Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to a complete list of today’s clues and answers
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1…Instruments mentioned in the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR”..BALALAIKAS
A balalaika is a stringed instrument from Russia. It has a neck with three strings, and a triangular body. They come in various sizes, from the rare “piccolo” variety to the very large “contrabasso” balalaika which is so heavy it has to be supported by extension legs that rest on the ground.
By the time the Beatles recorded “Back in the U.S.S.R”, they were having a lot of problems working with each other. The song was recorded in 1968, with the band formally dissolving in 1970. Tensions were so great during the recording of “Back in the U.S.S.R” that Ringo Starr actually stormed out saying that he had quit, and the remaining three Beatles made the record without Ringo. Drums were played mainly by Paul McCartney, but there are also drum tracks on the final cut by both George Harrison and John Lennon. Interesting, huh?
11…Arguably biased, briefly..UN-PC
To be “un-PC” is to be politically incorrect, not be politically correct (PC).
16…Nebula Award winner Frederik..POHL
Frederik Pohl is an American science-fiction writer, a winner of three Hugo awards. Pohl started off his career as a literary agent, and was the only agent ever hired by Isaac Asimov.
17…Hanging aid..STUD FINDER
A stud finder is a handy little device used locate framing studs behind drywall, something necessary say when searching for a stud to use in hanging a picture.
The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush, and the main flavoring ingredient in sloe gin.
The abbreviation CCCP stands for “Сою́з Сове́тских Социалисти́ческих Респу́блик”, which translates from Russian as “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”, the USSR.
20…Direction at sea..ALEE
“Alee” is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing “aweather”.
22…”Cat __ Hot Tin Roof”..ON A
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is the play that won Tennessee Williams the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955. The play was adapted into a famous film version in 1958, with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman playing the leads.
The term “ark”, when used with reference to Noah, is a translation of the Hebrew word “tebah”. The word “tebah” is also used in the Bible for the basket in which Moses was placed by his mother when she floated him down the Nile. It seems that the word “tebah” doesn’t mean “boat” and nor does it mean “basket”. Rather, a more appropriate translation is “life-preserver” or “life-saver”. So, Noah’s ark was Noah’s life-preserver during the flood.
According to the Book of Genesis, Noah lived to a ripe old age. Noah fathered his three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth when he was 500 years old, and the Great Flood took place when he was 600.
29…Atheist activist Madalyn..O’HAIR
Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the president of the organization American Atheists from 1963 to 1986. Murray was the plaintiff in the lawsuit Murray v. Curlett that in 1963 led to the Supreme Court ruling that ended Bible-reading in American schools. Murray came to a sorry end, as she was kidnapped in 1995 and brutally murdered along with her son and granddaughter. The crime was committed by a co-worker at American Atheists.
31…Mil. squad leaders..SSGTS
Staff sergeant (SSgt)
32…Phys ed teacher Leonard for whom a band was named..SKINNER
Lynyrd Skynyrd is a southern rock band that formed in 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida as My Backyard. The name was changed to Leonard Skinnerd in 1969, and then to Lynyrd Skynyrd a few months later. The chosen name was a wry tribute to the member’s phys-ed teacher at high school, one Leonard Skinner. Lynyrd Skynyrd were most successful in the 1970s, when they recorded their two biggest hits: “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird”. Sadly, three of the original band members were killed in a plane crash in 1977.
39…Tolstoy title first name..ANNA
I have to admit to not having read the Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”, but I did see the excellent 1977 British television adaptation starring Nicola Pagett. In the storyline, Anna Karenina’s lover is Count Alexei Vronsky.
47…Hailing from Changwon, say..KOREAN
Changwon is a heavy industrial city on the southeast coast of South Korea. The list of companies located in Changwon includes Samsung Techwin, GM Korea, LG Electronics and Hyundai Rotem.
49…Hood et al.: Abbr…MTS
Mount Hood is a volcanic peak in northern Oregon. Mount Hood is the highest peak in the state, and is located about 50 miles southeast of Portland. There are six ski areas on the mountain, including a resort called Timberline that has North America’s only lift operating year-round for skiing.
50…Mascot Misha of the 1980 Olympics, e.g…BEAR
The Olympic Misha was the Russian Bear that served as the mascot for the 1980 Olympic Games held in Moscow. Misha was the first Olympic mascot that seeded a successful line of commercial merchandise.
The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame) and in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora).
Madrid is the largest city in Spain and the capital. Madrid is located very close to the geographical center of the country. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (after London and Paris). People from Madrid called themselves Madrileños.
52…Groups for biologists..TAXA
Taxonomy is the classification of organisms or into groups or categories known as taxons (plural “taxa”). We are most familiar with the classification of organisms in the major taxonomic ranks (taxa) of:
“http” are the first letters in most Internet links. “http” stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol.
61…Gives up..CRIES UNCLE
To “say uncle” is an American expression meaning to submit or yield. Its usage dates back to the early 1900s, but nobody seems to know how “uncle!” came to mean “stop!”
62…Start of a tennis point..TOSS
In tennis, the player serving the ball first tosses it in the air before striking it.
1…Half an African country, or its capital city..BISSAU
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is in West Africa, bordered by the countries of Senegal and Guinea. The country was a Portuguese colony for centuries under the name Portuguese Guinea. When independence was granted in 1974, the name Guinea-Bissau was chosen for the new country, as Bissau is the nation’s capital. The double-barrelled name helps to prevent confusion with the neighboring Republic of Guinea.
2…Half a beer?..ARTOIS
The Belgian beer Stella Artois is named for the brewer Sebastianus Artois. Artois was the master brewer at the Den Horen Brewery in Leuven, Belgium in the early 1700s. The Den Horen Brewery has been around at least since 1366 … yes, 1366!
3…Where the Mona Lisa smiles..LOUVRE
The Musée du Louvre has the distinction of being the most visited art museum in the whole world. The collection is housed in the magnificent Louvre Palace which used to be the seat of power in France, until 1682 when Louis XIV moved to Versailles.
Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece that we know in English as the “Mona Lisa” is called “La Gioconda” in Italian, the language of the artist. It’s also known as “La Joconde” by the Government of France which owns the painting and displays it in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The title comes from the name of the subject, almost certainly Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo. Giocondo was a wealthy silk merchant in Florence who commissioned the painting for the couple’s new home to celebrate the birth of their second son.
4…Bill’s “Groundhog Day” co-star..ANDIE
Andie MacDowell is an American actress who seems to turn up in quite a few British productions set in that part of the world. Most famously she was the love interest in the fabulous film “Four Weddings and a Funeral” starring opposite Hugh Grant. I also enjoyed another of her movies, “Groundhog Day”, which is a fun tale set back here in the US.
“Groundhog Day” is a 1993 comedy film that has already become a classic. The star of the movie is Bill Murray, with the lovely Andie MacDowell putting in a great supporting performance. “Groundhog Day” is set in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania although it was actually filmed in the town of Woodstock, Illinois.
6…Subject of the 2013 documentary subtitled “Speaking Truth to Power”..ANITA HILL
Anita Hill is an attorney who is currently a professor at Brandeis University. Hill gained a lot of attention in 1991 when she accused US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Judge Thomas was confirmed anyway. Many say that Hill’s testimony during the confirmation hearings launched public awareness of the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Within a year, complaints of harassment were up by fifty percent.
7…Slot in a car: Abbr…IGN
The first ignition key was introduced by Chrysler back in 1949. Prior to the use of ignition keys, vehicles had both an ignition on/off switch and a starter button.
8…Brand with a Magicube..KODAK INSTAMATIC
Kodak introduced its line of Instamatic cameras in 1963. Instamatics were so easy to use that the term is erroneously applied sometimes today to any point-and-shoot camera. Kodak improved the ease of use of the Instamatic line by introducing Flashcubes and Magicubes in the late sixties. These “cubes” were flash units that included four individual flashbulbs that could be used sequentially, instead of the traditional single flashbulb.
9…Writer of really old stories?..AUEL
As Jean Auel prepared her first book in the “Earth’s Children” series, she did a lot of research about the Ice Age, the setting for her stories. She went as far as taking a survival course in cold conditions, learning to build an ice cave and how to make fire, tan leather and knap stone.
Streptococcus bacteria multiply and divide along a single axis so that they form linked chains. That behavior gives the genus of bacteria its name, as “streptos” is Greek for “easily twisted, like a chain”. I had to battle with streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat) twice in the past few years and it was not at all pleasant, I must say. Another species of streptococcus is responsible for that terrible “flesh-eating” infection that makes the news from time to time.
21…”The Big Easy” of golf..ELS
Ernie Els is a South African golfer. Els a big guy but he has an easy fluid golf swing that has earned him the nickname “The Big Easy”. He is a former World No. 1 and has won four majors: the US Open (1994 & 1997) and the British Open (2002 & 2012).
“Raja” (also “rajah”) is word derived from Sanskrit that is used particularly in India for a monarch or princely ruler. The female form is “rani” (also “ranee”) and is used for a raja’s wife.
27…Winter X Games host..ASPEN
Aspen, Colorado used to be known as Ute City, with the name change taking place in 1880. Like many communities in the area, Aspen was a mining town, and in 1891 and 1892 it was at the center of the highest production of silver in the US. Nowadays of course, it’s all about skiing and movie stars.
The X Games are annual events, with a Summer X Games held every year as well as a Winter X Games. It’s very much a commercial venture, with all aspects controlled by the TV station ESPN. The games focus on extreme action sports, like skateboarding and freestyle motocross in the summer and various extreme snowboarding events in the winter.
Snake charmers don’t actually hypnotize their cobras, but they do train them. The snake is trained to “follow” the movement of end of the pungi, the instrument that the charmer uses in the act. The snake presents no danger to the charmer or the audience, as it is typically defanged or has it’s mouth partially stitched up so that only the tongue can be moved in and out. Not a very nice practice …
35…Strategy involving a cushion..BANK SHOT
In games like pool and billiards, a “bank shot” is one in which the object ball is bounced off one or more cushions prior to being pocketed.
44…Legislation opposed by the Sons of Liberty..TEA ACT
The Sons of Liberty was a secret organization in Colonial America that opposed the imposition of local taxes by the British. The group embraced the watchword at the time. “No Taxation with Representation”. The most famous act of rebellion by the Sons of Liberty was 1773’s Boston Tea Party. The list of notable members of the organization includes John Adams, Benedict Arnold, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere.
48…Org. founded on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth..NAACP
The full name of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is remarkable in that it actually still uses the old offensive term “colored people”. The NAACP was founded in 1909, by a group that included suffragette and journalist Mary White Ovington, wealthy socialist William English Walling, and civil rights activist Henry Moscowitz. Another member of the founding group was W. E. B. Du Bois, the first African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard University. The date chosen for the founding of the NAACP was February 12th, 2009, the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, the man most visibly associated with the emancipation of African American slaves.
Brent Musburger was one of the original presenters of CBS’s program “The NFL Today”, and was considered by many to be the network’s top sportscaster. One of Musburger’s claims to fame is that he is considered the first broadcaster to describe the NCAA Basketball Championship as “March Madness”.
A police department (PD) might issue an All Points Bulletin (APB). An APB is a broadcast from one US law enforcement agency to another.
59…Half a bray..HEE
“Heehaw” said the donkey.