0731-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 31 Jul 15, Friday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: James Mulhern & Ashton Anderson

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies

1. It often features diva impersonators : DRAG SHOW
The etymology of the term “drag”, as used in the transvestite world, seems to be unclear. It perhaps relates to the tendency of a transvestite’s skirts to drag along the ground in days of old (although why they just didn’t hitch up their skirts is beyond me!).

“Diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. “Diva” is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

9. Some IHOP orders : STACKS
The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) was founded back in 1958. IHOP was originally intended to be called IHOE, the International House of Eggs, but that name didn’t do too well in marketing tests …

15. Musical tool on Time’s list of “50 Worst Inventions” : AUTO-TUNE
When Cher recorded the 1998 song “Believe”, the audio engineers routinely corrected the sound of Cher’s voice to ensure that all notes were sung with perfect pitch (all singers “cheat”, it seems!). The software that does this pitch correction is called “Auto-Tune”. Then, for a bit of fun, the same engineers played with the Auto-Tune software and created a special effect in her voice that she so liked it was left in the final release. You can easily detect the strange effect if you listen to the song. The process is now called the “Cher Effect” and is used by other artists in their recordings.

Included in the list of “50 Worst Inventions” compiled by “Time” magazine, are:

– New Coke
– Agent Orange
– Hydrogenated oils
– Hydrogen Blimps
– Red Dye No. 2
– Tanning beds
– Asbestos

17. Sister brand of Twinkies : SNO BALLS
The Hostess cakes called Sno Balls are usually pink in color, although in its original form each packet of two cakes contained one white and one pink. Around Halloween you can buy Sno Balls in the form of Scary Cakes and Glo Balls that are colored orange and green. and on St. Paddy’s Day there’s a green one available. Yoo hoo!

The snack cakes called Twinkies have been around since 1930. They were created by a baker called James Dewar, who chose the name from a billboard advertising “Twinkle Toe Shoes”. The original filling in the cake was a banana cream, but this was swapped out as a result of rationing during WWII. The vanilla cream became so popular that the banana recipe was dropped completely.

18. Psychiatrist played by Mia Farrow in “Zelig” : EUDORA
“Zelig” is a 1983 film by Woody Allen. “Zelig” tells the fictitious story, in documentary style, of Leonard Zelig (played by Allen) who has the gift of being able to change his appearance in order to better fit in with the company he keeps. He becomes famous as a “human chameleon”. By using archive footage, the film includes clever “cameos” by real figures from history (like Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Susan Sontag).

Mia Farrow is an energetic, award-winning actress who really hasn’t looked back in her career since her first leading role, in “Rosemary’s Baby” back in 1968. Her on-screen celebrity is matched by the interest created by her personal life. Her first husband was Frank Sinatra, a wedding in 1966 that received a lot of attention partly due to the couple’s age difference (she was 21, he was 50). Her second husband was almost as famous, the magnificent musician André Previn. Farrow then moved in with Woody Allen, a relationship that famously fell apart when Farrow discovered that Allen was having a sexual relationship with Soon-Yi, one of her adopted daughters from the marriage with André Previn.

23. Sudanese president ___ al-Bashir : OMAR
In response to a 2003 rebellion in the Darfur region of Sudan, the Sudanese government embarked on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the non-Arab population in the region. Hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths ensued, and eventually Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir was indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. al Bashir is still in office.

27. Donald Duck cartoon princess : OONA
Princess Oona is one of the ducks appearing in stories about “Donald Duck”. Created in 1994, Oona lives in a cave and is usually proclaiming her interest in Donald, romantically that is …

28. A tyre may rub against one : KERB
“Curb” is another of those words that I had to learn when I came to the US. We park by the “kerb” on the other side of the Atlantic. Oh, and the “pavement”, that’s what we call the “footpath” (because the footpath is “paved”!). It’s very confusing when you arrive in this country from Ireland, and a little dangerous when one has been taught to “walk on the pavement” …

The British spelling of “tyre”, for what we call a “tire” here in North America, was indeed the original spelling. The English started to use “tire” spelling in the 17th century, and then shifted back to the current “tyre” in the 19th century.

29. Swamp thing : GATOR
Crocodiles and alligators do indeed bear a resemblance to each other, although they belong to distinct biological families. One of the main ways used to distinguish them is by their teeth and jaws. Both the upper and lower sets of teeth of a crocodile are visible when its mouth is closed, whereas only the upper teeth of an alligator are visible with the mouth shut.

30. Times Sq. bargain booth : TKTS
The “TKTS” booths sell discount theater tickets, notably in Times Square in New York and in the West End of London.

31. Ziering of “Sharknado” : IAN
Ian Ziering is an actor best-known for playing Steve Sanders on the TV show “Beverly Hills, 90210”.

“Sharknado” is a 2013 tongue-in-cheek disaster movie that was made for the Syfy television channel. The basis of the plot is a freak hurricane that hits Los Angeles, resulting in a flood that leaves man-eating sharks roaming the city. I don’t think so …

32. Cartoon character often pictured on his back : SNOOPY
When cartoon beagle Snoopy adopts his “Joe Cool” alias, he puts on sunglasses and just leans against a wall doing nothing. Other times, Snoopy can be seen lolling around, lying on his back on top of his kennel.

33. Pip’s place : CARD
A pip is a dot on a die or a domino, or a mark on a playing card.

35. Gendarme’s topper : KEPI
A kepi is a circular cap with a visor that’s worn in particular by the French military.

In France, a “gendarme” is military office with policing duties among the civilian population. The name “gendarme” comes from the Old French “gen d’armes” meaning “men-at-arms”. France’s Gendarmerie Nationale work alongside the Police Nationale, a civil law enforcement agency.

45. “___ Bell” (Stephen Foster song) : KATY
Stephen Foster was a songwriter active in the 19th century who is sometimes referred to as “the father of American music”. Foster wrote some really famous songs, including “Oh! Susanna”, “Camptown Races”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair” and “Beautiful Dreamer”. Despite the success of his songs, Foster made very little cash in his own lifetime. That all went to his publishers, with the composer impoverished in the last few years of his life.

46. ___ Bell : TACO
Taco Bell was founded by a former US Marine, 25-year-old Glen Bell. His first restaurant was Bell’s Drive-In, located in Southern California. After opening that first establishment, Bell bought up some more restaurants including four named El Taco. He sold off the El Taco restaurants but used the name in part when he opened his first Taco Bell in 1962. Bell sold then sold franchises, with the 100th Taco Bell opening in 1967. The ex-Marine sold off the whole chain to PepsiCo in 1978, and I am guessing he made a pretty penny.

48. One on whom tabs keep tabs : CELEB
“Tabloid” is the trademarked name (owned by Burroughs, Wellcome and Co,) for a “small tablet of medicine”, a name that goes back to 1884. The word “tabloid” had entered into general use to mean a compressed form of anything, and by the early 1900s was used in “tabloid journalism”, applied to newspapers that had short, condensed articles and stories printed on smaller sheets of paper.

51. Lower leg woe, slangily : CANKLES
“Cankle” is an informal term describing a thickened area between the calf and ankle of person who is overweight.

53. Country ___ : HAM
Country ham is a salty, cured ham.

58. Academic award : TENURE
A job in a university that is described as “tenure-track” is one that can lead to a tenured position. A tenured position is a “job for life”. A person with tenure can only be dismissed for cause.

60. Drawer of paradoxes : ESCHER
M. C. Escher was a gra 60. Drawer of paradoxes : ESCHER
phic artist from the Netherlands. Escher was noted for creating works inspired by mathematics, often works that were physical impossibilities. One famous such work is “Drawing Hands” (1948) in which a pair of hands emerge from a piece of paper and actually draw themselves. He also created a drawing in which a group of red ants are crawling around a Möbius strip, never reaching the end.

1. Oversize Oktoberfest vessel named after a classic film : DAS BOOT
I am ashamed to say that I have never watched the whole of the 1981 movie “Das Boot”, even though I love WWII submarine films. The film drew great critical acclaim, good news for the producers as it is one of the most expensive films ever made in Germany. The story is about the German U-boat U-96 on a patrol in October of 1941. There is a large glass, boot-shaped vessel called “das boot” that is often used at Oktoberfest and which takes its name from the movie.

2. Go nuts : RUN AMOK
The phrase “to run amok” (sometimes “to run amuck”) has been around since the 1670s and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was also used as a noun to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. Given Malaya’s troubled history, the natives probably had good reason for that frenzy …

3. Slight ’60s superhero : ATOM ANT
Atom Ant is a cartoon character introduced by Hanna-Barbera in 1965.

4. Hunk : GOB
“Gobs” is an informal term meaning “a large amount”.

5. Whack : STAB
Take a whack, take a stab, have a try.

6. Hipster’s dance wear? : HULA SKIRT
Hula is the name of the Polynesian dance. The chant or song that the dance illustrates, that’s known as the mele.

9. Restaurateur’s turf? : STEAK
From the French, a “restaurateur” (without a letter N) owns or manages a restaurant (with a letter N).

21. Rainy day rarity : CAB
A hansom cab is a very specific design of horse and buggy that was patented by Joseph Hansom in 1834 in England. The “cab” in the name is short for “cabriolet”, a prior design of carriage on which the hansom was based. It’s from “hansom cab” that we get our modern term “cab”.

26. 20th-century revolutionaries : MAOISTS
The Maoist philosophy holds that the agrarian worker, as opposed to the more general working class, is the driving force in transforming from a capitalist society into a socialist society.

29. Country stat : GNP
A country’s Gross National Product (GNP) is the value of all services and products produced by its residents in a particular year. GNP includes all production wherever it is in the world, as long as the business is owned by residents of the country concerned. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is different, although related, and is the value of all services and goods produced within the borders of the country for that year.

34. One of Aesop’s animals : ASS
Aesop used the ass in at least four of his fables:

– The Ass and his Masters
– The Ass and the Pig
– The Ass Carrying an Image
– The Ass in the Lion’s Skin

Aesop is remembered today for his famous fables. Aesop lived in Ancient Greece, probably around the sixth century BC. Supposedly he was born a slave, somehow became a free man, but then met with a sorry end. Aesop was sent to the city of Delphi on a diplomatic mission but instead insulted the Delphians. He was tried on a trumped-up charge of stealing from a temple, sentenced to death and was thrown off a cliff.

35. Vodka with an “Oranje” variety : KETEL ONE
Ketel One is a brand of vodka from the Netherlands. The vodka is distilled from wheat in copper pot stills, and “ketel” is Dutch for “pot still”.

36. Chanteuse, e.g. : ARTISTE
A “chanteuse” is a female singer, a French term.

41. Game named after the Hindi word for “twenty-five” : PACHISI
Pachisi is an ancient Indian game that has been commercialized in the West as Ludo, Sorry! and Parcheesi. The name derives from the Hindi “pachis” meaning “twenty-five”, which is the largest score that can thrown in one move in the original game.

42. Land at 0 degrees latitude : ECUADOR
“Ecuador” is the Spanish word for “equator”, which gives the country its name.

Lines of latitude are the imaginary horizontal lines surrounding the planet. The most “important” lines of latitude are, from north to south:

– Arctic Circle
– Tropic of Cancer
– Equator
– Tropic of Capricorn
– Antarctic Circle

43. Kudize : COMMEND
“To kudize” is grant honors to, to give kudos to.

Our word “kudos” means acclaim given for an exceptional achievement. “Kudos” is not a plural, despite a common misapprehension. It is a singular noun derived from the Greek “kyddos” meaning “glory, fame”.

45. Grasp : KEN
“Ken” is a noun meaning “understanding, perception”. One might say, for example, “half the clues in Saturday’s crossword are beyond my ken, beyond my understanding”.

48. Hawk or Pelican : CAGER
In the early days of basketball, when a ball went out of bounds possession was awarded to the player who first retrieved the ball. This led to mad scuffles off the court, often involving spectators. As the game became more organized courts were routinely “caged”, largely because of this out of bounds rule, to limit interaction with the crowd. It’s because of these cages that basketball players are sometimes referred to today as “cagers”.

The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks started out as the Buffalo Bisons in 1946, although after only a few months the team was moved to Moline, Illinois as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were one of the 17 original teams playing at the founding of the National Basketball Association. There was another move in 1951 and a renaming to the Milwaukee Hawks, and yet again in 1955 when the team became the St. Louis Hawks. The latest move was to Atlanta, in 1968.

The New Orleans Pelicans joined the NBA in 1988 as an expansion team, originally based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team was going to be called the Charlotte Spirit, but the name was changed following a “name the team” contest run in the local area. During the Revolutionary War, Lord General Cornwallis had referred to Charlotte as a “veritable nest of hornets” due the city’s resistance to British occupation, which explains the local fans’ fondness for the name “Hornets”. The franchise was moved to New Orleans for the 2002 season, as attendance wasn’t big enough to sustain the team in Charlotte. The team had to play two seasons in Oklahoma City due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, and played as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. After several years back in New Orleans, the franchise was renamed to the Pelicans, a nod to the Brown Pelican that is the Louisiana state bird.

57. 2011 Grammy winner Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE
Corinne Bailey Rae is a British singer from Yorkshire in the north of England.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
1. It often features diva impersonators : DRAG SHOW
9. Some IHOP orders : STACKS
15. Musical tool on Time’s list of “50 Worst Inventions” : AUTO-TUNE
16. “Reading room” : TOILET
17. Sister brand of Twinkies : SNO BALLS
18. Psychiatrist played by Mia Farrow in “Zelig” : EUDORA
19. “Just like THAT!” : BAM!
20. Help in catching an auto thief : BAIT CAR
22. Authority on bugs? : SPY
23. Sudanese president ___ al-Bashir : OMAR
25. Slippery sort : SNEAK
26. Join : MELD
27. Donald Duck cartoon princess : OONA
28. A tyre may rub against one : KERB
29. Swamp thing : GATOR
30. Times Sq. bargain booth : TKTS
31. Ziering of “Sharknado” : IAN
32. Cartoon character often pictured on his back : SNOOPY
33. Pip’s place : CARD
35. Gendarme’s topper : KEPI
36. Cry after a holdup : AT LAST!
39. Role in an 8-Down, maybe : TEX
40. What many designers work on : SPEC
44. Is turbulent : ROILS
45. “___ Bell” (Stephen Foster song) : KATY
46. ___ Bell : TACO
47. Max : TOPS
48. One on whom tabs keep tabs : CELEB
49. Lowest of the low : SCUM
50. Fingers : IDS
51. Lower leg woe, slangily : CANKLES
53. Country ___ : HAM
54. Cunning sort : SLY DOG
56. Outing on a river or lake : BOAT RIDE
58. Academic award : TENURE
59. Like strawberries during the summer and apples during the fall : IN SEASON
60. Drawer of paradoxes : ESCHER
61. Turn awkward, as a relationship : GET WEIRD

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 “0731-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 31 Jul 15, Friday”

  1. 48:44, no errors. Not in synch with the setter today. I suppose if I were a vodka swilling fan of Woody Allen movies, I would have done better. 😉

    Appreciate all the time you take to provide explanations. Learned something new about the name Ecuador. Thank you.

  2. Once again, it took me a shameful amount of time to finish, but I eventually did, and with no errors.

    "Kudize" and the "Cher effect" were totally new to me and I wasn't really clear about "cankles", though I had heard of them.

    Bill, I fully agree with BruceB's comment about appreciating the time you spend on this. Forty-five years of writing Fortran programs for others to use and then documenting them gave me a deep understanding of the difficulty of the latter. It is a mystery to me how you find time, day after day, for even one such blog, let alone three. You have to have developed an impressive set of online tools to expedite the process.

    But … enough kudizing … 🙂

  3. I couldn't stop thinking about "kudize", so I dragged a bunch of older dictionaries off the shelves of my library and looked for it. I couldn't find it in my edition of the OED or in any of my abridged dictionaries, but I did find it in my copy of Webster's Third, so I guess I can't complain too much about its use in this puzzle. Somehow, though, it strikes me as an unusually ugly word (unlike "kudos", from which it is obviously derived).

  4. Oops! I got out my magnifying glass and discovered that "kudize" is, in fact, in my compact edition of the OED, as part of the entry for "kudos". So it's been around for awhile, I guess. Still don't like the word, though … 🙂

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