Edited by: Rich Norris
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Our themed answers today are all two-word phrases, with the first starting with VxL, where “x” is a vowel. The vowels progress (AEIOU) as we go down the grid:
- 18A…Personal guide..VALUE SYSTEM
- 24A…Shoe fastener..VELCRO STRIP
- 38A…Historic Manhattan jazz club..VILLAGE VANGUARD
- 48A…Cloud above a peak..VOLCANIC ASH
- 58A…Source of the Romance languages..VULGAR LATIN
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1…One of a pair in “Waiting for Godot”..ACT
An Irishman I may be, but I have sat through so many Samuel Beckett plays (the Irish dramatist) and I have yet to come away feeling satisfied that I spent my time well. Of course I am in the minority, as Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” was once voted the most significant English language play of the 20th century. Maybe I will give “Waiting for Godot” another chance one day, but I doubt it …
Cosmic rays aren’t actually rays at all. They are high energy particles that originate in outer space outside of our solar system. Cosmic rays interact with atoms in our atmosphere creating secondary particles that can reach the Earth’s surface.
10…Where rds. meet..JCTS
Roads (rds.) can meet at junctions (jcts.).
An areola (sometimes “areole”) in anatomy is a small ring of color, as in the areola surrounding the nipple, and the areola surrounding the pupil of the eye. “Areola” comes from Latin, meaning “small open space”, and is a diminutive of the Latin word “area”, meaning “open space”.
The iris is the colored part of the eye with an aperture in the center that can open or close depending on the level of light hitting the eye.
Despite rumors to the contrary, I am pretty sure that Barack Hussein Obama II was indeed born in Hawaii. Future US President Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii.
20…Start of “A Visit From St. Nicholas”..’TWAS
The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in 1823, and is better known today by its first line “‘Twas the night before Christmas”. Most scholars believe that the poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore, a theologian from New York City. Others say that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr. a poet from Upstate New York.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash …
24…Shoe fastener..VELCRO STRIP
The hook-and-loop fastener that we now call Velcro was invented in 1941 by Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer. Mestral noticed that the seeds of the burdock plant (burrs or burs) stuck to his clothes. Under the microscope he found hooks on the burrs that grabbed hold of loops in his clothing. After years of development, he came up with a way of simulating the natural hook using man-made materials, and Velcro was born.
“Maw” is a term used to describe the mouth or stomach of a carnivorous animal. “Maw” is also used as slang for the mouth or stomach of a greedy person.
30…”To see __ is a picture”: Dickinson..HER
Emily Dickinson wrote nearly 1800 poems in her lifetime, with less than a dozen published before she died in 1886. Emily’s younger sister discovered the enormous collection, and it was published in batches over the coming decades. Try this one for size:
To see her is a Picture —
To hear her is a Tune —
To know her an Intemperance
As innocent as June —
To know her not — Affliction —
To own her for a Friend
A warmth as near as if the Sun
Were shining in your Hand.
The word “nincompoop”, meaning a fool, seems to have been around for quite a while. It has been used since the 1670s, but no one appears to know its origins.
35…”Biggest Little City in the World”..RENO
Reno, Nevada was named in honor of Major General Jesse Lee Reno, a Union officer killed in the Civil War. The city has a famous “Reno Arch”, a structure that stands over the main street. The arch was erected in 1926 to promote an exposition planned for the following year. After the expo, the city council decided to keep the arch and held a competition to decide what wording should be displayed, and the winner was “The Biggest Little City in the World”.
37…Next Dodger after Fernando to win the Cy Young Award..OREL
Fernando Valenzuela won the Cy Young Award in 1981, and Orel Hershiser in 1988.
38…Historic Manhattan jazz club..VILLAGE VANGUARD
The Village Vanguard is a jazz club in New York City’s Greenwich Village that opened in 1935. Well, it opened as a club featuring a broader range of music, before switching to jazz alone in 1957.
41…Ancient Icelandic text..EDDA
The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda are two ancient works that are the source for much of Norse mythology. Both Eddas were written in the 13th century, in Iceland.
42…Birthstone for some Scorpios..OPAL
Here is the “official” list of birthstones by month, that we tend to use today:
- January: Garnet
- February: Amethyst
- March: Bloodstone or Aquamarine
- April: Diamond
- May: Emerald
- June: Pearl or Moonstone
- July: Ruby
- August: Sardonyx or Peridot
- September: Sapphire or Lapis Lazuli
- October: Opal or Pink Tourmaline
- November: Topaz or Citrine
- December: Turquoise or Zircon (also now, Tanzanite)
43…Bavarian count opener..EINS
The German for “one, two, three” is “eins, zwei, drei”.
Bavaria in southeast Germany is the largest state in the country. The capital and largest city in Bavaria is Munich.
Emergency room (ER)
58…Source of the Romance languages..VULGAR LATIN
Vulgar Latin (meaning “common, vernacular” Latin) was the spoken form of the language, rather than the standard written form. It is from Vulgar Latin that the Romance languages like French, Spanish and Italian developed.
63…How some games are won, briefly..IN OT
In overtime (OT)
In Greek mythology, Eos is the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos is Aurora.
1…”How to Get Away With Murder” airer..ABC TV
“How to Get Away With Murder” is legal drama show that first aired in 2014. Star of the show is Viola Davis, playing a law professor who becomes involved in a murder plot with five of her students. I hear good things about this series, but haven’t seen it yet myself …
Russell Crowe is a highly successful actor from New Zealand. Understandably, he doesn’t like people to call him “Australian”, even though it was in Australia that he launched his acting career. Not too long before the 9/11 attacks, the FBI contacted Crowe to inform him that al-Qaeda was plotting to kidnap him as part of a general attack on high-profile “American” icons. For a few months the New Zealander was guarded by Secret Service agents.
4…Member of the reigning NBA champs..CAV
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavs joined the NBA as an expansion team in 1970.
Monica Seles has a Hungarian name as she was born to Hungarian parents, in former Yugoslavia. Seles was the World No. 1 professional tennis player in 1991 and 1992 before being forced from the sport when she was stabbed by a spectator at a match in 1993. She did return to the game two years later, but never achieved the same level of success.
Steffi Graf is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Germany. Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other man or woman other than Margaret Court. She is married to another former World No. 1, namely Andre Agassi.
8…The Seine’s __ Saint-Germain..ILE
Île Saint-Germain is an island in the Seine River just outside Paris, France. The island was once home to a military camp, now abandoned.
A catamaran is a boat that has two hulls. Catamarans have been around along time, with the design having being used by the Ancient Greeks. Notably, the design was used by the locals in the Bay of Bengal and it was this design that was adopted by European boat builders. The name “catamaran” comes from the Tamil language of southeastern India, with “kattu maram” meaning “logs tied together”.
The word “regatta” is Venetian dialect and was originally used to describe boat races among the gondoliers of Venice on the Grand Canal back in the mid-1600s.
12…With 7-Down, sermon site..THE …
(7D…See 12-Down.. … MOUNT)
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of teachings of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. One famous section of the discourse is known as the Beatitudes. The eight Beatitudes are:
- … Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
- … Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted
- … Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth
- … Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled
- … Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy
- … Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God
- … Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God
- … Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
21…Gentleman, at times?..SCHOLAR
One might use the expression “gentleman and scholar” as a compliment to an admirable and intelligent male. Apparently, the phrase was coined by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns in his poem “‘Twa Dogs”. He describes one of the two dogs in the work thus:
His locked, letter’d, braw brass collar
Shew’d him the gentleman and scholar.
25…Sitcom that starred a singer..REBA
Reba McEntire is a country music singer and television actress. McEntire starred in her own sitcom called “Reba” that aired on the WB and the CW cable channels from 2001 to 2007.
Something described as “renal” is related to the kidneys. “Ren” is the Latin word for “kidney”.
32…Comedian who said, “I have a lot of beliefs, and I live by none of ’em”..LOUIS CK
“Louis C.K.” is the stage name of comedian Louis Szekely. The family name “Szekely” is Hungarian, and “CK” is an approximation of the name in English. “Louis” has a successful comedy drama show that airs on FX called “Louie”.
Comic Louis C.K. said the following on the subject of “beliefs”.
I have a lot of beliefs, and I live by none of ’em. That’s just the way I am. They’re just my beliefs. I just like believing them. I like that part. They’re my little believies; they make me feel good about who I am.
“Bidet” is a French word that we imported into English. In French, the word “bidet” originally described a small horse or a pony. The bidet bathroom fixture was so called because one straddles it like a horse in order to use it.
“Chap” is an informal term for “lad, fellow”, especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.
36…Green of “Penny Dreadful”..EVA
Despite the English-sounding name, Eva Green is a French actress. Green played Bond girl Vesper Lynd in the 2006 movie “Casino Royale”, opposite Daniel Craig.
“Penny Dreadful” is a horror TV show that started airing on Showtime in 2014. I don’t do horror, so I haven’t seen the show, despite the fact that it is filmed in Dublin. Characters in the show come from 19th-century fiction from Ireland and Britain, including Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Bram Stoker’s Abraham Van Helsing and Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein.
Vera Wang’s first choice for a career was figure skating. Although she a very capable skater, Wang failed to make the 1968 US Olympics team. She switched to the world of fashion, and is now famous for her designs of wedding dresses … and also costumes for figure skaters.
39…Scene of biblical destruction..GOMORRAH
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as Admah and Zeboim, were destroyed by God for the sins of their inhabitants, according to the Bible. The name Sodom has become a metaphor for vice and homosexuality, and gives us our word “sodomy”.
40…Spice Girl Halliwell..GERI
Geri Halliwell was nicknamed Ginger Spice when she was with the Spice Girls, because of her red hair. Halliwell was quite a bit older than the rest of the group and so sometimes she was less charitably referred to as “Old Spice”. After launching her solo career, Halliwell released a fabulous 2001 version of the song “It’s Raining Men”, which was originally recorded by the Weather Girls in 1982. Great song …
The Avia brand name for athletic shoes was chosen as “avia” is the Latin word for “to fly”, and suggests the concept of aviation. Avia was founded in Oregon in 1979.
50…Jaguars, for instance..AUTOS
Auto manufacturer Jaguar started out as a manufacturer of sidecars for motorcycles back in 1922, when the company was known as the Swallow Sidecar Company (SS for short). The company changed its name to Jaguar after WWII, because of the unfortunate connotations of the letters “SS” in that era (i.e. the Nazi paramilitary organization).
To the purist, especially in Provence in the South of France, the “home” of aioli, aioli is prepared just by grinding garlic with olive oil. However, other ingredients are often added to the mix, particularly egg yolks.
53…Big name in the bags aisle..HEFTY
Hefty is a brand name of trash bags and related products.
“Vim” and “pep” are words that both mean “energy, power”.
59…Game with wild cards..UNO
In my youth I remember being taught a great card game, by a German acquaintance of mine, called Mau Mau. Years later I discovered that Uno is basically the same game, but played with a purpose-printed deck instead of the regular deck of playing cards that’s used for Mau Mau. I hear that Mau Mau is derived from the game called Crazy Eights.
60…Him, to Henri..LUI
In French, “lui” is the word for “him” and “elle” is the word for “her”.
61…”A Queens Story” rapper..NAS
Rapper Nas used to go by another stage name, Nasty Nas, and before that by his real name, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. Nas released his first album “Illmatic” in 1994, and inventively titled his fifth studio album “Stillmatic”, released in 2001. Not my cup of tea, I would say …