This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 43m 42s
THEME: FLAG DAY ... The theme answers all use the names of countries, which are illustrated by the their flags in the grid. The colors for each country's flag is referenced in a special clue for that country. Also, the colors of each flag are used in the down answers that cross each flag. Clever, but complicated!
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
13. Show whose title was seen on a license plate : LA LAW
"L.A. Law" ran on NBC from 1986 to 1994, and was one of their most successful drama series. It took over from the equally successful "Hill Street Blues" in the Thursday night 10 p.m. slot, until it was itself replaced after a six-year run by yet another respected drama, "E.R." The opening credits showed that famous California licence plate. The plate was on a Jaguar XJ for most of the series, but moved onto a Bentley towards the end of the run. For each series the registration sticker was updated, so no laws were being broken.
18. One specializing in slugging : RBI MAN
In baseball, you have got to get those Runs Batted In. Apparently, the first team to routinely track RBIs was the Buffalo Bisons.
19. Country with a blue, yellow and red flag : ROMANIA
Romania sits just east of Hungary and north of Bulgaria in Europe. The country was formed from the union of two principalities in 1859, Moldavia and Wallachia. The Kingdom of Romania grew larger in size after WWI with the addition of three new regions, including the "vampirish" Transylvania.
22. Daughter of rocker Kurt and Courtney Love : FRANCES BEAN COBAIN
(FRANCE)S BEAN COBAIN
Frances's father was the late Kurt Cobain, who fronted the band Nirvana. Courtney Love is the lead singer for the band Hole. Poor young Francis was given the middle name of "Bean" because her parents thought she looked like a kidney bean in her ultrasound photograph.
24. Brilliantly colored lizards : AGAMAS
Agamas form a whole group of lizards that are native to Africa, and are indeed the most common lizards on the continent. They are often found living in the thatched roof of huts.
25. Tennis's Monica : SELES
Monica Seles was born in Yugoslavia (in the part that is now Serbia), to Hungarian parents. She is also an American citizen, since 1994, and took out Hungarian citizenship in 2007. She was the world's number one tennis player in her heyday, but famously had to drop out of the sport in 1993 for two years after being attacked and stabbed on court by a spectator with a knife with a 9-inch blade.
26. Reps' places? : GYMS
Lots of repetitions will help you build those muscles (I am told!).
28. Rap's 50 ___ : CENT
Rap star 50 Cent's real name is Curtis James Jackson III, and is from South Jamaica in Queens, New York. 50 Cent had a rough life starting out, first dealing drugs at the age of 12. He dropped his illegal activities to pursue a rap career, but still fell victim to an assailant who pumped nine bullets into him. The alleged shooter was himself shot three weeks later, and died. 50 Cent's alleged attacker was a bodyguard and close friend of Mike Tyson.
29. Mixed-ancestry Latin Americans : MESTIZOS
Mestizo is a term that was used by the colonial Spanish and Portuguese in South America, to describe people with mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. The word "mestizo" comes from the Latin "mixticius" meaning "mixed".
33. Lead-in for cat : HEP
The slang term "hep" meaning "cool", and has the same meaning as the later, derivative term "hip". The origins of "hep" seem unclear, but it was adopted by the jazz musicians of the early 1900s.
36. Buy real estate : ACQUIRE LAND
42. Most old-hat : STALEST
The expression "old hat" has a very ribald and vulgar etymology. I'll be polite and not be too explicit here, but it used to have an anatomical reference with the idea being that something "frequently felt" was an "old hat". Who knew??!!
48. Isl. near Corsica : SAR
Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy, an island in the Mediterranean off the west coast of Italy. It lies to the south of the French island of Corsica. Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean (Sicily is the largest), and Corsica is the fourth largest. Corsica is perhaps most famous as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte.
49. Country with a green, white and orange flag : IRELAND
I got this one pretty quickly ... One interpretation of the colors of the tricolor are that the green represent the Irish Nationalist movement striving for independence from Britain, and the Orange movement concentrated in the north of the country (now Northern Ireland) that favors British rule. The white is a hopeful representation of peace between the two ideals. The flag's design dates back to 1848 when it was presented to Irish Nationalist Thomas Francis Meagher by a small group of sympathetic French women. It was likely inspired by the French tricolor, although it might also have derived from the Newfoundland Tricolour, as Meagher's father was born there.
51. Composer Philip Glass and others : MINIMALISTS
Philip Glass is by far my favorite Classical composer that's still working. His Violin Concerto No. 1 is a piece that I listen to at least as often as my favorite works from Beethoven and Mozart. Glass is a controversial composer, it seems, that people either love or hate. I say, give him a chance ...
59. Horror director Roth : ELI
Eli Roth is one of a group of directors of horror movies known quite graphically as "The Splat Pack". I can't stand "splat" movies. Roth is also famous for playing Donny Donowitz in the Quentin Tarantino movie "Inglourious Basterds", a good film I thought, if you close your eyes during the gruesome bits.
60. Alloy of gold and silver : ELECTRUM
Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, which usually has trace amount of other elements (mainly copper). Electrum was used as the exterior coating of the decorative tops of the ancient Egyptian pyramids.
61. Cry from Homer : D'OH
I suppose you might call "d'oh" a catchphrase. It's used by Homer Simpson on the animated TV show "The Simpsons". I can't stand "The Simpsons" ...
65. Fair-hiring org. : EEOC
Equal Opportunity Employment is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was set up by the Civil Rights Act.
66. Country with a green, white and red flag : ITALY
Like so many tricolors, the Italian flag has various interpretations attributed to the colors. One common interpretation is that the green represents the green of the hills and the plants, the white the snow capped Alps, and the red the blood spilled in the Wars of Italian Independence.
69. Digestive enzyme : MALTASE
As you might guess from the name, maltose is an enzyme that acts on the sugar maltose. It breaks the disaccharide into its two constituent glucose molecules.
72. Penguins' org. : NHL
The Penguins are the professional hockey team based in Pittsburgh. They have been around since 1967, one of the first expansion teams when the NHL grew from six to twelve teams. The Penguins have played in Mellon Arena since the team was formed, but are looking forward to moving into the Consol Energy Center later this year when construction is complete.
73. Half of an old Latin aphorism : ARS LONGA
The famous, Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote "Art is long, life is short", which translates into Latin as "Ars longa, vita brevis".
77. One of 17 on a Monopoly board: Abbr. : AVE
The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of a game called "The Landlord's Game" created in 1903 by a Quaker woman called Lizzie Phillips who created it as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord's Game was actually produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, making him a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.
80. Not troubled by : SANGUINE ABOUT
Sanguine, such a lovely word, meaning cheerfully optimistic. It also means ruddy or red in color, e.g. a sanguine complexion. It comes to English from Latin, via French as "sanguin-" is the Latin word for "blood". The interpretation of sanguine as meaning cheerful and optimistic comes from the medieval interpretation of the "four humors" of the body, the bodily fluids (blood, bile, phlegm and black bile). If blood was the predominant humor in a person, than that individual had a cheerful outlook on life.
82. Singer Lisa and newspaper publisher William : LOEBS
Lisa Loeb had a hit with the song "Stay(I Missed You)". The actor Ethan Hawke lived across the street from the unknown Loeb, and he took the song "Stay" and gave to Ben Stiller who was making his movie "Reality Bites". Stiller used the song for the closing credits of the film, and it was included on the movie's soundtrack album. "Stay" went to number one in the charts, the first time an artist hit that spot without even having a recording contract.
William Loeb III was the publisher of the Manchester Union Leader newspaper, in Manchester, New Hampshire. The paper garnered a lot of attention for its conservative views, especially during those early, New Hampshire primaries every four years.
87. With 116-Down, club in "Cabaret" : KIT
The musical "Cabaret" is based on "I Am a Camera", a 1951 play written by John Van Druten, which itself was adapted from a novel "Goodbye to Berlin" written by Christopher Isherwood. "Cabaret" is a great musical, although the 1972 film of the musical isn't one of my favorites.
90. Country with a blue, white and red flag : FRANCE
Before the French Revolution, the most famous of the royal flags of France bore a blue shield and a yellow fleur-de-lys on a white background. The colors of the republic's tricolor come in part from the traditional colors of the city of Paris, blue and red. White was the "ancient French color", so was added when the tricolor was officially adopted in 1790.
91. ___ Chapel : SISTINE
The Sistine Chapel in the Pope's residence in Rome, takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV who was responsible for restoring the old Capella Magna in the 15th century. It was some years later (1508-1512) when Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel under the patronage of Pope Julius II.
98. Lighting enthusiasts? : PYROMANIACS
101. British mil. award : DSO
The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a British military award, usually awarded to officers of the rank Major or higher.
104. British science fiction author Colin ___ : KAPP
Colin Kapp was a British Sci-fi writer best known for his collection of shorts stories called "Unorthodox Engineers". He wrote a short story in 1984 called "Something in the City" about soldiers who occupied a Middle East country overthrowing a dictator. The story tells of the danger faced by the booby trap bombs left by the defeated ruler. The story has been likened to the situation faced by the US forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
108. Amount of electrical resistance : OHMAGE
The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm, named after Georg Simon Ohm, the German physicist. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current that flowed through a circuit was directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that is now called Ohm's Law.
110. Modern school keepsakes : DIGITAL YEARBOOKS
I didn't even know such things existed ...
118. Sartre play : NO EXIT
"Huis Clos" means "behind closed doors" in French. It is the Jean-Paul Sartre play that we in the English speaking world would better recognize under its alternative title "No Exit". The play features four characters who are trapped in a room that they discover is actually in hell. One of the characters is Estelle Rigault, a society woman who married her husband for her money, has an affair that results in a child whom she murders.
119. Greedy race in the "Star Trek" universe : FERENGI
The Ferengi were introduced in the best of the Star Trek TV shows "Star Trek: The Next Generation". Fernegi is actually an Arabic term, used for European traders (the Star Trek Ferengi will trade anything), or for Westerners in general.
120. Like some Google Maps views : AERIAL
The underlying application now called Google Maps was developed by Lars and Jens Rasmussen for the company Where2. Google bought Where2 in 2004 and introduced Google Maps in 2005. Google Aerial View was introduced as a new feature of Google maps in May of 2010.
121. Actress Braga : SONIA
Sonia Braga achieved fame in here native Brazil playing the title role in the movie "Gabriela". There followed roles in American films such as "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "The Milagro Beanfield War". She has also played in the Portuguese version of "Desperate Housewives".
122. County on the English Channel : DORSET
Dorset is a county on the coast in South West England, with the county town of Dorchester. If you've read Thomas Hardy (he was born near Dorchester) you might be familiar with Dorset as he set many of his novels in the county.
123. Rapidly : PRESTO
On a musical score, presto is used to indicate a fast tempo. "Presto" is the Italian word for "quick".
1. 1959 #1 hit for the Fleetwoods : MR. BLUE
"Mr. Blue" was a number one hit for the Fleetwoods in 1959. The Fleetwoods were a very successful singing trio in the late fifties, who originally called themselves "Two Girls and a Guy".
2. "The Trumpet of the Swan" author : E. B. WHITE
E. B. (WHITE)
Elwyn Brooks (E. B.) White was an American writer. His most famous creations were the children's stories "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little", but he also co-authored the writing guide "The Elements of Style" (usually referred to as "Strunk & White").
3. Bushed : TIRED
7. Maritime birds : ERNES
Ernes are also known as sea eagles.
8. Mythical birds : ROCS
The mythical roc is a huge bird of prey, reputedly able to carry off and eat elephants.
9. Alt-rock genre : EMO
Emo originated in Washington D.C. in the 80s, and takes its name from "emotional hardcore". Not my cup of tea ...
11. Hot dog ___ stick : ON A
The hot dog on a stick (corn dog) dates back at least to 1947, and probably earlier. The name corn dog comes from the corn batter around the hot dog, and its resemblance ont he stick to an ear of corn.
12. Actress Kristen of "S.N.L." : WIIG
Kristen Wiig is a comic actress that appears on "Saturday Night Live". She also made an appearance on the first season of Spike TV's quirky "The Joe Schmo Show".
14. You can count on them : ABACUSES
The abacus was used as a counting frame long before man had invented a numerical numbering system. It is a remarkable invention, particularly when one notes that it is still widely used today across Africa and Asia.
15. Shade lighter than emerald : LIME GREEN
16. Longtime Yes drummer : ALAN WHITE
Alan White was the drummer for Yes for 37 years, and was also a founding member of the Plastic Ono Band, the ensemble super-group.
17. New Jersey community next to Montclair : WEST ORANGE
West Orange, New Jersey was frequently used for location shoots in the excellent HBO series "The Sopranos". In particular, the retirement home where Tony Soprano's mother lived was actually located in West Orange.
27. Place for a hammerlock : MAT
A hammerlock is a move used in wrestling, but also by law enforcement officers to subdue an individual and prior to applying handcuffs.
31. Card game expert John : SCARNE
John Scarne was an American magician who was known in particular for his card tricks. He also wrote a number of books on card games and gambling.
32. Fox TV's "___ Death" : TIL
Fox's sitcom "'Til Death" stars Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher, and is a pretty good show in my humble opinion. It ran for our seasons, and was cancelled early in 2010.
34. Mideast carrier : EL AL
El Al is Hebrew for "to the skies" and is the National airline of Israel.
37. Bon mot : QUIP
Bon mot translates from French as "good word".
41. ___-European : INDO
The Indo-European languages are a large group of related languages that includes most of the major languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau and South Asia. It is the largest grouping of languages in the world.
45. Wooley with the 1958 #1 hit "The Purple People Eater" : SHEB
As well as having his huge hit in 1958 "The Purple People Eater", Sheb Wooley played Ben Miller in the movie "High Noon" and co-starred in the TV show "Rawhide", playing the role of Pete Nolan. Wooley also wrote the theme song for long-running show "Hee Haw".
52. Rapper on "Law & Order: SVU" : ICE-T
Rapper Ice-T must be sick of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles. maybe he should have stuck to his real name, Tracy Marrow. Then again, maybe not ...
53. Drink with dim sum : GREEN TEA
Dim sum is a Chinese cuisine made up of small portions of various dishes. The tradition of serving dim sum is associated with the serving of tea, when small delicacies were offered to travelers and guests along with tea as a refreshment. The name "dim sum" translates as "touch the heart" implying that dim sum is not a main meal, just a snack "that touches the heart".
54. Texas has one, in song : YELLOW ROSE
"The Yellow Rose of Texas" is a folk song telling the tale of the slave named Emily Morgan and how she helped win the battle of San Jacinto, turning the tide in the Texas Revolution. Emily is called the "yellow rose" in the song as she was a "mulatto", born of one white parent and one black parent, and hence "yellow".
55. One on a diet : REDUCER
57. Sounded like a fan : WHIRRED
58. Braver : LESS YELLOW
61. Lentil dish at an Indian restaurant : DAL
I love dal dishes, which are prepared from various beans and peas that have been stripped of their outer skins and split. I suppose in Indian terms, split pea soup (another of my favorites) would be called a dal.
63. Drugstore eponym : WALGREEN
Walgreen was founded in Chicago in 1901, with the first drug store owned by Charles Walgreen. Walgreens claim to have introduced the malted milkshake in 1922.
69. Country with a green, yellow and red flag : MALI
The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa, south of Algeria. The flag of Mali is identical with the flag of Guinea, except that orders of the colors are reversed.
70. Company calling? : AVON
In 1886, a young man called David McConnell, was selling books door-to-door. To enhance his sales numbers, he was giving out free perfume to the ladies of the houses he visited. Seeing as his perfume was more popular than his books, he founded the California Perfume Company in New York City, and started manufacturing and selling across the country. The company name was changed to Avon in 1939, and the infamous "Avon Calling" marketing campaign started in 1954.
73. Fire ___ : ANT
Fire ants are stinging ants. Most stinging ants bite their prey and then spray acid on the wound. The fire ant, however, bites to hold on, and then injects an alkaloid venom from its abdomen, creating a burning sensation in humans that have been nipped.
75. Country with a red, yellow and green flag : GUINEA
Guinea lies north of Liberia on the west African coast. Like much of Africa, it was for many years a French Colony (French Guinea). Guinea declared independence in 1958, but has suffered from autocratic rule since then, so that it is one of the poorest countries in Africa.
80. Michael Moore documentary : SICKO
I think "Sicko" is well worth watching. I can personally attest that his accounts of the healthcare systems in Britain in France are very realistic. For me then, that adds credibility to the rest of the Moore's positions presented in the film.
83. 1975 Joni Mitchell hit : BIG YELLOW TAXI
BIG (YELLOW) TAXI
Joni Mitchell was visiting Hawaii in 1970, and looking out the window of her hotel was inspired to write what has proved to be one of the most enduring environmentalist anthems. She looked at the lovely mountain scenery in the background, and the "heart breaking" parking lot as far as she could see in the foreground. She used the image as the opening lines for her "Big Yellow Taxi", released later that year in 1970. The song never really became a hit, but it has a sustained, relatively low level of popularity that has lasted for decades.
84. Had an unquiet sleep : SNORED
86. Les États-___ : UNIS
Les Etat's-Unis, what French speakers call the United States.
91. Medicinal plant : SENNA
Sennas are used as purgatives and laxatives
94. "My mama done ___ me ..." : TOL
"My mama done tol' me" are the first words of the immensely popular standard "Blues in the Night". The music was written by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by Johnny Mercer, originally for a film of the same name released in 1941.
96. Cryptologist's org. : NSA
The National Security Agency was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense since 1949. The agency has always been clouded in secrecy. Even the 1952 letter from President Truman that set up the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation.
98. Lowly workers : PEONS
A peon is a lowly worker with no real control over his/her working conditions. The word comes in to English from Spanish where the word has the same meaning.
99. "Gulliver's Travels" creature : YAHOO
Yahoos were brutish creatures introduced by Irish author Jonathan Swift in "Gulliver's Travels". Their savage, slovenly ways gave rise of the use of "yahoo" in English to describe a lout or Neanderthal.
100. Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and others : BLUES MEN
Howlin' Wolf was a blues singer. He took the name "Howlin' Wolf" from his grandfather that used to tell him scary stories of wolves that would come get him as a young child if he didn't behave himself.
Willie Dixon was also a blues musician, famous for being one of the founders of the Chicago blues sound.
102. "___ Now" (Murrow series) : SEE IT
"See It Now" was hosted by Edward R. Murrow from 1951 to 1958 on CBS, and was a natural descendant of Murrow's radio show "Hear It Now". In one famous series of episodes Murrow took on Senator Joe McCarthy who was heading up the anti-Communist activities in Congress. These shows were the subject of the outstanding 2005 movie directed by and starring George Clooney "Good Night, and Good Luck" (a "must see" movie).
105. Sharable PC file : PDF
Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format introduced by Adobe Systems in 1993. PDF documents can be shared between users and read on many different applications, making them more universally accessible than documents saved by one particular application.
107. Bring (up) from the past : DREDGE
109. Actress ___ Scala : GIA
Gia Scala's most famous role was that of the mute resistance fighter in "The Guns of Navarone". She was born in Liverpool, England, to an Irish mother and Italian father. She lived some years in Italy before moving to New York City. It's probably good that she was a mute in "The Guns of Navarone" as who knows what her accent was like!
112. Not as experienced : GREENER
113. Bleaches : WHITENS
115. Sue Grafton's "___ for Outlaw" : O IS
Sue Grafton writes detective novels, and here "alphabet series" features the private investigator Kinsey Millhome. She started off with "A Is for Alibi" in 1982, and published "U is for Undertow" in 2009. What a clever naming system!
117. ___-mo : SLO
Slo-mo: slow motion replay of film.