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Greetings from Las Vegas, Nevada (again!)

My wife and I are on vacation until Friday, July 25th; a road trip through the backroads of the states east of California. I anticipate late-night solving and posting, with acknowledgement of comments and emails suffering. Please, don't be offended at my silence as I prioritize the writing of posts! We spent the whole morning today hiking and taking photos in Arches NP, a favorite of ours, and then had a long drive across Utah as we start back towards home ...

Bill

0106-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 6 Jan 14, Monday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Zhouqin Burnikel
THEME: Happy MMXIV! … today’s themed answers all start with a single letter, a Roman numeral. When listed sequentially, these Roman numerals are MMXIV, which transpose to 2014 in Arabic numerals:
17A. *"The Sixth Sense" director : M NIGHT SHYAMALAN
23A. *1988 Best Play Tony winner inspired by Puccini : M BUTTERFLY
39A. *Craft knife brand : X-ACTO
47A. *2007 Stephen Colbert satirical book : I AM AMERICA
58A. *22nd in a Sue Grafton series : V IS FOR VENGEANCE

67A. ___ numerals (what the initial letters of the answers to the five starred clues all are) : ROMAN (MMXIV = 2014 … Happy New Year!)
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 07m 11s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

10. Hop, ___ and a jump : SKIP
The track and field sport sometimes called the “hop, skip and jump” is more correctly termed the triple jump. The triple jump dates back as an event to the ancient Olympic Games. When the modern Olympics were introduced in 1896, the triple jump consisted of two hops on the same foot followed by a jump. Today’s triple jump consists of a hop, a bound and then a jump.

15. Ruler of Dubai : EMIR
Dubai is one of the seven Emirates that make up the federation known as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The two largest members of the UAE (geographically) are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the only two of the seven members that have veto power over UAE policy.

17. *"The Sixth Sense" director : M NIGHT SHYAMALAN
M. Night Shyamalan is an Indian-American screenwriter and film producer. Shyamalan has written and directed some great films, with my favorites being “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Signs” (2002) and “The Village” (2004).

“The Sixth Sense” is a fabulous film released in 1999, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. I remember watching “The Sixth Sense” for the first time on an airplane. Shyamalan wasn’t well known for his famous surprise endings to films at that point. It was very gratifying to hear my fellow passengers join me in a big “gasp” at the appropriate point in the story …

20. Actress Ward of "CSI: NY" : SELA
The actress Sela Ward turns up in crosswords a lot. Ward played Teddy Reed in the TV show "Sisters" in the nineties, and was in "Once and Again" from 1999-2002. I don't know either show, but I do know Ward from the medical drama "House" in which she played the hospital's lawyer and Greg House's ex-partner. That was a fun role, I thought. More recently Ward played a lead role on "CSI: NY" and was a very welcome and much-needed addition to the cast ...

23. *1988 Best Play Tony winner inspired by Puccini : M BUTTERFLY
“M. Butterfly” is a 1988 play by David Henry Hwang, which was made into a film in 1993 starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone. The storyline is inspired by Puccini’s opera “Madama Butterfly”.

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.

Giacomo Puccini is was an Italian composer, famous for his operas that are so often performed all over the world. Included in the list of his works are “La bohème”, “Tosca”, “Madama Butterfly” and “Turandot”. Puccini died in Brussels, Belgium in 1924 having suffered from throat cancer. An audience attending a performance of “La bohème” in Rome heard of the composer’s death in the middle of the performance. At the news, the opera was stopped, and the orchestra instead played Chopin’s “Funeral March”.

30. Gift upon arriving in Honolulu : LEI
"Lei" is the Hawaiian word for "garland, wreath", although in more general terms a "lei" is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

Honolulu is the largest city in Hawaii, and the state capital. Located on the island of Oahu, the name “Honolulu” translates from Hawaiian as “place of shelter, calm port, sheltered bay”.

31. Bit of cheesecake : GAM
The American slang term "gams" is used for a woman's legs. The term goes back to the 18th century "gamb" meaning the leg of an animal on a coat of arms.

It’s not really clear how the “cheesecake” came to be used for a provocative picture of a woman. It is known that the term arose in the 1930s, and originally applied to to the covers of “pulp” magazines that used the images of the attractive young females to attract a largely male audience. One theory is that during the depression years, the luscious cheesecake dessert was unattainable, as were the “luscious” models depicted on the magazine covers.

34. California's Santa ___ racetrack : ANITA
Santa Anita Park is a racetrack for horses located in Arcadia, California.

35. Girl in Byron's "Don Juan" : LEILA
Lord Byron wrote the poem "Don Juan" based on the legend of Don Juan the libertine. In the poem, he created the character Leila, a 10-year-old Muslim orphan girl whom Juan rescues from the city of Ismail.

Don Juan is a flighty character who has been featured by a number of authors, poets and composers, including Molière, Byron, and Mozart. In the underlying legend, Don Juan ends up talking to the statue of the dead father of one of his conquests. Don Juan dines with the ghost of the dead man and when shaking the hand of the ghost he is dragged away to hell.

George Gordon Byron, known simply as "Lord Byron", was an English poet active in the early 1800s. Byron was equally as famous for his poetry as he was for the wild excesses in his personal life. Byron lived much of that life outside of England, and fought for revolutionaries in both Italy and Greece. He died from a fever contracted while fighting for the Greeks against the Ottomans.

37. Upstate N.Y. campus : RPI
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private school in Troy, New York. The university is named after its founder Stephen Van Rensselaer who set up the school in 1824. The goal of RPI has always been the "application of science to the common purposes of life", an objective set by the founder. Given that, the name for the school's sports teams is quite apt: the Engineers.

38. TV hookups : VCRS
Video Cassette Recorder (VCR)

39. *Craft knife brand : X-ACTO
The X-Acto knife was invented in the thirties by a Polish immigrant, although his intention was to come up with a scalpel for surgeons. The knife couldn't cut it (pun intended!) as a scalpel though, because it was difficult to clean. The inventor's brother-in law suggested it be used as a craft knife, and it is still around today.

40. Duck or one of its colors : TEAL
The beautiful color of teal takes it name from the duck called a "teal", which has dark greenish-blue (teal) markings on its head and wings.

41. Antlered animal : ELK
The elk (also known as the wapiti) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the "huge" wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely "elk". The more correct name for the beast is "wapiti", which means "white rump" in Shawnee. It's all very confusing ...

43. "Voilà!" : THERE!
“Voilà!” is French for “there it is!”

47. *2007 Stephen Colbert satirical book : I AM AMERICA
Stephen Colbert is a political satirist who hosts his own show on Comedy Central called "The Colbert Report". Colbert's first love was theater, and so he studied to become an actor. He then moved into comedy, and ended up on the "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". He left "The Daily Show" in 2005 to set up his own spin-off called "The Colbert Report". In his own inimitable way, Colbert likes to use a "French" pronunciation for the name of his show, so "The Colbert Report" comes out as "The Col-bear Rep-oar".

58. *22nd in a Sue Grafton series : V IS FOR VENGEANCE
Sue Grafton writes detective novels, and her "alphabet series" features the private investigator Kinsey Millhone. She started off with "A Is for Alibi" in 1982 and is working her way through the alphabet, most recently publishing "’W’ is for Wasted" in 2009. What a clever naming system!

62. "The Time Machine" people : ELOI
In the 1895 novel by H. G. Wells called "The Time Machine", there are two races that the hero encounter in his travels into the future. The Eloi are the “beautiful people” who live on the planet's surface. The Morlocks are a race of cannibals living underground who use the Eloi as food.

64. Actor Hirsch of "Into the Wild" : EMILE
Emile Hirsch is an actor from Topanga, California. Hirsch's most famous role was the lead in the 2007 drama "Into the Wild".

"Into the Wild" is an interesting film, directed by Sean Penn and based on a non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. The book and movie tell the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who hiked into the Alaskan wilderness with very little food and equipment, seeking an extended period of solitude. After four months alone he was found dead from starvation. At time of death, he weighed only 67 pounds.

65. Philosopher Descartes : RENE
The great French philosopher Rene Descartes made the famous statement in Latin, "Cogito ergo sum", which translates into English as "I think, therefore I am".

Down
1. ___ law (electricity principle) : OHM’S
The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every school kid knows as Ohm's Law.

2. Source of misery : BANE
Today we tend to use the word “bane” to mean anathema, a source of persistent annoyance. A few centuries ago, a bane was a cause of harm or death, perhaps a deadly poison.

8. Handyman's inits. : DIY
Back in Ireland we don't have “hardware stores” as such, but rather DIY Centres (and that's the spelling). DIY is an acronym standing for “Do It Yourself”.

9. Gay Nineties, e.g. : ERA
When looking back at the 1890s, here in America we sometimes refer to the era as the Gay Nineties. The term is associated with a time of emerging wealth in the days before income taxes were permanently levied on citizens. Back in the British Isles, the same decade is known as the Naughty Nineties, days of society scandals and the outrageous antics of the likes of Oscar Wilde.

11. Good color for St. Patrick's Day : KELLY GREEN
Kelly green is a strong yellowish green, and was given its name back in the early 1900s. The name was apparently chosen because green is popular in Ireland, and Kelly is a common Irish family name.

12. 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.

18. Letter-shaped bolt fastener : T-NUT
A T-nut is so called because it has a t-shape when viewed from the side.

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

"The Sopranos" is an outstanding television drama that was made by HBO and is a story about Italian-American mobsters in New Jersey. "The Sopranos" has made more money than any other television series in the history of cable television. It's "must see TV" ...

24. Garment under a blouse : BRA
A blouse is a loose-fitting shirt, particularly worn by women or children. The term “blouse” is French, and originally described a peasant’s smock.

27. It helps call a meeting to order : GAVEL
A gavel is a small hammer that is rapped onto a table or desk to call a meeting to order, or perhaps to signify a sale at an auction.

28. "Mon ___" (Jacques Tati film) : ONCLE
Jacques Tati was a very famous filmmaker in France. "Mon Oncle" is an Oscar-winning film that Tati released in 1958.

29. Dodgers slugger who was the 1988 N.L. M.V.P. : KIRK GIBSON
Kirk Gibson is former professional baseball player, who retired in 1995. Gibson has been managing the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2010. He is also an avid pilot, and holds the record for the highest-altitude flight of a Cessna 206 aircraft (25,200 feet).

33. "Wrecking Ball" singer Cyrus : MILEY
Miley Cyrus became famous playing the Disney Channel character "Hannah Montana". Miley is of course the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. When she was born, Billy Ray and his wife named their daughter "Destiny Hope", but soon they themselves calling her "Smiley" as she was always smiling as a baby, and this got shortened to Miley over time. Cute ...

"Wrecking Ball" is a 2013 song recorded by Miley Cyrus that wasn’t really doing well in the charts until she released a controversial music video. Cyrus appears nude in the video, sitting astride a wrecking ball. In one scene she also licks a sledgehammer. Not for me ...

35. Former West Coast N.F.L.'er : LA RAM
The St. Louis Rams has only won the Super Bowl once, in 1999, against the Tennessee Titans. The Rams were based in Cleveland from 1936-45, Los Angeles from 1946-94 and St. Louis from 1995 to the present day.

36. Heart chart: Abbr. : ECG
An EKG measures electrical activity in the heart. Back in my homeland of Ireland, an EKG is known as an ECG (for electrocardiogram). We use the German name in the US, Elektrokardiogramm, giving us EKG. Apparently the abbreviation EKG is preferred as ECG might be confused (if poorly handwritten, I guess) with EEG, the abbreviation for an electroencephalogram.

39. TV's "warrior princess" : XENA
The Xena character, famously played by New Zealander Lucy Lawless, was introduced in a made-for-TV movie called “Hercules and the Amazon Women”. Lawless reprised the role in a series called "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys". Xena became so popular that a series was built around her character, with Lawless retained for the title role.

40. Something to remember in San Antonio? : THE ALAMO
The famous Alamo in San Antonio, Texas was originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero. The mission was founded in 1718 and was the first mission established in the city. The Battle of the Alamo took place in 1836, a thirteen-day siege by the Mexican Army led by President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Only two people defending the Alamo Mission survived the onslaught. One month later, the Texian army got its revenge by attacking and defeating the Mexican Army in the Battle of San Jacinto. During the surprise attack on Santa Anna's camp, many of the Texian soldiers were heard to cry "Remember the Alamo!".

42. Old copy machine : MIMEO
A mimeograph (also “mimeo”) is a cheap printing press that applies ink to paper through a stencil wrapped around a rotating drum. Mimeographs are still around, but have largely been replaced by offset printers and photocopiers.

43. "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" channel : TLC
"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is a reality show about a child beauty pageant contest called Honey Boo Boo Thompson, and her family. "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is actually a spinoff show of another reality show called “Toddlers & Tiaras” that follows the families of a whole host of child beauty pageant contestants. Honey Boo Boo’s mother peps up her daughter before appearing in a pageant by giving her “Go Go Juice”, a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew.

46. ___-Pong : PING
Ping-pong is called table tennis in the UK, where the sport originated in the 1880s. Table tennis started as an after-dinner activity among the elite, and was called "wiff-waff". To play the game, books were stacked in the center of a table as a "net", two more books served as ""rackets" and the ball used was actually a golf ball. The game evolved over time with the rackets being upgraded to the lids of cigar boxes and the ball becoming a champagne cork (how snooty is that?). Eventually the game was produced commercially, and the sound of the ball hitting the racket was deemed to be a "ping" and a "pong", giving the sport its alternative name.

48. "What's it all about, ___?" : ALFIE
The last line in the movie “Alfie” is spoken by the title character: “What’s it all about? You know what I mean.” "What's it all about, Alfie?" is also the first line of the film’s theme song, and the title of a memoir written by Michael Caine who played Alfie.

49. Late critic Roger : EBERT
Roger Ebert was a film critic for “The Chicago Sun-Times” for 50 years. He also co-hosted a succession of film review television programs for over 23 years, most famously with Gene Siskel until Siskel passed away in 1999. Ebert was the first film to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which he did in 1975. He was diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer in 2002, and finally succumbed to a recurrence of the disease in April 2013.

52. 1/500 of the Indianapolis 500 : MILE
The first Indianapolis 500 race was held on Memorial Day in 1911. The winner that day was one Ray Harroun. Harroun had seen someone using a rear view mirror on a horse-drawn vehicle, and decided to fit one on his Marmon "Wasp" motor car. Supposedly, that was the first ever use of a rear view mirror on a motor vehicle.

55. Lively, on scores: Abbr. : ANIM
The musical term “animato” (abbreviated to “anim.” on a score) is an instruction to play in an animated or lively style.

56. Its fight song is "The Mighty Bruins" : UCLA
The UCLA Bruins mascots are Joe and Josephine Bruin, characters that have evolved over the years. There used to be "mean" Bruin mascots but they weren't very popular with the fans, so now there are only "happy" Bruin mascots at the games.

57. TV chef Paula : DEEN
Paula Deen is a celebrity chef from Savannah, Georgia who is noted for her Southern cooking. Deen has been criticized for the amount of salt, fat and sugar in her recipes. The criticism became even more intense when Deen disclosed that she herself has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Follows orders : OBEYS
6. Be a passenger : RIDE
10. Hop, ___ and a jump : SKIP
14. Mass destruction : HAVOC
15. Ruler of Dubai : EMIR
16. Small plateau : MESA
17. *"The Sixth Sense" director : M NIGHT SHYAMALAN
20. Actress Ward of "CSI: NY" : SELA
21. Recent: Prefix : NEO-
22. Apportion : ALLOT
23. *1988 Best Play Tony winner inspired by Puccini : M BUTTERFLY
27. Kiddie racer : GO-KART
30. Gift upon arriving in Honolulu : LEI
31. Bit of cheesecake : GAM
34. California's Santa ___ racetrack : ANITA
35. Girl in Byron's "Don Juan" : LEILA
37. Upstate N.Y. campus : RPI
38. TV hookups : VCRS
39. *Craft knife brand : X-ACTO
40. Duck or one of its colors : TEAL
41. Antlered animal : ELK
42. Two-lanes-into-one highway sign : MERGE
43. "Voilà!" : THERE!
44. Chicken drumstick : LEG
45. ___ nutshell : IN A
46. More than enough : PLENTY
47. *2007 Stephen Colbert satirical book : I AM AMERICA
51. Mosey along : AMBLE
53. Holder of sale goods : BIN
54. Praise : LAUD
58. *22nd in a Sue Grafton series : V IS FOR VENGEANCE
62. "The Time Machine" people : ELOI
63. Puts on TV : AIRS
64. Actor Hirsch of "Into the Wild" : EMILE
65. Philosopher Descartes : RENE
66. Information on a boarding pass or stadium ticket : GATE
67. ___ numerals (what the initial letters of the answers to the five starred clues all are) : ROMAN

Down
1. ___ law (electricity principle) : OHM’S
2. Source of misery : BANE
3. Diabolical : EVIL
4. They may be unrolled before meditation : YOGA MATS
5. Acad. or univ. : SCH
6. Button putting everything back to zero : RESET
7. Declaration while perspiring : I’M HOT
8. Handyman's inits. : DIY
9. Gay Nineties, e.g. : ERA
10. Wee : SMALL
11. Good color for St. Patrick's Day : KELLY GREEN
12. Golfer Aoki : ISAO
13. Huff and puff : PANT
18. Letter-shaped bolt fastener : T-NUT
19. "The Sopranos" subject : MAFIA
24. Garment under a blouse : BRA
25. Best of the best : ELITE
26. Move, to a real estate agent : RELO
27. It helps call a meeting to order : GAVEL
28. "Mon ___" (Jacques Tati film) : ONCLE
29. Dodgers slugger who was the 1988 N.L. M.V.P. : KIRK GIBSON
32. In pieces : APART
33. "Wrecking Ball" singer Cyrus : MILEY
35. Former West Coast N.F.L.'er : LA RAM
36. Heart chart: Abbr. : ECG
39. TV's "warrior princess" : XENA
40. Something to remember in San Antonio? : THE ALAMO
42. Old copy machine : MIMEO
43. "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" channel : TLC
46. ___-Pong : PING
48. "What's it all about, ___?" : ALFIE
49. Late critic Roger : EBERT
50. Light wash : RINSE
51. State forcefully : AVER
52. 1/500 of the Indianapolis 500 : MILE
55. Lively, on scores: Abbr. : ANIM
56. Its fight song is "The Mighty Bruins" : UCLA
57. TV chef Paula : DEEN
59. Cleaning cloth : RAG
60. By way of : VIA
61. Always, in odes : E’ER


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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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