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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! We had probably the last hike of our trip this morning (strenuous, past beautiful alpine lakes), and then opted for vegging out by the pool for a change this afternoon. Almost home ...

Bill

1220-12 New York Times Crossword Answers 20 Dec 12, Thursday





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: Ian Livengood & J.A.S.A. Crossword Class,
THEME: Quick Christmas Bonus … today’s theme answers are cryptic melds of two components referenced in the clues, and the first component starts with a single letter. Those single letters spell out the abbreviation “XMAS”, which is our CHRISTMAS BONUS:
17A. Gamer's midday meal? : XBOX LUNCH
22A. Working hours for director Shyamalan? : M. NIGHT SHIFT
34A. N.Y.C. subway line in one's imagination? : A TRAIN OF THOUGHT
45A. Bozo in a big Mercedes? : S-CLASS CLOWN

57A. With 63-Across, extra holiday pay ... or what's in 17-, 22-, 34- and 45-Across? : CHRISTMAS
63A. See 57-Across : BONUS
COMPLETION TIME: 18m 48s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

6. Secretive org. : CIA
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during WWII. The CIA was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.

14. Hip : AU COURANT
“Au courant” means up-to-date and comes into English directly from French, in which language it has the same meaning.

16. Range : GAMUT
In medieval times, the musical scale was denoted by the notes “ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la”. The term “gamma ut” was used to describe the whole scale, and this was shorted to "gamut". By the 1620s, “gamut” was being used to mean the entire range of anything, the whole gamut.

17. Gamer's midday meal? : XBOX LUNCH
Xbox is made by Microsoft (I'm sure the kids have one around here somewhere!) and introduced in 2001. The current version is known as Xbox 360.

20. Dancer/choreographer Michio : ITO
Michio Itō was a dancer and choreographer from Japan who had a successful career here in the US from 1916 to 1941. Itō was interned as an enemy alien the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was accused of being a spy. In order gain his freedom, Itō opted to return to Japan in 1943. After the war he was cleared of any charges in the US and was hired by the American Occupation Command in Japan to choreograph and oversee productions for US troops.

22. Working hours for director Shyamalan? : M. NIGHT SHIFT
M. Night Shyamalan is an Indian-American screenwriter and film producer. Shyamalan has written and directed some great films, with my favorites being “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Signs” (2002) and “The Village” (2004).

24. Fourth-largest city in the Americas : LIMA
Lima is the capital city of Peru. Lima was founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who named it “la Ciudad de los Reyes” (the City of Kings). Pizarro chose this name because the decision to found the city was made on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany that commemorates the visit of the three kings to Jesus in Bethlehem.

28. Nasal spray brand : SINEX
Vicks Sinex is a nasal decongestant with the active ingredient Oxymetazoline. Oxymetazoline is a little scary to me. Although it opens up nasal passages effectively, excessive use can lead to dependence in which the nasal passages remain blocked without further doses of the drug.

31. Red wing? : GOP
The Republican Party is also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP).

On political maps, red states are Republican and blue states Democrat. The designation of red and blue states is a very recent concept, only introduced in the 2000 presidential election by TV journalist, the late Tim Russert. In retrospect, the choice of colors is surprising, as in other democracies around the world red is usually used to describe left-leaning socialist parties (the reds under the bed!), and blue is used for conservative right-wing parties. In election cycles, swing/battleground states are often depicted in purple, the color formed by mixing red and blue.

34. N.Y.C. subway line in one's imagination? : A TRAIN OF THOUGHT
The A Train in the New York City Subway system runs from 207th Street, through Manhattan and over to Far Rockaway in Queens. The service lends its name to a jazz standard "Take the 'A' Train", the signature tune of Duke Ellington and a song oft performed by Ella Fitzgerald. One version of the lyric is:
You must take the A Train
To go to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem
If you miss the A Train
You'll find you've missed the quickest way to Harlem
Hurry, get on, now, it's coming
Listen to those rails a-thrumming (All Aboard!)
Get on the A Train
Soon you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem.

41. Centipede creator : ATARI
Centipede is an arcade game from Atari (it was my favorite!). The game was designed by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey, with Bailey being one of the few female game designers back then (it was released in 1980). Perhaps due to Bailey's influence, Centipede was the first arcade game to garner a significant female following.

45. Bozo in a big Mercedes? : S-CLASS CLOWN
The S-Class is the most luxurious line of Mercedes cars, and is the world’s best-selling luxury sedan. The name “S-Class” stands for “Sonderklasse”, which translates from German as “special class”.

50. Peppermint ___ : PATTIE
A York Peppermint Pattie is a very rich candy produced by Hershey under license from Cadbury's in the UK. The confection shouldn't be confused with Peppermint Patty (a different spelling), the character in the comic strip "Peanuts".

59. Noodle dish : RAMEN
Ramen is a noodle dish composed of Chinese-style wheat noodles in a meat or fish broth flavored with soy or miso sauce. Ramen is usually topped with sliced pork and dried seaweed.

62. Starting O, maybe : TIC
When I was growing up in Ireland we played "noughts and crosses" ... our name for tic-tac-toe.

Down
1. Old German duchy name : SAXE
Saxony was the name given at different times in history to states along the Elbe river in central Europe. As the various states broke up, they spawned many duchies that retained the name "Saxe". The most famous of these duchies was probably Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, two united duchies in Germany that ceased to exist after WWII. A notable branch of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha House is the British Royal Family, as Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. King George V of the United Kingdom changed the name of the family to the House of Windsor in a politically sensible move during WWI.

2. Team supposedly cursed by a billy goat : CUBS
The Chicago Cubs baseball team has supposedly been subject to the “curse of the Billy Goat” since 1945. Billy Sianis, the owner of a Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, took his pet goat with him to a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Field. Fans sitting nearby didn’t like the smell of the goat, and so the owner was asked to leave. As he left, Sianis yelled out, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." And that is how a curse is born …

3. Rent-___ : A-COP
"Rent-a-cop" is a derogatory term for a security guard.

4. Classic theater name : ROXY
The original Roxy Theater was opened in 1927 in New York City, designed to be the biggest and best "motion picture palace" of the day. The first theater operator was a professional, Samuel Rothafel. As part of the deal to entice him to take the job, the owners offered to name the theater after him. As Rothafel's nickname was Roxy, that's the name they used.

5. Actor Brynner : YUL
Yul Brynner was a Russian-born actor. Brynner was well known for his great performances, but also for his shaved head and his deep rich voice. He first adopted the "hairstyle" while playing the King of Siam in the stage version of "The King and I", and he stuck with it.

10. Spanish spread : RANCHO
“Rancho” is Spanish for “ranch, farm”.

13. Cloud producer, for short : N-TEST
The first test of a hydrogen bomb was in 1954 at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The test may have been a technical success but it was an environmental disaster because the actual yield of 15 megatons was unexpected (the military anticipated only 4-6 megatons). The resulting nuclear fallout caused many deaths and led to birth defects in generations to come.

23. Early races : HEATS
The term "heat", meaning a qualifying race, dates back to the 1660s. Originally a heat was a run given to a horse to prepare it for a race, to "heat" it up.

28. See 21-Across : SAW
(21A. Villains in the "28-Down" films, e.g. : SICKOS)
The “Saw” franchise of movies is gruesome in the extreme. I’ve only seen a few minutes of "Saw" footage (accidentally). The stories are about imprisoned victims who are faced with having to mutilate themselves to escape. Ugh …

30. Newt, once : EFT
Newts wouldn't be my favorite animals. They are found all over the world living on land or in water depending on the species, but always associated with water even if it is only for breeding. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental stages during their lives. They start off as larvae in water, fertilized eggs that often cling to aquatic plants. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, the first developmental form of the newt. After living some months as tadpoles swimming around in the water, they undergo another metamorphosis, sprouting legs and replacing their external gills with lungs. At this juvenile stage they are known as efts, and leave the water to live on land. A more gradual transition takes place then, as the eft takes on the lizard-like appearance of the adult newt.

32. ___ law : OHM’S
The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every school kid knows as Ohm's Law.

36. Frigg's husband : ODIN
In Norse mythology, Odin was the chief of the gods. Odin's wife Frigg was the queen of Asgard whose name gave us our English term "Friday" (via Anglo-Saxon). Odin's son was Thor, and his name gave us the term "Thursday".

42. Inked up : TATTED
The word "tattoo" was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word "tatau" into our "tattoo".

43. Japanese or Javanese : ASIANS
Java is a large island in Indonesia and home to the country's capital, Jakarta. With a population of over 130 million, Java is the most populous island in the world as it is home to even more people than Honshu, the main island of Japan.

47. "Chicago Hope" Emmy winner : LAHTI
Christine Lahti is an actress probably best known for playing Dr. Kate Austin on the TV medical drama “Chicago Hope”. If you read “The Huffington Post” you might run across her as well, as Lahti is a contributing blogger.

48. Umpire of Hamlet's fencing match with Laertes : OSRIC
In William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet", Osric is the courtier that Claudius dispatches to invite Hamlet to participate in a duel.

52. French town in '44 news : ST LO
Saint-Lô is a town in Normandy that was occupied by Germany in 1940. Saint-Lo stood at a strategic crossroads and so there was intense fighting there during the Normandy invasion of 1944. After a prolonged bombardment, very little of the town was left standing.

53. Gulf land : OMAN
Oman lies on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is neighbored by the OAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The capital city of Muscat has a strategic location on the Gulf of Oman and has a history of invasion and unrest. Centuries of occupation by the Persians ended in 1507 when the Portuguese took the city in a bloody attack. The Portuguese held Muscat for much of the next one hundred years until finally being ousted by local Omani forces in 1648. A Yemeni tribe invaded the area in 1741 and set up a monarchy that has been in place in Oman ever since.

54. Part of a sitcom sign-off : NANU
"Mork & Mindy" was broadcast from 1978 to 1982. We were first introduced to Mork (played by Robin Williams, of course) in a special episode of "Happy Days". The particular episode in question has a bizarre storyline culminating in Fonzie and Mork having a thumb-to-finger duel. Eventually Richie wakes up in bed, and alien Mork was just part of a dream! Oh, and "Nanu Nanu" means both "hello" and "goodbye" back on the planet Ork. "I am Mork from Ork, Nanu Nanu". Great stuff ...

55. Big "birds" of old : SSTS
The most famous Supersonic Transport (SST) was the Concorde, a plane that's no longer flying. Concorde had that famous "droop nose". The nose was moved to the horizontal position during flight to create the optimum aerodynamic shape thereby reducing drag. It was lowered during taxi, takeoff and landing, so that the pilot had better visibility. The need for the droop nose was driven largely by the delta-shaped wings. The delta wing necessitates a higher angle of attack at takeoff and landing than conventional wing designs, so the pilot needed the nose lowered so that he or she could see the ground.

57. Ill. hours : CST
The State of Illinois is known as “Land of Lincoln” and “The Prairie State”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Hair-raising : SCARY
6. Secretive org. : CIA
9. Cause of everything going up? : ARSON
14. Hip : AU COURANT
16. Range : GAMUT
17. Gamer's midday meal? : XBOX LUNCH
18. Quick online message : E-NOTE
19. Spot : ESPY
20. Dancer/choreographer Michio : ITO
21. Villains in the "28-Down" films, e.g. : SICKOS
22. Working hours for director Shyamalan? : M. NIGHT SHIFT
24. Fourth-largest city in the Americas : LIMA
27. Use, as dishes : EAT ON
28. Nasal spray brand : SINEX
29. Restaurant's after-dinner selection : TEAS
31. Red wing? : GOP
34. N.Y.C. subway line in one's imagination? : A TRAIN OF THOUGHT
38. Atomic : WEE
39. Fishes or cuts bait, say : OPTS
40. They take a beating : DRUMS
41. Centipede creator : ATARI
44. Stops in the country : INNS
45. Bozo in a big Mercedes? : S-CLASS CLOWN
50. Peppermint ___ : PATTIE
51. Hearth's content : ASH
52. End of many company names : SONS
56. Santa ___ : ANITA
57. With 63-Across, extra holiday pay ... or what's in 17-, 22-, 34- and 45-Across? : CHRISTMAS
59. Noodle dish : RAMEN
60. Upper : STIMULANT
61. Some hard-to-wrap presents : SLEDS
62. Starting O, maybe : TIC
63. See 57-Across : BONUS

Down
1. Old German duchy name : SAXE
2. Team supposedly cursed by a billy goat : CUBS
3. Rent-___ : A-COP
4. Classic theater name : ROXY
5. Actor Brynner : YUL
6. "Pretty, pretty please?" : CAN’T I?
7. Sporting a fake nose and glasses, maybe : INCOG
8. Sporting figure: Abbr. : ATH
9. Discriminatory, in a way : AGEIST
10. Spanish spread : RANCHO
11. Proof positive : SMOKING GUN
12. Lacking : OUT OF
13. Cloud producer, for short : N-TEST
15. Total : RUIN
21. Narc's discovery : STASH
22. Conservative skirt : MAXI
23. Early races : HEATS
24. Diet, commercially : LITE
25. As it happens : IN REAL TIME
26. "Give ___ buzz" : ME A
28. See 21-Across : SAW
29. The weather, commonly : TOPIC
30. Newt, once : EFT
32. ___ law : OHM’S
33. Liq. measures : PTS
35. Like 36-Down, e.g. : NORSE
36. Frigg's husband : ODIN
37. It may fill a niche : URN
42. Inked up : TATTED
43. Japanese or Javanese : ASIANS
45. Trades one-twos, say : SPARS
46. Ear part : CANAL
47. "Chicago Hope" Emmy winner : LAHTI
48. Umpire of Hamlet's fencing match with Laertes : OSRIC
49. Impulse : WHIM
52. French town in '44 news : ST LO
53. Gulf land : OMAN
54. Part of a sitcom sign-off : NANU
55. Big "birds" of old : SSTS
57. Ill. hours : CST
58. Fill-in : SUB

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The Best of the New York Times Crossword Collections

4 comments :

cALyPsO said...

Have you read THE LOVER'S DICTIONARY by Steven Levithan? His definition of gamut is ... superb.

cALyPsO said...

It's genius.. actually.. genius.

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, Calypso.

No, I haven't read "The Lover's Dictionary". I've seen it on the shelpf at the bookstore, and I hear good things about it.

I will have to look more closely next time I see it :)

cALyPsO said...

I think it's David Levithan! Sorry.. I must have seen Steven Levithan's name on the ending credits of a tv show when I wrote that..

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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.

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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