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: 26m 34s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1. Certain fricassee : COQ AU VIN
The French word “coq” actually means rooster, but a more tender bird is usually used to make this classic dish. The most common wine used for the “vin” is burgundy, or another red, but you can also find on a menu in France “coq au Champagne” and “coq au Riesling”.
15. Teetotaler’s order : ADAM’S ALE
I suppose water was all that Adam had available to him to drink, so that’s how the expression Adam’s ale arose (I am guessing … can’t find anything definitive anywhere). It makes a nice juxtaposition with “the demon drink”!
21. Sacred Buddhist mountain : OMEI
Mount Omei, also called Mount Emei, is a mountain in Western China. The literal translation of the little word “Emei” is apparently “towering eyebrow”. In the Buddhist tradition there are four sacred mountains of China, one of which is Emei. Emei is home to some Buddhist monasteries, one of which is reputed to be the birthplace of a martial art known as Chinese boxing.
22. Dakota relative : OSAGE
I think the reference here is to the languages, and not perhaps the tribes. Both Dakota and Osage are Siouan languages, really quite similar to each other. Sadly, the Osage language is dying out, with only a handful of speakers left, all quite elderly.
27. Special communication syst. : ASL
Like many things, American Sign Language and British Sign Language are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one language, cannot understand someone signing in the other.
29. Cause of some shaking, for short : DTS
The episodes of delirium that can accompany withdrawal from alcohol are called Delirium Tremens (the DTs). The literal translation of this Latin phrase is “trembling madness”.
32. King-high games : ECARTES
Ecarte is a card game that comes to us from France, with a name that translates into ‘discarded”. It is a game like Whist, but is played with a stripped-down deck.
42. Where la Croix-Rouge is headquartered : GENEVE
Geneve (the French for Geneva) is the Swiss city where the Croix-Rouge (French for Red Cross) is headquartered. Back in 1859, a Swiss businessman called Henry Dunant went to meet French emperor Napoleon III, to discuss making it easier to conduct commerce in French-occupied Algeria. The Emperor was billeted at Solferino, where France and Austria were engaged in a major battle. In one day, Dunant witnessed 40,000 soldiers die in battle, and countless wounded suffering on the battlefield without any organized medical care. Dunant abandoned his business agenda, and spent a week caring for the sick and wounded. Within a few years he had founded the precursor to the Red Cross, and in 1901 was awarded the first ever Nobel Peace Prize.
44. Radical 1970s grp. : SLA
The Symbionese Liberation Army was founded by an escapee of the prison system, Donald DeFreeze, in 1973. The group’s manifesto promoted the rights of African Americans, although in the 2-3 year life of the group, DeFreeze was the only black member. Famously, they kidnapped heiress Parry Hearst in 1974.
47. Rumble in the Jungle strategy : ROPE-A-DOPE
The Rumble in the Jungle was that celebrated fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, broadcast from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The fight was set in Zaire because of financial arrangements between promoter Don King and Zaire’s President Mobuto Seko. Rope-a-dope was the term coined by Ali to describe his incredibly successful strategy in the contest. From the second round onwards, Ali adopted a protected stance on the ropes, letting Foreman pound him with blows to the body and head, using his arms to take most of the punches. He kept this up until the eighth round, then opened up, and downed the exhausted Foreman with a left-right combination. I hate boxing, but have to say, that was an interesting fight.
52. Important Indian : RANEE
A Ranee (also spelled Rani) is the female equivalent of a Raja in India.
60. “Funeral Blues” poet and family : AUDENS
W. H. Auden’s poem “Funeral Blues” is also known by its first line “Stop all the clocks”. It garnered a lot of attention in recent years as it features prominently in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral“, where it is recited at “the funeral”.
1. Small part : CAMEO
Even in my day, a cameo role was more than just an short appearance in a movie (or other artistic piece). For the appearance to be a cameo, the actor had to playing him or herself, and was instantly recognizable. With this meaning, it’s easy to see the etymology of the term, as a cameo brooch is one with the recognizable carving of the silhouette of a person. Nowadays, a cameo is any minor role played by a celebrity or famous actor, regardless of the character played.
2. 1905 revolt setting : ODESSA
Sergei Eisenstein’s famous 1925 film “The Battleship Potemkin” told the story of the 1905 workers’ revolt in Odessa. The uprising was supported by the crew of the Battleship Potemkin, who staged a mutiny against their Tsarist officers. There is a famous scene in the film (albeit a fictional scene) where the Tsar’s cossacks march down the giant concrete stairway in Odessa, now known as the Potemkin Stairs. The cossacks opened fired on ordinary citizens on the steps, triggering a bloody massacre.
3. Virgin Blue rival : QANTAS
Virgin Blue was set up in Australia by Richard Branson in the year 2000. It has grown to be second biggest airline in the country, second only to QANTAS. It is so large an airline, that it is now bigger even than Branson’s UK based Virgin Airways. QANTAS is the national airline of Australia. The name was originally an acronym for Queensland and Norther Territory Aerial Services.
7. Big Italian daily : IL TEMPO
“Il Tempo” is an Italian daily, published in Rome, and five regional centers around the country. It was first published in 1944.
8. Star of the 1998 film version of 45-Down : NEESON
Irish actor Liam Neeson plays the lead role of Jean Valjean in the 1998 screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Miserables“. It’s not a musical, thank goodness, because I don’t want to hear any more Irish actors singing, not after listening to Pierce Brosnan in “Mama Mia” …
11. Home to Seaquarium and MetroZoo : MIAMI
When Miami Seaquarium opened in 1955 it was the largest marine-life attraction in the world. Remember the TV show “Flipper” from the sixties? That’s where much of the show’s footage was shot. Nearby is Miami MetroZoo, the biggest zoological gardens in Florida. MetroZoo, and its animals, has suffered in more than one of Florida’s hurricanes. 1965’s Hurrican Betsy destroyed the zoo, and killed 250 animals, and then 1992’s Hurrican Andrew also had a devastating effect, from which the zoo took years to recover.
31. Kind of hat : TEN-GALLON
The term ten-gallon hat for a cowboy hat only appeared in 1925, and nobody seems to be exactly sure of the term’s origin. Some suggest that the relatively waterproof nature of the hat due to the tight weave might explain it, with images of cowboys giving drinks of water from their upturned hats. However, there’s no way any cowboy hat will hold ten gallons, more like three quarts.
33. Biochemical enzyme, briefly : RNASE
RNase is short for Ribonuclease. In general, enzyme names usually end with the suffix -ase, with the prefix indicating what the enzyme acts on. In the case, RNase is an enzyme that breaks down RNA, an important clean up operation in cells removing RNA that is no longer needed.
35. 1970s-’90s international carrier based in Lima : AEROPERU
I remember seeing Aeroperu planes in my travel days, although I never flew on one of their planes. For much of it’s life, Aeroperu was a subsidiary of AeroMexico. There was terrible crash of an Aeroperu plane in 1996 shown to have been caused by a maintenance problem. The airline never recovered financially, struggling on for just over two years, closing its doors in 1999.
39. Campbell’s competitor : KNORR
When I was growing up in Ireland, we never saw Campbell’s soup on the shelves. It was basically all Knorr products, and dehydrated soup from a packet at that. How times have changed. Knorr is a German brnad, now owned by the Anglo-Dutch Company Unilever.
40. 2004 Best Musical Tony winner : AVENUE Q
“Avenue Q” is a musical inspired by “Sesame Street“, with puppets being used for all the characters on the stage. It’s an adult-oriented show, but a parody on the children’s show. Some of the characters are clearly knock-offs of “Sesame Street” favorites e.g. Rod and Nicky (Bert and Ernie) and Trekkie Monster (Cookie Monster).
43. Periods added to harmonize the lunar and solar calendars : EPACTS
A solar calendar is based on the 365 1/4 days it takes for the earth to orbit the sun. A lunar calendar is based on the moon’s phases (not the 28 days it takes the moon to orbit the earth) and has 12 lunar months of 29-30 days, with the “lunar year” ending eleven days earlier than the “solar year”. So, solar and lunar calendars are always out of sync. An epact is a device that adjusts the lunar calendar to bring it in to sync with the solar calendar.
45. 1987 Best Musical Tony winner, informally : LES MIZ
The 1980 musical “Les Miserables” is an adaptation of the 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. It is now the longest running musical in the history of London’s West End, and is playing at the Queen’s Theater. I saw Les Miz in the Queen’s Theater, only able to get tickets in the very back row. The theater seating is very steep, so the back row of the balcony is very high over the stage. One of the big events in the show is the building of a street barricade, and the fighting over it. At that height we could see the stagehands behind the barricade, sitting drinking Coke, even having a cigarette. On cue they would get up and catch a dropped rifle, or an actor that had been shot. It was pretty comical. I didn’t really enjoy it that much, to be honest. Some great songs, but the story didn’t grab me as it is portrayed in the musical.
49. Greene who wrote “Summer of My German Soldier” : BETTE
Bette Greene is an American author, a writer of books for children and young adults. “Summer of My German Soldier” was published in 1973, and is a novel based on her own life growing up as a Jewish girl in the South during WWII. The German soldier in the title is an escaped POW that she befriends and protects.
53. “Mi casa ___ casa” : ES SU
Spanish for “my house is your house”.
56. One that may balk : ASS
To balk is to stop and refuse to go on. It’s not just a baseball term!