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 email@example.com, 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: N/A (watching “24” on the box … great show)
THEME: ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE, a quote from DIVINE COMEDY by DANTA ALIGHIERI
ANSWERS I MISSED:
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
13 AEGIS: Actually, the word aegis comes from the Greek word for a goat (“aigis”), the idea being that the goatskin shield or breastplate worn by Zeus or Athena, gave some measure of protection.
15 ABANDON ALL HOPE etc: Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” is an epic poem dating back to the 14th century. The first part of that epic is “Inferno“, which is the Italian word for “Hell”. Dante is led on a journey by the poet, Virgil, starting at the gates of Hell, on which are written the words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.
19 FLO: Rapper Tramar Dillard is better known as (but not by me!) rapper Flo Rida. As you might have guessed, Flo Rida was born in the state of Florida.
34 MANET: Edouard Manet painted “Olympia” in 1863. The painting caused a lot of controversy when it was first shown, because despite the grandiose title, Olympia is actually a courtesan, something that caused offence in the art appreciation circles at that time. I have been lucky enough to have seen the work (which doesn’t offend anyone anymore!) a few times in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
38 ARABIC: Ten is an Arabic number, while X is of course a Roman numeral.
48 ARSENIO: Arsenio Hall got his big break with his role in “Coming to America” with Eddie Murphy in 1988. The following year he started hosting “The Arsenio Hall Show”, which ran until 1994.
51 ABBY: The advice column “Dear Abby” first appeared in 1956. Abby was Pauline Phillips back then, but now the column is written by Jeanne Phillips, her daughter.
56 AMATI: The first of the family to make violins was Andrea Amati, who lived in the 14th century. He was succeeded by his sons, Antonio and Girolama. In turn, they were succeeded by Girolama’s son, Nicolo. Nicolo had a few students who achieved fame making musical instruments as well. One was his own son, Girolamo, and another, the infamous Antonio Stradivari.
57 EVE ARDEN: Eve Arden’s most famous roles were the high school teacher in the 1950’s radio and television show “Our Miss Brooks“. She also played the prinicipal of Rydell High School in the movies “Grease” (great!) and “Grease 2” (terrbile!).
3 PENS: Lewis Edson Waterman founded his company to make fountain pens in 1884. Even though he produced pens that were technically superior, his company really didn’t take off commercially until after he died and his nephew took over. However, eventually the competition caught up and Waterman had to shut its doors in 1954. The French subsidiary (now Waterman S.A.) survived, and absorbed the US and UK assets.
5 FOO: The Foo Dog (also Fu Dog) is the name given to a group of breeds, such as Pekingese, Chow Chow and Shih Tzu.
10 WIPE: A wipe is a transition used in cinematography, to move from one shot to the next. Specifically, a wipe involves a gradual change from one clip to the next with the use of a shape or a line to introduce the new scene. For example, a diagonal wipe uses a diagonal line moving across the screen to bring in the new scene.
11 TAFFY: Taffy was invented in Atlantic City, and is now found all over the US, but primarily in coastal towns (for some reason), and not really outside America. Taffy is made by stretching the solid mess made by boiling up sugar, butter, flavoring, and coloring until it achieves a fluffy texture.
12 TAHITI: Although Captain Cook landed in Tahiti in 1769, he wasn’t the first European to do so. However, Cook’s visit was the most significant, in that it heralded a whole spate of European visitors, who brought with them prostitution, venereal disease and alcohol. Paradoxically, they also brought Christianity. Included among the subsequent visitors was the famous HMS Bounty under the charge of Captain Bligh.
32 SMIFF: Ventriloquist Paul Winchell’s most famous dummies were Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. There was also a Bonehead Smiff, son of Knucklehead.
34 MIT: In the “Doonesbury” comic strip, drawn by Garry Trudeau, Alex is the daughter of Mike Doonesbury, the title character.
36 OBOL: An obol is also known as an obolus. It was a silver coin, and worth one sixth of a drachma.
42 AENEID: The Aeneid is Virgil’s epic poem that tells of the journey of Aeneas, a Trojan that voyaged to Italy to become the ancestor of all Romans.
44 LIBRES: A Cuba Libre is basically a Rum and Coke, although traditionally it needs some lime juice as well.
49 RAMA: Rama is one of the avatars of Vishnu, a deity in the Hindu tradition.
51 AIRE: Frigidaire made the first self-contained refrigerator in 1916. Just three years later it was taken over by General Motors, who owned it right up to 1979. The company also made the first home freezer and room air conditioner.