0417-19 NY Times Crossword 17 Apr 19, Wednesday

Constructed by: Alison Ohringer and Erik Agard
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Fix Breakfast

Themed answers are BREAKFAST items that need to be FIXED:

  • 38A Plea concerning the menu in 18-, 26-, 53- and 64-Across? : FIX BREAKFAST
  • 18A Menu item #1: A bowlful of Cap’n Crunch that’s been on top of the fridge for four years : STALE CEREAL
  • 26A Menu item #2: The charred remains of a slice of whole wheat : BURNT TOAST
  • 53A Menu item #3: A Red Delicious, assuming you find sawdust delicious : MEALY APPLE
  • 64A Menu item #4: Something to pour in coffee for a sour surprise : SPOILED MILK

Read on, or jump to …
… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 7m 11s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Veronica ___, author of the best-selling “Divergent” series : ROTH

The “Divergent” series of movies is based on the “Divergent” novels written by Veronica Roth. The movies and novels are set in a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago called the Divergent Universe. The story is about a citizenry that is divided into five different factions based on personality traits. The critics weren’t crazy about the first movie in the series, but I really enjoyed it …

10 Movie with famous “dun dun” theme music : JAWS

“Jaws” is a thrilling 1975 movie directed by Steven Spielberg that is based on a novel of the same name by Peter Benchley. The film has a powerful cast, led by Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. “Jaws” was perhaps the first “summer blockbuster” with the highest box office take in history, a record that stood until “Star Wars” was released two years later.

The great composer John Williams has won five Academy Awards for his work on film scores, for:

  • “Fiddler on the Roof”
  • “Jaws”
  • “Star Wars”
  • “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”
  • “Schindler’s List”

14 Measurement that might be a lot? : ACRE

At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. Then, an acre was more precisely defined as a strip of land “one furrow long” (i.e. one furlong) and one chain wide. The length of one furlong was equal to 10 chains, or 40 rods. A area of one furlong times 10 rods was one rood.

15 Some Japanese cartoons : ANIMES

Anime is cartoon animation in the style of Japanese Manga comic books.

18 Menu item #1: A bowlful of Cap’n Crunch that’s been on top of the fridge for four years : STALE CEREAL

The first Cap’n Crunch commercials aired in 1963, at the time the product line was launched. The Cap’n’s full name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch, would you believe? Crunch’s voice was provided for many years by Daws Butler, the same voice actor who gave us Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound. Cap’n Crunch is commander of the S.S. Guppy.

20 Rhyming opposite of break : MAKE

Make or break.

25 Austin Powers or Jack Bauer : AGENT

The character Austin Powers was created by the actor who plays him, namely Mike Myers. Apparently Myers came up with the idea for Powers while listening to the Burt Bacharach song “The Look of Love”.

Jack Bauer is the main character in the television show “24”. Bauer is played by the actor Kiefer Sutherland.

29 W.C. : LOO

It has been suggested that the British term “loo” comes from “Waterloo” (water closet … water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of “lanterloo”, in which the pot was called the loo!

When I was growing up in Ireland, a bathroom was a room that had a bath and no toilet. The separate room with the commode was called the toilet or sometimes the W.C. (the water closet). Apparently the term “closet” was used because in the 1800s when homeowners started installing toilets indoors they often displaced clothes and linens in a closet, as a closet was the right size to take the commode.

30 “___ Flux” (1990s sci-fi series) : AEON

“Aeon Flux” is a sci-fi film from 2005 starring Charlize Theron in the title role. The movie was inspired by an animated TV series of the same name that aired on MTV in the nineties.

33 Org. whose participants wear helmets : NFL

The National Football League (NFL) was founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the current name being adopted into 1923. The NFL merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970.

35 Follower of Mary : LAMB

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” is a nursery rhyme that originated in the US, first published in Boston in 1830. The rhyme was written by Sarah Josepha Hale, and was based on a real-life Mary who had a pet lamb that followed her around. “Mary Had a Little Lamb” has the distinction of being the first words recorded by Thomas Edison on his phonograph invention in 1877.

42 Chest coverer : BRA

The word “brassière” is French in origin, but it isn’t the word that the French use for a “bra”. In France, what we call a bra is known as a “soutien-gorge”, translating to “held under the neck”. The word “brassière” is indeed used in France but there it describes a baby’s undershirt, a lifebelt or a harness. “Brassière” comes from the Old French word for an “arm protector” in a military uniform (“bras” is the French for “arm”). Later “brassière” came to mean “breastplate” and from there the word was used for a type of woman’s corset. The word jumped into English around 1900.

43 “Eight more hours and I’m outta here!” : TGIF!

“Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF) is a relatively new expression that apparently originated in Akron, Ohio. It was a catchphrase used first by disk jockey Jerry Healy of WAKR in the early seventies. That said, one blog reader wrote me to say that he had been using the phrase in the fifties.

46 Subject of a sleep lab study : APNEA

Sleep apnea (“apnoea” in British English) can be caused by an obstruction in the airways, possibly due to obesity or enlarged tonsils.

49 Words to a backstabber : ET TU

It was Shakespeare who popularized the words “Et tu, Brute?” (meaning “And you, Brutus?”). They appear in his play “Julius Caesar”, although the phrase had been around long before he penned his drama. It’s not known what Julius Caesar actually said in real life (if anything at all) as he was assassinated on on the steps of the Senate in Rome.

53 Menu item #3: A Red Delicious, assuming you find sawdust delicious : MEALY APPLE

Something described as “mealy” resembles meal in texture, and so is granular in consistency.

61 Cow sans calf : HEIFER

A calf is a young cow of either sex that is not more than a year old. A heifer is a young cow that has not calved, and the term “cow” can be used for a female of the species that has given birth.

62 Ben ___, pirate in “Treasure Island” : GUNN

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”, Ben Gunn is a character who had been marooned on the island by his shipmates. Gunn had lived there alone for three long years when Jim Hawkins comes across him. Author R. F. Delderfield wrote a “prequel” to “Treasure Island” called “The Adventures of Ben Gunn” telling the story of Gunn, a parson’s son who became a pirate.

71 City in West Yorkshire : LEEDS

I went to school for a while not far from Leeds in West Yorkshire in the north of England. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, Leeds was a major center for the production and trading of wool, and then with the onset of mechanization it became a natural hub for manufacture of textiles. These days Leeds is noted as a shopping destination and so has been dubbed “the Knightsbridge of the North”.

Down

2 Stop sign shape : OCTAGON

In the US, a stop sign is red and octagonal.

4 ___ Keller, first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts : HELEN

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 (possibly 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”.

5 PC alternatives : MACS

Macintosh (also “Mac”) is a line of computers from Apple Inc. The first Mac was introduced in 1984, and I remember someone showing me one at work in those early days of personal computing. There was a piece of white plastic connected to the main computer by a cord, and I was amazed when the guy showed me that it controlled where the cursor was on the screen. My colleague told me that this lump of plastic was called “a mouse” …

6 “He still the ___” (lyric in Beyoncé’s “Countdown”) : ONE

Beyoncé Knowles established herself in the entertainment industry as the lead singer with the R&B group Destiny’s Child. She launched her solo singing career in 2003, two years after making her first appearance as an actor. In 2006 she played the lead in the very successful movie adaptation of the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls”. Beyoncé is married to rap star Jay-Z. She is also referred to affectionately as “Queen Bey”, a play on the phrase “the queen bee”.

7 Word before and after yes, in the military : SIR

Sir, yes, sir!

11 Image next to a user name : AVATAR

The Sanskrit word “avatar” describes the concept of a deity descending into earthly life and taking on a persona. It’s easy to see how in the world of “online presences” one might use the word avatar to describe one’s online identity.

19 Grammy-winning James : ETTA

“Etta James” was the stage name of celebrated blues and soul singer Jamesetta Hawkins. James’ most famous recording was her 1960 hit “At Last”, which made it into the pop charts. James performed “At Last” at the age of 71 in 2009 on the reality show “Dancing with the Stars”, which was to be her final television appearance. She passed away in 2012.

31 Actor Idris : ELBA

English actor Idris Elba is probably best known in North America for playing the drug lord Stringer Bell in the marvelous HBO drama series “The Wire”, and the title character in the 2013 film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. Off the screen, Elba occasionally appears as a disk jockey using the name “DJ Big Driis”.

34 Media lawyer’s specialty : LIBEL

The word “libel” describes a published or written statement likely to harm a person’s reputation. It comes into English from the Latin “libellus”, the word for a small book. Back in the 1500s, libel was just a formal written statement, with the more damaging association arising in the 1600s. The related concept of slander is defamation in a transient form, such as speech, sign language or gestures.

36 Roll with a hole : BAGEL

The bagel was invented in the Polish city of Kraków in the 16th century. Bagels were brought to this country by Jewish immigrants from Poland who mainly established homes in and around New York City.

39 Broken bone revealers : X-RAYS

X-rays were first studied comprehensively by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen (also “Roentgen”), and it was he who gave the name “X-rays” to this particular type of radiation. Paradoxically, in Röntgen’s native language of German, X-rays are routinely referred to as “Röntgen rays”. In 1901, Röntgen’s work on X-rays won him the first Nobel Prize in Physics that was ever awarded.

45 Kneecap : PATELLA

The patella is the kneecap. The bone’s Latin name is “patella”, which is a diminutive form of “patina”, the word for “pan”. The idea is that the kneecap is pan-shaped.

46 Close chicas : AMIGAS

In Spanish, a “niña” is a young girl, a child. The term “chica” applies to an older girl or perhaps a young woman.. The term “muchacha” applies to girls in general, I think …

48 Dance done to the 2015 hit “Watch Me” : NAE NAE

The Nae Nae is a hip hop dance that is named for the 2013 song “Drop that NaeNae” recorded by We Are Toon. The main move in the dance involves swaying with one hand in the air and one hand down, with both feet firmly planted on the dancefloor. Go on, do it. You know you want to …

55 It gets bigger in the dark : PUPIL

The pupil of the eye is the hole located in the center of the iris through which light enters the retina. The term “pupil” came into English via French from the latin “pupilla”, which is the diminutive form of “pupa” meaning “girl, doll”. The term came about due to the tiny doll-like image that one can see of oneself when looking into the center of another’s eyes.

63 Broadcaster of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” : NPR

Chicago Public Radio produces one of my favorite radio shows, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” It is indeed a fun game show, hosted by Peter Sagal. The “Morning Edition” newsreader Carl Kasell used to act as judge and scorekeeper, until he retired in 2014. There should be more game shows of that ilk on the radio, in my humble opinion …

65 1950s prez : IKE

When the future president was growing up, the Eisenhowers used the nickname “Ike” for all seven boys in the family, as “Ike” was seen as an abbreviation for the family name. “Big Ike” was Edgar, the second oldest boy. “Little/Young Ike” was Dwight, who was the third son born. Dwight had no sisters.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Veronica ___, author of the best-selling “Divergent” series : ROTH
5 Green and soft, say : MOSSY
10 Movie with famous “dun dun” theme music : JAWS
14 Measurement that might be a lot? : ACRE
15 Some Japanese cartoons : ANIMES
17 Profess : AVOW
18 Menu item #1: A bowlful of Cap’n Crunch that’s been on top of the fridge for four years : STALE CEREAL
20 Rhyming opposite of break : MAKE
21 Officers-to-be : CADETS
22 Opera term that’s sometimes a woman’s name : ARIA
24 Coffee alternative : TEA
25 Austin Powers or Jack Bauer : AGENT
26 Menu item #2: The charred remains of a slice of whole wheat : BURNT TOAST
29 W.C. : LOO
30 “___ Flux” (1990s sci-fi series) : AEON
32 Kinds : SORTS
33 Org. whose participants wear helmets : NFL
35 Follower of Mary : LAMB
37 Zip : PEP
38 Plea concerning the menu in 18-, 26-, 53- and 64-Across? : FIX BREAKFAST
42 Chest coverer : BRA
43 “Eight more hours and I’m outta here!” : TGIF!
44 “Ya got that right” : YUP
46 Subject of a sleep lab study : APNEA
49 Words to a backstabber : ET TU
51 Go out for a bit : NAP
53 Menu item #3: A Red Delicious, assuming you find sawdust delicious : MEALY APPLE
57 Writing surface : SLATE
59 Wrath : IRE
60 Fail to enunciate : SLUR
61 Cow sans calf : HEIFER
62 Ben ___, pirate in “Treasure Island” : GUNN
64 Menu item #4: Something to pour in coffee for a sour surprise : SPOILED MILK
67 “Stat!” : ASAP!
68 Pig, cutely : OINKER
69 Dot on an ocean map : ISLE
70 Future-gazer : SEER
71 City in West Yorkshire : LEEDS
72 N.B.A.’s Young, familiarly : THAD

Down

1 Troublemaker : RASCAL
2 Stop sign shape : OCTAGON
3 Sacrifice of square footage for location, e.g. : TRADE-OFF
4 ___ Keller, first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts : HELEN
5 PC alternatives : MACS
6 “He still the ___” (lyric in Beyoncé’s “Countdown”) : ONE
7 Word before and after yes, in the military : SIR
8 Below-the-belt campaign tactic : SMEAR
9 Long (for) : YEARN
10 Song one loves, in modern slang : JAM
11 Image next to a user name : AVATAR
12 Most socially conscious : WOKEST
13 Comfy pants : SWEATS
16 Not much light can get through it : SLIT
19 Grammy-winning James : ETTA
23 Bewildered : AT SEA
26 Wild hog : BOAR
27 Not satisfied, as expectations : UNMET
28 “___-daisy!” : OOPSY
31 Actor Idris : ELBA
34 Media lawyer’s specialty : LIBEL
36 Roll with a hole : BAGEL
37 Sound of failure : PFFT!
39 Broken bone revealers : X-RAYS
40 Toy for a windy day : KITE
41 Ingredient in a melt : TUNA FISH
45 Kneecap : PATELLA
46 Close chicas : AMIGAS
47 Read over : PERUSE
48 Dance done to the 2015 hit “Watch Me” : NAE NAE
50 Not new : USED
52 Started listening, with “up” : PERKED
54 As well : ALSO
55 It gets bigger in the dark : PUPIL
56 Accident-___ : PRONE
58 The sky, perhaps : LIMIT
61 That woman’s : HERS
63 Broadcaster of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” : NPR
65 1950s prez : IKE
66 Guided : LED

18 thoughts on “0417-19 NY Times Crossword 17 Apr 19, Wednesday”

  1. 8:41, no errors. Was looking for more from the theme. Some type of pun or double entendre; but it was just a list of breakfast issues.

  2. I rather liked the theme. It seems I am in the minority about that. It is a small pun on the word FIX. That’s all.

    There were several entries that I was not sure of initially. But crosses came to the rescue and resulted in a perfect fill. I suspect that the constructors know full well where we will have trouble and deliberately give us some easy crosses so that we can finish. This, of course, is how they increase the difficulty level throughout the week. The fewer of these “easy crosses”, the harder the puzzle.

    1. @Dale …

      Yes! I like your take on the process of constructing crossword puzzles! There are a couple of guys on Bill’s other blog who frequently complain about “manufactured difficulty” as if it’s some kind of evil activity on the part of constructors and editors. And, of course, a lot of the difficulty in puzzles is “manufactured”; if the clues were just definitions, doing a crossword would be boring. (My two cents’ worth.)

    1. @Glenn …

      Well, what the phrase suggests is a level of difficulty induced by misdirection, cleverly requiring the solver to consider all the possible ways in which a clue could be interpreted. One of the ACPT puzzles featured in the movie “Word Play” comes in three different versions, involving three different levels of difficulty; is that not “manufactured” difficulty? And how is that a bad thing? Seems to me it’s just part of the game … 😜

      I have tried to infer what others mean by “manufactured difficulty” by carefully reviewing puzzles at which the criticism has been directed and I have never been able to see anything in them that suggests a definition different from mine.

      Of course, there’s another way in which a puzzle can be made difficult: by including a lot of entries that require familiarity with things outside the knowledge base of most solvers. I’m not particularly a fan of such puzzles, but at least I sometimes learn a thing or two from them. Again, how is that a bad thing? Where is it written that my knowledge base should define the acceptable limits outside which constructors may not go? My ego appreciates it when, for example, sports and music take a back seat in the puzzles I do, but that’s my problem, not a problem for constructors and editors.

      Again, my two cents’ worth … 😜

    2. @Glenn …

      I went back and looked in detail at the latest puzzle you described as “a very good example of manufactured difficulty” (the LAT puzzle of Friday, May 17, 2019) and it is completely clear to me that I do not know what you mean by the phrase. The puzzle had some names I didn’t know, but I got them pretty easily from crossing entries. The theme entries were all clued “Chipper” and the only one that I thought was at all sketchy (for me, as a non-golfer) was 27A, but Dr. Google assures me that, when a golfer is near the green, he is “greenside”, that is exactly when he needs the club/iron described as a “chipper”, and it therefore can be accurately described as a “GREENSIDE IRON”. Allen described “MULCH-MAKING TOOL” as “clumsy”, but it is also an accurate description of a “chipper”.

      If you aren’t completely annoyed with me for taking this issue so seriously, please review the puzzle and tell me what it was about it that you found to be “manufactured difficulty”, because I see nothing whatsoever that I would describe that way and I’m honestly baffled by what you mean by the term.

      1. @Dave
        I have more of a meaning that I gather from Allen’s use of the term – I’m sure the definitions are different. You’d have to ask him what he means by that. While I share some of your thought on what Allen says, I can see entirely where he’s coming from. That may be the difference between what expert/experienced solvers tend to tolerate versus those of us who aren’t. (I’ve always believed a lot of the puzzles get skewed and aren’t the best simply because everyone that touches it with any kind of pull happens to be a top 10 ACPT finisher at some point in their lives.)

        I can’t recall everything about that particular puzzle that I took issue with. The primary thing I see though is the theme entries, which are contrived/invented phrases that have no natural analog in the language.

        For example, no one says “Jones of baseball got a hit”, or “I need to go use my mulch-making tool today.” or (any of the other theme entries). Ultimately (if you remember that Berry book), the constructor just invented some phrases that could loosely be associated with “chipper” for a theme by massaging the words so the character counts matched up. So rather than using natural English, the constructor/editor chose to deliberately be “at sea”, manufacturing an additional element of difficulty via poor communication. Hence “manufactured difficulty”.

        As for the cluing, “cynically clued” is one of Allen’s phrases I disagree with in a sense, especially since I manage a lot of stuff okay that he complains about. Like above, I see this as an experience gap since it seems I’ve figured out Crosswordese a bit more than he has. But it’s still manufactured since a lot of the clues aren’t in natural English. To this point, I understand where Allen comes from, maybe because I’m still new enough to this.

        Overall, it’s frustrating in a lot of sense to do crosswords because they do not communicate things clearly in recognizable English, and instead use nonsensical gibberish in a lot of ways. I’ve expressed this a number of times over the years since I started showing up in these places in a lot of different ways. I’ve been persistent in trying to understand and gain some ability to do crosswords, but it’s still admittedly frustrating enough that I’ve been tempted to just move on to something else in a number of occasions.

        1. @Glenn … Thanks for the response! I understand better where you’re coming from. (Actually, I had made some progress already: see my post on the Thursday blog.) I still don’t think it’s unfair to indulge in what you call “manufactured difficulty” (something I’m pretty sure Allen would say), but I now have a pretty good idea what you mean by it.

  3. I thought it was a bit of fun also and typical of a Wednesday. Only thing I couldn’t fathom is stale Cap’n Crunch. It wouldn’t get stale at my house.

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