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I am currently on vacation in Ireland, returning on October 9th. I am hoping to complete a blog post each evening, even if it is only the basics (solved grid and clues, plus explanation of theme). I apologize in advance if I am late in posting.

Bill

0313-12: New York Times Crossword Answers 13 Mar 12, 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: Jeff Chen
THEME: DEAD ENDS … all of the theme answers are composed of two words, each of which can follow the word DEAD to make well known terms:
20A. *"Everyone off!" : LAST STOP (dead last & dead stop)
22A. *Exactly right : SPOT ON (dead spot & dead on)
28A. *Often-restricted zone : AIRSPACE (dead air & dead space)
37A. *Bag remover, of a sort : EYELIFT (dead eye & dead lift)
39A. *Jumper alternative : SET SHOT (dead set & dead shot)
46A. *Wrestling move : HEADLOCK (dead head & dead lock)
53A. *Deckhand, e.g. : SEAMAN (Dead Sea & dead man)
57A. Unfruitful paths ... or a description of both words in the answers to the seven starred clues? : DEAD ENDS
COMPLETION TIME: 9m 25s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0


Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
14. Wife whose face was never seen on "Cheers" : VERA
On the television show “Cheers”, the character Norm Peterson has a wife called Vera. Vera was mentioned in most of the episodes, but never actually showed her face. She made some brief appearances and vocal cameos, but that was about it.

The wonderful sitcom "Cheers" ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. It spawned an equally successful spin-off show "Frasier", which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original "Cheers". The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I've had a pint of Guinness!). The owner of the Bill & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling "Cheers" memorabilia, and also from increased trade.

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

19. Group valuing high I.Q.'s : MENSA
If you ever had to learn Latin as did I, "mensa" was probably taught to you in lesson one as it's the word commonly used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means "table". The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford, England back in 1946. To become a member you are required to have an IQ that is in the top 2% of the population.

23. NATO part: Abbr. : ATL
The NATO phonetic alphabet is also called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. It goes Alfa, Bravo, Charlie etc.

24. Put-it-together-yourself company : IKEA
Did you know that IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943 when he was just 17-years-old??!! IKEA is an acronym that stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (don't forget now!). Elmtaryd was the name of the farm where Ingvar Kamprad grew up, and Agunnaryd is his home parish in Sweden.

26. Toon Mr. ___ : MAGOO
Mr. Quincy Magoo is a wonderful cartoon character voiced by Jim Backus. Backus is probably equally well-known for playing Mr. Magoo and that of Thurston Howell, III on "Gilligan's Island". Mr. Magoo first appeared on the screen in a short called "The Ragtime Bear" in 1949. His persona was at least in part based on the antics of W. C. Fields. Backus originally used a fake rubber nose that pinched his nostrils in order to create the distinctive voice, although in time he learned to speak without the prop. My absolute favorite appearance by Mr. Magoo is in "Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol", a true classic from the sixties.

33. Thanksgiving side dish : YAM
Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as "yams", the yam is actually a completely different family of plant. True yams are more common in other parts of the the world than they are in this country, and especially in Africa.

37. *Bag remover, of a sort : EYELIFT (dead eye & dead lift)
An eyelift is a surgical procedure for the eyelids, removing excess skin and/or fat. The technical term for the operation is blepharoplasty.

42. Singers of "Voulez-Vous" and "Waterloo" : ABBA
I am an unapologetic fan of ABBA's music. ABBA was of course the Swedish group that topped the charts in the seventies and eighties. The name ABBA is an acronym formed from the first letters of the given names of each of the band members, namely: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid.

43. Heroic Schindler : OSKAR
Oskar Schindler is of course the protagonist in the Steven Spielberg movie “Schindler’s List”. Schindler was a real person who survived WWII. During the Holocaust, Schindler managed to save almost 1,200 Jews from perishing by employing them in his factories. After the war Schindler and his wife were left penniless having used their assets to protect and feed the workers. For years the couple survived on the charity of Jewish groups. Schindler tried to make a go of it in business again but never had any real success. He died a pauper in 1974 in Hildesheim, not far from Hanover. His last wish was to be buried in Jerusalem. Schindler is the only former member of the Nazi Party buried on Mount Zion.

45. Many a "Star Trek" officer: Abbr. : ENS
Ensign is the most junior rank of commissioned officer (usually) in the armed forces. The name comes from the tradition that the junior officer would be given the task of carrying the ensign flag.

When Gene Roddenberry first proposed the science fiction series that became "Star Trek", he marketed it as a "Wagon Train to the Stars", a pioneer-style Western in outer space. In fact his idea was to produce something more like "Gulliver's Travels", as he intended to write episodes that were adventure stories on one level, but morality tales on another. Personally I think that he best achieved this model with the spin off series "Star Trek: The Next Generation". If you watch individual episodes you will see thinly disguised treatments of moral issues such as racism, homosexuality, genocide etc. For my money, "The Next Generation" is the best of the whole franchise ...

51. Norse prankster : LOKI
Loki is a god appearing in Norse mythology. In one story about Loki, he was punished by other gods for having caused the death of Baldr, the god of light and beauty. Loki was bound to a sharp rock using the entrails of one of his sons. A serpent drips venom which is collected in a bowl, and then his wife must empty the venom onto Loki when the bowl is full. The venom causes Loki great pain, and his writhing causes the earthquakes that we poor humans have to endure.

63. Architect with an avian name : WREN
Christopher Wren was a famous English architect. His most renowned work is St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

65. Assassin in black : NINJA
The ninjas were around in Japan at the time of the samurai, but were a very different type of warrior. The ninjas were covert operatives, specializing in the use of stealth to accomplish their missions. As they were a secretive cadre they took on a mystical reputation with the public, often with the ability to become invisible or perhaps walk on water.

66. When repeated, a Polynesian island : BORA
Bora Bora is one of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The name Bora Bora is imitative of the Tahitian name for the island and should really be pronounced "pora pora". It means "first born".

67. Heroine in one of Salinger's "Nine Stories" : ESME
J. D. Salinger wrote a short story called "For Esme - with Love and Squalor", originally published in "The New Yorker" in 1950. It is a story about a young English girl called Esme and an American soldier, and is set in WWII.

J. D. Salinger was a very reclusive author, most famous for his novel “Catcher in the Rye”. Salinger fought in WWII after he was drafted into the US Army. He saw action on Utah Beach on D-Day, and in the Battle of the Bulge. He also spent a lot of time interrogating prisoners due to his knowledge of French and German, and he was one of the first Americans to go into a liberated concentration camp. He later spent time in hospital suffering from what was then called combat stress reaction, as he tried to deal with what he saw in the German camps.

68. Four Holy Roman emperors : OTTOS
Otto II was also called Otto the Red. He was the son of the Otto the Great and ruled the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty, becoming Holy Roman Emperor in 967 AD. Otto the Red’s son became the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto III.

70. "Man and Superman" playwright : SHAW
“Man and Superman” is a play by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1903. The storyline uses the “Don Juan” theme.

George Bernard Shaw was a very successful Irish playwright. He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature, and an Oscar. Shaw won his Oscar for adapting his own play "Pygmalion" for the 1938 film of the same name starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller. Most people are more likely to have seen the musical adaption of "Pygmalion" that went by the title "My Fair Lady".

Down
2. Singer Suzanne : VEGA
Suzanne Vega is a singer-songwriter from Santa Monica, California. Her two most famous songs are “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner”, both released in the eighties.

4. Shabby : RAGTAG
"Ragtag and bobtail" is a colorful phrase that's used to describe the lowest classes, or the rabble. A "bobtail" is a horse that has had its tail cut short, a word that goes back as least as far as Shakespeare as he used it in "King Lear". A "tag" is a piece of cloth that is torn and hanging, which was readily combined with "rag" in the original phrase "tag, rag and bobtail". This idiom, perhaps originally quoted from Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1659, referred to the lower classes as "tag, rag and bobtail, dancing, singing and drinking". The phrase evolved, giving us our contemporary word "ragtag" meaning ragged and unkempt.

6. Janis's partner in the funnies : ARLO
The comic strip "Arlo and Janis" is written by Jimmy Johnson. It was first published in 1985. The lead characters are named after the musicians Arlo Guthrie and Janis Joplin.

7. Shangri-las : UTOPIAS
The word Utopia was invented by Sir Thomas More for his book "Utopia" published in 1516, describing an idyllic fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More's use of the name Utopia comes from the Greek "ou" meaning "not" and "topos" meaning "place". By calling his perfect island "Not Place", More was apparently making the point that he didn't think that the ideal could actually exist.

Shangri-La is the earthly paradise in the mountains of Tibet described by James Hilton in his novel "Lost Horizon". It is "Edenic" (perfect, like the Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis). Frank Capra directed a wonderful screen adaptation of "lost Horizon" in 1937 starring Ronald Colman.

9. Patagonian plains : PAMPAS
The Pampas are fertile lowlands covering a large part of Argentina, Uruguay and some of Brazil. “Pampa” is a Quechua word meaning “plain”.

10. Snack with a Double Stuf variety : OREO
Double Stuf Oreo was introduced in 1975, and it has twice the normal amount of white cream filling as the original cookie.

12. Gas brand with a tiger symbol : ESSO
The brand name Esso has its roots in the old Standard Oil company, as it uses the initial letters of "Standard" and "Oil" (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US but ESSO is still used in many other countries.

13. Horse hue : ROAN
A roan horse has an even mixture of white and colored hairs on the body, with the head, lower legs, mane and tail having a more solid color.

21. Popular vodka, informally : STOLI
Stolichnaya is a brand of Russian vodka made from wheat and rye grain. Well, "Stoli" originated in Russia, but now it’s made in Latvia and you won’t even see the word “Russian” on the label.

22. Sun. message : SER
One can hear a sermon on Sunday.

27. Tiny creature : AMEBA
An ameba (or "amoeba" as we spell it back in Ireland) is a single-celled microorganism. The name comes from the Greek "amoibe", meaning change. The name is quite apt, as the cell changes shape readily as the ameba moves, eats and reproduces.

29. "Masterpiece Theatre" network : PBS
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) was founded in 1970, and is my favorite of the broadcast networks. I love PBS's drama and science shows in particular, and always watch the election results with the NewsHour team.

"Masterpiece Theatre" has changed its name, you may have noticed, and is now just called "Masterpiece". I love the show, because it gives me an opportunity to see great BBC productions, the stuff on which I was raised. The first airing of the show on PBS was in 1971, and the first production was the wonderful BBC mini-series "The First Churchills" starring Susan Hampshire (a series that is highly recommended for lovers of period drama).

31. Old pal : CRONY
A crony is a friend or companion. The term originated as slang in Cambridge University in England in the 1600s. “Crony” is probably derived from the Greek “khronios” meaning “long-lasting”.

32. "The Lord of the Rings" tree creatures : ENTS
Ents are those tree-like creatures that live in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, in his series of books "The Lord of the Rings". “Ent” is an Old English word for “giant”.

40. What an otoscope explores : EAR CANAL
An otoscope is that instrument that an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist uses to look into the interior of your ears.

44. Hobos' hangout : SKID ROW
The term “skid row” is used to describe a run-down urban neighborhood. “Skid row” appears to have originated in the Pacific Northwest where a “skid road” was a wooden pathway used for “skidding” logs through forests and over bogs. The terms “skid road” and “skid row” came to be used for logging camps and mills, and then somehow was applied to run-down areas in cities up and down the west coast of North America.

56. "Mr. ___ Risin'" (Jim Morrison biography) : MOJO
The word “mojo”, meaning magical charm or magnetism, is probably of Creole origin.

Jim Morrison was the lead singer for the Doors. Famously, Morrison died at only 27 years of age in Paris. It is thought that his dependence on hard drugs contributed to his demise, although this is disputed. Morrison’s grave site is one of the most-visited attractions in Paris. A kind blog reader pointed out to me that Morrison was also known as "Mr. Mojo Risin'", which is an anagram of "Jim Morrison".

58. Architect Saarinen : EERO
Eero Saarinen was a Finnish American architect, renowned in this country for his unique designs for public buildings such as Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Dulles International Airport Terminal, and the TWA building at JFK.

60. Russian legislature : DUMA
A Duma is a representative assembly in Russia. The word “dumat” in Russian means “to think, consider”.

63. Ring org. : WBA
The World Boxing Association (WBA).

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Above : OVER
5. Badly rough up : MAUL
9. Despot's desire : POWER
14. Wife whose face was never seen on "Cheers" : VERA
15. Art Deco artist : ERTE
16. Response to "Am not!" : ARE SO
17. Awestruck : AGOG
18. Tons : A LOT
19. Group valuing high I.Q.'s : MENSA
20. *"Everyone off!" : LAST STOP (dead last & dead stop)
22. *Exactly right : SPOT ON (dead spot & dead on)
23. NATO part: Abbr. : ATL
24. Put-it-together-yourself company : IKEA
26. Toon Mr. ___ : MAGOO
28. *Often-restricted zone : AIRSPACE (dead air & dead space)
33. Thanksgiving side dish : YAM
34. Cow catcher : LASSO
36. Loft's locale : BARN
37. *Bag remover, of a sort : EYELIFT (dead eye & dead lift)
39. *Jumper alternative : SET SHOT (dead set & dead shot)
42. Singers of "Voulez-Vous" and "Waterloo" : ABBA
43. Heroic Schindler : OSKAR
45. Many a "Star Trek" officer: Abbr. : ENS
46. *Wrestling move : HEADLOCK (dead head & dead lock)
49. Good to go : READY
51. Norse prankster : LOKI
52. Limit : CAP
53. *Deckhand, e.g. : SEAMAN (Dead Sea & dead man)
57. Unfruitful paths ... or a description of both words in the answers to the seven starred clues? : DEAD ENDS
62. "In the raw," "in the red" or "in the running" : IDIOM
63. Architect with an avian name : WREN
64. Cancel : X OUT
65. Assassin in black : NINJA
66. When repeated, a Polynesian island : BORA
67. Heroine in one of Salinger's "Nine Stories" : ESME
68. Four Holy Roman emperors : OTTOS
69. U.S.M.C. truant : AWOL
70. "Man and Superman" playwright : SHAW

Down
1. Ellipsoidal : OVAL
2. Singer Suzanne : VEGA
3. Cupid's Greek counterpart : EROS
4. Shabby : RAGTAG
5. Beefy entree : MEATLOAF
6. Janis's partner in the funnies : ARLO
7. Shangri-las : UTOPIAS
8. Court cry : LET
9. Patagonian plains : PAMPAS
10. Snack with a Double Stuf variety : OREO
11. Departed : WENT
12. Gas brand with a tiger symbol : ESSO
13. Horse hue : ROAN
21. Popular vodka, informally : STOLI
22. Sun. message : SER
25. Mall info source : KIOSK
26. Evasive response : MAYBE
27. Tiny creature : AMEBA
29. "Masterpiece Theatre" network : PBS
30. Reacted to a massage, maybe : AAHED
31. Old pal : CRONY
32. "The Lord of the Rings" tree creatures : ENTS
33. "Woo-hoo!" : YEAH
35. Keep on the shelves : STOCK
38. Boy : LAD
40. What an otoscope explores : EAR CANAL
41. Tire feature : TREAD
44. Hobos' hangout : SKID ROW
47. Alpaca cousins : LLAMAS
48. Suffix with ball : -OON
50. High points : APEXES
53. ___-Soviet relations : SINO-
54. Move text around : EDIT
55. Isn't incorrect? : AIN’T
56. "Mr. ___ Risin'" (Jim Morrison biography) : MOJO
58. Architect Saarinen : EERO
59. Snack : NOSH
60. Russian legislature : DUMA
61. Beefy entree : STEW
63. Ring org. : WBA

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2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Just to make the answers correct, 53A second part should read " dead man" instead of "dead hand", which I'm sure you meant to write.

Bill Butler said...

Thank you for pointing out my slip, and giving me the opportunity to fix it. I appreciate the help!

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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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