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Greetings from Dundalk, County Louth in Ireland

I am on vacation in Ireland, and have extended my stay until October 24th. I am focused on getting the puzzle solved and at least a basic post up each day. It's proving to be difficult to do much more than that due to pressure of time, which I am sure you can understand. Happy puzzling, and slainte!

Bill

1209-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 9 Dec 13, Monday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Nina Rulon-Miller
THEME: Chairs at the End … today’s themed answer end with a word that often precedes CHAIR:
16A. Coerce : STRONG-ARM (giving “armchair”)
29A. Civic group with more than 45,000 affiliates : LIONS CLUB (giving “club chair”)
36A. Like some broadcast frequencies : ULTRA-HIGH (giving “high chair”)
47A. Illicit Prohibition-era establishment : SPEAKEASY (giving “easy chair”)
61A. Where lifeboats are generally stored : UPPER DECK (giving “deckchair”)
64A. Head, as a committee ... or a word that can follow the ends of 16-, 29-, 36-, 47- and 61-Across : CHAIR
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 6m 13s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. ___, crackle, pop : SNAP
Snap, Crackle and Pop are three elves employed as the mascots for Kellogg's Rice Krispies. The trio first appeared in an ad campaign in 1933, although the phrase "snap, crackle and pop" had been used for the cereal for some time in radio ads. By the way, the elves are selling "Rice Bubbles" in Australia, and the elves have different names in other parts of the world (like "Cric!, Crac! and Croc! in Quebec).

9. ___ Crunch (Quaker cereal) : CAP’N
The first Cap'n Crunch commercials aired in 1963, at the time the product line was launched. The Cap'n's full name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch, would you believe?. Crunch's voice was provided for many years by Daws Butler, the same voice actor who gave us Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound.

14. Emperor at the Circus Maximus : NERO
The Circus Maximus was an ancient stadium used for chariot racing in Rome. It was the first such stadium built by the Romans, and was the largest ever to be built in the whole of the Roman Empire. The Circus Maximus was over 2,000 feet long and just under 400 feet wide, and could house about 15,000 spectators. There is very little of the original structure remaining and the site is now used as a major park.

The Roman emperor Nero had quite the family life. When Nero was just 16-years-old he married his stepsister, Claudia Octavia. He also had his mother and step-brother executed.

18. 1940s computer : ENIAC
The acronym ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (although many folks insist that the C was for "Computer"). ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was designed to calculate artillery firing tables, but it ended up being used early on to make calculations necessary for the development of the hydrogen bomb. Given its uses, it's not surprising to hear that development of ENIAC was funded by the US Army during WWII.

19. Hitchcock roles, famously : CAMEOS
Even in my day, a cameo role was more than just a short appearance in a movie (or other artistic piece). For the appearance to be a cameo, the actor had to playing himself or herself, and was instantly recognizable. With this meaning, it's easy to see the etymology of the term, as a cameo brooch is one with the recognizable carving of the silhouette of a person. Nowadays, a cameo is any minor role played by a celebrity or famous actor, regardless of the character played.

Alfred Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance in 39 of his 52 movies. My favorite, and perhaps the most innovative, is in the movie "Lifeboat". In the film, there is a limited cast, just the people in a lifeboat and no extras. Hitchcock managed to make his appearance in a print ad in a newspaper read by one of the survivors in the boat.

20. Play-Doh, e.g. : PUTTY
Back in the 1930s, a manufacturer in Cincinnati produced a doughy compound that was used to clean wallpaper. Twenty years later, school-kids started using the cleaning material as a modelling compound, so the manufacturer reworked the formula, and sold it to local schools. It was given the name Play-Doh.

21. "I tawt I taw a puddy ___" : TAT
“I tawt I taw a puddy tat!” is a famous line uttered by Tweety Bird, the yellow canary in the “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” cartoons who is constantly stalked by various cats.

Sylvester J, Pussycat was also known as Puddy Tat, and was a character who appeared in “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” cartoons. Sylvester was the cat who was often trying to get the better of Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales and Hippety Hopper.

22. Treeless plain : STEPPE
A steppe is a grassland, devoid of trees apart from those growing near rivers and lakes. We would likely call such a geographic feature a prairie in this country.

27. Abbr. on a bottle of Courvoisier : VSOP
Cognac is a famous variety of brandy named after the town of Cognac in the very west of France. To be called cognac, the brandy must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in very specific French oak barrels. It is the length of this aging that defines the various grades of cognac (and other brandies):
- VS: Very Special ... at least 2 years storage
- VSOP: Very Special (or Superior) Old Pale ... at least 4 years storage
- XO: Extra Old ... at least 6 years
- VSO: Very Superior Old ... 12-17 years
Courvoisier is a brand of cognac that is produced in the commune of Jarnac in southwestern France. Legend tells us that Napoleon Bonaparte took several barrels of Courvoisier with him to the island of St. Helena, where he died in exile. The English officers on the ship who transported the former emperor regularly sampled the barrels and named it “The Cognac of Napoleon”, words which appear on every bottle that is produced today.

29. Civic group with more than 45,000 affiliates : LIONS CLUB (giving “club chair”)
Lions Club International is an organization focused on the promotion of understanding across political and sectarian lines and on the support of charitable entities. Lions Club was founded in 1917 in Chicago by businessman Melvin Jones. Lions Clubs are open to adult male members, but Lioness Clubs are open to adult females and Leo Clubs are open to younger members.

A “club chair” is a type of armchair that was introduced in France under the name “comfortable chair”. The use of “club” might be a reference to a “gentlemen’s club”, where the chairs became quite common.

31. Font lines : SERIFS
Serifs are details on the ends of characters in some typefaces. Typefaces without serifs are known as sans-serif (using the French word "sans" meaning "without"). Some people say that serif fonts are easier to read on paper, whereas sans-serif fonts work better on a computer screen. I'm not so sure though ...

34. Dairy Queen purchase : CONE
Soft serve ice cream was developed by John McCullough in 1938. McCullough was able to get his new dessert carried by a local ice cream store in Illinois. He and the store owner became so swamped with sales that they opened a store specifically built around the product in Joliet, Illinois, hence creating the first Dairy Queen outlet. There are now over 5,700 Dairy Queen franchises in 19 countries. We've even got one in Ireland ...

35. Martians, e.g., in brief : ETS
Extraterrestrial (ET)

36. Like some broadcast frequencies : ULTRA-HIGH (giving “high chair”)
The radio spectrum is divided into bands based on frequency. "High band" is composed of relatively high frequency values, and "low band" is composed of frequencies that are relatively low. FM radio falls into the band called Very High Frequency, or VHF. Television signals use frequencies even higher than VHF, frequencies in the Ultra-High Frequency band (UHF). AM radio uses lower frequencies that fall into the relatively low bands of Low, Medium and High Frequency (LF, MF, and HF).

42. Mars' Greek counterpart : ARES
The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of blood-lust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos, Deimos and Eros. The Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars.

47. Illicit Prohibition-era establishment : SPEAKEASY (giving “easy chair”)
A speakeasy is an establishment that sells alcoholic drinks illegally. Speakeasies were very big in the US in the days of Prohibition. The obvious etymology of the term, a speakeasy owner asking his or her customers to “speak easy” so as not to draw attention to the authorities, is thought to have originated in 1888 in McKeesport just outside Pittsburgh.

51. River to the North Sea : ELBE
The River Elbe rises in the Czech Republic and travels over a thousand kilometers before emptying into the North Sea near the port of Hamburg in Germany.

52. Cast (off) : SLOUGH
“To slough off” is “to cast off”, especially when one is talking about the skin of a snake or other animal.

55. Jason Bourne, for one : SPY
"The Bourne Identity" is a great spy novel written by Robert Ludlum, first published in 1980. It has been ranked as the second best spy novel of all time, just behind the even more enjoyable "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" by John le Carre. Ludlum wrote two sequels, and all three parts of "The Bourne Trilogy" have been made into very successful movies starring Matt Damon in the title role. Ludlum died before he could write more than three novels featuring Jason Bourne, but five more titles in the series have been published, written by Eric Van Lustbader. I must check them out ...

60. The ___ Brothers (R&B group) : ISLEY
The Isley Brothers are an R&B group from Cincinnati, Ohio. The original lineup was a vocal trio consisting of three brothers: O’Kelly, Jr., Rudolph and Ronald Isley. The three brothers wrote the fabulous 1959 hit “Shout”, the song which brought the group its first success.

65. Nietzsche's "no" : NEIN
Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher. Not my cup of tea ...

66. Onetime Harper's Bazaar illustrator : ERTE
“Erté” was the pseudonym of French artist (Russian born) Romain de Tirtoff. Erté is the French pronunciation of his initials "R.T."

“Harper’s Bazaar” was first published in 1867, making it the first women’s fashion magazine to hit the newsstands.

68. Summers in St.-Tropez : ETES
Saint-Tropez is a town in southeastern France on the French Riviera. These days, Saint-Tropez is very much associated with the European and American jet set.

69. Cape Canaveral acronym : NASA
The famous headland in Florida called Cape Canaveral was named by Spanish explorers in the early 16th century. As the Cape acts as a launching station for many of NASA’s rockets, when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 the NASA facility on nearby Merritt Island was renamed the Kennedy Space Center, and President Johnson went as far as renaming the whole of Cape Canaveral to Cape Kennedy. The name change for the cape didn’t go down well in Florida though, as the headland had been called Cape Canaveral for over 400 years. So, the name was restored in 1973, and Cape Kennedy is no more.

Down
1. Sophs., in two years : SRS
The term “sophomore” has been used for a student in the second year of university since the 1680’s. The original meaning of the word was “arguer”. The term has Greek roots, from two Greek words that have been artificially combined in English. The Greek “sophos” means “wise”, and “moros” means “foolish”.

3. Seltzer-making device : AERATOR
The term “seltzer” comes from the village of Selters in Germany. Selters has natural springs of carbonated mineral water that is bottled and sold as Selters water. In English-speaking countries the name has morphed into “Seltzer” water.

4. Dance for 1-Down : PROM
A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them "formals" over in Ireland). The term "prom" is short for "promenade", the name given to a type of dance or ball.

6. One that goes "pop" in a children's song : WEASEL
"Pop! Goes the Weasel" is an English nursery rhyme, and a relatively young one that probably dates back only to the mid-1800s. No one really knows for certain the significance of the "pop" and the "weasel".

7. Rink star Bobby : ORR
Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn't skate anymore. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking …

8. ___ de plume : NOM
“Nom de plume” translates from French simply as “pen name”.

9. Popular cold and flu medicine : CONTAC
Contac is a GlaxoSmithKline product with the active ingredient pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a drug with decongestant properties, although it is also a stimulant. Personally, I'd go with hot tea and lemon ...

12. The Big Apple: Abbr. : NYC
Apparently the first published use of the term "Big Apple" to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book "The Wayfarer in New York":
"Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap."
Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.

17. Super ___, old game console : NES
The acronym Super NES (or SNES) stands for Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Our kids probably have one somewhere ...

20. Fountain head? : PEN NIB
The “fountain pen” is the successor to the “dip pen”. Both pens have a nib, but the fountain pen has its own internal reservoir of ink that flows to the nib as required.

21. Some Sharp and Sony products : TVS
Sharp is a manufacturer of electronic products that is based in Osaka, Japan. The company was founded in 1912 and takes its current name from one of the enterprise’s first products: the Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil that was introduced in 1915.

Sony was founded by Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka. The two partners met in the Japanese Navy during WWII.

23. "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" artist : PICASSO
Spanish artist Pablo Picasso's full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name he was given right from birth. Got that?

"Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" (“The Young Ladies of Avignon”) is an oil painting created by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in 1917. The painting is generally regarded as having a profound influence on modern art and is hailed as the most important proto-Cubist work. You can go see "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

24. Winnie-the-___ : POOH
Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne was an English author, best known for his delightful "Winnie-the-Pooh" series of books. He had only one son, Christopher Robin Milne, born in 1920. The young Milne was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin character in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Winnie-the-Pooh was named after Christopher Robin's real teddy bear, one he called Winnie, who in turn was named after a Canadian black bear called Winnie that the Milnes would visit in London Zoo. The original Winnie teddy bear is on display at the main branch of the New York Public Library in New York.

26. Airer of Masterpiece Classics : PBS
PBS’s "Masterpiece Theatre" changed its name to "Masterpiece" in 2008. At the same time, three different versions of the show were introduced:
- “Masterpiece Classic” introduced by Gillian Anderson, and now Laura Linney
- “Masterpiece Mystery!” introduced by Alan Cumming
- “Masterpiece Contemporary” introduced by Matthew Goode, and now David Tennant
I love “Masterpiece” …

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

30. ___ Genesis, old game console : SEGA
The Genesis is a video game console sold in the US by the Japanese company Sega. In the rest of the world, the console is sold as the Mega Drive, as Sega couldn’t get the rights to the Mega Drive name in the US.

32. Criticism, informally : FLAK
"Flak" was originally an acronym from the German term for an aircraft defense cannon (FLiegerAbwehrKanone). Flak then became used in English as a general term for antiaircraft fire, and ultimately a term for verbal criticism as in "to take flak".

38. D.D.E.'s predecessor : HST
The letter “S” in the middle of the name Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything. The future-president was named “Harry” in honor of his mother’s brother Harrison “Harry” Young. The initial “S” was chosen in honor of young Harry’s two grandfathers: Anderson S-hipp Truman and S-olomon Young.

President Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas and given the name David Dwight Eisenhower, but by the time he made it to the White House he was going by the name Dwight D. Eisenhower. Growing up, his family called him Dwight, and when "Ike" enrolled in West Point he himself reversed the order of his given names.

41. Interstellar clouds : NEBULAE
In astronomical terms a nebula is a cloud of dust and ionized gases (“nebula” is the Latin for “cloud”). Many nebulae form as gases collapse in on themselves under the influence of enormous gravitational forces. Ultimately these collapses can result in the creation of new stars.

44. Tile piece : TESSERA
A tessera is an individual tile used in making a mosaic.

48. Epic tale that begins with the flight from Troy : AENEID
"The Aeneid" is Virgil's epic poem that tells of the journey of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy to become the ancestor of all Romans. “The Aeneid” begins with the words “Arma virumque cano …”, which translates as “I sing of arms and of a man …”

49. Marketer's target, maybe : YUPPIE
The term “yuppie” first appeared in the 1980s and is short for “young urban professional”. Yuppies are generally regarded as upper middle class or upper class men and women in their twenties or thirties.

57. Mars' Norse counterpart : TYR
Týr is the Norse god of single combat, victory and heroic glory.

59. Yemeni port : ADEN
Aden is a seaport in Yemen, located on the Gulf of Aden by the eastern approach to the Red Sea. Aden has a long history of British rule, from 1838 until a very messy withdrawal in 1967. Someone from the seaport of Aden is known as an Adeni.

60. Glacier, essentially : ICE
A glacier is a body of ice that persists throughout the seasons, and which moves under its own weight. The term “glacier” ultimately derives from the Latin “glacies” meaning “ice”.

61. Article in Arles : UNE
A few years ago I had the privilege of living just a short car-ride from the beautiful city of Arles in the South of France. Although Arles has a long and colorful history, the Romans had a prevailing influence over the city's design. Arles has a spectacular Roman amphitheater, arch, circus as well as old walls that surround the center of the city. In more modern times, it was a place Vincent van Gogh often visited, and where he painted his famous "Cafe Terrace at Night", as well as "Bedroom in Arles".

62. Cat or gerbil, e.g. : PET
Most species of gerbil are native to arid regions, and in fact used to be called "desert rats". They make popular household pets because they are very social and friendly by nature. As desert natives, they also have specially adapted kidneys that produce a very small amount of waste so that bodily fluids are preserved.

63. Mauna ___ Observatories : KEA
The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) are a collection of astronomical observatories on the summit of the dormant Mauna Kea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. There are twelve telescopes on or around the summit, all operated by different institutions from around the world.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. ___, crackle, pop : SNAP
5. When repeated, lucky lottery purchaser's cry : I WON!
9. ___ Crunch (Quaker cereal) : CAP’N
13. Regretful one : RUER
14. Emperor at the Circus Maximus : NERO
15. Ho-ho-hoing : JOLLY
16. Coerce : STRONG-ARM (giving “armchair”)
18. 1940s computer : ENIAC
19. Hitchcock roles, famously : CAMEOS
20. Play-Doh, e.g. : PUTTY
21. "I tawt I taw a puddy ___" : TAT
22. Treeless plain : STEPPE
25. Perched on : ATOP
27. Abbr. on a bottle of Courvoisier : VSOP
29. Civic group with more than 45,000 affiliates : LIONS CLUB (giving “club chair”)
31. Font lines : SERIFS
34. Dairy Queen purchase : CONE
35. Martians, e.g., in brief : ETS
36. Like some broadcast frequencies : ULTRA-HIGH (giving “high chair”)
39. Admirals' org. : USN
42. Mars' Greek counterpart : ARES
43. Moistens, as a turkey : BASTES
47. Illicit Prohibition-era establishment : SPEAKEASY (giving “easy chair”)
50. "How r u?," e.g. : TEXT
51. River to the North Sea : ELBE
52. Cast (off) : SLOUGH
55. Jason Bourne, for one : SPY
56. Uncles' wives : AUNTS
58. "Pretty" thing to say, with a cherry on top? : PLEASE
60. The ___ Brothers (R&B group) : ISLEY
61. Where lifeboats are generally stored : UPPER DECK (giving “deckchair”)
64. Head, as a committee ... or a word that can follow the ends of 16-, 29-, 36-, 47- and 61-Across : CHAIR
65. Nietzsche's "no" : NEIN
66. Onetime Harper's Bazaar illustrator : ERTE
67. Observed : EYED
68. Summers in St.-Tropez : ETES
69. Cape Canaveral acronym : NASA

Down
1. Sophs., in two years : SRS
2. Crackpot : NUTCASE
3. Seltzer-making device : AERATOR
4. Dance for 1-Down : PROM
5. Gold bar : INGOT
6. One that goes "pop" in a children's song : WEASEL
7. Rink star Bobby : ORR
8. ___ de plume : NOM
9. Popular cold and flu medicine : CONTAC
10. Somewhat : A LITTLE
11. Develop in a particular way : PLAY OUT
12. The Big Apple: Abbr. : NYC
15. Game: Fr. : JEU
17. Super ___, old game console : NES
20. Fountain head? : PEN NIB
21. Some Sharp and Sony products : TVS
23. "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" artist : PICASSO
24. Winnie-the-___ : POOH
26. Airer of Masterpiece Classics : PBS
28. More, to a musician : PIU
30. ___ Genesis, old game console : SEGA
32. Criticism, informally : FLAK
33. Accent : STRESS
37. Authentic : REAL
38. D.D.E.'s predecessor : HST
39. Manipulate : USE
40. Ostentatious : SPLASHY
41. Interstellar clouds : NEBULAE
44. Tile piece : TESSERA
45. Anticipates : EXPECTS
46. Home in the mud : STY
48. Epic tale that begins with the flight from Troy : AENEID
49. Marketer's target, maybe : YUPPIE
53. Small, secluded valleys : GLENS
54. ___ Majesty the Queen : HER
57. Mars' Norse counterpart : TYR
59. Yemeni port : ADEN
60. Glacier, essentially : ICE
61. Article in Arles : UNE
62. Cat or gerbil, e.g. : PET
63. Mauna ___ Observatories : KEA


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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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