The full solution to today’s crossword that appears in the New York Times
The full solution to today’s SYNDICATED New York Times crossword that appears in all other publications
THEME: Starts With a Bang … all the starred answers start with a “bang” sound i.e. BOOMERANG (BOOM!), POWDER KEG (POW!), WHAMMY BAR (WHAM!), BAMBOOZLE (BAM!)
COMPLETION TIME: 6m 45s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
9. David who sang “Space Oddity” : BOWIE
In early 1969, the struggling David Bowie recorded a promotional film in an attempt to reach a wider audience. The film called “Love You Till Tuesday” featured seven of Bowie’s songs in what amounted to an extended music video, with one of the tracks being “Space Oddity”. Somebody smart put two and two together later in the year and decided that a fresh version of “Space Oddity” should be released, to coincide with the Apollo moon landings. Sure enough, the BBC snagged the track for their coverage of the landings and gave Bowie huge audiences. And the song still gets an awful lot of air time on the small screen.
14. 1-Across ingredient : ALOE
1. Healing ointment : BALM
The so called “true aloe” is aloe vera, a succulent plant native to Africa that grows in relatively dry climates. The plant’s leaves are full of biologically active compounds that have been extensively studied. Even before all the modern research, aloe vera was used for centuries in herbal medicine, mainly for topical treatment of wounds.
15. Enthusiastic : AVID
The lovely word “avid” comes to use from Latin via French. The Latin “avere” means “to desire eagerly”.
16. Like some on-the-spot wireless networks : AD HOC
The Latin phrase “ad hoc” means “for this purpose”. In the context of computer connectivity, a wireless ad hoc network is one that doesn’t have a “center” with the computers (say) communicating to each other through that central point. Instead, the computers are configured to “talk” to each other directly, or though each other. It sounds like a good idea, and it can be, but when a lot of computers connect this way, things slow down pretty quickly.
17. *Toy that’s thrown : BOOMERANG
The complete etymology of the word “boomerang” is a little unclear, but it definitely comes from the aboriginal name for a “returning throw-stick”. We tend to be impressed by the fact boomerangs, when thrown correctly, return to the thrower. In fact, it is likely that the first returning boomerangs were developed by accident, when thousands of years ago hunters were trying to change the shape of their weapons, in order to make them fly straight!
21. Deck wood : TEAK
Teak is a hardwood tree in the mint family, commonly found in monsoon forests of Asia.
23. China’s ___ Zedong : MAO
Mao Zedong was burn on December 16, 1893 in the Hunan Province of China. As he was the son of a peasant farmer, his prospects for education were limited. Indeed he left school at 13 to work on the family farm, but did eventually get to secondary school in Changsa, the provincial capital. In the years following he continued his education further in Beijing, and actually turned down an opportunity to study in France.
26. Tic : SPASM
Our word “tic” comes to us from French, at the start of the 19th century. The original French word “tic” referred to a twitching disease of horses.
33. Indent key : TAB
Like most features on our computer keyboards, the tab key is a hangover from the days of typewriters. When using a typewriter, typing entries into a table was very tedious, involving lots of tapping on the space bar and backspace key. So, a lever was added to typewriters that allowed the operator to “jump” across the page to positions that could be set by hand. Later this was simplified to a tab key, which could be depressed, causing the carriage to jump to the next tab stop, in much the same way that the modern tab key works on a computer.
38. Silents star Normand : MABEL
Mabel Normand was a comedy actress in the days of silent films, but perhaps more importantly, later in her career she became one of the first female screenwriters, producers and directors. Normand was so successful off the screen that she had her own movie studio and production company in the twenties.
39. Has an exciting opening number, say … or what the answer to each starred clue does? : STARTS WITH A BANG
44. Actor Jared : LETO
Jared Leto is an actor and musician. In the world of music he is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars. In the film world his most critically acclaimed role was that of a heroin addict in “Requiem for a Dream”. He has also appeared in “American Psycho”, “Panic Room” and “Lord of War”.
45. Fig. on a vitamin bottle : RDA
The Recommended Daily Allowances were introduced during WWII, and were replaced by the Recommended Daily Intakes in 1997.
46. Possible result of an animal bite : RABIES
“Rabies” is actually the Latin word for “madness”. The name is a good choice for the viral disease, as once the virus spreads to the brain the infected person or animal exhibits very tortured, bizarre behavior including hydrophobia, a fear of water. The virus is passed on to humans most often through a bite from an infected dog. It is curable if it is caught in time, basically before symptoms develop. Once the virus passes up the peripheral nervous system to the spine and the brain, there isn’t much that can be done.
51. Jimmy of the Daily Planet : OLSEN
In the Superman stories, Jimmy Olsen is a photographer who works on the “Daily Planet” newspaper with Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
53. Bizarre : STRANGE
“Bizarre” is a French word, with the same meaning in French as English. However, back in the 16th century, “bizarre” used to mean “handsome, brave” in French. So that’s what my wife means when she refers to me as “bizarre” …
57. Angsty music genre : EMO
Emo originated in Washington D.C. in the 80s, and takes its name from “emotional hardcore”. Not my cup of tea …
61. “Certainly, madame!” : OUI OUI
“Oui, oui!”, “yes, yes!” in French.
62. Domino’s offering : PIZZA
Domino’s Pizza started out as DomiNick’s, a pizza store on Ypsilanti, Michigan. The store was purchased by Dominic’s founder Tom Monaghan in 1960, along with his brother (Tom bought out his brother a few months later, for the price of a used VW!). The store was renamed Domino’s Pizza in 1965, and two years later the first franchise store was opened. There are now over 8,000 stores worldwide, including one in Tallaght, in Ireland, where I lived for many years in my youth. That Tallaght store became the first Domino’s outlet in the world to hit a a turnover of $3 million a year. We Irish obviously have terrible taste when it comes to pizza …
64. *Situation set to explode : POWDER KEG
66. “Pirates of the Caribbean” locales : ISLES
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” series of films is of course based on the wonderful ride at the Disney theme parks. The first title in the series is “The Curse of the Black Pearl”, released in 2003. The film is remarkable in many ways, including the fact that it was the first Disney movie to be given a PG-13 rating. If you like the series, then you’ll be glad to hear that “Pirates of the Caribbean IV” is on its way. “On Stranger Tides” will hit the movie theaters in 2011.
68. One who ran away with the spoon, in a nursery rhyme : DISH
The nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle” has been around at least since the mid-1700s.
Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the Spoon.
69. Directors Ethan and Joel : COENS
I think it’s great to see two brothers so working together and being so successful. Both Joel and Ethan Coen live in New York City. They do love the movie-making business, and even married “insiders”. Ethan’s wife is film editor Tricia Cooke, and Joel is married to one of my favorite actresses, the lovely Frances McDormand.
70. Slothful : LAZY
“Sloth”, meaning “indolence, sluggishness”, came from the Middle English word “slowe”, the same root for our contemporary word “slow”. The animal, the sloth, is named for its slow-moving behavior.
71. Kiln for hops : OAST
An oast is a kiln used for drying hops as part of the brewing process. It might also be called an “oast house”.
1. Toyland visitors : BABES
“Babes in Toyland” is an operetta by Victor Herbert, first performed in 1903 in Chicago. The musical play “The Wizard of Oz” had appeared on Broadway the prior year and was a resounding hit, so the creators of “Babes in Toyland” wanted to cash in on that success by producing something in the same genre. While not as big a hit as “Oz”, the show did very well, playing for 192 performances, and is still produced today. The basic storyline makes use of various characters from the Mother Goose nursery rhymes, wound into a Christmas entertainment.
3. Bath sponge : LOOFA
I knew that real sponges came from the sea (I’m a SCUBA diver, for my sins) and I kind of knew that real LOOFAHS were natural too, but not the specifics. The loofah(also loofa, lufah and luffa, Arabic words) is a vine, with fruit that’s very popular in Asia and Africa. If the fruit is allowed to mature, it can be processed to remove everything but the more rigid xylem structure (remember your high school botany class?) leaving a soft, sponge-like mass that is used as skin polisher.
4. Dalí’s “The Persistence of ___” : MEMORY
“The Persistence of Memory” is probably Salvador Dali’s most famous work, featuring the celebrated “melting clocks”. And you can see it in the MoMA in New York City.
Some years ago I had the privilege of visiting the Dali Museum in Figueres, just north of Barcelona. If you ever get the chance, it’s a must see.
5. Invaders in an H. G. Wells story : MARTIANS
I do like the book “War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells, but when I think of the story, I am most intrigued by the 1938 Orson Welles radio adaption. Welles structured the story into a series of simulated news bulletins that unfolded into a full-blown Martian invasion. The presentation was so realistic that some listeners believed that aliens really had landed on Earth. The extent of the “panic” caused has been exaggerated over time, but there was indeed public and media outcry in the days and weeks following the “deceptive” broadcast. It was this outcry that really established Orson Welles as player in the world of entertainment.
6. Gardner of film : AVA
Ava Gardner is noted for her association with some big movies, but also for her association with some big names when it came to the men in her life. In the world of film, she appeared in the likes of “Mogambo” (1953), “On the Beach” (1959), “The Night of the Iguana” (1964) and “Earthquake” (1974). The men in her life included husbands Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra. After her marriages had failed (and perhaps before!) she had long term relationships with Howard Hughes, as well bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin whom she met through her friend Ernest Hemingway.
11. *Guitar accessory that adds vibrato : WHAMMY BAR
You know that “lever” that electric guitar players “wiggle” to produce a vibrating sound? Well, it’s called a “whammy bar”. Movement of the bar changes the tension of the strings, resulting in a change of pitch that the player can use to create a number of different effects.
12. Itsy-bitsy bit : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use it to portray something very small, as it is the smallest letter in the alphabet.
18. Gardner of mystery : ERLE
I must have read all of the Perry Mason books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when the pressure was on. Creator Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn’t get into the profession the easy way. He 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.
22. Download for an iPhone : APP
Apple started selling the iPhone at 6 pm local time on June 29, 2007, with hundreds of customers lined up outside stores all over the world. Not me. I use a pay-as-you-go phone from T-Mobile, that cost me $45 for calls and text, for the whole of last year …
27. Sad-sounding car company? : SAAB
I suppose depending on how you pronounce your Swedish, SAAB could sound like “sob”.
SAAB stands for Svenska Aeroplan AB, which translates into English as Swedish Aeroplane Limited. So yes, SAAB was, and still is mainly an aircraft manufacturer. If you take small hops in Europe you will often find yourself on a SAAB passenger plane. The SAAB automobile division was acquired by General Motors in the year 2000.
29. Sales pitch : SPIEL
A spiel is a lengthy speech or argument designed to persuade, perhaps a sales pitch. “Spiel” comes to us from German, either directly (“spiel” is the German for “play”) or via the Yiddish “shpil”.
32. ___ Korbut, 1972 Soviet gymnastics star : OLGA
Olga Korbut is from modern-day Belarus, but was born during the days of the Soviet Union. She competed for the USSR team in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games. Korbut was 17 when she appeared in the 1972 Munich Games, and had been training in a sports school since she was 8-years-old. The world fell in love with her as she was a very emotional young lady, readily expressing joy and disappointment, something that we weren’t used to seeing in athletes from behind the Iron Curtain. Korbut immigrated to the US in 1991, and now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
34. Gillette razor : ATRA
Fortunately for crossword setters, the Atra razor was introduced by Gillette in 1977. It was sold as the Contour in some markets, and its derivative products are still around today.
35. *Hoodwink : BAMBOOZLE
It’s thought that the lovely word “bamboozle” came into English from the Scottish “bombaze” meaning “perplex”. We’ve been using “bamboozle” since the very early 1700s.
“Hoodwink” has meant “to deceive” since about 1600. Prior to that it meant simply “to blindfold”, a sort of portmanteau word from “hood” and “wink”.
37. Singers James and Jones : ETTAS
Etta James is best known for her beautiful rendition of the song “At Last”. Sadly, as she discloses in her autobiography, James has lived a life that has been ravaged by drug addiction, leading to numerous legal and health problems.
Etta Jones was a jazz singer, sometimes known as the “jazz musician’s jazz singer”. Because she has a similar name to Etta James, Jones was often confused with the more popular singer. Jones never really had any huge commercial success though, despite the respect that she engendered within the inner sanctums of the jazz world.
42. Warm bedtime beverage : HOT TODDY
The word “toddy” has come a long way. Its origins lie in the Hindi word for a “palm tree”, namely “tar”. The derivative word “tari” was used for palm sap, which came into English as “tarrie”, then “taddy” and “toddy”, all of which described an alcoholic drink made from fermented palm sap. That was back around 1600. Late in the 18th century, the palm sap drink called “toddy” had morphed into meaning any alcoholic drink made with liquor, hot water, sugar and spices.
49. Rock’s Mötley ___ : CRUE
Motley Crue is an American rock band, from Los Angeles. They’ve been around since 1981, co-founded by the famous drummer Tommy Lee. Tommy Lee is also known for his two celebrated marriages, the first with Heather Locklear, and the second with Pamela Anderson.
50. Bob or beehive : HAIRDO
A “bob cut” is a short hairstyle in which the hair is cut straight around the head, at about the line of the jaw. Back in the 1570s a “bob” was the name given to a horse’s tail that was cut short, and about a century later it was being used to describe short hair on humans. The style became very popular with women in the early 1900s (as worn by actress Clara Bow, for example), with the fashion dying out in the thirties. The style reemerged in the sixties around the time the Beatles introduced their “mop tops”, with Vidal Sassoon leading the way in styling women’s hair in a bob cut again. Personally, I like it …
That distinctive “beehive” hair style is also called a B-52, because the round, beehive-shape also resembles the bulbous nose of a B-52 bomber! The style originated in 1958, and is credited to Margaret Vinci Heldt, the owner of a hair salon in downtown Chicago. I’m not a fan of the beehive, but have to say that Audrey Hepburn carried it off in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, as did Dusty Springfield in her heyday.
52. Country with Sherpas : NEPAL
In the Tibetan language, Sherpa means “eastern people” (sher = east, pa = people). Sherpas are an ethnic group from Nepal, but the name is also used for the local guides who assist mountaineers in the Himalayas, and particularly on Mount Everest.
54. Finnish cell phone giant : NOKIA
I do enjoy classical guitar music, but there isn’t a huge choice on CD. There is one very special piece, Gran Vals by Francisco Tárrega, written in 1902. This piece has a unique reputation as it contains a phrase that it is the most listened to piece of music in the whole world! Just a few bars into the work one can hear the omnipresent Nokia ring tone.
57. “Ben-Hur,” for one : EPIC
The celebrated Charlton Heston movie “Ben-Hur” was actually a dramatization of a book published in 1880 by Lew Wallace, “Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ”.
58. Soup with sushi : MISO
Miso is the name of the seasoning that makes the soup. Basic miso seasoning is made by fermenting rice, barley and soybeans with salt and a fungus (!), producing a paste. The paste can be added to stock to make miso soup, or perhaps to flavor tofu.
63. Buddhist sect : ZEN
Zen is one of the Buddhist schools, that became it’s own tradition in China back in the 7th century AD. Zen is a Japanese spelling of the Chinese word “chan”, which in turn derives from the Sanskrit word “dhyana” meaning “meditation”.