The full solution to today’s crossword that appears in the New York Times
The full solution to today’s SYNDICATED New York Times crossword that appears in all other publications
THEME: Baseball … all the theme answers start with action on a baseball field i.e. PITCHES (A FIT), CATCHES (A BREAK), FIELDS (A QUESTION), BATS (AN EYELASH), STEALS (A KISS)
COMPLETION TIME: 6m 39s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
1. Name repeated in the lyric “Whatever ___ wants, ___ gets” : LOLA
“Whatever Lola Wants” is a song from the musical “Damn Yankees“. “Damn Yankees” is actually yet another version of the classic German legend of Faust, set in Washington, D.C. in the fifties. The show was written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, a production that turned out to be a very successful follow up to their prior hit, “The Pajama Game”. The future was looking really rosy for Adler and Ross, but sadly, Jerry Ross died of an obstructive lung disease only a few weeks after “Damn Yankees” opened on Broadway in 1955. He was just 29 years old.
11. ___ Moines : DES
The city of Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, takes its name from the Des Moines River. The river in turn takes its name from the French “Riviere des Moines”, meaning “River of the Monks”. It looks like there isn’t any “monkish” connection to the city’s name per se. “Des Moines” was just the name given to the river by French traders who corrupted “Moingona”, the name of a group of Illinois who lived by the river. However, others do contend that the French Trappist monks, who lived fully 200 miles away from the river, somehow influenced the name.
14. Apple computer : IMAC
The iMac is a desktop computer platform from Apple, introduced in 1998. One of the main features of the iMac is that it is an “all-in-one” design, with the computer console and monitor integrated.
17. Shows petulant anger : PITCHES A FIT
In baseball, the pitcher PITCHES the ball.
19. “Fee, ___, foe, fum” : FIE
The line “fee-fi-fo-fum” (with various spellings) comes from the famous English fairy tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Within the story, the Giant at the top of the Beanstalk utters a little poem when he detects the presence of Jack:
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
20. Cheri formerly of “S.N.L.” : OTERI
Cheri Oteri was the SNL cast member that regularly appeared with Will Farrell in the skit featuring a pair of Spartan cheerleaders.
21. Exam for H.S. seniors : SAT
Today the standardized test for admission to colleges is known as the SAT Reasoning Test, but it used to be called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, which led to the acronym SAT.
23. Gets lucky : CATCHES A BREAK
In baseball, a player CATCHES the ball, looking for an out.
29. “Here ___ comes, Miss America” : SHE
The beauty pageant theme song, “There She Is, Miss America“, was written by composer Bernie Wayne. Wayne, who died at the age of 74 in 1993, wrote many hit songs, including “Blue Velvet” and “The Magic Touch”. He also wrote a famous advertising jingle: “Chock Full O’Nuts Is the Heavenly Coffee”.
31. ___ mater : ALMA
The literal translation for the Latin phrase “alma mater” is “nourishing mother”. Alma mater was used in Ancient Rome to refer to mother goddesses, and in Medieval Christianity the term was used to refer to the Virgin Mary. Nowadays, one’s alma mater is the school one attended, either high school or college, usually one’s last place of education.
33. “Lucky Jim” author Kingsley : AMIS
Kingsley Amis (what a great name!) was a very successful English writer, famous for producing entertaining, comedic novels. His most famous novel probably is his first, “Lucky Jim” published in 1954, although he won a Booker Prize for a later novel, “The Old Devils” published in 1986. He passed on some of his talent through his genes, it seems, as his son Martin Amis is a very successful novelist too.
36. Painter Picasso : PABLO
Pablo Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name he was given right from birth. Don’t forget …
40. Doesn’t stonewall, say : FIELDS A QUESTION
In baseball, an outfielder, for example, FIELDS the ball.
43. Pro ___ (perfunctory) : FORMA
The Latin term “pro forma” translates as “as a matter of form”, and is used in English to describe actions or documents that are considered merely a formality.
44. Tiny time unit: Abbr. : NSEC
A nanosecond is more correctly abbreviated to “ns”, and really is a tiny amount of time: one billionth of a second.
46. Toronto’s prov. : ONT
Ontario takes its name from the lake. In turn, Lake Ontario’s name is thought to be derived from “Ontari:io”, a Huron word meaning “great lake”. Ontario is home to the nation’s capital, Ottawa, as well as Canada’s most populous city (and capital of the province of Ontario).
48. ___ Pérignon : DOM
Dom Pérignon is the name given to the prestige label of champagne from Moët et Chandon, the French winery. The label’s name honors the Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, who helped to improve the quality and production of champagne in the early 18th century. Although Dom Pérignon made major contributions to the production of champagne, many of the stories in which he figures are just myths. He did not “invent” champagne, nor sparkling wine in general. Nor did he say the famous words, “Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!”. That lovely line first appeared in a print advertisement in the late 1800s!
51. Reacts slightly : BATS AN EYELASH
In baseball, the batter BATS.
But … I thought one batted one’s eyelashes (plural) or one’s eyelids (also plural). Maybe I am just being picky …
57. Run amok : RIOT
The phrase “to run amok” has been around since the 1670s, and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was then was also used as a noun, to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. They probably had good reason for that frenzy …
59. “Ave ___” (Latin prayer) : MARIA
“Ave Maria”, or “Hail Mary” in English, is the prayer at the core of the Roman Catholic Rosary, a set of prayers asking for the assistance of the Virgin Mary. Much of the text of the prayer comes from the Gospel of Luke.
63. Shows affection unexpectedly : STEALS A KISS
In baseball, a runner often STEALS a base.
66. They, in Marseille : ILS
“Ils” is the French word for “they”, unless we are referring to a feminine plural noun, in which case “they” are “elles”.
67. Eight English kings : HENRYS
The first of the Henrys, Henry I, was king of England from 1100 until he died in 1135, and was of the House of Normandy (living a few decades after the Norman Conquest and the Battle of Hastings). The last of the Henrys, Henry VIII, is perhaps the most famous with the name. He ruled from 1509 until his death in 1547. He was the last king of the House of Tudor, as his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, died without issue.
68. Fitzgerald known as the First Lady of Song : ELLA
Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song”, had a hard and tough upbringing. She was raised by her mother alone in Yonkers, New York. Her mother died while Ella was still a schoolgirl, and subsequently she became less interested in school. She fell in with a bad crowd, even working as a lookout for a bordello and a Mafia numbers runner. She ended up in reform school, from which she escaped, finding herself homeless and living on the streets for a while. Somehow she managed to get herself a spot singing in the Apollo Theater in Harlem. From there her career took off, and as they say, the rest is history.
1. Quick weight loss option, informally : LIPO
Liposuction dates back to the 1920s, developed by a surgeon in France. However, the procedure quickly lost favor when a French model developed gangrene after surgery. As a result it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that the modern liposuction gained favor, after being popularized by two Italian-American surgeons in Rome.
4. Ghana’s capital : ACCRA
Accra sits on Ghana’s coast, and is a major seaport as well as the country’s capital city. The name “Accra” comes from a local word “Nkran” meaning “ants”, a name chosen because of the large number of anthills found in the area when the city was founded.
6. Co. that oversees the 21-Across : ETS
The Educational Testing Service was founded in 1947, producing standardized tests for students from kindergarten through college. Perhaps most famously, ETS operates the SAT testing process.
9. Dogs whose tails curl up the back : AKITAS
The Akita breed of dog is named for its point of origin, the Akita Prefecture in Japan. When Helen Keller visited the Akita Prefecture in 1937, she asked for and was given an Akita breed of dog, with the name of Kamikaze-go. Sadly, the dog died within a year, from distemper. In 1938 the Japanese government officially presented Keller with a replacement dog. Supposedly these were the first members of the breed to be introduced into the US.
11. Actor Willem : DAFOE
Willem Dafoe is an American actor, from Wisconsin. He was born just plain William Dafoe, but didn’t like being called “Billy”. So, he changed his name to Willem, which was the pronunciation of his name by his Scottish babysitter. Those Scots …
12. Doolittle of “Pygmalion” : ELIZA
Eliza Doolittle is Professor Henry Higgins’s speech student in George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”. Of course “Pygmalion” was adapted by Lerner and Loewe to become the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady”. The musical spun off the wonderful 1964 film of the same name, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
24. Addams who created “The Addams Family” : CHAS
Chas Addams was a cartoonist. He didn’t draw a cartoon strip, but rather individual cartoons, although many of his cartoons did feature regular characters. His most famous characters were the members of the Addams Family, who were published in single-panel cartoons between 1938 and 1988 (when Addams died) in “The New Yorker”. The Addams Family moved onto the small and big screens starting in 1964.
26. Knocks on the noggin : BOPS
A noggin was the name of a small cup back in the 1600s, and later lent its name to a small drink (and eventually to “eggnog”). Somehow the word morphed into usage meaning the “head” back in the mid-1800s.
27. Large iron hook : GAFF
A gaff is that dangerous metal hook on the end of a pole that fisherman use to drag large fish into their boats.
28. Medley : OLIO
Olio is a term meaning a hodgepodge or a mixture, coming from the mixed stew of the same name. The stew, in turn, takes its name from the Spanish “olla”, the name of the clay pot used to make the stew.
35. Soft leather : SUEDE
Suede is leather made from the underside of the skin, mainly from a lamb. As such, it is very soft, although not as durable as leather made from the exterior skin. The soft leather was, and is still used for making gloves. Back in 1859 these gloves were called “gants de Suede” in France, or “gloves of Sweden”. So, “suede” is simply the French word for Sweden.
38. Pricey seating section : LOGE
In most theaters today the loge is the name given to the front rows of a mezzanine level. It can also be the name given to box seating.
39. Gem with colored bands : ONYX
Onyx is form of quartz that comes in many different shades, but most often it’s the black form is used for jewelry. The name “onyx” comes from the Greek word for “fingernail”, as onyx in the flesh color can be said to resemble a fingernail.
41. Carvey who used to say “Well, isn’t that special?” : DANA
Dana Carvey, along with the likes of Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon, was part of the new breed of “Saturday Night Live” comedians accredited with resurrecting the show in the late eighties. One of Carvey’s most popular characters was the Church Lady, and he became so associated with her that among fellow cast members Carvey was often referred to simply as “the Lady”. Carvey had open-heart surgery in 1997 to clear a blocked artery, but the surgical team operated on the wrong artery. To recover, he had to have five more procedures, so ended up suing for medical malpractice, and donating the $7.5 million compensation payment to charity.
42. Environmental sci. : ECOL
Ecology is an environmental science.
47. Gov’t securities : T-NOTES
A Treasury note (T-Note) is a government debt that matures in 1-10 years. A T-Note has a coupon (interest) payment made every six months. The note is purchased at a discount to face value, and at the date of maturity can be redeemed at that face value. For comparison, a T-Bill matures in one year or less, and a T-Bond matures in 20-30 years.
51. Boston N.H.L.’er : BRUIN
The Boston Bruins professional ice hockey team goes way back, and has been in existence since 1924. The National Hockey back then was a Canadian-only league, but decided to expand to include the US in 1923. The Bruins were the first US-team in the expanded league.
52. Window or middle alternative : AISLE
I always look for the window seat on a plane …
53. Raise a glass to : TOAST
Did you ever wonder why we use the term “toast” to drink someone’s health? The tradition probably dates back to the reign of Charles II, when the practice was to drink to the health of a beautiful or favored woman. In those days, spiced toast was added to beverages to add flavor, so the use of the word “toast” was an indicator that the lady’s beauty would add piquancy to the wine. Very charming, I must say …
54. Justice Kagan : ELENA
Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States, and recently replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. That made Justice Kagan the fourth female justice (there have been 108 men!). I hear she is a fan of Jane Austen, and used to reread “Pride and Prejudice” once a year. Not a bad thing …
56. Rice wines : SAKES
We refer to the Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice as “sake”. As usual, we’ve gotten things a bit mixed up. “Sake” is actually the word that the Japanese use for all alcoholic drinks.
60. Cuba, por ejemplo : ISLA
Cuba, for example (por ejemplo), is an island (isla).
61. “Rush!,” on an order : ASAP
As Soon As Possible.
63. ___ Na Na : SHA
Do you remember the band “Johnny Casino & The Gamblers” in the movie “Grease”? That was actually the real-world group Sha Na Na. Johnny Casino and the Gamblers sang “Those Magic Changes” at the high school dance, in between “Rock n’Roll Is Here to Stay” and “Hound Dog”. Sha Na Na got together in the sixties, and are still performing today.
64. Soapmaker’s need : LYE
Soap is basically made by adding a strong alkali (like lye) to a fat (like olive oil). The fats break down in the basic solution in a process called saponification. The crude soap is extracted from the mixture, washed, purified and finished in molds.
65. Fast jet, for short : SST
The most famous SuperSonic Transport was the Concorde, all of which are now grounded. Concorde had that famous “droop nose”. The nose was moved to the horizontal position during flight to create the optimum aerodynamic shape thereby reducing drag. The nose was lowered during taxi, takeoff and landing, so that the pilot had better visibility. The need for the droop nose was driven largely by the delta-shaped wings on Concorde. The delta wing necessitates a higher angle of attack than conventional wing designs, so the pilot needed the nose lowered so that he or she could see the ground.