0124-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 24 Jan 2018, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Kathy Wienberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: At the End

Themed answers are well-known phrases with the letters -AT added to the end:

  • 20A. Big “but”? : MAMMOTH CAVEAT (from “Mammoth Cave”)
  • 27A. Small diamond handed down to an heir? : ESTATE CARAT (from “estate car”)
  • 44A. Fight between two lovers? : HONEY COMBAT (from “honeycomb”)
  • 55A. Futuristic Volkswagen? : FORWARD PASSAT (from “forward pass”)

Bill’s time: 7m 39s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Menaces that name other menaces if you put a “w” at the start : ASPS

The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.

While the wasp is considered to be a nuisance by many, the insect is very important to the agricultural industry. Wasps prey on many pest insects, while having very little impact on crops.

8. BBC sci-fi series, informally : DR WHO

The iconic science-fiction television show “Doctor Who” first aired in 1963, and relaunched in 2005 by the BBC. The relaunched series is produced in-house by the BBC in Cardiff in Wales, the location that is the setting of the successful “Doctor Who” spin-off called “Torchwood”. The new show is about the Cardiff branch of the Torchwood Institute which investigates incidents involving extraterrestrials.

14. It leans right: Abbr. : ITAL

Italic type leans to the right, and is often used to provide emphasis in text. The style is known as “italic” because the stylized calligraphic form of writing originated in Italy, probably in the Vatican.

17. Angle between a leafstalk and a stem : AXIL

The axil is the upper angle between say a leaf stalk and the stem of a plant.

20. Big “but”? : MAMMOTH CAVEAT (from “Mammoth Cave”)

A caveat is a warning or a qualification. “Caveat” is the Latin for “let him beware”.

Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky is home to the longest cave system in the world. The surveyed sections of the cave alone stretch over 400 miles. The cave was named for its size, as there is no connection at all with the extinct wooly mammoth.

22. Chevy sedan : IMPALA

The Chevrolet Impala was introduced in 1957. “Impala” is the Zulu word for “gazelle”.

23. Prefix with dermis : EPI-

The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. The thickest piece of epidermal tissue in humans is on the soles of the feet and the palms, measuring about 1.5 mm. The thinnest measures 0.1 mm, and that would be the human eyelid.

24. Member of a crossword zoo? : EMU

A crossword zoo is home to emus, rheas, nenes, ewes, bees, etc. All are words commonly found in puzzles.

27. Small diamond handed down to an heir? : ESTATE CARAT (from “estate car”)

The carat is a unit of mass equal to 200 mg. It is used in sizing gemstones.

The style of automobile that we call “station wagon” here in North America, is known as “estate car” in the British Isles. Both names are really references to the vehicle’s utility in hauling baggage in the extra space provided in the rear. A station wagon could haul bags to the station, and an estate car could haul bags to one’s country estate!

31. Number 41 or 43 : BUSH

President George H. W. Bush served in the US Navy during WWII. Future President Bush postponed his entry into college after the attack on Pearl Harbor and enlisted in the navy instead. When he earned his wings, he was the youngest aviator in the US Navy at that time.

President George W. Bush (GWB) is named for his father, George H. W. Bush. The “W” in the name of both father and son stands for “Walker”. Walker was the family name of President George H. W. Bush’s mother, Dorothy Walker.

35. Cross shape : TAU

Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, and the letter which gave rise to our Roman “T”. Both the letters tau (T) and chi (X) have long been symbolically associated with the cross.

37. Immune response trigger : ANTIGEN

An antigen is a molecule recognized by the immune system, one that can be chemically bound and neutralized by an antibody. An antigen used to be called an “ANTI-body GEN-erator”.

42. Single market locale: Abbr. : EUR

The continent of Europe was named for Europa, a Phoenician princess of Greek mythology.

The European Economic Community (EEC) was also known as the “Common Market”. The EEC was a NAFTA-like structure that was eventually absorbed into today’s European Union (EU).

43. Son of John and Yoko : SEAN

Sean Lennon is the only child of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Sean’s godfather is Elton John. Sean is a musician and composer, and has a band called the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

44. Fight between two lovers? : HONEY COMBAT (from “honeycomb”)

Honeybees create a structure within their nests called a honeycomb that is used to contain their larvae and also to store honey and pollen. The honeycomb comprises hexagonal cells made from wax.

49. Scepter go-with : ORB

An orb and cross (“globus cruciger”) has been used as a Christian symbol of authority since Medieval times. The cross sits atop the globe, indicating Christ’s authority over the world. When the orb is held in the hand of a king or queen, this indicates the authority invested in the earthly ruler.

A scepter is a ceremonial staff, one often held by a monarch.

55. Futuristic Volkswagen? : FORWARD PASSAT (from “forward pass”)

“Passat” is one in a series of model names related to winds that has been used by Volkswagen. “Jetta” comes from the German for “jet stream”, and the model name “Passat” comes from the German for “trade wind”.

59. Seat for a ragtime player : PIANO STOOL

Ragtime music was at the height of it popularity in the early 1900s. It takes its name from its characteristic “ragged” rhythms. The most famous ragtime composer was Scott Joplin, who had a big hit with his “Maple Leaf Rag” when it was published in 1899. He followed that up with a string of hits, including the “Pine Apple Rag” (sic). Ragtime fell out of favor about 1917 when the public turned to jazz. It had a resurgence in the forties when jazz musicians started to include ragtime tunes in their repertoires. But it was the 1973 movie “The Sting” that brought the true revival, as the hit soundtrack included numerous ragtime tunes by Scott Joplin, including the celebrated “The Entertainer” originally published in 1902.

61. Amount of land a pair of oxen could plow in a day, historically : ACRE

At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. Then, an acre was more precisely defined as a strip of land “one furrow long” (i.e. one furlong) and one chain wide. The length of one furlong was equal to 10 chains, or 40 rods. A area of one furlong times 10 rods was one rood.

62. Pitcher’s aid : ROSIN

Rosin is a solid form of resin derived from plant sources. Rosin is formed into cakes that players of stringed instruments use to rub along the hairs of their bows to help improve sound quality. The rosin increases the degree of friction between the strings and the bow. That same friction-increasing property comes into play when baseball pitchers use rosin to get a better grip on the ball, or when dancers apply rosin to the soles of their shoes.

63. Where a brogue is spoken : EIRE

“Éire”, is the Irish word for “Ireland”. The related “Erin” is an anglicized version of “Éire” and actually corresponds to “Éirinn”, the dative case of “Éire”.

65. “Straight ___ Compton” : OUTTA

“Straight Outta Compton” was the first album by N.W.A. N.W.A was a hip hop group from Compton, California. The original five group members included rappers who have made a name for themselves as solo acts, including: Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. The story of NWA is told in a 2015 film, also called “Straight Outta Compton”.

67. Symbol in the middle of a Scrabble board : STAR

The game of Scrabble has been around since 1938, the invention of an architect named Alfred Mosher Butts. Butts determined how many tiles of each letter, and the point value of each tile, by analyzing letter distributions in publications like “The New York Times”.

Down

4. John Lewis march site : SELMA

John Lewis is a civil rights leader who was a prominent leader in the 1963 March on Washington, in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Lewis suffered a fractured skull as he walked at the head of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Bloody Sunday. Lewis was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1987, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by President Obama.

7. Marcel of few words : MARCEAU

Marcel Marceau was the most famous mime of all time, and a native of Strasbourg in France. He is perhaps most associated with the character Bip the Clown who he played onstage. Marceau made a cameo appearance in Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie”, portraying himself. In the scene, Mel Brooks is asking Marceau to appear in his movie (a question asked silently of course, in subtitles), and Marceau turns to the camera and speaks the only word in the whole film, “Non!” (French for “No!”). The mime speaks! Brilliant …

26. Knoxville sch. : UTENN

The University of Tennessee (UT, UTenn) is a public school in Knoxville that was founded in 1794. UT is home to the collections of three sets of presidential papers; those of Presidents Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson, all of whom hailed from Tennessee. UT has three primary campuses, in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin.

32. State of the ___ : UNION

The US President’s State of the Union (SOTU) address is requirement called out in Article II of the Constitution. George Washington gave the first address before a joint session of Congress in 1790. Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of making a personal address by sending Congress a written document that was then read out by a clerk. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson re-established the custom of delivering the message personally, there have been occasions since then when a written address has had to suffice, the last occasion being in 1981 when Jimmy Carter was in office.

38. Part of L.G.B.T.Q. : GAY

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ)

45. Bullies : COWS

The verb “to cow” means to intimidate, to scare. The exact etymology of the term seems unclear.

46. Use a soapbox : ORATE

Back in the 1650s, a soapbox was just that, a wooden box for holding or transporting soap. Empty soapboxes were easily carried by a potential orator and used as a stand from which to deliver an address.

47. Spot from a pot : TEA

I guess the reference here is to the oft quoted English phrase “a spot of tea”. Mind you, I’ve only ever heard that said in jest …

51. Rulers before 1917 : TSARS

The last ruler of Imperial Russia was Tsar Nicholas II (of the House of Romanov). Famously, the Tsar and his family were murdered in 1918 in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg, Russia by members of the Bolshevik secret police. The Tsar’s youngest daughter was 16-year-old Anastasia and rumors of her escape have persisted for years. The rumors grew with the help of numerous women who claimed to be Anastasia. In 2009, DNA testing finally proved that the remains of all of the Tsar’s immediate family, including Anastasia, have been found and identified.

52. Alternative to a four-in-hand : ASCOT

An Ascot is a horrible-looking (I think!), wide tie that narrows at the neck, which these days is only really worn at weddings. The tie takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race at which punters still turn up in formal wear at Ascot Racecourse in England.

53. Pupa-to-be : LARVA

The larva is an intermediate stage in the development of an insect. All four stages are embryo, larva, pupa and imago.

54. Herd member : STEER

A steer is a male bovine that was castrated when young and is then raised for beef. The term comes from the Old English “steor” meaning “bullock”.

57. Jaffe who wrote “Mazes and Monsters” : RONA

Rona Jaffe was an American novelist perhaps most famous for two of her books, “The Best of Everything” and “Mazes and Monsters”. “The Best of Everything” was published in 1958 and has been compared with the HBO television series “Sex and the City” as it depicts women in the working world. “Mazes and Monsters” was published in 1981 and explores a role-playing game similar to Dungeons & Dragons and the impact it has on players.

58. Toon explorer : DORA

“Dora the Explorer” is a cartoon series shown on Nickelodeon. Part of Dora’s remit is to introduce the show’s young viewers to some Spanish words and phrases.

59. With 9-Down, according to share : PRO …
(9D. See 59-Down : … RATA)

“Pro rata” is a Latin phrase meaning “in proportion”.

60. Slip in a pot : IOU

I owe you (IOU)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Menaces that name other menaces if you put a “w” at the start : ASPS
5. Darken : DIM
8. BBC sci-fi series, informally : DR WHO
13. “Your Majesty” : SIRE
14. It leans right: Abbr. : ITAL
16. Sounded satisfied : AAHED
17. Angle between a leafstalk and a stem : AXIL
18. Subject of a parent’s restriction for a child : SCREEN TIME
20. Big “but”? : MAMMOTH CAVEAT (from “Mammoth Cave”)
22. Chevy sedan : IMPALA
23. Prefix with dermis : EPI-
24. Member of a crossword zoo? : EMU
27. Small diamond handed down to an heir? : ESTATE CARAT (from “estate car”)
31. Number 41 or 43 : BUSH
35. Cross shape : TAU
36. Barely leading : UP ONE
37. Immune response trigger : ANTIGEN
39. Takes over (for) : STEPS IN
41. Pageant prize : TIARA
42. Single market locale: Abbr. : EUR
43. Son of John and Yoko : SEAN
44. Fight between two lovers? : HONEY COMBAT (from “honeycomb”)
48. Goal : END
49. Scepter go-with : ORB
50. Elements with names ending in -ium, typically : METALS
55. Futuristic Volkswagen? : FORWARD PASSAT (from “forward pass”)
59. Seat for a ragtime player : PIANO STOOL
61. Amount of land a pair of oxen could plow in a day, historically : ACRE
62. Pitcher’s aid : ROSIN
63. Where a brogue is spoken : EIRE
64. Wander : ROVE
65. “Straight ___ Compton” : OUTTA
66. Fella : LAD
67. Symbol in the middle of a Scrabble board : STAR

Down

1. “Likewise” : AS AM I
2. It comes a quarter of the way into the day : SIX AM
3. Prettify : PRIMP
4. John Lewis march site : SELMA
5. Aversion : DISTASTE
6. What an oatmeal bath alleviates : ITCH
7. Marcel of few words : MARCEAU
8. Someone for whom “Thank you very much” is “Mange tak” : DANE
9. See 59-Down : … RATA
10. Popular wedding flower : WHITE ROSE
11. Fashion line? : HEM
12. Poetic praise : ODE
15. Sprang : LEAPT
19. Christian singer Tornquist : EVIE
21. Good ___ days : OLE
25. Fad x 10 : MANIA
26. Knoxville sch. : UTENN
28. Give a whupping : TAN
29. “Psst, you’re on,” e.g. : CUE
30. iPad purchases : APPS
31. Scrub in the tub : BATHE
32. State of the ___ : UNION
33. Not budge : STAND FAST
34. Charter : HIRE
38. Part of L.G.B.T.Q. : GAY
39. Benchwarmer : SUB
40. Ran roughshod over : TRAMPLED
42. Entangle : EMBROIL
45. Bullies : COWS
46. Use a soapbox : ORATE
47. Spot from a pot : TEA
51. Rulers before 1917 : TSARS
52. Alternative to a four-in-hand : ASCOT
53. Pupa-to-be : LARVA
54. Herd member : STEER
56. Doing the job : ON IT
57. Jaffe who wrote “Mazes and Monsters” : RONA
58. Toon explorer : DORA
59. With 9-Down, according to share : PRO …
60. Slip in a pot : IOU

13 thoughts on “0124-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 24 Jan 2018, Wednesday”

  1. 21:55. Nice leisurely solve. I guess we need to add “zorse” to the crossword zoo as well. I remember that from a couple of weeks ago.

    Ok theme, but I’ll admit something about HONEY COMBAT made me laugh – probably the cynic in me.

    Best –

  2. In the comment on 61 Across, the definition of an acre should read as the area of a strip one furlong long and one chain wide.

  3. No errors. An excellent puzzle from Kathy Weinberg.

    I would like to add a little to the discussion about the word ACRE. First of all, I find it hard to believe that a yoke of oxen could only plow one acre in one day. I have some farming experience and I know that oxen are very powerful animals and capable of huge tasks. Maybe something more reasonable would be to plow one acre in the morning and another acre in the afternoon. I really just do not see how it could take all day to plow a mere one acre.

    Secondly, at least one of the authoritative sources that I looked at said that the old definition was based on a single ox plowing the field. Not a “yoke” of oxen, which is, by definition, two oxen. That sounds a little more reasonable as to the amount of plowing that could be done in one day. I know that farmers are hard workers who are up at dawn and end their day’s work at sundown. I mean no offense to a great profession. It just seems to me that an acre a day would not be a full day’s work.

  4. 11:58, 3 errors, “forced” (as I’m now calling it) by the STUPID theme. With no mention of a theme (I only see puzzle”titles” on Sundays), these little “just ‘cuz I said so” devices are aggravatingly opaque. These punny question clues are really beginning to grate. We simply need better editing (and *culling* of puzzles like this).

  5. “Weird Wednesday” must be the theme of this one. The addition of AT to the end of each theme answer is obvious enough, but so what?

  6. “Spot in a pot” surely refers to a loose tea leaf? A “Spot of tea” is surely too localised and anachronistic even for Mr Shortz…

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