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: 9m 05s
THEME: FIVE-O … all five theme answers begin with a word sounding like “O”, i.e. AU COURANT, EAU DE COLOGNE, OH TO BE IN ENGLAND, OWE BACK TAXES, O PIONEERS!
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1. Explorers on a hwy., e.g. : SUVS
The Ford Explorer was introduced in 1990 and is still going strong. The term SUV, Sports Utility Vehicle was introduced by our marketing friends. In the early days, and in some models even today, the SUV was a very successful way to describe what amounts to a station wagon on a truck chassis.
5. ___ soup (starter at a Japanese restaurant) : MISO
Miso is the name of the seasoning that makes the soup. Basic miso seasoning is made by fermenting rice, barley and soybeans with salt and a fungus, producing a paste. The paste can be added to stock to make miso soup, or perhaps to tofu.
9. Cops, in slang … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : FIVE-O
Five-o has become urban slang for a police officer, or the police force in general. The term of course is rooted in the 1970s TV Show “Hawaii Five-O”. Hawaii Five-O was a totally fictional police force created for the television show. The name recognizes that Hawaii was the 50th state to join the union. And the good news, or maybe bad, is that this very month, filming has started on a sequel series to be aired later this year.
16. Indo-European : ARYAN
The term Aryan can be used to describe the Indo-European languages or the peoples who speak them. The underlying assumption in this grouping is that Indian languages (based on Sanskrit) and the major European languages have the same root.
17. Up-to-date : AU COURANT
Au courant, meaning up-to-date, comes into English directly from French, where it has the same meaning.
18. Singer Bonnie : RAITT
Bonnie Raitt is a blues singer, originally from Burbank, California. She has one nine Grammies for her work, but she is perhaps as well known for her political activism as she is for her music. She was no fan of President George W. Bush, and she sure did show it.
20. Gershwin’s “Concerto ___” : IN F
George Gershwin had exceptional success with his beautiful, pseudo-classical work, “Rhapsody in Blue“. He followed up that piece the following year (1925) with his “Concerto in F”, written for piano and full orchestra. Later in his life, Gershwin would receive formal classical training from some of the greats of classical music composition, but back in 1925, he had to teach himself the basics of concerto form, harmony and orchestration, all from books. The Concerto in F was premiered at Carnegie Hall by the New York Symphony Orchestra, with Gershwin himself at the piano. He was a remarkable man, that’s all I can say.
22. Medical research agcy. : NIH
We’ve seen this recently …
The National Institutes of Health is made up of 27 different institutes, which coordinate 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.
23. Brut or Paco Rabanne : EAU DE COLOGNE
Back in 1709, an Italian perfume-maker moved to Cologne in Germany. There he invented a new fragrance that he named Eau de Cologne after his newly adopted hometown. The fragrance is still produced in Cologne, using a secret formulation. However, the terms Eau de Cologne and cologne, are now used generically. Indeed, Brut and Paco Rabanne are brand names you’ll find on bottles of cologne.
32. Informal British term of address : GUV
Guv is British slang, short for “governor”, probably the equivalent to our “Mac” in the US.
33. Schreiber of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” : LIEV
When he isn’t a playing in superhero films like “X-Men Origins: Wolverine“, Liev Schreiber is highly regarded as a stage actor, and is has many classical roles under his belt. He won a Tony in 2005 for his Broadway performance in “Glengarry Glen Ross”, and earned excellent reviews for his performance in Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline”.
37. Gold-medal gymnast Comaneci : NADIA
Nadia Comaneci won three golds in the 1976 Summer Olympics, and was the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of a ten in the Olympics. She published a book “Letters to a Young Gymnast” in 2003, and now lives in the United States.
41. Browning opening line preceding “Now that April’s there” : OH TO BE IN ENGLAND
Robert Browning met Elizabeth Barrett in 1845. Elizabeth was a sickly woman, confined to her parents’ house in Wimpole Street in London, largely due to the conservative, protective nature of her father. The two eventually eloped in 1846, and lived in self-inflicted exile in Italy. Away from the country of his birth, Browning was moved to write his now famous “Home Thoughts, From Abroad“, the first line of which is “Oh, to be in England …”
44. 1900 Puccini premiere : TOSCA
Unlike so many operas, “Tosca” was a big hit right from day one, when it was first performed in 1900 as the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. I’ve only seen it once myself, but it is the eighth most performed opera in America these days.
46. Site of Zeno’s teaching : STOA
Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosopher who was famous for teaching at the Stoa Poikile, the “Painted Porch”, located on the north side of the famous Ancient Agora of Athens. Because of the location of his classes, his philosophy became known as stoicism (from “stoa”). And yes, we get our adjective “stoic” from the same root.
49. Natasha’s refusal : NYET
Russian for “no”.
57. Jap. computer giant : NEC
NEC is the name that the Nippon Electric Company, Limited, chose for itself outside of Japan after a re-branding exercise in 1983.
65. Willa Cather novel : O, PIONEERS!
“O Pioneers!” was written in 1913 by American novelist Willa Cather. It tells the story of a family of Swedish immigrants in Nebraska.
71. Mary’s upstairs neighbor, in 1970s TV : RHODA
Rhoda lived in the apartment upstairs in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show“. In its day, “The Mary Tyler Moore show” was a real trail-blazer. It was the first television series with a lead character who was an independent-minded, career oriented, single … woman.
1. Sultan of ___ (Babe Ruth) : SWAT
Jack Dunn was the owner/manager of the Baltimore Orioles back in 1913, when he signed on George Herman Ruth as a pitcher. The other players called Ruth “Jack’s newest babe”, and the name stuck.
4. Fungus production : SPORE
Spores are produced by many bacteria, fungi and non-flowering plants. A spore is a reproductive body encased in protective shell that is highly resistant to heat in particular.
5. Sea, to Cousteau : MER
Jacques Cousteau was French, and “mer” is the French word for “sea”. Jacques-Yves Cousteau started off his career in the French Navy, heading for a working life in aviation. Because of a car accident, he had to abandon that objective, and instead went to sea. Famously, he invented the aqualung, and is the father of SCUBA diving.
6. Civil rights advocate ___ B. Wells : IDA
Ida B. Wells worked as an African America journalist, while providing leadership in the civil rights movement. She published a pamphlet in 1892 called “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases“, which publicized the horrors of lynching of African Americans by white mobs in the South.
15. Alternative to Nikes : PUMAS
Puma is a German company that sells athletic shoes worldwide, but is famous for soccer boots. Nike is the world’s leading seller of athletic shoes, based in Beaverton, Oregon, just outside Portland.
24. Beekeeper of filmdom : ULEE
“Ulee’s Gold” is a highly respected film from 1997, in which Peter Fonda plays the title role of Ulee. Ulee’s “gold” is the honey that Ulee produced. It is a favorite role for Peter Fonda, and he has shared that the role brought into mind his father, Henry Fonda, who himself kept a couple of hives. So if you see Peter Fonda in “Ulee’s Gold”, you’re witnessing some characteristics that Peter saw in his father.
25. Some Surrealist paintings : DALIS
The Surrealist movement was led by Andre Breton, with the center of activity clearly in Paris. In the world of Surrealist art, Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte were the most visible in the movement.
29. Bygone cracker brand : HI-HO
Sunshine Biscuits was an independent producer of cookies and crackers. In 1996 it was absorbed by the Keebler Company and among brands that were discontinued because of the merger, was Hi-Ho Crackers.
40. The Beatles’ “___ in the Life” : A DAY
“A Day in the Life” is the last track on the Beatles’ infamous “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. There’s a line in the song “I’d love to turn you on”, an apparent reference to drug use. As a result, “A Day in the Life” was banned for a while by the BBC.
42. Gilda Radner character : BABA WAWA
When Gilda Radner introduced her “Baba Wawa” character on “Saturday Night Live”, Barbara Walters was apparently very upset by the skit. At issue was the exaggeration of Walters’ pronunciation of her r’s, the result of a speech impediment.
53. Like the name “Bryn Mawr” : WELSH
I used to live not far from Bryn-mawr in Wales, the town with the highest elevation in Wales. Bryn mawr is Welsh for “big hill”.
56. Inscribed pillar : STELE
Stelae were used all over the world, sometimes as territorial markers, and sometimes to commemorate military victories. In later times stelae were commonly erected as commemorative markers in graveyards or other religious sites.
62. Former fast jets : SSTS
The SuperSonic Transports, like Concorde, are all grounded now.
64. “I knew a man Bojangles and ___ dance for you …” : H’ED
The line is from a song written and recorded in 1968 by Jerry Jeff Walken. The cover version that I most recognize is that by Neil Diamond.
67. Chemical suffix : IDE
The -ide suffix is used for anions e.g the chlorine anion is called chloride, sulfur is sulfide.