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Greetings from Dundalk, County Louth in Ireland

I am on vacation in Ireland, and have extended my stay until October 24th. I am focused on getting the puzzle solved and at least a basic post up each day. It's proving to be difficult to do much more than that due to pressure of time, which I am sure you can understand. Happy puzzling, and slainte!

Bill

0720-12: New York Times Crossword Answers 20 Jul 12, 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: Martin Ashwood-Smith
THEME: None
COMPLETION TIME: 49m 05s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 4 … TADS (taws), OBAD (Obaw), DOHS (duhs), MORRO (Morru)


Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Pirate battler, at times : ASTRO
The Houston baseball franchise changed its name to the Astros from the Colt .45s in 1965 when the team started playing in the Astrodome. The Astrodome was so called in recognition of the city's long association with the US space program.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were an early team in the National Baseball League, joining in 1887 just six years after the league was formed. The Pirates played in the first ever World Series, in 1903, and won their first World Series in 1909.

10. Christie detective Parker ___ : PYNE
Parker Pyne is one of the lesser-known heroes created by the murder-mystery novelist Agatha Christie. Pyne appears in just three of her books, but also in 14 short stories.

15. Big movie fan's option? : IMAX
The IMAX Corporation, which is behind the IMAX film format, is a Canadian company. The impetus for developing the system came after Expo '67 in Montreal. Back then large format screenings were accomplished using multiple projectors with multiple screens, with images basically stitched together. The team behind the IMAX technology set out to simplify things and developed a single-camera, single-projector system.

20. Certain losing line : XOX
When I was growing up in Ireland, we played "noughts and crosses" ... our name for tic-tac-toe.

21. Klutz : NIMROD
“Nimrod” is a slang term used to describe a foolish person.

“Klutz” of course comes from Yiddish. The Yiddish word for a clumsy person is "klots".

22. Boarder's way up : T-BAR
A T-bar is a type of ski lift in which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skier who remains standing on his/her skis (hopefully!). There's also a J-bar, a similar device, but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.

23. City on Ishikari Bay : OTARU
The Japanese city and port of Otaru is just a 25-minute drive northwest from Sapporo. Just like Sapporo, Otaru has a famous beer that shares the city's name.

30. It fosters bilingualism: Abbr. : ESL
English as a Second Language (ESL) is sometimes referred to as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

38. Film for which Judi Dench was nominated for Best Actress : NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Notes on a Scandal” is a powerful British film released in 2006, based on a novel by Zoë Heller. Stars of the film are Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. Blanchett playes the role of teacher who has an affair with an underage student at her school, and Dench plays a lesbian teacher at the same school who has a crush on the character played by Blanchett. Also, the movie has a fabulous soundtrack
composed by Philip Glass.

40. Things bust when it booms : TNT
TNT is an abbreviation for trinitrotoluene. The chemical was first produced by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand in 1863, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

41. Young 'uns : TADS
Back in the 1800s "tad" was used to describe a young child, and this morphed into our usage meaning a small amount in the early 1900s. The original use of "tad" for a child is very likely a shortened version of "tadpole".

47. He took Holyfield's title away in 1992 : BOWE
Riddick Bowe is professional boxer from Brooklyn, New York. Bowe was Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1992. A few years later Bowe retired from boxing to join the US Marines. However, after just 11 days of basic training Bowe wanted to quit, and the Marine Corps came into a lot of criticism for acceding to his request.

Evander Holyfield is a professional boxer from Atmore, Alabama. Holyfield was Undisputed World Champion twice over, once as a cruiserweight and then as a heavyweight.

49. Camp accessory : BOA
To appear more camp, someone might wear a feather boa.

53. Back-scratchers' activity : LOG ROLLING
“Back-scratching” and “log-rolling” are slang terms for trading favors, as in “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine”.

55. "Athena" artist : ERTE
Erté was the pseudonym of French artist (Russian born) Romain de Tirtoff. Erté is the French pronunciation of his initials "R.T."

56. Like lines, briefly : ONE-D
The dimension of an object is defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify each point in the object. A line, therefore, is one-dimensional as you only need an x-coordinate to specify a particular point on the line. A surface is two-dimensional, as you need both an x-coordinate and a y-coordinate to locate a point on the surface. The inside of a solid object is then three-dimensional, needing an x-, y- and z-coordinate to specify a point, say within a cube.

57. Modicum : OUNCE
A modicum is a small portion, with "modicum" coming into English from Latin, via Scottish. "Modicum" is Latin for "a little".

59. Some nonkosher fish : EELS
According to Jewish dietary law, kosher food is "fit" to eat, and food that is not kosher is called treif (or tref).

Down
1. Sophocles tragedy : AJAX
Sophocles was one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived. The first of these was Aeschylus, the second Sophocles, and the third Euripides. Sophocles is believed to have written 123 plays, the most famous of which are "Antigone" and "Oedipus the King".

2. Rikishi's specialty : SUMO
Sumo is a sport that is practiced professionally only in the country of its origin, Japan. There is an international federation of sumo wrestling now, and one of the organization's aims is to have the sport accepted as an Olympic event.

“Rikishi” is the term used for a sumo wrestler. “Rikishi” translates from Japanese as “strong man”.

3. Multicolored breakfast food : TRIX
Trix is a corn-based breakfast cereal that has been around since 1954, produced by General Mills. Ads for the cereal featured Trix Rabbit, who would try hard to get hold of bowls of the cereal. He would always get caught though, and be admonished with, "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!" With 46% sugar content, the rabbit probably wouldn't have liked it anyway ...

5. Black Bears' home : ORONO
The Maine Black Bears are the athletic teams of the University of Maine.

The town of Orono is home to the University of Maine, founded in 1862. The college is actually located on an island (Marsh island) lying between the Penobscot and Stillwater rivers. The town of Orono is named after Joseph Orono, a chief of the Penobscot Nation.

6. Maker of gravelberry pies : WILMA FLINTSTONE
I once had the privilege of spending an afternoon in the room (Bill Hanna's den) where Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera came up with the idea of "The Flintstones" ...

7. "Spring Is Here" musical : I MARRIED AN ANGEL
I Married an Angel” is a Rodgers and Hart musical first staged in 1938 on Broadway. The musical is based on a play by the Hungarian playwright János Vaszary.

10. Congregationalist, e.g. : PROTESTANT
Broadly speaking, Protestantism is a term used to describe Christianity outside of the Roman Catholic and Eastern traditions.

Congregational churches exist within the Protestant denominations of Christianity. Congregational churches run their own affairs i.e. each congregation answers to itself.

11. Richard Nixon's birthplace : YORBA LINDA
President Richard Milhous Nixon used “Milhous” in his name in honor of his mother, Hannah Milhous who married Francis Nixon. Richard was born in a house in Yorba Linda, California. You can visit that house today as it is on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. It’s a really interesting way to spend a few hours if you ever get to Yorba Linda …

13. The Eagles of the N.C.A.A. : EMORY
Emory is a private school in Atlanta, Georgia with a focus on graduate research. The school was named after a Methodist Episcopal bishop called John Emory, who was very popular at the time of the school's founding in 1836.

18. Shtick : BIT
A "shtick" is a routine, a bit, a piece of entertainment. It comes from the Yiddish "shtick" which has the same meaning, and derives from the Middle High German word "stücke", the word for "piece".

24. Vegas, vis-à-vis gambling : MECCA
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).

25. "Diaspora" author Greg : EGAN
Greg Egan is science fiction author from Australia. Egan is a very private individual, one who does not do book signings or appearances at science fiction fairs. His own website doesn’t even feature a picture of himself. I couldn’t find his photo anywhere on the Web …

26. American leader? : MESO-
Mesoamerica is a region extending from Central Mexico, south to Costa Rica. It is known as an area where societies flourished prior to the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries.

28. Private powwows : TETE A TETES
A “tête-à-tête” is a one-on-one meeting, literally “head-to-head” in French.

A “pow-wow” is a gathering, a term used by Native Americans. The term derives from the Algonquian Narragansett word “powwow” which means “spiritual leader”. The Narragansett also gave us such words as “moose”, “papoose” and “squash”.

33. Major mail handler?: Abbr. : APO
Army Post Office (APO).

34. Bailout button : ESC
The escape key was originally used to control computer peripherals. It was a key that allowed the computer operator to stop what the peripheral was doing (cancel a print job, for example). Nowadays the escape key is used for all sorts of other things, especially in gaming programs.

35. Book after Amos: Abbr. : OBAD
The Book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible, consisting of just one chapter, divided into 21 verses.

36. Marlon Brando's "I Remember Mama" role : NELS
“I Remember Mama” is a play by John Van Druten, first produced on Broadway in 1944. A young Marlon Brando had the honor of making his Broadway debut in that production, some 5-6 years before making it onto the big screen.

43. Havana's ___ Castle : MORRO
Morro Castle is a fortress guarding the entrance to Havana Bay in Cuba. The castle was built by the Spanish in 1859. The name “Morro” means a rock that is visible from the sea.

54. Elle's counterpart : LUI
In French, “lui” is the word for "him" and “elle” is the word for "her".

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Pirate battler, at times : ASTRO
6. Not a single person : WIFE
10. Christie detective Parker ___ : PYNE
14. Peer review participant? : JUROR
15. Big movie fan's option? : IMAX
16. Lack direction : ROAM
17. Scapegoat's query : AM I TO BLAME
19. Nearly : OR SO
20. Certain losing line : XOX
21. Klutz : NIMROD
22. Boarder's way up : T-BAR
23. City on Ishikari Bay : OTARU
24. Granular : MEALY
25. Shoot out : EMIT
29. Hi-___ : FIS
30. It fosters bilingualism: Abbr. : ESL
31. Primary counterpart : GENERAL ELECTION
37. Unable to get any thicker : AS STUPID AS CAN BE
38. Film for which Judi Dench was nominated for Best Actress : NOTES ON A SCANDAL
39. Parent's diner order? : EAT
40. Things bust when it booms : TNT
41. Young 'uns : TADS
42. Dangerous thing to run on : EMPTY
44. Carried out : SAW TO
47. He took Holyfield's title away in 1992 : BOWE
48. When shadows are shortest : AT NOON
49. Camp accessory : BOA
52. Programme watcher, say : BRIT
53. Back-scratchers' activity : LOG ROLLING
55. "Athena" artist : ERTE
56. Like lines, briefly : ONE-D
57. Modicum : OUNCE
58. Head slappers' cries : DOHS
59. Some nonkosher fish : EELS
60. Having learned things : WISER

Down
1. Sophocles tragedy : AJAX
2. Rikishi's specialty : SUMO
3. Multicolored breakfast food : TRIX
4. Biodegrade, say : ROT
5. Black Bears' home : ORONO
6. Maker of gravelberry pies : WILMA FLINTSTONE
7. "Spring Is Here" musical : I MARRIED AN ANGEL
8. "Like you're really going to do that" : FAMOUS LAST WORDS
9. Struck out : EXED
10. Congregationalist, e.g. : PROTESTANT
11. Richard Nixon's birthplace : YORBA LINDA
12. Snooty? : NASAL
13. The Eagles of the N.C.A.A. : EMORY
18. Shtick : BIT
24. Vegas, vis-à-vis gambling : MECCA
25. "Diaspora" author Greg : EGAN
26. American leader? : MESO-
27. Conforming to : IN STEP WITH
28. Private powwows : TETE A TETES
32. In need of brushing up : RUSTY
33. Major mail handler?: Abbr. : APO
34. Bailout button : ESC
35. Book after Amos: Abbr. : OBAD
36. Marlon Brando's "I Remember Mama" role : NELS
42. Fell off : EBBED
43. Havana's ___ Castle : MORRO
45. When doubled, affected : TOO
46. Barely running : ON LOW
48. Soap additive : ALOE
49. Bargain basement lineup : BINS
50. Head of a tale? : ONCE
51. Heavy drinking, e.g. : AGER
54. Elle's counterpart : LUI


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6 comments :

JenCT said...

Thanks for the explanation of TADS - I figured it had to do with tadpoles, but I'd never heard of it as referring to children.

Bill Butler said...

You're welcome, Jen.

I had no idea either about the "children" usage of the word TAD, not until I met up with it in a prior NYTimes puzzle a while back. I learn so much doing these puzzles!

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Anonymous said...

This one was just too tough for me: too much I simply didn't know. One clue that was particularly cynical, though: Camp accessory: BOA. Who wouldn't read that clue and start thinking of things one needs to go camping, instead of a "corny" form of entertainment. That was a really weak clue.

Bill Butler said...

I have to agree. This was a particularly tough puzzle. I was fine with the clue for BOA though. I don't mind a little deception now and then :)

Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving a comment.

Fishmael said...

As to "nimrod" in 21 across: most dictionaries only recognize the "formal" definition of "skillful hunter", from a character in the Bible. However, you (and others) might be interested in the speculation concerning the word's "informal" use. I copied the following from the American Heritage online dictionary (the only one that I found that included this etymology):


also Nimrod A hunter.
Informal A person regarded as silly, foolish, or stupid.
ETYMOLOGY:
1. After Nimrod. Sense 2, probably from the phrase "poor little Nimrod," used by the cartoon character Bugs Bunny to mock the hapless hunter Elmer Fudd

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, Fishmael.

Indeed, that it a new etymology to me, and pretty contemporary!

I love Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd ...

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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.

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.

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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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