0730-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 30 Jul 15, Thursday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Brendan Emmett Quigley
THEME: Added Little Women … each of today’s themed answers is well-known phrase, but with the name of a character from Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” inserted:

45D. Creator of the characters added in 17-, 28-, 44- and 57-Across : ALCOTT

17A. Hardy brown spice? : TOUGH NUTMEG (“tough nut” & “Meg”)
28A. Company that will get you a second spouse? : BIGAMY BUSINESS (“big business” & “Amy”)
44A. Extremely tacky production of a Shakespeare play? : MACBETH ‘N’ CHEESE (“mac ‘n cheese” & “Beth”)
57A. Country instrument played by a migrant? : TRAVEL BANJO (“travel ban” & “Jo”)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 21m 31s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 … HEEL (heed!!!), VAL (Vad)

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Chronicler of the English Restoration : PEPYS
Samuel Pepys was a British Member of Parliament and naval administrator, more famous these days for his diary than for his contribution to political history. Pepys started to keep a diary on New Year’s Day in 1660 and recorded his daily life for almost ten years. His writings include details of his personal life as well as firsthand accounts of the important events of the 1660s such as the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666.

In English history, the Restoration was the period immediately following the restoration of the English monarchy to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. This took place in 1660 when Charles II was crowned king after an 11-year gap following the execution of his father Charles I.

6. Open a crack : AJAR
Our word “ajar” is thought to come from Scottish dialect, in which “a char” means “slightly open”.

10. Player for big laughs : HAM
The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is apparently a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

15. Baby ___ : MAMA
“Baby mama” is a term used these days as an alternative for “single mother”.

17. Hardy brown spice? : TOUGH NUTMEG (“tough nut” & “Meg”)
The fruit of the nutmeg tree yields two very different spices. What we call “nutmeg” comes from the seed of the tree. “Mace” is the dried covering of the seed.

20. Shambles, e.g. : GAITS
“To shamble” is to walk awkwardly, to shuffle along. The term may derive from the use of “shamble” as a noun meaning a butcher’s shop. A shambling gait might involve the leg’s being someone splayed, resembling the legs on a butchers’ table. As an aside, the most famous old street in York in the north of England is called “the Shambles”. Back in the late 1800s, the relatively short street was home to twenty-five butchers’ shops, although all are long gone now.

23. Many homecoming attendees, informally : ALUMS
An “alumnus” (plural … alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural … alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.

25. Booster for a band : AMP
An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier (amp) to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.

32. Corn ___ : BELT
The Corn Belt (sometimes “Grain Belt”) is a region in the Midwest where, since the mid-1800s, corn has been the major crop. Geographically, the Corn Belt covers Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and parts of Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri. About 40% of the world’s corn production comes from the region, and most of that production is used for the feeding of livestock.

33. School closing? : ELL
The word “school” ends with a letter L (ell).

34. Deli stock : LOX
Lox is a cured salmon fillet, finely sliced. The term “lox” comes into English via Yiddish, and derives from the German word for salmon, namely “Lachs”.

36. Rang : KNELLED
The word “knell” is used for a solemn ring from a bell, often associated with death or a funeral. “Knell” comes the Old English “cnell” and is probably imitative in origin, sounding like a peal from a large bell.

38. Real blast : GAS
I reckon use of “a gas” to mean something fun must come from Ireland (I couldn’t confirm it though). We use the word “gas” as an adjective meaning “hilarious”. So, we’d say “that’s gas” when describing something very funny.

41. Deal maker: Abbr. : AGT
Agent (agt.)

42. Like some baseball : AAA
A, AA and AAA are minor leagues in baseball.

43. Lexington’s ___ Arena : RUPP
The Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky is home to the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team. The arena is is named for former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp, and is the country’s largest sports indoor area with a capacity of 24,000 people.

44. Extremely tacky production of a Shakespeare play? : MACBETH ‘N’ CHEESE (“mac ‘n cheese” & “Beth”)
There is a superstition in the theatrical world that uttering the name “Macbeth” in a theater will bring disaster of some sort. To avoid this, the euphemism “the Scottish Play” is used instead.

Thomas Jefferson’s name is associated with the dish we known today as “mac ‘n’ cheese”. The future president discovered the baked macaroni with Parmesan cheese while in Paris and in northern Italy. He started serving the dish to guests in the US, and even had a machine imported to make the macaroni locally. Whether or not Jefferson was the first to bring mac ‘n’ cheese to America isn’t entirely clear, but it has been popular ever since.

49. Network with “Suits” and “Royal Pains” : USA
The USA Network cable television channel has been around since 1971. Back in 1971 it was called the Madison Square Garden Network, becoming USA in 1979.

50. Whaling ship that inspired “Moby-Dick” : ESSEX
Herman Melville mined his own experiences when writing his novels. Melville sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1841 on a whaler called Acushnet, heading into the Pacific Ocean. He used his experience on the Acushnet, as well as the 1820 sinking of the Nantucket ship Essex, as source material for “Moby-Dick”.

54. Pop-___ : TARTS
Pop-Tart is the most successful single brand for the Kellogg company, as millions of the sugary treats are sold every year. The US Military bought quite a few in 2001, and dropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts into Afghanistan during the invasion after 9/11.

56. Man cave invitee : BRO
“Man cave” is a slang term for a male sanctuary within a home, often a spare bedroom (as it is in our house) or a converted garage.

57. Country instrument played by a migrant? : TRAVEL BANJO (“travel ban” & “Jo”)
The instrument that we know today as the banjo is a derivative of instruments that were used in Africa.

61. Rummy : SOT
Our word “sot” comes from the Old English “sott”, meaning a fool. The word “sot” started to be associated with alcohol and not just foolery in the late 1500s.

62. Actress Gunn of “Breaking Bad” : ANNA
Anna Gunn is an actress from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is best known for playing Skyler White on the TV show “Breaking Bad”.

63. Calm swimming spot : LAGOON
A lagoon is a shallow body of water, usually separated from the sea by sandbar or reef. The term comes from the Italian “laguna”, the word for a pond or lake. The original “laguna” is the “Laguna Veneta”, the enclosed bay in the Adriatic Sea on which Venice is located. In 1769, Captain Cook was the first to apply the word “lagoon” to the body of water inside a South Seas atoll.

64. Sticks in an abandoned building? : TNT
I’m not sure that TNT comes in “sticks”. Dynamite does, but the two explosives are unrelated.

TNT is an abbreviation for trinitrotoluene. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

The explosive called dynamite contains nitroglycerin as its active component. Dynamite also contains diatomaceous earth and sodium carbonate that absorb the nitroglycerin. The absorbed nitroglycerin is far less sensitive to mechanical shock, making it easier to transport and to handle. Famously, dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel, the man who used his fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes.

Down
2. Musician who coined the term “ambient music” : ENO
Musician Brian Eno started his career as synthesiser player with Roxy Music and then launched a very successful solo career in the seventies. Eno is considered as a pioneer of the ambient music genre.

4. Something to meditate on : YOGA MAT
In the West we tend to think of yoga as a physical discipline, a means of exercise that uses specific poses to stretch and strengthen muscles. While it is true that the ancient Indian practice of yoga does involve such physical discipline, the corporeal aspect of the practice plays a relatively small part in the whole philosophy. Other major components are meditation, ethical behavior, breathing and contemplation.

5. Deep divide : SCHISM
A schism is a split or a division, especially in a religion.

6. Small price to pay? : AMT
A “price to pay” is an “amount”, which can be abbreviated to “amt.”

8. Revival reply : AMEN
The word “amen” is translated as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is likely to be also influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.

10. TV news host Melissa ___-Perry : HARRIS
Melissa Harris-Perry is a political commentator with a show on MSNBC called simplu “Melissa Harris-Perry”. Perry also fills in regularly as host on “The Rachel Maddow Show”.

11. Swirly-colored marbles : AGATES
A playing marble made from agate is called just that, an agate. Steelies on the other hand, are made from solid steel.

12. Ones in the closet? : MOTHS
The larvae of several types of moth are noted for eating fabrics made from natural fibers such as wool or cotton. Many people store woolens in cedar chests believing that the scent of the wood prevents a moth infestation. In fact, the only known effective repellent is the naphthalene found in mothballs, which might be a health concern for humans. One way to kill moth larvae in fabric is to freeze the garment for several days at a temperature below 8 degrees centigrade.

14. Chess piece: Abbr. : KNT
It is believed that the game of chess originated in northwest India, evolving from a 6th-century game called “chaturanga”, a Sanskrit word meaning “four divisions”. These four (military) divisions were represented in the game:

– Infantry (now “pawns”)
– Cavalry (now “knights”)
– Elephants (now “bishops”)
– Chariots (now “rooks”)

22. To whom “I’ll take …” is often said : ALEX
“Jeopardy” first went on the air in 1964, and is another successful Merv Griffin creation. But it took the introduction of Alex Trebek as host in order to bring the show into the big times. Trebek has been host since 1984.

23. “Rock Me” group, 1975 : ABBA
I am an unapologetic fan of ABBA’s music. ABBA was of course the Swedish group who topped the charts in the seventies and eighties. The name ABBA is an acronym formed from the first letters of the given names of each of the band members, namely: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid.

24. What a title may come with : LIEN
A lien is the right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.

26. Muslim V.I.P.s : MULLAHS
In the Islamic tradition a mullah is a man or woman educated in theology and sacred law.

29. One doing the dishes? : YENTE
Yenta (also “Yente”) is actually a female Yiddish name. In Yiddish theater “yenta” came to mean a busybody.

30. Relating to part of the small intestine : ILEAC
The human ileum is the lowest part of the small intestine, found below the jejunum and above the cecum of the large intestine.

36. Source of some shadows, for short : KGB
The Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (KGB) was the national security agency of the Soviet Union until 1991. The KGB was dissolved after the agency’s chairman led a failed attempt at a coup d’état designed to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev.

37. Woolly : LANATE
Lanate is a biological term, and is used to describe something that has a wooly or hairy appearance or covering. It is derived from the Latin word “lana” meaning wool.

39. Vault locale : APSE
The apse of a church or cathedral is a semicircular recess in an outer wall, usually with a half-dome as a roof and often where there resides an altar. Originally apses were used as burial places for the clergy and also for storage of important relics.

41. Taiwan-based computer giant : ACER
I owned several Acer laptops, which are for my money the most reliable machine at the best price. Acer is a Taiwanese company that I used to visit a lot when I was in the electronics business. I was very impressed with the company’s dedication to quality, and haven’t been let down since.

44. Long vowel indicator : MACRON
A macron is a diacritical mark placed above a vowel. It is a horizontal line and is used to indicate that the vowel is long.

A diacritic mark is added to a letter to indicate that it has a special phonetic sound. Examples of diacritic marks are the tilde above the n in Spanish words like “piñata”, and the cedilla under the c in French words like “façade”.

45. Creator of the characters added in 17-, 28-, 44- and 57-Across : ALCOTT
“Little Women” is a novel written by American author Louisa May Alcott. The quartet of little women is Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March. Jo is a tomboy and the main character in the story, and is based on Alcott herself.

46. University that was originally the Medical College of Louisiana : TULANE
Tulane University is a private research university in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tulane was founded in 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana. The university was privatized with the aid of an endowment from philanthropist Paul Tulane in 1884, and as a result the school’s name was changed to Tulane University.

48. “The way beer was meant to be” sloganeer, once : PABST
Pabst Blue Ribbon is the most recognizable brand of beer from the Pabst Brewing Company. There appears to be some dispute over whether or not Pabst beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle until it was dropped in 1916 and incorporated into the label.

52. Home of Bountiful : UTAH
The city of Bountiful is in the northern part of Utah, and serves as a bedroom community for Salt Lake City. Bountiful was settled back in 1847, the second settlement in Utah right after Salt Lake City. It was originally called Sessions Settlement after the first settler, Perrigrine Sessions, and later North Canyon Ward. The name Bountiful was adopted in 1855, taking the name of a city in the Book of Mormon.

53. Duncan of Obama’s cabinet : ARNE
Long before Arne Duncan became Secretary of Education he was a professional basketball player, but not in the NBA. Duncan played for the National Basketball League of Australia, for the Eastside Spectres in Melbourne.

58. Cartoonist Mayerik who co-created Howard the Duck : VAL
Howard the Duck is a character in the Marvel Comics universe who was created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik. Howard is a satirical character, not really the usual comic book superhero.

59. Book before Psalms : JOB
The story of “the patience of Job” is told in the Book of Job in the Bible. Job exhibits great patience in refusing to condemn God after Satan was allowed to destroy his family, his health and his property.

The Greek word “psalmoi” originally meant “songs sung to a harp”, and gave us the word “psalms”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Chronicler of the English Restoration : PEPYS
6. Open a crack : AJAR
10. Player for big laughs : HAM
13. Crack, as a code : UNLOCK
15. Baby ___ : MAMA
16. Back : AGO
17. Hardy brown spice? : TOUGH NUTMEG (“tough nut” & “Meg”)
19. Tell : RAT
20. Shambles, e.g. : GAITS
21. Bring to light : UNEARTH
23. Many homecoming attendees, informally : ALUMS
25. Booster for a band : AMP
27. Not just deception : LIES
28. Company that will get you a second spouse? : BIGAMY BUSINESS (“big business” & “Amy”)
32. Corn ___ : BELT
33. School closing? : ELL
34. Deli stock : LOX
35. “Take your pick” : ANY
36. Rang : KNELLED
38. Real blast : GAS
41. Deal maker: Abbr. : AGT
42. Like some baseball : AAA
43. Lexington’s ___ Arena : RUPP
44. Extremely tacky production of a Shakespeare play? : MACBETH ‘N CHEESE (“mac ‘n’ cheese” & “Beth”)
48. Ill-looking : PALE
49. Network with “Suits” and “Royal Pains” : USA
50. Whaling ship that inspired “Moby-Dick” : ESSEX
51. Increase in interest : ACCRUAL
54. Pop-___ : TARTS
56. Man cave invitee : BRO
57. Country instrument played by a migrant? : TRAVEL BANJO (“travel ban” & “Jo”)
61. Rummy : SOT
62. Actress Gunn of “Breaking Bad” : ANNA
63. Calm swimming spot : LAGOON
64. Sticks in an abandoned building? : TNT
65. “Follow” : HEEL
66. Don’t bother : LET BE

Down
1. Situate : PUT
2. Musician who coined the term “ambient music” : ENO
3. Downright homely : PLUG-UGLY
4. Something to meditate on : YOGA MAT
5. Deep divide : SCHISM
6. Small price to pay? : AMT
7. Printing problems : JAM-UPS
8. Revival reply : AMEN
9. What’s really hot : RAGE
10. TV news host Melissa ___-Perry : HARRIS
11. Swirly-colored marbles : AGATES
12. Ones in the closet? : MOTHS
14. Chess piece: Abbr. : KNT
18. Worth keeping : USABLE
22. To whom “I’ll take …” is often said : ALEX
23. “Rock Me” group, 1975 : ABBA
24. What a title may come with : LIEN
26. Muslim V.I.P.s : MULLAHS
29. One doing the dishes? : YENTE
30. Relating to part of the small intestine : ILEAC
31. Quick approval : NOD
36. Source of some shadows, for short : KGB
37. Woolly : LANATE
38. “Looks like I was wrong” : GUESS NOT
39. Vault locale : APSE
40. Glasses, informally : SPEX
41. Taiwan-based computer giant : ACER
43. Put on again : RESTAGE
44. Long vowel indicator : MACRON
45. Creator of the characters added in 17-, 28-, 44- and 57-Across : ALCOTT
46. University that was originally the Medical College of Louisiana : TULANE
47. Like some tea : HERBAL
48. “The way beer was meant to be” sloganeer, once : PABST
52. Home of Bountiful : UTAH
53. Duncan of Obama’s cabinet : ARNE
55. “___ I’m saying is …” : ALL
58. Cartoonist Mayerik who co-created Howard the Duck : VAL
59. Book before Psalms : JOB
60. Last ___ : ONE

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4 thoughts on “0730-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 30 Jul 15, Thursday”

  1. Another long, but ultimately successful, struggle for me. I had never heard the phrase BABY MAMA, but AMT was the only crossing that made sense. And, oddly enough, I had never heard of Melissa Harris-Perry until a couple of days ago, when she was mentioned in a news article I read.

    @Bill … I noticed a couple of possible typos in the above: In 20A, the word "show" should be "shops"? And in 56A, the word "with" should be changed to "within a"? (I'm seeing a lot of this kind of thing in the newspapers, and I think over-eager spellcheckers are probably to blame.)

  2. So, what does "sot" have to do with "rummy"?

    Another poor Thursday puzzle "made" challenging solely by cynical editing.

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