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’m retired now, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world. I answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are working on the New York Times crossword in any other publication, you are working on the syndicated puzzle. Here is a link to my answers to today’s SYNDICATED New York Times crossword. To find any solution other than today’s, enter the crossword number (e.g. 1225, 0107) in the “Search the Blog” box above.
This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today …
COMPLETION TIME: 45m 05s
THEME: The theme answers are all (vaguely) homonyms for US Presidents e.g. SAC-AIR-EAT-AIL-LORE (Zachary Taylor)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST GOOGLIES
15 SARA: FDR was the only child of Sara Delano and James Roosevelt Sr. Sara was only 26-years-old when she married 52-years-old widower James Sr. Her relationship with her daughter-in-law, Eleanor, was apparently very “strained”.
20 HAITI: Haiti’s national anthem, “La Dessalinienne“, was written to honor Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution that overthrew French rule. Dessalines was the first leader (self-proclaimed Emperor) of independent Haiti.
23 SAC-AIR-EAT-AIL-LORE: Zachary Taylor won the 1848 election, becoming the 12th US president, and the first president to hold office without a political resume. Taylor was a career military man, known as “Old Rough and Ready” Taylor. He died only 16 months into his term, apparently of gastroenteritis. Given that rumors of poisoning persisted over the decades, his body was exhumed in 1991 and tissue samples checked for signs of foul play. Nothing out of order was discovered, although rumours still persist.
26 UTAH: “Big Love” is an absolutely superb HBO drama series about a polygamous man and his three families trying to live a relatively “normal” life in Utah. The lead is played by Bill Paxton. We’ve seen the first two series, and have ordered season 3. Can’t wait …
28 LOTT: Trent Lott was raised Democrat in Mississippi, but served in Congress as a Republican. He ran into a controversy about remarks that were interpreted as being racially motivated, and ended up resigning in 2007.
29 OLEANNA: “Oleanna” sounds like a powerful play, written by David Mamet, first performed in 1992. It’s a two-person piece, the tale of a university professor and a female student who accuses him of sexual exploitation.
31 AT. NO.: The atomic number of an element, as we all remember, is equal to the number of protons found in the nucleus of one atom.
34 LEE: Washington and Lee University is a private school in Lexington, Virginia. The original school was called Augusta Academy, then Liberty Hall Academy. In 1796 George Washington gave the school the largest endowment in its history, and so the name was changed to Washington Academy. Robert E. Lee became the school’s president after the Civil War, and after his death, there was the final name change, to Washington and Lee University.
43 CERES: Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, probably took her name from the Indo-European root “ker” meaning “to grow”. The word “cereal” has the same root. One does not derive from the other, they both derive from the same root (pun intended!).
44 YULE-HIS-SAY-ASK-RENT: Ulysses S. Grant, like Zachary Taylor, wasn’t a professional politician when he was elected the 18th President. Unlike Taylor, he served two full terms, the first president to do so. He had a reputation of being quite the drinker, which perhaps contributed to his development of throat cancer, from which he died in 1885 at the age of 63 years.
48 ASL: American Sign Language.
65 CHAI: Chai is the Hindi word for tea. We often called tea “a cup of char” growing up, with “char” being the slang word for tea derived from “char”.
66 UAE: United Arab Emirates.
67: DUMBEST-CHEF-HERS-SINN: Thomas Jefferson, one of my heroes. By the way, Sinn Fein is a political party in Ireland, largely representing the Catholic community in Northern Ireland. It is led by Gerry Adams, and has the aim of uniting Ireland north and south. Sinn Fein is Irish for “we ourselves”.
74 TEJANO: Tejano is the Spanish word for “Texan”. Tejano music is strongly influenced by the Cajun culture, because of the proximity of Texas to Louisiana. The other strong influence came with immigrants from the Poland and what is now the Czech Republic. These immigrants brought with them the waltz, polka … and the accordion.
78 SPARTA: The Peloponnese is a peninsula in southern Greece, and once home of Sparta.
86 JUNK-WINS-SEE-ADD-HUMS: John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, was the 6th President. Like his father, John Quincy served many years as a diplomat representing the young United States. After leaving office, Adams served in Congress as Representative from Massachusetts, the only president ever to do so.
99 LAWRENCE: Lawrence Summers was President of Harvard University (although resigned under a cloud) before becoming Director of the White House’s National Economic Council in the Obama administration.
103 ALE: A few years ago, I brought my wife and sister-in-law into McSorley’s. I was foolish enough to ask what kind of wine they had for the ladies. the gruff answer was “McSorley’s Light Ale or McSorley’s Dark Ale”.
113 HAIRIEST-ROOM-HAWN: Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President, was the only one to have served in combat in WWI (he was an artillery officer). And of course, he was the Prsident who had to decided to use the A-bomb at the end of WWII. I can only imagine the difficulty of that decision.
119 REA: The Latin phrase actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea means “the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty”. In other words, a man should not be deemed guilty of an act, unless he had a “guilty mind”, that he intended to do wrong.
120 LIFE: “I found President Clinton’s “My Life” to be a good read, but 1008 pages … a little wordy!
123 PBS: Gwen Ifill is the current host of “Washington Week”, which has been aired since 1967.
5 PARABOLA: When I was doing coordinate geometry, our parabolas must have pointed in the other direction, because I recall the equation being y2=4ax (that is y-squared equals 4ax)
8 TITO: Tito Jackson was the third eldest of the Jackson children, and was known in Motown as the “quiet Jackson”.
11 OSLO: The Oslo Accords grew out of secret negotiations between high level PLO and Israeli delegates in a residence in Oslo. The teams shared the same house while they conducted 14 meetings, and while eating all their meals together at the same table, the negotiators came to respect one another, and apparently friendships developed.
16 ASTAIRE: “Shall We Dance” was film number 7 together, for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was released in 1937, and features a score composed by the Gershwin Brothers, their first Hollywood musical.
24 AGONY: Maya Angelou is an African-American autobiographer and poet. She recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Clinton in 1983.
25 ATLAS: In Greek mythology, Atlas was one of the Titans. Famously, he supported the heavens on his shoulders, while crouched on what are now called the Atlas Mountains in Greece.
35 EDSEL: It was Henry Ford’s son, Edsel Ford, who gave his name to the Edsel make of automobile, a name that has become synonymous with “failure”.
48 APU: The Apu Trilogy consists of three Bengali films that were released between 1955 and 1959. They were directed by Satyajit Ray, and featured music composed by Ravi Shankar. They are considered to be some of the greatest movies of all times by international critics, yet they were filmed on tiny budgets.
50 LACUNA: A lacuna is a missing piece of text (or music) in a larger work. Usually the text has been lost due to damage of an older manuscript. Lacunae can be very controversial, as experts vie with each other to suggest what words have been lost.
65 CHARADE: Audrey Hepburn’s co-star in “Charade“, a delightful comedic thriller, was Cary Grant. It was released in 1963, features a Henry Mancini score, and for my money is one of the best movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
77 DOWSES: Rhabdomancy is the name given to divination using some sort of instrument like a stick or a wand. The term comes from the Ancient Greek word rhabdos meaning “rod”.
79 ATHOL: Athol Fugard was born in South Africa. he became involved in the theater, producing works that opposed apartheid, many of which had to be produced outside of South Africa given the political climate. He now lives in San Diego.
89 KARAOKE: Kara-te, means “open hand”, and Kara-oke, means “open orchestra”.
92 SLASH: Slash used to be he lead guitarist of hard rock band Guns N’Roses. He lends his likeness to the cover of the video game “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock“. My son loves the game. No interest here …
103 ABRAM: James Abram Garfield, the 20th President, was of course assassinated in office. He was shot twice, and one bullet could not be found (it was lodged in his spine). Alexander Graham Bell developed a metal detector in an attempt to locate the bullet, but apparently he was unsuccessful because of interference from the metal bed frame on which the president lay. Garfield died two months after being shot.