This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 5m 43s
THEME: PLAYING WITH FIRE ... the last word of each of the theme answers is a word associated with fire i.e. pack LIGHT, dead HEAT, old FLAME, holy SMOKE
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
1. Navajo's neighbor in Arizona : HOPI
The Hopi nation live on a reservation that actually resides within the much larger Navajo reservation, in Arizona.
5. Edinburgh native : SCOT
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, a beautiful city. In days gone by it might not have been quite so beautiful though. Like many cities, plumes of smoke hung over Edinburgh when coal and wood fires weren't regulated. To this day, the city has the nickname "Auld Reekie", Scots for "Old Smoky".
16. Parks who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom : ROSA
Rosa Parks was a one of a few brave women in days gone by, who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white woman. Similar actions in the forties and fifties had even gone to court and won, but it was the stand taken by Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 that sparked the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. President Clinton presented Ms. Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. When she died in 2005, Rosa Parks became the first ever woman to receive the honor of having her body lie in honor in the US Capital Rotunda.
21. Seed with a licoricelike flavor : ANISE
Liquorice (also licorice) and aniseed do indeed have similar flavors, but they come from unrelated plants. The liquorice plant is a legume like a bean, and the sweet flavor is an extract from the roots. The flavor mainly comes from an ether compound called anethole, the same substance that gives the distinctive flavor to anise. The seedpods of the anise plant are what we know as "aniseed". The anise seeds themselves are usually ground to release the flavor.
28. Early Fords that "put America on wheels" : MODEL TS
The Ford Model T was produced from 1908-1927, and had a great run as it was affordably priced and designed for middle class America. The cost was kept down by using efficiencies that came from assembly line production. It truly was "the car that put America on wheels".
41. Avis or Alamo offering : CAR
Avis has been around since 1946, and is the second largest car rental agency, after Hertz. It has the distinction of being the first company to locate a branch at an airport. The third largest car rental company right now is Alamo, a relative newcomer founded in 1974. Alamo made inroads into the market by popularizing the idea of "unlimited mileage".
47. Cassini of fashion : OLEG
Oleg Cassini, the French-born American fashion designer has had two big names particularly associated with his designs. In the sixties he designed the state wardrobe for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. He was also the exclusive designer for Hollywood's Gene Tierney, Cassini's second wife.
60. Oven brand : AMANA
The Amana Corporation takes its name from the location of its original headquarters, in Middle Amana, Iowa.
62. Language of Pakistan : URDU
Urdu is one of the two official languages of Pakistan (the other being English). Urdu partly developed from Persian, and as such, it is written from right to left.
63. What Yale became in 1969 : COED
Yale had been working towards coeducation, at least since 1966. At that time the college started talking to Vassar College, a women's liberal arts school, about possibly merging, as a way to achieve coeducation. Vassar eventually declined, and both schools introduced coeducation more gradually, both starting in 1969.
64. Hayseed : YOKEL
Hayseed is a slang term for a country bumpkin, a yokel. None of the terms are very flattering, I'd say.
5. Tone of many old photos : SEPIA
Sepia is that lovely rich brown-grey color so common in old photographs. The name sepia comes from the pigment derived from the ink sac of the cuttle fish, with "sepia" being the Latinized version of the Greek word for cuttlefish. The sepia tone of old photographs is not a result of deterioration over time. Rather, it is the result a deliberate preservation process with converts the metallic silver in the photographic image to a more stable silver sulfide. Sepia toned prints can last in excess of 150 years.
7. ___ in a blue moon : ONCE
As there is a full moon once every four weeks, approximately monthly, there are usually twelve full moons in any given year. However, every 2-3 years, depending on the phase of the moon at the beginning of the calendar year, there may be a thirteenth full moon. The "extra" full moon is called a "blue moon", although no one seems to really know why as far as I can tell. Which of the thirteen full moons that is designated as the blue moon varies depending on tradition. My favorite definition is from the Farmer's Almanac. It states that as each of the seasons normally have three full moons (twelve divided by the four seasons), then the season with four full moons is designated as "special", then, the THIRD full moon in that "special" season is the blue moon. Complicated, huh?
11. U.S. tennis legend on a 37¢ stamp : ASHE
The 37c commemorative postal stamp was released in 2005, and did indeed bear the image of Arthur Ashe.
12. The "W" of kWh : WATT
The kilowatt hour is unit of energy, made up of the product of power (kilowatts - kW) and time (hour - h). We see kWh all the time, on our electric bills.
14. Widespread language of East Africa : SWAHILI
Swahili is indeed a widespread language in Africa, but only 5-10 million people speak it as their native language. It is more commonly spoken though as it is also the national, official language of at least four countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So, within much of East Africa, Swahili is often spoken as the common language (lingua franca) between people who have different native tongues.
25. Tyne of "Cagney & Lacey" : DALY
Tyne Daly really came into the public eye playing Detective Lacey in "Cagney and Lacey". More recently she played the mother of the title character in "Judging Amy".
28. CT scan alternatives : MRIS
A CT Scan produces (via computer manipulation) a three dimensional image of the inside of an object, usually the human body. It does so by taking a series of two dimensional x-ray images while rotating the camera around the patient. The issue with CT Scans is that they use x-rays, and high doses on radiation can be harmful, and is cumulative. An MRI on the other hand (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses powerful magnetic fields to generate its images, so there is no exposure to ionizing radiation (like X-rays). We used MRI technology in our chemistry labs at school, back in the days when the technology was called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Apparently the marketing folks didn't like the term "nuclear" because of its association with ionizing radiation and bombs, so it's now called just MRI.
30. Wrong that's adjudicated in court : TORT
The word "tort" comes to us directly from the French word, meaning "mischief, injury or wrong". It's a good word, as tort law is generally about negligence, when the action of one party causes injury to another, in an action that is outside of the scope of criminal law.
32. Org. for cat and dog lovers : SPCA
Unlike in other countries, there is no "umbrella" society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Rather, there are independent organizations set up all over the US using the name SPCA. You probably have one in your town. There is an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which was intended to operate across the country, but it really is focused in New York City.
33. Builder's map : PLAT
A plat is a map showing actual and planned features, so a town might have a plat showing existing and intended buildings. New to me ... I thought it had to be PLAN.
38. Athletics brand with a swoosh : NIKE
I remember seeing Carolyn Davidson on the television show "I've Got a Secret". She created the Nike "swoosh" back in 1971 when she was a design student at Portland State. She did it as freelance work for Blue Ribbon Sports, a local company introducing a new line of athletic footwear. The "swoosh" is taken from the wing of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. Years later, BRS changed its name to Nike, so I suppose the company should be grateful to Carolyn for both the great design, and a great company name.
47. Keats's "___ to Psyche" : ODE
John Keats wrote a whole series of odes in 1819, including the very famous "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and Ode to a Nightingale". The first in this series of poems was "Ode to Psyche". In this case the Ode is to Psyche, the mortal girl who was loved by Cupid.
50. Textile city of north-central England : LEEDS
I went to school not far from Leeds, in West Yorkshire in the north of England. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, Leeds was a major center for the production and trading of wool, and then with mechanization, it became a natural hub for manufacture of textiles.
51. Grooms comb them : MANES
The mane is thought to be the horse's natural defense for the neck against rain and flies.
53. Place for a bar mitzvah service : SHUL
A Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah at 12 years of age, the age at which she becomes responsible for her actions. Boys are obviously less mature (surprise surprise!) and become Bat Mitzvahs at 13. The term translates into daughter and son of the commandments. Shul is an another word for a synagogue.
55. Alan of "M*A*S*H" : ALDA
Alan Alda won Emmy's for directing, acting and writing in "M*A*S*H". He played Hawkeye Pierce on the show, the character played by Donald Sutherland in the movie.
59. Introducers of a show's acts, e.g. : MCS
Masters of Ceremony.