This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 29m 10s
THEME: TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE ... this line from Hamlet tells us to read the theme clues not as one word, but as two, and a statement of what "I" do e.g. Irate = I rate = FILM CRITIC; Isled = I sled = Olympic luger, Islander = I slander = TABLOID WRITER
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
1. Low-lying land : SWALE
A swale is a narrow tract of low-lying land that is usually wet or marshy. It can be naturally occurring or man made. One might create a swale to help manage drainage of adjacent land.
6. "Dirty rat," e.g. : SLUR
When Jimmy Cagney accepted the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1974, he made it very clear ... he told the audience "I never said 'Mmmmmm, you dirty rat!". The closest he ever came to saying that line, so often used by impressionists, was in the 1932 movie "Taxi!" in which he starred opposite Loretta Young. In that film he had the line "You dirty rat, I'm going to get rid of you, just like you gave it to my brother."
19. Tower city resident : PISAN
Pisa is famous for its Leaning Tower. The tower is actually the campanile, or bell tower, of the city's cathedral. It has been leaning since the tower was completed in 1173. Just shows you how important are good foundations.
21. ___ Lane, home of London's Theatre Royal : DRURY
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in London, is actually the oldest theater in the city. The building itself has been replaced three times in its long history dating back to 1663 (1663! Can you imagine?). Today, the theater is owned by the great composer, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and he makes sure that it is used to stage musical theater. If you are heading over to London any time soon, you can see the current production of "Oliver!".
22. Pulitzer-winning James : AGEE
James Agee was a noted, American film critic. He wrote an autobiographical novel "A Death in the Family" that was published in 1957, and won him his Pulitzer, albeit posthumously, in 1958.
23. Irate : FILM CRITIC
"I rate" because I am a FILM CRITIC.
25. Universal soul, in Hinduism : ATMAN
The word "atman" is often translated into English as "self", but the concept of atman goes beyond the idea of self in the worldly sense. It describes the soul, perhaps of an individual, or maybe even something as grand as the soul of the world.
26. Troubadour's subject : LOVE
A troubadour was a composer and musician of the Middle Ages, whose works dealt mainly with chivalry and courtly love. Troubadours were usually men, but a female troubadour would have been called a trobairitz.
27. Coffin frames : BIERS
Biers are the special stands on which one rests a coffin for a service, or perhaps if the corpse is to lie in state. A bier may have wheels on it, so that it can be used to transport the coffin to the graveside. The original biers were just flat pieces of wood on which the body was placed, covered with a shroud. Nowadays, we place the body in a casket, and then onto the bier.
28. Isled : OLYMPIC LUGER
"I sled" because I am an Olympic luger.
A luge is a small sled used by one or two people, on which one lies face up, and feet first. It can be compared to the skeleton, a sled for only one person, and on which the rider lies face down and goes down the hill head first.
34. Benz of Mercedes-Benz fame : KARL
It is generally accepted that Karl Benz invented the internal combustion engine, although others were going similar work around the same time. He certainly was awarded the first patent for an automobile, in 1886. His first automobile, the Motorwagen, couldn't get up hills unaided, so his wife, Bertha Benz, suggested the introduction of gears. Sure enough, the next model had two gears. Behind every successful man ...
37. Lovingly, in music : AMOROSO
Amoroso is the Italian word for "lovingly" and is used as a musical direction on a score.
39. Macedonian capital : SKOPJE
Skopje is the capital city of the Republic of Macedonia. Skopje was hit by a powerful earthquake in 1963 (6.9 on the Richter Scale), which killed over a thousand people, and left over 100,000 people homeless. As well as the loss to life, over 75% of the city was destroyed, triggering a massive rebuilding effort supported by countries in the region and around the globe.
46. Part of Q.E.D. : ERAT
Q.E.D. is used at the end of a mathematical proof (or a philosophical argument). The acronym stands for the Latin "quod erat demonstrandum" meaning "that which was to be demonstrated".
48. Shanghai-born N.B.A. star : YAO
Yao Ming is from Shanghai, and plays for the Houston Rockets. At 7'6" he is the tallest man playing in the NBA.
51. Tina's role on "30 Rock" : LIZ
"30 Rock" is Tina Fey's own creation, and tells the behind-the-scenes story of a live sketch show not dissimilar to Saturday Night Live (where Fey first achieved celebrity). "30 Rock" is the address of the NBC studios, located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. I was shocked to read that Tina Fey has a scar on her face, a few inches song on her left cheek, the result of a childhood "slashing" incident. When she was just five years old, playing in the front yard of her house, someone just came up to her and slashed her with a knife. How despicable!
52. Islander : TABLOID WRITER
"I slander" because I am a TABLOID WRITER, although, I don't think tabloid writers would agree with that sentiment!
"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.
55. Father's speech: Abbr. : SER
A Roman Catholic father might give a sermon on Sunday.
58. Elton John and Paul McCartney : SIRS
Elton John's real name is Reginald Dwight. He was knighted in 1998, not for his music, but for his charitable work. He founded his own Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992.
Paul McCartney was knighted for services to music, in 1997.
59. Miró Museum architect José Luis ___ : SERT
Jose Luis Sert was a Spanish Catalan architect. He designed the Miro Museum in Barcelona, which displays the work of Joan Miro, a fellow Catalan, and a painter and sculptor.
61. In ___ (unmoved) : SITU
In situ is a Latin phrase meaning "in the place".
63. What most Mormons do : TITHE
A tithe is traditional payment of one tenth of one's annual income often given to one's church. Tithing is a practice taught in many traditions, including the Mormon church. According to a 2002 survey, about 3% of American adults actually donate 10% or more of their income to a church.
71. Naproxen, commercially : ALEVE
Aleve is a anti-inflammatory drug, Naproxen sodium.
73. Double-breasted winter wear : PEA COAT
A pea coat is a heavy, woolen outer jacket originally associated with sailors. Nowadays anyone wears them (they're very comfortable and warm). The female equivalent of a pea coat is often called a Jackie O Jacket, apparently.
76. Moran and Gray : ERINS
Erin Moran is the lovely actress most famous for playing Joanie Cunningham on "Happy Days" and the resulting (short-lived) spin-off sitcom called "Joanie Loves Chachi". Long before she got he big break in "Happy Days", Moran played Jenny Jones on the children's drama "Daktari" from the late sixties.
Erin Gray is the actress who played Kate Summers on the sitcom "Silver Spoons", and who also appeared as Colonel Wilma Deering on "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century".
78. Think, in olden times : TROW
Trow is an archaic word for "think", was more in the sense of "believe", as in "I think it's true".
80. One taking a bow? : EROS
As always seem to be the case, the Greek gods Eros and Aphrodite have overlapping spheres of influence. Aphrodite was the goddess of love between a man and a woman, but Eros was the god who stirred the passions of the male.
82. When the tempest occurs in "The Tempest" : ACT I
William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" tells the story of Prospero, who removed from the throne of Milan and banished to a deserted island along with his daughter, Miranda. Prospero learns sorcery on the island, and eventually conjures up a tempest that drives those who usurped his throne (in particular his own brother, Antonio) onto the shores of the island.
84. Grandson of Adam : ENOCH
Enoch was the son of Cain, according to the Bible. After Cain was condemned to wander the earth after killing his brother, he was eventually forgiven and allowed to build a city. Cain named the city Enoch, after his son.
88. Iran : ELECTION LOSER
"I ran" because I was an ELECTION LOSER.
92. When written three times, fraternity in "Revenge of the Nerds" : RHO
"Revenge of the Nerds" was released in 1984, a tale of college nerds who get out from under the harassment of the jocks.
95. Hinduism, e.g.: Abbr. : REL
Hinduism is a religion (REL).
97. Swedish toast : SKAL
In English, we usually morph "skal" into "skoal". Skoal is a Swedish toast, with its roots in the old Norse word "skaal", meaning "cup".
98. Actress Hatcher and others : TERIS
Teri Hatcher's most famous role these days is as Susan Meyer in "Desperate Housewives". I've never seen more than a few minutes of that show, so I know Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl, in "Tomorrow Never Dies".
101. Attorney general under Reagan : ED MEESE
Ed Meese was born in Oakland, California, just down the road here, and spent 24 years in the office of the Treasurer of Alameda County, where I am sitting right now. After military service, he earned himself a law degree at UC Berkeley. Later as Chief of Staff for President Reagan, he was instrumental in the decision of the crack down in student protesters at Berkeley, which resulted in one protester dying, and a two-week occupation of the city by the California National Guard.
103. Like some investments : NO RISK
Hard to find these days ...
109. iPhone : TELEMARKETER
"I phone" because I am a telemarketer.
113. Word with kilowatt or business : HOURS
The kilowatt hour is unit of energy, made up of the product of power (kilowatts - kW) and time (hour - h). We see kWh all the time, on our electric bills.
115. Mix : OLIO
Olio is a term meaning a hodgepodge or a mixture, coming from the mixed stew of the same name. The stew, in turn, takes its name from the Spanish "olla", the name of the clay pot used to make the stew.
117. Ibid. : EBAY PATRON
"I bid" because I am an eBay patron.
eBay is an auction site with a twist. If you don't want to enter into an auction to purchase an item, there's a "Buy It Now" price. Agree to pay it, and the item is yours!
123. Cat-tails connector : O' NINE
The cat o' nine tails was a vicious instrument of punishment, particularly popular in the Royal Navy. The "cat" was made up on nine cord thongs, and at the end of each thong was a knot. The specialty knot was aptly called a blood knot, and was designed to bite into the skin and draw blood. It was these "claws" at the and of the thongs, along with the nine "tails" that gave the name to the whip, the "cat o' nine tails".
124. Trident feature : TINE
A trident is a three-pronged spear, with each of the throngs also known as tines.
125. Bush with the memoir "Spoken From the Heart" : LAURA
Laura Bush, wife of President George W. Bush, had her memoir "Spoken from the Heart" published quite recently, in 2010.
126. Title girl on the first Beatles album : ANNA
Anna (Go to Him) was written and first recorded by Arthur Alexander in 1962. My guess is that he made more money from the cover version recorded by the Beatles on their debut album "Please Please Me", released the following year.
127. Baja babies : NENES
Nenes are "little kids" in Spanish.
Baja California is both the most northern, and the most western of the Mexican states.
128. Suffix with hip : STER
Back in the early 40s, hipsters were just folks who were "hip". Nowadays hipsters are also trouser cut so that they hug the hips (although I think they may be more commonly called "hip-huggers" in the US).
1. Lotion letters : SPF
In theory, the Sun Protection Factor, is a calibrated measure of the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. The idea is that if you wear a lotion with SPF say of 20, then you will need 20 times as much UV radiation to cause the skin to burn with lotion on, than without it. I say, just stay out of the sun ...
2. What to play Super Mario Galaxy on : WII
The Wii is the biggest selling game console in the world. Two distinguishing features are the impressive wireless remote control, and it WiiConnect24 system which allows the console get messages and updates wirelessly in standby mode. I have my kids unplug the darn thing when they aren't using it, as even in standby mode it sucks up bandwidth on my wireless network here at the house.
3. Communication for the deaf: Abbr. : ASL
Like many things, American Sign Language and British Sign Language are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one language, cannot understand someone signing in the other.
4. St. Louis airport : LAMBERT
The Lambert-St. Louis Airport was a hub for TWA for many years, starting in 1982. The hub was taken over by American Airlines when TWA was bought up by American in 2001. American gradually reduced flights in and out of St. Louis over the next few years, so that today the city is just a regular destination for the airline. Southwest has taken up some of that surplus capacity and is now the airline with the largest presence at Lambert.
5. City near Sherman Oaks : ENCINO
Encino is a district in the City of Los Angeles on the north slope of the Santa Monica Mountains. The area takes its name from a historic parcel of land called Rancho Los Encinos (Ranch of the Evergreens).
7. Ukrainian city in W.W. I fighting : LUTSK
Lutsk is in north-western Ukraine, and sits on the Styr River. The river may have given the city it's name, as one theory is that "Lutzk" comes from the old Slavic word "luka" meaning "a bend in a river". The city was the center of the Battle of Lutsk during WWI, in June 1916, when the Russians took the city out of the hands of the Austrian-Hungarian forces.
8. College, across the pond : UNI
Uni is short for "university".
10. Event depicted in "Saving Private Ryan" : D-DAY
"Saving Private Ryan" is an epic 1998 movie directed by Steven Spielberg, a real "must see". The D-Day invasion scenes were short over a two-month period on the southeast coast of Ireland.
11. Drawers in some college dorm rooms? : ART MAJORS
Clever wording ...
13. Crumbs, in "Hansel and Gretel" : TRAIL
Hansel and Gretel is a Germanic fairy tale found in the collection of the Brothers Grimm. It tells of two siblings, Hansel and Gretel, who are abandoned in the woods at the behest of an evil stepmother. Clever Hansel hears of the plan, and leaves a trail of pebbles so that he and his sister can find their way home. But, the children are abandoned again, and this time leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, the crumbs are eaten by birds, so the children do indeed become lost. But, eventually, they all live happily ever after ...
15. Private greetings? : SALUTES
Another nicely disguised meaning ...
17. Actress Campbell : NEVE
Neve Campbell is a Canadian actress whose big break came with the "Scream" horror film trilogy. I hear there's another "Scream" movie on it's way, with Campbell starring. I don't do "horror", so I will be giving it a miss ...
24. Part of Eritrea's border : RED SEA
Eritrea is a country in the Horn of Africa, bounded by the Red Sea in the east and northeast, lying directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Many scientists, accepting that modern man originated in Africa, migrated out of the continent to populate the rest of the world, starting off from what is today Eritrea.
29. Christopher of "Back to the Future" : LLOYD
Christopher Lloyd is well known for playing Doc Brown in the "Back to the Future" trilogy, and the spaced out Reverend Jim for many years on the hit sitcom "Taxi".
31. Alfalfa's sweetie : DARLA
Alfalfa's real name was Carl Switzer. He and his brother were quite the young performers around his hometown in Illinois, singing and playing instruments. On a trip to California, the Switzer family were touring the Hal Roach movie studio and were fooling around in the studio cafeteria, basically giving an impromptu performance. Hal Roach happened to be there at the time, and signed both brothers up for roles in "Our Gang". Carl was to play "Alfalfa", and brother Harold played "Slim" (aka Deadpan").
Alfalfa's love interest in "Our Gang" was Darla, whose real name was Darla Hood. Darla became quite a successful singer after she grew out of the "Our Gang" role.
33. Icon : PONZI SCHEMER
"I con" because I am a PONZI SCHEMER.
Charles Ponzi was born in Luigi, Italy in 1882, and arrived in the US in 1903, flat broke having gambled away all his money on the voyage to Boston. He devised a scheme to buy what were known as "International reply coupons" through friends in Italy, when he had sent to him in the US so that he could redeem in the US. As the value in the US was greater than that in Italy, he could make a handsome profit. This was in itself an "illegal" transaction, buying an asset in one market at a low price, then immediately selling it in another market at a higher price. But what he did next was what became known as a Ponzi Scheme. He couldn't redeem his coupons quickly enough due to red tape, so he approached other investors, initially friends, and had them give him cash so that he could buy more coupons in Italy. He promised the investors he would double their money, which they did initially. So many people wanted to get in on the scheme that Ponzi was able to take the new investor's money and double the moneys of the original investors. Eventually, somebody did the math and word started to get out that the investment was risky, so the number of new investors started to fall. Without sufficient new investors Ponzi couldn't double the money of his latest investors, and the whole scheme unraveled.
35. Area in Queens : ASTORIA
Astoria is a neighborhood in the borough of Queens, New York. The area sits on the East River, and was originally called Hallet's Cove after the first landowner, William Hallet, who settled there in 1659. The area was renamed Astoria in a deal to get John Jacob Astor, then the wealthiest man in the country, to invest $2,000 in the neighborhood. Astor only put up $500 in the end, but the name stuck.
42. Ideal : CASINO WORKER
"I deal" because I am a CASINO WORKER.
49. Off the bottom, as an anchor : ATRIP
When many anchors are thrown overboard, they not only are attached to an anchor chain, but they also have a "trip line" that is attached to the head of the anchor. When the vessel pulls on the anchor chain, it cause the anchor to dig deeper into the bottom, so attempting to pull up the anchor just by the chain is often problematic. However, if one pulls on the trip line first, the anchor is pulled out of the seabed, and can then be lifted by winding in the anchor chain. After the trip line has been used, the anchor is off the bottom, and is said to be "atrip".
52. South American monkeys : TITIS
Titis are monkeys native to much of South America, predominantly found in dense forests near water. They are monogamous creatures, and mate for life. They can often be seen sitting or sleeping in pairs, with their long tails entwined.
53. Basketry fiber : ISTLE
Istle is a fiber that is obtained from various tropical plants including the agave and yucca tree.
54. Roadside bomb: Abbr. : IED
Improvised Explosive Device.
57. Competed in a velodrome : BIKED
A velodrome is an indoor arena used for racing bicycles. Velodrome is a French word, which makes sense, seeing as cycling is so very popular in France ...
60. "Heart of Georgia" : MACON
The "Heart of Georgia" is an alternative name for Central Georgia, and is that part of the state surrounding the city of Macon. Famously, Macon was home to the Allman Brothers, but also Little Richard, Otis Redding and Randy Crawford.
64. Every other hurricane : HER
Hurricanes are given names primarily to help the public keep track dangerous systems. The names are decided ahead of the hurricane season, with the first system given a name beginning with A, the second, B etc. The names are alternated between male and female names throughout the season. Also, if the first storm of the season is male, then the following year a female name is chosen. For hurricanes in the North Atlantic, names are assigned for every letter, except Q, U, X, Y and Z.
65. Fiji competitor : EVIAN
Evian, the French mineral water (which tastes terrible to me), is named after its sources near Evian-les-Bains. My favorite French mineral water is Badoit, but it is rarely found outside of France. If you get the chance though, check it out.
Fiji Water, as you might imagine, is a brand of water from the Fiji Islands.
I just think that bottling water and sending it around the world is absolutely insane ...
68. Surgeon's tool : LANCET
Lancet is another name for a scalpel. "The Lancet" is probably the world's most respected medical journal, and is certainly the oldest, first published in 1823.
69. Sherpa's tool : ICE AXE
In the Tibetan language, Sherpa means "eastern people" (sher = east, pa = people). Sherpas are an ethnic group from Nepal, but the name is also used for the local guides who assist mountaineers in the Himalayas, and particularly on Mount Everest.
70. Al et al. : GORES
Clever wording too ...
75. ___-A-Fella Records : ROC
Roc-a-Fella Records was founded in 1996 ... but I really don't do hip-hop ...
81. Call from home? : STRIKE ONE
Nicely disguised ...
88. English racing town : EPSOM
Epsom is most famous for its racecourse, at which is run the Epsom Derby every year, one of the three races that comprise the English Triple Crown. You might also have heard of Epsom salts. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters (Epsom was indeed a spa town at one time).
90. Half of an old comedy duo : OLLIE
Stan Laurel was an English comic actor (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson), who made a great career for himself in Hollywood, of course. He ended up at the Hal Roach studio, directing films, intent on pursuing a career writing and directing. However, Laurel, a sometime actor, was asked to step in when another comic actor, Oliver Hardy was injured and couldn't perform. Laurel and Hardy started to share a stage together during that time, and when it was clear they worked so well together, the partnership was born.
94. Long Island town where the Wright Brothers experimented : MINEOLA
The name of Mineola on Long Island is derived from the Native American word for "pleasant place". The town is surrounded by flat plains, and has favorable winds for flying. The Wright Brothers, and indeed Igor Sikorsky, spent time in Mineola, using the good conditions for testing of their various aircraft.
97. Ocean dweller with five points : SEA STAR
Sea star is an alternative name for a starfish.
100. Marsh sights : EGRETS
At one time the egret species was in danger of extinction due to hunting driven by the demand for plumes for hats.
104. Silky material : RAYON
Rayon is a little unusual in the textile industry, in that it is not truly a synthetic fiber, but nor can it be called a natural fiber. It is produced from naturally occurring cellulose that is dissolved and then reformed into fibers.
105. "Me, Myself & ___," 2000 Jim Carrey movie : IRENE
"Me, Myself and Irene" was released in 200o, and stars Jim Carrey (me, myself) and Renee (Irene). It tells the story of Charlie, a state trooper who develops a split personality.
107. "The ___ of Fife had a wife": Shak. : THANE
Thanes were Scottish aristocrats. The most famous has to be Macduff, the Thane of Fife, the fictional character that is killed off by Macbeth in Shakespeare's play.
109. "Spartacus" attire : TOGA
"Spartacus" is a famous 1960 historical dram directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is based on the true story of Spartacus, and his role in the Third Servile War, the last of the unsuccessful slave rebellions of Ancient Rome. In the movie of course, Spartacus was played by Kirk Douglas. Douglas was very much the driving force behind making the movie. He had failed to win the title role in "Ben-Hur", losing out to Charlton Heston. He decided to make a competing film, with a similar theme and setting. You judge which is best ...
111. Certain claim : LIEN
A lien is the right that one has to retain someone's property until a debt is paid.
112. Square root of nueve : TRES
The square root of 9 (nueve) is 3 (tres) ... Spanish.
114. Open hearing, in law : OYER
Oyer was the term used to describe the reading out loud of a document in court.
121. "If I Ruled the World" rapper : NAS
Rapper Nas used to go by the stage name Nasty Nas, and before that by his real name, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. He released "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" in 1996. Not my cup of tea, I would say ...