Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers ends with a player on a CALIFORNIA-based NFL player:
- 57A. Home of the player at the ends of the answers to starred clues : CALIFORNIA
- 49D. Player referenced in 57-Across’ clue, briefly : NFLER
- 17A. *Power source that plugs into a computer port : USB CHARGER (giving “San Diego Charger”)
- 23A. *”Airplane!” flight number, to the control tower : TWO ZERO NINER (giving “San Francisco Niner”)
- 36A. *Carl Icahn or Michael Milken : CORPORATE RAIDER (giving “Oakland Raiders”)
- 46A. *Castle gate-busting weapon : BATTERING RAM (giving “Los Angeles Rams”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
6. Google __: geographical app : MAPS
Google Maps was developed as a web mapping service for desktops. The (wonderful!) Google Maps mobile app was released in 2008, and is now the most popular smartphone app in the world.
10. Ruth with bats : BABE
Jack Dunn was the owner/manager of the Baltimore Orioles back in 1913, when he signed on George Herman Ruth as a pitcher. The other players called Ruth “Jack’s newest babe”, and the name “Babe” stuck.
14. Egypt’s capital : CAIRO
Cairo is the capital city of Egypt. It is the largest city on the continent of Africa and is nicknamed “The City of a Thousand Minarets” because of its impressive skyline replete with Islamic architecture. The name “Cairo” is a European corruption of the city’s original name in Arabic, “Al-Qahira”.
17. *Power source that plugs into a computer port : USB CHARGER (giving “San Diego Charger”)
Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.
The San Diego Chargers were an AFL charter team, so the franchise was founded in 1959. The Chargers played one season in Los Angeles, before moving to San Diego in 1961.
20. Andes, e.g.: Abbr. : MTS
The Andes range is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world, running right down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles. The highest peak in the Andes is Mt. Aconcagua, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the planet. That’s because of the equatorial “bulge” around the Earth’s “waist”.
23. *”Airplane!” flight number, to the control tower : TWO ZERO NINER (giving “San Francisco Niner”)
The action in the 1980 movie “Airplane!” takes place on Trans American Flight 209.
The 1980 movie “Airplane!” has to be one of the zaniest comedies ever made. The lead roles were Ted Striker (played by Robert Hays) and Elaine Dickinson (played by Julie Hagerty). But it was Leslie Nielsen who stole the show, playing Dr. Barry Rumack. That’s my own humble opinion of course …
The National Football League team in San Francisco takes its name from the gold prospectors who flooded into Northern California around 1849 during the California Gold Rush. These 1849-prospectors became known as the “49ers”.
26. Boats with double-bladed paddles : KAYAKS
There is a type of boat used by Eskimo people called an “umiak”. . The term “umiak” means “woman’s boat”, whereas “kayak” means “man’s boat”.
30. Mosque leader : IMAM
An imam is a Muslim leader, often the person in charge of a mosque or perhaps a Muslim community.
31. Address for Bovary : MADAM
“Madame Bovary” is the most famous novel written by Gustave Flaubert. The title character is a doctor’s wife named Emma Bovary, who lives a luxurious life beyond her means and has many adulterous affairs. The novel had a rousing reception, first being attacked by public prosecutors as obscenity, which I am sure later helped it to become a bestseller.
36. *Carl Icahn or Michael Milken : CORPORATE RAIDER (giving “Oakland Raiders”)
The business strategy known as “corporate raiding” really is pretty ruthless and short sighted (excuse my being judgmental). The idea is to buy a large interest in a corporation, sometimes “stealthily”, by buying up a significant number of voting shares. Then, the raider uses the power of the voting rights to convince other voters to change the way the company is run, purely to increase the share price in the relatively short term. The changes often involve replacement of the management team, downsizing and even liquidation of the company, all for short term, personal gain. Corporate raider, Gordon Gekko said in the 1987 movie “Wall Street”, “greed is good”, but I wonder is he right?
Carl Icahn has many business interests, and is probably best known in recent years for his dealings with Yahoo!
Financier Michael Milken is the man most associated with the founding of the “junk bond” market in the 1980s. Milken made a personal fortune, but ended up spending two years in jail after being found guilty of securities fraud in 1989.
40. Billy the __ : KID
I’m guessing that the notorious Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid was of Irish stock as his family name was McCarty. Another indication of an Irish connection is that he also used the aliases William Antrim, Henry Antrim and Kid Antrim, as Antrim is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland.
41. Father or son New York governor : CUOMO
Mario Cuomo was Governor of New York from 1983 to 1994. I well remember Mario Cuomo’s keynote address to the 1984 Democratic National Convention soon after I moved to America. For a new immigrant it was an interesting glimpse into American politics. Here’s a little bit of trivia about Mario Cuomo: he was the first ever guest for Larry King on his CNN talk show “Larry King Live”, back in 1985. Cuomo passed away in January 2015 at the age of 82.
Andrew Cuomo won the gubernatorial election for the State of New York in 2010. Andrew is the son of former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo. Andrew was also married for 13 years to Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.
46. *Castle gate-busting weapon : BATTERING RAM (giving “Los Angeles Rams”)
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 2016.
51. Going on, to Sherlock : AFOOT
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in writing the “Sherlock Holmes” stories, had his hero use the phrase “the game is afoot” on more than one occasion. Holmes first uttered the expression in “The Adventures of the Abbey Grange”. However, the phrase was used long before Conan Doyle put pen to paper. In William Shakespeare’s “King Henry IV Part I” there is the line “Before the game is afoot, thou let’st slip”.
53. Sock hop site : GYM
Sock hops were high school dances typically held in the school gym or cafeteria. The term “sock hop” originated because the dancers were often required to remove their shoes to protect the varnished floor in the gym.
56. “The Mod Squad” cop : LINC
The 1999 movie “The Mod Squad” was an adaptation of the seventies television show of the same name. The part of Lincoln “Linc” Hayes was played by Omar Epps, Claire Danes played Julie Barnes and Giovanni Ribisi played Peter Cochran.
60. Actor Estrada : ERIK
Actor Erik Estrada’s big break came with the movie “Airport 1975”. He then played motorcycle police officer Poncherello on the television show “CHiPs” from 1977-81.
61. Be complicit in, as a caper : ABET
The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (it literally means “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.
62. Giraffe kin : OKAPI
The okapi is closely related to the giraffe, although it does have markings on its legs and haunches that resemble those of a zebra. The okapi’s tongue is long enough to reach back and wash its eyeballs, and can go back even further to clean its ears inside and out.
63. Exec’s asst. : SECY
64. TiVo predecessors : VCRS
Video Cassette Recorder (VCR)
TiVo was introduced in 1999 and was the world’s first commercially successful DVR (Digital Video Recorder).
5. Iroquoian people, or a hair style named for them : MOHAWK
The Iroquois Confederacy was also known as the Five Nations and was comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca nations.
Here is another example of a difference in terminology on either side of the Atlantic. What we call the Mohawk hairstyle in the US is known as a Mohican in the British Isles. The Mohawk hairstyle is named after the Mohawk nation, who wore their hair in the same fashion. The Mohawk style has been around for a long time elsewhere in the world. There was a well-preserved male body found in a bog near Dublin in Ireland in 2003. The body is about 2,000 years old, and has the Mohawk haircut.
6. Fred or Ethel of old TV : MERTZ
In the hit television show “I Love Lucy”, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. The Ricardos’ best friends were also their landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz. The Mertz’s were played by William Frawley and Vivian Vance.
7. Texas A&M athlete : AGGIE
Texas A&M is the seventh largest university in the country, and was the first public higher education institute in the state when it accepted its first students in 1876. The full name of the school was the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas and its primary mission used to be the education of males in the techniques of farming and military warfare. That’s quite a combination! Because of the agricultural connection, the college’s sports teams use the moniker “Aggies”. Texas A&M is also home to the George Bush Presidential Library.
8. 19th-century master of the macabre : POE
Edgar Allan Poe lived a life of many firsts. Poe is considered to be the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He was also the first notable American author to make his living through his writing, something that didn’t really go too well for him as he was always financially strapped. In 1849 he was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious from either drugs or alcohol. Poe died a few days later in hospital at 39 years of age.
9. Old Rus. state : SSR
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Rus.) became the largest and most influential Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Today, Russia is a sovereign state, and the largest country in the whole world.
12. Trailblazing Daniel : BOONE
Daniel Boone was a pioneer and folk hero. For frontiersman Boone, the frontier was what we now call the state of Kentucky. He led the building of the Wilderness Road through the famous Cumberland Gap in the Appalachians, a route subsequently taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants into Kentucky. Boone fought in the Revolutionary War with distinction, and after the war returned to Kentucky and got himself into land speculation. He became mired in debt, forcing him to emigrate to Missouri to settle down on land that was at that time owned by the French. It was there that he spent the last decades of his life.
13. Roundheaded Fudd : ELMER
Elmer Fudd is one of the most famous of all the Looney Tunes cartoon characters, the hapless nemesis of Bugs Bunny. If you have never seen it, check out Elmer and Bugs in the marvelous “Rabbit of Seville”, a short cartoon that parodies Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”. Wonderful stuff …
18. Yucatán years : ANOS
The Yucatán Peninsula is located in southeastern Mexico, where it separates the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest from the Caribbean Sea to the southeast.
22. Jungian inner self : ANIMA
The concepts of anima and animus is found in the Carl Jung school of analytical psychology. The idea is that within each male there resides a feminine inner personality called the anima, and within each female there is a male inner personality known as the animus.
23. Pack (down) : TAMP
“To tamp” means to pack down tightly by tapping. “Tamp” was originally used to specifically describe the action of packing down sand or dirt around an explosive prior to detonation.
24. Calf-roping event : RODEO
“Rodeo” is a Spanish word, which is usually translated as “round up”.
25. Poet Khayyám : OMAR
Omar Khayyam was a Persian with many talents. He was a poet as well as an important mathematician, astronomer and physician. A selection of his poems were translated by one Edward Fitzgerald in a collection called “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”. Here are some famous lines from that collection:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
27. Mine, to Marcel : A MOI
“À moi” (literally “to me”) is French for “mine”.
28. One of 100 between end zones : YARD
That would be in football.
31. Native New Zealander : MAORI
The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They are eastern Polynesian in origin and began arriving in New Zealand relatively recently, starting some time in the late 13th century. The word “māori” simply means “normal”, distinguishing the mortal human being from spiritual entities. The Māori refer to New Zealand as “Aotearoa”.
44. Plum’s title in Clue, briefly : PROF
Clue is another board game that we knew under a different name growing up in Ireland. Outside of North America, Clue is marketed as “Cluedo”. Cluedo was the original name of the game, introduced in 1949 by the famous British board game manufacturer Waddingtons. There are cute differences between the US and UK versions. For example, the man who is murdered is called Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in the US), one of the suspects is the Reverend Green (Mr. Green in the US), and the suspect weapons include a dagger (a knife in the US), a lead pipe (lead piping in the US) and a spanner (a wrench in the US). I think it’s a fabulous game, a must during the holidays …
45. Blue or black water of filmdom : LAGOON
A lagoon is a shallow body of water, usually separated from the sea by sandbar or reef. The term comes from the Italian “laguna”, the word for a pond or lake. The original “laguna” is the “Laguna Veneta”, the enclosed bay in the Adriatic Sea on which Venice is located. In 1769, Captain Cook was the first to apply the word “lagoon” to the body of water inside a South Seas atoll.
“The Blue Lagoon” is a 1980 film adapted from a 1908 novel of the same name by Henry De Vere Stacpoole. It’s all about two children who are marooned on a South Pacific island, exploring their lives as they go through puberty together without societal restrictions. The two youngsters are played by Christopher Aitkens and Brooke Shields.
“Creature from the Black Lagoon” is a “classic” monster movie released in 1954. The movie was filmed and shown in 3D, and so polarized 3D glasses are needed to appreciate that original version.
48. Mixer with gin : TONIC
The spirit known as gin gets its unique flavor mainly from juniper berries. The name “gin” comes into English from the translation of “juniper” from either French (genièvre), Dutch (jenever) or Italian (ginepro).
The original tonic water was a fairly strong solution of the drug quinine dissolved in carbonated water. It was used in tropical areas in South Asia and Africa where malaria is rampant. The quinine has a prophylactic effect against the disease, and was formulated as “tonic water” so that it could be easily distributed. In British colonial India, the colonial types got into the habit of mixing in gin with the tonic water to make it more palatable by hiding the bitter taste of the quinine. Nowadays, the level of quinine in tonic water has been dropped, and sugar has been added.
50. Southern side dish : GRITS
When grain has been separated from its chaff, to prepare it for grinding, it is called “grist”. Indeed, the word “grist” is derived from the word “grind”. Grist can be ground into a relatively coarse meal, or into a fine flour. The names can be confusing though. For example, the grist from maize when ground to a coarse consistency is called “grits”, and when ground to a fine consistency is called “corn meal”. There is an idiomatic phrase “grist for one’s mill”, meaning something used to one’s advantage. The grinding mechanism, or the building that holds the mechanism, is known as a “gristmill”.
57. Cleveland cager, for short : CAV
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavs joined the NBA as an expansion team in 1970.
In the early days of basketball, when a ball went out of bounds possession was awarded to the player who first retrieved the ball. This led to mad scuffles off the court, often involving spectators. As the game became more organized courts were routinely “caged”, largely because of this out of bounds rule, to limit interaction with the crowd. It’s because of these cages that basketball players are sometimes referred to today as “cagers”.
59. Old studio letters : RKO
The RKO Pictures studio was formed when RCA (RADIO Corporation of America) bought the KEITH-Albee-ORPHEUM theaters (and Joe Kennedy’s Film Booking Offices of America). The RKO initialism then comes from the words “Radio”, “Keith” and “Orpheum”.