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Vacation Alert

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

0815-12: New York Times Crossword Answers 15 Aug 12, Wednesday





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: Elizabeth C. Gorski
THEME: TOWN SQUARES … The grid contains some circled letters arranged in squares, and those letters spell words that often precede the word TOWN, so they’re TOWN SQUARES:
- BOOM TOWN
- HOMETOWN
- BOYS TOWN
- DOWNTOWN
- CAPETOWN
- FREETOWN
COMPLETION TIME: 9m 28s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0


Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Andersson of "Persona" : BIBI
Bibi Andersson is an actress from Sweden. Andersson starred in ten movies directed by the great Ingmar Bergman.

5. Bilko and Friday: Abbr. : SGTS
Master Sergeant Ernie Bilko was played by Phil Silvers in his TV show that aired in the fifties. "The Phil Silvers Show" was hugely successful in reruns in the British Isles, even more so than over here in the US.

Jack Webb played Sergeant Joe Friday on "Dragnet" on both TV and radio ... and what a voice he had! Off the screen Webb was a lover of jazz, and he played the cornet. It was within the world of jazz that he met and fell in love with Julie London, the famous singer with "the smoky voice". The couple married and had two kids together.

14. Black, to bards : EBON
Ebony is another word for the color black (often shortened to "ebon" in poetry). Ebony is a dark black wood that is very dense, one of the few types of wood that sinks in water. Ebony has been in high demand so the species of trees yielding the wood are now considered threatened. It is in such short supply that unscrupulous vendors have been known to darken lighter woods with shoe polish to look like ebony, so be warned ...

15. Ritz look-alike of old : HI-HO
Sunshine Biscuits was an independent producer of cookies and crackers. In 1996 it was absorbed by the Keebler Company and Hi-Ho Crackers was on the list of brands that was discontinued because of the merger.

I've always liked Ritz crackers. They've been around since 1934 when they were introduced by Nabisco. The name Ritz was chosen because the marketing folks felt that the association with Ritz-Carlton would evoke images of wealth and the high life.

16. Simon of Duran Duran : LE BON
The English Band Duran Duran’s lead singer is Simon Le Bon. Le Bon is a passionate sailor and garnered a lot of attention when his yacht lost its keel in the 1985 Fastnet race. Before Le Bon and his crew could be rescued, they spent 40 minutes trapped underwater inside the hull. The incident didn't deter Le Bon from sailing though, and the following year he finished third in the Whitbread Round the World Race.

17. Managed care grps. : HMOS
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

20. F.D.A.-banned weight-loss supplement : EPHEDRA
Ephedra is a plant extract used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of asthma and hay fever. Ephedra was banned by the FDA in 2004 as its use has been linked to many fatalities.

24. Edinburgh's locale, in poetry : SCOTIA
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and is a really beautiful city. In days gone by it might not have been quite so charming though. Like many cities, plumes of smoke hung over Edinburgh when coal and wood fires weren't regulated. To this day, the city has the nickname "Auld Reekie", Scots for "Old Smoky".

29. Menu general : TSO
General Tso's chicken is an American creation, often found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. The name General Tso may be a reference to General Zuo Zontang of the Qing Dynasty, but there is no clear link.

32. Drop ___ : TROU
“Trou” is short for “trousers”.

34. Subway Series borough : BRONX
The term “Subway Series” has been used to describe World Series baseball games when both participating teams are based in New York.

The New York City borough known as the Bronx takes its name from the Bronx River that runs through it. The river was named after Jonas Bronck, an early immigrant to the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Bronck’s farm gave rise to the name “Broncksland” and “Bronck’s River”.

38. Ivy League sch. : UPENN
The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in Philadelphia was established in 1740. UPenn was the first university in the country to offer both undergraduate and graduate studies, the first to have a school of medicine, the first to have a collegiate business school, and was home to the first student union.

41. Girl in a Beatles title : RITA
"Lovely Rita" is a Beatles song on the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album. When the album was released in 1967, the term "meter maid" wasn't used in the UK, although it was a slang term used in the US. The song helped spread the usage of "meter maid" all around the English-speaking world. Apparently the inspiration for the song was McCartney getting a parking ticket one day outside the Abbey Road recording studios. He accepted the ticket with good grace, from a warden named Meta Davis. McCartney felt that Meta "looked like a Rita", so that was the name she was given in the song.

47. Close-fitting women's garments : BUSTIERS
A bustier is an item of lingerie designed to push up the breasts and to shape the waist.

51. People who valued vicuña wool : INCA
The Inca people emerged as a tribe around the 12th century in part of South America that today is southern Peru. The Incas developed a vast empire over the next 300 years, extending along most of the western side of the continent. The Empire of course fell to the Spanish, finally dissolving in 1572 with the execution of Tupac Amaru, the last Incan Emperor.

The vicuña is a South American camelid that lives in the Andes. The vicuña produces very little wool, and that wool can only be collected every three years. So, vicuña wool is very expensive due to the shortage of supply.

52. Hale telescope's observatory : PALOMAR
The Palomar Observatory is home to the giant Hale Telescope, completed in 1948. The Palomar Observatory itself was completed in 1928, and is located in north San Diego county, California.

The Hale Telescope in the Palomar Observatory in California is a massive reflecting telescope, the largest aperture optical telescope in the world from 1948 until 1976. The telescope is named after the astronomer George Ellery Hale who was behind the building of the Palomar Observatory. Sadly, Hale didn’t live long enough to see the observatory commissioned.

59. Egypt's Sadat : ANWAR
Anwar Sadat was the third President of Egypt right up to the time of his assassination in 1981. Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 along with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, for their role in crafting the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1978 at Camp David. It was this agreement that largely led to Sadat's assassination two years later.

60. Sport with touches : EPEE
The French word for sword is épée. In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.

61. Sound like a banshee : KEEN
“To keen” is to wail in lamentation. The word "keening" has its roots in Ireland, coming from the Irish word “caoinim” meaning “I weep, wail, lament”.

A banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology, from the Irish “bean sidhe” meaning “woman of the fairy mounds”. The banshee is supposedly heard wailing in the night, especially when someone is about to die.

62. Wonder Woman's weapon : LASSO
Wonder Woman first appeared in print in 1941, published by DC Comics. As she was created during WWII, Wonder Woman's first foes were the axis powers. In the less realistic world her biggest foe was and still is Ares, named for the Greek mythological figure.

64. Zaire's Mobutu ___ Seko : SESE
Mobutu Sese Seko was the longtime President of Zaire (later to be called the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Mobuto was known to be a very corrupt dictator and it is believed that he embezzled over $5 billion from his country. On a lighter note, Mobutu was the money man between the famous 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”. Mobutu was anxious to expand the image of Zaire so he used his nation’s funds to entice the fighters to have a go at each other in his homeland.

Down
5. Marriott competitor : SHERATON
The Sheraton Hotel chain was started by Ernest Henderson and Robert Moore in 1937. The pair bought a hotel that already had a lighted sign on its roof saying "Sheraton Hotel", and as it was too big and expensive to change, they decided to adopt the name for the whole chain.

Marriott Hotels developed their initial properties in the fifties. The first to open was the Quality Inn near Washington DC, the first purpose-built airport hotel in the country.

6. Arizona county or river : GILA
The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado and flows through New Mexico and Arizona. From 1848 to 1853 the Gila marked part of the border between the US and Mexico.

8. Elke of film : SOMMER
Elke Sommer is a German-born actress who was at the height of her success on the silver screen in the sixties. She won a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer Actress for her role opposite Paul Newman in 1964's "The Prize". She also sings and has released several albums. Now she focuses on painting, producing artwork that is strongly influenced by Marc Chagall.

9. Baldwin and others : ALECS
Alec Baldwin is the oldest of the acting Baldwin brothers. I think Alec's big break was playing Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan in "The Hunt for Red October", but thank goodness that role was taken over by Harrison Ford for the subsequent Jack Ryan movies. Baldwin is making a name for himself these days playing Jack Donaghy on "30 Rock", opposite Tina Fey.

10. Atlanta's main street : PEACHTREE
The city of Atlanta grew up around the street known as Peachtree Street, which was originally Peachtree Trail, then Peachtree Road and finally Peachtree Street. There is a debate over whether or not the original trail was named for a peach tree or a pitch tree, a common name for the pine tree back in the day.

11. "Sesame Street" channel : 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.

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.

12. Powell's "The Thin Man" co-star : LOY
High on the list of my favorite movies of all time is "The Thin Man" series starring William Powell and the incredibly attractive Myrna Loy. Powell and Loy played the characters Nick and Nora Charles.

13. Doe in "Bambi" : ENA
Ena is Bambi's aunt in the 1942 Disney film “Bambi”. The movie is based on the novel "Bambi, A Life in the Woods" written by Austrian author Felix Salten, first published in 1923.

23. Rx writers : MDS
There seems to some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol "Rx", used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter's blessing to help patients recover.

25. Starters at some seafood restaurants : BISQUES
A traditional bisque is a creamy soup made from crustaceans such as lobster, crab or shrimp. The term “bisque” probably comes from the Bay of “Biscay” off the west coast of France, a nod to the French origin of the soup and its seafood content. So, when you see a vegetable “bisque” in a restaurant, you’ll know that the term is being misused.

26. Lust, deified : EROS
As always seems to be the case with Greek gods, Eros and Aphrodite have overlapping spheres of influence. Aphrodite was the goddess of love between a man and a woman, but Eros was the god who stirred the passions of the male.

28. Monkey suit : TUX
The style of men's evening dress called a "tuxedo" was apparently first worn to a country club event in 1886 in New York. The use of a dark dinner jacket without tails became fashionable at the club with the members, and the tradition spread from there. The country club was located in Tuxedo Park, New York, giving the style of dress its name.

31. Cadillac model unveiled in 2012 : ATS
The Cadillac model known as the ATS is so called because it is an “A-Series Touring Sedan”.

33. Some Beethoven works : SONATINAS
A cantata is a piece of music that is sung, as opposed to a sonata, which is a piece that is played on some instrument, often a piano. A sonatina is in effect a sonata that has been labelled as something lighter and shorter.

Famously, the composer Ludwig van Beethoven started losing his hearing by the age of 26, eventually becoming completely deaf. And of course, Beethoven composed some of his most appreciated works when he could hear nothing at all. It’s not really certain what caused his deafness, and some have even suggested that it was because of his habit of ducking his head into cold water in order to stay awake …

35. Hanoi holidays : TETS
The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is Tet Nguyen Dan, meaning "Feast of the First Morning". Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.

Hanoi was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state and Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City.

36. ___ Chicago Grill : UNO
The chain of pizza parlors known today as Uno Chicago Grill used to be called Pizzeria Uno, or just “Uno’s”. Apparently Uno’s created the world’s first deep dish pizza.

39. More, on a score : PIU
“Più” is the Italian word for “more”, often seen on musical scores, as in “più allegro” (more quickly) and “più mosso” (with more movement).

42. Early nuclear org. : AEC
The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was set up right after WWII in 1946, with the aim of promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy. Establishing the AEC was a significant move made by President Truman, as it passed control of atomic energy from the military to the civilian sector. The AEC continued to operate until 1974 when its functions were divided up into two new agencies: the Energy Research and Development Administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

46. Old county of Northern Ireland : TYRONE
County Tyrone is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland, that part of the island of Ireland that is included in the United Kingdom. The name “Tyrone” comes from the Irish “Tír Eoghain” meaning “land of Eoghan”. Eoghan (equivalent to the English “Owen”) was the son of one of the Irish kings.

52. Attend Choate, say : PREP
Choate Rosemary Hall is a private, college-preparatory school in Wallingford, Connecticut. Choate’s impressive list of alumni includes President John F. Kennedy, as well as actresses Glenn close and Jamie Lee Curtis.

54. Evidence in paternity suits : DNA
I've always been fascinated by the fact that the DNA of living things is so very similar across different species. Human DNA is almost exactly the same for every individual (to the degree of 99.9%). However, those small differences are sufficient to distinguish one individual from another, and to determine whether or not individuals are close family relations.

57. "The Simpsons" merchant : APU
The fictional store, Kwik-E-Mart, is operated by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, on "The Simpsons" TV show. The convenience store owner doesn't seem to be making much use of his Ph. D. in computer science that he earned in the US. His undergraduate degree is from Caltech (the Calcutta Technical Institute), where he graduated top of his class ... of seven million students ...

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Andersson of "Persona" : BIBI
5. Bilko and Friday: Abbr. : SGTS
9. Pie choice : APPLE
14. Black, to bards : EBON
15. Ritz look-alike of old : HI-HO
16. Simon of Duran Duran : LE BON
17. Managed care grps. : HMOS
18. Sch. type : ELEM
19. Gut course : EASY A
20. F.D.A.-banned weight-loss supplement : EPHEDRA
22. Next century's end : MMCC
24. Edinburgh's locale, in poetry : SCOTIA
25. It may be fit for a queen : BED SHEET
29. Menu general : TSO
30. Some flights : STAIRS
32. Drop ___ : TROU
33. Blackens with chimney grime : SOOTS
34. Subway Series borough : BRONX
35. What the six groups of circled letters represent : TOWN SQUARES
38. Ivy League sch. : UPENN
40. Excessive : UNDUE
41. Girl in a Beatles title : RITA
42. Patronized a restaurant : ATE OUT
44. Toward the rear : AFT
47. Close-fitting women's garments : BUSTIERS
49. "In conclusion ..." : LASTLY
51. People who valued vicuña wool : INCA
52. Hale telescope's observatory : PALOMAR
53. Words of denial : I DON’T
56. "Add to ___" (e-shopper's button) : CART
58. Wig style : AFRO
59. Egypt's Sadat : ANWAR
60. Sport with touches : EPEE
61. Sound like a banshee : KEEN
62. Wonder Woman's weapon : LASSO
63. Takes night courses? : SUPS
64. Zaire's Mobutu ___ Seko : SESE

Down
1. Urgent request : BEHEST
2. Cloned office equipment : IBM PCS
3. [That's such a shame!] : BOOHOO
4. Cartographic detail : INSET
5. Marriott competitor : SHERATON
6. Arizona county or river : GILA
7. Everyday article : THE
8. Elke of film : SOMMER
9. Baldwin and others : ALECS
10. Atlanta's main street : PEACHTREE
11. "Sesame Street" channel : PBS
12. Powell's "The Thin Man" co-star : LOY
13. Doe in "Bambi" : ENA
21. Wash one's hands of : DISOWN
23. Rx writers : MDS
25. Starters at some seafood restaurants : BISQUES
26. Lust, deified : EROS
27. Lo-o-o-ong time : EON
28. Monkey suit : TUX
31. Cadillac model unveiled in 2012 : ATS
33. Some Beethoven works : SONATINAS
34. Really, really tough : BRUTAL
35. Hanoi holidays : TETS
36. ___ Chicago Grill : UNO
37. Really looks up to : ADULATES
38. Populous area, informally : URB
39. More, on a score : PIU
42. Early nuclear org. : AEC
43. Uses as a pattern : TRACES
44. Withdrawal charge : ATM FEE
45. Distress signals : FLARES
46. Old county of Northern Ireland : TYRONE
48. 101 course, typically : INTRO
50. Is in hot water? : SOAKS
52. Attend Choate, say : PREP
53. Proverb ender? : -IAL
54. Evidence in paternity suits : DNA
55. Hammer-on-the-thumb cries : OWS
57. "The Simpsons" merchant : APU


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2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but what in H does "sups" mean?

Bill Butler said...

Hi there,

"To sup" is to take supper, to eat an evening meal, to "take courses (at a meal) at night".

A bit of a cryptic clue, that one. I probably should have written an explanation ...

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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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