1231-12 New York Times Crossword Answers 31 Dec 12, Monday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Jeffrey Harris
THEME: What to do with finger foods … our themed answers today are all two-word FINGER FOODS, and the second of the two words is a verb that can apply to a FINGER:

17A. Crisp, spicy cookies : GINGER SNAPS (snaps one’s fingers)
30A. Triangular pieces of browned bread : TOAST POINTS (points a finger)
45A. Orange snacks : CHEESE CURLS (curls a finger)
60A. 17-, 30- and 45-Across, literally and figuratively : FINGER FOODS

COMPLETION TIME: 05m 05s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

5. Cuts at an angle, as a mirror : BEVELS
A bevelled edged is like a chamfered edge. The edge of a mirror is often bevelled, meaning that it is cut at an angle that isn’t perpendicular to the mirror’s surface.

11. Car navigation aid, for short : GPS
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The modern GPS system that we use today was built by the US military who received the massive funding needed because of fears during the Cold War of the use of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. We civilians, all round the world, owe a lot to President Ronald Reagan because he directed the military to make GPS technology available to the public for the common good. President Reagan was moved to do so after the Soviet Union shot down KAL flight 007 carrying 269 people, just because the plane strayed accidentally into Soviet airspace.

14. Balm ingredient : ALOE
Aloe vera has a number of alternate names that are descriptive of its efficacy as a medicine. These include the First Aid plant, Wand of Heaven, Silent Healer and Miracle Plant.

15. “Grease” co-star Newton-John : OLIVIA
Olivia Newton-John is an Australian singer and actress, although she was born in Cambridge, England. Newton-John’s father was an officer in the British Security Services and worked on the Enigma code-breaking project during WWII. Through her mother, Olivia is also the granddaughter of Max Born, the atomic physicist and Nobel Prize winner.

17. Crisp, spicy cookies : GINGER SNAPS (snaps one’s fingers)
“Ginger snap cookies” are known as “ginger nut biscuits” back in Ireland where I come from …

19. Orangutan, e.g. : APE
Orangutans are arboreal creatures, in fact the largest arboreal animals known to man. Orangutans are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, living in the rain forests. Like many animals in rain forests these days, orangutans are endangered, with only two species surviving. The word “orangutan” is Malay, meaning “man of the forest”.

21. First son of Seth : ENOS
Enos was the son of Seth and the grandson of Adam and Eve.

22. Kilmer of Hollywood : VAL
Val Kilmer’s first big leading role in a movie was playing Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic “The Doors”. A few years later, Morrison was chosen for the lead in another big production, “Batman Forever”. Things haven’t really gone as well for Kilmer since then, I’d say. Off the screen, he flirted with the idea of running for Governor of New Mexico in 2010. A Hollywood actor as a Governor? Would never happen …

35. Hannibal Lecter’s choice of wine : CHIANTI
A blog reader was kind enough to point out to me that in the Thomas Harris book “Silence of the Lambs”, Hannibal Lechter shows exquisite taste in choosing an Amarone, a fine robust wine from the Valpolicella region of Italy, to accompany his dish of liver and fava beans. When the story moved to the big screen, the wine was apparently “dumbed down” to something more readily recognizable by us movie-goers, and so Hannibal will forever be associated with Chianti wines.

Hannibal Lecter is a character created by author Thomas Harris, first appearing in his novel “Red Dragon”. Lecter also features prominently in “Red Dragon’s” famous sequel “The Silence of the Lambs”, and even more so in the third book, “Hannibal Rising”. The latter title is a “prequel” exploring Lecter’s childhood and development into a serial killer. Famously, Lecter was portrayed in the 1991 film version of “The Silence of the Lambs” by Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins.

39. Sound boosters : AMPS
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 signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.

45. Orange snacks : CHEESE CURLS (curls a finger)
The snack food known as “cheese curls” are sold under various brand names including “Cheetos” and “Cheese Doodles” in North America, and “Wotsits” in the UK.

50. Friars Club event : ROAST
The Friars Club is a private show-business club in New York City that has roots dating back to 1904. Back then the club was called the Press Agents Association. Within a few years the name was changed to reflect its broadening membership of actors and musicians. The name “Friar” was chosen as it comes from the Latin for “brother”, deemed to a good name for a fraternal organization.

51. U.F.O. shapes, traditionally : SAUCERS
In 1952, the USAF revived its studies of reports of UFO sightings in a program called Project Blue Book. 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.

53. Prominent part of a basset hound : EAR
The Basset Hound wouldn’t be my favorite breed of dog, to be honest. Basset Hounds have a great sense of smell with an ability to track a scent that is second only to that of the Bloodhound. The name “Basset” comes from the French word for “rather low”, a reference to the dog’s short legs.

54. Falco of “The Sopranos” : EDIE
Edie Falco won her three Emmy Awards for playing Carmela Soprano in HBO’s outstanding drama series called “The Sopranos”.

“The Sopranos” is an outstanding television drama that was made by HBO and is a story about Italian-American mobsters in New Jersey. “The Sopranos” has made more money than any other television series in the history of cable television. It’s “must see TV” …

58. Web address, for short : URL
Internet addresses (like NYTCrossword.com and LAXCrossword.com) are more correctly called Uniform Resource Locators (URLs).

65. Letter before omega : PSI
The Greek letter psi is the one that looks a bit like a trident or a pitchfork.

Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, and is the one that looks like a horseshoe. The word “omega” literally means “great O” (O-mega). Compare this with the Greek letter Omicron meaning “little O” (O-micron).

69. Nobel laureate Mandela : NELSON
As a young man, Nelson Mandela led the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). Mandela was eventually arrested and admitted to charges of sabotage and was sentenced to life in prison in 1964. He remained behind bars for 27 years, mainly in the infamous prison on Robben Island. As the years progressed, Mandela became a symbol of the fight against apartheid. He was released in 1990, and immediately declared his commitment to peace and reconciliation with South Africa’s white minority. Mandela was elected president of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) in 1994, an office that he held until 1999.

Down
2. Muhammad ___ : ALI
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. was born in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam in 1964. Who can forget Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame for the 1996 games in Atlanta? Ali was presented with a gold medal during those ’96 Games, a replacement for the medal he won at the 1960 Olympics. He had thrown the original into the Ohio River as a gesture of disgust after being refused service at a “whites only” restaurant.

3. Charged particle : ION
Excitation of an atom occurs when the atom absorbs energy and at least one of its electrons moves out of its resting orbit into a higher orbit. When the electron returns to it lowest orbit it may do so by emitting the excess energy in the form of a photon, that is by emitting a characteristic color of light. If sufficient energy is used to excite the atom, the electron may break out of orbit completely, in which case the atom becomes a positively-charged ion.

4. TV’s Philbin : REGIS
Regis Philbin is an amazingly popular television personality. Philbin is in such high demand and has had such a long career, that he holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera (in excess of 16,000 hours).

5. East Indies island famous for its 19-Acrosses : BORNEO
Borneo is the third largest island on the planet (after Greenland and New Guinea), and is located north of Australia in Maritime Southeast Asia. Most of the island is part of Indonesia (taking up 73% of the island) with almost all of the remainder being part of Malaysia (26%). The final 1% is home to the sovereign state of Brunei.

6. Pro golfer Ernie : ELS
Ernie Els is a South African golfer. Els a big guy but he has an easy fluid golf swing that has earned him the nickname “The Big Easy”. He has a child who suffers from autism and so Els has been very effective in raising money for charities that focus on the condition.

9. Surgery that takes weight off, informally : LIPO
Liposuction dates back to the 1920s when it was developed by a surgeon in France. However, the procedure quickly lost favor when a French model developed gangrene after surgery. As a result it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that modern liposuction took off, after being popularized by two Italian-American surgeons in Rome.

10. Vidal ___ (shampoo brand) : SASSOON
Vidal Sassoon was a hairdresser and businessman from London, England. Sassoon is credited with “liberating” women from the hair salon by popularizing hairstyles that one could “wash and wear”.

12. Genre for Andy Warhol : POP ART
An artistic work in the Pop Art style includes images taken from popular culture, perhaps from the news or an advertisement. The pop art movement started in the mid-fifties in Britain and emerged in the late-fifties in the US.

Andy Warhol went through a period of painting iconic American products, including Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell’s tomato soup cans. In 1964 he participated in a gallery show called “The American Supermarket”. Along with other pop artists he contributed works including a painting of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. He priced the painting at $1,500, and sold autographed cans of soup for $6 a piece.

13. Processes, as ore : SMELTS
Metals are found in ore in the form of oxides. In order to get pure metal from the ore, the ore is heated and the metal oxides within are reduced (i.e. the oxygen is removed) in the chemical process known as smelting. The oxygen is extracted by adding a source of carbon or carbon monoxide which uses up the excess oxygen atoms to make carbon dioxide, a waste product of smelting (and of course, a greenhouse gas).

23. Lady ___ (pop diva) : GAGA
Lady Gaga is the stage name of singer Stefani Germanotta from New York City. I’ve seen Lady Gaga interviewed on television a few times, and she sure is “unique”. Her music is of course out of my league, but she does know how to put on a show.

28. “La Dolce ___” : VITA
The title of the celebrated 1960 Federico Fellini film “La Dolce Vita” translates from Italian as “The Good Life”. There is a character in the film called Paparazzo who is a news photographer. It is this character who gives us our word “Paparazzi”, a term used for photographers who make careers out of taking candid shots of celebrities.

31. SeaWorld whale : SHAMU
Shamu was the name of the third orca, or killer whale, ever to be featured in a public exhibition. Shamu starred in a popular SeaWorld show in San Diego in the sixties. After she died in 1971, her name lived on as the name “Shamu” is still used by SeaWorld for its killer whale shows. That original Shamu was retired after she grabbed and refused to let go of the leg of one of her trainers.

43. Gloria of Miami Sound Machine : ESTEFAN
Gloria Estefan is a Cuban American singer who was born in Havana. Estefan fled Cuba along with her family after the Cuban Revolution, and ended up in Miami. Her father fought for the US military in Vietnam and also took part in the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion. Years later, Gloria herself was approached by the CIA to work for the agency due to her skill with languages. She ended up doing quite well singing instead …

47. Fashion icon Ralph : LAUREN
Ralph Lauren is an American fashion designer, born Ralph Liftshitz in the Bronx, New York. Lauren started off working as a salesman for Brooks Brothers after spending two years in the US Army. He then opened a necktie store, featuring his own tie designs. The ties were sold under the name “Polo”, which became Lauren’s most famous brand. Other Lauren brands are Purple Label and Black Label.

55. They’re rolled in craps : DICE
If one considers earlier versions of craps, then the game has been around for a very long time and probably dates back to the Crusades. Craps may be derived from an old English game called “hazard”, also played with two dice and which was mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” from the 1300s. The American version of the game came here courtesy of the French and first set root in New Orleans where it was given the name “crapaud”, a French word meaning “toad”.

61. Record producer Brian : ENO
Brian Eno started out his musical career with Roxy Music. However, Eno’s most oft-played composition (by far!) is Microsoft’s “start-up jingle”, the 6-second sound you hear when the Windows operating system is booting up. Eno might have annoyed the Microsoft folks when he stated on a BBC radio show:

I wrote it on a Mac. I’ve never used a PC in my life; I don’t like them.

63. Genetic stuff : DNA
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the DNA of living things is so very similar across different species. Human DNA is almost exactly the same for every individual (to the degree of 99.9%). However, those small differences are sufficient to distinguish one individual from another, and to determine whether or not individuals are close family relations.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Barbershop floor sweepings : HAIR
5. Cuts at an angle, as a mirror : BEVELS
11. Car navigation aid, for short : GPS
14. Balm ingredient : ALOE
15. “Grease” co-star Newton-John : OLIVIA
16. CD-___ : ROM
17. Crisp, spicy cookies : GINGER SNAPS (snaps one’s fingers)
19. Orangutan, e.g. : APE
20. Scottish form of “John” : IAN
21. First son of Seth : ENOS
22. Kilmer of Hollywood : VAL
23. Prepares oneself : GETS SET
27. In the open : OVERT
29. Bit of fireplace residue : ASH
30. Triangular pieces of browned bread : TOAST POINTS (points a finger)
34. Student transcript fig. : GPA
35. Hannibal Lecter’s choice of wine : CHIANTI
36. “Marching” insects : ANTS
38. Even the slightest bit : AT ALL
39. Sound boosters : AMPS
42. Golf reservation : TEE TIME
44. Towing org. : AAA
45. Orange snacks : CHEESE CURLS (curls a finger)
49. Band’s booking : GIG
50. Friars Club event : ROAST
51. U.F.O. shapes, traditionally : SAUCERS
53. Prominent part of a basset hound : EAR
54. Falco of “The Sopranos” : EDIE
58. Web address, for short : URL
59. Ambulance destinations, in brief : ERS
60. 17-, 30- and 45-Across, literally and figuratively : FINGER FOODS
65. Letter before omega : PSI
66. Start of a play : ACT ONE
67. Make a show-offy basket : DUNK
68. “On the other hand …” : YET
69. Nobel laureate Mandela : NELSON
70. Remain : STAY

Down
1. Witch : HAG
2. Muhammad ___ : ALI
3. Charged particle : ION
4. TV’s Philbin : REGIS
5. East Indies island famous for its 19-Acrosses : BORNEO
6. Pro golfer Ernie : ELS
7. Ivy growth : VINE
8. Welsh form of “John” : EVAN
9. Surgery that takes weight off, informally : LIPO
10. Vidal ___ (shampoo brand) : SASSOON
11. Carved idol : GRAVEN IMAGE
12. Genre for Andy Warhol : POP ART
13. Processes, as ore : SMELTS
18. Toward the rising sun : EAST
23. Lady ___ (pop diva) : GAGA
24. Provider of N.F.L. coverage : ESPN
25. “I can’t take anymore!” : THAT TEARS IT!
26. Strategic maneuver : TACTIC
28. “La Dolce ___” : VITA
31. SeaWorld whale : SHAMU
32. Bathroom floor workers : TILERS
33. Amigo : PAL
37. Observes : SEES
38. Had a meal : ATE
40. Low poker holding : PAIR
41. Droops : SAGS
43. Gloria of Miami Sound Machine : ESTEFAN
45. Goosebump-producing : CREEPY
46. Like some voices after shouting : HOARSE
47. Fashion icon Ralph : LAUREN
48. Ride the waves on a board : SURF
52. Dirt clumps : CLODS
55. They’re rolled in craps : DICE
56. Worldwide: Abbr. : INTL
57. Swelled heads : EGOS
61. Record producer Brian : ENO
62. Not at home : OUT
63. Genetic stuff : DNA
64. Where clouds are : SKY

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