6. Kind of screen : IMAX
The IMAX Corporation, which is behind the IMAX film format, is a Canadian company. The impetus for developing the system came after Expo ’67 in Montreal. Back then large format screenings were accomplished using multiple projectors with multiple screens, with images basically stitched together. The team behind the IMAX technology set out to simplify things, and developed a single-camera, single-projector system.
10. Guarantor of many bank loans to cos. : SBA
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency with the mission of assisting small businesses. The SBA doesn’t give loans itself, but it does act as a guarantor under the right circumstances. The SBA was set up in 1953, and isn’t a favorite with fiscal conservatives.
13. First Greek-American vice president : AGNEW
Spiro Agnew served as Vice-President under Richard Nixon, before becoming the only VP in American history to have to resign because of criminal charges (a bribery scandal). He was also the first Greek-American to serve as VP, the son of a Greek immigrant who shortened his name from Anagnostopoulos.
14. Condé Nast title : SELF
“Self” is a magazine for women published by Conde Nast, a publication focused mainly on health and well-being.
Conde Nast has a very large portfolio of publications, including “Vogue”, “GQ”, “House and Garden”, “Golf Digest”, “Wired”, “Vanity Fair” and “The New Yorker”.
16. Site of a memorable 1989 impromptu performance by 50-Across : BERLIN WALL
When the world famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich saw the live images of the Berlin Wall coming down, he grabbed his cello and flew from his adopted homeland of America to be part of the historic event. Rostropovich was born in the Soviet Union, but had lived in exile since 1974. There is memorable video footage of the great cellist performing for the crowds, sitting on a chair, right beside the wall.
18. Lake ___, head of the Blue Nile : TANA
Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia, and is the source of the Blue Nile. The lake has a number of islands of significant size, many of which are home to ancient monasteries.
21. Famous Olde Tyme brand : BARQ’S
When the Barq Brothers decided to go into the root beer business around 1900, they were faced with a dilemma as the Hires Root Beer Company was attempting to trademark the term “root beer”. So, the Barqs produced their beverage, calling it simply Barq’s. They did indeed keep things simple, with an early advertising slogan of “Drink Barq’s. It’s good.” As the trademark issue dissipated, the company then used introduced a slogan “Is it root beer?” before finally “coming out” and calling their drink root beer.
22. Prized possession of 50-Across : STRADIVARIUS
Mstislav Rostropovich owned and played a cello made by Stradivarius for much of his playing career. This particular instrument used to be owned by cellist Jean-Pierre Duport, and so it is known as the Duport Stradivarius. Duport once allowed Napoleon Bonaparte to handle the instrument, which he did quite roughly. There is a dent still visible, supposedly caused by Napoleon’s boot as a he held the cello between his legs.
26. Actress Anne : HECHE
My favorite movie starring the actress Anne Heche is “Six Days Seven Nights”, a romantic comedy in which she plays opposite Harrison Ford. Heche is noted for her difficult private life. She wrote that her father had molested her as a child and gave her a sexually transmitted disease (he later revealed that he was homosexual, and died of AIDS). Heche dated comedian Steve Martin for two years, and then lived with comedian Ellen DeGeneres for three. Soon after breaking up with DeGeneres, she started exhibiting eccentric behavior for a while, claiming that she was God, or the daughter of God, and that she would taken everyone back to heaven in her spaceship. Happily, I think things have calmed down for her in recent years.
30. What le gendarme enforces : LOI
In France, a gendarme (police officer) enforces the loi (law).
33. Director of “Eat Drink Man Woman” : ANG LEE
Taiwanese director Ang Lee sure has directed a mixed bag of films, mixed in terms of genre, not in terms of quality. He was at the helm for such classics as “Sense and Sensibility” (my personal favorite), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hulk”, and “Brokeback Mountain”.
“Eat Drink Man Woman” is a Taiwanese film directed by Ang Lee, released in 1994. The film was remade in 2001 in English as “Tortilla Soup”.
43. Its symbol is “X” : STRIKE
Bowling has been around for an awfully long time. The oldest known reference to the game is in Egypt, where pins and balls were found in an ancient tomb that is over 5,00 years old. The first from of the game to come to America was nine-pin bowling, which had been very popular in Europe for centuries. In 1841 in Connecticut, the game was banned due to its association with gambling. Supposedly, an additional pin was added to get around the ban, and ten-pin bowling was born.
In ten-pin bowling, downing all ten pins with one bowl is called a strike, and is marked with an “X” on the scorecard.
50. 20th-century master of the [circled letters] : ROSTROPOVICH
Mstislav Rostropovich is considered by many to have been the greatest cellist of all time. Such was his reputation, that he was able to commission many works for the cello, and so is responsible for enlarging the instrument’s repertoire more than anyone else in history. Outside of the world of music, Rostropovich was recognized as an outspoken defender of human rights. While still living in the Soviet Union, in 1970 he took famous author and dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn into his own home. This and related acts led to his rebuke by the Soviet authorities, and ultimately to his exile in the US starting in 1974.
53. Lots of, slangily : MUCHO
“Mucho” is the Spanish for “much”.
54. Tolkien’s Treebeard, e.g. : ENT
Ents are those treelike creatures that live in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, in his series of books “The Lord of the Rings”.
58. Tommie of the 1969 World Series Mets : AGEE
Tommie Agee was a Major League Baseball player who played mainly with the Indians, White Sox and Mets. He was one of the “Amazin’ Mets”, and was famous for making two phenomenal catches in game three of the 1969 world series, potentially saving five runs.
59. Birthplace of 50-Across : AZERBAIJAN
Although the famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, he was the child of Russian parents who had moved there from Orenburg in Russia. He learned piano from the age of four from his accomplished mother, and then cello from his father from the age of twelve. His father was also a very talented cellist, and a former student of Pablo Casals.
63. Polonius, for one : DANE
In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Polonius is an important character, eventually killed by Hamlet, albeit in a case of mistaken identity. He has two famous lines in the play, oft-quoted today. “To thine own self be true”, and “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”.
64. Loch Lomond lovely : LASS
I would guess that Loch Lomond is one of the two most famous lakes in Scotland. Loch Ness is famous for its “monster”, and Loch Lomond is famous for the lovely song “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”. Oh, ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road …
The Lindy Hop is a dance based on the Charleston, and dates back to the twenties and thirties. The name Lindy is a homage to the famous 1927 flight across the Atlantic by Charles Lindbergh.
67. Shanghai’s ___ 2010 : EXPO
Expo 2010 started in Shanghai on May 1st, 2010, the biggest World Expo in history, with 190 countries participating.
2. Arch type : OGEE
An ogee is like an s-curve. Specifically it is a curve consisting of two arcs that curve in opposite directions (like an S) but both ends of the curve end up parallel to each other (which is not necessarily true for an S).
3. About : IN RE
The term “in re” is Latin, derived from “in” (in) and “res” (thing, matter). It literally means “in the matter”, and is used as “in regard to”, or “in the matter of”.
4. “___ mezzo del cammin di nostra vita”: Dante : NEL
Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” is an epic poem dating back to the 14th century. The first part of that epic is “Inferno”, which is the Italian word for “Hell”. Dante is led on a journey by the poet Virgil, starting at the gates of Hell on which are written the famous words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”. The first line of “Inferno” is “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita”, which translates as “Halfway along our life’s path”.
5. Forum for 140-character messages : TWITTER
I have never tweeted in my life, and have no plans to do so. Twitter is a micro-blogging service that limits the post sent to just 140 characters. In a sense, it is similar to this blog. Here I send out a post once a day containing information that I think might be useful to folks (thank you for reading!). I don’t think I could send much of interest using just 140 characters. So, people who do tweet tend to send out messages like “I’m at dinner now. I am having sushi” and “There’s nothing on TV. I’m bored”. Nope, I don’t think so!
But … if someone knows how tweeting could help me provide a better New York Times Crossword blog, please send me an email!
7. “Cry ___ River” : ME A
The 1953 song “Cry Me a River” was written for Ella Fitzgerald with the intention of her singing it in the 1955 movie “Peter Kelly’s Blues”, but the song never made it into the final cut. The song was recorded later in 1955 by Julie London, and featured in the 1956 movie “The Girl Can’t Help It”.
9. Former sports org. with the teams Hitmen and Rage : XFL
The XFL was an American Football league that only survived for one season. The intention for the league was to provide football fans with something to watch in the off season, but they didn’t bother …
11. Ghost in “Macbeth” : BANQUO
Banquo is a character in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. He is the thane of the Scottish province of Lochaber. Macbeth has Banquo murdered, only to have his ghost return and haunt him.
12. Sports legend with the autobiography “Open” : AGASSI
“Open” is the autobiography of tennis professional Andre Agassi published in 2009. An amazing revelation in the book was that Agassi’s famous head of hair was actually a wig for much of playing career. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to play tennis at his level, with a rug pinned on?
23. Gives a hand : DEALS TO
Nicely deceptive wording …
25. Home of Bally’s and the Venetian : VEGAS
Las Vegas, Nevada was founded as a city in 1905. It became a stop-off point for pioneers travelling west, and eventually a railroad town, although with the coming of the railroad growth halted, as folks began to bypass Las Vegas. The city’s tourism industry took off in 1935 with the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam, and visitors to Vegas take tours of the dam to this day. Then gambling was legalized, and things really started to move. Vegas was picked, largely by celebrated figures in “the mob”, as a convenient location across the California/Nevada state line that could service the vast population of Los Angeles. As a result, Las Vegas became the most populous US city founded in the 20th century (an honor that went to Chicago in the 19th century).
26. Horatio Nelson’s ___ Victory : HMS
Admiral Horatio Nelson‘s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar was HMS Victory. The battle was a decisive win for the British during the Napoleonic Wars, fought against the combined fleets of France and Spain. Nelson was fatally wounded by a marksman from one of the French ships, but as he was conscious he continued to monitor the battle, dying three hours after he was shot. Nelson was much revered by his crew, who felt that his body had to be returned to England. The body was placed in a barrel full of brandy, and the barrel lashed to the mainmast of the Victory and placed under guard. The damaged flagship was towed to Gibraltar, and the body transferred to a lead-lined coffin, and the brandy replaced by aqua vitae, spirits of wine. While the body continued its journey home, dispatches reporting the outcome of the battle were carried to England on a ship called … HMS Pickle!
28. “Bullitt” has a famous one : CHASE SCENE
The famous 1968 film “Bullitt” starred Steve McQueen and the lovely Jacqueline Bisset. If you want to read the novel on which the film’s screenplay was based, you can check out “Mute Witness” by Robert L. Fish, published in 1963. It may seem dated now, but the movie’s car chase scene created quite a buzz in its day. The chase through the streets of San Francisco goes on for 9 minutes and 42 seconds, and took three weeks to film. McQueen did the vast majority of the stunt driving himself, but he was doubled in the more risky moves by stuntman Bid Ekins. Ekins also doubled for McQueen in “The Great Escape” in that famous scene where McQueen’s character rode a motorcycle over a barbed wire fence.
32. Alamogordo’s county : OTERO
Alamogordo is a city in New Mexico, famous today for its proximity to White Sands National Monument. It gained a little unwelcome notoriety in 2001 when a local church held a public book burning, mainly of the Harry Potter series.
34. The so-called “blue marble” : EARTH
In 192, the astronauts of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon, took a beautiful photograph of the Earth from space. The photograph is unusual in that the whole planet is illuminated (the sun was behind the spacecraft). The astronauts remarked that Earth looked like a marble, giving the photo its name, “Blue Marble“.
39. Early Fox rival : RKO
The RKO Pictures studio was formed when RCA (RADIO Corporation of America) bought the KEITH-Albee-ORPHEUM theaters (and Joe Kennedy’s Film Booking Offices of America). The resulting new company was called Radio-Keith-Orpheum Pictures, or RKO.
40. Its symbol is a “Y” with two horizontal lines through it : YEN
The three currencies, the Korean Won, the Chinese Yuan, and the Japanese Yen, all take their names from the name of the Chinese written character that represents “round shape”.
42. River through Castile and León : EBRO
The mighty Ebro flows into the Mediterranean across northeast Spain.
45. Force defeated in 1588 : ARMADA
The most famous Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England in order to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I in 1588. Ironically, the English mounted a similar naval attack against Spain the following year, and it failed as well.
52. Like Brahms’s Piano Trio No. 1 : IN B
Johannes Brahms was a leading German composer from the Romantic period. He is one of the “Three Bs”, often grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.
55. Greek warrior : AJAX
As described in Homer’s “Iliad”, Hector was a Trojan prince and a great fighter. During the war with Greeks, in order avoid a bloody battle Hector challenges any one of the Greek warriors to a duel. Ajax is chosen by the Greeks, and the two fight for an entire day before they declare a stalemate.
60. Slate-cutting tool : ZAX
A slater on a roof has a few specialist tools including a slater’s hammer, a slater’s stake and my personal favorite, the ripper (I’m always up on the roof repairing my aging, shake roof!). The zax is a pseudo-multi-tool. It has a blade edge that is used to split the slates, and a large point that’s used to punch nail holes.
61. Ability to pick things up : ESP
Extra Sensory Perception.
62. 401(k) alternative : IRA
I have to tell you, when I first came to the US from Ireland, it was pretty confusing seeing big signs along the freeway touting contributions to the IRA! Back in Ireland, that was pretty illegal (where IRA means the Irish Republican Army).