0217-21 NY Times Crossword 17 Feb 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: David Harris & Evan Kalish
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Apes

Themed answers each include “APE” as a hidden word. The answers MONKEY and MIDDLE are connected with the circled letters IN THE, giving the kid’s game MONKEY IN THE MIDDLE:

  • 65A Animals found in 16-, 20-, 35-, 51- and 58-Across : APES
  • 16A Portrayer of Carla Tortelli on “Cheers” : RHEA PERLMAN
  • 20A “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” co-star : AMANDA PEET
  • 35A Huggies, e.g. : DIAPERS
  • 51A Cause of a comedic slip : BANANA PEEL
  • 58A Where idols might be placed : ON A PEDESTAL
  • 43A With the circled letters and 46-Across, playground keep-away game : MONKEY
  • [IN THE]
  • 46A See 43-Across : MIDDLE

Bill’s time: 7m 57s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Option in a classic taste test : PEPSI

The Pepsi Challenge is a marketing campaign that PepsiCo introduced in 1975 as a tactic in the Cola Wars with the Coca-Cola Company. The challenge itself involves a blind taste test.

13 “___ moi le déluge” : APRES

“Après moi, le déluge” is a French phrase that was supposedly used by Louis XV. The king was referring to the impending demise of the French monarchy and predicting the French Revolution. The phrase translates as “After me, the deluge”.

15 Political commentator Navarro : ANA

Ana Navarro is a Nicaraguan-born, American political strategist and commentator. Navarro is a lifelong Republican who worked for Governor Jeb Bush and for Senator John McCain. However, she was very critical of presidential candidate Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign. She was so vehement in her anti-Trump views that she ended up voting for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the election.

16 Portrayer of Carla Tortelli on “Cheers” : RHEA PERLMAN

Rhea Perlman’s most famous role has to be Carla Tortelli, the irascible waitress in the long-running sitcom “Cheers”. Perlman is also a successful children’s author, and has published a series of six books called “Otto Undercover”. She married Hollywood actor Danny DeVito in 1982.

18 “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” network : TBS

Samantha Bee is a comedian from Toronto who found fame as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” starting way back in 2003. Bee left “The Daily Show” in 2015 to host her own late-night talk show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” on TBS.

20 “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” co-star : AMANDA PEET

Actress Amanda Peet studied acting with the celebrated Uta Hagen at Columbia University. Peet has appeared in a number of successful films including “The Whole Nine Yards” and “Syriana”. I remember her best from what I thought was a great TV show (but no one seemed to agree!) called “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”.

25 Least bit : IOTA

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, and one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small, as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

28 “The Lion King” antagonists : HYENAS

Among the group of lions at the center of “The Lion King” story, young Simba is the heir apparent and the lion cub destined to take over as leader of the pride. His uncle is jealous of Simba, and plots with a trio of hyenas to kill Simba, so that he can take his position. The uncle was originally named Taka (according to books) but he was given the name Scar after being injured by a buffalo. The trio of hyenas are called Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.

30 Doctor with an eponymous “slip” : FREUD

A Freudian slip is an error that is interpreted as being due to an unconscious wish for the same outcome. Named for psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, the “slip” is also called a “parapraxis”.

31 Bygone copies : MIMEOS

A mimeograph (also “mimeo”) is a cheap printing press that applies ink to paper through a stencil wrapped around a rotating drum. Mimeographs are still around, but have largely been replaced by offset printers and photocopiers.

34 Hula hoops or fidget spinners, once : FAD

Hula hoops were a big craze in the 1950s, but they have been around in various forms at least since the year 500 BCE.

A fidget spinner is a toy that supposedly can be used for stress relief. Sales of fidget spinners really took off in 2017, although versions of the toy existed back in the early nineties.

35 Huggies, e.g. : DIAPERS

“Diaper” is another word that I had to learn when I moved to America. What are called “diapers” over here, we call “nappies” back in Ireland. The term “diaper” is actually the original term that was used in England for the garment, where “diaper” referred to the cloth that was used. The term “diaper” was brought to the New World where it stuck. Back in Britain, “diaper” was displaced by the word “nappy”, a diminutive of “napkin”.

37 Aladdin’s mischievous sidekick : ABU

Abu is a monkey in the Disney production of “Aladdin”. The character is based on Abu, a thief in the 1940 film “The Thief of Baghdad”.

41 Start of a toast : HERE’S …

The tradition of toasting someone probably dates back to the reign of Charles II, when the practice was to drink a glass of wine to the health of a beautiful or favored woman. In those days, spiced toast was added to beverages to add flavor, so the use of the word “toast” was an indicator that the lady’s beauty would enhance the wine. Very charming, I must say …

43 With the circled letters and 46-Across, playground keep-away game : MONKEY
[IN THE]
46 See 43-Across : MIDDLE

Monkey in the Middle is a kid’s game in which several players pass a ball to each other while one player tries to intercept it. Back in Ireland, we used to call the game “Piggy in the Middle”.

47 Relative of a cor anglais : OBOE

The oboe is perhaps my favorite of the reed instruments. The name “oboe” comes from the French “hautbois” which means “high wood”.

The English horn is also known by its French name “cor anglais”. It is a double-reed woodwind instrument.

48 Slugger’s stat : RBI

Run batted in (RBI)

55 Group featuring Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube : NWA

NWA was a hip hop group from Compton, California. The original five group members included rappers who have made a name for themselves as solo acts, including: Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. The story of NWA is told in a 2015 film, also called “Straight Outta Compton”. I hear that the movie was well received, although hip hop is not my cup of tea. I’m just too old …

57 Med. care option : HMO

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Make your choice, if you can …

61 Actor McKellen : IAN

Sir Ian McKellen is a marvelous English actor, one who is comfortable playing anything from Macbeth on stage to Magneto in an “X-Men” movie. On the big screen, McKellen is very famous for playing Gandalf in “The Lord of Rings”. In the UK, Sir Ian is noted for being at the forefront of the campaign for equal rights for gay people, a role he has enthusiastically embraced since the eighties.

62 Medal-worthy mettle : VALOR

“Mettle” is such a lovely word. It means “courage, fortitude, spirit”. “Mettle” is simply a variant spelling of the word “metal”.

63 Coral component : POLYP

Polyps are tiny sea creatures that are found attached to underwater structures or to other polyps. Polyps have a mouth at one end of a cylindrical “body” that is surrounded by tentacles. Some polyps cluster into groups called stony corals, with stony corals being the building blocks of coral reefs. The structure of the reef comprises calcium carbonate exoskeletons secreted by the coral polyps.

64 General whose good name has been battered? : TSO

General Tso’s chicken is an American creation, and a dish often found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. The name General Tso may be a reference to General Zuo Zongtang of the Qing Dynasty, but there is no clear link.

65 Animals found in 16-, 20-, 35-, 51- and 58-Across : APES

Apes and monkeys both belong to the order of primates. The most obvious way to distinguish apes from monkeys is by the presence or lack of a tail. Almost all apes have no tail, and almost all monkeys have tails.

Down

1 Place name in Monopoly : PARK

Park Place is an expensive property on the Monopoly board that features the streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

2 Fleeting things : EPHEMERA

“Ephemera” was originally a medical term used to describe a fever that only lasted a day. The use of the term was expanded in the 17th century to include insects that were short-lived. By the end of the 18th century, ephemera were any things of transitory existence.

5 AOL, e.g. : ISP

AOL was a leading Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the 1980s and 1990s. The company does still provide dial-up access to the Internet for some subscribers, but most users now access AOL using faster, non-AOL ISPs.

6 Stylish flair : ECLAT

“Éclat” can describe a brilliant show of success, as well as the applause or accolade that one receives for that success. The word “éclat” derives from the French “éclater” meaning “to splinter, burst out”.

9 ___ Turnblad, role for Divine in “Hairspray” : 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.

11 Still under development : IN BETA

In the world of software development, the first tested issue of a new program is usually called the alpha version. Expected to have a lot of bugs that need to be fixed, the alpha release is usually distributed to a small number of testers. After reported bugs have been eliminated, the refined version is called a beta and is released to a wider audience, but with the program clearly labeled as “beta”. The users generally check functionality and report further bugs that are encountered. The beta version feeds into a release candidate, the version that is tested just prior to the software being sold into the market, hopefully bug-free.

12 “Never-ending” offerings at Olive Garden : PASTAS

Olive Garden is a chain of Italian-American restaurants that has over 800 locations worldwide. The chain was originally established as part of General Mills. The current owners of the chain also operate Red Lobster restaurants. Apparently there are plans to co-located Olive Garden and Red Lobster eateries so that they have separate entries but share kitchens.

14 Columnist Bombeck : ERMA

Erma Bombeck wrote for newspapers for about 35 years. She produced more than 4,000 witty and humorous columns under the title “At Wit’s End”, with all describing her home life in suburbia.

21 Pizzas, e.g. : PIES

Pizza was invented in Naples, where it has a long tradition that goes back to ancient Rome. During an 1889 visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Savoy was served a special pizza that was created with toppings designed to mimic the colors of the Italian flag. The ingredients of tomato (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green) can still be found together on menus today, on a pie usually named Pizza Margherita after the queen. I do love basil on my pizza …

23 Who just cracked this clue : YOU

Nope. I did …

26 One who likes every one of your Insta posts, say : BFF

Best friend forever (BFF)

Instagram (often abbreviated to “Insta”) is a photo-sharing application, one that is extremely popular. Instagram started in San Francisco in 2010. Facebook purchased Instagram two years later, paying $1 billion. The billion-dollar Instagram company had just 13 employees at the time of the sale …

28 2013 title role for Scarlett Johansson : HER

2003’s “Her” is a rather unusual film. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man who develops a relationship with a computer operating system called “Samantha”, which is voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

Scarlett Johansson is a film actress from New York City. Johansson had an acclaimed lead performance in the 1996 movie “Manny & Lo”, when she was just 12 years old. The earliest films I remember her in, two favorites of mine, are “Girl in a Pearl Earring” and “Lost in Translation”, both from 2013. She has become quite the sex symbol, and is the only woman to have been named “Sexiest Woman Alive” twice by “Esquire” magazine. The media sometimes refer to her as “ScarJo”, a moniker that she apparently dislikes intensely.

29 Mario’s dinosaur sidekick : YOSHI

Yoshi is a dinosaur-like character in some Nintendo video games. Yoshi first appeared as a sidekick to Mario and Luigi in the 1991 game called “Super Mario World”.

31 World leader with a distinctive jacket : MAO

What we call the Mao suit in the west is known as the Zhongshan suit in China. The style was introduced by Sun Yat-sen (also known as Sun Zhongshan) as the form of national dress after the founding of the Republic of China in 1912.

32 Stock market debut, for short : IPO

An initial public offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).

33 ___ B or ___ C of the Spice Girls : MEL

The five members of the English pop group the Spice Girls are:

  • Scary Spice (Melanie Brown, or Mel B)
  • Baby Spice (Emma Bunton, and my fave!)
  • Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell)
  • Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham)
  • Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisholm, or Mel C)

40 Seller of Uppland and Ektorp sofas : IKEA

The IKEA furniture chain was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, when he was just 17-years-old. IKEA is an acronym standing for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (don’t forget now!). Elmtaryd was the name of the farm where Ingvar Kamprad grew up, and Agunnaryd is his home parish in Sweden.

42 Proofers, for short : EDS

Editor (ed)

43 Order from Tony Soprano, e.g. : MOB HIT

Actor James Gandolfini is perhaps best known for playing Mafia boss Tony Soprano in the HBO show “The Sopranos”. For my money, one of Gandolfini’s best performances was in the 2013 romantic comedy “Enough Said”, opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Sadly, Gandolfini passed away just before that film was released.

44 Former White House family : OBAMAS

By tradition, the Secret Service code names used for the US President and family all start with the same letter. For the Obama First Family, that letter is R:

  • Barack Obama: Renegade
  • Michelle Obama: Renaissance
  • Malia Obama: Radiance
  • Sasha Obama: Rosebud

46 Salsa option : MILD

“Salsa” is simply Spanish for “sauce”.

48 Some auctioned autos : REPOS

Repossession (repo)

49 The missing letters in _UDW_IS_ _ : BEER

The American beer Budweiser (often shortened to “Bud”) is named for the Czech town of Budweis (“České Budějovice” in Czech). The name is the subject of a dispute as here is an original Czech beer with a similar name, Budweiser Budvar. American Budweiser is sold in most European countries as “Bud”.

52 Emmy-winning science series : NOVA

“Nova” is an excellent science television series on PBS. “Nova” was created back in 1974, and was inspired by a very similar BBC show called “Horizon”, a show that I grew up with. Many “Nova” episodes are actually co-productions with the BBC with an American narrator used for the PBS broadcasts and a British narrator for the BBC broadcasts.

59 Antipollution org. : EPA

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Option in a classic taste test : PEPSI
6 Beat out : EDGE
10 In vogue : HIP
13 “___ moi le déluge” : APRES
14 Greeting in an inbox : E-CARD
15 Political commentator Navarro : ANA
16 Portrayer of Carla Tortelli on “Cheers” : RHEA PERLMAN
18 “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” network : TBS
19 Fraternity party container : KEG
20 “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” co-star : AMANDA PEET
22 Can alternative : MAY
24 Squeaker or squealer : RAT
25 Least bit : IOTA
26 Do some whining and whinging about : BEMOAN
28 “The Lion King” antagonists : HYENAS
30 Doctor with an eponymous “slip” : FREUD
31 Bygone copies : MIMEOS
34 Hula hoops or fidget spinners, once : FAD
35 Huggies, e.g. : DIAPERS
37 Aladdin’s mischievous sidekick : ABU
40 “No need to worry about me” : I’M COOL
41 Start of a toast : HERE’S …
43 With the circled letters and 46-Across, playground keep-away game : MONKEY
[IN THE]
46 See 43-Across : MIDDLE
47 Relative of a cor anglais : OBOE
48 Slugger’s stat : RBI
50 Filming locale : SET
51 Cause of a comedic slip : BANANA PEEL
55 Group featuring Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube : NWA
57 Med. care option : HMO
58 Where idols might be placed : ON A PEDESTAL
61 Actor McKellen : IAN
62 Medal-worthy mettle : VALOR
63 Coral component : POLYP
64 General whose good name has been battered? : TSO
65 Animals found in 16-, 20-, 35-, 51- and 58-Across : APES
66 Bottomless expanse : ABYSS

Down

1 Place name in Monopoly : PARK
2 Fleeting things : EPHEMERA
3 Had drinks before going out, informally : PREGAMED
4 Blue expanse : SEA
5 AOL, e.g. : ISP
6 Stylish flair : ECLAT
7 “Phooey!,” only stronger : DAMN!
8 ___ school : GRAD
9 ___ Turnblad, role for Divine in “Hairspray” : EDNA
10 Talk trash about : HATE ON
11 Still under development : IN BETA
12 “Never-ending” offerings at Olive Garden : PASTAS
14 Columnist Bombeck : ERMA
17 Get paid : EARN
21 Pizzas, e.g. : PIES
23 Who just cracked this clue : YOU
26 One who likes every one of your Insta posts, say : BFF
27 Social media request : ADD ME
28 2013 title role for Scarlett Johansson : HER
29 Mario’s dinosaur sidekick : YOSHI
31 World leader with a distinctive jacket : MAO
32 Stock market debut, for short : IPO
33 ___ B or ___ C of the Spice Girls : MEL
36 Standoffish : ICY
37 With passion : ARDENTLY
38 Metropolitan ring roads : BELTWAYS
39 Manipulate : USE
40 Seller of Uppland and Ektorp sofas : IKEA
42 Proofers, for short : EDS
43 Order from Tony Soprano, e.g. : MOB HIT
44 Former White House family : OBAMAS
45 Sharp rejection : NO NO NO!
46 Salsa option : MILD
48 Some auctioned autos : REPOS
49 The missing letters in _UDW_IS_ _ : BEER
52 Emmy-winning science series : NOVA
53 Take ___ (snooze) : A NAP
54 Lightish : PALE
56 Where edelweiss grows : ALPS
59 Antipollution org. : EPA
60 Weep audibly : SOB

5 thoughts on “0217-21 NY Times Crossword 17 Feb 21, Wednesday”

  1. 11:26 Didn’t see the APES till well after I was finished. Got hung up a bit by 40A, having IMGOOD, erasing it, putting it back in, and then having to ponder before getting to IMCOOL

  2. Right there with you @Ron. 11:38. Another morning of screeching grandkids. Doesn’t do much for my concentration. 😆

  3. 18:18. Never even heard of MONKEY IN THE MIDDLE so this was essentially a themeless for me. I did this last night while watching a hockey game.

    Plus I was very excited that BudwEisER showed up for the second day in a row. Great clue for it, by the way. How had I never seen that before? The word BEER embedded in it. It’s elegant. What did I say yesterday about being teary-eyed?

    Strange theme. APEs and MONKEYs are two different things as Bill points out. Were these just two separate themes?

    Lastly, MILD is NEVER an option for salsa!! Next thing you’ll be telling me there are such things as decaffeinated coffee and no-alcohol beer!!

    Best –

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