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1218-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 18 Dec 13, Wednesday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Ed Sessa
THEME: A Word Combined … each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase that starts with the indefinite article. To suit the clue, that first “A” is combined with the second word to make a new word and give a different meaning to the phrase:
17A. Plaque from a governor? : AWARD OF THE STATE (“from “a ward of the state”)
36A. Mime's motto? : AWAY WITH WORDS (from “a way with words”)
59A. Arrive via a red-eye? : ALIGHT IN THE DARK (from “a light in the dark”)
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 10m 04s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Good ol' boy : BUBBA
The term “bubba” is a chiefly US Southern slang, and is a term of address for a boy or man. The suggestion is that “bubba” is a corruption of “brother”.

6. Airport security worker's device : WAND
The wand used in airport security screening is a metal detector. Most metal detectors generate an alternating magnetic field. When the magnetic field is passed close to a piece of conductive metal, the metal causes a local distortion in the detector’s magnetic field that is often signalled by an electronic tone.

10. Black, to a bard : EBON
Ebony is another word for the color black (often shortened to "ebon" in poetry). Ebony is a dark black wood that is very dense, one of the few types of wood that sinks in water. Ebony has been in high demand so the species of trees yielding the wood are now considered threatened. It is in such short supply that unscrupulous vendors have been known to darken lighter woods with shoe polish to look like ebony, so be warned ...

14. Composer Copland : AARON
Aaron Copland was the most American of all classical composers, I think. Perhaps his most famous work is the "Fanfare for the Common Man", written in 1942 and a piece intended to be uplifting in the gloomy years leading up to WWII. This piece is recognized not just for performances of the original, but also for the progressive rock version that was recorded by Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1977.

15. Outermost Aleutian island : ATTU
Attu is the westernmost island in the Aleutian chain, and so is the westernmost part of Alaska. Japanese forces took the island in October 1942, eventually landing as many as 2,900 soldiers there. In May 1943, the US Army retook the island in twenty days of fighting that is now called the Battle of Attu, the only land battle to take place on US soil during WWII. I am very proud of my father-in-law, who served in the Aleutians in WWII ...

17. Plaque from a governor? : AWARD OF THE STATE (“from “A ward of the state”)
In the case when a court takes on the responsibility for the legal protection of an individual, that person is said to be a ward of the state.

22. "Downton Abbey" airer : PBS
Fans of the wonderful TV drama “Downton Abbey” will be very familiar with the exterior appearance of Highclere Castle in Hampshire. Highclere is used as the location for exterior and many interior shots of the fictitious Grantham residence called Downton Abbey. The exterior of Highclere is very reminiscent of the Houses of Parliament building in London. That similarity exists because the house was largely rebuilt from 1839 to 1842 by architect Sir Charles Barry soon after he finished work on the refurbished Houses of Parliament.

24. Title for U2's Bono : SIR
U2’s lead singer Bono was granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of the UK in 2007. However, the title of “Sir” can only be used by citizens of the UK and the British Commonwealth. Bono is an Irishman, and Ireland left the British Commonwealth when it became an independent republic in 1949. So, it’s just “Bono”, and not “Sir Bono”.

25. Brit. military honor : DSO
The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a British military award that is usually presented to officers with the rank of Major or higher.

27. Psych 101 topic : EGO
Sigmund Freud created a structural model of the human psyche, breaking it into three parts: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. The id is that part of the psyche containing the basic instinctual drives. The ego seeks to please the id by causing realistic behavior that benefits the individual. The super-ego almost has a parental role, contradicting the id by introducing critical thinking and morals to behavioral choices.

28. Sounds from saunas : AAHS
As my Finnish-American wife will tell you, "sauna" is a Finnish word, and is correctly pronounced "sow-nah" (with "sow" as in the female pig).

41. Machine that "nothing runs like" : DEERE
John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Prior to Deere's invention, farmers used an iron or wooden plow that constantly had to be cleaned as rich soil stuck to its surfaces. The cast-steel plow was revolutionary as its smooth sides solved the problem of "stickiness".

42. Certain dupe : XEROX
Xerox was founded in 1906 in Rochester, New York and originally made photographic paper and equipment. Real success came for the company in 1959 when it introduced the first plain-paper photocopier. Xerox named Ursula Burns as CEO in 2009, the first African American woman to head up a S&P 100 company. Burn was also the first woman to succeed another female CEO (replacing Anne Mulcahy).

44. "Something is rotten in Denmark" : I SMELL A RAT
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” is a famous line from William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”. The line is spoken by Marcellus to Horatio, who are both standing guard outside the castle at Elsinore. In modern usage, the phrase is used when there is suspicion that someone in authority knew about a problem and failed to act.

50. What Charlie rides, in a 1959 hit : MTA
"M.T.A." was a 1958 hit for the Kingston Trio. The song tells of a man called Charlie who is stuck on board an MTA subway car in Boston. His problem is that "exit fares" had been introduced on the system to supplement "entrance fares" (true story!), and the man didn't have the extra nickel needed to get off the train.

51. Capp and Capone : ALS
Al Capp was a cartoonist from New Haven, Connecticut who is best remembered for cartoon strip “Li’l Abner”. Capp created “Li’l Abner” in 1934 and drew it himself until 1977. Capp passed away two years after “Li’l Abner” was retired.

When Al Capone was a young man, he worked as a bouncer in nightclubs and saloons. He was working the door of a Brooklyn night spot one evening when he apparently insulted a woman, sparking off a fight with her brother. In the tussle, Capone's face was slashed three times. Capone wasn't too proud of the incident, nor the "Scarface" moniker. He always hid the scars as best he could when being photographed, and was also fond of telling people that the scars were from old war wounds.

52. Double-decker, e.g. : BUS
We use the term “bus” for a mode of transportation, an abbreviated form of the original “omnibus”. We imported “omnibus” via French from Latin, in which language it means “for all”. The idea is that an omnibus is a “carriage for all”.

57. Targets of sutures : GASHES
A suture is used close an open wound. The term “suture” comes from the Latin word “suere” meaning “to sew”, the past participle of which is “sutus”.

64. Clark's Smallville crush : LANA
Smallville, Kansas is the town on Earth in which Superman grew up (as Clark Kent). One of Clark's best friends in Smallville, and the romantic interest of his youth, was Lana Lang.

65. "Of wrath," in a hymn title : IRAE
"Dies Irae" is Latin for "Day of Wrath". It is the name of a famous melody in Gregorian Chant, one that is often used as part of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass.

66. Longhorn's grid rival : AGGIE
Texas A&M is the seventh largest university in the country, and was the first public higher education institute in the state when it accepted its first students in 1876. The full name of the school was the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas and its primary mission used to be the education of males in the techniques of farming and military warfare. That's quite a combination! Because of the agricultural connection, the college's sports teams use the moniker "Aggies".

The University of Texas at Austin was established back in 1883. UT Austin is known as one of the “Public Ivies”, a publicly-funded university at which a student can get an education comparable to that provided by the Ivy League. The school’s sports teams are known as the Texas Longhorns, named for the Longhorn cattle that is now the official “large animal” of the state of Texas.

67. Like centenarians : AGED
A centenarian is someone aged 100 years or older.

69. Like the sound of bagpipes : REEDY
Bagpipes have been played for centuries all across Europe, in parts of Asia and North Africa, and in the Persian Gulf. However, the most famous versions of the instrument today are the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and the Irish uilleann pipes, my personal favorite (I’m biased). The bag in the Scottish version is inflated by blowing into it, whereas the Irish version uses a bellows under the arm.

Down
2. Detroit labor org. : UAW
The United Auto Workers (UAW) was founded to represent workers in auto plants in the Detroit area in 1935. Nowadays the UAW's membership extends into the aerospace, agriculture and other industries.

3. Carrie on "Sex and the City" : BRADSHAW
Is it just me or would “Sex and the City” be so much better off without the two romantic leads, Carrie and Mr. Big? Carrie Bradshaw is played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mr. Big (aka John James Preston) is played by Chris Noth. We never found out Mr Big's first name (John) until the series finale, and his full name wasn't revealed until the first movie came out.

5. Condor's habitat : ANDES
The Andes is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world, running right down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles. The highest peak in the range is Mt. Aconcagua, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth's surface from the center of the planet. That's because of the equatorial "bulge" around the Earth's "waist".

A condor is actually a vulture, and is the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere. There are two species, the Andean Condor, found in the Andes in South America; and the California Condor, found in the west of the US and Mexico.

10. ___ James (Beyoncé role) : ETTA
Etta James was portrayed by singer Beyoncé Knowles in the 2008 movie “Cadillac Records”.

Etta James was best known for her beautiful rendition of the song "At Last". Sadly, as she disclosed in her autobiography, James lived a life that was ravaged by drug addiction leading to numerous legal and health problems. Ms. James passed away in January 2012 having suffered from leukemia.

Beyoncé Knowles established herself in the entertainment industry as the lead singer with the R&B group Destiny's Child. She launched her solo singing career in 2003, two years after making her first appearance as an actor. In 2006 she played the lead in the very successful movie adaptation of the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls". Beyoncé is married to rap star Jay-Z.

11. Floating accommodations : BOATEL
A “boatel” is a “boat hotel”. The term can be used to describe a hotel on land close to water that caters mainly for guests arriving on boats. A boatel can also be a ship that has been converted to function as a hotel.

12. Brand of taco sauce and shells : ORTEGA
The Ortega food manufacturing company has been around for about 150 years. It was founded by Maria Concepcion Jacinta Dominguez Ortega, known affectionately as Mama Ortega within the company.

13. Liam of "Michael Collins" : NEESON
Irish actor Liam Neeson got his big break when he played Oskar Schindler in the Spielberg epic, "Schindler's List". Neeson was in the news a few years ago when he lost his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, in a tragic skiing accident in 2009.

Michael Collins was one of the most famous leaders of the revolutionary war that led to an independent Irish state after the British withdrew. There is an excellent biopic called “Michael Collins” released in 1996 with Liam Neeson in the title role.

18. Satellite radio's "The ___ & Anthony Show" : OPIE
“The Opie & Anthony Show” is a talk show broadcast on XM and Sirius satellite radio. Hosts of the show are Opie Hughes and Anthony Cumia. I’ve turned into a bit of grouch in my old age, and I must admit that I find broadcasts like “The Opie & Anthony Show” very puerile and offensive. Past features in the show include “Whip ‘em Out Wednesdays”, “Voyeur Bus” and “T&A with O&A”. You get the idea …

22. Sources of announcements, for short : PAS
Public address (PA) system

23. ___ Men ("Who Let the Dogs Out" group) : BAHA
The Baha Men are so called because they hail from ... the Bahamas. Their big hit was "Who Let the Dogs Out?" which has been ranked as third in a list of the world's most annoying songs!

38. Portfolio parts, briefly : IRAS
Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

39. Equestrian training : DRESSAGE
The equestrian sport of dressage involves demonstration of how well as horse responds to training. “Dressage” is a French word meaning “training”.

44. Serengeti speedster : IMPALA
"Impala" is the Zulu word for "gazelle". When running at a sustained speed, gazelles can move along at 30 miles per hour. If needed, they can accelerate for bursts up to 60 miles per hour.

The Serengeti is a region in Africa, located in northern Tanzania and southwest Kenya. The name “Serengeti” comes from the Maasai language and means “Endless Plains”.

45. "Hogan's Heroes" setting : STALAG
Stalag was the term used for a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. Stalag is an abbreviation for “Stammlager” meaning “base camp”.

“Hogan’s Heroes” is a sitcom that ran in the late sixties and early seventies. The show starred Bob Crane as the ranking prisoner in a German POW camp during WWII. The four major German roles were played by actors who all were Jewish, and who all fled from the Nazis during the war. In fact, the Sergeant Schultz character was played by John Banner, who spent three years in a concentration camp.

46. One of "the Few, the Proud" : MARINE
“The few, the proud, the Marines” is the modern-day recruiting slogan used by the US Marine Corps.

The US Marine Corps is one of the seven federal uniformed services, namely:
- Army
- Marine Corps
- Navy
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps

48. Keister : TUSH
“Tush” is a slang term for the backside, an abbreviation of “tochus” that comes from the Yiddish “tokhes”.

Back in the early 1900s a keister was a safe or a strongbox. It has been suggested that this term was then used as slang by pickpockets for the rear trouser pocket in which one might keep a wallet. From this usage, keister appeared as a slang term for the buttocks in the early 1930s.

56. "OMG!," old-style : EGAD!
“Egad!” developed as a polite way of saying "oh God!" in the late 1600s and is an expression of fear or surprise somewhat like "good grief!".

“OMG” is text-speak for “Oh My Gosh!”, “Oh My Goodness!” or any other G words you might think of …

57. Wee pest : GNAT
Gnats are attracted to the smell of rotting food, and to vinegar. Simple homemade traps that use vinegar are often constructed to attract and kill gnats.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Good ol' boy : BUBBA
6. Airport security worker's device : WAND
10. Black, to a bard : EBON
14. Composer Copland : AARON
15. Outermost Aleutian island : ATTU
16. Went like heck : TORE
17. Plaque from a governor? : AWARD OF THE STATE (“from “A ward of the state”)
20. Dredge, say : DEEPEN
21. Can't deal with : HATES
22. "Downton Abbey" airer : PBS
24. Title for U2's Bono : SIR
25. Brit. military honor : DSO
27. Psych 101 topic : EGO
28. Sounds from saunas : AAHS
30. It's tested in a fire drill : ESCAPE PLAN
33. Blob, e.g. : SHAPE
35. Phrase before a future date : USE BY
36. Mime's motto? : AWAY WITH WORDS (from “a way with words”)
41. Machine that "nothing runs like" : DEERE
42. Certain dupe : XEROX
44. "Something is rotten in Denmark" : I SMELL A RAT
49. Drought-ridden : SERE
50. What Charlie rides, in a 1959 hit : MTA
51. Capp and Capone : ALS
52. Double-decker, e.g. : BUS
54. Municipal grid: Abbr. : STS
55. Trims : PARES
57. Targets of sutures : GASHES
59. Arrive via a red-eye? : ALIGHT IN THE DARK (from “a light in the dark”)
64. Clark's Smallville crush : LANA
65. "Of wrath," in a hymn title : IRAE
66. Longhorn's grid rival : AGGIE
67. Like centenarians : AGED
68. Adopt-a-thon adoptees : PETS
69. Like the sound of bagpipes : REEDY

Down
1. Lea call : BAA!
2. Detroit labor org. : UAW
3. Carrie on "Sex and the City" : BRADSHAW
4. Tiresome sort : BORE
5. Condor's habitat : ANDES
6. Symbols of thinness : WAFERS
7. Envelope abbr. : ATTN
8. Vowelless word : NTH
9. Scheduled to deliver (on) : DUE
10. ___ James (Beyoncé role) : ETTA
11. Floating accommodations : BOATEL
12. Brand of taco sauce and shells : ORTEGA
13. Liam of "Michael Collins" : NEESON
18. Satellite radio's "The ___ & Anthony Show" : OPIE
19. Baseball card collection holder, maybe : SHOEBOX
22. Sources of announcements, for short : PAS
23. ___ Men ("Who Let the Dogs Out" group) : BAHA
25. Track event : DASH
26. Throw off : SPEW
29. Trench maker's tool : SPADE
31. More cuddly, say : CUTER
32. Funeral flames : PYRES
34. Narrowest of margins : EYELASH
37. Wishing site : WELL
38. Portfolio parts, briefly : IRAS
39. Equestrian training : DRESSAGE
40. Ilk : SORT
43. Marks of illiteracy : XES
44. Serengeti speedster : IMPALA
45. "Hogan's Heroes" setting : STALAG
46. One of "the Few, the Proud" : MARINE
47. Dies down : ABATES
48. Keister : TUSH
53. Do a shepherd's task : SHEAR
56. "OMG!," old-style : EGAD!
57. Wee pest : GNAT
58. Leg up : EDGE
60. Informer's info : TIP
61. Tee off : IRE
62. Empty (of) : RID
63. A cipher needs one : KEY


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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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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 everyday 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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