This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 11m 58s
THEME: Hidden meanings? ... Each theme answer contains a word, found by using the circled letters, that means the opposite of theme answer itself e.g. EVery bIt an angeL (EVIL), HAs ThE hotS for (HATES)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
16. Aachen article : EINE
Eine is the German word for the indefinite article "a", when used with a feminine noun.
Aachen is a city in the very west of Germany, right on the border with Belgium and the Netherlands. In English, we quite often refer to this city by its French name, Aix-la-Chapelle.
17. Nice through and through ... or not : EVERY BIT AN ANGEL
22. Charlemagne's dominion: Abbr. : HRE
Pepin the Short was the Duke of the Franks from 751 to 768. He expanded the Frankish Empire, and then had to divide it up by law between his two sons, Carloman I and Charlemagne. Carloman I was given lands that were centered around the Paris, and Charlemagne was given lands that completely surrounded his brothers territory. So, it fell to Charlemagne to defend, and extend, the borders of the empire, and it is Charlemagne that we read about today, not Carloman I. And it was Charlemagne who in effect founded the Holy Roman Empire.
27. Really digs ... or not : HAS THE HOTS FOR
33. Woman who raised Cain : EVE
As Cain was the first murderer according the Bible, he is associated with evil or trouble. The idiom "raise Cain" is the equivalent to "raise Hell" and "raise the Devil". In all cases the meaning is to bring back evil, to cause trouble.
35. Hogwash : TRIPE
Tripe and hogwash are both words used informally meaning rubbish, of little value. Tripe is actually the rubbery lining of say a cow, that's traditionally eaten with onions in the UK. Hogwash was originally the name of the swill fed to pigs.
38. Portland, Ore., college from which Steve Jobs dropped out : REED
Reed College in Portland is known for many things, including ownership of the only nuclear reactor that is primarily run by students!
45. Some Iroquois : ERIES
The Erie were an early tribe of Native Americans that lived on lands on the south shore of Lake Erie. The Iroquois tribe waged war with the Erie, basically wiping out the tribe, but for a few survivors. Some of these survivors were adopted into Iroquois tribes, particularly the Seneca nation.
47. 2008 Super Bowl M.V.P. Manning : ELI
Even I know that Eli Manning and his older brother, Peyton, are quarterbacks!
48. Most wretched ... or not : ABSOLUTE WORST
51. One of academia's Seven Sisters : VASSAR
The Seven Sisters are a group of the (traditionally women's) colleges in the northeast of the country. The seven are:
- Mount Holyoke
- Bryn Mawr
54. Bridge expert Culbertson : ELY
Ely Culbertson was a great personality in the word of contract bridge (the greatest card game in the world!). He wrote an autobiography called "The Strange Lives of One Man" which is supposed to an extraordinary read. I will have to put it on my Christmas wish list ...
55. Maryland athletes, for short : TERPS
The sports teams of the University of Maryland are called the Maryland Terrapins, or "the Terps" for short. The name dates back to 1932 when it was first coined by the the university's president at the time, Curly Byrd. He took the name from the diamondback terrapins that are native to the Chesapeake Bay.
63. Speaks with brutal honesty ... or not : TELLS IT LIKE IT IS
66. Rock's Mötley ___ : CRUE
Motley Crue is an American rock band, from Los Angeles. They've been around since 1981, co-founded by the famous drummer Tommy Lee. Tommy Lee is also known for his two celebrated marriages, the first with Heather Locklear, and the second with Pamela Anderson.
68. "L'___ c'est moi": Louis XIV : ETAT
"L'Etat, c'est moi" is a French phrase, supposedly spoken by Louis XIV on his death bed. It translates to "I am the State", an would appear to mean that Louis considered himself to be "above his station" as it were. However, many dispute the quotation, and argue that Louis actually said on his death bed that even though he was dying, the State would live on.
71. Title girl in a 1922 hit : NOLA
Vincent Lopez was an American band-leader, son of Portuguese immigrants from New York City. He was very popular on the days of radio, before television, and would start his broadcasts with "Lopez speaking!". His theme song "Nola" was a novelty ragtime piece that dated back to 1915, composed by Felix Arndt.
2. Exploding star : NOVA
I don't this is quite true, that a nova is an "exploding" star (although I am no astrophysicist). I think we might be mixing up our supernovae and our novae. A nova is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness is due to increased nuclear activity caused the star picking up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different. It is a very bright burst of light and energy, created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst is very short-lived compared to a nova.
5. Priestly attire : ALB
The alb is the white, neck-to-toe vestment worn by priests, usually worn with a rope cord around the waist. The term alb comes from "albus", the Latin word for "white".
7. Singer James : ETTA
Etta James is best known for her rendition of "At Last". Sadly, she discloses in her autobiography, Etta James has lived a life that has been ravaged by drug addiction, leading to numerous legal and health problems.
8. Kind of tide : NEAP
Neap tides are when the difference between the height of the water at high tide and low tide is relatively small. Spring tide is the opposite, with a big swing in the height of the water. Tides of course are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon on the oceans. At neap tide, the lesser gravitational effect of the sun cancels out some of the moon's effect. At spring tides, the sun and the moon's gravities act in concert causing more extreme movement of the oceans.
9. "Gunsmoke" star James : ARNESS
James Arness played the role of Marshall Mat Dillon on "Gunsmoke" for twenty years, although if you count the occasions when he reprised the role for specials, he actually performed as Matt Dillon over five decades. And, did you know that Peter Graves, the actor who played Jim Phelps on "Mission: Impossible", his real name was Peter Arness. He and James were brothers.
10. ___-Xer : GEN
The term Generation X originated in the UK, the name of a book by Jane Deverson. Her book detailed the results of her study of British youth in 1964, contrasting their lifestyle to those of previous generations. However, Canadian author Douglas Coupland was responsible for the popularizing the term, with his more successful publication "Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture". By the latest accepted definition, Gen Xers were born from 1961 to 1981.
11. Certain vigilante : NIGHT RIDER
The Night Riders were a secret band of mounted vigilantes active in the South after the Civil War, famous for their acts of intimidation and revenge.
13. Bygone communication : TELEX
Telex grew out of the world of the telegraph. What Telex brought to telegraphy was the ability to route messages. Instead of instructing an operator at the other end to route a particular message to the intended party, the operator of a telex could route the message directly to another telex machine by using a rotary dial, very similar to that on a telephone.
26. Writer Ephron : NORA
Nora Ephron has many talents, including writing film scripts and novels. Many of the movies that she writes, she also directs. These would include some of my favorite movies of all time like "Sleepless in Seattle", "You've Got Mail" and most recently, the wonderful "Julie & Julia". And, did you know that Nora Ephron's second marriage was to journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame?
27. Juno's counterpart : HERA
In Greek mythology, Hera was the wife of Zeus, and was noted for her jealousy and vengeful nature, particularly against those who vied for the affections of her husband. The equivalent character in Roman mythology was Juno.
28. Connecticut and Virginia, in Monopoly: Abbr. : AVES
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.
31. Japanese seaport : OTARU
The city and port of Otaru is just a 25-minute drive northwest from Sapporo. Like it's larger neighbor, Sapporo, Otaru has a famous beer named after it.
32. Book of the Apocrypha : TOBIT
The biblical apochrypha are books published in a separate section in some editions of the Bible. The term "apochrypha" comes from Greek, and means "hidden". The Book of Tobit (or Book of Tobias) is one of the apochrypha. It forms part of the Roman Catholic biblical canon.
39. Nicknames : DUBS
To give someone a nickname is to dub him or her with that name.
44. 11th-grade exams, for short : PSATS
I think the acronym PSAT used to stem from Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test.
46. Ingemar Johansson or Ingrid Bergman : SWEDE
Ingemar Johansson was a Swedish boxer, and former heavyweight champion of the world. Ingrid Bergman is of course the fames Swedish actress, who starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca".
49. Tater Tots maker : ORE-IDA
Ore-Ida founders came up with the idea for Tater Tots when they were deciding what to do with leftover cuts of potato. They chopped up the leftovers, added flour and seasoning, extruded the mix through a large whole making a sausage which they cut into small cylinders. American eat 70 million pounds of this extruded potato every year.
50. Funnyman Conan : O'BRIEN
Before Conan O'Brien came to fame as a late night talk show host, he was a writer. He wrote for both "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons".
52. Old Oldsmobile : ALERO
The Oldsmobile Alero was the last compact car made by Oldsmobile, produced from 1999 to 2004.
58. "The Bicycle Thief" director Vittorio De ___ : SICA
Vottoria De Sita was an Italian director and actor. He was director of the film "The Bicycle Thief", released in 1948. Many deem "The Bicycle Thief" to be the greatest movie ever made.
60. Bus driver on "The Simpsons" : OTTO
Otto Mann drives the school bus on "The Simpsons". He is voiced by Harry Shearer. Otto is a Germanic character, and his name is a play on the Ottoman Empire. When Bart sees him, he greets him with "Otto, man!"
62. "Cómo ___?" : ESTA
"Come esta usted?" is the more formal way of asking, "how are you?" in Spanish.