The full solution to today's crossword that appears in the New York Times
The full solution to today's SYNDICATED New York Times crossword that appears in all other publications
THEME: CUT IT OUT ... all the theme answers are well known terms/expressions with an "IT" CUT OUT i.e. NET PROF(IT)S, TENNESSEE T(IT)ANS, NO VIS(IT)ORS ALLOWED, LEARNER'S PERM(IT)S
COMPLETION TIME: 8m 05s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
8. Sparks's state : NEVADA
Sparks is a city in Nevada that lies on the eastern side of Reno. The city was called Harriman originally, after a Southern Pacific Railroad president, and then renamed Sparks after a Nevada State Governor. The first non-Native American settlement in the area developed mainly from cattle trading. Cattle that were driven from Missouri and bound for California would stop in the area now known as Sparks, resting up before the arduous trek across the Sierra Nevada mountains. A business grew that involved trading cattle weary from the first part of the journey, swapping them for fresh animals. The tired beasts were then rested and fattened up to be traded again the following year for the journey on to California.
17. Online university staff? : NET PROFS
From NET PROFITS
In a statement of accounts, gross profit is the difference between revenue from sales and the cost of making goods or providing a service. So-called fixed costs, of overhead, payroll, taxes and interest payments are not included in gross profits. When these fixed costs have been deducted, what is left is called the net profit, also known as "the bottom line".
18. Trig function : COSINE
As we all remember from geometry class, when we have any right-angled triangle, if you divide the length of its adjacent side by the length of the hypotenuse, the resulting ratio is called the cosine. We all do remember that, don't we?
19. Anthem contraction : O'ER
The words "o'er the rampart we watched" come from "The Star Spangled Banner" written by Francis Scott Key. The lyrics were written first as a poem by Key, inspired when he witnessed the bombarding by the British of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. The words were then set to the tune of a popular British drinking song written by John Stafford Smith called "The Anacreontic Song". The Anacreontic Society was a men's club in London (an elite and genteel place, not at all like a "gentlemen's club" in today's society here in the US).
20. Phone no. : TEL
A phone number is often designated by "tel", short for "telephone".
22. Body designs, informally : TATS
The word "tattoo" was first used in English, as far as can be told, in the writings of Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the marks made on the skin of Polynesian natives, he anglicized the Tahitian word "tatau" into "tattoo".
23. What Nashville sunbathers acquire? : TENNESSEE TANS
From TENNESSEE TITANS
The Tennessee Titans are a football team based in Nashville. The team relocated to Nashville from Houston in 1997 and was called the Tennessee Oilers for two seasons, before switching to the "Titans".
28. Special attention, for short : TLC
Tender Loving Care.
32. Hasty escape : LAM
To be "on the lam" is to be in flight, to have escaped from prison. It is American slang that originated at the end of the 19th century. The word "lam" also means to "beat" or "thrash", as in "lambaste", so "on the lam" might derive from "beat it, scram".
34. Ballplayer with a 40-Down logo : ASTRO
40. See 34-Across : STAR
The Houston baseball team changed its name to the Astros from the Colt .45s in 1965 when they started playing in the Astrodome. The Astrodome was so called in recognition of the city's long association with the US space program.
39. Sign prohibiting sunshades? : NO VISORS ALLOWED
From NO VISITORS ALLOWED
44. Sgt. or cpl. : NCO
A sergeant or a corporal is a Non-Commissioned Officer.
46. Bailed-out insurance co. : AIG
AIG is the American International Group, a giant insurance corporation (or I should say, it was). After repeated bailouts by American taxpayers, the company made some serious PR blunders by spending large amounts of money on executive entertainment and middle management rewards. These included a $444,000 California retreat, an $86,000 hunting trip in England, and a $343,000 getaway to a luxury resort in Phoenix. Poor judgment, I'd say ...
49. Local govt. unit : TWP
52. Salon jobs from apprentice stylists? : LEARNER'S PERMS
From LEARNER'S PERMITS.
58. Coffee, slangily : JOE
It seems that no one really knows why we refer to coffee as "joe", but we've been doing so since early in WWII.
59. Nest egg letters : IRA
I have to tell you, when I first came to the US from Ireland, it was pretty confusing seeing big signs along the freeway touting contributions to your IRA. Back in Ireland, that was pretty illegal (where IRA means the Irish Republican Army!).
60. Where to find a piece of Turkey : EUROPE
11. Like most Turks : ASIAN
Turkey is a country that straddles the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. Even though most of Turkey lies geographically in Asia, in recent decades, the country has been strengthening its ties with its European neighbors. Turkey is a member of NATO, and is well on the way to becoming a member of the European Union.
62. "Stop that!" ... and a hint to the answers to 17-, 23-, 39- and 52-Across : CUT IT OUT
68. Seinfeld's eccentric relative : UNCLE LEO
On the sitcom "Seinfeld", Jerry's eccentric, maternal uncle is Leo, played by actor Len Lesser. Lesser has been acting in movies and television for many years, alongside some of the greats of stage and screen. He is fond of telling a great story about acting in the marvelous 1973 film "Papillon" starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. In his role as a prison guard Lesser was required to shove McQueen, but McQueen didn't think that Lesser was pushing him roughly enough. He turned to Lesser and told him "Don't think of me as a movie star. Think of me as a character in a show", encouraging him to be more aggressive. When McQueen walked away, Hoffman was left standing there beside Lesser. He paused, and quietly said to Lesser, "Think of me as a movie star ..."
3. Demolitionist's aid : TNT
TNT is an abbreviation for Trinitrotoluene. The explosive chemical was first produced by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand in 1863, thinking he had produced a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate, so it was marketed as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.
5. Former Big Apple mayor La Guardia : FIORELLO
Fierello La Guardia was the Mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945, racking up three full terms in office. The famous airport that bears his name was built at his urging, stemming from an incident that took place while he was in office. He was taking a TWA flight to "New York" and was outraged when the plane landed at Newark, in the state of New Jersey. He demanded that the flight take off again, and land at a small airport in Brooklyn. A gaggle of press reporters joined him on the short hop and he gave them a story, urging New Yorkers to support the construction of a new commercial airport within the city's limits. The new airport, in Queens, opened in 1939 as New York Municipal, often called "La Guardia" as a nickname,. It was finally officially relabeled as "La Guardia" in 1947.
6. Global currency org. : IMF
The International Monetary Fund was established at the end of 1945 with 29 major economies supporting and funding the effort to stabilize economies across the globe after WWII. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., today the IMF has 187 member countries.
9. Brian of ambient music : ENO
Brian Eno started out his musical career with Roxy Music. However, his most oft played composition (by far!) is Microsoft's "start-up jingle", the 6-second sound you hear when the Windows operating system starts up.
11. Like most Turks : ASIAN
See 60 across.
15. 1545-63 council site : TRENT
Trento is a city in northern Italy, famous as the host of the 16th century Council of Trent held by the Roman Catholic Church. This Ecumenical Council meeting was held largely in response to the growing Protestant Reformation. It was the decisions made at the Council of Trent that led to the Counter-Reformation, the revival of the Catholic church over the following 100 years.
21. Moray, e.g. : EEL
Morays are a large group of about 200 species of eel found across the world's oceans. They are carnivorous and look pretty scary, but they're pretty shy when confronted by humans and present no threat. The interesting thing about morays is that they will sometimes work in cooperation with the grouper fish found in reefs, helping each other hunt for food, a unique, cross-species relationship.
23. Drum accompanying a fife : TABOR
A tabor is a portable snare drum, played with one hand. It is usually suspended by a strap from one arm, with the other hand free to beat the drum. It is often played as an accompaniment for a fife or other small flutes. The word "tabor" comes from the Welsh name for the drum, "tabwrdd".
24. École attendee : ELEVE
French for school (école) and French for pupil (élève).
26. Blue-green hue : TEAL
The beautiful color of teal takes it name from the duck called a "teal", which has dark, greenish-blue (teal) markings on its head and wings.
27. Plexiglas piece : PANE
Plexiglas (note the spelling, one "s") is a trademark owned by Rohm and Haas since 1933. Plexiglas is a transparent plastic that is used as a light, relatively safe alternative to glass as it is shatter-resistant.
31. Muscle spasm : TIC
Our word "tic" comes to us from French, at the start of the 19th century. The original French word "tic" referred to a twitching disease of horses, would you believe?
33. AOL alternative : MSN
Founded as Quantum Computer Services in 1983, the company changed its name to America Online in 1989. As the company went international, the acronym AOL was used in order to shake off the "America-centric" sound to the name. During the heady days of AOL's success, the company could not keep up with the growing number of subscribers, so people trying to connect often encountered busy signals. Back then frustrated users maintained that AOL stood for "Always Off-Line".
MSN was originally called The Microsoft Network, a service introduced in 1995 as an integral part of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system. MSN is a whole bundle of services including email, instant messaging, and the MSN.com portal, the 9th most visited site on the Internet.
35. W. C. Fields persona : SOT
W. C. Fields worked hard to develop the on-screen image of pretty grumpy old man. In his real life he was pretty grumpy too, and fond of protecting his privacy. He was famous for hiding in the shrubs around his house in Los Angeles and firing a BB gun at the legs of tourists who intruded on his property. Also, on-screen Fields often played the drunk. In real life, Fields didn't touch alcohol at all when he was younger, partly because he didn't want to do anything to impair his skill as a juggler. But later in life he took to heavy drinking, so much so that it affected his health and interfered with his ability to perform.
37. Philbin of live TV : REGIS
Regis Philbin is an amazingly popular television personality. He is so in demand, and has had such a long career, that he holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera (in excess of 16,000 hours).
38. "P.U.!" inducer : ODOR
"P.U." doesn't actually stand for anything, and is just meant to represent an exaggerated version of the sound "pooh".
40. See 34-Across : STAR
41. "Hamlet" has five : ACTS
The full title of William Shakespeare's play that we tend to call "Hamlet" is ""The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark". It is the most performed of all of Shakespeare's plays, and it is also his longest, comprising a full five acts.
50. Jeopardy : PERIL
"Jeopardy" is such a lovely word. It comes from the Old French term "jeu parti" meaning a divided (parti) game (jeu), the idea being that it describes a game with even chances. Jeopardy came to mean "danger" and "risk" in the 14th century.
52. Michelle's predecessor as first lady : LAURA
Laura Bush, wife of President George W. Bush, had her memoir "Spoken from the Heart" published quite recently, in 2010. Born Laura Lane Welch, the former First Lady has a Master's degree in Library Science (as does my wife, my own First Lady!). Given her bibliophilic background, it's not surprising that two causes Laura Bush focused on while in the White House were education and literacy. She established the annual National Book Festival, first held in Washington in 2001, after having co-founded the Texas Book Festival in her home state.
Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and is sister to Craig Robinson, the coach of men's basketball at Oregon State University. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she worked as an associate at the Chicago office of the Sidley Austin law firm. Barack Obama joined the firm as a summer associate, and Michelle Robinson was assigned to mentor him, and one thing led to another, as they say ...
56. Zagat, to restaurants : RATER
The Zagat Survey is best known for rating restaurants across the major cities of the US, but it also rates things like hotels, nightlife, shopping, airlines and even zoos. The survey was started by Tim and Nina Zagat in 1979, and back then the survery was simply a collection of New York City restaurant ratings provided by friends of the couple.
63. Old-time actress Merkel : UNA
Una Merkel was an actress whose career spanned the silent and "talkies" eras. She mainly played supporting roles, or was the leading lady to comedians who were given starring roles in movies, like Jack Benny and Harold Lloyd.
64. Suffix with pay or plug : OLA
Payola is the illegal practice of paying radio stations or disk jockeys to repeatedly play a particular piece of music. The idea is that the more often a song is played, the more likely it is to sell. The term "Payola" comes from the words "pay" and "Victrola", an RCA brand name for an early phonograph.
"Plugola" is similar to "payola" in that it is a form of promotion, but unlike payola, I believe it's perfectly legal. Plugola is the public promotion of something in which the promoter has a financial interest, without disclosing that interest.
65. Driver's one-eighty : UEY
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