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Greetings from Blackrock in Dublin, Ireland

I am on vacation in Ireland until October 9th. I plan on doing the puzzle each day (with a pint, no doubt), although I may be a little late due to time zone differences. I am sure that you understand. Happy puzzling, and slainte!

Bill

1204-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Dec 13, Wednesday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Daniel Raymon
THEME: SQU is SK … today’s themed answers are well-known two-word phrases in which the letters at the start of one word are changed from an SK sound to SQU:
17A. Food critic's assessments of calamari? : SQUID MARKS (from “skid marks”)
27A. Maneuver on a chessboard? : SQUARE TACTIC (from “scare tactic”)
43A. Rug rat pursuer? : SQUIRT CHASER (from “skirt chaser”)
57A. Outstanding posture for a catcher? : GREAT SQUAT (from “great Scott!”)
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 04s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Lithium or iridium : METAL
Lithium is an element, a soft silver-white metal.

The element Iridium is represented by the symbol Ir. It is a metal that's very hard, and is in fact the second densest of all the elements (after Osmium). It is also the metal that is most resistant to corrosion.

10. W.C.'s : LAVS
Our word “lavatory” originally referred to a washbasin, and comes from the Latin “lavatorium”, a place for washing. In the 1600s a "lavatory" came to mean a washroom, and in the 1920s a toilet.

When I was growing up in Ireland, a "bathroom" was a room that had a bath and no toilet. The separate room with the commode was called "the toilet" or sometimes the W.C. (the water closet). Apparently the term closet was used because in the 1800s when homeowners started installing toilets indoors they often displaced clothes and linens in a "closet", as a closet was the right size to take the commode. It has been suggested that the British term "loo" comes from Waterloo (water-closet ... water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of "lanterloo" in which the pot was called the loo!

14. En masse : AS ONE
"En masse" is of course a French term, which is best translated as "as a group".

15. Area jiggled while twerking : REAR
Twerking is a dancing move in which a woman (usually) shakes her hips up and down causing a lot of “wobbling”. It’s possible that “twerk” is a portmanteau of “twist” and “jerk”.

17. Food critic's assessments of calamari? : SQUID MARKS (from “skid marks”)
"Calamaro" is the Italian word for "squid" (plural "calamari").

19. Brilliant 13-Down : NOVA
A nova is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness of a nova is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different from a nova. A supernova is a very bright burst of light and energy created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a supernova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.

21. Part of a Holmes comment to Watson : MY DEAR
“My dear Watson …”

In the marvelous Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes’ sidekick Dr. Watson is referred to only by his family name, except for two occasions when it is revealed that his first name is John. However, in a third and final mention, Dr. Watson is called “James” by his wife, apparently a lapse in memory on the part of the author.

23. Nintendo's Super ___ : NES
The acronym Super NES (or SNES) stands for Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Our kids probably have one somewhere ...

24. Tony-nominated musical based on a 1992 Disney movie : NEWSIES
“Newsies” is a 1992 musical drama film that is based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899. Starring in the film are Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret. Back in the late 1800s, “newsies” were young homeless children selling newspapers as a living. The boys organized themselves and went on strike for two weeks in protest against the money they were paid. The strike was successful and the rates were raised.

27. Maneuver on a chessboard? : SQUARE TACTIC (from “scare tactic”)
It is believed that the game of chess originated in northwest India, evolving from a 6th-century game called "chaturanga", a Sanskrit word meaning "four divisions". These four (military) divisions were represented in the game:
- Infantry (now "pawns")
- Cavalry (now "knights")
- Elephants (now "bishops")
- Chariots (now "rooks")

36. River under the Ponte Vecchio : ARNO
The Ponte Vecchio is a famous bridge that spans the Arno River in Florence, Italy. The bridge dates back to medieval times, and indeed the name “Ponte Vecchio” translates as “Old Bridge”.

37. Steinway offering : GRAND
Steinway & Sons is supplier of handmade pianos based in New York City and in Hamburg, Germany. The company was founded in Manhattan in 1853 by German immigrant Henry E. Steinway. One element of Steinway’s business model is to offer a “piano bank” service. Performing artists can “borrow” a particular piano from the bank for a particular concert or tour. About 400 banks are in the piano, and are located over the world. The value of the bank’s collection of pianos is estimated at over $25 million.

38. ___ Cruces, N.M. : LAS
Las Cruces (Spanish for "the crosses") is the second largest city in the state of New Mexico, and is the home of New Mexico State University.

41. One seeing pink elephants : SOT
Our word "sot" comes from the Old English "sott", meaning a fool. The word "sot" started to be associated with alcohol and not just foolery in the late 1500s.

The first documented use of the phrase "seeing pink elephants", a euphemism for being drunk, is by Jack London in his autobiographical novel "John Barleycorn". In London's description, drinkers not only see pink elephants, but also blue mice.

42. Kosygin of Russia : ALEXEI
Alexei Kosygin was leader of the Soviet Union after Nikita Khrushchev, serving during the Cold War from 1964 to 1980.

46. Believers in one god : THEISTS
Broadly speaking, “theism” is the belief that there is at least one god. The term is also used describe the belief in just one god, what is perhaps more accurately referred to as “monotheism”. As such, followers of Christianity, Judaism and Islam would be classified as theists.

47. Elvis's label : RCA
RCA Records is the second-oldest recording label in the US, after Columbia Records.

50. Stallone's genre : ACTION
If ever there was a movie that defines a career breakthrough for an actor, it would have to be "Rocky" for Sylvester Stallone. Stallone was a struggling actor in 1975 when a Muhammad Ali fight inspired Stallone to write a screenplay for a boxing movie, which he did in just three days. His efforts to sell the script went well but for the fact that the interested studios wanted a big name for the lead role, and Stallone was determined to be the star himself. Stallone persevered and "Rocky" was eventually made with him playing title role of Rocky Balboa. The movie won three Oscars, and "Sly" Stallone had arrived ...

56. Talk show physician : DR OZ
Mehmet Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon, and a TV personality known simply as “Dr. Oz”. Oz appeared as a health expert for several seasons on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Now he has his own “The Dr. Oz Show” on radio and television that is backed by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.

57. Outstanding posture for a catcher? : GREAT SQUAT (from “great Scott!”)
No one seems to know for sure who the Scott is in the exclamation “great Scott!”. One theory is that the reference is to the commander-in-chief of the US Army during the Civil War, General Winfield Scott. Scott weighed in at 300 pounds later in his life, and was so obese that he could not ride a horse.

60. AT&T Stadium feature : DOME
“AT&T Stadium” is a stadium owned by the city of Arlington, Texas that is home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The stadium has a retractable dome roof, and the world’s largest column-free interior space.

61. Antidiscrimination org. : EEOC
Equal Opportunity Employment is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was set up by the Civil Rights Act.

62. Horse with a patchy coat : PINTO
A “pinto” is a horse with patchy markings of white mixed with another color. “Pinto” means “painted” in American Spanish.

Done
1. Perry who's on the case : MASON
I must have read all of the Perry Mason books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when I was facing the pressure of exams. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn't get into the profession the easy way. Gardner went to law school, but got himself suspended after a month. So, he became a self-taught attorney and opened his own law office in Merced, California. Understandably, he gave up the law once his novels became successful.

3. Sellers of tips : TOUTS
A tout (mainly in the British Isles) is someone who checks out racehorses and sell information gained to people placing bets. Touts can be seen leaning against the rails at a horse racing track.

4. Dye-yielding shrub : ANIL
Anil is another name for the indigo plant, as well as the name for the blue indigo dye that is obtained from it. The color of anil is relatively close to navy blue.

5. Helen of Troy's mother : LEDA
In Greek mythology, Leda was the beautiful Queen of Sparta who was seduced by Zeus when he took the form of a swan. Leda produced two eggs from the union. One egg hatched into the beautiful Helen, later to be known as Helen of Troy and over whom the Trojan War was fought. The other egg hatched into the twins Castor and Pollux. Castor and Pollux had different fathers according to the myth. Pollux was the son of Zeus and was immortal, while Castor was the son of Leda's earthly husband, and so he was a mortal. William Butler Yeats wrote a famous sonnet called “Leda and the Swan” in 1924.

6. Dairy aisle rating : GRADE A
Chicken eggs are graded according to the size of the air cell within the shell at the large end of the egg. The size of the air cell is measured by viewing the egg in front of a bright light in a process known as candling. The smallest air cell receives a grade of AA. A slightly larger air cell is grade A, and the largest is grade B.

7. Suffix with sonnet : -EER
A sonnet is a short poem with varying rhyming schemes but always with 14 lines. The sonnet form has been around at least since the 13th century. The Shakespearean sonnet is composed of three quatrains (4 lines) and a final couplet (2 lines).

9. James Stewart title role : MR SMITH
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is yet another great film directed by Frank Capra. The title role is played by James Stewart, alongside Jean Arthur. When the film was premiered in the nation’s capital in 1939, the list of guests included 45 US Senators. Not many of the senators liked the movie at all, and some attacked it as anti-American and pro-Communist propaganda because it portrayed corruption in Washington.

10. Topiary pro : LANDSCAPER
Topiary is the practice of training and clipping perennial plants into clearly defined shapes.

13. Southern Cross unit : STAR
The Southern Cross is the familiar name for the constellation Crux. “Crux” is the Latin word for “cross”.

22. One on the first side to vote, usually : YEA
In most parliamentary houses when a vote is called, the “yea” votes are recorded first, followed by the nays.

28. Proof finale letters : 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".

29. Cloned menace of film : T-REX
The Tyrannosaurus rex and other dinosaurs were cloned in the “Jurassic Park” series of books and films.

"Jurassic Park" is a 1990 novel by Michael Crichton, adapted into a hugely successful movie by Steven Spielberg in 1993. One of the main premises of the novel is that dinosaur DNA could be harvested from mosquitoes trapped in amber (fossilized tree resin), the DNA coming from the dinosaur blood consumed by the mosquitoes. The dinosaur DNA is then sequenced and used to create clones of the original beasts. A clever idea, but apparently not very practical from what I've read ...

30. About, on memos : IN RE
The term "in re" is Latin, derived from "in" (in) and "res" (thing, matter). "In re" literally means "in the matter", and is used to mean "in regard to", or "in the matter of".

31. "___ Fan Tutte" : COSI
Mozart's comic opera "Così fan tutte" is also known in English as "The School for Lovers". The literal translation of the opera's title is "Thus do all (women)", or "Women are like that".

32. Elevs. : HGTS
Elevations (elevs.) are heights (hgts.).

33. "The Hurt Locker" setting : IRAQ
The 2008 movie "The Hurt Locker" is a disturbing drama about a US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team on the front lines during the Iraq War. The film appears to be very realistic, and was filmed in Jordan just a few miles from the Iraqi border. The screenplay was written by Mark Boal, a journalist who was embedded with an EOD team in 2004. "The Hurt Locker" won six Academy Awards, including Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to be so honored.

34. Prego competitor : RAGU
The Ragu brand of pasta sauce is owned by Unilever. The name " Ragù" is the Italian word for a sauce used to dress pasta, however the spelling is off a little. In Italian the word is "Ragù" with a grave accent over the "u", but if you look at a jar of the Unilever sauce, it is spelled "Ragú" on the label, with an acute accent. Sometimes I think we just don't try ...

The Prego brand of pasta sauce is owned by the Campbell Soup Company. It is actually based on the family recipe of one of the company's chefs. "Prego" literally means "I pray" in Italian, but it translates in English best as "you're welcome" when it is used after a "thank you" ("grazie", in Italian).

38. Centers of attention : LOCI
“Locus” (plural “loci”) is Latin for “place”.

39. The "A" of I.P.A. : ALE
India Pale Ale is a style of beer that comes from England. The beer was originally intended for transportation from England to India, hence the name.

41. Baseball's Old Professor : STENGEL
Casey Stengel was a professional baseball player, playing from 1912-1925 and managing from 1934-1965. Stengel was born in Kansas City. He had German heritage, and so was called "Dutch" for much of his early life. As he acquired fame on the baseball field he was given the nickname "Casey", largely because he came from Kansas City ("KC") and also because of the popularity of the poem "Casey at the Bat". He was a smart and erudite guy when it came to baseball, so sportswriters tended to call him "The Old Professor".

44. P on campus : RHO
Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter "p".

47. Attend a homecoming, say : REUNE
“To reune” is to attend a reunion.

48. Jalopy : CRATE
The origins of our word "jalopy" meaning "dilapidated old motor car" seem to have been lost in time, but the word has been around since the 1920s. One credible suggestion is that it comes from Jalapa, Mexico as the Jalapa scrap yards were the destination for many discarded American automobiles.

49. Tycoon on the Titanic : ASTOR
John Jacob Astor IV was a member of the famous and wealthy Astor family of New York. Astor and his second wife Madeleine were passengers on the RMS Titanic when it made its fateful journey in 1912. John did not survive the tragedy, and was the wealthiest person to go down with the ship. Madeleine was picked up in a lifeboat, along with her nurse and maid.

52. "The Complete Works of Shakespeare," e.g. : TOME
“Tome” first came into English from the Latin "tomus" which means "section of a book". The original usage in English was for a single volume in a multi-volume work. By the late 16th century "tome" had come to mean "a large book".

Although William Shakespeare is known as a playwright and poet, he perhaps began his career as an actor in London. Shakespeare definitely acted in some of his own plays early in his career, as well as some plays by other playwrights of the period, and in particular those of Ben Johnson.

58. Mens ___ (criminal intent) : REA
"Mens rea" is Latin for "guilty mind" and is a central concept in criminal law. The concept is expanded to "actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea" meaning "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty". In other words, a someone should not be deemed guilty of an act, unless he or she had a "guilty mind", intended to do wrong.

59. Proterozoic ___ : EON
The Proterozoic eon extended from about 2,500 million to 542 million years ago. It was during the Proterozoic eon that oxygen accumulated in high levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. The end of the eon is marked by the appearance of the planet’s first animals.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Lithium or iridium : METAL
6. Math subj. with proofs : GEOM
10. W.C.'s : LAVS
14. En masse : AS ONE
15. Area jiggled while twerking : REAR
16. Touched down : ALIT
17. Food critic's assessments of calamari? : SQUID MARKS (from “skid marks”)
19. Brilliant 13-Down : NOVA
20. Disbursed : OUTLAID
21. Part of a Holmes comment to Watson : MY DEAR
23. Nintendo's Super ___ : NES
24. Tony-nominated musical based on a 1992 Disney movie : NEWSIES
27. Maneuver on a chessboard? : SQUARE TACTIC (from “scare tactic”)
32. Ones coming on board : HIREES
35. Biblical verb ending : -ETH
36. River under the Ponte Vecchio : ARNO
37. Steinway offering : GRAND
38. ___ Cruces, N.M. : LAS
39. Follow-the-leader sorts : APERS
40. Identifies, on Facebook : TAGS
41. One seeing pink elephants : SOT
42. Kosygin of Russia : ALEXEI
43. Rug rat pursuer? : SQUIRT CHASER (from “skirt chaser”)
46. Believers in one god : THEISTS
47. Elvis's label : RCA
50. Stallone's genre : ACTION
53. The last 30 seconds of many TV shows : TEASERS
56. Talk show physician : DR OZ
57. Outstanding posture for a catcher? : GREAT SQUAT (from “great Scott!”)
60. AT&T Stadium feature : DOME
61. Antidiscrimination org. : EEOC
62. Horse with a patchy coat : PINTO
63. Floored it : SPED
64. Long and lean : LANK
65. Elvis's trademark look : SNEER

Down
1. Perry who's on the case : MASON
2. Ending like "-like" : -ESQUE
3. Sellers of tips : TOUTS
4. Dye-yielding shrub : ANIL
5. Helen of Troy's mother : LEDA
6. Dairy aisle rating : GRADE A
7. Suffix with sonnet : -EER
8. Symbol of strength : OAK
9. James Stewart title role : MR SMITH
10. Topiary pro : LANDSCAPER
11. Burn application : ALOE
12. Cheer starter : VIVA
13. Southern Cross unit : STAR
18. Drawback : MINUS
22. One on the first side to vote, usually : YEA
25. Year-end decorations : WREATHS
26. Collections : SETS
27. Made more aware : SENSITIZED
28. Proof finale letters : QED
29. Cloned menace of film : T-REX
30. About, on memos : IN RE
31. "___ Fan Tutte" : COSI
32. Elevs. : HGTS
33. "The Hurt Locker" setting : IRAQ
34. Prego competitor : RAGU
38. Centers of attention : LOCI
39. The "A" of I.P.A. : ALE
41. Baseball's Old Professor : STENGEL
42. Strong point : ASSET
44. P on campus : RHO
45. Battle cry : ATTACK!
47. Attend a homecoming, say : REUNE
48. Jalopy : CRATE
49. Tycoon on the Titanic : ASTOR
50. Puts in : ADDS
51. Trim, as a photo : CROP
52. "The Complete Works of Shakespeare," e.g. : TOME
54. Cobras of Egypt : ASPS
55. Newspaper ad meas. : SQ IN
58. Mens ___ (criminal intent) : REA
59. Proterozoic ___ : EON


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2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This daily post increases my crossword puzzle pleasure.

Bill Butler said...

You are very welcome. I am glad the blog helps with the "puzzling" process.

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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.

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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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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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