0331-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 31 Mar 2018, Saturday

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Constructed by: Kevin G. Der
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Total Gridlock

We have mind-bending and TOTAL GRIDLOCK in today’s puzzle. Every other row and every other column have answers written in backwards. We have to write in answer ONE WAY, and then the other. We are GOING IN ALL DIRECTIONS:

  • 19A. Most crosstown thoroughfares in Manhattan … with a hint to this puzzle’s theme : ONE-WAY STREETS
  • 35A. With 41-Across, proceeding willy-nilly : GOING IN ALL …
  • 41A. See 35-Across : … DIRECTIONS
  • 52A. Nightmarish Manhattan traffic situation … or a possible title for this puzzle : TOTAL GRIDLOCK

Bill’s time: 1h 25m (not including two long breaks to think about it)

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Insects of the species Myrmica rubra : RED ANTS

Fire ants are stinging ants, and many species are called red ants. Most stinging ants bite their prey and then spray acid on the wound. The fire ant, however, bites to hold on and then injects an alkaloid venom from its abdomen, creating a burning sensation in humans who have been nipped.

8. Kitchen scrubbers : SOS PADS

S.O.S is a brand name of scouring pads made from steel wool impregnated with soap. The product was invented as a giveaway by an aluminum pot salesman in San Francisco called Ed Cox. His wife gave it the name “S.O.S” as an initialism standing for “Save Our Saucepans”. Note the punctuation! There is no period after the last S, and that is deliberate. When Cox went to register the trademark, he found that “S.O.S.” could not be a trademark because it was used as an international distress signal. So he dropped the period after the last S, and I hope made a lot of money for himself and his wife.

16. Food flavorer that’s not supposed to be eaten : BAY LEAF

The seasoning known as bay leaf is the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel tree or shrub. Fresh bay leaves aren’t very flavorful and need to be dried and aged a few weeks before use in the kitchen.

34. Fed : T-MAN

A T-man is a law-enforcement agent of the US Treasury (T is for “Treasury”).

40. Subject for immigration legislation : DREAMER

The acronym “DREAM” stands for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors”.

45. Like plays about plays, say : META

In recent decades the prefix “meta-” has started to be used as a standalone adjective. In this sense “meta” means “self-referential”, describing something that refers to itself. For example, “This sentence starts with the word ‘this’ and ends with the word ‘this’” might be called a meta sentence. A movie that is about the making of the very same movie could also be described as meta.

49. Sparkle : ELAN

Our word “élan” was imported from French, in which language the word has a similar meaning to ours, i.e “style” or “flair”.

64. Yogurt topping : GRANOLA

The names “Granola” and “Granula” were trademarked back in the late 1800s for whole-grain foods that were crumbled and baked until crisp. Granola was created in Dansville, New York in 1894.

Down

1. Johnny nicknamed “The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues” : OTIS

“Johnny Otis” was the stage name of Ioannis Veliotes, a musician from Vallejo, California. Otis is sometimes referred to as the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues”.

3. Actor McGregor : EWAN

Ewan McGregor is a very talented Scottish actor, one who got his break in the 1996 film “Trainspotting”. McGregor’s first big Hollywood role was playing the young Obi-Wan-Kenobi in the “Star Wars” prequels. Less known is his televised marathon motorcycle journey from London to New York via central Europe, Ukraine, Siberia, Mongolia and Canada. The 2004 trip was shown as “Long Way Round” on TV. McGregor did a similar trip in 2007 called “Long Way Down”, which took him and the same travelling companion from the north of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa.

6. ___ alcohol : ETHYL

Ethyl alcohol is more usually known as ethanol. Ethanol is the alcohol found in intoxicating beverages, and nowadays is also used as a fuel for cars. It is also found in medical wipes and hand sanitizer, in which it acts as an antiseptic.

7. Lady ___, first female member of the British Parliament : ASTOR

Nancy Astor (nee Langhorne) was born in the US, in Virginia. When Nancy was 26 years old she moved to England with her younger sister. In England she married an American living there, Waldorf Astor, and the couple lived a very comfortable life. Nancy Astor became very active in English politics, and eventually became the first woman elected to the British Parliament.

10. Artist with the 7x platinum album “A Day Without Rain” : ENYA

Enya’s real name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, which can translate from Irish into Enya Brennan. Her Donegal family (in the northwest of Ireland) formed a band called Clannad, which included Enya. In 1980 Enya launched her very successful solo career, eventually becoming Ireland’s best-selling solo musician. And, she sure does turn up a lot in crosswords!

11. Emulates Lady Macbeth : PLOTS

Lady Macbeth is an evil and treacherous woman in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. The most famous line uttered by Lady Macbeth has to be:

Out, damned spot! Out, I say!

In this line, Lady Macbeth is frantically rubbing at her hand trying to get rid of an imaginary bloodstain left there after she committed four murders.

20. Banks on a runway : TYRA

Tyra Banks is a tremendously successful model and businesswoman. Banks created and hosted the hit show “America’s Next Top Model “, and also had her own talk show. She was also the first African American woman to make the cover of the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue. Banks took over as host of “America’s Got Talent” in 2017.

23. Holden’s younger sister in “The Catcher in the Rye” : PHOEBE

“The Catcher in the Rye” is the most famous novel from the pen of J. D. Salinger. The main character and narrator in the book is Holden Caulfield, a teenager who gets expelled from a university prep school. Caulfield also makes appearances in several short stories written by Salinger, as do other members of the Caulfield family. The title “The Catcher in the Rye” is a reference to the 1782 poem “Comin’ Thro” the Rye” by Scottish poet Robert Burns.

24. Slow and stately compositions : LARGOS

“Largo” is a instruction to play a piece of music with a very slow tempo. “Largo” is an Italian word meaning “broadly”.

25. Aquafina competitor : DASANI

Dasani is a Coca-Cola brand of bottled water. Dasani is simply filtered tap water with some trace minerals added.

26. Realm of Queen Lucy the Valiant : NARNIA

Apparently it’s not certain how C. S. Lewis came to choose Narnia as the name of the fantasy world featured in his series of children’s books, including “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. There was an ancient city in Umbria that the Romans called Narnia, but there is no evidence of a link.

28. Needle case : ETUI

An etui is an ornamental case used to hold small items, in particular sewing needles. We imported both the case design and the word “etui” from France. The French also have a modern usage of “etui”, using the term to depict a case for carrying CDs.

32. The “I” of Constantine I? : EGO

“Ego” is a Latin word meaning “I”.

Constantine the Great (aka Constantine I and St. Constantine) was Emperor of Rome from 306 to 337. Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, and along with co-Emperor Licinius he proclaimed religious tolerance throughout the Roman Empire. It was Constantine who gave his name to the city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Also, the famous Arch of Constantine in Rome was built to commemorate one of Constantine’s military victories. This arch that was the model for many famous arches around the world including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Marble Arch in London, and the arch in the main facade of Union Station in Washington, DC.

37. Turkey club? : NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded not long after WWII in 1949 and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The first NATO Secretary General was Lord Ismay, Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant during WWII. Famously, Lord Ismay said the goal of NATO was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

50. Ancient shopping place : AGORA

In early Greece, the agora was a place of assembly. The assemblies held there were often quite formal, perhaps for the reading of a proclamation. Later in Greek history, things became less formal as the agora evolved into a marketplace. Our contemporary word “agoraphobia” comes from these agorae, in the sense that an agoraphobe has a fear of open spaces, a fear of “public meeting places”.

51. Reading unit : LITRE

On the other side of the Atlantic we use the French spelling for measurements that originated in French, so “metre” for “meter” and “litre” for “liter”.

Reading is the county town of Berkshire in England. It is a major railroad junction, and the site of a renowned monastery and a prison. Reading Prison was where American actor Stacy Keach spent 6 months in 1984, convicted of smuggling cocaine into the UK.

53. ___ law : TORT

The word “tort” is a French word meaning “mischief, injury or wrong”. In common law, a tort is a civil wrong that results in the injured party suffering loss or harm, and the injuring party having a legal liability. Tort law differs from criminal law in that torts may result from negligence and not just intentional actions. Also, tort lawsuits may be decided on a preponderance of evidence, without the need of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

54. Part of A.D. : ANNO

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

58. Pepsi, e.g. : COLA

The Pepsi-Cola formulation was developed by one Caleb Bradham who made the drink at home and sold it as Brad’s Drink. Bradham’s aim was to provide a drink that was pleasant to taste, that would aid digestion and boost energy. Included in the formula were pepsin (a digestive enzyme) and kola nuts. These two ingredients inspired the brand name we use today: Pepsi-Cola.

59. Kind of vaccine : SALK

Jonas Salk was an American medical researcher who developed the first safe polio vaccine. In the fifties, especially after the 1952 epidemic, polio was the biggest health fear in the US because it killed thousands, left even more with disabilities and most of the victims were children. The situation was dire and the authorities immediately quarantined the family of any polio victim, and that quarantine was so strict that in many cases the families were not even permitted to attend the funeral of a family member who died from the disease.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Insects of the species Myrmica rubra : RED ANTS
8. Kitchen scrubbers : SOS PADS
15. “What are my other choices? There are none” : I HAVE TO
16. Food flavorer that’s not supposed to be eaten : BAY LEAF
17. Try to hit with : THROW AT
18. “My treat” : IT’S ON ME
19. Most crosstown thoroughfares in Manhattan … with a hint to this puzzle’s theme : ONE-WAY STREETS
21. ___ Daily News (paper since 1878) : YALE
22. Employers of masseurs : SPAS
25. Jeweler’s creation : INSET
29. Start of some futuristic toy names : ROBO-
33. Short while? : THO’
34. Fed : T-MAN
35. With 41-Across, proceeding willy-nilly : GOING IN ALL …
38. Awakening : AROUSAL
40. Subject for immigration legislation : DREAMER
41. See 35-Across : … DIRECTIONS
43. Back on the job? : ABET
44. Hang time, to a snowboarder : AIR
45. Like plays about plays, say : META
46. Physicist’s proposal : MODEL
47. Headdress decoration : BEAD
49. Sparkle : ELAN
52. Nightmarish Manhattan traffic situation … or a possible title for this puzzle : TOTAL GRIDLOCK
60. Progress : INROADS
62. Access, as a computer network : LOG INTO
63. Place of danger : HOT ZONE
64. Yogurt topping : GRANOLA
65. Goes against a proposal : VOTES NO
66. Chamomile alternative : SAGE TEA

Down

1. Johnny nicknamed “The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues” : OTIS
2. Comparison word : THAN
3. Actor McGregor : EWAN
4. Profess : AVOW
5. Started to cry, with “up” : TEARED
6. ___ alcohol : ETHYL
7. Lady ___, first female member of the British Parliament : ASTOR
8. Yanks’ foes : REBS
9. Woman with a title : DAME
10. Artist with the 7x platinum album “A Day Without Rain” : ENYA
11. Emulates Lady Macbeth : PLOTS
12. Small coffee cups : DEMITASSES
13. Morsel a horse’ll eat : OAT
14. Provisos : IFS
20. Banks on a runway : TYRA
23. Holden’s younger sister in “The Catcher in the Rye” : PHOEBE
24. Slow and stately compositions : LARGOS
25. Aquafina competitor : DASANI
26. Realm of Queen Lucy the Valiant : NARNIA
27. Private ship cabins : STATEROOMS
28. Needle case : ETUI
30. “___ idea!” : I’D NO
31. Frequent tweeter : BIRD
32. The “I” of Constantine I? : EGO
35. Fancy collar material : LACE
36. Poker giveaway : TELL
37. Turkey club? : NATO
39. Peaks: Abbr. : MTS
42. Tolled : RANG
46. What bicyclists might ride in : TANDEM
48. Hooch : BOOZE
50. Ancient shopping place : AGORA
51. Reading unit : LITRE
53. ___ law : TORT
54. Part of A.D. : ANNO
55. Bridal wear : VEIL
56. Bank annoyance : LINE
57. Rush-rush : GO-GO
58. Pepsi, e.g. : COLA
59. Kind of vaccine : SALK
60. Honey ___ (Post cereal) : OH’S
61. Get into : DON

17 thoughts on “0331-18 NY Times Crossword Answers 31 Mar 2018, Saturday”

  1. 27:43, no errors. An astonishing puzzle! This one was difficult to do on my iPad, but it would have been even more difficult on paper. Even after I figured out the gimmick, I spent as much time erasing entries as I did entering them. At the end, I couldn’t bring myself to do a final check … so I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, typed in the final letter … and got the “success” message! Wild! ?

  2. 34:57 Fortunately 19A was one of the first clues I read and entered so I assumed something tricky was going on. That was confirmed with a few answers I definitely knew like EWAN and PHOEBE (my daughter’s name) which helped me figure out which direction to enter SPAS. Other than the trick I thought a lot of the cluing was easier than normal for a Saturday. Only real trouble spot, other than entering the backwards answers on the iPad, was the area around NATO. Overall I thought it was an interesting challenge.

    1. What a mean trick to play on novice cross word players! We have a hard enough time with straight puzzles. I hope you got your5 kicks today. Not fun and not funny. Shame on you!

      1. Mean enough for pros too.

        Bad idea, bad clues – even getting the answers, there was nowhere to put them. Who would put “sos pads” in backward when brillos fit so well? And what help is Ewan and Phoebe unless you lucked out like Marc above? (Did it on paper btw.)

        Thanks a lot for “tolled”! Even now with 300 power reading glasses it looks like “toiled.” Gotta second the “shame on you!” Bet St. Nader votes no.

    1. “Back” in this case is to “stand behind” or “help”. A supremely cynical homophone in the clue. (The **bastards**) And “on the job” is synonymous with “during the heist”. so, “to help during the heist” is to abet in a crime.

  3. This puzzle is appropriate for Thursday, not Saturday. I look forward to Saturday’s puzzle to be a wordsmith challenge and not something too clever for words. The week has a rhythm and this week ends on a discordant note.

  4. 49:09, and 4 errors, where PHOEBE and SAPS cross DEMITASSES and ABET.

    This was a bitter, cynical, hard-bitten New Yorker son-of-a-**bitch** of a puzzle, but I have to grudgingly acknowledge the effort. I was happy just to finish it. 43A, I was **certain** had to be “AT IT”, and the homophone trap worked to perfection. Had I been more up on my Salinger, I’d have known “PHOEBE” and also would have corrected my incorrect E in DEMITASSES, which I “had” earlier, but had changed as I worked the “every which way” grid.

    This was by far the meanest, dirtiest, most low-down outrage of the year. But still, I gotta smile wryly at Kevin Der and say, “You got us GOOD, you bastige!!!”

  5. 47:05, no errors. The combination of vague/esoteric clues, with alternating upside down/backward entries, certainly provided for a challenging puzzle; which required a second cup of coffee.

  6. A very clever and rarely themed Saturday puzzle, but too tedious and annoying to complete, which I didn’t.

  7. I loved it. Once you figured out the theme it clued easier than the usual Saturday grind it out. When I was a novice puzzler I didn’t usually bother with the Saturday Times but that’s me. I’ll take no errors for Friday and Saturday any time I can get it! Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. Thank you Will and Kevin G. Der

  8. I should’ve shown more appreciation of this unusually clever puzzle. But even after finally getting the gimmick, my brain was maybe too frazzled to continue on with it.

  9. This one annoyed me, Until I came here and saw Bill’s time. I think this may be the first time I’ve beaten his. Usually I’m at Double. 37’

  10. DNF, 54 minutes, no standing errors. Didn’t know 12D, 23D, or 24D so didn’t get much help in getting into that section of the grid, so had to look up 7 letters. While I was aware of the gimmick coming (19A, the date, some chatter on another blog), it ultimately revealed itself for my own eyes in the very early going as certain answers didn’t make sense on the face of it.

    @others
    As I noted, the date should have tipped you off to this grid if nothing else. As the NYT doesn’t run anything like this on Sunday (ever?), the annual April Fool’s grid landed on today.

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