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Greetings from Las Vegas, Nevada (again!)

My wife and I are on vacation until Friday, July 25th; a road trip through the backroads of the states east of California. I anticipate late-night solving and posting, with acknowledgement of comments and emails suffering. Please, don't be offended at my silence as I prioritize the writing of posts! We had a long and strenuos hike today in Red Rock Canyon outside Vegas in 100-degree weather, complete with a touch of heatstroke (scary), and saw the Cirque de Soleil show "Zarkana" this evening (amazing, as all Cirque shows are).

Bill

0704-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Jul 13, Thursday





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: Barry Franklin & Sara Kaplan
THEME: Happy 4th July! …. today’s themed answers are about the three US presidents who died on July 4th:
17A. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : THOMAS JEFFERSON
24A. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : JOHN ADAMS
36A. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : JAMES MONROE
49A. See 17-, 24- and 36-Across : PRESIDENT
57A. Date on which 17-, 24- and 36-Across died : THE FOURTH OF JULY
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 10m 08s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Insomnia medicine : AMBIEN
Ambien is a brand name for the prescription drug Zolpidem. I have a friend who used to swear by it for helping cope with jet lag. I once had to deal with jet lag almost monthly and swear by the diet supplement melatonin, which you can buy over the counter here in the US. But, I am no doctor so don’t listen to anything I say …

11. Prime meridian std. : GST
GST is Greenwich Standard Time.

A meridian is a line of longitude, and the Prime Meridian is that line of longitude defined as 0 degrees. The Prime Meridian is also called the Greenwich Meridian as it passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in southeast London. Of course the line of longitude that is used to represent 0 degrees is an arbitrary decision. 25 nations formally decided in 1884 to use the Greenwich Meridian as 0 degrees as it was already a popular choice. That is all except the French, who abstained from the vote and used the Paris Meridian as 0 degrees on French charts for several decades.

15. A title may come with one : LIEN
A lien is the right that one has to retain or secure someone's property until a debt is paid.

17. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : THOMAS JEFFERSON
Thomas Jefferson was a very close friend of John Adams, a friendship dating back to the time of the Second Continental Congress. Jefferson and Adams developed differing views on important subjects and had many debates, both directly and in correspondence. They also had an “up and down” relationship, with long periods of coolness. The two former presidents both died on the same day, in 1826. If that isn’t an amazing enough coincidence, they passed away on July 4th, Independence Day.

20. NASA approvals : A-OKS
All systems OK (A-OK)

22. Line ending at Penn Sta. : LIRR
The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the commuter rail service that runs all over Long Island, New York with 124 stations and 700 miles of track. More people use the LIRR than any other commuter railroad in the US. It is also the only commuter railroad in the country that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

23. Smallest Indian state : GOA
Goa is the smallest state in India, and is located in the southwest of the country. The Portuguese landed in Goa in the early 1500s, at first peacefully carrying out trade, but then took the area by force creating Portuguese India. Portugal held onto Portuguese India even after the British pulled out of India in 1947, until the Indian Army marched into the area in 1961.

24. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : JOHN ADAMS
John Adams was the second President of the United States. I must admit that I learned much of what I know about President Adams in the excellent, excellent HBO series “John Adams”. Having said that, I also visited his home in Quincy, Massachusetts not too long ago. He was clearly a great man, with a great intellect …

27. English king nicknamed Longshanks : EDWARD I
There have been eight kings of England named Edward. Edward I was on the throne from 1272 to 1307 and was also known as Edward Longshanks. The “Longshanks” name came from Edward’s exceptional height.

32. Skater Brian : BOITANO
Brian Boitano is a figure skater from Sunnyvale, California. Boitano won the Olympic gold medal in 1988, and the World Championship title in 1986 and 1988. He was one of the combatants in “the Battle of the Brians”, the name given to the rivalry between Boitano and Canadian skater Brian Orser.

35. Cheetah's prey : GNU
A gnu is also known as a wildebeest, an antelope native to Africa. "Wildebeest" is actually the Dutch word for "wild beast".

36. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : JAMES MONROE
James Monroe was the fifth US President, and the last of the Founding Fathers to hold the highest office. Famously, he presided over the Era of Good Feelings, when there was very little partisan strife in Washington. President Monroe racked up a lot of debt while in politics and so when he retired he had to sell off a lot of his property and struggled financially for the remainder of his life. Monroe was one of three US presidents to pass away on American Independence Day (along with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams). Monroe died on July 4th 1831.

39. Professor Bobo of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," e.g. : APE
“Mystery Science Theater 3000” is a TV show in which a man and several robots watch some really bad movies. They are forced to do so by an evil scientist who has them trapped in a space station. Viewers of the show get to watch the movie along with the prisoners, and listen as they make wisecracks from the peanut gallery.

41. Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance : TUSCANY
Tuscany is a region in the west of central Italy, the capital of which is Florence.

The “Dark Ages” was a term that used to be popular as a description of the period following the decline of the Roman Empire in Europe, the time after the “light of Rome” was extinguished. The Dark Ages were said to end with the rise of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century. The Italian Renaissance was centered on the cities of Florence and Siena in Tuscany.

52. Charlemagne ruled it: Abbr. : HRE
The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) existed from 962 to 1806 AD and was a territory of varying size over the centuries that centered on the Kingdom of Germany. The HRE was a successor to the western half of the Ancient Roman Empire.

Pepin the Short was Duke of the Franks from 751 to 768. Pepin expanded the Frankish Empire and then law dictated that he had to leave the Empire divided between his two sons, Carloman I and Charlemagne. Carloman I was given lands that were centered around Paris, and Charlemagne was given lands that completely surrounded his brothers territory. So it fell to Charlemagne to defend and extend the borders of the empire. It is because of this division of power that it's Charlemagne who we read about today, not Carloman I. It was Emperor Charlemagne who in effect founded the Holy Roman Empire.

57. Date on which 17-, 24- and 36-Across died : THE FOURTH OF JULY
On 11 Jun 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of five people to draft a declaration of independence. Included in the five were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adams persuaded the other committee members to give Jefferson the task of writing the first draft. A resolution of independence was passed by the Congress on 2 Jul 1776. The final draft of the declaration was approved by the Congress two days later, on July 4th. John Adams wrote a letter to his wife that included an assertion that July 2nd (the date of the resolution of independence) would become a great American holiday. Of course Adams was wrong, and it was actually the date the Declaration of Independence was finalized that came to be celebrated annually.

60. Whitman's "A Backward Glance ___ Travel'd Roads" : O’ER
Walt Whitman is considered to be one of the greatest American poets, born in 1819 on Long Island, and living through the American Civil War. Whitman was a controversial character, even during his own lifetime. One view held by him was that the works attributed to William Shakespeare were not actually written by Shakespeare, but rather by someone else, or perhaps a group of people.

61. Bogotá bloom : FLOR
“Flor” is the Spanish word for "flower" or "bloom".

Bogotá is the capital city of Colombia. Noted for having many libraries and universities, Bogotá is sometimes called “The Athens of South America”.

62. Company that developed NutraSweet : SEARLE
Searle is mainly a pharmaceutical company, and was founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1888. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was Searle’s CEO and then President in the seventies and eighties.

NutraSweet is a brand name for the artificial sweetener aspartame. Aspartame was discovered by a chemist working for Searle in 1965, but it took 15 years for the company to be granted approval for its sale. I wonder why ...???

64. Card game with a bank : FARO
Faro is a card game somewhat akin to Baccarat that was popular in England and France in the 18th century. Faro made it to the Old West, where it became a favorite of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. The origin of the name "Faro" is unclear. One popular theory is that Faro is a contraction of ‘pharaoh’ given that Egyptian motifs used to be common on playing cards of the period. There’s another theory involving the usual suspects: Irish immigrants and famines …

Down
1. "All the world," in "As You Like It" : A STAGE
In the play “As You Like It”, there is a speech that yields one of the most-quoted phrases written by William Shakespeare, namely “all the world’s a stage”:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:

2. Home to North America's only year-round ski resort : MT HOOD
Mount Hood is a volcanic peak in northern Oregon. Mount Hood is the highest peak in the state, and is located about 50 miles southeast of Portland. There are six ski areas on the mountain, including a resort called Timberline that has North America’s only lift operating year-round for skiing.

3. "Today" show host before Gumbel : BROKAW
Tom Brokaw is a much-respected television journalist mostly seen on NBC. Brokaw is also the author of the excellent 1998 history of WWII and its aftermath called “The Greatest Generation”.

Bryant Gumbel is a television journalist best known for co-hosting NBC’s “The Today Show” for 15 years. Bryant’s older brother is sportscaster Greg Gumbel.

4. Alpo alternative : IAMS
Iams dog food was first produced by the animal nutritionist Paul Iams. Iams felt that household pets were suffering somewhat by being fed a diet of table scraps, so he developed a dry dog food that he thought was more nutritious and suitable for pet dogs. He founded the Iams company, now part of Procter & Gamble, in 1946.

Alpo is a brand of dog food first produced by Allen Products in 1936, with "Alpo" being an abbreviation for "Allen Products". Lorne Greene used to push Alpo in television spots, as did Ed McMahon and Garfield the Cat, would you believe?

5. Letter that's an anagram of 16-Across : ETA
Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character "H".

6. Humorist who wrote "Happiness is having a scratch for every itch" : NASH
The poet Ogden Nash is well known for his light and humorous verse. Try this one for size:
The one-L lama,
He's a priest.
The two-L llama,
He's a beast.
And I would bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-L lllama.

7. Old Olds : ALERO
The Oldsmobile Alero was the last car made under the Oldsmobile brand. The Alero was produced from 1999 to 2004.

8. Liquor purchase : FIFTH
A “fifth” is a unit of volume used in the US for liquor, and is equal to one fifth of a gallon. The standard capacity of a wine bottle is about 1% less than a fifth, and so is sometimes referred to as a “metric fifth”.

10. 400 meters, in Olympic track and field : ONE LAP
The distance around a newer running track is 400 meters, as measured in the inside line. Tracks used to be 440 yards around, so that four laps added up to an even mile (1,760 yards). As race distances changed to meters, the mile race was dropped in favor of the "metric mile", 1600 meters, equivalent to 1,750 yards or 0.994 miles.

18. Sport practiced in white attire : JUJITSU
Jujitsu (also “jiujitsu”) is a group of martial arts associated with Japan. The name "jujitsu" comes from "ju" meaning "gentle" and "jitsu" meaning "technique". The name was chosen to represent the principle of using the opponent's force against himself, rather than relying on one's own strength.

25. Columnist Peggy : NOONAN
Peggy Noonan is an author and columnist, and was once a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan. Noonan was responsible for one of President Reagan's most-remembered speeches, when he addressed the nation after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. She also came up with some famous phrases used by President George H. W. Bush, such as "a kinder, gentler nation", "a thousand points of light" and "read my lips; no new taxes".

26. Early Beatle Sutcliffe : STU
Stu Sutcliffe was one of the original four members of The Silver Beatles (as The Beatles were known in their early days), along with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Sutcliffe apparently came up with name "Beatles" along with John Lennon, as a homage to their hero Buddy Holly who was backed by the "Crickets". By all reports, Sutcliffe wasn't a very talented musician and was more interested in painting. He went with the group to Hamburg, more than once, but he eventually left the Beatles and went back to art school, actually studying for a while at the Hamburg College of Art. In 1962 in Hamburg, Sutcliffe collapsed with blinding headaches. He died in the ambulance on the way to hospital, his death attributed to cerebral paralysis.

28. Esq. group : ABA
The American Bar Association (ABA) was founded back in 1878 and is a voluntary association for lawyers and law students. The ABA focuses on setting academic standards for law schools and setting ethical codes for the profession.

The title "esquire" is of British origin and is used differently today depending on whether one is in the US or the UK. Here in America the term is usually reserved for those practicing the law (both male and female). In the UK, "esquire" is a term of gentle respect reserved for a male who has no other title that one can use. So a mere commoner like me might receive a letter from the bank say, addressed to W. E. Butler Esq.

29. Neighbor of Ukr. : ROM
Romania sits just east of Hungary and north of Bulgaria in Europe. Romania was formed from the union of two principalities in 1859, Moldavia and Wallachia. The Kingdom of Romania grew larger in size after WWI with the addition of three new regions, including the "vampirish" Transylvania.

Ukraine is a large country in Eastern Europe, a Soviet Republic before the dissolution of the USSR. In English we often call the country “the" Ukraine, but I am told that we should just say "Ukraine".

30. Was on a flexitarian plan, maybe : DIETED
A flexitarian is a semi-vegetarian, someone whose diet is largely plant-based but who occasion eats meat.

33. When many alarms go off, for short : AMS
The 12-hour clock has been around a long time, and was even used in sundial format in Ancient Egypt. Our use of AM and PM dates back to Roman times, with AM standing for Ante Meridiem (before noon) and PM standing for Post Meridiem (after noon). However, the Romans originally used the AM concept a little differently, by counting backwards from noon. So, 2AM to the Romans would be two hours before noon, or 10AM as we would call it today.

37. ___ polymerase : RNA
Polymerase is an enzyme found in the body. It has the task of making new RNA and DNA.

38. "Popeye" name : OYL
"Thimble Theater" was the precursor comic strip to the famous "Popeye" drawn by E. C. Segar. Before Popeye came into the story, the brother and sister characters Castor Oyl and Olive Oyl were the main protagonists. And then along comes a sailor ...

39. MoMA artist : ARP
Hans Arp was a French artist renowned for his work with torn and pasted paper, although that wasn't the only medium he used. Arp was the son of a French mother and German father and spoke both languages fluently. When he was speaking German he gave his name as Hans Arp, but when speaking French he called himself Jean Arp. Both "Hans" and "Jean" translate into English as "John". In WWI Arp moved to Switzerland to avoid being called up to fight, taking advantage of Swiss neutrality. Eventually he was told to report to the German Consulate and fill out paperwork for the draft. In order to get out of fighting, Arp messed up the paperwork by writing the date in every blank space on the forms. Then he took off all of his clothes and walked with his papers over to the officials in charge. He was sent home …

The founding of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City was very much driven by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller, son of the oil magnate. Working with two friends, Abby managed to get the museum opened in 1929, just nine days after the Wall Street Crash. The MoMA's sculpture garden bears the name of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and has done so since 1949.

47. A Bentley has a big one : GRILLE
The Bentley is a luxury car that is built in the UK. Bentley Motors was founded in 1919 by W. O. Bentley, and taken over by Rolls Royce in 1931. The company has been owned by Volkswagen since 1998.

51. Onetime Dodge S.U.V. : NITRO
The Dodge Nitro was an SUV from Chrysler that was very similar to the Jeep Liberty.

55. O.R. locale : HOSP
An operating room (OR) is found in a hospital (hosp.).

56. Open a tad : AJAR
Our word "ajar" is thought to come from Scottish dialect, in which "a char" means "slightly open".

Back in the 1800s "tad" was used to describe a young child, and this morphed into our usage of "small amount" in the early 1900s. The original use of "tad" for a child is very likely a shortened version of "tadpole".


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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Insomnia medicine : AMBIEN
7. Big top? : AFRO
11. Prime meridian std. : GST
14. Levels : STRATA
15. A title may come with one : LIEN
16. Accepted as a cost, informally : ATE
17. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : THOMAS JEFFERSON
20. NASA approvals : A-OKS
21. Offended : HURT
22. Line ending at Penn Sta. : LIRR
23. Smallest Indian state : GOA
24. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : JOHN ADAMS
27. English king nicknamed Longshanks : EDWARD I
31. Gift-giver's urging : OPEN IT
32. Skater Brian : BOITANO
35. Cheetah's prey : GNU
36. One of the first five 49-Acrosses : JAMES MONROE
39. Professor Bobo of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," e.g. : APE
41. Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance : TUSCANY
42. Update electrically : REWIRE
45. Pump for a heart, e.g. : ANALOGY
49. See 17-, 24- and 36-Across : PRESIDENT
52. Charlemagne ruled it: Abbr. : HRE
53. Western sound effect : CLOP
54. Laughable : RICH
56. [Buyer beware] : AS IS
57. Date on which 17-, 24- and 36-Across died : THE FOURTH OF JULY
60. Whitman's "A Backward Glance ___ Travel'd Roads" : O’ER
61. Bogotá bloom : FLOR
62. Company that developed NutraSweet : SEARLE
63. N.F.L. meas. : YDS
64. Card game with a bank : FARO
65. Mushes : PUREES

Down
1. "All the world," in "As You Like It" : A STAGE
2. Home to North America's only year-round ski resort : MT HOOD
3. "Today" show host before Gumbel : BROKAW
4. Alpo alternative : IAMS
5. Letter that's an anagram of 16-Across : ETA
6. Humorist who wrote "Happiness is having a scratch for every itch" : NASH
7. Old Olds : ALERO
8. Liquor purchase : FIFTH
9. Whistle blower : REF
10. 400 meters, in Olympic track and field : ONE LAP
11. Pilot's place : GAS RANGE
12. Enter angrily : STORM IN
13. Count on one's fingers? : TEN
18. Sport practiced in white attire : JUJITSU
19. Car, slangily : RIDE
25. Columnist Peggy : NOONAN
26. Early Beatle Sutcliffe : STU
28. Esq. group : ABA
29. Neighbor of Ukr. : ROM
30. Was on a flexitarian plan, maybe : DIETED
33. When many alarms go off, for short : AMS
34. Baseball umpire's ruling : NO CATCH
36. Chain stores? : JEWELERS
37. ___ polymerase : RNA
38. "Popeye" name : OYL
39. MoMA artist : ARP
40. Sat : PERCHED
43. "Time ___ the essence" : IS OF
44. Scam : RIP OFF
46. "Yeah, right" : OH SURE!
47. A Bentley has a big one : GRILLE
48. Emphatic agreement : YES! YES!
50. Dropping the ball, say : ERROR
51. Onetime Dodge S.U.V. : NITRO
55. O.R. locale : HOSP
56. Open a tad : AJAR
57. Fast-food freebie : TOY
58. Diminutive suffix : -ULA
59. Fire: Fr. : FEU


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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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