0827-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 27 Aug 14, Wednesday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Gareth Bain & David Poole
THEME: A To ER … each of today’s themed answers is a well-known phrase, but with an ending -A changed to -ER:

17A. Libretto for “Eel Trovatore”? : CONGER LINES (from “conga lines”)
24A. Microwave for hot dogs? : FRANK ZAPPER (from “Frank Zappa”)
37A. Actor Sheen after starting a new career in piano maintenance? : CHARLIE THE TUNER (from “Charlie the Tuna”)
50A. One who knows the earnings report by heart? : SALES QUOTER (from “sales quota”)
60A. Actor in a Mr. Potato Head costume? : TUBER PLAYER (from “tuba player”)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 25m 25s!!
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

7. “West Side Story” weapon : SHIV
“Shiv” is a slang term for a weapon crudely fashioned to resemble a knife. Mostly we hear of shivs that have been fashioned by prison inmates to do harm to others.

Leonard Bernstein’s musical “West Side Story” is of course based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The musical is set in New York City and features two rival gangs: the Sharks from Puerto Rico and the Jets with working-class, Caucasian roots. Tony from the Jets falls in love with Maria from the Sharks. All this parallels Romeo from the House of Montague falling for Juliet from the House of Capulet in the Italian city of Verona.

11. Do Not Call Registry org. : FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was established in 1914 with the mission of protecting consumers. The FTC runs the National Do Not Call Registry which can limit the amount of telemarketing calls that consumers receive. To register your number, simply go to the website www.donotcall.gov.

14. Truckers’ contest : ROADEO
A “roadeo” is a competition held between drivers of buses or trucks. Obviously, the term is a play on the words “road” and “rodeo”.

15. Colombian city of 2+ million : CALI
In terms of population, Cali is the third largest city in Colombia. Santiago de Cali (the full name for the city) lies in western Colombia. Apparently, Cali is a destination for “medical tourists”. The city’s surgeons have a reputation for being expert in cosmetic surgery and so folks looking for a “cheap” nose job head there

17. Libretto for “Eel Trovatore”? : CONGER LINES (from “conga lines”)
Conger eels can grow to be very, very large, perhaps up to 10 feet in length.

The conga line is a dance that originated as a Cuban carnival march. It became popular in the US starting in the thirties. The dance is apparently named after the Congo region of Africa, and it was originated by slaves who were brought from there to Cuba.

Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Il Trovatore” is known in English as “The Troubadour”. It is one of the few operas with more than one version written by the same composer. Verdi wrote a French translation, with some revisions to the score, which goes by the name “Le trouvere”.

19. FEMA offering : AID
Federal emergency management has been structured for over 200 years, but what we know today as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created in 1979 in an Executive Order issued by President Jimmy Carter.

21. Want ad abbr. : EEO
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Commission was set up by the Civil Rights Act.

22. Lightning setting : TAMPA
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a team in the National Hockey League, commonly referred to as “the Bolts”.

24. Microwave for hot dogs? : FRANK ZAPPER (from “Frank Zappa”)
Frank Zappa was an American composer and guitarist, a solo artist as well as the founding member of the rock band Mothers of Invention. You might like to meet his four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

27. Sequel to “Twilight” : NEW MOON
“New Moon” is the second in the “Twilight” series of novels by Stephenie Meyer. “The Twilight Saga” is a series of films based on the books. The novels and films are about vampires. I don’t do vampires …

31. 90 degrees from sur : OESTE
In Spanish, west (oeste) is 90 degrees from south (sur).

34. Porter’s cousin : ALE
Porter is a dark beer that originated in London in the 1700s and is named for the street and river porters with whom it was very popular. Porter is a well-hopped beer made using brown malt, which gives it the dark color.

37. Actor Sheen after starting a new career in piano maintenance? : CHARLIE THE TUNER (from “Charlie the Tuna”)
StarKist is a brand of tuna that uses Charlie the Tuna as its cartoon mascot.

Charlie Sheen’s real name is Carlos Irwin Estévez, and he is of course the youngest son of actor Martin Sheen. Charlie was the highest paid actor on television in 2010, earning $1.8 million per episode on the sitcom “Two and a Half Men”. Then of course he blew it and got fired from the show amid stories of alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence. I bet his co-stars were pretty tweaked about the show being cancelled, and pretty happy that it was given a second lease of life …

42. “Salem’s ___” : LOT
Strictly speaking, I thank that there should be an apostrophe before “Salem” as in “‘Salem’s Lot”.

Stephen King’s “’Salem’s Lot” was published in 1975, his second novel. It belongs to the horror genre, so you won’t catch me reading it. The title refers to the Maine town of Jerusalem’s Lot, or ‘Salem’s Lot for short. There’s an interesting story about the actual publication of the first edition. The intended price of $8.95 was changed at the last minute to $7.95, but not all the price changes were made before release. A few copies “escaped” with the dust cover marked $8.95, and they are now worth a lot of money. Go check your bookshelves …

43. DVR brand : RCA
During WWI, the US government actively discouraged the loss of certain technologies to other countries, including allies. The developing wireless technologies were considered to be particularly important by the army and navy. The government prevented the General Electric Company from selling equipment to the British Marconi Company, and instead facilitated the purchase by GE of the American Marconi subsidiary. This purchase led to GE forming the Radio Corporation of America that we know today as RCA.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)

44. Subject of King Abdullah : SAUDI
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been in power since 2005. Abdullah is a son of Ibn Saud who founded modern Saudi Arabia.

48. Lacking the traditional comforts : SPARTAN
Sparta was a city-state in ancient Greece, famous for her military might. Spartan children had a tough upbringing, and newborn babies were bathed in wine to see if the child was strong enough to survive. Every child was presented to a council of elders that decided if the baby was suitable for rearing. Those children deemed too puny were executed by tossing them into a chasm. We’ve been using the term “spartan” to describe something self-disciplined or austere since the 1600s.

55. Once, quaintly : ERST
Erstwhile means “in the past” or “once upon a time”.

59. Lucy of “The Man With the Iron Fists” : LIU
Lucy Liu is an Asian-American actress from Queens, New York. Liu’s big break came when she was chosen to play the Ling Woo character in “Ally McBeal”. I liked her in the 2000 film “Charlie’s Angels” but as I am no fan of Quentin Tarantino, I did not enjoy the movie “Kill Bill”. I am having fun watching one of Liu’s more recent projects, in which she plays one of the two leads in the TV crime drama “Elementary”.

60. Actor in a Mr. Potato Head costume? : TUBER PLAYER (from “tuba player”)
The tuba is the lowest pitched of all the brass instruments, and one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra (usually there is just one tuba included in an orchestral line-up). “Tuba” is the Latin word for “trumpet, horn”. Oom-pah-pah …

Mr. Potato Head is an enduring popular toy that has been around since its invention by George Lerner in 1949. In its original form, the toy was a collection of eyes, ears, and other facial features, that were designed to be stuck into a real potato. Mr. Potato Head also has the distinction of being the first toy ever to be advertised on television.

64. Gig part : MEG
In the world of computers, a “bit” is the basic unit of information. It has a value of 0 or 1. A “byte” is a small collection of bits (usually 8), the number of bits needed to uniquely identify a character of text. The prefix mega- stands for 10 to the power of 6, so a megabyte (meg) is 1,000,000 bytes. And the prefix giga- means 10 to the power of 9, so a gigabyte (gig) is 1,000,000,000 bytes.

67. Wood used to make the original Stratocasters : ASH
The Stratocaster is an electric guitar made by Fender since 1954. The company that made Fender electric guitars was founded in Fullerton, California in 1946 by Leo Fender.

68. Neurosurgeons’ readouts, for short : EEGS
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a record of electrical activity caused by the firing of neurons within the brain. The EEG might be used to diagnose epilepsy, or perhaps to determine if a patient is “brain dead”.

69. George’s friend in “Of Mice and Men” : LENNIE
“Of Mice and Men” is a novella written by American author John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The title comes from the famous poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”. The inspirational line from the poem is “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft tagley.” Steinbeck actually wrote “Of Mice and Men” as a “novel-play”, intending that the line from the novel used as a script for a play. I actually saw the theatrical version on stage for the first time quite recently, and really enjoyed it.

Down
1. Oil giant that’s part of the Tesoro Corporation : ARCO
ARCO stands for the Atlantic Richfield Company. One of ARCO’s claims to fame is that it is responsible for the nation’s largest Superfund site. Mining and smelting in the area around Butte, Montana polluted the region’s water and soil, and ARCO have agreed to pay $187 million to help clean up the area.

3. 1998 Wimbledon champ Novotna : JANA
Jana Novotná is a former professional tennis player from the Czech Republic. Novotná won Wimbledon in 1998.

5. Daycare center? : CEE
The central letter in the word “daycare” is a C (cee).

6. Fighter in a ring : TORERO
“Toreador” is an old Spanish word for a bullfighter, but it’s a term not used any more in Spain nor in Latin America. In English we use the term “toreador”, but in Spanish a bullfighter is a “torero”. A female bullfighter in a “torera”.

7. Descendant : SCION
Scion comes from the old French word “sion” or “cion”, meaning “a shoot or a twig”. In botanical terms today, a scion is used in grafting two compatible plants together. In grafting, one plant is selected for its root system (the “rootstock”), and the other plant is selected for its stems, leaves and fruit (the “scion”). The term scion migrated naturally into the world of family history. A scion is simply a descendant, a son or a daughter and therefore a branching point in the family tree.

8. Solo on the big screen : HAN
Han Solo is the space smuggler in “Star Wars” played by Harrison Ford. Ford was originally hired by George Lucas just to read lines for actors during auditions for “Star Wars”, but over time Lucas became convinced that Ford was right for the pivotal role of Han Solo.

9. Land in la mer : ILE
In French, an island (île) is a piece of ground (terre) in the sea (mer).

11. Bit of packaging detritus : FOAM PEANUT
“Detritus” is the loose material that results from the process of erosion. The usage of the term has evolved to man any accumulated material or debris. “Detritus” is Latin for “a wearing away”.

12. Horsefeathers : TRIPE
“Tripe” is an informal term meaning “rubbish, of little value”. Tripe is actually the rubbery lining of say a cow, that in the UK is traditionally eaten with onions.

The term “horsefeathers” is probably a euphemism for a similar word that’s a little more rude. The term is said to have been coined by cartoonist Billy DeBeck in 1928. DeBeck’s most famous strip is called “Barney Google”.

13. Chest wood : CEDAR
Cedar is used for the manufacture of some wardrobes and chests as it has long been believed that the fragrant oil in the wood is a moth-repellent. However, whether or not cedar oil is actually effective at keeping moths away seems to be in doubt.

18. Like ostrich meat : LEAN
The ostrich is a flightless bird that is native to Africa. The ostrich is extensively farmed, mainly for its feathers but also for its skin/leather and meat.

23. Abbr. in some addresses : APT
Apartment (apt.)

24. Hornswoggle : FOOL
“To hornswoggle” is to cheat, to deceive, to bamboozle.

25. ___ brothers, noted political donors : KOCH
Koch Industries is a huge company with diverse interests, but with the oil industry at its core. The company was founded in 1940 by Fred C. Koch. Reportedly, Koch is the second largest privately-held company in the US, after Cargill. Today Koch Industries is owned by two of Fred’s sons: Charles and David H. Koch. Famously, the Koch Brothers are known for contributing hundreds of million dollars to conservative political causes and candidates.

26. First name of the wolf in Disney’s “The Big Bad Wolf” : ZEKE
The Big Bad Wolf is a character in many folklore stories, including “Little Red Riding” and “Three Little Pigs”. Walt Disney’s version of Big Bad Wolf is called Zeke Wolf, and has a son called Li’l Bad Wolf, or just “Li’l Wolf” to his friends.

27. Salt, chemically : NACL
Sodium chloride (NaCl, common salt) is an ionic compound, a crystal lattice made up of large chloride (Cl) ions in a cubic structure, with smaller sodium (Na) ions in between the chlorides.

30. Country on the Strait of Gibraltar: Abbr. : MOR
Morocco is lies just 9 miles south of Spain, across the Straits of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean Sea.

35. Helen of Troy’s mother : LEDA
In Greek mythology, Leda was the beautiful Queen of Sparta who was seduced by Zeus when he took the form of a swan. Leda produced two eggs from the union. One egg hatched into the beautiful Helen, later to be known as Helen of Troy and over whom the Trojan War was fought. The other egg hatched into the twins Castor and Pollux. Castor and Pollux had different fathers according to the myth. Pollux was the son of Zeus and was immortal, while Castor was the son of Leda’s earthly husband, and so he was a mortal. William Butler Yeats wrote a famous sonnet called “Leda and the Swan” in 1924. Peter Paul Rubens made a copy of a painting called “Leda and the Swan” by Michelangelo, which is now lost.

36. Hibernia : ERIN
“Éire”, is the Irish word for “Ireland”. “Erin” is an anglicized version of “Éire” and actually corresponds to “Éirinn”, the dative case of “Éire”.

“Hibernia” is the Latin name for the island of Ireland.

39. Color similar to almond : ECRU
The shade called ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.

40. Winter Palace resident : TSAR
The Winter Palace is a magnificent building in St. Petersburg in Russia, home to the Russian tsars (and tsarinas). The Winter Palace houses the famous Hermitage Museum. I was lucky enough to visit the Palace and museum some years ago, and I have to say that I have rarely been more impressed by a historical building.

41. Political alliance of 1958: Abbr. : UAR
The United Arab Republic (UAR) was a union between Egypt and Syria made in 1958 and dissolved in 1961 when Syria pulled out of the arrangement.

46. “___ Girls,” 1957 musical comedy : LES
“Les Girls” is a 1957 MGM musical that was scored by Cole Porter. Stars of the film are Gene Kelly and Mitzi Gaynor.

47. Sub-Saharan menace : TSETSE
Tsetse flies live on the blood of vertebrate mammals. The name “tsetse” comes from Tswana, a language of southern Africa, and translates simply as “fly”. Tsetse flies are famous for being carriers of the disease known as “sleeping sickness”. Sleeping sickness is caused by a parasite which is passed onto humans when the tsetse fly bites into human skin tissue. If one considers all the diseases transmitted by the insect, then the tsetse fly is responsible for a staggering quarter of a million deaths each year.

50. 1965 civil rights march site : SELMA
The Bloody Sunday march took place between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama on 7 March 1965. The 600 marchers involved were protesting the intimidation of African-Americans registering to vote. When the marchers reached Dallas County, Alabama they encountered a line of state troopers reinforced by white males who had been deputized that morning to help keep the peace. Violence broke out with 17 marchers ending up in hospital, one nearly dying. Because the disturbance was widely covered by television cameras, the civil rights movement picked up a lot of support that day.

51. Curious, action-oriented sort, supposedly : ARIES
Aries the Ram is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries you would know that! “Aries” is the Latin word for “ram”.

56. Romney’s 2012 running mate : RYAN
Paul Ryan was the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 2012 election, on the ticket with Mitt Romney. Off the political stage, Ryan is famous for his fitness regime. He has shared that much of his motivation to work out and to watch his diet is because there is a history of heart attacks at an early age in his family.

Mitt Romney was born Willard Mitt Romney in 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. Romney’s parents named him after J. Willard Marriott (the hotel magnate) who was the father’s best friend, and after Milton “Mitt” Romney who was the father’s cousin and quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

57. ___ Institute, org. that makes use of the Allen Telescope Array : SETI
SETI is the name given to a number of projects that are searching for extraterrestrial life. The acronym stands for “search for extraterrestrial intelligence”. One of the main SETI activities is the monitoring of electromagnetic radiation (such as radio waves) reaching the Earth in the hope of finding a transmission from a civilization in another world.

61. Relative of a cuatro, informally : UKE
The ukulele (“uke”) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.

The cuatro is a musical instrument from Latin America that is similar to a guitar.

63. Victor at Chancellorsville : LEE
The Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville was fought in April/May 1863. The combatants were the Union Army of the Potomac led by Major General Joseph Hooker and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee. Although Lee’s forces were half the size of Hooker’s, the Confederates emerged victorious. One notable outcome of the engagement was the death of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, a victim of friendly fire.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Showing hopelessness : ABJECT
7. “West Side Story” weapon : SHIV
11. Do Not Call Registry org. : FTC
14. Truckers’ contest : ROADEO
15. Colombian city of 2+ million : CALI
16. Dig this! : ORE
17. Libretto for “Eel Trovatore”? : CONGER LINES (from “conga lines”)
19. FEMA offering : AID
20. Green-light : OKAY
21. Want ad abbr. : EEO
22. Lightning setting : TAMPA
24. Microwave for hot dogs? : FRANK ZAPPER (from “Frank Zappa”)
27. Sequel to “Twilight” : NEW MOON
31. 90 degrees from sur : OESTE
32. Sound of an allergic reaction : ACHOO!
33. ___ factor : ICK
34. Porter’s cousin : ALE
37. Actor Sheen after starting a new career in piano maintenance? : CHARLIE THE TUNER (from “Charlie the Tuna”)
42. “Salem’s ___” : LOT
43. DVR brand : RCA
44. Subject of King Abdullah : SAUDI
45. Union station? : ALTAR
48. Lacking the traditional comforts : SPARTAN
50. One who knows the earnings report by heart? : SALES QUOTER (from “sales quota”)
53. Get the lead out? : ERASE
54. Hauler’s choice : VAN
55. Once, quaintly : ERST
59. Lucy of “The Man With the Iron Fists” : LIU
60. Actor in a Mr. Potato Head costume? : TUBER PLAYER (from “tuba player”)
64. Gig part : MEG
65. Scrape, in a way : SKIN
66. Make bubbly : AERATE
67. Wood used to make the original Stratocasters : ASH
68. Neurosurgeons’ readouts, for short : EEGS
69. George’s friend in “Of Mice and Men” : LENNIE

Down
1. Oil giant that’s part of the Tesoro Corporation : ARCO
2. Reserve : BOOK
3. 1998 Wimbledon champ Novotna : JANA
4. Pushing the boundaries of propriety : EDGY
5. Daycare center? : CEE
6. Fighter in a ring : TORERO
7. Descendant : SCION
8. Solo on the big screen : HAN
9. Land in la mer : ILE
10. Prospects : VISTAS
11. Bit of packaging detritus : FOAM PEANUT
12. Horsefeathers : TRIPE
13. Chest wood : CEDAR
18. Like ostrich meat : LEAN
23. Abbr. in some addresses : APT
24. Hornswoggle : FOOL
25. ___ brothers, noted political donors : KOCH
26. First name of the wolf in Disney’s “The Big Bad Wolf” : ZEKE
27. Salt, chemically : NACL
28. Parrot : ECHO
29. “That is SO stupid!” : WHAT A LAUGH!
30. Country on the Strait of Gibraltar: Abbr. : MOR
33. “Keep ___ secret” : IT A
35. Helen of Troy’s mother : LEDA
36. Hibernia : ERIN
38. Early 2000s war zone : IRAQ
39. Color similar to almond : ECRU
40. Winter Palace resident : TSAR
41. Political alliance of 1958: Abbr. : UAR
46. “___ Girls,” 1957 musical comedy : LES
47. Sub-Saharan menace : TSETSE
48. Badge shape : STAR
49. One who might have a collection of foreign stamps : PEN PAL
50. 1965 civil rights march site : SELMA
51. Curious, action-oriented sort, supposedly : ARIES
52. Pizzeria needs : OVENS
55. Pull in : EARN
56. Romney’s 2012 running mate : RYAN
57. ___ Institute, org. that makes use of the Allen Telescope Array : SETI
58. Family ___ : TREE
61. Relative of a cuatro, informally : UKE
62. All over the news : BIG
63. Victor at Chancellorsville : LEE

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2 thoughts on “0827-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 27 Aug 14, Wednesday”

  1. A bit (pun intended) of clarification on 64A, mega-, and giga-:

    A kilobyte (KB) is 2^10 (2 raised to the 10th power), or 1024, bytes of information. Since so much of the computer world was (and still is) binary, it lent itself easily to expressing numbers in the form of powers of 2. 1024 was close enough to 1000 for estimating that it became common to substitute one for the other.

    Similarly, a megabyte (MB) is 1024 KB, or 2 raised to the 20th power, or 1,048,576 bytes.

    A gigabyte (GB) is 1024 MB, or … a little over a billion. You get the idea.

  2. Hi there, Tim.

    That's a great pun 🙂

    I was in fact aware of the alternative definition of mutlipe "bytes", but went with the SI definition in my little blurb. I probably should have pointed that out. My bad!

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