Edited by: Rich Norris
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The end (BACK) of each of today’s themed answers is word meaning THROW:
- 55A…Reversions … or what 17-, 26- and 43-Across all have?..THROWBACKS
- 17A…Cold weather groundswell that can cause pavement damage..FROST HEAVE
- 26A…Ancient siege weapon..ROMAN CATAPULT
- 43A…Manufacturer’s coming-out event..PRODUCT LAUNCH
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1…Bucks in the woods..STAGS
A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and females cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …
10…Dept. store stock..MDSE
A condor is actually a vulture, and is the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere. There are two species, the Andean Condor, found in the Andes in South America; and the California Condor, found in the west of the US and Mexico.
21…Name in Cold War news..TASS
TASS is the abbreviation used for the former news agency that had the full name Telegraph Association of the Soviet Union (Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza). When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1992, the Moscow-based agency’s scope changed along with its name. It is now known as the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS).
22…Wright who wondered, “What’s another word for ‘thesaurus’?”..STEVEN
Steven Wright is a remarkably droll comedian from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wright is very, very quotable:
- What’s another word for Thesaurus?
- If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?
- I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
- When I was a little kid we had a sand box. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child … eventually.
26…Ancient siege weapon..ROMAN CATAPULT
Our word “siege” comes from a 13th century word for a “seat”. The military usage derives from the concept of a besieging force “sitting down” outside a fortress until it falls.
An ogee is a type of S-curve. Specifically it is a figure consisting of two arcs that curve in opposite directions (like an S) but both ends of the curve end up parallel to each other (which is not necessarily true for an S).
The Los Angeles Rams are the only franchise to have won NFL championships in three different cities, i.e. Cleveland (1945), Los Angeles (1951) and St. Louis (1999). The Rams were based in Cleveland from 1936 to 1945, in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1994, in St. Louis from 1995 to 2015, and returned to Los Angeles in 2106.
35…Tax-free govt. bond..MUNI
A municipal bond (muni) is one that is issued by a city or local government, or some similar agency. Munis have an advantage over other investments in that any interest earned on the bond is usually exempt from state and federal income taxes.
38…Boomer that no longer booms, briefly..SST
The most famous Supersonic Transport (SST) was the Concorde, a plane that’s no longer flying. Concorde had that famous “droop nose”. The nose was moved to the horizontal position during flight to create the optimum aerodynamic shape thereby reducing drag. It was lowered during taxi, takeoff and landing, so that the pilot had better visibility. The need for the droop nose was driven largely by the delta-shaped wings. The delta wing necessitates a higher angle of attack at takeoff and landing than conventional wing designs, so the pilot needed the nose lowered so that he or she could see the ground.
39…__ Valley: Reagan Library locale..SIMI
Nowadays Simi Valley, California is perhaps best known as being home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library is a great place to visit, and there you can tour one of the retired Air Force One planes.
In a sound system, a speaker that is designed to produce high frequencies is known as a “tweeter”. A speaker made for low frequencies is called a “woofer”. The terms come from the fact that birds migh high-pitched “tweets”, and dogs make low-pitched “woofs”.
49…Film boxer Rocky..BALBOA
If ever there was a movie that defines a career breakthrough for an actor, it would have to be “Rocky” for Sylvester Stallone. Stallone was a struggling actor in 1975 when a Muhammad Ali fight inspired Stallone to write a screenplay for a boxing movie, which he did in just three days. His efforts to sell the script went well but for the fact that the interested studios wanted a big name for the lead role, and Stallone was determined to be the star himself. Stallone persevered and “Rocky” was eventually made with him playing title role of Rocky Balboa. The movie won three Oscars, and “Sly” Stallone had arrived …
51…Syst. for the deaf..ASL
It’s really quite unfortunate that American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one cannot understand someone signing in the other.
The Islamic sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims differ in the belief of who should have taken over leadership of the Muslim faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Followers of the Sunni tradition agree with the decision that the Prophet Muhammad’s confidante Abu Bakr was the right choice to become the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. Followers of the Shia tradition believe that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet Muhammad’s own family, and favoured the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali.
59…Capital of Belgium..EURO
The Euro is the official currency of most of the member states of the European Union, but not all. The list of states not using the Euro includes the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
A legislative (legis.) meeting of Congress (Cong.) might be called a session (sess.).
Terns are seabirds that are found all over the world. The Arctic Tern makes a very long-distance migration. One Arctic Tern that was tagged as a chick in Great Britain in the summer of 1982, was spotted in Melbourne, Australia just three months later. The bird had traveled over 14,000 miles in over those three months, an average of about 150 miles a day. Remarkable …
3…Five-time A.L. home run champ, familiarly..A-ROD
Professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez earned more nicknames than just A-Rod. He has been called “the Cooler” by some players as there is a perception that teams go cold when he joins them and hot when he leaves. He has also been called “A-Fraud” by teammates because of another perception, that he is over-demanding. Rodriguez was in a world of hurt not so long ago, for using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
4…APO mail addressees..GIS
Army Post Office (APO)
We use the word “siesta” to describe a short nap in the early afternoon, taking the word from the Spanish. In turn, the Spanish word is derived from the Latin “hora sexta” meaning “the sixth hour”. The idea is that the nap is taken at “the sixth hour” after dawn.
7…Some govt. lawyers..ADAS
Assistant District Attorney (ADA)
The official nickname of Nevada is the “Silver State”, a reference to importance of silver ore in the state’s growth and economy. The unofficial nickname is the “Battle Born State”. “Battle Born” is a reference to Nevada being awarded statehood during the American Civil War.
10…Pre-1985 communications nickname..MA BELL
The term “Ma Bell” was used to describe the monopoly led by the American Bell Telephone Company and AT&T, that controlled telephone service right across the country. The name “Bell” is after Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the first practical telephone.
11…Car’s engine-to-wheels connector..DRIVETRAIN
The drivetrain of a car is made up of the components that deliver power to the driving wheels. The drivetrain excludes the engine, which produces that power. The combination of the engine and the drivetrain is known as the powertrain.
The use of “true blue” to mean loyal and constant has been around since the days of Chaucer, but no one seems to know its etymology.
24…View from Molokai’s south shore..MAUI
Molokai is the fifth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Famously, Molokai was home to a leper colony that was managed by Father Damien, a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium. Father Damien cared for the victims of Hansen’s Disease (then known as “leprosy”) for sixteen years before succumbing to the illness himself in 1889. Father Damien was declared a saint in 2009.
The contemporary standard radiation dosage unit is the “roentgen equivalent in man”, abbreviated to “rem”.
28…New England capital..MONTPELIER
Montpelier is the capital of the state of Vermont, the smallest state in the Union in terms of population. The city was named for the French city of Montpelier in the days when there was great enthusiasm for things French after the aid received during the American Revolution.
29…Needing a skull-and-crossbones label..TOXIC
We’ve been using the skull and crossbones symbol to mark poisons since the 1800s. The image itself dates back to the Late Middle Ages, when it was a symbol of death.
Alec Baldwin is the oldest of the acting Baldwin brothers. I think Alec’s big break was playing Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October”, but thank goodness that role was taken over by Harrison Ford for the subsequent Jack Ryan movies. Baldwin also made a name for himself playing Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock”, opposite Tina Fey.
36…Russia-China border river..AMUR
The Amur is a river that serves as the border between Russia and China in Manchuria. On one side of the border is Outer Manchuria (in Russia) and on the other is Inner Manchuria (in China).
“Smut” means “dirt, smudge” and more recently “pornographic material”. The term comes from the Yiddish “schmutz”, which is a slang word used in English for dirt, as in “dirt on one’s face”.
39…Explorer Hernando de __..SOTO
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish conquistador who led expeditions throughout the southeastern US. De Soto’s travels were unsuccessful in that he failed to bring gold or silver back to Spain, and nor did he found any colonies. What de Soto did achieve was the exposure of local populations to devastating Eurasian diseases. De Soto was the first European to cross the Mississippi River, in 1541. The first European to see the Mississippi (but not cross it) was Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, in 1519.
Sunlight shining through airborne water droplets can produce rainbows. The water droplets act as little prisms, dispersing the white light into its constituent colors. Sometimes we see double rainbows. If we look carefully, we can see that the order of the colors in the first and second arcs is reversed.
The word “taboo” was introduced into English by Captain Cook in his book “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean”. Cook described “tabu” (likely imitative of a Tongan word that he had heard) as something that was both consecrated and forbidden.
50…Gets an “I’m sorry” from Alex Trebek, say..ERRS
Alex Trebek has been the host of “Jeopardy!” since the syndicated version of the game show launched in 1984. Trebek has missed just one episode since then, when he and host of “Wheel of Fortune” Pat Sajak swapped roles in 1997 as an April Fool’s joke.
The term “entr’acte” comes to us from French, and is the interval “between two acts” (“entre deux actes”) of a theatrical performance. It often describes some entertainment provided during that interval.
“Agenda” is a Latin word that translates as “things to be done”, coming from the verb “agere” meaning “to do”.
53…Iwo Jima troop carriers: Abbr…LSTS
LST stands for Landing Ship, Tank. LSTs were the large vessels used mainly in WWII that had doors at either ends through which tanks and other vehicles could roll off and onto beaches. The design concept persists to this day in the huge fleet of commercial roll-on/roll-off car ferries, all inspired by the LST.
Iwo Jima is a volcanic island located south of Tokyo that today is uninhabited. The name is Japanese for “Sulfur Island”, referring to the sulfur mining on which Iwo Jima’s economy once depended. There were about a thousand Japanese civilians living on the island prior to WWII. In 1944, there was a massive influx of Japanese military personnel in anticipation of the inevitable US invasion. As the Japanese military moved in, the civilians were forced out and no one has lived there since.
The game of “twenty-one” was first referred to in a book by Cervantes, the author famous for writing “Don Quixote”. He called the game “ventiuna” (Spanish for “twenty-one”). Cervantes wrote his story just after the year 1600, so the game has been around at least since then. Twenty-one came to the US but it wasn’t all that popular so bonus payments were introduced to create more interest. One of the more attractive bonuses was a ten-to-one payout to a player who was dealt an ace of spades and a black jack. This bonus led to the game adopting the moniker “Blackjack”.