This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 25m 55s
THEME: TYPECASTING ... each of the theme answers is written in a different type face, the choice of which is integral to the clue (see below for individual explanations)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
1. See above : ACROSS
If you look at what is directly above this clue, it's the word "Across". Clever ...
16. Youth grp. : BSA
As every little boy knows, the Scouting movement was founded by Lord Baden Powell, in 1907. The Boy Scouts of America soon followed, in 1910.
20. Japanese comics style : MANGA
The Japanese word "manga" means "whimsical pictures", and is an apt term to describe the Japanese style of comic book. Manga publications are more diverse than American comic books, and have a larger audience. Manga cover many subjects including romance, sports, mystery, business, horror, and mystery.
21. Have ___ to grind : AN AX
The phrase "have an axe to grind" comes from a very specific source, having appeared in an 1815 essay by American newspaper editor Charles Miner. In the story, a man uses flattery to get a boy to grind his axes for him, and then leaves without giving the boy any payment or thanks. We use the phrase "have an axe to grind" to mean "have an ulterior motive".
23. JAIL OR FINE [in upper case]: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
The clue is written in upper case (CAPITAL) and jail or fine is a (PUNISHMENT) = CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
28. Staff connections : SLURS
In written music, the notes are written on a staff. A curved line called a slur is used to connect notes that should be played legato i.e. smoothly, without a noticeable break between the notes.
29. "Carrie" star : SPACEK
"Carrie" is a 1976 horror film based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. Sissy Spacek plays the title role, giving her a big break in movies. I'm afraid I have never seen it (I don't really do "horror").
30. Year Attila the Hun was born : CDVI
Attila the Hun, was the most feared enemy of the Roman Empire in his day, until he died in 453. He as born in 406 (CDVI), making him about 47 years old when he died.
33. Chris ___, player of Mr. Big on "Sex and the City" : NOTH
Is it just me or would sex and the city be so much better off without the two romantic leads, Carrie and Mr. Big? Carrie Bradshaw is played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mr. Big (aka John James Preston) is played by Chris Noth. We never found out Mr Big's first name (John) until the series finale, and his full name wasn't revealed until the first movie came out. Playing now ... "Sex and the City 2" ...
37. Perspectives [in italics]: SLANTED VIEWS
The clue is written in italics (SLANTED) and perspectives are (VIEWS) = SLANTED VIEWS.
42. Sound city : SEATTLE
Seattle sits on Puget Sound, so is a "sound city".
43. Kitt who sang "Santa Baby" : EARTHA
Eartha Kitt sure did have a unique voice and singing style. Her rendition of "Santa Baby" has to be one of the most distinctive and memorable recordings in the popular repertoire. Some of you will no doubt remember her playing Cat Woman on the final series of the TV show "Batman".
44. Tarzan's simian sidekick : CHEETA
The chimpanzee Cheeta was a very popular character in the most of the Tarzan movies and television shows, however, he/she (the sex changed back and forth) never appeared in the original novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
48. Actress Christina : RICCI
Christina Ricci is an American actress who found fame on the big screen at an early age, play the very young Wednesday Addams in the 1991 movie version of "The Addams Family".
51. Lee who got a kick out of acting? : BRUCE
Bruce Lee was actually born not far from here, in San Francisco, although he was raised in Hong Kong until he was old enough to move back to the US to attend college. Sadly, Bruce Lee died when he was only 32 years old, due to cerebral edema (a swelling of the brain) attributed to adverse reactions to the pain killing drug Equagesic.
59. Putting in a carton [repeated underneath in gray] : SHADOW BOXING
The clue is written with a "drop shadow" (SHADOW) and putting in a carton is (BOXING) = SHADOW BOXING.
63. Bygone name in hair removal : NEET
The hair removal product "Neet" was launched in Canada in 1901, and was also sold as "Immac". Today is sold under the name "Veet".
66. Turkish money : LIRAS
The name "lira" is used in a number of countries for currency. It comes from the Latin word for a pound, and is derived from a British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. The Turkish lira has been around since the mid 1870s.
68. Exam for a Wharton applicant: Abbr. : GMAT
Wharton is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. If you want to get into Wharton's graduate program, then you might have to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (which will cost you about $250, I believe).
69. Himalayan legend : YETI
A yeti is a beast of legend, also called an abominable snowman. Yeti is a Tibetan term for the beast, which is fabled to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Our equivalent legend in North America is that of Bigfoot.
73. French suffix : IERE
The French suffix -iere is the feminine form of the suffix -ier, as in premier and premiere, the words for "first".
75. ___ culpa : MEA
Roman Catholics are very familiar with the Latin phrase "mea culpa" meaning "my fault", as it is used in the Latin Mass. The additional term "mea maxima culpa" would translate as "my most grievous fault".
76. 2005 "Survivor" setting : PALAU
"Survivor: Palau" was the tenth series of the hugely successful CBS reality show, broadcast in 2005. Palau is a tiny island nation lying 500 miles east of the Philippines, and 2,000 mile south of Japan. Palau was one a Spanish possession, and was sold by Spain to Germany in the late 19th century. During WWI, Japan invaded the islands (as Japan had declared war on Germany during WWI) and was awarded the islands as a territory by the League of Nations at the end of hostilities. In WWII the US took Palau from the Japanese in a bloody battle in 1944. Palau emerged from American administration in 1994, and is now a sovereign state.
79. Wordsmith [in cursive] : SCRIPTWRITER
The clue is written in cursive (SCRIPT) and a wordsmith is a (WRITER) = SCRIPTWRITER.
83. Results of some rushes, for short : TDS
In American football, some rushes result in touchdowns.
84. Ltr. accompaniers : ENCLS
Some letters are accompanied by enclosures.
86. Bro : HOMIE
Bro is short for brother, and homie is short for homeboy: someone from one's home neighborhood.
89. Pool surface : FELT
Felt is used for the surface of a pool table.
91. Some riding mowers : DEERES
36 DEERE: John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. I hear his riding mowers are pretty good too ...
94. Noxious atmosphere : MIASMA
The word miasma was first used for the poisonous atmosphere thought to arise from swamps and rotting matter and cause disease. Now it is just a thick cloud of gas or smoke.
98. Mercury and Saturn : DEITIES
Mercury was a Roman god, the messenger, and the god of trade. His name comes from the Latin word "merx" meaning merchandise (and therefore has the same roots as "merchant" and "commerce"). Saturn was also a Roman deity, the god of agriculture and harvest. Both the planet, Saturn, and "Saturday" are named after Saturn, the god.
101. Birthday cake toppers [in standard serif type]: ROMAN CANDLES
The clue is in standard, serif type (ROMAN) and birthday cake toppers are (CANDLES) = ROMAN CANDLES.
107. Jedi foes, in "Star Wars" : SITH
The Sith are characters in "Star Wars" that use the "dark side" of "the Force", and as such are the antithesis of the Jedi Knights. The last of the six "Star Wars" movies made (actually "Episode III") is called "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith".
109. Goya's field : ARTE
Francisco Goya was a Spanish painter, often called the last of the Old Masters, and the first of the moderns. Two of his most famous works are "The Nude Maja" and "The Clothed Maja". Being a Spaniard, his field was "arte", the Spanish word for "art.
110. Mr. ___ of advertising : PEANUT
Planters is the company with the Mr. Peanut icon. Mr. Peanut was the invention of a first grader called Antonion Gentile, a young man who won a design contest in 1916. Remarkable legacy, I'd say ...
113. Desiderata : NEEDS
A desideratum (pl: desiderata) is something considered necessary, or highly "desirable".
116. Printemps month : MAI
In France the month of mai (May) is in the season of printemps (Spring).
117. 2006 Nintendo debut : WII
The Wii is the biggest selling game console in the world. Two distinguishing features are the impressive wireless remote control, and it WiiConnect24 system which allows the console get messages and updates wirelessly in standby mode. I have my kids unplug the darn thing when they aren't using it, as even in standby mode it sucks up bandwidth on my wireless network here at the house.
The clue has a line through it (STRUCK OUT) and couple-swapping is (SWINGING).
121. 1976 album "Olé ___" : ELO
ELO of course stands for the Electric Light Orchestra, a symphonic rock group from the north of England. Their manager was Don Arden, father of Sharon Osbourne (wife of Ozzy). "Ole ELO" is a compilation album the band released in 1976.
123. It may be snowy : EGRET
The Snowy Egret is small, white heron, native to the Americas. At one time the egret species was in danger of extinction due to hunting driven by the demand for plumes for women's hats.
125. Rembrandt van ___ : RYN
The celebrated Dutch painter's full name was Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. He is perhaps most appreciated for his portraits, and left the world a remarkable collection of self-portraits.
126. Language from which "loot" comes : 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.
2. Mexico's largest lake : CHAPALA
Lake Chapala is located about 45km southeast of Guadalajara. It is a very shallow lake, especially given its surface area. The mean depth is 4.5 meters, and it is 10.5 meters at the deepest point. Maintaining water quality in such a shallow lake, so close to the large, growing city of Guadalajara has is proving to be a real challenge.
3. Snoop, e.g. : RAP STAR
The rap star Snoop Dogg's real name is Cordozar Calvin Broadus. He is the most famous protege of the notorious rapper Dr. Dre. Sadly, Snoop Dogg has had numerous run ins with police all round the world, even after he started to live the good life the came with his fame.
5. Pepper and Friday: Abbr. : SGTS
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band was the alter-ego of the Beatles, used in the studio album of the same name released in 1967. Jack Webb played Sgt. Joe Friday on "Dragnet" on both TV and radio ... and what a voice!
9. Comfort ___ : INN
The Comfort Inn chain is part of Choice Hotels International. I stayed in a Comfort Suites last weekend. Not bad for the price ...
10. Sponsorship: Var. : EGIS
Egis is a variant of the word "aegis". Someone is said to be under the aegis of someone else (for example) is that other person provides protection, or perhaps sponsorship.
12. Company with a "beep-beep" in its ads : AAMCO
AAMCO is named after one of the two founders, Anthony A. Martino (AAM). The company was founded in 1963 in Philadelphia, and opened its first franchise in Newark that same year. There are now about 800 franchises, and AAMCO is the largest transmission chain in the world.
14. Team whose logo features a bat in a hat : YANKEES
The Yankees logo was created in 1947, and features a baseball bat with an Uncle Sam hat sitting on top of the bat.
15. No. after a no. : EXT
After your telephone number, you might have your extension number.
16. Assertion [in extra dark type]: BOLD STATEMENT
The clue is written in extra dark type (BOLD) and an assertion is a (STATEMENT) = BOLD STATEMENT.
24. Bergman's role in "Casablanca" : LUND
Ilsa Lund was of course the role played by Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie "Casablanca". I love the words of one critic describing the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman in this film: "she paints his face with her eyes". Wow ...
30. Separating machine : COTTON GIN
The term cotton gin is a contraction of "cotton eng-ine". The gin is a machine that mechanically separates cotton fibers from the cotton seed. The modern version of the cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793.
32. ___'acte : ENTR
The term entr'acte comes to us from French, and is the interval between two acts of a theatrical performance. It often describes some entertainment provided during that interval.
34. Snicker part : HEH
To snicker: to go "heh heh".
40. "Our Town" family : WEBBS
"Our Town" is a play by American playwright "Thornton Wilder". The town in question if the fictional community of Grover's Corners. The coordinates of the town are provided by Wilder (42 degrees 40' north, 70 degrees 37' west), so Grovers Corners is a few miles off the coast of Massachusetts!
49. Prestigious West Coast school, for short : CALTECH
Caltech is more properly known as the California Institute of Technology, and is a private research-oriented school in Pasadena. One of Caltech's responsibilities is the management and operation of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. If you watch "The Big Bang Theory" on television like me, you might know that the four lead characters all work at Caltech.
50. Race that takes a northern trail in even years and a southern trail in odd years : IDITAROD
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race coves a massive 1,161 miles, and starts every year on the first Saturday in March. The first race was held in 1973, and the fastest finishing time was set in 2002 at just under 9 days. The first few races only used the northern route, but then the southern route was added to the roster every second year. It's kind of a good thing, because when you take the northern route, you don't even pass through the town of Iditarod!
52. Neither here nor there? : EN ROUTE
Clever clue ...
55. Warren : rabbits :: couch : ___ : OTTERS
Rabbits live a warren, and an otter's den is called a holt or a couch.
57. Home of the U.S.'s last active nickel mine : OREGON
Nickel was only mined commercially in one location in the US, in Riddle, Oregon, and that mine closed in 1987. Most of the world's nickel output comes from Russia these days.
58. Untruths [in medieval-looking type] : GOTHIC FICTION
The clue is in medieval-looking type (GOTHIC) and untruths are (FICTION) = GOTHIC FICTION.
60. Garnierite, for nickel : ORE
Garnierite is a green nickel ore that was first described in 1864 by one Jules Garnier, who gave it its name.
61. It's good for "absolutely nothing" according to a 1970 hit : WAR
The most famous recording of "War" was by Edwin Starr in 1970. It went to number one, at the height of the anti-Vietnam War sentiment in the country, and became the song most associated with Starr. The song has also been recorded by the Temptations and Bruce Springsteen.
62. Sweaters' place : GYM
Clever wording ...
71. Field call : CAW
Crows in a field might call out "caw!"
72. Abbr. on some license plates : DLR
Some cars ride around with dealer (DLR) plates.
76. Wing: Prefix : PTERO
The prefixes pter- and ptero- mean "pertaining to a wing, or a feather", coming from the Greek word "pteron" (feather). Examples of use would be in pterosaur and pterodactyl.
77. Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Michael : IRVIN
Michael Irvin played football for the Dallas Cowboys. I don't follow American Football (forgive me!) but did see Irvin on "Dancing with the Stars" on television, and he acquitted himself quite well.
80. The Beatles' "___ Mine" : I ME
"I Me Mine" is one of the relatively few Beatles songs to have been written by George Harrison (and indeed performed by him). Harrison chose the same title for his autobiography published in 1980, just a few weeks before John Lennon was assassinated in New York City.
81. It's on top of piles : PIER
A pier is walkway that extends over water, and the pillars that are driven into the ground to support it can be called piles.
82. Columnist Bombeck : ERMA
Erma Bombeck wrote her newspaper column for about 35 years, as well 15 books, some of which were bestsellers.
88. When tripled, a "Seinfeld" catchphrase : YADA
"The Yada Yada Yada" is actually the name of the 153rd episode of "Seinfeld". Before "Seinfeld" made "yada yada yada" famous, the phrase "yadda yadda" was fairly common, often used by comedian Lenny Bruce for example.
92. Ambulance letters : EMS
Emergency Medical Services.
93. Like Joan of Arc : SAINTED
Joan of Arc led the French Army successfully into battle a number of times during the Hundred Years War with England. When she was eventually captured, she was tried in Rouen, the seat of the occupying English government in France at that time. Famously, she was burned at the stake having been found guilty of heresy. Joan of Arc was canonized some 600 years later, in 1920, and is now one of the patron saints of France.
96. U.S. tennis player Oudin : MELANIE
Melanie Oudin is an American tennis player of French descent, from Marietta, Georgia.
100. Blow one's stack : SEE RED
The phrase "to see red", meaning to "get angry" is American English, and dates back to 1900.
102. Bikini blasts : N-TESTS
The first test of a hydrogen bomb was in 1954 at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It may have been a technical success, but it was an environmental disaster, largely because the actual yield of 15 megatons was unexpected (4-6 megatons was anticipated). The fallout caused many deaths, and led to birth defects for generations.
103. Copenhagen, e.g. : CHEW
Copenhagen is a brand of dipping tobacco (ugh!) made by the US Smokeless Tobacco company.
105. Country that's just 8 square miles in area : NAURU
Nauru is the world's smallest island nation, located in the South Pacific 300 km to the east of Kiribati. The island was taken as a colony by Germany in the late 1800s, and came under the administration of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom after WWI. The Japanese invaded during WWII, but Nauru was one of the islands that was bypassed in the US advance across the Pacific towards Japan. Nauru achieved independence in 1968.
106. Leadership org. opposed to the G.O.P. : DNC
The Democratic National Committee was set up way back in 1848, and governs the day-to-day affairs of the Democratic Party. The committee is chaired today by Tim Kaine from Virginia, and past chairpersons have included Howard Dean from Vermont and Chris Dodd from Connecticut.
111. Island instruments, for short : UKES
The ukulele originated in the 1800s, and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.
112. Classical attire : TOGA
In Ancient Rome the classical attire known as a toga was usually worn over a tunic. the tunic was made of linen, and the toga itself was a piece of cloth about twenty feet long made of wool. The toga could only be worn by men (the female equivalent was called a "stola") and only if they were Roman citizens.
118. "Law & Order: ___" : SVU
"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is a spin off the TV crime drama "Law & Order". "SVU" has been on the air since 1999, and is set in New York City. Interestingly, since 2007, there has been a very successful Russian adaptation made that is set in Moscow.