Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers contains a hidden word. There’s an EAR right in the MIDDLE:
- 58A…Site of the hammer, anvil and stirrup … and a hint to the hidden word in the answers to starred clues..MIDDLE EAR
- 17A…*”The San Francisco Treat”..RICE-A-RONI
- 38A…*Decor for part of a floor..AREA RUG
- 11D…*Question to a stranded driver..WHERE ARE YOU?
- 26D…*Confinement that might involve an ankle monitor..HOUSE ARREST
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1…Accessory for Batman or Robin..CAPE
Batman and Robin are unique among their superhero compatriots in that they have no special powers, just a whole load of cool gadgets. Batman is sometimes referred to as the Caped Crusader, Robin as the Boy Wonder, and the pair as the Dynamic Duo.
Males goats are called “bucks” or “billies”, although castrated males are known as “wethers”. Female goats are called “does” or “nannies”, and young goats are referred to as “kids”.
14…”Jeopardy!” first name..ALEX
The word is that Alex Trebek will step down as host of the game show “Jeopardy” in 2016, when his current contract expires. The list of names mentioned to replace Trebek includes Brian Williams, Dan Patrick, Matt Lauer and Anderson Cooper. I vote for Cooper, but I can’t see him taking the job …
15…Run __: go haywire..AMOK
The phrase “to run amok” (sometimes “to run amuck”) has been around since the 1670s and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was also used as a noun to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. Given Malaya’s troubled history, the natives probably had good reason for that frenzy …
16…Kind of jacket named for a Hindu leader..NEHRU
A Nehru jacket is very like a regular suit jacket, except that the collar buttons at the neck. It was originally created in the 1940s in India, and then marketed as the Nehru jacket in the west in the sixties. The name Nehru was lifted from Jawaharlal Nehru, the prime minister of India from 1947 to 1964.
17…*”The San Francisco Treat”..RICE-A-RONI
Rice-a-Roni was introduced in 1958 by the Golden Grain Macaroni Company of San Francisco. The company was run by an Italian immigrant and his four sons. The wife of one of the sons created a pilaf dish for the family diner they owned. It was a big hit, so her brother-in-law created a commercial version by blending dry chicken soup mix with rice and macaroni. Sounds like “a San Francisco treat” to me …
20…Covert fed. group..CIA
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during WWII. The CIA was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.
21…Current “American Dad!” network..TBS
“American Dad!” is an adult-oriented animated sitcom. Famously, one of the show’s creators is Seth MacFarlane, who also created “Family Guy”. Personally, I cannot stand either show …
31…Color in four-color printing..MAGENTA
45…Color in four-color printing..CYAN
Four-color printing uses four different color inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The black ink is also known as the “key”. The first letters of the colors (with black being ”key”) give the more common name for four-color printing, namely CMYK.
33…Fever and chills..AGUE
An ague is a fever, one usually associated with malaria.
37…Super __: game console..NES
The abbreviation Super NES (or SNES) stands for Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Our kids probably have one somewhere …
The elk (also known as the wapiti) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the “huge” wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely “elk”. The more correct name for the beast is “wapiti”, which means “white rump” in Shawnee. It’s all very confusing …
Reese is not actually actress Witherspoon’s given name. She started out life as Laura Jeanne Witherspoon. Reese is her mother’s maiden name.
Zagreb is the capital city of the European Republic of Croatia. Zagreb has been around a long, long time, and dates back to the diocese of Zagreb that was founded at the end of 11th century.
50…On the way..EN ROUTE
“En route” is a French term that means “on the way”.
56…Frozen pop treats..ICEES
Icee and Slurpee are brand names of those slushy drinks. Ugh …
58…Site of the hammer, anvil and stirrup … and a hint to the hidden word in the answers to starred clues..MIDDLE EAR
The middle ear is the portion of the ear immediately behind the eardrum. The middle ear contains three small bones called the ossicles, the three smallest bones in the human body. The ossicles’ job is to transmit sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. The shape of the bones gives rise to their names: the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus) and stirrup (stapes).
63…Deep opera voice..BASSO
The bass is the lowest male singing voice. A man with such a voice might be called a “basso” (plural “bassi”).
64…Ronny Howard role..OPIE
Opie Taylor is the character played by Ron Howard on “The Andy Griffith Show”. Opie lives with widowed father Andy Taylor (played by Andy Griffith) and his great-aunt Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (played by Frances Bavier). Ron Howard first played the role in 1960 in the pilot show, when he was just 5 years old. Howard sure has come a long way since playing Opie Taylor. He has directed some fabulous movies including favorites of mine like “Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Da Vinci Code”.
Botulinum toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The toxin is a protein that can cause botulism, an extremely dangerous illness in humans and animals. Botulinum toxin is sold under the trade name Botox. Botox is used therapeutically and in cosmetic applications to weaken muscles, perhaps muscles that are in uncontrollable spasm. The cosmetic application involves the paralyzing of facial muscles in order to eliminate or reduce wrinkles, at least for a few months.
Jaguar started out as a manufacturer of sidecars for motorcycles in England back in 1922, when the company was known as the Swallow Sidecar Company (SS for short). The company changed its name to Jaguar after WWII, because of the unfortunate connotations of the letters “SS” in that era (i.e. the Nazi paramilitary organization).
2…”Rumble in the Jungle” champ..ALI
The Rumble in the Jungle was the celebrated 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman that took place in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The fight was set in Zaire because of financial arrangements between promoter Don King and Zaire’s President Mobutu Seko. Ali coined the term “Rope-a-dope” to describe his incredibly successful strategy in the contest. From the second round onwards, Ali adopted a protected stance on the ropes letting Foreman pound him with blows to the body and head, with Ali using his arms to dissipate the power of the punches. He kept this up until the eighth round and then opened up and downed the exhausted Foreman with a left-right combination. I hate boxing but I have to say, that was a fascinating fight.
3…Bench press target, briefly..PEC
“Pecs” is the familiar term for the chest muscle, more correctly known as the pectoralis major muscle. “Pectus” is a the Latin word for “breast, chest”.
5…Gold purity unit..KARAT
A karat (also “carat”, the spelling outside of North America) is a measure of the purity of gold alloys, with 24-karat representing pure gold.
6…Texter’s “I feel”..IMO
In my opinion (IMO)
9…Santa __ winds..ANA
The Santa Ana winds are the very dry air currents that sweep offshore late in the year in Southern California. Because these air currents are so dry, they are noted for their influence over forest fires in the area, especially in the heat of the fall. The winds arise from a buildup of air pressure in the Great Basin that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Under the right conditions, that air spills over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and basically “falls” down the side of the Sierra range, heading for the ocean. As the air falls it becomes drier and heats up so that relative humidity can fall to below 10% by the time it hits the coast.
10…Cold War thaw..DETENTE
“Détente” is a French word meaning “loosening, reduction in tension” and in general it is used to describe the easing of strained relations in a political situation. In particular, the policy of détente came to be associated with the improved relations between the US and the Soviet Union in the seventies.
The term “Cold War” was first used by the novelist George Orwell in a 1945 essay about the atomic bomb. Orwell described a world under threat of nuclear war as having a “peace that is no peace”, in a permanent state of “cold war”. The specific use of “cold war” to describe the tension between the Eastern bloc and the Western allies is attributed to a 1947 speech by Bernard Baruch.
A “snag” is a pull or a tear in a fabric. A snag, particularly in stockings, might lead to a run. And on the other side of the Atlantic, a “run” is called a “ladder”.
24…Shah’s realm, once..IRAN
The last Shah of Iran was Mohammed-Reza Shah Pahlavi, as he was overthrown in the revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The post-revolution government sought the extradition of the Shah back to Iran while he was in the United States seeking medical care (he had cancer). His prolonged stay in the United States, recovering from surgery, caused some unrest back in Iran and resentment towards the United States. Some say that this resentment precipitated the storming of the US Embassy in Tehran and the resulting hostage crisis.
25…Kellogg’s Tony, e.g…TIGER
Tony the Tiger has been the mascot of Frosted Flakes cereal since the product’s introduction in 1951. As Tony would say, “They’re Gr-r-reat!” Well, I thought they were when I was a lot younger …
26…*Confinement that might involve an ankle monitor..HOUSE ARREST
A person under house arrest often wears an ankle monitor that is used to ensure that he or she does not stray far from home. An alternative system involves random calls to the confined person’s home that have to be answered by the convict. On the face of it, house arrest seems to be a very economic alternative for society instead of the prison system. As part of the sentence, the convict may even be asked to pay for the cost of monitoring his or her house arrest.
In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is Hook’s right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on the pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.
29…10 C-notes..ONE G
In slang, 10 C-notes (10 x 100-dollar bills) adds up to one G (a grand, a thousand dollars).
The abacus (plural “abaci”) was used as a counting frame long before man had invented a numbering system. It is a remarkable invention, particularly when one notes that abaci are still widely used today across Africa and Asia.
34…Takes forcibly (from)..WRESTS
The verb “to wrest” can mean to obtain by violent twisting and pulling. The word “wrest” derives from the Middle English “wresten” meaning “to twist”. Our word “wrestling” has the same etymology.
38…Home to billions..ASIA
Most of the world’s population lives in Asia (60%), and Asia is the largest continent in terms of landmass (30% of the world). Asia also has the highest population density (246 people per square mile), and the most populous city on the continent is Shanghai, China.
43…Paul Anka title meaning “That Kiss”..ESO BESO
“Eso Beso” is Spanish for “That Kiss”, and is the name of a hit song recorded by Canadian-born singer Paul Anka.
47…”I, Robot” author Isaac..ASIMOV
Isaac Asimov was a wonderful science fiction writer, and a professor of biochemistry. He was a favorite author as I was growing up and I must admit that some hero worship on my part led me to study and work as a biochemist for a short while early in my career. My favorite of his works is the collection of short stories called “I, Robot”. Asimov wrote three autobiographies, the last of which was called “I, Asimov”, which was published in 1994, two years after his death.
48…Severely damaged sea..ARAL
The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet Union irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …
The flowers of the cacao tree grow in clusters directly on the trunk, and on older branches. The pollinated flowers turn into ovoid cacao pods, each of which contain 20-60 seeds or beans. The seeds are used as the main ingredient in chocolate.
51…Consumer advocate Ralph..NADER
Ralph Nader has run as a third-party candidate for the office of President of the United States four times now, in every election from 1996 to 2008. Nader’s name was first first linked with the presidential race in 1971, when the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock offered to stand aside as candidate in the 1972 race if Nader would agree to run, but he declined.
Bibb is a variety of lettuce in the cultivar known as butterhead. All butterhead varieties have loose-leafed heads and a buttery texture.
54…Sherlock Holmes’ smoke..PIPE
According to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his Sherlock Holmes character is based on a Dr. Joseph Bell for whom Doyle worked in Edinburgh. That said, Bell actually wrote a letter to Doyle in which he said “you are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it”.
57…Chicago team, for short..SOX
The Chicago White Sox Major League Baseball team was established in Chicago in 1900 and originally was called the White Stockings. The name was changed because the abbreviation “Sox” for “Stockings” was regularly used in newspaper headlines.
The dice game called Yahtzee was introduced in 1956, a variant of earlier dice games, especially the game “Yacht” (which even has a similar name). Yahtzee is required playing in our house at holidays. The game involves the rolling of five dice, with the intent of getting certain combinations. A lot of those combinations resemble poker hands, such as “three of a kind”, “four of a kind” and “full house”.
61…Gorilla, for one..APE
The gorilla is the largest primate still in existence, and is one of the nearest living species to humans. Molecular biology studies have shown that our nearest relatives are in fact the species in the genus Pan (the chimpanzee and the bonobo), which split from the human branch of the family 4-6 million years ago. Gorillas and humans diverged at a point about 7 million years ago. The term “gorilla” derives from the Greek “gorillai” meaning “tribe of hairy women”.