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 “Mad Men” … great series!)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 … NAPPERS (NIPPERS!), TAMLA (TIMLA)
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1. Massive : GINORMOUS
Ginormous is a meld of the words “gigantic” and “enormous”, and surprisingly to me, it dates back to about 1948. I thought it was contemporary than that.
10. “Hairspray” mom and others : EDNAS
In the musical “Hairspray”, Edna Turnblad is one of the main characters. “Hairspray” was originally a John Waters movie, from 1988. In that film, Edna was played by Divine, a famous drag queen who featured in many Waters films. In the stage musical that opened in 2002, the original Broadway cast featured Harvey Fierstein as Edan. The 2007 movie adaptation of the musical had John Travolta in the role.
18. Blackmore heroine : DOONE
Lorna Doone was written by Richard Doddridge Blackmore. R. D. Blackmore was an English novelist, very celebrated and in demand in his time (the late 1800s). His romantic story “Lorna Doone” was be no means a favorite of his, and yet it is the only one of his works still in print.
20. Ezio Pinza’s “Mr. Imperium” co-star : LANA TURNER
“Mr. Imperium” is a romantic drama released in 1951. It was a big flop …
22. Medical research org. : NIH
The National Institues of Health is made up of 27 different institutes, which cordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.
28. Donatello sculpture subject : ST. MARK
Donatello worked on his sculpture of St. Mark from 1411-1413. The statue was commissioned for the Orsanmichele, a church in Florence. Orsanmichele translates into “kitchen garden of St. Michael”, as it was built on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of St. Michele, a building long gone.
33. More of the same, in research papers : IDEM
Idem is usually abbreviated id., and is the Latin word for “the same”. In research papers idem is used in a list of citations, in place of citations “already mentioned above”.
34. Capital on the Buriganga River, old-style : DACCA
Dacca is now known as Dhaka, and is the capital city of Bangladesh. Dhaka is known for many things, including production of the finest muslin in the world. It’s also the rickshaw capital of the world with about 400,000 rickshaws running each day.
35. Avant-garde saxophonist John : ZORN
Not my kind of music …
38. The Pink Panther, e.g. : JEWEL
A lot of people think that the Inspector Clouseau character (played originally by Peter Sellers) is “The Pink Panther“. It’s actually the jewel that was stolen in the original movie, although it does reappear in some of the sequels. Would you believe there 11 films in the whole series?
40. Subject of the 1997 biography “Woman in the Mists” : FOSSEY
In case you missed it yesterday …
Dian Fossey carried out her famous study of gorilla populations in the mountain forests of Rwanda (NB: it was Jane Goodall that worked with chimpanzees). Sadly, she was found dead in her cabin in Rwanda in 1986, murdered in her bedroom, her skull split open by a machete. The crime was never solved.
50. “Pinky” Best Actress nominee Jeanne : CRAIN
Jeanne Crain was in the movie “State Fair“, and although she had a singing part, her voice was dubbed over. She picked up a lot of singing roles after that, but never actually sang. Her role in “Pinky” was very controversial at the time. She played a light-skinned African American woman who passed herself off as a white woman.
51. Italy, once : AXIS POWER
Before WWII, Hungary’s prime minister was lobbying for an alliance between Germany, Hungary and Italy, and worked towards such relationship that he called an “axis”. The main Axis powers during the war of course, were Germany, Italy and Japan. However, also included in the relationship were Romania, Bulgaria and the aforementioned Hungary.
54. Hitchcock trademark : CAMEO ROLE
Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance in 39 of his 52 movies. My favorite, and perhaps the most innovative, is in the movie “Lifeboat“. In the film, there is a limited cast, the people in a lifeboat, and no extras. Hitchcock managed to make his appearance in a print ad in a newspaper read by one of the survivors in the boat.
55. “The Faerie Queene” character : IRENA
“The Faerie Queene” is an epic poem by Edmund Spenser, and one of the longest poems written in English.
3. Launcher launched in 1958 : NASA
The Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite towards the end of 1957, a development that shocked the establishment in the US. Within months, President Eisenhower had made his moves, creating the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now DARPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
6. Youngest Best Actress Oscar winner, 1986 : MATLIN
Marlee Matlin won her well-deserved Oscar for her role in “Children of a Lesser God“. Matlin played opposite William Hurt in the movie, and won her Academy Award in in 1986 when she just 21 years old. My favorite performance of hers though, was her recurring role in “The West Wing“.
7. Magic practiced by native Guianans : OBEAH
Obeah is a West Indian term, that describes the folk magic practiced in many of the Caribbean islands. I guess it’s also practiced in Guiana (in Africa).
8. ___ Hot (city in Inner Mongolia) : ULAN
Ulan Hot is Mongolian for “red town”.
13. Actor who won comedy and drama Emmys for the same role : ASNER
And the role of course was that of Lou Grant in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show“. And did you know that Gavin Newsom, the up and coming Mayor of San Francisco, is Asner’s nephew (through his wife)?
21. Motown’s original name : TAMLA
Berry Gordy, Jr. founded Tamla Records in 1959, and Motown a year later. One wasn’t the successor of the other, but rather they ran in parallel to each other. One of Tamla’s more successful recording artists was Smokey Robinson. Robinson was so happy with his recording company, that he named his daughter “Tamla”.
22. “___ the soles of her shoe?”: Hamlet : NOR
These words are spoken by Hamlet himself, while talking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
26. Getting in line? : OPEN SESAME
In the Arabic tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, the magical cave entrance is opened with the words “Open, Simsim”, but this mutated into “Open Sesame” in European translations.
27. “I can resist everything except ___”: Oscar Wilde : TEMPTATION
If you didn’t know Oscar Wilde was Irish, you will when you see the name he was given at birth: Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde!
34. Shoots craps, e.g. : DICES
The verb “to dice” not only means to cut things into small pieces, I just found out that it means “to play with dice”.
37. 1982 Grammy-winning song by Toto : ROSANNA
Toto is an American rock band dating back to 1977. As well as their famous “Rosanna“, they also sang another good tune “Africa”.
41. Last full year of St. Julius I’s papacy : CCCLI
According to my research online, Pope St. Julius I was pope from 337 to 352, not 351, but maybe that’s Wikipedia for you …
48. Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls : MEL C
Sporty Spice is called Mel C, to differentiate her from fellow Spice Girl Mel B (Scary Spice). Mel C was born Melanie Jayne Chisholm. She is the third most successful UK co-writer in terms of UK number ones. she is in good company, as Lennon and McCartney and in the one and two slots.
52. Faddish disk of the 1990s : POG
The game of pogs was originally played with bottle caps, from POG fruit juice. The juice was named for its constituents, passion fruit, orange and guava.