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0517-11: New York Times Crossword Answers 17 May 11, Tuesday

Solution to today's crossword in the New York Times
Solution to today's SYNDICATED New York Times crossword in all other publications

THEME: Four-Letter Names … each of the theme answers is the name of a celebrity who has four occurrences of the same letter in his or her name, with those occurrences in groups of two (all circled, and all fitting within the symmetry of the grid):
17. ABC late-night host : JIMMY KIMMEL
29. Lead singer of Pearl Jam : EDDIE VEDDER
44. "Walking on Broken Glass" singer : ANNIE LENNOX
57. "The Greatest Show on Earth" co-star, 1952 : BETTY HUTTON

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Norman of the Clinton and Bush cabinets : MINETA
Norman Mineta had the distinction of being the only Democratic politician to serve at cabinet level in the administration of President George W. Bush, holding the position of US Secretary of Transportation. When Mineta resigned in 2006, he had held the post for over five years, making him the longest-serving department head in the DOT’s history.

Coleman Pack-Away Folding Table11. Figs. well above 100 in Mensa : IQS
If you ever learned Latin, "mensa" was probably taught to you in lesson one as it's the word commonly used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means "table". The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford, England back in 1946. To become a member you have to have an IQ that is in the top 2% of the population.

Atomic Bomb (Mushroom Cloud) Art Poster Print - 24x3614. Los ___ (Manhattan Project lab site) : ALAMOS
The town of Los Alamos, New Mexico takes its name from the Spanish for "the poplars". Famously it is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory which was founded during WWII to work on the Manhattan Project, the development of the first atomic bomb. The town of Los Alamos didn't exist as such, until it was planned and constructed to support the employees working on development of the bomb.

GQ November 2008: Jimmy Kimmel Says Vote Republican (So This Damn Thing Can Finally Be Over)17. ABC late-night host : JIMMY KIMMEL
Jimmy Kimmel is currently the host the late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” He also co-hosted “The Man Show” and my personal favorite, “Win Ben Stein’s Money”.

19. The Reds, on scoreboards : CIN
The Red Scare (i.e. anti-communist sentiment) following WWII had such an effect on the populace that it even caused the Cincinnati baseball team to change its name from the Reds. The team became the Cincinnati Redlegs from 1953-1958, as the management was fearful of losing money due to public distrust of any association with "Reds".

21. Air safety agcy. : FAA
The Federal Aviation Administration was set up in 1958 (as the Federal Aviation Agency). The agency was established at that particular time largely in response to an increasing number of midair collisions. The worst of these disasters had taken place two years earlier over the Grand Canyon, a crash between two commercial passenger airplanes that resulted in 128 fatalities.

Orange Halloween Pumpkin Paper Jack-O'-Lantern/Lamp 16" Diameter - Just Artifacts Brand25. Rock's ___ Boingo : OINGO
Oingo Boingo was a band active from the seventies through the nineties. The group had a reputation for giving pretty wild concerts on Halloween each year.

27. Western U.S. gasoline giant : ARCO
ARCO stands for Atlantic Richfield Company. One of ARCO's claims to fame is that it is responsible for the nation's largest Superfund site. Mining and smelting in the area around Butte, Montana polluted the region's water and soil, and ARCO have agreed to pay $187 million to help clean up the area.

28. Scottish seaport : AYR
Ayr is a port town on the Firth of Clyde in southwest Scotland. The famous poet Robert Burns was born just three miles from Ayr.

Photo of Rock Star Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam29. Lead singer of Pearl Jam : EDDIE VEDDER
Eddie Vedder is the singer of the alternative rock band called Pearl Jam. As a songwriter, Vedder released a solo album in 2007 which was also the soundtrack of the interesting film, “Into the Wild”.

40. Antiaircraft artillery : FLAK
Flak was originally an acronym from the German term for an aircraft defense cannon (FLiegerAbwehrKanone). Flak then became used in English as a general term for antiaircraft fire, and ultimately a term for verbal criticism, as in "take flak".

42. "Sprechen ___ Deutsch?" : SIE
"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" is the German for, "Do you speak German?"

ANNIE LENNOX 8x10 PHOTO CLASSIC POSE44. "Walking on Broken Glass" singer : ANNIE LENNOX
Annie Lennox is a great Scottish singer, one half of the duo, Eurythmics.

48. It's frequently punched on a keypad : PIN
Personal Identification Number.

49. Colorado ski resort : VAIL
The Vail Ski Resort in Colorado is the largest single-mountain ski resort in the whole country. The resort was opened in 1962, basically in the middle of nowhere. It was given the name Vail after Vail Pass which runs by the mountain (now also called Vail Mountain). The town of Vail, Colorado was established four years later in 1966, and now has a population of about 5,000.

Photo The Grapes of Wrath Henry Fonda Jane Darwell51. Tom of "The Grapes of Wrath" : JOAD
Tom Joad is a character in the John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath". The role of Joad was played by Henry Fonda in the 1940 film adaptation directed by John Ford. Ford's movie has a place in history, as it was one of the first 25 movies selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the US National Film Registry.

52. Sleep problem : APNEA
Sleep apnea can be caused by an obstruction in the airways, possible due to obesity or enlarged tonsils.

56. ___ Mahal : TAJ
The most famous mausoleum in the world has to be the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal was built after the death of the third wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal (hence the name of the mausoleum). The poor woman died in childbirth, delivering the couple's 14th child!

The Perils of Pauline, Betty Hutton, 1947 Photographic Poster Print, 18x2457. "The Greatest Show on Earth" co-star, 1952 : BETTY HUTTON
Betty Hutton’s most famous performance was probably playing the title role in the 1950 movie, “Annie Get your Gun”. She got the part even though filming had already started with Judy Garland as the star. Garland had to withdraw due to exhaustion, giving Hutton the role of her career.

MARCIA CROSS 8x10 COLOUR PHOTO62. One of the housewives on "Desperate Housewives" : BREE
The character Bree is played by Marcia Cross on "Desperate Housewives" (I haven't even seen one episode!). During pre-production, the show was called "Wisteria Lane" and then "The Secret Lives of Housewives".

63. ___ Queen : ELLERY
The Ellery Queen series of detective novels was somewhat unique in that Ellery Queen was the hero of the tales, and was also the pen name of the author. Actually, the “author” was a pair of writers; two cousins from Brooklyn, New York.

66. Pouilly-___ (wine) : FUISSE
So many French wines are blended to develop the wonderful flavors and complexity that they have. However, Pouilly-Fuissé is made from just Chardonnay grapes, and maybe that's why it generally sells for less!

4. Small-screen statuettes : EMMYS
The Emmy Awards are the television equivalent of the Oscars for film, the Grammy Awards for music and the Tony Awards for the stage. Emmy Awards are presented throughout the year, depending on the sector of television being honored. The most famous of these ceremonies are the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Daytime Emmy Awards. The distinctive name of "Emmy" is a softened version of the word "immy", the nickname given to the video camera tubes found in old television cameras.

7. Giorgio of fashion : ARMANI
Giorgio Armani is an Italian fashion designer and founder of the company that bears his name since 1975. Although Armani is famous for his menswear, the company makes everything from jewelry to perfume.

Bette Davis: Larger than Life9. "All About ___" : EVE
I must confess that I have a problem with movies starring Bette Davis. I think I must have seen her play one of her more sinister roles when I was a kid and it gave me nightmares. So, I have never seen the 1950 classic "All About Eve", given that Bette Davis gets top billing. But the title role of Eve Harrington was played by Anne Baxter, and Baxter's movies I do enjoy. Coincidentally, on the epic television series "Hotel", when Bette Davis became ill, it was Anne Baxter who was chosen to take over her role.

10. Diner on "Alice" : MEL’S
The TV sitcom "Alice" ran from 1976 to 1985, a story about a widow named Alice who takes a job at Mel's Diner. The show was based on a very successful 1974 movie called "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" directed by Martin Scorsese (his first Hollywood production) and starring Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson.

Simply Quince12. Marmalade fruit : QUINCE
The quince is a fruit related to the apple and pear. Some people suggest that the fruit eaten from the Tree of Knowledge by Adam and Eve was in fact a quince.

24. S.I. and O, e.g. : MAGS
"Sports Illustrated" is read by 23 million people every week, including a whopping 19% of adult males in the US. And that's every week, not just the swimsuit issue …

The full name of the publication usually called “O”, is “O: The Oprah Magazine”. Since the magazine’s founding in 2000, Oprah has appeared on the cover of each issue alone, with two exceptions. On the April 2009 cover Oprah was shown with First Lady Michelle Obama, and on the December 2009 cover Oprah shared the limelight with Ellen DeGeneres.

25. Kook : ODDBALL
"Kooky" is a slang word meaning "out there, crazy". It has been around since the beatnik era, and it may be a shortened version of the word "cuckoo".

Autographed Earle Combs Photo - Original George Burke JSA - Autographed MLB Photos29. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Combs : EARLE
Earle Combs was a professional baseball player who played for the New York Yankees from 1924 to 1935, his whole playing career. Combs had the reputation of being a real gentleman and was nicknamed "the Kentucky Colonel". He was such a gentleman that he was described as the favorite Yankee of the sports writers. That would be quite an honor given that his teammates included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

30. One of Greater London's "home counties" : ESSEX
The Home Counties are the counties that surround the city of London, outside of London itself. It's not an official designation but has been in popular use since the 1800s.

TurboTax Deluxe Federal + e-File + State 201035. Paperless I.R.S. submission : E-FILE
E-file, that's what I do with my tax returns each year. I saved myself a fortune by saying a polite "goodbye" to my tax account five years ago and trusting Turbotax instead.

A&E Biography: Amelia Earhart - Queen of the Air [VHS]38. Amelia Earhart and others : AVIATORS
Amelia Earhart is as famous today as she was during her lifetime. When she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress, and the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor by the French government. She made two attempts to circumnavigate the globe by air (not solo). Her first attempt in March 1937 had to be abandoned when her aircraft was damaged during takeoff. The second attempt in June/July of the same year ended when Earhart and her navigator disappeared flying from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island in the Central Pacific.

41. Tush : KEISTER
Back in the early 1900s a keister was a safe or a strongbox. It has been suggested that this term was then used as slang by pickpockets for the rear trouser pocket in which one might keep a wallet. From this usage keister appeared as a slang term for the buttocks in the early 1930s.

44. Online user's self-image : AVATAR
The Sanskrit word "avatar" describes the concept of a deity descending into the earthly life and taking on a persona. It's easy to see how in the world of "online presences" one might use the word avatar to describe one's online identity.

The epic war drama "Apocalypse Now" was released in 1979 and starred Martin Sheen as Captain Willard and Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz. The premise of the film is that both Willard and Kurtz are special ops officers, with Willard sent into the jungle to assassinate Kurtz who has "gone rogue". The film is notorious for the trouble that director Francis Ford Coppola had completing the shoot. Brando turned up on set grossly overweight (as a special ops guy!), and Martin Sheen had a heart attack during filming.

Dragon Ninja Weapon Backpack Weapon Set46. Masked fighters : NINJAS
The ninjas were around in Japan at the time of the samurai, but were a very different type of warriors. The ninjas were covert operatives, specializing in the use of stealth to accomplish their missions. As they were a secretive cadre they took on a mystical reputation with the public, often with the ability to become invisible or perhaps walk on water.

51. Star of the martial arts epic "Hero" : JET LI
Jet Li's real name is Li Jian Jie, a martial artist and international film star from Beijing, China. He played a villain in "Lethal Weapon 4", and had a leading role in the 2000 movie "Romeo Must Die".

The Missing Years53. John Prine's "Dear ___" : ABBY
“Dear Abby” is a song by the folk singer, John Prine.

55. End of an alphabet that begins Alpha, Bravo, Charlie : ZULU
The NATO phonetic alphabet is also called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. It goes Alfa, Bravo, Charlie etc.

58. Pitcher's stat : ERA
The pitching stat, earned run average (ERA), measures how many runs a pitcher tends to give up per nine innings.

Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream59. Playboy founder, for short : HEF
Hugh Hefner is from Chicago. His first publishing job was in the military, where he worked as a writer for an Army newspaper (from 1944-46). He went to college after his military service, and then worked as a copywriter for "Esquire" magazine. He left "Esquire" to found his own publication "Playboy", which was first published in 1953. It has been around ever since.

Stuff Happens with Bill Nye60. "Bill ___, the Science Guy" : NYE
That would be "Bill Nye the Science Guy". Bill's show ran on Disney for 4 years from 1993-97. I was surprised to learn that Bill Nye was married briefly to Blair Tindall, the author of "Mozart in the Jungle". That's a great book, if anyone is interested ...

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
1. Norman of the Clinton and Bush cabinets : MINETA
7. "Uh, excuse me ..." : AHEM
11. Figs. well above 100 in Mensa : IQS
14. Los ___ (Manhattan Project lab site) : ALAMOS
15. Travel far and wide : ROVE
16. Payable immediately : DUE
17. ABC late-night host : JIMMY KIMMEL
19. The Reds, on scoreboards : CIN
20. Items sometimes locked in a car (oops!) : KEYS
21. Air safety agcy. : FAA
22. Reads, as bar codes : SCANS
24. Drugstore stock, for short : MEDS
25. Rock's ___ Boingo : OINGO
27. Western U.S. gasoline giant : ARCO
28. Scottish seaport : AYR
29. Lead singer of Pearl Jam : EDDIE VEDDER
31. Sticky stuff : GOO
32. Fuss : ADO
33. Manuscript encl. : SASE
34. Exceptionally good : SUPERB
36. Woman's shoe style : T-STRAP
40. Antiaircraft artillery : FLAK
42. "Sprechen ___ Deutsch?" : SIE
43. "___ got your number" : I’VE
44. "Walking on Broken Glass" singer : ANNIE LENNOX
48. It's frequently punched on a keypad : PIN
49. Colorado ski resort : VAIL
50. Rest atop : LIE ON
51. Tom of "The Grapes of Wrath" : JOAD
52. Sleep problem : APNEA
54. Carpenter's tool : SAW
55. Gusto : ZEST
56. ___ Mahal : TAJ
57. "The Greatest Show on Earth" co-star, 1952 : BETTY HUTTON
61. In the style of : A LA
62. One of the housewives on "Desperate Housewives" : BREE
63. ___ Queen : ELLERY
64. Apt. units : RMS
65. Kitten's plaything : YARN
66. Pouilly-___ (wine) : FUISSE

1. Capt.'s superior : MAJ
2. A few words between friends : I LIKE YOU
3. Imply ties with V.I.P.'s : NAME DROP
4. Small-screen statuettes : EMMYS
5. Plays (with) : TOYS
6. Question : ASK
7. Giorgio of fashion : ARMANI
8. Respectful tributes : HOMAGES
9. "All About ___" : EVE
10. Diner on "Alice" : MEL’S
11. Airport security requirement, briefly : ID CARD
12. Marmalade fruit : QUINCE
13. Motion detector, e.g. : SENSOR
18. "Damned ___, damned ..." : IF I DO
23. Officer-in-training : CADET
24. S.I. and O, e.g. : MAGS
25. Kook : ODDBALL
26. It may be standing at the end of a concert : OVATION
29. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Combs : EARLE
30. One of Greater London's "home counties" : ESSEX
35. Paperless I.R.S. submission : E-FILE
37. Snappy comebacks : RIPOSTES
38. Amelia Earhart and others : AVIATORS
39. Hang : PEND
41. Tush : KEISTER
42. Like many winter landscapes : SNOWY
44. Online user's self-image : AVATAR
45. Incendiary fuel in "Apocalypse Now" : NAPALM
46. Masked fighters : NINJAS
47. Tidy (up) : NEATEN
51. Star of the martial arts epic "Hero" : JET LI
53. John Prine's "Dear ___" : ABBY
55. End of an alphabet that begins Alpha, Bravo, Charlie : ZULU
58. Pitcher's stat : ERA
59. Playboy founder, for short : HEF
60. "Bill ___, the Science Guy" : NYE

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Anonymous said...

As always some really nice explanations for the answers.

Bill Butler said...

Glad you enjoy the explanations.

Thanks for stopping by!

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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.

I try to answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at

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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