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Greetings from Las Vegas, Nevada (again!)

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 strenuos hike today in Red Rock Canyon outside Vegas in 100-degree weather, complete with a touch of heatstroke (scary), and saw the Cirque de Soleil show "Zarkana" this evening (amazing, as all Cirque shows are).

Bill

0227-12: New York Times Crossword Answers 27 Feb 12, Monday





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: Bill Thompson
THEME: TALL to TULL … we have a vowel progression theme today. Each of the theme answers ends with a word in the format T*LL, with the second letter changing from the first vowel (A) through to the last (U), ignoring the “sometimes Y”:
17A. Exhibits pride : STANDS TALL
25A. Betray a lover's confidences : KISS AND TELL
37A. Symbol of embezzlement : HAND IN THE TILL
50A. E-ZPass pays it : HIGHWAY TOLL
60A. Group with the 1971 3x platinum album "Aqualung" : JETHRO TULL
COMPLETION TIME: 6m 13s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0


Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. ___ Longstocking (children's story character) : PIPPI
Pippi Longstocking appears as the heroine in a series of books written by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Lindgren is quite the activist, very well known in the circles working for children's and animal rights, and specifically she has campaigned heavily against corporal punishment.

10. Shaping tool : ADZE
An adze (also adz) is similar to an axe, but different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool's shaft. An axe's blade is set in line with the shaft.

14. Energy giant that filed for bankruptcy in 2001 : ENRON
After all the trials following the exposure of fraud at Enron, several of the key players ended up in jail. Andrew Fastow was the Chief Financial Officer. He plea-bargained and received ten years without parole, and became the key witness in the trials of others. Even Fastow's wife was involved, and was sentenced to one year for helping her husband hide money. Jeffrey Skilling (ex-CEO) was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months. Kenneth Lay (CEO) died in 2006 after he had been found guilty and before he could be sentenced. The accounting firm Arthur Andersen was found guilty of obstruction of justice for shredding thousands of pertinent documents and deleting emails and files (a decision that the Supreme Court later overturned on a technicality). But still, Arthur Andersen collapsed under the weight of the scandal and 85,000 people lost their jobs (despite only a handful being directly involved with Enron).

15. Rob of "Parks and Recreation" : LOWE
The actor Rob Lowe is one of the “founding members” of the so-called Brat Pack, having appeared in the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire”. He is currently playing a regular character on the TV show “Parks and Recreation”. My favorite of his roles though, was playing Sam Seaborn on Aaron Sorkin’s great drama series “The West Wing”. When “The West Wing” first aired, Seaborn was billed as the show’s main character, but outstanding performances from the rest of the cast and some great writing meant that Lowe’s role became “one of many”. This led to some dissatisfaction on Lowe’s part, and eventually he quit the show.

“Parks and Recreation” is a sitcom that started airing on NBC in 2009, and it is a show that has grown on me. It stars the "Saturday Night Live" alum, Amy Poehler. The creators of "Parks and Recreation" are part of the team responsible for the American version of “The Office”, so you’ll notice some similarities in the style of the two shows, and some actors that have appeared in both.

24. ___ Vegas : LAS
Back in the 1800s, the Las Vegas Valley was given its name from the extensive meadows ("las vegas" is Spanish for "the meadows") present in the area courtesy of the artesian wells drilled by local farmers. Las Vegas was incorporated as a city in 1905, in the days when it was a stopping-off point for pioneers travelling west. It eventually became a railroad town, although with the coming of the railroad growth halted as travelers began to bypass Las Vegas. The city's tourism industry took off in 1935 with the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam, which is still a popular attraction. Then gambling was legalized, and things really started to move. Vegas was picked, largely by celebrated figures in "the mob", as a convenient location across the California/Nevada state line that could service the vast population of Los Angeles. As a result, Las Vegas is the most populous US city founded in the 20th century (Chicago is the most populous city founded in the 19th century, just in case you were wondering).

31. Confederate general at Gettysburg : LEE
Robert E. Lee is of course renowned as a southern officer in the Civil War. He was a somewhat reluctant participant in that Lee opposed the secession of his home state of Virginia from the Union. At the beginning of the war, President Lincoln invited Lee to take command of the whole Union Army, but Lee declined, choosing instead to stay loyal to his home state.

32. ___ v. Wade : ROE
Roe v. Wade was decided in a US District Court in Texas in 1970, and reached the Supreme Court on appeal. The basic decision by the Supreme Court was that a woman's constitutional right to privacy applied to an abortion, but that this right had to be balanced with a state's interest in protecting an unborn child and a mother's health. The Court further defined that the state's interest became stronger with each trimester of a pregnancy. So, in the first trimester the woman's right to privacy outweighed any state interest. In the second trimester the state's interest in maternal health was deemed to be strong enough to allow state regulation of abortion for the sake of the mother. In the third trimester the viability of the fetus dictated that the state's interest in the unborn child came into play, so states could regulate or prohibit abortions, except in cases where the mother's life was in danger. I'm no lawyer, but that's my understanding of the initial Supreme Court decision ...

36. Craps table surface : FELT
If one considers earlier versions of craps, then the game has been around for a very long time and probably dates back to the Crusades. Craps may be derived from an old English game called "hazard" also played with two dice, which was mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" from the 1300s. The American version of the game came here courtesy of the French and first set root in New Orleans where it was given the name "crapaud", a French word meaning "toad".

43. Docs' 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.

44. Abbr. on a garment sale tag : IRR
Irregular (Irr).

46. 2001 Sean Penn movie : I AM SAM
“I Am Sam” is a 2001 drama movie starring Sean Penn. Penn plays a man with a developmental disability raising a young daughter alone after her mother abandoned the family.

Actor Sean Penn is a two-time Oscar winner, for his roles in "Mystic River" released in 2003 and "Milk" released in 2008. His celebrity on screen is only matched with his fame off the screen. Apart from his "big name" marriages to singer Madonna and actress Robin Wright, Penn is also well known for political and social activism. He perhaps inherited some of his political views from his father, actor and director Leo Penn. As an actor, Leo refused to "name names" in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and so was black-listed in Hollywood, and had to move into directing to put bread on the table. In later years as a director he gave his son Sean his first acting role, in a 1974 episode of "Little House on the Prairie".

50. E-ZPass pays it : HIGHWAY TOLL
E-ZPASS was a technology development driven (pun intended!) by the tolling agencies of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The first E-ZPASS toll booth was built on the New York Thruway, and opened at the Spring Valley toll plaza in 1993.

54. Israeli gun : UZI
The first Uzi sub-machine gun was designed in the late 1940s by Major Uziel Gal, who gave his name to the gun.

55. One of nine on a Clue board : ROOM
Clue is another board game that we knew under a different name growing up in Ireland, as outside of North America Clue is marketed as "Cluedo". Cluedo was the original name of the game, introduced in 1949 by the famous British board game manufacturer, Waddingtons. There are cute differences between the US and UK versions. For example, the man who is murdered is called Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in the US), one of the suspects is the Reverend Green (Mr. Green in the US), and the suspect weapons include a dagger (a knife in the US), a lead pipe (lead piping in the US) and a spanner (a wrench in the US). I think it's a fabulous game, a must during the holidays ...

57. Greek H's : ETAS
Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character "H".

58. Spirited horse : ARAB
The Arab (or Arabian) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred though, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.

60. Group with the 1971 3x platinum album "Aqualung" : JETHRO TULL
Jethro Tull is a rock band from the UK, formed in 1967 and still going strong today.

64. Vogue rival : ELLE
"Elle" magazine was founded in 1945 in France and today has the biggest circulation of any fashion magazine in the world. "Elle" is the French word for "she".

“Vogue” magazine has been published an awfully long time, with the first issue appearing in 1892. Over the decades the magazine has picked up a lot of criticism as well as its many fans. Famously, an assistant to the editor wrote a novel based on her experiences working with the magazine’s editor, and called it “The Devil Wears Prada”.

65. "Gay" city : PAREE
"Who Said Gay Paree?" is a song from the Cole Porter musical "Can-Can".

The Cole Porter musical "Can-Can" was first produced on Broadway, in 1953, where it ran for two years. There was a very successful film adaptation (which I only saw recently ... and it's good stuff) released in 1960, starring Shirley McLaine, Frank Sinatra and Maurice Chevalier. During filming, the Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev visited the set as part of a tour of 20th Century Fox studios. He made a big splash in the media at the time describing what he saw as "depraved" and "pornographic".

66. Small bouquet : POSY
The word "posy", meaning a bouquet of flowers, comes from the word "poesy", which was a line of verse engraved on the inner surface of a ring. The jump to the "posy" came with the notion that the giving of flowers was a form of language in itself.

Down
1. Mortar's partner : PESTLE
I’ve always loved the sound of the words “mortar” and “pestle”, ever since I was first introduced to them in the chemistry lab. The Romans called a receptacle for pounding or grinding things a “mortarium”, giving us “mortar”. Mortarium was also the word for the product of pounding and grinding, which gives us our “mortar” that's used with bricks to build a wall. And further, short stubby cannons used in the 16th century resembled a grinding bowl and so were called “mortars”, which evolved into our contemporary weapon of the same name. As far as the pestle is concerned, it is also derived from its Latin name “pistillum”, which comes from the word for “crush”.

3. Kudos : PRAISE
Our word "kudos" is used to acclaim an exceptional achievement. "Kudos" is not a plural, despite a common misapprehension. It is a singular noun derived from the Greek "kyddos" meaning "glory, fame".

4. Ping-___ : PONG
Ping-pong is called table tennis in the UK, where the sport originated in the 1880s. Table tennis started off as an after-dinner activity among the elite, and was called "wiff-waff". To play, books were stacked in the center of a table as a "net", two more books served as ""rackets", and the ball used was actually a golf ball. The game evolved over time with the rackets being upgraded to the lids of cigar boxes and the ball becoming a champagne cork (how snooty is that?). Eventually the game was produced commercially, and the sound of the ball hitting the racket was deemed to be a "ping" and a "pong", giving the sport its alternative name.

6. Voices above tenors : ALTOS
In choral music, an alto is the second-highest voice in a four-part chorus made up of soprano, contr(alto), tenor and bass. The word "alto" describes the vocal range, that of the deepest female singing-voice, whereas the term "contralto" describes more than just the alto range, but also its quality and timbre. An adult male voice (not a boy's) with the same range as an alto is called a "countertenor".

8. Avian hooter : OWL
Generally speaking, a bird’s eyes are fixed in their sockets so a bird can’t “roll its eyes”, even if it wanted to. As a result, birds have evolved to easily and frequently rotate their necks so they can see what is going on around them. The owl is quite remarkable in that it can rotate its neck about 270 degrees in both directions.

11. High-class poetry it isn't : DOGGEREL
“Doggerel” is a term used to insult poetry that has little value as literature. The term probably comes from "dog”, perhaps in that it is “only fit for dogs”.

13. Workers with mss. : EDS
Editors (eds) work with manuscripts (mss).

23. Ike's inits. : DDE
President Eisenhower was born David Dwight Eisenhower but, by the time he made it to the White House, he was going by the name Dwight D. Eisenhower. Growing up, his family called him Dwight and when "Ike" enrolled in West Point he himself reversed the order of his given names.

There doesn't seem to be any good reason why President Eisenhower was called "Ike". However, it is known that the nickname dates back to his childhood as his parents called him "Ike" as well as “Dwight”.

26. Honolulu hello : ALOHA
"Aloha" has many meanings in English: affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. More recently it has come to mean "hello" and "goodbye", but only since the mid-1800s.

35. 8 1/2" x 11" paper size: Abbr. : LTR
Like so many things it seems, our paper sizes here in North America don't conform with the standards in the rest of the world. ISO standard sizes used elsewhere have some logic behind them in that the ratio of width to length is usually one to the square root of two. This mathematical relationship means that when you cut a piece of paper in two each half preserves the aspect ratio of the original, which can be useful in making reduced or enlarged copies of documents. Our standard size of "letter" (8.5 x 11 inches) was determined in 1980 by the Reagan administration to be the official paper size for the US government. Prior to this, the "legal" size (8.5 x 14 inches) had been the standard, since 1921.

36. "Annie" or "Annie Hall" : FILM
The musical “Annie” is based on the Harold Gray comic strip "Little Orphan Annie". There were two subsequent film adaptations, both really quite successful, including one released in 1982 directed by John Huston of all people. "Annie" was Huston's only ever musical.

I suppose if there is any Woody Allen movie that I enjoy watching, it's "Annie Hall" from 1977. I think Diane Keaton is a great actress and she is wonderful in this film. You'll see Paul Simon as well, making a rare movie appearance, and even Truman Capote playing himself. The film is also famous for sparking a movement in the fashion world to adopt the "Annie Hall" look, that very distinctive appearance championed by Diane Keaton as the Annie Hall character.

40. Freshwater duck : 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.

44. ___ Jima : IWO
Iwo Jima today is an uninhabited volcanic island located south of Tokyo. There were about a thousand Japanese civilians living on the island prior to WWII. In 1944, there was a massive influx of Japanese military personnel in anticipation of the inevitable US invasion. As the Japanese military moved in, the civilians were forced out and no one has lived there ever since.

45. Kind of engine for an airplane : RAMJET
A "ramjet" is a type of jet engine that uses the speed of the incoming air (due to the aircraft's forward motion) to compress that air prior to combustion. In a regular jet engine the air is compressed by a fan that sucks air into the combustion chamber. In a ramjet, air enters the chamber usually at supersonic speed (the speed of the jet) and is slowed prior to combustion. In a scramjet, a variant of a ramjet, the air is maintained at supersonic speeds, allowing the scramjet to operate at very high velocity.

48. Rhododendron relative : AZALEA
Azaleas are very toxic to horses, sheep and goats, but strangely enough cause no problem for cats or dogs. And if you go to Korea you might come across "Tugyonju", which is azalea wine made from the plant's blossoms.

53. Autumn hue : OCHER
Ochre is often spelled "ocher" in the US (it's "ochre" where I come from). Ocher is a light, yellowy-brown color, although variations of the pigment are possible such as red ocher and purple ocher.

57. Coup d'___ : ETAT
A coup d'├ętat (often just "coup") is the sudden overthrow of a government, and comes from the French for "stroke of state".

59. ___ de Janeiro : RIO
The name Rio de Janeiro translates as "January River". The name reflects the discovery of the Bay on which Rio sits, on January 1, 1502.

61. QB Manning : ELI
Even I know that Eli Manning and his older brother Peyton are both quarterbacks!

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. ___ Longstocking (children's story character) : PIPPI
6. Dating from : AS OF
10. Shaping tool : ADZE
14. Energy giant that filed for bankruptcy in 2001 : ENRON
15. Rob of "Parks and Recreation" : LOWE
16. Relative of a frog : TOAD
17. Exhibits pride : STANDS TALL
19. Hens lay them : EGGS
20. Calc prerequisite : TRIG
21. Fine and dandy : A-OK
22. "Loud and clear, bro" : I DIG
24. ___ Vegas : LAS
25. Betray a lover's confidences : KISS AND TELL
29. Lashes grow from it : EYELID
31. Confederate general at Gettysburg : LEE
32. ___ v. Wade : ROE
33. Surround with a saintly light : ENHALO
36. Craps table surface : FELT
37. Symbol of embezzlement : HAND IN THE TILL
41. Landlord's due : RENT
42. Surface for an unpaved road : GRAVEL
43. Docs' grp. : AMA
44. Abbr. on a garment sale tag : IRR
46. 2001 Sean Penn movie : I AM SAM
50. E-ZPass pays it : HIGHWAY TOLL
54. Israeli gun : UZI
55. One of nine on a Clue board : ROOM
56. Water, when it gets cold enough : ICE
57. Greek H's : ETAS
58. Spirited horse : ARAB
60. Group with the 1971 3x platinum album "Aqualung" : JETHRO TULL
63. Bough : LIMB
64. Vogue rival : ELLE
65. "Gay" city : PAREE
66. Small bouquet : POSY
67. Wedding cake feature : TIER
68. Place : STEAD

Down
1. Mortar's partner : PESTLE
2. Place for arriving office papers : IN-TRAY
3. Kudos : PRAISE
4. Ping-___ : PONG
5. Neither Rep. nor Dem. : IND
6. Voices above tenors : ALTOS
7. Good long baths : SOAKS
8. Avian hooter : OWL
9. Catlike : FELINE
10. Suffered ignominious failure, in slang : ATE IT
11. High-class poetry it isn't : DOGGEREL
12. Zig's opposite : ZAG
13. Workers with mss. : EDS
18. Greeted informally : SAID HI
23. Ike's inits. : DDE
25. Ilk : KIND
26. Honolulu hello : ALOHA
27. Laze : LOLL
28. Court do-over : LET
30. Gave temporarily : LENT
34. Wrathful : ANGRY
35. 8 1/2" x 11" paper size: Abbr. : LTR
36. "Annie" or "Annie Hall" : FILM
37. Prefix with sphere : HEMI
38. "Slot machines" and "cash lost in 'em," e.g. : ANAGRAMS
39. More fiendish : EVILER
40. Freshwater duck : TEAL
41. "Go team!" : RAH
44. ___ Jima : IWO
45. Kind of engine for an airplane : RAMJET
47. Sew up, as a wound : SUTURE
48. Rhododendron relative : AZALEA
49. Deceived : MISLED
51. Model building or stamp collecting : HOBBY
52. "Annie" or "Annie Hall" : TITLE
53. Autumn hue : OCHER
57. Coup d'___ : ETAT
58. Swiss peak : ALP
59. ___ de Janeiro : RIO
61. QB Manning : ELI
62. Photo ___ : OPS

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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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