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. If you are working on the New York Times crossword in any other publication, you are working on the syndicated puzzle. Here is a link to my answers to today’s SYNDICATED New York Times crossword. To find any solution other than today’s, enter the crossword number (e.g. 1225, 0107) in the “Search the Blog” box above.
This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today …
COMPLETION TIME: 21m 01s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
5. Key of Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony : B FLAT MAJOR
Robert Schumann’s gave his Symphony No. 1 in B flat major the name of “Spring” as it was inspired by the Spring poems of Adolph Boettger. We known this because the fact is recorded in the diaries of Schumann’s wife Clara. If you ever get the chance to see it, I highly recommend the movie 1947 “Song of Love“, a biopic about the lives of Schumann and his extraordinary wife, Clara Wieck. Schumann is played by Paul Henreid (of “Casablanca” fame) and Clara is played wonderfully by Katherine Hepburn. Clara was an concert pianist, and as Katherine Hepburn was an accomplished pianist herself, you see Hepburn actually playing some challenging pieces herself at the keyboard (although the soundtrack features a professional player).
16. Exobiologist’s query : ARE WE ALONE
Exobiology is the study of life in the universe, and central to the work of exobiologists is the search for life beyond earth. A fascinating field, I would imagine …
17. Actress Kunis of “That ’70s Show” : MILA
Mila Kunis is a Ukrainian-born, American actress, who plays Jackie Burkhart on “That ’70s Show”. Fans of the cartoon series “Family Guy” might recognize her voicing the Meg Griffin character. I am quite looking forward to seeing an upcoming release called “Black Swan” in which which she and Natalie Portman play rival ballet dancers. Kunis has been dating Macauley Culkin for 8 years.
18. First country singer to win the Best New Artist Grammy : LEANN RIMES
LeAnn Rimes has been a country music star since she was 13 years old. In 2008 she disclosed publicly that she suffered from the autoimmune disease psoriasis. She has been active since then in raising money to fight the disease, and helping fund cancer research as well. So, not only did Rimes win three Grammy Awards in 1997, she also won a 2009 Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Country Music.
19. Cosmonaut Makarov : OLEG
Oleg Makarov made four space flights in all, including the Soyuz 18a mission that nearly ended in disaster. The problem occurred during launch, when the second and third stages did not separate properly, causing the rocket to go off course and automatically abort. With the abort, the re-entry vehicle containing the cosmonauts was separated from the boosters and orbital and service modules. However, this separation took place while the wayward rocket was powering upside down, back to earth, with the cosmonauts experiencing over 21g. The chutes opened despite the awkward trajectory, and the cosmonauts landed after a terrifying 21-minute flight. Their problems were not over, as they landed on a snow-covered slope, and rolled downhill towards a 500 feet sheer drop. Luckily the chutes snagged on vegetation, and the two cosmonauts were able to exit. They spent the night in temperatures below 20F, and were rescued the following day. Would make a great movie …
21. Guy’s buddy : AMI
Guy is a common male name in France, so Guy’s male buddy would “un ami” (and his girlfriend “une amie”).
24. Kafka confidant Max : BROD
Max Brod was an Israeli author and journalist, actually born in Prague, now in the Czech Republic. He fled to Palestine after the Nazi invasion just before WWII, eventually settling in Tel Aviv. He first met Franz Kafka back in 1902 while they were both college students. They developed a friendship that lasted until Kafka died in 1924. After Kafka’s death, Brod was the administrator of his estate, a controversial choice. Kafka instructed that all his papers, including unpublished works, should be burned. Brod exercised his right not to do so, leading to him bringing along a whole suitcase of Kafka’s papers when he escaped from Europe in 1939. Later he published six volumes of collected works, as well as writing a biography of his friend.
27. Capital near Potosí : SUCRE
Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, although the La Paz is the seat of government.
30. Mr. ___ (baseball mascot) : MET
Mr. Met is the mascot of the New York Mets, that now play at Citi Field. He is a guy with a large baseball as a head, and has been elected to the Mascot Hall of Fame (woo hoo!).
43. “Idylls of the King” woman : ENID
“Idylls of the King” is a cycle of twelve poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, that retell the tale of King Arthur. The sixth of the twelve “idylls” is the story of Geraint and Enid.
46. Ozone hazard, for short : CFC
ChloroFluoroCarbons: these were the propellants that used to be in aerosols> They make their way up into the ozone layer and trigger a chain reaction that converts ozone (O3) into regular oxygen (O2). Regular O2 is good stuff, but we need O3 to absorb harmful UV radiation raining down on us. CFC: not good stuff …
53. It’s grounded on Friday nights : EL AL
El Al (Hebrew for “to the skies”) does not fly on the Sabbath, although this has been subject of controversy at times since the airline was founded in 1948.
54. Young Republican of a 1980s sitcom : ALEX KEATON
Alex P. Keaton is a brilliant character in the sitcom “Family Ties” that ran from 1982-89. It was played, very ably, by a young Michael J. Fox. Keaton was a very vocal Young Republican, which might have been why President Reagan called “Family Ties” his favorite show on television.
55. ___ Caovilla, maker of high-end women’s shoes : RENE
I have no interest in shoes, but I found it interesting that in 2007 Harrods hired a live cobra to sit in a display protecting some ruby, diamond and sapphire encrusted sandals designed and launched by Rene Caovilla.
3. One in debt? : SILENT B
My kind of clue …
5. One putting a tale in the air? : BALLADEER
A balladeer sings ballads, which are usually narrative tales set to music.
7. Gets a rise out of? : LEAVENS
A substance that leavens creates a froth of carbon dioxide bubbles in batter and dough. The bubbles create holes in the dough which remain during baking resulting in a lighter product. The word leaven comes from the Latin “levare”, to raise.
10. Rover’s home : MARS
There were five rovers sent to Mars in all. Mars 2 landed in 1971, and failed. Mars 3 landed the same year, and also failed. Mars Pathfinder landed in 1997 (what a great day that was!) and operated from July to September. Spirit landed in 2004, and is still operating today, 6 years after its mission was due to end. However, it is now bogged down in sand, but will continue to operate as a stationary science platform. Opportunity also landed in 2004, and it is still going, going, going … because the Energizer Bunny is driving it …
11. Pakistani president Asif ___ Zardari : ALI
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is the widower of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007. He is supposed to be one of the richest men in the country, with a net worth of over a billion dollars. Maybe that is partly explained by his time as Minister for Investment in his wife’s cabinet. During that time he was given the nickname “Mr 10%”, reflecting charges of corruption.
12. Literary tomboy : JO MARCH
“Little Women” is of course a novel written by American author Louisa May Alcott. The quartet of little women is, eldest first, is Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Tomboy, Jo, is the main character in the story, and is based on Alcott herself.
26. Player of a logical crew member : NIMOY
Leonard Nimoy of course played the logical Mr. Spock on the original “Star Trek” television series. He has to be the most popular character, and keeps popping up in “Star Trek” spin offs to this day. Nimoy first worked alongside William Shatner in an episode of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (I loved that show!), with Nimoy playing a bad guy, and Shatner an U.N.C.L.E. recruit.
27. Negev native, e.g. : SABRA
The Negev is a desert region in southern Israel. Sabra is a term used to describe a Jewish person who was born in Israel. The term derives from the Hebrew word for a type of cactus, and supposedly indicates that a Sabra is tough on the outside, and softer on the inside.
29. Ailurophile : CAT PERSON
An ailurophile fancies cats, and is also called a felinophile.
31. Glass production : CONCERTO
Philip Glass is by far my favorite Classical composer that’s still working. His Violin Concerto No. 1 is a piece that I listen to at least as often as my favorite works from Beethoven and Mozart. Glass is a controversial composer, it seems, that people either love or hate. I say, give him a chance …
32. Bands appearing after split-ups? : SPECTRA
When light passes through a prism, it is split up into differing wavelengths. It then becomes clear that white light is actually a mixture of different colors, which show up as beautiful spectra.
33. Cheap hat material : TIN FOIL
Before aluminum foil became available, we had tin foil. Over in Ireland, we say alumin-I-um, but we still call aluminum foil tin foil. We’re pretty slow to accept change … Oh, and a tin foil hat is today made out of aluminum foil, and is worn to protect the brain from electromagnetic fields (yeah, but I wouldn’t count on it working).
34. Ascii alternative : UNICODE
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) lists codes for 32 “control” characters, as well as the 95 printable characters. These binary codes are the way that our computers can understand what we mean when we type say a letter, or a number. Unicode is a more contemporary standard, and is like Ascii on steroids, encompassing more characters.
35. One may look both ways, briefly : PED
When I was growing up, a pedestrian learned to look right, look left, and look right again before stepping into traffic to cross a road. I guess over here that is reversed, seeing as we drive on the other side of the road.
39. Andy Warhol subject : SOUP CAN
Andy Warhol went through a period of painting iconic American products, including Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell’s Soup cans. In 1964 he participated in a gallery show called “The American Supermarket”. Along with other pop artists he contributed works including a painting of a can of Campbell’s soup. He priced the painting at $1,500, and sold autographed cans of soup for $6 a piece.
42. New Mexico’s ___ Mountains : SANDIA
The Sandia Mountains lie to the east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sandia is the Spanish word for “watermelon”, and might have been given to the range due to the red color of the rock at sunset. There are other stories out there too though. If you ever get the chance, there’s a neat right to the peaks via the Sandia Peak Tramway. There used to be a great restaurant up there called High Finance, but that was 20 years ago!
44. Passing notes? : DIRGE
Another clever clue. Notes played at a “passing” might be a funeral dirge.
50. Puffed product since 1937 : KIX
Kix cereal has been around since 1937, would you believe. Kix used to be just puffed grains, processed to give the characteristic shape. Then the decision was made to add sugar to get better penetration into the young kid marketplace. Sad really …