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0804-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Aug 14, Monday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: Joel Fagliano
THEME: Airplane Seats at the Back … each of today’s themed answers ends with a choice one might make for SEATING on an AIRPLANE:
20A. Lets some air in, say : CRACKS A WINDOW
26A. Compromised, as two parties : MET IN THE MIDDLE
42A. Get hitched : GO DOWN THE AISLE

48A. What the ends of the answers to 20-, 26- and 42-Across are : AIRPLANE SEATS
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 5m 43s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Marathon or sprint : RACE
The marathon is run over 26 miles and 385 yards, and of course commemorates the legendary messenger-run by Pheidippides from the site of the Battle of Marathon back to Athens. The actual distance run today was decided in 1921, and matches the length of the modern-day Marathon-Athens highway.

14. Shah's land : IRAN
The last Shah of Iran was Mohammed-Reza Shah Pahlavi, as he was overthrown in the revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The post-revolution government sought the extradition of the Shah back to Iran while he was in the United States seeking medical care (he had cancer). His prolonged stay in the United States, recovering from surgery, caused some unrest back in Iran and resentment towards the United States. Some say that this resentment precipitated the storming of the US Embassy in Tehran and the resulting hostage crisis.

15. Des Moines native : IOWAN
The city of Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, and takes its name from the Des Moines River. The river in turn takes its name from the French "Riviere des Moines" meaning "River of the Monks". It looks like there isn't any "monkish" connection to the city's name per se. "Des Moines" was just the name given by French traders who corrupted "Moingona", the name of a group of Illinois Native Americans who lived by the river. However, others do contend that French Trappist monks, who lived a full 200 miles from the river, somehow influenced the name.

17. Venus de ___ : MILO
The famous "Venus de Milo" is so named as she was discovered in the ruins of the ancient city of Milos, on the Aegean island of the same name. I've been lucky enough to see the statue, in the Louvre in Paris, and was surprised at how large it is (6 ft 8 in tall).

18. Muppet with a long bluish nose : GONZO
Gonzo the Great is a character in “The Muppets”. Gonzo actually got top billing in the 1999 movie “Muppets from Space”.

19. ___ in a blue moon : ONCE
As there is a full moon once every four weeks, approximately monthly, there are usually twelve full moons in any given year. However, every 2-3 years, depending on the phase of the moon at the beginning of the calendar year, there may be a thirteenth full moon. The "extra" full moon is called a "blue moon", although no one seems to really know why the term "blue" is used, as far as I can tell. Which of the thirteen full moons that is designated as the blue moon varies depending on tradition. My favorite definition is from the Farmer's Almanac. It states that as each of the seasons normally has three full moons (twelve divided by the four seasons), then the season with four full moons is designated as "special", then the THIRD (and not the fourth) full moon in that "special" season is the blue moon. Complicated, huh?

23. Any graduate from a women's college : ALUMNA
An "alumnus" (plural ... alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is "alumna" (plural ... alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.

25. Becomes an Elvis impersonator? : SNEERS
Elvis had a way of holding his mouth that was famously referred to as a “sneer”.

30. Actor Damon : MATT
Matt Damon is an actor and screenwriter from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Damon’s big break came with the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting” in which he starred. He co-wrote the screenplay with his childhood friend Ben Affleck.

31. German state whose capital is Dresden : SAXONY
Saxony is one of the sixteen states of Germany and is located in the east of the country, along the border with Poland and the Czech Republic. The two largest cities in Saxony and Dresden and Leipzig.

The German city of Dresden was almost completely destroyed during WWII, especially as a result of the famous firebombing of the city in 1945. Restoration work in the inner city in recent decades led to it being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site However, in 2006 when the city built a highway bridge close to the city center, UNESCO took Dresden off the list. This marked the only time a European location has lost World Heritage status.

33. Cacophony : DIN
“Cacophony” is such a lovely word, one used to describe a harsh or jarring sound. The term arises from the Greek “kakos” (bad) and “phone” (voice).

34. Jane Austen classic : EMMA
"Emma" is just a wonderful novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1815. I had the privilege a few years ago of attending the premiere of "Emma", a delightful musical adaptation for the stage. If you ever get the chance to see it, I highly recommend it ...

53. Mideast's ___ Heights : GOLAN
Geographically speaking, the Golan Heights is a plateau in the Middle East with the western two-thirds of its area falling within Israel, and the eastern third falling within Syria. The name Golan Heights also applies to the geopolitical region that was captured from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and occupied by Israel.

59. Horror film assistant with a Russian name : IGOR
Igor has been the assistant to Dracula, Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein among others. Igor is almost invariably portrayed as a hunchback.

62. Word that's only coincidentally made up of the four main compass points : NEWS
Our word “news” goes back as far as the 14th-century, and is simply the plural of “new” in the sense of “new things”. It’s a complete coincidence that the letters in the word “news” are the initials of the compass direction north, east, west and south.

Down
2. "Exodus" hero : ARI
"Exodus" is a wonderful novel written by American writer Leon Uris, first published in 1947. The hero of the piece is Ari Ben Canaan, played by Paul Newman in the 1960 film adaptation directed by Otto Preminger.

3. India's capital before New Delhi : CALCUTTA
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of West Bengal, India. Kolkata grew up around a fort that the British built in the area in 1712. Prior to the arrival of the British, there were three villages at the site, one named Kalikata. Kalikata gave its name to the city that eventually developed. This was anglicized to “Calcutta” which became the official name for centuries, until it was changed back to Kolkata in 2001.

4. Sheer awfulness : ENORMITY
“Enormity” is extreme wickedness, although the term can be used to mean “hugeness”. To avoid confusion, some prefer to use the related noun “enormousness” to describe a vast size, and reserve “enormity” for atrociousness, outrageous character.

6. Corner chess piece : ROOK
The corner piece in the game of chess is a called a rook, a word coming from the Persian word "rokh" meaning a "chariot". The rook has also been called, perhaps incorrectly, the castle, tower, marquess and rector.

7. Plant bristles : AWNS
Awn is the name given to hair or bristle-like structures found in numerous species of plants. In some species, like barley, the awns can contain photosynthetic tissue.

8. Mideast's ___ Strip : GAZA
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the boundaries of the strip of land on the Mediterranean around Gaza were fixed in the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement. The boundaries were specifically defined but were not to be recognized as an international border. From 1948, the Gaza Strip was occupied and administered by Egypt, until 1967 when Israel took over occupation following the Six-Day War. In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords which handed over administration to the Palestinian Authority, but with Israel retaining control of the Gaza Strip's airspace, some land borders and its territorial waters. The intent was to further this agreement, but discussions between the parties broke down. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

9. Strands at a chalet, say : SNOWS IN
“Chalet is a Swiss-French word for an Alpine cottage.

11. "Messiah" composer : HANDEL
George Frideric Handel was the King of the Oratorio. Handel's most famous oratorio is "Messiah", which had its debut performance in Dublin, Ireland back in 1742.

12. Shout after the band leaves the stage : ENCORE
"Encore" is the French word for "again".

21. ___ Taylor, women's clothing chain : ANN
There was no such woman as "Ann Taylor" associated with the Ann Taylor line of clothes. The name was chosen by the marketing professionals because "Ann" was considered to be "very New England" back in 1954 when the stores first opened, and "Taylor" suggested that clothes were carefully "tailored".

22. ___ 500 : INDY
The first Indy 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.

23. BBs and bullets : AMMO
A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.080" in diameter) to size FF (.23"). 0.180" diameter birdshot is size BB, which gives the airgun its name.

24. Plumbing problem : LEAK
"Plumbum" is the Latin for lead, explaining why the symbol of the element in the Periodic Table is "Pb". It also explains why the original lead weight on the end of a line used to check vertical was called a "plumb line". And, as pipes were originally made of lead, it also explains why we would call in a "plumber" if one of them was leaking.

35. Malapropism : MISUSAGE
"The Rivals" is a play written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, first performed in 1775. The character, Mrs. Malaprop, takes her name from her habit of misspeaking, to great comical effect. Malapropism is the substitution of a word for a word with a similar sound. For example, Mrs Malaprop says, "she's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile" (substituting allegory for alligator).

39. Exercise one's right under the Second Amendment : OWN A GUN
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution was adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. The actual text of the amendment is:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
I hear that the wording and punctuation in the original text has led to some controversy over the years, some debate over the original intent …

40. Common highway speed limit : SEVENTY
The first speed limit introduced on a road system was in 1861 in the UK. The limit back then was 10 mph, and this was reduced a few years later to 4 mph in the country, and 2 mph in towns. The highest speed limit ever posted was in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates from 2005 to 2010, a maximum of 160 km/hr (99 mph). Famously, the autobahns of Germany have no speed limit in rural uncongested areas.

43. How chop suey is often served : ON RICE
Many believe that the Chinese dish known as chop suey was invented in America, by Chinese immigrants. In fact, by the time it showed up in the US it already existed in the Taishan district of Guangdong in southeast China, the origin of many of those immigrants. “Chop suey” translates as “assorted pieces”, and is made up of some meat and eggs quickly cooked with vegetables in a thickened sauce.

50. Woman's name that sounds like a letter : ELLE
The female name “Elle” sounds like the letter L (el).

56. ___ Fields cookies : MRS
The Mrs. Fields brand of snack foods was founded in the late seventies by Debbi Fields. Fields opened her first store in Palo Alto, California.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Marathon or sprint : RACE
5. Toots one's own horn : BRAGS
10. "___ out of your league, man!" : SHE’S
14. Shah's land : IRAN
15. Des Moines native : IOWAN
16. Vehicle with a hatch on top : TANK
17. Venus de ___ : MILO
18. Muppet with a long bluish nose : GONZO
19. ___ in a blue moon : ONCE
20. Lets some air in, say : CRACKS A WINDOW
23. Any graduate from a women's college : ALUMNA
25. Becomes an Elvis impersonator? : SNEERS
26. Compromised, as two parties : MET IN THE MIDDLE
30. Actor Damon : MATT
31. German state whose capital is Dresden : SAXONY
32. "Sounds good!" : OKAY!
33. Cacophony : DIN
34. Jane Austen classic : EMMA
38. Hypes : BOOSTS
41. Lab container : VIAL
42. Get hitched : GO DOWN THE AISLE
46. Start watching a TV show, say : TUNE IN
47. Parts of a moral code : VALUES
48. What the ends of the answers to 20-, 26- and 42-Across are : AIRPLANE SEATS
52. Narrow opening : SLIT
53. Mideast's ___ Heights : GOLAN
54. Close, in a guessing game : WARM
57. Make an engraving : ETCH
58. Illuminated from below : UPLIT
59. Horror film assistant with a Russian name : IGOR
60. Salon tints : DYES
61. Down-and-out : NEEDY
62. Word that's only coincidentally made up of the four main compass points : NEWS

Down
1. Wheel's edge : RIM
2. "Exodus" hero : ARI
3. India's capital before New Delhi : CALCUTTA
4. Sheer awfulness : ENORMITY
5. Lions and tigers, but not bears : BIG CATS
6. Corner chess piece : ROOK
7. Plant bristles : AWNS
8. Mideast's ___ Strip : GAZA
9. Strands at a chalet, say : SNOWS IN
10. High as a kite : STONED
11. "Messiah" composer : HANDEL
12. Shout after the band leaves the stage : ENCORE
13. Distorts, as data : SKEWS
21. ___ Taylor, women's clothing chain : ANN
22. ___ 500 : INDY
23. BBs and bullets : AMMO
24. Plumbing problem : LEAK
27. Wore : HAD ON
28. Be : EXIST
29. Calendar page : MONTH
34. Facetious fall guy for one's wrongdoings, maybe : EVIL TWIN
35. Malapropism : MISUSAGE
36. Like guys : MALE
37. Pub orders : ALES
38. Be hot, hot, hot : BOIL
39. Exercise one's right under the Second Amendment : OWN A GUN
40. Common highway speed limit : SEVENTY
42. Opposite of innocent : GUILTY
43. How chop suey is often served : ON RICE
44. Ocean bottoms : DEPTHS
45. Baseball designation one step below Major League : AAA
46. Zapped, as during an arrest : TASED
49. Slangy dissent : NOPE
50. Woman's name that sounds like a letter : ELLE
51. Uttered : SAID
55. Pull an oar : ROW
56. ___ Fields cookies : MRS


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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 try to answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at bill@paxient.com.

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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