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Greetings from Mammoth Lakes, California

My wife and I are on vacation until Friday, July 25th; a road trip through the backroads of the states east of California. I anticipate late-night solving and posting, with acknowledgement of comments and emails suffering. Please, don't be offended at my silence as I prioritize the writing of posts! Today's hike was in Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest where we passed a tree over 4,750 years old. Getting close to home ...

Bill

0723-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 23 Jul 14, Wednesday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Howard Barkin
THEME: Blank Check … each of today’s themed answers is in two parts, and each part is often seen preceding the word CHECK:
18A. *Movie stand-in : BODY DOUBLE (“body check” & “double check”)
29A. *Crowd noise, for example : BACKGROUND SOUND (“background check” & “sound check”)
46A. *One's physical or emotional burdens : PERSONAL BAGGAGE (“personal check” & “baggage check”)

59A. Complete freedom ... and a hint to each half of the answer to each starred clue : BLANK CHECK
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 8m 35s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Truffle-seeking beast : BOAR
Truffles are rooted out by pigs, or specially trained dogs. The reason why pigs, especially sows, are so attracted to truffles is that there is a chemical compound found within the truffle that is very similar to androstenol, a sex pheromone found in the saliva of boars.

14. Works of Goya, e.g. : ARTE
Francisco Goya was a Spanish painter, 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".

15. Utah skiing mecca : ALTA
Alta ski resort actually lies within the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Area.

17. Speed Wagons of old autodom : REOS
The REO Speed Wagon (note the space between “speed” and “wagon”) is the vehicle. REO Speedwagon (no space) is the American rock band.

22. Talkative bird : MYNA
Some species of myna (also "mynah") bird are known for their ability to imitate sounds.

23. It may be bid in the end : ADIEU
"Adieu" is the French for "goodbye" or "farewell", from "à Dieu" meaning "to God".

24. Singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE
Corinne Bailey Rae is a British singer from Yorkshire in the north of England.

25. ZZ Top, for one : TRIO
In the blues rock band ZZ Top, the hairy guitar players are Billy F. Gibbons and Dusty Hill. The relatively clean-shaven drummer is … wait for it … Frank Beard …

35. Palindromic girl's name : AVA
The three most famous palindromes in English have to be:
- Able was I ere I saw Elba
- A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
- Madam, I'm Adam
One of my favorite words is "Aibohphobia", although it doesn't appear in the dictionary and is a joke term. "Aibohphobia" is a great way to describe a fear of palindromes, by creating a palindrome out of the suffix "-phobia".

38. Bach work : TOCCATA
A toccata is a virtuoso piece of music, usually written for a keyboard or plucked string instrument, one that has fast-moving passages that emphasize the dexterity of the performer's fingers. It is a piece of music with an "improvisatory feel", a piece that seems very spontaneous in form. The name "toccata" comes from the Italian word "toccare" meaning "to touch".

Johann Sebastian Bach raised a very large family. He had seven children with his first wife, who died suddenly. He had a further thirteen children with his second wife. Of his twenty youngsters, there were four sons who became famous musicians in their own right:
- Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (aka "the Halle Bach")
- Carl Philipp Bach (aka "the Hamburg Bach")
- Johann Christoph Bach (aka "the Buckeberg Bach")
- Johann Christian Bach (aka "the London Bach")

44. End of a Greek series : OMEGA
Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and is the one that looks like a horseshoe. The word "omega" literally means "great O" (O-mega). Compare this with the Greek letter Omicron meaning "little O" (O-micron).

52. Love-letter letters : SWAK
Sealed With A Kiss (SWAK)

55. Like a soufflé's texture : AIRY
A soufflé is a French dish, usually served as a dessert. The verb “souffler” means “to blow, blow up”.

57. What the moon does during a lunar eclipse : DARKENS
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the shadow cast by the earth from the light of the sun, in other words when the earth is positioned directly between the sun and the moon. The more spectacular solar eclipse takes place when moon passes in front of the sun, so that the earth falls into the shadow cast by the moon.

63. Sign of virtue : HALO
The Greek word “halos” is the name given to the ring of light around the sun or moon, which gives us our word “halo”.

64. Tilter's weapon : LANCE
Tilting is the most recognized form of jousting. Jousting can involve the use of a number of different weapons, but when lances are used the competition is called "tilting". Jousting took place in a roped-off enclosure that was called the lists, or list field. In later medieval times, some castles and palaces had purpose-built "tiltyards" that were used for jousting. Do you remember where the Beach Volleyball events were held in the 2012 London Olympics. Well that was Horse Guards Parade, the former tiltyard for the Palace of Whitehall that was used in the time of King Henry VIII.

65. Anthony's longtime partner on satellite radio : OPIE
“The Opie & Anthony Show” is a talk show broadcast on XM and Sirius satellite radio. Hosts of the show are Opie Hughes and Anthony Cumia. I’ve turned into a bit of grouch in my old age, and I must admit that I find broadcasts like “The Opie & Anthony Show” very puerile and offensive. Past features in the show include “Whip ‘em Out Wednesdays”, “Voyeur Bus” and “T&A with O&A”. You get the idea …

Down
1. Tippler's account : BAR TAB
When we “run a tab” at a bar say, we are “running a tabulation”, a listing of what we owe. Such a use of “tab” is American slang that originated in the 1880s.

2. Tater Tots maker : ORE-IDA
Ore-Ida frozen foods are all made with potatoes. The company is located in Oregon, just across the border from Idaho. "Ore-Ida" is a melding of the two state names.

Ore-Ida founders came up with the idea for Tater Tots when they were deciding what to do with residual cuts of potato. They chopped up the leftovers, added flour and seasoning, and extruded the mix through a large hole making a sausage that they cut into small cylinders. We eat 70 million pounds of this extruded potato every year!

3. Superprecise, as some clocks : ATOMIC
An atomic clock is the most accurate way of keeping track of time that is known. Most clocks work using some sort of an oscillation that takes place at a regular interval, like a pendulum. In the case of an atomic clock, the oscillation that is measured is between the nucleus of an atom and its surrounding electrons.

5. Fragrance name that's forbidden-sounding : TABU
Tabu is a whole line of cosmetics and perfumes produced by the House of Dana. The company's brand names were purchased by a Florida company called Dana Classic Fragrances in 1999.

6. Jillions : A LOT
Jillion is just a large, non-specific amount, and a word that has been used since before WWII (which surprised me!).

7. Old Ford model : LTD
There has been a lot of speculation about what the acronym LTD stands for in the car model known as "Ford LTD". Many say it stands for Luxury Trim Decor, and others that it is an abbreviation for "limited". Although the car was produced in Australia with the acronym meaning Lincoln Type Design, it seems LTD was originally chosen as just three meaningless letters that sound well together.

9. Promised Land, to Rastafarians : ZION
I must admit that I don't really understand Rastafarianism. I do know that a Rasta, like Bob Marley, is a follower of the movement. Some say it is a religion, some not. It does involve the worship of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. In the Rastafari movement, the term “Zion” is used to represent a place of unity, peace and freedom. The term “Babylon” represents an oppressive place of evil.

10. Where it's always zero degrees : EQUATOR
Lines of latitude are the imaginary horizontal lines surrounding the planet. The most "important" lines of latitude are, from north to south:
- Arctic Circle
- Tropic of Cancer
- Equator
- Tropic of Capricorn
- Antarctic Circle

13. Fr. woman with a 63-Across : STE
“Sainte” (ste.) is French for “saint”, when referring to a female.

30. Pal of Pooh : ROO
Like most of the characters in A. A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh", Roo was inspired by on a stuffed toy belonging to Milne's son, Christopher Robin.

31. Humanoid monster of myth : ORC
Orcs are mythical humanoid creatures that appear in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. Since Tolkien’s use of orcs, they have also been featured in other fantasy fiction and in fantasy games.

35. Nile reptiles : ASPS
The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.

37. First razor with a pivoting head : ATRA
Fortunately for crossword setters, the Atra razor was introduced by Gillette in 1977. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today. I just learned that the Atra was the first razor to feature a pivoting head, definitely a selling point, I’d say ...

39. Diplomatic fig. : AMB
Ambassador (amb.)

45. Shiite leader who claims direct descent from Muhammad : AGA KHAN
Aga Khan is a hereditary title of the Imam of a large sect within the Shi'a Muslim faith. The current Aga Khan is Shah Karim al-Hussayni, who has held the position since 1957.

The Islamic sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims differ in the belief of who should have taken over leadership of the Muslim faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Followers of the Sunni tradition agree with the decision that the Prophet Muhammad’s confidante Abu Bakr was the right choice to become the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. Followers of the Shia tradition believe that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet Muhammad’s own family.

47. Buster? : NARC
“Narc” is a slang term for a law enforcement officer who tracks down criminals associated with illegal drugs.

50. The Brady Bill is one : GUN LAW
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (usually referred to as “the Brady Bill”) was enacted in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The law instituted federal background checks for anyone wishing to purchase a firearm. The legislation is named for Jm Brady, Ronald Reagan’s press secretary who was paralysed for life when John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate the president.

51. Popular printers : EPSONS
Seiko Epson is a Japanese company, one of the largest manufacturers of printers in the world. The company has its roots in the watch business, roots that go back to 1942. Seiko was chosen as the official timekeeper for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and was asked to supply a timer that produced a printed record. This request brought Seiko into the business of printer production. The company developed the world's first mini-printer for the 1964 Games and called it EP-101 (EP standing for Electronic Printer). In 1975 Seiko introduced the next generation of EP printers which was called EPSON, from “SON of EP”. Cute, huh?

56. Certain superstore : IKEA
The furniture chain IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, when he was just 17-years-old. IKEA is an acronym that stands 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.

59. Crunchy sandwich : BLT
The BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) is the second most popular sandwich in the US, after the plain old ham sandwich.

60. Mekong Valley native : LAO
The official name for the country of Laos is the Lao People's Democratic Republic. In the Lao language, the country's name is "Meuang Lao". The French ruled Laos as part of French Indochina, having united three separate Lao kingdoms. As there was a plural of "Lao" entities united into one, the French added the "S" and so today we tend to use "Laos" instead of "Lao".

The Mekong is the twelfth longest river in the world, at over 2,700 miles in length. It rises in the Tibetan Plateau and empties into the South China Sea at the famed Mekong delta system in Vietnam.

61. T or F, perhaps: Abbr. : ANS
True (T) or false (F) is a possibles answer (ans.) to some questions.

62. Water-quality org. : EPA
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Truffle-seeking beast : BOAR
5. Like some orders or tales : TALL
9. Bits in marmalade : ZESTS
14. Works of Goya, e.g. : ARTE
15. Utah skiing mecca : ALTA
16. Words after "You can't fire me!" : I QUIT!
17. Speed Wagons of old autodom : REOS
18. *Movie stand-in : BODY DOUBLE (“body check” & “double check”)
20. Toddler's banishment to a corner, say : TIME OUT
22. Talkative bird : MYNA
23. It may be bid in the end : ADIEU
24. Singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE
25. ZZ Top, for one : TRIO
29. *Crowd noise, for example : BACKGROUND SOUND (“background check” & “sound check”)
33. Devoid of wool, now : SHORN
34. Keep in touch, in a way : WRITE
35. Palindromic girl's name : AVA
38. Bach work : TOCCATA
41. iPhone data: Abbr. : NOS
42. Join, as a table : SIT AT
44. End of a Greek series : OMEGA
46. *One's physical or emotional burdens : PERSONAL BAGGAGE (“personal check” & “baggage check”)
52. Love-letter letters : SWAK
53. A "little word" in charades : AND
54. Enjoy to the max : EAT UP
55. Like a soufflé's texture : AIRY
57. What the moon does during a lunar eclipse : DARKENS
59. Complete freedom ... and a hint to each half of the answer to each starred clue : BLANK CHECK
63. Sign of virtue : HALO
64. Tilter's weapon : LANCE
65. Anthony's longtime partner on satellite radio : OPIE
66. "___ option ..." : AS AN
67. Where sailors go : TO SEA
68. Like odor-indicating lines, in comics : WAVY
69. The latest : NEWS

Down
1. Tippler's account : BAR TAB
2. Tater Tots maker : ORE-IDA
3. Superprecise, as some clocks : ATOMIC
4. Tries for again, as an office : RESEEKS
5. Fragrance name that's forbidden-sounding : TABU
6. Jillions : A LOT
7. Old Ford model : LTD
8. Nonprofessional : LAYMAN
9. Promised Land, to Rastafarians : ZION
10. Where it's always zero degrees : EQUATOR
11. Benchwarmer : SUB
12. Up to, briefly : TIL
13. Fr. woman with a 63-Across : STE
19. Got away from one's roots? : DYED
21. Should : OUGHT TO
24. What your blood may do when you're frightened : RUN COLD
26. Completely screw up : RUIN
27. Infatuated with : INTO
28. Praiseful works : ODES
30. Pal of Pooh : ROO
31. Humanoid monster of myth : ORC
32. Walk with an attitude : SWAGGER
35. Nile reptiles : ASPS
36. Asset of an oceanfront home : VIEW
37. First razor with a pivoting head : ATRA
39. Diplomatic fig. : AMB
40. Word before set or service : TEA
43. With suspicion, as a look : ASKANCE
45. Shiite leader who claims direct descent from Muhammad : AGA KHAN
47. Buster? : NARC
48. "As I was saying ..." : ANYHOW ...
49. Anxiety-free : AT EASE
50. The Brady Bill is one : GUN LAW
51. Popular printers : EPSONS
56. Certain superstore : IKEA
57. 604, in old Rome : DCIV
58. Solution to the classic riddle "What force or strength cannot get through, / I, with gentle touch, can do" : A KEY
59. Crunchy sandwich : BLT
60. Mekong Valley native : LAO
61. T or F, perhaps: Abbr. : ANS
62. Water-quality org. : EPA


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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.

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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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