This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: N/A (watching season 2 of "The Wire" on DVD ... recommended!)
THEME: FLIP-FLOPS ... all the theme answers are commonly used phrases in which two words, or parts of words, are flip-flopped e.g. ALIEN CRAFT SPACE (from ALIEN SPACECRAFT) and MR ROGERS' HOOD NEIGHBOR (from MR. ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 4 ... TARAWA (TOWARA), HEMA (HEMO), IRABU (URABU), NEI (NEU)
1. Frozen dessert in France : GLACE
Glace, the French word for ice-cream (and "ice").
14. Michelle Robinson, now : OBAMA
Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and is sister to Craig Robinson, the coach of men's basketball at Oregon State University. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she worked as an associate at the Chicago office of the Sidley Austin law firm. Barack Obama joined the firm as a summer associate, and Michelle Robinson was assigned to mentor him, and one thing led to another I guess.
20. Jai ___ : ALAI
Even though jai alai is often said to be the fastest sport in the world (because of the speed of the ball), in fact golf balls often get going at a greater clip.
22. First sign : ARIES
Aries is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries, you would know that!
23. Where ETs do knitting and art? : ALIEN CRAFT SPACE
A flip-flop of ALIEN SPACECRAFT.
26. Country singer Chesney : KENNY
I wonder was Kenny Chesney included in today's puzzle deliberately, given the "flip-flop" theme? His highly successful 2007 road trip was known as the 2007 Flip-Flop Summer Tour.
29. David, for one : STATUE
When Michelangelo's famous statue of David was unveiled in 1504, it was at a time when the city state of the Florentine Republic was threatened by rival states. The statue depicts David after he has decided to fight Goliath, and he has what is described as a "warning glare". David was originally placed outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of government, and that warning glare was directed very deliberately at Rome.
32. Current regulator : RHEOSTAT
A rheostat is an electrical device that can offer a varying degree of resistance to current flow. The English physicist Sir Charles Wheatstone first coined the term, using the Greek "rheos" meaning "flowing stream" and "stat" meaning "regulating device".
34. Thug living next to humorist Will? : MR ROGERS' HOOD NEIGHBOR
A flip-flop of "MR.ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD". The TV show starring Fred Rogers is the second longest running series on PBS television, after that other iconic children's show, "Sesame Street".
42. Org. for Venus and Serena Williams : WTA
The Williams Sisters appear in the WTA Tour, organized by the Women's Tennis Association.
43. Comical Johnson : ARTE
Arte Johnson, as well being a frequent judge on "The Gong Show", played the German soldier on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" with the catchphrase "Very interesting, but ..."
44. Keats's nightfall : E'EN
In poetry, e'en is used as a contraction for evening, but also who the adverb "even".
46. "Get that first down ... and don't fumble"? : HAND OFF REMARK
A flip-flop of OFFHAND REMARK.
53. Book contents: Abbr. : PGS
There are pages in a book.
55. Home of the N.C.A.A. Spartans : MSU
Michigan State University's athletic team is known as the Spartans.
56. Wine city north of Lisbon : OPORTO
Oporto is Portugal's second largest city, after the capital of Lisbon. The Latin name for the city is Portus Cale, Port of Cale. The name "Portucale" evolved into "Portugale" which eventually gave the name to the whole country, Portugal.
57. Pacific atoll in 1943 fighting : TARAWA
Tarawa is a Pacific atoll that used to be the capital of the British ruled Gilbert Islands. It is now the capital of the Republic of Kiribati, and is known as South Tarawa. The island was occupied by the Japanese in WWII, before they were ousted by the US Marines in November 1943. The battle was bloody, and lasted 76 hours, at the cost of 6,000 lives.
61. Shortish piano piece : SONATINA
A cantata is a piece of music that is sung, as opposed to a sonata, which is a piece that is played on some instrument, often a piano. A sonatina is in effect a sonata that has been labelled as something lighter and shorter.
64. Home of the N.C.A.A. Minutemen : UMASS
The athletic teams of the University of Massachusetts Amherst are known as the UMass Minutemen. The women's teams are indeed known as Minutewomen.
67. Watching over Warsaw's national emblem? : POLE FLAG SITTING
A flip-flop of FLAGPOLE SITTING.
Sitting on poles has a long tradition associated with it, with stories of ascetics engaging in the practice centuries ago. More recently it became a fad in the twenties, with times of over fifty days being clocked. The current record is held by a young man from Gdansk in Poland, who won himself nearly $23,000 in 2002 by winning an endurance competition, lasting 196 days and nights on top of an 8-foot pole with platform atop measuring 16x24 inches.
71. Relevant, in law : AD REM
Literally "to the matter", ad rem.
74. Former Yankee pitcher Hideki : IRABU
Hideki Irabu is professional baseball player born near Okinawa in Japan. While playing in the Pacific League in Japan, he held the record for the fastest pitch in Japanese professional baseball from 1993 to 2005. He joined the New York Yankees in 1997, but famously ran foul of George Steinbrenner for putting on so much extra weight that it affected his game.
75. Biennial golf competition : RYDER CUP
The Ryder Cup trophy was donated by Samuel Ryder, an English entrepreneur. Ryder made his money selling garden seeds in small packets. He only took up golf in his fifties, but became quite the enthusiast, eventually donating the 100 guinea trophy 1927.
79. "Parade de Cirque" artist : SEURAT
"Parade de Cirque" (Circus Sideshow) is an 1889 painting by Georges Seurat, painted in the pointillist style. However, his most famous work (also pointillist) is sitting in the Art Institute of Chicago, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - 1884". If you've seen the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", it features quite prominently in a lovely sequence at the gallery.
81. Future seeds : OVULES
Ovules (literally "small eggs") are the parts of some plants that contain the female reproductive cells. In flowering plants, the ovules are found inside the flower itself.
84. Verdi tragedy : OTELLO
Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Otello" was first performed in 1887 at the La Scala Theater in Milan. It is based on the Shakespeare play, "Othello", considered by many to be Verdi's greatest work.
86. "Platoon" setting, for short : NAM
"Platoon" is a 1986 movie, written and directed by Oliver Stone. The storyline comes out of Stone's own experiences in Vietnam as an infantryman. It is gritty stuff, and Stone's response to the more "glamorous" "Green Berets" starring John Wayne. And that lovely music on the soundtrack, it's "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber.
88. Waiting in line for hooch? : AT A STILL STAND
A flip-flop of AT A STANDSTILL.
91. Alan of Hollywood : ALDA
Alan Alda had a great television career, but when it comes to Hollywood, my favorite of his movies is the 1978 romantic comedy "Same Time, Next Year" in which he starred opposite Ellen Burstyn.
93. Pen name : BIC
Societe Bic is a French company, based in Clichy in France. The first product the company produced more than fifty years ago was the Bic Crystal, what we now call the Bic pen.
97. Competition among shrinks? : PSYCHOLOGICAL FARE WAR
A flip-flop of PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE.
106. Santa ___ : ROSA
Santa Rosa might refer to Saint Rose herself, or many different locations, including Santa Rosa, California, just an hour north of here. It is the largest city in California's Wine Country, and the county seat of Sonoma County. The epicenter of the so called 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was located near Santa Rosa, so there was actually more damage in Santa Rosa, for the size of the city, that in San Francisco.
119. Visitors' fair warning? : WE SHALL COME OVER
A flip-flop of WE SHALL OVERCOME.
121. Capital city more than 9,000 feet above sea level : QUITO
The full name of the capital city of Ecuador is San Francisco de Quito. It is the second highest administrative capital city in the world, after La Paz, Bolivia.
124. Start of the French Lord's Prayer : NOTRE
Notre Pere (Our Father) in French.
128. County of Newark, N.J. : ESSEX
Essex County, New Jersey is actually in the New York Metropolitan Area. The county seat is Newark.
1. Five-time U.S. Open champ : GRAF
Steffi Graf is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Germany, and winner of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other man or woman other than Margaret Court. She is married to another former World No. 1, Andre Agassi.
2. Disney title character from Hawaii : LILO
"Lilo & Stitch" was released by Disney in 2002. Compared to other Disney feature-length cartoons, "Lilo & Stitch" was relatively cheaply produced, using the voices of lesser known actors. One interesting change had to take place in the storyline during production, when Lilo was meant to fly a Jumbo Jet through downtown Honolulu in one sequence. This was replaced with a sequence using a spaceship instead, as the producers were sensitive to public sentiment after the September 11 attacks.
3. Hertz rival : AVIS
Avis has been around since 1946, and is the second largest car rental agency, after Hertz. It has the distinction of being the first company to locate a branch at an airport.
4. Husband of Pompeia : CAESAR
Pompeia Sulla was the second wife of Julius Caesar, whom she married in 67 BC. Caesar's first wife was Cornelia, and she had died one year before the second marriage. Caesar divorced her a few years later as there were unfounded allegations that she was having an affair. Caesar stated at the time that "my wife ought not even to be under suspicion", giving rise to the proverb "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion".
5. Cause of some storms : EL NINO
When the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean rises, or falls, more that half a degree centigrade, then there are said to be El Nino conditions, or an El Nino episode. The temperature change is associated with climatic changes, right across the globe. El Nino is Spanish for "the boy" and is a reference to the Christ child. It was given this Spanish name because the warming is usually noticed near South America and around Christmas-time.
10. Plato's "tenth Muse" : SAPPHO
In Greek mythology, the muses are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. The number of muses seems to be debated a lot, but the most popular view is that there are nine:
Calliope (epic poetry)
Erato (lyric poetry)
Polyhymnia (choral poetry)
Plato wrote the following lines:
"Some say the Muses are nine: how careless!
Look, there's Sappho too, from Lesbos, the tenth."
Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet born on Lesbos, much admired for her work, although very little of it survives today.
13. Chateau ___ Michelle winery : STE
Chateau Ste. Michelle is a winery in Woodinville, Washington, in the Columbia Valley. Chateau Ste, Michelle produces so much Riesling wine, that it is the number one producer in the world in terms of number of bottles.
14. Art supply store stock : OAK-TAG
Oak-tag is also known as tagboard, and is a strong cardboard that is used in the making of posters among other things. New word to me ...
16. "___ No Woman," 1973 hit for the Four Tops : AIN'T
"Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've got) was a hit for the Four Tops that appeared in the 1973 album "Keeper of the Castle".
18. "___ sow ..." : AS YE
The phrase "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" is not actually a quotation from the Bible, although the sentiment is expressed there in more than one place.
34. Philippines' highest peak: Abbr. : MT APO
Mount Apo is on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Its name is appropriate, as it Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the country. Apo means "master" or "grandfather". Since 1936 it has been a National Park.
37. [Ignore edit] : STET
Stet is the Latin word meaning "let it stand". In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word "stet" beside the change, and then underscoring the change with a line of dots (or dashes).
40. Colleague of Lane and Kent : OLSEN
In the Superman stories, Jimmy Olsen is a photographer who works on the "Daily Planet" newspaper with Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
47. Clothier, in Cambridge : DRAPER
Yep, when I was growing up, a drapery was shop where one could be cloth for making clothes or curtains. It was only when I came to America that I heard the term "drapes" used for curtains.
48. Hassock : OTTOMAN
Here's another example of different terminology used on either side of the Atlantic. To us an ottoman or hassock, was a "pouffe".
51. Super Bowl XXXIV champs : RAMS
The St. Louis Rams has only won the Super Bowl once, in 1999, against the Tennessee Titans. The Rams were based in Cleveland from 1936-45, Los Angeles from 1946-94 and St. Louis from 1995 to the present day.
52. Famous movie river : KWAI
The river referred to in the movie (and novel) is actually called the Khwae Yai River, and is in western Thailand. The original novel by Pierre Boulle was published in French in 1952, and the brilliant movie released in 1957. It tells the story of construction of part of the Burma Railway, and a bridge over the river, using prisoners of war as laborers. The film stars William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins.
54. Milton works : SONNETS
English poet John Milton is best known for his epic poem "Paradise Lost". He also wrote several sonnets, the most famous of which is probably "On His Blindness". Milton developed glaucoma which rendered him completely blind, so used to dictate a lot of his work, including the whole of "Paradise Lost".
65. "Charlotte's Web" setting : STY
"Charlotte's Web" is a children's novel by author E. B. White. Charlotte is a barn spider, who manages to save the life of a pig named Wilbur.
68. Pumice source : LAVA
Pumice is volcanic rock that is formed by lava cooling, but with bubbles in it due to water and carbon dioxide frothing out of the lava as it cools. Because of the frothy structure, it is relatively light and is a great thermal insulator. As such, it is used in construction to male insulating breeze blocks.
71. Royalties org. : ASCAP
ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) collects licence fees for musicians and distributes royalties to composers whose works have been performed.
76. "Bewitched" aunt : CLARA
"Bewitched" ran from 1964-72. Clara was the lovable but bumbling aunt of Samantha, played by Marion Lorne. Lorne won a posthumous Emmy for her performances.
77. ___ nerve : ULNAR
The ulnar nerve runs alongside the ulna (one of the bones in the lower arm). The ulnar nerve is the largest unprotected (not surrounded by muscle or bone) nerve in the human body. The nerve can be touched under the skin at the outside of the elbow. Striking the nerve at this point causes and an electric type shock, known as hitting one's "funny bone".
83. Small-runway aircraft, briefly : STOL
STOL is an acronym, and stand for Short Take-Off and Landing.
87. Standard part of a food pyramid : MILK
The first food pyramid was issued in Denmark in 1978, and was introduced in the US in 1992. Within the pyramid, milk falls into "the dairy group".
89. Like Saint-Saëns's "Urbs Roma" Symphony : IN F
Camille Saint-Saens was one of the great French composers in my opinion. Even his light and airy "The Carnival of the Animals" is a lovely work.
90. Norman of TV fame : LEAR
Norman Lear wrote for and produced some great television shows, including "All in the Family", Sanford and Son" and "The Jeffersons". He also did some film work, including writing and producing the great 1967 movie "Divorce American Style".
98. Dr. Seuss title animal : HORTON
Horton the elephant turns up in two books by Dr. Seuss, "Horton Hatches the Egg" and "Horton Hears a Who!" Dr. Seuss's real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel. Dr. Seuss is simply a pen name.
99. Spurs : GOOSES
To goose is spur someone into action, I just learned.
100. "Boy, am I shvitzing!" : IT'S HOT
I guess "shvitzing" is a Yiddish term for sweating ...
101. Job legislation estab. in 1973 : CETA
CETA: The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act was enacted to help train workers by giving them jobs in the public service, in anticipation of them picking up skills that would be marketable in the private sector.
103. Dead Sea Scrolls writer : ESSENE
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered over a period of years, between 1947 and 1956, in eleven caves on the shores of the Dead Sea. They are believed to have been written by an ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although this has been called into question recently. Many of the texts are copies of writings from the Hebrew Bible.
107. Recommended reading for newbies : FAQS
Frequently Asked Questions.
108. Thread holder : ETUI
An etui is a small, ornamental case used to hold small items, in particular sewing needles. We imported the word from French.
109. Kiev-born Israeli P.M. : MEIR
Golda Meir was known as the "Iron Lady" when she was Prime Minister of Israel, long before the term came to be associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Golda Meir was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev (nowadays in Ukraine), and when she was a young girl, she moved with her family to the United States, and lived in Milwaukee. As a teenager, she moved to Denver, where she met married Morris Meyerson, at the age of 19. She and her husband joined a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921, at that time in her twenties. She had been active in politics in the US, and continued her political work in Palestine. She was very influential during WWII, and played a leading role in negotiations after the war leading to the setting up of the state of Israel. By the time she was called on to lead the country, she had already retired citing exhaustion and ill health. She led the country during turbulent times (the massacre at the Munich Olympics, the Yom Kippur War), and eventually resigned in 1974 saying that was what the people wanted.
111. ___ Bator, Mongolia : ULAN
The name "Ulan Bator" translates from Mongolian as "the Red Hero", and is Mongolia's capital city. The name is in recognition of Mongolia's national hero, Damdin Sukhbaatar, who fought side-by-side with the Soviet Red Army in liberating the country from a White Russian warlord and the Chinese.
112. 10 years before the Battle of Hastings : MLVI
The Battle of Hastings was in 1066, signalling the Norman Conquest of England. So, ten years earlier would have been 1056.
113. Nobel Prize category: Abbr. : ECON
The Peace Prize is perhaps the most famous of the five prizes bequeathed by Alfred Nobel. The others are for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature. There is also Nobel Prize in Economics, awarded along with the original five, but is funded separately, and is awarded "in memory of Alfred Nobel".
116. "Able was ___ ..." : I ERE
The three most famous palindromes in English are:
- Able was I ere I saw Elba
- A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
- Madam, I'm Adam
117. Creature in a "King Kong" fight : T. REX
In the original 1933 movie "King Kong", there is a fight scene between Kong and a T. rex. What a classic movie it is, starring Fay Wray as the young woman that Kong falls for. Apparently Wray was very interested in the role in which she was told she would be playing opposite the "tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood". She thought it might be Clark Gable. Boy was she wrong ...