Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Kelps are large seaweeds that grow in kelp forests underwater. Kelps can grow to over 250 feet in length, and do so very quickly. Some kelps can grow at the rate of 1-2 feet per day.
15…Some wealthy ’70s British emigrants..TAX EXILES
Many British celebrities left the UK in the late sixties and seventies to avoid paying high taxes. The driving force was a huge 95% tax rate for the new millionaires that were emerging in the country.
16…Those who call New Zealand “Aotearoa”..MAORI
The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They are eastern Polynesian in origin and began arriving in New Zealand relatively recently, starting some time in the late 13th century. The word “māori” simply means “normal”, distinguishing the mortal human being from spiritual entities. The Māori refer to New Zealand as “Aotearoa”.
17…Yom Kippur theme..ATONEMENT
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people and is also known as the Day of Atonement.
I’ve always loved the word “maven”, another word for an expert. Maven comes into English from the Yiddish “meyvn” meaning someone who appreciates and is a connoisseur.
A “buff”, “fiend” or a “nut” is one who is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a subject.
To renege on something is to back out of it. It’s a word commonly used in card games like bridge and whist. A renege is when a player doesn’t follow suit, even though there may be a card of the suit led in his/her hand.
20…”Penny Dreadful” network, briefly..SHO
“Penny Dreadful” is a horror TV show that started airing on Showtime in 2014. I don’t do horror, so I haven’t seen the show, despite the fact that it is filmed in Dublin. Characters in the show come from 19th-century fiction from Ireland and Britain, including Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Bram Stoker’s Abraham Van Helsing and Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein.
23…Changdeokgung Palace city..SEOUL
Changdeok Palace in Seoul, South Korea was the home of Sunjong, Korea’s last emperor, until his death in 1926. The palace is also known as “Changdeokgung”, which translates literally as “Prospering Virtue Palace”.
26…Like white tigers..INBRED
The white tiger is a Bengal tiger that is missing the pigments that produce the usual orange color due to a genetic mutation. The mutation is a rare one, and the probability of it occurring increase with inbreeding. The inbreeding can cause genetic defects, such as crossed-eyes, a crooked backbone and kidney problems.
28…Left Bank eateries..CAFES
The famous “Left Bank” (“La Rive Gauche”) of the River Seine in Paris is the river’s southern bank. The area south of the river was traditionally quite bohemian and was home to artists, students and intellectuals.
35…Nuclear fission pioneer Otto..HAHN
Otto Hahn was a German chemist, someone who vigorously opposed the anti-Jewish policies of Nazi Germany. Hahn was one of a small group of scientists who discovered nuclear fission, pointing out that uranium atoms could be split into barium atoms when bombarded with neutrons. Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944 for this discovery, although he probably got the credit for work that was actually shared with others.
Eda LeShan wrote several nonfiction books including “When Your Child Drives You Crazy” and “The Conspiracy Against Childhood”. LeShan was also host of the PBS television show “How Do Your Children Grow?”
37…Defender at Thermopylae..SPARTAN
The Battle of Thermopylae took place in 480 BC, fought between the Persian Empire of Xerxes and an alliance of Greek city-states led by Sparta. The Greeks chose the narrow pass of Thermopylae to make a stand against the advancing Persian army, as there they could minimize the advantage that the Persians had with their large army. The pass of Thermopylae was so narrow that only one chariot could pass through at a time. Famously, the vastly outnumbered Spartan forces (the “300”) held this pass with hand-to-hand combat for two full days, until a local resident showed the Persians a way around the pass so that the Greek army could be attacked and annihilated from the rear.
“Tec” is a slang term for a private detective, a private investigator (PI).
The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.
A lute player is a “lutenist”. A nice bit of trivia …
44…”… with a muffler __ her eyes”: “Henry V”..AFORE
Here are some lines from “Henry V”, the play by William Shakespeare:
… Fortune is
painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to
signify to you that Fortune is blind; and she is
painted also with a wheel, to signify to you, which
is the moral of it, that she is turning, and
inconstant, and mutability, and variation: and her
foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone,
which rolls, and rolls, and rolls: in good truth,
the poet makes a most excellent description of it:
Fortune is an excellent moral.
Shakespeare’s play “Henry V” is more correctly called “The Life of Henry the Fifth”. The story mainly focuses on his life before and immediately after the king’s celebrated victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt. “Henry V” includes one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated speeches, an address by the king to his troops at the siege of Harfleur, with the opening lines:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead …
46…Pigs and cows, e.g…UNGULATES
“Ungulates” are hoofed animals. “Ungulate” comes from the Latin “ungula” meaning “hoof” or “claw”, which in turn comes from “unguis” meaning “nail”.
A hinny is the offspring of a male horse (the “h-” from h-orse) and a female donkey/ass (the “-nny” from je-nny). A mule is more common, and is the offspring of a female horse and male donkey/ass.
52…He succeeded Michael as Batman..VAL
Val Kilmer’s first big leading role in a movie was playing Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic “The Doors”. A few years later, Kilmer was chosen for the lead in another big production, “Batman Forever”. Things haven’t really gone as well for Kilmer since then, I’d say. Off the screen, he flirted with the idea of running for Governor of New Mexico in 2010. A Hollywood actor as a Governor? Would never happen …
Michael Keaton is an actor from Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. Keaton is perhaps best remembered for roles he played in Tim Burton films. Keaton had the title role in “Beetlejuice” in 1988, and the title role in “Batman” in 1989 and “Batman Returns” in 1992.
The city of Lincoln is the second-largest in Nebraska, and is the state capital. In the days of the Nebraska Territory, the capital was the larger city of Omaha. When the territory was being considered for statehood, most of the population (which lived south of the River Platte) was in favor of annexation to Kansas. The pro-statehood legislature voted to move the capital nearer to that population in a move intended to appease those favoring annexation. As this conflict was taking place just after the Civil War, a special interest group in Omaha arranged for the new capital to be named Lincoln, in honor of the recently-assassinated president. The thought was that the populace south of the River Platte had been sympathetic to the Confederate cause and so would not pass the measure to move the capital if the Lincoln name was used. But the measure passed, the capital was moved, and Nebraska became the thirty-seventh State of the Union in 1867.
61…Way to get to Bora Bora..AIR TAHITI
Bora Bora is one of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The name “Bora Bora” is imitative of the Tahitian name for the island and should really be pronounced “pora pora”. “Bora bora” translates as “first born”.
67…Bond, e.g…MASTER SPY
James Bond was the creation of writer Ian Fleming. Fleming “stole” the James Bond name from an American ornithologist. The number 007 was “stolen” from the real-life, 16th century English spy called John Dee. Dee would sign his reports to Queen Elizabeth I with a stylized “007” to indicate that the reports were for “her eyes only”. There’s an entertaining miniseries that aired on BBC America called “Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond” that details Ian Fleming’s military career, and draws some nice parallels between Fleming’s experiences and aspirations and those of his hero James Bond. Recommended …
1…Scrabble board symbol..STAR
The game of Scrabble has been around since 1938, the invention of an architect named Alfred Mosher Butts. Butts determined how many tiles of each letter, and the point value of each tile, by analyzing letter distributions in publications like “The New York Times”.
2…Turner Prize-awarding gallery..TATE
The Turner Prize is awarded annually by the Tate gallery in the UK to visual artists. The prize is named for the painter J. M. W. Turner.
A nerve cell is more correctly called a neuron. The branched projections that receive electrochemical signals from other neurons are known as dendrites. The long nerve fiber that conducts signals away from the neuron is known as the axon. A neuron that has no definite axon is referred to as “apolar” or “nonpolar”. In apolar neurons the nerve impulses radiate in all directions.
4…River through Rochester, New York..GENESEE
The city in upstate New York called Rochester started off as a tract of land on the Genesee River purchased in 1803 by three army officers from Maryland, including Col. Nathaniel Rochester. Within a few years the land had been developed into the village of Rochesterville, and in 1823 the name was simplified to Rochester.
5…Interpretations of scripture..EXEGESES
An “exegesis” is a critical interpretation of any text, although the term originally applied to the Bible.
A mimeograph (also “mimeo”) is a cheap printing press that applies ink to paper through a stencil wrapped around a rotating drum. Mimeographs are still around, but have largely been replaced by offset printers and photocopiers.
“Fútbol” is the Spanish word for football, soccer.
The most famous supersonic transport (SST) is the retired Concorde. Famously, the Concorde routinely broke the sound barrier, and cruised at about twice the speed of sound. Above Mach 2, frictional heat would cause the plane’s aluminum airframe to soften, so airspeed was limited.
10…Two-time National Book Award-winning poet A.R. __..AMMONS
A.R. Ammons was a poet who grew up in Whiteville, North Carolina. He won the National Book Award for Poetry on two separate occasions, in 1973 and in 1993.
11…A.L. West team, in crawl lines..LAA
The Anaheim Angels are today more correctly called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (LAA). The “Angels” name dates back to 1961 when the team was founded in the “City of Angels”, Los Angeles. When the franchise moved to Anaheim in 1965 they were known as the California Angels, then the Anaheim Angels, and most recently the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim.
The body-builder, actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Graz in Austria, the son of the local police chief. Schwarzenegger’s family name translates into the more prosaic “black plough man”. In his bodybuilding days, he was often referred to as the Austrian Oak. When he was Governor of California he was called “the Governator”, a play on his role in the “The Terminator” series of movies.
21…”Sabrina the Teenage Witch” aunt..HILDA
The hit TV show “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” is based on a comic book series of the same name. The title character is played by actress Melissa Joan Hart. Sabrina lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, who are both 600 years of age. There’s also a cat called Salem, who has magical powers.
An “umlaut” (also “diaeresis”) is a diacritical mark consisting of two horizontal dots placed over a letter, usually a vowel. Here in the West, we are perhaps most familiar with umlauts in German, as in “Schön”.
Häagen-Dazs ice cream originated in the Bronx, New York in 1961. The name “Häagen-Dazs” is a “nonsense” term, words chosen for its Scandinavian feel that the producers thought would appeal to potential customers.
25…To whom Polonius said, “To thine own self be true”..LAERTES
In William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, Polonius gives some fatherly advice to his son Laertes before the young man heads off to France. Included among the numerous pearls of wisdom is the oft-quoted “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” and “to thine own self be true”.
Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear ’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.
Take each man’s censure but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
28…Cuban Revolution VIP..CHE GUEVARA
Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Argentina, and in 1948 he started to study medicine at the University of Buenos Aires. While at school he satisfied his need to “see the world” by taking two long journeys around South America, the story of which are told in Guevara’s memoir later published as “The Motorcycle Diaries”. While travelling, Guevara was moved by the plight of the people he saw and their working conditions and what he viewed as capitalistic exploitation. In Mexico City he met brothers Raul and Fidel Castro and was persuaded to join their cause, the overthrow of the US-backed government in Cuba. He rose to second-in-command among the Cuban insurgents, and when Castro came to power Guevara was influential in repelling the Bay of Pigs Invasion and bringing Soviet nuclear missiles to the island. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to continue his work as a revolutionary. He was captured by Bolivian forces in 1967, and was executed. Fidel Castro led the public mourning of Guevara’s death, and soon the revolutionary was an icon for many left-wing movements around the world.
30…Liqueur in a monastic-looking bottle..FRANGELICO
Frangelico is a hazelnut-flavored liqueur from Italy. A Frangelico bottle is very distinctive as it is shaped like a friar, complete with a knotted white cord around the waist. The manufacturers tell us that the liqueur is based on the legend of Fra Angelico, a hermit and monk who made unique liqueurs, hence the shape of the bottle and the name “Frangelico”.
32…Grapevine product, with “the”..LATEST
There are competing stories about the etymology of the phrase “heard it through the grapevine”, meaning heard it by means of gossip or rumor. One is that it is a reference to the Grapevine Tavern in Greenwich Village, New York City. The Grapevine was a popular meeting place for Union officers and Confederate spies during the Civil War, and so was a great spot for picking up and spreading vital gossip.
54…”John Dough and the Cherub” author..BAUM
“John Dough and the Cherub” is a 1906 children’s novel about a gingerbread man (John Dough).
56…Zehn minus neun..EINS
In German, “zehn” (ten) minus “neun” (nine) is “eins” (one).
62…Like Schubert’s “Trout Quintet”..IN A
Schubert’s famous “Trout Quintet” (more formally “Piano Quintet in A major) is named for an earlier Schubert Lied called “The Trout”, variations of which were used in the fourth movement.
63…The 1906 Hepburn Act gave the ICC power to set rates for them..RRS
The 1906 Hepburn Act augmented the power of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) with regard to the regulation of the railroads. The bill was named for its sponsor, Congressman William Peters Hepburn, who was responding to public outcry at recent rate hikes by the railroad corporations.