1031-18 NY Times Crossword 31 Oct 18, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Bruce Haight
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Discovering the Crypt

Several answers in the grid start with 3-letter words that sound like letters. Those letters spell out the answer CRYPT, which is hidden away at the bottom of the grid. There’s even a cross made out of black squares sitting above the CRYPT:

  • 62A. Discovering the word at 67-Across, for this puzzle : THEME
  • 67A. Resting place hinted at by 28-, 5-, 45-, 9- and 31-Down, in that order : CRYPT
  • 28D. Image on an ancient mariner’s map : SEA SERPENT (“SEA” sounds like “C”)
  • 5D. “Do you still like me?” : ARE WE GOOD? (“ARE” sounds like “R”)
  • 45D. “What did I do to deserve this?” : WHY ME? (“WHY” sounds like “Y”)
  • 9D. Walkway option in lieu of paving : PEA GRAVEL (“PEA” sounds like “P”)
  • 31D. Serving at a 4:00 social : TEA BISCUIT (“TEA” sounds like “T”)

Bill’s time: 8m 05s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. ___ rug : SHAG

Shag carpet is one with a deep pile, one with a “shaggy” appearance.

14. Stephen King title about a dog : CUJO

“Cujo” is a Stephen King horror novel, which means that I haven’t read it (I don’t do horror). The character Cujo is a rabid St. Bernard dog which besieges a young couple for three days in their stalled car. King tells us that he lifted the dog’s name from real life, as Cujo was the nickname of Willie Wolfe, one of the men responsible for the 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

15. Cabaret show : REVUE

“Revue” is the French word for “review”.

16. A transcontinental traveler might go by this : RAIL

That’s my preference, rather than a plane …

17. Saint who lent his name to a Minnesota college : OLAF

St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota was named for the former king and patron saint of Norway, Olaf II.

18. Justice Kagan : ELENA

Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States who replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. That made Justice Kagan the first female US Solicitor General and the fourth female US Supreme Court justice. I hear she is a fan of Jane Austen, and used to reread “Pride and Prejudice” once a year. Not a bad thing to do, I’d say …

20. Listings in the Internal Revenue Code : TAX LAWS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was set up during the Civil War to raise money to cover war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, the government was funded by levies on trade and property.

22. C.I.A. infiltrator during the Cold War : KGB MOLE

The “Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti” (KGB) was the national security agency of the Soviet Union until 1991. The KGB was dissolved after the agency’s chairman led a failed attempt at a coup d’état designed to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev.

The term “Cold War” was coined by the novelist George Orwell in a 1945 essay about the atomic bomb. Orwell described a world under threat of nuclear war as having a “peace that is no peace”, in a permanent state of “cold war”. The specific use of “cold war” to describe the tension between the Eastern bloc and the Western allies is attributed to a 1947 speech by Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

24. Part of I.P.A. : ALE

India pale ale (IPA) is a style of beer that originated in England. The beer was originally intended for transportation from England to India, hence the name.

25. Sound at a séance : RAP

“Séance” is a French word meaning “sitting”. We use the term in English for a sitting in which a spiritualist tries to communicate with the spirits of the dead.

30. Not self-parked : VALETED

A varlet was an attendant or servant, and perhaps a knight’s page. The term “varlet” comes from the Old French “vaslet” meaning “squire, young man”. “Vaslet” also gave us our contemporary word “valet”.

35. A. A. Milne character : ROO

Like most of the characters in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh”, the kangaroo named “Roo” was inspired by a stuffed toy belonging to Milne’s son Christopher Robin.

36. Drips in the O.R. : IVS

One might see an intravenous drips (IV) in an intensive care unit (ICU) or an operating room (OR).

37. Biblical judge : ELI

In the Bible, Eli is a High Priest of Shiloh, and the teacher of Samuel. As such, his story is told in the Book of Samuel. Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, both of whom are described as wicked. As a result of their wayward lifestyle, it is prophesied that all of Eli’s male descendents will die before reaching old age.

38. Nabokov title : ADA

“Ada” is a 1969 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The story takes place in the 1800s on Antiterra, an Earth-like planet that has a history similar to ours but with interesting differences. For example, there is a United States, but that country covers all of North and South America. What we call eastern Canada is a French-speaking province called “Canady”, and western Canada is a Russian-speaking province called “Estody”. The storyline is about a man called Van Veen who, when 14 years old, meets for the first time his cousin, 11-year-old Ada. The two cousins eventually have an affair, only to discover later that they are in fact brother and sister.

39. ___ turkey : TOM

A male turkey is called a “tom”, taking its name from a “tomcat”. The inference is that like a tomcat, the male turkey is relatively wild and undomesticated, sexually promiscuous and frequently gets into fights. A female turkey is called a “hen”.

42. Prize on “The Bachelor” : ROSE

“The Bachelor” is a US reality television show that first aired in 2002 on ABC. I’ve avoided this one like the plague …

46. Story of a lifetime, for short? : OBIT

Our word “obituary” comes from the Latin “obituaris”. The Latin term was used for “record of the death of a person”, although the literal meaning is “pertaining to death”.

47. Public ruckus : SCENE

The word “ruckus” is used to mean “commotion”, and has been around since the late 1800s. “Ruckus” is possibly a melding of the words “ruction” and “rumpus”.

49. P, for Plato : RHO

Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.

Plato was a Greek philosopher and mathematician. He was a student of the equally famous and respected Socrates, and Plato in turn was the teacher and mentor of the celebrated Aristotle.

50. Like the ocean : BRINY

The briny is the sea, with “brine” meaning “salty water”. The term “briny” was originally used for “tears”.

51. Groups that typically meet weekly for lunch : ROTARY CLUBS

The first Rotary Club meeting was held in 1905 in Chicago in the office of one of the four businessmen who attended. The name “Rotary Club” was chosen as the plan was to “rotate” the locations of the meetings to the offices of each of the club’s members in turn.

54. Drug also called angel dust : PCP

Phencyclidine is a recreational drug usually referred to on the street as “PCP” or “angel dust”.

56. Language spoken by Jesus : ARAMAIC

The ancient Biblical land of Aram was named after Aram, a grandson of Noah. Aram was located in the center of modern-day Syria. Aramaic became the everyday language of Syria, Mesopotamia and Palestine.

60. Visa alternative : AMEX

“Amex” is short for “American Express”, the name of the financial services company that is best known for its credit card, charge card and traveler’s check businesses. The company name is indicative of its original business. American Express was founded in 1850 in Buffalo, New York as an express mail service.

64. Pay (up) : PONY

“To pony up” means “to pay”. Apparently the term originated as slang use of the Latin term “legem pone” that was once used for “money”. “Legem Pone” was the title of the Psalm that was read out on March 25 each year, and March 25 was the first payday of the year in days gone by.

65. Baltic capital : RIGA

Riga is the capital city of Latvia. The historical center of Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, declared as such because of the city’s magnificent examples of Art Nouveau architecture.

The Baltic is a sea in northern Europe that is much less saline than the oceans. The lower amount of salt in the Baltic partially explains why almost half of the sea freezes over during the winter. In fact, the Baltic has been known to completely freeze over several times over the past few centuries.

66. Animated film of 1998 : ANTZ

“Antz” was the first feature movie released by Dreamworks SKG, the studio founded by Steven Spielberg and two partners in 1994. “Antz” came out in 1998, and has a stellar cast that includes Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hackman and many, many other big names. The cartoon is quite unique in that the facial features of the voice actors are reflected in the animated characters.

Down

1. Macbeth, e.g. : SCOT

There is a superstition in the theatrical world that uttering the name “Macbeth” in a theater will bring disaster of some sort. To avoid this, the euphemism “the Scottish Play” is used instead.

2. Dance with percussion accompaniment : HULA

The hula is a native dance of Hawaii that uses arm movements to relate a story. The hula can be performed while sitting (a noho dance) or while standing (a luna dance).

3. Battler of Hector in the “Iliad” : AJAX

Ajax was a figure in Greek mythology, and was the cousin of Achilles. Ajaz is an important figure in Homer’s “Iliad”. According to Homer, Ajax was chosen by lot to meet Hector in an epic duel that lasted a whole day. The duel ended in a draw.

7. N.Y.C.’s Park or Fifth : AVE

Park Avenue in New York City used to be known as Fourth Avenue, and for much of its length carried the tracks of the New York and Harlem Railroad. When the line was built, some of it was constructed by cutting through the length of the street and then forming underground tunnels by covering over the line with grates and greenery. This greenery formed a parkland between 34th and 40th Streets, and in 1860 the grassy section of Fourth Avenue was renamed Park Avenue, a name that was eventually used for the whole thoroughfare.

Fifth Avenue in New York is sometimes referred to as the “most expensive street in the world” as the section that runs through Midtown Manhattan is home to upscale stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue.

8. Destroyed, as an armada : SUNK

The most famous armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England in order to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I in 1588. It failed in its mission, partly due to bad weather encountered en route. Ironically, the English mounted a similar naval attack against Spain the following year, and it failed as well.

9. Walkway option in lieu of paving : PEA GRAVEL

Gravel is a loose mixture of rock fragments. Gravel is classified by the size of those fragments. For example, pea gravel comprises pea-size, rounded stones.

10. ___ l’oeil (illusion) : TROMPE

“Trompe l’oeil” is a technique in art that creates the optical illusion that a drawn object exists in three dimensions. “Trompe-l’oeil” is French for “deceive the eye”.

11. Rival of Cassio, in Shakespeare : IAGO

Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare’s “Othello”. He is a soldier who fought alongside Othello and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. Iago hatches a plot designed to discredit his rival Cassio by insinuating that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello’s wife.

13. Get out of Dodge : FLEE

The phrase “get out of Dodge”, meaning “scram, flee”, is a reference to Dodge City, Kansas. The phrase became a cliché on TV westerns (mainly “Gunsmoke”, I think) and was then popularized by teenagers in the sixties and seventies.

23. Material for Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki : BALSA

The Kon-Tiki is a raft used by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947 to cross the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. The original raft used in the voyage is on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway (Heyerdahl was a native of Norway).

29. Symbol of depravity : GOMORRAH

The two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as Admah and Zeboim, were destroyed by God for the sins of their inhabitants, according to the Bible. The name Sodom has become a metaphor for vice and homosexuality, and gives us our word “sodomy”.

43. “Music for Airports” musician : ENO

Brian Eno was one of the pioneers of the ambient genre of music. Eno composed an album in 1978 called “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”, which was the first in a series of four albums with an ambient theme. Eno named the tracks, somewhat inventively, 1/1, 2/1, 2/1 and 2/2.

50. Tampa Bay pro, informally : BUC

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the NFL in 1976, along with the Seattle Seahawks, as an expansion team. The Bucs had a tough start in the NFL, losing their first 26 games. Things went better in the early eighties, but then the team went through 14 consecutive losing seasons. Their luck changed again though, and they won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season.

52. It is “either plagiarism or revolution,” per Paul Gauguin : ART

Paul Gauguin was a French artist in the Post-Impressionist period. Gauguin was a great friend of Vincent van Gogh, and indeed was staying with him in Arles when van Gogh famously cut off his own ear. Equally famously, Gauguin “fled” to Tahiti in 1891 to escape the conventions of European life. He painted some of his most famous works on the island. After ten years living on Tahiti, Gauguin relocated to the Marquesas Islands, where he passed away in 1903.

54. ___ John : PAPA

Papa John’s is the third largest takeout and delivery pizza chain in the US, with Pizza Hut and Domino’s taking the top spots.

58. Hit 2012 movie whose plot involves a plan to make a movie : ARGO

“Argo” is a 2012 movie that is based on the true story of the rescue of six diplomats hiding out during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film was directed by and stars Ben Affleck and is produced by Grant Heslov and George Clooney, the same pair who produced the excellent “Good Night, and Good Luck”. I highly recommend “Argo”, although I found the scenes of religious fervor to be very frightening …

59. House leader after Boehner : RYAN

Paul Ryan was a nominee for Vice President in the 2012 election, and was on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. Ryan was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015 after John Boehner resigned. At 45, Ryan then became the youngest Speaker since 1875.

John Boehner elected Leader of the House of Representatives in 2011, and was the House Minority Leader from 2007 to 2011. Boehner is from Reading, Ohio and grew up in modest circumstances in a two-bedroom house with eleven siblings. After Boehner graduated from university in 1977, he joined a small packaging and plastics business. By the time he resigned to serve in Congress, Boehner had risen to become president of the company.

61. ___ Affair : XYZ

During the administration of President John Adams, there was a drawn-out exchange between three American and three French diplomats in an attempt to avoid war between the two countries. The French diplomats made demands that were considered insulting by the US. Documents released by the Adams administration denoted the three French diplomats simply as X, Y and Z. There was public outcry when the documents were released and the demands disclosed, and the whole incident became known as the XYZ Affair. The end result was an undeclared war between the US and France with American ships capturing 80 vessels that flew the French flag.

63. Playtex product : BRA

Playtex Apparel makes bras and other lingerie. The most popular Playtex bras are iconic names such as “the Living Bra”, “the Cross Your Heart Bra” and “the Eighteen Hour Bra”. The famous slogan “it lifts and separates” is associated with the Cross Your Heart Bra and dates back to 1954.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. ___ rug : SHAG
5. Audibly horrified : AGASP
10. Quarrel : TIFF
14. Stephen King title about a dog : CUJO
15. Cabaret show : REVUE
16. A transcontinental traveler might go by this : RAIL
17. Saint who lent his name to a Minnesota college : OLAF
18. Justice Kagan : ELENA
19. It’s not a good look : OGLE
20. Listings in the Internal Revenue Code : TAX LAWS
22. C.I.A. infiltrator during the Cold War : KGB MOLE
24. Part of I.P.A. : ALE
25. Sound at a séance : RAP
26. Savings for a rainy day : NEST EGG
30. Not self-parked : VALETED
34. Afore : ERE
35. A. A. Milne character : ROO
36. Drips in the O.R. : IVS
37. Biblical judge : ELI
38. Nabokov title : ADA
39. ___ turkey : TOM
40. Goddess: Lat. : DEA
41. Toward the most common part of a boat to fish from : AFT
42. Prize on “The Bachelor” : ROSE
44. Wooden rod : DOWEL
46. Story of a lifetime, for short? : OBIT
47. Public ruckus : SCENE
49. P, for Plato : RHO
50. Like the ocean : BRINY
51. Groups that typically meet weekly for lunch : ROTARY CLUBS
54. Drug also called angel dust : PCP
56. Language spoken by Jesus : ARAMAIC
57. Lincoln or Ford : CAR
60. Visa alternative : AMEX
62. Discovering the word at 67-Across, for this puzzle : THEME
63. Place underground : BURY
64. Pay (up) : PONY
65. Baltic capital : RIGA
66. Animated film of 1998 : ANTZ
67. Resting place hinted at by 28-, 5-, 45-, 9- and 31-Down, in that order : CRYPT
68. Oodles : A TON

Down

1. Macbeth, e.g. : SCOT
2. Dance with percussion accompaniment : HULA
3. Battler of Hector in the “Iliad” : AJAX
4. Lose carbonation : GO FLAT
5. “Do you still like me?” : ARE WE GOOD?
6. Comes together : GELS
7. N.Y.C.’s Park or Fifth : AVE
8. Destroyed, as an armada : SUNK
9. Walkway option in lieu of paving : PEA GRAVEL
10. ___ l’oeil (illusion) : TROMPE
11. Rival of Cassio, in Shakespeare : IAGO
12. Truckload at a garbage dump : FILL
13. Get out of Dodge : FLEE
21. Tip off : ALERT
23. Material for Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki : BALSA
26. Becomes imminent : NEARS
27. Worker in a trauma ward, for short : ER DOC
28. Image on an ancient mariner’s map : SEA SERPENT
29. Symbol of depravity : GOMORRAH
30. Security device, informally : VIDEO CAM
31. Serving at a 4:00 social : TEA BISCUIT
32. Pixielike : ELFIN
33. Jingle, e.g. : DITTY
43. “Music for Airports” musician : ENO
45. “What did I do to deserve this?” : WHY ME?
46. Image on the king of clubs : ORB
48. When one is expected, for short : ETA
50. Tampa Bay pro, informally : BUC
52. It is “either plagiarism or revolution,” per Paul Gauguin : ART
53. Be horizontal : LIE
54. ___ John : PAPA
55. “You’re pulling my leg!” : C’MON!
58. Hit 2012 movie whose plot involves a plan to make a movie : ARGO
59. House leader after Boehner : RYAN
61. ___ Affair : XYZ
63. Playtex product : BRA

11 thoughts on “1031-18 NY Times Crossword 31 Oct 18, Wednesday”

  1. 8:55 I had the T for 62A, read the clue to see it was part of a theme so I assumed the two theme answers would be trick and treat. Eventually figured out that was wrong. I also thought the black squares were supposed to kind of look like a jack o’lantern. Clearly I was searching for a Halloween theme today.

  2. 22:44. Fun one. One of the very few instances where you really needed to figure the entire theme out in order to finish the puzzle. Usually I look at it for a few seconds and then look at Bill’s comments. I couldn’t do that here.

    Read in the NYT blurb about this puzzle that although it wasn’t clued as such, 59D RYAN is actually a small shout out to Bruce Haight’s son, Ryan. His son died in 2001 at age 18 of an overdose of Vicodin. Since then they were able to enact the Ryan Haight Pharmacy Act in 2008 – signed into law by then President Bush – that would restrict a person’s ability to access such drugs via the internet unsupervised.

    Best –

  3. 12:07, no errors. Well constructed puzzle, with straight forward clueing. Interesting to read Bill’s comment that India Pale Ale was created in England for shipment to India. I was always under the impression that was developed in India. (Learn something new every day)

  4. No errors. Very nice theme. In addition to seeing the Christian cross as part of the theme, I visualized the black squares at the bottom center as a slab upon which the body would lie in a CRYPT. It is a sideways view and the word THEME is lying where the body would be. The cross then appears to be hovering over the body in a position of divine all-presence. Drawing from @Jeff’s comment above, this could be a highly personal representation on the part of the constructor.

    1. Hi Dale:

      Always love reading your very interesting comments. When you first started doing NYT CWs, did you just do Mondays for a year and then progress to Tuesday’s for another 6 months to a year or longer before tackling Wednesday’s?

      1. @Steve—-Thanks for your comment about my comments. I am afraid that sometimes I might be getting a little too far out to be appropriate. But I think that there is a lot of real life represented in crosswords above and beyond the mere puzzle aspects of it.

        I actually started working the NYT CW’s rather late in the game because of a coincidence. As I previously explained, there are two puzzles in my local paper. I had been working the easy one all along. Occasionally I would look across the page at the NYT puzzle. I always found it to be beyond any comprehension and quickly went back to my familiar easy puzzle. This happened three or four times over a long period so I just never went back for another look at the NYT. Then one day I somehow got a hint somewhere that the NYT got incrementally harder as the week progressed and that Mondays were quite doable for the average person. I expectantly waited for the next Monday to roll around and found to my pleasure that the puzzle was indeed something that I could successfully solve. So, I came to realize, sure enough, that the previous times that I had peered at the NYT happened to be all on days late in the week and were the cause of my aversion to it. Needless to say, I was happy to realize this but a little chagrined that I had been missing a good thing for all that time.

        So, you see, I was already a pretty good crossworder when I started working the NYT. As I remember it, I could do Mondays and Tuesdays right away with only an occasional mistake or two. Wednesdays were harder but it did not take too long before I was up to speed on them too. As I have said previously, progress comes little by little. At least, that is how it has been for me.

        How are you doing with your own attempts at the puzzles, Steve? Please let me know.

  5. Nice to get a solver-friendly, but not-too-easy, Bruce Haight puzzle on Wednesday–or any other day, for that matter. THEME and CRYPT showed up at the end, as is appropriate.

  6. This is one of the most creative and clever crossword constructions I’ve ever seen in the NYT Crossword. I was touched by the “shout-out” significance, as pointed out by @Jeff in his comment. So I googled the story on the Ryan Haight Pharmacy Act 2008 and as a result I can also appreciate @Dale Stewart’s visualization of the CRYPT and the Christian Cross symbol. Likewise, allow me add a couple more to the cry-out significance: 54D PAPA (on the lower left side which is directly opposite 59D RYAN on the lower right side — point out to the father-and son-relationship). As well, 45D WHY ME (on the center just below the cross sign) indicate personal anguish over a lost son.

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