0815-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 15 Aug 14, Friday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Jeff Chen
THEME: Panama Canal … we have a mini-theme today with PANAMA CANAL running diagonally from top-left to bottom-right. At either end of the PANAMA CANAL (almost) we have the CARIBBEAN SEA and the PACIFIC OCEAN, just as in real life:

20A. One end of the [circled letters], which opened on 8/15/1914 : CARIBBEAN SEA
50A. The other end of the [circled letters] : PACIFIC OCEAN

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 35m 42s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 … PCBS (PCPs), BLEB (pleb)

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. “The Lion King” bird : ZAZU
In the Disney musical “The Lion King”, Zazu is a red-billed hornbill who was voiced by Rowan Atkinson (aka “Mr. Bean”) in the original movie.

5. Environmental pollutants, for short : PCBS
Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)

9. Easter cake : BABKA
Babka is a sweet yeast cake that can also be called Bobka or baba. Babka originated in Eastern Europe and is served traditionally in Easter Sunday.

14. Remote : SLIM
There is a remote chance, a slim chance.

15. Writer ___ Stanley Gardner : ERLE
I must have read all of the Perry Mason books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when I was facing the pressure of exams. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn’t get into the profession the easy way. Gardner went to law school, but got himself suspended after a month. So, he became a self-taught attorney and opened his own law office in Merced, California. Understandably, he gave up the law once his novels became successful.

17. Staples of Americana : APPLE PIES
The full expression is “as American as motherhood and apple pie”. I think the concept here is not that America is the home of motherhood nor apple pie, but rather that America is as wholesome as motherhood and apple pie. I’ve heard that the phrase originated in WWII when GI’s bring interviewed by journalists would say that they were going to war “for Mom and apple pie”.

19. Iraqi P.M. ___ al-Maliki : NOURI
Nouri al-Maliki is the Prime Minister of Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki had fled his native Iraq in 1979 after the Saddam Hussein regime discovered that he was a member of an outlawed political movement. He continued to work for his cause as an exile, from Syria and Iran, until he was able to return home after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. al-Maliki was installed as the country’s second, post-war Prime Minister in 2006.

20. One end of the [circled letters], which opened on 8/15/1914 : CARIBBEAN SEA
The Caribbean Sea takes its name from the Carib people. The Caribs are an American Indian people that live in the Lesser Antilles islands, part of the West Indies.

24. First female athlete on the front of a Wheaties box : RETTON
Mary Lou Retton is an Olympic champion gymnast from Fairmont, West Virginia. Retton won Olympic Individual All-Around gold in the 1984 games, making her the first female athlete to do so who wasn’t from Eastern Europe.

Wheaties were introduced to the world in 1924, making it the oldest cereal produced by General Mills. The idea of mixing wheat and bran together into a cereal was the result of an accidental spill of wheat bran into a stove. The product was first called Washburn’s Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes, and this was changed to Wheaties after an employee contest to find a better name.

26. Brew that gets its color from oxidation : RED TEA
Red tea is made from the leaves of the South African Rooibos plant.

27. Capillaceous : HAIRLIKE
Something described as “capillaceous” look like a hair, or like a capillary.

29. What a check might be delivered in : CHESS
In the game of chess, when the king is under immediate threat of capture it is said to be “in check”. If the king cannot escape from check, then the game ends in “checkmate” and the player in check loses. In the original Sanskrit game of chess, the king could actually be captured. Then a rule was introduced requiring that a warning be given if capture was imminent (today we announce “check!”) so that an accidental and early ending to the game doesn’t occur.

30. Tribal wear, for short : MOCS
“Moc” is short for “moccasin” shoe.

The moccasin is a traditional form of footwear worn by members of many Native American tribes.

31. Part of the conjugation of “être” : ETES
The French for “to be” is “être”, and for “you are” is “vous êtes”.

35. Features of many drive-thrus : ATMS
Automated teller machine (ATM)

39. Chicago market, with “the” : MERC
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the Merc) started its life as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board in 1898. The Merc is the site for exchange of commodities, among other things.

40. One with a once-in-a-lifetime experience? : HAJJI
A Haji (also “Hajji”) is the term used for someone who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and it is sometimes also used as a form of address for such a person. The journey itself goes by the name “haj” or “hajj”.

47. ___ Wuornos, “Monster” role for which Charlize Theron won an Oscar : AILEEN
“Monster” is a pretty disturbing crime drama released in 2003. The film’s storyline is based on the real-life story of Aileen Wuornos (played by Charlize Theron), a serial killer who was eventually caught and executed in 2002.

Charlize Theron is an actress from South Africa who has played leading roles in Hollywood films such as “The Devil’s Advocate”, “The Cider House Rules” and my personal favorite “The Italian Job”.

50. The other end of the [circled letters] : PACIFIC OCEAN
The Pacific Ocean was given its name by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. When Magellan sailed into the ocean on his 1521 circumnavigation of the globe, he encountered favorable winds and so called it “Mar Pacifico” meaning “peaceful sea”.

53. Sonatas have four of them : TIRES
The Sonata is made by Hyundai. The Hyundai factory in Ulsan, South Korea is the largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in the world, able to produce 1.6 million vehicles each year.

54. What never lets go? : SUPER GLUE
Super Glue is a trademark for the fast-acting cyanoacrylate adhesive, which are also known generically as “super glues”.

57. Hip place? : ILIUM
The ilium is the upper portion of the hipbone.

58. Second issue? : ABEL
According to the Bible, Adam and Eve had several children, although only the first three are mentioned by name: Cain, Abel and Seth.

59. Prefix with zone : EURO-
The “eurozone” or “euro area” is a monetary and economic union within the European Union of 18 states (as of today) that use the euro as a shared legal tender and their sole currency.

60. Gives it up, so to speak : CLAPS
Give it for this great performer, give a round of applause.

61. N.B.A. coaching great George ___ : KARL
George Karl has been the head coach of five NBA teams, as well as a the Real Madrid team in Spain.

62. Nobel pursuits?: Abbr. : SCIS
The Peace Prize is the most famous of the five prizes bequeathed by Alfred Nobel. The others are for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. There is also a Nobel Prize in Economics that is awarded along with the original five, but it is funded separately and is awarded “in memory of Alfred Nobel”. Four of the prizes are awarded by Swedish organizations (Alfred Nobel was a Swede) and so the award ceremonies take place in Stockholm. The Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and that award is presented in Oslo.

Down
1. When doubled, onetime name in Hollywood : ZSA
Zsa Zsa Gabor is a Hungarian American actress, born in Budapest as Sári Gábor (the older sister of the actress Eva). Zsa Zsa Gabor has been married a whopping nine times, including a 5-year stint with Conrad Hilton and another 5 years with the actor George Sanders. One of Gabor’s famous quips was that she was always a good housekeeper, as after every divorce she kept the house!

2. Pinnacle of “The Sound of Music” : ALP
“The Sound of Music” is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical made into a celebrated movie in 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The musical is based on “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”, a memoir by Maria von Trapp. The von Trapp family ended up in Stowe, Vermont after the war and one family descendant from the Vermont von Trapps lives here in the same town in which I reside in California.

3. Letter number : ZIP CODE
ZIP codes were introduced in 1963. The acronym ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Plan, a name indicating that mail travels more efficiently when the codes are included in the postal address.

4. Deutsch marks? : UMLAUTS
An “umlaut” (also “diaeresis”) is a diacritical mark consisting of two horizontal dots placed over a letter, usually a vowel. Here in the West, we are perhaps most familiar with umlauts in German, as in “Schön”.

5. Seed in Mexican cuisine : PEPITA
Pumpkin seeds are known as “pepitas” in Spanish.

6. Homie’s homes : CRIBS
“Homie” is short for “homeboy”, someone from one’s home neighborhood, or “crib”.

7. Air bubble : BLEB
In medicine, a “bleb” is a large blister.

8. Zaire’s Mobutu ___ Seko : SESE
Mobutu Sese Seko was the longtime President of Zaire (later to be called the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Mobutu was known to be a very corrupt dictator and it is believed that he embezzled over $5 billion from his country. On a lighter note, Mobutu was the money man behind the famous 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”. Mobutu was anxious to expand the image of Zaire so he used his nation’s funds to entice the fighters to have a go at each other in his homeland.

9. Ad form : BANNER
A banner ad is an advertisement that runs horizontally across the page.

12. Bars in a bar? : KARAOKE
“Karate”, means “open hand”, and the related word “karaoke” means “open orchestra”.

13. Darth Vader’s boyhood nickname : ANI
Anakin “Ani” Skywalker is the principal character in all six of the “Star Wars” movies. His progress chronologically through the series of films is:

– Episode I: Anakin is a 9-year-old slave boy who earns the promise of Jedi training by young Obi-Wan Kenobi.
– Episode II: Anakin is 18-years-old and goes on a murdering rampage to avenge the killing of his mother.
– Episode III: Anakin is 21-years-old and a Jedi knight, but he turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader. His wife Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia Skywalker.
– Episode IV: Darth Vader, comes into conflict with his children, Luke Skywalker and the Princess Leia.
– Episode V: Darth Vader attempts to coax his son Luke over to the dark side, and reveals to Luke that he is his father.
– Episode VI: Luke learns that Leia is his sister, and takes on the task of bringing Darth Vader back from the Dark Side in order to save the Galaxy. Vader saves his son from the Emperor’s evil grip, dying in the process, but his spirit ends up alongside the spirits of Yoda and Obi-Wan. They all live happily ever after …

18. ___ Rutherford, the Father of Nuclear Physics : ERNEST
By some definitions, New Zealand-born physicist and chemist Ernest Rutherford was the first person to “split the atom”. Rutherford bombarded nitrogen with alpha particles and thereby forced neutrons out of the nucleus of the nitrogen atom. The first intentional nuclear “fission” came decades later in the 1930s, with experiments in which larger nuclei were split into smaller nuclei.

22. A pop-up has one : ARC
In a baseball game, a pop-up arcs across the infield.

23. So-so : MEH
“Meh!” is one of those terms unfamiliar to me outside of crosswords. It is a modern colloquialism meaning “I’m not great, but not bad”. A friendly reader of this blog tells me that the usage of the term increased dramatically after it started to appear regularly in “The Simpsons” starting in the early nineties.

25. The Legend of Zelda platform, briefly : NES
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

“The Legend of Zelda” is a video game. Apparently it’s very successful …

27. Trite : HOARY
The Old English word “har” meant “gray, venerable, old”, and came into English as “hoar” (and later “hoary”) with the same meaning. The term “hoar-frost” dates back to the 13th century, and reflects the similarity of the white feathers of frost to the gray/white of an old man’s beard. The term “hoary” has also come to mean “stale, tedious from familiarity”.

28. Electrical inits. : AC/DC
If you have a laptop with an external power supply then that big “block” in the power cord is an AC/DC converter. It converts the AC current you get from a wall socket into the DC current that is used by the laptop.

30. Stable role on TV? : MR ED
“Mister Ed” first aired in 1961 and ran for almost five years. It was a very successful show (and even made it to Ireland!). Mister Ed, the talking horse, was a palomino that had the real name of Bamboo Harvester. Mister Ed’s “voice” was that of actor Allan “Rocky” Lane, a star of a lot of B-movie westerns from the forties and fifties. In the show, Mister Ed would only talk to the lead (human) character Wilbur, played by Alan Young, leading to some hilarious situations. Mister Ed had a stunt double and stand-in for the show, another horse called Pumpkin. Pumpkin later played the horse that made frequent appearances on the show “Green Acres”.

34. Boxing souvenir : SHINER
A “shiner” is something that shines, and a black eye since 1904.

36. Medical product with no conceivable use? : THE PILL
“The Pill” is more correctly called “the combined oral contraceptive pill”. The formulation is a combination of an estrogen called estradiol and a progestogen called progestin.

37. Central American danger : MALARIA
Malaria is a disease passed onto humans by mosquitoes. As a result of the disease, a parasite invades human red blood cells and multiplies causing fever and possibly coma or death. Over 750,000 people died from malaria in 2009, out of 225 million cases reported. Malaria has been around for along time, and some speculate that outbreaks of the disease might have contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire. Back then, malaria was so common in Rome that is was known as “Roman fever”.

42. TV’s Capt. Picard : JEAN-LUC
When Gene Roddenberry was creating the “Star Trek” spin-off series “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, I think he chose a quite magnificent name for the new starship captain. The name “Jean-Luc Picard” is imitative of one or both of the twin-brother Swiss scientists Auguste and Jean Felix Piccard. The role of Picard was of course played by the wonderful Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart.

44. Suffix with opal : -INE
Something that is iridescent like an opal (i.e. opaline), has a lot of lustrous colors. “Iridescent” comes from the Latin word “iris” (“iridis” in the genitive case), the word for “rainbow”.

49. Rodeo performer : ROPER
“Rodeo” is a Spanish word, which is usually translated as “round up”.

51. “Out of Africa” writer Dinesen : ISAK
Isak Dinesen was the pen name of the Danish author Baroness Karen Blixen. Blixen’s most famous title by far is “Out of Africa”, her account of the time she spent living in Kenya.

52. Island sometimes called El Cocodrilo : CUBA
The island of Cuba is sometimes known as “El Cocodrilo”, which translates as “the crocodile”.

55. Location of the William Tell legend : URI
Supposedly William Tell came from Uri, a canton in the German part of Switzerland. Altdorf is the capital of Uri and is the city where William Tell shot the apple off his son’s head, at least according to legend.

56. Lover of Orion, in Greek myth : EOS
In Greek mythology, Eos is the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos is Aurora.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. “The Lion King” bird : ZAZU
5. Environmental pollutants, for short : PCBS
9. Easter cake : BABKA
14. Remote : SLIM
15. Writer ___ Stanley Gardner : ERLE
16. “Sounds like ___” : A PLAN
17. Staples of Americana : APPLE PIES
19. Iraqi P.M. ___ al-Maliki : NOURI
20. One end of the [circled letters], which opened on 8/15/1914 : CARIBBEAN SEA
22. Quanta : AMOUNTS
24. First female athlete on the front of a Wheaties box : RETTON
26. Brew that gets its color from oxidation : RED TEA
27. Capillaceous : HAIRLIKE
29. What a check might be delivered in : CHESS
30. Tribal wear, for short : MOCS
31. Part of the conjugation of “être” : ETES
32. Fiery eruptions : TIRADES
35. Features of many drive-thrus : ATMS
39. Chicago market, with “the” : MERC
40. One with a once-in-a-lifetime experience? : HAJJI
45. Elation : RHAPSODY
47. ___ Wuornos, “Monster” role for which Charlize Theron won an Oscar : AILEEN
48. “Whew!” feeling : RELIEF
49. Was behind : RAN LATE
50. The other end of the [circled letters] : PACIFIC OCEAN
53. Sonatas have four of them : TIRES
54. What never lets go? : SUPER GLUE
57. Hip place? : ILIUM
58. Second issue? : ABEL
59. Prefix with zone : EURO-
60. Gives it up, so to speak : CLAPS
61. N.B.A. coaching great George ___ : KARL
62. Nobel pursuits?: Abbr. : SCIS

Down
1. When doubled, onetime name in Hollywood : ZSA
2. Pinnacle of “The Sound of Music” : ALP
3. Letter number : ZIP CODE
4. Deutsch marks? : UMLAUTS
5. Seed in Mexican cuisine : PEPITA
6. Homie’s homes : CRIBS
7. Air bubble : BLEB
8. Zaire’s Mobutu ___ Seko : SESE
9. Ad form : BANNER
10. Evangelist : APOSTLE
11. Bird that, curiously, has a yellow breast : BLUETIT
12. Bars in a bar? : KARAOKE
13. Darth Vader’s boyhood nickname : ANI
18. ___ Rutherford, the Father of Nuclear Physics : ERNEST
21. Result (from) : ARISE
22. A pop-up has one : ARC
23. So-so : MEH
25. The Legend of Zelda platform, briefly : NES
27. Trite : HOARY
28. Electrical inits. : AC/DC
30. Stable role on TV? : MR ED
33. “Ta-ta” : I’M OFF
34. Boxing souvenir : SHINER
35. Flight board abbr. : ARR
36. Medical product with no conceivable use? : THE PILL
37. Central American danger : MALARIA
38. Enliven : SPICE UP
41. Family-friendly category : ALL AGES
42. TV’s Capt. Picard : JEAN-LUC
43. Fountain feature : JET
44. Suffix with opal : -INE
46. They’ll rock your world : SEISMS
47. Remote power source : AA CELL
49. Rodeo performer : ROPER
51. “Out of Africa” writer Dinesen : ISAK
52. Island sometimes called El Cocodrilo : CUBA
53. Peculiarity : TIC
55. Location of the William Tell legend : URI
56. Lover of Orion, in Greek myth : EOS

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