0116-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 16 Jan 15, Friday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Michael Wiesenberg
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 24m 04s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. ?! : INTERROBANG
An interrobang is punctuation mark comprising a question mark superimposed on an exclamation point. As the character is nonstandard, it is often written as with the individual characters side by side, in either order (“!?” & “?!”). The name “interrobang” comes from “interrogative point” (alternative name for a question mark) and the “bang” (printer’s jargon for an exclamation point).

12. Alsatian article : LES
Alsatia is the Latin name for the region in France known as Alsace. Alsace is home to Strasbourg, a beautiful city that I had the privilege to visit some years ago. Strasbourg is home to many international organizations, including the European Court of Human Rights.

16. ___ Khan : AGA
Aga Khan is a hereditary title of the Imam of a large sect within the Shi’a Muslim faith. The current Aga Khan is Shah Karim al-Hussayni, who has held the position since 1957.

17. Good source of beta carotene : SWEET POTATO
Carotene is an orange pigment that plants use in the process of photosynthesis. Carotene gives carrots their orange color, and it is carrots that give the pigment its name. “Carota” is the Latin for “carrot”. Carotene is found in nature in two structural forms: alpha-carotene and the more common beta-carotene.

18. Samoan staple : POI
The corm of some taro plants is used to make poi, the traditional Hawaiian dish (that I think tastes horrible). When a taro plant is grown as an ornamental, it is often called Elephant Ears due to the shape of its large leaves.

The official name for the South Pacific country formerly known as Western Samoa is the Independent State of Samoa. “Samoa” is the western part of the island group, with American Samoa lying to the southeast. The whole group of islands used to be known as Navigators Island, a name given by European explorers in recognition of the seafaring skills of the native Samoans.

19. Regulation followers, briefly : OTS
Overtimes (OT) follows regulation time.

20. Weight without a load : TARE
“Tare” is the weight of a container that is deducted from the gross weight to determine the net weight, the weight of the container’s contents.

25. Like tarantella dancers : AWHIRL
Tarantella are folk dances that originated in southern Italy. They are fast pieces, usually accompanied by tambourines. There is a traditional belief that the dance is named for the supposed frantic dancing caused by the bite of a tarantula. However, it is more likely that both the tarantula and tarantella get their names from the southern Italian city of Taranto.

32. One of the Brontës : ANNE
Anne was the youngest of the three sisters in the literary Brontë family. Her older sisters wrote novels that are more recognized, but Anne’s two novels do have a following. “Agnes Grey” is based on her own experiences working as a governess. Her other novel, “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” is written as a long letter from a young man describing the events leading up to his first meeting with his wife-to-be. Anne Brontë’s writing career was cut short in 1849, when she died of pulmonary tuberculosis, at only 29 years of age.

33. Drops abruptly : JILTS
To “jilt” someone with whom you have a relationship is to drop them suddenly or callously. “Jilt” is an obsolete noun that used to mean “harlot” or “loose woman”.

34. About 4.2 millimeters, in printing : PICA
A pica is a unit of measure used in typography. One pica is equivalent to 1/6 of an inch. Each pica unit contains 12 “points”.

37. Occasion for much cheering in ’45 : VE DAY
VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) was celebrated on 8 May 1945 and marked the day when the Allies accepted the formal surrender of the German armed forces.

40. Symbols with supposed magic power : SIGILS
A “sigil” is a seal or signet. The term comes from the Latin “sigillum” meaning “little sign”. In the world of astrology, a sigil is a symbol that is supposed to have great power.

41. Brand in the grooming aisle : NORELCO
Norelco is a brand of shavers and personal care products made by Philips. The brand name was introduced as the company was barred from using “Philips” in the US in the early 1940s. The name Norelco was chosen as an acronym for “NOR-th American Philips EL-ectrical CO-mpany.

52. One testing woofers? : VET
“Vet” is an abbreviation for “veterinarian”, a professional who treat animals for disease and injury. The word “veterinary” comes from the Latin “veterinae” meaning “working animals, beasts of burden”.

54. Where many arrests take place, for short : ERS
Emergency room (ER)

55. Hemoglobin carrier : ERYTHROCYTE
Erythrocytes are red blood cells.

Hemoglobin is the key protein in red blood cells. Hemoglobin transports oxygen around the body, and also the waste carbon dioxide.

Down
2. See 4-Down : NEWT
4. Brew ingredient from a 2-Down : EYE
The witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” have some lovely lines as they boil up and evil brew and cast a spell:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

6. Male reality show host in heels : RUPAUL
RuPaul is a famous drag queen who has developed a diverse career beyond performing on stage. He works as an actor, model, author and a recording artist. Famously, RuPaul doesn’t mind whether one addresses him as “he” or as “she” …

“You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.”

He currently hosts his own reality TV show called “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, which is billed as a search for “America’s next drag superstar”.

8. Restrain, as one’s breath : BATE
“To bate” is to restrain, as in “with bated breath”, with restrained breath.

9. One-time separator : AT A
One at a time.

11. Picturesque subterranean spaces : GROTTOS
The word “grotto” comes to us from the Italian “grotta” meaning “vault” or “cavern”.

12. Time for Debussy’s “faune” : L’APRES-MIDI
The very approachable “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune” (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) is a symphonic poem that was composed by Claude Debussy and first performed in 1894. Debussy’s famous piece was inspired by the poem “L’après-midi d’un faune” that was written by Stéphane Mallarmé. In turn, the prelude was the inspiration for a ballet of the same name that was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky.

14. February 14 and March 17 : SAINT’S DAYS
Saint Valentine’s Day (February 14th) was chosen by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD to honor various martyrs with the name Valentine. However, the saints’ day was dropped by the Roman Catholic church in 1969, by Pope Paul VI. Try telling that to Hallmark though …

There is a fair amount known about St. Patrick, some of which comes from two letters written in his own hand. St. Patrick lived in the fifth century, but was not born in Ireland. He was first brought to Ireland at about 16 years of age from his native Britain, by Irish raiders who made him a slave for six years. Patrick managed to escape and returned to his homeland where he studied and entered the Church. He went back to Ireland as a bishop and a missionary and there lived out the rest of his life. There seems to be good evidence that he died on March 17th (now celebrated annually as St. Patrick’s Day), although the year is less clear. The stories about shamrock and snakes, I am afraid they are the stuff of legend.

22. “Is ___?” (question in Matthew and Mark) : IT I
At the Last Supper, Jesus told his apostles that one of them would betray him that day. According to the Gospel of Matthew:
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

26. Alcopop alternative : WINE COOLER
A wine cooler is a drink made from wine and fruit juice, and often some soda.

“Alcopops” are flavored alcoholic drinks, with the term being a portmanteau of “alcohol” and “pop”. Examples are Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer, and Jack Daniel’s Hard Cola.

28. Derby duds : SILKS
The colorful silk clothing made from silk that is worn by a jockey is known as “racing silks”. The specific colors and pattern of racing silks are registered to particular owner or trainer.

Our use of the word “derby” to mean a race started in 1780 with the English Derby horse race, which was founded then by the 12th Earl of Derby. Ultimately, the term “derby” derives from the old English shire of “Deorby”, a word meaning “deer village”.

“Duds” is an informal word for clothing, coming from the word “dudde” that was used around 1300 as the name for a cloak.

30. ___ Beach, Calif. : PISMO
Pismo Beach is a California city located just 15 miles south of San Luis Obispo. The name “Pismo” comes from a Native American word “pismu” meaning “tar”, a reference to tar springs that are located in nearby Price Canyon. The tar was used by the locals to caulk their canoes.

34. Violin quartet : PEGS
At the scroll end of the neck of a violin is the pegbox. The pegbox holds four pegs, each of which is used to apply tension to the instrument’s four strings.

36. Highball, e.g. : TALL ONE
A “highball” is a mixed drink comprising a relatively small amount of alcoholic drink, mixed with a larger amount of non-alcoholic mixer. The origin of the term is disputed, but one suggestion is that it derives from the practice of serving highballs in tall glasses.

37. Violin effect : VIBRATO
The musical effect called “vibrato” is a regular, pulsating change of pitch. A tremor in the diaphragm or larynx can give rise to vibrato in a singing voice. On a stringed instrument, the vibrato effect is usually achieved by wobbling the finger stopping a string on a keyboard.

39. Sidon’s setting: Abbr. : LEB
Tripoli is a city in northern Lebanon (Leb.), and is the second-largest city in the whole country (after Beirut). The name “Tripoli” comes from the Greek for “triple city” and is a reference to Tripoli’s history as the center of a Phoenician confederation made up of the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Arados.

40. To any extent, poetically : SOEVER
The adverb “soever” means “at all, in any way” and is often used with words like what, who, when, where etc. The “soever” is often used as a suffix, when there is no intervening word. for example, “choose what thing soever you please” is sometimes reworded as “choose whatsoever you please”.

42. Gift in a Nativity scene : MYRRH
Frankincense and myrrh are both tree resins, exuded when certain species of tree are damaged. The harvested resins are used to make essentials oils for perfumes, and are also burned to give off a pleasant fragrance.

44. Book after Num. : DEUT
Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible. The English title of Deuteronomy comes from a Greek word that translates as “second law”.

Numbers is the fourth Book of the Hebrew Bible, with the English title coming from the “numbering of the Israelites”, a census taken in the wilderness of the Sinai and again on the plain of Moab.

45. Something booked on Travelocity : STAY
Travelocity is my favorite online travel agency, although it’s not the only one I use (one must shop around!). The feature I most like on Travelocity is “Top Secret Hotels”, where one can find hotel rooms at below the regular published online rates, but … the booking is made without knowing the hotel’s name. You get the general location, star-rating, facilities etc. and then “take a chance”. I booked a room in a 4-star hotel in San Jose recently for $120 for the night, when the best online quote I could find for the same hotel was $359. We book Top Secret Hotels (usually way cheaper than that one in San Jose!) on our road trips for I’d say one night in three …

47. Journalist who wrote the 1943 book “Here Is Your War” : PYLE
Ernie Pyle was a journalist, truly a roving reporter, never happy unless he was filing stories from some remote part of the country or some far-flung corner of the globe. Pyle was noted for his intimate style of reporting, emphasizing the human element of the story. His reports written during WWII in Europe, stressing the experiences of soldiers in the front lines, won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1944. After Germany surrendered he decided to follow the war in the Pacific. One day towards the end of the war, Pyle was traveling in a jeep on the island of le Shima in the Okinawa Islands when he was hit by enemy machine gun fire and was killed. Pyle was one of very few civilians killed during WWII who was awarded the Purple Heart.

51. Reactor overseer: Abbr. : NRC
The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was set up right after WWII in 1946, with the aim of promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy. Establishing the AEC was a significant move made by President Truman, as it passed control of atomic energy from the military to the civilian sector. The AEC continued to operate until 1974 when its functions were divided up into two new agencies: the Energy Research and Development Administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. ?! : INTERROBANG
12. Alsatian article : LES
15. Exit line : SEE YOU LATER
16. ___ Khan : AGA
17. Good source of beta carotene : SWEET POTATO
18. Samoan staple : POI
19. Regulation followers, briefly : OTS
20. Weight without a load : TARE
21. Recipe instruction : STIR IN
23. Blood problem, maybe : FEUD
24. Obesity superlative : FATTEST
25. Like tarantella dancers : AWHIRL
28. Single players : SOLOISTS
29. Alternatives to buttons : DIALS
30. Much Scandinavian landscape : PINES
31. Western leader? : MID-
32. One of the Brontës : ANNE
33. Drops abruptly : JILTS
34. About 4.2 millimeters, in printing : PICA
35. Doc’s suggestion : MED
36. Pair of elephants? : TUSKS
37. Occasion for much cheering in ’45 : VE DAY
38. Hails : ACCLAIMS
40. Symbols with supposed magic power : SIGILS
41. Brand in the grooming aisle : NORELCO
42. Volatile masses : MOBS
43. Not beyond one : DOABLE
44. Beautician, at times : DYER
45. Wear down : SAP
48. Capricious, magical figure : ELF
49. How many practice religion : OBSERVANTLY
52. One testing woofers? : VET
53. It may be found in preserves : NATURE TRAIL
54. Where many arrests take place, for short : ERS
55. Hemoglobin carrier : ERYTHROCYTE

Down
1. Childish comeback : IS SO!
2. See 4-Down : NEWT
3. Tour mementos : TEES
4. Brew ingredient from a 2-Down : EYE
5. Heels : ROTTERS
6. Male reality show host in heels : RUPAUL
7. Words said with the hands pressed together : O LORD
8. Restrain, as one’s breath : BATE
9. One-time separator : AT A
10. Major figure in retail : NET SALES
11. Picturesque subterranean spaces : GROTTOS
12. Time for Debussy’s “faune” : L’APRESMIDI
13. Repeating I? : EGOISTICAL
14. February 14 and March 17 : SAINT’S DAYS
22. “Is ___?” (question in Matthew and Mark) : IT I
23. Take the edge off : FILE
24. Type types : FONTS
25. Earliest figures? : ADAM AND EVE
26. Alcopop alternative : WINE COOLER
27. Embroiders, e.g. : HANDCRAFTS
28. Derby duds : SILKS
30. ___ Beach, Calif. : PISMO
33. Place to get a healthful drink : JUICE BAR
34. Violin quartet : PEGS
36. Highball, e.g. : TALL ONE
37. Violin effect : VIBRATO
39. Sidon’s setting: Abbr. : LEB
40. To any extent, poetically : SOEVER
42. Gift in a Nativity scene : MYRRH
44. Book after Num. : DEUT
45. Something booked on Travelocity : STAY
46. Got off : ALIT
47. Journalist who wrote the 1943 book “Here Is Your War” : PYLE
50. Many a bachelor pad : STY
51. Reactor overseer: Abbr. : NRC

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