1214-11: New York Times Crossword Answers 14 Dec 11, Wednesday

QuickLinks:
Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
Solution to today’s SYNDICATED New York Times crossword in all other publications

CROSSWORD SETTER: Tim Croce
THEME: Add a Q … all of the theme answers are common terms with the letter “Q” inserted somewhere:

20A. Mesopotamia? : TRADITIONAL IRA(Q)
28A. Inconsistent root beer brand? : UNEVEN BAR(Q)S
45A. Local ascetic? : COUNTY FA(Q)IR
53A. Some Mideast laptops? : (Q)ATARI COMPUTERS

COMPLETION TIME: 11m 47s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 4 … POOR (PASS!!), ARNO (ARNA), TORO (TORS), JOHN MAYER (JOHN MAYES)


Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Metrosexual’s tote : MAN BAG
I think it’s generally accepted that the term “metrosexual”, from “metropolitan heterosexual”, is a man who lives in an urban environment and puts a fair amount of money and energy into his appearance. That wouldn’t be me, then …

7. “Doesn’t thrill me” : MEH
“Meh!” is one of those terms unfamiliar to me, a modern colloquialism meaning, “I’m not great, but not bad”.

10. Top awards at los Juegos Olímpicos : OROS
In Spanish, one might win golds (oros) at the Olympic Games (los Juegos Olímpicos).

14. Cuneiform discovery site : AMARNA
Armana is an archaeological site on the east bank of the Nile River in Egypt, almost 200 miles south of Cairo. The ancient city is also known as el-Armana, and Tel el-Armana, although the use of “Tel” is apparently incorrect. “Tel” commonly appears in names in the region (Arabic for “hill”) but should not apply to Amarna as the site is perfectly flat.

Cuneiform writing is a very early form of written expression that uses characters that are variants of a wedge shape. The first form of cuneiform writing was developed in Sumer (in modern-day Iraq), and was largely a system of pictographs. Over time, the number of characters decreased and became smaller and simpler, until they eventually evolved into the characters that we use in alphabetic writing today.

15. Geisha’s tie : OBI
The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied in what is called a butterfly knot.

16. Backing strip : LATH
The words “lath” and “lattice” have the same root in Old French. Laths are thin strips of wood that are nailed across a frame forming a backing to which plaster can be applied to finish a wall.

19. Cornell of Cornell University : EZRA
Ezra Cornell was an associate of Samuel Morse and made his money in the telegraph business. After he retired he co-founded Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He provided a generous endowment and donated his farm as a site for the school, and was rewarded by having the institute named after him.

20. Mesopotamia? : TRADITIONAL IRA(Q)
Mesopotamia was the land that lay between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, that flow through modern-day Iraq. The name “Mesopotamia” means “between the rivers”.

23. Role in “Son of Frankenstein” : YGOR
1939’s “Son of Frankenstein” is the third in the series of classic horror films featuring Boris Karloff as the Monster. The prior titles are “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein”.

24. Kind of fly, informally : SAC
A sac(rifice) fly, in baseball.

25. ___ Paese cheese : BEL
Bel Paese is a mild Italian cheese that was developed in 1906. The name “bel paese” means beautiful country in Italian, and is taken from the title of a book written by Antonio Stoppani.

28. Inconsistent root beer brand? : UNEVEN BAR(Q)S
When the Barq Brothers decided to go into the root beer business around 1900, they were faced with a dilemma as the Hires Root Beer Company was attempting to trademark the term “root beer”. So, the Barqs produced their beverage and called it simply Barq’s. They did indeed keep things simple, with an early advertising slogan of “Drink Barq’s. It’s good.” As the trademark issue dissipated, the company then introduced a slogan “Is it root beer?” before finally “coming out” and calling their drink “Barq’s root beer”.

34. Red wine of Spain : RIOJA
Rioja wines come from the province of La Rioja in Northern Spain. In my days back in Europe, Rioja wines were noted for their heavy oaky flavors, and it wasn’t uncommon to order a “rough Rioja” when out for dinner of an evening.

36. Santa ___, Calif. : ANA
Santa Ana is the county seat of Orange County, California and takes its name from the Santa Ana River that runs through the city. The Santa Ana winds are the very dry air currents that sweep offshore late in the year in Southern California. Because they are so dry, they are noted for their influence over forest fires in the area, especially in the heat of the fall. The winds arise from a buildup of air pressure in the Great Basin that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Under the right conditions, that air spills over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and basically “falls” down the side of the Sierra range, heading for the ocean. As the air falls it becomes drier and heats up, so that relative humidity can fall to below 10% by the time it hits the coast.

37. Qaddafi’s rise to power, e.g. : COUP
Muammar Gaddafi was the ruler in Libya from 1969 to 2011. He came to power in a bloodless coup in 1969 when he led a group of junior military officers in taking over the country from King Idris of Libya while he was in Turkey receiving medical treatment.

38. Vintners’ prefix : OENO-
In Greek mythology Oeno was the goddess of wine, giving us “oen-” as a prefix meaning “wine”. Oenology, for example, is the study of wine.

39. Consumer products giant, briefly : P AND G
From what I’ve heard, Proctor & Gamble is a remarkably well-managed company. It is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was founded back in 1837 by English immigrant and candlemaker William Proctor, and Irish immigrant and soapmaker James Gamble.

44. ___ Quested, woman in Forster’s “A Passage to India” : ADELA
“A Passage to India” is a wonderful novel by E. M. Forster set in the days of the British Raj. There are two excellent adaptations for the screen that I would recommend. There’s a BBC television version from 1965 starring a wonderful cast including Virginia McKenna and Cyril Cusack. There is also an Oscar-winning movie version from 1984 with Alec Guinness and Peggy Ashcroft. Forster had first-hand knowledge of life during the Raj, having worked in India during the twenties.

45. Local ascetic? : COUNTY FA(Q)IR
A fakir (also faqir) is an ascetic in the Muslim tradition. The term “fakir” is derived from “faqr”, an Arabic word for “poverty”.

49. Camera type, in brief : SLR
SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. Usually cameras with changeable lenses are the SLR type. The main feature of an SLR is that a mirror reflects the image seen through the lens out through the viewfinder, so that the photographer sees exactly what the lens sees. The mirror moves out of the way as the picture is taken, and the image that comes through the lens falls onto unexposed film, or nowadays onto a digital sensor.

50. Barker and Kettle : MAS
Ma Barker was the mother of several children who became notorious criminals in the early thirties. Collectively they ran what was known as the Barker Gang and plied their trade in the US Midwest.

The author Betty McDonald wrote a memoir called “The Egg and I” that was published in 1945, telling the story of her life as a young wife on a chicken farm in Washington state. The book was adapted into a film of the same name in 1947, with the lovely Claudette Colbert playing Betty McDonald, and the great Fred McMurray as her husband. Two other characters feature in the storyline, Ma and Pa Kettle. The latter characters were so well received by theater audiences that a whole series of films about them and their fifteen children was made between the years 1949 and 1957.

51. Pizzeria chain, informally : UNO’S
The chain of pizza parlors known today as Uno Chicago Grill used to be called Pizzeria Uno, or just “Uno’s”. Apparently Uno’s created the world’s first deep dish pizza.

53. Some Mideast laptops? : (Q)ATARI COMPUTERS
Qatar is a sovereign state in the Middle East, occupying the Qatar Peninsula, itself located in the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar lies on the Persian Gulf and shares one land border, with Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar has more oil and gas reserves per capita of population than any other country in the world, and in 2010 had the fastest growing economy in the world, driven by the petrochemical industry.

At one point Atari was the fastest growing company in US history, but it never really recovered from the video game crash of 1983.

61. Helen’s city : TROY
In Greek mythology, Helen of Sparta was the daughter of Zeus and Leda. She became known as Helen of Troy as the Trojan War started when she was abducted by Paris and taken from Sparta to Troy.

62. “Proved!” letters : QED
Q.E.D. is used at the end of a mathematical proof or a philosophical argument. The acronym stands for the Latin “quod erat demonstrandum” meaning “that which was to be demonstrated”.

63. Fish-eating raptor : OSPREY
The Osprey is also known as the sea hawk or fish eagle.

64. Regarding, on memos : IN RE
The term “in re” is Latin, derived from “in” (in) and “res” (thing, matter). It literally means “in the matter”, and is used as “in regard to”, or “in the matter of”.

65. “Hänsel ___ Gretel” : UND
“Hansel and Gretel” is a Germanic fairy tale found in the collection of the Brothers Grimm. It tells of two siblings, Hansel and Gretel, the children of a woodcutter. The youngsters are abandoned in a forest at the behest of an evil stepmother. Clever Hansel hears of the plan and leaves a trail of pebbles so that he and his sister can find their way home, which they do. But the children are abandoned again, and this time leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, the crumbs are eaten by birds, so the children do indeed become lost. But, eventually, they all live happily ever after …

66. President who said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” : REAGAN
I once worked for a man who, when serving with the US Army, had the job of filming the construction of the Berlin Wall in the early sixties. Starting in 1952, the border between East And West Germany was strictly controlled, with the help of fences and walls running over 850 miles from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia. There was a big “gap” in the restrictive barrier, in the divided city of Berlin. Restriction of movement in between East and West in the city was very lax for most of the fifties (you could take a subway train “under” the border, for example), and so Berlin became a gateway for emigration, almost exclusively from East to West. In August 1961, under orders from Nikita Krushchev in Moscow, East Germany closed the border in Berlin, and construction started on the fortified wall.

68. U.F.O. crew : ETS
In 1952, the USAF revived its studies of reports of UFO sightings, in a program called Project Blue Book. There were two prior USAF studies of the UFO phenomenon, namely Project Sign and Project Grudge. Project Blue Book ran from 1952 until it was shut down in 1969 with the conclusion that there was no threat to national security and that there were no sightings that could not be explained within the bounds of modern scientific knowledge.

69. Movie camera settings : T-STOPS
Basically, I think a t-stop is used in lenses on movie cameras the same way that an f-stop is used on lenses in still cameras.

Varying the f-stop in a lens varies how big the lens opening (the aperture) is when the photograph is taken. Smaller apertures (higher f-stop values) admit less light, but result in sharper photographs.

Down
2. C.S.A. part: Abbr. : AMER
The Confederate States of America set up government in 1861 just before Abraham Lincoln took office. Jefferson Davis was selected as President of the CSA at its formation and retained the post for the life of the government.

3. Vintners’ valley : NAPA
Apparently the name “Napa” comes from the Native American Patwin word “napo” meaning “house”.

4. Adrien of “The Pianist” : BRODY
Adrian Brody won an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in the Roman Polanski masterpiece “The Piano”. He won the award in 2003 at the age of 29, making him the youngest person ever to receive the Best Actor Oscar.

5. Barbuda’s island partner : ANTIGUA
Antigua is an island in the West Indies and is the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. These twin islands take their names from the Spanish for “ancient” and “bearded”.

6. Alphonse’s comics partner : GASTON
“Alphonse and Gaston” was a comic strip drawn by Frederick Burr Opper. Although it was an American strip, the two lead characters were bumbling Frenchmen. The pair first appeared in 1901, in the “New York Journal”.

7. Voodoo charm : MOJO
The word “mojo”, meaning magical charm or magnetism, is probably of Creole origin.

8. Black, to bards : EBON
Ebony is another word for the color black (often shortened to “ebon” in poetry). Ebony is a dark black wood that is very dense, and is one of the few types of wood that sinks in water. Ebony has been in high demand, so the species of trees yielding the wood are now considered threatened. It’s in such short supply that unscrupulous vendors have been known to darken lighter woods with shoe polish to look like ebony, so be warned …

10. Soapmaking compound : OLEIC ACID
Oleic Acid is a fatty acid, found in many animal and plants sources but most notably in olives. “Oleic” means “derived from the olive”.

Soap is basically made by adding a strong alkali (like potassium hydroxide, KOH) 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.

11. Motorola cell phone brand : RAZR
The Motorola RAZR is a line of flip phones introduced in 2004.

13. Hoopster with six rap albums, for short : SHAQ
Shaquille O’Neal is one of the heaviest players ever to have played in the NBA (weighing in at around 325 pounds). Yep, he’s a big guy … 7 foot 1 inch. He is also the oldest player active in the NBA today, pushing 40 years old.

22. “Chocolate” dog : LAB
The Labrador breed has been around at least since 1814, and the chocolate Labrador appeared over a decade later in the 1930s.

25. Horse to be broken : BRONC
A “bronco” (also “bronc”) is a horse that is untamed. In Mexican Spanish, a “bronco” is a “horse”, and in the original Spanish “bronco” means “rough, rude”.

26. Sequence sung by kids : 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”.

27. “Rude” sound : LONG U
There is a “long U” in the middle of the word “rude”.

29. Chekhov uncle : VANYA
Anton Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya” was first published in 1897. It is not really an “original” work, in the sense that it is a reworking of a play he wrote and published a decade earlier called “The Wood Demon”.

30. Put the kibosh on : END
“Kibosh” is something that constrains or checks. It looks like a Yiddish word but it isn’t, and is more likely English slang from the early 1800s.

31. Pasadena posies : ROSES
Pasadena, California is famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game, as well as the related Tournament of Roses Parade. The name “Pasadena” was chosen somewhat arbitrarily. A missionary in Michigan supplied a list of translations of the names “Crown of the Valley”, “Key of the Valley” etc, in the Chippewa language when the locals were choosing a name. All of the translations ended in “pasadena” meaning “of the valley”. The word was liked, so it was picked.

35. “No Such Thing” blues rocker : JOHN MAYER
John Mayer is a rock musician from Connecticut. Apparently he is into collecting things in his spare time. He has a large and expensive watch collection, as well as over 200 pairs of sneakers …

40. W.W. I mil. group : AEF
The US military sent to Europe during WWI were known as the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).

47. Holy city of Iran : Q’UM
Qom (also Q’um) is a city in Iran located about 100 miles southwest of Tehran. Qom is a holy city in the Shi’a Islam tradition, and a pilgrimage destination.

52. Annual parade honoree, informally : ST PAT
There is a fair amount known about St. Patrick, some of which comes from two letters written in his own hand. He lived in the fifth century, but was not born in Ireland. He was first brought to Ireland at about 16 years of age from his native Britain, by Irish raiders who made him a slave for six years. He managed to escape and return home where he studied and entered the Church. He went back to Ireland as a bishop and a missionary and there lived out the rest of his life. There seems to be good evidence that he died on March 17th (now celebrated annually as St. Patrick’s Day), although the year is less clear. The stories about shamrock and snakes, I am afraid they are the stuff of legend.

53. Popular swab : Q-TIP
Cotton swabs were originally marketed under the name “Baby Gays”, but this was changed in 1926 to “Q-Tip”, with the Q standing for “quality”.

54. The New Yorker cartoonist Peter : ARNO
Cartoonist Peter Arno’s real name was Arnoux Peters.

55. Ring foe of Manolete : TORO
Manolete (real name Manuel Sanchez) was a famous bullfighter in Spain. A bull got his own back one day in 1947, when Manolete was just 30-years-old. After Manolete killed four bulls one day, the fifth managed to defend himself and fatally gored his tormentor.

58. Descartes’s “therefore” : ERGO
“Ergo” is the Latin word for “hence, therefore”.

The great French philosopher Rene Descartes made the famous statement, in Latin, “Cogito ergo sum” … “I think, therefore I am”.

60. “Cease” and “desist,” e.g.: Abbr. : SYNS
Synonyms …

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Metrosexual’s tote : MAN BAG
7. “Doesn’t thrill me” : MEH
10. Top awards at los Juegos Olímpicos : OROS
14. Cuneiform discovery site : AMARNA
15. Geisha’s tie : OBI
16. Backing strip : LATH
17. Transplants, in a way : REPOTS
18. Make note of, with “down” : JOT
19. Cornell of Cornell University : EZRA
20. Mesopotamia? : TRADITIONAL IRA(Q)
23. Role in “Son of Frankenstein” : YGOR
24. Kind of fly, informally : SAC
25. ___ Paese cheese : BEL
28. Inconsistent root beer brand? : UNEVEN BAR(Q)S
34. Red wine of Spain : RIOJA
36. Santa ___, Calif. : ANA
37. Qaddafi’s rise to power, e.g. : COUP
38. Vintners’ prefix : OENO-
39. Consumer products giant, briefly : P AND G
41. “Gotcha!” : I SEE
42. Close by, in poems : NIGH
43. “Yoo-hoo!” : HEY
44. ___ Quested, woman in Forster’s “A Passage to India” : ADELA
45. Local ascetic? : COUNTY FA(Q)IR
49. Camera type, in brief : SLR
50. Barker and Kettle : MAS
51. Pizzeria chain, informally : UNO’S
53. Some Mideast laptops? : (Q)ATARI COMPUTERS
61. Helen’s city : TROY
62. “Proved!” letters : QED
63. Fish-eating raptor : OSPREY
64. Regarding, on memos : IN RE
65. “Hänsel ___ Gretel” : UND
66. President who said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” : REAGAN
67. Like a D- : POOR
68. U.F.O. crew : ETS
69. Movie camera settings : T-STOPS

Down
1. Trade center : MART
2. C.S.A. part: Abbr. : AMER
3. Vintners’ valley : NAPA
4. Adrien of “The Pianist” : BRODY
5. Barbuda’s island partner : ANTIGUA
6. Alphonse’s comics partner : GASTON
7. Voodoo charm : MOJO
8. Black, to bards : EBON
9. Run into unexpected trouble : HIT A SNAG
10. Soapmaking compound : OLEIC ACID
11. Motorola cell phone brand : RAZR
12. ___ vez (again: Sp.) : OTRA
13. Hoopster with six rap albums, for short : SHAQ
21. Ill temper : IRE
22. “Chocolate” dog : LAB
25. Horse to be broken : BRONC
26. Sequence sung by kids : EIEIO
27. “Rude” sound : LONG U
29. Chekhov uncle : VANYA
30. Put the kibosh on : END
31. Pasadena posies : ROSES
32. Put down, as a riot : QUELL
33. Hurled weapon : SPEAR
35. “No Such Thing” blues rocker : JOHN MAYER
39. Mr. America’s pride : PHYSIQUE
40. W.W. I mil. group : AEF
44. Wakens : AROUSES
46. Sealer’s stuff : TAR
47. Holy city of Iran : Q’UM
48. At a cruise stop, say : IN PORT
52. Annual parade honoree, informally : ST PAT
53. Popular swab : Q-TIP
54. The New Yorker cartoonist Peter : ARNO
55. Ring foe of Manolete : TORO
56. Euro fraction : CENT
57. They may be even, ironically : ODDS
58. Descartes’s “therefore” : ERGO
59. Get, as profits : REAP
60. “Cease” and “desist,” e.g.: Abbr. : SYNS

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