0728-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 28 Jul 14, Monday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Tom McCoy
THEME: String Quartet … we have a QUARTET of hidden words in each of our themed answers. The circled letters spell out four types of STRING-like material:

17A. Chance of an impossibility : ZERO PERCENT (hiding “rope”)
30A. Nickelodeon show whose protagonist has a football-shaped head : HEY ARNOLD! (hiding “yarn”)
44A. For even a second more : ANY LONGER (hiding “nylon”)
59A. Component of a language class, informally : VOCAB LESSON (hiding “cable”)

37A. Classical music group … or what the four sets of circled letters make up? : STRING QUARTET

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 6m 24s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

11. N.Y.C. alternative to JFK : LGA
The accepted three big airports serving New York City are John F. Kennedy (JFK), La Guardia (LGA) and Newark (EWR).

Fiorello La Guardia was the Mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945, racking up three full terms in office. The famous airport that bears La Guardia’s name was built at his urging, stemming from an incident that took place while he was in office. He was taking a TWA flight to “New York” and was outraged when the plane landed at Newark Airport, in the state of New Jersey. The Mayor demanded that the flight take off again and land at a small airport in Brooklyn. A gaggle of press reporters joined him on the short hop and he gave them a story, urging New Yorkers to support the construction of a new commercial airport within the city’s limits. The new airport, in Queens, opened in 1939 as New York Municipal, often called “LaGuardia” as a nickname. The airport was officially relabeled as “LaGuardia” in 1947.

15. Mandel of “America’s Got Talent” : HOWIE
Howie Mandel is a Canadian “funny guy”. He’s making a lot of money a few years ago as host of “Deal or No Deal”, and now as a judge on “America’s Got Talent”. But I remember him from “St. Elsewhere” in the eighties, the first American TV show that I started to watch regularly when I moved to the US.

NBC’s show “America’s Got Talent” is part of a global franchise based in the UK. The original show is called “Britain’s Got Talent”, and the whole franchise is owned by Simon Cowell. The first host of “America’s Got Talent” was Regis Philbin (2006), followed by Jerry Springer (2007-2008). Nick Cannon has been the host since 2009.

16. Galley propeller : OAR
Galleys were large medieval ships mainly found in the Mediterranean. They were propelled by a combination of sails and oars.

19. 666, for the numbers on a roulette wheel : SUM
The name “roulette” means “little wheel” in French, and the game as we know it today did in fact originate in Paris, in 1796. A roulette wheel bears the numbers 1-36. A French entrepreneur called François Blanc introduced the number “0” on the wheel, to give the house an extra advantage. Legend has it that Blanc made a deal with the devil in order to unearth the secrets of roulette. The legend is supported by the fact that the numbers 1 through 36 add up to a total of “666”, which is the “Number of the Beast”. Spooky …

24. Cutters that cut with the grain : RIP SAWS
In woodworking, a cut across the grain is known as a cross cut. A cut along the grain is called a rip cut. Most saws are designed to perform the best cross cuts, but there is a special rip saw that more easily cuts straight lines along the grain.

30. Nickelodeon show whose protagonist has a football-shaped head : HEY ARNOLD!
“Hey Arnold!” is an animated show for kids that runs on Nickelodeon. Arnold is a fourth-grader living in a big city.

35. Note between fa and la : SOL
The solfa syllables are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la & ti.

37. Classical music group … or what the four sets of circled letters make up? : STRING QUARTET
A string quartet is a musical group consisting of two violinists, a violist and a cellist.

42. ___ de cologne : EAU
Back in 1709, an Italian perfume-maker moved to Cologne in Germany. There he invented a new fragrance that he named Eau de Cologne after his newly adopted town. The fragrance is still produced in Cologne, using a secret formulation. However, the terms “Eau de Cologne” and “cologne”, are now used generically.

52. Nineveh’s land : ASSYRIA
Assyria was an ancient kingdom located on the Upper Tigris river in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), named for it’s capital city of Assur. According to the Bible, of the original Twelve Tribes of Israel, Ten Tribes “disappeared”, were lost when the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BCE.

Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in modern-day Iraq. The ruins of the city are located just on the other side of the river from the Iraqi city of Mosul. At one time, Nineveh was the largest city in the world.

54. Indian dress : SARI
The item of clothing called a “sari” (also “saree”) is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that is unstitched along the whole of its length. The strip of cloth can range from four to nine meters long (that’s a lot of material!). The sari is usually wrapped around the waist, then draped over the shoulder leaving the midriff bare. I must say, it can be a beautiful item of clothing.

55. ___ mater : ALMA
The literal translation for the Latin term “alma mater” is “nourishing mother”. “Alma mater” was used in Ancient Rome to refer to mother goddesses, and in Medieval Christianity the term was used to refer to the Virgin Mary. Nowadays, one’s alma mater is the school one attended, either high school or college, usually one’s last place of education.

57. Critical hosp. department : ICU
Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

58. A.T.M. co. : NCR
NCR is an American company that has been in business since 1884, originally called the National Cash Register Company. The company has done well in a market where new technologies seem to be constantly disrupting the status quo.

64. Weasley family owl : ERROL
Errol is one of the magical creatures from the “Harry Potter” series of books by J. K. Rowling. Errol is a Great Grey Owl that delivers the mail for the Weasley family. He is old and prone to accidents so often needs help from other owls.

Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are the principal characters in the “Harry Potter” series of fantasy novels by J. K. Rowling.

67. Baseball’s Pee Wee : REESE
Pee Wee Reese was a shortstop who played his professional career with the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers. Reese is remembered not only for his skill on the field, but for his very visible support for teammate Jackie Robinson, who famously struggled to be accepted as the first African American player in the majors.

Down
1. ___ of Menlo Park (Thomas Edison) : WIZARD
Thomas Alva Edison was nicknamed “The Wizard of Menlo Park” by a newspaper reporter, a name that stuck. He was indeed a wizard, in the sense that he was such a prolific inventor. The Menlo Park part of the moniker recognizes the location of his first research lab, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

2. Penguin variety : ADELIE
The Adélie penguin is found along the Antarctic coast, and are named after the Antarctic territory called Adélie Land that is claimed by France. Adélie Land was discovered by French explorer Jules Dumont D’Urville in 1840, and he named the territory after his wife Adéle.

3. Mexican wrap : SERAPE
“Serape” is the English pronunciation and spelling of the Spanish word “zarape”. A zarape is like a Mexican poncho, a soft woolen blanket with a hole in the middle for the head. Most serapes have colorful designs that use traditional Mayan motifs.

4. “___ Te Ching” (classic Chinese text) : TAO
The “Tao Te Ching”is a classical Chinese text, fundamental to the philosophy of Taoism.

5. Psychic’s “gift,” briefly : ESP
Extrasensory Perception (ESP)

7. Birds in the “Arabian Nights” : ROCS
The mythical roc is a huge bird of prey, reputedly able to carry off and eat elephants. The roc was said to come from the Indian subcontinent. The supposed existence of the roc was promulgated by Marco Polo in the accounts that he published of his travels through Asia.

The “Arabian Nights” is a name often used in English for the famous collection of tales in Arabic that came from West and South Asia. The original name for the collection is “One Thousand and One Nights”. Some of the more famous stories in the collection with which we are most familiar today in English, were not included in the original Arabic version, for example “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor”. These tales were added during the translation from Arabic.

11. Like a catch-22 situation : LOSE-LOSE
“Catch-22” is a novel by Joseph Heller set during WWII. The title refers to absurd bureaucratic constraints that soldiers had to suffer. Heller’s “Catch 22” was invoked by an army psychiatrist to explain that any pilot requesting to be evaluated for insanity, to avoid flying dangerous missions, had to be sane as only a sane man would try to get out of such missions. The term “catch-22 has entered the language and describes a paradoxical situation from which one can’t escape due to contradictory rules; one loses, no matter what choice one makes.

12. Knight’s glove : GAUNTLET
Gauntlets are gloves, usually with an extended cuff that extends to cover the forearm. Gauntlets were often made of metal and were used as part of a suit of armor. In days of yore a knight might “throw down the gauntlet”, tossing one of his gauntlets to the ground symbolizing that he has issued a challenge. The prospective opponent would pick up the gauntlet if he accepted that challenge.

13. One of eight on an octopus : ARM
The name “octopus” comes from the Greek for “eight-footed”. The most common plural used is “octopuses”, although the Greek plural form “octopodes” is also quite correct. The plural “octopi” isn’t really correct as the inference is that “octopus” is like a second-declension Latin noun, which it isn’t. That said, dictionaries are now citing “octopi” as an acceptable plural. Drives me crazy …

26. ___ Spumante : ASTI
Asti is a sparkling white wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, and is named for the town of Asti around which the wine is produced. The wine used to be called Asti Spumante, and it had a very bad reputation as a “poor man’s champagne”. The “Spumante” was dropped in a marketing attempt at rebranding associated with a reduction in the amount of residual sugar in the wine.

31. Suffix with Kafka : -ESQUE
Franz Kafka was born in 1883 in Prague, then part of Bohemia and today the capital of the Czech Republic. Kafka is known as one of the greatest novelists who worked in the German language, and even has an adjective named after him. Something that is “kafkaesque” is senseless, disorienting and may have menacing complexity. As it was for many great artists, Kafka’s fame came after his death when much of his work was published.

32. Word pronounced the same when its first two letters are removed : YOU
“You” is pronounced the same as “U”.

37. Grew old : SENESCED
“To senesce” is to grow old. The Latin for “grow old” is “senescere”, from “senex” meaning “old”.

45. Dickens’s “___ Twist” : OLIVER
“Oliver Twist” is a novel by Charles Dickens. It is a popular tale for adaptation to the big screen. There were two silent film versions, in 1909 and 1922, and the first talkie version was released in 1933, with many to follow. The latest “Oliver” for the big screen was a 2005 Roman Polanski production.

49. Kidman who is neither a kid nor a man : NICOLE
Nicole Kidman is an Australian-American actress whose breakthrough role was the female lead in 1989’s “Dead Calm”. Kidman was actually born in Hawaii, to Australian parents. As a result, she has dual citizenship of Australia and the US.

53. Mule on a canal, in song : SAL
The song “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” was written in 1905. The lyrics are nostalgic and look back to the days when traffic on the canal was pulled by mules, bemoaning the introduction of the fast-moving engine-powered barges. The first line is “I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal”.

55. Unit of farmland : ACRE
At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. This was more precisely defined as a strip of land one furlong long (660 feet) and one chain wide (66 feet). The word “furlong” is actually derived from the Old English words meaning “furrow long”, the length of the furrow plowed by the oxen.

56. Thailand/Vietnam separator : LAOS
The official name for the country of Laos is the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. In the Lao language, the country’s name is “Meuang Lao”. The French ruled Laos as part of French Indochina, having united three separate Lao kingdoms. As there was a plural of “Lao” entities united into one, the French added the “S” and so today we tend to use “Laos” instead of “Lao”.

58. Org. for LeBron James : NBA
LeBron James plays basketball for the Miami Heat. James seems to be in demand for the covers of magazines. He became the first African American man to adorn the front cover of “Vogue” in March 2008. That made him only the third male to make the “Vogue” cover, following Richard Gere and George Clooney.

61. Squeeze (out) : EKE
To “eke out” means to “make something go further or last longer”. For example, you could 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 …

62. Sketch comedy TV series since ’75 : 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 he came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Squander : WASTE
6. Like a cat in need of a firefighter, stereotypically : TREED
11. N.Y.C. alternative to JFK : LGA
14. Notions : IDEAS
15. Mandel of “America’s Got Talent” : HOWIE
16. Galley propeller : OAR
17. Chance of an impossibility : ZERO PERCENT
19. 666, for the numbers on a roulette wheel : SUM
20. In the manner of : A LA
21. Fraidy-cat : WUSS
22. Portent : OMEN
24. Cutters that cut with the grain : RIP SAWS
27. Innocent’s opposite : GUILTY
29. Watery abysses : DEEPS
30. Nickelodeon show whose protagonist has a football-shaped head : HEY ARNOLD!
33. From ___ Z : A TO
35. Note between fa and la : SOL
36. Functions : USES
37. Classical music group … or what the four sets of circled letters make up? : STRING QUARTET
41. Yank : JERK
42. ___ de cologne : EAU
43. ___ the pants off : SUE
44. For even a second more : ANY LONGER
47. Insipid : BLAND
51. Observed : BEHELD
52. Nineveh’s land : ASSYRIA
54. Indian dress : SARI
55. ___ mater : ALMA
57. Critical hosp. department : ICU
58. A.T.M. co. : NCR
59. Component of a language class, informally : VOCAB LESSON
63. Mattress’s place : BED
64. Weasley family owl : ERROL
65. Prepared to be knighted : KNELT
66. Coupon bearers, often : ADS
67. Baseball’s Pee Wee : REESE
68. Somebody ___ problem : ELSE’S

Down
1. ___ of Menlo Park (Thomas Edison) : WIZARD
2. Penguin variety : ADELIE
3. Mexican wrap : SERAPE
4. “___ Te Ching” (classic Chinese text) : TAO
5. Psychic’s “gift,” briefly : ESP
6. Plump songbird : THRUSH
7. Birds in the “Arabian Nights” : ROCS
8. Rams’ mates : EWES
9. German article : EIN
10. Roundabout route : DETOUR
11. Like a catch-22 situation : LOSE-LOSE
12. Knight’s glove : GAUNTLET
13. One of eight on an octopus : ARM
18. “Gross!” : EWW!
23. With great attention to detail : MINUTELY
25. Hand-held Fourth of July firework : SPARKLER
26. ___ Spumante : ASTI
27. Black-tie parties : GALAS
28. N.F.L. lengths: Abbr. : YDS
31. Suffix with Kafka : -ESQUE
32. Word pronounced the same when its first two letters are removed : YOU
34. Upright, as a box : ON END
37. Grew old : SENESCED
38. Those who put a lot of effort into social climbing, in modern lingo : TRY-HARDS
39. Joke : GAG
40. Chafes : RUBS
41. Short boxing punch : JAB
45. Dickens’s “___ Twist” : OLIVER
46. Talk on and on and on : RAMBLE
48. Comes up : ARISES
49. Kidman who is neither a kid nor a man : NICOLE
50. Intimidates : DAUNTS
53. Mule on a canal, in song : SAL
55. Unit of farmland : ACRE
56. Thailand/Vietnam separator : LAOS
58. Org. for LeBron James : NBA
60. Rock with gold or silver, say : ORE
61. Squeeze (out) : EKE
62. Sketch comedy TV series since ’75 : SNL

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