Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers are each common phrases in which a letter R has been replaced by a letter K. In other words, we need to FACTOR in that R IS K:
- 22A…Battle of vampire slayers?..STAKING CONTEST (from “staring contest”)
- 35A…”‘Dash away’ yourself, Santa! We’re tired!”?..HOLIDAY CHEEK (from “holiday cheer”)
- 53A…Band of vipers’ rhythm section?..SNAKE DRUMS (from “snare drums”)
- 65A…See 62-Across..PER SHAKE (from “earnings per share”)
- 76A…Time when all farms used plow-pulling oxen?..DAYS OF YOKE (from “days of yore”)
- 92A…Angler’s slang?..FISHING SPEAK (from “fishing spear”)
- 109A…Soda jerk’s course of study?..COKE CURRICULUM (from “core curriculum”)
- 16D…Satirize the screwball?..SEND UP A FLAKE (from “send up a flare”)
- 58D…Portrait of a libertine?..RAKE PAINTING from “rare painting”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
“Embargo” and “blockade” are two similar yet different terms. An embargo is a legal prohibition of trade with a particular country, whilst a blockade is an act of war, a militarily enforced prevention of the movement of goods and services. The term “embargo” came into English from Spanish, in the late 16th century.
8…1954 Ford debut..T-BIRD
Ford manufactured the Thunderbird (T-Bird) from 1955 to 2005, originally as a two-seater sporty convertible. The T-Bird was introduced as a competitor to Chevrolet’s new sports car, the Corvette.
“To vacillate” is to be indecisive, to waver. The term comes from the Latin “vacillare” meaning “to sway to and fro”.
20…Geographical symbol of Middle America..PEORIA
Peoria is the oldest European settlement in the state of Illinois, having been settled by the French in 1680. The city is famous for being cited as “the average American city”. The phrase, “Will it play in Peoria?” is used to mean, “Will it appeal to the mainstream?” It is believed the expression originated as a corruption of, “We shall play in Peoria”, a line used by some actors in the 1890 novel “Five Hundred Dollars” by Horatio Alger, Jr.
21…Beat the wheat..THRESH
Years ago I was taking a tour of a beautiful Elizabethan manor house in England, and was told a little “threshing” story by the guide as we stood in one of the rooms. She reminded us that threshing was the removal of seeds from chaff, and told us that back in the day the “chaff” was sometimes called the “thresh”. Thresh would be used on the floors, particularly in the kitchen areas where it would soak up spills and provide some thermal insulation, much as sawdust was used in my favorite pubs many moons ago. She pointed to two slots at the bottom of the door jambs where she said a low board was placed upright on the floor, to hold the thresh in the room. The board was called a “thresh-hold”, giving us our contemporary word “threshold”. I am not sure if all of that is really true, but it makes a nice story.
22…Battle of vampire slayers?..STAKING CONTEST (from “staring contest”)
Legends about vampires were particularly common in Eastern Europe and in the Balkans in particular. The superstition was that vampires could be killed using a wooden stake, with the preferred type of wood varying from place to place. Superstition also defined where in the body should be staked. Most often, the stake was driven through the heart, but Russians and northern Germans went for the mouth, and northeastern Serbs for the stomach.
After serving in the navy in WWII for three years, the musician Tito Puente studied at Juilliard, where he got a great grounding in conducting, orchestration and theory. Puente parlayed this education into a career in Latin Jazz and Mambo. He was known as “El Rey” as well as “The King of Latin Music”.
Jonas Salk was an American medical researcher, famous for developing the first safe polio vaccine. In the fifties, especially after the 1952 epidemic, polio was the biggest health fear in the US because it killed thousands, left even more with disabilities and most of the victims were children. The situation was dire and the authorities immediately quarantined the family of any polio victim, and that quarantine was so strict that in many cases the families were not even permitted to attend the funeral of a family member who died from the disease.
26…Eric Cartwright’s nickname..HOSS
Dan Blocker was the actor who played Eric “Hoss” Cartwright in the Western TV series “Bonanza”. Hoss was the “slow” character on the show. Paradoxically, Dan Blocker was the most-educated member of the cast, having earned a master’s degree in the dramatic arts. Blocker passed away while “Bonanza” was still running. He was undergoing relatively routine gallbladder surgery and developed a pulmonary embolism which killed him. Bonanza ran for just one more season after Blocker passed away.
27…Like some seals..EARED
There are three families of seals. The first is the walrus family, the second the eared seals (like sea lions), and thirdly the earless seals (like elephant seals).
32…Japanese chip maker..NEC
NEC is the name that the Nippon Electric Company chose for itself outside of Japan after a rebranding exercise in 1983.
39…Hickok’s last hand, so it’s said..ACES UP
A poker hand with two pairs is usually referred to as “two pair”. However, is one of the pairs is aces, the hand is referred to as “aces up”.
In 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was playing poker in a saloon in the town of Deadwood in the Black Hills in the Dakota Territory. For once, the gunfighting lawman was sitting with his back to the door, something he almost always avoided. He had twice tried to change seats to give him a view of the door, but his card-playing comrades weren’t obliging. An enemy of Wild Bill’s named Jack McCall then was able to enter the saloon without being noticed. He walked up to the table and shot Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The hand that Hickok was holding contained four black cards, two aces and two eights. Since the killing, black aces and eights in a poker hand have been referred to as the “dead man’s hand”.
“Oui” is “yes” in French, and “non” is “no”.
42…Hefty Cinch__ bags..SAK
Hefty is a brand name of trash bags and related products.
43…River to the Ohio..WABASH
The Wabash River is the largest northern tributary of the Ohio River. The Wabash is the state river of Indiana, and forms much of the border between the Indiana and Illinois. The river takes its name from the French “Ouabache”, a word that French traders adopted from a Miami Indian word meaning “it shines white”.
48…Language spoken by Jesus..ARAMAIC
The ancient Biblical land of Aram was named after Aram, a grandson of Noah. Aram was located in the center of modern-day Syria. Aramaic became the everyday language of Syria, Mesopotamia and Palestine.
53…Band of vipers’ rhythm section?..SNAKE DRUMS (from “snare drums”)
Snare drums are so called because they have a set of wire strands (called snares) stretched across the bottom surface of the drum. When the drum is struck, the snares vibrate against the bottom drumhead producing a unique sound.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is one of the compounds responsible for transporting fats around the body. When LDL is combined with cholesterol it can be referred to as “bad cholesterol”. This is because LDL actually transports cholesterol into the inner walls of blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis.
In Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts sailed on the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece. The vessel was called the “Argo” in honor of the ship’s builder, a man named Argus.
59…Quebec’s __ Peninsula..GASPE
The Gaspé Peninsula is located on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, extending into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The peninsula is a major destination for tourists, and is home to two national parks: the Gaspé NP and the Forillon NP.
62…With 65-Across, malt shop accountant’s calculation?..EARNINGS
65…See 62-Across..PER SHAKE (from “earnings per share”)
The ratio of a corporation’s net income to the total number of shares outstanding is known as “earnings per share” (EPS).
Mount Ararat is in Turkey. Ararat is a snow-capped, dormant volcano with two peaks. The higher of the two, Greater Ararat, is the tallest peak in the country. Ararat takes its name from a legendary Armenian hero called Ara the Beautiful (or Ara the Handsome). According to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat as the Great Flood subsided.
70…Boat, or the tool that moves it..SCULL
A scull is a boat used for competitive rowing. The main hull of the boat is often referred to as a shell. Crew members who row the boat can be referred to as “oars”. And, a scull is also an oar mounted on the stern of a small boat. It’s all very confusing …
73…Tony winner Judith..IVEY
Judith Ivey is an actress from El Paso, Texas. Ivey is perhaps best known for playing B. J. Poteet in the last season of the TV show “Designing Women”.
Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the the world than they are in this country, and are especially found in Africa.
76…Time when all farms used plow-pulling oxen?..DAYS OF YOKE (from “days of yore”)
A yoke is a wooden beam used between a pair of oxen so that they are forced to work together.
A rapier is a very thin sword with a sharp point that is used to kill and maim by thrusting the point into the body, rather than by slashing.
81…Used as security, in a way..PAWNED
I remember the bad old days growing up in Dublin, Ireland, when my mother had to go to the pawn shop (I hope she doesn’t read this!). I’d wait outside with my brother, looking up at the pawnbroker’s sign, three gold balls hanging down from a metal bar. This traditional sign used by pawnbrokers is said to date back to the Medici family as the sign had symbolic meaning in the province of Lombardy where the Medici family reigned supreme. Because of this connection, pawn shop banking was originally called Lombard banking.
82…Words behind Lincoln?..ONE CENT
The US one-cent coin has borne the profile of President Abraham Lincoln since 1909, the centennial of Lincoln’s birth. Fifty years later, a representation of the Lincoln Memorial was added to the reverse side.
87…Temple with an upcurved roof..PAGODA
Pagodas are tiered (“storied”) towers found in various parts of Asia, usually built for religious purposes.
The name “Tuesday” comes from an Old English word that translates as “Tiw’s Day”. In turn, “Tiw” was the Old English name for the Norse god “Týr”. Týr was the Norse god of single combat, victory and heroic glory.
89…Golf course meas…YDS
98…HDTV part, for short..HI-DEF
High-definition television (HDTV)
OMG is text-speak for Oh My Gosh! Oh My Goodness! or any other G words you might think of …
106…Host before and after O’Brien..LENO
The so called “War for Late Night” of 2010 involved Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno. O’Brien had stayed loyal to NBC on the understanding that he would take over “The Tonight Show” after Jay Leno retired. When Leno’s contract expired in 2009, NBC moved Leno aside, with his agreement, and O’Brien took over. But Leno then hosted a new spot in prime time called “The Jay Leno Show”, and apparently the two shows split the traditional late night audience, much to the annoyance of advertisers. NBC reacted by moving Leno back to the late night slot, and mayhem ensued!
107…”Nightfall” story writer..ASIMOV
“Nightfall” is a short story by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov, first published in 1941. The story wa extended into a novel in 1990. “Nightfall” is about people on a planet that is illuminated by six suns, so that there is continual daylight. Scientists discover that anomalies in the planet’s orbit will cause the planet to experience a period of darkness for the very first time in living memory.
109…Soda jerk’s course of study?..COKE CURRICULUM (from “core curriculum”)
In the halcyon days of yore, a “soda jerk” was usually a young person whose main job was to serve ice cream sodas in a drugstore. The server would “jerk” the handle on the soda fountain to dispense the soda water, giving the job its distinctive name.
114…Decide not to..RENEGE
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.
116…North African capital..TRIPOLI
Tripoli is the capital city of Libya and sits on the Mediterranean Coast. The city was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC and was originally called Oea.
117…Boston College athletes..EAGLES
Boston College is a private Jesuit school located in Chestnut Hill, just a few miles from Boston, Massachusetts. The list of notable Boston College alumni includes Secretary of State John Kerry and former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.
The Exxon Corporation was a descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Exxon merged with Mobil (yet another descendant of Standard Oil) in 1999 to form ExxonMobil.
1…Mini-albums, for short..EPS
An extended play record (EP) contains more music than a single, but less than an LP.
Brasília is the capital of Brazil, and is located in the central-west of the country. A decision was made in 1956 to move the nation’s capital from Rio de Janeiro on the coast, to a more central location. So, Brasília was founded in 1960, and is now by far the fastest growing city in the country.
4…Its pH is more than 7..ALKALI
The “opposite” of an acid is a base. Acids turn litmus paper red, and bases turn it blue. Acids and bases react with each other to form salts. An important subset of the chemicals called bases are the alkalis, the hydroxides of the alkali metals and of ammonium. The term “alkali” is sometimes used interchangeably with “base”, especially if that base is readily soluble in water.
As we all recall from chemistry class, a pH of 7 is considered neutral. Anything less than 7 is an acid, and anything above 7 is a base.
7…Cousin of com..ORG
The .org domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:
- .com (commercial enterprise)
- .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
- .mil (US military)
- .org (not-for-profit organization)
- .gov (US federal government entity)
- .edu (college-level educational institution)
A bot is computer program that is designed to imitate human behavior. It might “crawl” around the Web doing searches for example, or it might participate in discussions in chat rooms by giving pre-programmed responses. It might also act as a competitor in a computer game.
11…It helps some singers see the choir leader..RISER
A riser is a platform that elevates a group of people above a crowd, and so is ideal for the performance of a choir.
13…Fla. coastal city..ST PETE
St. Petersburg, Florida is often referred to as St. Pete by locals and visitors alike. The neighboring city of St. Petersburg Beach also had its name shortened routinely, so in 1994 the residents voted to change the name officially to St. Pete Beach.
14…Barak who succeeded Netanyahu..EHUD
Ehud Barak served as Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001, taking over from Benjamin Netanyahu. 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.
Although the stagecoach is very much associated with the Wild West, the vehicle originated in England in the 16th century. Stagecoaches provided transportation for travellers and goods over long distances. The rest points for the travellers were known as “stages”, and later “stations”, hence the name “stagecoach”.
32…City near the Tappan Zee Bridge..NYACK
The village of Nyack is a suburb of New York City located on the western shore of the Hudson River, close to the western side of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Realist painter Edward Hopper used to live in Nyack, and the village is home to the Edward Hopper House Arts Center.
The Tappan Zee Bridge is more correctly called the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge which crosses the Hudson River in New York. The bridge opened in 1955 and is showing its age. There are plans to replace it with a new bridge due to open in 2017. The Tappan Zee is a 10-mile stretch of the river, a place where there is a widening of the waterway. The name comes from the Tappan Native American people and the Dutch word “zee” meaning “sea” or “wide expanse of water”.
36…Group with the albums “Aqua” and “Aria”..ASIA
Asia is a progressive rock band from England that formed in 1981.
Assistant principal (AP)
Pelé is the nickname of Edson de Nascimento, a soccer player who has used the name Pelé for most of his life. Pelé is now retired, and for my money was the world’s greatest ever player of the game. He is the only person to have been part of three World Cup winning squads, and is a national treasure in his native Brazil. One of Pele’s nicknames is “O Rei do Futebol” (the King of Football).
49…Cath. church VIP..MSGR
“Monsignor” (Msgr.) is a form of address used when speaking to some high ranking members of the Roman Catholic Church. The word “monsignor” comes from the Italian “monsignore” which in turn comes from the French “mon seigneur” meaning “my lord”.
“Anon” originally meant “at once” and evolved into today’s meaning of “soon” apparently just because the word was misused over time.
Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) were introduced during WWII, and were replaced by Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) in 1997.
Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion are the basis of classical mechanics. The three laws define the relationship between a body and the forces acting on that body, and its resulting motion.
54…Like a soufflé..EGGY
A soufflé is a French dish, usually served as a dessert. The verb “souffler” means “to blow, blow up”.
57…Passé reception aid..AERIAL
We tend to use the term “aerial” and “antenna” interchangeably. Strictly speaking, the aerial is the top part of an antenna. The lead-in is the lower part of the antenna, the part providing the electrical connection between the aerial and the instrument, radio or TV.
“Passé” is a French word, meaning “past, faded”.
58…Portrait of a libertine?..RAKE PAINTING from “rare painting”)
A “rake” (short for “rakehell”) is a man who is habituated to immoral conduct (isn’t it always the man??!!). The rake is a character who turns up frequently in novels and films, only interested in wine, women and song and not accepting the responsibilities of life. Good examples would be Wickham in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Daniel Cleaver (the Hugh Grant part) in the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary”. “Rake” comes from the Old Norse “reikall”, meaning “vagrant or a wanderer”.
Someone who is described as “libertine” is free of restraint, sexually immoral. Back in the 14th century a libertine was an emancipated slave, someone given his or her freedom. The term derives from the Latin “libertinus” describing a freed person who was once a slave.
“Pelf” is money that has been gained by illegal means. The exact origin of the term is unclear, but it is probably related to the verb “to pilfer”.
64…__ de plume..NOM
“Nom de plume” translates from French simply as “pen name”.
“Avec plaisir” is French for “with pleasure”.
Annual percentage rate (APR)
If you’ve ever heard Cyndi Lauper speaking, you’d know that she was from Queens, New York. She is the daughter of divorced parents, strongly influenced by a supportive mother. She was always a free spirit, and even as young teen in the mid-sixties she dyed her hair different colors and wore outlandish fashions. She was a young woman who wanted to “find herself”, and to that end she once spent two weeks alone in the woods up in Canada, well, just with her dog.
The yeti is a beast of legend, also called the abominable snowman. “Yeti” is a Tibetan term, and the beast is fabled to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Our equivalent legend in North America is that of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. The study of animals whose existence have not yet been substantiated is called cryptozoology.
76…Former U.N. leader Hammarskjöld..DAG
Dag Hammarskjold was the second secretary-general of the United Nations, right up until his death in a plane crash in Rhodesia in 1961. The crash was considered suspicious at the time as the bodyguards were found to have bullet wounds when they died, but this was put down to bullets exploding in the fire after the crash.
78…Versatile type in medicine, briefly..O-NEG
The most important grouping of blood types is the ABO system. Blood is classified as either A, B, AB or O, depending on the type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A secondary designation of blood is the Rh factor, in which other antigens are labelled as either positive or negative. When a patient receives a blood transfusion, ideally the donor blood should be the same type as that of the recipient, as incompatible blood cells can be rejected. However, blood type O-neg can be accepted by recipients with all blood types, A, B, AB or O, and positive or negative. Hence someone with O-neg blood type is called a “universal donor”.
Our use of the word “dope” to mean “inside information” probably comes from horse racing. The idea is that a better might have information about which horse has been drugged (doped) to influence its performance.
81…Zoo observation gadget..PANDA CAM
Panda’s have a particularly short mating season, lasting only a few days per year. The zookeepers at San Diego Zoo like to give the pandas some well-deserved privacy during this time, so the popular Internet “PandaCam” is shut down for about a week.
84…Site of the U.S. continent’s geographical midpoint..NDAK
The geographic center of North America lies in the town of Rugby, North Dakota. The geographic center of the US lies about 20 miles north of the city of Belle Fourche, South Dakota. The geographic center of the contiguous 48 states lies about 3 miles northwest of the city of Lebanon, Kansas.
91…Baked potato topping..CHIVES
Chives are the smallest species of edible onion, and a favorite of mine.
93…Baseball Hall of Famer Wagner..HONUS
Honus Wagner was a professional shortstop who played mainly for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wagner was one of the first five players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He actually received the second-highest number of votes, tying with Babe Ruth and just behind Ty Cobb.
Coined money, as opposed to paper money, can be referred to as “specie”. The term comes from the Latin “in specie” that has been used for centuries in English to mean “in the real or actual form”.
96…Popular connection point..O’HARE
Chicago’s O’Hare International is the busiest airport in the world in terms of takeoffs and landings. The original airport was constructed on the site between 1942 and 1943, and was used by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the manufacture of planes during WWII. Before the factory and airport were built, there was a community in the area called Orchard Place, so the airport was called Orchard Place Airport/Douglas Field. This name is the derivation of the airport’s current location identifier: ORD (OR-chard D-ouglas). Orchard Place Airport was renamed to O’Hare International in 1949 in honor of Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare who grew up in Chicago. O’Hare was the US Navy’s first flying ace and a Medal of Honor recipient in WWII.
Hosea was one of the Twelve Prophets of the Hebrew Bible, also called the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible.
Econo Lodge is a low-cost hotel chain in the Choice Hotels portfolio of brands. The chain started in 1969 as Econo-Travel, and demonstrated pretty quickly that budget-hotels were a good idea. The first hotel was built in Norfolk, Virginia and it started making money three weeks after welcoming its first guests.
In most theaters today, “loge” is the name given to the front rows of a mezzanine level. Loge can also be used for box seating.
105…Eur. republic since 1944..ICEL
Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in the whole of Europe, with two-thirds of the nation’s population residing in and around the capital city of Reykjavik. Iceland was settled by the Norse people in AD 874, and was ruled for centuries by Norway and then Denmark. Iceland became independent in 1918, and has been a republic since 1944.
106…Old Pisa dough..LIRE
The word “lira” is used in a number of countries for currency. “Lira” comes from the Latin for “pound” and is derived from a British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. For example, the lira (plural “lire”) was the official currency of Italy before the country changed over to the euro in 2002.
The city of Pisa is right on the Italian coast, sitting at the mouth of the River Arno, and is famous for its Leaning Tower. The tower is actually the campanile (bell tower) of the city’s cathedral, and it has been leaning since it was completed in 1173. Just shows you how important good foundations are …
108…B or C of the Spice Girls..MEL
The five members of the English pop group the Spice Girls are:
- Scary Spice (Melanie Brown, or Mel B)
- Baby Spice (Emma Bunton, and my fave!)
- Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell)
- Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham)
- Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisholm, or Mel C)
110…Cold War spy gp…KGB
The Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (KGB) was the national security agency of the Soviet Union until 1991. The KGB was dissolved after the agency’s chairman led a failed attempt at a coup d’état designed to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev.
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.
111…Civil things: Abbr…RTS