Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers needs a circled letter located OVER the rest of the answer to make sense:
- 16A…With the circled letter over, self-ruled entity..S(over)EIGN STATE
- 32A…With the circled letter over, humanitarian goal..P(over)TY REDUCTION
- 39A…With the circled letter over, undercover missions..C(over)T OPERATIONS
- 59A…With the circled letter over, concern of the Fed..G(over)NMENT DEBT
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
“Gelt” is the Yiddish word for “money”.
A dreidel is a spinning top with four sides, often associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Each of the four sides on a dreidel bears a letter from the Hebrew alphabet (nun, gimel, hei and shin). The four letters are the initials of the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” meaning “a great miracle happened there”. According to tradition, children would be taught Torah while hiding in caves away from the Greeks. When Greek soldiers approached, the children would hide their torah scrolls and play with their dreidels instead.
8…”The Avengers” co-star..RIGG
Diana Rigg is a marvelous actress from England who is best known for playing Emma Peel on the hit sixties show “The Avengers”. Rigg also won an Emmy for her performance in a 1997 television adaptation of “Rebecca”. She was also the best-ever Bond girl, in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (opposite the worst ever Bond guy, George Lazenby), in my humble opinion …
“The Avengers” was must-see television when I was growing up. “The Avengers” was a sixties comedy spy series set in England during the days of the Cold War. The hero was John Steed, played ably by Patrick MacNee. Steed had various female partners as the series progressed, the first of which was Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman (who also played Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger”). Following Ms. Gale was Emma Peel played by the wonderful Diana Rigg. Finally there was Tara King, played by Linda Thorson.
15…2013 Literature Nobelist..MUNRO
Alice Munro is a writer from southwestern Ontario in Canada. Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature.
18…”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” co-star..EBSEN
The actor Buddy Ebsen is best known for playing Jed Clampett in television’s “The Beverly Hillbillies”, as wells the title character on the seventies detective series “Barnaby Jones”. Ebsen had been cast in the role of the Tin Man in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”, but he developed an allergy to the aluminium dust that was used in the makeup. He ended up in hospital and had to walk away from the part. Ebsen blamed “The Wizard of Oz” on persistent problems that he had with his lungs in subsequent years. But Ebsen lived 16 years longer that any of the other major cast members of the film, so maybe he got the last laugh!
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a 1958 novella written by Truman Capote. Truman’s colorful protagonist in the story is Holiday “Holly” Golightly, who was played so very, very ably by Audrey Hepburn in the marvelous 1961 movie adaptation. It must be said that the film is a rather loose interpretation of Capote’s novella.
19…Website revenue source..AD SALES
I must apologize for the ads that appear on this website, but they play an important role in keep the blog alive. An ad usually only yields pennies for a website, but the pennies add up and go a long way to covering the costs involved.
“Ice” is a slang term for “diamonds”.
Bling-bling (often simply “bling”) is the name given to all the shiny stuff sported by rap stars in particular i.e. the jewelry, watches, metallic cell phones, even gold caps on the teeth. The term comes from the supposed “bling” sound caused by light striking a shiny metal surface.
23…Where many kids squirm..PEW
A pew is a bench in a church, usually with a high back. The original pews were raised and sometimes enclosed seats in the church used by women and important men or families. “Pew” comes from the Old French “puie” meaning “balcony, elevation”.
30…Where a “cluck and grunt” might be ordered..DINER
Diner lingo, the verbal slang used by the staff, can be very colorful. Here are a few examples:
- Adam & Eve on a raft: two poached eggs on toast
- Adam & Eve on a raft and wreck ’em: two scrambled eggs on toast
- Burn one: put a hamburger on the grill
- Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it: hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion
- Down: on toast
- Whiskey down: on rye toast
- Cluck and grunt: ham and eggs
Chief executive officer (CEO)
37…”Double Fantasy” artist..ONO
“Double Fantasy” is an album released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono on 17 November 1980. Three weeks later, John Lennon was gunned down by Mark Chapman outside Lennon’s apartment building in New York City.
48…Old Ford minivan..AEROSTAR
The Aerostar was the first minivan released by the Ford Motor Company, and was produced from 1986 to 1997.
50…Product of Ptolemy..MAP
Claudius Ptolemy was an Egyptian of Greek ethnicity who lived in the days when Egypt was ruled by Ancient Rome. Ptolemy was, among other things, a mathematician and astronomer. He published a famous treatise on astronomy called “Almagest” which included a list of 48 constellations in a star catalogue. The Ptolemaic system described the cosmos geocentrically, with the Earth at the center and other celestial bodies orbiting. Ptolemy also wrote a work titled “Geography”, which compiled much of the geographical knowledge of the Roman Empire at that time. Centuries after Ptolemy died, Christopher Columbus used the maps in “Geography” to aid him on his voyages of discovery.
The verb “tog”, meaning to dress up, comes from the Latin “toga”, the garment worn in Ancient Rome. “Tog” can be use as an informal word for a coat or a cloak. Back in Ireland, togs are what we call swimming shorts.
“To dude up” is an informal term meaning “to dress up”.
A mirage occurs when light rays are bent by passing say from cold air to warmer air. The most often cited mirage is a “lake” seen in a desert, which is actually the blue of the sky and not water at all. The word “mirage” comes to us via French from the Latin “mirare” meaning “to look at in wonder”. “Mirage” has the same root as our words “admire” and “mirror”.
59…With the circled letter over, concern of the Fed..G(over)NMENT DEBT
The Federal Reserve System is more usually known simply as “the Fed”, and is the central banking system of the US. It was introduced in 1913 in response to a number of financial panics at the beginning of the 20th century. The original role for the Fed was to act as a lender of last resort, in case there was a run on a bank. This can happen as most of the money that is deposited by customers in a bank is reinvested by that bank, so it has very little liquid cash available. If too many customers look for their money at one time, then the bank can be short of cash and this can start a “run”. The Fed’s responsibilities have broadened since those early days …
61…”Citizen Kane” poster name..ORSON
“Citizen Kane” was the first film made by Orson Welles, one considered by many to be the finest film ever made. It’s a remarkable achievement by Wells, as he played the lead, and also produced and directed. Despite all the accolades for “Citizen Kane” over the decades, the movie was far from a commercial success in its early run and actually lost money at the box office.
62…Mercyhurst University city..ERIE
Mercyhurst is a private Catholic university that was established in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1926. The school was founded by the Sisters of Mercy.
65…Nik Wallenda need..WIRE
Nik Wallenda is a acrobat and daredevil, and a member of the famous Flying Wallendas family. Nik specializes in high-wire performances without a net. Among Nik’s many feats of daring (madness?) was a crossing of Niagara Falls on a wire in 2012, a crossing of the Grand Canyon in 2013, and a crossing between the roofs of two Chicago skyscrapers in 2014.
The Flying Wallendas are a circus act noted for highwire routines that are performed without a net. The original Wallenda troupe was from Germany, and first performed in the US in Madison Square Garden in 1928. The safety net that was used by the act was lost in transit and so the Wallendas made their first American performance without a net to the delight of the crowd. Working without a net then became the act’s trademark. Despite many tragic incidents that have resulted in deaths, Wallenda family members are performing without a net to this day.
1…On the briny..ASEA
The “briny” is the sea, from “brine” meaning “salty water”. The term “briny” was originally used for “tears”.
3…Silly Putty holders..EGGS
Silly Putty is a silicone polymer that is marketed as a toy. It is a remarkable material that can flow like a liquid and can also bounce. Silly Putty was one of those accidental creations, an outcome of research during WWII in search rubber substitutes. The substitution became urgent as Japan invaded rubber-producing countries all around the Pacific Rim.
4…2007 Acer acquisition..GATEWAY
Gateway was a computer manufacturer that was founded in Sioux City, Iowa in 1985. Gateway competed mainly with Dell, manufacturing a selling computers to order directly to users. The company developed quite a bit of brand recognition by shipping products in spotted boxes that were patterned after the markings on a Holstein cow. Gateway was purchased by the Korean computer manufacturer Acer in 2007, and Acer discontinued the Gateway brand in 2011.
6…Service to be redone..LET
That would be in tennis, for example.
7…Workout portmanteau..TAE BO
Tae Bo isn’t an ancient martial art, and rather was developed as a form of aerobic exercise in the 1990s. The discipline was introduced by taekwondo expert Billy Blanks who gave it the name Tae Bo, a melding of “taekwondo” and “boxing”.
A portmanteau was a large suitcase, one that could be taken apart into two separate pieces. The word “portmanteau” is French for a “travelling bag”, from “porter” (to carry) and “manteau” (a coat, cloak). We also use “portmanteau” to mean a word that has been melded together from two parts (just as the suitcase comprised two parts). This usage was introduced to the world by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. He explained to Alice that the nonsense words in the “Jabberwocky” poem were actually portmanteau words. For example “slithy” comes from from “slimy” and “lithe”.
The phrase “ay, there’s the rub!” comes from Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy:
To die — to sleep.
To sleep — perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
A “rub” is a difficulty or obstruction. The usage predates Shakespeare, and comes from the game of lawn bowls, in which a rub is a fault in the bowling surface.
The use of the word “skinny” meaning “inside information”, comes from WWII military slang for “the truth”, probably a derivative of the expression “the naked truth” (and skinny-dipping).
Greco-Roman wrestling was contested at the first modern Olympic Games, back in 1896. Back then there was relatively little regulation of the sport and Greco-Roman contests were noted for their brutality. Bouts also took a long time to finish, often lasting hours. In fact, the competitors in the 1912 Olympic final were both awarded silver medals when the bout was ended by the judges after eight hours of wrestling.
Severus Snape is a character in the “Harry Potter” novels, played by the wonderful Alan Rickman on the big screen. Snape has the pivotal role of using the Killing Curse on Professor Dumbledore, as an act of mercy.
Joanne Rowling changed her name to J. K. Rowling at the request of her publisher, who believed that young boys might have shied away from reading the first “Harry Potter” book if they believed the story was written by a woman (this was 1997!). “Jo” Rowling chose J for Joanne, and K for Kathleen after her grandmother (Jo has no middle name to use).
“Stere” is a metric measure, although it is not part of the modern metric system. Nowadays the stere is used as a measure for firewood, and is equal to one cubic meter.
Urdu is one of the two official languages of Pakistan (the other being English), and one of 22 scheduled languages in India. Urdu partly developed from Persian and is written from right to left.
24…French poet executed by Robespierre..CHENIER
Chénier was a constitutional monarchist, at a time when such a view was a dangerous one to hold. He provided some arguments in defense of Louis XVI at the king’s trial. Georges Danton and Maximilien de Robespierre were two influential figures of the French Revolution. Both men fought to establish a republic after the overthrow of the monarchy, but they were destined to become bitter enemies. Danton envisioned a loose republic based on tradition, nobility and domestic peace, whereas Robespierre favored a strong republic built on virtue, philosophy and justice. During the Reign of Terror, Danton was the first leader the Committee of Public Safety, France’s de facto executive government at that time, and he was soon replaced by Robespierre. Danton was arrested and guillotined, and a few months later Robespierre was deposed and suffered the same fate. Chénier eventually suffered the same fate as the deposed king, falling victim to the guillotine in 1794 at the age of 31.
Georges Danton and Maximilien de Robespierre were two influential figures of the French Revolution. Both men fought to establish a republic after the overthrow of the monarchy, but they were destined to become bitter enemies. Danton envisioned a loose republic based on tradition, nobility and domestic peace, whereas Robespierre favored a strong republic built on virtue, philosophy and justice. During the Reign of Terror, Danton was the first leader the Committee of Public Safety, France’s de facto executive government at that time, and he was soon replaced by Robespierre. Danton was arrested and guillotined, and a few months later Robespierre was deposed and suffered the same fate.
28…Female in the wild..LEOPARDESS
The four “big cats” are the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard. The smallest of these is the leopard.
34…Barclays Center hoopsters..NETS
The Barclays Center is an arena in Brooklyn, New York that is home to the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA, and to the New York Islanders of the NHL. Barclays ending up paying over $200 million for the naming rights, even though the London-based banking group has no retail banks nor any ATMs in the US.
The Sego Lily is the state flower of Utah, and is a perennial plant found throughout the Western United States.
48…”Sour grapes” coiner..AESOP
Our expression “sour grapes” is an allusion to one of Aesop’s fables, the story of “The Fox and the Grapes”. In the fable, a squirrel could climb up to grapes high in a tree that a fox was unsuccessful in getting to. On seeing this the fox said, “It’s okay, the grapes were sour anyway”.
Spiro Agnew served as Vice-President under Richard Nixon, before becoming the only VP in American history to resign because of criminal charges (there was a bribery scandal). Agnew was also the first Greek-American to serve as US Vice-President as he was the son of a Greek immigrant who had shortened the family name from Anagnostopoulos.
53…Israel’s Iron Lady..MEIR
Golda Meir was known as the “Iron Lady” when she was Prime Minister of Israel, long before that sobriquet came to be associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Golda Meir was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev (in modern-day Ukraine), and when she was a young girl she moved with her family to the United States and settled in Milwaukee. As a teenager she relocated to Denver where she met and married Morris Meyerson, at the age of 19. She and her husband joined a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921, when she was in her twenties. Meir had been active in politics in the US, and continued her political work in Palestine. She was very influential during WWII, and played a leading role in negotiations after the war leading to the setting up of the state of Israel. By the time she was called on to lead the country, Meir had already retired, citing exhaustion and ill health. But serve she did, and led Israel during turbulent times (e.g. the massacre at the Munich Olympics, and the Yom Kippur War). She eventually resigned in 1974, saying that was what the people wanted.
We can use the verb “to geld” to mean “to weaken, deprive of strength”. The term comes from the act of gelding an animal, castration of the male. “Geld” comes from the Old Norse word “gelda” meaning “castrate”.
55…Owner of StubHub..EBAY
StubHub is an online ticket exchange business that is owned by eBay. StubHub! acts as the middleman between buyers and seller of event tickets, whether those buyers and sellers are individuals or large organizations.
Ophthalmology is that branch of medicine dealing with the physiology and health of the eye. “Ophthalmos” is the Greek word for “eye”.
58…One of the small fry..TOT
Juvenile fish that have just grown to the point where they can feed themselves are known as “fry”. By the end of the 17th century, the phrase “small fry” was common, when referring to such fish. More recently, the phrase was applied figuratively to insignificant people, and then to little children.
60…Test for one on the DL, perhaps..MRI
An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses powerful magnetic fields to generate its images so there is no exposure to ionizing radiation (such as X-rays). We used MRI equipment in our chemistry labs at school, way back in the days when the technology was still called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI). Apparently the marketing folks didn’t like the term “nuclear” because of its association with atomic bombs, so now it’s just called MRI.
In the world of sports, the phrase “on the DL” means “on the disabled list”.