0804-21 NY Times Crossword 4 Aug 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: Brandon Koppy
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer Film Splicer

Themed answers comprise two FILM titles SPLICED together:

  • 52A Editing device suggested by 17-, 23-, 33- and 46-Across? : FILM SPLICER
  • 17 Classic song that starts “I was working in the lab late one night” [2003, 1970] : MONSTER MASH (“Monster” & “M*A*S*H”)
  • 23A Start of the Depression [1987, 2004] : WALL STREET CRASH (“Wall Street” & “Crash”)
  • 33A Line at the top or bottom of a website [1997, 2019] : CONTACT US (“Contact” & “Us”)
  • 46A Commuter’s headache [1998, 2000] : RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC (“Rush Hour” & “Traffic”)

Bill’s time: 6m 43s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 ___ alphabet : NATO

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

11 ___-Signal : BAT

Batman is an ally of Police Commissioner Gordon of Gotham City. Gordon orders the shining of a searchlight, known as the Bat-Signal, into the sky to summon Batman when he is needed.

14 Mystery writer? : ANON

Anonymous (anon.)

15 Place to hide in hide-and-seek : CLOSET

In Old French a “clos” was an enclosure, with the diminutive form “closet” describing a small enclosure or private room. Over time this evolved into our modern usage of “closet”, describing a cabinet or cupboard.

16 Donkey Kong, for one : APE

The first video game featuring the ape called Donkey Kong was created in 1981. That same game introduced the world to the character known as Mario, four years before the game Super Mario Bros became such a big hit.

17 Classic song that starts “I was working in the lab late one night” [2003, 1970] : MONSTER MASH (“Monster” & “M*A*S*H”)

“Monster Mash” is a fun novelty song released by Bobby Pickett in 1962. Pickett sings “Monster Mash” in a voice that imitates Boris Karloff.

“Monster” is a pretty disturbing crime drama released in 2003. The film’s storyline is based on the real-life story of Aileen Wuornos (played by Charlize Theron), a serial killer who was eventually caught and executed in 2002.

“M*A*S*H” has only three stars (three asterisks, that is). These asterisks first appeared on the poster for the 1970 movie, but they were omitted in the opening titles. The TV series went on to use the asterisks from the poster.

20 Viking beverage : MEAD

Mead is a lovely drink that’s made from fermented honey and water.

The Vikings were a Germanic people from northern Europe who were noted as great seafarers. Key to the success of the Vikings was the design of their famous “longships”. Made from wood, the longship was long and narrow with a shallow hull, It was also light, so that the crew would actually carry it small distances over land and around obstacles. Longships were designed to be propelled by both sail and oars.

21 Popular New Orleans dessert : BEIGNET

A beignet is a pastry made from choux dough that is deep fried, and usually served with powdered sugar on top. “Beignet” is a French word that translates as “bump”.

23 Start of the Depression [1987, 2004] : WALL STREET CRASH (“Wall Street” & “Crash”)

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 that signalled the start of the Great Depression did not take place on one day. The first big drop in the market took place on October 24 (Black Thursday). Things stabilized on Friday, and then the slide continued on the 28th (Black Monday) and the 29th (Black Tuesday).

“Wall Street” is a very entertaining 1987 film from Oliver Stone starring Charlie Sheen as an up and coming stockbroker, and Michael Douglas as an amoral corporate raider named Gordon Gekko. Douglas’ portrayal of Gekko earned him a Best Actor Oscar, and deservedly so, I’d say …

The 2004 Oscar-winning movie “Crash” is a clever piece of work, with several interweaving stories that use a fine cast of characters. Having said that, the fact that “Crash” won the Academy Award was very unexpected, as the film had not won any of the other major awards for Best Film that year. The critics’ favorite was “Brokeback Mountain”.

27 ___ vera : ALOE

Aloe vera has a number of alternate names that are descriptive of its efficacy as a medicine. ancient Egyptians knew it as the plant of immortality, and Native Americans called it the wand of heaven.

29 Works of Picasso y Goya : ARTE

Artist Pablo Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name he was given right from birth. Got that?

Francisco Goya was a Spanish painter who was often called the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Two of Goya’s most famous works are “The Nude Maja” and “The Clothed Maja”.

30 Gotham inits. : NYC

“Gotham” had been a nickname for New York City long before it was picked up by comic books as a setting for Batman tales. The term was coined by Washington Irving in a periodical that he published in 1807. Irving was lampooning New York politics and culture, and lifted the name from the village of Gotham in Nottinghamshire, England. The original Gotham was, according to folklore, inhabited by fools.

31 Small wind instrument : FIFE

A fife is a small flute that is often used in military and marching bands. The name “fife” comes from the German “Pfeife” meaning “pipe”.

33 Line at the top or bottom of a website [1997, 2019] : CONTACT US (“Contact” & “Us”)

“Contact” is a sci-fi novel by Carl Sagan that was first published in 1985. Sagan had written “Contact” originally as a screenplay in 1979, but when plans for the film stalled, Sagan decided to go ahead and create the novel. An excellent film did eventually hit the theaters in 1997, and starred Jodie Foster.

“Us” is a 2019 horror film. I don’t do horror …

36 Help up a slope : T-BAR

A T-bar is a ski lift on which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of a T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skiers as they remain standing on their skis (hopefully!). There’s also a J-bar, which is a similar device but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.

38 Popular depilatory : NAIR

Nair is a hair-removal product that has some pretty harsh ingredients. The most important active constituents are calcium hydroxide (“slaked lime”) and sodium hydroxide (“caustic soda”). Other Nair components seem to be there to soothe the skin after the harsher chemicals have done their job. The name “Nair” probably comes from combining “no” and “hair”.

42 It was cool in the ’90s : PHAT

In hip-hop circles, the term “phat” means “excellent, first-rate”.

46 Commuter’s headache [1998, 2000] : RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC (“Rush Hour” & “Traffic”)

The 2000 film “Traffic” explores the illegal drug trade. The movie is adapted from a 1989 British TV miniseries called “Traffik”. There was also 2004 American TV miniseries produced called “Traffic”, which was based on both the prior TV show and the movie.

49 1986 #1 hit for Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald : ON MY OWN

Patti LaBelle is the stage name of singer Patricia Holt-Edwards from Philadelphia. She started her career in the sixties as the lead singer of the vocal group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, later changing its name to simply “LaBelle”. When the group disbanded in 1976, Patti launched a remarkably successful solo career.

51 Lovelace of early computing : ADA

Ada Lovelace’s real name and title was Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace. She was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the poet. Lovelace was fascinated by mathematics and wrote about the work done by Charles Babbage in building his groundbreaking mechanical computer. In some of her notes, she proposed an algorithm for Babbage’s machine to compute Bernoulli numbers. This algorithm is recognized by many as the world’s first computer program and so Lovelace is sometimes called the first “computer programmer”. There is a computer language called “Ada” that was named in her honor. The Ada language was developed from 1977 to 1983 for the US Department of Defense.

60 ___ Lankan : SRI

The island nation of Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast of India. The name “Sri Lanka” translates from Sanskrit into English as “venerable island”. Before 1970, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon, a name given to the country during British rule.

62 Lead-in to sax : ALTO

The saxophone was invented by Belgian musician Adolphe Sax, hence the name. Sax developed lip cancer at one point in his life, and one has to wonder if his affliction was related to his saxophone playing (I am sure not!). I had the privilege of visiting Sax’s grave in the Cemetery of Montmartre in Paris a few years ago.

Down

1 “Full Metal Jacket” setting, in brief : NAM

Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic war film “Full Metal Jacket” takes its name from the “full metal jacket” bullet that is used by infantry riflemen. The film is set largely in Vietnam and, somewhat bizarrely I think, all those jungle scenes were shot on a disused building site in London!

3 “Funky Cold Medina” rapper : TONE LOC

Tone Lōc is the stage name of rapper Anthony Smith.

6 Nikon D3500, e.g. : SLR

The Japanese company Nikon was founded in 1917 with the merger of three manufacturers of various optical devices. After the merger, Nikon’s main output was lenses (including the first lenses for Canon cameras, before Canon made its own). During the war, Nikon sales grew rapidly as the company focused on (pun!) equipment for the military including periscopes and bomb sights.

7 Certain lap dog, informally : POM

The Pomeranian is a small breed of dog named for the Pomerania region of Europe (part of eastern Germany and northern Poland). The breed was much loved by the royalty of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria owned a particularly small Pomeranian. Due to the notoriety of the monarch’s pet, the Pomeranian was bred for small size, so that during the Queen’s admittedly long reign, the size of the average “pom” was reduced by 50% …

8 Allende who wrote “City of the Beasts” : ISABEL

Isabel Allende is a Chilean writer, apparently the world’s most widely-read, Spanish-language author. Isabel is related to Salvador Allende, the ex-President of Chile.

11 Alma mater for Martha Stewart and Joan Rivers : BARNARD

Barnard College is a private women’s school in New York City. Barnard was founded in 1889 and since 1900 has been affiliated with Columbia University.

12 Hurdles for many honor students, in brief : AP TESTS

The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers college-level courses to kids who are still in high school (HS). After being tested at the end of an AP course, successful students receive credits that count towards a college degree.

26 58-Across between Lou and Bess : ELEANOR
(58A Michelle Obama or Jill Biden, informally : FLOTUS)

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the daughter of Elliot, brother to President Theodore Roosevelt. Eleanor met Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was her father’s fifth cousin, in 1902. The two started “walking out together” the following year after they both attended a White House dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt.

Lou Henry met her future husband Herbert Hoover while studying at Stanford University. The couple traveled extensively in their lives, even before Herbert became US president. In fact, when Herbert proposed to Lou, he was living in Australia while Lou was in the US. He proposed by cable, and she accepted with a return telegraph. The day after their marriage in Monterey, California, the Hoovers left for Shanghai, where they lived for a couple of years while Herbert pursued his career in mining. While there, Lou became proficient in Chinese. As such, Lou Hoover was to become the only First Lady of the US to have spoken an Asian language.

Harry Truman and Bess Wallace first met when they were very young children at Sunday school. They were friends right through high school and became engaged in 1918, just before Harry went off to France during WWI, and married the next year. Bess Truman never really took to the Washington scene when she became First Lady and stayed out of the limelight as much as she could. Perhaps that contributed to her longevity. Mrs. Truman lived to the age of 97, making her the longest living First Lady in US history.

33 Often-frazzled comics character : CATHY

“Cathy” is a comic strip drawn by Cathy Guisewite. The strip was largely based on Guisewite’s own life experiences. For decades, cartoon Cathy was a single woman dealing with food, love, family and work. Cathy married her longtime boyfriend Irving in 2005, and the strip ended its run in 2010 with the revelation that Cathy was expecting a baby girl.

36 What the N.B.A.’s SuperSonics became in 2008 : THUNDER

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).

37 Type of rice : BASMATI

Basmati is a long grain rice that is commonly used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. The name “basmati” comes from the Sanskrit word “vasmati” meaning “fragrant”. I am a big fan …

39 Like some glasses : BIFOCAL

Benjamin Franklin was a prolific inventor, coming up with bifocal glasses among other things. Franklin never filed for patents for his creations, and wrote:

… as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

45 Birthplace of Homo sapiens : AFRICA

Ethiopia is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation on the continent (after Nigeria) and, with 90 million inhabitants, the most populous landlocked country in the world. Most anthropologists believe that our Homo sapiens species evolved in the region now called Ethiopia, and from there set out to populate the planet.

The literal translation of “Homo sapiens” from Latin is “wise or knowing man”. The Homo genus includes the species Homo sapiens (modern humans), but we’re the only species left in that genus. The last known species related to humans was Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man) which died off about 24,000 years ago. However, another species was discovered in Indonesia in 2003 that has been dubbed Homo floresiensis (Flores Man … sometimes called “hobbit”), and it may possibly have lived as recently as 12,000 years ago. Watch this space …

47 So-called “Godfather of the Teamsters” : HOFFA

Jimmy Hoffa headed off to meet with two Mafia leaders at a restaurant in a suburb of Detroit on July 30, 1975. The two men he was supposed to meet denied any appointment was made, and they were seen in public in other locations far from the restaurant. Hoffa was spotted by passers-by in the restaurant parking lot, the last time he was ever seen. His wife reported him missing later that night, and the resulting police investigation failed to find Hoffa or his body. Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982, seven years after he disappeared.

Originally, a teamster was a person who drove a team of animals that pulled a wagon. Over time, “teamster” became a synonym for “truck driver”. The term became more prevalent as the trade union called the International Brotherhood of Teamsters grew in importance during the Depression.

53 Big Apple subway inits. : MTA

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has public transportation responsibility in the state of New York (as well as part of Connecticut). “MTA” might also refer to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is known as “the Metro” and sometimes “the MTA”.

Apparently, the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:

Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.

Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.

54 Opposite of norte : SUR

The cardinal directions in Spanish are “norte” (north), “este” (east), “sur” (south) and “oeste” (west).

55 Email addenda, for short : PSS

One adds a PS (post scriptum, or simply “postscript”) at the end of a letter (ltr.). A second postscript is a post post scriptum, a PPS.

56 Vegas hotel and casino that is the longtime host of the World Series of Poker : RIO

The Rio casino in Las Vegas was opened in 1990, originally targeting the local population as it is located off the famous Strip where most of the tourists hang out. Famously, the Rio opened up the adults-only Sapphire Pool in 2008, a pay-to-enter (only men paid) topless pool club that featured music and dancers. A year later the Sapphire Pool was closed down after there were eleven arrests for drugs and prostitution offences during an undercover police operation.

The World Series of Poker is an annual event held in Las Vegas. The winner of each event is given a much-coveted World Series of Poker bracelet.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 ___ alphabet : NATO
5 Dream big : ASPIRE
11 ___-Signal : BAT
14 Mystery writer? : ANON
15 Place to hide in hide-and-seek : CLOSET
16 Donkey Kong, for one : APE
17 Classic song that starts “I was working in the lab late one night” [2003, 1970] : MONSTER MASH (“Monster” & “M*A*S*H”)
19 Hwy. : RTE
20 Viking beverage : MEAD
21 Popular New Orleans dessert : BEIGNET
23 Start of the Depression [1987, 2004] : WALL STREET CRASH (“Wall Street” & “Crash”)
27 ___ vera : ALOE
28 Bequeaths : WILLS
29 Works of Picasso y Goya : ARTE
30 Gotham inits. : NYC
31 Small wind instrument : FIFE
32 Gamblers’ calculations : ODDS
33 Line at the top or bottom of a website [1997, 2019] : CONTACT US (“Contact” & “Us”)
36 Help up a slope : T-BAR
38 Popular depilatory : NAIR
39 Busy body? : BEE
42 It was cool in the ’90s : PHAT
43 Search blindly : GROPE
45 Strives (to) : AIMS
46 Commuter’s headache [1998, 2000] : RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC (“Rush Hour” & “Traffic”)
49 1986 #1 hit for Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald : ON MY OWN
50 Throne material on “Game of Thrones” : IRON
51 Lovelace of early computing : ADA
52 Editing device suggested by 17-, 23-, 33- and 46-Across? : FILM SPLICER
57 Crossed : MET
58 Michelle Obama or Jill Biden, informally : FLOTUS
59 Request accompanying puppy dog eyes, maybe : CAN I?
60 ___ Lankan : SRI
61 Mac-versus-PC and others : AD WARS
62 Lead-in to sax : ALTO

Down

1 “Full Metal Jacket” setting, in brief : NAM
2 Surprise for a statistician : ANOMALY
3 “Funky Cold Medina” rapper : TONE LOC
4 In the bargain bin, say : ON SALE
5 Tennis feat : ACE
6 Nikon D3500, e.g. : SLR
7 Certain lap dog, informally : POM
8 Allende who wrote “City of the Beasts” : ISABEL
9 Goes back to square one : RESETS
10 Moral code : ETHIC
11 Alma mater for Martha Stewart and Joan Rivers : BARNARD
12 Hurdles for many honor students, in brief : AP TESTS
13 Something most babies do at around six months : TEETHE
18 The Rams scored none of these in the ’19 Super Bowl, and the Chiefs none in ’21 : TDS
22 Ex-seniors : GRADS
23 Sickly-looking : WAN
24 Mattress size : TWIN
25 Big break : RIFT
26 58-Across between Lou and Bess : ELEANOR
31 Supporting : FOR
32 ___ Lady of Guadalupe : OUR
33 Often-frazzled comics character : CATHY
34 Rank below adm. : CAPT
35 Seating section : TIER
36 What the N.B.A.’s SuperSonics became in 2008 : THUNDER
37 Type of rice : BASMATI
39 Like some glasses : BIFOCAL
40 Highly respected : EMINENT
41 Help button : ESC
42 Some celebrity sporting events : PRO-AMS
43 Rampage : GO WILD
44 Dwindle : RUN LOW
45 Birthplace of Homo sapiens : AFRICA
47 So-called “Godfather of the Teamsters” : HOFFA
48 Be bedridden, say : AIL
53 Big Apple subway inits. : MTA
54 Opposite of norte : SUR
55 Email addenda, for short : PSS
56 Vegas hotel and casino that is the longtime host of the World Series of Poker : RIO

12 thoughts on “0804-21 NY Times Crossword 4 Aug 21, Wednesday”

  1. 9:47 Early on I had the D for 11D so I filled it in with HARVARD. Several of the letters worked. Only toward the end did I realize it was BARNARD. Had no idea about the theme or what the parenthetical numbers in the clues meant until reading WORDPLAY discussion.

  2. 9:48. Fun theme although I’d never heard of the movie “US” so that one raised an eyebrow.

    I haven’t had a BEIGNET in about 15 years, but I have many memories of them at the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Been there more times than I can count, but not lately. Maybe it’s time to go back.

    Best –

  3. 10:57, no errors. Oddly enough, I have absolutely no memory of the numbers in the clues and no memory of the theme. I did it at the end of a long day, with another long day in the offing, just before turning out the lights and going to sleep. (And apparently the old gray cells were already asleep … 😳😜.)

  4. If an email addenda is a PPS (I agree with Post Post Script), then why is the answer to 55 down pSs rather than pPs?

    1. There seems to be a debate as to which is more correct. PSS stands for ‘Post Scriptum Scriptum’; while PPS stands for ‘Post Post Scriptum’.

    2. Agreed! Perhaps the setter has enshrined a common error in a crossword puzzle! And it slipped right by me? For shame!

      Except … there’s an out: The way the clue is worded describes email “postscripts” (abbreviated “PS’s”) as “addenda” (plural) to the email. I’m easy. It think it works … 😜.

  5. Spent a lot of time in NOLA…eaten my share of beignets…for breakfast…with dark coffee…maybe even chicory laced coffee…never once referred to them as dessert…never heard anyone refer to them as dessert…but then xword setters just do what they please. Dozens of really good clues would result in the same answer…but then…let’s just make stuff up.

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