0104-19 NY Times Crossword 4 Jan 19, Friday

Constructed by: Neil Padrick Wilson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 14m 14s

Bill’s errors: 3

  • SABRA (Patra!)
  • SFC (PFC)
  • BAR SINISTER (tar sinister!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9. Certain Mideast native : SABRA

Jewish people born in the State of Israel, or the historical region of israel, are known as Sabras. “Sabra” is actually the name of the prickly pear, the thorny desert cactus. Apparently the name “Sabra” is used because someone born in the region is said to be tough on the outside and sweet on the inside, just like a prickly pear.

16. Panache : FLAIR

Someone exhibiting panache is showing dash and verve, and perhaps has a swagger. “Panache” is a French word used for a plume of feathers, especially in a hat.

17. Painful spa treatment : BIKINI WAX

The origin of the word “bikini”, describing a type of bathing suit, seems very uncertain. My favorite story is that it is named after the Bikini Atoll, site of American A-bomb tests in the forties and fifties. The name “bikini” was chosen for the swim-wear because of the “explosive” effect it had on men who saw a woman wearing the garment!

18. Literally, “dwarf dog” : CORGI

The Welsh corgi is a herding dog that originated in Britain, with two recognized breeds: the Pembroke and Cardigan. Corgis aren’t speedy enough to do their job by running around livestock like collies, and instead nip at the heels. “Corgi” is Welsh for “dwarf dog”.

19. Skunk’s defense : STENCH

Skunks have anal scent glands that can be used as defensive weapons. The glands produce sulfur-containing chemicals that have a really awful smell and that can irritate the eyes and skin.

21. Workplace inspection org. : OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 during the Nixon administration. OSHA regulates workplaces in the private sector and regulates just one government agency, namely the US Postal Service.

22. Avid fan of a Stephenie Meyer young adult series : TWIHARD

The reference is to a character in “The Twilight” series of books by Stephenie Meyer. “The Twilight Saga” is a series of films based on the books. “The Twilight” books feature vampires, and I don’t do vampires …

28. Last name in punk rock : RAMONE

The Ramones were an American punk rock band. The group formed in Forest Hills, New York in the mid-seventies. The band members took on the stage names Dee Dee, Joey, and Johnny Ramone, even though they were not related. Arguably, the Ramones were the first punk rock group, defining the genre. Something else that’s not my cup of tea …

29. Halley’s comet, to William the Conqueror : OMEN

Edmond Halley was an English astronomer who lived at the turn of 17th and 18th centuries. In 1705 he declared that comet sightings recorded in 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 were in fact observations of the same comet returning to fly by Earth at regular intervals. He predicted that this comet would return in 1758, and he was right, and so the comet was named after him: Halley’s Comet. Sadly, Halley didn’t live long enough to see that his prediction came true.

30. Usually partnered conjunction : NOR

Neither … nor

36. B-school applicant’s hurdle : GMAT

If you want to get into a business school’s graduate program then you might have to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which will cost you about $250, I believe …

A B-school is a business school.

39. Wine center near Turin : ASTI

Turin (“Torino” in Italian) is a major city in the north of Italy that sits on the Po River. Back in 1861, when the Kingdom of Italy was formed, Turin was chosen as the first capital of the country.

48. Serengeti stampeders : ZEBRAS

The term “zebra” comes from an old Portuguese word “zevra” meaning “wild ass”. Studies of zebra embryos show that zebras are basically black in color, with white stripes that develop with growth. Before this finding, it was believed they were white, with black stripes.

The Serengeti is a region in Africa that is located in northern Tanzania and southwest Kenya. The name “Serengeti” comes from the Maasai language and means “Endless Plains”.

51. Powerful person : CZAR

The term “czar” (also “tsar”) is a Slavic word that was first used as a title by Simeon I of Bulgaria in 913 AD. “Czar” is derived from the word “Caesar”, which was synonymous with “emperor” at that time.

52. Peter of “The Lion in Winter” : O’TOOLE

Irish actor Peter O’Toole got his big break in movies when he played the title role in the 1962 epic film “Lawrence of Arabia”. My favorite of O’Toole’s movies is much lighter fare, namely “How to Steal a Million” in which he stars opposite Audrey Hepburn. O’Toole never won an Oscar, but holds the record for the greatest number of Best Actor nominations without a win.

“The Lion in Winter” is a play by James Goldman that was first staged in 1966 on Broadway. The two lead characters in the piece are King Henry II of England and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. The play was adapted into a very successful movie in 1968 starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. There was also a 2003 television movie adaption that I’d like to see, starring Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close.

54. Get ready for a Mr. Universe competition, say : OIL UP

There are several bodybuilding competitions that have used or continue to use the title “Mr. Universe”. I think that the original dates back to 1953.

56. Promoting fair competition, in a way : ANTITRUST

Antitrust laws are those that protect market competition and regulate against anti-competitive activities by individuals and companies.

61. Letter in the Greek or NATO alphabet : DELTA

Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. We are most familiar with an upper-case delta and its distinctive triangular shape. The letter’s shape has influenced terms such as “deltoid muscle” and “river delta”. The upper-case delta is also used in mathematics and science to indicate a change in value. The lower-case delta looks a bit like our lower-case D, and indeed the Greek letter delta gave us our Latin letter D.

The NATO phonetic alphabet is also called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. It goes Alfa, Bravo, Charlie … X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

62. One who illegally ignores orders : REFUSENIK

Refuseniks were those individuals, usually Jews, who refused permission to leave the Soviet Union and/or other countries behind the Iron Curtain. Nowadays, we use the term “refusenik” for someone who protests or refuses to do something.

64. Pizza joint in “Do the Right Thing” : SAL’S

“Do the Right Thing” is a Spike Lee movie that was released in 1989. Much of the action in the film is centered on a local pizzeria called “Sal’s” owned by Italian-American Salvatore Frangione (played by Danny Aiello).

65. Short and sweet sign-off : XOXO

In the sequence letter sequence “XOX”, the X represents a kiss, and the O a hug. “OOO” is a string of hugs, and “XXX” a string of kisses. Hugs and kisses …

Down

1. Hunky-dory : FAB

Surprisingly (to me), the term “hunky-dory” has been around a long time, and is documented back in the mid-1800s. Nobody’s really sure of its origin, but some say it is an Anglicization of Honcho dori, that back in the day was a street of ill repute in Yokohama, Japan.

2. Prefix with cycle : EPI-

In older astronomy models, planets, moons and the sun were assumed to move in two paths concurrently. Firstly, each celestial body was thought to revolve around its own central point in an orbital motion known as an epicycle. These bodies all revolved around different points in the heavens, but the points around which each revolved themselves revolved around one central point in the universe. This larger orbit was known as deferent motion. I could have explained that better, if I understood it …

3. E-ZPass site: Abbr. : TPK

E-ZPass was a technology development driven (pun!) by the tolling agencies of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The first E-ZPass toll booth was built on the New York Thruway, and opened at the Spring Valley toll plaza in 1993.

4. Noah Webster, collegiately : ELI

Not only is Noah Webster’s name inextricably linked with his series of dictionaries, but he is also renowned as an advocate for English spelling reform. He argued that “traditional” English is hard to learn, and that it should be simplified and standardized (instead of “standardised”). He published spelling books that were used in schools, and from edition to edition he changed the spelling of words in order to simplify the language. Examples are the use of “s” over “c” in words like “defense” (in Ireland we have defence and defense depending on usage), “-re” became “-er” as in center instead of centre (reversing the influence of French), and he dropped one of the Ls in words like traveler (I learned “traveller”). Mind you, he also spelled “tongue” as “tung”, but he didn’t get very far with that one.

5. Busing supervisors : MAITRE D’S

The full title of a “maître d’” is “maître d’hôtel”, which means “master of the hotel”.

A busboy is a person who assists a waiter, mainly by clearing tables. The verb “to bus” arose in the early 1900s and is probably a reference to the wheeled cart that was used to carry dishes.

9. U.S. Army E-7 : SFC

Sergeant First Class (SFC)

10. Hard to reach : ALOOF

I suppose one might guess from the “feel” of the word “aloof” that is has nautical roots. Originally “aloof” meant “to windward” and was the opposite of “alee”. A helmsman might be instructed to stay aloof, to steer the boat into the weather to keep a distance from a lee-shore. It is from this sense of maintaining a distance that aloof came to mean “distant” in terms of personality. Interesting, huh …?

13. It might have a cadenza : ARIA

The musical term “cadenza” describes a passage that is sung or played by a soloist. A cadenza is often encountered in a concerto, when the orchestra stops playing and the soloist performs alone. The soloist’s performance can be improvised or written, at the composer’s discretion.

20. Spectral quality : HUE

When light passes through a prism, it splits up (disperses) into differing wavelengths. It then becomes clear that white light is actually a mixture of different colors, which show up as beautiful spectrum.

27. Shell filling : TNT

“TNT” is an abbreviation for “trinitrotoluene”. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

29. Onetime Los Angeles center : O’NEAL

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.”

35. ___ couture : HAUTE

“Haute couture”, literally “high dressmaking” in French, is a name given to the creation of exclusive fashions. A couturier is someone who creates or sells such fashions.

38. “Finlandia” composer : SIBELIUS

Jean Sibelius is the most famous Finnish classical composer, and shall forever be linked with his wonderful symphonic poem “Finlandia”. Sibelius composed many lovely pieces of music right up until the mid-1920s, when he was in his fifties. Despite all his efforts, he wasn’t able to produce any notable works for the final thirty years of his life.

41. Gravel alternative : TAR

The terms “tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call tarmac.

43. Small mammals that secrete a musk used in perfumes : CIVETS

The civet is a spotted cat that is native to Africa and Asia. There is a type of coffee that is highly prized in Vietnam and the Philippines that is made from coffee beans that have been eaten by civets, partially digested and then harvested from the civet’s feces. This civet coffee can cost about $100 a cup, if you want to try some …

46. Leader mentioned in the Beatles’ “Revolution” : MAO

The recording and release of the Beatles song “Revolution” was very much driven by John Lennon. Lennon was then in a committed relationship with Yoko Ono, and well into the “revolutionary” phase of his life. One interesting thing to note about the original recording is the “scream” right at the start of the song. This had to come from Paul rather than John, because John couldn’t catch his breath after the scream in time to start into the song’s lyrics.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

50. Texter’s “Too funny!” : ROTFL

Rolling on the floor, laughing (ROTFL)

51. Closing bars : CODA

In music, a coda is primarily a passage that brings a movement to a conclusion. “Coda” is Italian for “tail”.

53. Service designation : ONE-A

The US government maintains information on all males who are potentially subject to military conscription, using what is called the Selective Service System (SSS). In the event that a draft was held, men registered would be classified into groups to determine eligibility for service. Class 1-A registrants are those available for unrestricted military service. Other classes are 1-A-O (conscientious objector available for noncombatant service), 4-A (registrant who has completed military service) and 4-D (Minister of religion).

57. Andy’s dinosaur in “Toy Story” : REX

In the excellent Pixar film “Toy Story”, Rex is a tyrannosaurus, and a pretty clumsy one at that. He is voiced by actor Wallace Shawn, whose name is perhaps less familiar than his face. Shawn played the neighbor on “The Cosby Show” as well as many, many other supporting roles on TV and the big screen.

58. Not quite nada : UNO

In Spanish, “uno menos uno” (one minus one) gives “nada” (nothing).

60. End of a match, for short : TKO

Technical knockout (TKO)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Big affair : FETE
5. Disarray : MUSS
9. Certain Mideast native : SABRA
14. Range, e.g. : APPLIANCE
16. Panache : FLAIR
17. Painful spa treatment : BIKINI WAX
18. Literally, “dwarf dog” : CORGI
19. Skunk’s defense : STENCH
21. Workplace inspection org. : OSHA
22. Avid fan of a Stephenie Meyer young adult series : TWIHARD
26. Company : OUTFIT
28. Last name in punk rock : RAMONE
29. Halley’s comet, to William the Conqueror : OMEN
30. Usually partnered conjunction : NOR
32. Closing question : ARE WE DONE?
34. Your, of yore : THINE
36. B-school applicant’s hurdle : GMAT
37. Shakes off : SHEDS
39. Wine center near Turin : ASTI
40. “Otherwise …” : IF NOT …
42. Line at a dance : MAY I CUT IN?
44. No-goodnik : CUR
45. ___ nitrate (diesel fuel additive) : AMYL
47. Rude reply : BITE ME!
48. Serengeti stampeders : ZEBRAS
50. Held high : REVERED
51. Powerful person : CZAR
52. Peter of “The Lion in Winter” : O’TOOLE
54. Get ready for a Mr. Universe competition, say : OIL UP
56. Promoting fair competition, in a way : ANTITRUST
61. Letter in the Greek or NATO alphabet : DELTA
62. One who illegally ignores orders : REFUSENIK
63. Hitherto : AS YET
64. Pizza joint in “Do the Right Thing” : SAL’S
65. Short and sweet sign-off : XOXO

Down

1. Hunky-dory : FAB
2. Prefix with cycle : EPI-
3. E-ZPass site: Abbr. : TPK
4. Noah Webster, collegiately : ELI
5. Busing supervisors : MAITRE D’S
6. Single : UNWED
7. Many a digitalization : SCAN
8. “American Pie,” e.g. : SEX COMEDY
9. U.S. Army E-7 : SFC
10. Hard to reach : ALOOF
11. Heraldic charge indicating supposed illegitimate birth : BAR SINISTER
12. Promptly : RIGHT ON TIME
13. It might have a cadenza : ARIA
15. Off the deep end : INSANE
20. Spectral quality : HUE
22. Like many Shakespeare plays : TRAGIC
23. “Feel good” sensations : WARM FUZZIES
24. “Are you kidding me?!” : I MEAN, REALLY?
25. Manual : HOW-TO
27. Shell filling : TNT
29. Onetime Los Angeles center : O’NEAL
31. Pulled (in) : REINED
33. “Goodness gracious!” : OH, MY STARS!
35. ___ couture : HAUTE
38. “Finlandia” composer : SIBELIUS
41. Gravel alternative : TAR
43. Small mammals that secrete a musk used in perfumes : CIVETS
46. Leader mentioned in the Beatles’ “Revolution” : MAO
49. ___ force : BRUTE
50. Texter’s “Too funny!” : ROTFL
51. Closing bars : CODA
53. Service designation : ONE-A
55. Overly rehearsed : PAT
57. Andy’s dinosaur in “Toy Story” : REX
58. Not quite nada : UNO
59. Evening hour : SIX
60. End of a match, for short : TKO

10 thoughts on “0104-19 NY Times Crossword 4 Jan 19, Friday”

  1. 15:50, no errors. My earlier post seems to have disappeared! (Maybe I forgot to hit “POST COMMENT”?!) I guessed at “TWIHARD” (which made perfect sense … and amused me).

  2. Managed to finish despite being unfamiliar with SABRA and TWIHARD. Inspiration comes from the strangest places. I was able to fill BARSINISTER because of the Underdog (I think) cartoon series. Simon Barsinister was one of the villains.

  3. 34:15, 2 errors: (P)ABRA/(P)FC. So many wild guesses, I am surprised to finish today, especially with only 2 errors. SABRA is a new word for me; thought PFC was low for an E-7; but SFC was new to me as well.

  4. Long ago, SNL did a skit with Tom Hanks called “Sabra Price is Right”. Who knew one day it would come in handy?

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