The full solution to today's crossword that appears in the New York Times
The full solution to today's SYNDICATED New York Times crossword that appears in all other publications
THEME: Leading Articles ... all of the theme answers are well known expressions in which a letter has been dropped to change the meaning to suit the clue. In effect, the first syllable of the second word of the expression has been converted into the indefinite article "a" e.g. RESISTING A REST (resisting arrest), UNDER A TACK (under attack), LOVE A FAIR (love affair), UPON A RIVAL (upon arrival)
COMPLETION TIME: 33m 04s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 REEVES (REAVES), LEDA (LADA!)
Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Oscar-nominated actor with the given name Aristotelis : SAVALAS
I think we all remember Telly Savalas playing the title role in the detective drama "Kojak", but do we recall his performance in the 1962 "Birdman of Alcatraz"? Savalas played a supporting role opposite Burt Lancaster in that movie, earning himself an Oscar nomination. Savalas was well known as a Greek American actor, having been born Aristotelis Savalais, to Greek parents just outside New York City. Another of his more significant roles was Pontius Pilate in the 1965 epic "The Greatest Story Ever Told". Savalas had to shave his head to play Pilate, and liked the look so much he remained bald for the rest of his life.
14. Annapolis frosh : PLEBE
Plebe is a slang term for a freshman in one of the US military academies. Plebe is probably short for "plebeian", the name given to someone of the common class in ancient Rome (as opposed to a Patrician). Pleb is also a shortened version of plebeian, used outside of the military schools.
20. Slide sight : AMOEBA
An ameba (or "amoeba" as we spell it back in Ireland) is a single-celled microorganism. The name comes from the Greek "amoibe", meaning change. The name is quite apt, as the cell changes shape readily as the ameba moves, eats or reproduces.
21. Steve who played the title role of Hercules in a 1959 film : REEVES
Steve Reeves was an actor, and a bodybuilder. Born in Montana, he spent most of acting career in Europe, mainly playing in low-budget, Italian films which were filmed and then dubbed by voice actors in post-production. As a result, in most of his work Reeves is seen on screen with his fine physique, but his real voice isn't heard. One Italian film that he was offered, which he turned down, was the lead in "A Fistful of Dollars". He didn't think that Italians could make westerns, so he let the part go to Clint Eastwood. Hmm ...
22. Trying to stay awake? : RESISTING A REST
From "resisting arrest".
26. Deck for divining : TAROT
Tarot cards have been around since the mid-1400s, and for centuries were simply used in card games. It has only been since the late 1800s that the cards have been used by fortune tellers to predict the future.
28. It has 21 spots : DIE
The spots on a die are actually called "pips". As we all know, the numbers 1 through 6 are represented on each side of a a die, with the numbers placed so that the sum of the opposite sides of a die is always 7 (so 1 opposite 6, 2 opposite 5, and 3 opposite 4). The oldest known dice were found as part of a backgammon set in Iran, a game that was 5,000 years old!
36. Pinned down? : UNDER A TACK
From "under attack".
40. "Beauty and the Beast," e.g. : DUET
The 1991 song "Beauty and the Beast" was written specially for the animated Disney film of the same name. It was performed during the film by Angela Lansbury, but was sung as a duet in the closing credits by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.
44. Air bag? : LUNG
What a cleverly worded clue!
52. Not worth debating : MOOT
I reckon this clue is backwards. To moot, is to bring up as a subject for discussion or debate. So, something that is moot is open to debate. Something that is no longer moot, is no longer worth debating.
54. Popular word in German product packaging : NEU
"Neu" is the German word for "new".
55. Requested : BADE
"Bade" is such a lovely word, the past tense of the verb "to bid".
62. Debussy subject : MER
"La Mer" is a lovely group of three symphonic sketches for orchestra by the French composer Claude Debussy. Listen to it, and you can feel yourself at the ocean. "La Mer" is French for "The Sea".
65. Northern hemisphere? : IGLOO
The Inuit word for house is "iglu", which we usually write as "igloo". The Greenlandic (yes, that's a language) word for "house" is very similar, "igdlo".
69. Like grizzlies : URSINE
The Latin word for a bear is "ursus".
70. Classic theater name : ODEON
In Ancient Greece, an odeon was like a small theater, literally meaning a building for musical competition. Odea were used in both Greece and Rome, for entertainments such as musical shows and poetry readings.
72. Really enjoy going to carnivals? : LOVE A FAIR
From "love affair".
75. Home to fly into : AERIE
An aerie is the nest of an eagle.
81. Un-P.C. suffix : ESS
Personally, as a lover of language I miss the use of masculine and feminine forms in English, although I do recognize the benefit of making the change in the fight for equality of the sexes. It's just a pity that the change was necessary.
84. Early Beatles songs are in it : MONO
Monophonic sound ("mono") is sound reproduced using just one audio channel, and it is usually played out of just one speaker. Stereophonic sound is reproduced using two audio channels, with the sound from those channels usually played out of two speakers positioned apart from each other so that sound appears to come in various directions. Quadraphonic sound (4.0 surround sound) uses four audio channels with the sound played back through four speakers usually positioned at the corner of the room in which one is listening.
86. Foe of 130-Across, at birth : KAL-EL
130. Lex Luthor alter ego, once : ATOM MAN
Lara Lor-Van is the biological mother of Kal-El, and wife of scientist Jor-El. Kal-El is sent to Earth, where we would know him better as Superman.
91. Twice-a-month tide : NEAP
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.
93. It was developed by Apple, IBM and Motorola : POWERPC
PowerPC was a project to develop high performance microprocessors, a joint venture that started in 1991 with the alliance between Apple, IBM and Motorola (the AIM alliance). PowerPC is an acronym for Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC - Performance Computing. The bottom line is that it was part of the effort to thwart the dominance of Microsoft and Intel in the personal computer market.
97. Seemingly without end : AD NAUSEAM
To do something "ad nauseum" is to do so to a ridiculous degree, to the point of nausea. "Ad nauseum" is the Latin for "to sickness".
100. Sudden fancy : WHIM
"Whim" meaning "sudden fancy" is such a lovely word, and one that we've been using in English since the 1640s. It's actually a shortened form of "whimwham" which has a similar meaning and has been around since the early 1500s.
102. Lake ___ City, Ariz. : HAVASU
Lake Havasu City is a planned community that was founded relatively recently, in 1964. It was originally a rest camp on the lake for the Army Air Corps during WWII. Lake Havasu city is a popular stop for tourists, as it is home to London Bridge, the second most popular tourist attraction in the whole state, being beaten out of the top spot by the Grand Canyon. London Bridge of course spanned the River Thames, from 1831 until it was dismantled due to its inability to carry the loads required in the center of the City of London. The city council sold the bridge to the developer of Lake Havasu city for $2.5 million. And the developer, Robert McCulloch, knew which bridge he was getting. The urban legend that he thought he was buying the more recognizable Tower Bridge; it's just not true.
103. Site of the brachial artery : ARM
"Bracchium" is the Latin word for "arm", and the brachial artery is the major artery that runs the length of the arm.
104. Prepresidential title for Bill Clinton or Woodrow Wilson: Abbr. : PROF
After graduating Yale Law School, Bill Clinton took a job as professor at the University of Arkansas. He didn't do the job for long as the next year he ran for the US House of Representatives (unsuccessfully) and two years later became Attorney General for the state of Arkansas.
Woodrow Wilson was a professor at Princeton from 1890 to 1902 at which time he was promoted to president of the university. Professor Wilson had earned his Ph. D. at John Hopkins University in 1886, so that when he was elected 28th President of the United States in 1912, he became the only US President to hold a Ph. D.
106. Straddling one's opponent? : UPON A RIVAL
From "upon arrival".
113. First near-Earth asteroid to be discovered : EROS
Near-Earth asteroids are relatively near to the Earth's orbit and as such are not part of the main asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. 433 Eros was the first of the near-Earth asteroids to be discovered, and was noticed on the same night in 1898 by two different stargazers, one in Berlin and one in Nice. Rather oddly, Eros was claimed as property by one Gregory Nemitz, and he fought in court for the right to charge NASA 20 cents a year parking and storage fee for a spacecraft which they landed on the asteroid in 2001. The case was dismissed ...
114. Addams Family cousin : ITT
In the television sitcom "The Addams Family", the family had a frequent visitor, Cousin Itt. Itt is a short man, with long hair that runs from his head to the floor. Itt was played by Italian actor Felix Silla.
122. Mark who won the 1998 Masters : O'MEARA
Mark O'Meara is an American golfer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. He is known as one of the American players who competes in international tournaments more than most, and has a reputation as a real gentleman all around the world.
123. Frisking Dracula? : CHECKING A COUNT
From "checking account".
"Dracula" is a novel written by an Irish author, Bram Stoker, and first published in 1897. Dracula wasn't the first vampire of literature, but he certainly was the one who spawned the popularity of vampires in theater, film and television, and indeed more novels. Personally, I can't stand vampire fiction ...
128. First name on "60 Minutes" : LESLEY
Lesley Stahl has worked on "60 Minutes" since 1991. She is married to author "Aaron Latham". As a journalist Latham wrote the article that inspired the movie "Urban Cowboy".
129. Rake : LECHER
A "rake" is defined as a man who is habituated to immoral conduct (isn’t it always the man??!!). The rake is a character who turns up frequently in novels and films, only interested in wine, women and song, and not accepting the responsibilities of life. Wickham in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", and Daniel Cleaver (the Hugh Grant part) in the movie "Bridget Jones’s Diary" would be good examples. "Rake" comes from the Old Norse "reikall", meaning "a vagrant or a wanderer".
130. Lex Luthor alter ego, once : ATOM MAN
Lex Luthor is the arch-nemesis of Superman in comics. Luthor has been portrayed in a number of guises in the comic world as well in movies and on the small screen. He appeared as Atom Man in the 1950 film series "Atom Man vs. Superman", and was played by actor Lyle Talbot, opposite Kirk Alyn's Superman.
132. One of the Crusader states : EDESSA
The County of Edessa was a Crusader state of the 12th century, centered around the ancient city of Edessa. Although it was landlocked, it was situated just inland, right at the easternmost shores of the Mediterranean.
3. With 4-Across, in relation to : VIS
4. See 3-Across : A VIS
There is a typo here, and these references should be to "down" clues (I think!)
We use the French phrase "vis-a-vis" to mean "with regard to" or "in relation to". The literal translation from the French is "face to face", and when we imported the phrase into English, in the mid-1700s, it had two other meanings that were more faithful to the original. Firstly, it could be a "face to face" meeting (not so today), and secondly, it was a type of carriage, in which the occupants face each other.
5. For fear that : LEST
"Lest", meaning "for fear that" is a contraction of the expression "whereby less that".
7. Spunk : SPIRIT
We've been using the word "spunk" to mean "pluck, courage" since the late 1700s. Prior to that it was a Scottish word meaning "spark", that we absorbed into English.
8. Bender : JAG
Both jag and bender describe periods of unrestrained activity, particularly involving alcohol. Both words have been in use since the 1800s.
9. Part of a Latin conjugation : AMAT
Amo, amas, amat ... Latin for "I love, you love, he/she loves".
10. Conger cousin : MORAY
Morays are a larger group of about 200 species of eels found across the world's oceans. They are carnivorous and look pretty scary, but they're quite shy when confronted by humans and present no threat. One interesting thing about morays is that they will sometimes work in cooperation with the grouper fish found in reefs, helping each other hunt for food.
11. Razzed : JEERED
Not so much here in America, but over the British Isles "blowing a raspberry" is a way of insulting someone (I think it's called "a Bronx cheer" in the US). The verb "razz" is a shortened form of "raspberry".
12. Smirnoff competitor : ABSOLUT
I must admit, if I ever do order a vodka drink by name, I will order the Absolut brand. I must also admit that I do so from the perspective of an amateur photographer, because I've been swayed by the Absolut marketing campaign that features such outstanding photographic images. I'm sure you've come across examples ...
14. Jewelry designer Elsa : PERETTI
Elsa Peretti is a native of Florence, Italy who has been designing jewelry and related items for the top fashion houses in New York since the sixties.
15. Mother of Helen and Pollux : LEDA
In Greek mythology, Leda was the beautiful Queen of Sparta who was seduced by Zeus, in the form of a swan. She produced two eggs from the union. One egg hatched into the beautiful Helen, later to be known as Helen of Troy over whom the Trojan War was fought. The other egg hatched into the twins Castor and Pollux. Castor and Pollux had different fathers in the myth. Castor was the son of Zeus, so was immortal, while Pollux was the son of Leda's husband, so he was mortal.
16. Mechanic's task? : EVENING A TIRE
From "evening attire".
17. Neighbor of Nigeria and Togo : BENIN
The Republic of Benin is a country in West Africa. Benin used to be a French colony, and was known as Dahomey. It gained independence in 1975, and took the name Benin after the Bight of Benin, the body of water on which the country lies.
18. Opera singer Simon : ESTES
Simon Estes is an African-American baritone bass, and is considered one of a small group of performers that broke through a racial barrier that was present in the world of opera. He moved to Europe in the sixties to try to launch his career in an environment that was perhaps a little less prejudicial to people of African descent. There he performed in all the great opera houses including La Scala and Covent Garden. He did some guest performances in the US though the sixties and seventies, but it wasn't until 1981 that he was offered a contract to sing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
21. Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous With ___" : RAMA
"Rendezvous With Rama", written by Arthur C. Clark is considered to be a science fiction classic. It was published in 1972, and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards soon after its release. It tells the story of the exploration of a gigantic alien spaceship that parks itself in our solar system.
23. Kingdom overthrown in 2008 : NEPAL
Nepal lies to the northeast of India. Today it is known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. In 2008, the Communist Party of Nepal won the country's general election. Soon after, the Assembly voted to change the form of government, moving away from a monarchy and creating a secular republic. Nepal is called "Land of the Gods", and is home to Mt. Everest, known as the Mother Goddess of the World.
28. Couple : DUAD
A duad is a pair, from the Greek "duo" meaning "two.
29. May event, informally : INDY
The first Indy 500 race was held on Memorial Day in 1911. The winner that day was one Ray Harroun. He had seen someone using a rear view mirror on a horse-drawn vehicle, and decided to fit one on his Marmon "Wasp" motor car. Supposedly that was the first ever use of a rear view mirror on a motor vehicle.
30. British P.M. between Churchill and Macmillan : EDEN
Sir Anthony Eden served as Britain's Foreign Secretary during WWII, and then as Prime Minister from 1955-57. I think it's fair to say that he doesn't have a great reputation as a statesman. He was proud of his stance in favor of peace over war, so his critics characterized him as an appeaser. His major stumble on the world stage occurred with the Suez Crisis in 1956. Egypt's President Nasser unilaterally nationalized the Suez Canal causing war to be declared on Egypt by Britain, France and Israel. Within a few months political pressure from the US and the USSR caused the allies to withdraw, bolstering Egypt's national reputation. Eden never recovered from the loss of face at home, and it is felt that the stress even affected his health. Eden resigned in January 1957.
34. Stockholders? : STIES
The plural of "sty", a pig pen, is "sties".
39. The "K" of James K. Polk : KNOX
James Knox Polk was the 11th US President. He is known as a president who made promises prior to being elected, and basically delivered on those promises. He left office after serving only one term, as he had sworn to the voters, and then contracted cholera on a goodwill tour of the South. He died at only 53 years of age, the youngest age for any president to die in retirement. He also enjoyed the shortest retirement of any president, at only 103 days.
47. Island do : LUAU
Nowadays the word "luau" denotes almost any kind of party on the Hawaiian Islands, but to the purist a luau is a feast that always includes a serving of "luau": young taro tops baked with coconut milk and served with chicken or octopus.
48. Good-looker : ADONIS
In Greek mythology Adonis is a beautiful, young god, loved by Aphrodite. He dies in a hunting accident, but not before he gives Aphrodite a child. Adonis was originally a Phoenician god (Phoenicia is modern day Lebanon) "absorbed" into Greek lore. The child born of Adonis to Aphrodite was called Beroe, after which is named Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon.
49. Plain homes? : TEPEES
A tepee (also called a tipi) is a cone-shaped tent, traditionally made from animal hides, and used by the Great Plains Native Americans. A wigwam is a completely different structure, and is often a misnomer for a tepee. A wigwam is a domed structure built by Native Americans in the West and Southwest. The wigwam can also be covered with hides, but more often was covered with grass, reeds, brush or cloth. A wigwam was also built as a more permanent structure.
59. Furniture material : TEAK
Teak is a hardwood tree in the mint family, commonly found in monsoon forests of Asia.
62. Sitcom role for Brandy Norwood : MOESHA
"Moesha" is a sitcom that aired in the late nineties. It starred singer Brandy Norwood in the title role, as a high school student in LA. It may have been a sitcom, but it had a reputation for dealing with very real social issues such as teen pregnancy, race relations, and infidelity.
64. What the dissatisfied female giftee might do after Christmas? : RETURN A DRESS
From "return address".
66. Certain gamete : OVUM
A gamete is a reproductive cell that has half the full complement of genes needed to make a normal cell. In sexual reproduction, it takes two gametes, one from each parent, to fuse into one cell which then develops into a new organism. The female gamete is the ovum, and the male the sperm.
68. Sleep unit? : WINK
Clever wording. It's getting late here, and time for way more than forty winks ...
73. George Orwell's alma mater : ETON
The world-famous Eton College is just a brisk walk from Windsor Castle, which itself is just outside London. Eton is noted for producing many British leaders, including David Cameron who took power in the recent UK general election. The list of Old Etonians also includes Princes William and Harry, the Duke of Wellington, George Orwell, and the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming.
80. 85-Down is part of it : ALOHA STATE
Aloha has many meanings in English: affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. More recently it has come to mean "hello" and "goodbye", but only since the mid-1800s.
85. Home of the highways H1 and H2 : OAHU
O'ahu has been called "The Gathering Place", although the word "O'ahu" has no translation in Hawaiian. O'ahu is simply the name of the island, it seems. One story is that it is named after the son of the Polynesian navigator that found the islands.
87. Big name in denim : LEVI
Levi Strauss was the founder of the first company in the world to manufacture blue jeans. Levi Strauss & Co. opened in 1853 in San Francisco. Strauss and his business partner received a patent in 1873 for the use of copper rivets to strengthen points of strain on working pants.
90. It may be elementary : PARTICLE
An elementary particle is one that is considered impossible to divide in sub-particles. Nowadays, with what we learn in particle accelerators, it seems that all the particles we use to deem as impossible to divide, well they often can in fact be divided!
94. Sitarist Shankar : RAVI
Ravi Shankar is perhaps the most famous virtuoso (to us Westerners) from the world of Indian classical music, and is most famous for his sitar playing. Shankar is the father of the beautiful pop singer Norah Jones.
95. H.S. junior's exam : PSAT
I think the acronym PSAT used to stem from Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test.
107. Nutty treat : NOUGAT
"Nougat" is an Occitan word (Occitania being a region of Southern Europe) which translates as
108. Unpopular baby name : ADOLF
The names Adolf (in Germany) and Adolphe (in France) are dying out, with very few babies being given the name since the days of Nazi Germany.
109. Site of Hercules' first labor : NEMEA
The Twelve Labors of Hercules is actually a Greek myth, although Hercules is the Roman name for the hero that the Greek's called Heracles. The first of these labors was to slay the Nemean Lion, a monster that lived in a cave near Nemea. Hercules had a tough job, as the lion's golden fur was impenetrable to normal weapons. One version of the story is that Hercules killed the lion by shooting an arrow into its mouth. Another version says that Hercules stunned the monster with a club and then strangled him with his bare hands.
112. Goldman ___ : SACHS
Goldman Sachs made out like bandits during the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-08, as the company actually short-sold subprime mortgage bonds, so as the price of the bonds nosedived, Goldman Sachs made huge profits.
118. Classic sports cars : XKES
XKEs are models of Jaguar motor cars.
120. Nobel Prize subj. : ECON
The Peace Prize is the most famous of the five prizes bequeathed by Alfred Nobel. The others are for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature. There is also a Nobel Prize in Economics, awarded along with the original five, but is funded separately, and is awarded "in memory of Alfred Nobel". Four of the prizes are awarded by Swedish organizations (Alfred Nobel was a Swede) and so the award ceremonies take place in Stockholm. The Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and that award is presented in Oslo.
124. Writer Levin : IRA
As well as writing novels, Ira Levin was a dramatist and a songwriter. His first novel was "A Kiss Before Dying", and his most famous was "Rosemary's Baby" which became a Hollywood hit. His best known play is "Deathtrap", a work that is often seen in local theater (I've seen it a couple of times around here), but it also was a successful movie, starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. My favorite Levin novels though are "The Boys from Brazil" and "The Stepford Wives".
125. Portrayer of June in "Henry & June" : UMA
The 1990 movie "Henry & June" is loosely based on the book of the same name by Anais Nin. The book is based on diaries writtten by Nin telling of her part in a love triangle with American author Henry Miller and his wife June, played by Uma Thurman.
Uma Thurman's father, Robert Thurman, was the first westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He raised his children in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and gave his daughter Uma her name as it is a phonetic spelling of the Buddhist name, Dbuma.
126. "Illmatic" 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 "Illmatic", his first album, in 1994. Not my cup of tea, I would say ...
127. Blaster : TNT
TNT is an abbreviation for TriNitroToluene. The explosive chemical was first produced by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand in 1863, who used it as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate, so it was marketed as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.
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