This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 7m 46s
THEME: B(vowel)D ... the theme clues are all five words formed by the placing the vowels (in order) between the letters B-D, i.e. BAD, BED, BID, BOD, BUD
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
6. Late football star and FTD pitchman Merlin : OLSEN
Merlin Olsen played in the NFL with the LA Rams. After retiring from the game, his career continued to flourish. He worked as a sports broadcaster for many years, and then landed a major role on television's "Little House on the Prairie", playing Jonathan Garvey. In one episode, Garvey was to help coach a boy's football team, so the writers gave the character the tongue-in-cheek line "I don't know nothin' about football!" Olsen was also the commercial face of FTD florists for many years. Olson passed away in March 2010, aged 69.
15. Sluggo's comics pal : NANCY
Little 8-year-old Nancy Ritz has been in her own comic strip "Nancy" since 1938. Since 1938, her best friend has been the lazy Sluggo Smith. Nancy is actually a little older than she looks. She first appeared in 1933 when the same strip was called "Fritzi Ritz". Within a few Nancy took over as the main character, and so the strop was renames to "Nancy".
21. Morales of "La Bamba" : ESAI
Esai Morales is best known for his role in the 1987 movie "La Bamba", which depicted the life of Rickie Valens, and his half-brother, Bob Morales (played by Esai Morales).
23. BED : PLACE TO SLEEP
31. Van Susteren of Fox News : GRETA
I remember watching Greta Van Susteren as a legal commentator on CNN during the celebrated O. J. Simpson murder trial. she parlayed those appearances into a permanent slot as co-host of CNN's "Burden of Proof", before moving onto her current gig as host of her won show on the Fox News Channel.
32. Ajax or Bon Ami : CLEANSER
Ajax cleanser has been around since 1947, and it's "stronger than dirt!" That was the most famous slogan over here in the US. On my side of the pond, the infamous slogan was "it cleans like a white tornado". Bon Ami cleanser has been around much longer. The cleanser was introduced just a few years after Bon Ami soap went to market in 1886.
37. BID : OFFER
39. Movie pal of Stitch : LILO
"Lilo & Stitch" was released by Disney in 2002. Compared to other Disney feature-length cartoons, "Lilo & Stitch" was relatively cheaply produced, using the voices of lesser known actors. One interesting change had to take place in the storyline during production, when Lilo was meant to fly a Jumbo Jet through downtown Honolulu in one sequence. This was replaced with a sequence using a spaceship instead, as the producers were sensitive to public sentiment after the September 11 attacks.
44. "Animal House" beanie sporters : PLEDGES
The very funny 1978 movie "Animal House" has the prefix "National Lampoon's ..." because the storyline came out of tales that had already appeared in "National Lampoon" magazine. "Animal House" was to become the first in a long line of successful "National Lampoon" films. The main pledges in the movie were Tom Hulce, who later played a magnificent "Amadeus", and Stephen Furst, later played a regular role on television's "Babylon 5".
46. BOD : PERSON'S BUILD
51. Late singer Horne : LENA
Lena Horne was an American jazz singer, actress, dancer and civil rights activist. she passed away just a few months ago, on May 9, 2010. She started out her career as a nightclub singer, and then started to get some meaty acting roles in Hollywood before being blacklisted for left wing political views during the McCarthy Era. One of her starring roles was in the 1943 movie "Stormy Weather" for which she also performed the title song.
52. F.D.R. power project: Abbr. : TVA
The Tennessee Valley Authority has to be one of America's great success stories when it comes to economic development. Created in 1933, the TVA spearheaded economic development in the Tennessee Valley at the height of the Great Depression. Central to the success was the federally funded construction of flood control and electricity generation facilities.
55. Blood-type abbr. : POS
Blood types are either positive or negative.
56. BUD : FUTURE BLOOM
60. Versatile vehicle, for short : UTE
A utility vehicle is often called a "ute" for short. Nowadays one mainly hears about sports utes and crossover utes.
62. Not quite round : OVATE
63. Place that's "up the river" : PEN
The pen (penitentiary) is "up the river". The phrase derives from the fact that Sing Sing prison (in Ossinging, NY) is up the Hudson River from New York City.
64. Hobbyist's knife brand : X-ACTO
The X-Acto knife was invented in the thirties by a polish immigrant, although his intention was to come up with a scalpel for surgeons. The knife couldn't cut it (pun intended!) as a scalpel though, because it was difficult to clean. The inventor's brother-in law suggested it be used as a craft knife, and it is still around today.
1. Rolaids alternative : TUMS
The main ingredient in Tums antacid is calcium carbonate made by GlaxoSmithKline. It has been on the market since 1930. If you want to save a few pennies, Target brand antacid is identical to Tums, so I hear.
2. Province of ancient Rome : ASIA
The Roman province of Asia (also called Asiana) was very different than the continent that we today call Asia. Roman Asia was just the land lying east of the Mediterranean.
4. Tolkien beast : ORC
According to Tolkien, Orcs are small humanoids, very ugly, dirty and are fond of eating human flesh.
5. Shakespeare character who goes insane : OPHELIA
Shakespeare's "Hamlet", Ophelia is courted by Hamlet.
7. "___ en Rose" (Edith Piaf song) : LA VIE
The literal translation of "La Vie en rose" is "Life in pink", but a better translation would be "Life through rose-colored glasses". Edith Piaf wrote the words to the song herself, to the melody by Louis Gugliemi. Edith Piaf became so associated with the song, that it appeared on almost every album she released. A 2007 biopic about Piaf's life was also called "La Vie en rose".
8. ___-cone : SNO
A sno-cone (also "snow cone") is just a paper cone filled with crushed ice and topped with flavored water. Italian ice is similar, but different. Italian ice is made with ice that is flavored before the water is frozen, whereas the flavoring is added to the ice in a sno-cone.
9. Old French coin : ECU
The ecu was an Old French coin, and when introduced in 1640, was worth three livres (an older coin, called a "pound" in English). The word "ecu" comes from the Latin "scutum" meaning shield. The original ecu used to have a coat of arms on it, a shield.
11. The movie "Wordplay," for one : INDIE
Every fan of the New York Times crossword just has to see the Indie film "Wordplay" released in 2006. The movie is about Will Shortz and some of the more famous solvers and setters, as well as celebrity solvers. There's even some suspense and drama at the end! It is well worth the price of a rental, if you haven't seen it.
12. L.E.D. part : DIODE
A Light Emitting Diode is a specialized form of semiconductor that when switched on releases photons (light). LEDs are getting more and more popular and have moved from use in electronic equipment to mainstream lighting, replacing the much less efficient tungsten bulb. I replaced many of my tungsten Xmas lights last year and saved a lot on my electricity bill. I am definitely replacing the rest this coming Christmas.
22. "Shane" star : ALAN LADD
The classic 1953 western movie called "Shane" was based on the novel of the same name by Jack Schaefer published in 1949. Alan Ladd had a rough end to his life. In 1962 he was found unconscious in a pool of blood with a bullet wound in his chest, an abortive suicide attempt. Two years later he was found dead, apparently having died from an accidental overdose of drugs and sedatives. He was 50 years old.
25. Wroclaw's river : ODER
The Oder rises in the Czech Republic, and forms just over a hundred miles of the border between Germany and Poland. Wroclaw is a city in southwestern Poland.
27. Ottoman Empire chief : AGHA
An aga, or agha, is a title that was used by both civil and military officials in the Ottoman Empire.
29. Hammer part : PEEN
The peen of a hammer is on the head, and is the side of the hammer that is opposite the striking surface. Often the peen is in the shape of a hemisphere (a Ball-peen hammer), but usually it is shaped like a claw (mainly for removing nails).
32. North-of-the-border grid org. : CFL
The Canadian Football League was formed back in 1958, and has helped increase the popularity of football in the country, although the sport still lags behind ice hockey.
34. Sommer in cinema : ELKE
Elke Sommer is a German-born actress, who was at the height of her success on the silver screen in the sixties. She also sings and has released several albums. Now she focuses on painting, producing artwork that is strongly influenced by Marc Chagall.
35. Woman depicted in "The Birth of Old Glory" : ROSS
"The Birth of Old Glory" is a 1908 painting by E. Percy Moran. It depicts Betsy Ross presenting the new American flag to George Washington and some members of the Continental Congress.
37. Neighbor of Yemen : OMAN
Oman is lies on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, neighbored by the OAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
38. Some are saturated : FATS
Saturated fats differ from unsaturated fats chemically in that saturated fats have chains of fatty acids that are relatively straight, allowing individual molecules to pack closely together. This close packing largely explains why saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fatty acids on the other hand have "kinks" in the chains of their fatty acids, so that they cannot pack together closely. Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. Food manufacturers have learned that humans get sick by consuming saturated fats (i.e. fats from animal sources). So, they market "healthy" vegetable fats (naturally unsaturated and liquid at room temperature) that they have magically transformed in solid fats (like vegetable spreads). All they did was saturate the healthy fats, so that now it solidifies at room temperature, and in your arteries. There should be a law ...
41. Letter after pi : RHO
Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter "p".
42. Beat to death, so to speak : BELABOR
You wouldn't want to belabor your point, beat it to death.
44. ___ Vallarta, Mexico : PUERTO
Puerto Vallarta is a resort city in Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean. The name Vallarta comes from a former governor of the state, Ignacio Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta partly got on the map as a resort after the filming of the 1963 John Huston film "The Night of the Iguana". There was lots of publicity surrounding the making of the movie, as Richard Burton brought Elizabeth Taylor to the shoot, with whom he was having an extramarital affair at the time.
54. Spy Aldrich : AMES
Aldrich Ames worked for the CIA, until in 1994 he was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union. Prior to identifying Ames as a spy, the CIA was highly concerned at the high rate of disappearance of their own agents behind the Iron Curtain, and they struggled for years to find the mole that they assumed must be working within their own ranks. After he was finally arrested, the CIA was criticized for not having identified Ames sooner, particularly as he was living an extravagant lifestyle relative to his apparent means. He is serving a life sentence in the US Penitentiary in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
57. Sch. founded by Thomas Jefferson : UVA
Thomas Jefferson himself attended another Virginia school, the College of William and Mary. Jefferson wanted to found a university that had less religious bias and a greater focus on the sciences. He had been making plans for such a school since 1800 (according to his correspondence), and eventually saw the plans come to fruition not long before his death. he school held its first classes in 1825, and Jefferson passed away on July 4 the following year.
58. Gumshoe : TEC
Gumshoe and tec are both slang terms for a private detective. Apparently the term "gumshoe" dates back to the early 1900s, and refers to the rubber-soled shoes popular with private detectives.
This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 6m 38s
THEME: DEEJAYS ... all the themed clues have two-word answers beginning with D (dee) and J (jay) e.g. Dirty Jokes, Desk Jobs
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
10. Protective wear for lobster eaters : BIBS
The word "bib" comes form the Latin "bibere" meaning "to drink", as does our word "imbibe". So, it's less about spilling the food, and more about soaking up the booze ...
14. Region of ancient Asia Minor : IONIA
Ionia, now in present day Turkey, in the days of Ancient Greece was more a collection of tribes, and was never a unified state.
16. Amo, amas, ___ ... : AMAT
Amo, amas, amat ... in Latin, I love, you love, he/she loves.
17. Blue things that make some people turn red? : DIRTY JOKES
19. "Dear ___" : ABBY
The advice column "Dear Abby" first appeared in 1956. Abby was Pauline Phillips back then, but now the column is written by Jeanne Phillips, her daughter. The full name of the "Abby" pen name is Abigail Van Buren, which Pauline Philips came up with by combining "Abigail" from the biblical Book of Samuel, and "Van Buren" from the former US president.
21. Actor/rapper ___ Def : MOS
Mos Def is the stage name of actor and rapper Dante Terrell Smith-Bay. Mos Def is one of the few rap stars that is really making a name for himself in the world of movies. He received critical acclaim for roles in 2003's "The Italian Job" , 2005's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", and a featured role in an episode "House".
25. Nine-to-five gigs, often : DESK JOBS
27. Frequently, to Donne : OFT
John Donne is one of England's most celebrated poets, working at the start of the 17th century. He spent much of his life in poverty, and even spent a short time in prison for having married his wife without procuring the appropriate permissions. His wife might have regretted that he was released, as she then bore him 12 children in 16 years, passing away a few days after the twelfth child was born. But, Donne did manage to achieve some measure of success winning the post of Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, a post that he held for the last ten years of his life.
32. "Othello" villain : IAGO
Iago is indeed the schemer, in Shakespeare's "Othello". Iago is a soldier who fought alongside Othella, and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. His rival in this case is Cassio, and Iago hatches a plot to discredit him, which creates mayhem, jealousy and violence, before Iago is finally exposed for his true character.
33. Title for a prince or princess: Abbr. : HRH
His or Her Royal Highness ...
34. Tennis's Nastase : ILIE
I thought that Ilie Nastase was the most entertaining tennis player of the 70s, the days of Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. No matter how much pressure there was in a match, he always had time to give the crowd a laugh.
37. "___ the ramparts we watched ..." : OER
The words "o'er the rampart we watched" come from "The Star Spangled Banner" written by Francis Scott Key. The lyrics were written first as a poem by Key, inspired by his witnessing of the bombarding by the British of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. The words were then set to the tune of a popular British drinking song written by John Stafford Smith called "The Anacreontic Song", with Anacreontic Society being a men's club in London.
38. Womanizer : DON JUAN
Don Juan is a flighty character who has been used in stories by a number of authors, including Moliere, Byron, and Mozart. In the underlying legend, Don Juan ends up talking to the statue of the dead father of one of his conquests. Don Juan dines with the ghost of the dead man, and when shaking the hand of the ghost he is dragged away to hell.
40. "___ Loser" (Beatles song) : I'M A
John Lennon wrote "I'm a Loser". He once said in an interview, with reference to the song, "Part of me suspects I'm a loser and part of me thinks I'm God Almighty." Typical John Lennon humor, I'd say ...
44. 20-vol. reference work : OED
The "Oxford English Dictionary" contains over 300,000 "main" entries, and 59 million words in total. It is said it would take a single person 120 years to type it out in full. The longest entry for a single word is that for "put".
45. Jacob's first wife : LEAH
Leah, the older sister of Rachel, is the first wife of Jacob and mother of six of the twelve tribes of Israel.
48. Company with an industrial average : DOW JONES
Dow Jones & Company was founded as a publishing house in 1882 by three newspaper reporters, Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser. Today its most famous publication has to be "The Wall Street Journal". In 1884, Charles Dow started reporting the average dollar value of the stock of eleven companies, an index which spawned a whole host of metrics that carry the Dow Jones name to this day.
53. "Norma ___" : RAE
"Norma Rae" is a 1979 movie starring Sally field, a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called "Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance".
54. "My gal" of song : SAL
"My Gal Sal" is a song written by composer Paul Dresser, and is the name of the movie recounting Dresser's life made in 1942. It stars Victor Mature as Dresser, and Rita Hayworth as Sally Elliott.
59. Yemeni seaport : ADEN
Yemen sits in a very strategic location in the Middle East, with the Red Sea to its west, and the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to the south. As such, Yemen has been colonized by many of the great powers in history, with most of the attention focused on the coastal town of Aden in the south.
61. Wrangler product : DENIM JEANS
The name "denim" comes from the sturdy, cotton fabric known as serge, which was manufactured in the city of Nimes in the south of France. The fabric was universally known as "serge de Nimes", and over time was shortened to "denim". The first denim pants were made in Genoa in Italy. The French name for Genoa is Genes, which morphed into our word "jeans".
63. Toy dog, briefly : PEKE
The pekingese breed originated in China, as one might suspect from the name. Breeding practices have resulted in the the dog having many health problems, including breathing issues related to the "desirable" flat face. Standards have been changed in recent years, demanding an "evident muzzle" in an attempt to breed healthier dogs.
64. Coup d'___ : ETAT
A coup d'etat (often just "coup") is the sudden overthrow of a government, and comes from the French "stroke of state".
65. "___ to the Moon" (first science fiction film, 1902) : A TRIP
"A Trip to the Moon" is a very famous French silent movie from 1902. I saw a wonderful documentary about the making of the movie recently, and there is remarkable use of animation and special effects. It is hard to believe all this was going on in 1902. You can watch it freely online, as being over a hundred years old, the copyright has expired and the film is in the public domain.
66. Formerly, in old usage : ERST
Erstwhile means "in the past", "once upon a time".
67. Singer McEntire : REBA
Reba McEntire is country music singer, and television actress. I am not one for country music, so I don't know a lot about her ...
4. Explosive compound, in brief : NITRO
Nitroglycerin is very, very explosive, oil, colorless liquid. It is usually used as the explosive ingredient in a stabilized product like dynamite or cordite. Nitroglycerin is also used medically, as a vasodilator. Right after it hits the bloodstream is causes the blood vessels to dilate to that the heart has less work to do. I had occasion to take it a couple of times, and boy, what a speedy and fundamental effect it has.
11. Confused situations : IMBROGLIOS
An imbroglio is difficult or tangled situation. As one might expect, it comes to us from Italian. The Old Italian word "imbrogliare" means to tangle or confuse.
12. Bill Clinton was the first one elected president : BABY BOOMER
A baby boomer is someone who was born in the post-WWII baby boom. The rate of births has been falling fairly steadily in the US at least since 1900, but this trend was sharply reversed in 1946 after WWII. The higher birth rate continued until 1964, when it returned to pre-war levels. Since then, the birth rate has continued to decline, although at a slower pace. The period between 1946 and 1964 is defined as the "baby boom".
18. Ordinary fellow : JOE BLOW
Although the English court system does not use the term today, John Doe first appeared as the "name of a person unknown" in England in 1659, along with another unknown, Richard Roe. Joe Blow is just a variant of John Doe.
25. Record spinners ... or a hint to 17-, 25-, 38-, 48- and 61-Across : DEEJAYS
Supposedly, the world's first radio disk jockey was one Ray Newby of Stockton, California, in 1909 would you believe? When he was 16 years old and a student, he started to play his records on a primitive radio located in the Herrold College of Engineering and Wireless in San Jose. The records played back then were mostly recordings of Enrico Caruso.
29. How long the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament lasts : THREE WEEKS
Seems longer to me ...
31. Architect Maya : LIN
Maya Lin is a Chinese American, born in Athens Ohio, and is an artist and architect. Her most famous work is the moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin was only 21-years-old when she won a public design competition in 1981 to create the memorial. Although her design, I think, is very fitting, sadly, Lin was not a popular choice for the work, given her Asian heritage. As she said herself, she probably would not have been picked had not the competition been judged without the knowledge of who the submissions were from.
39. Colorado tribe : UTE
The Ute are a group of American Indian tribes that now reside in Utah and Colorado. The Ute were not a unified group as such, but rather a loose association of nomadic groups.
42. Journey to Mecca : HAJ
A Haji is the term used for someone who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and it is sometimes also used as a form of address for such a person. The journey itself goes by the name "haj".
49. Perennial presidential candidate Ralph : NADER
Ralph Nader has run as a third party candidate for the office of President of the United States four times now, in every election since 1996. Nader's name was first linked with the presidential race in 1971, when the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock offered to stand aside as candidate in the 1972 race if Nader would agree to run, but he declined.
55. Falafel bread : PITA
Falafel is a fried ball of ground chickpeas served in pita bread. I love chickpeas, love them, but falafel just seems too dry to me.
56. ___ of Sandwich : EARL
Meats placed between slices of bread was first called a sandwich in the 18th century, named after the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. The Earl was fond of eating "sandwiches" while playing cards at his club.
About This Blog
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.
I try to answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 every day 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.
January 29, 2009
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