This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 53m
THEME: DOUBLE CROSSERS ... The theme answers each contain a square divided into quarters. In the across theme answers (e.g. FASTER FATHER), the two letters in the top quarters are used for the first part of the answer (i.e. fa-ST-er) and the two letters in the bottom quarters are used for the second part (i.e. fa-TH-er). The same four letters provide a down theme answer as well (e.g. STEFAN THE FAN) but this time the left letters (i.e. ST-efan) and right letters (TH-e fan) are used. What an ingenious construction!
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY'S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1. *Winning dad in a race : FASTER FATHER
6. *Like Enron : IN THE RED IN THE END
After all trials and plea-bargaining following the exposure of the fraud at Enron, several of the key players ended up in jail. Andrew Fastow was the Chief Financial Officer. He plea bargained and received ten years without parole, and became the key witness in the trials of others. Even Fastow's wife was involved, and sentenced to one year for helping her husband hide money. Jeffrey Skilling (ex-CEO) was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months. Kenneth Lay (CEO) died in 2006 after he had been found guilty and before he could be sentenced. The accounting firm Arthur Andersen was found guilty of obstruction of justice for shredding thousands of pertinent documents and deleting emails and files (a decision that the Supreme Court overturned on a technicality). The company collapsed under the weight of the scandal and 85,000 people lost their jobs (despite only a handful being involved with Enron.
13. Joe of "NCIS" : SPANO
Joe Spano's most famous role was perhaps that of Lt. Henry Goldblume on "Hill Street Blues". In "Apollo 13" he played an unnamed NASA director. On NCIS he plays FBI agent Tobias Fornell.
19. Only person to be named Driver of the Year in three different decades : ANDRETTI
Mario Andretti is a retired Italian American racing driver, named US Driver of the Year in 1967, 1978 and 1984. Both of Mario's sons, Michael and Jeff are successful auto racers, as well as Mario's nephew, John Andretti.
20. *Whispers heard during an in-class test : CHEATER CHATTER
22. ___ Sea, north of Alaska : BEAUFORT
The Beaufort Sea is named after Irishman, Sir Francis Beaufort, a Rear-Admiral in the Royal Navy. Beaufort was a hydrographer as well as a career navy man, and created the Beaufort scale for measuring the force of winds.
23. Ajax's opponent : HECTOR
As described in Homer's "Iliad", Hector was a Trojan prince and a great fighter. During the war with Greeks, in order avoid a bloody battle, Hector challenges any one of the Greek warriors to a duel. Ajax is chosen by the Greeks, and the two fight a duel that lasts an entire day before they declare a stalemate.
24. Grandmother of Spain's Juan Carlos : ENA
Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg was the queen consort of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. Princess Beatrice was actually born in Scotland, and given the Gaelic name for Eva: "Eua". Eua, was written on the official documents, but the clergyman presiding at the christening misread the name as "Ena". Her family stuck with "Ena", and it was adopted by the public.
25. When Paris is burning? : ETE
Ete is French word for the season of "summer". The reference here to Paris burning is a play on the title of a successful 1990 documentary film called "Paris is Burning", a film about the gay and trans-gender Ball Competitions of New York city.
27. "South Park" boy : KENNY
Kenny McCormick is a character on "South Park" (which I have never watched). Apparently it's hard to understand his dialog as the hood of his parka covers his mouth.
28. Comparatively dull female : PEAHEN
Yep, the female peafowl, the peahen, has very dull plumage compared to the extravagant display on the tail of the peacock.
32. "___ Miz" : LES
The 1980 musical "Les Miserables" is an adaptation of the 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. It is now the longest running musical in the history of London's West End, and is playing at the Queen's Theater. I saw Les Miz in the Queen's Theater, only able to get tickets in the very back row. The theater seating is very steep, so the back row of the balcony is very high over the stage. One of the big events in the show is the building of a street barricade, and the fighting over it. At that height we could see the stagehands behind the barricade, sitting drinking Coke, even having a cigarette. On cue they would get up and catch a dropped rifle, or an actor that had been shot. It was pretty comical. I didn't really enjoy it that much, to be honest. Some great songs, but the story didn't grab me as it is portrayed in the musical.
34. Camera inits. : SLR
SLR: Single Lens Reflex. Usually cameras with changeable lenses are SLR type. The main feature of an SLR is that a mirror reflects the image seen through the lens out through the viewfinder, so that the photographer sees exactly what the lens sees. The mirror moves out of the way as the picture is taken, and the image that comes through the lens falls onto unexposed film, or nowadays onto a digital sensor.
36. Kvetch : YAMMERER
The word "kvetch" of course comes to us from Yiddish, with "kvetshn" meaning "to complain" or "squeeze".
39. Aunt, in Andaluc'a : TIA
Tia is the Spanish word for aunt (with "tio" meaning "uncle"). Andalusia (Andalucia in Spanish) is one of the seventeen autonomous communities in the Kingdom of Spain, and is the most southerly. The capital of Andalusia is the old city of Seville. The name Andalusia comes from its Arabic name, Al-Andalus, reflecting the region's history as the center of Muslim power in Iberia during medieval times.
40. "What if this present were the world's last night?" poet : DONNE
I don't know about here in America, but at school in Ireland we all had to learn John Donne's "Holy Sonnet X", also known as "Death Be Not Proud". The line "What if this present were the world's last night?" is the opening line of his "Holy Sonnet XIII".
42. LeBron James, beginning in '03 : CAV
James LeBron was just 18 years old when he was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, the number one pick in NBA draft. Before he even made his first appearance as a professional player, the young man signed a $90 million dollar endorsement contract with Nike.
43. *Serving tray left next to the frying pan : SPATTER PLATTER
45. ___ Snorkel : SGT
Sgt. Snorkel id Beetle Bailey's nemesis in the cartoon strip. Snorkel has a dog called Otto that he dresses up to look just like himself. He started off as a regular dog, but artist Mort Walker decide to make him more like his owner, and he became a big hit.
47. ___ Johnson, a k a the Rock : DWAYNE
Dwayne Johnson was a professional wrestler whose ring name was "The Rock". He has used his success as a character in the ring, to cross over into television and movies. He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as getting the highest payment for a first starring role, $5.5 million.
49. Aladdin's kleptomaniac sidekick : ABU
Abu is a monkey in the Disney production of "Aladdin". He was based on Abu, a thief in the 1940 film "The Thief of Baghdad".
58. *Revival meeting : CONVERSION CONVENTION
60. Tennis's Capriati : JENNIFER
Jennifer Capriati is a retired American tennis player, and former World Number One. She had a all sorts of success playing tennis as a child, and turned professional when she was ... 13 years old ...
62. Latin being : ESSE
I might be wrong, but I don't think "esse" can be used to meaning "being". It does however translate as the infinitive of the verb "to be".
63. Aboriginal food source : EMU
The emu has had a tough time in Australia since man settled there. The aborigines used them for food and are very adept at hunting them using a variety of traditional techniques. There was even an "Emu War" in Western Australia in 1932 when migrating emus competed with livestock for water and food, and knocked down fences. Soldiers were sent in using machine guns in an unsuccessful attempt to drive off the emus. The emus were clever though, and broke formation and adopted guerrilla tactics, operating as small units. After 50 days of "war", the military withdrew. Subsequent requests for military help for the farmers was refused.
65. ___ Friday's : TGI
T.G.I. Friday's is an American restaurant chain, founded in 1965 in New York City. Today they have over a thousand restaurants in over 50 countries. I think they have always been particularly successful overseas. I used to go there a lot with my family when we lived in the Philippines, and I believe the most successful Friday's restaurant anywhere in the world is the one in Haymarket Leicester Square in London in the UK.
66. Medieval chest : ARCA
An arca (plural arcae) was a chest used for valuables in medieval Spain and Italy.
73. *"You're not THAT sorry!" : CONTRITION CONTENTION
75. Old Pontiacs : GTOS
GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologato.
77. Zebra's home : SAVANNA
A savanna is a grassland. If there are any trees, by definition they are small and widely spaced so that light can get to the grasses which grow unhindered by a canopy of trees. The largest savanna in the world is in Africa, and is one home of the zebra population. The name "zebra" comes from an old Portuguese word "zevra" meaning "wild ass". Studies of zebra embryos show that zebras are basically black in color, with white stripes that develop with growth. Before this finding, it was believed they were white, with black stripes.
80. *One who apprentices woodworkers : STAINER TRAINER
83. Excepting : AND NOT
E.g. I like these three AND NOT that one (I like all four EXCEPTING that one).
86. Einstein's birthplace : ULM
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm on March 14th 1879. His parents were Hermann and Pauline Einstein. Hermann moved his family to Munich, where he set up a company to manufacture electrical equipment, along with his brother. Ulm is in the south of Germany, and sits on the River Danube. It is famous for being home to the tallest church in the world, Ulm Minster, a Gothic building with a steeple that is 530ft tall, with 768 steps to climb. Quite a workout, I'd say ...
89. Month after avril : MAI
In France, mai follows avril (May follow April).
90. *Bozo, for one : KIDDIE KIDDER
Bozo the Clown was a character created in 1946 by Alan Livingston. He was introduced in the first ever "record reader", a children's illustrated read-along book that came with a vinyl recording of the story. The book/record was so successful that Bozo moved to television, and he has been around ever since.
92. The Indians, on a scoreboard : CLE
The Cleveland baseball franchise started out in 1869 as the Forest Citys, as Forest city is the nickname for Cleveland. After a number of transitions, in 1914 the team took on the name "Indians". "Indians" was chosen by the media at the request of the team owners, and was inspired by the successful Boston team of the day, the Boston Braves.
96. 3,281 ft. : KIL
A kilometer is a unit of length in the metric system, approximately equal to 3,281 feet. "Kilometer" is an American spelling. In the rest of the world the French spelling of "kilometre" is used.
98. The nth degree? : PH. D.
The "nth degree" is the utmost, with the nth item being the last in a series. In many countries, including the US, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) is the highest academic degree awarded by universities. However, in Ireland and the UK, "doctorates" can also be awarded, a higher recognition. For example, there is a Doctor of Sciences (DSc) and a Doctor of Letters (DLitt).
99. Solvents often found in antiknock additives : TOLUENES
The Ethyl Corporation produced the controversial anti-knock fuel additive known as Ethyl, actually tetra-ethyl lead (and we are still living with the consequences). Tetra-ethyl lead is soluble in toluene.
105. *Singer Britney succeeds at the high jump : SPEARS CLEARS
109. DC ___ : COMICS
DC Comics takes its name from what used to be a highly popular series called "Detective Comics". The main competitor to DC Comics is Marvel Comics, and between the two companies, they command 80% of comic sales in the US market. Nowadays of course, a lot of company income comes from movies that use the most popular characters from the original comics.
112. Kind of column : IONIC
An Ionic column is relatively ornate. It usually has grooves running up and down its length, and at the top there is a "scroll" design called a "volute". The scroll design makes it a popular inclusion in academic buildings.
116. TV pitchman David : ORECK
The Oreck Corporation was named after founder David Oreck, and makes vacuum cleaners and air purifiers. The company started out selling vacuum cleaners by mail, a new concept in 1963. David Oreck appears regularly as a spokesman in the companies ads and infomercials.
117. *Just one or two pups, say : LITTLE LITTER
118. Flies across sub-Saharan Africa? : TSETSES
What lovely, sneaky wording for a clue ...
3. *Edberg enjoying a sports match : STEFAN THE FAN
Stefan is a Swedish tennis player, and former word number one. Sadly, one part of his legacy is his involvement in a freak accident at the 1983 US Open. A ball struck by Edberg hit one of the linesmen causing him to topple of his chair, fracturing his skull as he hit the ground. The injury was fatal.
5. 1989 Michael Moore documentary : ROGER AND ME
"Roger & Me" is a sarcastic and ironic documentary directed by Michael Moore that explores the financial devastation experienced around Flint, Michigan after the decision to close auto plants. The "Roger" of the title was General Motors CEO Roger Smith.
6. Like Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1 : IN E
Arnold Schoenberg was a champion of the use of atonality in music. I admit to having a somewhat closed mind when it comes to atonality, so I have very little of his music in my collection.
7. The Missouri R. runs through it : NDAK
8. Carpenter's standard : TRUE LEVEL
"True level" is a line (or surface) that runs perpendicular to a plumb line.
9. Hugh M. ___ First Amendment Award : HEFNER
The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award is named after Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine. The awards were founded by Hefner's daughter, Christine, and are awarded periodically to those deemed by a panel of judges to have made significant contributions to the protection of First Amendment rights. Notable recipients have been Michael Moore (1999), Penn & Teller (2001) and Bill Maher (2002/2003).
10. Stiff collars : ETONS
An Eton collar is a wide, stiff, buttoned collar that is still part of the formal school uniform at Eton College near Windsor in England.
11. *Knock again : RETRY ENTRY
12. Morse code sound : DIT
Dahs and dits are the sound equivalents of dashes and dots of Morse Code. Samuel Morse didn't invent Morse code, but it took his name because it was invented for use on the electric telegraph invented by him.
14. *Nectarine grove : PEACH PATCH
A nectarine is a cultivar of a peach, notable for its smooth skin (as opposed to the fuzzy skin of the traditional peach).
17. Only defenseman to have won the N.H.L. scoring title : ORR
Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn't skate any more. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking ...
19. Crosswise, at sea : ABEAM
The beam is the widest part of a vessel, and something pointed out as lying abeam is something that it is 90 degrees from a line through the bow and the stern, in other words, off to the right or the left.
26. *Stupid show from a cable TV giant : TIME WARNER TIME WASTER
This is my favorite of today's theme answers, the DOUBLE CROSSERS ...
38. Brother of Rebekah : LABAN
Laban is Rebekah's brother, and is also the father of Leah and Rachel, making him brother-in-law to Isaac, and uncle to Jacob.
41. "Laugh-In" announcer Gary : OWENS
Do you remember Gary Owens on "Rowan And Martin's Laugh-In"? He has such a great baritone voice and delivered absolute drivel in terms of lines, with such deadpan enthusiasm. Owens used his voice to good effect in cartoon roles, and as a successful disk jockey.
43. *Orthodontist, at times : SPACER PLACER
44. Neural network : RETE
A rete is an anatomical term for a network. The network can nerves, but also fibers or blood vessels. The word rete is Latin for "net" and was the name for the net that gladiators used as a weapon when fighting in the arena in Ancient Rome.
48. Inner personalities, in psychology : ANIMAS
The concept of anima and animus is found in the Carl Jung school of analytical psychology. The idea is that within each male their resides a feminine inner personality called the anima, and within each female there is a male inner personality known as the animus.
53. Photographer Richard : AVEDON
Richard Avedon was an American photographer. He was the inspiration for the character "Dick Avery" played by Fred Astaire in the wonderful film "Funny Face" starring Audrey Hepburn in the title role. Avedon's most famous portrait is a close up Audrey Hepburn, whom Avedon referred to as his muse.
55. Muslim spirit : djinn
The concept of djinn existed before the Qur’an was written. Djinn was the name given to various spirits considered lesser than angels. The word djinn meaning spirits, also made it into the Bible. In the Qur’an djinn are more specifically spirits of free will “created by Allah from smokeless fire”. People who exhibit unsavory characteristics can be said to be possessed by djinn. Independently, in Latin based languages, the word genie is from the Latin genius, a guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. When the book The Thousand and One Nights was translated into French, the word djinn was transformed into génie, because of the similarity in sound and the related spiritual meaning. Purely as a result of that translation the word genie has come to mean that djinn that pops out of the bottle. Quite interesting …
68. *Oven, at times : COOKIE COOKER
69. What you may need to do to get a hand : ANTE
Cleverly worded clue ...
74. *Small-claims court : RESTITUTION INSTITUTION
75. 1981 Mel Gibson film : GALLIPOLI
The Gallipoli peninsula is in the part of Turkey that resides in the continent of Europe. During WWI, the landed on the peninsula and fought what is now called the Dardeanelles Campaign in the UK, or the Gallipoli Campaign in other parts of the world. The landing was not successful, and after eight months of fighting the allies withdrew, having lost over 40,000 men, and the Turkish losing about 20,000. The movie "Gallipoli" is an Australian production from 1981 starring a very young Mel Gibson, and directed by a young Peter Weir. It tells the tale of of the Australian and New Zealand forces in the campaign, with an emphasis on the futility of the whole effort.
80. *Lorry in a ditch : STUCK TRUCK
81. Make unconscious : REPRESS
To repress, to push into the subconscious. Clever wording as well ...
84. Legislature : DIET
A Diet was the general assembly of the estates of the former Holy Roman Empire. The most famous of these assemblies was the Diet of Worms, a meeting that took place in the small town of Worms on the Rhine River in Germany. The main item on the agenda was discussion about 95 theses of Martin Luther. Luther was summoned to the meeting, and found to be guilty of heresy.
97. *Vlasic employee : PICKLE PICKER
Apparently Vlasic invented the glass-packed, shelf-stable pickle. Vlasic was founded in the 1920s, and really took off just after WWII after the introduction of pickles packed in jars in 1942.
98. Volcano that devastated Martinique in 1902 : PELEE
Mount Pelee on the Caribbean island of Martinique is still active and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the planet. When it erupted in 1902, it killed over 30,000 people, most of whom perished when a cloud of hot gases settled over the town of St. Pierre, instantly igniting everything that was flammable.
100. Diamond complements : NINES
A baseball team has a full complement on the field with nine players out there.
105. *Where Robert Burns and kin are buried : SCOTS' PLOTS
I had the pleasure of visiting a few years ago the Burns Mausoleum, in St. Michael's Churchyard in Dumfries in Scotland.
106. Popeye's ___' Pea : SWEE
Swee'Pea is a baby in the "Popeye" comic strip by E. C. Segar. Swee'Pea was left on Popeye's doorstep, delivered to him in a box. Popeye adopts and raises him.
109. One answering to a 45-Across: Abbr. : CPL
One answering to a sergeant might be a corporal.
113. Pitchblende, for one : ORE
Pitchblende is made up of the mineral uraninite, and is found in black pitch-like deposits. It is a major source of uranium and radium.