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: 34m 04s
THEME: MUSICAL PLAY … all the theme answers use the names of classical composers, and are homophones (well nearly!) of well-known phrases e.g. BIZET (busy) AS A BEAVER, THINK OUTSIDE THE BACHS (box), CHOPIN (shopping) SPREE
ANSWERS I MISSED: 2 … WEAL (DEAL), A-WEE (A-DEE)
TODAY’S WIKI-EST, AMAZONIAN GOOGLIES
1. Diner fixture, informally : JUKE
Although coin-operated music players had been around for decades, the term “juke box” wasn’t used until about 1940. The term derives from a Gullah word, the language of African Americans living in the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia. In Gullah, a “juke joint”, from “juke” or “joog” meaning “rowdy, wicked”, was an informal establishment where African Americans would gather and for some music, dancing, gambling and drinking. The coin-operated music players became known as “juke boxes”.
5. Not stopping the draft, say : AJAR
Our word “ajar” is thought to come from Scottish dialect, in which “a char” means “slightly open”.
9. Cathedral feature : APSE
The apse of a church or cathedral is a semicircular recess in an outer wall, usually with a half dome as a roof, and often where there resides an altar. Originally, apses were used as burial places for the clergy and also for storage of important relics.
13. Once-popular Olds : CIERA
Oldsmobile made the Cutlass Ciera from 1982 to 1996, the brand name’s most successful model.
18. Producer of a colorful ring tone : OPAL
An opal ring usually has a colorful tone.
19. It mentions the Prodigal Son : LUKE
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is related in the Gospel of Luke. Someone who is “prodigal” is wasteful or extravagant. The parable tells of a man with two sons. The youngest asks for and receives his share of the family estate, and then spends it all unwisely. The “prodigal” son returns, to an unwelcoming older brother. The father, however, declares happily that his son “was lost and now is found”.
20. ___ Men (“Move It Like This” 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!
21. Kind of season : LENTEN
In Latin, the Christian season we now call Lent was termed “quadragesima”, a reference to the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry. When the church began to move towards using the vernacular in the Middle Ages, the term “Lent” was introduced. “Lent” comes from “lenz”, the German word for “spring”.
22. “Carmen” composer-turned-dam builder? : BIZET AS A BEAVER
Which sounds like “busy as a beaver”.
Georg Bizet was a French composer active in the Romantic era. Bizet’s most famous work has to be his opera “Carmen”. “Carmen” received a lukewarm reception from the public, even though his fellow composers had nothing but praise for it. Sadly, Bizet died very young, at only 36, before he could see “Carmen’s” tremendous success.
25. Passé : OLD HAT
The use of “old hat” to mean something “out of date” started about 1911. Before that, the term “old hat” meant something very different, and very vulgar. “Old hat” was the name given to a very private part of a woman, the idea being that it was “often felt” (as in a “felt hat”). I just don’t know what to say …
28. Not neat : OVER ICE
The adjective “neat” has been used to describe “straight liquor” since about 1800. Before then, the term applied to wine, when it meant “unadulterated wine”. The term comes from Old French “net” meaning “clear, pure”.
29. Embrace more than just a family of Baroque composers? : THINK OUTSIDE THE BACHS
Which sounds like “think outside the box”.
Like so many of the great composers, the extent of Bach’s contribution the repertoire was only fully recognized long after his passing. Johann Sebastian Bach was undoubtedly the greatest composer of the Baroque period, and is ranked by many as the greatest classical composer of all time.
Johann Sebastian Bach raised a very musical family. He had four sons who became famous musicians in their own right. There was:
– Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (aka “the Halle Bach:)
– Carl Philipp Bach (aka “the Hamburg Bach”)
– Johann Chrisptoph Bach (aka “the Buckeberg Bach”)
– Johann Christian Bach (aka “the London Back”)
33. Org. in the “Bourne” series : CIA
“The Bourne Identity” is a great spy novel written by Robert Ludlum, and first published in 1980. It has been ranked as the second best spy novel of all time, just behind the even more enjoyable “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” by John le Carre. I’ll agree with that sentiment. Ludlum wrote two sequels, and all three parts of the Bourne Trilogy have been made into very successful movies now, starring Matt Damon in the title role. Ludlum died before he could write more than three novels featuring Jason Bourne, but five more titles in the series have been published, written by Eric Van Lustbader. I must check them out …
35. Hawaiian fish, on some menus : MAHI
Mahi-mahi is the Hawaiian name for the dolphin-fish, an ugly looking creature if ever I saw one …
36. Mine entrance : ADIT
An adit is specific type of mine access, a horizontal shaft that extends into the mine. This can be compared with the more traditional vertical shaft that is used for access into most mines, after all, most ores are “under” ground. Adits make sense, however, when the ore is located inside a mountain or hill, and the mine entrance can be on the valley floor.
38. These, overseas : CES
“Ces” is the French word for “these”.
39. Romantic overindulgence in nocturnes and mazurkas? : CHOPIN SPREE
Which sounds like “shopping spree”.
Frederic Chopin was a Polish composer, who spent most of his life in France. Chopin was most famous for his piano works in the Romantic style. Chopin was a sickly man, though, and died quite young at 39. For many of his final years he had a celebrated and tempestuous relationship with the French author George Sand (the nom de plume of the Baroness Dudevant). Those years with Sand may have been turbulent, but they were very productive in musical terms.
46. Distills : RAREFIES
“To rarefy” not only means to make less dense or thin, it also means to purify or refine.
49. Some gridiron yardage : GAINS
We never used the word “gridiron” when I was growing up (meaning a grill used for cooking food over an open fire). So, maybe I am excused for only just now finding out that a football field gridiron is so called because the layout of yard lines over the field looks like a gridiron used in cooking!
51. Buzz in a rocket : ALDRIN
Buzz Aldrin is a true American hero, I’d say. He flew 66 combat missions in Korea, shot down two MiGs, earned his Sc. D. degree from MIT, and was one of the two men who landed on the moon for the first time. Now, that man has a lived a life worth living.
52. Oblast bordering Kazakhstan : OMSK
An oblast is an administrative division within the former Soviet Union.
We come across Omsk in Siberia every so often. Among other things, it was the location of the labor camp where Dostoevsky was imprisoned.
53. ___ harp : AEOLIAN
Aeolus was the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology, and he gave his name to the adjective “aeolian” meaning “windblown”, something produced or carried by the wind. For example, an aeolian harp is a fascinating instrument, a box with a sounding board and strings, that is “played” by the wind as it blows.
55. Singing a “Messiah” piece too quickly? : FLYING OFF THE HANDEL
Which sounds like “flying off the handle”.
George Frideric Handel was the King of the Oratorio. His most famous oratorio, “Messiah” was actually performed first in Dublin, Ireland, back in 1742.
The phrase “to fly off the handle” means to become suddenly enraged. The visual evocation here is of an axehead flying off the handle and causing some damage or injury.
60. Sightseer? : EYE
What a clever clue …
61. Song lead-in to “di” or “da” : OB-LA
“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” was one of many songs credited to Lennon/McCartney, that was actually written by just one of the pair. Paul McCartney wrote this one, a song that John Lennon really did not like at all. Apparently he was quite obstructionist during the recording of the song, walking out at one point.
63. It’s eight hours off from 49-Down: Abbr. : PST
Pacific Standard Time is eight hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. I should know. I just got off the phone with my mother in Ireland …
66. Countrywide music celebration in Hungary? : NATIONAL LISZT PARTY
Which sounds like “nationalist party”.
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a Hungarian composer, and a fabulous pianist. Particularly towards the end of his life, he gained a tremendous reputation as a teacher. While he was in his sixties, his teaching profession demanded that he commute regularly between the cities of Rome, Weimar and Budapest. It is quite remarkable that a man of such advanced age, in the 1870s could do so much annual travel, estimated to be at least 4,000 miles every year.
76. Fortune : WEAL
“Weal” is prosperity or happiness, and has the same roots as the word “wealth”.
78. Missionary Junipero ___ : SERRA
Junipero Serra was a Spanish missionary, a founder of several Spanish missionaries out here in California.
81. Ohio city named for a queen : MARIETTA
Marietta, Ohio was founded in the late 1700s, and was named after the French Queen, Marie Antoinette. This was done in recognition of the assistance rendered by the government of France during the War of Independence.
83. Part of a children’s game with the Father of the Symphony? : HAYDN GO SEEK
Which sounds like “hide and go seek”.
Josef Haydn was an Austrian composer, often called the “Father of the Symphony” due to his prolific and output of symphonies that helped define the form. Haydn was also the “father” of the big three composers of the Classical period, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Hayden was a good friend to Mozart, and a teacher of Beethoven.
86. Place of corruption : DEN
One might get corrupted in a “den of iniquity”. The term probably comes from “den of thieves”, words of Jesus quoted in the gospels of both Mark and Matthew.
87. Ja’s opposite : NEIN
In Germany, “ja” is yes, and “nein” is no.
88. Poet depicted in art alongside the Scythians : OVID
“Ovid among the Scythians” is the name given to two paintings by the French artist Eugene Delacroix. The subject matter is drawn from Ovid’s life, when he was exiled from Rome by Augustus to Scythia, where he spent the last eight years of his life.
89. ___ economics : VOODOO
Voodoo Economics was a derogatory term used to describe the economic policies of the Reagan administration. Four major decisions stood behind the policy:
– Reduction of government spending
– Reduction of taxes
– Reduction of government regulation
– Control of the money supply
The term “voodoo economics” was first coined by George Bush when he was running against Reagan for the Presidential nomination in 1980.
92. Otolaryngology: Abbr. : ENT
The branch of medicine known as “ear, nose and throat” is more correctly called otolaryngology.
93. Grand nuptials whose only music was “Peer Gynt”? : MY BIG FAT GRIEG WEDDING
Which sounds like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.
Edvard Grieg was Norway’s most famous composer, active in the Romantic Era. His most famous works are the gorgeous Piano Concerto in A minor, and his incidental music for the play “Peer Gynt” by Henrik Ibsen.
Not only was the delightful Nia Vardalos the star of the 2002 hit movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” she also wrote the screenplay. The movie never made it to number one at the box office, but still pulled in more money than any other movie not to make it to number one. That record I think reflects that the film wasn’t a blockbuster, but rather a so-called “sleeper hit”, that people went to see based on referrals from friends. The big fat mistake came after the movie, when a spin-off TV show was launched, “My Big Fat Greek Life”. It only ran for 7 episodes.
101. Climactic : APOGEAL
In the celestial world, the apogee (or apsis) is the point in an orbit when the orbiting body is at its greatest, or least, distance from it’s center of orbit. This perhaps would explain the use of the adjective apogeal to mean “climactic”.
102. Cousin of a goldeneye : EIDER
The goldeneye is a small, black and white seaduck. Before you ask, there’s no connection between the duck and Ian Fleming’s estate called Goldeneye, nor the James Bond book, nor the movie. I checked …
Eiders are large seaducks. Their down feathers are used to fill pillows and quilts, giving the name to the quilt called an “eiderdown”.
103. Some old runabouts : REOS
The REO Motor Company was founded by Ransom E. Olds (hence the name REO). The company made cars, trucks and buses, and was in business from 1905 to 1975, in Lansing, Michigan.
104. Physicist Schrödinger and others : ERWINS
Erwin Schrödinger was an Austrian theoretical physicist, one of the so-called “fathers of Quantum Mechanics”. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933, for developing the Schrödinger Equation, the Newton’s Law of Quantum Mechanics.
105. Try to capture the Waltz King? : GRASP AT STRAUSS
Which sounds like (sort of) “grasp at straws”.
Of the many classical composers with the Strauss name, “The Waltz King” was Johann Strauss II. Among the many beautiful waltzes he penned are “The Blue Danube”, “Tales from the Vienna Woods”. He also composed the famous operetta “Die Fledermaus”.
111. Hint : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use it to portray something very small, as it is the smallest letter in the alphabet.
112. Geezer : COOT
Geezer and coot are two not-so-nice terms for an old man.
113. Laguna composition : AGUA
Laguna is the Spanish (and Italian) word for lagoon, and a lagoon is filled with agua (water).
115. Command : SWAY
To hold sway over something is to have command of it.
116. Dame ___ : EDNA
Dame Edna is the outrageous character created and played by Australian comedian Barry Humphries. I saw him/her perform live in a San Francisco theater, and what a great show it was.
117. Honey Nut ___ : CHEX
The original Chex cereal was introduced in 1937 by Ralston Purina. Ralston Purina had a logo with a checkerboard square on it, which gave the pattern to the cereal, as well as its name. Chex used characters from the “Peanuts” comic strip in its advertising for many years.
2. Longtime news inits. : UPI
United Press International was one of the biggest news agencies in the world, sending out news by wire to the major newspapers. It ran foul of the change in media formats at the end of the last century, and lost many of its clients as the afternoon newspapers shut down due to the advent of television news. UPI, which once employed thousands of people, still exists but with only a handful of employees.
3. Second baseman Matsui, to fans : KAZ
Kaz Matsui is from Osaka, and plays second base for the Houston Astros. He is no relation to Hideki Matsui of the Anaheim Angels.
4. Aromatic resin : ELEMI
Elemi is a tree native to the Philippines. The tree gives its name to the resin that is harvested from it. Elemi resin is used in varnishes and printing inks.
5. Purchase of 1867 : ALASKA
Alaska was never a profitable colony for Russia, so the empire was probably glad to receive the $7.2 million forked out by the US in 1867. The US military ran Alaska for a while, until it was made officially into a territory in 1884.
7. Alias : AKA
Also Known As.
9. Noisy counters : ABACI
The abacus was used as a counting frame long before man had invented a numerical numbering system. It is a remarkable invention, particularly when one notes that it is still widely used today across Africa and Asia.
11. Succubus : SHE-DEMON
In folklore, a succubus is a female demon that takes on the form of an attractive female in order to seduce unwitting men. The succubus draws energy from the seduced men in order to survive, using sexual intercourse in the same way that a vampire might suck blood for the same purpose. The word succubus derives from the Latin “succubare”, itself from “sub” “cubare” meaning “to lie under”. There was a male equivalent, an incubus.
12. Pink Mr. Potato Head piece : EAR
Mr. Potato Head is an enduring, popular toy that has been around since its invention by George Lerner in 1949. In its original form, the toy was a collection of eyes, ears, and other facial features, that were designed to be stick into a real potato. Mr. Potato Head also has the distinction of being the first toy ever to be advertised on television.
13. Gossip topic : CELEB
People are always gossiping about celebrities.
14. Hindu god of thunder : INDRA
In Hindu mythology, Indra is the King of the gods, Lord of Heaven. He is also the God of War, Storms and Rainfall.
21. Peaceful protest : LOVE-IN
Love-ins originated as protest against the Vietnam War. The protesters had a very specific, and tough agenda. Using the power of meditation and love, their goal was to levitate a selected building. Yes, levitate …
24. Highland tongue : ERSE
There are actually three Erse tongues. Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scottish Gaelic. In their own languages, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).
29. How current events may happen? : TIDALLY
Tidally is the adverbial from of tidal, the adjective from “tide”.
31. Strummed instruments, for short : UKES
The ukulele originated in the 1800s, and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.
32. Lager sources : TAPS
Lager is so called because of the tradition of cold storing the beer during fermentation. “Lager” is the German word for “storage”.
37. Garr of “Tootsie” : TERI
The lovely Teri Garr had a whole host of minor roles in her youth, including appearances in nine Elvis movies. Her big break came with the role of Inga in “Young Frankenstein”, and her supporting role in “Tootsie” earned her an Academy Award nomination. Sadly, Teri Garr suffers from multiple sclerosis, and is a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
41. Last thing : SHOE
A last is a form used in making shoes. The pair of lasts are shaped in the form of right and left feet, and are used in the manufacture of almost all shoes produced today.
43. Upstate N.Y. school : RPI
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private school in Troy, New York. The university is named after its founder Stephen Van Rensselaer, who set up the school in 1824. The goal of RPI has always been the “application of science to the common purposes of life”, an objective set by the founder. Given that, an apt name for the sports teams is the Engineers.
44. Spill-fighting grp. : EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency was set up during the Nixon administration, and began operation at the end of 1970.
47. Bass part : FIN
An oldie but goody …
49. See 63-Across : GMT
63. It’s eight hours off from 49-Down: Abbr. : PST
Greenwich Mean Time is the time at the Prime Meridian, that runs through Greenwich in London.
A meridian is a line of longitude, and the Prime Meridian is that line of longitude defined as 0 degrees. It is also called the Greenwich Meridian, as it passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in southeast London. Of course, which line of longitude is used to represent 0 degrees is an arbitrary decision. 25 nations formally decided to use the Greenwich Meridian as 0 degrees as it was already a popular choice. That is all except the French, who abstained from the vote and used the Paris Meridian as 0 degrees on French charts for several decades.
53. 1998 film featuring Princess Bala : ANTZ
“Antz” was the first feature movie released by Dreamworks SKG, the studio founded by Steven Spielberg and two partners in 1994. “Antz” came out in 1998, and has a stellar cast that includes Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hackman and many, many other big names. The cartoon is quite unique in that the facial features of the actors providing voices are reflected in the animated characters.
Princess Bala was played by Sharon Stone.
54. Mad person? : EDITOR
“Mad” magazine has been around since 1952, although back them it was more of a comic book than a magazine. The original founder and editor was Harvey Kurtzman, and in order to convince him to stay, the publisher changed the format to a magazine in 1955, when the publication really took off in terms of popularity.
56. Something of yours you’ll never see : OBIT
Hopefully you won’t come across your own obituary. “Obituary” comes from the Latin “obituaris”, the word for the record of a death of a person, although the literal meaning is “pertaining to death”.
57. Mel’s Diner waitress : FLO
Flo was a waitress in the sitcom “Alice” that ran in the seventies and eighties. The character got her own show called “Flo” but it only ran a couple of years.
59. Opposite of a ques. : ANS
Questions and answers …
66. France’s ___-Pas-de-Calais : NORD
Nord-Pas-de-Calais is the most northerly of France’s 22 administrative regions, and is composed of two departments, Nord and Pas-de-Calais. The major cities of Lille and Calais are found there, as well as a border with Belgium, and the closest point to England on the French mainland.
67. ___ Islands, group at the mouth of Galway Bay : ARAN
The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay in the west of Ireland. They are beautiful, but desolate places, and one of the few places in Ireland where the main language spoken is Irish, as opposed to English. If you’ve seen the television comedy “Father Ted“, you’ll be familiar with the landscape, as man of the external shots are from the one of the Aran Islands, Inishmore.
68. Bide-___ : A-WEE
Bide-a-wee is a Scottish expression meaning, “stay a little longer”.
70. Choreographer Lubovitch : LAR
Lar Lubovitch is an American choreographer, noted for his stage work, but also for choreographing figure skating routines for the likes of John Curry, Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill.
71. ___ Beta Kappa : PHI
Phi Beta Kappa was the first collegiate Greek fraternity in the US, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. The initials Phi Beta Kappa stand for “philosophia biou kybernētēs”, which translates into “philosophy is the guide of life”.
72. Port SSE of Sana : ADEN
Sana (also Sanaa) is the capital city of Yemen. Within the bounds of today’s metropolis is the old fortified city of Sana, where people have lived for over 2,500 years. The Old City is now a World Heritage Site.
Aden is a seaport in Yemen, located on the Gulf of Aden, by the eastern approach to the Red Sea. Aden has a long history of British rule, from 1838, until a very messy withdrawal in 1967.
73. Contents of some cones : ASH
Volcanic cones, formed by lava sputtering out of a volcanic vent and then cooling, may contain a lot of volcanic ash.
74. Crumpet’s go-with : TEA
I do love a nice crumpet. They are made from flour and yeast, with baking soda added to make the characteristic holes in the surface. Served hot, with butter melted into the holes, nothing better …
79. “This ___” (Michael Jackson album) : IS IT
“This Is It” is an album released after Michael Jackson’s death in 2009. The album is the soundtrack from a documentary, also released after Jackson’s death, showing the preparations for the singer’s sold out “This Is It” tour planned for 2009/2010.
81. Persian’s call : MEOW
The Persian is that long-haired cat with the squashed in muzzle. The breed takes its name from its place of origin, Persia (Iran).
82. News anchor Cooper : ANDERSON
Anderson Cooper is a great news personality on CNN, and on other shows around the dial. My favorite, although he would call it trivial I am sure, was his hosting of a great reality game show called “The Mole”, that aired in 2001.
90. “Glory, Glory” singer : ODETTA
Odetta Holmes (or just “Odetta”) was a singer and a human rights activist. She has been cited as an influence by such singers as Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Carly Simon.
93. Irish novelist Binchy : MAEVE
Maeve Binchy is a fabulous Irish novelist, and in my day a famous newspaper columnist whose column I would read everyday. A few of her novels have made it to the big screen, including two I would recommend, “Circle of Friends” starring Chris O’ Donnell and Minnie Driver, and “Tara Road” starring Andie MacDowell.
94. W.W. I battle site : YPRES
Ypres is a Belgian city located close to the French border. In WWI is was the scene of three devastating battles resulting in almost a million casualties, including many who suffered in gas attacks.
98. One thrown from a horse : RIATA
A riata is another name for a lariat or a lasso. So, it’s a rope with a noose on the end that can be thrown from a horse, to catch some animal usually. It comes from the Spanish word for lasso, “reata”.
100. Singer of sewing machine fame : ISAAC
Isaac Singer was not only an inventor, but also an actor. For much of his life, profits made from his inventions supported him while he pursued his acting career. Singer didn’t actually invent the sewing machine, and never claimed to have done so. What he did do though, was invent a version of the machine that was practical and easily used in the home.
105. Grunts : GIS
The initials G.I. stand for “Government Issue” and not “General Infantry” as is often believed. G.I. was first used in the military to denote equipment made from Galvanized Iron. During WWII, incoming German shells were nicknamed “GI cans”. Soon after, the term GI came to be associated with “Government Issue” and became an adjective to describe anything associated with the Army.
106. Mann’s “Der ___ in Venedig” : TOD
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, whose most famous work is probably his novella “Death in Venice“, originally published in German in 1912 as “Der Tod in Venedig”. The story was famously adapted for the big screen in 1971, starring Dirk Bogarde.
109. Big band member, for short : SAX
11 SAX: The saxophone was invented by Belgian,Adolphe Sax. Strangely, he developed lip cancer at one point in his life, but recovered. I had the privilege of visiting his grave in the Cemetery of Montmartre in Paris a few years ago.