THEME: DOUBLEHEADERS … all the theme answers are common expressions with a word inserted at the beginning, and the same word inserted the expression e.g. BEDROCK AND BEDROLL (bed & rock and roll), FIREWATER AND FIRE HAZARD (fire & water hazard), BUCK-NAKED BUCKEYE (buck & naked eye)
COMPLETION TIME: 32m 55s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
1. Buggy versions, maybe : BETAS
In the world of software development, the first tested issue of a new program is often called the “alpha” version. It is expected to have a lot of bugs that are needed to be fixed, so the alpha release is usually distributed to a small number of testers. After the bugs have been eliminated, the refined version is called a “beta” and is released to a wider audience, but with the program clearly labeled as “beta”. The users generally check functionality and report further bugs that are encountered. Often, the version resulting from the beta testing is the final product, ready to be sold into the market, bug-free … yeah, right …
10. Expresses disbelief : PSHAWS
We’ve been saying “pshaw!” to express disbelief and rejection since the late 1600s.
16. “The Big Bang Theory” network : CBS
“The Big Bang Theory” is a wonderful sitcom that has been airing on CBS since 2007. There are a lot of high-powered equations and math in the show’s dialog, but it is all checked by a professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA.
21. Truck driving competition : ROADEO
“Roadeo” is a slang term for a competitive driving competition featuring trucks and buses say, a pun on the word “rodeo”.
23. Factors to consider while trying to sleep on a campout? : BEDROCK AND BEDROLL
From “bed” & “rock and roll”.
29. Arabian Peninsula sultanate : OMAN
Oman lies on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, neighbored by the OAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Most of central Oman is covered by a gravel desert, with mountains along the north and southeast coasts.
30. What the marshal declared the moonshiner’s shed to be? : FIRE-WATER FIRE HAZARD
From “fire” & “water hazard”.
35. L on a T? : LARGE
A large size t-shirt is usually designated by the letter “L”.
37. A. E. Housman’s “A Shropshire ___” : LAD
“A Shropshire Lad” is a collection of poems published in 1896, written by the English poet A. E. Housman. Housman couldn’t find a publisher for his work, so he had to use his own money to get the collection in print. The poems all hark back to the simple life of a young man in rural England. The collection gained in popularity as young men went overseas to fight in the Second Boer War, and then in WWI. The nostalgic themes struck a chord with the young soldiers. The was especially true of the most famous poem in the collection, “To an Athlete Dying Young”, with its story of a young man cut off in his prime.
43. Upper support : BRA
The word “brassière” is of course French in origin, but it isn’t the French word for a “bra”. In France a bra is a “soutien-gorge”, translating to “held under the neck”. The word ‘brassière” in French is used for a baby’s undershirt, a lifebelt or a harness. “Brassière” comes from the Old French word for an “arm protector” in a military uniform (“bras” is the French for “arm”). Later “brassière” came to mean “breast plate” and from there was used for a type of woman’s corset. The word jumped into English around 1900.
47. “Pardonnez-___!” : MOI
“Pardonnez-moi!” is “pardon me!” in French.
Apparently the term “buck-naked” is just a polite way of saying “butt-naked”, and has nothing to do with a buck at all.
The athletic teams of Ohio State University are called the Buckeyes, named after the state tree of Ohio, the buckeye. In turn, the buckeye tree gets its name from the appearance of its fruit, a dark nut with a light patch, thought to resemble a “buck’s eye”.
56. Coxswain’s lack : OARS
The coxswain of a boat is one in charge, particularly of its steering and navigating. The name is shortened to “cox” particularly when used for the person steering and calling out the stroke in a competition rowing boat.
58. Publishing hirees, for short : EDS
59. Part of P.T.A.: Abbr. : ASSN
60. From ___ Z : A TO
The letter name “zed” has been around since about 1400, and derives from the Greek letter zeta. The spelling and pronunciation of “zee” used in America today first popped up in the 1670s.
61. Name for a persona non grata : MUD
At one time a “mud” was a “stupid, twaddling fellow”, which gave rise to the expression “one’s name is mud”, starting in the early 1800s. By saying that a person’s name is mud, one is discrediting that person, saying that he or she is disgraced.
62. One who puts U in disfavor? : BRIT
Don’t I know it … words like “disfavor” are spelled with a “u” as in “disfavour”. Just one of the many linguistic crosses I have to bear …
63. C.E.O.’s tricycle? : BIG WHEEL OF BIG CHEESE
From “big” & “wheel of cheese”.
The phrase “the big cheese” doesn’t have its roots in the word “cheese” at all. The original phrase was “the real cheese” meaning “the real thing”, used way back in late 1800s (long before Coke picked it up). “Chiz” is a Persian and Hindi word meaning “thing”, and it’s not hard to see how the expression “the real chiz” would morph into “the real cheese”. Then in early-20th century America, instead of a “real cheese”, the most influential person in a group was labeled as “the big cheese”. And I think that is about the only use of the word “cheese” that is in anyway complimentary!
70. Chain of life? : DNA
Francis Crick and James Watson discovered that DNA had a double-helix, chain-like structure, publishing their results in Cambridge in 1953. To this day the discovery is mired in controversy, as some crucial results collected by fellow researcher Rosalind Franklin were used without her permission or even knowledge.
73. Dudgeon : IRE
“Dudgeon” is a noun, describing a state of sullen, ill humor.
77. As a group : EN MASSE
“En masse” is of course a French term best translated as, “as a group”.
In 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was playing poker in a saloon in the town of Deadwood in the Black Hills in the Dakota Territory. For once, the gunfighting lawman was sitting with his back to the door, something he almost always avoided. He had twice tried to change seats to give him a view of the door, but his card-playing comrades weren’t obliging. An enemy of Wild Bill’s named Jack McCall then was able to enter the saloon without being noticed. He walked up to the table and shot Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The hand that Hickok was holding contained four black cards, two aces and two eights. Since the killing, black aces and eights in a poker hand have been referred to as “dead man’s hand”.
85. Spell : HEX
“Hexen” is a German word meaning “to practice witchcraft”. The use of the word “hex” in English started with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the early 1800s.
86. Respectful bow : SALAAM
The word “salaam” is an Anglicized spelling of the Arabic word for “peace”. It can mean an act of deference, in particular a very low bow.
91. Platoon members, briefly : GIS
The initials G.I. stand for “Government Issue” and not “General Infantry” as is often believed. G.I. was actually first used in the military to denote equipment made from Galvanized Iron. During WWII, incoming German shells were nicknamed “GI cans”. Soon after, the term GI came to be associated with “Government Issue” and became an adjective to describe anything associated with the Army.
94. Unit of current : AMP
The unit of electric current is the ampere, abbreviated correctly to “A” rather than “amp”. It is named after French physicist Andre-Marie Ampere, one of the main scientists responsible for the discovery of electromagnetism.
96. Places to plug in peripherals : PORTS
A computer port is a physical interface between a computer and another computer or a piece of computer equipment. The word “port” is used as it comes from the Latin “porta” meaning “gate, entrance, door”.
97. Garbage receptacle that you and I insult? : TRASH CAN WE TRASH TALK
From “trash” & “can we talk”.
104. Music genre prefix : ALT
“Alt-” is a prefix used to denote “alternative”, and is used to define a number of music genres e.g. alt-rock, alt-country.
105. Ancient Rome’s Appian ___ : WAY
The Appian Way has to be the most famous of the amazing roads of Ancient Rome. It stretched from Rome right into the south of Italy, terminating in the city of Brindisi in the southeast. The first section of the military road was completed in 312 BC, by the Roman censor called Appius Claudius Caucus, who gave the road its name “Via Appia”, or “Appian Way”.
Guns N’ Roses is a hard rock band founded in 1985 and still going strong. The group was pulled together by Axl Rose, the lead vocalist. The lead guitar back then was Tracii Guns, and it was the combination of Axl and Tracii’s “family” names that led to the band being called Guns N’ Roses.
108. “That high lonesome sound,” as played by Atlantic crustaceans? : BLUE CRAB BLUEGRASS
From “blue crab” and “crabgrass”.
A live, blue crab gets its color from pigments in the shell, which predominantly result in a blue color. When the crab is cooked, all the pigments break down except for astaxanthin, a red pigment, which is why crab turns up at the dinner table looking very red.
Crab grass may be considered a weed and a scourge of the lawn-loving population, but it has its uses. In Africa,the seeds of some species of crabgrass are toasted and ground into a flour that is used to make porridge, or better still, to make beer.
Bluegrass is a sub-genre of country music, and has its roots in the traditional music brought over from the British Isles, particularly from Ireland and Scotland. The style of music really evolved quite recently, just before WWII. Musician Bill Monroe is referred to as its “founding father”, and indeed bluegrass takes its name from Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys.
115. Uma’s “Pulp Fiction” role : MIA
Uma Thurman’s father, Robert Thurman, was the first westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He raised his children in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and gave his daughter Uma her name as it is a phonetic spelling of the Buddhist name, Dbuma.
I”m not a big fan of Quentin Tarantino. His movies are too violent for me, and the size of his ego just turns me right off. Having said that, I think “Pulp Fiction” is a remarkable film. If you can look past the violence it’s really well written. And what a legacy it has. John Travolta’s career was on the rocks, and he did the film for practically no money, and it turned out be a re-launch for him. Uma Thurman became a top celebrity overnight from her role. Even Bruce Willis got some good out of it, putting an end to a string of poorly received performances.
116. Many a Monopoly property : AVENUE
The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman called Lizzie Phillips who used it as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, making him a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.
117. Singer of the 2008 #1 hit “Bleeding Love” : LEONA LEWIS
Leona Lewis rocketed to fame after winning the British TV show called “The X Factor” (the show that spawned the UK’s “Pop Idol” and America’s “American Idol”).
120. Cornerstone abbr. : ESTD
4. Call into court : ARRAIGN
In the law, to arraign someone is to call the person accused before a court to answer charges that have been brought.
5. Followed the game : SPOORED
“Spoor” is both a verb and a noun, and describes the track left by an animal, or the act of following said track. We’ve been using it in English since the early 1800s, an Afrikaans word.
7. Rebel org. : CSA
The Confederate States of America set up government in 1861 just before Abraham Lincoln took office. The CSA conceded defeat on November 6, 1865. Jefferson Davis was selected as President of the CSA at its formation, and retained the post for the life of the government. After the Civil War he spent two years in prison before being released on bail. He wrote the book, “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” that was well received, particularly in the South. He passed away in 1889 in New Orleans, at the ripe old age of 81 years.
8. Soprano Tebaldi : RENATA
Renata Tebaldi was an Italian soprano, popular just after the end of WWII. Tebaldi had a much talked about rivalry with Maria Callas, one that was perhaps blown out of proportion in the press. Tebaldi and Callas ending up singing together in a touring company in 1951 and when asked by a reporter about the differences between the two singing voices, Callas said it was like comparing “champagne and cognac”, to which a bystander remarked “no, with Coca Cola”. The “champagne and Coca Cola” comparison was quoted in the paper, and attributed to Callas. That didn’t help …
12. Zimbabwe’s capital : HARARE
Cecil Rhodes (famous in America as the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship), was very successful English businessman and South African politician. He founded the De Beers diamond mining company, and also founded the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him. The British colony gained its independence over time in the latter half of the 20th century, and is known today as the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
14. Army-McCarthy hearings figure : WELCH
After WWII the United States went through what was called “Second Red Scare”, the fear of communist infiltration in American society and government. Senator Joseph McCarthy became a lightning rod for this movement when he chaired Senate hearings in the fifties designed to root out communist infiltrators. After three years of hearings, McCarthy turned his attention to the US Army and started investigating reported infiltration in the Army Signal Corps. As we now know, McCarthy’s activities went way over the top, and it appears that the US Army fought back. The Army accused McCarthy’s committee chief counsel of seeking preferential treatment for his friend, a draftee into the Army. Separate Army-McCarthy hearings were set up in the Senate to investigate the charges brought by the Army, all of which were televised live. It is thought that the media coverage of the Army-McCarthy hearings finally turned the public against the Senator, creating an environment in which he could be reined in. The Army’s attorney in the hearings was Joseph Welch. In one famous exchange, Welch responded to a statement made by McCarthy concerning a young man whose case was being litigated at the time. Welch cut off the Senator in mid-sentence saying:
“Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator…. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
17. Founder of Celesteville, in children’s lit : BABAR
Babar the Elephant originated in France, the creation of Jean de Brunhoff in 1931. The first book was “Histoire de Babar”, a book so successful it was translated into English two years later for publication in the Britain and the US. Jean de Brunhoff wrote six more Babar stories before he died in 1937, and then his son Laurent continued his father’s work.
29. Missouri’s ___ Trail : OZARK
Missouri’s Ozark Trail is a hiking, backpacking, biking and equestrian trail that started to come together in the seventies, and is still under construction. When completed, it should stretch over 700 miles, from St. Louis into Arkansas.
31. Tess’s literary seducer : ALEC
The full name of Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel is “Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented”. When it was originally published, “Tess” received very mixed reviews, largely because it addressed some difficult sexual themes including rape, and sexual double standards (attitudes towards men vs women). I suppose the most celebrated screen adaption is Roman Polanski’s “Tess” released in 1979. Polanski apparently made “Tess” because his wife, Sharon Tate, gave him Hardy’s novel as her last act before she was murdered by the Manson family. There is a dedication at the beginning of the movie that just says “To Sharon”.
33. “Dies ___” (Latin hymn) : IRAE
Dies Irae is Latin for “Day of Wrath”. It is the name of a famous melody in Gregorian Chant, and is often used as part of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass.
41. Discountenance : ABASH
To “discountenance” is to view with disfavor, to disconcert, to abash, to make uneasy …
43. Fragrant cake : BAR OF SOAP
Soap is basically made by adding a strong alkali (like lye) to a fat (like olive oil). The fats break down in the basic solution in a process called saponification. The crude soap is extracted from the mixture, washed, purified and finished in molds.
44. Round container : GUN
What a clever clue. A gun holds rounds of ammunition.
49. Eucalyptus eater : KOALA
The koala really does look like a little bear, but it’s not even closely related. It is an arboreal marsupial, and a herbivore, native to the east and south coasts of Australia. Like so many of the cute and cuddly species on our planet, the koala was hunted nearly to extinction for its fur. It’s making a comeback now due to conservation measures taken by the Australian government.
50. Defense grp. headquartered in Belgium : NATO
NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (or OTAN in French, l’Oganisation du Traite de l’Atlantique Nord). NATO was founded not long after WWII, in 1949, and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The first NATO Secretary General was Lord Ismay, Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant during WWII. Famously he said the goal of NATO was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
51. Pharmacopoeia selection : DRUG
A pharmacopoeia is an official list of drugs that includes information about a drug’s preparation and use.
54. Shakespearean character who says “I am not what I am” : IAGO
Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare’s “Othello”. Iago is a soldier who fought alongside Othello, and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. His rival is Cassio, and Iago hatches a plot to discredit him, which creates mayhem, jealousy and violence, before Iago is finally exposed for his true character.
63. Kentucky college : BEREA
Berea college is located in Berea, Kentucky, just south of Lexington. It is a remarkable university focused on providing a low-cost education to students from low-income families. There are no tuition fees and instead students must work at least ten hours a week on campus and in service jobs. Berea was also the first college in the Southern United States to become coeducational and racially integrated.
64. pV = nRT, to physicists : IDEAL GAS LAW
Ah yes, the Ideal Gas Law. I remember this from my chemistry classes. One of the basic conclusions one can draw from the law is that under ideal conditions, all gases have the same volume at the same temperature and pressure. The idea is that the individual molecules in a gas are so far away from each other that the actual components of the molecule has negligible influence on the physical properties of the gas. A gas molecule is just a gas molecule. Well, sort of …
65. Geraint’s wife in “Idylls of the King” : ENID
“Idylls of the King” is a cycle of twelve poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, that retell the tale of King Arthur. The sixth of the twelve “idylls” is the story of Geraint and Enid.
75. Business address ender : COM
A domain name is basically the address of a website on the Internet. Recently, I moved this website to a new address (from www.puzzle.paxient.com to www.NYTCrossword.com). Like in the real world, one pays for an address. I now own (well rent!) both of the addresses used for this blog, but choose to “do business”, publish the blog, at the more memorable address. It’s sort of like preferring to have a Park Avenue address instead of one on say Elm Street. In the Internet world, the address is intended to indicate what type of activity goes on at a particular address. So an address with “.com” implies a “company” website, a “.org” implies a non-profit website and “.edu” implies an education website. But, in reality anyone can rent whatever address they want, as it just goes to the highest bidder. Most folks remember “.com” addresses, so they are the most popular. “.com” is meant to imply a “business address” as I say, but it can even be used to chat about crosswords!
76. Army of the Potomac commander, 1863-65 : MEADE
George Meade was a career army officer with a depth of experience in civil and military operations even before the onset of the Civil War. During the war he rose to command of the Army of the Potomac, and is best remembered for leading the Union forces that defeated General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg in 1863.
79. Quatre + trois : SEPT
Even in French, 4 + 3 = 7.
82. 1989 Oscar-winning title role for Jessica Tandy : DAISY
Actress Jessica Tandy is now so famous for having played very American roles, but of course she started out her career as an English actress. Her first marriage was to the marvelous English actor Jack Hawkins, but the couple divorced in 1940 and Tandy moved to New York. There she met Canadian actor Hume Cronyn whom she married in 1942. Cronyn and Tandy were jointly honored with a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 1994.
84. Census form deliverer: Abbr. : USPS
Those census forms are delivered by the US Postal Service.
95. Invitees who didn’t R.S.V.P., say : MAYBES
RSVP stands for “Répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is French for “please, answer”.
97. Cargo vessel with no fixed route : TRAMP
We’ve been using “tramp” to mean a person who wanders about, since the 1660s. We applied the term to a steamship in the late 1800s. A tramp steamer is one that picks up cargo wherever it can and delivers it anywhere it is needed. This is as opposed to a vessel that works for a regular shipping line.
98. ___ Hart, showgirl in “Chicago” : ROXIE
The 1926 play “Chicago” was written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, a newspaper reporter. She got the idea for the storyline from watching real life murder trials with women accused of the crime. Her character Roxie Hart is based on Beulah Annan, who stood trial for murdering the man with whom she was having an extra-marital affair, in 1924. Her story to the police was that she shot her lover, and sat drinking cocktails and listening to records for four hours while she watched him die. She changed her story through the course of the trial, and ended up being acquitted.
100. Bygone rival of Delta : TWA
Trans World Airlines was a big carrier in the US, but was perhaps even more recognized for its extensive presence in Europe and the Middle East. For many years, especially after the collapse of Pan-Am, TWA was considered the unofficial flag carrier for the US. The company started in 1930, the product of a forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express. The Transcontinental and Western Air that resulted was what the Postmaster General wanted, a bigger airline to which it could award airmail contracts.
102. “Take ___ Train” : THE A
The A Train, in the New York City Subway, runs from 207th Street, through Manhattan, and over to Far Rockaway in Queens. The service lends its name to a jazz standard “Take the A Train”, the signature tune of Duke Ellington, and much sung by Ella Fitzgerald.
109. Ham helper : CUE
A ham actor might need help from a cue.
113. Verbatim quote addendum, possibly : SIC
“Sic” indicates that a quote is written as originally found. “Sic” is Latin for “thus, like this”.
114. J.F.K. arrival of old : SST
The most famous SuperSonic Transport (SST) was the Concorde, all of which are now grounded. Concorde had that famous “droop nose”. The nose was moved to the horizontal position during flight to create the optimum aerodynamic shape thereby reducing drag. The nose was lowered during taxi, takeoff and landing, so that the pilot had better visibility. The need for the droop nose was driven largely by the delta-shaped wings on Concorde. The delta wing necessitates a higher angle of attack at takeoff and landing than conventional wing designs, so the pilot needed the nose lowered so that he or she could see the ground.