0820-12: New York Times Crossword Answers 20 Aug 12, Monday

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Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD SETTER: Robert Cirillo
THEME: Luck-y Finish … each of the theme answers starts with a word that is often seen ahead of the word LUCK:

20A. Help for newbies : BEGINNER’S GUIDE (beginner’s LUCK)
26A. There’s no such thing as this, according to a saying : DUMB QUESTION (dumb LUCK)
43A. Really strong : TOUGH AS NAILS (tough LUCK)
52A. First woman to sit in the British House of Commons : LADY NANCY ASTOR (lady LUCK)

52D. Word that can follow the starts of 20-, 26-, 43- and 52-Across : LUCK

COMPLETION TIME: 7m 10s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0


Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. City square : PLAZA
“Plaza” is the Spanish word for “square, place”.

10. Arrow-shooting Greek god : EROS
As always seems to be the case with Greek gods, Eros and Aphrodite have overlapping spheres of influence. Aphrodite was the goddess of love between a man and a woman, and Eros was the god who stirred the passions of the male.

15. Man, in Roma : UOMO
“Uomo” is the Italian word for “man”. The Italian for “woman” is “donna”.

18. ___ platter (order at a Polynesian restaurant) : PU PU
In Hawaiian, “pu-pu” is a word originally meaning “snail”. Nowadays “pu-pu” denotes many different types of food that are usually served as an hors d’oeuvres. A “pupu platter” then is a selection of such foods served in a Hawaiian restaurant. The term “pupu platter” somehow became absorbed into American Chinese cuisine in the fifties, so one can order the same dish in a Chinese restaurant and get a plate of Chinese morsels.

19. Word before Susan or Sunday : LAZY
A Lazy Susan is a circular tray at the center of a dining table that can be rotated by those partaking in the meal. The term “Lazy Susan” was introduced in the early 1900s, first appearing in an article in the magazine “Good Housekeeping”. Before this designation, the device had been called a “dumbwaiter”, a term we now use for a small elevator used for transporting food from a kitchen to a dining room.

24. Swiss river to the Rhine : AAR
The Aar (also called the Aare in German) is the longest river entirely in Switzerland. A famous spot along the river is the Reichenbach Falls in the center of the country, actually a series of waterfalls near the city of Meiringen. These falls are celebrated in the world of literature as it was here that Sherlock Holmes fell to his supposed doom with his nemesis Professor Moriarty (in “The Adventure of the Final Problem”).

25. Med. care options : HMOS
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

31. Evening event : SOIREE
“Soir” is the French word for “evening” and a “soirée” is an “evening party”. The French word “soirée” has an acute accent over the first “e”, but we tend to drop this when using the word in English.

34. Kiev’s land: Abbr. : UKR
Ukraine is a large country in Eastern Europe, a Soviet Republic before the dissolution of the USSR. In English we often call the country “the” Ukraine, but I am told this isn’t appropriate.

Kiev is the capital of Ukraine, and a beautiful city from what I heard from friends who have visited.

35. 1964 Pontiac debut : GTO
GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologato.

37. Sandra of “Gidget” : DEE
The actress Sandra Dee started out as a model before moving into film. After a promising start to her career it seemed to peter out, and the public became more interested in her 7-year marriage to Bobby Darin. And of course she will forever be remembered from the song in the movie and stage-show “Grease” called “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”.

“Gidget” is an early “beach party film” that was released in 1959. The movie stars Sandra Dee as a teenage girl who falls in love with a young surfer. The surfer’s gang gives the young lass the nickname “Gidget”, a portmanteau of “girl” and “midget”.

40. Columbo and others: Abbr. : LTS
“Columbo” is a police drama that aired from 1971-78, with some more episodes made as recently as 2003. Columbo was of course played by Peter Falk, although the character of Columbo was first played by Bert Freed in 1960 in an episode of “The Chevy Mystery Show”. That first appearance was so successful that the episode was adapted for the stage in 1962, with Thomas Mitchell taking on the role. Then the same episode was stretched into a TV movie in 1968, with Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo for the first time.

47. Sound heard before an MGM film : ROAR
There has been a lion in the logo of the MGM studio since 1924. The original was an Irishman (!), a lion name Slats who was born in Dublin Zoo in 1919. However it wasn’t until Jackie took over from Slats in 1928 that the roar was heard, as the era of silent movies was coming to an end. The current lion is called Leo and he has been around since 1957.

48. Weekend NBC staple, for short : SNL
NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1975 under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. Back then “The Tonight Show” had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to put together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and Michaels came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.

49. Be a thespian : ACT
The term “Thespian” is used for an actor. It derives from the name of the Greek poet of the 6th century Thespis, who was known as the father of Greek tragedy.

52. First woman to sit in the British House of Commons : LADY NANCY ASTOR (lady LUCK)
Nancy Astor (nee Langhorne) was born in the US, in Virginia. When Nancy was 26 years old she moved to England with her younger sister. In England she married an American living there, Waldorf Astor, and the couple lived a very comfortable life. Nancy Astor became very active in English politics, and eventually became the first woman elected to the British Parliament.

57. Home of Lima and Toledo : OHIO
The city of Lima is located in northwest Ohio. One of Lima’s claims to fame is that it is home to production of the M1 Abrams tank. Lima is also the setting of the television show “Glee”.

Toledo, Ohio lies in the northwest of the state, at the western end of Lake Erie. The city was founded as a result of the prosperity that hit the area when the Miami and Erie Canal was constructed in the 19th century to connect Cincinnati to the Great Lakes.

59. The Bruins of the N.C.A.A. : 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.

60. The Who’s “___ Get Fooled Again” : WON’T
The English rock bang called the Who were formed in 1964, bringing together famed musicians Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the Who were the third arm of the holy trinity of British rock, alongside the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

62. Barely made, with “out” : EKED
To “eke out” means to “make something go further or last longer”. So, you can eke out your income by cutting back on expenses. I always have a problem with the commonly cited definition of “eke out” as “barely get by”. Close but no cigar, I say …

63. Caustic alkalis : LYES
Today, when we purchase what is labelled as “lye”, it is caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). To clean out drains we might buy Crystal Drano which is sodium hydroxide (lye) mixed with sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (table salt) and aluminum. The contents of Drano work in concert to clear the clog. The lye reacts with any fats creating soap which may be enough to break up the clog. Also, the finely divided aluminum reacts with water creating tremendous heat so that that mixture boils and churns, then any hair or fibers are cut by the sharp edges of the nitrate and chloride crystals. Having said all that, I find that boiling water poured down the drain almost always does the job …

64. “I came, I saw, I conquered,” e.g. : BOAST
The oft-quoted “Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) is believed by many to have been written by Julius Caesar. The words date back to 47 BC and refer to the short war between Rome and Pharnaces II of Pontus.

Down
4. Large-tubed pasta : ZITI
Cylindrical pasta is known in general as “penne”, and there are many variants. For example, Ziti is a particularly large and long tube with square-cut ends.

5. Former German chancellor Konrad : ADENAUER
Konrad Adenauer was the first Chancellor of West Germany after WWII, taking office in 1949 at the age of 73. Adenauer was 87 years old when he left office. Understandably perhaps, his nickname was “Der Alte”, German for “the old man”. He spent much of WWII in prison, courtesy of Herr Hitler.

7. Rain cats and dogs : POUR
It has been “raining cats and dogs” at least since the 1700s, but no one seems to know the origin of the expression.

10. Broadway’s “Billy ___” : ELLIOT
“Billy Elliot” is best known in North America as a stage musical, first produced in 2005. The musical is based on a British drama film that was released in 2000. “Billy Elliot” is all about an 11-year-old boy who lives in a coal mining town in the north of England and the hostility that the boy faces when he decides to learn ballet.

26. Rap’s Dr. ___ : DRE
Dr. Dre is the stage name of rapper Andre Romelle Young. Dr. Dre is known for his own singing career as well as producing records and starting the careers of others such Snoop Dog, Eminem and 50 Cent.

27. Elizabeth I or II : QUEEN
The Elizabethan Era, the period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, is considered by many to be the golden age of English history, the age of Shakespeare and the English Renaissance. Elizabeth I was the last sovereign of the House of Tudor, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Princess Elizabeth became queen Elizabeth II in 1952 when her father, King George VI died. The Princess was on an official visit to Kenya when her husband broke the news to her, that she had become queen. When she was crowned in 1953 in Westminster Abbey, it was the first coronation to be televised. Queen Elizabeth’s reign is currently the second longest in the history of the UK. She is closing in on the record of Queen Victoria who reigned longest, for almost 64 years.

28. Hawaiian instrument, for short : UKE
The ukulele originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.

29. Oklahoma tribe : OTOE
The Otoe (also Oto) Native American tribe originated in the Great Lakes region as part of the Winnebago or Siouan tribes. The group that would become the Otoe broke away from the Winnebago and migrated southwestwards ending up in the Great Plains. In the plains the Otoe adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle dependent on the horse, with the American bison becoming central to their diet.

30. Christmas song : NOEL
“Noël” is the French word for the Christmas season, ultimately coming from the Latin word for “birth”, “natalis”. Noel has come to be used as an alternative name for a Christmas carol.

33. Like a car or home, to State Farm : INSURABLE
State Farm started out in 1922 as an auto insurance company specializing in providing insurance for farmers, hence the name. That jingle the company uses, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”, was written in 1971 by Barry Manilow.

41. Nocturnal rodent hunter on a farm : BARN OWL
The Barn Owl is the most common species of owl. The Barn Owl is found everywhere in the world, except in desert and polar regions.

46. Broad ties : ASCOTS
An Ascot tie is that horrible looking (I think!) wide tie that narrows at the neck, which these days is only really worn at weddings. The tie takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race at which punters still turn up in formal wear at Ascot Racecourse in England.

49. Heart chambers : ATRIA
The heart has four chambers. The two upper chambers (the atria) accept deoxygenated blood from the body and oxygenated blood from the lungs. The atria squeeze the blood into the two lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles), “priming” the pump, as it were. One ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood to the lungs, and the other pumps oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.

51. Meeting for Romeo and Juliet : TRYST
In its most general sense, a tryst is a meeting at an agreed time and place. More usually we consider a tryst to be a prearranged meeting between lovers. The term comes from the Old French noun “triste”, a waiting place designated when hunting.

53. Chips ___! : AHOY
Chips Ahoy! is a Nabisco brand of chocolate chip cookies.

54. Number of “lives” a cat has : NINE
In the English-speaking world, the myth is that cats have nine lives. In Spanish-speaking cultures, cats are said to have seven lives. They are less fortunate in Turkish and Arabic cultures, as the number of lives is limited to six.

55. Kind of wrestling : SUMO
Sumo is a sport that is practiced professionally only in Japan, the country of its origin. There is an international federation of sumo wrestling now, and one of the organization’s aims is to have the sport accepted as an Olympic event.

56. Pool ball striker : CUE
The more correct name for the game of pool is pocket billiards. The name “pool” came after pocket billiards became a common feature in “pool halls”, places where gamblers “pooled” their money to bet on horse races.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. City square : PLAZA
6. Thing on a cowboy’s boot : SPUR
10. Arrow-shooting Greek god : EROS
14. Overhauled : REDID
15. Man, in Roma : UOMO
16. “See for yourself!” : LOOK
17. Almost round : OVATE
18. ___ platter (order at a Polynesian restaurant) : PU PU
19. Word before Susan or Sunday : LAZY
20. Help for newbies : BEGINNER’S GUIDE (beginner’s LUCK)
23. Prior to, in verse : ERE
24. Swiss river to the Rhine : AAR
25. Med. care options : HMOS
26. There’s no such thing as this, according to a saying : DUMB QUESTION (dumb LUCK)
31. Evening event : SOIREE
34. Kiev’s land: Abbr. : UKR
35. 1964 Pontiac debut : GTO
36. ___ tube : INNER
37. Sandra of “Gidget” : DEE
38. Craft with a paddle : CANOE
40. Columbo and others: Abbr. : LTS
41. “Ta-ta” : BYE
42. Graduation cap attachment : TASSEL
43. Really strong : TOUGH AS NAILS (tough LUCK)
47. Sound heard before an MGM film : ROAR
48. Weekend NBC staple, for short : SNL
49. Be a thespian : ACT
52. First woman to sit in the British House of Commons : LADY NANCY ASTOR (lady LUCK)
56. Six-sided solid : CUBE
57. Home of Lima and Toledo : OHIO
58. Not straight, as a street : CURVY
59. The Bruins of the N.C.A.A. : UCLA
60. The Who’s “___ Get Fooled Again” : WON’T
61. Parisian girlfriends : AMIES
62. Barely made, with “out” : EKED
63. Caustic alkalis : LYES
64. “I came, I saw, I conquered,” e.g. : BOAST

Down
1. Government investigation : PROBE
2. Prying bar, e.g. : LEVER
3. “Honesty is the best policy,” e.g. : ADAGE
4. Large-tubed pasta : ZITI
5. Former German chancellor Konrad : ADENAUER
6. A-one : SUPERB
7. Rain cats and dogs : POUR
8. Officials on a diamond : UMPS
9. Not as gentle : ROUGHER
10. Broadway’s “Billy ___” : ELLIOT
11. Stop, Yield or No U Turn : ROAD SIGNS
12. Move like molasses : OOZE
13. Wild blue yonder : SKY
21. Identify : NAME
22. Verbal hesitations : UMS
26. Rap’s Dr. ___ : DRE
27. Elizabeth I or II : QUEEN
28. Hawaiian instrument, for short : UKE
29. Oklahoma tribe : OTOE
30. Christmas song : NOEL
31. River deposit : SILT
32. Latch ___ : ONTO
33. Like a car or home, to State Farm : INSURABLE
37. Prefix with functional : DYS-
38. Arrange for transport to the airport, perhaps : CALL A CAB
39. Donkey : ASS
41. Nocturnal rodent hunter on a farm : BARN OWL
42. Wee : TINY
44. Stop working, as a car battery : GO DEAD
45. Farm bale : HAY
46. Broad ties : ASCOTS
49. Heart chambers : ATRIA
50. Quiet places along a shore : COVES
51. Meeting for Romeo and Juliet : TRYST
52. Word that can follow the starts of 20-, 26-, 43- and 52-Across : LUCK
53. Chips ___! : AHOY
54. Number of “lives” a cat has : NINE
55. Kind of wrestling : SUMO
56. Pool ball striker : CUE

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