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. 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: 7m 32s
THEME: ROUND TRIP TICKET … all the answers imply”trips” which can’t be made “both ways”, because you can’t get back (!) i.e. HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN, ROAD TO PERDITION, BRIDGE TO NOWHERE
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1. The Crimson Tide, informally : BAMA
That athletic teams of the University of Alabama are nicknamed the Crimson Tide, a reference to the team colors, crimson and white.
9. Rand McNally product : ATLAS
Rand McNally is a company long associated with the city of Chicago. Its roots go back to 1856 when William Rand opened a printing shop in the city, and then two years later hired and Irish immigrant call Andrew McNally. The pair turned to printing tickets and timetables for the railroad industry, and in 1870 produced their first “railroad guides”. When automobile travel started to become significant, Rand and McNally turned to road maps, and their first road map, of New York City, came out in 1904. Rand McNally was the first publisher of road maps to embrace the concept of highway numbers, so much so that they actually erected many roadside highway sings themselves, long before the state and federal authorities adopted the idea.
14. Author Haley of “Roots” fame : ALEX
Not only did Alex Haley write the magnificent novel “Roots”, but he was also the collaborator with Malcolm X on his “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. His 1976 novel “Roots” is based on Haley’s own family history, and Haley claimed to be a direct descendant of the real life Kunta Kinte, the slave who who was kidnapped in the The Gambia in 1767.
17. 1980s TV series starring Michael Landon : HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN
“Highway to Heaven” produced for NBC in the late eighties. It starred Michael Landon as an angel sent to earth who worked with people in distress here on earth. The youthful Landon starred alongside an old, human companion known as Mark Gordon, played by Victor French. ON screen there seemed to be a marked age difference between the pair, but in real life French was only two years older than Landon.
25. Golf pro Ernie : ELS
Ernie Els is a South African golfer. He’s a big guy, but has an easy, fluid golf swing that has earned him the nickname “The Big Easy”. Els has a child who suffers from autism, and has been very effective raising money for charities that focus on the condition.
27. 2002 Tom Hanks/Paul Newman film : ROAD TO PERDITION
Perdition is such a lovely word, meaning loss of the soul, eternal damnation. Perdition comes in to English via French, from the Latin word “perdere”, “to lose”. And, it’s a good film too!
37. Actress Sorvino : MIRA
Mira Sorvino is an American actress, winner of an Oscar for her supporting role in the 1995 Woody Allen movie “Mighty Aphrodite”. She also played a title role opposite Lisa Kudrow in the very forgettable film “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”.
38. Organization for geniuses : MENSA
If you ever learned Latin, you’ll know that “mensa” is one of the first words you come across, the word used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means “table”. The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford in England, back in 1946. To become a member, you have to score to be in the top 2% of the population’s IQ. The IQ score needed depends on the test you use. For the Stanford-Binet test, that’s an IQ of 132 or better; for the Cattell test it is 148 or better.
39. Japanese port : OTARU
The city and port of Otaru is just a 25-minute drive northwest from Sapporo. Like it’s larger neighbor, Sapporo, Otaru has a famous beer named after it.
45. Elevator inventor Elisha : OTIS
Elevators (simple hoists) had been around for a long time. What Otis did was come up with the “safety elevator”. He showcased his design at the 1853 World’s Fair in New York. He would stand on an elevated platform in front of onlookers and order his assistant to cut the single rope holding up the platform. His safety system kicked in when the platform had only fallen a few inches, amazing the crowd. After this display at the fair, the orders came rolling in.
47. Big Japanese computer maker: Abbr. : NEC
NEC is the name that the Nippon Electric Company, Limited, chose for itself outside of Japan after a re-branding exercise in 1983.
48. Onetime Alaska boondoggle : BRIDGE TO NOWHERE
The Gravina Island Bridge project was a $400m replacement of a ferry service to an island with about 50 residents.
52. One in a blue state majority: Abbr. : DEM
On political maps, red states are Republican, and blue states Democrat. The designations of red and blue states is a very recent concept, introduced in the 2000 presidential election by TV journalist, the late Tim Russert. In retrospect, the choice of colors is surprising, as in other democracies around the world, red is usually used to describe left-leaning, socialist parties (the reds under the bed!), and blue is used for conservative, right-wing parties.
57. Time of danger for Caesar : IDES
There were three important days in each month of an old, Roman calendar. These days originally depended on the cycles of the moon, but were eventually “fixed” by law. Kalendae were the first day of each month, originally the day of the new moon. Nonae were originally the day of the half moon. And idus (the ides) was originally the day of the full moon, but was fixed as the 15th day of the month.
65. Traveler’s option … or what you won’t get on a 17-, 27- or 48-Across? : ROUND TRIP TICKET
73. Bones, anatomically : OSSA
Ossa is the plural of the Latin word “os”, meaning “bone”.
1. ___ Men (“Who Let the Dogs Out” group) : BAHA
The Baha Men are so called because they hail from, the Bahamas. Their big hit “Who Let the Dogs Out?” was ranked third in a list of the world’s most annoying songs!
7. ___ bread : PITA
Pita is a lovely bread from middle-eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It is usually round, and has a “pocket” in the center. The pockets is created by steam that puffs up the dough during cooking, and remains when the bread cools. The pockets were a big hit in the seventies when someone hit on the idea of using them for fillings and creating pita sandwiches or “pita pockets”.
8. One-armed bandit : SLOT
Slot machines earned the nickname “one-armed bandits” simply because they had “one arm”, the handle pulled to operate the machine, and they robbed you of all your money!
10. Professional truck driver : TEAMSTER
A teamster was originally just a person who drove a team of animals who pulled a wagon. Teamster became a synonym for a truck driver as the trade union called the International Brotherhood of Teamsters grew in importance during the Depression.
18. Word repeated before “Don’t Tell Me!” : WAIT
Chicago Public Radio puts out one of my wife’s favorite shows called “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” It is indeed fun game show. There should be more of them on the radio …
27. Oblique-angled, four-sided figure : RHOMB
Rhomb is an alternative name for a rhombus, a 4-sided figure with sides of equal length, but angles at the corners that aren’t right angles. So, that would make a rhombus a “diamond” shape.
28. Western, in slang : OATER
The term “oater” for a western movie comes from the number of horses seen, and horses love oats!
29. Classic violin maker : AMATI
The first of the family to make violins was Andrea Amati, who lived in the 14th century. He was succeeded by his sons, Antonio and Girolama. In turn, they were succeeded by Girolama’s son, Nicolo. Nicolo had a few students who achieved fame making musical instruments as well. One was his own son, Girolamo, and another, the infamous Antonio Stradivari.
30. ___ grigio (wine) : PINOT
Pinot grigio is the Italian name for wine made from the Pinot gris grape. The Pinot gris grape (used for white wine) is thought to have mutated from the Pinot noir grape (used for delicious red wine). Pinot is the French word for “pine cone”, a name which the vine might have earned because the grapes tend to form in small clusters that are shaped somewhat like a pine cone.
31. Muse of love poetry : ERATO
In Greek mythology, the muses are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. The number of muses seems to be debated a lot, but the most popular view is that there are nine:
Calliope (epic poetry)
Erato (lyric/love poetry)
Polyhymnia (choral poetry)
32. Israel’s Yitzhak : RABIN
Yitzhak Rabin was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, and the first Prime Minister to have been born in the relatively young state of Israel. Rabin was a signatory of the Oslo Accords in 1993, along with PLO Chairman Yasser, and US President Bill Clinton. Sadly, this led to his death as he was assassinated two years later by right-wing radical who opposed the Accords.
34. Willow whose twigs are used in basketry : OSIER
Most willows (trees and shrubs of the genus Salix) are called just that, willows. Some of the broad-leaved shrub varieties are called sallow, and the narrow-leaved shrubs are called osier.
35. F.D.R. veep John ___ Garner : NANCE
John Nance Garner was Speaker of the House when he ran against New York Governor, Franklyn Roosevelt for the nomination for the presidential race in 1932. When it was clear that Roosevelt was to win the nomination, he cut a deal with FDR and joined the ticket as candidate for Vice President. When the two Democrats won, they were sworn into office on March 4, 1933. As Garner was still Speaker of the House at the time, he is the only person to have held the office of Speaker and Vice President on the same day.
50. Hitler started it: Abbr. : WWII
I think that most people hold the view that WWII started on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, with Britain and France declaring war on Germany two days later.
51. Top dog : HONCHO
A honcho is a slang term for a leader or manager. It comes to us from Japanese, where a “hancho” is a squad (han) leader (cho).
55. Popular steak sauce : A ONE
The original A1 steak sauce comes from a recipe created for King George IV of England, by one of his personal chefs. King George declared ti to be “A1”, and the rest is history.
59. “___ kleine Nachtmusik” : EINE
Mozart’s Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, is better known as “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”, which translates into “a little serenade”. Often the more literal English translation of “a little night music” is used. It is a delightful piece in four, very recognizable movements, although there is much debate about a “lost” fifth movement.
60. Thing on a cowboy’s boot : SPUR
And that pointed wheel on a spur, which digs into the side of the poor horse, that’s called a rowel.
62. Hawaiian instruments, informally : UKES
The ukulele originated in the 1800s, and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.
64. Sicily’s Mt. ___ : ETNA
Mt. Etna is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy, about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt Vesuvius.