0122-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 22 Jan 2018, Monday

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Constructed by: Paolo Pasco
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: Erosion

We use EROSION to shorten the ending word in today’s themed answers. So, we wear away STONE until we get down to O:

  • 46D. Natural process illustrated by the last words of 18-, 24-, 37-, 54- and 61-Across : EROSION
  • 18A. 2016 Best Actress Oscar winner for “La La Land” : EMMA STONE
  • 24A. Half of a half step in music : QUARTER TONE
  • 37A. Weight unit equal to about 2,205 pounds : METRIC TON
  • 54A. “Puh-LEEZE!” : I MEAN, COME ON!
  • 61A. Enthusiastic audience response, informally : STANDING O

Bill’s time: 5m 11s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Ponzi schemes, e.g. : SCAMS

Charles Ponzi was born in Luigi, Italy in 1882 and arrived in the US in 1903, flat broke having gambled away all his money on the voyage to Boston. Ponzi devised a scheme to buy what were known as “international reply coupons” through friends in Italy, which he had sent to him in the US so that he could redeem them on this side of the Atlantic. As the value in the US was greater than that in Italy, he could make a handsome profit. This was in itself an “illegal” transaction, buying an asset in one market at a low price, then immediately selling it in another market at a higher price. But it’s what he did next that became known as a Ponzi Scheme. He couldn’t redeem his coupons quickly enough due to red tape so he approached other investors, initially friends, and had them give him cash so that he could buy more coupons in Italy. He promised the investors he would double their money, which they did initially. Many people wanted to get in on the scheme seeing that Ponzi was able to make the new investors a profit and double the money of the original investors. Eventually, somebody did the math and word started to get out that the investment was risky, so the number of new investors started to fall. Without sufficient new investors Ponzi couldn’t double the money of his latest investors, and the whole scheme unraveled.

6. Agatha Christie or Maggie Smith : DAME

Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, having sold about 4 billion copies worldwide in total. The only books to have sold in higher volume are the works of William Shakespeare and the Bible.
Dame Maggie Smith is a wonderful, wonderful actress from England. Although Smith has had an extensive stage career, she is perhaps best known outside of Britain as a film and television actress. She has won two Oscars, including Best Actress for playing the title character in 1969’s “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”. TV audiences today know her best as the Dowager Countess on “Downton Abbey”. I saw her recently in the movie “The Second Best Marigold Hotel”, a movie that I wholeheartedly recommend …

15. Iranian currency : RIAL

“Rial” is the name of the currency of Iran (as well as Yemen, Oman, Cambodia and Tunisia). Generally, there are 1,000 baisa in a rial.

17. Cutting-edge brand? : X-ACTO

The X-Acto knife was invented in the thirties by a Polish immigrant, although his intention was to come up with a scalpel for surgeons. The knife couldn’t cut it as a scalpel though (pun!), because it was difficult to clean. The inventor’s brother-in law suggested it be used as a craft knife, and it is still around today.

18. 2016 Best Actress Oscar winner for “La La Land” : EMMA STONE

The actress Emma Stone is from Scottsdale, Arizona. Stone really came to prominence with her performance in the 2010 high school movie called “Easy A”. She won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the 2016 movie “La La Land”. Now one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood, Stone values her privacy and works hard to maintain a low profile. Good for her, I say …
“La La Land” is a 2016 romantic musical film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a musician and actress who fall in love in “La La Land” (Los Angeles, i.e. “LA”). The film was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who had found success two years earlier with the musical drama “Whiplash”. “La La Land” won a record-breaking seven Golden Globes and tied the record number of Oscar nominations at fourteen, winning six.

23. Encouragement for a matador : OLE!

“Matador” is a Spanish word used in English for a bullfighter, although the term isn’t used in the same way in Spanish. The equivalent in Spanish is “torero”. “Matador” translates aptly enough as “killer”.

27. Biden and Pence, informally : VPS

Vice President Joe Biden was a US Senator representing the state of Delaware from 1973 until he joined the Obama administration. While he was a senator, Vice President Biden commuted to Washington from Wilmington, Delaware almost every working day. He was such an active customer and supporter of Amtrak that the Wilmington Station was renamed as the Joseph R. Biden Railroad Station in 2011. Biden has made over 7,000 trips from that station, and the Amtrak crews were known to even hold the last train for a few minutes so that he could catch it. Biden earned himself the nickname “Amtrak Joe”.
Mike Pence served as the 50th Governor of Indiana from 2013 until 2017, when he became the 48th Vice President of the US in the Trump administration. Famously, Vice President Pence has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”, although he grew up in an Irish Catholic Democrat family.

28. Abbr. in an office address : STE

Suite (ste.)

29. Pacific source of unusual weather : EL NINO

When the surface temperature of much of the Pacific Ocean rises more that half a degree centigrade, then there is said to be an El Niño episode. That small temperature change in the Pacific has been associated with climatic changes that can stretch right across the globe. El Niño is Spanish for “the boy” and is a reference to the Christ child. The phenomenon was given this particular Spanish name because the warming is usually noticed near South America and around Christmas-time.

31. Stoic politician of ancient Rome : CATO

Cato the Elder was a Roman statesman, known historically as “the elder” in order to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger. Cato the Elder’s ultimate position within Roman society was that of Censor, making him responsible for maintaining the census, and for supervising public morality.
Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosopher famous for teaching at the Stoa Poikile, the “Painted Porch”, located on the north side of the Ancient Agora of Athens. Because of the location of his classes, his philosophy became known as stoicism (from “stoa”, the word for “porch”). And yes, we get our adjective “stoic” from the same root.

36. Chess endings : MATES

In the game of chess, when the king is under immediate threat of capture it is said to be “in check”. If the king cannot escape from check, then the game ends in “checkmate” and the player in check loses. In the original Sanskrit game of chess, the king could actually be captured. Then a rule was introduced requiring that a warning be given if capture was imminent (today we announce “check!”) so that an accidental and early ending to the game doesn’t occur.

37. Weight unit equal to about 2,205 pounds : METRIC TON

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.

43. Gym locker emanation : ODOR

Our word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek “gymnasion” meaning “public place where exercise is taken”. The Greek term comes from “gymnos” meaning “naked”, as that physical training was usually done unclothed in ancient Greece.

44. On the briny : ASEA

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

48. “Legally ___” (Reese Witherspoon film) : BLONDE

“LEGALLY blonde” is a 2001 comedy film starring Reese Witherspoon as a girlish sorority president who heads to Harvard to earn a law degree. “LEGALLY blonde” was successful enough to warrant two sequels as well as a spin-off musical that played most successfully in London’s West End (for 974 performances).
Reese is not actually actress Witherspoon’s given name. She started out life as Laura Jeanne Witherspoon. Reese is her mother’s maiden name.

53. “Leaving ___ Vegas” : LAS

“Leaving Las Vegas” is a 1995 film starring Nicolas Cage as a suicidal alcoholic who tries to drink himself to death in Las Vegas, befriending a prostitute played by Elisabeth Shue along the way. The film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name written by John O’Brien. Two weeks into production of the movie, O’Brien actually did commit suicide.

58. Like the name “Robin Banks” for a criminal : APT

“Robin Banks” sounds like “robbing banks”.

61. Enthusiastic audience response, informally : STANDING O

Give ’em a big hand, maybe even a standing “O”, a standing ovation.

67. ___ Wallace, co-founder of Reader’s Digest : LILA

Lila Wallace founded the “Reader’s Digest” along with her husband in 1922, operating out of a basement office in New York City. The initial print runs were limited to about 5,000 copies. Today, “Reader’s Digest” has about 100 million readers in 163 countries worldwide.

68. Fish typically split before cooking : SCROD

Scrod is the name given to fish that has been “scrawed” i.e. split open, dried and then broiled.

71. Ariana Grande’s fan base, mostly : TEENS

Ariana Grande is a singer and actress from Boca Raton, Florida. Grande plays the role of Cat Valentine on the sitcom “Victorious” that aired for four season on Nickelodeon. Grande’s singing career took off with the release of the 2011 album “Victorious: Music from the Hit TV Show”.

Down

1. “Red” or “White” baseball team : SOX

The Boston Red Sox is one of the most successful Major League Baseball teams and so commands a large attendance, but only when on the road. The relatively small capacity of Boston’s Fenway Park, the team’s home since 1912, has dictated that every game the Red Sox has played there has been a sell-out since May of 2003.
The Chicago White Sox Major League Baseball team was established in Chicago in 1900 and originally was called the White Stockings. The name was changed because the abbreviation “Sox” for “Stockings” was regularly used in newspaper headlines.

2. Deep-fried Mexican dish : CHALUPA

A chalupa is a Mexican dish consisting of a tostada shaped into a “cup” and filled with various ingredients. “Chalupa” translates from Mexican Spanish as “small boat”.

3. Div. for the N.F.L.’s Jets : AFC EAST

Just like the New York Giants, the New York Jets are based in New Jersey, headquartered in Florham Park. The Jets and the Giants have a unique arrangement in the NFL in that the two teams share Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets were an AFL charter team, formed in 1959 as the Titans of New York. The Titans changed their name to the Jets in 1963.

6. “Forgot About ___” (2000 rap hit) : DRE

“Forgot About Dre” is a single recorded by rap artist “Dr. Dre, featuring Eminem”.
“Dr. Dre” is the stage name of rapper Andre Romelle Young. Dr. Dre is known for his own singing career as well as for producing records and starting the careers of others such Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent.

8. Caribbean ballroom dance : MAMBO

The form of music and dance known as “mambo” developed in Cuba. “Mambo” means “conversation with the gods” in Kikongo, a language spoken by slaves taken to Cuba from Central Africa.

9. “Seinfeld” character who wrote for the J. Peterman catalog : ELAINE

The character Elaine Benes, unlike the other lead characters (Jerry, Kramer and George), did not appear in the pilot episode of “Seinfeld”. NBC executives specified the addition of a female lead when they picked up the show citing that the situation was too “male-centric”.

10. One of two in “Hamilton” : ACT

“Hamilton” is a 2015 musical based on the life or US Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, as described in the 2004 biography by Ron Chernow. The show opened off-Broadway in February 2015, and transferred to Broadway in August of the same year. Advance ticket sales for the Broadway production were unprecedented, and reportedly amounted to $30 million. The representations of the main characters is decidedly ground-breaking. The show is rooted in hip-hop and the main roles such as Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are all played by African-American and Hispanic actors.

13. Racer’s swimwear : SPEEDOS

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 …

19. Sailor’s patron : ST ELMO

Saint Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. More formally referred to as Erasmus of Formia, St. Elmo is perhaps venerated by sailors as tradition tells us that he continued preaching despite the ground beside him being struck by a thunderbolt. Sailors started to pray to him when in danger of storms and lightning. He lends his name to the electrostatic weather phenomenon (often seen at sea) known as St. Elmo’s fire. The “fire” is actually a plasma discharge caused by air ionizing at the end of a pointed object (like the mast of a ship), something often observed during electrical storms.

24. Home shopping inits. : QVC

The QVC shopping channel was founded in 1986 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The company now has operations not only in the US but also in the UK, Germany, Japan and Italy. That means QVC is reaching 200 million households. The QVC initialism stands for Quality, Value and Convenience.

32. Muscat is its capital : OMAN

Muscat is the capital of Oman, and lies on the northeast coast of the state on the Gulf of Oman, a branch of the Persian Gulf.

34. Prefix with life or wife : MID-

A midwife is someone trained to assist women in childbirth. The term comes from Middle English “mid wif” meaning “with woman”.

39. Jiffy : TRICE

A jiff, an instant, is short for “jiffy”, thought originally to be thieves’ slang for “lightning”.

41. Eric who sang “Layla” : CLAPTON

Can you believe that the great Eric Clapton only had one chart-topper in the US? In 1974, Clapton released a cover version of the Bob Marley classic “I Shot the Sheriff” and ended up selling more copies of that song than Bob Marley did himself. Clapton is the only person to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times: once as a member of the Yardbirds, once as a member of the supergroup Cream, and once as a solo artist.
“Layla” is one of the great rock anthems of the seventies, released by Derek and the Dominos as a single in 1971. It is a masterpiece of composition, with the first half of the song a great vehicle for the guitar-playing talents of Eric Clapton. The second half is a beautifully melodic piano coda (a coda … taking up half the length of the track!). To top things off we have the “unplugged” version recorded by Clapton in 1992, a fabulous and inventive variation on the original.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

42. Deep-fried Mexican dish : TOSTADA

In Mexican cuisine, a tostada is a flat or bowl-shaped tortilla

47. Novelist Rand : AYN

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist born Alisa Rosenbaum. Her two best known works are her novels “The Fountainhead” published in 1943 and “Atlas Shrugged” from 1957. Back in 1951, Rand moved from Los Angeles to New York City. Soon after, she gathered a group of admirers around her with whom she discussed philosophy and shared drafts of her magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged”. This group called itself “The Collective”, and one of the founding members was none other than future Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan. Rand described herself as “right-wing” politically, and both she and her novel “Atlas Shrugged” have become inspirations for the American conservatives, and the Tea Party in particular.

55. “Sesame Street” character long rumored to be Bert’s lover : ERNIE

The muppet character named Bert usually plays the straight man to his partner character Ernie. Bert has a unibrow, while Ernie has no brows at all.

56. Something acute or obtuse : ANGLE

In geometry, there are several classes of angles:

  • Acute (< 90 degrees) 
  • Right (= 90 degrees) 
  • Obtuse (> 90 degrees and < 180 degrees) 
  • Straight (180 degrees) 
  • Reflex (> 180 degrees)

62. Holiday drink : NOG

It’s not really clear where the term “nog” (as in “eggnog”) comes from although it might derive from the word “noggin”, which was originally a small wooden cup that was long associated with alcoholic drinks.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Ponzi schemes, e.g. : SCAMS
6. Agatha Christie or Maggie Smith : DAME
10. Times past noon, informally : AFTS
14. “Sounds exciting …” : OH, FUN …
15. Iranian currency : RIAL
16. Applaud : CLAP
17. Cutting-edge brand? : X-ACTO
18. 2016 Best Actress Oscar winner for “La La Land” : EMMA STONE
20. Unwelcome looks : LEERS
22. Somewhat : A BIT
23. Encouragement for a matador : OLE!
24. Half of a half step in music : QUARTER TONE
26. Relieved (of) : RID
27. Biden and Pence, informally : VPS
28. Abbr. in an office address : STE
29. Pacific source of unusual weather : EL NINO
31. Stoic politician of ancient Rome : CATO
33. Places to get quick cash : ATMS
36. Chess endings : MATES
37. Weight unit equal to about 2,205 pounds : METRIC TON
40. Group of eight : OCTAD
43. Gym locker emanation : ODOR
44. On the briny : ASEA
48. “Legally ___” (Reese Witherspoon film) : BLONDE
50. Fix, as an election : RIG
52. Be nosy : PRY
53. “Leaving ___ Vegas” : LAS
54. “Puh-LEEZE!” : I MEAN, COME ON!
58. Like the name “Robin Banks” for a criminal : APT
59. Make, as money : EARN
60. Grand stories : EPICS
61. Enthusiastic audience response, informally : STANDING O
64. Bit of clowning around : ANTIC
66. Title of a list of errands : TO DO
67. ___ Wallace, co-founder of Reader’s Digest : LILA
68. Fish typically split before cooking : SCROD
69. Sudden problem in a plan : SNAG
70. Look for : SEEK
71. Ariana Grande’s fan base, mostly : TEENS

Down

1. “Red” or “White” baseball team : SOX
2. Deep-fried Mexican dish : CHALUPA
3. Div. for the N.F.L.’s Jets : AFC EAST
4. Less talkative : MUTER
5. Laughs through the nose : SNORTS
6. “Forgot About ___” (2000 rap hit) : DRE
7. Put in the cross hairs : AIM AT
8. Caribbean ballroom dance : MAMBO
9. “Seinfeld” character who wrote for the J. Peterman catalog : ELAINE
10. One of two in “Hamilton” : ACT
11. Go from 0 to 60, say : FLOOR IT
12. What sunning in a swimsuit leaves : TAN LINE
13. Racer’s swimwear : SPEEDOS
19. Sailor’s patron : ST ELMO
21. Start to attack : SET AT
24. Home shopping inits. : QVC
25. Back in style : RETRO
30. Grandmother, affectionately : NANA
32. Muscat is its capital : OMAN
34. Prefix with life or wife : MID-
35. Look down on : SCORN
38. Swirled : EDDIED
39. Jiffy : TRICE
40. Administrative regions in Russia : OBLASTS
41. Eric who sang “Layla” : CLAPTON
42. Deep-fried Mexican dish : TOSTADA
45. Bond film after “Skyfall” : SPECTRE
46. Natural process illustrated by the last words of 18-, 24-, 37-, 54- and 61-Across : EROSION
47. Novelist Rand : AYN
49. Inbox buildup : EMAILS
51. Exceed : GO PAST
55. “Sesame Street” character long rumored to be Bert’s lover : ERNIE
56. Something acute or obtuse : ANGLE
57. Chop finely : MINCE
62. Holiday drink : NOG
63. Tree with acorns : OAK
65. Successors to LPs : CDS