1108-19 NY Times Crossword 8 Nov 19, Friday

Constructed by: Peter Wentz
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

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

Bill’s time: 10m 45s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Savory additive : MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of a naturally-occurring,non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid. It is used widely as a flavor enhancer, particularly in many Asian cuisines. Whether or not it is harmful seems to be still under debate. I say that something produced in a test tube shouldn’t be in our food …

4 Literally, “struggle” : JIHAD

In the Islamic tradition, jihad is a duty, and either an inner spiritual struggle to fulfill religious obligations or an outward physical struggle to defend the faith. Someone engaged in jihad is called a “mujahid” with the plural being “mujahideen”. The term “jihad” translates as “striving, struggle”.

9 Matter of great interest for the United States : DEBT

Historically speaking, increases in the US national debt expressed as a percentage of the gross domestic product are really dependent on only two major factors: either war or recession. So, we should just avoid both of those things …

16 Législateurs’ votes : OUIS

In French, a “législateur” (legislator) might vote “oui” (yes) or “non” (no).

19 Comprehend : GROK

To grok is to understand. “To grok” is a slang term that’s really only used in “techie” circles. “Grok” is the creation of science fiction author Robert Heinlein, who coined it in his 1961 novel “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

21 Leftover : REMNANT

A remnant is a small part that’s left over from something larger. The term comes from the Latin “remanour” meaning “to remain”. So, a “remnant” is something “remaining”.

23 How a sofa might be turned for moving : ON ITS END

“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.

26 Green spot : OASIS

An isolated area of vegetation in a desert is called an oasis (plural “oases”). As water is needed for plant growth, an oasis might also include a spring, pond or small lake. We often use the term “oasis” more generally to describe a haven, a place of rest.

27 Extreme devotee, in modern lingo : STAN

“Stan” is a song by rapper Eminem (featuring Dido) that was recorded in 2000. The title refers to a fictional Eminem fan named “Stan” who becomes obsessed with the rapper, and who grows irate when his letters to his idol go unanswered. Stan’s final act is to make a voice recording as he drives into a river, with his pregnant girlfriend locked in the trunk. One of the legacies of the song is that “stan” is now used as a slang term for an obsessed and maniacal fan.

28 Hoedown musician’s aid : BANJO PICK

The instrument that we know today as the banjo is a derivative of instruments that were used in Africa.

31 Film models are used in it : CLAYMATION

Clay animation, also known as “claymation”, is a stop motion animation technique that has been around since the early 1900s. The list of famous claymation productions includes the “Gumby” series of TV show segments, the California Raisins musical group ad campaign, and “Wallace and Gromit” British comedy series.

34 Wearer of a lion’s skin in an Aesop fable : ASS

“The Ass in the Lion’s Skin” is one of “Aesop’s Fables”. In the most common version of the tale, an ass dons the skin of a lion in order to terrify other animals. His plan is successful until he encounters a fox. The fox recognizes the braying sound made by the ass, and so is not fooled. The moral of the story is usually cited as:

Clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will always give him away.

35 Old sailor’s wear : PEA JACKET

A pea coat (also “pea jacket”) is a heavy woolen outer jacket originally associated with sailors. Nowadays anyone wears them (they’re very comfortable and warm). The female equivalent of a pea coat is often called a Jackie O jacket, after Jackie Onassis.

43 Student loan provider : SALLIE MAE

“Sallie Mae” is a nickname for SLM Corporation, created in 1972 by the US government as the Student Loan Marketing Association. By 2004, the government had severed all its ties with Sallie Mae. Today, SLM is basically a profit-focused lender.

48 Obsolescent living room fixture : PLASMA TV

Plasma televisions are so called because the screen is made up of tiny cells containing electrically charged ionized gases (plasmas). Each of the cells is effectively a tiny fluorescent lamp.

55 Word repeated in the Dylan Thomas line “___ against the dying of the light” : RAGE

Dylan Thomas is perhaps the most famous Welsh poet and writer. His most famous poems are “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion”. He also wrote a famous radio drama called “Under Milk Wood” that was first broadcast in 1954, and that was eventually adapted for the stage and the big screen. My favorite Dylan Thomas work is “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” that was also written originally for the radio, before being published as a work of prose.

62 Devil-may-care motto, in brief : YOLO

You only live once (YOLO)

64 Evidence of a couple’s honeymoon phase, for short : PDA

Public display of affection (PDA)

Down

1 Shortcuts in computer coding : MACROS

A macroinstruction (usually shortened to “macro”) is a set of instructions in a computer program that are abbreviated to one simple command.

2 Miscellaneous part? : SILENT C

The letter C (cee) in the word “miscellaneous” is a silent letter C.

4 Going places? : JOHNS

The use of “john” as a slang term for a toilet is peculiar to North America. “John” probably comes from the older slang term of “jack” or “jakes” that had been around since the 16th century. In Ireland, in less polite moments, we still refer to a toilet as “the jacks”.

6 One playing things for laughs : HAM

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

7 ___ card : ATM

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)

8 Start of a letter in the form of a rebus : DEER

A rebus is a puzzle that uses pictures to represent letters and groups of letters. For example, a picture of a “ewe” might represent the letter “U” or the pronoun “you”, and a picture of an “oar” might represent the letter “R” or the conjunction “or”.

10 Superstate in “1984” : EURASIA

The action in George Orwell’s 1949 novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” takes place in the intercontinental superstate of Oceania. Orwell also created two other superstates, called Eurasia and Eastasia.

George Orwell’s famous novel actually has the title “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (as opposed to “1984”), with the date spelled out.

15 Producer of Eminem’s “The Eminem Show,” informally : DRE

“Dr. Dre” is the stage name of rapper Andre Romelle Young. Dr. Dre is known for his own singing career as well as for producing records and starting the careers of others such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent.

Rap star Eminem’s real name is Marshall Mathers. Mathers grew up poor in Saint Joseph, Missouri. He was raised by a single-mom as the family was abandoned by his father when he was 18 months old. Marshall and his mother moved around the country before settling in a suburb of Detroit. He didn’t do well at school, and dropped out at the age of 17. But in the end he made it pretty big …

18 After-dinner amenity : WET-NAP

“Wet nap” is a term commonly used for a wet wipe, a manufactured paper tissue that comes pre-moistened. Wet naps are often provided after a meal at some restaurants after a finger-food dish, or perhaps as a refresher on an airplane. I think that “nap” is short for “napkin”, and that “Wet-Nap” is a brand name.

22 Rear-ended? : MOONED

The first recorded mooning incident took place in 66 AD during the First Roman-Jewish War. Roman soldiers decided to moon Jewish pilgrims as they traveled to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

24 Classic arcade game with an announcer who shouts “Boomshakalaka!” : NBA JAM

NBA Jam is an arcade game that was introduced in 1993. It was successful enough to spawn a whole series of NBA Jam video games. Apparently is became the highest-earning arcade game of all time, and took in over $1 billion dollars in quarters.

29 Stainless steel element : NICKEL

In order to resist the tendency to rust, stainless steel (as opposed to carbon steel) has about 11% chromium. Stainless steel does in fact tend to rust, but just not as easily as regular carbon steel.

33 Like drone bees : MALE

Drone bees and ants are fertile males of the species, whose sole role in life seems to be to mate with a queen. Given that they make no honey, we use the term “drone” figuratively, to describe a lazy worker, or someone who lives on the labors of others.

37 Charles Darwin contemporary : ASA GRAY

Asa Gray was an important American botanist in the nineteenth century. He was a lifelong friend of Charles Darwin, albeit mainly through correspondence. Darwin’s book “Forms of Flowers” was dedicated to Gray.

Englishman Charles Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland but neglected his studies largely due to his interest in nature and natural history. In the early 1830s, a friend put forward Darwin’s name as a candidate for the post of “collector” on the voyage of HMS Beagle. The Beagle was intending to spend two years at sea primarily charting the coast of South America. The voyage ended up taking five years, during which time Darwin sent back copious letters describing his findings. Back in Britain these letters were published as pamphlets by a friend and so when Darwin eventually returned home in 1836, he had already gained some celebrity in scientific circles. It was while on the Beagle that Darwin developed his initial ideas on the concept of natural selection. It wasn’t until over twenty years later that he formulated his theories into a scientific paper and in 1859 published his famous book “On the Origin of the Species”. This original publication never even mentioned the word “evolution” which was controversial even back then. It was in 1871 that Darwin addressed head-on the concept that man was an animal species, in his book “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex”.

50 Downs with gusto : SWIGS

“Gusto” is an Italian word meaning “taste”. We use it in English in the phrase “with gusto” meaning “with great enjoyment”.

57 Org. targeted by Moms Demand Action : NRA

National Rifle Association (NRA)

58 2019 Chinese zodiac sign : PIG

The Chinese Zodiac is a scheme that relates each year to the attributes of a particular animal in a 12-year cycle. So, the Chinese Zodiac has one sign for each of twelve years, whereas the Western Zodiac has one sign for each of the twelve months.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Savory additive : MSG
4 Literally, “struggle” : JIHAD
9 Matter of great interest for the United States : DEBT
13 Have something : AIL
14 Provided an address : ORATED
16 Législateurs’ votes : OUIS
17 Basic part of a tool kit : CLAW HAMMER
19 Comprehend : GROK
20 Still fresh : RECENT
21 Leftover : REMNANT
23 How a sofa might be turned for moving : ON ITS END
26 Green spot : OASIS
27 Extreme devotee, in modern lingo : STAN
28 Hoedown musician’s aid : BANJO PICK
31 Film models are used in it : CLAYMATION
34 Wearer of a lion’s skin in an Aesop fable : ASS
35 Old sailor’s wear : PEA JACKET
37 ___ moment : AHA
40 Was lazy : SLACKED OFF
43 Student loan provider : SALLIE MAE
45 Piteous sigh : ALAS
47 Duck : AVOID
48 Obsolescent living room fixture : PLASMA TV
51 Engage in unabashed nerdiness : GEEK OUT
54 Wrap up : SWATHE
55 Word repeated in the Dylan Thomas line “___ against the dying of the light” : RAGE
56 Precisely found : PINPOINTED
59 Possible response to “How long’s it been?” : AGES
60 Symbol of rebirth : SPRING
61 Flooring selection : OAK
62 Devil-may-care motto, in brief : YOLO
63 Learned types : SAGES
64 Evidence of a couple’s honeymoon phase, for short : PDA

Down

1 Shortcuts in computer coding : MACROS
2 Miscellaneous part? : SILENT C
3 Painfully slow : GLACIAL
4 Going places? : JOHNS
5 More than cross : IRATE
6 One playing things for laughs : HAM
7 ___ card : ATM
8 Start of a letter in the form of a rebus : DEER
9 Take a pointer? : DOGNAP
10 Superstate in “1984” : EURASIA
11 Technology that mimics nature : BIONICS
12 Shakes a finger at : TSKTSKS
15 Producer of Eminem’s “The Eminem Show,” informally : DRE
18 After-dinner amenity : WET-NAP
22 Rear-ended? : MOONED
24 Classic arcade game with an announcer who shouts “Boomshakalaka!” : NBA JAM
25 Restriction on mobile phone use : DATA CAP
29 Stainless steel element : NICKEL
30 Ha-ha : JOKE
32 Personal affirmation : YES I DO
33 Like drone bees : MALE
36 With no exceptions : TO A MAN
37 Charles Darwin contemporary : ASA GRAY
38 Take one’s turn : HAVE A GO
39 Soothing application : ALOE GEL
41 Hairstyle that’s cut short on the sides : FLATTOP
42 Half-wit : FATHEAD
44 “Just watch …” : LIKE SO …
46 Absolut competitor : SVEDKA
49 Jointly : AS ONE
50 Downs with gusto : SWIGS
52 High times : UPS
53 Money left on the table : TIPS
57 Org. targeted by Moms Demand Action : NRA
58 2019 Chinese zodiac sign : PIG

3 thoughts on “1108-19 NY Times Crossword 8 Nov 19, Friday”

  1. 33:19 It’s always a “day booster” for me when I make a first pass through all the clues and only manage to feel confident filling in two answers…but is then able to build off of them and solve the whole thing. Liked the puns in the clues, never have heard of “grok”…ever. I’ll shut up now, see y’all tomorrow

    1. I agree DuncanR and this puzzle definitely qualified. Actually did about 1/3 and then took a nap which is my superpower when solving difficult puzzles. Woke up and filled in the remaining 2/3 quickly. My brain works on it while I rest believe it or not. I did know grok having used it back in the day.

  2. 29:58. Took forever to get going on this one, but once I did the vague clues fell into place.

    I now know what STAN means. Is there anyway I can unlearn that ?

    Best-

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