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, or leave a comment below.
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This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today …
COMPLETION TIME: 26m 32s
THEME: MIXED METAPHOR … all the theme answers are anagrams of the word METAPHOR.
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1: AD LIB: Ad libitum is a Latin phrase meaning “at one’s pleasure”. In common usage, the phrase is usually shortened to “ad lib”. On the stage, the concept of an “ad lib” is very familiar. For example, an actor who substitutes his own words for forgotten lines uses an ad lib. Or, a director may instruct an actor to use her own words at a particular point in a performance, to promote a feeling of spontaneity.
13 LAIKA: Poor old Laika was the first animal into space. She was launched into earth orbit in 1957, on Sputnik 2, to determine if animal life could survive the hardship of launch and the weightlessness of outer space. She proved that was possible, and lived a few hours before dying from overheating, possibly due to an equipment malfunction. Laika was on a suicide mission, as Sputnik 2 was never intended to have a controlled reentry into the earth’s atmosphere.
18 OXO: The OXO line of kitchen utensils is designed to be ergonomically superior to the average kitchen too. The intended user of OXO products is someone who doesn’t have the normal range of motion or strength in the hands e.g. someone suffering from arthritis.
19 MEX: Felipe Calderon took over as President of Mexico in 2006. Calderon had been Secretary of Energy in the cabinet of his predecessor, Vincente Fox.
26 EPOS: Epos is the Greek word for a story or a poem. We have absorbed it into English as “epic”, describing a long, narrative poetic work describing heroic deeds and ventures. Examples are Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Virgil’s “Aeneid“.
32 MALONE: You all know the song, I am sure. “In Dublin’s fair city …” And of course the chorus “Crying, ‘Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”. Recently June 13th was declared Molly Malone Day in Dublin.
34 MORE PHAT: In hip-hop circles, the term “phat” means excellent or first-rate, I just learned …
37 ELLA: Ella Fitzgerald recorded the live album “Ella in London” in 1974, in the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho.
43 SUBURBIA: While I found “American Beauty” to be an enjoyable and interesting film (loved Annette Bening in it), I also found it very depressing. If you haven’t seen it, the main story is about a man having a midlife crisis (Kevin Spacey) and developing an infatuation for his teenage daughter’s flirtatious friend (who I guess is the “American Beauty”). Definitely worth watching. It got huge accolades when released in 1999.
45 ROME PATH: Via Veneto is (actually Via Vittoria Veneto) is an upmarket street in Rome, the site of many of the pricier hotels. It was made famous in Frederico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita“, and is still the home to Harry’s Bar, featured in the movie.
47 ASP: The Serpent Society members are baddies, including Asp, who go up against Captain America and his team of Avengers.
53 DHL: Back in the sixties, Larry Hillblom was making pocket money as a Berkeley law student by doing courier runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After law school, he decided to parlay his experience into his own business, and set up a courier service flying bills of lading ahead of freight from San Francisco to Honolulu. Hillblom brought in two buddies, Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn as partners, and the three were hopping on and off commercial flights, gradually making more and more money. And DHL was born … D (Dalsey) H (Hillblom) L (Lynn).
54 ALLIE: “Kate & Allie” ran from 1984 to 1989, starring Susan Saint James as Kate, and Jane Curtin as Allie. Jane Curtin won two Emmy awards for her work on the series, while Susan Saint James … did not.
56 EX-PATRIOT: Adam Vinatieri is a place kicker, who played in four Super Bowls for the New England Patriots. He is now with the Indianapolis Colts. Adam’s g-g-grandfather was Felix Vinatieri, an immigrant from Italy. Vinatieri the elder was bandmaster serving General Custer. Apparently he was told to head back to camp by Custer instead of proceeding to Little Big Horn with the regiment, saving his life that day.
63 INTO YOU: “Into You” is a cover version by Fabolous (never heard of him) of an original song by Tamia (never heard of her).
2 DANES: The whole of mainland Denmark resides on the Jutland Peninsula. The name Jutland is perhaps most associted by us in America with the Battle of Jutland, the epic WWI naval battle between the British and German navies. The Germans sunk the most tonnage in the battle, but the British retained control of the North Sea. So, who won?
6 TOMORROW: “Tomorrow” is a song written for the Broadway musical “Annie“. The musical was based on the Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie“. There were two subsequent film adaptations, both really quite successful, including one released in 1982 directed by John Huston of all people. It was his only ever musical.
10 ATOM: Nowadays we call an “atom smasher” a “particle accelerator”. The accelerator creates highly focused beams of fast-moving ions, then “smashes” them into various atoms, producing new particles from the collision. Important work, apparently …
12 T-REX: “The Lost World” is Michael Crichton’s sequel to his highly successful “Jurassic Park“. The title “The Lost World” was pinched from a work of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle’s story has a similar theme: a plateau in the Amazon Basin where dinosaurs have survived to modern times.
16 DOH: Back in the 1930s, a manufacturer in Cincinnati produced a doughy compound that was used to clean wallpaper. Twenty years later, school-kids started using the material as a modelling compound, so the manufacturer reworked the formula, and sold it to local schools. They called it Play-Doh.
22 TSE: Thomas Stearns (T. S. ) Eliot.
31 STAR: In 1603, the German astronomer Johann Bayer developed a system for identifying stars in a constellation. Basically, the brightest star is designated the alpha star, the second brightest the beta star, and so on.
32 MOHS: The Mohs scale of mineral hardness was developed in 1812 by Freidrich Mohs. Basically he took minerals and scratched them with other minerals. In this way he was able to determine which minerals were hardest (most scratch resistant) and which softest.
33 ALOU: Felipe Alou played major league baseball, as did his brothers, Matty and Jesus, as well as his son, Moises.
36 PRIE-DIEU: Prie-dieu literally means “pray (to) God” in French. A prie-dieu is basically a padded kneeler, with an arm rest in front with a shelf on which one placed books of prayer.
40 ABM: The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 was signed in 1972 by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev. It remained in force until 2001, when the US withdrew unilaterally in order to allow development of missile defense systems (regarded as a threat from “rogue nations”).
49 PESTS: Gadflies are also known as horse-flies, some of the biggest species of flies in the world.
51 EXON: Jim Exon was a Democrat, and served as US Senator for Nebraska from 1979 to 1997, after spending 8 years as Governor of the state. In 1972, while he was Governor, the Standard Oil Co. wanted to change its name to Exxon. As a courtesy, the company asked permission from Governor Exon!
55 LALO: “Fiesque” is an opera by Edouard Lalo, the French composer. He worked on it from 1866-88, but it didn’t get its first public performance until very recently, in Mannheim in 2007.
57 AMO: Amo, amas, amat … Titus Livius (aka Livy) was A Roman historian who llived from 59 BC – AD 17. He wrote the definitive history of Rome at that time.
58 TAY: The Firth of Tay is an inlet on the east coast of Scotland, into which empties Scotland’s largest river, the Tay. The city of Dundee lies on the Firth, and the city of Perth just inland on the Tay.