1009-19 NY Times Crossword 9 Oct 19, Wednesday

Constructed by: Alan Arbesfeld
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Altered States

Themed answers are each an anagram of (ALTERED) a US STATES name:

    • 34A 1980 sci-fi thriller … or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues : ALTERED STATES
  • 17A *Storefront cover that’s totally busted? : SHOT AWNING (altered “Washington”)
  • 26A *Army camp that stinks to high heaven? : RANK BASE (altered “Nebraska”)
  • 27A *Old Seattle sports page headline? : SONICS WIN (altered “Wisconsin”)
  • 47A *High schooler’s intuition? : TEEN SENSE (altered “Tennessee”)
  • 50A *Super-impressed? : REAL AWED (altered “Delaware”)
  • 57A *What the census provides, in part? : RACIAL INFO (altered “California”)

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

Bill’s time: 9m 15s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Pilgrim’s journey : HAJJ

“Haji” (also “Hajji” and “Hadji”) is the term used for someone who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and it is sometimes also used as a form of address for such a person. The journey itself goes by the name “haj”, “hajj” or “hadj”.

5 Big name in water filters : BRITA

Brita is a German company that specializes in water filtration products. Brita products do a great job of filtering tap water, but they don’t “purify” it, they don’t remove microbes. That job is usually done by a municipality before the water gets to the faucet.

10 Verse-vs.-verse event : SLAM

A poetry slam is a competition in which poets read their own work (usually), with winners being chosen by members of the audience. Apparently the first poetry slam took place in Chicago in 1984. Now there is a Nation Poetry Slam that takes place each year, with representatives from the US, Canada and France.

15 Elizabeth I was the last one : TUDOR

The Elizabethan Era, the period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, is considered by many to be the golden age of English history. It was the age of William Shakespeare and the age of the English Renaissance. Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and the last sovereign of the House of Tudor.

16 North Sea feeder : ELBE

The River Elbe rises in the Czech Republic and travels over a thousand kilometers before emptying into the North Sea near the port of Hamburg in Germany.

19 Dem. or Rep., e.g. : ABBR

Abbreviation (abbr.)

21 Facial hair for Uncle Sam and others : GOATEES

A goatee is a beard formed by hair on a man’s chin. The name probably comes from the tuft of hair seen on an adult goat.

The Uncle Sam personification of the United States was first used during the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” term was so widely accepted that even the Germans used it during WWII, choosing the code word “Samland” for “America” in intelligence communiques.

27 *Old Seattle sports page headline? : SONICS WIN (altered “Wisconsin”)

The Seattle SuperSonics were the professional basketball team based in Seattle from 1967 to 2008, at which time the franchise moved to Oklahoma City (and became the Oklahoma City Thunder).

32 Lead-in to cast : POD …

A podcast is basically an audio or video media file that is made available for download. The name comes from the acronym “POD” meaning “playable on demand”, and “cast” from “broadcasting”. So, basically a podcast is a broadcast that one can play on demand, simply by downloading and opening the podcast file.

40 Schumer of comedy : AMY

Amy Schumer is a stand-up comedian, and an alumna of the reality TV show “Last Comic Standing”, in which she placed fourth. Schumer now has her own comedy series “Inside Amy Schumer”, which airs on Comedy Central. Amy is a first cousin once removed of Chuck Schumer, the senior US Senator from New York.

41 Constellation whose brightest star is Regulus : LEO

Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation of Leo. Regulus is a multiple star and what we see as one entity is actually made up of four stars rotating around a common center of mass. “Regulus” is Latin for “prince”.

44 Wing it : AD LIB

“Ad libitum” is a Latin phrase meaning “at one’s pleasure”. In common usage, the phrase is usually shortened to “ad lib”. On the stage, the concept of an ad lib is very familiar.

To wing it is to improvise, to do something without sufficient preparation. There is some debate about the term’s etymology, but I like the idea that it came from the theater. An actor would be described as winging it if he or she learned lines while standing in the wings just before going on stage.

53 Internationally popular French comic book series since 1959 : ASTERIX

“The Adventures of Asterix” is a series of comics originally published in French, starting in 1959. The French version was a very popular choice for us as kids when we were required to read some French “literature” at school.

56 Appearance : MIEN

One’s mien is one’s bearing or manner. “Mien” shares the same etymological root as our word “demeanor”.

57 *What the census provides, in part? : RACIAL INFO (altered “California”)

The original census was taken during the days of the Roman Republic, and was a reckoning of all adult males who were fit for military service. The first US Census was taken in 1790, and was conducted by federal marshals.

63 Reason for a food recall : E COLI

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.

64 Member of an elite team : SEAL

“SEAL” is an acronym used by the US Navy’s SEa, Air and Land teams. The SEALs were born out of the Navy’s special warfare groups from WWII, like the Underwater Demolition Teams and the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons. The Navy SEAL unit was established soon after President Kennedy’s famous speech in which he announced the plan to put a man on the moon, as in the same speech the president allocated $100m of funding to strengthen special operations forces. The Navy used some of this money to set up guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units, which soon became the SEALs.

67 One of math’s three M’s : MODE

The three Ms of math are the mean, median and mode.

In a set of numbers, the mean is the average value of those numbers. The median is the numeric value at which half the numbers have a lower value, and half the numbers a higher value. The mode is the value that appears most often in the whole set of numbers.

Down

1 ___ Accidency, nickname for John Tyler : HIS

John Tyler was the tenth President of the US, and the first to take the office on the death of the incumbent. Tyler’s predecessor was President William Henry Harrison, who was in office only 32 days before he died of natural causes. For a while there was a little confusion about the wording in the constitution that covered such an eventuality. There was an argument made that Tyler would continue as Vice-President but would assume the responsibilities of the office of President, in effect as “Acting President”. However, Tyler proceeded as though he was taking over as President and took the oath of office in his hotel room in Washington. Soon afterwards, Congress declared that Tyler was indeed President, although many continued to dispute the fact. Many of President Tyler’s opponents referred to him as “His Accidency”. His term in office ended in 1845. When the Civil War began in 1861, Tyler sided with the Confederacy and was even elected to the Confederate House of Representatives for the 3rd District of Virginia. President Tyler passed away only a few days after taking his seat in the House. His death was the only one in presidential history that was not recognized in the nation’s capital, as he sided with the Confederate States.

3 Star of 2019’s “Hustlers,” informally : JLO

“J.Lo” is the nickname of singer and actress Jennifer Lopez. “J.Lo” is also the title of her second studio album that was released in 2001.

4 Lakeside rental : JET SKI

“Jet Ski” is actually a brand name owned by Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan. The generic term, not often used, is “personal watercraft”. Most people use the term “Jet Ski” generically, although “WaveRunner” is also popular. But that’s another brand name, one owned by Yamaha.

5 Vitamin also known as riboflavin : B-TWO

Riboflavin is vitamin B2. At one time, riboflavin was known as vitamin G.

6 Pipsqueak : RUNT

Back around 1500, a runt was an old or decayed tree stump, and by the early 1600s “runt” was being used to describe animals that were similarly old and decayed. Ultimately “runt” came to mean the smallest and often sickest in a litter.

7 Dictator Amin : IDI

Idi Amin ruled Uganda as a dictator from 1971 until 1979. Amin started his professional career as a cook in the Colonial British Army. Amin seized power from President Milton Obote in a 1971 coup d’état. The former cook eventually gave himself the title “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”.

8 Resident of the Polynesian capital Nuku’alofa : TONGAN

The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of 176 islands in the South Pacific, 52 of which are inhabited and scattered over an area of 270,000 square miles. Tonga was given the name Friendly Islands in 1773 when Captain James Cook first landed there, a reference to the warm reception given to the visitors.

9 Neighbor of krypton on the periodic table : ARGON

The chemical element argon has the symbol Ar. Argon is a noble gas, and so by definition is relatively nonreactive. The name “argon” comes from the Greek word for “lazy, inactive”. There’s a lot of argon around, as it is the third-most abundant gas in our atmosphere.

Krypton was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid. They then warmed that liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.

11 J.Crew competitor : LL BEAN

L.L.Bean (note the lack of spaces in the company name) was founded back in 1912 in Freeport, Maine as a company selling its own line of waterproof boots. The founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, gave his name to the enterprise. Right from the start, L.L.Bean focused on mail-order and sold from a circular he distributed and then from a catalog. Defects in the initial design led to 90% of the first boots sold being returned, and the company made good on its guarantee to replace them or give back the money paid.

J.Crew is a clothing and accessory retailer. Never been there, but I’ve seen the name turn up on credit card statements somehow …

13 River through Liverpool and Manchester : MERSEY

The River Mersey in the northwest of England runs through the city of Liverpool. The river gave its name to the musical genre of “Merseybeat” which was exemplified by the Beatles, the most famous of the bands from Liverpool. The best known song to feature the river is the Gerry and the Pacemakers hit “Ferry Cross the Mersey”.

18 Eldest of the Baldwin brothers : ALEC

The four acting Baldwin brothers are:

  • Alec Baldwin (b. 1958)
  • Daniel Baldwin (b. 1960)
  • William “Billy” Baldwin (b. 1963)
  • Stephen Baldwin (b. 1966)

22 “The Jungle Book” wolf : AKELA

Akela is the wolf in the “Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. He gave his name to a cubmaster in the scouting movement, who is now known as “Akela”.

23 Org. that’s got your number? : SSA

Social Security Administration (SSA)

So often, we are asked for “the last four digits” of our Social Security Numbers (SSNs).

24 Caesar wrap : TOGA

In ancient Rome, the classical attire known as a toga (plural “togae” or “togas”) was usually worn over a tunic. The tunic was made from linen, and the toga itself was a piece of cloth about twenty feet long made from wool. The toga could only be worn by men, and only if those men were Roman citizens. The female equivalent of the toga was called a “stola”.

25 What the British don’t spell “marvelous” or “canceled” with : ONE L

Nor do the Irish that “travelled” to the United States …

36 Block, old-style : EMBAR

“To embar” is to hinder or stop, to perhaps hinder with bars, to imprison. The related term “embargo” describes the action of barring vessels from entering or leaving a nation’s ports.

38 “Hairspray” mom : EDNA

In the musical “Hairspray”, Edna Turnblad is one of the main characters. “Hairspray” was originally a John Waters movie, from 1988. In that film, Edna was played by Divine, a famous drag queen who featured in many Waters films. In the stage musical that opened in 2002, the original Broadway cast featured Harvey Fierstein as Edna. The 2007 movie adaptation of the musical had John Travolta in the role.

39 Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-___ : SISI

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected President of Egypt in June 2014. El-Sisi had been leader of the Egyptian armed forces and led the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

44 Friend of d’Artagnan : ARAMIS

Alexandre Dumas’ “Three Musketeers” are Athos, Porthos and Aramis, although the hero of the novel is the trio’s young protégé D’Artagnan. A musketeer was an infantry soldier who was equipped with a musket. Funnily enough, the three “musketeers” really don’t use their muskets, and are better known for prowess with their swords.

45 Vittorio ___, director of “Bicycle Thieves” : DE SICA

“The Bicycle Thief” is 1948 Italian film that was adapted from the novel “Bicycle Thieves” by Luigi Bartolini. “The Bicycle Thief” is widely lauded as one of the greatest films ever to be made. It was directed by Vittorio De Sica.

46 Triangular 48-Down : LATEEN
(48D Part of a ship : SAIL)

A lateen rig is a triangular sail mounted on a spar that is attached at an angle to the mast.

47 Milton Berle’s longtime sponsor : TEXACO

Texaco gets its name from “The TEXA-s CO-mpany”. Today Texaco is just a brand name owned by Chevron, but it used to be its own operation, founded as the Texas Fuel Company in 1901.

Comedian Milton Berle was known as “Uncle Miltie” and “Mr. Television”, and was arguably the first real star of American television. Berle was hosting “Texaco Star Theater” back in 1948.

49 Narcissist’s problem : EGOISM

Narcissus was a proud and vain hunter in Greek mythology. He earned himself a fatal punishment, being made fall in love with his own reflection in a pool. So, take was he by his own image, that he could not leave it and wasted away and died by the pool. Narcissus gives us our term “narcissism” meaning “excessive love of oneself”.

54 Scrabble unit : TILE

The game of Scrabble has been around since 1938, the invention of an architect named Alfred Mosher Butts. Butts determined how many tiles of each letter, and the point value of each tile, by analyzing letter distributions in publications like “The New York Times”.

58 Intimidate : COW

The verb “to cow” means to intimidate, to scare. The exact etymology of the term seems unclear.

59 “The Matrix” hero : NEO

Neo is the character played by Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix” series of films.

60 Beanie Babies, once : FAD

There were originally just nine Beanie Babies when Ty Warner introduced the stuffed animal in 1993. In the late nineties the toy became a real fad, largely due to innovative marketing techniques. For example, there was no mass marketing with constant TV ads, and the production volume was limited pushing the line into the realm of collectibles. Beanie Baby models were also “retired” on a regular basis, fueling a “must have” behavior in the market.

61 World Cup cry : OLE!

The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious tournament in the sport of soccer. The competition has been held every four years (excluding the WWII years) since the inaugural event held in Uruguay in 1930. The men’s World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, even outranking the Olympic Games. And, the women’s World Cup is fast catching up …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Pilgrim’s journey : HAJJ
5 Big name in water filters : BRITA
10 Verse-vs.-verse event : SLAM
14 Vacation destination : ISLE
15 Elizabeth I was the last one : TUDOR
16 North Sea feeder : ELBE
17 *Storefront cover that’s totally busted? : SHOT AWNING (altered “Washington”)
19 Dem. or Rep., e.g. : ABBR
20 Feature of many a mailbox : SLOT
21 Facial hair for Uncle Sam and others : GOATEES
23 Stir up : STOKE
26 *Army camp that stinks to high heaven? : RANK BASE (altered “Nebraska”)
27 *Old Seattle sports page headline? : SONICS WIN (altered “Wisconsin”)
30 Extremely small : EENSY
31 Bio datum : AGE
32 Lead-in to cast : POD …
33 Nothing but : ALL
34 1980 sci-fi thriller … or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues : ALTERED STATES
40 Schumer of comedy : AMY
41 Constellation whose brightest star is Regulus : LEO
42 Appetizer bowlful : DIP
44 Wing it : AD LIB
47 *High schooler’s intuition? : TEEN SENSE (altered “Tennessee”)
50 *Super-impressed? : REAL AWED (altered “Delaware”)
52 “Could you repeat that?” : AGAIN?
53 Internationally popular French comic book series since 1959 : ASTERIX
54 The Jonas Brothers or Dixie Chicks : TRIO
56 Appearance : MIEN
57 *What the census provides, in part? : RACIAL INFO (altered “California”)
62 Coffee specification : ICED
63 Reason for a food recall : E COLI
64 Member of an elite team : SEAL
65 Lacking : SANS
66 Rod in carpentry : DOWEL
67 One of math’s three M’s : MODE

Down

1 ___ Accidency, nickname for John Tyler : HIS
2 Light-colored wood : ASH
3 Star of 2019’s “Hustlers,” informally : JLO
4 Lakeside rental : JET SKI
5 Vitamin also known as riboflavin : B-TWO
6 Pipsqueak : RUNT
7 Dictator Amin : IDI
8 Resident of the Polynesian capital Nuku’alofa : TONGAN
9 Neighbor of krypton on the periodic table : ARGON
10 Travel restriction? : SEAT BELT
11 J.Crew competitor : LL BEAN
12 Big sister? : ABBESS
13 River through Liverpool and Manchester : MERSEY
18 Eldest of the Baldwin brothers : ALEC
22 “The Jungle Book” wolf : AKELA
23 Org. that’s got your number? : SSA
24 Caesar wrap : TOGA
25 What the British don’t spell “marvelous” or “canceled” with : ONE L
26 Full of holes : RIDDLED
28 Quick on one’s feet : SPRY
29 Misfortune : WOE
33 Plenty : A TON
35 Final parts : TAIL ENDS
36 Block, old-style : EMBAR
37 Go out with : SEE
38 “Hairspray” mom : EDNA
39 Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-___ : SISI
43 Hotel room amenity : PEN
44 Friend of d’Artagnan : ARAMIS
45 Vittorio ___, director of “Bicycle Thieves” : DE SICA
46 Triangular 48-Down : LATEEN
47 Milton Berle’s longtime sponsor : TEXACO
48 Part of a ship : SAIL
49 Narcissist’s problem : EGOISM
51 Tense with excitement : WIRED
54 Scrabble unit : TILE
55 Complain loudly : RAIL
58 Intimidate : COW
59 “The Matrix” hero : NEO
60 Beanie Babies, once : FAD
61 World Cup cry : OLE!

10 thoughts on “1009-19 NY Times Crossword 9 Oct 19, Wednesday”

  1. 19:42 with 2 lookups and one square wrong. I had MaRSEY/ELBa. I didn’t count, but there seemed to be a lot of proper names in this one – many of which I didn’t know and had to get with guesses and crosses.

    Anagram themes. Will I never learn? They may as well be themeless to me.

    Best –

  2. DNF, southwest corner and I just didn’t get along…knew almost none of the words in either direction. But I did figure out the theme, took awhile to convince myself that Arkansas was not the state I was looking for….

  3. Had DERICA/ARTERIX guessing at R vs S, otherwise clean. I agree; proper names and references to current culture are not my favorites.

  4. Phew. Are you kidding? Kept checking my phone to see if this was really Wednesday. No errors as I correctly guessed asterix. Never did get the theme though I knew US states were involved. Clueing was very tricky.

  5. Yeah, this one kicked my behind the old-fashioned way… with stuff I flat out didn’t know. And with fills like LLBEAN (LAGEAR fit nicely in my mistaken fashion) and ABBR (I’m thinking, “How can I fit shorthand for affiliation in there?”), this was devilishly hard. Yet, it didn’t resort to out and out trickery or manufactured difficulty. I gotta tip my hat to the constructor here. I see what you DID there.

  6. Had to take extra time here (but got a clean solve) — dealing with some tough clues and answers, and then unscrambling the state anagrams, which was the fun part. Will Thursday out-do the challenge of this one? I kinda doubt it, but remains to be seen.

  7. Two errors having missed one letter at the ASTERIX/DESICA cross. I had an R instead of an S. Even though I missed the one letter, I am still proud that I did as well as I did.

    My reaction to this puzzle was the same as the posters who have already commented. I can only agree. Tough one.

  8. Hardest Wednesday ever. Made a mess of this one. Abbess? Abbr(doh!) A few others. Yup, could not believe a Wednesday kicked my butt.

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