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: 7m 15s
THEME: Repeated syllables … the theme answers contain lots of repeated syllables e.g. LALA LAND, BABA WAWA, RARA AVIS
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1. Some British sports cars, briefly : JAGS
Jaguar Cars started out as a manufacturer of sidecars for motorcycles, back in 1922, when the company was known as Swallow Sidecar Company (SS for short). The company changed its name to Jaguar after WWII, because of the unfortunate connotations of the the letters “SS” at that time. Today, Jaguar is wholly owned by the Indian car manufacturer, Tata Motors.
10. Third piece of a three-piece suit : VEST
Here’s another example of we are divided by a common language on either side of the Atlantic. I grew up calling an undershirt a “vest”. What we call a vest in the US is known as a “waistcoat” back in Ireland and the UK.
14. Baghdad’s home : IRAQ
The most widely accepted etymology of the name “Baghdad” is that the name is derived from the Persian words “bag” (God) and “dad” (given).
17. In ___ of (replacing) : LIEU
As you might imagine, “in lieu” comes into English from the Old French word “lieu” meaning “place”, which in turn is derived from the Latin “locum”, also meaning “place”. So, “in lieu” means “in place of”.
19. Wang of fashion : VERA
Vera Wang’s first choice for a career was figure skating, but she failed to make the 1968 US Olympics team. She switched to the world of fashion, and is famous for her designs of wedding dresses … but also costumes for figure skaters.
20. Dreamy state : LA LA LAND
La La Land is a euphemism for a state of unconsciousness.
22. “Star Trek” weapon : PHASER
A MASER is a device that was around long before LASERs came into the public consciousness. A MASER (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is similar to a LASER, but microwaves are emitted rather than light waves. When the storyline for “Star Trek” was being developed, the writers introduced a weapon called a “phaser”, with the name “phaser” derived from PHoton mASER. So, now we know …
24. The Beatles’ “Abbey ___” : ROAD
The Abbey Road Studios in London was a large, Gerogian townhouse, built in the 1830s. It became a recording studio in 1931, and you can even see some YouTube video showing Sir Edward Elgar back then making recordings with the London symphony Orchestra. The studios passed through various owners, and by the time the Beatles started their famous recording, it was known as EMI Studios. The Beatles recorded practically all of their albums their, between 1962 and 1970, and famously named a 1969 album after the studio, “Abbey Road“. That’s the one with the cover showing the Fab Four crossing the “zebra crossing” outside the studio.
25. Schreiber who won a Tony for “Glengarry Glen Ross” : LIEV
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”.
33. Card that may be “in the hole” : ACE
In community card poker (poker in which some cards are dealt face up and shared by the players), the cards that are dealt face down to each individual are known as “hole cards”. It is usually advantageous to have a high card like an ace “in the hole”. Hence, we have the phrase “to have an ace in the hole” meaning to have a hidden advantage in a situation. The phrase “ace up one’s sleeve” means the same thing today, however, that phrase is derived from someone flouting the rules!
36. Exxon merged with it : MOBIL
The Exxon Corporation was a descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Exxon merged with Mobil (yet another descendant of Standard Oil) in 1999, forming ExxonMobil.
41. Anti-attacker spray : MACE
Mace is actually a brand name, originally introduced by Lake Erie Chemical when they started to manufacture “Chemical Mace”, with the name being a play on the club-like weapon known as a mace. Mace was originally a form of tear gas, but the brand name Mace is used a formula that is actually a pepper spray, a different formulation.
42. Politico Palin : SARAH
Sarah Palin is in the middle of writing her second book, due to hit the bookstores by the end of November 2010. It’s called “America By Heart“, and you can place your orders now …
47. Clearly confused, e.g. : OXYMORON
The word “oxymoron” is in itself an oxymoron, as it is derived from the Greek words “Oxys” and “moros” meaning “sharp” and “stupid”.
52. Green gem : JADE
Jade is actually the name given to two different mineral rocks, both of which are used to make gemstones. The first is nephrite, a mineral with a varying degree of iron content, the more iron, the greener the color. The second is jadeite, a sodium and aluminum-rich pyroxene. As well as being used for gemstones, both jade minerals can be carved into decorative pieces.
56. Gilda Radner character on “S.N.L.” : BABA WAWA
Barbara Walters was originally quite upset at the caricature of her performed by Saturday Night Live star, Gilda Radner. She took offense at Radner exaggerating her speech impediment, which of course led to the name “Baba Wawa” being used for “Barbara Walters”. However, when she saw that her own daughter found the skit to be hilarious, Barbara realized she needed to lighten up.
61. Hacienda material : ADOBE
Adobe has been around a long time, and has been used in dry climates all over the world. The original form of the word “adobe” dates back to Middle Egyptian times, about 2000 BC. The original “spelling” is dj-b-t, and translates as mud (sun-dried) brick.
65. Lethal cousin of the cobra : MAMBA
The mamba, and most famously the black mamba, is a highly venomous snake, that used to be responsible for a great number of fatalities, before anti-venoms became available. Mamba enom is a deadly mix of neurotoxins that attack the nervous system, and cardiotoxins that attack the heart, so a bite if untreated causes the lungs and the heart to shut down.
66. $50 for Boardwalk, in Monopoly : RENT
The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of a game called “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman called Lizzie Phillips who created it as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was actually produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, making him a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.
1. Jack’s partner in rhyme : JILL
The “Jack and Jill” nursery rhyme dates back at least to the 1700s.
2. Mozart’s “Il mio tesoro,” e.g. : ARIA
The aria “Il mio tesoro” comes from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni”. The title translates into “My treasure”.
4. Equilateral quadrilateral : SQUARE
Equilateral (all sides the same) quadrilateral (four-sided shape) = a square.
5. One in a million : RARA AVIS
A rara avis is anything that is very rare, from the Latin for “rare bird”.
7. “Columbo” org. : LAPD
“Columbo” is a police drama that aired from 1971-78, with some more episodes made as recently as 2003. Columbo was of course played by Peter Falk, although the character of Columbo first appeared on television in 1960 in an episode of “The Chevy Mystery Show”, played by Bert Freed. That first appearance was so successful, that the episode was adapted for the stage in 1962, starring Thomas Mitchell in the role. Then the same episode was stretched into a TV movie in 1968, and starred Peter Falk for the first time in the role that he was to make his own.
10. “Hubba hubba!” : VA VA VOOM
I think “va va voom” has been around for a while, but it was popularized in Europe in an ad for the Renault Cleo featuring the French soccer star Thierry Henry.
13. Peter the Great, e.g. : TSAR
Peter the Great was perhaps the most successful of the Romanov tsars, famous for modernizing Russia and expanding the country’s sphere of influence, creating the Russian Empire. He ruled from 1682 until his death in 1725.
25. Ring-tailed primate : LEMUR
Lemurs are the most unusual looking creatures, native to the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. With their white fur and dark eyes that are very reflective at night, they have a “ghostly” appearance. Indeed, the animals takes their name from Roman mythology in which “lemures” were spirits of the restless dead.
28. Small American thrush : VEERY
The veery is a small American thrush, only 16-18 cm in length. The bird’s call sounds like “vee-er”, which gives the veery its name.
30. First president not born in the continental U.S. : OBAMA
Despite rumors to the contrary, Barack Hussein Obama II was indeed born in Hawaii. President Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii.
31. Words to an attack dog : SIC ‘EM
Sic ’em is an attack order given to a dog, instructing the animal to growl, bark or even bite. The term dates back to the 1830s, with “sic” being a variation of “seek”.
35. Copy, of a sort : XEROX
Xerox was founded in 1906 in Rochester, New York, originally making photographic paper and equipment. Real success came for the company in 1959 when it introduced the first plain paper photocopier. Xerox named Ursula Burns as CEO in 2009, the first African American woman to head up a S&P 100 company, as well as being the first woman to succeed another female CEO (replacing Anne Mulcahy).
38. 1961 hit for the Shirelles : MAMA SAID
“Mama Said” went to number 4 in the charts for the Shirelles when it was released in 1961. Dusty Springfiled and Van Morrison also made successful cover versions.
40. Owner of the largest bed Goldilocks tried : PAPA BEAR
The story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was first recorded in 1837, in England, although the narrative was around before it was actually written down. The original fairy tale was rather gruesome, but successive versions became more family oriented. The character that became Goldilocks was originally an elderly woman, and the three “faceless” bears became Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.
43. Pueblo Indian : HOPI
The Hopination live on a reservation that actually resides within the much larger Navajo reservation, in Arizona.
50. Curly ethnic hairstyle, colloquially : JEWFRO
The hairstyle known as a Jewfro is also known as an Isro, from “Jewish and afro” and “Israel and afro”. It is a curly hairstyle inspired by the afro, and worn primarily by people of Jewish descent.
52. “Star Wars” villain ___ the Hutt : JABBA
Jabba the Hutt is the big blob of an alien in the “Star Wars” movie “The Return of the Jedi”. His claim to fame is that he enslaved Princess Leia and kitted her out in that celebrated metal bikini.
54. 401(k) cousins : IRAS
I have to tell you, when I first came to the US from Ireland, it was pretty confusing seeing big signs along the freeway touting contributions to the IRA! Back in Ireland, that was pretty illegal (where IRA means the Irish Republican Army).
57. Trebek of “Jeopardy!” : ALEX
Canadian-born Alex Trebek has been the host of the game show “Jeopardy” since 1984, a run of about 26 years.
58. What moons do after full moons : WANE
The verbs waxing and waning come from Old English. To wax is to increase gradually in size, strength, intensity or number. And to wane is to decrease gradually.
62. Beaver’s construction : DAM
Beavers build dams so that they can live in and around the slower and deeper water that builds up above the dam. This deeper water provides more protection for the beavers, from predator such as bears. Beavers are nocturnal animals, and do all their construction work at night.