0829-18 NY Times Crossword 29 Aug 18, Wednesday

Constructed by: Alex Bajcz
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): City Names Can Stymie

Themed answers end with a city name, and start with an anagram of that city name:

  • 18A. Work as a metropolitan health official? : DIAGNOSE SAN DIEGO
  • 29A. Works as a metropolitan census taker? : COUNTS TUCSON
  • 44A. Work as a metropolitan traffic engineer? : HASTEN ATHENS
  • 55A. Works as a metropolitan reclaimant? : SALVAGES LAS VEGAS

Bill’s time: 12m 38s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

11. Grp. co-founded by Helen Keller : ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its roots in the First World War when it was founded to provide legal advice and support to conscientious objectors. The ACLU’s motto is “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”. The ACLU also hosts a blog on the ACLU.org website called “Speak Freely”.

Helen Keller became a noted author despite been deaf and blind, largely through the work of her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Keller was left deaf and blind after an illness (possible meningitis or scarlet fever). when she was about 18 months old. She was to become the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The relationship between Sullivan and Keller is immortalized in the play and film called “The Miracle Worker”.

16. Singer Fitzgerald : ELLA

Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song”, had a hard and tough upbringing. She was raised by her mother alone in Yonkers, New York. Her mother died while Ella was still a schoolgirl, and around that time the young girl became less interested in her education. She fell in with a bad crowd, even working as a lookout for a bordello and as a Mafia numbers runner. She ended up in reform school, from which she escaped, and found herself homeless and living on the streets for a while. Somehow Fitzgerald managed to get herself a spot singing in the Apollo Theater in Harlem. From there her career took off and as they say, the rest is history.

17. Title that translates as “lord” : KHAN

A “khan” was a medieval sovereign, a ruler over Mongol, Turkish and Tatar tribes.

18. Work as a metropolitan health official? : DIAGNOSE SAN DIEGO

The name of the California city of San Diego dates back to 1602, when Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno named the area after the Catholic Saint Didacus. Saint Didacus was more commonly referred to as San Diego de Alcalá.

21. Duncan of the Obama cabinet : ARNE

Long before Arne Duncan became Secretary of Education, he was a professional basketball player, but not in the NBA. Duncan played for the National Basketball League of Australia, with the Eastside Spectres in Melbourne.

24. Home for a clown fish : REEF

Clownfish are very colorful, attractive-looking fish. They are orange and often have broad strips of white and black on their bodies depending on species. Clownfish spend their lives in a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones.

29. Works as a metropolitan census taker? : COUNTS TUCSON

Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona (after Phoenix). The founding father of the city was Hugh O’Conor, yet another Irishman, but one who was raised in Spain. O’Conor was a mercenary working for Spain when he authorized the construction of a military fort called Presidio San Augustín del Tucsón in 1775, which eventually grew into the city that we know today. The Spanish name “Tucsón” comes from the local name “Cuk Ṣon”, which translates as “(at the) base of the black (hill)”.

33. Grilled sushi offering : EEL

Anyone going to a sushi restaurant can order all types of raw fish (known collectively as “sashimi”). However, eel is always served cooked, and that’s because the blood of eels contains a protein that cramps muscles if eaten. If the heart muscle “cramps”, the result can be death. The protein is easily rendered harmless by applying heat, i.e. by cooking.

35. “Rock of Love” star Michaels : BRET

Bret Michaels is a singer-songwriter who came to fame as the lead vocalist of the glam metal band called Poison. Michaels also won the third season of the reality show “Celebrity Apprentice”.

38. Operator of weather.gov : NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is one of the seven federal uniformed services, namely:

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps

41. Jeté, e.g. : LEAP

A jeté is a leap in ballet, with the term “jeté” coming from the French word “jeter” meaning “to throw”. A “jeté en avant” is a “leap to the front”, towards the audience. A “grand jeté” is a long horizontal jump, a split in the air, leaping from one foot to the other.

43. Key above “~” : ESC

The escape key (Esc) was originally used to control computer peripherals. It was a key that allowed the computer operator to stop what the peripheral was doing (cancel a print job, for example). Nowadays the escape key is used for all sorts of things, especially in gaming programs.

44. Work as a metropolitan traffic engineer? : HASTEN ATHENS

Athens is the capital city of Greece and is one of the world’s oldest cities, with a history that goes back around 3,400 years. In its heyday, Classical Athens was a remarkable center for the arts and philosophical debate, and was home to Plato and Aristotle. Athens is often called “the cradle of Western civilization” and “the birthplace of democracy”. The city was named for the Greek goddess Athena.

48. Works of Dalí, e.g. : ARTE

The famous surrealist painter Salvador Dalí was born in Figueres, Spain. I had the privilege of visiting the Dalí Museum in Figueres some years ago, just north of Barcelona. If you ever get the chance, it’s a “must see” as it really is a quite magnificent building with a fascinating collection.

49. Word before flush or pain : ROYAL

The poker hand called a royal flush is the highest-ranking hand possible. It consists of a run of 10, jack, queen, king and ace, with all in the same suit.

55. Works as a metropolitan reclaimant? : SALVAGES LAS VEGAS

Back in the 1800s, the Las Vegas Valley was given its name from the extensive meadows (“las vegas” is Spanish for “the meadows”) present in the area courtesy of the artesian wells drilled by local farmers. Las Vegas was incorporated as a city in 1905, in the days when it was a stopping-off point for pioneers travelling west. It eventually became a railroad town, although with the coming of the railroad growth halted as travelers began to bypass Las Vegas. The city’s tourism industry took off in 1935 with the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam, which is still a popular attraction. Then gambling was legalized, and things really started to move. Vegas was picked, largely by celebrated figures in “the mob”, as a convenient location across the California/Nevada state line that could service the vast population of Los Angeles. As a result, Las Vegas is the most populous US city founded in the 20th century (Chicago is the most populous city founded in the 19th century, just in case you were wondering).

59. Item with a bore and a bell : OBOE

When you hear an orchestra tuning before a performance, you’ll note (pun!) that the oboe starts off the process by playing an “A”. The rest of the musicians in turn tune to that oboe’s “A”.

63. Lhasa ___ (dog) : APSO

The Lhasa apso breed of dog originated in Tibet and is named after “Lhasa” (the capital city) and “apso” (a Tibetan word meaning “bearded”). The Lhasa apso has been around since 800 BC and is one of the oldest breeds in the world, one very closely related to the ancestral wolf.

64. Actress Milano of “Charmed” : ALYSSA

Alyssa Milano is an actress who started her career at a very young age. Milano played Samantha Micelli on “Who’s the Boss”, the daughter of the character played by Tony Danza.

Down

1. Org. to take your beefs to? : USDA

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies meat into eight different grades:

  • Prime
  • Choice
  • Select
  • Standard
  • Commercial
  • Utility
  • Cutter
  • Canner

2. 1950’s “The Asphalt Jungle,” for one : NOIR

“The Asphalt Jungle” is a 1950 film directed by John Huston that is based on a novel of the same name by W. R. Burnett. The movie tells the story of the planning and execution of a jewel heist. Included in the cast is a young Marilyn Monroe who plays a minor role.

5. Taylor of fashion : ANN

There was no actual person called “Ann Taylor” associated with the Ann Taylor line of clothes. The name was chosen by the marketing professionals because “Ann” was considered to be “very New England” back in 1954 when the stores first opened, and “Taylor” suggested that clothes were carefully “tailored”.

6. Nala, but not Simba : LIONESS

In “The Lion King”, Nala is a lioness and the childhood friend of Simba. By the end of the story, Nala and Simba become wedded. “The Lion King” is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, with Simba representing the title character, and Nala representing Hamlet’s love interest Ophelia.

8. Yellow belly? : ELS

There are two letters L (els) in the middle of the word “yellow”.

9. Danube’s outlet : BLACK SEA

The Danube is the second largest river in Europe (after the Volga). The Danube flows through four European capitals (Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade and Bratislava).

11. Dog with a thick double coat : AKITA

The Akita breed of dog is named for its point of origin, the Akita Prefecture in Japan. When Helen Keller visited Japan in 1937, she asked for and was given an Akita breed of dog, with the name of Kamikaze-go. Sadly, the dog died within a year from distemper. The following year the Japanese government officially presented Keller with a replacement dog. Supposedly Keller’s dogs were the first members of the breed to be introduced into the US.

13. Gamer’s frustration : LAG

In Internet terms, lag is a delay in response caused by network latency. We might notice lag when streaming a video, for example.

14. Cry with one card in hand : UNO!

UNO is a card game that was developed in the early seventies and that has been sold by Mattel since 1992. UNO falls into the “shedding” family of card games, in that the goal is to get rid of all your cards while preventing opponents from doing the same.

19. Like Brie : SOFT

Brie is a soft cheese that is named for the French region in which it originated. Brie is similar to the equally famous (and delicious) Camembert.

27. Numbers game : KENKEN

KenKen is an arithmetic and logic puzzle invented quite recently, in 2004 by a Japanese math teacher named Tetsuya Miyamoto. “Ken” is the Japanese word for “cleverness”.

28. Wet blankets? : SLEETS

Apparently, “sleet” is a term used to describe two different weather conditions. One is a shower of ice pellets, smaller than hail, and the second is a mixture of rain and snow, with the snow melting as it falls.

30. In scoring position, in a way : ON BASE

That would be baseball.

32. They hid beneath the surface : U-BOATS

“U-boat” stands for the German “Unterseeboot” (undersea boat). Notably, a U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania in 1915, an event that helped propel the US into WWI.

36. Voldemort, to Harry Potter : ARCHENEMY

Lord Voldemort (born Tom Marvolo Riddle) is the main “bad guy” in the “Harry Potter” series of books. I heard author J. K. Rowling on the radio some time back and she tells us that “Voldemort” is supposed to be pronounced with a silent “t” on the end, so it sounds kind of French. But when the movies came out the actors went with the hard “t”, and that’s the pronunciation that seems to prevail now. It seems to be generally accepted that Rowling chose the name from the French “vol de mort” meaning “flight of death”.

39. Tush : BUTT

“Tush”, a word meaning “backside”, is an abbreviation of “tochus” that comes from the Yiddish “tokhes”.

41. Multilayered dish : LASAGNA

“Lasagna” was originally the name of a cooking pot, but the term came to mean a dish that was cooked in it. “Lasagna” also became the name of the flat noodle used in the dish. If you order lasagna on the other side of the Atlantic, you’ll notice the “lasagne” spelling, the plural of “lasagna”. The plural is used as there is more than one layer of pasta in the dish.

42. Fitting occupation for a “Joe” : BARISTA

The person who serves coffee in a coffee shop is often called a “barista”. “Barista” is the Italian for “bartender”.

It seems that no one really knows why we refer to coffee as “joe”, but we’ve been doing so since early in WWII.

45. Org. doing exploratory work : NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

53. Cathedral service : MASS

The principal act of worship in the Roman Catholic tradition is the Mass. The term “Mass” comes from the Late Latin word “missa” meaning “dismissal”. This word is used at the end of the Latin Mass in “Ite, missa est” which translates literally as “Go, it is the dismissal”.

56. 16th prez : ABE

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the US. There are several stories told about how he earned the nickname “Honest Abe”. One story dates back to early in his career as a lawyer. Lincoln accidentally overcharged a client and then walked miles in order to right the wrong as soon as possible.

58. Actor Kilmer : VAL

Val Kilmer’s first big leading role in a movie was playing Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic “The Doors”. A few years later, Kilmer was chosen for the lead in another big production, “Batman Forever”. Things haven’t really gone as well for Kilmer since then, I’d say. Off the screen, he flirted with the idea of running for Governor of New Mexico in 2010. A Hollywood actor as a governor? Would never happen …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Open, as an envelope : UNSEAL
7. Big Ten school: Abbr. : NEBR
11. Grp. co-founded by Helen Keller : ACLU
15. Boaster’s retort to a boast : SO CAN I!
16. Singer Fitzgerald : ELLA
17. Title that translates as “lord” : KHAN
18. Work as a metropolitan health official? : DIAGNOSE SAN DIEGO
21. Duncan of the Obama cabinet : ARNE
22. “Go” signal, maybe : NOD
23. Junker : CRATE
24. Home for a clown fish : REEF
26. Headwear for bank robbers : SKI MASKS
29. Works as a metropolitan census taker? : COUNTS TUCSON
33. Grilled sushi offering : EEL
34. Starts : ONSETS
35. “Rock of Love” star Michaels : BRET
36. Rough spots for teens? : ACNE
37. Extra-large : OBESE
38. Operator of weather.gov : NOAA
39. It gets depressed on the road : BRAKE
40. Fellas : LADS
41. Jeté, e.g. : LEAP
42. Beach toy : BUCKET
43. Key above “~” : ESC
44. Work as a metropolitan traffic engineer? : HASTEN ATHENS
46. Not overly optimistic types : REALISTS
48. Works of Dalí, e.g. : ARTE
49. Word before flush or pain : ROYAL
50. “Take me ___ am” : AS I
51. Reputation : NAME
55. Works as a metropolitan reclaimant? : SALVAGES LAS VEGAS
59. Item with a bore and a bell : OBOE
60. Cuckoo : NUTS
61. Least likely to harm : TAMEST
62. Things get crazy when all of them are off : BETS
63. Lhasa ___ (dog) : APSO
64. Actress Milano of “Charmed” : ALYSSA

Down

1. Org. to take your beefs to? : USDA
2. 1950’s “The Asphalt Jungle,” for one : NOIR
3. Check out : SCAN
4. Zeal : EAGERNESS
5. Taylor of fashion : ANN
6. Nala, but not Simba : LIONESS
7. Morning coffee, for many : NEED
8. Yellow belly? : ELS
9. Danube’s outlet : BLACK SEA
10. Went wild : RAN RIOT
11. Dog with a thick double coat : AKITA
12. Dessert that’s often topped with berries : CHEESECAKE
13. Gamer’s frustration : LAG
14. Cry with one card in hand : UNO!
19. Like Brie : SOFT
20. “Phooey!,” only stronger : DAMN!
25. Suffix with kitchen : -ETTE
26. Pickle : SCRAPE
27. Numbers game : KENKEN
28. Wet blankets? : SLEETS
29. Beachgoer’s take-along : COOLER
30. In scoring position, in a way : ON BASE
31. Place for junkers : USED CAR LOT
32. They hid beneath the surface : U-BOATS
36. Voldemort, to Harry Potter : ARCHENEMY
38. Snuggle (against) : NESTLE UP
39. Tush : BUTT
41. Multilayered dish : LASAGNA
42. Fitting occupation for a “Joe” : BARISTA
44. Slangy greeting : HIYA!
45. Org. doing exploratory work : NASA
47. Amours : LOVES
50. “Not only that …” : ALSO …
52. Forever, seemingly : AGES
53. Cathedral service : MASS
54. This: Sp. : ESTA
55. React dramatically to a tearjerker : SOB
56. 16th prez : ABE
57. Sides of a block: Abbr. : STS
58. Actor Kilmer : VAL

11 thoughts on “0829-18 NY Times Crossword 29 Aug 18, Wednesday”

  1. 18:14 I liked this, especially once I figured out what was going on with the theme. I had the first part of all the themers but didn’t know the endings so the left side of my grid was filled, the right pretty empty. I figured it out with the last one and then worked my way up. I had the most trouble in the area around RANRIOT. I kept thinking that would end with wild or amok and I’ve never heard of CRATE as a synonym for a junket (that clue seems a bit tough for Wednesday).

  2. 26:27. Pretty much had the same experience Marc had – same errors and same problem areas. I got part of the theme, but I completely whiffed on the anagram aspect of the cities.

    I can say from experience that KENKEN puzzles are indeed quite addictive. I find them much more challenging than Sudoku….

    Best

  3. 14:36, no errors. Took me a while to realize that anagrams were involved, at which point the pace of my solve picked up considerably.

  4. 34 min. and NO errors.
    Started off pretty fast but then slowed down until I got the theme.
    It still amazes me how all these across and down clues can mesh and make sense. I am sure there’s a formula but like a magicians trick if you don’t know how it’s done you can be in awe.

  5. 18:47, no errors. Same experience as Marc and Jeff, filled the grid from left side to right; also entered RAN AMOK, then RAN WILD before RAN RIOT. Had 3 of 4 theme answers completed before I saw the anagrams, only used the theme to fill in HASTEN ATHENS.

  6. No errors. I had pretty much the same sequence in solving that everyone else seems to have had. The tipping point for me was when I got COUNTS TUCSON, maybe because it was the easiest of the four anagrams. Thanks, Bill for explaining how “Yellow belly?” can be ELS. Sheesh, what they will do to make it hard for us!

  7. Unlike @Dale, the toughest for me was COUNTS TUCSON. The first and easiest was SALVAGES LAS VEGAS, but all of them took some time to see. ELS clued as “Yellow belly?” made little sense to me, but there it was. (No errors.)

  8. Clever puzzle.

    A runner in baseball is not considered to be in scoring position until he reaches second base.

  9. The very last anagram I figured out was DIAGNOSE SAN DIEGO. Had DIAGNOSE and the O at the end of the answer but had a hard time figuring out what city ended in O.
    LIGGY from San Diego
    Doh!

  10. About 30 minutes or so (my best guess), no errors. Been using my computer as a timer, but my monitor failed in the middle of doing this one. Another problem on top of problems lately in a very long string of bad news in a bad life – and the puzzle itself wasn’t too good either. Just another self-congratulating ego-boost for the constructor and Shortz.

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