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 (someone bugging me with Instant Messages!)
THEME: Pair o’ (PARA-) … the theme answers start with “para-” creating homonyms for pairs e.g. PARATROOPS (pair o’ troops)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
10. Usually deleted e-mail : SPAM
I think it may be true that the term SPAM for unwanted email is taken from a “Monty Python” sketch. In the sketch, the dialog is taken over by the word SPAM, a play on the glut of canned meat in the markets in Britain after WWII. So SPAM is a term for emails that take over online communication. I can just imagine nerdy Internet types adopting something from a “Monty Python” sketch to describe an online phenomenon.
14. Item stuffed with pimento : OLIVE
A pimento is a cherry pepper in the chili family. It used to be stuffed into Spanish olives by a tool that took out the pit the same time. Sadly, in these days of modern technology, the pimento is usually pureed now, mixed with a gum and formed into neat strips, before being stuffed into the olive. Nothing is what it seems anymore …
17. Two steeds? : PARAMOUNTS
Paramount as an adjective of course means something is of great importance. It seems that the noun Paramount can be used to describe that item that is of importance.
24. Industrialist J. Paul ___ : GETTY
Jean Paul Getty was famous as an industrialist, but also as the grandfather who had a grandson kidnapped for ransom. John Paul Getty III was 16 years old when he was taken in Rome in 1973. The ransom demand to his father was for $17 million, a sum that he had to ask from the child’s grandfather, as he was the one with all the money. Jean Paul Getty refused to pay, and 4 months later an envelope was delivered to the family containing a lock of hair, and an ear. The grandfather then entered into negotiation with the kidnappers, beat them down to $2 million, and the boy was released. Getty’s grandson never really recovered. He got into drugs, and an overdose left him speechless, blind and paralyzed. Sad story …
25. Pants ending just below the knees : CAPRIS
Capri pants were first made popular on the island of Capri, apparently. They were invented in Europe in 1948, but only became popular in the US in the sixties, as they were often worn by Mary Tyler Moore on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. After a lull in the seventies and eighties, there was a resurgence in sales after Uma Thurman wore them (and danced in them) in “Pulp Fiction”. Can’t stand them myself …
37. “Cheers” barfly : NORM
The character of Norm Peterson was the only customer of the bar to appear in every episode of “Cheers“, something that one couldn’t call ironic since he loved that barstool! George Wendt played Norm, and I suppose the fact the Wendt was expelled from Notre Dame after one semester, with a 0.0 GPA, that might have helped him get the role!
38. Isolated hill : BUTTE
What’s the difference between a butte and a mesa, I hear you cry! Both are hills with flat tops, but a mesa has a top that is wider than it is tall. A butte is a much narrower formation, taller than it is wide. Now we know …
43. Poor, depressed neighborhood : GHETTO
The first “ghetto” was an island in Venice that was used for confining Venetian Jews. The same island was used to store slag from a foundry, and getto was the Venetian word for “slag”. The term ghetto spread across Europe, at the beginning always associated with repressed Jewish populations. Ultimately it came to mean any urban area housing a a minority group under economic and social pressure.
57. Two water slides? : PARACHUTES
The word parachute is a combination of para- and -chute. The prefix para- is Greek for “against”, and chute is a French word meaning “fall”.
61. Sewing machine inventor Howe : ELIAS
Elias Howe was an American inventor. He wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of a sewing machine, but he was the first to develop one that was functional.
1. Arizona tribe : HOPI
The Hopi nation live on a reservation that actually resides within the much larger Navajo reservation, in Arizona.
2. “The Good Earth” heroine : O-LAN
Pearl S. Buck’s novel “The Good Earth” won a Pulitzer in 1932, and helped Buck win the Nobel Prize for literature a few years later. The story tells of life in a Chinese village, and follows the fortunes of Wang Lung and his wife O-Lan. Although “The Good Earth” has been around a while, it hit the best seller list again in 2004 when it was picked by Oprah’s Book Club.
4. Actresses Mendes and Longoria : EVAS
Eva Mendes play the female lead in the movie “Hitch” opposite Will Smith. Eva Longoria is a fashion model and an actress with a regular role on “Desperate Housewives” as Gabrielle Solis.
6. In legend he sold his soul to the devil : FAUST
Faust is the main character in an old German legend. He sold his soul to the devil, in exchange for knowledge. The legend of Faust is the root of numerous works of literature and music, including “The Damnation of Faust” by Berlioz and Charlie Daniels’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia“.
10. Al Jolson classic : SWANEE
“Swanee” was written in 1919 by George Gershwin. Gershwin was very young at the time, and came up with the music in just ten minutes, while riding on a Manhattan bus. Al Jolson was already a star, and he heard Gershwin playing the song at a party. Jolson made a deal to include the song in his show “Sinbad”, and then it just took off.
25. Biblical water-to-wine site : CANA
Apparently no one knows for sure where Cana really is, although there are four candidates commonly cited, three in modern day Israel, and one in Lebanon.
29. Word-guessing game : JOTTO
Jotto is a word guessing game for two players. I used to play a game with colored pegs as a kid that works on the same principle, but for the life of me I cannot remember the name.
46. Lion in “The Chronicles of Narnia” : ASLAN
In the C. S. Lewis books, Aslan is the name of the lion character (as in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe“). Aslan is actually the Turkish word for lion. Anyone who has read the books will recognize the the remarkable similarity to the story of Aslan and the story of Christ, including a sacrifice and resurrection.
47. Oil company acquired by BP : AMOCO
Amoco is an abbreviation for the American Oil Company. Amoco was the first oil company to introduce gasoline tanker trucks and drive through filling stations. There a few of them still around.
51. Greek Cupid : EROS
As always seem to be the case, the Greek gods Eros and Aphrodite have overlapping spheres of influence. Aphrodite was the goddess of love between a man and a woman, but Eros was the god who stirred the passions of the male.
55. Old U.S. gas brand : ESSO
The brand name Esso has its roots in the old Standard Oil company, as it uses the initial letters of Standard and Oil (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but it is still used all over the rest of the world.
58. “Fourscore and seven years ___ …” : AGO
This are of course the opening words of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The “fourscore and seven years ago” is a reference is back to the War of Independence.