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Greetings from San Jose, California

My wife and I are on vacation until Friday, July 25th; a road trip through the backroads of the states east of California. I anticipate late-night solving and posting, with acknowledgement of comments and emails suffering. Please, don't be offended at my silence as I prioritize the writing of posts! We had a long and spectacular drive across the Sierra Nevada today, and saw Julianne and Derek Hough's dance spectacular this evening. Back home and back to reality tomorrow (Friday) ...

Bill

0120-11: New York Times Crossword Answers 20 Jan 11, Thursday




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: Back up ... All the short theme answers when reversed provide an acronym, which when spelled out in full supply the long theme answers:
- ASS backed up = SSA: SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
- FAR backed up = RAF: ROYAL AIR FORCE
- AIM backed up = MIA: MISSING IN ACTION
COMPLETION TIME: 20m 45s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 ... SER (SEN), KRATER (KRATEN)

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across
1. Ancient gathering place : AGORA
In early Greece the agora was a place of assembly. Often the assemblies were quite formal, perhaps for the reading of a proclamation. Later in Greek history, things became less formal as the agora evolved into a market place. Our contemporary word "agoraphobia" comes from agora, in the sense that a sufferer has a fear of open spaces, a fear of "public meeting places".

6. ID card issuer : DMV
In most states, the government agency responsible for vehicle registration and the issuing of drivers licenses is called the DMV, which usually stands for the Department of Motor Vehicles, but there are variations on the theme, as it were. For example, in Arizona the responsible agency is called the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), and in Colorado the familiar acronym DMV stands for "Division" of Motor Vehicles.

Absolut Vodka Glass Recylcled Bottle Tumbler - 30 oz.9. Drink whose name means "little water" : VODKA
The word "vodka" is a Slavic word, a diminutive of the word for water, "voda". So "vodka" really translates as "little water". Traditionally, vodka is drunk "straight up" in the countries of Eastern Europe aptly called the vodka belt. Belt ... get it?

14. Subatomic particle : BOSON
Particle physics is beyond me, but bosons are subatomic particles. They can be elementary, like for example photons, or composite, like mesons, which are composed of one quark and one antiquark.

Rocky III15. "Rocky ___" : III
"Rocky III" is the movie in which Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) goes up against Clubber Lang (Mr. T). "Rocky III" is a forgettable film, but Mr. T was grateful for his role no doubt as it launched his career and landed him a spot on television's "The A-Team". Also making an appearance was professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, an appearance that raised his profile as well and kick-started his career outside of the ring. But for me the most memorable thing is the song "Eye of the Tiger", which was commissioned for "Rocky III". A great tune ...

Op Art 116. Mesmerizing designs : OP ART
Op art is also known as optical art, and puts optical illusions to great effect.

17. Jai alai catcher : CESTA
A cesta is the wicker scoop strapped to the wrist that is used for catching and throwing the ball in jai alai.

Even though jai alai is often said to be the fastest sport in the world (because of the speed of the ball), in fact golf balls often get going at a greater clip.

FDR20. With 54-Across, opposite of 18-Across : SOCIAL SECURITY
54. See 20-Across : ADMINISTRATION
(18. Fool : ASS backed up = SSA)
The Social Security Administration was of course set up as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. The first person to receive a monthly retirement benefit was Ida May Fuller of Vermont who received her first check for the sum of $22.54 after having contributed for three years through payroll taxes. The New Deal turned out to be a good deal for Ms. Fuller, as she lived to the age of 100 years of age and received a total benefit of almost $23,000, whereas her three years of contributions added up to just $24.75.

23. Male swan : COB
A female swan is called a pen, and a male a cob. The term "cob" comes from the Middle English "cobbe" meaning "leader of a group".

24. Chinese for "water" : SHUI
Feng shui is the ancient Chinese tradition of arranging objects, buildings and other structures in a manner that is said to improve the lives of the individuals living in or using the space. "Feng shui" translates as "wind-water", a reference to the belief that positive and negative life forces ride the wind and scatter, but are retained when they encounter water.

26. Part of a preconception? : OVUM
Clever clue!

28. It's breath-taking : APNEA
Sleep apnea can be caused by an obstruction in the airways, possible due to obesity or enlarged tonsils.

30. To be, to Benicio : SER
"Ser" is the Spanish for "to be".

33. Putting one's foot in one's mouth, e.g. : GAFFE
Our word "gaffe" , meaning a social blunder, comes from the French word "gaffe" meaning "clumsy remark", although it originally was (and still is) the word for "boat hook". The exact connection between a boat hook and a blunder seems to be unclear.

Royal Flying Corps Roundel - 24"x36" Poster35. Opposite of 32-Down : ROYAL AIR FORCE
(32. Much : FAR backed up = RAF)
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the oldest independent air force in the world (i.e. the first air force to become independent of army or navy forces). The RAF was formed during WWI on April 1, 1918, a composite of two earlier forces, the Royal Flying Corps (part of the Army) and the Royal Naval Air Service. The RAF's "finest hour" has to be the Battle of Britain when the vastly outnumbered British fighters fought off the might of the Luftwaffe causing Hitler to delay his plan to cross the English Channel. This outcome prompted Winston Churchill's memorable words:
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

40. Odysseus saw him as a shade in the underworld : ORION
In Homer's epic "The Odyssey", at one point Odysseus sees the shades of dead heroes in the Underworld. He says:
Next I discerned huge Orion, driving wild beasts together over the field of asphodel, the very ones that he once had killed on lonely mountains, he grasped in his hands a mace of bronze, never to be broken.

41. Gulliver in Lilliput, e.g. : GIANT
In the 1726 adventure novel "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, Gulliver comes across the two islands of Lilliput and Blefscu in the South Indian Ocean. Both are inhabited by people who are one-twelfth of "normal" size, so Gulliver appears like a giant to them. "Gulliver's Travels" is well known for its satirical references to real life, and indeed these two islands are poorly disguised satires of Britain (Lilliput) and France (Blefscu). The two islands were at war, as was constantly the situation with Britain and France.

43. Mythical monster : ORC
According to Tolkien, Orcs are small humanoids that live in his fantasy world of Middle-earth. They are very ugly and dirty, and are fond of eating human flesh.

48. Ancient Greek vessel : ARGO
Jason and the Argonauts sailed on the Argo of Greek mythology, in search of the Golden Fleece. The vessel was called the "Argo" in honor of the ship's builder, a man named Argus.

Leo Durocher (D) New York Giants #315 1952 Topps Reprint Series Autographed Signed Baseball Card49. Nickname for baseball's Leo Durocher : THE LIP
Baseball player and manager Leo Durocher was noted for being outspoken, and was given the nickname "Leo the Lip". In 1946, while he was manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Durocher expressed the opinion that teams like his successful Dodgers, would always do better that teams replete with personable individuals (naming Mel Ott in particular). He used his most memorable phrase to encapsulate the sentiment ... "nice guys finish last".

53. Fish tale, essentially : LIE
Clever ...

54. See 20-Across : ADMINISTRATION

All the Rave : The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning's Napster57. Onetime Facebook president Parker and others : SEANS
Sean Parker came to national attention in 1998 as co-founder of Napster, the file-sharing service for music that caused such a fuss in the recording industry. He started to advise the founders of Facebook in 2004, and became the company's first president later that year. If you watch the very entertaining movie about Facebook called "The Social Network" you'll see Parker played by Justin Timberlake. Parker comes across as a real ass in the film.

All the King's Men61. "All the King's Men" woman : SADIE
"All the King's Men" is a novel by Robert Penn Warren which won a Pulitzer in 1947. It was adapted into a movie that won the Best Picture Oscar in 1949 starring Broderick Crawford in the lead role of Willie Stark. Sadie Burke is Willie's secretary and lover.

62. Big camping inits. : KOA
Kampgrounds of America was founded in 1962 by a Montana businessman Dave Drum, who opened up his first property along the Yellowstone River. His strategy was to offer a rich package of services including hot showers, restrooms and a store, to those people used to camping in the rough. The original campground was an immediate hit and Drum took on two partners and sold franchises all over the country. There are about 500 KOA sites today.

JOHNNY CARSON 8X10 PHOTO65. NBC fixture since '75 : SNL
NBC first aired a form of "Saturday Night Live" in 1975, under the title "NBC's Saturday Night". The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from "The Tonight Show". Back then "The Tonight Show" had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to pull together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and he come up with what we now call "Saturday Night Live".

66. Prefix with sound : INFRA-
Sounds that are higher than the range of frequencies within the normal limit of hearing is known as "ultrasound". Sounds of a frequency lower than can be normally heard are "infrasound".

Down
1. 2 letters : ABC
Check your phone. The letters ABC are on the same key as  the number 2.

3. Veal shank dish in un ristorante : OSSO BUCO
Osso is the Italian word for bone, as in the name of the dish "Osso Bucco", braised veal shanks.

4. March org.? : ROTC
The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is a training program for officers based in colleges all around the US. The ROTC program was established in 1862 when, as a condition of receiving a land-grant to create colleges, the federal government required that military tactics be a part of a new school's curriculum.

The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-19345. Writer Nin : ANAIS
Anaïs Nin was a French writer, famous for her journals that she wrote for over sixty years from the age of 11 right up to her death. She also wrote highly regarded erotica, and cited D. H. Lawrence as one author from whom she drew inspiration.

7. Opposite of 58-Across : MISSING IN ACTION
(58. It may be taken at a gun range : AIM backed up = MIA)

8. Woodworking class holder : VISE
Even though I have lived in this country since 1983, I still find words that surprise me. We spell "vise" as "vice" back in Ireland, and I just this moment realized (or, as I'd say, "realised") that the spelling is different over here. So much to learn ...

The Devil Wears Prada (Widescreen Edition)9. Ostensible backdrop of the 2003 roman à clef "The Devil Wears Prada" : VOGUE
Anna Wintour is fashion editor in Britain, and is also the editor-in-chief of American "Vogue". Lauren Weisberger wrote the book "The Devil Wears Prada", with the tyrannical main character apparently based on Wintour.

10. Many a Handel work : OPERA SERIA
The Italian term "opera seria" is "serious" opera, as opposed to "opera buffa", what we call "comic" opera.

11. Kind of case : DATIVE
As we recall from English class, a noun is in the dative case when it refers to an object that is given "to" someone.

12. Bowl for mixing wine and water in ancient Greece : KRATER
In Ancient Greece a "drinking party" was called a "symposium" (just like today!). Often the drink was a mixture of water and wine that was placed in a large vase, called a krater, in the center of the room. Participants in the symposium would dip a smaller vessel into the krater to refill their drinking cups. And yes, "krater" is the root for our word "crater".

Map of Cape Cod, Massachusetts MasterPoster Print, 12x1823. Cape ___ : COD
Cape Cod is indeed named after the fish. It was first called Cape Cod by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602 as his men caught so many fish there.

27. World-famous institution in Rochester, Minn. : MAYO CLINIC
The Mayo Clinic started out as a private practice run by Dr. William Mayo, an immigrant from the North of England who arrived in the US in 1846. Mayo's first practice was with his two sons, which evolved into a clinic set up with six other doctors.

36. Painter Fra Filippo ___ : LIPPI
Fra' Filippo Lippi was an Italian painter in the 15th century, who was also called Lippo Lippi would you believe?

38. "Carmina Burana" composer : CARL ORFF
"Carmen Burana" is a cantata by Carl Orff based on a collection of medieval poems that go by the same name. The name translates as "Songs from Beuern". The best known movement of the cantata by far is the dramatic "O Fortuna" used at the opening and closing of the piece. One study placed "O Fortuna" as the most often played piece of classical music in the UK over the past 75 years, largely due to its use in television commercials. Most famously it appeared in this country in ads for Gatorade and Old Spice.

42. XXX part : TOE
When I was growing up in Ireland, we played "noughts and crosses" ... our name for tic-tac-toe.

Mercury Free Oral Thermometer46. Like a body temperature of 98.6° : NORMAL
When Gabriel Fahrenheit first defined his temperature scale he set 0 degrees as the temperature of a mixture ice, water and salt. He defined 100 degrees as the temperature under his wife's armpit! Using this scale he determined that water boiled at 210 degrees. Later refinements moved the boiling point of water down to 180 degrees, and as a result "body temperature" was shifted downwards to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery (Clarion Nonfiction)47. Org. that rates members of Congress on their liberalism : ADA
The Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) was set up in 1947, with founding members including Hubert Humphrey and Eleanor Roosevelt. The ADA's mission is to advocate progressive policies and is well known for rating politicians on a scale of 0-100 depending on the degree of agreement with the group's policies.

49. Thé cup, maybe : TASSE
In France a cup (tasse) may contain tea (thé).

Atari Anthology52. Centipede maker : ATARI
Centipede is an arcade game from Atari (it was my favorite!). The game was designed by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey, with Bailey being one of the few female game designers back then (it was released in 1980). Perhaps due to her influence, Centipede was the first arcade game to garner a significant female following.

55. Neiman Marcus competitor : SAKS
Saks Fifth Avenue is a high-end specialty store that competes with the likes of Bloomingdale's and Nieman Marcus. The original Saks & Company business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1867, and the first Saks Fifth Avenue store was opened on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1924. There are now Saks Fifth Avenue stores in many major cities in the US, as well in several locations worldwide.

Coca Cola Logo License PlateHerbert Marcus, his sister Carrie Marcus Nieman, and her husband A. L. Neiman, found themselves partners with a tidy of profit of $25,000 from a business they had founded. This was 1907 Atlanta, and they were offered the chance to invest in a new company that was just starting to make "sugary soda drinks", called Coca-Cola. The partners declined, instead returning to their home of Dallas and founding a department store they called Nieman-Marcus.


For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Ancient gathering place : AGORA
6. ID card issuer : DMV
9. Drink whose name means "little water" : VODKA
14. Subatomic particle : BOSON
15. "Rocky ___" : III
16. Mesmerizing designs : OP ART
17. Jai alai catcher : CESTA
18. Fool : ASS
19. Insinuate : GET AT
20. With 54-Across, opposite of 18-Across : SOCIAL SECURITY
23. Male swan : COB
24. Chinese for "water" : SHUI
25. Launches : HEAVES
26. Part of a preconception? : OVUM
28. It's breath-taking : APNEA
30. To be, to Benicio : SER
31. Tea option : DECAF
33. Putting one's foot in one's mouth, e.g. : GAFFE
35. Opposite of 32-Down : ROYAL AIR FORCE
40. Odysseus saw him as a shade in the underworld : ORION
41. Gulliver in Lilliput, e.g. : GIANT
43. Mythical monster : ORC
45. First option : PLAN A
48. Ancient Greek vessel : ARGO
49. Nickname for baseball's Leo Durocher : THE LIP
51. End : CODA
53. Fish tale, essentially : LIE
54. See 20-Across : ADMINISTRATION
57. Onetime Facebook president Parker and others : SEANS
58. It may be taken at a gun range : AIM
59. Stumped, after "up" : A TREE
61. "All the King's Men" woman : SADIE
62. Big camping inits. : KOA
63. Send, as to a specialist : REFER
64. Vertical : ERECT
65. NBC fixture since '75 : SNL
66. Prefix with sound : INFRA-

Down
1. 2 letters : ABC
2. Reviews : GOES OVER
3. Veal shank dish in un ristorante : OSSO BUCO
4. March org.? : ROTC
5. Writer Nin : ANAIS
6. Obsolescent alternative to broadband : DIAL-UP
7. Opposite of 58-Across : MISSING IN ACTION
8. Woodworking class holder : VISE
9. Ostensible backdrop of the 2003 roman à clef "The Devil Wears Prada" : VOGUE
10. Many a Handel work : OPERA SERIA
11. Kind of case : DATIVE
12. Bowl for mixing wine and water in ancient Greece : KRATER
13. Court figs. : ATTYS
21. "Oh, I see" : AHA
22. Worthless matter : CHAFF
23. Cape ___ : COD
27. World-famous institution in Rochester, Minn. : MAYO CLINIC
29. Ring holder ... or receiver? : EAR
32. Much : FAR
34. Flying hazard : FOG
36. Painter Fra Filippo ___ : LIPPI
37. Instant messaging pioneer : AOL
38. "Carmina Burana" composer : CARL ORFF
39. Mastermind : ENGINEER
42. XXX part : TOE
43. "This can't be good" : OH DEAR
44. Newly fashioned : REMADE
46. Like a body temperature of 98.6° : NORMAL
47. Org. that rates members of Congress on their liberalism : ADA
49. Thé cup, maybe : TASSE
50. Feature of many a ring : INSET
52. Centipede maker : ATARI
55. Neiman Marcus competitor : SAKS
56. L.A.-to-Jacksonville rte. : I-TEN
60. Time on earth : ERA


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2 comments :

the word bitch said...

I love your blog (thank you!) but thought you might want to know that all major American style guides place quotation marks OUTSIDE of periods and commas. I swear it's true, "no joke."

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, word bitch.

Thanks for stopping by and telling me this. You know, I am in fact aware of the use of quotation marks outside of periods and commas, bit it is so hard to change! :) I've changed my spelling since moving across the Atlantic, but find it really, really hard to drop those commas and periods (see ... I didn't say "full stop") inside the quotation marks. It just goes against the grain given what was drummed into me at school.

But ... I am writing for an American audience, so I am going to have to rethink my ways, I admit! Be patient with me ... :)

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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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