1107-18 NY Times Crossword 7 Nov 18, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Timothy Polin
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Pisa, Italy

The circled letters running down the middle of the grid suggest visually, and spell out, “LEANING TOWER”, as found in PISA, ITALY. There are also some answers throughout the puzzle that start with a synonym of “LEAN”:

  • 38D. Home to this puzzle’s featured structure, as hinted at by the starts of the answers to the starred clues : PISA, ITALY
  • 18A. *Seek surreptitiously : ANGLE FOR
  • 39A. *Fight imaginary enemies : TILT AT WINDMILLS
  • 60A. *Baseball throw that might thwart a squeeze play : PITCH-OUT
  • 4D. *Bettors’ aids : TIP SHEETS

Bill’s time: 7m 40s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

16. Shrub used to make tea : CAMELLIA

The Camellia is the state flower of Alabama, but “the Camellia City” is Sacramento, the state capitol of California.

19. Author Kingsley : AMIS

Kingsley Amis (what a great name!) was a very successful English writer, famous for producing entertaining, comedic novels. His most famous novel probably is his first, “Lucky Jim” published in 1954. That said, he won a Booker Prize for a later novel, “The Old Devils” published in 1986. He passed on some of his talent through his genes, it seems, as his son Martin Amis is a very successful novelist too.

23. Mormon’s donation : TITHE

Traditionally, a tithe is a payment of one tenth of a person’s annual income and is usually given to a church. Tithing is a practice taught in many traditions, and according to a 2002 survey, about 3% of American adults donate 10% or more of their income to a church.

28. Woman’s name that’s an anagram of a European native : EDNA

“Edna” is an anagram of “Dane”.

30. Stylish, ’60s-style : MOD

“Mod” is short for “modernist”, and describes a subculture that originated in London in the late fifties. Young men who called themselves mods tended to wear tailored suits, listen to pop music and drive around on Italian motor scooters. Mods came into conflict with another subculture that emerged at the same time in the UK called the rockers. Rockers were into rock and roll music, and drove motorcycles I remember as a young kid in school having to declare myself as either a mod or a rocker. I don’t think our “gangs” back then were quite the same as they are today though …

34. Maker of Team USA swimsuits : SPEEDO

Speedo brand swimwear was first produced in Australia in 1928, by a hosiery company that wanted to diversify. The brand name was chosen after a slogan competition among employees was won by “Speed on in your Speedos”. It was a long time ago, I guess …

37. Nada : NIL

The word “nothing” translates to “nada” in Spanish.

38. Comic strip opossum : POGO

“Pogo” is a comic strip that was launched in 1948, and was the creation of cartoonist Walt Kelly. The story centers on animals that live in the Okefenokee Swamp on the Georgia-Florida border, with the title character “Pogo Possum” being an anthropomorphic opossum.

Although they are both marsupials, the opossum and the possum are two distinct animals. True possums are found in Australia and other places in the South Pacific. Opossums are found in North America.

39. *Fight imaginary enemies : TILT AT WINDMILLS

The phrase “tilting at windmills” means “attacking imaginary enemies”. The idiom comes from an episode in the novel “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes, in which the hero of the piece charges at windmills that he imagines are giants.

45. Deep desire : YEN

The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium.

57. “The Cask of Amontillado” writer : POE

“The Cask of Amontillado” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe that was first published in 1846. The story tells of a vengeful man who lures his enemy into the catacombs, locks him in chains and then traps him in a niche by sealing it with a brick wall. Nice man …

63. Captain Ahab, e.g. : WHALER

Captain Ahab is the obsessed and far from friendly captain of the Pequod in Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick”. The role of Captain Ahab was played by Gregory Peck in the 1956 John Huston film adaptation. Patrick Stewart played Ahab in a 1998 miniseries in which Peck made another appearance, as Father Mapple.

66. Coleridge’s “The ___ Harp” : EOLIAN

Aeolus was the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology, and he gave his name to the adjective “aeolian” (also “aeolic, eolic”) meaning “windblown”, something produced or carried by the wind. For example, an aeolian harp is a fascinating instrument; a box with a sounding board and strings that is “played” by the wind as it blows.

Down

2. So-called “fifth taste” : UMAMI

Umami is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. “Umami” is a Japanese word used to describe “a pleasant savory taste”. Umami was proposed as a basic taste in 1908, but it wasn’t until 1985 that the scientific community finally accepted it as such.

3. Tricky bowling situation : SPLIT

In ten pin bowling, a split takes place when the number-one pin (headpin) is a knocked down with the first ball and two or more non-adjacent pins are left standing. The most difficult split to deal with is the infamous 7-10 split, where just the rear pins at the extreme right and left remain standing.

5. ___ of Good Feelings : ERA

The Era of Good Feelings lasted from about 1816 to 1824, during the administration of President James Monroe. The term described the feeling of bipartisanship that permeated politics at that time, largely due to President Monroe deliberately downplaying differences between the parties in Washington. One can only dream …

6. New York’s Katz’s, for one : DELI

Katz’s of New York City is a famous delicatessen in Manhattan, New York City. Ever since WWII, Katz’s has had a promotion called “send a salami to your boy in the army”. Katz’s has shipped a lot of salamis in gift packages to Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

8. Indian flatbread : NAN

Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.

12. ___ Romeo : ALFA

The “Alfa” in Alfa Romeo is actually an acronym, one standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.

13. Meaning of “Simba” in Swahili : LION

In the 1994 movie “The Lion King”, the protagonist is Simba, the lion cub born to Mufasa and Sarabi. The main antagonist is Scar, Simba’s uncle and Mufasa’s brother. Simba is voiced by Matthew Broderick, and Scar is voiced by Jeremy Irons.

Swahili is one of the many Bantu languages spoken in Africa. There are hundreds of Bantu languages, with most being spoken in central, east and southern Africa. The most commonly spoken Bantu language is Swahili, with Zulu coming in second.

14. Film director ___ von Trier : LARS

Lars von Trier is a film director and screenwriter from Denmark. Even though there is lot of demand for von Trier to work all over the world, the vast majority of his films are shot in Denmark or Sweden, even movies set in the US. That’s because von Trier has an intense fear of flying.

24. Source of medieval Norse poetry : EDDA

The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda are two ancient works that are the source for much of Norse mythology. Both Eddas were written in the 13th century, in Iceland.

31. Fit to be canonized : HOLY

The act of creating a saint is known as “canonization”. The term derives from the process of placing someone in the canon (or “calendar”) of saints.

37. Diarist Anaïs : NIN

Anaïs Nin was a French author who was famous for the journals that she wrote for over sixty years from the age of 11 right up to her death. Nin also wrote highly regarded erotica and cited D. H. Lawrence as someone from whom she drew inspiration. Nin was married to banker and artist Hugh Parker Guiler in 1923. Decades later in 1955, Nin married former actor Rupert Pole, even though she was still married to Guiler. Nin and Pole had their marriage annulled in 1966, but just for legal reasons, and they continued to live together as husband and wife until Nin passed away in 1977.

38. Home to this puzzle’s featured structure, as hinted at by the starts of the answers to the starred clues : PISA, ITALY

The city of Pisa is right on the Italian coast, sitting at the mouth of the River Arno, and is famous for its Leaning Tower. The tower is actually the campanile (bell tower) of the city’s cathedral, and it has been leaning since it was completed in 1173. Just shows you how important good foundations are …

41. Gin rummy combo : MELD

Gin rummy is a variant of the slower game known as standard rummy. It was introduced in 1909 by one Elwood Baker and his son.

47. 1960s muscle car : GTO

The initialism “GTO” was used on several touring cars (including a famous Pontiac) and stands for “Gran Turismo Omologato”. Italian car manufacturers started the tradition of calling their luxury performance cars “Gran Turismo”, and calling those cars they approved for racing “Gran Turismo Omologato”. The phrase “gran turismo omologato” translates as “grand touring homologated”, with “homologated” being a technical term signifying official approval.

48. Former colony that’s a gambling mecca : MACAO

Macau (also “Macao”) is an autonomous territory of China located on the Pearl River estuary about 40 miles west of Hong Kong. Macau was a Portuguese colony from the mid-1500s until 1999. It was in fact the first European colony in China, and the last, having been handed back to the Chinese in 1999, two years after Hong Kong was returned by the British. Macau’s economy is driven by tourism and gambling. The territory’s gaming revenue is the highest for any gambling center in the world.

49. Supermodel and actress Kate : UPTON

Kate Upton is a fashion model from St. Joseph, Michigan. Kate is a niece of US Representative Fred Upton of Michigan.

51. Shire of “Rocky” : TALIA

The actress Talia Shire is best-known for playing Rocky’s wife Adrian in the “Rocky” series of movies. She also played Connie, the daughter of Don Corleone, in “The Godfather” films. Shire is the sister of movie director Francis Ford Coppola and the aunt of actor Nicolas Cage. Her son is the actor Jason Schwartzman.

53. Exaggerated accounts : YARNS

The phrase “to spin a yarn”, meaning “to tell a tall tale”, originated in the early 1800s with seamen. The idea was that sailors would tell stories to each other while engaged in mindless work such as twisting yarn.

55. Surfing aid : WI-FI

“Wi-Fi” is nothing more than a trademark, a trademark registered by an association of manufacturers of equipment that use wireless LAN (Local Area Network) technology. A device labeled with “Wi-Fi” has to meet certain defined technical standards, basically meaning that the devices can talk to each other. The name “Wi-Fi” suggests “Wireless Fidelity”, although apparently the term was never intended to mean anything at all.

56. Raison d’___ : ETRE

“Raison d’être” is a French phrase meaning “reason for existence”.

62. Nonprofit grp. that works with the Defense Department : USO

The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. “Caught you!” : BUSTED!
7. Rapidly increase in size : SNOWBALL
15. Britain, Spain or France, once : EMPIRE
16. Shrub used to make tea : CAMELLIA
17. Bachelorette party attendee : GAL PAL
18. *Seek surreptitiously : ANGLE FOR
19. Author Kingsley : AMIS
20. Under the weather : ILL
22. Faculty heads : DEANS
23. Mormon’s donation : TITHE
25. Got ready to run? : EDITED
28. Woman’s name that’s an anagram of a European native : EDNA
30. Stylish, ’60s-style : MOD
31. All the rage : HOT
34. Maker of Team USA swimsuits : SPEEDO
37. Nada : NIL
38. Comic strip opossum : POGO
39. *Fight imaginary enemies : TILT AT WINDMILLS
42. “Such a shame!” : ALAS!
43. Clearance item holder : BIN
44. “For sure!” : YES YES!
45. Deep desire : YEN
46. Ashen : WAN
47. Occasion to dress up : GALA
48. Intestines’ locale : MIDGUT
50. Airheaded : DITSY
54. Hard effort, metaphorically : SWEAT
57. “The Cask of Amontillado” writer : POE
59. “Toodle-oo!” : TA-TA!
60. *Baseball throw that might thwart a squeeze play : PITCH-OUT
63. Captain Ahab, e.g. : WHALER
65. “Regrettably, it’s true” : AFRAID SO
66. Coleridge’s “The ___ Harp” : EOLIAN
67. Get wasted : TIE ONE ON
68. Commoners’ superiors : ROYALS

Down

1. Sired : BEGAT
2. So-called “fifth taste” : UMAMI
3. Tricky bowling situation : SPLIT
4. *Bettors’ aids : TIP SHEETS
5. ___ of Good Feelings : ERA
6. New York’s Katz’s, for one : DELI
7. Burn with water : SCALD
8. Indian flatbread : NAN
9. “U can’t b serious!” : OMG!
10. Joined with a torch : WELDED
11. Not be colorfast : BLEED
12. ___ Romeo : ALFA
13. Meaning of “Simba” in Swahili : LION
14. Film director ___ von Trier : LARS
21. Grassy expanse : LEA
24. Source of medieval Norse poetry : EDDA
26. Declaration made while anteing up : I’M IN
27. “What’d I say?!” : TOLD YA!
29. Halfway decent : NOT BAD
31. Fit to be canonized : HOLY
32. Eye hungrily : OGLE
33. Throw out : TOSS
34. Bit of training accompanying “Sit!” and “Speak!” : STAY
35. Stack (up) : PILE
36. Verve : ELAN
37. Diarist Anaïs : NIN
38. Home to this puzzle’s featured structure, as hinted at by the starts of the answers to the starred clues : PISA, ITALY
40. Improvise, with “it” : WING
41. Gin rummy combo : MELD
46. ___ reason : WITHIN
47. 1960s muscle car : GTO
48. Former colony that’s a gambling mecca : MACAO
49. Supermodel and actress Kate : UPTON
51. Shire of “Rocky” : TALIA
52. Total bargain : STEAL
53. Exaggerated accounts : YARNS
54. Dustup : SPAT
55. Surfing aid : WI-FI
56. Raison d’___ : ETRE
58. Wide-mouthed jug : EWER
61. Tribute that may be urned? : ODE
62. Nonprofit grp. that works with the Defense Department : USO
64. “Boo-___!” : HOO