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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

1213-11: New York Times Crossword Answers 13 Dec 11, Tuesday





QuickLinks:
Solution to today's crossword in the New York Times
Solution to today's SYNDICATED New York Times crossword in all other publications


CROSSWORD SETTER: Jonathan Gersch
THEME: SESAME STREET … all of the theme answers are people, whose first name is the same as a character on SESAME STREET:
17A. Cowardly Lion portrayer : BERT LAHR
19A. With 63-Across, where to find all the characters at the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across : SESAME
63A. See 19-Across : STREET
24A. "The Odd Couple" slob : OSCAR MADISON
40A. President who was once New York's governor : GROVER CLEVELAND
52A. Kojak portrayer : TELLY SAVALAS
66A. 2011 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame : ERNIE ELS
61D. Pal of the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across : ELMO
COMPLETION TIME: 7m 54s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0


Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Name associated with honesty : ABE
Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky making him the first president born in the West. His formal education was limited to a year and a half of schooling, but fortunately for us, Lincoln was an avid reader and educated himself over the years. Even though he was from a rural area, he avoided hunting and fishing because he did not like to kill animals even for food.

14. Switzerland's ___ de Genève : LAC
Lake Geneva has a lot of “official” names!
- English: Lake Geneva
- French: Lac Léman or Lac de Genève
- German: Genfersee or Genfer See
- Italian: Lago Lemano or Lago di Ginevra

15. West Coast gas brand : ARCO
ARCO stands for the Atlantic Richfield Company. One of ARCO's claims to fame is that it is responsible for the nation's largest Superfund site. Mining and smelting in the area around Butte, Montana polluted the region's water and soil, and ARCO have agreed to pay $187 million to help clean up the area.

16. Marketing pro's magazine : ADWEEK
“Adweek” is a weekly trade magazine serving the advertising industry. It’s only the second biggest seller in the sector though, behind “Advertising Age”.

17. Cowardly Lion portrayer : BERT LAHR
Bert Lahr's most famous role was that of the cowardly lion in "The Wizard of Oz". Lahr had a long career in burlesque, vaudeville and on Broadway. Remember the catchphrase made famous by the cartoon character Snagglepuss, "Heavens to Murgatroyd!"? Snagglepuss stole that line from a 1944 movie called, "Meet the People" in which it was first uttered by Bert Lahr.

19. With 63-Across, where to find all the characters at the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across : SESAME
(63. See 19-Across : STREET)
Back in 1966, the Carnegie Institute allocated money to study the use of television to help young children prepare for school. The institute gave an $8million grant to set up the Children's Television Workshop with the task of creating an educational TV program for young people. The program began to come together, especially after Jim Henson (of Muppet fame) got involved. The name "Sesame Street" was chosen simply because it was the "least disliked" of all names proposed just before the program went on the air.

20. Bright blue : AZURE
The word "azure" came in to English from Persian via Old French. The French word "l'azur" was taken from the Persian name for a place in northeastern Afghanistan called "Lazheward" which was the main source of the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. The stone has a vivid blue color, and "azure" has been describing this color since the 14th century.

23. Sch. in Troy, N.Y. : RPI
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private school in Troy, New York. The university is named after its founder Stephen Van Rensselaer who set up the school in 1824. The goal of RPI has always been the "application of science to the common purposes of life", an objective set by the founder. Given that, the name for the sports teams is quite apt ... the Engineers.

24. "The Odd Couple" slob : OSCAR MADISON
"The Odd Couple" is a play by the wonderfully talented Neil Simon first performed on Broadway, in 1965. This great play was adapted for the big screen in 1968, famously starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The success of the play and the film gave rise to an incredibly good television sitcom that ran from 1970-1975, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. In 1985, Neil Simon even went so far as to adapt the play for an all-female cast, renaming it "The Female Odd Couple". I'd like to see that one ...

28. Ghostly spirit : WRAITH
Wraith was originally a Scottish word, meaning "ghost" or "specter".

32. Author Fleming : IAN
Ian Fleming is most famous of course for writing the "James Bond" series of spy novels. You might also know that he wrote the children's story "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", which was made into a cute movie released in 1968 and even a stage musical that opened in 2002.

33. "To be," to Titus : ESSE
Esse is the Latin for "to be".

Titus Flavius Verspasianus was a successful military commander, and Roman Emperor from 79 to 81 AD. It was Titus who laid siege to and destroyed the city and temple of Jerusalem, for which he was honored with the erection of the Arch of Titus that stands in Rome to this day. The Arch of Titus is the inspiration for many other famous arches around the world, including the l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

36. Big brawl : MELEE
“Melee” comes from the French word (“mêlée”), and in both languages it means a "confused fight".

40. President who was once New York's governor : GROVER CLEVELAND
Grover Cleveland is the only person to have served as US President in two non-consecutive terms, and is sometimes referred to as our 22nd and 24th president.

44. Hawkins with a day named for her : SADIE
Sadie Hawkins was a character in Al Capp's comic strip "Li'l Abner". Sadie was still a spinster at the age of 35 so declared a "Sadie Hawkins Day" in which she chased the local men in a footrace, with marriage as the prize when one was caught.

46. Despot Amin : IDI
Idi Amin received most of his military training in the British armed forces, eventually achieving the highest rank possible for a Black African in the British Colonial Army in 1959, that of Warrant Officer. On his return to Uganda he joined the military and quickly rose to the rank of Deputy Commander of the Army. During that time he was quite the athlete. He was a noted rugby player and swimmer, and for nine years held the Ugandan national light-heavyweight boxing title. By the early seventies Amin was commander of all the armed forces of Uganda and in 1971 seized power in a military coup, displacing the country's president Milton Obote. There followed seven years of brutal rule by Amin during which it is estimated that between 100,000 and 500,000 people were murdered. Amin was ousted from power in 1979 after a war with Tanzania, and fled to Libya where he stayed for a year. He then moved to Saudi Arabia, where he was financially supported by the Saudi Royal Family for the remainder of his life. He died in 2003.

52. Kojak portrayer : TELLY SAVALAS
I think we all remember Telly Savalas playing the title role in the detective drama "Kojak", but do we recall his performance in the 1962 "Birdman of Alcatraz"? Savalas played a supporting role opposite Burt Lancaster in that movie, earning himself an Oscar nomination. Another of his more significant roles was Pontius Pilate in the 1965 epic "The Greatest Story Ever Told". Savalas had to shave his head to play Pilate, and he liked the look so much that he remained bald for the rest of his life.

57. Stella D'___ (cookie brand) : ORO
Stella D'Oro is a brand of cookies and breadsticks, originally manufactured in the Bronx, New York City but now made in New Jersey.

59. Singer with the 1995 12x platinum album "Pieces of You" : JEWEL
The singer Jewel's full name is Jewel Kilcher. She is married to nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy Ty Murray. You might have seen both of them on "Dancing with the Stars" not too long ago. As I recall, Jewel was meant to compete but had to pull out at the last minute, so her hubby took her spot. He did surprisingly well for a cowboy!

66. 2011 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame : ERNIE ELS
Ernie Els is a South African golfer. He's a big guy but he has an easy, fluid golf swing that has earned him the nickname "The Big Easy". Els has a child who suffers from autism and the golfer has been very effective in raising money for charities that focus on the condition.

68. Stately trees of Lebanon : CEDARS
The Lebanese flag has two red stripes, one at the top and one at the bottom, designed to symbolize the blood that was shed in the cause of the country's liberation. Between each red stripe is a white background that represents peace as well as the snow on the Lebanese mountains. In the center of the flag is a green cedar tree, a reference to the cedars of Lebanon that are mentioned several times in the Bible.

70. Health advocacy grp. : AMA
The American Medical Association (AMA) was founded in 1847, at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The first female member was allowed to join in 1868 but the first African American members weren't admitted until one hundred years later, in 1968.

72. "The Lord of the Rings," e.g. : SAGA
J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is the second best-selling novel ever written, with only “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens having sold more copies around the world. Remarkably I think, the third best-selling novel was also written by Tolkien, namely “The Hobbit”.

Down
1. Francisco Goya's "Duchess of ___" : ALBA
María Cayetana de Silva was the 13th duchess of Alba. She was a favorite subject of the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The duchess is the subject in the famous portrait known as “The Naked Maja”.

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".

2. Joan who sang at Woodstock : BAEZ
Joan Baez is an American folk singer and a prominent activist in the fields of nonviolence, civil rights, human rights and environmental protection. She has dated some high-profile figures in her life including Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs (of Apple) and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.

3. Stationery hue : ECRU
The shade of ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word "ecru" comes from French and means "raw, unbleached", and has the same roots as our word "crude".

4. In the best of health : HALEST
"Hale" is an adjective meaning "healthy". Both the words "hale" and "healthy" derive from the Old English "hal" meaning healthy.

5. Former terrorist org. : IRA
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) has been around in various forms since 1913, just three years before it launched the famous Easter Rising of 1916, a thwarted rebellion against British rule. The IRA fought the Irish War of Independence against the British which lasted from 1919 until 1921, ending in a treaty which divided the country into the self-governing Irish Free State and the separate country of Northern Ireland which remained part of the United Kingdom. The IRA split at the time the treaty was signed, leading to the Irish Civil War which lasted from 1922 to 1923, ending in a victory for the faction that supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

6. Unstressed vowel : SCHWA
A “schwa” is an unstressed and toneless vowel found in a number of languages including English. Examples from our language are the “a” in “about”, the “e” in “taken”, and the “i” in pencil.

8. 1980s defense secretary Weinberger : CASPAR
Caspar Weinberger serves as Secretary of Defense under President Reagan from 1981 to 1987. He played in important role in support of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). He also fell foul of the law during the Iran-Contra Affair and was indicted on counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. He was granted a Presidential pardon by George H. W. Bush in 1992.

9. "___ to Billie Joe" : ODE
“Ode to Billy Joe” is a song written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry in 1967.

11. Compote fruit : PEARS
A compote is a fruit mixture stewed in syrup. The word "compote" comes to us from French and has the same etymology as our word "compost"! "Composte" is an Old French word for "mixture".

18. Counselor on the Enterprise : TROI
Deanna Troi, the character on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", is played by the lovely Marina Sirtis. Sirtis is a naturalized American citizen and has what I would call a soft American accent on the show. However, she was born in the East End of London and has a natural accent off-stage that is more like that of a true Cockney.

25. Winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and three Golden Globes : CHER
Cher's real name is Cherilyn Sarkasian, born in 1946. In her acting career she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar of 1984 for her performance in "Silkwood". She went all the way and won the Best Actress Oscar in 1988 for playing Loretta Castorini in "Moonstruck".

26. Jefferson Memorial topper : DOME
The beautiful Jefferson Memorial was completed in 1947 and sits on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. The idea for the memorial really came from President Franklyn D. Roosevelt as he was a great admirer of President Jefferson.

27. Nordic land: Abbr. : ICEL
Someone is described as Nordic if he or she is a native of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland or Iceland.

29. ___ avis : RARA
A rara avis is anything that is very rare, and is Latin for "rare bird".

34. 1996 slasher film with the villain Ghostface : SCREAM
“Scream” is another of those slasher/horror films from director Wes Craven. I won’t be seeing it …

42. Start of a counting rhyme : EENY
"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch the tiger/monkey/baby by the toe.
If it hollers/screams let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, you are it!"

48. African fly : TSETSE
Tsetse flies live on the blood of vertebrate mammals. The name "tsetse" comes from Tswana, a language of southern Africa, and translates simply as "fly". Tsetse flies are famous for being carriers of the disease known as "sleeping sickness". The disease is caused by a parasite which is passed on to humans when the tsetse fly bites into human skin tissue. If one considers all the diseases transmitted by the tsetse fly, then it is responsible for a staggering quarter of a million deaths each year.

52. Puccini opera : TOSCA
Unlike so many operas, "Tosca" was a big hit right from day one, when it was first performed in 1900 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. I've only seen it once myself, but it is the eighth-most performed opera in America these days.

53. Some Art Deco pieces : ERTES
Erte was the pseudonym of French artist (Russian born) Romain de Tirtoff. Erte is the French pronunciation of his initials "R.T."

Art Deco is the name given to a style of design and architecture of the 1920s, which actually had its roots in Belgium and then spread throughout Europe before arriving in North America. Celebrated examples of art deco architecture are the magnificent Chrysler Building in New York City completed in 1930, and the GE Building that sits in the middle of Rockefeller Center also in New York City, with the address of "30 Rock".

56. Open-air rooms : ATRIA
In modern architecture an atrium is a large open space, often in the center of a building and extending upwards to the roof. The original atrium was an open court in the center of an Ancient Roman house. One could access most of the enclosed rooms of the house from the atrium.

60. Prosperity : WEAL
"Weal" is "prosperity, happiness", and has the same roots as the word "wealth".

61. Pal of the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across : ELMO
Tickle Me Elmo was a sensational fad in the late nineties, with stores raising prices dramatically above the recommended retail price to take advantage of demand. Reportedly, prices as high as $1500 were paid at the height of the craze. The toy's manufacturer, Tyco, originally planned to market the "tickle" toy as Tickle Me Tasmanian Devil (after the "Looney Tunes" character), but then went with "Elmo" after they bought the rights to use "Sesame Street" names.

62. Atty. wannabe's hurdle : LSAT
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) has been around since 1948.

64. Mer contents : EAU
“Eau” is the French word for “water”. “Mer” is the French word for “sea”.

67. Holiday quaff : NOG
It's not really clear where the term nog comes from although it might derive from the word "noggin", which was originally a small wooden cup long associated with alcoholic drinks.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Name associated with honesty : ABE
4. Snake sound : HISS
8. Takes as one's own : CO-OPTS
14. Switzerland's ___ de Genève : LAC
15. West Coast gas brand : ARCO
16. Marketing pro's magazine : ADWEEK
17. Cowardly Lion portrayer : BERT LAHR
19. With 63-Across, where to find all the characters at the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across : SESAME
20. Bright blue : AZURE
21. Shed tears : WEEP
23. Sch. in Troy, N.Y. : RPI
24. "The Odd Couple" slob : OSCAR MADISON
28. Ghostly spirit : WRAITH
31. Nile menace, informally : CROC
32. Author Fleming : IAN
33. "To be," to Titus : ESSE
36. Big brawl : MELEE
40. President who was once New York's governor : GROVER CLEVELAND
44. Hawkins with a day named for her : SADIE
45. Took a ferry, say : RODE
46. Despot Amin : IDI
47. Put down some chips : ANTE
49. "This is totally new!" : A FIRST
52. Kojak portrayer : TELLY SAVALAS
57. Stella D'___ (cookie brand) : ORO
58. Give off : EMIT
59. Singer with the 1995 12x platinum album "Pieces of You" : JEWEL
63. See 19-Across : STREET
66. 2011 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame : ERNIE ELS
68. Stately trees of Lebanon : CEDARS
69. Big brawl : RIOT
70. Health advocacy grp. : AMA
71. "This I ___ you ..." : ASSURE
72. "The Lord of the Rings," e.g. : SAGA
73. Drawing : LOT

Down

1. Francisco Goya's "Duchess of ___" : ALBA
2. Joan who sang at Woodstock : BAEZ
3. Stationery hue : ECRU
4. In the best of health : HALEST
5. Former terrorist org. : IRA
6. Unstressed vowel : SCHWA
7. More peeved : SORER
8. 1980s defense secretary Weinberger : CASPAR
9. "___ to Billie Joe" : ODE
10. Pain reactions : OWS
11. Compote fruit : PEARS
12. Presto or allegro : TEMPO
13. Cat's plaything : SKEIN
18. Counselor on the Enterprise : TROI
22. Like awards shows, typically : EMCEED
25. Winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and three Golden Globes : CHER
26. Jefferson Memorial topper : DOME
27. Nordic land: Abbr. : ICEL
28. Freaks (out) : WIGS
29. ___ avis : RARA
30. Give ___ of approval : A NOD
34. 1996 slasher film with the villain Ghostface : SCREAM
35. ___-mo : SLO
37. Hideout : LAIR
38. Closes out : ENDS
39. Rework a document : EDIT
41. Serum container : VIAL
42. Start of a counting rhyme : EENY
43. Young beef? : VEAL
48. African fly : TSETSE
50. Tex-Mex wrap : FAJITA
51. "Got it!" : I SEE
52. Puccini opera : TOSCA
53. Some Art Deco pieces : ERTES
54. Nobles : LORDS
55. Contenders : VIERS
56. Open-air rooms : ATRIA
60. Prosperity : WEAL
61. Pal of the starts of 17-, 24-, 40-, 52- and 66-Across : ELMO
62. Atty. wannabe's hurdle : LSAT
64. Mer contents : EAU
65. Miswrite, say : ERR
67. Holiday quaff : NOG
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4 comments :

Anonymous said...

it is alot of fun doing the nyt crossword puzzles; it is for me (being a foreign born and educated amateur linguist)even more fun to read your wonderful explanations and word derivations after i solve the puzzle; all of it or part of it. thanks!

Dick Elton said...

Never heard of a "schwa" before. Learn something new every puzzle.

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, anonymous visitor.

Thanks for the comment. It sounds like you are very much like me, foreign-born and interested in our language. The NYTimes crossword does us great service, I think.

Thanks for the kind words.

Bill Butler said...

Hi Dick,

"Schwa" was new to me not so long ago, I must admit. It came up in a prior crossword, so that was I how I learned about the term.

Thanks you, NYTimes crossword :)

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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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