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Greetings from Dromod, County Leitrim 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

1212-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 12 Dec 13, Thursday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: David Steinberg
THEME: Erase Rs … there is a note that comes with today’s puzzle:
After this puzzle was created, the constructor did something to 11 squares - as suggested by a two-word reading of 63-Across before alteration.
The answer to 63-across is EASES, but in order to see that answer we have to remove the two letters R in ERASERS. We are told in the note to read the 63-across “answer” ERASERS as ERASE Rs, which we do 11 times in the grid. This is tough to explain, so I’ve included the grid with the letters R removed in the hope that it all makes some sort of sense:


BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 50m 59s!!!
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0 (sort of!) … I eventually left the “R” squares blank, and never got to the “ERASE Rs” reveal, as I just had “E-ASE-S”. I didn't really know what was going on in the grid, to be honest ...

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Letter attachment? : CEDILLA
A cedilla is the diacritical mark under the letter C in the word “garçon”.

8. Boomer born in 1961 : ESIASON
Boomer Esiason is a retired NFL quarterback, now working as a sports commentator. Esiason has had the nickname “Boomer” since before he was born. His mother called him “Boomer” because he was constantly kicking away in her womb.

15. Operate like a fan : OPEN OUT
A fan, like one held in the hand to cool one’s face, opens out for use.

16. Borg contemporary : NASTASE
I think that Ilie Nastase was the most entertaining tennis player of the 1970s, the days of Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. No matter how much pressure there was in a match, Nastase always had time to give the crowd a laugh.

Bjorn Borg reacted very calmly under pressure on the tennis court, earning him the nicknames "Ice Man" and "Ice Borg", which is my personal favorite.

18. Kind of ray : GAMMA
Gamma radiation was first discovered by the French chemist Paul Villard, as he studied radiation coming from the chemical element radium. This radiation was called “gamma”, the third letter in the Greek alphabet, as alpha and beta particles had already been identified.

19. Rapa ___ (Easter Island) : NUI
Rapa Nui is the Polynesian name for what we are more likely to call Easter Island. The European name was coined by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who came across the island on Easter Sunday in the year 1722. Easter Island is inhabited, and is a location that is remarkably distant from neighboring civilization. The nearest inhabited island is Pitcairn Island, almost 1300 miles away.

23. W alternative : ELLE
"Elle" magazine was founded in 1945 in France and today has the highest circulation of any fashion magazine in the world. "Elle" is the French word for "she".

“W” is a monthly fashion magazine that is published by Condé Nast. The first issue hit the stands in 1972.

25. Missouri's ___ River : OSAGE
Much of the Osage River in Missouri is now taken up by two large reservoirs created behind two dams that provide power for St. Louis and the surrounding area. The two reservoirs are the Truman Reservoir and the Lake of the Ozarks.

26. Sounds from kids : MAAS
“Maa” is the call of a goat.

27. Town in England or Nevada : ELY
Ely is a city in eastern Nevada. The city was founded as a Pony Express stagecoach station. One of Ely’s former residents was First Lady Pat Nixon, who was born there in 1912.

Ely is actually a city in England, and not a town. It is home to the very famous Ely Cathedral. The presence of the cathedral makes it a “city”.

28. Friday's preceder? : TGI
T.G.I. Friday's is an American restaurant chain, founded in 1965 in New York City. Today there are over a thousand T.G.I. Friday's restaurants in over 50 countries. I think they have always been particularly successful overseas. I used to visit one a lot with my family when we lived in the Philippines, and I believe the most successful Friday's restaurant anywhere in the world is the one in Haymarket Leicester Square in London in the UK.

29. Rolling Stone co-founder Wenner : JANN
The iconic magazine “Rolling Stone” was founded in San Francisco in 1967. Jann Wenner was a cofounder, and is still the magazine’s chief editor. The name for the publication is taken from the 1950 song “Rollin’ Stone” recorded by Muddy Waters.

37. Maurice Chevalier musical : GIGI
In the lovely musical film "Gigi", released in 1958, the title song is sung by Louis Jourdan who plays Gaston. My favorite number though, has to be "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" sung by Maurice Chevalier. Many say that “Gigi” is the last in the long line of great MGM musicals. It won a record 9 Academy Awards, a record that only lasted one year. Twelve months later “Ben Hur” won 11 Oscars. In the 1958 film, Gigi was played by the lovely Leslie Caron. A few years earlier, “Gigi” was a successful stage play on Broadway. Chosen for the title role on stage was the then-unknown Audrey Hepburn.

44. Kind of tie : BOLO
I've never worn a bolo tie, and was surprised to discover that it is a relatively recent invention. The first bolo tie was apparently produced in Wickenburg, Arizona in the late 1940s by a silversmith. The bolo takes its name from the boleadora, an Argentine lariat.

47. Saxophonist Al : COHN
Al Cohn was a jazz saxophone player from Brooklyn, New York. Cohn played with Woody Herman’s band for many years.

49. Tricot and others : KNITS
Tricot is a knitting method, a type of warp knitting, as well as the name for the resulting knitted fabric. Tricot is very resistant to runs and is commonly used to make lingerie.

53. Dish garnished with a lime wedge : PAD THAI
The delicious dish called Pad Thai is a meld of stir-fried rice noodles with tamarind juice, red chili pepper plus a mix of vegetables and possibly tofu, meat or fish. It is usually topped with crushed peanuts, coriander and lime. The name "Pad Thai" translates as "fried Thai style".

55. Jeremy of the N.B.A. : LIN
Jeremy Lin is a professional basketball player with the Houston Rockets. Lin is the first American of Chinese descent to play in the NBA.

58. Awabi, at a sushi bar : ABALONE
The large edible sea snails that we call abalone are called ormer in the British Isles, and is served as “awabi” at a sushi bar.

60. Bath locale : MAINE
Bath is a port city in Maine that is located on the Kennebec River estuary. The city is of course named for Bath in Somerset, England.

61. They're unbeatable : NEMESES
Nemesis was a Greek goddess, the goddess of retribution. Her role was to make pay those individuals who were either haughty or arrogant. In modern parlance, one's nemesis is one's sworn enemy, often someone who is the exact opposite in character but someone who still shares some important characteristics. A nemesis is often someone one cannot seem to beat in competition.

Down
2. Military attachment : EPAULET
An epaulet (or epaulette) is a fringed strap worn on the shoulder of an article of clothing, often part of a military uniform. “Epaulette” comes from French, and literally means "little shoulder".

3. "Samson and Delilah" director : DEMILLE
Cecil B. Demille was a movie director and producer who started his professional career in the silent era. DeMille’s movies were often epic works, such “Cleopatra” (1936), “Samson and Delilah” (1949), “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952) and “The Ten Commandments” (1956). The Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award is named in his honor, and indeed he was its first recipient.

"Samson and Delilah" is epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. Demille and released in 1949. The title roles are played by Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr.

4. Schubert's Symphony No. 8 ___ Minor ("Unfinished Symphony") : IN B
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was an Austrian composer, particularly noted for his large portfolio of lieder (songs). Schubert is also famous for his "Unfinished Symphony". Schubert's Symphony No. 7 was was left as a draft after he passed away, and as such was "unfinished". However, it was more complete than his Symphony No. 8 which is the one we know as "The Unfinished".

5. 1970 hit about a girl with "a dark brown voice" : LOLA
"Lola" is a fabulous song, written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks back in 1970. Inspired by a real life incident, the lyrics tell of young man who met a young "lady" in a club, danced with her, and then discovered "she" was actually a transvestite. The storyline isn't very traditional, but the music is superb.

6. Later, to Luis : LUEGO
“Luego” is Spanish for “later” as in “hasta luego!” meaning “see you later!”

7. Banned event, informally : A-TEST
There are two classes of nuclear weapons, both of which get the energy for the explosion from nuclear reactions. The first nuclear bombs developed, called atomic bombs (A-bombs), use fission reactions. In an atomic bomb, uranium nuclei are split into smaller nuclei with the release of an awful lot of energy in the process. The second class of nuclear weapons are fusion bombs. Fusion devices are also called thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs (H-bombs). In a fusion reaction, the nuclei of hydrogen isotopes are fused together to form bigger nuclei, with the release of even greater amounts of energy than a fission reaction.

10. Golfer Aoki : ISAO
Isao Aoki is one of Japan's greatest golfers, now playing on the senior circuit. Aoki's best finish in a major tournament was runner-up to Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 US Open. Aoki is relatively tall (6 feet), and his height earned him the nickname “Tower”, after the Tokyo Tower.

11. Kale source? : ATM
Lettuce, cabbage, kale, dough, scratch, simoleons, clams and moola are all slang terms for money.

12. Subjects of Margaret Mead study : SAMOANS
"Coming of Age in Samoa" sounds like a fascinating book. It was written by American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead and published in 1928. In the book, Mead examines the behavior of youths in Samoa, making some comparisons with youths in America. One major observation she made was the smooth transition from childhood to adulthood of Samoan girls, compared to what she described as a more troublesome transition in the US.

13. Certain bullet train rider : OSAKAN
The Japanese city of Osaka used to be called Naniwa, with the name changing to Osaka some time before 1500. "Osaka" can be translated either as "large hill" or "large slope".

Although rail transportation started out its life in Europe, it really came into its own transporting people and goods across the vast United States. However, the Japanese should be given credit for developing train travel into the exceptional service it is today. A bullet train is any high speed train that resembles the locomotives developed by the Japanese in the fifties and sixties.

21. Pudding starch : SAGO
When I was growing up in Ireland I was very familiar with pearl sago, which is very similar to pearl tapioca. Pearls of sago are simply little balls of sago starch used to make breads, pancakes, biscuits, or the steamed puddings that we ate as kids. Sago comes from pith of the sago palm tree. To get at the starch the tree has to be cut down and the trunk split to reveal the pith. The pith is crushed and manipulated to make the starch available, which is then washed out of a fibrous suspension. One sago palm tree yields about 150-300 kg of starch. Personally I love the stuff, but then, I am a bit weird …

31. Band parodied by Weird Al Yankovic's "Dare to Be Stupid" : DEVO
Devo is a band from Akron, Ohio formed back in 1973. The band's biggest hit is "Whip It" released in 1980.

Weird Al Yankovic is famous for his parodies of songs, like "Eat It", his parody of Michael Jackson's "Beat It". The title song of his 1985 album "Dare to Be Stupid" is a musical pastiche, a style parody of the band Devo.

32. Enclosure to an ed. : SAE
A stamped addressed envelope (SAE) might be included with a manuscript (MS) submitted to an editor (ed.).

34. Britain's last King Richard : III
Richard III ruled England for just two years, and was the last king of the House of York. Richard’s reign came to an early close with his defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, which brought an end to the Wars of the Roses and the start of the Tudor Dynasty. His death at the hands of Henry Tudor made him the last English king to die in battle. Richard’s remains were hastily buried in a friary in Leicester in the midlands of England. The friary was demolished in the mid-1500s, and Richard’s remains went missing for centuries. Famously, the friary and the king’s remains were discovered in an archeological dig in 2012 under a city car park. The remains are scheduled to be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral.

36. Munchies from Mars : M AND MS
Forrest Mars, Sr. was the founder of the Mars Company. Forrest invented the Mars Bar while living over in England and then developed M&M's when he returned to the US. Mars came up with the idea for M&M's when he saw soldiers in the Spanish Civil War eating chocolate pellets. Those pellets had a hard shell of tempered chocolate on the outside to prevent them from melting. Mars got some of the funding to develop the M&M from William Murrie, the son of the president of Hershey's Chocolate. It is the "M" and "M" from "Mars" and "Murrie" that give the name to the candy.

38. Ski resort rentals : CONDOS
The words “condominium” and “apartment” tend to describe the one type of residential property, a private living space with facilities shared with others residing in the same building or complex. The difference is that a condominium is usually owned, and an apartment is rented. At least that’s how it is in the US. The word “condominium” comes from the Latin “com” (together) and “dominum” (right of ownership).

39. Chucklehead : TWIT
"Twit" is a word not used very often here in America. It's a slang term that was quite common in England where is was used for "someone foolish and idiotic".

44. Joint application, maybe : BENGAY
Bengay is sold as a painkilling heat rub, to relieve aching muscles. It was developed in France by a Dr. Jules Bengue (hence the name) and was first sold in America way back in 1898.

46. Gas with or without an "m" : ETHANE
Both methane and ethane are gases.

Alkanes are organic compounds. The “smaller” alkanes are gases and are quite combustible. Methane (CH4) is the main component of natural gas with ethane (C2H6) being the second largest component. Propane (C3H8) is another component of natural gas and is heavy enough to be readily turned into a liquid by compression for ease of transportation and storage. Butane (C4H10) is also easily liquefied under pressure and can be used as the fuel in cigarette lighters or as the propellant in aerosol sprays. The heavier alkanes are not gases, and instead are liquids and solids at room temperature.

49. Casey of radio countdowns : KASEM
Not only is Casey Kasem closely associated with the radio show "American Top 40", but he is also well known for playing the voice of Shaggy Rogers on the "Scooby-Doo" animated series.

50. "Quién ___?" : SABE
"Quién sabe?" is Spanish for “who knows?”

54. "___ Rock" : I AM A
"I Am a Rock" is a lovely song written by Paul Simon that appears on the Simon and Garfunkel album "Sounds of Silence".

57. Half of an exchange : TIT
"Tit for tat".

59. Article in French papers : LES
“Les” is French for “the”, and is used with a plural noun.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Letter attachment? : CEDILLA
8. Boomer born in 1961 : ESIASON
15. Operate like a fan : OPEN OUT
16. Borg contemporary : NASTASE
17. Stroll : AMBLE
18. Kind of ray : GAMMA
19. Rapa ___ (Easter Island) : NUI
20. A long time past : AGES AGO
22. Sanctioned : OKD
23. W alternative : ELLE
25. Missouri's ___ River : OSAGE
26. Sounds from kids : MAAS
27. Town in England or Nevada : ELY
28. Friday's preceder? : TGI
29. Rolling Stone co-founder Wenner : JANN
30. Energy-filled chargers : STEEDS
33. Tearjerkers? : ONIONS
35. Flashlight light : BEAM
37. Maurice Chevalier musical : GIGI
38. Want selfishly : COVET
40. "Explanation" that may follow "because" : I SAY SO
44. Kind of tie : BOLO
45. Make breathless : AWE
47. Saxophonist Al : COHN
48. Impact result : DENT
49. Tricot and others : KNITS
51. Seek damages : SUE
52. Butt : END
53. Dish garnished with a lime wedge : PAD THAI
55. Jeremy of the N.B.A. : LIN
56. Swellhead's trait : EGOTISM
58. Awabi, at a sushi bar : ABALONE
60. Bath locale : MAINE
61. They're unbeatable : NEMESES
62. ___ analysis : SYSTEMS
63. Moderates : EASES

Down
1. Scoop holders : CONES
2. Military attachment : EPAULET
3. "Samson and Delilah" director : DEMILLE
4. Schubert's Symphony No. 8 ___ Minor ("Unfinished Symphony") : IN B
5. 1970 hit about a girl with "a dark brown voice" : LOLA
6. Later, to Luis : LUEGO
7. Banned event, informally : A-TEST
8. Attractive : ENGAGING
9. Wise : SAGE
10. Golfer Aoki : ISAO
11. Kale source? : ATM
12. Subjects of Margaret Mead study : SAMOANS
13. Certain bullet train rider : OSAKAN
14. Relatives of Teddys? : NEDS
21. Pudding starch : SAGO
24. Fastener with a ring-shaped head : EYE BOLT
26. Whack jobs : MANIACS
29. Nudges : JOGS
31. Band parodied by Weird Al Yankovic's "Dare to Be Stupid" : DEVO
32. Enclosure to an ed. : SAE
34. Britain's last King Richard : III
36. Munchies from Mars : M AND MS
38. Ski resort rentals : CONDOS
39. Chucklehead : TWIT
41. Coin flipper's declaration : YOU LOSE
42. Excel : SHINE
43. Concord : ONENESS
44. Joint application, maybe : BENGAY
46. Gas with or without an "m" : ETHANE
48. Judges : DEEMS
49. Casey of radio countdowns : KASEM
50. "Quién ___?" : SABE
53. Itch (for) : PINE
54. "___ Rock" : I AM A
57. Half of an exchange : TIT
59. Article in French papers : LES


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The Best of the New York Times Crossword Collections

16 comments :

Anonymous said...

what a miserable puzzle! no fun at all...shouldn't this be a saturday puzzle?

Bill Butler said...

Well, this puzzle defeated me in the sense that I failed to drop the Rs in the blank squares, but it kept me thinking for the best part of an hour. In that sense, the puzzle might be labeled a "Saturday level", which is a good thing I always feel. I admire the ingenuity in the construction, but feel robbed when I miss out on the "aha" moment.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering. How were you able to solve it without knowing the "key" to the puzzle. Your limitation on this puzzle suggests your remarkable talent on puzzles in general. Very impressed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bill.
I had some difficulty with this one! Manxie

Bill Butler said...

@Anonymous Visitor
I only "solved" the puzzle in the sense that I came up with the right letters for all the squares except the ones in which the R was placed. I did so by using the crossing clues. I figured there were some extra letters in some of the clue answers, and tried all sorts of combinations before giving up and leaving the extra squares blank ... hoping that was what I was supposed to do but not knowing why. So, I was only half right. No need to be too impressed!

@Manxie
Always good to hear from you! I think a lot of us had real problems solving this one. The key was coming up with ERASE Rs ... which I never did :(

Miles said...

This puzzle might have made *some* sense to me if the description printed in the newspaper was repeated in the international version! Most vexing without any clue about the 'theme'!

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, Miles.

This puzzle was hard enough with the note, never mind without it :) I anticipate getting lots of venting emails in 5 weeks time when this runs in syndication. "Notes" tend to get lost when the puzzle is printed in other papers. Ah well ...

Anonymous said...

This puzzle has been sent to its end in the recycling bin - never to be looked at again, by me (at least). No fun at a all!

Anonymous said...

Once again the line between "challenging" and "simply abusing all the rules of crosswords just to seem clever" is completely violated. Puzzles like this ruin my day in the sense that I really look forward to doing the NYT puzzle every day, but these "dirty tricks" just steal time from me I won't ever get back again.

Dave Kennison said...

I finished this puzzle in somewhat more than my usual Thursday time, but didn't grok the ins and outs of the gimmick until the very end, when I had filled in everything except the blank squares, at which point the "clue" finally revealed what was going on. Up to that point, the clue was useful only in that it alerted me to the fact that there was something weird about the grid.

I guess I would have two things to say to David Steinberg: 1) You've outdone yourself! 2) Really, you shouldn't have! (Which is to say, I appreciate the cleverness of the construction, but I think it bends the rules a bit much for my taste.)

It appears that many people who have done the NYT puzzles for years, as I have, know the names of many of the usual constructors and use this as a sort of advance warning system (as in "uh-oh, him again!"). I do the puzzle in syndication and my paper doesn't publish those names . (But perhaps that's just as well.)

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, Dave K.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

I think you hit the nail on the head and I agree: a remarkably clever construction worthy of admiration, but one that breaks the rules a little too much for my taste. I choose to think that it's my fault I didn't experience the "aha" moment once finished, but I'd have preferred a better shot at working out the theme.

Dave Kennison said...

Bill,

I discovered your blog a year or so ago. I tend to visit on those days when the puzzle is particularly interesting for one reason or another and I always enjoy your comments.

Is it your impression that the NYT puzzles have recently become more difficult? I'm now just shy of 71, I've been doing crosswords for more than 60 years and I've been doing the NYT puzzle every day for at least 30 years. (I even took a couple of Eugene Maleska's collections with me on a climbing trip in the Himalayas in 1989.) I have essentially always finished them, with an occasional mistake in a square or two. But … twice in the last year, I have essentially had to give up on a puzzle and turn to the internet to finish it (which is how I happened to find your blog).

I think part of this is due to an increasing unfamiliarity with pop culture (some comics now go right over my head because of this), but I also worry that I may be losing some of my marbles. (I actually do have a somewhat higher genetic risk for Alzheimer's than the population at large.) So it would be nice to know that others are finding the puzzles more difficult.

Comments (of any kind, but particularly positive ones … :-) welcome …

Dave Kennison

Dan McIntyre said...

No wonder I didn't get anywhere with this puzzle! I pull it out of the office's copy of the Calgary Sun after everyone goes home, and the Sun didn't print the "11-square" notice (assuming they even received it from the syndicate). Even looking at the solution this morning, the twist wasn't obvious, so I'm very glad you post these puzzles on a daily basis, Bill!

Anonymous said...

To Bill -- Thank you twice, once for your informative and entertaining blog and once for coming right out and saying this puzzle tripped you up! I was feeling really stupid.
To Dave -- I'm your age and have the exact same reactions; I do think that the puzzles are getting harder, and I agree that losing touch with pop culture (as well as being behind the curve with digital lingo) is a problem. My husband also agrees. We can understand the fear an Alzheimer's risk must engender, but unless we've all three lost our marbles, we think you're OK!

Bill Butler said...

@Dave K
I find that the puzzles are getting harder for me to solve for a couple of reasons. The puzzles from the younger crossword setters tend to be outside of my comfort zone, with pop culture references that are beyond me. I don't really see a problem with that, as the NYTimes crossword needs to evolve with the times, even if I don't! The second reason I find the puzzles a little harder is that, especially on Thursdays, the "tricks" used are getting very inventive. I like a clever puzzle, but some of the devices used are so novel that my years of solving "experience" are of very little use. I just live for those Friday and Saturday vanilla themeless crosswords. Bottom line, I choose to think I'm not losing my marbles and can rationalize away my difficulties in solving :)

@Dan M
I'm glad the post helped answer your questions. I can't imagine trying to solve this crossword without the accompanying note. Congrats on persevering!

@Anonymous Visitor
Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I was happy I could stand beside you, feeling stupid together :) Thanks also for the thoughts on the complexity of puzzles. As I said above, I tend to agree with you!

Juli Taylor said...

This puzzle was awful. I agree that its level of difficulty surpassed most Thursdays. I had to try wayyy too hard!

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About This Blog

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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