Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each start with a synonym of AU NATUREL:
- 18A…Hairless rodent used in lab experiments..NUDE MOUSE
- 20A…Muscleman’s display..RAW POWER
- 37A…Basic needs..BARE NECESSITIES
- 51A…Unaided vision..NAKED EYE
- 56A…In a pure and unembellished state, and a hint to the beginnings of 18-, 20-, 37- and 51-Across..AU NATUREL
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Many of his contemporaries regarded Jimi Hendrix as the greatest electric guitarist in the history of rock music. Hendrix was from Seattle and didn’t really have a really stellar start to his working life. He failed to finish high school and fell foul of the law by getting caught in stolen cars, twice. The courts gave him the option of the army or two years in prison. Hendrix chose the former and soon found himself in the famous 101st Airborne. In the army, his less-than-disciplined ways helped him (as he would have seen it) because his superiors successfully petitioned to get him discharged after serving only one year of his two-year requirement, just to get him out of their hair.
“Sap” is slang for a fool, someone easily scammed. The term arose in the early 1800s in Britain when it was used in “saphead” and “sapskull”. All these words derive from “sapwood”, which is the soft wood found in tree trunks between the bark and the heartwood at the center.
14…Prophet swallowed by a big fish..JONAH
The story of “Jonah’s Dilemma” can be found in the Bible. The story involves Jonah being swallowed by a whale and living inside the “big fish” for three days. I’ve never understood where the “dilemma” is in the tale, though …
18…Hairless rodent used in lab experiments..NUDE MOUSE
The laboratory rodent known as a “nude mouse” has a genetic mutation that is useful to researchers. The mutation causes an inhibited immune system, as well as a lack of body hair. The inhibited immune system makes the mouse an ideal candidate to receive tissues and tumor grafts as these are not rejected by the animal’s body. The lack of body gives rise to the strain’s “nude mouse” moniker.
When you visit a website, often it will leave a little piece of text information called a “cookie” on your computer. As a cookie is a text file, and not executable, it is relatively harmless. However, as browsers routinely read these text files, cookies can be used as “spyware”. Basically, the browser can read the cookie and tell a lot about your browsing habits. This can be a good thing, so when you go back to your favorite websites you will be recognized and this can help you. For example, you may have shopped at a site and you’ll find that your shopping cart still has the items you were looking at, often because the items were stored in a cookie. However, they can be “bad” as some spyware uses the cookies to detect your browsing habits and can direct the browser to do things you may not want it to do. I do accept cookies, as they do enhance the browsing experience, but only from sites that I trust …
26…”The Descent of Man” author..DARWIN
Englishman Charles Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland but neglected his studies largely due to his interest in nature and natural history. In the early 1830s, a friend put forward Darwin’s name as a candidate for the post of “collector” on the voyage of HMS Beagle. The Beagle was intending to spend two years at sea primarily charting the coast of South America. The voyage ended up taking five years, during which time Darwin sent back copious letters describing his findings. Back in Britain these letters were published as pamphlets by a friend and so when Darwin eventually returned home in 1836, he had already gained some celebrity in scientific circles. It was while on the Beagle that Darwin developed his initial ideas on the concept of natural selection. It wasn’t until over twenty years later that he formulated his theories into a scientific paper and in 1859 published his famous book “On the Origin of the Species”. This original publication never even mentioned the word “evolution” which was controversial even back then. It was in 1871 that Darwin addressed head-on the concept that man was an animal species, in his book “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex”.
The US state of Idaho has a panhandle that extends northwards between Washington and Montana, right up to the border with Canada. Across that border is the Canadian province of British Columbia. Most of Idaho is in the Mountain Time Zone, but Northern Idaho (the Panhandle) is in the Pacific Time Zone.
32…Hassan Rouhani’s country..IRAN
Hassan Rouhani (also “Rowhani”) is the President of Iran, having won the election held on 15 June 2013. He took over from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani has made many public statements that have been viewed as moderate, relative to his right-wing predecessor.
33…Maker of HEMNES furniture..IKEA
IKEA’s Hemnes line of furniture is named for a Norwegian municipality.
The smew is a beautiful-looking species of duck found right across northern Europe and Asia. The smew requires trees to complete its breeding cycle as it nests in tree holes, such as old woodpecker nests.
Nerf is the name given to the soft material used in a whole series of toys designed for “safe” play indoors. The Nerf product is used to make darts, balls and ammunition for toy guns. “NERF” is an acronym, standing for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam.
44…Site of the first “Occupy” protest: Abbr…WALL ST
The Occupy movement is a protest directed against economic and social inequality worldwide. The first such protest to garner major attention took place in Wall Street in 2011, and from there similar protests spread around the world.
50…Oldest actor to play Bond..MOORE
Roger Moore is best known in the US for taking on the role of 007 in seven James Bond movies from 1973 to 1985. In my part of the world we remember him playing a very debonair hero called Simon Templar in a TV series called “The Saint” from 1962 to 1969. Moore’s Templar character could very easily have morphed into a great James Bond, but by the time he was offered the part I personally think that he was just a tad too long in the tooth to pull off a credible 007.
56…In a pure and unembellished state, and a hint to the beginnings of 18-, 20-, 37- and 51-Across..AU NATUREL
“Au naturel” is a French phrase, simply meaning “in a natural state”. We use the term in the same sense, and also to mean “nude”.
59…”The Easter Parade” author Richard..YATES
Richard Yates was a novelist and short story writer from Yonkers, New York. The most famous of his works was “Revolutionary Road”, the first novel Yates had published, in 1962.
Someone taking the drug LSD is often said to be “dropping acid”. The use of the verb “to drop” was popular slang long before LSD came on the scene, and back then applied to the taking of any illegal drug.
64…On pins and needles..ANTSY
The word “antsy” embodies the concept of “having ants in one’s pants”, meaning being nervous and fidgety. However, “antsy” has been used in English since the 1830s, whereas “ants in the pants” originated a century later.
65…Scheme of high interest?..USURY
“Usury” was originally the name given to the practice of lending money at interest, but the term now refers to lending at excessive rates of interest.
Our word “ajar” is thought to come from Scottish dialect, in which “a char” means “slightly open”.
4…Old West marshal..EARP
The legendary Western gunfighter and lawman Wyatt Earp has been portrayed on the big and small screen many, many times. Kevin Costner played the title role in 1994’s “Wyatt Earp”, and Val Kilmer played Earp in 2012’s “The First Ride of Wyatt Earp”. Joel McCrea had the part in 1955’s “Wichita”, and Kurt Russell was Earp in 1993’s “Tombstone”.
5…Satirical publication that claims to be “America’s Finest News Source”..THE ONION
“The Onion” is a satirical news network, with a print newspaper and a heavy online presence. “The Onion” newspaper was founded by two college students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1988. The founders sold the operation a year later for about $20,000. The paper grew steadily until 1996 when it began to publish online and really took off. I think it’s worth a tad more than $20,000 today …
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.
7…Calling birds count, in song..FOUR
These days, when we sing the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” we generally use the line “four calling birds”. The original lyric back in the 1700s was “four colly birds”. “Colly” was a nickname for the blackbird, with “colly” meaning “black as coal”.
The great English poet William Wordsworth is intrinsically linked with the Lake District in the north of England, where he lived from much of his life. The Lake District is a beautiful part of the country, and I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Dove Cottage in Grasmere a couple of times, where Wordsworth lived with his wife Dorothy …
Medina is a city in western Saudi Arabia. Medina is the second holiest city in the Islamic tradition after Mecca, as it is the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad.
In its modern usage, the term “basilica” applies to a Roman Catholic church that has been given special ceremonial rights by the Pope.
Wines that are aged in oak are said to exhibit the flavors of vanilla, butter, coconut and dill.
The phrase “to have dibs on” expresses a claim on something. Apparently, the term “dibs” is a contraction of “dibstone”, which was a knucklebone or jack used in a children’s game.
27…Father of Seth..ADAM
According to the Bible, Seth was the third son of Adam and Eve, coming after Cain and Abel. Seth is the only other child of Adam and Eve who is mentioned by name. According to the Book of Genesis, Seth was born after Cain had slain his brother Abel.
“Frère Jacques” is a children’s song from France. The French lyrics are:
Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous ? Dormez-vous ?
Sonnez les matines ! Sonnez les matines !
Ding, daing, dong. Ding, daing, dong.
The lyrics are usually translated into English as:
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.
The Romance languages are those that grew out of nonstandard, Vulgar Latin. Included in the list of Romance languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.
38…Historic Icelandic work..EDDA
The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda are two ancient works that are the source for much of Norse mythology. Both Eddas were written in the 13th century, in Iceland.
43…Lipton offering..ICE TEA
Sir Thomas Lipton was a grocer in Glasgow, Scotland. He founded a tea packing company in North America in 1893, in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was very successful as his blends of tea became popular in the US. Despite the Lipton roots in the UK, Lipton black tea isn’t available there, so I’ve always thought of it as an American brand.
“Wok” is a Cantonese word, the name for the frying pan now used in many Asian cuisines.
Jerry Yang and David Filo called their company “Yahoo!” for two reasons. Firstly, a Yahoo is a rude unsophisticated brute from Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”. Secondly, Yahoo stands for “Yet another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”.
A 401(k) account is similar to an IRA in that contributions can be made from a paycheck prior to the deduction of income taxes. Additionally, contributions can be fully or partially matched by an employer.
49…Claire and Phil’s eldest daughter on “Modern Family”..HALEY
The actress Sarah Hyland is from Manhattan, and is best known for playing Haley Dunphy, the eldest child of the Dunphy family in the hit sitcom “Modern Family”. Hyland’s played her first acting role when she was just five years old, portraying Howard Stern’s daughter in the 1997 film “Private Parts”. On the personal side of her life, Hyland had to receive a kidney transplant in 2012, with her father being the donor.
Eliot Ness was the Treasury agent charged with the task of bringing down the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. When Ness took on the job in 1930, Chicago law-enforcement agents were renowned for being corrupt, for being on the take. Ness handpicked 50 prohibition agents who he thought he could rely on, later reducing the group to a cadre of 15 and ultimately just 11 trusted men. That group of 11 earned the nickname “The Untouchables”, the agents who couldn’t be bought.
52…Marino and Patrick..DANS
Dan Marino played his whole football career with the Miami Dolphins. Marino is widely regarded as one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks, even though he never played on a team that won the Super Bowl.
Dan Patrick is a sportscaster and radio personality. He is host of “The Dan Patrick Show” on the radio and is co-host of “Football Night in America” on NBC television.
53…Rebuke from Caesar..ET TU
It was Shakespeare who popularized the words “Et tu, Brute?” (And you, Brutus?), in his play “Julius Caesar”, although the phrase had been around long before he penned his drama. It’s not known what Julius Caesar actually said in real life just before he was assassinated on the steps of the Senate in Rome.
55…Best Female Athlete, e.g…ESPY
Awards ceremony since 1993 : ESPYS. The ESPY Awards are a creation of the ESPN sports television network. One difference with similarly named awards in the entertainment industry is that ESPY winners are chosen solely based on viewer votes.
Back in 1850, the name “java” was given to a type of coffee grown on the island of Java, and the usage of the term spread from there.