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0829-10 New York Times Crossword Answers 29 Aug 10



Announcement
I am test driving a new feature at the bottom of each post. There you will find a selection of clips/trailers from movies and TV shows mentioned in today's crossword. If folks find the feature useful/entertaining, I will continue to include it ... Bill.

The name's William Ernest Butler, but please call me Bill. I grew up in Ireland, but now live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm retired now, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world. I answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at bill@paxient.com, or leave a comment below. If you are working on the New York Times crossword in any other publication, you are working on the syndicated puzzle. Here is a link to my answers to today's SYNDICATED New York Times crossword. To find any solution other than today's, enter the crossword number (e.g. 1225, 0107) in the "Search the Blog" box above.

This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...

COMPLETION TIME: 36m 39s
THEME: Going for a Run ... Each theme answer has two words, and when all the theme answers are linked in order, the words are in alphabetical order, an alphabetical RUN i.e. Army Brat, Carbon Dating, Exhaust Fans etc
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 ... BULGY (BULKY), IGA (IKA)

TODAY'S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
Across
6. Middleton who sang with Louis Armstrong : VELMA
Velma Middleton was a jazz vocalist from St. Louis, Missouri. She sang with the Louis Armstrong big bands for many years, from 1942 to 1961. It was while on tour with Armstrong, in Africa, that Velma actually passed away. She suffered a stroke, and died in Sierra Leone.

11. They might carry babies in nappies : PRAMS
Here's another word that I had to learn when I moved to America. What are called "diapers" over here, we call "nappies" back in Ireland. The term "diaper" is actually the original term that was used in England for the garment, where "diaper" referred to the cloth that was used. The term diaper was brought to the New World where it stuck. Back in Britain, diaper was displaced by the word "nappy", a diminutive of "napkin".

Another word used in the UK, and rarely used over here is "pram", which used to be the most common term for what is/was called a baby carriage over here. "Pram" is short for "perambulator".

The Mikado16. Muckety-mucks : POOH-BAHS
Pooh-Bah is a character in the wonderful Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera "The Mikado". Famously, Pooh-Bah holds many, many offices, including that of "Lord High Everything Else".

22. Kid constantly switching schools, maybe : ARMY BRAT
A-B

An Army Brat is the child of an army professional, famous for switching schools often as the parent is reassigned to different bases.

23. Age-revealing method : CARBON DATING
C-D

Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon that is found in nature in small amounts, and is used in the technique known as radiocarbon dating, a relatively accurate way of determining the age of something up about 60,000 years old. When an organism is alive, the amount of radioactive carbon-14 it has, compared to the amount of regular carbon-12, is a fixed ration. After the organism dies, it is no longer exchanging carbon with the atmosphere through metabolism. So, the stable carbon-12 stays in the body as it rots, but the radioactive carbon-14 gradually decays, causing the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 to fall. Scientists can determine the age of remains by measuring this carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio.

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow25. Headless Horseman's wear : CAPE
The Headless Horseman is a character in Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleep Hollow".

26. The Wildcats, for short : KSU
The athletic teams of Kansas State University (KSU) are called the Wildcats. The Wildcats official "colors" are just one, Royal Purple. There are very few college teams with just one official color. As well as KSU there is Syracuse (Orange) and Harvard (Crimson).

28. Real cutup : RIOT
A person who is a cutup, or a riot, is hilariously funny.

29. Stale air removers : EXHAUST FANS
E-F

33. Supposed results of stress : GRAY HAIRS
G-H

Hair color is governed by the amount of two pigments in the follicles, two types of melanin. In general, the more melanin there is, the darker the hair. Grey (or white) hair isn't pigmented at all. It's the absence of melanin that leaves the hair looking gray or white.

H.R.H.35. Danielle Steel novel about a European princess : H.R.H.
"H.R.H." is a fairly recent novel written by author Danielle Steel, published in 2006. Steel is a prolific writer, and "H.R.H." is her 70th book. She lives not too far away from me here, in San Francisco.

Very Best of36. Lisa with the #1 hit "Stay (I Missed You)" : LOEB
Lisa Loeb was discovered by actor Ethan Hawke, who lived just across the street from her in New York City. He took a demo of her song "Stay(I Missed You)" and gave it to director Ben Stiller, who in turn used it over the ending credits of his 1994 movie "Reality Bites". The movie was a hit, the song went to number one, and Loeb became the first artist ever to hit that number one spot without having singed up with a record label. Good for her!

39. "Gee," in Glasgow : OCH
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, and sits on the River Clyde. Scots people say "Och!" a lot ...

50. Biblical kingdom : MOAB
In the Bible, Moab was the first son of Lot, and the founder of the Kingdom of Moab.

Dansk Concerto Allegro Blue 4-Piece Place Setting, Service for 152. Big name in dinnerware : DANSK
Dansk is actually an American company, founded in 1954 by an American couple in the garage of their home in Great Neck, New York. The company was set up to showcase the flatware designs of Danish designer Jens Quistgaard. The name "Dansk" is Danish for "Danish"!

Conversations with God, An Uncommon Dialogue: Embracing the Love of the Universe (Expanded Anniversary Edition of Conversations with God)53. "Conversations With God" author ___ Donald Walsch : NEALE
"Conversations with God" is a unique set of books written by author Neale Donald Walsch. The immensely successful series is structured in the form of a series of questions asked by the author, and answered by God.

56. British American Tobacco brand : KENT
Kent brand of cigarettes is owned by the company British American Tobacco, which has its headquarters in London. The company is the second largest in the world, in terms of market share. It owns such brands as Dunhill, Pall Mall, Rothmans, Peter Stuyvesant, Benson & Hedges and KOOL.

58. Embezzlement, e.g. : INSIDE JOB
I-J

World?s Best 00631 Cat Litter, Multiple-Cat Clumping Formula, 34 Pounds60. Pet shop purchase : KITTY LITTER
K-L

63. Not an imit. : ORIG
An original is not an imitation.

66. Reuters competitor : UPI
United Press International was one of the biggest news agencies in the world, sending out news by wire to the major newspapers. It ran foul of the change in media formats at the end of the last century, and lost many of its clients as the afternoon newspapers shut down due to the advent of television news. UPI, which once employed thousands of people, still exists but with only a handful of employees.

67. Words a house burglar doesn't want to hear : SIC 'EM
Sic 'em is an attack order given to a dog, instructing the animal to growl, bark or even bite. The term dates back to the 1830s, with "sic" being a variation of "seek".

Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts, 32.5-Ounce Tubs (Pack of 2)68. Party bowlful : MIXED NUTS
M-N

71. Highest point on the Ohio & Erie Canal : AKRON
Back in the 1800s, Akron, Ohio was the fasting growing city in the country, feeding off the industrial boom at that time. The city was founded in 1825. It's location along the Ohio and Erie canal, conecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River, helped to fuel the grow of the Akron. Akron sits at the highest point of the canal, and the name "Akron" comes from the Greek word meaning "summit". Indeed, Akron is the county seat of Summit County.

USAF Thunderbirds Jet Airplane Picture Black Framed Art Print74. Thunderbirds' org. : USAF
The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the USAF, based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron grew out of the 3600th Air Demonstration Team founded in 1953, and flew their first exhibition in June of that year. I visited the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs recently (what an impressive campus!). Every year, at graduation, the Thunderbird jets fly over the academy's commencement gathering precisely at the moment when the graduating cadets throw their hats in the the air.

Sojourner Truth (On My Own Biography)77. "___ a Woman?" (Sojourner Truth speech delivered in 1851 in 71-Across) : AIN'T I
Sojourner Truth (real name Isabella Baumfree) was an African-American abolitionist and woman's rights activist. Truth was born a slave in New York State, and freed in 1827. She became famous for her speeches against slavery, including her most famous address "Ain't I a Woman?" was delivered at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851.

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet78. Pluto, e.g., before it was plutoed : OUTER PLANET
O-P

Pluto was discovered in 1930, and was welcomed as the ninth planet in our solar system. It is relatively small in size, just one fifth of the mass of our own moon. In the seventies, astronomers began to discover more, large objects in the solar system, including Eris, a "scattered disc object" at the outer reaches. Given that Eris is actually bigger than Pluto, and other objects really aren't that much smaller, Pluto's status as a planet was drawn into question. In 2006 there was a scientific definition for a "planet" agreed for the first time, resulting in Pluto being relegated to the status of dwarf planet, along with Eris. Since then, the verb "to pluto" has been used to describe the removal of something from a (usually prestigious) list or group.

81. Harlequin romance, e.g. : QUICK READ
Q-R

The "category" of "romance novels" was first introduced by the British company "Mills and Boon" in the UK. These books were resold in the US by Canadian firm Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, beginning in 1957. Harlequin continued to publish exclusively British romance novels until 1975, when it finally published an American author, Janet Dailey.

85. Isthmus : NECK
The word "isthmus" comes the Greek word for "neck". it is a narrow strip of land that usually connects two large land masses. The most notable examples of the formation are the Isthmus of Corinth in the Greek peninsula, and the Isthmus of Panama, connecting North and South America.

87. Protuberant : BULGY
Something that is protuberant bulges, swells outward.

Come Back, Little Sheba89. Title dog in an Inge play : SHEBA
Playwright William Inge's first play was "Come Back, Little Sheba", written in 1950. Sheba is the dog in the piece, who starts off lost and is still lost at the final curtain.

95. Cards once traded for Gehrigs, say : OTTS
I don't think Mel Ott took steroids! At 5' 9" he weighed just 170 lb.. Yet he was the first National League player to hit over 500 home runs. Ott died in a car accident in New Orleans in 1958, at age 49 years.

Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou GehrigLou Gehrig was known as a powerhouse. He was a big hitter and just kept on going, breaking the record for the most consecutive number of games played, and he stills holds the record for the most career grand slams. His durability earned him the nickname "The Iron Horse". Sadly, of course, he died in 1941 at 37-years-old of ALS, which we now call "Lou Gehrig's Disease".

98. 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".

Morgan Rocking Recliner by La-Z-Boy99. ___-Boy (brand of furniture) : LA-Z
La-Z-Boy is a furniture manufacturer based in Monroe, Michigan. Although it makes furniture for every room in the house, it is famous for it's recliner chairs found in family rooms all over the country.

101. Leadfoot's downfall : SPEED TRAP
S-T

If you have a lead foot you might be pressing too heavily on the gas pedal, and can get caught in a speed trap.

106. It's got some miles on it : USED VEHICLE
U-V

112. Some World Cup cheers : OLES
"Ole Ole Ole!" is chanted at soccer games by many Spanish speaking (or shouting) fans. I am very proud to claim that the Ireland fans have adopted the chant as their own, and it can be heard practically non-stop when Ireland is playing (with some inventive melody behind it!).

113. Was two under : EAGLED
The use of the word "eagle" to signify a 2-under-par score on a hole in golf, is simply building on the established use of "birdie" for 1-under-par. An eagle is just a "bigger" bird, and 2-under par is "bigger" and better than 1-under.

WWE - The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection115. Flair of pro wrestling : RIC
The wrestler Ric Flair's real name if Richard Fliehr. Perhaps following the lead of his compatriot Jesse Ventura, Flair explored the possibility of running for governor of the state of North Carolina. Dearie, dearie me ...

116. Matey's libation : GROG
37 GROG: Edward Vernon was a naval officer with the nickname "Old Grog". In 1740, he ordered that the daily ration of run for his sailors should be watered down, in order to reduce discipline problems caused by drunkenness. The diluted rum was sweetened with sugar, and lemon or lime added to help preserve it on long voyages. This recipe, found to reduce scurvy among sailors (because of the citrus) spread throughout the Royal Navy, and "grog" was born.

117. Annual sports event since 1997 : WINTER X-GAMES
The X Games are annual events, with a Summer X Games held every year as well as a Winter X Games. It's very much a commercial venture, with all aspects controlled by the TV station ESPN. The games focus on extreme action sports, like skateboarding and freestyle motocross in the summer, and various extreme snowboarding events in the winter.

120. Beginning of time? : YEAR ZERO
Y-Z

123. Online mag : EZINE
An ezine: an online magazine.

125. Religious council : SYNOD
The word synod comes from the Greek word for assembly, or meeting. A synod is a church council, usually in the Christian faith.

Winmau Blade III Bristle Dartboard126. Around the Clock is a version of this : DARTS
Darts is a wonderful game, often played in English and Irish pubs, over here in America as well in the British Isles. The scoring in a traditional game of darts is difficult to describe in a sentence or two, but the game of darts called "Round the Clock" is simply hitting the numbers 1 through 20 in sequence.

Down
1. Antiseptic agent : BORAX
Borax is also known as sodium borate, and is a salt of boric acid. It is a white powder that dissolves easily in water. Borax has many uses, including as an anti-fungal agent and an anti-septic.

Cabaret (25th Anniversary Special Edition) [VHS]4. "Cabaret" lyricist : EBB
Fred Ebb was a lyricist whose most famous collaboration was with composer John Kander. The Kander and Ebb team worked most famously with Liza Minnelli. Their first project together, a musical called "Flora the Red Menace", won Minnelli a Tony. Their second project together was "Cabaret" which ran for three years, won eight Tony Awards and was adapted into a movie.

5. Navy, e.g. : DARK SHADE
Navy is a dark shade of blue. It takes its name from the color adopted for uniforms for officers of the Royal Navy starting in 1748. The name for the color back then was "marine blue", but it was soon changed to "navy blue".

6. Cleaner, for short : VAC
The vacuum cleaner has been around since 1860, an invention by Daniel Hess of Iowa.

Charlie Rose - Lara Logan / David Ignatius / Shah Mahmood Qureshi (October 6, 2009)8. Newswoman Logan : LARA
Lara Logan is a South African newswoman, currently the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for CBS News.

9. "Sex and the City" character also known as John : MR BIG
Is it just me or would sex and the city be so much better off without the two romantic leads, Carrie and Mr. Big? Carrie Bradshaw is played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mr. Big (aka John James Preston) is played by Chris Noth. We never found out Mr Big's first name (John) until the series finale, and his full name wasn't revealed until the first movie came out. And now we have ... "Sex and the City 2" ...

Egyptian Amun Ra Statue Sculpture10. Egyptian god of the universe : AMON-RA
Amun was also known as "Amun-Ra", a god in Egyptian mythology. Amun lends his name to our word "ammonia", as the Romans called the ammonium chloride they collected near the Temple of Jupiter Amun "sal ammoniacus" (salt of Amun).

11. Rice source : PADDY FIELD
A paddy field is the flooded piece of land used to grow rice. The water reduces competition from weeds allowing the rice to thrive. The word "paddy" has nothing to do with us Irish folk, and is an anglicized version of the word "padi", the Malay name for the rice plant.

12. Small inlet : RIA
A ria is actually a drowned river valley. It is formed where the sea level has raised, and the sea has flooded a valley. As a result, a ria can be confused with a fjord. A fjord is also a drowned valley, but that valley was originally formed by glaciation and not by river erosion.

The Royal Air Force at War: The Unseen Films 1940-194413. "Per ardua ad ___" (Royal Air Force motto) : ASTRA
The motto adopted by the Royal Air Force is "Per adua as astra": "Through adversity to the stars".

14. 900 years before Queen Elizabeth was crowned : MLIII
We are referring to Queen Elizabeth II here. She was crowned in 1953.

16. Tempo : PACE
"Tempus" is the Latin for time.

17. Own, in the past : HAST
"I have", or as it used to be "I hast".

Oreo Double Stuf Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, 18-OuncePackages (Pack of 12)18. Double ___ (Oreo variety) : STUF
Double Stuf Oreo was introduced in 1975, and it has twice the normal amount of white cream filling.

30. Web address : URL
Internet addresses are Uniform Resource Locators (URLs).

34. Cable inits. for sales pitches : HSN
The Home Shopping Network was the first national shopping network, and was launched locally as the Home Shopping Club in Florida in 1982. The whole concept just scares me ...

ROBERTO BENIGNI 8x10 COLOUR PHOTO37. Oscar winner for "Life Is Beautiful" : BENIGNI
Roberto Benigni is an Italian actor and director. Benigni had a major role in "Son of the Pink Panther" in which he played the illegitimate son of Inspector Clouseau played by Peter Sellers. The movie bombed in America, but made it big in Binigni's native country of Italy. His most famous role in here in America is in the 1997 film "Life is Beautiful", an Italian language film that won him the 1997 Oscar for Best Actor (and Benigni also directed the movie).

43. Atlantic City hot spot, with "the" : TAJ
Donald Trump's Taj Mahal Casino Resort opened up for business in 1990 in Atlantic City.

A Year With Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno's Diary44. Musician Brian : ENO
Brian Eno started out his musical career with Roxy Music. However, his most oft played composition (by far!) is Microsoft's "start-up jingle", the 6-second sound you'd hear when the Windows 95 system starts up.

45. Court cry : LET
In tennis, a "let!" is called when an otherwise legal serve touches the net before the receiver gets a chance to return. A let doesn't count as a fault, so the server just tries again to get a good serve.

49. Start of a popular children's rhyme : ONE POTATO
"One Potato" is a counting out game designed to select a person who is "it" in a kid's game. The selection depends on the rhyme:
"One potato, two potato,
Three potato, four,
Five potato, six potato,
Seven potato, more,
One big bad spud."

2005 Honda CBR1000RR51. Hog : BIKE
"Hog" is an informal name for a large motorcycle (and not just a Harley-Davidson).

54. Elementary figure: Abbr. : AT. WT.
The Atomic Weight of an element is the mass of an atom of the element, relative to the mass of an atom of carbon (which is assumed to have an atomic weight of 12).

Johnson S C Inc 00117 Drano Max Clog Remover55. Corrosive cleaning agents : LYES
Historically, lye was hydrated potash (potassium hydroxide). Nowadays when we purchase lye it caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). Crystal Drano was developed in 1932 by one Harry Drackett, who produced the product in his own company until it was bought over in 1965 by Bristol Myers. The crystalline form of Drano is sodium hydroxide (lye) as well as sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (table salt) and aluminum. The product works as the lye reacts with any fats in the clog forming soap. The lye also reacts with finely divided aluminum generating tremendous heat, creating boiling and churning so that any hair or other deposits are cut by the sharp edges of the crystals. Having said that, boiling water poured down the drain is often just as effective.

57. Where the limbo dance originated : TRINIDAD
The limbo dance originated on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean. The name "limbo" is an alteration of our word "limber", which isn't surprising given what one has to do to get under that bar!

CHRIS ISAAK 8X10 COLOR PHOTO61. Chris with the top 10 hit "Wicked Game" : ISAAK
Chris Isaak's 1991 hit "Wicked Game" is taken from his 1989 album "Heart Shaped World".

Chris Isaak is not only an American rock musician, but has also had a lot of acting parts. He had small roles in movies like "Married to the Mob" and "The Silence of the Lambs", but I remember him as astronaut Ed White in the fabulous HBO miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon".

64. Woolgathering : REVERIE
"Woolgathering" is the name given to the practice of engaging in wandering fantasies, and takes its name from the lazy routine of gathering wool torn from sheep by bushes etc.

68. Where the Senegal River begins : 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.

72. White wine cocktails : KIRS
Kir is a French cocktail, made by adding a teaspoon or so of creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) to a glass, and then topping it off with white wine. The drink is named after Felix Kir, the Mayor of Dijon in Burgundy, who used to offer the drink to his guests after WWII. My wife (expensive tastes) is particularly fond of a variant called a Kir Royal, in which the white wine is replaced with champagne.

The Hidden Staircase80. Nancy Drew's beau : NED
I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid (I know, as a boy I "shouldn't" have been reading them!). They were written by a number of ghost writers, but the character was introduced by Edward Stratemeyer in 1930. Nancy Drew's boyfriend was Ned Nickerson, a college student from Emerson.

82. Locale of an 1805 Napoleon victory : ULM
Ulm is in the south of Germany, and sits on the River Danube. It is famous for being home to the tallest church in the world, Ulm Minster, a Gothic building with a steeple that is 530ft tall, with 768 steps to climb. Quite a workout, I'd say ...

Ulm is the birthplace of Albert Einstein, and the site of the surrender of the entire Austrian army to Napoleon.

83. Supermarket with a red oval logo : IGA
IGA stands for Independent Grocers Alliance, a chain of supermarkets that extends right around the world. The headquarters of IGA, a voluntary alliance, is in Chicago.

84. Low-cost, lightweight autos of the 1910s-'20s : CYCLECARS
Cyclecars were small and inexpensive cars manufactured between 1910 and 1930. They were built using small engines, often engines that had been designed for motorcycles (giving the car its name).

The Adventures of Gil Blas87. Lesage book "Gil ___" : BLAS
"Gil Blas" is considered to be a masterpiece, written by French author, Alain-Rene Lesage.

90. Gymgoer's pride : BOD
Many regulars at the gym are proud of their bodies.

96. "Time ___" (1990s sci-fi series) : TRAX
"Time Trax" was a sci-fi TV show that first aired in 1993, a joint American/Australian production.

101. Foments : SOWS
To foment is to promote the growth of.

Shakira (Biography (a & E))104. "Dónde ___ los Ladrones?" (1998 platinum album by Shakira) : ESTAN
Shakira is a hugely successful singer from Colombia. Her name has long been romantically linked with Antonia de la Rua, the son of the ex-President of Argentina.

108. ___ Cong : VIET
The Viet Cong was the name of the political and military organization based in South Vietnam that fought the US and South Vietnamese government during the Vietnam War. The relationship of the Viet Cong with North Vietnam was always controversial.

109. ___ de cacao : CREME
Creme de Cacao is a very sweet, chocolate-flavored liqueur.

110. Petty and Singer : LORIS
LORI PETTY 11X14 B&W PHOTOLori Petty is the actress that played "Kit Keller" in the fabulous movie "A League of Their Own".

Lori Singer is an actress, and also a cellist. Her most famous acting role was the daughter of the Reverend Shaw Moore (played by John Lithgow) in "Footloose".

111. Von Furstenberg of fashion : EGON
Egon von Furstenberg was a Swiss fashion designer, with quite the bloodline. He belonged to the House of Furstenberg, a reigning family in Germany that dated back to the Holy Roman Empire. Having said that, he began his career as a buyer with Macy's.

114. Kuwaiti dignitary : EMIR
In English, emir can also be written as amir and ameer (watch out for those spellings in crosswords!).

118. Alternative rock genre : EMO
Emo originated in Washington D.C. in the 80s, and takes its name from "emotional hardcore". Not my cup of tea ...

119. Parisian possessive : SES
SES is the French for "their".

Stephen Rea 12x16 B&W Photograph121. Actor Stephen : REA
Stephen Rea is an Irish actor, whose most famous role was that of the "retired" IRA man in the brilliant 1992 film "The Crying Game". He also starred in the chilling movie "Stuck", a 2007 film that is based on a true story about a woman who commits a hit and run on a homeless man. The woman leaves the scene of the crime with the victim still "stuck" in her windshield. The woman leaves the man to die in her garage. Chilling, eh? But, true ...


Movies and TV shows from today's crossword
Just select a title, and press the "play" button ...

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

About 100 or so years ago when I was in school I was taught that hair was both singular and plural. Therefore, I question the answer to 33 across for this puzzle. Help me out here please

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, my anonymous visitor.

You are most welcome!

I think I was taught something similar at school, although there was a twist. "Hair" was a singular for sure, as in "there is a hair in my soup". "Hair" was also used in the singular form to describe that mop on top of our heads, as in "she stuck chewing gum in my hair!". However, if one had more than one hair in one's soup, one had two hairs, or a couple of hairs.

It's tough enough for us native speakers to learn English. Can you imagine what it must be like for someone learning English as a foreign language?

I hope that helps, and thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Because this topic is so amusing, I just had to chime in. Having taught ESL for years I've had to wonder at the logic separating Mass Nouns from Count Nouns in English. The difficulty in mastering the distinction leads English learners
to make many mistakes, and some teachers, like myself, to question whether it is a mistake. While I stand behind two deer not becoming two deers I wonder about two buffalo? Sounds okay but why not use the plural, two buffaloes? Personally, I wouldn't correct the weary hunter either way. I would just be splitting hairs (perhaps while he is splitting hares.)

So ask yourself where do you stand on Shrimp? Personally, I'm giving up thinking that all the non- natives saying "shrimps" when their counting them up in their head is wrong. I found myself saying recently on a cruise ship (non-native speakers everywhere) just to show solidarity with those struggling with this persnickety rule , and you know what, it didn't feel that wrong. It felt like a viable option, at least in spoken discourse. So that's my two pence... which is somewhat erroneous is it not?

On another puzzle clue, I noticed Roberto Benigni looks a lot like Ed Wynn from the old cover of Time Magazine. Maybe they should cast him in Mary Poppins on Broadway.

Bill Butler said...

Hi there, second anonymous visitor :)

What a fascinating subject, eh? A discussion of the exceptions to English grammar "rules" always seem to leave me more educated and aware, and more frustrated at the same time!

I remember when I was learning about count and non-count (as we called mass nouns) nouns, there were buckets of exceptions, and at that point I probably started to doze (sadly) along with my classmates.

As I said in my last comment, teaching ESL must be such a wonderful challenge. I have spent some time myself learning both French and German as an adult, as someone who finally developed a fascination and respect for grammar. As a foreign language student, I would often take some of my grammar questions and pose them to native speakers (not teachers). Almost invariably I would be given the correct answer, but no insight in to the "rule". It seems that when we speak our native language we tend to be acting based on experience as opposed to comprehension.

With regard to your excellent question about SHRIMP I have to observe, without knowledge of the "right" answer, that SHRIMP/SHRIMPS were little critters that caused me trouble when I moved from Ireland to America. Back in Ireland the tendency is to have several shrimps on one's shrimp cocktail, whereas here I found myself going native by having several shrimp. I have no idea which is "correct"!

And on your related note about the Benigni/Wynn twins, I went looking for that Time magazine cover (it was actually "Life", by the way) and how right you are! A remarkable likeness.

Thanks for chiming in!

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About This Blog

This is the simplest of blogs.

I do the New York Times puzzle online every evening, the night before it is published in the paper. Then, I "Google & Wiki" the references that puzzle me, or that I find of interest. I post my findings, along with the solution, as soon as I am done, usually well before the newsprint version becomes available.

About Me

The name's William Ernest Butler, but please call me Bill. I grew up in Ireland, but now live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am retired, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world.

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Crosswords and My Dad

I worked on my first crossword puzzle when I was about 6-years-old, sitting on my Dad's knee. He let me "help" him with his puzzle almost everyday as I was growing up. Over the years, Dad passed on to me his addiction to crosswords. Now in my early 50s, I work on my Irish Times and New York Times puzzles every day. I'm no longer sitting on my Dad's knee, but I feel that he is there with me, looking over my shoulder.

This blog is dedicated to my Dad, who passed away at the beginning of this month.

Bill
January 29, 2009

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