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Greetings from Mammoth Lakes, 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! Today's hike was in Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest where we passed a tree over 4,750 years old. Getting close to home ...

Bill

1223-11: New York Times Crossword Answers 23 Dec 11, Friday





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: Patrick Berry
THEME: None
COMPLETION TIME: 18m 34s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0


Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
14. Nehru jackets have them : MANDARIN COLLARS
A Nehru jacket is very like a regular suit jacket, except that the collar buttons at the neck. It was originally created in the 1940s in India, and then marketed as the Nehru jacket in the west in the sixties. The name Nehru was lifted from Jawaharlai Nehru, the prime minister of India from 1947 to 1964.

22. Flower named for its resemblance to a turban : TULIP
We usually associate the cultivation of tulips with the Netherlands, but they were first grown commercially in the Ottoman Empire. The name “tulip” ultimately derives from the Ottoman Turkish word “tulbend” which means “muslin, gauze”.

The world's first ever speculative "bubble" in the financial markets took place in 1637, when the price of tulip bulbs sky-rocketed out of control. The tulip had been introduced into Europe a few years earlier, and demand for tulips was so high that single bulbs were selling for ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. The climb in prices was followed quickly by a collapse in the market that was so striking that the forces at play were given the term "tulip mania". To this day, any large economic bubble may be referred to as "tulip mania".

23. Typesetting no-no : WIDOW
In the world of typesetting, a widow is a short line of type, perhaps one that ends a paragraph, but one that spills over onto the next page or column. It’s a no-no as a "widow" looks a little weird sitting there on "her" own.

24. Paul in politics : RON
Ron Paul is a celebrated Republican Congressman from Texas. He is a libertarian, and actually ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian Party candidate. He ran for the Republican nomination for President in 2008 as a member of the Liberty Caucus of the party, meaning that he values a federal government that is limited in size and scope. And of course he is chasing the nomination for the 2012 race as well.

25. Bread box? : SAFE
The use of the word "bread" as a slang term for money dates back to the 1940s and is derived from the term "breadwinner", meaning the person in the house who puts bread on the table, who brings in the money.

26. Renaissance painter Botticelli : SANDRO
Sandro Botticelli was a painter of the Early Renaissance belonging to the Florentine school. Perhaps his best known work is “The Birth of Venus”, painted about 1486, which can be seen in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

27. Member of a caste system : ANT
Many creatures organize themselves into a social structure, a phenomenon known as "eusociality". Examples of such creatures would be ants, bees and wasps, where there are queens, workers and soldiers. The groups within such a hierarchical structure are known as castes. The word "caste" was borrowed from the class divisions in Indian society (although the word and concept was actually introduced by the Portuguese).

31. Org. whose roots go back to the Civil War : IRS
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came into being during the Civil War, to raise money to cover war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, the government was funded by levies on trade and property.

39. "Evita" narrator : CHE
"Evita" was the followup musical to "Jesus Christ Superstar" for Andrew Lloyd Weber and Time Rice. Both of these works were originally released as album musicals, and very successful ones at that (I remember buying them when they first came out). For the original album's cast they chose Irish singer Colm Wilkinson (or C. T. Wilkinson, as we know him back in Ireland) to play "Che", the narrator of the piece.

42. Insects : HEXAPODS
An insect is a six-legged arthropod i.e. a hexapod.

44. Trees sought by leaf peepers : MAPLES
As we all know, leaves are green because of the presence of the pigment chlorophyll. There is so much chlorophyll in a leaf during the growing season that it masks out the colors of any other pigments. The amount of chlorophyll falls off in the autumn so that other pigments, present all year, become evident. These pigments are carotenoids which are orange-yellow in color, and anthocyanins which are red-purple.

45. Twig used in wickerwork : OSIER
Most willows (trees and shrubs of the genus Salix) are called just that, willows. Some of the broad-leaved shrub varieties are called sallow, and the narrow-leaved shrubs are called osier.

46. Murderer in P.D.Q. Bach's spoof opera "A Little Nightmare Music" : SALIERI
“A Little Nightmare Music” is a one-act opera by Peter Schickele that he published under the pseudonym P. D. Q. Bach. The opera is very much a parody, retelling the tale of Mozart and Salieri.

If you've seen the brilliant 1984 movie "Amadeus", you'll have seen Salieri portrayed as being very envious and resentful of the gifted Mozart. It is no doubt true that two composers fought against each other, at least on occasion, but the extent of the acrimony between the two has perhaps been exaggerated in the interest of theater. Mozart and his wife had six children, but only two survived infancy. The youngest boy was called Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, born just five months before his father died. Franz was to become a gifted composer, teacher, pianist and conductor, helped along the way by lessons from his father's supposed rival ... Antonio Salieri.

47. Game you can't lose twice : RUSSIAN ROULETTE
The disturbing game of Russian Roulette involves the placing of a single round in a revolver, spinning the cylinder and then a player firing the gun with the muzzle placed against his or her head. The game supposedly originated in Russia, and the name was first cited in a short story that dates back to 1937. The “game” was made famous by the 1978 movie “The Deerhunter” as it plays a central role in the film’s plot.

51. Nationwide Series events : STOCK CAR RACES
Originally, a “stock car” was a car that had not been modified in any way from its original factory configuration, hence the name “stock” car. The term was then used to describe a car that was based on a production model, but had been modified for racing. In this sense a stock car is distinct from a “race car” which is built specifically for racing.

Down
1. Visitor at the beginning of "The Hobbit" : GANDALF
Gandalf is an important character in the J. R. R. Tolkien novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. He is a wizard known as Gandalf the Grey during his life, and as Gandalf the White after he returns from the dead.

2. Material for the Guinness Book : ODDITIES
"The Guinness Book of World Records" holds some records of its own. It is the best-selling, copyrighted series of books of all time, and is one of the books most often stolen from public libraries! The book was first published in 1954 by two twins, Norris and Ross McWhirter. The McWhirter twins found themselves with a smash hit, and eventually became very famous in Britain on a TV show based on world records.

4. "The Luck of Roaring Camp" writer : HARTE
“The Luck of Roaring Camp” is a short story by the author Bret Harte, first published in 1868.

Bret Harte was a storyteller noted for his tales of the American West, even though he himself was from back East, born in Albany, New York.

5. "Trinity" novelist : URIS
Leon Uris as an American writer. His most famous books are "Exodus" and "Trinity", two excellent stories, in my humble opinion.

6. Poor Clares member : NUN
Clare of Assisi was one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She was the founder of the Order of Poor Ladies. The order still exists today and is now known as the Poor Clares in her honor.

7. Seller of supplements : GNC
General Nutrition Centers (GNC) is a retailer of health and nutrition supplements based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

8. Overhead light, perhaps : UFO
In 1952, the USAF revived its studies of reports of UFO sightings in a program called Project Blue Book. There were two prior USAF studies of the UFO phenomenon, namely Project Sign and Project Grudge. Project Blue Book ran from 1952 until it was shut down in 1969 with the conclusion that there was no threat to national security, and that there were no sightings that could not be explained within the bounds of modern scientific knowledge.

9. It grows older and then croaks : POLLIWOG
Polliwog is another word for a tadpole, the larval stage of an amphibian such as a frog or a toad. The term “polligwog” has been around since the mid-15th century and probably comes from the Old English words “pol” (head) and “wiglen” (wiggle).

10. Woollike acrylic fiber : ORLON
Orlon is the brand name used by the DuPont Corporation for their acrylic fibers developed in 1941.

11. River flowing between two Great Lakes : NIAGARA
The mighty Niagara River flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, and forms part of the border between the US and Canada. The river (although some describe it as a “strait”) is only about 35 miles long and has a drop in elevation of 325 feet along its length, with 165 feet of that drop taking place at Niagara Falls.

12. Birthplace of Virgil : MANTUA
Virgil was supposedly born in the village of Andes near Mantua in Cisalpine Gaul. The modern-day city of Mantua is in the commune of Lombardy in northern Italy.

Publius Vergilius Maro (better known as Virgil) was a poet from Ancient Rome. His best known works are:
- The "Eclogues" (or Bucolics)
- The "Gerogics"
- The "Aeneid"

13. Largest moon in the solar system with a retrograde orbit : TRITON
Triton is the largest moon of Neptune, and is named after the Greek sea god (Neptune is the Roman sea god). Triton is unique in our solar system in that it has a "retrograde orbit", meaning that it orbits Neptune in the opposite direction to the planet's rotation.

19. Steering system components : PINIONS
The modern car uses a rack and pinion steering system. The turning motion of the steering wheel turns the pinion gear. This pinion gear meshes with a linear gear called a rack, so the torque is converted to linear motion, side-to-side. This side-to-side motion turns the wheels at either end of the axle via tie rods and the steering arm.

26. Nobody : SCHMO
“Schmo” is American slang for a dull or boring person, from the Yiddish word “shmok”.

29. How Pyrrhic victories are won : AT A PRICE
A Pyrrhic victory is one which comes a great cost, perhaps one that was not worth fighting for in the first place. The name comes from King Pyrrhus of Epirus, a ruler of a land in southern Europe that fought two devastating battles with the Romans. Pyrrhus won both engagements, but the loss of men was so great that it left him unable to match the Romans in the next battle. As Pyrrhus recorded himself, the Romans lost more men, but they had plentiful reinforcements and he had not. He enjoyed a Pyrrhic victory ...

30. Secret Service agent's accouterment : EARPIECE
The Secret Service was created by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, with the mission of fighting currency counterfeiters. The additional task of protecting the US President was added by Congress in 1902 following the assassination of President William McKinley in the prior year. Only one Secret Service agent has given his life in the course of an assassination attempt. That was Private Leslie Coffelt, who was killed when two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Harry S. Truman in 1950 while he was residing in Blair House.

31. Blood shed on Mount Olympus : ICHOR
Ichor is a golden fluid that is the blood of the gods in Greek mythology.

32. Popular test animal in medical research : RHESUS
The Rhesus macaque is also known as the Rhesus monkey. As it is widely available and is close to humans anatomically and physically, the Rhesus macaque has been used in scientific research for decades. It gave its name to the Rhesus factor that is used in blood-typing, and was used in the development of rabies, smallpox and polio vaccines. It was also Rhesus monkeys that were launched into space by the US and Soviet space programs. Humans and macaques share about 93% of their DNA and had a common ancestor about 25 million years ago.

36. Did Jeeves's job : VALETED
Jeeves is probably the most famous character created by novelist P. G. Wodehouse. Wodehouse's full name was Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. Bertie Wooster's celebrated valet's full name is Reginald Jeeves.

37. Turns out : EVERTS
To evert is to turn inside out.

38. Albert's love in "Bye Bye Birdie" : ROSIE
“Bye Bye Birdie” is a stage musical set in 1958, first performed in 1960 on Broadway. It was inspired by the real-life events surrounding Elvis Presley getting drafted into the Army in 1957. The “Elvis” character in the musical is called Conrad Birdie, a play on the name of the singer Conway Twitty.

41. Irving Berlin's "Always," e.g. : BALLAD
“Always” is a song that was written by Irving Berlin in 1925. He wrote it as a wedding gift for his wife Ellin McKay whom he married the following year, and so Mrs. Berlin made a handsome sum from the royalties.

Irving Berlin's real name was Israel Baline, a Russian immigrant who came to New York with his family in 1893. In the words of composer Jerome Kern, "Irving Berlin has no place in American Music - he is American music". That would seem to ring true looking at a selection of his hits: "Alexander's Ragtime Band", "White Christmas", "There's No Business Like Show Business" and of course, "God Bless America". Berlin was married twice. His first marriage was in 1912, to Dorothy Goetz. Sadly, Dorothy died just a few months later from typhoid fever that she contracted on their honeymoon in Havana. His second marriage was to a young heiress, Ellin Mackay. That marriage lasted a lot longer, until 1988 when Ellin passed away at the age of 85.

43. Creator of many talking animals : AESOP
Aesop lived in Ancient Greece, probably around the sixth century BC. Supposedly he was born a slave, somehow became a free man, but then met with a sorry end. He was sent to the city of Delphi on a diplomatic mission but instead insulted the Delphians. He was tried on a trumped-up charge of stealing from a temple, sentenced to death and was thrown off a cliff.

44. Actress Tierney : MAURA
Maura Tierney is an actress from Boston, Massachusetts. She is best known for playing Lisa Miller on television’s “NewsRadio” and Abby Lockhart on “ER”.

49. Manufacturer of bar code scanners : NCR
NCR is an American company that has been in business since 1884, originally called the National Cash Register Company. The company has done well in a market where new technologies seem to be constantly disrupting the status quo.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Couldn't stop obsessing about : GOT HUNG UP ON
12. Bolted : MADE A RUN FOR IT
14. Nehru jackets have them : MANDARIN COLLARS
16. Decides to try : INDICTS
17. Branch of mathematics : LOGIC
18. Man of steel? : STATUE
19. Add numbers to, say : PAGINATE
22. Flower named for its resemblance to a turban : TULIP
23. Typesetting no-no : WIDOW
24. Paul in politics : RON
25. Bread box? : SAFE
26. Renaissance painter Botticelli : SANDRO
27. Member of a caste system : ANT
28. Stealing from the collection plate, e.g. : SACRILEGE
31. Org. whose roots go back to the Civil War : IRS
34. Violent upheaval : THROES
35. Maintain : AVER
39. "Evita" narrator : CHE
40. Change for the better : AMEND
41. "I'm very impressed!" : BRAVO
42. Insects : HEXAPODS
44. Trees sought by leaf peepers : MAPLES
45. Twig used in wickerwork : OSIER
46. Murderer in P.D.Q. Bach's spoof opera "A Little Nightmare Music" : SALIERI
47. Game you can't lose twice : RUSSIAN ROULETTE
51. Nationwide Series events : STOCK CAR RACES
52. Initiated, as an undertaking : SPEARHEADED

Down

1. Visitor at the beginning of "The Hobbit" : GANDALF
2. Material for the Guinness Book : ODDITIES
3. Part of a service : TEACUP
4. "The Luck of Roaring Camp" writer : HARTE
5. "Trinity" novelist : URIS
6. Poor Clares member : NUN
7. Seller of supplements : GNC
8. Overhead light, perhaps : UFO
9. It grows older and then croaks : POLLIWOG
10. Woollike acrylic fiber : ORLON
11. River flowing between two Great Lakes : NIAGARA
12. Birthplace of Virgil : MANTUA
13. Largest moon in the solar system with a retrograde orbit : TRITON
14. Morning weather phenomena : MISTS
15. Trail : SCENT
19. Steering system components : PINIONS
20. Slaphappy, say : ADDLED
21. Sticks : GORES
23. Battled : WARRED
26. Nobody : SCHMO
29. How Pyrrhic victories are won : AT A PRICE
30. Secret Service agent's accouterment : EARPIECE
31. Blood shed on Mount Olympus : ICHOR
32. Popular test animal in medical research : RHESUS
33. They put half the world down : SEXISTS
36. Did Jeeves's job : VALETED
37. Turns out : EVERTS
38. Albert's love in "Bye Bye Birdie" : ROSIE
41. Irving Berlin's "Always," e.g. : BALLAD
43. Creator of many talking animals : AESOP
44. Actress Tierney : MAURA
46. Cross : SORE
48. Rap sheet abbr. : AKA
49. Manufacturer of bar code scanners : NCR
50. Stadium shout : RAH

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2 comments :

Seth Kaplan said...

Great puzzle! Took me about :30 minutes. Maybe best part were clues that had several answers each which fit the grid. However, I have a question: What was the puzzle's theme? Maybe I'm being obtuse today, but I couldn't see it.

Bill Butler said...

Seth,

It was a nice puzzle, wasn't it? I find that we can always rely on Patrick Berry to give us an entertaining interlude in the day.

There isn't any theme to today's puzzle, Seth, which is why you can't find it! The usual routine is to have a theme on Monday through Thursday, go theme-less on Friday and Saturday, and back to a theme for the big puzzle on Sunday.

I hope that helps!

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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.

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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.

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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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