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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

1207-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 7 Dec 13, Saturday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: James Mulhern
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 22m 09s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Big name in 25-Across treatment : PROACTIV
(25. See 1-Across : ACNE)
Proactiv is an over-the-counter medication that is applied to acne. Proactiv’s active ingredient is benzoyl peroxide.

9. Air piece? : BB GUN
A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.080" in diameter) to size FF (.23"). 0.180" diameter birdshot is size BB, which gives the airgun its name.

16. Take it as a sign : PULSE
One’s “pulse” is the rhythmic throbbing of arteries that is usually detected at the wrist or the neck. The contraction of the heart creates a pressure wave in the blood that moves the arterial walls, which is detected as the pulse.

17. "The Help" co-star, 2011 : EMMA STONE
The actress Emma Stone really came to prominence with her performance in the 2010 high school movie called “Easy A”. My favorite film in which Stone appears is 2011’s “The Help”.

“The Help” is a 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett and a drama film released in 2011. “The Help” tells of a young white woman in the South who writes a book about the racism faced by black housemaids in the early 1960s.

18. Decorative moldings : OGEES
An ogee is like an s-curve. Specifically it is a figure consisting of two arcs that curve in opposite directions (like an S) but both ends of the curve end up parallel to each other (which is not necessarily true for an S).

19. First of a succession of 13 : LEO I
The first pope named Leo is now known as Pope Saint Leo the Great. Leo I is famous for meeting with the feared Attila the Hun and persuading him to turn back his invading force that was threatening to overrun Western Europe.

20. Coot : OLD GEEZER
Geezer and coot are two not-so-nice terms for an old man.

22. Johnny-jump-up, e.g. : PANSY
Johnny-jump-up is a familiar name for many species of viola. Also, the term “pansy” is commonly used for violas that are used as annuals or biennials in flower beds.

27. 90 degrees from ouest : SUD
In French, south (sud) is 90 degrees from west (ouest).

31. Area map : PLAT
A plat is a map showing actual and planned features, so a town might have a plat showing existing and intended buildings.

32. ___ d'âme (moods: Fr.) : ETATS
The French phrase “état d'âme” translates as “state of mind”.

33. Alternative to 53-Down : PUMA
Puma is a German company that sells athletic shoes worldwide, but is most famous for producing soccer boots.

37. She's no puritan : JEZEBEL
A jezebel is a woman who is regarded as evil and scheming. The term comes from Jezebel, a prophetess in the Bible's Book of Revelations who was accused of inducing people to commit sexually immoral acts and to eat food that had been sacrificed for holy idols.

45. Sportscaster Nahan with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame : STU
Stu Nahan was a sportscaster who worked mainly in the Los Angeles television market from the fifties through the nineties. Nahan developed a bit of a film career for himself starting in the seventies, either playing himself or some sports commentator. In fact, Nahan was the play-by-play commentator for all of the bouts in the “Rocky” series of movies.

48. Keel extension : SKEG
A skeg is an extension to the keel of a boat, towards the stern. “Skeg” is also the name for the fin on the underside of a surfboard, positioned towards the rear.

49. Unrefined type : OAF
Our word “oaf”, meaning a stupid or clumsy person, comes from the Old Norse word “elf” meaning “silly person”. Our word “elf” has the same root. On the other side of the Atlantic, the plural of “elf” is “elves”, and in some dictionaries the plural of “oaf” is written as “oaves”.

50. Key setting : OCEAN
A "key" (also "cay") is a low island offshore, as in the Florida Keys. Our term in English comes from the Spanish "cayo" meaning "shoal, reef".

57. Universal work : MOVIE
Universal Studios was founded in 1912 in New York as the Universal Film Manufacturing Company by a group of investors led by Carl Laemmle. Just three years later, Laemmle opened Universal City Studios not far from Hollywood, on a 230-acre converted farm. Universal Studios made three films that were destined to become the highest-grossing films of their time: “Jaws” (1975), “”E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and “Jurassic Park” (1993).

60. Nonstop : ON END
I guess “on end” means “without pause”.

62. Little ones are calves : BERGS
An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that is floating freely after having broken off (“calved”) from a glacier or ice shelf. Our use of “iceberg” comes from the Dutch word for the same phenomenon “ijsberg”, which translates literally as “ice mountain”.

63. Player of many a tough guy : STALLONE
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 ...

Down
1. Olympian on 2004 and 2012 Wheaties boxes : PHELPS
Michael Phelps is a competitive swimmer from Towson, Maryland. Phelps won 22 medals in total in the four Olympic Games in which he has competed from 2004 to 2012. Those 22 medals make him the most decorated Olympian of all time.

2. Bach contemporary : RAMEAU
Jean-Philippe Rameau was a French composer from the Baroque era. He is mainly known as composer of operas.

3. Onetime pop star who hosted "Pyramid" : OSMOND
Donny Osmond hosted the game show "Pyramid" from 2002-2004. This was the most recent revival of the show which first aired in 1973. The host most commonly associated with "Pyramid" is Dick Clark, who anchored the show from 1973 to 1988.

4. First name in erotica : ANAIS
Anaïs Nin was a French author, famous for her journals that she wrote for over sixty years from the age of 11 right up to her death. Nin also wrote highly regarded erotica and cited D. H. Lawrence as someone from whom she drew inspiration. Nin was married to banker and artist Hugh Parker Guiler in 1923. Decades later in 1955, Nin married former actor Rupert Pole, even though she was still married to Guiler. Nin and Pole had their marriage annulled in 1966, but just for legal reasons, and they continued to live together as husband and wife until Nin passed away in 1977.

5. Fortune subjects: Abbr. : COS
Companies (cos.)

“Fortune” is a bi-weekly business magazine that was founded by Henry Luce in 1930, just four months after the 1929 Wall Street Crash. “Fortune” is noted for its annual ranking of companies by revenue, especially the Fortune 500.

6. Stalin defier : TITO
Marshal Josip Broz Tito led the Yugoslav resistance during WWII. After the war, Tito led the country as Prime Minister and then President.

9. Lodge org. : BPOE
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a "club" in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren't welcome.

11. Harvard has an all-male one : GLEE CLUB
A glee club is a choir group, usually of males, that sings short songs known as “glees”. A glee is a song scored for three or more voices that is performed unaccompanied.

The Harvard Glee Club was founded in 1858, making it the oldest collegiate chorus in the country. The list of Harvard Glee Club alumni includes composer Leonard Bernstein as well as future US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

13. Super Mario Bros. runner : NES
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was sold in North America from 1985 to to 1995. The NES was the biggest selling gaming console of the era.

Mario Bros. started out as an arcade game back in 1983, developed by Nintendo. The more famous of the two brothers, Mario, had already appeared in an earlier arcade game "Donkey Kong". Mario was given a brother called Luigi, and the pair have been around ever since. In the game, Mario and Luigi are Italian American plumbers from New York City.

15. Backing : AEGIS
Someone is said to be under the aegis (also “egis”) of someone else (for example) if that other person provides protection, or perhaps sponsorship. The word "aegis" comes from the Greek word for a goat ("aigis"), the idea being that the goatskin shield or breastplate worn by Zeus or Athena, gave some measure of protection.

21. ___ rating (chess skill-level measure) : ELO
The Elo rating system is used to compare the skill levels of competing chess players. The system is named for a Hungarian-born professor of physics called Arpad Elo, who was also a master-level chess player active in the US Chess Federation.

23. So-far-undiscovered one : YETI
A yeti is a beast of legend, also called an abominable snowman. "Yeti" is a Tibetan term, and the beast is fabled to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Our equivalent legend in North America is that of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. The study of animals whose existence have not yet been substantiated is called cryptozoology.

26. Name-dropper's abbr.? : ET AL
Et alii (et al.) is the equivalent of et cetera (etc.), with et cetera being used in place of a list of objects, and et alii used for a list of names. In fact "et al." can stand for et alii (for a group of males, or males and females), aliae (for a group of women) and et alia (for a group of neuter nouns, or for a group of people where the intent is to retain gender-neutrality).

29. Aid in making one's move? : VAN
The vehicle we call a “van” takes its name from “caravan”, a shortening of the older term. Back in the 1600s a caravan was a covered cart. We still used the term “caravan” in Ireland to mean what we call a “mobile home” here in the US.

30. So-far-undiscovered ones, briefly : ETS
Extraterrestrial (ET)

32. Like a type B : EASYGOING
The Type A and Type B personality theory originated in the fifties. Back then, individuals were labelled as Type A in order to emphasize a perceived increased risk of heart disease. Type A personality types are so called "stress junkies", whereas Type B types are relaxed and laid back. But there doesn't seem to be much scientific evidence to support the linkage between the Type A personality and heart problems.

34. Geishas often draw them : OBIS
The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied in what is called a butterfly knot.

The Japanese term “geisha” best translates as “artist” or “performing artist”.

36. Wrest the reins : TAKE OVER
The verb “to wrest” can mean to obtain by violent twisting and pulling. The word “wrest” derives from the Middle English “wresten” meaning “to twist”. Our word “wrestling” has the same etymology.

38. Ace's stat : ERA
Earned run average (ERA)

39. Open love? : ZERO
In tennis the score of zero is designated as “love”. Some people believe that this usage originates from the French “l’oeuf” (meaning “the egg”). The idea is that the written character "0" looks like an egg.

43. What mops may be made into : DOS
A mop of hair made be brought under control and turned into a hairdo (do).

44. Feet with rhythm : IAMBS
An iamb is a metrical foot containing an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" consists of lines made up of four sequential iambs e.g. "Whose woods / these are / I think / I know". With a sequence of four iambs, the poem's structure is described as iambic tetrameter.

46. Abercrombie design : TARTAN
Abercrombie is a village in Fife, Scotland located just a few miles south of St. Andrews, home to the famous golf course.

Tartan is sometimes called "plaid" over here in the US, a word not used in the same sense outside of this country. In Scotland a "plaid" is a blanket or a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder.

53. Alternative to 33-Across : KEDS
Keds is a brand name of athletic shoe first introduced in 1916 by US Rubber. The shoe was marketed as a rubber-soled, canvas-topped sneaker.

57. Group with family units : MOB
Apparently “Cosa Nostra” is the real name for the Italian Mafia. “Cosa Nostra” translates as “our thing” or “this thing of ours”. The term first became public in the US when the FBI managed to turn some members of the American Mafia. The Italian authorities established that “Cosa Nostra” was also used in Sicily when they penetrated the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s. The term “mafia” seems to be just a literary invention that has become popular with the public.

59. Actor Penn of "Van Wilder" : KAL
Indian-American actor Kal Penn made a name for himself in the "Harold & Kumar" series of comedy films. These so called "stoner comedies" are not my cup of tea, but I dis enjoy watching Penn play his more mainstream roles on TV's "House" and "24". He left the world of acting when President Obama won the 2008 election and now works as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement (although he did leave the White House briefly to film the "Harold & Kumar" sequel).

In my mind, the "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" movies "let down" what is a great film tradition. The likes of "Animal House" and the "Vacation" series were really excellent entertainment, but then someone lost the plot, I guess ...

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Big name in 25-Across treatment : PROACTIV
9. Air piece? : BB GUN
14. Shrugs, maybe : HAS NO IDEA
16. Take it as a sign : PULSE
17. "The Help" co-star, 2011 : EMMA STONE
18. Decorative moldings : OGEES
19. First of a succession of 13 : LEO I
20. Coot : OLD GEEZER
22. Johnny-jump-up, e.g. : PANSY
24. Nude medium, often : OIL
25. See 1-Across : ACNE
27. 90 degrees from ouest : SUD
28. Really : EVER SO
31. Area map : PLAT
32. ___ d'âme (moods: Fr.) : ETATS
33. Alternative to 53-Down : PUMA
34. Secures : OBTAINS
37. She's no puritan : JEZEBEL
40. Farm sounds : BAAS
41. Station, e.g. : AIRER
42. Repulsive : ICKY
43. Get out of practice? : DISBAR
45. Sportscaster Nahan with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame : STU
48. Keel extension : SKEG
49. Unrefined type : OAF
50. Key setting : OCEAN
52. Like eggheads : BOOK SMART
56. Stockholder's group? : HERD
57. Universal work : MOVIE
58. Hack, say : BREAK INTO
60. Nonstop : ON END
61. Evidence of having worn thongs : SANDAL TAN
62. Little ones are calves : BERGS
63. Player of many a tough guy : STALLONE

Down
1. Olympian on 2004 and 2012 Wheaties boxes : PHELPS
2. Bach contemporary : RAMEAU
3. Onetime pop star who hosted "Pyramid" : OSMOND
4. First name in erotica : ANAIS
5. Fortune subjects: Abbr. : COS
6. Stalin defier : TITO
7. Stargazer's focus? : IDOL
8. Street fair lineup : VENDORS
9. Lodge org. : BPOE
10. Fryer seen at a cookout? : BUG ZAPPER
11. Harvard has an all-male one : GLEE CLUB
12. Creation for many an account : USERNAME
13. Super Mario Bros. runner : NES
15. Backing : AEGIS
21. ___ rating (chess skill-level measure) : ELO
23. So-far-undiscovered one : YETI
26. Name-dropper's abbr.? : ET AL
29. Aid in making one's move? : VAN
30. So-far-undiscovered ones, briefly : ETS
32. Like a type B : EASYGOING
34. Geishas often draw them : OBIS
35. Wimp's lack : BACKBONE
36. Wrest the reins : TAKE OVER
37. Crane arm : JIB
38. Ace's stat : ERA
39. Open love? : ZERO
41. To the degree that : AS FAR AS
43. What mops may be made into : DOS
44. Feet with rhythm : IAMBS
45. Dealt with : SEEN TO
46. Abercrombie design : TARTAN
47. Brought to ruin : UNDONE
51. Kick back : CHILL
53. Alternative to 33-Across : KEDS
54. Ripped : RENT
55. Drumroll follower : TADA!
57. Group with family units : MOB
59. Actor Penn of "Van Wilder" : KAL


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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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