This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: N/A (watching the BBC'S "The Grand" on DVD)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
5. People magazine's 1991 "Sexiest Man Alive" : SWAYZE
I still think Patrick Swayze's greatest role was the dance instructor in the 1987 movie "Dirty Dancing". Swayze (and Jennifer Grey who played opposite Swayze) were chosen for the starring roles because of their dancing ability. Swayze had a fair amount of acting experience, and hid dancing experience was with the Joffrey Ballet. Sadly, he passed away at age 57 in 2009, from pancreatic cancer.
11. Parmesan possessive : MIA
I guess Parmesan is meant to the adjective "from Parma". Parma is a city in northern Italy, famous for its ham and cheese.
19. Spoken word that's a sound trademark of 20th Century Fox : D'OH
"The Simpsons" is one of the most successful programs produced by the Fox Broadcasting Company. Homer Simpson's catchphrase is "D'oh", such a famous exclamation nowadays that it has been included in the OED since 2001.
21. Brought up for discussion : MOOTED
To moot, is to bring up as a subject for discussion or debate.
23. Ritz of the Ritz : CESAR
Cesar Ritz was a Swiss hotelier, who had a reputation for developing the most luxurious of accommodations and attracting the wealthiest clientèle. He opened the Hotel Ritz in Paris in 1898, and the second of his most famous hotels, the Ritz Hotel in London, in 1906. However, he was lucky in his career, as before starting his own hotel chain, he had been dismissed from the Savoy Hotel in London, implicated in the disappearance of a substantial amount of wine and spirits.
24. Like Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 : IN F
Although I love all of Beethoven's symphonies, I tend not to listen very often to the 8th. Chronologically, it is squeezed between my favorite, the 7th, and the magnificent 9th. I think I should point out that Beethoven considered the 8th a far better piece than the 7th, but his public tended not to agree.
33. He tried to have Capone killed in 1926 : MORAN
Bugs Moran was a Chicago gangster, the main rival to the slightly more famous Al Capone. Moran tried twice to kill Capone. One the first, Moran with some of his gang shot at Capone from their car as Capone was getting out of his own automobile. They missed Capone, and he took to driving in an armored vehicle after that. The most famous attempt (in 1926) involved Moran and a fleet of cars driving by Capone's hotel and spraying the lobby while he was standing in it. Again, Capone escaped unharmed. Three years later, in February 1929, six members of Moran's gang were lined up against a wall and shot by order of Capone, the famous St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
34. Mawashi wearer's activity : SUMO
A mawashi is that belt that sumo wrestlers wear when training and fighting. It's actually strip of silk, about two feet wide and 30 feet long, that is wrapped around the body, and is tied in a knot at the back. It weighs anywhere from 8-11 pounds.
35. Blood designation, briefly : O NEG
The most important grouping of blood types is the ABO system. Blood is classified as either A, B, AB or O, depending on the type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A secondary designation of blood is the Rh factor, in which antigens again on the surface of the red blood cells are labelled as either positive or negative. When a patient receives a blood transfusion, ideally the donor blood should be the same as that of the recipient, as incompatible blood cells can be rejected by the recipient. However, blood type O-Neg can be accepted by recipients with all blood types, AB or O, positive or negative. Hence someone with O-neg blood type is called a "universal donor".
37. Oblast between Kursk and Tula : OREL
An oblast is an administrative division within the former Soviet Union. Kursk, Tula and Orel are neighboring oblasts in Russia, all centered on cities of the same name. Orel is also spelled Oryol. Orel was one of the cities occupied by Germany during WWII. It was liberated in 1943, but had been almost completely destroyed.
38. A third of vingt-et-un : SEPT
In French, a third of vingt-et-un (21) is sept (7).
39. "I Can ___ Rainbow" (classic kids' tune) : SING A
I've heard this children's song a gazillion times, and I always thought the words were "I Can See a Rainbow". This is why we do the NYTimes Crossword, I guess ...
40. Prefix with phobia : XENO
Xenophobia is the uncontrollable fear of foreigners. The word of course comes from Greek, with xeno meaning guest, stranger or foreigner, and phobia meaning fear, horror or aversion.
42. Brit's bender : BOOZE UP
Yep, when I was a lad (not that I ever participated!) a booze up was something often engaged in on a Friday or Saturday night. I am not sure what we would have thought a "bender" was!
44. Short change? : CTS
Some change is "cents", in short, "cts."
49. Last place to be single? : ALTAR
I love a cleverly worded clue ...
50. Former "Reach for the stars" sloganeer : CBS
CBS introduced the slogan "Reach for the Stars" in 1981, underscoring the improvement in the ratings for the broadcaster, and capitalizing on the launch of the first space shuttle that year, the Columbia (fortunately for CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System).
53. Hindu love god : KAMA
More fully, the Hindu god of love is Kamadeva. He is usually represented as a young man with wings, holding a bow and arrow. The bow is made of sugarcane, the string made of honeybees. The arrows are decorated with fragrant flowers.
59. Oxford letters : EEE
An oxford is a type of lace-up shoe that originated not in Oxford, but actually in Scotland and Ireland. EEE is a designator of the width of a shoe. show widths can be A, B, C, D, E, EE, EEE, EEEE, F or G.
60. ___ Sea (part of the South Atlantic) : SCOTIA
The Scotia Sea in the South Atlantic is famous for being extremely stormy, and extremely cold. It was named in 1932, after the expedition ship that first mapped the water, the "Scotia".
4. Green party V.I.P.? : ST PAT
Now, if St. Patrick turned up at one of my parties, that would be a cause for celebration! There is a fair amount known about St. Patrick, some of which comes from two letters written in his own hand. He lived in the fifth century, but was not born in Ireland. he was brought to Ireland first at about 16 years of age from his native Britain, by Irish raiders who made him a slave for six years. He managed to escape and return home, where he studied and entered the Church. He returned to Ireland as a bishop, and a missionary, where he lived out the rest of his life. There seems to be good evidence that he died on March 17th, although the year is less clear. The stories about shamrock and snakes, I am afraid they are the stuff of legend.
5. Canon shooter, briefly : SLR
SLR: Single Lens Reflex. Usually cameras with changeable lenses are SLR type. The main feature of an SLR is that a mirror reflects the image seen through the lens out through the viewfinder, so that the photographer sees exactly what the lens sees. The mirror moves out of the way as the picture is taken, and the image that comes through the lens falls onto unexposed film, or nowadays onto a digital sensor.
7. Lt. Raine of "Inglourious Basterds" : ALDO
I tried hard to enjoy the 2009 movie "Inglourious Basterds", but I find the violence in a Quentin Tarantino film so very hard to take. Brad Pitt plays the character, Lt, Aldo Raine. However, it got good reviews, so maybe you shouldn't let me put you off.
10. "Only the hand that ___ can write the true thing": Meister Eckhart : ERASES
Meister Eckhart (Master Eckhart in English) was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic who was very vocal in the early 14th century. This was the time when the Papacy was centered in Avignon and not Rome, and he fell foul of infighting between the Franciscan and Dominican orders (Eckhart was a member of the latter). He was tried as a heretic by a Franciscan-led inquisition, and supposedly died before a verdict was recorded.
13. They get cuts: Abbr. : AGTS
Agents get cuts, often 5 or 10%.
15. Chair person? : TAMER
One Clyde Beatty was a famous lion tamer in the early 1900s. He would enter the lions cage with a whip and a pistol, and appeared to have an adversarial relationship with his big cats. Reputedly, he was the first tamer/entertainer to introduce a chair into the act. He met his match at least once, being mauled by a lion that put him into hospital for ten weeks.
21. It may create a buzz in the morning : MIMOSA
Where I come from, a mimosa is called a Buck's Fizz, named after the club where it was introduced in 1921. The mimosa came along a few years later, apparently first being served in the Paris Ritz. If you want to make one, it's a 50-50 mix of champagne and orange juice, and very tasty ...
23. Horseback figure? : CENTAUR
The centaur is found in Greek mythology, a creature with the upper body of a human, and lower body of a horse.
27. Liszt or Schubert : FRANZ
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a Hungarian composer, and a fabulous pianist. Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was an Austrian composer, particularly noted for his large portfolio of lieder (songs). After he died, Liszt was one of the musicians who promoted Schubert's works.
28. "Tootsie" Oscar winner : LANGE
Jessica Lange had three children with her former partner, the great Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. Those must be some good looking kids ...
32. One may demand attention: Abbr. : SGT
Lovely wording ... the seargent says "Atten-shun!"
43. It's superior to bohea : PEKOE
Originally bohea was the name for a desirable black tea from China, but the name later was used to describe a poor quality tea grown late in the season. On the other hand, a pekoe (or more commonly, orange pekoe) is a medium-grade black tea.
48. Half of a 1960s pop group : MAMAS
A folk group called the Magic Circle, renamed itself to the Mamas and the Papas in the early sixties. Sadly, the Mamas and the Papas weren't a happy bunch, always fighting over who was getting credit for songs and whose voice was getting mixed out of recordings, so they split up, twice. While they were together though, they wrote and recorded some great songs, songs which really do epitomize the sound of the sixties. "Monday, Monday" was written by John Phillips, one of "the Papas", and it was to become the only number one hit for the group. Here's a shocker ... when it hit number one, in 1966, it was the first time that a group made up of both sexes topped the American charts!
49. Oratory projection : APSE
The apse of a church or cathedral (or an oratory: a room for prayer) 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 important relics.
50. Silver salmon : COHO
The Coho salmon is silver along the side of its body, but only during the phase of its life while it is in the ocean. When spawning, and heading up into a freshwater river, the Coho has bright red sides.
51. Second baseman Boone : BRET
Bret Boone is a retired Major League Baseball player, a second baseman. He is also a descendant of the pioneer, Daniel Boone.
55. TV monitor : FCC
TV broadcasting is monitored by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has been around since 1934, when it replaced the Federal Radio Commission.
57. Low numero : TRE
Tre: the number three in Italian.