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Greetings from Dundalk, County Louth 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

1104-13 New York Times Crossword Answers 4 Nov 13, Monday





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CROSSWORD SETTER: John Lieb
THEME: It’s Reigning Men … today’s themed answers are all famous kings, and the puzzle includes a homophonic hint: IT’S RAINING MEN. Fittingly, the kings are all in the down-direction, “raining” from the top of the grid to the bottom:
3D. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" protagonist : KING ARTHUR
8D. Eponym of the city now known as Istanbul : CONSTANTINE
26D. So-called "Father of Europe" : CHARLEMAGNE
31D. Shakespeare play that begins "Now is the winter of our discontent" : RICHARD III

15D. Camp classic by the Weather Girls ... or a homophonic hint to 3-, 8-, 26- and 31-Down : IT'S RAINING MEN
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 5m 04s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

13. "___ Mir Bist Du Schön" (1938 hit) : BEI
“Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” was a hit in the 1930s for the Andrews Sisters. The title translates from German into English as “To Me, You Are Beautiful”. The song was originally titled in Yiddish as “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” as it was written for a 1932 Yiddish comedy musical called “Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht”.

16. Lassie, for one : COLLIE
We owe the character Lassie to one Eric Knight who wrote a short story that he expanded into a novel called "Lassie Come Home", published in 1940. "Lassie Come Home" was turned into a movie three years later, the first of a very successful franchise. The original Lassie (a female) was played by a dog called Pal, a male dog. In fact, all of the dogs that played Lassie over the years were males, because they looked better on camera, retaining a thick coat even during the summer months.

17. ___ and tonic : GIN
The original tonic water was a fairly strong solution of the drug quinine dissolved in carbonated water. It was used in tropical areas in South Asia and Africa where malaria is rampant. The quinine has a prophylactic effect against the disease, and was formulated as "tonic water" so that it could be easily distributed. In British colonial India, the colonial types got into the habit of mixing in gin with the tonic water to make it more palatable by hiding the bitter taste of the quinine. Nowadays, the level of quinine in tonic water has been dropped, and sugar has been added.

20. Lead-in to Bear or Berra : YOGI
The cartoon character Yogi Bear made his debut for Hanna-Barbera in 1958 on "The Huckleberry Hound Show" before he was given his own series. Do you remember that collar that Yogi wore around his neck? That was a little trick from the animators. By using the collar, for many frames all they had to do was redraw everything from the collar up, saving them lots and lots of time.

Yogi Berra is regarded by many as the greatest catcher ever to play in Major League Baseball, and has to be America's most celebrated "author" of malapropisms. Here are some greats:
- "It's ain't over till it's over."
- "90% of the game is half mental."
- "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
- (giving directions) "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
- "It's déjà vu all over again."
- "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours."
- “A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.”

22. Post-monologue spot for Jay Leno : DESK
Jay Leno was born James Leno in New Rochelle, New York. Jay’s father was the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother was from Scotland. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and actually dropped out of school on the advice of a high school guidance counsellor. However, years later he went to Emerson college and earned a Bachelor’s degree in speech therapy. Leno also started a comedy club at Emerson in 1973. Today Jay Leno is a car nut and owns about 200 vehicles of various types. You can check them out on his website: www.jaylenosgarage.com.

27. Diatribes : RANTS
A diatribe is a bitter discourse, and comes from the Greek "diatribein" meaning "to wear away".

29. German coal region : RUHR
The Ruhr is a large urban area in western Germany. The area is heavily populated, and is the fifth largest urban area in the whole of Europe, after Istanbul, Moscow, London and Paris. The Ruhr became heavily industrialized due to its large deposits of coal. By 1850, the area contained nearly 300 operating coal mines. Any coal deposits remaining in the area today are too expensive to exploit.

30. Former penitentiary in San Francisco Bay : ALCATRAZ
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was a maximum high-security prison operating from 1934 to 1963 on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. The US Army had opened Fort Alcatraz on the island back in 1859, and constructed the first prison there in 1868. The first buildings that were to become the Federal Penitentiary were erected between 1910 and 1912, and again were used as a military prison. The construction was modernized and became the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in 1934. The Federal prison housed famous inmates like Al Capone, The Birdman of Alcatraz and “Machine Gun” Kelly. The prison was closed in 1963 by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, as the cost of operation was excessively high and major capital improvements were needed.

36. Japanese camera : NIKON
Nikon was founded in 1917, a merger of three companies making various optical devices. After the merger, the company's main output was lenses (including the first lenses for Canon cameras, before Canon made its own). During the war, Nikon sales grew rapidly as the company focused on (pun unintended!) equipment for the military including periscopes and bomb sights.

39. Santa ___ winds : ANA
The Santa Ana winds are the very dry air currents that sweep offshore late in the year in Southern California. Because these air currents are so dry, they are noted for their influence over forest fires in the area, especially in the heat of the fall. The winds arise from a buildup of air pressure in the Great Basin that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Under the right conditions, that air spills over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and basically "falls" down the side of the Sierra range, heading for the ocean. As the air falls it becomes drier and heats up so that relative humidity can fall to below 10% by the time it hits the coast.

42. East Lansing sch. : MSU
Michigan State University (MSU) is located in East Lansing, Michigan. MSU has the largest study-abroad program of any single-campus university in the US. Programs are offered on all continents of the world, including Antarctica.

45. "___ the Sheriff" (Eric Clapton #1 hit) : I SHOT
Can you believe that Eric Clapton only had one chart-topper in the US? In 1974 he released a cover version of the Bob Marley classic "I Shot the Sheriff", and ended up selling more copies of that song than Bob Marley did himself.

46. Grated cheese : PARMESAN
The genuine Parmesan cheese is made in and around the Province of Parma in Northern Italy, which gives the cheese its name.

48. Ancient Peruvian : INCA
Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro discovered the Incas in 1526, marking the beginning of the end for an ancient civilization that was to be ravaged by brutal Spanish colonists and by imported smallpox. The last leader of the Inca was Atahualpa. Pizarro staged a mock trial and then condemned Atahualpa to execution by burning. A Spanish friar intervened on behalf of the condemned man, as Atahualpa believed that if he was burned his soul would not move on to the afterlife. Pizarro, was kind enough to have Atahualpa garroted instead.

53. Miata maker : MAZDA
I've always liked the looks of the Mazda Miata, probably because it reminds me so much of old British sports cars. The Miata is built in Hiroshima, Japan.

56. Prefix with present : OMNI-
“Omnis” is Latin for “all, every, the whole”.

58. BlackBerrys and Palms, for short : PDAS
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

65. Western mil. alliance : NATO
NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO was founded not long after WWII in 1949 and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The first NATO Secretary General was Lord Ismay, Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during WWII. Famously, Lord Ismay said the goal of NATO was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down."

67. Dried plums : PRUNES
A prune is a dried plum. The name “prune” comes from the Latin “prunum”, the word or “plum”.

68. Imbecile : ASS
(48D. Imbeciles : IDIOTS)
The rather unsavory term “imbecile” was formerly used by the medical community to describe someone with moderate to severe mental retardation. The term comes from the Latin “imbecillus” meaning “weak, feeble”, which was extended to mean “weak-minded”. Back in the early 1900s, IQ tests were used to classify those suffering from mental retardation into categories:
- “idiot” … IQ of 0-20
- “imbecile” … IQ of 21-50
- “moron” ...IQ of 51-70

Down
1. Maternity ward doc : OB/GYN
Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN)

3. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" protagonist : KING ARTHUR
King Arthur (and his Round Table) probably never really existed, but his legend is very persistent. Arthur was supposedly a leader of the Romano-British as they tried to resist the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. According to legend, King Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon. Uther magically disguised himself as his enemy Gorlois and slept with Gorlois’ wife Igerna, and the result of the union was Arthur.

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was released as a movie in 1975, and was a great success. Some thirty years later the film’s storyline was used as inspiration for the hit musical “Spamalot”. I saw “Spamalot” recently and wasn’t that impressed. But, mine was very much a minority opinion ...

4. Mini Cooper maker : BMW
The original mini was a fabulous car, one that I drove all over Ireland in my youth. It had a unique front-wheel-drive layout that took up very little space, allowing for a lot of room (relatively speaking) for passengers and baggage. One space-saving trick was to mount the engine transversely, so it sits rotated 90 degrees from the norm. That engine had a capacity of only 848cc. In 1961, a Mini Cooper model was introduced, a sporty version of the Mini. The Mini Cooper was a phenomenal hit, especially after repeated wins in the Monte Carlo Rally. The Mini marque has been owned by BMW since 1994.

5. Oakland N.F.L.'er : RAIDER
The Oakland Raiders football team was founded in 1960, and was originally intended to play in Minnesota. Instead,the team played in Oakland from 1960 to 1981 and then spent 12 years in Los Angeles before returning to Oakland in 1995.

7. Astron., e.g. : SCI
Astronomy (astron.) is a science (sci.).

8. Eponym of the city now known as Istanbul : CONSTANTINE
Constantine the Great (aka Constantine I and St. Constantine) was Emperor of Rome from 306 to 337. Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, and along with co-Emperor Licinius he proclaimed religious tolerance throughout the Roman Empire. It was Constantine who gave his name to the city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Also, the famous Arch of Constantine in Rome was built to commemorate one of Constantine’s military victories. This arch that was the model for many famous arches around the world including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Marble Arch in London, and the arch in the main facade of Union Station in Washington, DC.

9. Like St. Augustine vis-à-vis all U.S. cities : OLDEST
The city of St. Augustine in northeast Florida was founded as San Agustín in 1565 by the Spanish. That makes St. Augustine the oldest continuously occupied, European-established settlement in the whole of the US. The Spanish maritime expedition first sighted land in the area on August 28, 1565. As August 28 was the feast day of Augustine of Hippo, San Agustín was chosen as the name for the new territory.

10. Show off at Muscle Beach : FLEX
The original Muscle Beach was a located on the south side of Santa Monica Pier in Southern California. Bodybuilders started working out on the beach back in the 1930s when exercise equipment was installed there as part of the WPA program. Some of the equipment was removed in the fifties, so the bodybuilding community shifted to the Venice Beach Weight Pen. This area was developed and is now known as Muscle Beach Venice.

15. Camp classic by the Weather Girls ... or a homophonic hint to 3-, 8-, 26- and 31-Down : IT'S RAINING MEN
"It's Raining Men" has been labeled as a dance anthem, gay anthem and a classic female anthem, but whatever anthem you relate to, it's a fun song. It sounds very "disco", and was indeed written in the late disco era. The Disco Divas like Donna Summer passed on it so it was only in the early eighties that it surfaced, recorded by the one-hit wonder act called the Weather Girls. Geri Halliwell came out with a version in 2001, the version that I actually prefer largely because of it's featured on the soundtrack of the movie "Bridget Jones's Diary".

23. Alpo alternative : KAL KAN
The brand name “Whiskas” has been used for cat food since 1988, but the product itself has been made in McLean, Virginia since 1936. For decades it was sold under the name “Kal Kan”.

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?

26. So-called "Father of Europe" : CHARLEMAGNE
Pepin the Short (aka Pepin the Younger, Pepin III) 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, earning him the nickname “Father of Europe”.

28. Sgt., e.g. : NCO
An NCO is a non-commissioned officer in the armed forces. Usually such an officer is one who has earned his or her rank by promotion through the enlisted ranks. A good example would be a sergeant.

31. Shakespeare play that begins "Now is the winter of our discontent" : RICHARD III
“Richard III” is one of the more famous of William Shakespeare’s historical plays. A well-known 1955 version of the play was made for the big screen with Laurence Olivier playing the title role. The most oft-quoted lines from “Richard III” are probably:
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York

32. Suffix with buck : -AROO
The American English word “buckaroo” comes from “vaquero”, the Spanish for cowboy.

33. Joie de vivre : ZEST
“Joie de vivre” means "joy of living" in French. We use the phrase to mean the happy, carefree enjoyment of life, like when we finish our crossword puzzles ...

35. Greece's Mount ___ : OSSA
Mount Ossa in Greece is located between Mt. Pelion in the south, and the famed Mt. Olympus in the north. Mount Ossa is also known as Kissavos.

36. 1998 Winter Olympics host : NAGANO
Nagano is a city on Japan’s largest island, Honshu. Nagano was host to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

41. Musical alternative to B.M.I. : ASCAP
ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) collects licence fees for musicians and distributes royalties to composers whose works have been performed. BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) provides the same service.

51. Bit of candy that "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" : M AND M
Forrest Mars, Sr. was the founder of the Mars Company. Forrest invented the Mars Bar while living over in England and then developed M&M's when he returned to the US. Mars came up with the idea for M&M's when he saw soldiers in the Spanish Civil War eating chocolate pellets. Those pellets had a hard shell of tempered chocolate on the outside to prevent them from melting. Mars got some of the funding to develop the M&M from William Murrie, the son of the president of Hershey's Chocolate. It is the "M" and "M" from "Mars" and "Murrie" that give the name to the candy.

53. Car showroom sticker inits. : MSRP
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

55. South African native : ZULU
The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa, with an estimated population of 10-11 million people today. The Zulu were famous for resisting the colonization by the British in 19th century, resulting in the Anglo-Zulu War. The Zulus had initial success, but the British eventually prevailed (see the excellent film "Zulu", starring Michael Caine and others, from 1964).

57. Sweet 16 org. : NCAA
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) dates back to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. When his son broke his nose playing football at Harvard, President Roosevelt turned his attention to the number of serious injuries and even deaths occurring in college sports. He instigated meetings between the major educational institutions leading to the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) in 1906, which was given the remit of regulating college sports. The IAAUS became the NCAA in 1910.

60. Many "Star Trek" extras, for short : ETS
Extraterrestrial (ET)

When Gene Roddenberry first proposed the science fiction series that became "Star Trek", he marketed it as "Wagon Train to the Stars", a pioneer-style Western in outer space. In fact his idea was to produce something more like "Gulliver's Travels", as he intended to write episodes that were adventure stories on one level, but morality tales on another. Personally I think that he best achieved this model with the spin-off series "Star Trek: The Next Generation". If you watch individual episodes you will see thinly disguised treatments of moral issues such as racism, homosexuality, genocide etc. For my money, "The Next Generation" is the best of the whole franchise ...

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Tree with acorns : OAK
4. Garment under a blouse : BRA
7. Expresses derision : SCOFFS
13. "___ Mir Bist Du Schön" (1938 hit) : BEI
14. Dress that covers the ankles : MAXI
16. Lassie, for one : COLLIE
17. ___ and tonic : GIN
18. Droop in the heat : WILT
19. Set off from the margin : INDENT
20. Lead-in to Bear or Berra : YOGI
22. Post-monologue spot for Jay Leno : DESK
24. Male and female : SEXES
25. Shade of meaning : NUANCE
27. Diatribes : RANTS
29. German coal region : RUHR
30. Former penitentiary in San Francisco Bay : ALCATRAZ
34. "___ luck!" : LOTSA
36. Japanese camera : NIKON
37. Anger : IRE
38. One with a leading role? : USHER
39. Santa ___ winds : ANA
40. Tex-Mex fare with shells : TACOS
42. East Lansing sch. : MSU
43. Get access, as to a protected site : LOG IN
45. "___ the Sheriff" (Eric Clapton #1 hit) : I SHOT
46. Grated cheese : PARMESAN
48. Ancient Peruvian : INCA
49. In the midst of : AMONG
50. "Oh my stars!" : DEAR ME!
53. Miata maker : MAZDA
56. Prefix with present : OMNI-
58. BlackBerrys and Palms, for short : PDAS
59. Mark that might be left with greasy fingers : SMUDGE
61. Supply-and-demand subj. : ECON
63. Monthly entry on a bank statement: Abbr. : INT
64. Say O.K., begrudgingly : RELENT
65. Western mil. alliance : NATO
66. Wedding words : I DO
67. Dried plums : PRUNES
68. Imbecile : ASS
69. Prankster : IMP

Down
1. Maternity ward doc : OB/GYN
2. Group to which "Y" is sometimes added : AEIOU
3. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" protagonist : KING ARTHUR
4. Mini Cooper maker : BMW
5. Oakland N.F.L.'er : RAIDER
6. Wheel turner : AXLE
7. Astron., e.g. : SCI
8. Eponym of the city now known as Istanbul : CONSTANTINE
9. Like St. Augustine vis-à-vis all U.S. cities : OLDEST
10. Show off at Muscle Beach : FLEX
11. Alternative to a jail sentence : FINE
12. Tennis units : SETS
15. Camp classic by the Weather Girls ... or a homophonic hint to 3-, 8-, 26- and 31-Down : IT'S RAINING MEN
21. Occupied, as a bathroom : IN USE
23. Alpo alternative : KAL KAN
26. So-called "Father of Europe" : CHARLEMAGNE
28. Sgt., e.g. : NCO
31. Shakespeare play that begins "Now is the winter of our discontent" : RICHARD III
32. Suffix with buck : -AROO
33. Joie de vivre : ZEST
34. "One ___ or two?" : LUMP
35. Greece's Mount ___ : OSSA
36. 1998 Winter Olympics host : NAGANO
41. Musical alternative to B.M.I. : ASCAP
44. Bear: Sp. : OSO
47. Infuriate : MADDEN
48. Imbeciles : IDIOTS
51. Bit of candy that "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" : M AND M
52. Legally prevent : ESTOP
53. Car showroom sticker inits. : MSRP
54. The "A" in U.S.A.: Abbr. : AMER
55. South African native : ZULU
57. Sweet 16 org. : NCAA
60. Many "Star Trek" extras, for short : ETS
62. 1, 2, 3, etc.: Abbr. : NOS


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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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