Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers might be described as a CURRENT EVENT:
- 53A…Subject for a news team … and a description of 19-, 36- or 42-Across?..CURRENT EVENT
- 19A…Subject for a meteorologist..SUMMER BREEZE
- 36A…Subject for an oceanographer..SPRING TIDE
- 42A…Subject for an electrician..POWER SURGE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
7…Clichéd currency..RED CENT
Something that is “not worth a red cent” has very little value. The “red” reference is to the color of a copper penny.
Our word “volcano” comes from “Vulcano”, the name of a volcanic island off the coast of Italy. The island’s name comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. The Romans believed that the island of Vulcano was the chimney of the forge belonging to the god Vulcan. The Romans also believed that the eruptions on Mount Etna in Sicily were caused by Vulcan getting angry and working his forge so hard that sparks and smoke flew out of the top of the volcano.
18…Like garden gnomes..KITSCHY
“Kitsch” is a German word, an adjective that means “gaudy, trash”.
In English folklore, the fairy’s anti-hero is the diminutive gnome, an evil ugly character. Over the centuries, the gnome has become more lovable so we now have garden gnomes and even the Travelocity Gnome …
“Snoot” is a variant of “snout” and is a word that originated in Scotland. The idea is that someone who is “snooty”, or snouty, tends to look down his or her nose at the rest of the world.
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.
In the Roman Catholic Church, an episcopal see is the official seat of a bishop, and is usually described by the town or city where the bishop resides and has his cathedral. The most famous see in the church is called the Holy See, the episcopal see of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.
36…Subject for an oceanographer..SPRING TIDE
Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon on the oceans. At neap tide, the smaller gravitational effect of the sun cancels out some of the moon’s effect. At spring tide, the sun and the moon’s gravitational forces act in concert causing more extreme movement of the oceans.
46…Cry of enlightenment..AHSO
The slang term “ahso” is used in American English to mean “I see”. The term derives from the Japanese expression “Ah so desu ka” meaning “Oh, that’s how it is”.
50…Formerly floppy medium..DISC
I don’t think my kids really know what a floppy disk is. A floppy disk is made up of a thin and flexible magnetic material that can store data, enclosed in a protective case. I’ve used 8-inch floppies in my time, and many 5.25-inch floppy disks. Until fairly recently, I had a desktop that would take 3.5-inch disks, although I think the last 3.5-inch floppy disappeared from the house several years ago …
53…Subject for a news team … and a description of 19-, 36- or 42-Across?..CURRENT EVENT
Even though the word “news” uses the initial letters from the directions north, east, west and south, the term comes from the singular “new”. Back in the 14th-century, “news” were “new things”.
“Hogwash” means “rubbish, of little value”. Hogwash was originally the name of the swill fed to pigs.
66…Femur or fibula..LEG BONE
The thigh bone, the femur, is the longest and the largest bone in the human body.
The fibula is the calf bone. The fibula lies beside the tibia, with both bones sitting under the femur.
67…Butterflies on ankles, say..TATTOOS
The word “tattoo” (often shortened to “tat”) was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word “tatau” into our “tattoo”.
68…Teammate of Duke and Jackie..PEE WEE
Pee Wee Reese was a shortstop who played his professional career with the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers. Reese is remembered not only for his skill on the field, but for his very visible support for teammate Jackie Robinson, who famously struggled to be accepted as the first African American player in the majors. As he was an outstanding marbles player as a child, Reese was given the nickname “pee wee” after the name for a small marble.
Duke Snider spent most of his MLB career with the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers. After retiring from baseball, Snider did quite a bit of acting. He often played himself or some baseball player, but also appeared in shows like “The Rifleman”.
The great Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play in baseball’s Major League. When Robinson made his first MLB appearance, for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he did so in front of over 26,000 spectators. Well over half the crowd that day were African-Americans, there to witness the event. Major League Baseball universally retired Robinson’s number 42 in 1997. However, on the annual Jackie Robinson Day, all MLB players on all teams wear #42 in his honor.
1…”Concord Sonata” composer..IVES
Charles Ives was one of the great classical composers, probably the first American to be so recognized. Sadly, his work largely went unsung (pun intended!) during his lifetime, and was really only accepted into the performed repertoire after his death in 1954.
Piano Sonata No. 2 by Charles Ives is often referred to as the “Concord Sonata”. It is so called because it was inspired by the works of the 19th-century Concord writers (such as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson).
2…Lower-class, to Brits..NON-U
“Non-U” is a term used in the UK that originated in the fifties, referring to those who are “not upper class”. i.e. middle class. In effect, “the U” are the “upper” class, and “the non-U” are the middle class.
The type of soup known as “chowder” may be named for the pot in which it used to be cooked called a “chaudière”, a French term.
4…China’s DF-31, e.g…ICBM
An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with the range necessary to cross between continents. Being ballistic (unlike a cruise missile), an ICBM is guided during the initial launch phase, but later in flight just relies on thrust and gravity to arrive at its target. It is defined as intercontinental as it has a range greater than 3,500 miles. ICBMs are really only used for delivering nuclear warheads. Scary stuff …
The Dong Feng 31 (DF-31) is a land-based ICBM made by China. China’s equivalent submarine-launched missile is the Ju Lang 2 (JL-2). “Dong Feng” translates as “East Wind”, and “Ju Lang” as “Giant Wave”.
6…Opener for Don Quixote?..ENERO
In Spanish, “el año” (the year) starts in “enero” (January) and ends in “diciembre” (December).
The full name of Cervantes’s novel is “The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha”. In the story, Don Quixote is a retired country gentleman who heads out as a knight-errant and who renames himself Don Quixote of la Mancha. In his mind he designates a neighboring farm girl called Aldonza Lorenzo as his lady love, and renames her Dulcinea del Toboso.
8…”Gramma” in the comic strip “Stone Soup”..EVIE
“Stone Soup” is a Sundays-only comic strip written by Jan Eliot that was launched in 1995. A version of the strip ran from 1990 until 1995 under the name “Sister City”. The new name reflects the name of the Stone family that feature in the storyline, and is also a reference to the fable of the “Stone Soup”.
In the old folk story of the stone soup, some hungry travelers ask for food from a town’s locals. The travelers are rebuffed, and so go to a stream to fill a pot with water. They add a large stone and place it over a fire. They tell the locals they are making delicious “stone soup”, but it needs a garnish. One person provides some carrots, another some seasoning, another some potatoes. The process continues until there is a lovely vegetable soup that is enjoyed by everyone.
10…He was on deck when Blake was up..CASEY
“Casey at the Bat” is a poem written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer, first published in the San Francisco Examiner. The poem became very popular due to repeated live performances in vaudeville by DeWolf Hopper. Casey played for the Mudville Nine, and the last line of the poem is “But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.”
Noh is a form of musical drama in Japan that has been around since the 14th century. Many of the Noh performers are masked, allowing all the roles to be played by men, both male and female parts.
The Otoe (also Oto) Native American tribe originated in the Great Lakes region as part of the Winnebago or Siouan tribes. The group that would become the Otoe broke away from the Winnebago and migrated southwestwards ending up in the Great Plains. In the plains the Otoe adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle dependent on the horse, with the American bison becoming central to their diet.
The British developed the first underwater detection system that used sound waves. Research was driven by defence demands during WWI, leading to production of working units in 1922. This new sound detection system was described as using “supersonics”, but for the purpose of secrecy the term was dropped in favor of an acronym. The work was done under the auspices of the Royal Navy’s Anti-Submarine Division, so ASD was combined with the IC from “superson-ic-s” to create the name ASDIC. The navy even went as far as renaming the quartz material at the heart of the technology “ASDivite”. By the time WWII came along, the Americans were producing their own systems and coined the term SONAR, playing off the related application, RADAR. And so the name ASDIC was deep-sixed …
32…”The Mikado” weapon, briefly..SNEE
“Snick or snee” is the name given to cut and thrust while fighting with a knife. The phrase is rooted in a pair of Dutch words. The expression gave its name to “snickersnee” (sometimes just “snee”), a light sword-like knife.
“The Mikado” is a wonderful comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, set in the exotic location of Japan. “Mikado” is a former term for the “Emperor of Japan”.
The Fallopian tubes leading from the ovaries of female mammals in the uterus. The tubes are named for the 16th-century Italian anatomist Gabriello Fallopio, who was the first to describe them.
47…Long cold spell..ICE AGE
Ice ages are periods in the Earth’s history when there are extensive ice sheets present in the northern and southern hemispheres. One might argue that we are still in an ice age that began 2.6 million years ago, as evidenced by the presence of ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.
49…2013 Masters champ Adam __..SCOTT
Adam Scott is a golfer from Australia who was ranked World No. 1 for a few months in 2014. Scott was the second Australian golfer to earn the top spot in the rankings, a feat last achieved by Greg Norman in 1998.
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.
55…Move, in real estate lingo..RELO
56…Saloon and deli offerings..RYES
For whiskey to be labelled as “rye” in the US, it has to be distilled from at least 51% rye grain. In Canada however, a drink called rye whiskey sometimes contains no rye at all.
58…Plenty of poetry?..ENOW
“Enow” is an archaic form of the word “enough”.
The bird called a nene is a native of Hawaii, and is also known as the Hawaiian goose. The name “nene” is imitative of its call. When Captain Cook landed on the islands in 1778, there were 25,000 nene living there. By 1950, the number was reduced by hunting to just 30 birds. Conservation efforts in recent years have been somewhat successful.
62…In the style of..A LA
The phrase “in the style of” can be translated in “alla” in Italian and “à la” in French.
“Bombed” and “lit” are two slang terms for “drunk, intoxicated”.