Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Today’s themed answers start with the letters KxN, where X is a vowel progression from A through U as we drop through the grid:
- 17A…Missouri’s largest metropolis..KANSAS CITY
- 22A…First leg of racing’s Triple Crown..KENTUCKY DERBY
- 34A…1990 comedy about a detective posing as a teacher..KINDERGARTEN COP
- 46A…Oslo attraction honoring Heyerdahl’s expedition..KON-TIKI MUSEUM
- 53A…”Roots” hero from Gambia..KUNTA KINTE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
16…River through Spain..EBRO
The Ebro is the longest river in Spain. The river was known by the Romans as the Iber, and it is the “Iber” river that gives the “Iberian” Peninsula its name.
17…Missouri’s largest metropolis..KANSAS CITY
The Kansas City metropolitan area straddles the stateline between Kansas and Missouri. The metropolitan area includes several cities, with the largest being (in order):
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Overland Park, Kansas
- Kansas City, Kansas
- Independence, Missouri
Ehud Barak served as Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001. Barak left office after he called a special election for Prime Minister and lost the vote to Ariel Sharon. Barak resigned from the Knesset and took an advisory job with the US company Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and did some security-related work with a private equity company. In 2007, Barak took over leadership of Israel’s Labor Party.
Costa Rica is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua in the north, and Panama to the South. Costa Rica is remarkable in my opinion, a leader on the world stage in many areas. It has been referred to as the “greenest” country in the world, the “happiest” country in the world, and has a highly educated populace. In 1949, the country unilaterally abolished its own army … permanently!
22…First leg of racing’s Triple Crown..KENTUCKY DERBY
The US Triple Crown horse races are, in order through the year:
- The Kentucky Derby
- The Preakness Stakes
- The Belmont Stakes
30…Sagan of “Cosmos”..CARL
Carl Sagan was a brilliant astrophysicist and a great communicator. Sagan was famous for presenting obscure concepts about the cosmos in such a way that we mere mortals could appreciate. He also wrote the novel “Contact” which was adapted into a fascinating 1997 film of the same name starring Jodie Foster.
“Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” is a TV series co-written and presented cosmologist Carl Sagan. The 13-episode show was first broadcast in 1980 on PBS, and became the most widely watched series on US public television.
31…Place to relax..SPA
The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as Spa is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.
34…1990 comedy about a detective posing as a teacher..KINDERGARTEN COP
“Kindergarten Cop” is a fun 1990 comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in a different role for him. Arnie is a cop, but working undercover as a kindergarten teacher.
39…Suffix with Japan or Brooklyn..-ESE
The New York dialect of English is sometimes called Brooklynese, I believe. In Brooklynese, we might take “dis”, “dat”, “dese” or “dose”.
41…Greek war god..ARES
The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of bloodlust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos, Deimos and Eros. The Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars. Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera.
46…Oslo attraction honoring Heyerdahl’s expedition..KON-TIKI MUSEUM
The Kon-Tiki was a raft used by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947 to cross the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. The original raft used in the voyage is on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway (Heyerdahl was a native of Norway).
51…Old Norse explorer..ERIC
According to Icelandic tradition, Erik the Red was the man responsible for founding the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. Erik had a famous son, the explorer Leif Ericson.
53…”Roots” hero from Gambia..KUNTA KINTE
Not only did Alex Haley author the magnificent novel “Roots”, but he was also the collaborator with Malcolm X on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. His 1976 novel “Roots” is based on Haley’s own family history, and he claimed to be a direct descendant of the real life Kunta Kinte, the slave who was kidnapped in the Gambia in 1767. If you remember the original television adaptation of “Roots”, you might recall that Kunta Kinte was played by LeVar Burton, who later went on to play another famous role, Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: the Next Generation”.
The Islamic Republic of the Gambia is a country in West Africa. It is the smallest country on the African mainland, almost completely surrounded by Senegal. The Gambia lies on the Gambia River, for which the nation is named.
59…Mil. flying branch..USAF
The US Air Force (USAF) is the youngest of the seven uniformed services in this country, having being formed in 1947. Today’s USAF was preceded by:
- Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps (1907-1914)
- Aviation Section, Signal Corps (1914-1918)
- Division of Military Aeronautics (1918)
- US Army Air Service (1918-1926)
- US Army Air Corps (1926-1941)
- US Army Air Forces (1941-1947)
61…Water from France..EVIAN
Évian-les-Bains (or simply Évian) is in the very east of France, on the shores of Lake Geneva directly across the lake from Lausanne, Switzerland. As one might imagine, Évian is the home of Évian mineral water, the most successful business in town. Personally, I can’t stand the distinctive taste of Évian water …
The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.
64…Fix errors in, as software..DEBUG
Back in 1947, the famed computer programmer Grace Hopper noticed some colleagues fixing a piece of equipment by removing a dead moth from a relay. She remarked that they were “debugging” the system, and so she has been given credit for popularizing the term.
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 …
2…Aegean, for one..SEA
The Aegean Sea is that part of the Mediterranean that lies between Greece and Turkey. Within the Aegean Sea are found the Aegean Islands, a group that includes Crete and Rhodes.
San Bernardino, California is located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The city was named for the Italian priest and Franciscan missionary Bernardino of Siena. One of San Bernardino’s claims to fame is that was home to the world’s first McDonald’s. It is now home to the McDonald’s Museum, which is located on the site of that first restaurant.
7…Room-size computer introduced in 1946..ENIAC
The acronym ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (although many folks insist that the C was for “Computer”). ENIAC was introduced at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946, at which time it was the first general-purpose electronic computer. Its original purpose was the calculation of artillery firing tables, but it ended up being used early on to make calculations necessary for the development of the hydrogen bomb. Given its uses, it’s not surprising to hear that development of ENIAC was funded by the US Army during WWII.
18…In __: as found..SITU
“In situ” is a Latin phrase meaning “in the place”, and we use the term to mean “in the original position”.
Adele is the stage name of English singer Adele Adkins. Adele’s debut album is “19”, named after the age she was during the album’s production. Her second album was even more successful than the first. Called “21”, the second album was released three years after the first, when Adele was three years older. More recently, her third studio album “25”, released in 2015, broke the first-week sales records in both the UK and the US.
22…New Hampshire city..KEENE
The New Hampshire city of Keene was named in 1753 after Sir Benjamin Keene, who was the British Ambassador to Spain at the time. Keene is home to Keene State College as well as Antioch University New England.
24…1980s Chrysler line..K-CAR
Chrysler’s K-cars were designed to carry 6 passengers, on two bench seats. Remember taking a corner a little too fast on those seats, in the days when no one wore seat belts?
A yurt is a wood-framed dwelling that is used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Although a yurt is a substantial structure, it is also extremely portable.
26…What Brinker’s boy plugged with a finger..DIKE
“Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates” is a children’s novel written by American author Mary Mapes Dodge, first published in 1865. The novel is famous for introducing a story, told with within the novel’s own storyline, the tale of the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the leaking dike. I always thought the tale of the boy and the dike was a Dutch legend but no, it was the literary invention of Mary Mapes Dodge …
27…Score-producing MLB stats..RBIS
Runs batted in (RBIs)
32…Words from Wordsworth..POEM
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 …
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.
37…1958 Chevalier musical..GIGI
In the lovely musical film “Gigi”, released in 1958, the title song is sung by Louis Jourdan who plays Gaston. My favorite number though, has to be “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” sung by Maurice Chevalier. Many say that “Gigi” is the last in the long line of great MGM musicals. It won a record 9 Academy Awards, a record that only lasted one year. Twelve months later “Ben Hur” won 11 Oscars. In the 1958 film, Gigi was played by the lovely Leslie Caron. A few years earlier, “Gigi” was a successful stage play on Broadway. Chosen for the title role on stage was the then-unknown Audrey Hepburn.
38…Half of Mork’s sign-off..NANU
Mork & Mindy was broadcast from 1978 to 1982. We were first introduced to Mork (played by Robin Williams) in a special episode of “Happy Days”. The particular episode in question has a bizarre storyline culminating in Fonzie and Mork having a thumb-to-finger duel. Eventually Richie wakes up in bed, and alien Mork was just part of a dream! Oh, and “Nanu Nanu” means both “hello” and “goodbye” back on the planet Ork. “I am Mork from Ork, Nanu Nanu”. Great stuff …
43…Richard who married Liz Taylor … twice..BURTON
The actor Richard Burton was born in South Wales, as Richard Jenkins. The actor took “Burton” as a stage name in honor of his schoolmaster and mentor Philip Burton. Famously, Burton was married (twice) to actress Liz Taylor.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is located in the Indochina Peninsula of Southeast Asia, and is bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand. “Cambodia” is the English version of the country’s name, which in Khmer is “Kampuchea”.
“Kaput” is a familiar term meaning “incapacitated, destroyed”, and comes to us from French (via German). The original word “capot” means “not having won a single trick” in the French card game called Piquet.
48…Jack Sprat’s diet restriction..NO FAT
Jack Sprat was a nickname given in the 16th century to people of small stature. Jack featured in a proverb of the day:
Jack will eat not fat, and Jull doth love no leane. Yet betwixt them both they lick the dishes cleane.
Over time, this mutated into a nursery rhyme that is still recited in England:
Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so between them both, you see, they licked the platter clean.
If you ever learned Latin, “mensa” was probably taught to you in lesson one as it’s the word commonly used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means “table”. The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford, England back in 1946. To become a member, you have to have an IQ that is in the top 2% of the population.
Kim Novak is a retired actress from Chicago who is perhaps best known for playing both Judy Barton and Madeleine Ester in the HItchcock classic “Vertigo” from 1958. Novak effectively retired from acting in the early sixties, making only a handful of appearances in the eighties and nineties.
In 1952, the USAF revived its studies of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in a program called Project Blue Book. Project Blue Book ran from 1952 until it was shut down in 1969 with the conclusion that there was no threat to national security and that there were no sightings that could not be explained within the bounds of modern scientific knowledge.
“Nib” is a Scottish variant of the Old English word “neb”, with both meaning the beak of a bird. This usage of “nib” as a beak dates back to the 14th century, with “nib” meaning the tip of a pen or quill coming a little later, in the early 1600s.
Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, the letter which gave rise to our Roman “T”. Both the letters tau (T) and chi (X) have long been symbolically associated with the cross.