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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

1223-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 23 Dec 13, Monday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Michael Blake & Andrea Carla Michaels
THEME: Take It to the Bank … today’s themed answers all start with words that can precede BANK:
18A. Mammal with the largest brain of any animal : SPERM WHALE (giving “sperm bank”)
24A. Riding on someone else's shoulders : PIGGYBACKING (giving “piggy bank”)
53A. Young Indiana Jones portrayer : RIVER PHOENIX (giving “river bank”)
63A. Dry-ice contraption for theatrical effect : FOG MACHINE (giving “fog bank”)

39A. "Believe you me!" ... or what you can do with the start of 18-, 24-, 53- or 63-Across? : TAKE IT TO THE BANK!
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 5m 02s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Coca-___ : COLA
The first cola drink to become a commercial success was Coca-Cola, soon after it was invented by a druggist in 1886. That first Coca-Cola was flavored mainly with kola nuts and vanilla. The formulation was based on an alcoholic drink called Coca Wine that had been on sale for over twenty years. The original alcoholic version actually contained a small concentration of cocaine.

10. Sound from Big Ben : BONG
Big Ben is the name commonly used for the large bell in the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament). Big Ben's official name is the Great Bell, and there is some debate about the origins of the nickname. It may be named after Sir Benjamin Hall who oversaw the bell's installation, or perhaps the English heavyweight champion of the day Benjamin Caunt.

15. ___ de Mayo (Mexican holiday) : CINCO
The celebration known as Cinco de Mayo is observed all over the US and in parts of Mexico. Cinco de Mayo is not, as some believe, Mexico’s Independence Day. Independence is celebrated on September 16, whereas Cinco de Mayo is of course celebrated on May 5th. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

17. Italian soup pasta : ORZO
Orzo is pasta that has been formed into granular shapes, much like barley. And indeed, "orzo" is the Italian word for "barley".

18. Mammal with the largest brain of any animal : SPERM WHALE (giving “sperm bank”)
The massive sperm whale takes its name from “spermaceti”, a waxy liquid that is found in its digestive system. The liquid was originally mistaken for the whale’s sperm, hence the name.

20. Holy hymn : PSALM
The Greek word "psalmoi" originally meant "songs sung to a harp", and gave us our word "psalm".

22. Thin-layered mineral : MICA
Mica is a mineral, a sheet silicate. Thin sheets of mica are transparent and are used in place of glass in certain applications. This form of mica is called isinglass, and as it has a better thermal performance than glass it is a great choice for "peepholes' in boilers and lanterns. Mica is also used in the electronics industry, making use of its unique electrical and thermal insulating properties.

24. Riding on someone else's shoulders : PIGGYBACKING (giving “piggy bank”)
The word “pig” can be used for earthenware, or an earthenware shard. From this usage there evolved the term “pig jar” that described an earthenware pot that could be filled with water for use as a bedwarmer. Crockery pots were also used to collect coins and these were also termed “pig jars”. By the 1700s, these pig jars had evolved into the first “piggy banks”.

28. Marsh gas : METHANE
The hydrocarbon gas that forms when organic material decays in the absence of air is called “marsh gas”. The major component of marsh gas is methane.

31. School for an English prince : ETON
The world-famous Eton College is just a brisk walk from Windsor Castle, which itself is just outside London. Eton is noted for producing many British leaders including David Cameron who took power in the last UK general election. The list of Old Etonians also includes Princes William and Harry, the Duke of Wellington, George Orwell, and the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming (as well as 007 himself as described in the Fleming novels).

32. Blood classification system : ABO
The most important grouping of blood types is the ABO system. Blood is classified as either A, B, AB or O, depending on the type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A secondary designation of blood is the Rh factor, in which other antigens are labelled as either positive or negative. When a patient receives a blood transfusion, ideally the donor blood should be the same type as that of the recipient, as incompatible blood cells can be rejected. However, blood type O-neg can be accepted by recipients with all blood types, A, B, AB or O, and positive or negative. Hence someone with O-neg blood type is called a "universal donor".

35. 44-Across, en español : OJOS
(44A. Peepers : EYES)
In Spanish, eyes (ojos) are part of the face (la cara).

45. Je ne sais ___ : QUOI
"Je ne sais quoi" is French for "I don't know".

46. Xbox alternative : WII
I recently ordered the newest version of the Wii gaming system for my youngest son for Christmas. I have no idea why …

Xbox is made by Microsoft (I'm sure the kids have one around here somewhere!) and introduced in 2001. The current version, I think, is known as the Xbox 360.

47. ___ & Chandon (Champagne) : MOET
Moët & Chandon is a French winery, one of the world's largest producers of champagne. The company was founded by wine trader Claude Moët in 1743. The name was changed to Moët & Chandon in the 1830s when Pierre-Gabriel Chandon, an in-law to the Moët family, was given co-ownership. Moët & Chandon owns the famous Dom Pérignon brand name, honoring the Benedictine monk who did so much to improve the quality of champagne.

53. Young Indiana Jones portrayer : RIVER PHOENIX (giving “river bank”)
The actor River Phoenix portrayed the title character as a youth in 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Harrison Ford of course played the older Indiana Jones in the film, and Sean Connery played Indiana’s father Henry Jones, Sr.

River Phoenix was a young actor at the height of his career when he passed away at only 23 years old. Phoenix’s first big success was as a child actor in the 1986 hit film “Stand by Me”. Later in his short life he garnered favorable attention for his performances in “Running on Empty” and “My Own Private Idaho”. Phoenix collapsed and died from drug-induced heart failure on the sidewalk outside a nightclub.

58. Director Joel or Ethan : COEN
I think it's great to see two brothers working together and being so successful. Joel and Ethan Coen are two movie producers and directors who both live in New York City. The Coen brothers do love the movie-making business and they even married industry "insiders". Ethan's wife is film editor Tricia Cooke, and Joel is married to one of my favorite actresses, the lovely Frances McDormand.

69. Vietnam's capital : HANOI
Hanoi was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City.

71. "Auld Lang ___" : SYNE
The song "Auld Lang Syne" is a staple at New Year's Eve, the words of which were written by Scottish poet Robbie Burns. The literal translation of “Auld Lang Syne” is “old long since”, but is better translated as “old times”. The sentiment of the song is “for old time’s sake”.

Down
3. Multitalented Minnelli : LIZA
The actress and singer Liza Minnelli is the daughter of Judy Garland and movie director Vincente Minnelli. Liza won her only Oscar for her lead performance in 1972’s “Cabaret”. She has also won an Emmy, Grammy and Tony, and is one of the very few entertainers to have made that “sweep”.

4. Newspaperman Ochs : ADOLPH
Adolph Ochs was a former owner of our beloved “The New York Times”. Ochs had purchased a controlling interest in “The Chattanooga Times” when he was only 19 years of age, and took control of “The New York Times” in 1896 when he was only 38 years old. It was Ochs who moved the paper’s headquarters to a new building on Longacre Square in Manhattan, which the City later renamed to the famous “Times Square” after the newspaper.

6. ___ Van Winkle : RIP
"Rip Van Winkle" is a short story written by Washington Irving. The story was an instant hit, and was adapted for the stage just a few years after its first publication in 1819. Since then "Rip" has featured on the small screen, big screen and there is even an operetta.

7. A Hatfield, to a McCoy : ENEMY
The Hatfield and McCoy families of West Virginia and Kentucky were involved in a notorious feud that lasted from 1863 to 1891. The feud was somewhat resurrected in 1979 when representatives from both families appeared on the game show “Family Feud”. The McCoys came out ahead on TV and went home with over $11,000 and a pig.

9. Philanderer, in slang : TOMCAT
“To philander” is “to womanize”, from the term “philander” that was used in the 1700s to mean “lover”. The name “Philander” was often used in novels and plays for a character who was a lover. The name was derived from the Greek adjective “philandros” meaning “with love for people”.

10. Cry before "humbug" : BAH!
The classic 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens has left us with a few famous phrases and words. Firstly, it led to the popular use of "Merry Christmas", and secondly it gave us the word "scrooge" meaning a miserly person. And thirdly, everyone knows that the character Scrooge was fond of using the now famous line "Bah! Humbug!".

11. Muscat citizen : OMANI
Oman lies on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is neighbored by the OAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The capital city of Muscat has a strategic location on the Gulf of Oman and has a history of invasion and unrest. Centuries of occupation by the Persians ended in 1507 when the Portuguese took the city in a bloody attack. The Portuguese held Muscat for much of the next one hundred years until finally being ousted by local Omani forces in 1648. A Yemeni tribe invaded the area in 1741 and set up a monarchy that has been in place in Oman ever since.

12. Fastballer Ryan : NOLAN
Nolan Ryan is famous for having more career strikeouts that any other pitcher. However, he also holds the record for the most career walks and wild pitches. Another record that Ryan holds is the most no-hitters, a total of seven over his career.

13. Allman brother who married Cher : GREGG
Greg Allman and Cher were married in 1975, and despite the divorce petition that they filed after only nine days of marriage, they do have a son together. They separated in 1977, and their divorce came through in 1979.

19. Texas city on the Brazos : WACO
In recent years, Waco is perhaps most famous as the site of a siege and shootout between ATF agents and members of the Protestant sect known as the Branch Davidians. Shortly after ATF agents tried to execute a search warrant, shots were fired and at the end of the fight six people inside the Branch Davidian compound were dead, as were four agents. A fifty-day siege ensued at the end of which a final assault resulted in members of the community setting fire to the compound. Only nine people walked away from that fire. 50 adults and 25 children perished.

The Brazos River is the longest river in the state of Texas. It was originally called "Rio de los Brazos de Dios" by the Spanish, which translates as "the River of the Arms of God". So, the Brazos is literally "the arms" in English.

21. Home for the Dolphins : MIAMI
The Miami Dolphins football team was founded in 1966 by politician Joe Robbie and the comedian Danny Thomas.

25. Flying 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.

26. Heroic exploit : GEST
Our word "gest" meaning a great deed or an exploit has been around since about 1300, and comes from the Old French word "geste" meaning the same thing. These days "geste" can also mean "gesture".

29. Online auction site : EBAY
eBay was founded in 1995 as AuctionWeb as part of a computer programmer’s personal website. One of the first items purchased was a broken laser pointer, for $14.83. The buyer collected broken laser pointers …

30. Puff from a joint : TOKE
“Toke” is an informal term for a tip given to a dealer or other employee at a casino.

34. ___ au vin : COQ
The French word "coq" actually means rooster, but a more tender bird is usually chosen for the classic French dish "coq au vin". The most common wine used for the "vin" is burgundy, but sometimes another red wine is chosen, and you can also find on a menu "coq au Champagne" and "coq au Riesling".

36. 1975 shark thriller : JAWS
“Jaws” is a thrilling 1975 movie directed by Steven Spielberg that is based on a novel of the same name by Peter Benchley. The film has a powerful cast, led by Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. “Jaws” was perhaps the first “summer blockbuster” with the highest box office take in history, a record that stood until “Star Wars” was released two years later.

38. Equipment for schussing : SKIS
A schuss is a very fast run downhill, not taking any turns to slow the pace of the descent. “Schuss” is a German word for “shot”.

40. Salinger's "For ___ - With Love and Squalor" : ESME
J. D. Salinger wrote a short story called "For Esme - with Love and Squalor", originally published in "The New Yorker" in 1950. It is a story about a young English girl called Esme and an American soldier, and is set in WWII.

J. D. Salinger was a very reclusive author, most famous for his novel “Catcher in the Rye”. Salinger fought in WWII after he was drafted into the US Army. He saw action on Utah Beach on D-Day, and in the Battle of the Bulge. He also spent a lot of time interrogating prisoners due to his knowledge of French and German, and he was one of the first Americans to go into a liberated concentration camp. He later spent time in hospital suffering from what was then called combat stress reaction, as he tried to deal with what he saw in the German camps.

41. London subway, with "the" : TUBE
The name "London Underground" is a little deceptive, as over half of the track system-wide is actually "over ground", with the underground sections reserved for the central areas. It is the oldest subway system in the world, opening in 1863. It was also the first system to use electric rolling stock, in 1890. "The Tube", as it is known by Londoners, isn't the longest subway system in the world though. That honor belongs to the Shanghai Metro. My favorite part of the Tube is the Tube map! It is a marvel of design ...

42. What Little Boy Blue blew : HORN
Here’s another English nursery rhyme:
Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow,
The cow's in the corn;
But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He's under a haycock,
Fast asleep.
Will you wake him?
No, not I,
For if I do,
He's sure to cry.

43. "Old MacDonald" refrain : EIEIO
There was an American version of the English children's song "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" (E-I-E-I-O), that was around in the days of WWI. The first line of the US version goes "Old MacDougal had a farm, in Ohio-i-o".

48. Shamu, for one : ORCA
Shamu was the name of the third orca, or killer whale, ever to be featured in a public exhibition. Shamu starred in a popular SeaWorld show in San Diego in the sixties. After she died in 1971, her name lived on as the name "Shamu" is still used by SeaWorld for its killer whale shows. That original Shamu was retired after she grabbed and refused to let go of the leg of one of her trainers.

49. Pleistocene and Eocene, for two : EPOCHS
The Pleistocene epoch lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, and is associated with the most recent period of repeated glaciations. The name “Pleistocene” translates as “newest”. This name was chosen as the name of the preceding Pliocene epoch translates as “newer”. The name of the subsequent Holocene epoch (which extends right up to today) translates as “entirely new”.

The Eocene Epoch lasted from 56 to 34 million years ago, and is noted for the emergence of the first mammals on the planet.

54. Piano key material, once : IVORY
The traditional materials used for manufacture of piano keys was ebony and ivory.

56. Cat-___-tails (whip) : O’ NINE
The cat o' nine tails was a vicious instrument of punishment, particularly popular in the Royal Navy. The "cat" was made up on nine cord thongs and at the end of each thong was a knot. The specialty knot was aptly called a blood knot, and was designed to bite into the skin and draw blood. It was these "claws" at the end of the thongs, along with the nine "tails" that gave the name to the whip, the "cat o' nine tails".

60. Ark builder : NOAH
The term “ark”, when used with reference to Noah, is a translation of the Hebrew word “tebah”. The word “tebah” is also used in the Bible for the basket in which Moses was placed by his mother when she floated him down the Nile. It seems that the word “tebah” doesn’t mean “boat” and nor does it mean “basket”. Rather, a more appropriate translation is “life-preserver” or “life-saver”. So, Noah’s ark was Noah's life-preserver during the flood.

61. Executioner in "The Mikado" : KO-KO
"The Mikado" is a wonderful comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, set in the exotic location of Japan. "Mikado" is a former term for the "Emperor of Japan". In the opera, Ko-Ko is the name of the Lord High Executioner of Titipu.

64. Butterfly or Bovary: Abbr. : MME
Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" is the most-performed opera in the US. The opera that we see today is actually the second version that Puccini produced. The original version was first staged in 1904 at La Scala in Milan where it received a very poor reception. Puccini reworked the piece, breaking the second act into two new acts and making some other significant changes. The opera was relaunched a few months later and it was a resounding success.

"Madame Bovary" is the most famous novel written by Gustave Flaubert. The title character is a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who lives a luxurious life beyond her means, and has many adulterous affairs. The novel had a rousing reception, first being attacked by public prosecutors as obscenity, which I am sure later helped it to become a bestseller.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Coca-___ : COLA
5. It represents a family on a coat of arms : CREST
10. Sound from Big Ben : BONG
14. Police action : RAID
15. ___ de Mayo (Mexican holiday) : CINCO
16. Love: Lat. : AMOR
17. Italian soup pasta : ORZO
18. Mammal with the largest brain of any animal : SPERM WHALE (giving “sperm bank”)
20. Holy hymn : PSALM
22. Thin-layered mineral : MICA
23. Complain, complain, complain : NAG
24. Riding on someone else's shoulders : PIGGYBACKING (giving “piggy bank”)
28. Marsh gas : METHANE
31. School for an English prince : ETON
32. Blood classification system : ABO
33. Opposite of fem. : MASC
35. 44-Across, en español : OJOS
39. "Believe you me!" ... or what you can do with the start of 18-, 24-, 53- or 63-Across? : TAKE IT TO THE BANK!
44. Peepers : EYES
45. Je ne sais ___ : QUOI
46. Xbox alternative : WII
47. ___ & Chandon (Champagne) : MOET
51. Chicken pieces that aren't legs, thighs or wings : BREASTS
53. Young Indiana Jones portrayer : RIVER PHOENIX (giving “river bank”)
57. Street: Abbr. : AVE
58. Director Joel or Ethan : COEN
59. Hog sounds : OINKS
63. Dry-ice contraption for theatrical effect : FOG MACHINE (giving “fog bank”)
67. Squeal of delight : OOOH!
68. Trolley : TRAM
69. Vietnam's capital : HANOI
70. Produce : MAKE
71. "Auld Lang ___" : SYNE
72. Back of a boat : STERN
73. Like show horses' feet : SHOD

Down
1. Corn, wheat or soybeans : CROP
2. Relatives of paddles : OARS
3. Multitalented Minnelli : LIZA
4. Newspaperman Ochs : ADOLPH
5. Hypodermic amts. : CCS
6. ___ Van Winkle : RIP
7. A Hatfield, to a McCoy : ENEMY
8. Professional writer : SCRIBE
9. Philanderer, in slang : TOMCAT
10. Cry before "humbug" : BAH!
11. Muscat citizen : OMANI
12. Fastballer Ryan : NOLAN
13. Allman brother who married Cher : GREGG
19. Texas city on the Brazos : WACO
21. Home for the Dolphins : MIAMI
25. Flying pest : GNAT
26. Heroic exploit : GEST
27. Old radio or TV part : KNOB
28. Aussie's buddy : MATE
29. Online auction site : EBAY
30. Puff from a joint : TOKE
34. ___ au vin : COQ
36. 1975 shark thriller : JAWS
37. "You can count ___" : ON IT
38. Equipment for schussing : SKIS
40. Salinger's "For ___ - With Love and Squalor" : ESME
41. London subway, with "the" : TUBE
42. What Little Boy Blue blew : HORN
43. "Old MacDonald" refrain : EIEIO
48. Shamu, for one : ORCA
49. Pleistocene and Eocene, for two : EPOCHS
50. Something to pass at a fund-raiser : THE HAT
52. Self-evident truths : AXIOMS
53. Whitewater transports : RAFTS
54. Piano key material, once : IVORY
55. Eschewing both meat and dairy : VEGAN
56. Cat-___-tails (whip) : O’ NINE
60. Ark builder : NOAH
61. Executioner in "The Mikado" : KO-KO
62. What many furry animals do in the spring : SHED
64. Butterfly or Bovary: Abbr. : MME
65. Neither's partner : NOR
66. German "a" : EIN


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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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