Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers starts with something often described as BIG:
- 23A…Breakfast order..CHEESE OMELETTE (giving “big cheese”)
- 36A…Fruity pastry shop purchase..APPLE TURNOVER (giving “Big Apple”)
- 51A…Unite..BAND TOGETHER (giving “big band”)
- 78A…Wedding acquisition, perhaps?..BROTHER-IN-LAW (giving “Big Brother”)
- 95A…Stab..SHOT IN THE DARK (giving “big shot”)
- 111A…1949 Crosby film set in Ireland..TOP O’ THE MORNING (giving “big top”)
- 17D…Fan of Pat and Vanna, familiarly..WHEEL WATCHER (giving “big wheel”)
- 60D…Ones not at home on the range..CITY SLICKERS (giving “big city”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
21…”High waving heather __ stormy blasts bending”: Emily Brontë..NEATH
“High Waving Heather ‘Neath Stormy Blasts Bending” is a poem by Emily Brontë. The first verse is:
High waving heather ‘neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars,
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
Man’s spirit away from its drear dungeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.
23…Breakfast order..CHEESE OMELETTE (giving “big cheese”)
The phrase “the big cheese” doesn’t have its roots in the word “cheese” at all. The original phrase was “the real cheese” meaning “the real thing”, used way back in late 1800s (long before Coke picked it up). “Chiz” is a Persian and Hindi word meaning “thing”, and it’s not hard to see how the expression “the real chiz” would morph into “the real cheese”. Then in early-20th century America, instead of a “real cheese”, the most influential person in a group was labeled as “the big cheese”. And I think that is about the only use of the word “cheese” that is in anyway complimentary!
The Latin term “habeas corpus” translates literally as “you are to have the body”, and is a legal action (i.e. a writ) that is used to release a prisoner from unlawful detention.
26…NFL lineman-turned-actor Alex..KARRAS
Before he became an actor, Alex Karras played football for the Detroit Lions and was also a professional wrestler. As an actor he played Mongo in 1974’s “Blazing Saddles”, and the adoptive father of the title character in the sitcom “Webster”.
27…Powder first marketed as Hudson’s Soap..RINSO
Rinso was a laundry detergent that was first manufactured in England in 1908 by a company called Hudson’s Soap. It was introduced into the US in 1918. In America, Rinso took to radio advertising and sponsorship in the days of “soap operas”. Their most famous program association was with “The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show” in the forties. One of the brand’s slogans was “Solium, the sunlight ingredient”. I have no idea what Solium is, but it certainly did sell a lot of soap!
28…Burned in a thurible..CENSED
A thurible is a device that holds burning incense. It is a metal chamber at the end of a long chain and plays a big part in many Christian ceremonies.
Anis is a Spanish liqueur, equivalent to what’s called anisette in other countries (in France, for example). It has a licorice taste as it is produced by distilling the seeds of the anis plant. Like all anis-type drinks, it is usually mixed with water and turns a milky white color when the water is added.
Oat cereals all start out as “groats”, toasted oat grains with the hull still intact:
- Steel-cut oats, sometimes called “Irish oats”, are groats that have been chopped into chunks about the size of sesame seeds.
- Stone-ground oats, sometimes called “Scottish oats”, have been ground into smaller pieces, about the size of poppy seeds.
- Old-fashioned rolled oats are made by first steaming the toasted groats, and then rolling them into flakes.
- Quick-cooking oats are similar to rolled oats, but thinner flakes.
- Instant oats have been chopped, rolled, pre-cooked, dehydrated and often have salt and sugar added.
35…Abbr. for old dates..BCE
The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.
36…Fruity pastry shop purchase..APPLE TURNOVER (giving “Big Apple”)
Apparently the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:
Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.
Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.
46…Tabasco, por ejemplo..ESTADO
Tabasco is one of Mexico’s 31 “estados” (states), and is located in the very southeast of the country.
An Ascot tie is a horrible-looking (I think!) wide tie that narrows at the neck, which these days is only really worn at weddings. The tie takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race at which punters still turn up in formal wear at Ascot Racecourse in England.
Back in the 18th century “drag” was slang for a wagon or buggy, as it was “dragged” along by a horse or horses. In the 1930s, the underworld adopted “drag” as slang for an automobile. This sense of the word was imported into automobile racing in the forties, giving the name to “drag racing”. A drag race is basically a competition between two cars to determine which can accelerate faster from a standstill.
62…What X may mean..TEN
The Roman numeral “X” stands for “10”.
The prefix “avi-” means “bird-related” as in “aviculture”, the breeding of birds.
65…Bernadette et al.: Abbr…STES
Bernadette Soubirous was a 14-year-old peasant girl who reported visions of the Virgin Mary in a cave near the town of Lourdes in the southwest of France. There were sixteen apparitions in total, all occurring in 1858. The Roman Catholic Church declared the visions authentic in 1862, and since then, the site of the apparitions has become a major pilgrimage destination, with about 5 million people visiting every year. Bernadette was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1933.
66…Tammany Hall Tiger artist..NAST
The building known as Tammany Hall was home to the Tammany Society, an organization in New York City that came to be the political machine behind the Democratic Party that held sway in New York State from the late-18th century to the mid-20th century. The society was named for Tamanend, a leader of the Native American Lenape people.
Thomas Nast was an American caricaturist and cartoonist. Nast was the creator of the Republican Party elephant, the Democratic Party donkey, Uncle Sam and the image of the plump and jocular Santa Claus that we use today. Thomas Nast drew some famous cartoons in which he depicted the Tammany Society as a vicious tiger that was killing democracy. Nast’s use of the tiger symbology caught on and was used by other cartoonists to harp at the society.
The terms “United Kingdom”, “Great Britain” and “England” can sometimes be confused. The official use of “United Kingdom” originated in 1707 with the Acts of Union that declared the countries of England and Scotland as “United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain”. The name changed again with the Acts of Union 1800 that created the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” (much to the chagrin of most of the Irish population). This was partially reversed in 1927 when the current name was introduced, the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, in recognition of an independent Irish Free State in the south of the island of Ireland.
Kugel is a traditional Jewish dish, a baked casserole made from potato or egg noodles. It is particularly associated with Shabbat (Sabbath).
71…Middle of Christmas?..ESS
There is a letter S (ess) in the middle of the word “Christmas”.
As my Finnish-American wife will tell you, “sauna” is a Finnish word, and is correctly pronounced “sow-nah” (with “sow” as in the female pig).
76…Part of Q.E.D…ERAT
QED is used at the end of a mathematical proof or a philosophical argument. The QED initialism stands for the Latin “quod erat demonstrandum” meaning “that which was to be demonstrated”.
77…First name in dance..TWYLA
I love Twyla Tharp’s choreography, and her patented “moves”. Tharp was born in Portland, Indiana in 1941. She was named after Twila Thornburg, the “Pig Princess” of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana. That’s one to tell to the grandkids …
78…Wedding acquisition, perhaps?..BROTHER-IN-LAW (giving “Big Brother”)
The “Big Brother” television franchise started out in 1999 in the Netherlands. The term “Big Brother” comes from George Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.
In tennis, if the score reaches “deuce” (i.e. when both players have scored three points), then the first player to win two points in a row wins the game. The player who wins the point immediately after deuce is said to have the “advantage”. If the player with the advantage wins the next point then that’s two in a row and that player wins the game. If the person with the advantage loses the next point, then advantage is lost and the players return to deuce and try again. If the one of the players is calling out the score then if he/she has the advantage then that player announces “ad in” or more formally “advantage in”. If the score announcer’s opponent has the advantage, then the announcement is “ad out” or “advantage out”. Follow all of that …?
The tsetse fly is responsible for the transmission of sleeping sickness, and is also responsible for transmission of trypanosomiasis, a disease caused by a parasitic protozoan.
94…2001 boxing biopic..ALI
“Ali” is a 2001 biographical movie about Muhammad Ali, with Will Smith in the title role. Among other things, the film is noted for its realistic fight scenes. The scenes were realistic because Smith was really being hit, as hard as his opponents could manage.
98…Richie’s dad, to the Fonz..MR C
Tom Bosley is an actor best remembered for playing Howard Cunningham (referred to as “Mr. C” by the Fonz) on the sitcom “Happy Days”. Bosley also played the title role in the mystery series called “Father Dowling Mysteries”, which aired from 1989 to 1991.
Richie Cunningham was originally written as the lead character on the sitcom “Happy Days”, but the role became overshadowed by the colorful Fonzie. Richie was played by the great Ron Howard, and the Fonz by Henry Winkler.
100…U. of Maryland player..TERP
The sports teams of the University of Maryland are called the Maryland Terrapins, or “the Terps” for short. The name dates back to 1932 when it was coined by the the university’s president at the time, Curley Byrd. He took the name from the diamondback terrapins that are native to the Chesapeake Bay.
102…Sandra Denton, in a hip-hop trio..PEPA
Salt-n-Pepa are an all-female hip hop trio from New York, made up of “Salt” (Cheryl James), “Pepa” (Sandra Denton) and “DJ Spinderella” (Deidra Roper). Their 1991 song “Let’s Talk Sex” created quite a fuss as the lyrics explored the subject of sex, and safe sex in particular. A later version addressed the dangers of AIDS.
105…Rapper __ Shakur..TUPAC
Rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur adopted the inventive stage name “2Pac”. He was a hard man, spending eleven months in prison for sexual assault. He was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at only 25 years of age.
111…1949 Crosby film set in Ireland..TOP O’ THE MORNING (giving “big top”)
“Top o’ the Morning” is a 1949 film starring Bing Crosby as an American insurance investigator who travels to Ireland in search of the stolen Blarney Stone. The Crosby character sings his way into the heart of the daughter (Ann Blyth) of a local policeman (Barry Fitzgerald).
118…Baltimore’s __ Harbor..INNER
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was once a major gateway for immigrants to the US, second only to New York City. In recent decades, the Inner Harbor has been transformed from an industrial area full of dilapidated warehouses into a major tourist destination and commercial district, with some very expensive real estate.
1…”__ baby … “..ROCK-A-BYE
“Rock-a-Bye Baby” is a lullaby, the history of which is much debated. Some say it originated in England, and others claim that it was the first poem that was written on American soil.
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
5…Italian coastal city..PISA
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 …
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was the son of Joe Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald, hence the president’s double-barreled name.
12…”The Simpsons” bus driver..OTTO
Otto Mann drives the school bus on the TV show “The Simpsons”. Otto is a Germanic character voiced by Harry Shearer, and his name is a play on “Ottoman Empire”. Whenever Bart sees him, he greets Otto with the words “Otto, man!”
13…Byron’s “__ Walks in Beauty”..SHE
“She Walks in Beauty” is one of the most famous poems written by Lord Byron. The poem is very descriptive of an elegant and beautiful woman. He wrote it the day after seeing his cousin, who was in mourning, walking by in a black dress set with spangles. The opening lines are:
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
14…Mount named for a friend of George Vancouver..ST HELENS
The active volcano in Washington state was named by explorer George Vancouver for his friend, the British diplomat Lord St Helens. 57 people died when When Mount St Helens erupted in 1980, making it the deadliest eruption in the history of the US.
15…Not quite a ringer..LEANER
In the game of horseshoes, a ringer is scored when the tossed shoe lands around the target stake. A leaner is almost as good as a ringer, and is scored when a horseshoe lands upright or leans against the stake.
16…Wagering places: Abbr…OTBS
Off-Track Betting (OTB) is the legal gambling that takes place on horse races outside of a race track. A betting parlor can be referred to as an OTB.
17…Fan of Pat and Vanna, familiarly..WHEEL WATCHER (giving “big wheel”)
Contestants have been spinning the “Wheel of Fortune” since the game show first aired in 1975.
Pat Sajak took over the hosting of “Wheel of Fortune” from Chuck Woolery back in 1983 and has been doing the job ever since. Sajak had a short run as a talk show host in 1989/1990 and used to sub quite often for Larry King and Regis Philbin.
Vanna White is the lady who turns the letters on the “Wheel of Fortune” game show. White is big into knitting and crochet, and has her own line of yarns called “Vanna’s Choice”.
24…”Symphony in Black” artist..ERTE
Erté’s most famous work by far is an image titled “Symphony in Black”. It depicts a tall and slender woman dressed in black, holding a black dog on a leash.
“Caviar” is the roe of a large fish that has been salted and seasoned, and especially the roe of a sturgeon. Beluga caviar comes from the beluga sturgeon, found primarily in the Caspian Sea. It is the most expensive type of caviar in the world. 8 ounces of US-farmed beluga caviar can be purchased through Amazon.com for just over $850, in case you’re feeling peckish …
32…Letters in the sand?..SOS
The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots), although in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so SOS is in effect only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are also mnemonics, introduced after the “SOS” signal was adopted.
36…Opera that premiered in Cairo in 1871..AIDA
“Aida” is the famous opera by Giuseppe Verdi, actually based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radames is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then of course complications arise!
39…Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee the same year as Clapton and Taylor..RAITT
Bonnie Raitt is a blues singer, originally from Burbank, California. Raitt has won nine Grammys for her work, but she is perhaps as well known for her political activism as she is for her music. She was no fan of President George W. Bush while he was in office, and she sure did show it.
Can you believe that the great Eric Clapton only had one chart-topper in the US? In 1974, Clapton released a cover version of the Bob Marley classic “I Shot the Sheriff” and ended up selling more copies of that song than Bob Marley did himself. Clapton is the only person to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times: once as a member of the Yardbirds, once as a member of the supergroup Cream, and once as a solo artist.
Before finishing high school, James Taylor suffered from clinical depression and spent nine months in the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, a stay that he regards as a lifesaver. Taylor has said that his hit 1970 song “Fire and Rain” is actually about his experiences in mental institutions. The “fire” referred to in the song is symbolic of electric shock therapy, with the “rain” being the cold showers that followed the treatment.
43…Word from Tonto..SABE
“Kemosabe” is a term used by the Tonto character in the iconic radio and television program “The Lone Ranger”. “Kemosabe” doesn’t really mean anything outside of the show, and in fact was written as “ke-mo sah-bee” in the original radio show scripts. The term was created by longtime director of “The Lone Ranger”, Jim Jewell. To come up with the term, Jewell used the name of a boy’s camp that his father-in-law established called Kamp Kee-Mo Sah-Bee.
45…Big name in sporting goods..VOIT
Voit is a sporting goods company that was founded by William J. Voit in 1922. Voit invented the first all-rubber inflatable ball, in the late twenties.
47…Rap sheet routines: Abbr…MOS
“Modus operandi” is the Latin for “mode of operating”, a term we’ve been using since the mid-1600s. It’s often used by the police when referring to the methods typically employed by a particular perpetrator of a crime, and is usually abbreviated to “M.O.”
A rap sheet is a criminal record. “Rap” is a slang term dating back to the 1700s that means “blame, responsibility” as in “to take the rap” and “to beat the rap”. This usage morphed into “rap sheet” in the early 1900s.
52…Rap’s Dr. __..DRE
Dr. Dre is the stage name of rapper Andre Romelle Young. Dr. Dre is known for his own singing career as well as for producing records and starting the careers of others such Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent.
Victor Appleton wrote a novel for young adults called “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle”. The company that developed the TASER electroshock weapon partly named its product as a homage to the novel. The acronym “TASER” stands for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”.
“Ennui” is the French word for boredom, a word that we now use in English. It’s one of the few French words we’ve imported that we haven’t anglicized and actually pronounce “correctly”.
56…Hawaiian coffee district..KONA
Kona coffee is cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, two of the five active volcanoes on the island. Coffee plants were brought to Kona in 1828 and late in the 19th century, coffee became a viable and worthwhile crop. Today Kona is a one of the most expensive and popular coffees in the world.
The Kona district on the Big Island of Hawaii is on the western side of the island. The largest town in Kona is Kailua-Kona. Kailua-Kona is often incorrectly referred to as “Kona”. The term “kona” translates as “leeward side of the island” in Hawaiian.
57…U.S. Army E-6..SSGT
Staff sergeant (SSgt)
63…Hymnal that’s often richly illustrated..PSALTER
In the Christian tradition, a “psalter” is a book devoted primarily to the Bible’s Book of Psalms, with other liturgical material usually included.
Cape Ann is 30 miles north of Boston and is on the northernmost edge of Massachusetts Bay. The Cape was first mapped by the explorer John Smith. Early in his adventurous life Smith had been captured and enslaved by the Ottoman Empire. His “owner” in his days of slavery was a woman called Tragabigzanda, and apparently the slave and owner fell in love. Smith originally called Cape Tragabigzanda in her memory, but King Charles I changed the name to Cape Ann in honor of his own mother, Anne of Denmark.
70…On the safer side..ALEE
“Alee” is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing “aweather”.
72…”Ditto!”..SO DO I!
“Ditto” was originally used in Italian (from Tuscan dialect) to avoid repetition of the names of months in a series of dates. So, “ditto” is just another wonderful import from that lovely land …
“Sec” is a term used in France for “dry”
79…Sluglike “Star Wars” alien..HUTT
Jabba the Hutt is the big blob of an alien that appears in the “Star Wars” movie “The Return of the Jedi”. Jabba’s claim to fame is that he enslaved Princess Leia and kitted her out in that celebrated metal bikini.
“Dilbert” is a comic strip written by Scott Adams, a “neighbor” of mine here in the Bay Area. Adams used to be co-owner of a restaurant at the end of my street that had a menu replete with “Dilbertesque” comments.
86…Medusa’s hair, after Athena got done with it..SERPENTS
In Greek mythology, Medusa was one of the monstrous female creatures known as Gorgons. According to one version of the Medusa myth, she was once a beautiful woman. But she incurred the wrath of Athena who turned her lovely hair into serpents and made her face hideously ugly. Anyone who gazed directly at the transformed Medusa would turn into stone. She was eventually killed by the hero Perseus, who beheaded her. He carried Medusa’s head and used its powers as a weapon, before giving it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. One myth holds that as Perseus was flying over Egypt with Medusa’s severed head, drop of her blood fell to the ground and formed asps.
87..Dish requiring special utensils..ESCARGOT
“Escargot” is the French word for “snail”. In order to eat snails, apparently they have to be “purged” before killing them. That means starving them or feeding them on something “wholesome” for several days before cooking them up. Ugh …
88…Questel who voiced Betty Boop..MAE
Mae Questel was an actress and voice artist who was most famous for voicing the cartoon characters Betty Boop and Olive Oyl.
Betty Boop made her first appearance on the screen in 1930, in a cartoon called “Dizzy Dishes”. Her character was modeled on the the It-girl, the sexy Clara Bow of movie fame. Back then Betty Boop was a sexy poodle and it wasn’t until 1932 that she morphed into completely human form. Betty was quite the risqué figure, but her vampish ways only lasted a few years. When the Production Code of 1934 came into force, Betty started to dress more modestly and toned down her behavior.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a standard protocol used when transferring files between computers on a network.
108…Vitalian, for one..POPE
Pope Vitalian was head of the Roman Catholic Church from 657 until his death in 672. Unusually, Vitalian kept his own baptismal name when he was elected pope.
There are actually three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).
110…See 111-Down.. … CHI
111…With 110-Down, Eastern discipline..TAI …
More correctly called tai chi chuan, tai chi is a martial art that is mostly practiced to improve overall health and increase longevity.
112…Bit of work..ERG
An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, as there are 10 million ergs in one joule. it has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off.
113…Fallen space station..MIR
The Russian Mir Space Station was a remarkably successful project, with the station still holding the record for the longest continuous manned presence in space, at just under ten years. Towards the end of the space station’s life however, the years began to take their toll. There was a dangerous fire, multiple system failures, and a collision with a resupply ship. The Russian commitment to the International Space Station drained funds for repairs, so Mir was allowed to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in 2001.