Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers included the hidden letter sequence PTA. Pairs of themed answers, one across and the other down, MEET at the circled letters T within those PTA sequences:
- 63A…After-school event … and, literally, what takes place at this puzzle’s circles..PTA MEETING
- 18A…Highway beautification program..ADOPT-A-ROAD
- 32A…Toaster Strudel kin..POP-TARTS
- 4D…Seafood in a shell..SHRIMP TACO
- 50A…Motivating halftime speech..PEP TALK
- 31D…Watch closely..KEEP TABS ON
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
“Gobs” is an informal term meaning “a large amount”.
5…Language group that includes Swahili..BANTU
There are hundreds of Bantu languages, mainly spoken in central, east and southern Africa. The most commonly spoken Bantu language is Swahili, with Zulu coming in second.
Sloops and cutters are sailboats, and each has just one mast. One major difference between the two types of vessel is that the mast on a cutter is set much further aft than the mast on a sloop.
Dame Edna Everage 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 …
17…NYC-to-Suffolk County line..LIRR
The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the commuter rail service that runs all over Long Island, New York with 124 stations and 700 miles of track. More people use the LIRR than any other commuter railroad in the US. It is also the only commuter railroad in the country that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“To posit” is to assume as fact, to lay down as a “position”.
22…Middle East carrier..AIR ARABIA
Air Arabia is a budget airline founded in 2003 that is based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
A T-man is a law-enforcement agent of the US Treasury (T is for Treasury).
Loki is a god appearing in Norse mythology. In one story about Loki, he was punished by other gods for having caused the death of Baldr, the god of light and beauty. Loki is bound to a sharp rock using the entrails of one of his sons. A serpent drips venom which is collected in a bowl, and then his wife must empty the venom onto Loki when the bowl is full. The venom causes Loki great pain, and his writhing results in what we poor mortals experience as earthquakes.
26…2015 Payne Stewart Award honoree Ernie..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).
Payne Stewart was a crowd favorite on the golf course, and always recognizable as he wore flamboyant attire that included bright, patterned knickerbockers. Sadly, Stewart died in famous airplane accident. All aboard the private plane in which he was travelling, including the pilots, succumbed to hypoxia after a loss of cabin pressure. The stricken plane flew for hours on autopilot escorted by USAF planes, until it ran out of fuel and crashed in South Dakota.
32…Toaster Strudel kin..POP-TARTS
Pop-Tart is the most successful single brand for the Kellogg company, as millions of the sugary treats are sold every year. The US Military bought quite a few in 2001, and dropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts into Afghanistan during the invasion after 9/11.
General Mills introduced Toaster Strudels in competition to Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts in 1985. The company started using the slogan “Something ‘better’ just popped up”.
34…Unhand, in a toaster brand slogan..L’EGGO
Eggo is the brand name of a line of frozen waffles made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced the original name chosen, which was “Froffles”, created by melding “frozen” and “waffles”. The brand has a well-known advertising slogan “L’eggo my Eggo”.
38…Nevada’s __ 51..AREA
The famed Area 51 is a remote base in the USAF Nevada Test and Training Range. There’s no question that Area 51 is an unusual base in that frontline operational units are not deployed there. It seems that it is used for developing and testing new and classified weapons facilities for the US Military and other US agencies like the CIA. The government did not even acknowledge that Area 51 existed until 1995, and this official position fuelled a theory that the base is home to UFOs that landed on Earth.
42…Estrada of “CHiPs”..ERIK
Actor Erik Estrada’s big break came with the movie “Airport 1975”. He then played motorcycle police officer Poncherello on the television show “CHiPs” from 1977-81.
45…”The Tempest” hero..PROSPERO
William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” tells the story of Prospero, who was removed from the throne of Milan and banished to a deserted island along with his daughter Miranda. The island is home to a devilish character called Caliban, who is forced into slavery on the arrival of the exiles. Prospero learns sorcery while cast away, and eventually conjures up a tempest that drives those who usurped his throne onto the island’s shores (in particular his own brother, Antonio). On the island, Prospero is eventually successful in revealing Antonio’s lowly nature.
54…MSN and AOL..ISPS
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is just what the name indicates, a company that provides its customers with access to the Internet.
The Microsoft Network (MSN) used to be an Internet service provider (ISP). These days, MSN is mainly a web portal.
Founded as Quantum Computer Services in 1983, the company changed its name in 1989 to America Online. As America Online went international, the acronym AOL was used in order to shake off the “America-centric” sound to the name. During the heady days of AOL’s success the company could not keep up with the growing number of subscribers, so people trying to connect often encountered busy signals. That’s when users referred to AOL as “Always Off-Line”.
57…Crunchy snacks sometimes dipped in baba ghanouj..PITA CHIPS
Baba ghanoush (also baba ghanouj) is an Arab dish with the main ingredient of mashed eggplant. It is sometimes served as a (delicious) dip.
60…”Idol” judge replaced by DeGeneres..ABDUL
Paula Abdul is primarily a singer and dancer, and someone who endeared herself even more to the American public in recent years as a judge on “American Idol”. Abdul had a famous husband for a couple of years, as she was married to actor Emilio Estevez from 1992-94.
Ellen DeGeneres is a very, very successful TV personality, having parlayed her career in stand-up comedy into lucrative gigs as an actress and talk show host. Back in 1997 DeGeneres chose the “Oprah Winfrey Show” to announce that she was a lesbian. Her character on “The Ellen Show” also came out as a lesbian in a scene with her therapist, who was played by Oprah Winfrey. Nice twist!
Fox’s “American Idol” is a spin-off show that was created after the amazing success of the British television show “Pop Idol”. I can’t abide either program(me) …
63…After-school event … and, literally, what takes place at this puzzle’s circles..PTA MEETING
Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)
65…H.H. Munro’s pen name..SAKI
Hector Hugh Munro was a British writer, actually born in Burma. Munro was famous for his short stories, which he published using the pen name “Saki”. His most well-known story is “The Open Window”, which ends with the great line “Romance at short notice was her specialty”.
A ranee (also spelled “rani”) is a queen or a princess, the female equivalent of a raja in India.
The American robin has a reddish-orange breast. This coloring gave the bird its name, due to the similarity to the European robin. The two species are not in fact related. It is the American robin that famously lays light-blue eggs.
2…University about an hour from Columbus..OHIO
Ohio University was founded well over 200 years ago, in 1804 in Athens, the city where it is still located today.
5…Merit badge gp…BSA
As every little boy (of my era) knows, the Scouting movement was founded by Lord Baden Powell, in 1907. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) soon followed, in 1910. And, the Boy Scouts motto is “Be Prepared”.
6…”The Blacklist” actor Alan..ALDA
Alan Alda has had a great television career, especially of course on “M*A*S*H”. Alda won his first Emmy in 1972, for playing Hawkeye Pierce on “M*A*S*H”. He won his most recent Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of Presidential candidate Arnold Vinick in “The West Wing”. When it comes to the big screen, my favorite of Alda’s movies is the 1978 romantic comedy “Same Time, Next Year” in which he starred opposite Ellen Burstyn.
“The Blacklist” is an entertaining, albeit a little formulaic, crime drama TV show starring James Spader and Megan Boone. Spader plays a successful criminal who surrenders to the FBI in order to help catch a “blacklist” of high-profile criminals.
10…Wang with a Hippie Princess fragrance line..VERA
Vera Wang’s first choice for a career was figure skating. Although she a very capable skater, Wang failed to make the 1968 US Olympics team. She switched to the world of fashion, and is now famous for her designs of wedding dresses … but also costumes for figure skaters.
Adobe Acrobat is the software used to create .pdf files. Most of us are more familiar with the associated application called Adobe Reader, because that’s what we use to read those .pdf files.
“Escargot” is the French word for “snail”. In order to eat snails, apparently they have to be “purged” before killing them. That means starving them or feeding them on something “wholesome” for several days before cooking them up. Ugh …
19…Servant of 45-Across..ARIEL
(45a…”The Tempest” hero..PROSPERO)
Ariel is a spirit, a character who appears in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and who becomes a servant of the magician Prospero. Ariel was actually viewed as a male character when the play was first staged, and the text of the play supports this assumption. Many believe that the part was originally played by a boy actor, and over time the tendency has been to use female actors, but not exclusively.
21…Lake __: Blue Nile source..TANA
Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia, and is the source of the Blue Nile. The lake has a number of islands of significant size, many of which are home to ancient monasteries.
Nora Ephron had many talents, including writing film scripts and novels. Many of the movies that she wrote, she also directed. These would include some of my favorite movies of all time like “Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail” and most recently, the wonderful “Julie & Julia”. And, did you know that Nora Ephron’s second marriage was to journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame? She wrote an autobiographical novel based on her life with Bernstein, dealing in particular with Bernstein’s affair with the daughter of British Prime Minister James Callaghan.
“Tory” comes from the Irish word “tóraí” meaning “outlaw, robber”. The term “tory” was originally used for an Irish outlaw and later became a term of abuse for Irish rebels. At the end of the reign of King Charles II in Britain, there was a political divide with one side being called “Whigs” and the other “Tories”. Historically, the term “Tory” evolved to basically mean a supporter of the British monarchy, and today is used for a member of the British Conservative Party.
31…Watch closely..KEEP TABS ON
When one “keeps tabs on” someone, one is using the word “tabs” in the sense of “tablets”, writing pads. Keeping tabs on, meaning keeping an eye on, literally implies ones is recording things about someone, in writing. The use of “tab” in this sense is also the derivation of a restaurant “tab”, a written account of the bill.
35…One of dogdom’s “gentle giants”..GREAT DANE
The Great Dane dog of isn’t actually from Denmark, and rather is a German breed.
Jean Arp was a French artist renowned for his work with torn and pasted paper, although that wasn’t the only medium he used. Arp was the son of a French mother and German father and spoke both languages fluently. When he was speaking German he gave his name as Hans Arp, but when speaking French he called himself Jean Arp. Both “Hans” and “Jean” translate into English as “John”. In WWI Arp moved to Switzerland to avoid being called up to fight, taking advantage of Swiss neutrality. Eventually he was told to report to the German Consulate and fill out paperwork for the draft. In order to get out of fighting, Arp messed up the paperwork by writing the date in every blank space on the forms. Then he took off all of his clothes and walked with his papers over to the officials in charge. Arp was sent home …
Dadaism thrived during and just after WWI, and was an anti-war, anti-bourgeois and anti-art culture. The movement began in Zurich, Switzerland started by a group of artists and writers who met to discuss art and put on performances in the Cabaret Voltaire, frequently expressing disgust at the war that was raging across Europe.
44…Part of little girls’ makeup?..SPICE
The nursery rhyme “What Are Little Boys Made Of?” is falling out of favor these days as it is considered sexist by modern standards:
What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.
46…Animal rights org…SPCA
Unlike in most developed countries, there is no “umbrella” organization in the US with the goal of preventing cruelty to animals. Instead there are independent organizations set up all over the nation using the name SPCA. Having said that, there is an organization called the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that was originally intended to operate across the country, but really it now focuses its efforts in New York City.
51…Big name in smartwatches..APPLE
Apple does indeed make some smart smartwatches …
58…College town north of Des Moines..AMES
The Iowa city of Ames was founded as a stop on the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad in 1864. It was named for US Congressman Oakes Ames from the state of Massachusetts in honor of the role that Ames played in the building of the transcontinental railroad.
The city of Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, and 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 by French traders who corrupted “Moingona”, the name of a group of Illinois Native Americans who lived by the river. However, others do contend that French Trappist monks, who lived a full 200 miles from the river, somehow influenced the name.
The ukulele (“uke”) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.
Lanai is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Lanai was first spotted by Europeans just a few days after Captain Cook was killed on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1779. In 1922, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company bought the whole island of Lanai and turned most of it into the world’s largest pineapple plantation. Since then, Lanai has been known as “The Pineapple Island”. Today, 98% of the island is owned by Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, and 2% is owned by the State of Hawaii.
62…BuzzFeed article, often..LIST
BuzzFeed is an Internet media company that was founded in 2006 in New York City. The BuzzFeed website features a lot of lists, video clips and quizzes.
64…Fed. property manager..GSA
The US Government’s General Services Administration (GSA), as the name suggests, provides general services to other federal agencies. So for example, the GSA manages office space for the other agencies, and transportation.