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 “Top Gear”)
THEME: Main homonyms … all the theme answers end in a “main” sound e.g. CHARLEMAGNE, PUBLIC DOMAIN, CHICKEN CHOW MEIN
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
17. King who was the son of Pepin the Short : CHARLEMAGNE
Pepin the Short was the Duke of the Franks from 751 to 768. He expanded the Frankish Empire, and then had to divide it up by law between his two sons, Carloman I and Charlemagne. Carloman I was given lands that were centered around the Paris, and Charlemagne was given lands that completely surrounded his brothers territory. So, it fell to Charlemagne to defend, and extend, the borders of the empire, and it is Charlemagne that we read about today, not Carloman I.
19. “___ Rocker” (Springsteen song) : I’M A
“I’m a Rocker” is song by Bruce Springsteen released on his 1980 double album “The River“.
21. River that ends at Cairo : OHIO
Nope, not the Nile, but the Ohio River. The Ohio is formed in Pittsburgh where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet. It empties into the Mississippi near the city of Cairo, Illinois.
22. Cinematographer Nykvist : SVEN
Swedish Sven Nykvist won two Academy Awards, and is best known for his work with Ingmar Bergman. In fact, his Oscars came for his contribution to Bergman films, “Cries and Whispers” and “Fanny and Alexander”.
26. Sister of Snow White : ROSE-RED
We are most familiar with the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Snow White”, the basis for the Disney movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. There is another Grimm tale called “Snow-White and Rose-Red” which tells of two sisters, neither of which has anything to do with the more famous Snow White.
34. Big name in vacuums : ORECK
The Oreck Corporation was named after founder David Oreck, and makes vacuum cleaners and air purifiers. The company started out selling vacuum cleaners by mail, a new concept in 1963.
37. La Choy product : CHICKEN CHOW MEIN
Chow mein has two slightly different meaning on the East and West Coasts of the US. On the East Coast “basic” chow mein is a crispy dish, whereas on the West Coast it is a steamed dish and relatively soft. On the East Coast the steamed dish is available, but under the name “lo mein”. On the West Coast, the crispy dish is also on the menu, as Hong Kong style chow mein.
41. Russian country house : DACHA
Dachas are usually second homes, located outside the city limits in rural areas. Residents/tenants of dachas are often called dachniks.
42. F.B.I. guys : G-MEN
The nickname G-men is short for “Government Men”.
43. Ming of the N.B.A. : YAO
Yao Ming is from Shanghai, and plays for the Houston Rockets. At 7’6″ he is the tallest man playing in the NBA.
46. French carmaker : PEUGEOT
Peugeot is part of PSA Peugeot Citroen, the second largest car manufacturer in Europe. Peugeot was founded in 1810, manufacturing coffee and pepper grinders. The company expanded into other metallic goods like umbrella frames, saw blades and famously, bicycles (still made to this day). The bicycles were the springboard into cars, an expansion fueled by meetings with Gottlieb Daimler. who provided engines for the first years of production.
49. Easternmost U.S. capital : AUGUSTA MAINE
As well as being the easternmost US state capital, and it is the third smallest, with a population of under 20,000.
54. Food thickener : AGAR
Agar is a jelly extracted from seaweed, with many uses. It is found in Japanese desserts, can be used as a laxative, and is the most common growth medium used for growing bacteria in petri dishes.
55. For face value : AT PAR
The term “at par” is often used in reference to financial instruments such as bonds. A bond may sold at the original face value, not at a discount or premium, in which case it sold at par.
59. Cabinet dept. overseeing farm interests : AGR
The US Department of Agriculture dates back to 1862, when it was established by then-president Abraham Lincoln.
60. Fancy equine coif : BRAIDED MANE
The mane is thought to be the horse’s natural defense for the neck against rain and flies. So, I guess braiding it isn’t doing the horse any favors …
67. Like Dracula : UNDEAD
The term undead is a whole group of fictional characters, and includes vampires, ghosts and zombies. Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” was originally titled “The Un-Dead”.
1. Classic record label for the Bee Gees and Cream : ATCO
Atco Records is an American record label founded in 1955, taking its name from its parent, Atlantic Corporation.
2. Bert who played a cowardly lion : LAHR
Bert Lahr’s most famous role was that of the cowardly lion in “The Wizard of Oz“. Lahr had a long career in burlesque, vaudeville and on Broadway. Remember the catchphrase made famous by the cartoon character Snagglepuss, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”. Snagglepuss stole that from a 1944 movie called, “Meet the People” where it was first uttered by Bert Lahr.
5. Civilization, to Freud : KULTUR
Kultur, the German word for culture, civilization.
7. Sapporo competitor : ASAHI
Asahi is Japanese for “morning sun”. The usage here is as a brand name of beer. Asahi introduced a “dry beer” in 1987, igniting a craze that has rocketed Asahi to the number one ranking beer producer in Japan, with Sapporo now number two.
9. Church councils : SYNODS
The word synod comes from the Greek word for assembly, or meeting. A synod is a church council, usually in the Christian faith.
11. Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade : PRIVATE EYE
Philip Marlowe was created by Raymond Chandler, and appears in his novels “The Big Sleep” and “The Long Goodbye“. Sam Spade came from the pen of Dashiell Hammett and appears in “The Maltese Falcon“. Sam Spade came first, and the Philip Marlowe character is supposed to be inspired by Spade.
12. Actress Marisa : TOMEI
Marisa Tomei’s first screen role was in “As the World Turns”, but her break was a recurring role in “The Cosby Show” spin-off “A Different World”. She won an Oscar for her delightful performance in “My Cousin Vinny” in 1992.
13. Ex-Steeler Lynn : SWANN
After his professional football career, Lynn Swann became a sportscaster and has been very active in Republican politics in recent years. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2006, and was publicly interested in running for the House of Representatives in 2008, but bowed out of the race early.
22. Unctuous flattery : SMARM
The word smarm comes from a colloquial word smalm meaning to smear the hair with some sort of styling product.
24. “Venerable” monk : BEDE
The Venerable Bede was a monk in the north of England in the first century AD. His is mainly known as an author and scholar, publisher of “The Ecclesiastical History of the English People“.
27. Dept. of Labor arm : OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created in 1970 during the Nixon administration. OSHA regulates workplaces in the private sector only, the one exception being the US Postal Service.
28. Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty : SPICE GIRLS
Scary Spice (Melanie Brown), Baby Spice (Emma Bunton, and may fave!), Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell), Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham) and Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisholm).
32. Year McKinley was elected to a second term : MCM
President McKinley was re-elected in 1900, and of course did not serve out the full term. In September of 1951 he went to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and as scheduled and announced he went to meet the public at the Exposition’s Temple of Music. There Leon Czolgosz was waiting, armed with a pistol. He shot the President twice before being subdued (and beaten) by the crowd. Doctors operated, and were able to stabilize President McKinley. The medical profession decided to leave one bullet inside the victim, apparently a good decision as the President seemed to be recovering after a week. However, he relapsed, and eight days after being shot he died, from gangrene surrounding the wound.
33. First American in space : SHEPARD
Alan Shepard was the first American in space. Shepard’s flight was originally scheduled for October 1960, but a series of delays pushed out till May 5, 1961. Yuri Gagarin made his celebrated flight on April 12, 1961, one month earlier.
38. Hot: Fr. : CHAUD
You have to be careful when using the faucets in France. The C on the faucet doesn’t stand for “cold” but rather “chaud”, the French word for hot.
40. “Dedicated to the ___ Love” : ONE I
The most famous version of “Dedicated to the One I Love” was released by the Mamas and Papas in 1967. It was written by two members of the “5” Royales, who made the first recording in 1961. That same year the Shirelles released a version that reached number three in the charts.
47. Japanese eel and rice dish : UNADON
Unadon is the Japanese word for “eel bowl”. Unadon is actually a contraction of “unagi no kabayaki” (grilled eel) and “donburi” (rice bowl dish).
49. Ornamental quartz : AGATE
Agate is micro-crystalline form of quartz (so is related to sand/silica). Some agate samples have deposited layers giving a striped appearance, and these are called banded agate.
57. Jug handle, in archaeology : ANSA
Ansa is the Latin word for handle, so an archaeologist might dig up a pot, for example, with an ansa. The term is also used to describe anatomical structures that are shaped like a handle, froming a loop or an arc.
61. Old French coin : ECU
The word “ecu” comes from the Latin “scutum” meaning shield. The original ecu used to have a coat of arms on it, a shield. The scudo and escudo coins take their names from the same root.