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This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 38m 25s
THEME: BOARD ... Both halves of the theme answers can precede word BOARD e.g. WALLPAPER (wallboard and paperboard), FLOOR LEADER (floorboard and leader-board)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 PEAR (PEAK), ROARK (ROAKK)
9. Direction for violinists : UP-BOW
To up-bow is to move the bow across the strings from the tip to the heel.
20. "Cold Mountain" heroine : ADA
The novel "Cold Mountain" was written in 1997 by Charles Frazier. It's the tale of a deserter in the Civil War and his trek home to his beloved Ada Monroe, who is living the rural community of Cold Mountain in North Carolina. The plot has been compared with Homer's "The Odyssey", which tells of the long journey home of Odysseus to Ithaca after the Trojan War. In the 2003 film adaptation of the same name, Ada Monroe is played by Nicole Kidman.
23. *"Either that ___ goes, or I do" (Oscar Wilde's reputed last words) : WALLPAPER
If you didn't know Oscar Wilde was Irish, you will when you see the name he was given at birth: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde! Oscar Wilde spent his last days on this earth in a dingy hotel in Paris, very sick, suffering from cerebral meningitis. What I found about the wallpaper quote was that this was something said about a month before he died, while urging a friend to come see him. The words were: "Mywallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go." He passed away on November 30, 1900.
27. "As You Like It" role : CELIA
"As You Like It" is one of Shakespeare's comedies, the tale of Rosalind fleeing from her Uncle's court, along with her cousin, Celia and the court jester, Touchstone. The play is perhaps most memorable for its oft-wuoted speach that starts with "All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players ..."
29. Dentiform : tooth :: pyriform : ___ : PEAR
Dentiform: shaped like a tooth. Pyriform: shaped like a pear!
42. Project Blue Book subj. : UFO
In 1952, the USAF revived its studies of reports of UFO sightings, in a program called Project Blue Book. There were two prior USAF studies of the UFO phenomenon, namely Project Sign and Project Grudge. Project Blue Book ran from 1952 until it was shut down in 1969, concluding that there no threat to national security, and that there were no sightings that could not be explained within the bounds of modern scientific knowledge.
44. "___ Love" (1978 hit for Natalie Cole) : OUR
"Our Love" is a Natalie Cole song released on her 1977 album "Thankful". Natalie Cole is of course the daughter of Nat King Cole. Her mother was Maria Cole, a singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
45. German unity : EINS
Eins ... the German for one.
47. Org. that gives approval : USDA
The US Department of Agriculture dates back to 1862, when it was established by then-president Abraham Lincoln. Notably, Lincoln referred to the USDA as the "people's department", reflecting the agrarian basis to the economy back then. The Food safety and Inspection Service is an agency within the USDA tasked with ensuring that the supply of meat, poultry and eggs is safe.
50. Obloquy, e.g. : ABUSE
Obloquy is a such a lovely sounding word, yet it describes something far from lovely: abusive language. The word comes from Latin "ob" (against) and loqui (from "to speak").
52. ___ dish : PETRI
Julius Richard Petri was a German bacteriologist, and the man after whom the Petri dish is named. The petri dish can have an agar gel on the bottom which acts a nutrient source for the specimen being grown and studied, in which case the dish plus agar is referred to as an "agar plate".
60. Navigator William with a sea named after him : BARENTS
In his native Dutch, Barents was known as Willem Barentsz. Barents made three main voyages of exploration in his lifetime, all of them searching for the Northeast Passage, the route from the Atlantic into the Pacific along the Arctic coast. Barents was not successful in finding the route, but made notable discoveries including Bear Island and Spitzbergen. What is now called the Barents Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Norway and Russia.
61. Jazzy Chick : COREA
Chick Corea is an American jazz pianist. He is noted for his work in the area of jazz fusion, and for his promotion of Scientology.
63. Sitting around for years waiting to get drunk? : AGING
66. Something that might be hard to drink? : CIDER
And another nice one!
74. Chartres shout : CRI
Chartres is a town in north-central France, so "cri" is the French word for "shout.
75. Femme fatale : SIREN
In Greek mythology, the sirens were seductive bird-women, the lured men to their deaths with their song. When Odysseus sailed closed to the island home of the Sirens, he wanted to hear their voices, but safely. He had his men plug their ears with beeswax, and then had himself tied to the mast with orders not to fee him until they were safe. On hearing their song he begged to be freed, but the soldiers just tightened his bonds and sailed away to safety.
80. Real first name of Alfalfa of the Little Rascals : CARL
Alfalfa's real name was Carl Switzer. He and his brother were quite the yoiung performers around his hometown in Illinois, singing and playing instruments. On a trip to California, the Switzer family were touring the Hal Roach movie studio and were fooling around in the studio cafeteria, basically giving an impromptu performance. Hal Roach happened to be there at the time, and signed both brothers up for roles in "Our Gang". Carl was to play "Alfalfa", and brother Harold played "Slim" (aka Deadpan").
83. Display in the Auckland Museum : MOA
Moas were flightless birds native to New Zealand, and are now extinct. The fate of the Moa is a great example of the detrimental effect that humans can have on animal populations. The Maoris arrived in New Zealand about 1300 AD, upsetting the balance of the ecosystem. The Moa were hunted to extinction within 200 years, which in turn caused the extinction of the Haast's Eagle, the Moa's only predator prior to the arrival of man.
92. "The Flying Dutchman" tenor : ERIK
The reference here is to Richard Wagner's opera "The Flying Dutchman". Erik is a hunter, and the main tenor role. He chases after his ex-love, Senta, the soprano in the piece.
93. Armpits : AXILLAS
Axilla is the anatomical term for armpit. It should not be confused with the maxilla, the upper jawbone.
95. Exotic berry in some fruit juices : ACAI
Acai is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years as its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.
96. Missed signals from Little Boy Blue, maybe : BAAS
"Little Boy Blue" is an English nursery rhyme, and tells of a young boy who falls asleep instead of tending to the farm animals in his charge. He loses the sheep (and their baas!) into the meadow, and the cows into the cornfields.
97. Director Kurosawa : AKIRA
Akira Kurosawa was an Oscar-winning Japanese Film director. His most famous movie in the West has to be "The Seven Samurai", the inspiration for the western "The Magnificent Seven", and indeed a basis for "Star Wars: The Clone Wars".
98. *Lure : DRAWING CARD
Drawing card is a term used to describe a major attraction that draws a large audience. A drawing card might be a particular act or maybe an event.
106. 1986 rock autobiography : I, TINA
"I, Tina", the 1986 autobiography of Tina Turner. The book was so successful, it was adapted into a movie "What's Love Got to Do With It?", released in 1993 and starring Angela Bassett as Tina Turner.
109. Babushkas : NANAS
As well as being the name of a type of headscarf, in Russia a babushka is a grandmother or nana. Babushka is a diminutive of "baba" meaning "old woman".
110. Actress Streep : MERYL
Meryl Streep has had more nominations for an academy award than any other actor, a tribute to her talent and the respect she is given in the industry. I am not a huge fan of her earlier works but some of her recent movies are now on my list of all-time favorites. I recommend "Mama Mia" (you'll either love it or hate it!), "Julie & Julia" and "It's Complicated".
112. Interjection added to the O.E.D. in 2001 : D'OH
I suppose you might call "d'oh" a catchphrase. It's used by Homer Simpson on the animates TV show "The Simpsons". I can't stand "The Simpsons" ...
113. Land called Mizraim in the Bible : EGYPT
Mizraim is the Hebrew name for Egypt.
2. Suffix with boff : OLA
A boffola is "a dazzling, often sudden instance of success", it says here. It's an alternative for the noun "boff" which can have the same meaning.
4. Birthplace of William Thackeray and Satyajit Ray : CALCUTTA
William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist, most famous as the author of "Vanity Fair". He was born in Calcutta during the days of the Raj, as his father held a high post in the British East India Company. Satyajit Ray was a Bengali film maker, famous for directing "The Apu Trilogy". These were three Bengali films that were released between 1955 and 1959. They featured music composed by Ravi Shankar, and are considered to be some of the greatest movies of all times by international critics, yet they were filmed on tiny budgets.
6. Spanish fleet? : RAPIDO
Nope, not an armada, but rather rapido, the Spanish word for "fleet, fast". Clever clue ...
9. June "honoree," briefly : US FLAG
President Woodrow Wilson declared in 1916 that June 14th would be known as Flag Day in the United States. In 1949, this was extended to "Flag Week". During the week of June 14th, all American citizens are encouraged to fly the flag.
13. F-14, e.g. : WARPLANE
The F-14 Tomcat was the US Navy's primary fighter from 1974 to 2006, and was the airplane that featured in heh movie "Top Gun".
14. 1977 Liza Minnelli musical : THE ACT
"The Act" is a musical that was written purely as a vehicle for Liza Minnelli. It was a box office disaster, and lost a lot of money despite running on Broadway for 233 performances. One big problem was the high number of cancelled performances due to Liza Minnelli not showing up!
15. Family name in Frank Miller's "Sin City" series : ROARK
"Sin City" is a series of comic written by Frank Miller, with a 2005 film adaptation. The Roarks are a family of corrupt landowners and politicians that old great sway in Sin City.
16. Gary's home: Abbr. : IND
Gary, Indiana is just 25 miles from Chicago. It is the home of pop music's Jackson Family.
17. "The Purloined Letter" writer : POE
"The Purloined Letter" is the third of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories to feature Le Chevalier, C. Auguste Dupin, Poe's famous detective. The two earlier stories were the celebrated "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Mystery of Marie Roget".
18. Foozle : ERR
Foozle, such a lovely word. It means to manage something poorly, or to bungle. In golf a poor stroke might be called a foozle.
24. A Baldwin : ALEC
Alec is the oldest of the acting Baldwin brothers. I think his big break really was playing Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan in "The Hunt for Red October", but thank goodness that role was taken over by Harrison Ford for the subsequent Jack Ryan movies. He is making a name for himself these days playing Jack Donaghy on "30 Rock".
28. Gregg Allman's wife who filed for divorce after nine days : CHER
Greg Allman and Cher got married in 1975, and despite the divorce petition, they do have a son together. They separated in 1977, and their divorce came through in 1979.
37. Major party : TORIES
Another clever clue. The reference is to the Conservative (Tory) Party in the UK. Sir John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher as party leader in 1990 and was Prime Minister until 1997. 1997 was the year that Tony Blair swept to power with the Labour Party.
40. Yahoo : LOUT
Yahoos were brutish creatures introduced by Irish author Jonathan Swift in "Gulliver's Travels". Their savage, slovenly ways gave rise of the use of "yahoo" in English to describe a lout or Neanderthal.
49. Cursed alchemist : MIDAS
King midas of Greek mythology might be termed an alchemist as he had the power to turn everything he touched into gold ... the Midas touch. Of course, the power that he was given turned out to be a curse, as everything he touched turned to gold, including his food and drink, and even his children.
51. Stars in many westerns : BADGES
Another clever one!
56. Coat named for a British lord : RAGLAN
Actually I think the Raglan title is Baron. The hereditary title was created in 1852 as a reward for Lord Fitzroy Somerset for his service commanding the British troops during the Crimean War. It's the raglan sleeve that gives the name to the raglan coat. A raglan sleeve extends right to the collar of the garment, a design used to fit the first Baron Raglan who had lost his arm at the Battle of Waterloo.
60. Scene of confusion : BABEL
We use the babel now to describe a scene of confusion, lifting the word from the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The Tower was built in the city of Babylon, and the construction was cursed with confusion of languages among the varied origins of all the builders.
64. "Open ___" : SESAME
In the Arabic tale "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", the magical cave entrance is opened with the words "Open, Simsim", but this mutated into "Open Sesame" in European translations.
69. Epithet for Elizabeth I : ORIANA
Queen Elizabeth I was sometimes referred to as Oriana in musical and poetic tributes.
72. Meat, as in 66-Down : CARNE
Carne: Spanish for "meat".
73. Liliuokalani Gardens site : HILO
The Lili'uokalani Gardens are in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Much of the garden is built in th style of a Japanese garden, and it is reputed to be the largest such display outside of Japan itself.
76. Half-circle window over a door : FANLIGHT
A fanlight is that semicircular window that you sometimes see over a door, with bars radiating upwards from the center of the bottom side. The design looks like an open fan, or perhaps a sunburst.
78. Rogue : SCALAWAG
Scallywag is actually a term we use in Ireland to describe a rogue, usually one that is harmless, and it comes from the Irish word "sgaileog" meaning a farm servant. The American use of scalawag as a rogue was borrowed as a nickname for southern white people that supported reconstruction after the Civil War.
80. Resident of Daiquirí : CUBAN
Daiquirí is a small village on the coast near Santiago, Cuba, and a key location in the American invasion of Cuba in the Spanish-American War. Supposedly, the cocktail called a Daiquiri was invented by American mining engineers in a bar in nearby Santiago.
94. Galsworthy's Mrs. Forsyte : IRENE
The "Forsyte Saga" is a series of novels written by John Galsworthy. There is an excellent BBC television series dating back to 1967 that tells the whole tale in 26 episodes. It ran in the US on PBS and helped to establish "Masterpiece Theater" as the success it is today. In the BBC series, Irene Forsyte was played by Nyree Dawn Porter, but the stars of the show were Susan Hampshire in the role of Fleur Forsyte, and Eric Porter as Soames Forsyte. Great stuff ...
101. French firm: Abbr. : CIE
Cie is an abbreviation used in French (not an acronymn). It is short for "compagnie", the French word for "company", and is used as we would use "Co."
105. Pres. with the Marshall Plan : HST
The official name of the Marshall Plan was the "European Recovery Program". It was named after Secretary of State George Marshall who served under President Harry S. Truman. The overt goal of the plan was to rebuild the European economy, with the subplot being to resist the spread of communism throughout Europe after WWII.