0103-19 NY Times Crossword 3 Jan 19, Thursday

Constructed by: Timothy Polin
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Forks

We have a WALL going down the center of today’s grid. Themed answers on either side of the WALL use the word WALL to make sense of the equivalent clues:

  • 19A. With 20-Across, pattern in back of a window : DESKTOP (WALL)-
  • 20A. See 19-Across : PAPER
  • 35A. With 37-Across, hit Leonardo DiCaprio film, with “The” : WOLF OF (WALL) …
  • 37A. See 35-Across : … STREET
  • 50A. With 52-Across, commander at the First Battle of Bull Run : STONE(WALL) …
  • 52A. See 50-Across : … JACKSON

Bill’s time: 13m 44s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

8. Followers of the Baal Shem Tov : HASIDIM

The Hasidic Jewish movement was founded in the 18th century by Baal Shem Tov, a mystical rabbi from Eastern Europe.

15. Author known for the intelligence of his writing? : LE CARRE

“John le Carré” is the pen name of David Cornwell, an English author who is famous for his spy novels. Cornwell worked for British Intelligence during the fifties and sixties, even as he was writing his spy thrillers. He left MI6 soon after his most famous 1963 novel “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, became such a great success.

17. Crystallizing substance in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” : ICE-NINE

Kurt Vonnegut was an writer from Indianapolis whose most famous work is probably the novel “Slaughterhouse-Five” from 1969. Beyond his writing, Vonnegut was noted for his support of the American Civil Liberties Union and American Humanist Association. Kurt had a brother who made a big contribution to society. Bernard Vonnegut was the atmospheric scientist who discovered that silver iodide could be used to seed clouds and artificially create rain.

18. Conglomeration : AMALGAM

Amalgam is an alloy of mercury with some other metal. Many dental fillings are made of an amalgam of silver and mercury. We started using “amalgam” to mean “blend of different things” around 1790.

23. Reading ability? : ESP

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

30. “De profundis,” e.g. : PSALM

The Greek word “psalmoi” originally meant “songs sung to a harp”, and gave us the word “psalms”. In the Jewish and Western Christian traditions, the Book of Psalms contains 150 individual psalms, divided into five sections.

32. Best-selling erotic novelist ___ Leigh : LORA

Lora Leigh is an author of erotic romance novels. Her most famous works are “The Breed” series of novels. Leigh has had 29 “The Breed” titles published from 2003 to 2014.

35. With 37-Across, hit Leonardo DiCaprio film, with “The” : WOLF OF (WALL) …

37. See 35-Across : … STREET

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is an entertaining 2013 biographical film about a corrupt New York City stockbroker. The movie is based on a memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort. Directed by Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is his highest-grossing movie to date.

Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio is from Los Angeles, California. DiCaprio’s mother was visiting a museum in Italy when she was pregnant and felt the first kick of her unborn child. At the moment of that first kick, Mama DiCaprio was looking at a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and so named her son Leonardo.

38. Narrow tube in chemistry : PIPETTE

A pipette (also “pipet”) is tool used in a lab to transport an accurately measured volume of liquid. Back in my day, we would suck up the liquid into the pipette by applying our mouths to the top of the instrument. This could be quite dangerous, as one ended up with a mouthful of something unsavory if one lifted the top of pipette out of the liquid too soon. Nowadays, things are much safer.

41. Cinches : ENSURES

The term “cinch” was absorbed into American English from Spanish in the mid-1800s, when it was used to mean a “saddle-girth”. “Cincha” is the Spanish for “girdle”. In the late 1800s, “cinch” came to mean a ‘sure thing”, in the sense that a saddle-girth can provide a “sure hold”.

46. Playing card marking : PIP

A pip is a dot on a die or a domino, or a mark on a playing card.

50. With 52-Across, commander at the First Battle of Bull Run : STONE(WALL) …

52. See 50-Across : … JACKSON

Manassas, Virginia was the site of two major battles during the Civil War: the First and Second Battles of Bull Run (also known as the Battles of Manassas). In the first battle, one of the southern brigades was led by Brigadier General Thomas Jackson. His brigade was well-trained and disciplined, so much so that as the Union troops made advances, a fellow-general encouraged his retreating men to hold their positions yelling “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer”. There are reports that the actual quote was less complimentary, but regardless, from that day on Jackson was known as “Stonewall”.

55. Kobe or Shaq, notably : LA LAKER

Kobe Bryant played basketball for the LA Lakers. Kobe Bryant got his name from a menu, would you believe? His parents were in a Japanese restaurant and liked the name of “Kobe” beef, the beef from around the city of Kobe on the island of Honshu in Japan.

Retired basketball player Shaquille O’Neal now appears regularly as an analyst on the NBA TV show “Inside the NBA”. Shaq has quite a career in the entertainment world. His first rap album, called “Shaq Diesel”, went platinum. He also starred in two of his own reality show: “Shaq’s Big Challenge” and “Shaq Vs.”

59. Black Panther’s co-creator : STAN LEE

Stan Lee did just about everything at Marvel Comics over the years, from writing to being president and chairman of the board. If you like superhero movies based on the characters from Marvel Comics, then you could spend a few hours trying to spot Stan Lee in those films as he had a penchant for making cameo appearances. Lee can be spotted in “X-Men” (2000), “Spider-Man” (2002), “Hulk” (2003), “Fantastic Four” (2005), “Iron Man” (2008) and many other films.

60. Reduction of tension : DETENTE

“Détente” is a French word meaning “loosening, reduction in tension” and in general it is used to describe the easing of strained relations in a political situation. In particular, the policy of détente came to be associated with the improved relations between the US and the Soviet Union in the seventies.

Down

1. Chasséd, say : GLIDED

“Chassé” is a step used in ballroom and other styles of dance. A chassé has a gliding character and is a triple-step movement. The term comes to popular dance from ballet.

3. Gets a 5 on an A.P. exam, say : ACES IT

The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers college-level courses to kids who are still in high school. After being tested at the end of the courses, successful students receive credits that count towards a college degree.

4. One who may help you keep your balance? : BANK TELLER

“To tell” can mean “to count”, as in “telling one’s blessings” and “there are 16, all told”. This usage of the word “tell” gives us the term “bank teller”.

5. Lancastrian or Liverpudlian : BRIT

Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire in England. The House of Lancaster was a famous branch of the English royal family, and one of the factions in the Wars of the Roses (along with the House of York). The Duchy of Lancaster provides income for the English monarch, and the current Duke of Lancaster is actually Queen Elizabeth II.

Liverpool is a large port city in the northwest of England located on the estuary of the River Mersey. With a sense of humor that is typical of the area, people from Liverpool are often called “Liverpudlians”. The term comes from the jocular “Liver-puddle”, a diminutive of “Liver-pool”.

6. ___ Laszlo (cosmetics brand) : ERNO

Ernő László was a dermatologist from Hungary who became sought out by celebrities for treatment of both serious and cosmetic skin issues. He founded the Ernő László Institute in New York in 1939, which soon had an impressive list of clients that included the Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

10. Daytime TV fare : SOAP OPERAS

The original soap operas were radio dramas back in the fifties. Given the structure of society back then, the daytime broadcasts were aimed at women working in the home as housewives. For some reason the sponsors of those radio shows, and the television shows that followed, were soap manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers. And that’s how the “soap” opera got its name …

12. Prepare, as hides for tanning : DEGREASE

Leather is made from animal skins. When the flesh, fat and hair is removed from the skin and it is dried, the resulting product is called “rawhide”. Further treatment of the skin with chemicals that permanently alter the protein structure of the skin is called “tanning”, and the resulting product is “leather”.

13. Org. that supported the Good Friday Agreement : IRA

After many, many years of conflict in Northern Ireland, the Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army) declared a ceasefire in 1994. This step marked an end to most of the violence and was an important step along the road to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

14. “Scrumptious!” : MMM!

Seba Smith was a humorist and writer from Maine whose most popular works featured his character Major Jack Downing, a man who used American vernacular in his humor. Smith is credited with coining the adjective “scrumptious” meaning very delectable, pleasing to the senses. “Scrumptious” is probably an alteration of “sumptuous”. Smith perhaps also coined the phrase “there is more than one way to skin a cat”, or was at least the first author to use the phrase in a publication.

25. May and others, for short : PMS

Theresa May won a leadership election to become UK prime minister in 2016, following the resignation of David Cameron immediately after the nation decided to withdraw from the EU (“Brexit”). As such, May became only second female prime minister in the UK, after Margaret Thatcher.

31. Underground activity : SPELUNKING

Spelunking is an American term for recreational caving, although the word has Latin roots (“spelunca” is the Latin for “cave”). The term originated in the 1940s in New England when it was adopted by a group of men who explored caves in the area.

33. 1970 Australian Open winner : ASHE

The great American tennis player Arthur Ashe spent the last years of his life writing his memoir called “Days of Grace”. He finished the manuscript just a few days before he passed away, dying from AIDS caused by a tainted blood transfusion.

34. W.W. II weapon : STEN

The STEN gun is an iconic armament that was used by the British military. The name STEN is an acronym. The S and the T comes from the name of the gun’s designers, Shepherd and Turpin. The EN comes from the Enfield brand name, which in turn comes from the Enfield location where the guns were manufactured for the Royal Small Arms Factory, an enterprise owned by the British government.

38. Lightweight boxer? : PUP

The boxer breed of dog (one of my favorites!) originated in Germany. My first dog was a boxer/Labrador mix, a beautiful combination. Our current family dog is a boxer/pug mix, and is another gorgeous animal.

43. Possible candidate for a Razzie Award : EMOTER

“Razzie” is the familiar name for the Golden Raspberry Award, an award presented annually for the worst in the world of film. The Razzies have been presented on the day before the Oscars since 1981.

47. Like atoms with complete valence shells : INERT

An atom’s valence is the number of electrons that it loses, adds or shares when bonding with other atoms.

48. Inherently : PER SE

“Per se” is a Latin phrase that translates as “by itself”. We use “per se” pretty literally, meaning “in itself, intrinsically”.

52. The new girl on Fox’s “New Girl” : JESS

Zooey Deschanel is an actress and singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. Zooey is the younger sister of Emily Deschanel who plays the title role on the TV show “Bones”. Now Zooey is playing Jess Day, the lead character on the sitcom “New Girl”. In the world of music, Zooey teams up with “M” Ward in the duo that goes by the name “She & Him”.

54. Group with a tartan : CLAN

Tartan is sometimes called “plaid” over here in the US, and is a word not used in the same sense outside of this country. In Scotland, a “plaid” is a blanket or a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder.

55. Subject of many ’60s hits? : LSD

LSD (known colloquially as “acid”) is short for lysergic acid diethylamide. A Swiss chemist called Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 in a research project looking for medically efficacious ergot alkaloids. It wasn’t until some five years later when Hofmann ingested some of the drug accidentally that its psychedelic properties were discovered. Trippy, man …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Got the attention of : GRABBED
8. Followers of the Baal Shem Tov : HASIDIM
15. Author known for the intelligence of his writing? : LE CARRE
16. Outer layer of a membrane : EXODERM
17. Crystallizing substance in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” : ICE-NINE
18. Conglomeration : AMALGAM
19. With 20-Across, pattern in back of a window : DESKTOP (WALL)-
20. See 19-Across : PAPER
21. Cut down, possibly : EDIT
22. Cold-weather product prefix : SNO-
23. Reading ability? : ESP
26. Can’t stomach : DETESTS
30. “De profundis,” e.g. : PSALM
32. Best-selling erotic novelist ___ Leigh : LORA
33. Germ-free state : ASEPSIS
35. With 37-Across, hit Leonardo DiCaprio film, with “The” : WOLF OF (WALL) …
37. See 35-Across : … STREET
38. Narrow tube in chemistry : PIPETTE
39. Get better : HEAL
40. App customers : USERS
41. Cinches : ENSURES
45. Boardom? : PEN
46. Playing card marking : PIP
49. Word with full or file : … NAME
50. With 52-Across, commander at the First Battle of Bull Run : STONE(WALL) …
52. See 50-Across : … JACKSON
55. Kobe or Shaq, notably : LA LAKER
57. Recruits : ENLISTS
58. Steam locomotive workers : STOKERS
59. Black Panther’s co-creator : STAN LEE
60. Reduction of tension : DETENTE
61. Choir composition : SINGERS

Down

1. Chasséd, say : GLIDED
2. Withdraw : RECEDE
3. Gets a 5 on an A.P. exam, say : ACES IT
4. One who may help you keep your balance? : BANK TELLER
5. Lancastrian or Liverpudlian : BRIT
6. ___ Laszlo (cosmetics brand) : ERNO
7. Not easily understood : DEEP
8. Stacks : HEAPS
9. Lumberjack : AXMAN
10. Daytime TV fare : SOAP OPERAS
11. Pass the time : IDLE
12. Prepare, as hides for tanning : DEGREASE
13. Org. that supported the Good Friday Agreement : IRA
14. “Scrumptious!” : MMM!
24. Razor cut : SLIT
25. May and others, for short : PMS
27. Hard to hear, perhaps : SOFT-SPOKEN
28. Quick pace : TROT
29. A good one is hard to crack : SAFE
31. Underground activity : SPELUNKING
33. 1970 Australian Open winner : ASHE
34. W.W. II weapon : STEN
35. Full of sass : WISE
36. Gap in a schedule : OPEN SLOT
38. Lightweight boxer? : PUP
42. Brawl in the backwoods : RASSLE
43. Possible candidate for a Razzie Award : EMOTER
44. Has a funny feeling : SENSES
47. Like atoms with complete valence shells : INERT
48. Inherently : PER SE
51. Stomach : TAKE
52. The new girl on Fox’s “New Girl” : JESS
53. Disfavoring : ANTI
54. Group with a tartan : CLAN
55. Subject of many ’60s hits? : LSD
56. Had something : ATE

12 thoughts on “0103-19 NY Times Crossword 3 Jan 19, Thursday”

  1. 11:45, no errors. Mildly disappointed not to see more use of the wall, but a cool puzzle, nonetheless.

  2. Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!!! For once I figured out the theme while working the puzzle…1 error: terse instead of per se, but hey, it’s progress!!! 🙂

  3. 32:26. This started out very slowly with a lot of head scratching. Once I got the theme that certainly helped, but I still had my issues with the fill. I couldn’t figure out what PERSE meant until I came to the blog PER SE..Duhhh.

    I was determined to finish this one as it was my 500th (online) solve according to the NYT software. I’ve done a few printed out puzzles on airplanes and such, but by and large 500 is pretty close to how many I’ve done. I just started them a couple of years ago. Nice personal milestone albeit many miles behind some more experienced solvers.

    Best –

  4. @Bill –
    I think “Forks” is yesterday’s theme. If you tried to cut through this wall with a fork, you’ll likely ruin it… 🙂

  5. The BOARDOM thing was a ridiculous stretch. Like a kingdom for a boar? One of the worst clues ever or I just don’t get it.

  6. “Boardom?” as a clue for “PEN” is a rather silly pun on “boredom”, but it’s quite typical of a crossword pun … (and I liked it 😜).

  7. Made a lucky guess to get the N in ERNO and ICENINE being unfamiliar with both. Pleasantly surprised that no one politicized the theme.

  8. 29:28, no errors. Setter seemed to throw a lot of curveballs today, and I think I swung at, and missed, every one. YUM before MMM, STY and MUD before PEN, ASEPTIC before ASEPSIS, COALER before STOKER, etc.
    Fortunately, I remembered ICE NINE from Cat’s Cradle. It was an interesting theory by Kurt Vonnegut that a polymorph of water could be created, that would be solid at room temperature/pressure, having a melting point of about 115 degrees F. It was inspired by his brother’s research.

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