Jan 1, 2021

Friday, January 1, 2021, Robin C Stears

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

Theme: Hindsight is 2020

Happy New Year, Cornerites! It's Chairman Moe, welcoming you all to the year 2021. No hangover for this Stooge! Not now that the year 2020 is finally "hind sight" ... and whom better to add some levity to a crossword puzzle recap than I??!

Oh ... yeah ... there is a crossword puzzle to solve! Robin Stears, to whom Lemonade paid tribute just a couple of Friday's ago, leads the 2021 Parade of Puzzles for the LA Times. She begins our "barrage of brain-teasers" with a cleverly done use of homophones that was "All Greek to Me" until discovering that she used Greek Gods and Goddesses as the homophones to parody a quartet of Pop Songs/Pop Song Lyrics.

And thanks to a FaceBook Crossword Group to which both Robin and I are members, I was able to text her to confirm my suspicions! Actually, Robin confirmed that her idea came as a result of watching - for the oompteenth time - the movie "Hercules" on Disney+. The "seed" entry was HADES GONNA HATE, and all of the entries were designed to be puns of the names of the various Greek gods and goddesses. But if it were "just a coincidence", as Robin said in our text conversation, perhaps I unearthed the second unifier (the connection to songs) that made this "meta-puzzle" Friday-worthy. Who knows ... but regardless, Robin and I are now connected, and I hope that she stops by to comment!

And ever I, who loves to go down "rabbit holes", immediately wondered, just how DO Greeks celebrate the New Year? Well, as your blogger, I think it's my responsibility to give you a resource!

OK, so that really didn't offer any clue(s) as to why Rich would choose Robin's puzzle for the first of the New Year ... so let's explore the fill and see if we can confirm that it's a meta puzzle:

17-Across. Zeus' nickname for his relentlessly tenacious wife?: HERA THE DOG. Ok; so HERA (Roman name: Juno), who was the wife of Zeus and queen of the ancient Greek gods, represented the ideal woman and was goddess of marriage and the family. To "dog" someone (verb tense) requires a level of relentless tenacity, I suppose, but I've not seen this definition used as a noun before.

"Hair' a the Dog" actually, hair OF the dog, refers to a old colloquial expression, whereby you have another alcoholic beverage to lessen the effect of a hangover. Short for "a hair of the dog that bit you". I'm guessing that many folks are "having one" on this morning after New Year's Eve ...

But in the context of the puzzle, I'm sure that Ms. Stears had this song from Nazareth in mind:

26-Across. "What else do you expect from the god of the Underworld"?: HADES GONNA HATE. HADES, in the ancient Greek religion and myth, is the god of the dead and the king of the underworld, with which his name became synonymous. Certainly, you'd think that the god of the Underworld (aka, Hell) would be a proficient HATER.

The phrase: 'Haters Gonna Hate' comes from Taylor Swift's hit "Shake it Off". Click on the link as it is only a 9-second video!!

40-Across. Allows Persephone's mother to compete in a marathon?: LETS DEMETER RUN. The wording of the clue is the first "give-away": Persephone (aka Kore) was the Greek goddess of vegetation, especially grain, and the wife of Hades, with whom she rules the Underworld (see 26-Across). Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and presides over grains and the fertility of the earth. Although she was most often referred to as the goddess of the harvest, she was also goddess of sacred law and the cycle of life and death; and, mother of Persephone. Marathon, Greek in its reference, is a term used for a long-distance road race (42.195 kilometres). The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, who reported the victory. And is the final event of the Summer Olympic Games.

"Let The Meter Run" is a single from Charlie Mars album "Blackberry Light". Trust me, I am as surprised as most of us here that this is a song, as I was thinking of the phrase "The Meter is Running", whose literal meaning is a taxi cab's meter running while you're stuck in traffic, or the cabbie's waiting for you. Or its metaphorical meaning of "time is running out".

Note: Robin, originally wanted the phrase "KEEP DEMETER RUNNING", but there were too many letters for a 15x15 template

50-Across. How Spanish fighters refer to the Greek god of war?: BUENOS ARES. Was this the outlier in this semi-themeless set of entries? ARES is the Greek god of war, one of the Twelve Olympian gods and the son of Zeus and Hera. In literature Ares represents the violent and physical untamed aspect of war, which is in contrast to Athena who represents military strategy and generalship as the goddess of intelligence.

So, as a play-on-words/homophone/pun, BUENOS ARES is akin to BUENOS AIRES, the Capital of Argentina. Loosely translated, buenos aires means "good looks". Would BUENOS ARES mean "good war"? Or maybe C Moe couldn't see the "bosque para los arboles".

OTOH, Moe did find a video and an image that could've been the connector to this homophone:

The Grid: 71 words/38 blank squares
1. Tammany Hall caricaturist: NAST. One of those four-letter crossword answers that often trick me: NAST vs NASH; URAL vs ARAL; ANIL vs ARIL; et al

5. Nursery buy: SHRUB. Somehow I thought this might be a reference to a plant/garden "nursery" and not the baby kind. And of course, a Monty Python skit ... oops, I meant "sk"

10-Across. Trade jabs: SPAR, along with 35-down. Fighter's training apparatus: SPEED BAG. SPAR with a SPEED BAG

14. Accurate: TRUE. But in a "TRUE/False" test, wouldn't 'FALSE' be accurate as well?

15. Discontinue: CEASE. Moe-ku #1:
Will retire. But first, they'll
De-cyst; and then CEASE.

16. 100 centavos: PESO. When you translate the word PESO to English, the equivalent word is "weight". Perhaps as in the "weight" of gold? Anyhow, I found that the PESO is the basic monetary unit of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Phlippines, and Uruguay. A centavo would be akin to our penny

19. Rowing exercise targets: LATS. The latissimus dorsi muscles, known as the lats, are the large V-shaped muscles that connect your arms to your vertebral column. The action of rowing a boat or using a rowing exercise machine targets the LATS

Moe-ku #2:
What Porky the Pig
Said, after rowing his boat:
"La' La' LATS all, Folks!"

20. Gunk: CRUD. I was expecting this word to be a contraction, of sorts, to the word "crude". It's not. Takes its origin from the late Middle English, "curd". To our IT folks here, CRUD is also a computer acronym for "Create, Read, Update, and Delete".

21. "Ciao __": long-running cooking show: ITALIA. A PBS broadcast. Ms. Esposito is plugging her 11th book in this brief video

23. Ginnie __: investments: MAES. Ginnie Mae is known as a guarantor for federally backed loans, while Fannie and Freddie guarantee loans themselves. ... Fannie Mae typically buys loans from larger commercial banks. Freddie Mac purchases mortgage loans from smaller banks and credit unions, also known as “thrift” savings institutions. Here is a bit more info.

Hmm, I probably would've found a way to clue this as "Film Star West, and others"

24. Feasts: DINES. Not the first definition of the word "feasts". I think of DINES as to "sup"; "feasts" has a more gluttony meaning for me

31. 1970s first family: FORDS. "#38" Gerald, wife Betty, sons Steven, John, and Michael, and daughter Susan. Was US President from August 1974 to January of 1977.

32. Partner, often: LOVER. My S/O Margaret has a 90 year-old Mom who first referred to me as "Margaret's LOVER"!

33. At the moment: NOW. In keeping with PBS-aired shows, check out this: NOW Hear This

34. Major employer: ARMY. The word "Major" referring to a noun, as in rank/title/position, rather than an adjective, as in greater in size/extent/importance. The rank in the ARMY between Captain and Lieutenant Colonel

35. Feast where the Haggadah is read: SEDER. When I solved the puzzle, I saw the clue word and figured it had something to do with the Jewish faith/religion, and SEDER was the only 5-letter celebration that immediately came to mind

36. Penny-farthing, for one: BIKE. This video is quite informative. I'm guessing that its name came from the distinct size difference between a penny coin and a farthing coin, which kind of represents the wheel size difference on the BIKE; the penny being the larger of the two coins

37. Vow avowal: I DO. Wedding ceremonies going forward?

38. Milky stones: OPALS. Could this be an OPAL-colored OPEL?

39. What "x" may mean: TIMES. "x" also marks the spot, and could be TIC or TAC in the game TIC TAC TOE. But I like this clue; great for a Friday

43. Windblown silt: LOESS. I immediately guessed this and it proved TRUE once the perps fell into place. It makes up to 10% of the world's land area, believe it or not

44. Purges: RIDS. After making several moves this past decade, I finally RID myself of a lot of accumulated "stuff"

45. Honda model: ACCORD. ACCORDing to Car and Driver, this model can do 0-60 mph: in about 5.4–7.1 seconds

48. Keaton role in "The Founder": KROC. Ray KROC of McDonald's "fame" ... here is Michael Keaton giving an interview

49. Uneven do: SHAG. One image:

But not to be confused with this image:

56. Prefix for an assistant: PARA. As in PARAlegal

57. __ All: car care brand: ARMOR. Nice to see a car product other than STP as a crossword answer

58. 2000 candidate: GORE. Could've been BUSH, too, but GORE fit better

59. Tip-to-tip measure: SPAN. My first etched memory of the use of the word "SPAN"

60. Fills to the gills: GLUTS. Used as a verb, here, in the 3rd person, present. C Moe GLUTS you with minutiae whenever he blogs

61. Microsoft browser: EDGE. "A new report from NSS Labs has concluded that Microsoft's EDGE browser is more secure than Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome browsers. Chrome got 82.4% against phishing and 85.8% against malware while Firefox scored 81.4% and 78.3% respectively. EDGE scored 91.4% and 99%, respectively. Hmm ... might have to check it out. Anyone on the Corner use EDGE?

1. __ degree: NTH. NTH, as in "to any required power", where "N" could be any number. And for you board game players? The word "NTH" is a legal word in the game, Scrabble

2. We may precede it, but I can't: ARE. We ARE, but I am not. We and I "can", though ...

3. Big __: SUR. According to Google, Big SUR is a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon. Bordered to the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the west by the Pacific Ocean, it’s traversed by narrow, 2-lane State Route 1, known for winding turns, seaside cliffs and views of the often-misty coastline. C Moe first traveled this route in 1985. Spectacular.

4. Ceylon gunpowder container: TEA CADDY. I actually got this one, as for some reason I recall my Mom and/or sister being a fan of this type of tea. Perhaps C.C. can give more detail, but on the web I found this little snippet: Gunpowder tea (Chinese: 珠茶; pinyin: zhū chá; lit. 'pearl tea'; pronounced [ʈʂú ʈʂʰǎ]) is a form of Chinese tea in which each leaf has been rolled into a small round pellet. Its English name comes from its resemblance to grains of gunpowder. This rolling method of shaping tea is most often applied either to dried green tea (the most commonly encountered variety outside China) or oolong tea. The tea from Sri Lanka (formerly known as "Ceylon") is grown at an elevation of over 6,000'

Moe-ku #3:

Golfer likes Oolong
When he plays, his club offers

5. Go downhill fast: SCHUSS. "Schuss", in German, means "shot". As in "shot out of a cannon"? I wonder if a skier from Germany would say "Tschuus" after going SCHUSS? Spitz?

6. Obey: HEED. Moe-ku #4:

If a guy is asked
To obey, by his mother,
I guess that he'd HEED

7. "Way cool, dude!": RAD. The inspiration for the 1986 film of the same name?

8. GI entertainers: USO. The United Service Organizations Inc. is an American nonprofit-charitable corporation that provides live entertainment, such as comedians, actors and musicians, social facilities, and other programs to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families. During the Vietnam War, the USO featured stars such as Bob Hope and Ann-Margaret to the delight of soldiers, even in the most remote war zones. The USO was started by FDR during WWII

9. One who has all the luck?: BEGINNER. While this "phenomenon" is mostly unfounded, some BEGINNER's do have all the luck

10. Amount of vermouth in a dry martini: SPLASH. Me? My idea of a dry martini is to open a bottle of dry Vermouth, and blow over the opening of the bottle as it's perched above my glass. I think that the use, though, of Vermouth in a martini is warranted, but even a SPLASH is too much. YMMV though

11. Ring out: PEAL. Defined as "a loud ringing of bells". From the English "appeal". Shortened, of course

12. Piedmont wine region: ASTI. OK, how much minutiae do you really want from your resident Sommelier on this one? Well, as the clue denotes, the area of Italy known as the Piedmont has a town called "ASTI". We are most familiar with ASTI Spumante (the word "Spumante" literally means "sparkling wine"), and it's made from the white grape called Moscato d'Asti. The origin of Asti Spumante dates back to the 1870's, and was made in the same manner as Champagne, where the second fermentation (process that provides the bubbles) takes place in the bottle

13. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" detective Diaz: ROSA. Stephanie Beatriz (born 10 February 1981) is an Argentine-born American actress. She is best known for playing Detective ROSA Diaz in the NBC comedy series. I never watched this

18. Beech and peach: TREES. At my alma mater, Pitt, we had a sports venue called TREES Hall. Trees Hall is named for Pitt alumnus, trustee, benefactor, and prominent athletic supporter Joseph Clifton Trees (M.E. 1895) who donated $100,000 for the construction of the original Trees Gymnasium in 1912 which, now demolished, sat near the site of the present day Veterans Administration Hospital in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, on the Pitt Campus

22. Something shed: TEAR. I'm sure that the constructor meant this literally; as in crying, and having a TEAR drop fall from ones eyes. However, some of may know that the expression: "shed a TEAR" is often used at a bar - by guys - when too much beer drinking has filled their bladders ... no images needed

23. Burrowing rodent: MARMOT. A relatively large ground squirrel; the tarbagan MARMOT has been eaten for centuries in the native cuisine of Mongolia, and in particular in a local dish called boodog. The meat is cooked by inserting hot stones, preheated in a fire, into the abdominal cavity of a deboned marmot. The skin is then tied up to make a bag within which the meat cooks. Hmm; and I just thought it was a rodent. Cute little bugger though

24. Marginal drawings: DOODLES. DOODLES, or doodling, was one of my many talents as a school boy. Does that really surprise anyone?!

25. Use money to make money: INVEST. I used to tell my ex-wife that whenever I visited a casino, I was making small "investments". But in a way, I was not wrong. INVESTing is a form of gambling ... my biggest investment "hit", percentage-wise, was turning $3 into $300 at a slot machine on the first pull ... truth

26. Multitude: HORDE. Origin of the word: mid 16th century (originally denoting a tribe or troop of Tartar or other nomads): from Polish horda, from Turkish ordu ‘(royal) camp’

27. Sparkles: GLEAMS. Perhaps this erstwhile toothpaste made ones teeth "sparkle" ... spelled differently of course ... produced by Procter and Gamble

28. Bad blood: ANIMUS. Not "bad blood" in the literal context; it means having ill feelings or hostility toward someone or something. How does it differ from a similar word, "animosity", you ask? More minutiae: animosity is violent hatred leading to active opposition; active enmity; energetic dislike while animus is the basic impulses and instincts which govern one's actions

29. T-Rex on a Monopoly board: TOKEN. I'm guessing that it had its debut in this Monopoly version:

30. Sources of Roquefort: EWES. Roquefort is a sheep milk cheese from Southern France, and is one of the world's best known blue cheeses. Wikipedia. The common name for a female sheep is a EWE. Moe-'lick #1:
During flight, when he summoned the crew,
Pilot asked if there's anything new
To eat. Perhaps some cheese.
May I have ROQUEFORT, please?
"How 'bout Swiss?" They said, out of the Bleu.

31. Fall flat: FAIL. I hope that I didn't FAIL with this recap

36. 1996 Robin Williams comedy, with "The": BIRDCAGE. One of my all-time favorite Robin Williams' movies. So many moving parts; so many great actors; too many clips to chose from, but here's what I decided: since this puzzle has a "Greek" theme, why not pick Hank Azaria's character, Agador Spartacus?

38. Gas leak tip-off: ODOR. Deja Vu? On the December 11, 2020 puzzle the clue at 64-Across was nearly identical, and MalMan had this word yesterday! 2020 ends with an ODOR, and 2021 begins with one ... I smell something fishy, Rich Norris

39. Small combos: TRIOS. According to Far Out Magazine, here are the 33 Greatest Trios of All Time. Glad to see Cream at the top of the list. Here is one of my favorites of theirs

41. L'Oréal's "Because We're Worth It," e.g.: SLOGAN. I normally don't link articles that require a subscription to read them. I do not subscribe to the WSJ, but if you do, you can read this piece

42. Bloopers: ERRORS. So many to choose from ... here is a compilation of news show bloopers

45. Nile serpents: ASPS. Plural. There's more than one?? And here I thought that the only ASP was Cleo's

46. Dry and crack: CHAP. So many definitions for this word, but in the Google Dictionary, however, the verb form of CHAP is the first listed, and "(of the skin) cracked" is the first definition. Moe-ku #5:
Sylvester the Cat
Suffers from dryness. Think it's
A case of CHAP lisp?

47. Delevingne of "Suicide Squad": CARA. Total WAG/perp/whatever. Total unknown to me. Did not know the actor nor the movie. Here is a photo of her character:

48. Macramé basic: KNOT. Macramé for beginners

51. Business card letters: URL. A Uniform Resource Locator, colloquially termed a web address, is a reference to a web resource that specifies its location on a computer network and a mechanism for retrieving it. Most business cards have their company's URL address listed

52. Bird on Australian coins: EMU. The continuation of the exclusive Australian Emu coin series contains 1-ounce coins with 99.99% bullion content. Coins depict an EMU, a characteristic animal of Australia, which will undergo annual changes. The image of this year's coins from the Australian Emu series is a work of the talented illustrator Natasha Muhl.

53. Towel holder: ROD. Google the words "towel rod" and you'll see towel "bars". Guess they're one and the same, eh?

54. Indoor rower, for short: ERG. Short for ERGometer, or a rowing machine. How many of these are now acting as a towel rod/bar in ones bedroom?!

55. Go out with: SEE. When you're SEEing someone, you're likely going out with them ... on a date, e.g.

Thanks, again Robin for adding to our blog with your comments to me via text. Anyone up for announcing their New Years Resolutions? I'll go first: C Moe will write shorter blogs!! Comments below please ...

Notes from C.C.:

1) We just call the tea "Pearl tea". No idea how it became "Gunpowder" in English.

2)  Here is a lovely picture of Lemonade's family. For more sweetness, click on Charlotte

3) Happy New Year, everyone!