0620-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 20 Jun 14, Friday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Martin Ashwood-Smith
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 24m 28s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 3 … TRE (tis), ETTORE (Ettoie), SOHNE (Sohns)

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

19. FICA fig. : SSN
The main purpose of a Social Security Number (SSN) is to track individuals for the purposes of taxation, although given its ubiquitous use, it is looking more and more like an “identity number” to me. The social security number system was introduced in 1936. Prior to 1986, an SSN was required only for persons with substantial income so many children under 14 had no number assigned. For some years the IRS had a concern that a lot of people were claiming children on their tax returns who did not actually exist. So, from 1986 onward, it is a requirement to get an SSN for any dependents over the age of 5. Sure enough, in 1987 seven million dependents “disappeared”.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA) was introduced in the 1930s as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. FICA payments are made by both employees and employers in order to fund Social Security and Medicare.

20. ___ corde (piano direction) : TRE
When a note is played on a piano, the sound is produced by a hammer striking three strings, all tuned to the same frequency. When the soft pedal is depressed, to give a softer quieter sound, the hammer only strikes two of those strings. The use of the soft pedal can be indicated in a musical score by using the Italian words “due corde” (meaning “two strings”). The indication to release the soft pedal is the words “tre corde” (meaning “three strings”).

21. Ganders, e.g. : HES
A male goose is called a gander, with the female simply being referred to as a “goose”. Young geese are called goslings.

25. President’s first name on “The West Wing” : JED
In the excellent television show “The West Wing”, President Jed Bartlet is played by Martin Sheen.

“The West Wing”, when it was being written by Aaron Sorkin, was such a fabulous television event. It is remarkable how quickly it went downhill after Sorkin moved on. Sorkin is also famous for having written the play “A Few Good Men”, and the screenplay for one of my favorite movies, namely “Charlie Wilson’s War”.

30. Choice for bow-making : ELM
Yew is the wood of choice for the longbow, a valued weapon in the history of England. The alternative when yew is not available is Wych elm, also known as Scots elm. The longbow is constructed with a core of yew heartwood (as the heartwood resists compression) that has a sheath of yew sapwood (as the sapwood resists stretching). The yew was in such demand for longbows that for centuries yew trees were in short supply in Britain and the wood had to be imported from all over Europe.

36. Tenor Vickers : JON
Jon Vickers is a retired operatic tenor from Prince Albert in Saskatchewan.

37. Defense Department dept. : NSA
National Security Agency (NSA)

38. She played Detective Sasha Monroe on “Third Watch” : NIA LONG
Nia Long is an American actress, probably best known for playing Will Smith’s sometime girlfriend and fiancee Lisa Wilkes on the TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.

“Third Watch” is a crime drama series about teams of police officers, firefighters and paramedics who worked the same 3pm – 11pm shift in a New York precinct. “Third Watch” originally aired from 1999 to 2005.

40. Dummy in “Stage Door Canteen” : SNERD
Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s most famous character was Charlie McCarthy, but Bergen also worked with Mortimer Snerd.

“Stage Door Canteen” is a 1943 musical based on the real-life Stage Door Canteen of New York City. The “Canteen” was a recreational center in which celebrities would entertain and socialize with members of the armed forces. There was an equivalent establishment on the West Coast called the Hollywood Canteen, which was the focus of film made the following year called “Hollywood Canteen”.

42. Fr. religious title : STE
“Sainte” (ste.) is French for “saint”, when referring to a female.

52. Keen insight, with “the” : WISDOM OF SOLOMON
According to the Bible, Solomon was the son of David and a king of Israel. Notably, Solomon is described as being very wise. In the story known as “the Judgment of Solomon”, Solomon was asked to decide who of two quarreling women was the mother of a baby. He suggested that they cut the baby in two with a sword, forcing one of the women to surrender the child rather than see it die. Solomon gave the child to the woman who showed compassion.

53. Peak performance in 1953? : ASCENT OF EVEREST
Mount Everest was first summited in 1953 by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepali sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hillary and Norgay were part of an expedition from which two pairs of climbers were selected to make a summit attempt. The first pair were Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, and they came within 330 feet of their goal but had to turn back. The expedition sent up the second pair two days later, and history was made on 29 May 1953.

54. Focus of HGTV’s “House Hunters” : REAL ESTATE SALES
HGTV first went on air in 1994, as the “Home, Lawn and Garden Channel”. The name was shortened (the lawn was dropped) soon after, but nowadays it’s just known as HGTV.

Down
1. Philistine : CRASS
“Philistine” is a derogatory term used to label someone as an anti-intellectual, or someone who undervalues art, beauty and intellect. Our use of the word derives from the German word “Philister” that was used originally by university students to describe, in a snide way, the townspeople of nearby Jena in eastern Germany. There had been a row between the students and locals resulting in several deaths. A university cleric admonished the participants in a sermon using a phrase from the Bible’s “Book of Judges”, saying “The Philistines be upon thee”, a reference to the conflict between Samson and the Philistines. Anyway, little did that cleric know how his words would ring out around the world over 300 years later.

2. “August: Osage County” playwright Tracy : LETTS
“August: Osage County” is a dark comedy play by Tracy Letts that won a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I saw a 2013 movie adaptation that has a great cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, and Benedict Cumberbatch. I really enjoyed it …

3. Westphalian city : ESSEN
Essen is a large industrial city located on the River Ruhr in western Germany.

5. DVD-___ : ROMS
The acronym DVD doesn’t actually stand for anything these days, although it originally was short for Digital Video Disk. The use of the word “video” was dropped as DVDs are no longer limited to storing video content.

6. Snack since 1912 : OREO
The Oreo was the best-selling cookie in the 20th century, and almost 500 billion of them have been sold since they were introduced in 1912 by Nabisco. In those early days the creme filling was made with pork fat, but today vegetable oils are used instead. If you take a bite out of an Oreo sold outside of America you might notice a difference from the homegrown cookie, as coconut oil is added in the overseas version to give a different taste.

7. Fish with iridescent blue stripes : NEON TETRA
The neon tetra is a freshwater fish, native to parts of South America. The tetra is a very popular aquarium fish and millions are imported into the US every year. Almost all of the imported tetras are farm-raised in Asia and very few come from their native continent.

8. Automaker Bugatti : ETTORE
Italian Ettore Bugatti founded his company Automobiles E. Bugatti in 1909 in Alsace, then part of Germany. Bugatti cars were noted for the beauty of their design as well as their performance. Ettore came from an artistic family. His younger brother Rembrandt Bugatti was a noted sculptor.

9. German boys : SOHNE
The German word for “boy” is “Junge”, and the word for “son” is “Sohn”.

11. Snack since 1900 : HERSHEY BAR
The world-famous Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar was first produced in 1900. Having grown up in Europe, I find the taste of a Hershey bar to be unexpectedly “sour”. Apparently this is because the process used to make Hershey’s milk chocolate results in the presence of butyric acid, something not usually found in chocolate on the other side of the pond. Apparently, the taste doesn’t go down well in Canada either, so Hershey introduced a “creamier, smoother, milder product for the Canadian market in 1983. I must try that someday …

13. Crazy quilts : OLIOS
“Crazy quilting” is the creation of a patchwork made from layers of fabric of varying design, with no particular motif. A crazy quilt isn’t actually “quilted”, but is created by just sewing together patches of material.

15. Alternative to cafés : THES
In French, one might have a cup of tea (thé) or a cup of coffee (café).

22. Raid target : ANT
Raid insecticide has been killing bugs since 1956.

23. Top 10 hit for Eminem or 3 Doors Down : WHEN I’M GONE
Rap star Eminem’s real name is Marshall Mathers, a native of Saint Joseph, Missouri. Mathers grew up poor, raised by a single-mom as the family was abandoned by his father when he was 18 months old. Marshall and his mother moved around the country before settling in a suburb of Detroit. He didn’t do well at school, and dropped out at the age of 17 (at which time he was still in 9th grade). But in the end he made it pretty big …

3 Doors Down is a rock band from Mississippi that got together in 1996. The band chose their name after seeing a sign reading “doors down” as they were walking through Foley, Alabama. There were three band members back then, so they opted for “3 Doors Down”.

24. Eponymous German physicist : GAUSS
Carl Friedrich Gauss was a German mathematician and scientist, by all accounts a child prodigy and one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He did a lot of work in the field of magnetism in his latter years, and for this the metric system’s unit of magnetic induction was given the name “gauss”.

25. Aerosmith’s titular gun carrier : JANIE
Aerosmith is a hard rock band from Boston that formed in 1970. Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock band of all time, and holds the record for most gold albums by any American group.

26. Gandhi opposed it : RAJ
The period of colonial rule by the British in South Asia from 1858 to 1947 is referred to as the British Raj. Prior to 1858, the area was ruled by the British East India Company, a private enterprise. “Raj” is the Hindi word for “reign”.

Mohandas Gandhi was a political and spiritual leader in India in the first part of the 20th century, as the country sought independence from Britain. He was also referred to as “Mahatma”, meaning “great soul”. His remarkable philosophy of nonviolence and living a modest lifestyle was a great inspiration to the Indian people. India (and Pakistan) was granted independence in 1947. Sadly, Gandhi was assassinated the very next year, by a Hindu nationalist.

27. ___, amas, amat : AMO
“Amo, amas, amat: … “I love, you love, he/she/it loves”, in Latin.

28. Crime writer Rankin : IAN
Ian Rankin is crime writer from Scotland. Rankin’s most famous novels feature his hero “Inspector Rebus” and are set in and around Edinburgh.

30. Intro to biology? : EXO-
Exobiology is the study of life in the universe, and central to the work of exobiologists is the search for life beyond earth. A fascinating field, I would imagine …

31. Business bigwig Blavatnik : LEN
Len Blavatnik is an American businessman who was born in Odessa, Ukraine but who now lives in London. In 1986, Blavatnik founded Access Industries, a US-based industrial group that is headquartered in New York. One of Access’s subsidiaries is the Warner Music Group. Blavatnik was listed as the fourth-richest person in the UK in 2014.

32. Composition of Accent seasoning : MSG
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of a naturally-occurring,non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid. It is used widely as a flavor enhancer, particularly in many Asian cuisines. Whether or not it is harmful seems to be still under debate. I say that something produced in a “test tube” shouldn’t be in our food …

39. Big name in oratorios : HANDEL
George Frideric Handel was the King of the Oratorio. Handel’s most famous oratorio is “Messiah”, which had its debut performance in Dublin, Ireland back in 1742.

40. Scottish island that’s home to Fingal’s Cave : STAFFA
Staffa is an island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. The island became famous in the late 1700s when English naturalist Sir Joseph Banks visited and described the island’s beauty. Banks named a magnificent sea cavern on the island “Fingal’s Cave”, after the hero of an epic poem by Scot’s poet James McPherson.

41. First stabber of Caesar : CASCA
Julius Caesar was assassinated on the 15th (the ides) of March, 44 BC. He was attacked by a group of sixty people in the Roman Senate, and was stabbed 23 times. The first to strike a blow was Servilius Casca, who attacked Caesar from behind and stabbed him in the neck.

42. 1930 tariff act co-sponsor : SMOOT
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was sponsored by Senator Reed Smoot and Representative Willis C. Hawley. The act raised tariffs on imported goods to record levels, the second highest in US history. The strategy appeared to work at first, protecting US jobs in the early days of the depression. But as many anticipated, tariffs were raised in retaliation by other countries and US exports plummeted. Many economists blame the 1930 Tariff Act for the depth of the Great Depression.

43. Joe, for one : CAMEL
The advertising mascot for Camel cigarettes was officially known as “Old Joe”, but was popularly known as “Joe Camel”. Joe originated in the seventies, in an advertising campaign that ran only in Europe where sometimes he was depicted wearing a French Foreign Legion cap. He was imported to the US in 1988 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Camel brand. The big controversy surrounding the use of the camel character was that a 1991 study found that 5-6 year old children could recognize Joe Camel more readily than either Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone. Also, soon after Old Joe was introduced in the US, the Camel brand’s share of the illegal market to underage smokers went up from 1% to just under 33%.

44. “___ of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (1976 Ringo Starr hit) : A DOSE
Ringo Starr’s real name is Richard Starkey. Before he joined the Beatles (replacing drummer Pete Best), Starkey played with the Raving Texans. It was with the Raving Texans that he adopted the name “Ringo Starr”, because he wore a lot of rings and he thought it sounded “cowboyish”. Back then his drum solos were billed as “Starr Time”.

46. “Hug ___” (Shel Silverstein poem) : O’WAR
Author Shel Silverstein had a varied career and did a lot more than write books. Silverstein was a poet, composer, cartoonist and screenwriter among other things. One of his successful children’s books is “The Giving Tree”, which was first published in 1964. “The Giving Tree” tells of a young boy who has a special relationship with a tree in a forest. The message of the book seems to be that the tree provides the little boy with everything he needs.

48. Some paddle wielders, briefly : EMTS
An emergency medical technician (EMT) might be seen applying the paddles of a defibrillator.

50. Bass line? : ALES
The red triangle on the label of a bottle of Bass Ale was registered in 1875 and is UK Registered Trade Mark (TM) No: 00001, the first trade mark issued in the world.

51. Romance novelist ___ Leigh : LORA
Lora Leigh is an author of erotic romance novels. Her most famous works are “The Breed” series of novels. Leigh has had 29 “The Breed” titles published from 2003 to 2014.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Prepare to speak, say : CLEAR ONE’S THROAT
16. Nurse : RESTORE TO HEALTH
17. Not now : AT SOME OTHER TIME
18. Puts somebody out : STEPS ON ONE’S TOES
19. FICA fig. : SSN
20. ___ corde (piano direction) : TRE
21. Ganders, e.g. : HES
22. “Bummer” : AW GEE
25. President’s first name on “The West Wing” : JED
26. Slicker go-with : RAIN HAT
29. With 35-Down, slightly stale : DAY-
30. Choice for bow-making : ELM
33. Inexperienced : AMATEUR
34. Their contents have yet to be dealt with : INBOXES
36. Tenor Vickers : JON
37. Defense Department dept. : NSA
38. She played Detective Sasha Monroe on “Third Watch” : NIA LONG
39. Greetings : HIS
40. Dummy in “Stage Door Canteen” : SNERD
41. Cellphone feature, informally : CAM
42. Fr. religious title : STE
43. Hotel waiter? : CAB
46. Florida preserve? : ORANGE MARMALADE
52. Keen insight, with “the” : WISDOM OF SOLOMON
53. Peak performance in 1953? : ASCENT OF EVEREST
54. Focus of HGTV’s “House Hunters” : REAL ESTATE SALES

Down
1. Philistine : CRASS
2. “August: Osage County” playwright Tracy : LETTS
3. Westphalian city : ESSEN
4. Looking down on? : ATOP
5. DVD-___ : ROMS
6. Snack since 1912 : OREO
7. Fish with iridescent blue stripes : NEON TETRA
8. Automaker Bugatti : ETTORE
9. German boys : SOHNE
10. The old you? : THEE
11. Snack since 1900 : HERSHEY BAR
12. Named names, maybe : RATTED
13. Crazy quilts : OLIOS
14. “Look ___ now!” : AT ME
15. Alternative to cafés : THES
22. Raid target : ANT
23. Top 10 hit for Eminem or 3 Doors Down : WHEN I’M GONE
24. Eponymous German physicist : GAUSS
25. Aerosmith’s titular gun carrier : JANIE
26. Gandhi opposed it : RAJ
27. ___, amas, amat : AMO
28. Crime writer Rankin : IAN
29. China shop purchase : DINNER SET
30. Intro to biology? : EXO-
31. Business bigwig Blavatnik : LEN
32. Composition of Accent seasoning : MSG
35. See 29-Across : OLD
39. Big name in oratorios : HANDEL
40. Scottish island that’s home to Fingal’s Cave : STAFFA
41. First stabber of Caesar : CASCA
42. 1930 tariff act co-sponsor : SMOOT
43. Joe, for one : CAMEL
44. “___ of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (1976 Ringo Starr hit) : A DOSE
45. Propensities : BENTS
46. “Hug ___” (Shel Silverstein poem) : O’WAR
47. Exhibit upward mobility? : RISE
48. Some paddle wielders, briefly : EMTS
49. Propose in a meeting : MOVE
50. Bass line? : ALES
51. Romance novelist ___ Leigh : LORA

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