THEME: SIX BLOCKS … the BLOCK at the middle of the grid is used as a substitute for the word BLOCK in the eight theme answers i.e. MENTAL BLOCK, BLOCK PARTIES, ENGINE BLOCK, BLOCK DIAGRAM, AUCTION BLOCK, BLOCKBUSTER, WRITER’S BLOCK, BLOCK LETTER
COMPLETION TIME: 32m 09s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 … COREA (COREY), SARD (SYRD)
1. Rock blaster : AMP
An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a powerful enough signal for a loudspeaker.
4. Shredded sides : SLAWS
The term “coleslaw” is an Anglicized version of the Dutch name “koolsla”, which in itself is a shortened form of “Koolsalade” meaning “cabbage salad”.
9. Blackballs : SHUNS
There is a traditional type of secret ballot in which a voter selects a white wall to indicate support and a black ball indicates opposition. This voting method led to the use of the term “blackball” to mean to shun or to vote against.
14. “Fantasy Island” prop : LEI
“Fantasy Island” was a fun television series that aired from 1978 to 1984, starring the dashing Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke and Herve Villechaize as Tattoo. Tattoo is Roarke’s colorful sidekick, famous for shouting out, “The plane! The plane!” as the guests arrived on the island at the beginning of each episode. There were lots of celebrity guest stars that appeared over the years, such as Sonny Bono, Tom Jones, Victoria Principal and Heather Locklear.
15. 1944 murder mystery directed by Otto Preminger : LAURA
Otto Preminger was noted for his films that pushed the envelope in terms of subject matter, at least in the fifties and sixties. Great examples would be 1955’s “The Man with the Golden Arm” that dealt with drug addiction, 1959’s “Anatomy of a Murder” that dealt with rape, and 1962’s “Advise and Consent” that dealt with homosexuality. If you’ve seen these films, you’ll have noticed that the references are somewhat indirect and disguised, in order to get past the censors.
“Laura” is a 1944 film noir directed by Otto Preminger, starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. The film’s screenplay is based on a novel of the same name by Vera Caspary, first published in 1943. “Laura” is ranked highly in most critics’ list of favorite movies.
17. Hagen of Broadway : UTA
Uta Hagen was a German-born American actress. She married Jose Ferrer in 1938, but were divorced ten years later after it was revealed that she was having a long-running affair with Paul Robeson. Her association with Robeson, a prominent civil rights activist, earned her a spot on the Hollywood Blacklist during the McCarthy Era. This forced her away from film, and towards a successful stage career in New York City.
18. Footnote abbr. : OP CIT
Op. cit. is short for “opus citatum”, Latin for “the work cited”. Op. cit. is used in a footnotes to refer the reader to an earlier citation. It is similar to “ibid”, except that ibid refers the reader the last citation, the one immediately above.
21. Butcher’s roast cut : BOTTOM ROUND
A round steak comes from the rump of a cow, which is why it’s called a rump steak back in the British Isles.
26. Border line? : HEM
Nice wording for a clue …
32. O’s overseas : OMICRONS
Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. The word “omega” literally means “great O” (O-mega). Compare this with the Greek letter Omicron meaning “little O” (O-micron).
35. Pax ___ (uneasy peace) : ROMANA
“Pax Romana” is the Latin for “Roman Peace”. The term literally described a period in Roman history for the 1st and 2nd centuries AD during which the Roman Empire was ruled by Caesar Augustus. Under his control, expansionist ideas by powerful generals were held in check, and lands ruled by the Romans were relatively calm. The peace enjoyed was considered uneasy as Rome governed it’s conquered territories with an iron fist, and insurrection was likely at all times. The expression “pax Romana” then came to be used in English to describe any situation in which there is an uneasy peace, a peace imposed by a powerful state on a weaker state.
38. Temporary lapse of memory : MENTAL
39. Neighborhood get-togethers : PARTIES
40. Metal casting housing automotive cylinders : ENGINE
41. It displays the connections between system components : DIAGRAM
43. Like many squares in a French crossword : BLANC
French crosswords, compared with American puzzles, have far fewer shaded squares, as few as 10%. This can be achieved as symmetry is not required, and two-letter words are allowed. Also, they’re usually not square. Oh, “blanc” is the French word for “white”.
45. Pout : MOUE
Moue comes from French, and it means a small grimace, or a pout.
57. N.B.A. Hall-of-Famer Hayes : ELVIN
Elvin Hayes is a retired professional basketball player. In 1966, along with Don Chaney, Hayes became the first African American to play for the University of Houston. Hayes didn’t finish college, instead opting for a 16-year career in the NBA. When he retired from the game in 1984, he went straight back to the University of Houston and finished his degree. Well done, Elvin, is what I say …
58. Certain 1920s faddist : POLE SITTER
Sitting on poles has a long tradition associated with it, with stories of ascetics engaging in the practice centuries ago. More recently it became a fad in the twenties, with times of over fifty days being clocked. The current record is held by a young man from Gdansk in Poland, who won himself nearly $23,000 in 2002 by winning an endurance competition, lasting 196 days and nights on top of an 8-foot pole with a platform atop measuring 16×24 inches. Madness …
60. Anise-flavored liqueur : OUZO
Ouzo is an aperitif from Greece that is colorless, and flavored with anise. It is similar to pastis from France, and also has a flavor like sambuca from Italy.
62. Bronx cheers : JEERS
What is known as a Bronx cheer in the US is called “blowing a raspberry” in the rest of the world. The term “Bronx cheer” is a reference to the sound made by some spectators in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, in New York City.
63. 1963 role for Liz : CLEO
The 1963 movie “Cleopatra” really was an epic work. It was the highest grossing film of the year, taking in $26 million dollars at the box office, yet it still lost money. The original budget for the film was just $2 million, but so many things went wrong that the final cost swelled to a staggering $44 million dollars, making it the second most expensive movie ever made (taking into account inflation). Elizabeth Taylor was supposed to earn a record amount of $1 million for the film, and ended up earning seven times that amount due to delays. But she paid dearly, as she became seriously ill during shooting and had to have an emergency tracheotomy to save her life. The scar in her throat can actually be seen in some of the shots in the film.
66. Cigarette that once advertised the “health benefits” of its Micronite filter : KENT
Kent brand of cigarettes is owned by the company British American Tobacco, which has its headquarters in London. The company is the second largest in the world, in terms of market share, and owns such brands as Dunhill, Pall Mall, Rothmans, Peter Stuyvesant, Benson & Hedges and KOOL.
“Reader’s Digest” published a series of articles in 1952 under the title “Cancer by the Carton”. Companies like Kent reacted, and introduced its Micronite filter soon after the public started to understand the link between smoking and cancer. But, for the first years of production, the Micronite filter on the end of those carcinogenic cigarettes, contained carcinogenic blue asbestos.
1. Fraternity benefactors, for short : ALUMS
An alumnus (plural … alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is alumna (plural … alumnae). The word comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil.
2. Rock music genre : METAL
Metal … it’s another name for the genre of heavy metal.
6. What a hammer may hit : AUCTION
7. Author’s bane : WRITER’S
8. Zen enlightenment : SATORI
Satori is a Japanese term, used in the Zen Buddhist tradition. It does not refer to full enlightenment (nirvana) but is rather a step along the way, a flash of awareness.
11. Language of Islamabad : URDU
When Pakistan gained it’s independence from Britain in 1947, the country’s capital city was Karachi. President Ayub Khan was in favor of moving the capital in order to break away from Pakistan’s colonial history, and to distribute wealth and power more reasonably across the country. The capital was moved temporarily from Karachi to Rawalpindi as Islamabad was prepared for its new role. As it is such a “young” capital, it is considered to be one of the greenest, cleanest and most well-planned cities in South Asia.
Urdu is one of the two official languages of Pakistan (the other being English). Urdu partly developed from Persian, and as such, it is written from right to left.
12. Old Dodge : NEON
The Neon was made by Chrysler from 1994 to 2005. It was introduced to the rest of the world as the Chrysler Neon, but sold under the Dodge and Plymouth brands in the US.
24. Jelly thickener : PECTIN
Pectin is a starch-like material found in the cell walls of plants. It can be extracted from plants (usually citrus fruit) and then used in cooking, as a gelling agent.
27. Start of some addresses : MR AND MRS
Mr. is the abbreviation for “master”, and Mrs. is the abbreviation for “mistress”.
30. Fit for duty : ONE-A
The US government maintains information on all males who are potentially subject to military conscription, using what is called the Selective Service System. In the event that a draft was held, men registered would be classified into groups to determine eligibility for service. Class 1-A registrants are those available for unrestricted military service. Other classes are 1-A-O (conscientious objector available for noncombatant service), 4-A (registrant who has completed military service) and 4-D (minister of religion).
31. Land under Down Under: Abbr. : TASM
Tasmania is that large island lying off the southeast cost of Australia. The main island, and surrounding islands, make up the Australian state of Tasmania. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to sail past the island, in 1642. Tasman named his discovery Van Dieman’s Land after the Governor of the Dutch East Indies, Anthony van Dieman. The name was officially changed to Tasmania, after the discoverer himself, in 1856. In Australia, a more familiar name used is “Tassie”.
32. Harbinger : OMEN
A harbinger is a person or a thing that indicates what is to come. The word comes from the Middle English “herbenger”, a person sent ahead to arrange lodgings.
33. ___ mosso (less rapid, in music) : MENO
Meno Mosso is a musical term, meaning that the music should be played at a reduced speed. Meno mosso is Italian for “less agitated”.
34. Hoagy Carmichael’s “___ Buttermilk Sky” : OLE
Hoagy Carmichael’s was born Hoagland Howard Carmichael. Carmichael’s remarkable first name was given to him in honor of a circus troupe called “The Hoaglands” who stayed at the Carmichael house during his mother’s pregnancy. Now that, that’s a story …
36. Soothsayer : ORACLE
“Soothsayer” is derived from the word for truth: “sooth”.
43. Smash hit : BUSTER
The term “blockbuster” originated in the WWII, where a blockbuster was a large bomb, the idea being that it was powerful enough the bust up a city block. The gentler use of “blockbuster” in entertainment dates back to 1957.
44. Bit of comic strip text : LETTER
46. Kind of board : OUIJA
The Ouija board was introduced to America as a harmless parlor game at the end of the 19th century, although variations of the board date back to 1100 BC in China, where it was apparently used to “contact” the spirit world. The name “Ouija” is relatively recent, and is probably just a combination of the French and German words for “yes”, “oui” and “ja”.
48. The 2×2 black square near the middle of this puzzle’s grid, e.g., which is part of eight answers : BLOCK
49. Fertilized item : OVULE
As we all remember from botany class, an OVULE is a small structure in many plants that develops into the seed after fertilization. We do remember, don’t we?
50. Shrivel from age : WIZEN
“Wizen” is such a lovely word, I think. It means to dry up, especially with age.
51. Condescending one : SNOOT
“Snoot” is a variant of “snout” that originated in Scotland. The derivative “snooty”,an adjective to describe a “high-hat”, someone very haughty, started out as “snouty” back in the 1850s. The idea is that someone who is snooty, or snouty, tends to look down his or her nose at the rest of the world.
52. Third afterthought in a missive: Abbr. : PPPS
One adds a PS (postscriptum) at the end of a letter. A second postscriptum (or postscript) is a post postscriptum, a PPS. A third is a PPPS …
53. Princess loved by Hercules : IOLE
Iole was a beautiful young woman of Greek Mythology, loved by Heracles. But Heracles could not marry Iole because her father refused to allow the match. In Roman mythology, Heracles was known as Hercules.
54. Dash : ELAN
Elan: ardor inspired by passion or enthusiasm. I guess that could be “dash”.
59. Queue after Q : RST
Also nicely worded …