Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
8…Fills with mortar, as tile..GROUTS
Grout is a thin mortar used to fill the joints between ceramic tiles. The name “grout” comes from the Old English word “gruta”, the word for a “coarse porridge” (due to the similarity in appearance of the two). Interestingly, the word “grits” comes from the same root. Grout … grits … makes sense …
16…1963 Best Actor..POITIER
Sidney Poitier won his only Best Actor Oscar playing the male lead in 1963’s “Lilies of the Field”.
The Hollywood actor Sidney Poitier was born in Miami, but grew up in the Bahamas. Poitiers breakthrough role in movies came with 1955’s “Blackboard Jungle”, in which he played an incorrigible high school student. I find it interesting that one of Poitier’s most respected performances found him playing a teacher of a rough set of students in 1967’s “To Sir, with Love”. Off the screen, Poitier entered the diplomatic service for the Bahamas, serving as the nation’s non-resident ambassador to Japan from 1997 until 2007.
17…’70s-’80s sitcom roommate..LAVERNE
On the late-seventies and early-eighties sitcom “Laverne & Shirley”, Penny Marshall played Laverne (De Fazio) , and Cindy Williams played Shirley (Feeney). The show was a spinoff of “Happy Days”, in which Laverne and Shirley were friends of the Fonz.
19…Central California county..MARIPOSA
Mariposa County, California lies in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and is home to the central section of Yosemite National Park.
23…Latin I word..AMO
“Amo, amas, amat” … “I love, you love, he/she/it loves”, in Latin.
26…Formulation in Newton’s “Principia”..LAW OF GRAVITY
Sir Isaac Newton’s 1687 publication “Principia” lays out his laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation. The full title of the work is “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” in Latin).
According to Newton’s law of universal gravitation, a particle of matter is attracted to every other particle in the universe. This attractive gravitational force increases with the mass of the attracting particles, and decreases with the distance between them.
31…”Coming Out of the Dark” singer..ESTEFAN
“Coming Out of the Dark” is Gloria Estefan number that she released in 1991. The song was inspired by Estefan’s near-death experience when an 18-wheeler rammed into her tour bus in 1990.
35…Height is an exception to it..I BEFORE E RULE
“I before E, except after C”, although with so many exceptions, I don’t think that this rule is taught in schools anymore …
37…Stylish beach resorts..LIDOS
The Lido di Venezia is a famous sandbar, about 11 km long, in Venice, Italy. It may be just a sandbar, but it is home to about 20,000 residents, as well as the Venice Film Festival that takes place there every September. The Lido is also the setting for Thomas Mann’s famous novel “Death in Venice”. The name “lido” has become a term for any fashionable beach resort.
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.
A “sanctuary” is a sacred or holy place, the term coming from the Latin “sanctus” meaning “holy”. Some Christian traditions use the word “sanctuary” to describe the area in a church that houses the main altar.
41…Eponymous 2001 album..JLO
J.Lo is the nickname of singer and actress Jennifer Lopez. “J.Lo” is also the title of her second studio album, released in 2001.
The world’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was offered by Harvard’s Graduate School of Business Administration, in 1908.
43…Part of a name on the 1989 album “Dr. Feelgood”..CRUE
Mötley Crüe is an American rock band, from Los Angeles. They’ve been around since 1981, co-founded by the famous drummer Tommy Lee. Tommy Lee is also known for his two celebrated marriages, the first with Heather Locklear and the second with Pamela Anderson. The name “Mötley Crüe” was chosen as someone once described the band members as a “motley looking crew”. The spelling was made to look a little more exotic, with the umlauts added over the “o” and “u” one day, as the band were drinking bottles of “Löwenbräu” beer!
44…Congo jungle denizen..CHIMP
The Common Chimpanzee is a species of ape, a member of the Hominidae family (along with gorillas, humans and orangutans). The human and chimpanzee branches of the Hominidae family tree diverged 4-6 million years ago, making the chimp our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom.
46…Sprint and others..TELECOMS
The company that we know today as Sprint has a history that is linked with the Southern Pacific railroad company. Southern Pacific developed a microwave communication system for its internal use across its network using rights-of-way associated with the company’s extensive railway lines. In the early seventies, the company laid huge lengths of fiber optic cable in those rights-of-way, alongside the tracks, primarily for internal use. The railroad sold excess fiber capacity to private companies, allowing those companies to operate long distance telephone service outside of AT&T, which at that time had a long-distance monopoly. Southern Pacific took advantage of changing FCC regulations and started offering voice service directly to consumers. That service was offered under the name SPRINT, an acronym that stood for Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Networking Telephony. Very interesting …
48…Ice cream baron William..DREYER
Dreyers’ ice cream sells its products under the name Dreyers in the Western United States, and Edy’s in the Eastern states. The company’s founders were William Dreyer and Joseph Edy.
49…NSA home..FT MEADE
Fort George G. Meade is located near Odenton, Maryland and is most famous these days as the location of the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA).
53…Mahmoud’s PLO predecessor..YASSER
Yasser (also Yasir) Arafat was born in Cairo in 1929, the son of two Palestinians and the second-youngest of seven children. Arafat was beaten by his father as a child and so did not have a good relationship with him. Arafat did not attend his father’s funeral, nor did he visit his grave. The beatings were apparently administered because the young Arafat was repeatedly attending religious services in the Jewish quarter of Cairo. Arafat’s explanation was that he wanted to “study the mentality” of the Jewish people.
3…Rundown areas..SKID ROWS
The term “skid row” is used to describe a run-down urban neighborhood. “Skid row” appears to have originated in the Pacific Northwest where a “skid road” was a wooden pathway used for “skidding” logs through forests and over bogs. The terms “skid road” and “skid row” came to be used for logging camps and mills, and then somehow was applied to run-down areas in cities up and down the west coast of North America.
“Totem” is the name given to any entity that watches over a group of people. As such, totems are usually the subjects of worship. Totem poles are really misnamed, as they are not intended to represent figures to be worshiped, but rather are heraldic in nature often celebrating the legends or notable events in the history of a tribe.
5…Brown is one of them..IVIES
Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the eight Ivy League schools. Brown has been around a long time, founded in 1764, years before America declared independence from England. The university took the name of Brown in 1804 after one Nicholas Brown, Jr. gave a substantial gift to the school.
“Triage” is the process of prioritizing patients for treatment, especially on a battlefield. The term “triage” is French and means “a sorting”.
The Labrador (Lab) breed of dog has been around at least since 1814. The breed comes in three registered colors: black, yellow and chocolate.
Ravi Shankar was perhaps the most famous virtuoso (to us Westerners) from the world of Indian classical music, and was noted for his sitar playing. Also, Shankar was the father of the beautiful pop singer Norah Jones.
The beguiling Norah Jones is the daughter of famous sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, and is one of my favorite singers. If you haven’t heard Jones sing her song “Come Away with Me”, you just haven’t lived …
I think that a single-player card game is usually called “Solitaire” in the US whereas we use the name “Patience” back in Ireland.
The palatine tonsils are located at the back of the human throat. The exact role that tonsils play isn’t completely understood, but it is known that they are in the first line of defense in the body’s immune system. They provide some level of protection against pathogens that are ingested and inhaled.
The uvula is that conical fleshy projection hanging down at the back of the soft palate. The uvula plays an important role in human speech, particularly in the making of “guttural” sounds. The Latin word for “grape” is “uva”, so “uvula” is a “little grape”.
15…”Paradise Lost” style..BLANK VERSE
The style of poetry known as “blank verse” has a regular metrical format, but with lines that do not rhyme. Most English poetry is written in blank verse.
“Paradise Lost” is an epic poem written by Englishman John Milton. It is indeed an epic work, published originally in ten volumes with over ten thousand lines of verse. The “paradise” that is “lost” is the Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve were expelled by God in the “Fall of Man”.
19…Bart Simpson’s grandma..MONA
Mona Simpson is a character on “The Simpsons” that has been voiced by a number of actresses over the years, including the wonderful Glenn Close. Mona is Homer Simpson’s mother, and hence Bart’s grandmother. Mona is named for the author Mona Simpson, who is the younger sister of Apple founder Steve Jobs, and wife of “The Simpsons” writer Richard Appel.
27…First book of the Great Plains trilogy..O, PIONEERS!
American novelist Willa Cather wrote what’s referred to as the “prairie trilogy”, books that tell the story of Swedish immigrants living in Nebraska. The titles in the trilogy are “O, Pioneers!”, “The Song of the Lark” and “My Antonia”. Cather won the Pulitzer Prize for another novel, “One of Ours”, that is set in Nebraska and the French battlefields of WWI.
28…Key chain attachments..FOBS
A fob is attached to another object to make access to it easier. And so a key fob is a chain attached to a key so that it can be retrieved easily.
32…Roller coaster named for a mountain..FUJIYAMA
Fujiyama is a roller coaster in the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park located near the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. When Fujiyama opened for business in 1996, it was the world’s tallest coaster, standing at 259 feet, with a drop of 230 feet. The ride is named for Mount Fuji, with “yama” meaning “mountain”.
Neoprene is the trade name given by DuPont to polychloroprene, a synthetic rubber made by polymerizing chloroprene. Neoprene is perhaps mostly readily associated with the manufacture of wetsuits. The form used in wetsuits is foamed neoprene, a material containing gas cells that provides heat insulation.
The Latin for “work” is “opus”, with the plural being “opera”.
A cantata is a piece of music that is sung, as opposed to a sonata, which is a piece that is played on some instrument, often a piano. A sonatina is in effect a sonata that has been labelled as something lighter and shorter.
39…Middle Eastern stuffed vegetable dishes..DOLMAS
Dolmas are stuffed vegetable dishes from the Middle East. Strictly speaking, dolmas are made by hollowing out some vegetable before adding a stuffing. The derivative dish called “sarma” is made by wrapping vine or cabbage leaves around a filling. In many cuisines, the name “sarma” has been dropped in favor of “dolma”.
44…They’re often involved in murders..CROWS
There doesn’t seem to be a definitive etymology for “murder” as the collective noun for crows. One suggestion is that it comes from the scavenging behavior of crows, sometime feeding on rotting bodies of dead animals.
45…Serf of Sparta..HELOT
The helots were a population of poorly-treated slaves who served the citizens of Sparta.
Sparta was a city-state in ancient Greece, famous for her military might. Spartan children had a tough upbringing, and newborn babies were bathed in wine to see if the child was strong enough to survive. Every child was presented to a council of elders that decided if the baby was suitable for rearing. Those children deemed too puny were executed by tossing them into a chasm. We’ve been using the term “spartan” to describe something self-disciplined or austere since the 1600s.
47…Mr. Peanut trademark..CANE
Planters is the company with the Mr. Peanut icon. Mr. Peanut was the invention of a first-grader named Antonio Gentile, a young man who won a design contest in 1916. A remarkable achievement, I’d say …
The dodo was a direct relative of the pigeon and dove, although the fully-grown dodo was usually three feet tall. One of the reasons the dodo comes to mind when we think of extinction of a species, is that it disappeared not too long ago (last recorded alive in 1681) and humans were the reason for its demise. The dodo lived exclusively on the island of Mauritius and when man arrived, we cut back the forests that were its home. We also introduced domestic animals, such as dogs and pigs, that ransacked the dodo’s nests. The dodo was deemed to be an awkward flightless bird and so the term “dodo” has come to mean a dull-witted person.
“Doofus” (also “dufus”) is student slang that has been around since the sixties. Apparently the word is a variant of the equally unattractive term “doo-doo”.