Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers starts with a type of POWDER:
- 55A. Leave hurriedly … and, literally, what the first words of the answers to starred clues can do : TAKE A POWDER
- 20A. *Shake off one’s daydreams : FACE REALITY (giving “face powder”)
- 39A. *Cause of chubby cheeks, perhaps : BABY FAT (giving “baby powder”)
- 11D. *Ingratiate oneself (with) : CURRY FAVOR (giving “curry powder”)
- 29D. *Bargain hunter’s venue : FLEA MARKET (giving “flea powder”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Working stiff : PEON
A peon is a lowly worker with no real control over his/her working conditions. The word comes into English from Spanish, in which language it has the same meaning.
5. Brief timetable : SKED
Something not yet on the schedule (sked) is to be advised (TBA).
9. Racing venue near Windsor Castle : ASCOT
Ascot Racecourse is used for thoroughbred horse racing, and is located in the town of Ascot, Berkshire in England. The course is located just six miles from Windsor Castle, and is often visited by members of the royal family. Royal Ascot is the name given to the most famous race meeting in the year, at which members of the royal family attend each day, arriving in horse-drawn carriages amidst great ceremony.
Windsor Castle is located on the River Thames in Berkshire, just 20 miles outside London. It was built in the early 11th century by William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion of England. Queen Elizabeth II likes to spend her weekends at Windsor. She has lots of room to move around there, as it’s the largest inhabited castle in the world.
14. “Beetle Bailey” dog : OTTO
Sgt. Snorkel (“Sarge”) is Beetle Bailey’s nemesis in the cartoon strip that bears his name. Snorkel has a dog called Otto that he dresses up to look just like himself. Otto started off as a regular dog, but artist Mort Walker decide to draw him more like his owner, and soon Otto became a big hit.
18. Actor Bana of “Closed Circuit” : ERIC
Eric Bana is an Australian actor who enjoyed a successful career in his home country before breaking into Hollywood playing an American Delta Force sergeant in “Black Hawk Down”. A couple of years later he played the lead in Ang Lee’s 2003 movie “The Hulk”, the role of Dr Bruce Banner. More recently he played the Romulan villain Nero, in the 2009 “Star Trek” movie.
19. Singer Haggard : MERLE
Merle Haggard is a country singer and songwriter whose most famous recording has to be “Okie from Muskogee” released in 1969. Haggard will tell you that the song was actually meant as a spoof, but it has become a country “anthem”.
25. Rap fan : B-BOY
A “b-boy” is a male fan of rap-music and breakdancing. Apparently the term comes from either “Bronx boy” or “break boy”.
27. Little child, in Cannes : ENFANT
In French, a mother (mère) bears a child (enfant).
Cannes is a city on the French Riviera, noted as host of the Cannes Film Festival. The decision to host an annual film festival was adopted by the city just before WWII. However, the festival had to wait for the end of the war for its launch in 1946.
34. “Born Free” lioness : ELSA
The life story of Elsa the lion was told by game warden Joy Adamson, who had a very close relationship with the lioness from when Elsa was orphaned as a young cub. Adamson wrote the book “Born Free” about Elsa, and then “Living Free” which tells the story of Elsa and her three lion cubs. In the 1966 film based on “Born Free”, Adamson is played by the talented actress Virginia McKenna.
37. Carne __: Mexican dish : ASADA
The name of the dish called “carne asada” translates from Spanish as “roasted meat”.
38. Old AT&T rival : GTE
GTE was a rival to AT&T, the largest of the independent competitors to the Bell System. GTE merged with Bell Atlantic in 2000 to form the company that we know today as Verizon. Verizon made some high-profile acquisitions over the years, including MCI in 2005 and AOL in 2015.
41. Perp’s prey, in copspeak : VIC
In “copspeak”, a “perp” (perpetrator) might prey on a a “vic” (victim).
42. French floor : ETAGE
In France, the ground “étage” (floor) of the “la maison” (house) isn’t called the first floor. It’s called the ground floor. The first floor is the floor above the ground floor.
44. Like the lama, but not the llama, in a Nash poem : ONE-L
The poet Ogden Nash is well known for his light and humorous verse. Try this one for size:
The one-L lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-L llama,
He’s a beast.
And I would bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
51. Tawdry : SEAMY
We’ve used “seamy” to mean “the least pleasant, the worst” since the 1600s. The idea comes from the seamed side of a sewn garment being the less attractive.
Saint Audrey (commonly “Awdry”) was an Anglo-Saxon queen. The queen’s admirers were in the habit of buying lace trimmings for their clothes at an annual fair held in her name. Centuries later, this lacework came to be viewed with distaste as the Puritans came to influence social standards. The lace trimming was deemed to be old-fashioned and cheap. The queen’s name “Awdry” then evolved into our word “tawdry”, meaning cheap and of poor quality.
53. Trojan __ : WAR
The ancient city of Troy was located on the west coast of modern-day Turkey. The Trojan War of Greek mythology was precipitated by the elopement of Helen, the wife of the king of Sparta, with Paris of Troy. The war itself largely consisted of a nine-year siege of Troy by the Greeks. We know most about the final year of that siege, as it is described extensively in Homer’s “Iliad”. The city eventually fell when the Greeks hid soldiers inside the Trojan Horse, which the Trojans brought inside the city’s walls. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts …
55. Leave hurriedly … and, literally, what the first words of the answers to starred clues can do : TAKE A POWDER
The phrase “to take a powder” means “to scram, vanish”. This meaning was first recorded in the 1920s, and may derive from the medical instruction “take a powder”, which may imply having to make a quick exit!
62. __ facto : IPSO
“Ipso facto” is Latin, meaning “by the fact itself”. Ipso facto describes something that is a direct consequence of particular act, as opposed to something that is the result of some subsequent event. For example, my father was born in Dublin and was an Irish citizen ipso facto. My son was born in California and is an Irish citizen by virtue of being the son of an Irish citizen (“not” ipso facto).
64. Stout mug : STEIN
A stein is a type of beer glass. The term is German in origin, and is short for “Steinkrug” meaning “stone jug”. “Stein” is the German for “stone”.
65. Property claim : LIEN
A lien is the right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.
66. Biblical garden : EDEN
According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve lived in a garden “in” Eden, with Eden being geographically located by reference to four rivers including the Tigris and the Euphrates. Some scholars hypothesize that Eden was located in Mesopotamia, which encompasses much of modern-day Iraq.
67. __ four: small cake : PETIT
A “petit four” is a small confection served at the end of a meal, either as a dessert or with coffee. The name “petit four” is French for “small oven”.
68. “A __ of Two Cities” : TALE
“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens is the most printed book that was originally written in English. The novel was first published in 1859 in 31 weekly installments in a literary periodical called “All the Year Round”, which Dickens himself produced. The “two cities” in the title are London and Paris.
1. High hair style : POUF
The “pouf” is an “updo” type of hairstyle that was popularized in the 18th-century France by Marie Antoinette. The French queen first sported the pouf at the coronation of her husband, Louis XVI. Ladies of the day would often wear many ornaments and decorations in their hair set in a pouf, such as pearls, feathers and even ships.
2. Active European volcano : ETNA
Mt. Etna is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy. Mt Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-guage railway, and two ski resorts.
6. K, to a jeweler : KARAT
A karat (also “carat”, the spelling outside of North America) is a measure of the purity of gold alloys, with 24-karat representing pure gold.
8. Metric prefix : DECI-
The prefix “deci-” indicates “a tenth”.
11. *Ingratiate oneself (with) : CURRY FAVOR (giving “curry powder”)
“To curry” is to seek, at least when it is used in the phrase “to curry favor”.
12. Norwegian capital : OSLO
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an ancient city that was founded around 1048. The medieval city was destroyed by fire in 1624 and was rebuilt by the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV and renamed to Christiana. In 1877 there was an official change of the spelling of the city’s name to “Kristiana”, and then more recently in 1925 the name was restored to the original Oslo. Things have almost gone full circle and now the center of Oslo, the area that would have been contained by the original medieval walls, has apparently been renamed to Christiana.
22. Ltrs. in an unfilled TV time slot : TBA
Something not yet on the schedule (sched.) is to be advised (TBA).
26. Western treaty org. : OAS
The Organization of American States (OAS) has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. All the independent states in the Americas are members of the group except Honduras, which had its membership suspended after the country’s 2009 coup.
28. Gangster Frank in “Road to Perdition” : NITTI
Frank Nitti was one of the top henchmen working for Al Capone. Unlike American-born Capone, Nitti was actually from Italy and was born near the city of Salerno. When Capone was eventually put away for 11 years for tax evasion, Nitti was convicted of the same crime. Nitti was only imprisoned for 18 months, and when released he was labelled as the new head of Capone’s Chicago Outfit. However the truth seems to be that he was just a frontman, with others making the decisions.
“Road to Perdition” is a 2002 film based on a 1998 graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins. The movie was directed by Sam Mendes and stars a great cast headed by Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law and Daniel Craig. It’s all about a mob war in Chicago during the Great Depression.
32. Pink-slips : SACKS
The term “pink-slip” can be used as a verb meaning “to terminate an employee”. No one really seems to know for sure where the term originated, but there are lots of stories.
35. Debt-heavy corp. deals : LBOS
A leveraged buyout (LBO) is a transaction in which an investor acquires a controlling volume of stock in a company, but buys that stock with borrowed funds (hence “leveraged”). Often the assets of the acquired company are used as collateral for the borrowed money. There is a special form of LBO known as a management buyout (MBO) in which the company’s own management team purchase the controlling interest.
36. Word in a thesaurus: Abbr. : SYN
The first person to use the term “thesaurus” to mean a “collection of words arranged according to sense” was Roget in 1852, when he used it for the title of his most famous work. Up to that point in time, a thesaurus was basically an encyclopedia. Before being used with reference to books, a thesaurus was a storehouse or treasury, coming from the Latin “thesaurus” meaning “treasury, treasure”.
39. Temporary Oktoberfest structure : BEER TENT
Oktoberfest is a 16-day beer festival in Munich that actually starts in September. About six million people attend every year, making it the largest fair in the world. I’ve been there twice, and it really is a great party …
40. “The Untouchables” gangster : AL CAPONE
The Chicago gangster Al Capone was eventually jailed for tax evasion. He was given a record 11-year sentence in federal prison, of which he served 8 years. He left prison suffering dementia caused by late-stage syphilis. Capone suffered through 7-8 sickly years before passing away in 1947.
“The Untouchables” is a 1957 memoir by famed Prohibition agent Eliot Ness. The book was adapted into a TV show of the same name that in the late fifties and early sixties, starring Robert Stack as Ness. The same memoir was the basis of the 1987 film, again of the same name, with Kevin Costner in the lead role.
43. Yukon automaker : GMC
The Chevrolet Tahoe is basically the same design as the GMC Yukon, both cars being sports utility vehicles. The Tahoe is rated at 15 mpg for city driving, but there is a hybrid version which is rated at a whopping 21 mpg …
47. Actor Stephen : REA
Stephen Rea is an Irish actor from Belfast. Rea’s most successful role was Fergus in 1992’s “The Crying Game”, for which performance he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In “The Crying Game”, Fergus was a member of the IRA. In real life, Rea was married to IRA bomber and hunger striker Dolours Price at the time he made the movie.
49. Wellness gp. : HMO
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
51. Vintage photo hue : SEPIA
Sepia is that lovely rich, brown-grey color so common in old photographs. “Sepia” is the Latinized version of the Greek word for cuttlefish, as sepia pigment is derived from the ink sac of the cuttlefish.The “sepia tone” of old photographs is not the result of deterioration over time. Rather, it is the result of a deliberate preservation process which converts the metallic silver in the photographic image to a more stable silver sulfide. Prints that have been sepia-toned can last in excess of 150 years.
52. Painter’s stand : EASEL
The word “easel” comes from an old Dutch word meaning “donkey” would you believe? The idea is that an easel carries its load (an oil painting, say) just as a donkey would be made to carry a load.
53. Hornet, e.g. : WASP
A hornet is a large type of wasp, with some species reaching over two inches in length.
56. Highland garb : KILT
The Scottish skirt called a “kilt” takes its name from the Middle English word “kilten” meaning “to tuck up”. The idea is that the kilt can be tucked up around the body to give freedom to the legs.
57. Florida’s Miami-__ County : DADE
The residents of Florida’s Dade County voted to change its name to Miami-Dade County in 1997, in recognition of its most populous and recognized city.