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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

0903-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 3 Sep 13, Tuesday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Dan Schoenholz
THEME: We Heard … each of today’s themed clues is a homonym of “we”, or the word “we” itself:
17A. Wii : XBOX RIVAL
23A. Oui : FRENCH FOR “YES”
36A. We : PERSONAL PRONOUN
46A. "Whee!" : CRY OF DELIGHT
58A. Wee : MINIATURE
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 6m 50s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

5. Mrs., in Majorca : SRA
The Island of Majorca (“Isla Mallorca” in Spanish) is Spain's largest island, and is located in the Mediterranean Sea. The population of the island ballooned over the past few decades as Majorca became a mecca for tourists from all over Europe.

8. ___ blanche : CARTE
"Carte blanche" was imported from French in the early 1700s when it was used to mean "blank paper" (in French it means "white paper"). Later in the century the term came to mean "full discretionary power", which is how we use the word today.

14. Use a surgical beam on : LASE
The term “laser” comes from an acronym, “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” (LASER). It has been pointed out that a more precise name for laser technology is “Light Oscillation by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”, but the resulting acronym isn't quite so appealing, namely LOSER …

17. Wii : XBOX RIVAL
Xbox is made by Microsoft (I'm sure the kids have one around here somewhere!) and introduced in 2001. The current version, I think, is known as the Xbox 360.

The Wii is the biggest-selling game console in the world. Two distinguishing features are the impressive wireless remote control and its WiiConnect24 system which allows the console to get messages and updates wirelessly in standby mode. I have my kids unplug the darn thing when they aren't using it, as even in standby mode it sucks up bandwidth on my wireless network here at the house.

19. Money makers : MINTS
The nation’s first mint was established in Philadelphia in 1792, as back then Philadelphia was the capital of the United States. It was established in a building that previously housed a whiskey distillery.

21. One-celled organism : 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.

22. Birdie beater : EAGLE
The use of the word "eagle" to signify a 2-under-par score on a hole in golf, simply builds on the established use of "birdie" for 1-under-par. An eagle is just a "bigger" bird, and 2-under par is "bigger" and better than 1-under.

Apparently the term "birdie" originated in 1899 at the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield, New Jersey. A golfer hit his second shot on a par four that stopped inches from the cup after hitting a bird in flight. The golfer tapped the ball in for one-under-par, and his golfing buddies labeled the second shot a "bird". The golfers started to call one-under-par a birdie, and the term spread through the club, and from there around the world ...

25. Chevy S.U.V.'s : TAHOES
The Chevrolet Tahoe is basically the same design as the GMC Yukon, both cars being sports utility vehicles. The Tahoe is rated at 15 mpg for city driving, but there is a hybrid version which is rated at a whopping 21 mpg ...

28. All's partner : ANY
Any and all …

33. Org. for Wizards and Magic : NBA
The Washington Wizards are the professional basketball team based in the nation’s capital. The franchise began playing in Chicago as the Packers, in 1961. One year later, the Chicago team changed its name to the Zephyrs. After one more season, the franchise relocated and became the Baltimore Bullets. In 1973, the team moved to Landover, Maryland to became the Capital Bullets, and then took the Washington Bullets name the following season. The final name change came in 1995, as the owner was uncomfortable with the violent images conjured up by the “Bullets” name. The Wizards name was chosen after a fan contest.

43. Start of a musical scale : CDE
The C major scale starts with the pitches C, D and E.

44. Portfolio contents : ASSETS
Our word “portfolio” comes from the Italian “portafoglio” meaning “a case for carrying loose papers”. The Italian term comes from “porta” meaning “carry” and “foglio” meaning “sheet, leaf”.

52. Téa of "Jurassic Park III" : LEONI
Téa Leoni is an American actress. One of Leoni’s early parts was in the great film "A League of Their Own" (a minor role, Racine at first base). She also played Sam Malone's fiancée on "Cheers" and opposite Adam Sandler in "Spanglish". My favorite of her more prominent roles was as Jane in "Fun with Dick and Jane".

Unlike the first two films in the series, "Jurassic Park III” was not directed by Steven Spielberg, although it was produced by Amblin Entertainment, Spielberg's production company. "Jurassic Park III" received only a moderately favorable reception at the box office, unlike its very successful predecessors. Regardless, there is a “Jurassic Park 4” in the works that is planned for release in 2015.

53. Actress Zellweger : RENEE
Renée Zellweger's big break came in the 1996 movie "Jerry Maguire". A few years later she followed that up with a string of successes in "Bridget Jones Diary" (2001), "Chicago" (2002) and "Cold Mountain" (2003). My wife and I love watching her play Bridget Jones, and as someone coming from the British Isles I have to say she does a remarkable job with the accent. She worked hard to perfect that accent, and of course she had a voice coach. She also went "undercover" and worked as a temp in an office for three weeks fine-tuning her skills.

54. Abbr. after a series of equations, maybe : QED
QED is used at the end of a mathematical proof or a philosophical argument. The QED acronym stands for the Latin "quod erat demonstrandum" meaning "that which was to be demonstrated".

61. They aren't returned : ACES
In tennis, an ace is a serve that an opponent fails to hit.

Down
2. Rail rider : HOBO
No one seems to know for sure how the term "hobo" originated, although there are lots of colorful theories. My favorite is that "hobo" comes from the first letters in the words "ho-meward bo-und", but it doesn't seem very plausible. A kind blog reader tells me that according to Click and Clack from PBS's "Car Talk" (a great source!), "hobo" comes from "hoe boy". Hoe boys were young men with hoes looking for work after the Civil War. Hobos differed from "tramps" and "bums", in that "bums" refused to work, "tramps" worked when they had to, while "hobos" traveled in search of work.

3. Soon, quaintly : ANON
“Anon” originally meant “at once” and evolved into today’s meaning of “soon” apparently just because the word was misused over time.

5. Attacks à la "Ghostbusters" : SLIMES
1984's "Ghostbusters" really is a fun movie. It stars Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, and was directed by Ivan Reitman (a trio that also worked together on 1981's "Stripes"). The first draft of the screenplay was written by another star of the movie, Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd originally envisioned "Ghostbusters" as a vehicle for himself and John Belushi, but sadly Belushi passed away before the project could be realized.

6. Baltimore footballer : RAVEN
The Baltimore football team's name "the Ravens" has a literary derivation. Baltimore was the home of the writer Edgar Allen Poe, and so the team took its moniker from his most famous poem, "The Raven". The name was selected in a fan contest.

15. "In the Valley of ___" (2007 film) : ELAH
“In the Valley of Elah” is a film starring Tommy Lee Jones, Susan Sarandon and Charlize Theron that was released in 2007. The movie tells of a military father searching for his son who recently returned from service in Iraq. On finding the son’s murdered body, the father then searches for the killers. The film is based on real events. The title "In the Valley of Elah" is a reference to the location where David killed Goliath according to the account in the Bible.

25. Military base tune : TAPS
"Taps" is played nightly by the US military, indicating "lights out". It's also known as "Butterfield's Lullaby" as it is a variation of an older bugle call named the "Scott Tattoo", arranged during the Civil War by the Union Army's Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield. The tune is called "taps", from the notion of drum taps, as it was originally played on a drum, and only later on a bugle.

26. "A Death in the Family" novelist : AGEE
James Agee was a noted American film critic and screenwriter. Agee wrote an autobiographical novel "A Death in the Family" that won him his Pulitzer in 1958, albeit posthumously. He was also one of the screenwriters for the 1951 classic movie “The African Queen”.

30. Charlotte of "The Facts of Life" : RAE
Charlotte Rae is an American actress, best known for playing the character Edna Garrett on two sitcoms from the seventies and eighties: "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts of Life". Towards the end of the series, the Edna Garrett character operated her own gourmet food shop called “Edna’s Edibles”.

31. Yellowstone grazer : ELK
The elk (also known as the wapiti) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the "huge" wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely "elk". The more correct name for the beast is "wapiti", which means "white rump" in Shawnee. It's all very confusing ...

Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park to be established in the world, when it was designated as such by President Grant in 1872. What a great tradition it started! The American National Parks truly are a treasure.

32. AWOL chasers : MPS
Military Police officers (MPs) are concerned with personnel who go AWOL (Absent Without Leave).

33. Red feature of Ronald McDonald : NOSE
According to “Fast Food Nation”, an exposé by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser that reveals in the inner workings of the US fast food industry, the marketing folks at McDonald’s were very successful at targeting children in campaigns. McDonald’s copied the marketing plans of Walt Disney to attract children, and as a result also their parents and grandparents. That’s how Ronald McDonald was born …

39. Thomas with a sharp pen : NAST
Thomas Nast was an American caricaturist and cartoonist. He was the creator of the Republican Party elephant, the Democratic Party's donkey, Uncle Sam and the image of the plump and jocular Santa Claus that we use today.

43. 1997 Nicolas Cage thriller : CON AIR
“Con Air” is an entertaining action movie that was released in 1997. The film tells the story of a bunch of convicts being transported by air who escape and take control of the plane. If you take a look at the movie’s closing credits you’ll see the words “In Memory of Phil Swartz”. Swartz, a welder with the special effects team, was killed in a tragic accident when a static model of the plane used in the movie fell on him.

Nic Cage was born Nicolas Coppola. Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, both of whom are his father's siblings.

45. Former home of the Mets : SHEA
Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York was named after William A. Shea, the man credited with bringing National League baseball back to the city in the form of the New York Mets. Shea Stadium was dismantled (not imploded) in 2008-2009, and the site now provides additional parking for the new stadium nearby called Citi Field.

48. "___ the One That I Want" (song from "Grease") : YOU'RE
"Grease" was, and still is, a very successful stage musical with a blockbuster film version released in 1978. "You're the One That I Want" is a song that was written especially for the movie, one which made it to number one in the charts, followed soon after by the "Grease" theme song.

49. Funny Bombeck : ERMA
Erma Bombeck wrote for newspapers for about 35 years, producing more than 4,000 witty and humorous columns describing her home life in suburbia.

50. Classic German camera maker : LEICA
Leica is a German optics company, famous for production of lenses and cameras. The 1913 Leica was the first practical camera that could use 35mm film, a size chosen because it was already the standard for film used in motion pictures.

54. Bon mot : QUIP
“Bon mot” translates from French as "good word". We use "bon mot" (and sometimes just "mot") to mean a quip or a witticism.

55. While preceder : ERST-
Erstwhile means "in the past" or "once upon a time".


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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. "Huh?" : WHAT?
5. Mrs., in Majorca : SRA
8. ___ blanche : CARTE
13. Top of the line : A-ONE
14. Use a surgical beam on : LASE
16. Be of use to : AVAIL
17. Wii : XBOX RIVAL
19. Money makers : MINTS
20. Farther away, quaintly : YON
21. One-celled organism : AMEBA
22. Birdie beater : EAGLE
23. Oui : FRENCH FOR “YES”
25. Chevy S.U.V.'s : TAHOES
28. All's partner : ANY
29. Very eager to see something : AGOG
30. Send in : REMIT
33. Org. for Wizards and Magic : NBA
36. We : PERSONAL PRONOUN
40. Rep.'s counterpart : SEN
41. Onionlike vegetables : LEEKS
42. No. 2 : ASST
43. Start of a musical scale : CDE
44. Portfolio contents : ASSETS
46. "Whee!" : CRY OF DELIGHT
52. Téa of "Jurassic Park III" : LEONI
53. Actress Zellweger : RENEE
54. Abbr. after a series of equations, maybe : QED
57. Commonplace : USUAL
58. Wee : MINIATURE
60. Weird : EERIE
61. They aren't returned : ACES
62. Impudent : WISE
63. Suffix with road and hip : -STERS
64. Works in a gallery : ART
65. Selects, with "for" : OPTS

Down
1. Candlelike, say : WAXY
2. Rail rider : HOBO
3. Soon, quaintly : ANON
4. Stereotypical cowboy name : TEX
5. Attacks à la "Ghostbusters" : SLIMES
6. Baltimore footballer : RAVEN
7. Easy ___ : AS ABC
8. Tried to seduce : CAME ONTO
9. Zoo feature : AVIARY
10. Long-limbed : RANGY
11. Championship : TITLE
12. Someone ___ (not mine) : ELSE’S
15. "In the Valley of ___" (2007 film) : ELAH
18. Not found in many stamp collections, say : RARE
23. Steams (up) : FOGS
24. Not bad : FAIR
25. Military base tune : TAPS
26. "A Death in the Family" novelist : AGEE
27. Instrument used to play 25-Down : HORN
30. Charlotte of "The Facts of Life" : RAE
31. Yellowstone grazer : ELK
32. AWOL chasers : MPS
33. Red feature of Ronald McDonald : NOSE
34. Total failure : BUST
35. Antenna users : ANTS
37. They're often archived : OLD FILES
38. Scholarship criterion : NEED
39. Thomas with a sharp pen : NAST
43. 1997 Nicolas Cage thriller : CON AIR
44. Like the philosophy "Out with the old, in with the new"? : AGEIST
45. Former home of the Mets : SHEA
46. Detectives' helpers : CLUES
47. Put back to the beginning : RESET
48. "___ the One That I Want" (song from "Grease") : YOU'RE
49. Funny Bombeck : ERMA
50. Classic German camera maker : LEICA
51. ___ circle : INNER
54. Bon mot : QUIP
55. While preceder : ERST-
56. Barely passing grades : DEES
59. Team size in beach volleyball : TWO


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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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