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Greetings from Dundalk, County Louth in Ireland

I am on vacation in Ireland, and have extended my stay until October 24th. I am focused on getting the puzzle solved and at least a basic post up each day. It's proving to be difficult to do much more than that due to pressure of time, which I am sure you can understand. Happy puzzling, and slainte!

Bill

1224-10: New York Times Crossword Answers 24 Dec 10, Friday




Quicklinks:
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: SILENT NIGHT ... the five circled squares spell the word NIGHT, and each letter of NIGHT is SILENT, not pronounced, in its answer i.e the N in (CHURCH) HYMNS, the I in (MICHAEL) CAINE, the GH in NAUGHTY (OR NICE) and the T in CHRISTMAS (EVE)
COMPLETION TIME: 19m 59s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across
14. Feu fighter : EAU
In France, one fights fire (feu) with water (eau).

15. Uncommon, in ancient Rome : RARA
"Rara" is the Latin for "rare".

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus16. Land of Papá Noel : ESPANA
Santa Claus in Spain (España) is Father Christmas (Papá Noel).

17. N N N : NUS
The Latin equivalent of the Greek letter "nu" is "N". An uppercase nu looks just like the Latin capital N, but the lowercase nu looks like our lowercase "v". Very confusing ...

18. Carols, often : CHURCH HYMNS
The word "carol" came into English via the Old French word "carole", which meant a "dance in a ring". When "carol" made it into English, about 1300, it was used to describe a dance, as well as a joyful song. Around 1500 AD carols that were sung came to be associated with Christmas.

20. Mr. Hilarious : RIOT
One might sarcastically say that "Mr. Hilarious" is a riot.

22. Chair: Abbr. : DIR
To chair something is to direct it.

MICHAEL CAINE 20X24 PHOTO24. Scrooge player of film : MICHAEL CAINE
Michael Caine appears as the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge in the musical comedy "The Muppet Christmas Carol" released in 1992. The Muppets were the creation of Jim Henson, who passed away in 1990, so this production by the Jim Henson Company was directed by Brian Henson, Jim's son.

29. It has 3,750 "steps of penitence" : MT SINAI
According to the Bible, Mount Sinai is the mountain on which Moses was given the Ten Commandments. The Biblical Mount Sinai is probably not the mountain in Egypt that today we call Mount Sinai, although this is the subject of much debate. The Egyptian Mount Sinai has two developed routes that one can take to reach the summit. The longer, gentler climb takes about 2 1/2 hours, but there is also the steeper climb up the 3,750 "steps of penitence".

Drive: The Story of My Life34. Bird, e.g., once : CELT
Larry Bird played basketball for the Boston Celtics from 1978 to 1992. Bird has a lot of very loyal fans, and some might even be described as fanatical. In 2005 an Oklahoma City man was convicted of a crime involving a shooting. On being sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, the guilty man requested that the sentence be changed to 33 years so that it matched the number on Larry Bird's jersey. The judge obliged ...

38. Polar opposites? : NAUGHTY OR NICE
Nice wording for a clue. Santa is at the North Pole when he checks his list of those who are naughty or nice.

43. Cold capital : OSLO
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an ancient city founded around 1048. The medieval city was destroyed by fire in 1624, and was rebuilt by the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV and renamed Christiana. In 1877, there was an official change of the spelling to "Kristiana", and then more recently in 1925 the name was restored to the original Oslo. Things have almost gone full circle for now the center of Oslo, the area that would have been contained by the original medieval walls, has apparently been renamed Christiana.

44. Pique condition? : IRE
Our word "pique" meaning a "fit of ill feeling" is a French word meaning a "prick, sting, irritation".

51. Time before the present day? : CHRISTMAS EVE
Clever wording also. The time/day before the day presents are distributed (Christmas Day) is Christmas Eve. But in our house, because my wife is so impatient, the gifts are opened on Christmas Eve ...

Oak Tree, Sunset City, California, 1932 Art Poster Print by Ansel Adams, 30x2457. With 67-Across, sacred symbol to Zeus : OAK
(67. See 57-Across : TREE)

58. TV's Anderson : LONI
Loni Anderson's most famous role was that of Jennifer Marlowe on the sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati". Anderson has been married four times, most famously to actor Burt Reynolds from 1988 to 1993.

59. Song of 1859 ... or what the five circled letters represent? : SILENT NIGHT
The beautiful Christmas Carol "Silent Night" was first performed in Austria in 1818, with words by a priest, Father Joseph Mohr, and melody by an Austrian headmaster, Franz Xaver Gruber. The carol was of course in German and called "Stille Nacht". The English translation that we use today was provided to us by an American bishop, John Freeman Young from Florida, in 1859.

66. It takes place on board a ship at sea in "The Tempest" : SCENE I
William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" tells the story of Prospero, who was removed from the throne of Milan and banished to a deserted island along with his daughter, Miranda. Prospero learns sorcery on the island, and eventually conjures up a tempest that drives those who usurped his throne onto the shores of the island (in particular his own brother, Antonio).

67. See 57-Across : TREE

Tic Tac Orange Mints, 0.625-Ounce-Dispensers (Pack of 48)69. Bit of candy : TIC TAC
Tic Tacs aren't American candy ... they're made by the Italian company Ferrero, and have been so since their introduction in 1969.

Down
2. Its capital is Nouakchott : MAURITANIA
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a country in North Africa, on the Atlantic coast. The country is named after the old Roman province of Mauretania, although the ancient province was located further north in what is now Morocco and part of Algeria.

3. Score keeper? : MUSIC STAND
Clever ...

4. Inverse trig function : ARCTAN
The most familiar trigonometric functions are sine, cosine and tangent. Each of these is a ratio, a ratio of two sides of a right-angled triangle. The inverse trigonometric functions to the three functions already given are arcsine, arccosine and arctangent. The inverse functions are simply the inverse ratios, the inverted sine, cosine and tangent.

Lady Gaga Poster Telephone Hat Photo Poker Face RS51725. Exclamation heard 12 times in Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" : RAH
I've seen Lady Gaga interviewed on television a few times, and she sure is "unique". Her music is of course out of my league, but she does know how to put on a show.

The music video released with Lady Gaga's 2009 hit "Bad Romance" involves drugs, supermodels, the Russian Mafia and sexual slavery. Like I said, out of my league ...

6. Word on a vin bottle : CRU
"Cru" is a term used in the French wine industry that means "growth place". So, it is the name of the location where the grapes were grown, as opposed to the name of a specific vineyard. The terms "premier cru" and "grand cru" are also used, but the usage depends on the specific wine region. Generally it is a classification awarded to specific vineyards denoting their potential for producing "great" wines. Grand cru is reserved for the very best vineyards, with premier cru the level just below.

7. Head of cattle? : HARD C
Clever ... the initial letter of the word "cattle" is a hard C.

Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig8. The Iron Horse of baseball : GEHRIG
Lou Gehrig was known as a powerhouse. He was a big hitter and just kept on going, breaking the record for the most consecutive number of games played, and he stills holds the record for the most career grand slams. His durability earned him the nickname "The Iron Horse". Sadly, he died in 1941 at 37-years-old from ALS, a disease we now call "Lou Gehrig's Disease".

10. 19-Down employee : SPY
(19. Employer of 10-Downs: Abbr. : CIA)
The Central Intelligence Agency is the successor to the Office of Strategic Services formed during WWII, and was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.

Mozart: The Man and The Artist, As Revealed In His Own Words12. Lady whom Don Giovanni tries to seduce : ANNA
"Don Giovanni" is a comic opera by Mozart, with the libretto in Italian by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The opera follows the adventures of Don Giovanni, a young, rakish nobleman who finally comes to a bad end.

19. Employer of 10-Downs: Abbr. : CIA

24. Fr. title : MME
Madame.

27. #10 on a table : NEON
Neon is one of the noble gases, those elements over on the extreme right of the Periodic Table. Because of their "full" complement of electrons, noble gases are very nonreactive. The noble gases are helium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon.

28. Seamstress's aid : ETUI
An etui is an ornamental case used to hold small items, in particular sewing needles. We imported the design, and the word "etui", from French. The French also have a modern usage of "etui" ... a case for carrying CDs!

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels32. "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" setting : THE RIVIERA
"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is a comedy film released in 1988, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. The film is basically a remake of "Bedtime Story" from 1964, starring Marlon Brando and David Niven.

Adlers Exclusive Goldplated Fleur De Lys Pin, Vermeil35. Lily, in Lille : LYS
"Lys" is the French word for "lily", as in fleur-de-lys, the heraldic symbol often associated with the French monarchy.

Lille is a large city in very north of France sitting right on the border with Belgium. The name "Lille" is a derivation of the term "l'isle" meaning "the island".

36. Flat sign : TO LET
If you want to rent an apartment (a flat) in England look out for a "To Let" sign.

39. Car-racing org. : USAC
The United States Auto Club came into being right after the 1955 Le Mans disaster, the worst motor-sports catastrophe in history in which 84 people were killed (one driver and 83 spectators). Up to this point, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has been sanctioning auto races, but the AAA withdrew in light of the risks involved. So, the USAC was formed by the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and took charge of enforcing rules related to championship auto racing.

Letters of Vincent van Gogh40. Van follower : GOGH
Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who seems to have led a very tortured life. He only painted for the last ten years of his life, and enjoyed very little celebrity while alive. Today many of his works are recognized by most of us, and fetch staggering sums in auction houses. Van Gogh suffered from severe depression for many of the final years of his life. When he was only 37, he walked into a field with a revolver, and shot himself in the chest. He managed to get himself back to the inn where he was staying but died there two days later.

45. Chemical suffix : ENE
An alkene is an organic compound made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms. It differs from an alkane in that it has at least one C=C double bond. The simplest alkene is the gas ethylene, a major raw material in the manufacture of plastics (like polyethylene).

Beverly Hills, 90210 - The Third Season52. Ziering of "90210" : IAN
"Beverly Hills, 90210" is a drama that aired on Fox from 1990 to 2000. The show follows the lives of little rich kids in Beverly Hills. Many of the cast members have made it big following their appearances on "90210", including Jason Priestly, Luke Perry, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling. I've never even seen one episode ...

A Christmas Carol (Ultimate Collector's Edition)(B/W & Color)54. Bob Cratchit to Scrooge, e.g.: Abbr. : ASST
The classic 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens has left us with a few famous phrases and words. Firstly, it led to popular use of the phrase "Merry Christmas", and secondly it gave us the word "scrooge" meaning a miserly person. And thirdly, everyone knows that Scrooge uttered the words "Bah! Humbug!".

55. Part of a boast : VICI
The oft-quoted "Veni, vidi, vici" ("I came, I saw, I conquered") was apparently written by Julius Caesar. The words date back to 47 BC and refer to the short war between Rome and Pharnaces II of Pontus.

60. Three-in-one M.D. : ENT
An Ear, Nose and Throat specialist is an ENT.

61. Class-conscious grp.? : NEA
The National Education Association is the largest labor union in the country, mainly representing public school teachers.

62. Princeton Review subj. : GRE
Passing the Graduate Record Examination is usually a requirement for entry into graduate school here in the US.

The Princeton Review is a company that offers test preparation for those about to take college admission tests.

For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Not an ideal answer to "Do these jeans make me look fat?" : HMM
4. Chief : ARCH
8. Something to unscrew on an auto : GAS CAP
14. Feu fighter : EAU
15. Uncommon, in ancient Rome : RARA
16. Land of Papá Noel : ESPANA
17. N N N : NUS
18. Carols, often : CHURCH HYMNS
20. Mr. Hilarious : RIOT
22. Chair: Abbr. : DIR
23. Nonverbal congratulations : PAT
24. Scrooge player of film : MICHAEL CAINE
29. It has 3,750 "steps of penitence" : MT SINAI
30. Intimate : GET AT
33. Down : EAT
34. Bird, e.g., once : CELT
37. Comment upon receiving a large bill : OUCH
38. Polar opposites? : NAUGHTY OR NICE
42. "___ doing ..." : IN SO
43. Cold capital : OSLO
44. Pique condition? : IRE
46. Saw : ADAGE
48. Entered cautiously : EASED IN
51. Time before the present day? : CHRISTMAS EVE
54. Palindromic girl's name : AVA
57. With 67-Across, sacred symbol to Zeus : OAK
58. TV's Anderson : LONI
59. Song of 1859 ... or what the five circled letters represent? : SILENT NIGHT
64. It's taken to calm down : TEN
66. It takes place on board a ship at sea in "The Tempest" : SCENE I
67. See 57-Across : TREE
68. Be a certain way? : ARE
69. Bit of candy : TIC TAC
70. Start of something : SEED
71. Brief subject : LAW

Down
1. Game ___ : HEN
2. Its capital is Nouakchott : MAURITANIA
3. Score keeper? : MUSIC STAND
4. Inverse trig function : ARCTAN
5. Exclamation heard 12 times in Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" : RAH
6. Word on a vin bottle : CRU
7. Head of cattle? : HARD C
8. The Iron Horse of baseball : GEHRIG
9. Silvery-gray : ASH
10. 19-Down employee : SPY
11. Rough it, say : CAMP
12. Lady whom Don Giovanni tries to seduce : ANNA
13. Over : PAST
19. Employer of 10-Downs: Abbr. : CIA
21. "___ don't know" : OH I
24. Fr. title : MME
25. Per : EACH
26. Misinform, maybe : LIE TO
27. #10 on a table : NEON
28. Seamstress's aid : ETUI
31. Chance : ACCIDENTAL
32. "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" setting : THE RIVIERA
35. Lily, in Lille : LYS
36. Flat sign : TO LET
39. Car-racing org. : USAC
40. Van follower : GOGH
41. Tramp : ROAM
45. Chemical suffix : ENE
47. Blue : EROTIC
49. Like many winter roads : SALTED
50. Peruvian pronoun : ESO
52. Ziering of "90210" : IAN
53. Burlesque bits : SKITS
54. Bob Cratchit to Scrooge, e.g.: Abbr. : ASST
55. Part of a boast : VICI
56. Smart ___ : ALEC
60. Three-in-one M.D. : ENT
61. Class-conscious grp.? : NEA
62. Princeton Review subj. : GRE
63. Part of a snicker : HEE
65. Fresh : NEW


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About This Blog

This is the simplest of blogs.

I do the New York Times puzzle online every evening, the night before it is published in the paper. Then, I "Google & Wiki" the references that puzzle me, or that I find of interest. I post my findings, along with the solution, as soon as I am done, usually well before the newsprint version becomes available.

About Me

The name's William Ernest Butler, but please call me Bill. I grew up in Ireland, but now live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am retired, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world.

I answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at bill@paxient.com, contact me on Google+ or leave a comment below.

Crosswords and My Dad

I worked on my first crossword puzzle when I was about 6-years-old, sitting on my Dad's knee. He let me "help" him with his puzzle almost every day as I was growing up. Over the years, Dad passed on to me his addiction to crosswords. Now in my early 50s, I work on my Irish Times and New York Times puzzles every day. I'm no longer sitting on my Dad's knee, but I feel that he is there with me, looking over my shoulder.

This blog is dedicated to my Dad, who passed away at the beginning of this month.

Bill
January 29, 2009

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