0217-22 NY Times Crossword 17 Feb 22, Thursday

Constructed by: Aaron M. Rosenberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Feast? Nope, a Snack!

Themed answers are common phrases reinterpreted with reference to a meal. The scientist at the party used her shrink ray to “zap” things down in size:

  • 19A At the party where the scientist was demonstrating her new shrink ray, [ZAP!] the punch ladle turned into a … : LITTLE DIPPER
  • 28A When the appetizers were passed around, [ZAP!] the potato wedges turned into … : SMALL FRIES
  • 38A When the main course was ready, [ZAP!] the six-foot hoagie turned into an … : ATOMIC SUBMARINE
  • 45A When the dessert was brought out, [ZAP!] the pudding cake turned into a … : MERE TRIFLE
  • 53A Finally, when the still-hungry guests went back for more, [ZAP!] the additional helpings turned into … : MICRO SECONDS

Bill’s time: 11m 05s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 Italian car, informally : ALFA

The “Alfa” in “Alfa Romeo” is actually an acronym, one standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.

13 Northeast Corridor train : ACELA

The Acela Express is the fastest train routinely running in the US, as it gets up to 150 mph at times. The service runs between Boston and Washington D.C. via Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Introduced in 2000, the brand name “Acela” was created to evoke “acceleration” and “excellence”.

15 1934 novel made into a hit 1970s BBC/PBS miniseries : I, CLAUDIUS

“I, Claudius” is a 1934 novel penned by Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of Emperor Claudius of Rome. Graves wrote a sequel in 1935 called “Claudius the God”. Both books were adapted by the BBC into a fabulous television series that went by the name of the first book “I, Claudius”.

17 Hawaii’s “Pineapple Isle” : LANAI

Lanai is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Lanai was first spotted by Europeans just a few days after Captain Cook was killed on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1779. In 1922, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company bought the whole island of Lanai and turned most of it into the world’s largest pineapple plantation. Since then, Lanai has been known as “The Pineapple Island”. Today, 98% of the island is owned by Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, and 2% is owned by the State of Hawaii.

19 At the party where the scientist was demonstrating her new shrink ray, [ZAP!] the punch ladle turned into a … : LITTLE DIPPER

Ursa Minor (Latin for “Smaller Bear”) sits right beside the constellation Draco (Latin for “Dragon”). Ursa Minor used to be considered the wing of Draco, and was once called “Dragon’s Wing”. The tail of the “Smaller Bear” might also be considered as the handle of a ladle, and so the constellation is often referred to as the Little Dipper.

22 West ___ (furniture chain) : ELM

West Elm is an upscale furniture store that is owned by Williams-Sonoma. The chain was founded in 2002.

28 When the appetizers were passed around, [ZAP!] the potato wedges turned into … : SMALL FRIES

Juvenile fish that have just grown to the point where they can feed themselves are known as “fry”. By the end of the 17th century, the phrase “small fry” was common, when referring to such fish. More recently, the phrase was applied figuratively to insignificant people, and then to little children.

34 Exaggerate, as a stage role : HAM UP

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.

37 Sweetheart, in modern lingo : BAE

“Bae” is a contemporary term of endearment. It is a pet name that is an abbreviation of “babe, baby”, although I’ve also read that it is an acronym standing for “before anyone else”.

38 When the main course was ready, [ZAP!] the six-foot hoagie turned into an … : ATOMIC SUBMARINE

“Hoagy” (sometimes “hoagie”) is another name for a submarine sandwich. The term “hoagy” originated in Philadelphia, and was apparently introduced by Italians working in the shipyards during WWI. The shipyards were located on Hog Island, and the sandwich was first called “the Hog Island”, which morphed into “hoagy”.

42 ___ Faire (historical festival, informally) : REN

A Renaissance faire (Ren faire) is an outdoor public event in which many participants recreate historical settings by dressing in costume. Usually held in North America, many such fairs are set during the English Renaissance, and more particularly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The definition of “Renaissance” is often stretched quite a bit, with fairs also set during the reign of Henry VIII, and maybe even during medieval times.

45 When the dessert was brought out, [ZAP!] the pudding cake turned into a … : MERE TRIFLE

Trifle is a splendid dessert from England comprising layers of sponge soaked in sherry, fruit, custard and whipped cream. The sponge and fruit is usually suspended in jello. The Italian version of the same dessert is known as “zuppa inglese”, which translates from Italian as “English soup”.

49 Boris Johnson, e.g. : TORY

“Tory” comes from the Irish word “tóraí” meaning “outlaw, robber”. The term “tory” was originally used for an Irish outlaw and later became a term of abuse for Irish rebels. At the end of the reign of King Charles II in Britain, there was a political divide with one side being called “Whigs” and the other “Tories”. Historically, the term “Tory” evolved to basically mean a supporter of the British monarchy, and indeed was used to describe those who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution. Today, “Tory” is used for a member of the British Conservative Party.

Boris Johnson is a larger-than-life Conservative politician in the UK, and former Mayor of London. He was the very visible frontman in the campaign for the UK to exit the European Union, the so-called Brexit campaign. As a result of the UK voting to exit the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, to be replaced by Theresa May. Theresa May then appointed Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. Almost inevitably, Boris Johnson then replaced May as Prime Minister. In more recent times, Johnson famously made light of the coronavirus pandemic and ignored calls for social distancing. He then fell ill with COVID-19, ended up in an intensive care unit, and ultimately revised his advice about social distancing. Oh, and the media sometimes refer to Johnson as “BoJo”.

51 Principal : ARCH

We use “arch-” to mean “chief, principal”. Said prefix comes from the combining form of the Greek word “arkhos” meaning “chief, lead, commander”.

61 Language that gave us “aardvark” : AFRIKAANS

Afrikaans is a language spoken mainly in South Africa that was introduced there by Dutch settlers in the 18th century. The original settlers were mainly from South Holland, so Afrikaans evolved from the Dutch vernacular that they spoke.

The aardvark is the oddest looking of creatures, and a nocturnal burrowing animal that is native to Africa. Even though it is sometimes called the African ant bear, the name “aardvark” is Afrikaans for “earth pig”. Aardvarks are noted, among other things, for their unique teeth. Their teeth have no enamel and wear away quite readily, but continuously regrow. The aardvark feeds mainly on ants and termites.

64 “Middlemarch” author : ELIOT

“George Eliot” was the pen name of English novelist Mary Anne Evans. As one might think, Evans chose a male pen name in order that her work might be best appreciated in the Victorian era. Eliot wrote seven novels including “Adam Bede” (1859), “The Mill on the Floss” (1860), “Silas Marner” (1861) and “Middlemarch” (1871-72).

George Eliot’s novel “Middlemarch” was first published in installments in 1871-72. The storyline is set some fifty years earlier, in the fictional English Midlands town of Middlemarch.

Down

2 It’s berry tasty! : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

3 On cloud nine : SENT

I don’t think that anyone is really certain of the etymology of the term “on cloud nine” meaning “elated”, but I do like the following explanation. The 1896 “International Cloud-Atlas” was a long-standing reference used to define cloud shapes that was based on a classification created by amateur meteorologist Luke Howard some decades earlier. The biggest and fluffiest of all cloud shapes (and most comfortable-looking to lie on) is cumulonimbus. And you guessed it, of the ten cloud shapes defined in the atlas, cumulonimbus was cloud nine …

5 Domain of Athena : WISDOM

The Greek goddess Athena (sometimes “Athene”) is often associated with wisdom, among other attributes. In many representations. Athena is depicted with an owl sitting on her head. It is this linkage of the owl with the goddess of wisdom that led to today’s perception of the owl as being “wise”. Athena’s Roman counterpart was Minerva.

8 Bit of weatherproofing : TARP

Originally, tarpaulins were made from canvas covered in tar that rendered the material waterproof. The word “tarpaulin” comes from “tar” and “palling”, with “pall” meaning “heavy cloth covering”.

10 ___ Yifei, star of 2020’s “Mulan” : LIU

“Mulan” is a 1998 animated feature film made by Walt Disney studios. The film is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a woman who takes the place of her father in the army and serves with distinction for twelve years without reward. Disney’s lead character was given the name Fa Mulan. Donny Osmond provided the singing voice for one of the lead characters, after which his sons remarked that he had finally made it in show business as he was in a Disney film.

16 People for whom a state is named : UTE

The Ute are a group of Native-American tribes who now reside in Utah and Colorado. The Ute were not a unified people as such, but rather a loose association of nomadic groups. The word “Ute” means “Land of the Sun”, and “Ute” also gave us the state name “Utah”.

20 Supposed creators of crop circles, for short : ETS

Don’t believe what you hear. Crop circles are hoaxes …

23 Longing to go to bed? : LIBIDO

“Libido” is a term popularized by Sigmund Freud. Freud’s usage was more general than is understood today, as he used “libido” to describe all instinctive energy that arose in the subconscious. He believed that we humans are driven by two desires, the desire for life (the libido, or Eros) and the desire for death (Thanatos).

24 More grinchlike : MEANER

The Grinch is the title character in Dr. Seuss’s 1957 children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” He is a grouchy creature who lives as a hermit in a cave outside the town of Whoville. The Grinch’s only companion is his dog Max. Based on Seuss’s hero, we now use the term “grinch” for someone who is opposed to Christmas festivities or who is coarse and greedy in general.

26 Triangular sail : LATEEN

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

27 King of the Egyptian gods : AMON-RA

Amun-Ra (also “Amon, Amen”) was a god in Egyptian mythology. Amun lends his name to our word “ammonia”. This is because the Romans called the ammonium chloride that they collected near the Temple of Jupiter Amun, “sal ammoniacus” (salt of Amun).

30 Setting for the 1962 hit “Monster Mash” : LAB

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

31 Calculus calculation: Abbr. : LIM

Limit (lim.)

33 Ramshackle : SEEDY

We use the word “seedy” to mean “shabby”. The usage probably arose from the appearance of a flowering plant that has gone to seed.

Our adjective “ramshackle”, meaning “loosely held together, rickety”, seems to be an alteration of the verb “to ransack”, meaning “to search through vigorously, pillage”.

35 A.C.C. team, informally : PITT

The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) chose the nickname for its sporting teams in 1909, and claims that it was the first team in the country to adopt the name “Panthers”.

40 ___ Lanka : 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.

54 Old presidential nickname : 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.

55 Italian term of endearment : CARA

In Italian, “cara” (dear) is a word of “amore” (love) that is spoken “con affetto” (with affection).

57 Eleven, to an élève : ONZE

In French, an “élève” (pupil) attends “école” (school).

58 Home for many hippos : NILE

Africa’s River Nile has two main tributaries, the Blue Nile and White Nile, with the White Nile deemed to be the headwaters of the Nile itself. The most distant source of the White Nile is unknown, so I suppose one might argue that the “source of the Nile” is a mystery.

The name “hippopotamus” comes from the Greek for “river horse”. Hippos are the third-largest land mammals, after elephants and rhinos. The closest living relatives to hippos don’t even live on land. They are the whales and porpoises of the oceans.

62 “You’ve hardly aged a bit,” usually : FIB

To fib is to tell a lie. The verb “to fib” likely comes from “fibble-fable” meaning “nonsense”, with “fibble-fable” coming from “fable”.

63 Genetic material : RNA

The two most common nucleic acids are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA), both of which play crucial roles in genetics. The DNA contains the genetic instructions used to keep living organisms functioning, and RNA is used to transcribe that information from the DNA to protein “generators” called ribosomes.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 [I’m speechless!] : [GASP!]
5 Float : WAFT
9 Italian car, informally : ALFA
13 Northeast Corridor train : ACELA
15 1934 novel made into a hit 1970s BBC/PBS miniseries : I, CLAUDIUS
17 Hawaii’s “Pineapple Isle” : LANAI
18 Bus excursions to see homes of celebrities : STAR TOURS
19 At the party where the scientist was demonstrating her new shrink ray, [ZAP!] the punch ladle turned into a … : LITTLE DIPPER
21 Analogy words : IS TO
22 West ___ (furniture chain) : ELM
25 Family : CLAN
28 When the appetizers were passed around, [ZAP!] the potato wedges turned into … : SMALL FRIES
34 Exaggerate, as a stage role : HAM UP
36 Flag down : HAIL
37 Sweetheart, in modern lingo : BAE
38 When the main course was ready, [ZAP!] the six-foot hoagie turned into an … : ATOMIC SUBMARINE
42 ___ Faire (historical festival, informally) : REN
43 Territory : TURF
44 Didn’t dive (into) : WADED
45 When the dessert was brought out, [ZAP!] the pudding cake turned into a … : MERE TRIFLE
49 Boris Johnson, e.g. : TORY
50 Mum’s mum : NAN
51 Principal : ARCH
53 Finally, when the still-hungry guests went back for more, [ZAP!] the additional helpings turned into … : MICRO SECONDS
61 Language that gave us “aardvark” : AFRIKAANS
64 “Middlemarch” author : ELIOT
65 Prepare for cold weather : WINTERIZE
66 Dig (into) : DELVE
67 Taobao, the so-called “___ of China” : EBAY
68 Citrus drinks : ADES
69 Trickle : SEEP

Down

1 Audacity : GALL
2 It’s berry tasty! : ACAI
3 On cloud nine : SENT
4 Credit card status : PLATINUM
5 Domain of Athena : WISDOM
6 Stage opening : ACT I
7 Tizzy : FLAP
8 Bit of weatherproofing : TARP
9 Devotee : ADORER
10 ___ Yifei, star of 2020’s “Mulan” : LIU
11 Something traded at a trading post : FUR
12 Ding-dong : ASS
14 Isn’t well : AILS
16 People for whom a state is named : UTE
20 Supposed creators of crop circles, for short : ETS
23 Longing to go to bed? : LIBIDO
24 More grinchlike : MEANER
25 Bracelet item : CHARM
26 Triangular sail : LATEEN
27 King of the Egyptian gods : AMON-RA
29 Leave in ___ : A HUFF
30 Setting for the 1962 hit “Monster Mash” : LAB
31 Calculus calculation: Abbr. : LIM
32 Scratch or nick : FLAW
33 Ramshackle : SEEDY
35 A.C.C. team, informally : PITT
39 Mongrel : CUR
40 ___ Lanka : SRI
41 Squalid abodes : RATHOLES
46 Hostile state : ENMITY
47 Misses abroad : LASSES
48 Before, in verse : ERE
52 Kept informed, in a way : CC’ED
54 Old presidential nickname : IKE
55 Italian term of endearment : CARA
56 It’s a bust : RAID
57 Eleven, to an élève : ONZE
58 Home for many hippos : NILE
59 Magician’s bird : DOVE
60 Put one’s foot down : STEP
61 Dazzle : AWE
62 “You’ve hardly aged a bit,” usually : FIB
63 Genetic material : RNA

17 thoughts on “0217-22 NY Times Crossword 17 Feb 22, Thursday”

  1. 17:49, no errors. Clever theme, and most of the puzzle went smoothly. At the end, I had problems, for a while, getting a toehold in the upper right. Good one … 😜.

  2. 14:16 Struggled with this a bit, but finally caught on. At the finish I had to search to find a couple incorrect letters. I had AMENRA for 27D and being unfamiliar with 26D I had LANEEN. This gave me an ANEMIC submarine in 38A, which kind of fit with the clue, and “sort of” with the theme, but obviously not the intended answer.

    PS – I’ve noticed in the last week that all my comments seem to post immediately, rather than with the 3 hr. delay.

  3. Although I didn’t RUSH this puzzle, I finished in 21:12 nonetheless….

    A+ clue for LIBIDO. I’ll have to work that into a conversation someday and claim it for my own.

    I got 64A, ELIOT, correct for the wrong reasons. I thought it was TS ELIOT because it’s always TS ELIOT…

    Strange theme. You’d think someone smart enough to create a shrink ray would know not to point it at the party food and supplies. Sounds like they ruined the party.

    If they shrunk the entire bad party would it be an “atom bomb”? Did the beer turn into a “microbrew”?? Did it turn the fajita meat into pieces of “mini skirts”?? Did it turn the entire electrical system in the house into a “short circuit”?

    I’ll stop now. I was going to turn a roasting pig on an open fire on the beach into a “spit in the ocean” somehow, but it was too cumbersome..

    Best –

    1. Wow! If I ever get interested in creating a themed puzzle involving puns, I’m going to turn to you for help! … 😜

    1. I’m convinced that you meant to write, “Clever theme, well-written clues.” But … somehow … your fingers went off and typed something else … 😜.

      We all have our biases, I guess …🙂.

  4. Went quick until I hit the CARA ONZE section. Didn’t know either and I certainly couldn’t get MICROSECONDS. I left with a cross between MINOR and MIRRO.

    1. Perhaps you’re referring to the left and right square brackets (the “[“ and the “]”)? I think I understand how they’re used in clues, but I find it hard to put into words.

      Google found the following explanation for some uses (but I don’t think that it applies to the current puzzle): Short exclamations are sometimes clued by a phrase in square brackets, e.g., “[It’s cold!]” = BRR. When the answer can only be substituted for the clue when preceding a specific other word, this other word is indicated in parentheses.

    2. Difficult to say without seeing what you are seeing. As NONNY previously said, they could be the square brackets around [ZAP!]. Another possibility: the theme clues in my syndicated puzzle are italicized. “Little things” at the beginning and end of the clues could be font commands, indicating that the clue should be italicized. These commands could have erroneously printed out, instead of executed.

  5. 16:01, no errors. Entered 5A RAFT > WAFT; 22A END > ELM; 62D LIE > FIB. Seeing STAR TOURS immediately above LITTLE DIPPER, I thought this would be astronomically themed.

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