador he had a layover in Moscow. While in Moscow, the US government revoked his passport, which effectively left him stranded in the transit area of Moscow Airport. The Russian government eventually granted him annually-renewable temporary asylum.

23. Rank for Jay Landsman on “The Wire”: Abbr. : SGT

I didn’t watch the HBO series called “The Wire” when it first aired. We ending up buying all five series on DVD and we watched the whole thing several years ago. It’s is a great drama series, and I thoroughly recommend it. Personally, I think that HBO produces some of the best dramas on American television.

24. Munch Museum city : OSLO

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian expressionist, and most famous for his painting “The Scream”, painted in 1893. What a wonderful work that is, a true representation of expressionism. The Munch Museum in Oslo is dedicated to his work and life. In 2004, two of Munch’s paintings, “The Scream” and “Madonna”, were stolen from the Munch Museum by armed robbers who subdued the museum guards. The paintings were missing for two years, but recovered in 2006.

27. Generation ___ : GAP

The phrase “generation gap” was first used in the sixties to describe the gap between the values and customs of the baby boomers and those of the prior generations.

32. 1,000 in a metric ton : KILOS

The “tonne” is also called a “metric ton”, and is equivalent to 1,000 kg (or 2,205 lb). The tonne isn’t an official unit of mass in the metric system, but it is used a lot.

33. Certain operating system : UNIX

Unix is a computer operating system that was developed at Bell Labs in 1969. The initial name for the project was Uniplexed Information and Computing Service (Unics), and this evolved over time into “Unix”.

37. Gobble down : SNARF

To snarf down is to gobble up, to eat voraciously. “Snarf” is a slang term that is probably related to “scarf”, which has the same meaning.

39. Muckraker Tarbell : IDA

Ida Tarbell was a teacher and what we would call today an “investigative journalist”, although back in her day she was known as a “muckraker”. Her most famous work is her 1904 book “The History of the Standard Oil Company”. It is an exposé that is credited with hastening the breakup of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in 1911.

48. Utah’s ___ Canyon : BRYCE

Bryce Canyon National Park is truly a beautiful part of America. The strange thing is that Bryce isn’t a canyon at all, but rather is a natural amphitheater created by erosion of sedimentary rocks that are part of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

50. Annual Austin festival, for short : 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.

52. Prince George, to Prince William : SON

Prince George of Cambridge was born to Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in July 2013. Young Prince George immediately became third in line to the British throne after Prince Charles (his grandfather) and Prince William (his father).

58. Nonhumanities subjects, for short : STEM

The acronym STEM stands for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. An alternative acronym with a similar meaning is MINT, standing for mathematics, information sciences, natural sciences and technology.

The academic studies of human culture are collectively called the humanities. Subjects included in the humanities are languages, literature, philosophy, religion and music.

63. Vain queen who boasted that she was more beautiful than 18-Across : CASSIOPEIA
(18A. Sea nymphs, in Greek mythology : THE NEREIDS)

In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was Queen of Ethiopia and was said to be very arrogant and vain. Cassiopeia boasted that both she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than the daughters of the sea god Nereus (the Nereids). This boast brought on the wrath of Poseidon, the main sea god. Cassiopeia was told that the only way to appease the sea gods was to sacrifice her daughter. Andromeda was chained to a rock at the edge of the sea and left to await her fate. The along came the hero Perseus, who saved the maiden and married her. However, Poseidon refused to allow her escape punishment and so banished her to the sky. Cassiopeia sits there to this day, chained to the chair-shaped constellation that bears her name.

67. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” musical : EVITA

“Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” is a hit song that came out of the 1976 concept album “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Recorded by English singer Julie Covington, it is sung by the character Eva Perón on the album and in the subsequent stage musical. Covington opted out from appearing in the musical, and so the role of Eva went to Elaine Paige.

68. Actor Epps : OMAR

Omar Epps is the actor who played Eric Foreman on the excellent television series “House”. Prior to playing Dr. Foreman, Epps had a recurring role playing Dr. Dennis Gant on “ER”. And, in another link to the world of medicine, Epps was born in Savannah, Georgia to single mom, Dr. Bonnie Epps.

71. Upscale : TONY

Something described as tony is elegant or exclusive. “Tony” is derived from the word “tone”.

Down

1. It ebbs and flows : TIDE

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon on the oceans. At neap tide, the smaller gravitational effect of the sun cancels out some of the moon’s effect. At spring tide, the sun and the moon’s gravitational forces act in concert causing more extreme movement of the oceans.

2. Hoodwink : HOAX

“To hoodwink” has had the meaning “to deceive” since about 1600. Prior to that it meant simply “to blindfold”, and is simply a combining of the words “hood” and “wink”.

3. Where 63-Across ruled prior to her banishment : ETHIOPIA
(63A. Vain queen who boasted that she was more beautiful than 18-Across : CASSIOPEIA)

Eritrea is a country located in the Horn of Africa, surrounded by Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Red Sea. Some scientists believe that the area now known as Eritrea was the departure point for the anatomically modern humans who first left Africa to populate the rest of the world.

4. Locales for many food courts : MALLS

Surprisingly (to me!), our word “mall”, meaning “shady walk” or “enclosed shopping space”, comes from the Italian for “mallet”. All of our shopping-style malls are named for “The Mall” in St. James’s Park in London. This tree-lined promenade was so called as it used to a famous spot to play the croquet-like game called “pall-mall”. The game derived its name from the Italian for ball (palla) and mallet “maglio”. The London thoroughfare called the Mall still exists, at one end of which is Buckingham Palace. Indeed, parallel to the Mall is a street called Pall Mall.

11. Shortening brand : CRISCO

The Crisco brand of shortening was the first shortening to be made entirely from vegetable oil. Although that sounds like a good thing, it’s actually made by hydrogenating vegetable oil so that it has physical properties similar to the animal shortening it was designed to replace. This hydrogenation turns good fats into bad fats, so medical professionals suggest limited intake.

19. Long, thin mushroom : ENOKI

Enokitake (also known as “enoki”) are long and thin white mushrooms often added to soups or salads.

21. Herd at Yellowstone : ELK

The elk (also known as “wapiti”) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the “huge” wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely “elk”. The more correct name for the beast is “wapiti”, which means “white rump” in Shawnee. It’s all very confusing …

Yellowstone was the first National Park to be established in the world, when it was designated as such by President Grant in 1872. What a great tradition it started! The American National Parks truly are a treasure.

26. “She” responds to voice commands : ALEXA

Amazon’s Alexa is a personal assistant application that is most associated with the Amazon Echo smart speaker. Apparently, one reason the name “Alexa” was chosen is because it might remind one of the Library of Alexandria, the “keeper of all knowledge”.

27. Director Van Sant : GUS

Gus Van Sant is a movie director (among other things) who has been nominated twice for an Oscar, for “Good Will Hunting” in 1997 and for “Milk” in 2008.

28. Writer Beattie : ANN

Ann Beattie is a short story writer and novelist. Beattie’s first novel was “Chilly Scenes of Winter” published in 1976. It was adapted for the big screen in 1979 and released under the same title and also under the name “Head Over Heels”.

31. Moves like a heron : WADES

Herons are birds with long legs that inhabit freshwater and coastal locales. Some herons are routinely referred to as egrets, and others as bitterns. Herons look a lot like storks and cranes, but differ in their appearance in flight. Herons fly with their necks retracted in an S-shape, whereas storks and cranes have their necks extended.

34. Checks for a fracture, perhaps : X-RAYS

X-rays were first studied comprehensively by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen (also “Roentgen”), and it was he who gave the name “X-rays” to this particular type of radiation. Paradoxically, in Röntgen’s native language of German, X-rays are routinely referred to as “Röntgen rays”. In 1901, Röntgen’s work on X-rays won him the first Nobel Prize in Physics that was ever awarded.

36. “Das Kapital” author : MARX

Karl Marx was a German philosopher and revolutionary who helped develop the principles of modern communism and socialism. Marx argued that feudal society created internal strife due to class inequalities which led to its destruction and replacement by capitalism. He further argued that the inequalities created in a capitalist society create tensions that will also lead to its self-destruction. His thesis was that the inevitable replacement of capitalism was a classless (and stateless) society, which he called pure communism.

“Das Kapital” (entitled “Capital” in English versions) is a book about political economy written by Karl Marx, first published in 1867. The book is in effect an analysis of capitalism, and proffers the opinion that capitalism relies on the exploitation of workers. Marx concludes that the profits from capitalist concerns come from the underpaying of labor.

41. God who banished 63-Across to the sky, as depicted by the constellation formed by the X’s in this puzzle’s finished grid : POSEIDON
(63A. Vain queen who boasted that she was more beautiful than 18-Across : CASSIOPEIA)

Poseidon was the god of the sea in Greek mythology as well as the “Earth-Shaker”, the god responsible for earthquakes.

42. Year abroad : ANO

In Spanish, we start the “año” (year) in “enero” (January) as noted on a “calendario” (calendar).

43. Base ___ : TEN

Our base-10 numeral system is also known as the decimal (sometimes “denary”) numeral system. Another common numeral system is base-2, which is also known as the binary system.

49. Cereal fruit : RAISIN

“Raisin” is the French word for “grape”. The French for “raisin” is “raisin sec”, which translates literally as “dried grape”.

51. Took gold : WON

In the Ancient Olympic Games, the winner of an event was awarded an olive wreath. When the games were revived in 1896, the winners were originally given a silver medal and an olive branch, with runners-up receiving a bronze medal and a laurel branch. The tradition of giving gold, silver and bronze medals began at the 1904 Summer Olympic Games held in St. Louis, Missouri.

54. Train stop : DEPOT

Our term “depot”, meaning “station, warehouse”, comes from the French word “dépôt”. The French term translates into English as “deposit” or “place of deposit”.

61. Alexander who wrote “The Dunciad” : POPE

Alexander Pope was an English poet who was famous for his own compositions as well as for a translation of Homer’s works. One of Pope’s most notable poems is “Ode on Solitude” that opens with:

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Pope wrote that when he was just twelve years old!

64. Norm: Abbr. : STD

Standard (std.)

65. English novelist McEwan : IAN

Ian McEwan is an English novelist with a track record of writing well-received novels. His most famous work of recent years I would say is “Atonement” which has benefited from the success of a fabulous movie adaptation released in 2007.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. The challengers : THEM
5. Sailor’s quaff : GROG
9. Presidential perk until 1977 : YACHT
14. Speck : IOTA
15. Roof feature : EAVE
16. Jibe : AGREE
17. Roald who wrote “James and the Giant Peach” : DAHL
18. Sea nymphs, in Greek mythology : THE NEREIDS
20. Like Edward Snowden : EXILED
22. Tear in two : REND
23. Rank for Jay Landsman on “The Wire”: Abbr. : SGT
24. Munch Museum city : OSLO
25. Gives comfort : SOLACES
27. Generation ___ : GAP
29. Had by heart : KNEW
32. 1,000 in a metric ton : KILOS
33. Certain operating system : UNIX
35. Check closely : EXAMINE
37. Gobble down : SNARF
39. Muckraker Tarbell : IDA
40. An American abroad : EXPAT
44. Like Brutalist architecture : AUSTERE
47. Top-notch : A-ONE
48. Utah’s ___ Canyon : BRYCE
50. Annual Austin festival, for short : SXSW
52. Prince George, to Prince William : SON
53. Like a dog on a walk, usually : LEASHED
55. Haul : TOTE
57. Tuna type : AHI
58. Nonhumanities subjects, for short : STEM
60. Immature : UNRIPE
63. Vain queen who boasted that she was more beautiful than 18-Across : CASSIOPEIA
66. Object of worship : IDOL
67. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” musical : EVITA
68. Actor Epps : OMAR
69. Chasers in many a chase scene : COPS
70. Mails : SENDS
71. Upscale : TONY
72. Place to play musical spoons : KNEE

Down

1. It ebbs and flows : TIDE
2. Hoodwink : HOAX
3. Where 63-Across ruled prior to her banishment : ETHIOPIA
4. Locales for many food courts : MALLS
5. Finish : GET DONE
6. “Go, team!” : RAH!
7. Finished : OVER
8. Big factor in longevity : GENES
9. Football field marking : YARD LINE
10. Mature : AGE
11. Shortening brand : CRISCO
12. Garden dividers : HEDGES
13. Lab work : TESTS
19. Long, thin mushroom : ENOKI
21. Herd at Yellowstone : ELK
26. “She” responds to voice commands : ALEXA
27. Director Van Sant : GUS
28. Writer Beattie : ANN
30. One end of a maze : EXIT
31. Moves like a heron : WADES
34. Checks for a fracture, perhaps : X-RAYS
36. “Das Kapital” author : MARX
38. Purplish-red flowers : FUCHSIAS
41. God who banished 63-Across to the sky, as depicted by the constellation formed by the X’s in this puzzle’s finished grid : POSEIDON
42. Year abroad : ANO
43. Base ___ : TEN
45. Handle : SEE TO
46. Where a river meets the sea : ESTUARY
48. Sit quietly, perhaps : BEHAVE
49. Cereal fruit : RAISIN
51. Took gold : WON
53. Gets ready to play hockey, with “up” : LACES
54. Train stop : DEPOT
56. Guessing a number an audience member has thought of, e.g. : TRICK
59. Office note : MEMO
61. Alexander who wrote “The Dunciad” : POPE
62. Besides : ELSE
64. Norm: Abbr. : STD
65. English novelist McEwan : IAN