0818-18 NY Times Crossword 18 Aug 18, Saturday

Constructed by: Mark Diehl
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 15m 29s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

10. Jon of 2010’s “The Town” : HAMM

Jon Hamm lived the life of a struggling actor for quite some time before he hit gold with the starring role in the AMC drama “Mad Men”. He plays the main character, advertising executive (and man about town), Don Draper. I am told by my wife and female friends, that he is quite good looking. I don’t see it myself …

14. Cover for a cowboy : STETSON HAT

“Stetson” is a brand of hat manufactured by the John B. Stetson Company of St. Joseph, Missouri. The so called “cowboy hat” that Stetson pioneered was such a success that the company became the largest hat maker in the world, producing over 3.3 million hats per year.

15. Here, in Honduras : AQUI

“Here” is “aquí” in Spanish and “ici” in French.

Honduras is a Central American country that used to be known as Spanish Honduras, in order to differentiate it from British Honduras that is now called Belize. “Honduras” is the Spanish word for “the depths”, which is probably a reference to deep coastal waters.

16. Beset, as a castle : LAY SIEGE TO

Our word “siege” comes from a 13th century word for a “seat”. The military usage derives from the concept of a besieging force “sitting down” outside a fortress until it falls.

17. Garb : DUDS

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

18. Ones frequently called on to give, for short : ALUMS

An alumnus (plural “alumni”) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural “alumnae”). The term comes into English from Latin, in which an alumnus is a foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.

21. Toward the poop deck : AFT

A poop deck is a deck located on the roof of the cabin at the stern of a ship. The term “poop” comes from the French “poupe” meaning “stern”.

Not too long ago we replaced the deck in our backyard, and now actually have two decks, one higher than the other. We’ve christened the lower of the two “the poop deck”. Darned dog …

29. Tea party member : MARCH HARE

The March Hare is a character in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. It was the March Hare who hosted the tea party near the start of the story, in which we are introduced to another famous character, the Mad Hatter.

35. Primitive wind instrument : OCARINA

An ocarina is an ancient wind-instrument that sounds like and is played like a flute. Usually an ocarina has an egg-shaped body with a number of finger holes cut into the material making up the instrument (usually ceramic). There is a tube protruding from the body through which one blows to make sounds. The air vibrates within the body of the instrument, and the pitch of the vibrations is changed by covering and uncovering the finger-holes. Ocarinas date back as far as 12,000 years ago when they were used both in China and Central America. The ocarina was brought to Italy in the 1800s where it became popular as a child’s toy, but also as a serious instrument. It was given the name “ocarina” as its shape resembles that of a goose, and “ocarina”is a diminutive word stemming from “oca”, the Italian word for “goose”.

38. Story of past glories, maybe? : ATTIC

An attic or loft is a room or space located below the roof of a building. The term “attic” is a shortened form of “attic story”, the uppermost story or level of a house. This term “attic story” originally applied to a low, decorative level built on top of the uppermost story behind a building’s decorative facade. This use of decoration at the top of buildings was common in ancient Greece, and was particularly important in the Attica style. That Attica style was so called because it originated in the historical region of Attica that encompassed the city of Athens. And that’s how our attics are linked to ancient Greece.

41. City along the old Oregon Trail : TOPEKA

Topeka is the capital of Kansas, and is located on the Kansas River in the northeast of the state. The name “Topeka” was chosen in 1855 and translates from the Kansa and the Ioway languages as “to dig good potatoes”. The reference isn’t to the common potato but rather to the herb known as the prairie potato (also “prairie turnip”), which was an important food for many Native Americans.

The Oregon Trail was established by fur trappers and traders as early as 1811. The first migrant wagon train traveled the route in 1836, starting off in Independence, Missouri and going as far as Fort Hall, Idaho. In the coming years, the trail was extended for wagons as far as the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

46. Up to snuff : ABLE

The term “up to snuff” today means “up to standard”. It was introduced to us for the first time in 1811 in a play called “Hamlet Travestie” by Englishman John Poole. He used the term to mean “in the know”. It was perhaps a reference to the habit of taking powdered tobacco, a practice back then that was associated with the upper classes, the educated, those in the know.

50. Priest in the Books of Samuel : ELI

In the Bible, Eli is a High Priest of Shiloh, and the teacher of Samuel. As such, his story is told in the Book of Samuel. Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, both of whom are described as wicked. As a result of their wayward lifestyle, it is prophesied that all of Eli’s male descendents will die before reaching old age.

53. Picked rock against paper, say : LOST

Rock-paper-scissors is a hand game played by two people, at least here in North America. Back in Ireland we called the game “scissors-paper-stone”, and another name encountered around the English-speaking world is “roshambo”. The game is often used as a way to choose between two options or two people.

59. Computer statisticians : DATA MINERS

The process of data mining is used to extract information from a database and present it in a form that facilitates further use.

60. TV host who won a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor : LENO

Jay Leno was born James Leno in New Rochelle, New York. Jay’s father was the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother was from Scotland. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and actually dropped out of school on the advice of a high school guidance counsellor. However, years later he went to Emerson college and earned a Bachelor’s degree in speech therapy. Leno also started a comedy club at Emerson in 1973. Today Jay Leno is a car nut and owns about 200 vehicles of various types. You can check them out on his website: www.jaylenosgarage.com.

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor has been awarded annually since 1998 by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The first recipient of the award was Richard Pryor. George Carlin won in 2008, and was the only person to be awarded posthumously.

Down

4. Symbols of wave functions : PSIS

A wave function in quantum mechanics is usually denoted with the Greek letter psi. A wave function is a mathematical function that describes the quantum state of a particle and how it behaves.

6. Lee with three Oscar-garnering films : ANG

Taiwanese director Ang Lee sure has directed a mixed bag of films, mixed in terms of genre but not in terms of quality. He was at the helm for such classics as “Sense & Sensibility” (my personal favorite), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hulk”, “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi”.

7. President between James and Grover : CHESTER

Chester Alan Arthur (CAA) was the 21st President of the US, and came to power after the assassination of James Garfield in 1881. President Arthur was known to be socially adept, and was very conscious of his role in society. He was always immaculately attired, apparently even changing his pants several times in a day. He was called “Chet” by family and friends, and sometimes answered to his middle name, Alan. However, he insisted that Alan be pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, Al-an.

James Abram Garfield, the 20th President, was assassinated in office. He was shot twice, and one bullet could not be found (it was lodged in his spine). The inventor Alexander Graham Bell developed a metal detector in an attempt to locate the bullet, but apparently he was unsuccessful because of interference from the metal bed frame on which the president lay. Garfield died two months after being shot.

Grover Cleveland was the only person to have served as US President in two non-consecutive terms, and is sometimes referred to as our 22nd and 24th president. 49-year-old President Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom during his first term. This marked the only time that a president has married in the White House. And, that marriage made Frances the youngest wife of any sitting US president.

8. Lead female role in “Singin’ in the Rain” : KATHY

In the wonderful musical film “Singin’ in the Rain”, the character Lina Lamont (played by Jean Hagen) is the actress with the grating voice who has to be dubbed by Kathy Selden (played by Debbie Reynolds). In reality, Debbie Reynolds’ voice was dubbed by an uncredited Netty Noyes.

11. In-pool fitness program : AQUA ZUMBA

The exercise program known as Zumba was developed in the mid-nineties in Cali, Colombia by dancer and choreographer Beto Perez. Along with two partners, Perez introduced a series of fitness videos that they sold using infomercials. The name “Zumba” is just an arbitrary brand name.

20. Rigby of songdom : ELEANOR

When Paul McCartney was writing “Eleanor Rigby”, he started out with the title “Daisy Hawkins”. He also had a “Father McCartney” in the lyrics, but was afraid that folks would assume that was a reference to his Dad. So, he looked through the phone book and changed McCartney to McKenzie. The name Eleanor was borrowed from actress Eleanor Bron (a fine English actress who had a role in the movie “Help!”). The name Rigby came from Rigby & Evans Ltd, Wine & Spirit Shippers. Whatever it takes, I guess!

23. “My Kind of Town” lyricist : CAHN

Sammy Cahn wrote for them all, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Doris Day. Cahn’s most famous song was probably “Three Coins in the Fountain”. He also wrote “All the Way”, made famous by Frank Sinatra.

“My Kind of Town” is a song composed for the 1964 musical film “Robin and the 7 Hoods”. “My Kind of Town” was performed principally by Frank Sinatra in the film, and Sinatra recorded it as a single that same year.

24. Almost-sacrificed son in the Bible : ISAAC

According to the Bible, Abraham’s son Isaac was born to Abraham’s wife Sarah when she was beyond her childbearing years and when Abraham was 100 years old. Isaac himself lived until he was 180 years old. When Isaac was just a youth, Abraham was tested by Yahweh (God) and told to build an altar on which he was to sacrifice his only son. At the last minute, an angel appeared and stopped Abraham, telling him to sacrifice a ram instead.

29. Defensive ring : MOAT

A moat is a protective trench that surrounds a castle, say, or a an exhibit in a zoo. A moat may or may not be filled with water.

31. One use for arsenic : RAT POISON

Arsenic is element #33 in the periodic table, and has the chemical symbol “As”. Because of arsenic’s toxicity, it was very commonly used in pesticides. These compounds are getting banned over time, but it seems there is a long way to go. Arsenic in aquifers continues to be a problem around the world, including here in the US. China has introduced limits to the amounts of arsenic permitted in food as well as water, mainly as the Chinese staple rice is particularly good at accumulating arsenic from groundwater.

32. Former news agent : CRIER

Town criers make public announcements on the streets, usually shouting “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” to attract attention. The term “oyez” derives from the Anglo-Norman word for “listen” and is used in this instance to me “Hear ye!”

33. Gulf Coast flier : EGRET

Egrets are a group of several species of white herons. Many egret species were faced with extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s due to plume hunting, a practice driven by the demand for egret plumes that could be incorporated into hats.

37. Concern for TV’s Aunt Bee : OPIE

Opie Taylor is the character played by Ron Howard on “The Andy Griffith Show”. Opie lives with widowed father Andy Taylor (played by Andy Griffith) and his great-aunt Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (played by Frances Bavier). Ron Howard first played the role in 1960 in the pilot show, when he was just 5 years old. Howard sure has come a long way since playing Opie Taylor. He has directed some fabulous movies including favorites of mine like “Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Da Vinci Code”.

40. Mariah Carey holiday song that was a #1 Adult Contemporary hit : OH SANTA!

Mariah Carey produced her first album in 1990 under the guidance of Tommy Mottola, an executive at Columbia Records. Mottola and Carey must have hit it off, because they were married three years later (although Mottola is now married to a different singer …).

46. Curling venue : ARENA

I think curling is such a cool game (pun!). It’s somewhat like bowls, but played on a sheet of ice. The sport was supposedly invented in medieval Scotland, and is called curling because of the action of the granite stone is it moves across the ice. A player can make the stone take a curved path (“curl”) by causing it to slowly rotate as it slides.

49. National Mall liners : ELMS

The National Mall is a park in downtown Washington, D.C. The National Mall is home to several museums that are part of the Smithsonian, as well as the National Gallery of Art.

50. Airline in the early 1950s’ Operation Ali Baba : EL AL

Operation Ali Baba was the airlift of over 100,000 members of the Iraqi Jewish community from Iraq to the newly-founded state of Israel in the early 1950s.

54. Derek Jeter’s retired number : TWO

Derek Jeter played his entire professional baseball career with the New York Yankees, and was the team’s captain. Jeter is the all-time career leader for the Yankees in hits, games played, stolen bases and at bats. He is also the all-time leader in hits by a shortstop in the whole of professional baseball. Jeter’s performances in the postseason earned him the nicknames “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November”. Jeter retired from the game in 2014.

56. Top of Scotland : TAM

A tam o’shanter is a man’s cap traditionally worn by Scotsmen. “Tams” were originally all blue (and called “blue bonnets”) but as more dyes became readily available they became more colorful. The name of the cap comes from the title character of the Robert Burns poem “Tam O’Shanter”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Certain fish … or sailboats : SKIPJACKS
10. Jon of 2010’s “The Town” : HAMM
14. Cover for a cowboy : STETSON HAT
15. Here, in Honduras : AQUI
16. Beset, as a castle : LAY SIEGE TO
17. Garb : DUDS
18. Ones frequently called on to give, for short : ALUMS
19. Makeshift fly swatter : SHOE
21. Toward the poop deck : AFT
22. ___ the King Prawn (Muppet in “Muppets Tonight”) : PEPE
23. Urban open space : CITY PLAZA
26. Hit with a charge : TASE
27. Charm : SEDUCE
29. Tea party member : MARCH HARE
34. Ones in charge, for short : ADMIN
35. Primitive wind instrument : OCARINA
36. Turned : GONE BAD
38. Story of past glories, maybe? : ATTIC
39. Private leaders : CORPORALS
41. City along the old Oregon Trail : TOPEKA
43. IV, to III : HEIR
44. Hint of things to come : FORETASTE
46. Up to snuff : ABLE
50. Priest in the Books of Samuel : ELI
51. “___ problem” : NOT A
52. Suffer in the sun : BROIL
53. Picked rock against paper, say : LOST
55. Open investigation? : DENTAL EXAM
58. State as a matter of fact : AVOW
59. Computer statisticians : DATA MINERS
60. TV host who won a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor : LENO
61. Ink holders : STAMP PADS

Down

1. Like twice-told tales : STALE
2. Make psyched : KEY UP
3. “You know who I am” : IT’S ME
4. Symbols of wave functions : PSIS
5. Regular guy : JOE
6. Lee with three Oscar-garnering films : ANG
7. President between James and Grover : CHESTER
8. Lead female role in “Singin’ in the Rain” : KATHY
9. Gets down, in a way : STOOPS
10. Made a meal of : HAD
11. In-pool fitness program : AQUA ZUMBA
12. Rejuvenating treatment at a spa : MUD FACIAL
13. Vegetable aisle freshener : MIST
14. Give an unexpected hand : SLAP
20. Rigby of songdom : ELEANOR
23. “My Kind of Town” lyricist : CAHN
24. Almost-sacrificed son in the Bible : ISAAC
25. Summer : ADDER
26. Add cornstarch to : THICKEN
28. ___ of the earth : ENDS
29. Defensive ring : MOAT
30. Selfless gesture : ACT OF LOVE
31. One use for arsenic : RAT POISON
32. Former news agent : CRIER
33. Gulf Coast flier : EGRET
37. Concern for TV’s Aunt Bee : OPIE
40. Mariah Carey holiday song that was a #1 Adult Contemporary hit : OH SANTA!
42. Out of sync : AT ODDS
45. Irked constantly : ATE AT
46. Curling venue : ARENA
47. Exchanged some crosses : BOXED
48. Figures in a classic logic problem : LIARS
49. National Mall liners : ELMS
50. Airline in the early 1950s’ Operation Ali Baba : EL AL
52. Minor deviation : BLIP
54. Derek Jeter’s retired number : TWO
56. Top of Scotland : TAM
57. Bit of dance club equipment : AMP

9 thoughts on “0818-18 NY Times Crossword 18 Aug 18, Saturday”

  1. 23:45 I got the top pretty quickly. I put in STETSONHAT right away and was off to the races. The bottom part and the area around OCARINA was a little slower but finally got it.

  2. 17:43, no errors. Got started in the lower left and proceeded clockwise, finishing with “SKIPJACK”, “STETSON HAT”, “LAY SIEGE TO”, and lesser associated entries in the vicinity.

  3. My fastest time ever for a Saturday. I appreciate a puzzle that is both challenging and solvable. Days like this keep me coming back for more.

  4. 13:25, no errors. Benefitted from correctly guessing many of the long entries quickly, such as SKIPJACK and STETSON HAT; and only one erasure: 28D replacing ‘SALT of the Earth’ with ‘ENDS of the earth’. I expected a lot of curveballs today, and the setter delivered.

    Only familiar with OCARINA because my kids played ‘Legend of Zelda’.

  5. Clean, fair, and relatively easy. Like this one a whole lot better than yesterday’s. Got a kick out of SLAP as getting an unexpected hand. (Happy to say no errors on
    a Saturday.)

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