Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers include a string of circled letters. Those letters form the word CAKE, but are MIXED up, rearranged:
- 38A. Birthday party staple, and a hint to this puzzle’s circles : CAKE MIX
- 17A. Very close : NECK AND NECK
- 60A. Holiday to-do list task : BAKE COOKIES
- 11D. Dash, but not dot : TRACK EVENT
- 28D. 1954 Best Actress Oscar winner : GRACE KELLY
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Powerful watchdogs : AKITAS
The Akita breed of dog is named for its point of origin, the Akita Prefecture in Japan. When Helen Keller visited Japan in 1937, she asked for and was given an Akita breed of dog, with the name of Kamikaze-go. Sadly, the dog died within a year from distemper. The following year the Japanese government officially presented Keller with a replacement dog. Supposedly Keller’s dogs were the first members of the breed to be introduced into the US.
7. Silk Road desert : GOBI
The large desert in Asia called the Gobi lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi desert is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.
11. Pulls a Halloween prank on, for short : TPS
TP’ing (toilet papering) is a prank involving the covering of some object or location with rolls and rolls of toilet paper. If you live in Texas or Minnesota, that little “prank” is legal, but if you live here in California it is classed as mischief or vandalism.
15. “… wish __ a star” : UPON
“When You Wish Upon A Star” is a hit song by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington that was written for the 1940 Disney movie “Pinocchio”. In the animated film, the song is sung by the Jiminy Cricket character, with the voice provided by singer Cliff Edwards. In some parts of the world, “When You Wish Upon A Star” has become a Christmas classic due the assumption that the “star” in the title is the Star of Bethlehem.
16. Part of the fam. : REL
A relative (rel.) is part of the family (fam.).
19. Police blotter letters : AKA
Also known as (aka)
A police blotter is (or used to be) a daily record of arrests made.
20. Daughter of Polonius : OPHELIA
In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Ophelia is courted by Hamlet, the man himself. Ophelia is the daughter of nobleman Polonius. She dies …
21. Dependable source of income : CASH COW
On a farm, a dairy cow can produce a steady supply of milk, with relatively little maintenance. In the world of business, a “cash” cow is an operation that delivers a steady stream of profits, with relatively little investment.
23. Tearful queen : NIOBE
In Greek mythology, when her children were killed, Niobe fled to Mount Sipylus where she was turned into stone and wept for eternity. There is in fact a Niobe’s Rock on Mount Sipylus (in modern-day Turkey) that resembles a female face, and so is known as “The Weeping Rock”.
25. Short strings? : UKES
The ukulele (uke) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.
37. Seventh in a Greek series : ETA
Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was used as a long vowel in Ancient Greek.
45. Williams of talk TV : MONTEL
Montel Williams is a military man, and has a degree in international security affairs from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. He served in the Navy as a cryptology officer and saw active duty during the invasion of Grenada. When Williams retired from the Navy after twelve years of service he was at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. The Montel Williams Show was cancelled amidst controversy in 2008, after Williams had appeared on Fox criticizing the media’s lack of coverage of the Iraq War.
47. “The Square Egg” author : SAKI
Hector Hugh Munro was a British writer, who actually was born in Burma. He was most famous for his short stories, which he published using the pen name “Saki”. “The Square Egg and Other Sketches” was a collection of short stories published in 1924, nine years after his death.
51. Former Jesuit school official : PREFECT
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (also known as Inigo Lopez de Loyola) was a Spanish knight from a noble family in the Basque region of Spain. He left behind his easy life to become a hermit and a priest, and eventually founded the Society of Jesus (The Jesuit order of the Roman Catholic church).
59. Sushi selection : EEL
Anyone going to a sushi restaurant can order all types of raw fish (known collectively as “sashimi”). However, eel is always served cooked, and that’s because the blood of eels contains a protein that cramps muscles if eaten. If the heart muscle “cramps”, the result can be death. The protein is easily rendered harmless by applying heat, i.e. cooking.
62. “The Miracle Worker” comm. method : ASL
American Sign Language (ASL)
Helen Keller became a noted author despite been deaf and blind, largely through the work of her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Keller was left deaf and blind after an illness (possible meningitis or scarlet fever). when she was about 18 months old. She was to become the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The relationship between Sullivan and Keller is immortalized in the play and film called “The Miracle Worker”.
63. 2016 MLB retiree : 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.
64. Online newsgroup system : USENET
Remember the good old days, when you read messages online in “newsgroups”? Well, that system of aggregating public messages is known as Usenet, and it’s still around today. Usenet started operating in 1980, some ten years before the World Wide Web was introduced (which system has displaced Usenet in terms of popularity). Usenet definitely played a significant part in the history of the Internet. For instance, the terms “FAQ” and “spam” were both born on Usenet.
65. Pop artist Lichtenstein : ROY
Roy Lichtenstein was a pop artist from New York City, a contemporary of Andy Warhol. Lichtenstein was famous for his “cartoon-strip” paintings, especially works called “Whaam!” and “Drowning Girl”. If you saw the Ben Stiller film “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, you might remember Lichtenstein’s painting “Crying Girl” coming to life as part of the plot.
67. Mother in Calcutta : TERESA
Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in the city that is now called Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. At birth she was given the names Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (“Gonxha” means “little flower” in Albanian). She left home at the age of 18 and joined the Sisters of Loreto, and headed to Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham in Dublin, Ireland in order to learn English. Her goal was to teach in India, and English was the language used there for instruction by the nuns. After Mother Teresa passed away in 1997 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, a step on the road to canonization. In order for her to be beatified there had to be documented evidence of a miracle that was performed due to her intercession. The miracle in question was the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of a woman due to the application of a locket containing a picture of Mother Teresa. Documentation of a second miracle is required for her to be declared a saint. The canonization process seems to well underway, with Pope Francis recognizing a second miracle in December 2015.
1. Ponte Vecchio’s river : ARNO
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge that spans the Arno River in Florence, Italy. The bridge dates back to medieval times, and indeed the name “Ponte Vecchio” translates as “Old Bridge”. Famously, there are two rows of shops built on either side of the roadway crossing the bridge.
3. Foot part : INCH
Our term “ounce” (abbreviated to “oz.”) comes from the Latin “uncia”, which was 1/12 of a “libra”, the Roman “pound”. “Uncia” is also the derivation of our word “inch”, 1/12 of a foot.
4. Hornswoggled : TAKEN IN
“To hornswoggle” is to cheat, to deceive, to bamboozle.
5. Charlotte __ : AMALIE
Charlotte Amalie is the capital and largest city in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The city was named after the queen consort of King Christian V of Denmark, Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel.
8. Energy org. since 1960 : OPEC
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in 1960 at a conference held in Baghdad, Iraq that was attended by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Nine more countries joined the alliance soon after, and OPEC set up headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and then Vienna, Austria in 1965. The basic aim of OPEC was to wrench control of oil prices from the oil companies and to put it in the hands of the sovereign states that own the natural resource.
9. Florida city, familiarly : BOCA
The name of the city of Boca Raton in Florida translates from Spanish as “Mouse Mouth”. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive etymology of the name but one plausible explanation is a nautical one. “Boca”, as well as meaning “mouth” can mean “inlet”. “Ratón”, as well as meaning “mouse” was also used to describe rocks that chewed away at a ship’s anchor cable. So possibly Boca Raton was named for a rocky inlet.
12. Orange __ : PEKOE
A pekoe (or more commonly “orange pekoe”) is a medium-grade black tea. There is no orange flavor in an orange pekoe tea. The “orange” name most likely derived from the name of the trading company that brought the tea to Europe from Asia.
13. Picnic dishes : SLAWS
The term “coleslaw” is an Anglicized version of the Dutch name “koolsla”, which in itself is a shortened form of “Koolsalade” meaning “cabbage salad”.
18. Smidge : DAB
Our word “smidgen” (sometimes shortened to “smidge”) is used to describe a small amount. The term might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.
22. Sci-fi award : HUGO
The Hugo Awards are presented annually for excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing. The awards are named for Hugo Gernsback, who founded the sci-fi magazine “Amazing Stories”.
27. Palm fruit : DATE
Date palms can be either male or female. Only the female tree bears fruit.
28. 1954 Best Actress Oscar winner : GRACE KELLY
The lovely American actress Grace Kelly led the US delegation to the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 and there she met Prince Rainier III, at a photo-op in the Palace of Monaco. Twelve months later the pair were married and Kelly retired from acting at the age of 26. She suffered a stroke while driving her car in 1982, not long before her 53rd birthday. Kelly died in the resulting car crash but her daughter, Princess Stéphanie, survived the accident.
Grace Kelly won her only Best Actress Oscar in 1955, for her performance in the 1954 film “The Country Girl”.
30. Some den leaders : MOMS
That would be in the world of scouting.
32. HBO title forensic technician, familiarly : DEX
“Dexter” is a crime show that airs on Showtime. The title character works for the Miami Police Department as an expert in blood spatter patterns by day, but is a serial killer by night. The original series was based on the “Dexter” novels written by Jeff Lindsay. I haven’t seen this show myself, but my eldest son really enjoys it …
34. Aspen gear : SKIS
Aspen, Colorado used to be known as Ute City, with the name change taking place in 1880. Like many communities in the area, Aspen was a mining town, and in 1891 and 1892 it was at the center of the highest production of silver in the US. Nowadays, it’s all about skiing and movie stars.
35. Scary-sounding lake : ERIE
Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes by area (Lake Ontario is the smallest). The lake takes its name from the Erie tribe of Native Americans that used to live along its southern shore. Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume and the shallowest, something for which nearby residents must be quite grateful. Being relatively shallow, much of Erie freezes over part way through most winters putting an end to most of the lake effect snow that falls in the snow belt extending from the lake’s edge.
36. NASA part: Abbr. : NATL
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
39. Meyers of “Kate & Allie” : ARI
Ari Meyers is an actress best known for playing Emma McArdle, daughter of Kate on the eighties sitcom “Kate & Allie”. Meyers left the show in the fifth season in order to attend Yale University, from where she graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Theatre Arts.
42. Certain happy hour exclamation : TGIF
“Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF) is a relatively new expression that apparently originated in Akron, Ohio. It was a catchphrase used first by disk jockey Jerry Healy of WAKR in the early seventies. That said, one blog reader wrote me to say that he had been using the phrase in the fifties.
50. ’70s TV lawman Ramsey : HEC
“Hec Ramsey” is a TV western starring Richard Boone that aired in the early seventies. The series was unusual in that it was set late in the days of the Old West, and the title character focused less on using a gun, and more on using forensic techniques to catch the bad guys.
52. Auction venue : EBAY
There have been some notable things sold on eBay over the years. For example:
- Ad space on a guy’s forehead, in the form of a temporary tattoo – $37,375
- William Shatner’s kidney stone – $25,000
- A cornflake shaped like Illinois – $1,350
- A single corn flake – $1.63
- A box of 10 Twinkies – $59.99
- The original Hollywood sign – $450,400
- The meaning of life – $3.26
53. Bit of TLC? : CARE
Tender loving care (TLC)
54. WBA decisions : TKOS
In boxing, a knockout (KO) is when one of the fighters can’t get up from the canvas within a specified time, usually 10 seconds. This can be due to fatigue, injury, or the participant may be truly “knocked out”. A referee, fighter or doctor may also decide to stop a fight without a physical knockout, especially if there is concern about a fighter’s safety. In this case the bout is said to end with a technical knockout (TKO).
World Boxing Association (WBA)
56. Muse count : NINE
In Greek mythology, the muses are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. The number of muses is a subject of debate at times, but the most popular view is that there are nine:
- Calliope (epic poetry)
- Clio (history)
- Erato (lyric poetry)
- Euterpe (music)
- Melpomene (tragedy)
- Polyhymnia (choral poetry)
- Terpsichore (dance)
- Thalia (comedy)
- Urania (astronomy)
58. Spanish pronoun : ESTA
In Spanish, the “otra” (other) is neither “esta” (this) nor “esa” (that).
61. D.C. summer hrs. : EDT
Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)