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0406-17 New York Times Crossword Answers 6 Apr 17, Thursday





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Solution to today's crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD SETTER: Damon J. Gulczynski
THEME: Xs and Os
In today’s grid, all of the Xs and Os represent different things. Each representation is a symbol that we see quite often:
38A. Playbook symbols ... or letters treated symbolically in this puzzle's Down answers : XS AND OS

3D. 1978 #1 hit for the Commodores : THREE TIMES A LADY (X = TIMES)
5D. Sitcom catchphrase of the '70s and '80s : KISS MY GRITS (X = KISS)
18D. Big, tight embraces : BEAR HUGS (O = HUG)
26D. Went back to where it all began : TURNED FULL CIRCLE (O = CIRCLE)
38D. Certain bicycle : TEN-SPEED (X = TEN)
39D. Situation in which, on the whole, nothing can be gained or lost : ZERO-SUM GAME (O = ZERO)
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 13m 12s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Abbr. before a date : ESTD
Established (estd.)

5. Comics figure with extraordinary powers : X-MAN
X-Men is a team of superheroes created by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics. Nowadays the X-Men are perhaps best known as the subject of a series of movies, with Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine, and Patrick Stewart playing Professor Xavier (or simply “Professor X”). Some very respected actors have also played the villains that X-Men have to battle. For example, the enemy called Magneto is portrayed by veteran Shakespearean actor Sir Ian McKellan.

13. Charley horse sensation : ACHE
“Charley horse” is a very American term for painful muscles spasms in the legs. The term possibly arose in the late 19th century, named for baseball pitcher Charlie “Old Hoss” Radbourn who apparently suffered a lot from leg cramps.

15. Edible part of a litchi : ARIL
The casing surrounding many seeds is called the aril, and it may be quite fleshy. This fruit-like characteristic makes it desirable as a food and aids in the dispersion of the seeds.

Litchis are better known in English as lychees. One can’t eat the skin of the lychee fruit, which is why you’ll notice that you are only served the sweet flash. If you’ve never tried them, you should do so as they’re delicious. Even though there is a nut-like seed within the edible flesh of the lychee fruit, I wouldn’t eat it ... as it is poisonouS.

19. François Hollande's one : UNE
“Un” and “une” are French for “one”.

François Hollande was elected President of France in 2012. During the election cycle in 2011, Hollande had been trailing in the polls behind front-runner Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Hollande took over the lead following Strauss-Kahn’s arrest on New York City on suspicion of sexual assault.

20. Supermarket chain : IGA
IGA stands for Independent Grocers Alliance, a chain of supermarkets that extends right around the world. IGA’s headquarters is in Chicago. The company uses the slogan “Hometown Proud Supermarkets”.

21. 1969 World Series hero Tommie : AGEE
Tommie Agee was a Major League Baseball player who played mainly with the Indians, White Sox and Mets. He was one of the “Amazin’ Mets”, and was famous for making two phenomenal catches in game three of the 1969 world series, potentially saving five runs.

23. Kitchen gizmo : PEELER
The word "gizmo" (also “gismo”), meaning something the name of which is unknown or forgotten, was originally slang used by both the US Navy and the Marine Corps. The exact origin seems unknown.

25. ___ Boyd, first wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton : PATTIE
Pattie Boyd was working as a model when she was cast as a schoolgirl in the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night”, although she was 20-years-old at the time. While filming, she met George Harrison, and the pair were married in 1966. They separated in 1974, largely due to Harrison’s infidelities, which included an affair with Ringo Starr’s wife. Boyd met Eric Clapton in the late sixties when he and Harrison started working together. Clapton became smitten with Boyd, and wrote the hit song “Layla” as a proclamation of his love for her in 1970. Boyd and Clapton eventually married in 1979, but the pair divorced five years later.

29. City near Dayton : XENIA
Xenia, Ohio is in effect a suburb of Dayton. The name “Xenia” is the Greek word for “hospitality”. In terms of population, Xenia is the largest city in the US with a name beginning with the letter X.

37. The Hawks, on scoreboards : ATL
The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks started out as the Buffalo Bisons in 1946, although after only a few months the team was moved to Moline, Illinois as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were one of the 17 original teams playing at the founding of the National Basketball Association. There was another move in 1951 and a renaming to the Milwaukee Hawks, and yet again in 1955 when the team became the St. Louis Hawks. The latest move was to Atlanta, in 1968.

47. Like Quentin Tarantino films : LURID
I”m not a big fan of director Quentin Tarantino. His movies are too violent for me, and the size of his ego just turns me right off. Having said that, I think “Pulp Fiction” is a remarkable film. If you can look past the violence it’s really well written. And what a legacy it has. John Travolta’s career was on the rocks and he did the film for practically no money, and it turned out be a re-launch for him. Uma Thurman became a top celebrity overnight from her role. Even Bruce Willis got some good out of it, putting an end to a string of poorly received performances.

55. Fleecy boot brand : UGG
Uggs are sheepskin boots that were first produced in Australia and New Zealand. The original Uggs have sheepskin fleece on the inside for comfort and insulation, with a tanned leather surface on the outside for durability. Ugg is a generic term Down Under, although it’s a brand name here in the US.

56. Sch. that's home to the N.C.A.A.'s Wahoos : UVA
The University of Virginia sports teams are known officially as the Cavaliers. The unofficial nickname is the Wahoos.

63. It's south of the Caspian : IRAN
The Caspian Sea is a landlocked body of water lying between Asia and Europe. By some definitions, the Caspian is the largest lake on the planet. The name “Caspian” comes from the Caspi people who lived to the southwest of the sea in South Caucasus.

64. Alarm clock toggle : AM/PM
The 12-hour clock has been around a long time, and was even used in sundial format in Ancient Egypt. Our use of AM and PM dates back to Roman times, with AM standing for Ante Meridiem (before noon) and PM standing for Post Meridiem (after noon). However, the Romans originally used the AM concept a little differently, by counting backwards from noon. So, 2AM to the Romans would be two hours before noon, or 10AM as we would call it today.

65. Actor whose four-letter first name shares three letters with his last : ALDA
Alan Alda has had a great television career, especially of course on “M*A*S*H”. Alda won his first Emmy in 1972, for playing Hawkeye Pierce on “M*A*S*H”. He won his most recent Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of Presidential candidate Arnold Vinick in “The West Wing”. When it comes to the big screen, my favorite of Alda’s movies is the 1978 romantic comedy “Same Time, Next Year” in which he starred opposite Ellen Burstyn.

Down
3. 1978 #1 hit for the Commodores : THREE TIMES A LADY (X = TIMES)
The Commodores were very big in the seventies and eighties. The group’s original members first got together as freshmen while attending what is now Tuskegee University, and got their big break opening for the Jackson 5 on tour. The Commodores most famous member was Lionel Richie.

4. Government org. in "Breaking Bad" : DEA
The AMC drama “Breaking Bad” is a well-written show about a high school teacher stricken by lung cancer who turns to a life of crime to make money. It turns out that the teacher has a talent for making high-quality crystal meth. The show was created by Vince Gilligan who had spent many years as producer and writer of “The X-Files”. There is a “Breaking Bad” spin-off show running on AMC called “Better Call Saul” that focuses on the life of lawyer Saul Goodman. I hear that it’s pretty good …

5. Sitcom catchphrase of the '70s and '80s : KISS MY GRITS! (X = KISS)
“Kiss my grits!” is a phrase commonly used by Flo on the sitcom “Alice”.

Florence Jean “Flo” Castleberry was a waitress in the sitcom “Alice” which aired on CBS in the 70s and 80s. Flo got her own sitcom (called “Flo”) which had a brief run in the early 80s. I saw a few episodes of “Alice”, but that’s about it. Oh, and Flo was played by Polly Holliday.

6. Like the "Scream" films : META
In recent decades the prefix “meta-” has started to be used as a standalone adjective. In this sense “meta” means “self-referential”, describing something that refers to itself. For example, “This sentence starts with the word ‘this’ and ends with the word ‘this’” might be called a meta sentence. A movie that is about the making of the very same movie could also be described as meta.

I don’t do horror films, so I haven’t seen any of the “Scream” movies …

8. Org. that hires many engineers : NASA
The Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite towards the end of 1957, a development that shocked the establishment in the US. Within months, President Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now DARPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Space Race had begun …

9. It results in a runner being called safe : LATE TAG
That would be baseball.

17. "Très ___!" : BIEN
“Very good” is written as “Sehr gut” in German, and as “très bien” in French.

18. Big, tight embraces : BEAR HUGS (O = HUG)
In the sequence XOX, the X represents a kiss, and the O a hug. OOO is a string of hugs, and XXX a string of kisses. Hugs and kisses …

22. 3.0, e.g. : GPA
Grade point average (GPA)

28. 50% less? : ESSES
50% of the letters in the word “less” are letters S (ess).

31. Olympics success : MEDAL
In the Ancient Olympic Games, the winner of an event was awarded an olive wreath. When the games were revived in 1896, the winners were originally given a silver medal and an olive branch, with runners-up receiving a bronze medal and a laurel branch. The tradition of giving gold, silver and bronze medals began at the 1904 Summer Olympic Games held in St. Louis, Missouri.

32. World capital whose motto is "Fluctuat nec mergitur" (Latin for "It is tossed but does not sink") : PARIS
The motto of Paris has been “Fluctuat nec mergitur” since at least 1358. This is usually translated from Latin as “She is tossed by the waves but does not sink”. The motto appears in the city’s coat of arms, which also depicts a ship floating on heavy seas. The use of the phrase has seen a surge in popularity in recent years as it has become a symbol of resistance in the face of recent terrorist attacks in the city.

33. Vessel opener : STENT
In the world of medicine and surgery, a stent is an artificial tube inserted inside a vessel in the body, say an artery, so that it reduces the effects of a local restriction in the body’s conduit.

35. Suffix with ethyl : -ENE
Ethylene (also called “ethene”) has a gazillion uses, including as an anesthetic and an aid to hastening the ripening of fruit. Ethylene’s most common use is as a major raw material in the manufacture of plastics (like polyethylene).

39. Situation in which, on the whole, nothing can be gained or lost : ZERO-SUM GAME (O = ZERO)
A zero-sum game is one in which the gains of the winner are exactly offset by the losses of the loser. There is no net gain. So, a "win-win" situation by definition cannot be arrived at in a zero-sum game.

44. Many an embedded animation : GIF
A bitmap is an image file format used to store digital images. Basically, each pixel in a bitmap file is stored as a “bit” of information, hence the name “bitmap”. In 1987, CompuServe introduced a new type of image file called the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). A GIF image takes the same information as a bitmap and then compresses it, resulting in a smaller file size. However, during compression the image may lose some resolution. The GIF format also handles short video clips, usually animations.

46. LAX patrollers : TSA
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks that check passengers and baggage at airports.

54. Symbol at the center of a Scrabble board : STAR
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”.

55. Potentially insulting : UN-PC
To be “un-PC” is to be politically incorrect, not be politically correct (PC).

58. Radio host Glass : IRA
Ira Glass is a well-respected presenter on American Public Radio, most noted for his show "This American Life". I was interested to learn that one of my favorite composers, Philip Glass, is Ira's first cousin.

61. Thurman of "Pulp Fiction" : UMA
Uma Thurman started her working career as a fashion model, at the age of 15. She appeared in her first movies at 17, with her most acclaimed early role being Cécile de Volanges in 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons”. Thurman’s career really took off when she played the gangster’s “moll” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” in 1994. My favorite of all Thurman’s movies is “The Truth About Cats & Dog’s”, a less acclaimed romcom released in 1996. She took a few years off from 1998 until 2002, doing very little work in favor of motherhood. It was Tarantino who relaunched her career, giving her the lead in the “Kill Bill” films.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Abbr. before a date : ESTD
5. Comics figure with extraordinary powers : X-MAN
9. Word in the corner of some news broadcasts : LIVE
13. Charley horse sensation : ACHE
14. Prefix with vitamin : MEGA-
15. Edible part of a litchi : ARIL
16. Quantity of disk drive capacity : TERABYTES
18. Benchwarmers : B-TEAM
19. François Hollande's one : UNE
20. Supermarket chain : IGA
21. 1969 World Series hero Tommie : AGEE
23. Kitchen gizmo : PEELER
25. ___ Boyd, first wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton : PATTIE
29. City near Dayton : XENIA
31. Freeboots : MARAUDS
32. Exam for jrs. : PSAT
34. ___ pop (music genre featuring simple, catchy melodies) : TWEE
36. Giants of folklore : OGRES
37. The Hawks, on scoreboards : ATL
38. Playbook symbols ... or letters treated symbolically in this puzzle's Down answers : XS AND OS
40. Scot's negative : NAE
41. Raises : REARS
43. Vast amounts : SEAS
44. They may make your hair stand on end : GELS
45. Thoroughly : IN DEPTH
47. Like Quentin Tarantino films : LURID
49. Options on a barbershop wall : STYLES
50. Blew : MUFFED
53. Passing comments? : YEAS
55. Fleecy boot brand : UGG
56. Sch. that's home to the N.C.A.A.'s Wahoos : UVA
57. Very strong : VIVID
60. Deli scoopful : TUNA SALAD
63. It's south of the Caspian : IRAN
64. Alarm clock toggle : AM/PM
65. Actor whose four-letter first name shares three letters with his last : ALDA
66. Twinge : PANG
67. Hurry : RACE
68. Uncovers dirt, in a way : HOES

Down
1. Really enjoy : EAT UP
2. Last word of many an improv skit : SCENE
3. 1978 #1 hit for the Commodores : THREE TIMES A LADY (X = TIMES)
4. Government org. in "Breaking Bad" : DEA
5. Sitcom catchphrase of the '70s and '80s : KISS MY GRITS! (X = KISS)
6. Like the "Scream" films : META
7. ___-appropriate : AGE
8. Org. that hires many engineers : NASA
9. It results in a runner being called safe : LATE TAG
10. Hot blood : IRE
11. Through : VIA
12. Word with Dutch or American : ELM
17. "Très ___!" : BIEN
18. Big, tight embraces : BEAR HUGS (O = HUG)
22. 3.0, e.g. : GPA
24. Umpire's cry : LET!
26. Went back to where it all began : TURNED FULL CIRCLE (O = CIRCLE)
27. Model : IDEAL
28. 50% less? : ESSES
30. Inundated : AWASH
31. Olympics success : MEDAL
32. World capital whose motto is "Fluctuat nec mergitur" (Latin for "It is tossed but does not sink") : PARIS
33. Vessel opener : STENT
35. Suffix with ethyl : -ENE
38. Certain bicycle : TEN-SPEED (X = TEN)
39. Situation in which, on the whole, nothing can be gained or lost : ZERO-SUM GAME (O = ZERO)
42. Falling back (on) : RELYING
44. Many an embedded animation : GIF
46. LAX patrollers : TSA
48. Persians, e.g. : RUGS
51. Sidestep : EVADE
52. Pops : DADAS
54. Symbol at the center of a Scrabble board : STAR
55. Potentially insulting : UN-PC
57. One behind a velvet rope, say : VIP
58. Radio host Glass : IRA
59. Moving object? : VAN
61. Thurman of "Pulp Fiction" : UMA
62. "That feels so-o-o-o good!" : AAH!


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12 comments :

Dave Kennison said...

18:47, no errors. Several missteps on this one. For example, before I fully understood the theme, I put in a couple of rebuses and then had to back them out again. One possibly embarrassing admission: I never knew for sure if X's were hugs and O's were kisses or the opposite (or if there was even a consensus opinion on this vital issue ... ).

Jeff said...

Finished in 48 minutes, but I could have shaved quite a few off of that total had I realized I put LSAT instead of PSAT for 33A. Kept thinking LAgos, Nigeria?? Nothing fit. I finally figured it out.

Otherwise a clever theme I thought. Got the theme relatively early in the grid which helped.

ESSES for "50% less" was my favorite.

Dave the expression is "kisses and hugs" and is always (I think) written as xoxox or xxoo - "x' comes first so I always assumed x is kiss, o is hug. I'll defer to the x's and o's institute for confirmation...

Best -

Dave Kennison said...

@Jeff ... I can kind of see how an X looks like two pairs of lips, one on the left and one on the right, puckered up and touching in the middle, but I don't quite see how an O suggests a hug. Oh, well ... hopefully your institute will see this exchange and weigh in ... :-)

Richard Di Puma said...

There is an error in your grid 38-31
"T" instead of "D"

38 across published "xsantos" instead of correct ""XSANDOS"
31. Down published "metal" instead of correct "MEDAL"

gigirosie said...

I usually get to do the NY Times crossword later than when they come out. Ergo my late comment. What does it mean when an umpire cries, "Let!" ? I'm not completely dumb when it comes to baseball, but have never heard this.

gigirosie said...

Dave, I think the O that represents a hug is supposed to suggest a pair of arms encircling the one being hugged. That's my theory, anyways.

Anonymous said...

Think tennis umpire Gigi.

Threw me as well.

Tom M. said...

Had some trouble with the "O" representing a hug until seeing that a string of X's and O's (or O's and X's is used for hugs and kisses at the ends of letters, cards and other communications.

Liked this one a lot.

BruceB said...

20:31, no errors. Some of the clues were nasty, like "50% less". Had difficulty with the theme, since each X and O represented something different than kiss and hug. All in all, just happy to get through the challenge.

Agree with Anon, the 'LET' call is made by a tennis umpire; may original entry was OUT.

Anonymous said...

19 mins 40 sec; miraculously, no errors. This one was a toughie!!! Lots of misdirection, lots of esoterica, and even a "semi-rebus" theme.

Jeff said...

Just to clarify the above about a LET call. It does refer to tennis. When a serve is in, but it hits the net on the way to the receiver's side, it's a let service and they simply do it over again. If a serve hits the net and is outside the service box when it hits the other side, the serve is simply "out" and it's not replayed - i.e. that is not a let service.

Best -

Glenn said...

Later than usual, but late anyway.

43 minutes, 3 letter DNF on stuff around 31A, just a little too weird cluing for me.

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About This Blog

This is the simplest of blogs.

I do the New York Times puzzle online every evening, the night before it is published in the paper. Then, I "Google & Wiki" the references that puzzle me, or that I find of interest. I post my findings, along with the solution, as soon as I am done, usually well before the newsprint version becomes available.

About Me

The name's William Ernest Butler, but please call me Bill. I grew up in Ireland, but now live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am retired, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world.

I try to answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at bill@paxient.com.

Crosswords and My Dad

I worked on my first crossword puzzle when I was about 6-years-old, sitting on my Dad's knee. He let me "help" him with his puzzle almost every day as I was growing up. Over the years, Dad passed on to me his addiction to crosswords. Now in my early 50s, I work on my Irish Times and New York Times puzzles every day. I'm no longer sitting on my Dad's knee, but I feel that he is there with me, looking over my shoulder.

This blog is dedicated to my Dad, who passed away at the beginning of this month.

Bill
January 29, 2009

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