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Greetings from Dromod, County Leitrim in Ireland

I am on vacation in Ireland, and have extended my stay until October 24th. I am focused on getting the puzzle solved and at least a basic post up each day. It's proving to be difficult to do much more than that due to pressure of time, which I am sure you can understand. Happy puzzling, and slainte!

Bill

1219-11: New York Times Crossword Answers 19 Dec 11, Monday





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


CROSSWORD SETTER: Richard Chisholm
THEME: We Started … all the theme answers begin with homophones of the word “WE”:
18A. Young girls in Glasgow : WEE LASSIES
26A. First words of the Constitution : WE THE PEOPLE
43A. Polite assent in Paris : OUI, MONSIEUR
54A. Piece of Nintendo game equipment : WII CONSOLE
COMPLETION TIME: 5m 6s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0


Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Prego alternative : RAGU
The Ragu brand of pasta sauce is owned by Unilever. The name " Ragù" is the Italian word for a sauce used to dress pasta, however the spelling is off a little. In Italian the word is "Ragù" with a grave accent over the "u", but if you look at a jar of the Unilever sauce, it is spelled "Ragú" on the label, with an acute accent. Sometimes I think we just don't try ...

The Prego brand of pasta sauce is owned by the Campbell Soup Company. It is actually based on the family recipe of one of the company's chefs. "Prego" literally means "I pray" in Italian, but it translates in English best as "you're welcome" when it is used after a "thank you" ("grazie", in Italian).

9. Prize won by Roosevelt, Wilson, Carter and Obama : NOBEL
President Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any field. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role in negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War.

President Woodrow Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919. He was so honored in recognition of his efforts to promote peace around the world, and in particular for the leading role he played in setting up the League of Nations after WWI (despite his failure to gain support for the organization from the US Congress).

President Jimmy Carter was the 39th President, and the only US president to receive the Nobel Peace Prize after leaving office (Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama have also been so honored, but while in office).

President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, the fourth US president to be so honored. He is the only one of the four to have been awarded the prize during his first year of office. The Nobel committee gave the award citing President Obama’s work towards a new climate in international relations, particularly in reaching out to the Muslim world.

14. Hertz rival : AVIS
Avis has been around since 1946, and is the second largest car rental agency, after Hertz. It has the distinction of being the first company to locate a branch at an airport.

The Hertz car rental company was started in 1918 by Walter L. Jacobs in Chicago. He began with just twelve model T Ford cars available for rent. In 1923, the car rental operation was bought out by John D. Hertz who incorporated it into his truck and coach manufacturing company.

15. Emperor said to have fiddled while Rome burned : NERO
The Great Fire of Rome raged for five and a half days in 64 AD. Of the fourteen districts of Rome, three were completely destroyed and seven more suffered serious damage. The emperor at the time was of course Nero, although reports that he fiddled, played his lyre or sang while the city burned; those accounts are probably not true. In fact, Nero was staying outside of Rome when the fire started, and rushed home on hearing the news. He organized a massive relief effort, throwing open his own home to give shelter to many of the citizens who were left living on the street.

18. Young girls in Glasgow : WEE LASSIES
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and sits on the River Clyde. Back in the Victorian Era Glasgow earned a reputation for excellence in shipbuilding and was known as "Second City of the British Empire". Glasgow shipyard's were the birthplaces of such famous vessels as the Lusitania, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth.

20. Commercial suffix with Gator : ADE
Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida by a team of researchers at the request of the school's football team. And so, Gatorade is named after the Gators football team.

23. Religion of the Koran : ISLAM
The Koran is also known as the Qur'an in English, a transliteration of the Arabic name for the holy text of the Muslim faith. The literal translation of "Koran" is "the recitation".

26. First words of the Constitution : WE THE PEOPLE
The US Constitution is composed of a preamble (famously beginning with “We the people …”), seven articles and twenty-seven amendments.

29. Air safety org. : 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.

33. Stenographers' needs : NOTEPADS
Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek "steno" (narrow) and "graphe" (writing).

35. Speck of dust : MOTE
"Mote" is just another word for a speck of dust.

39. Homer Simpson's favorite meat item : PORK CHOP
"The Simpsons" is one of the most successful programs produced by the Fox Broadcasting Company. Homer Simpson's catchphrase is "D'oh", now such a famous exclamation that it has been included in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) since 2001.

41. Tree-lined way, in France : ALLEE
In French, a tree-lined and usually straight path though a forest (une forêt) is called “une allée”.

42. Cloud's locale : SKY
Our word “sky” is actually an Old Norse word for “cloud”.

43. Polite assent in Paris : OUI, MONSIEUR
Yes, sir …

46. The "I" in I.B.M.: Abbr. : INTL
IBM was founded as the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. It changed its name to the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) in 1911, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1916. The name of International Business Machines (IBM) was given first to the Canadian subsidiary, and then the South American subsidiary. In 1924, it was decided to adopt the International Business Machines name for the whole company. Good choice ...

48. "Amazing" magician : RANDI
James Randi is a retired Canadian-American magician who had a stage career using the name "The Amazing Randi". Now he spends his time investigating the paranormal, or in fact mainly challenging claims of paranormal activity. If you're interested, the James Randi Educational Foundation is offering one million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal activity under controlled test conditions.

51. ___ Aviv : TEL
The full name of Israel's second largest city is Tel Aviv-Yafo. Tel Aviv translates into "Spring Mound", a name chosen in 1910.

54. Piece of Nintendo game equipment : WII CONSOLE
The Wii is the biggest-selling game console in the world. Two distinguishing features are the impressive wireless remote control and its WiiConnect24 system which allows the console to get messages and updates wirelessly in standby mode. I have my kids unplug the darn thing when they aren't using it, as even in standby mode it sucks up bandwidth on my wireless network here at the house.

57. Madison Avenue exec : AD MAN
Madison Avenue became the center of advertising in the US in the twenties, and serves as the backdrop to the great TV drama “Mad Men”. There aren’t many advertising agencies left on Madison Avenue these days though, as most have moved to other parts of New York City.

58. Pinball game ender : TILT
In a game of pinball, some players get an irresistible urge to "nudge" the machine . Such a nudge, a movement of the machine designed to influence the path taken by the ball, is called a "tilt". Most pinball machines have sensors designed to detect a tilt, and when activated a "tilt" warning light comes on and the player's controls are temporarily disabled.

Our modern game of pinball evolved from an earlier table game called bagatelle which used balls, pins and holes (and I remember playing bagatelle as boy in a pub in Ireland). The first “pinball” machine was made by a British inventor who settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. He modified the game of bagatelle, adding a coiled spring and a plunger to introduce balls at the end of the table, a device that is still in use today. From there manufacturers developed coin-operated versions of pinball, which became popular during the depression as they provided a little entertainment for a few pennies. One distributor of the coin-operated pinball machines started manufacturing them himself as he couldn’t source new games fast enough. He called his pinball game Ballyhoo, and eventually named his company Bally, a brand name well known in the gambling industry to this day.

Down
1. Indian prince : RAJA
"Raja" is an Indian word for "monarch".

6. What to do "in St. Louis," in an old song : MEET ME
“Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis” is a song that was published in 1904 to celebrate the St. Louis World’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The song, and the exposition, went on to inspire the 1944 movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” starring Judy Garland.

7. Roosevelt, Wilson, Carter or Obama: Abbr. : PRES
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the US, serving from 1901 to 1909. He was in some ways a larger than life character, a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author and soldier as well as a politician. Roosevelt came into office upon the assassination of William McKinley. He was only 42 years old, making him the youngest person to have been US President.

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 PhD. 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 PhD.

President Jimmy Carter was the 39th President, and the only US president to receive the Nobel Peace Prize after leaving office (Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama have also been so honored, but while in office). President Carter's popularity in the country greatly eroded during his term, largely due to the Iran hostage crisis. This led to an unsuccessful attempt by Ted Kennedy to win the Democratic Party nomination for the 1980 presidential election, and Carter's ultimate defeat by Republican Ronald Reagan. Within minutes of President Carter leaving office, the American hostages in Iran were released.

Not only did President Barack Obama attend Harvard University, but so did his birth father, Barack Obama, Sr. President Obama’s parents separated when Barack Obama, Sr. went off to Harvard leaving his wife and child back in Hawaii.

8. Note after fa : SOL
The solfa syllables are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la & ti. The solfa scale was developed from a six-note ascending scale created by Guido of Arezzo in the 11th century. He used the first verse of a Latin hymn to name the syllables of the scale:
Ut queant laxis resonāre fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti labii reatum,
Sancte Iohannes.
The "ut" in this scale was later changed to "do", as "do" is a more "open ended" sound, and "si" was added (the initials of "Sancte Iohannes") to complete the seven-note scale. Later again, "si" was changed to "ti" so that each syllable began with a unique letter.

12. Summers in France : ETES
One might spend the summer (été) in France.

13. ___ Brown and His Band of Renown : LES
Les Brown and His Band of Renown are a big band that started to perform in the late thirties and are still going strong today. Les Brown led the band from the start, and worked with the likes of Doris Day, Bob Hope and Tony Bennett. Brown passed away in 2001, and the band is now led by his son, Les Brown, Jr.

24. Ogre in love with Princess Fiona : SHREK
Before "Shrek" was a successful movie franchise and Broadway musical, it was a children's picture book called "Shrek!" authored and illustrated by William Steig. The title "Shrek!" came from the German/Yiddish word Schreck, meaning "fear" or "terror".

27. Kindle download : EBOOK
The Kindle is Amazon's famous reader, a handheld device used for reading books in electronic form. When the Kindle was launched on November 19, 2007, it sold out in five and a half hours! I don't have one myself (my librarian wife won't let me buy one) but I have friends that swear by them, especially for travel.

30. Formal goodbye : ADIEU
"Adieu" is the French for "goodbye", or "farewell", from "à Dieu" meaning "to God".

31. Ed of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" : ASNER
Ed Asner is most famous for playing the irascible but lovable Lou Grant on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and on the spin-off drama "Lou Grant". Off-screen Asner is noted for his political activism. He served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and was very involved in the 1980 SAG strike. When "Lou Grant" was cancelled in 1982, despite decent ratings, there was a lot of talk that the cancellation was a move by the network against Asner personally. In fact one of Asner's activist colleagues, Howard Hesseman (who played Johnny Fever), found that his show "WKRP in Cincinnati" was also cancelled ... on the very same day ...

In its day, "The Mary Tyler Moore show" was a real trail-blazer. It was the first television series with a lead character who was an independent-minded, career-oriented, single ... woman.

34. Politico Sarah : PALIN
When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as candidate for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she became the first Alaskan to go on the national ticket for a major party. She also became the first woman nominated for Vice President by the Republicans.

44. Verdi opera based on a Shakespeare play : OTELLO
Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Otello" was first performed in 1887 at La Scala Theater in Milan. The opera is based on Shakespeare's "Othello" and is considered by many to be Verdi's greatest work.

46. Ancient Andeans : INCAS
The Inca people emerged as a tribe around the 12th century, in what today is southern Peru. The Incas developed a vast empire over the next 300 years, extending along most of the western side of South America. The Empire of course fell to the Spanish, finally dissolving in 1572 with the execution of Tupac Amaru, the last Incan Emperor.

50. Heat to 212° : BOIL
When Gabriel Fahrenheit first defined his temperature scale he set 0 degrees as the temperature of a mixture ice, water and salt. He defined 100 degrees as the temperature under his wife's armpit! Using this scale he determined that water boiled at 210 degrees. Later refinements moved the boiling point of water up to 212 degrees, and as a result "body temperature" was shifted downwards to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

53. "Stretch" car : LIMO
The word "limousine" actually derives from the French city of Limoges. The area around Limoges is called the Limousin, and it gave its name to a cloak hood worn by local shepherds. In early motor cars, a driver would sit outside in the weather while the passengers would sit in the covered compartment. The driver would often wear a limousin-style protective hood, giving rise to that type of transportation being called a "limousine". Well, that's how the story goes anyway ...

54. Joker : WAG
A “wag” or a “card” is a very amusing person, often quite eccentric.

55. Racecar fuel additive : STP
STP motor oil takes its name from "Scientifically Treated Petroleum".

56. Where folks get into hot water : SPA
The word "spa" migrated into English from Belgium, as Spa is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name "Spa" comes from the Walloon word "espa" meaning "spring, fountain".

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Prego alternative : RAGU
5. Officials who cry "Steee-rike!" : UMPS
9. Prize won by Roosevelt, Wilson, Carter and Obama : NOBEL
14. Hertz rival : AVIS
15. Emperor said to have fiddled while Rome burned : NERO
16. Speechify : ORATE
17. Jazz jargon : JIVE
18. Young girls in Glasgow : WEE LASSIES
20. Commercial suffix with Gator : ADE
21. ___ and crafts : ARTS
22. Cuts calories : DIETS
23. Religion of the Koran : ISLAM
25. Ambience : AURA
26. First words of the Constitution : WE THE PEOPLE
29. Air safety org. : FAA
32. Letter-shaped construction pieces : I-BARS
33. Stenographers' needs : NOTEPADS
35. Speck of dust : MOTE
36. Stair parts : STEPS
38. Have ___ with : AN IN
39. Homer Simpson's favorite meat item : PORK CHOP
41. Tree-lined way, in France : ALLEE
42. Cloud's locale : SKY
43. Polite assent in Paris : OUI, MONSIEUR
46. The "I" in I.B.M.: Abbr. : INTL
47. Quaint denial : ‘TISN’T
48. "Amazing" magician : RANDI
50. Not straight : BENT
51. ___ Aviv : TEL
54. Piece of Nintendo game equipment : WII CONSOLE
56. 18-wheeler : SEMI
57. Madison Avenue exec : AD MAN
58. Pinball game ender : TILT
59. Overly demure : PRIM
60. Pond swimmers : GEESE
61. Stratagem : PLOY
62. Concerning : AS TO

Down
1. Indian prince : RAJA
2. Fervent : AVID
3. Encouragement after "Go on" : GIVE IT A TRY
4. Function : USE
5. Open, as a present : UNWRAP
6. What to do "in St. Louis," in an old song : MEET ME
7. Roosevelt, Wilson, Carter or Obama: Abbr. : PRES
8. Note after fa : SOL
9. "Fuhgeddaboudit!" : NO, SIREE
10. By land ___ : OR SEA
11. Worms, in fishing : BAIT
12. Summers in France : ETES
13. ___ Brown and His Band of Renown : LES
19. Grown-ups : ADULTS
21. Pub offerings : ALES
24. Ogre in love with Princess Fiona : SHREK
25. Each : A POP
26. Wusses : WIMPS
27. Kindle download : EBOOK
28. End of lunchtime, often : ONE PM
29. Items filling a star's mailbox : FAN LETTERS
30. Formal goodbye : ADIEU
31. Ed of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" : ASNER
34. Politico Sarah : PALIN
36. Confined : SHUT IN
37. Drudgery : TOIL
40. Overlook, as something that's illegal : CONDONE
41. Aide: Abbr. : ASST
44. Verdi opera based on a Shakespeare play : OTELLO
45. The number XC : NINETY
46. Ancient Andeans : INCAS
48. Hitchhike, e.g. : RIDE
49. "Je t'___" (French words of affection) : AIME
50. Heat to 212° : BOIL
52. Radiate : EMIT
53. "Stretch" car : LIMO
54. Joker : WAG
55. Racecar fuel additive : STP
56. Where folks get into hot water : SPA

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2 comments :

Dick Elton said...

I enjoyed this one and finished it, too. Have ordered "Meet Me in St. Louis" from Netflix (4and 1/2 star rated). Judy Garland was from Lancaster, Ca where I live.

Bill Butler said...

Dick,

I did not know that, that Ms. Garland was from Lancaster. I see that John Wayne also spent some time there as a child. Such celebrity!

Haven't seen "Meet Me in St. Louis" for years. Reminds of my first real tourist visit to St. Louis which was a couple of years ago. We went up the Arch in one of the heaviest rain storms I've seen in my whole life. A very memorable experience, I must say.

I hope you enjoy the film, Dick.

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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 answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at bill@paxient.com, contact me on Google+ or leave a comment below.

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.

Bill
January 29, 2009

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