Edited by: Rich Norris
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- 20A. “Am I clear, George?”? : CAN YOU HEAR ME, W? (from “can you hear me now?)
- 28A. “Okay, so it’s THAT dictionary”? : AH, WEBSTER (from “Noah Webster”)
- 48A. Former space sports group? : MIR LEAGUE (from “minor league”)
- 58A. Little Spanish range? : POCO MOUNTAINS (from “Pocono Mountains”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. “It’s not easy to __”: Five for Fighting lyric : BE ME
Five for Fighting is the stage name of singer-songwriter Vladimir Ondrasik from Los Angeles. Ondrasik took his stage name from the world of ice hockey, it being a reference to the five-minute penalty incurred for participating in a fight. Five for Fighting is an avid fan of the LA Kings hockey team.
5. Sun, for one : G STAR
Stars are usually classified based on the color of the light that they emit. These classifications are, from hottest to coolest, O, B, A, F, G, K and M. One way to remember the order of these letters is to use the mnemonic “Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me”. The colors of these stars range from blue (class O) to red (class M). Our sun is class G, a yellow star, but I think we all know that …
10. Omegas, in the electrical world : OHMS
The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every schoolkid knows as Ohm’s Law.
17. Jack Blum’s “Meatballs” character : SPAZ
“Meatballs” is a 1979 movie in which comic actor Bill Murray had his first starring role. The film was directed by Ivan Reitman, who later teamed up with Bill Murray again in the hit movies “Stripes” (1981) and “Ghostbusters” (1984).
18. House work? : OPERA
The Latin for “work” is “opus”, with the plural being “opera”.
And … one might attend an opera in an opera house.
19. Work meas. : FT-LB
The foot-pound (ft-lb) is an imperial unit of work or energy. One foot-pound is the amount of work in applying a one pound-force over a distance of one foot.
20. “Am I clear, George?”? : CAN YOU HEAR ME, W? (from “can you hear me now?)
President George W. Bush (GWB) is of course named for his father, George H. W. Bush. The “W” in the name of both father and son stands for “Walker”. Walker was the family name of President George H. W. Bush’s mother, Dorothy Walker.
27. Manuscript mark : STET
“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.
28. “Okay, so it’s THAT dictionary”? : AH, WEBSTER (from “Noah Webster”)
Not only is Noah Webster’s name inextricably linked with his series of dictionaries, but he is also renowned as an advocate for English spelling reform. He argued that “traditional” English is hard to learn, and that it should be simplified and standardized (instead of “standardised”). He published spelling books that were used in schools, and from edition to edition he changed the spelling of words in order to simplify the language. Examples are the use of “s” over “c” in words like “defense” (in Ireland we have defence and defense depending on usage), “-re” became “-er” as in center instead of centre (reversing the influence of French), and he dropped one of the Ls in words like traveler (I learned “traveller”). Mind you, he also spelled “tongue” as “tung”, but he didn’t get very far with that one.
32. 9, often: Abbr. : SEP
The month of September is the ninth month in our year, although the name “September” comes from the Latin word “septum” meaning “seventh”. September was the seventh month in the Roman calendar until the year 46 BC when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar. The Julian system moved the start of the year from March 1st to January 1st, and shifted September to the ninth month. The Gregorian calendar that we use today was introduced in 1582.
35. Symbols of elusiveness : EELS
The answer to some of these clues seem to be as slippery as eels …
36. Govt. stipend provider : SSI
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is federal program that provides financial relief to persons with low incomes who are 65 or older, or who are blind or disabled. The SSI program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) even though the the Social Security trust fund is not used for SSI payments. SSI payments come out of general tax revenue.
39. “The Ten Commandments” (1956) director : DEMILLE
Cecil B. Demille was a movie director and producer who started his professional career in the silent era. DeMille’s movies were often epic works, such “Cleopatra” (1936), “Samson and Delilah” (1949), “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952) and “The Ten Commandments” (1956). The Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award is named in his honor, and indeed he was its first recipient.
“The Ten Commandments” is an epic movie directed by Cecil B. DeMille, and released in 1956. The cast is as epic as the film, with Charlton Heston playing the lead role of Moses. Also appearing are Yul Brynner as Rameses, Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, Vincent Price as Baka and Anne Baxter as Nefretiri.
42. AAA offering : RTE
The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit organization focused on lobbying, provision of automobile servicing, and selling of automobile insurance. The AAA was founded in 1902 in Chicago and published the first of its celebrated hotel guides back in 1917.
43. It’s near the funny bone : ULNA
The ulnar nerve runs alongside the ulna (one of the bones in the lower arm). The ulnar nerve is the largest unprotected (not surrounded by muscle or bone) nerve in the human body. The nerve can be touched under the skin at the outside of the elbow. Striking the nerve at this point causes and an electric-type shock, known as hitting one’s “funny bone” or “crazy bone”.
48. Former space sports group? : MIR LEAGUE (from “minor league”)
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.
51. Nursery buy : LOAM
Loam is soil made up of sand, silt and clay in the ratio of about 40-40-20. Relative to other soil types, loam is is usually rich in nutrients and moisture, drains well and is easy to till.
54. Roosevelt feature partially carved on Rushmore : SPECS
The four presidents whose faces are carved in the granite face of Mount Rushmore are (from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Each of the presidents is about 60 feet in height, although they might have been larger. The original intent was for the presidents to be depicted from head to waist, but the project lost funding.
55. Jordan River outlet : DEAD SEA
The Dead Sea is a salt lake that lies over 1,000 feet below sea level in the Middle East. It is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, with a salt content that is almost ten times that of most oceans.
The Jordan River forms the border between Israel and Jordan, and flows into the Dead Sea. According to the Christian Bible, Jesus was baptised in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The country of Jordan takes its name from the river.
58. Little Spanish range? : POCO MOUNTAINS (from “Pocono Mountains”)
“Poco” is an Italian word for “little”.
The Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania are home to many popular vacation resorts.
66. Mexican bread : PESO
The coin called a “peso” is used in many Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The coin originated in Spain where the word “peso” means “weight”. The original peso was what we know in English as a “piece of eight”, a silver coin of a specific weight that had a nominal value of eight “reales”.
67. Early anesthetic : ETHER
Ethers are a whole class of organic compounds, but in the vernacular “ether” is specifically diethyl ether. Diethyl ether was once very popular as a general anesthetic.
68. New __ : AGER
New-Age music is created to provide a relaxing and stress-free atmosphere. The New Age movement is often said to have begun with the release of an album called “Spectrum Suite” by Steven Halpern in 1975.
69. Winter Olympics jump : AXEL
An Axel is a forward take-off jump in figure skating. It was first performed by Norwegian Axel Paulsen at the 1882 World Figure Skating championships.
71. Taboo that hints at this puzzle’s theme : NO-NO
The word “taboo” was introduced into English by Captain Cook in his book “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean”. Cook described “tabu” (likely imitative of a Tongan word that he had heard) as something that was both consecrated and forbidden.
1. Certain pears : BOSCS
Bosc is a cultivar of the European Pear grown in the northwest of the United States. The Bosc is that pear with a skin the color of a potato, with a long neck. I always seem to use the potato as my point of reference. How Irish am I …?
2. Americans in Paris, maybe : EXPATS
4. Biology subjects : ENZYMES
Enzymes are basically catalysts, chemicals that act to increase the rate of a particular chemical reaction. For example, starches will break down into sugars over time, especially under the right conditions. However, in the presence of the enzyme amylase (found in saliva) this production of sugar happens very, very quickly.
5. Halloween costume : GHOUL
All Saints’ Day is November 1st each year. The day before All Saints’ Day is All Hallows Eve, better known by the Scottish term, “Halloween”.
6. Cary’s love interest in “Houseboat” : SOPHIA
“Houseboat” is a fabulous 1958 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. The film’s original script was written by Betsy Drake, who was Grant’s wife at the time. Apparently, the intention was for Drake to play the female lead in “Houseboat”, but Loren won the role after she and Grant entered into an affair while working together on a film the prior year. The end result was that the script was rewritten and Drake received no credit. Also, there was tension on the set of “Houseboat” as Loren ended the affair and instead married Italian film producer Carlo Ponti.
7. Too precious, in Portsmouth : TWEE
In the UK, something “twee” is cutesy or overly nice. “Twee” came from “tweet”, which is the cutesy, baby-talk way of saying “sweet”.
8. Quattro competitor : ATRA
Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra razor was introduced by Gillette in 1977. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.
Quattro (Italian for “four”) is a series of four-bladed safety razors made by Wilkinson Sword under the brand name Schick.
12. Ligament commonly injured in football : MCL
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a ligament of the knee, on the inside (medial) side of the joint.
13. Ted, to Bobby : SIB
Ted Kennedy was the youngest boy in the family that included his older brothers: Joseph Jr. (killed in action in WWII), John (assassinated) and Robert (assassinated). Ted went into the US Senate in 1962 in a special election held after his brother became US President. He remained in the Senate until he passed away in 2009, making Ted Kennedy the fourth-longest-serving Senator in history.
Robert “Bobby” Francis Kennedy (RFK) was the US Attorney General in the administration of his brother President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1964. He then served as US Senator for the State of New York from 1965 until 1968, when he was assassinated. Bobby was killed during his own run for the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
22. Sci-fi pic series : MIB
“Men in black” are said to have appeared in the past whenever there have been reports of UFO sightings. Supposedly, these men are government agents whose job it is to suppress reports of alien landings. The conspiracy theorists got their day in the movies with the release of a pretty good sci-fi comedy in 1997 called “Men in Black”, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
26. Gaelic tongue : ERSE
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).
29. Narrowly defined verse : HAIKU
A haiku is a very elegant form of Japanese verse. When writing a haiku in English we tend to impose the rule that the verse must contain 17 syllables. This restriction comes from the rule in Japanese that the verse must contain 17 sound units called “moras”, but moras and syllables aren’t the same thing. What the difference is though, is not so clear to me. Here’s an example of a Haiku:
Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense
30. Wheaton who played Wesley on “Star Trek: T.N.G.” : WIL
Wil Wheaton is the actor who grew up playing Ensign Crusher on the best of the “Star Trek” TV series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. In recent years Wheaton has become a de facto spokesman for the so-called “geek” or “nerd” community via a weblog that he writes called “Wil Wheaton Dot Net”. He has been playing Dungeons & Dragons for years, and is also someone you’ll see at celebrity poker games on TV.
31. Women’s issue : ELLE
“Elle” magazine was founded in 1945 in France and today has the highest circulation of any fashion magazine in the world. “Elle” is the French word for “she”. “Elle” is published monthly worldwide, although you can pick up a weekly edition if you live in France.
33. Org. that opened a Bob Barker building in 2012 : PETA
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a very large animal rights organization, with 300 employees and two million members and supporters worldwide. Although the group campaigns for animal rights across a broad spectrum of issues, it has a stated focus in opposition of four practices:
- Factory farming
- Fur farming
- Animal testing
- Use of animals in entertainment
Bob Barker is a retired TV host of game shows, most famous for hosting “The Price Is Right” for 35 years from 1972 to 2007. He retired when he was 83½ years old, having secured the record as the oldest man ever to host a regularly scheduled TV game show. Barker is a celebrated animal rights activist, and became a vegetarian in 1979. He donated $2.5 million to PETA to help establish a new office for the organization in Los Angeles, an office that is now called teh Bob Barker Building.
40. Stir-fry sprinkle : MSG
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of a naturally-occurring,non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid. It is used widely as a flavor enhancer, particularly in many Asian cuisines. Whether or not it is harmful seems to be still under debate. I say that something produced in a test tube shouldn’t be in our food …
41. Key of four Beethoven piano sonatas : E-FLAT
A cantata is a piece of music that is sung, as opposed to a sonata, which is a piece that is played on some instrument, often a piano.
44. “The anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life”: Shaw : ALCOHOL
George Bernard Shaw was a very successful Irish playwright. Shaw is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature, and an Oscar. He won his Oscar for adapting his own play “Pygmalion” for the 1938 film of the same name starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller. Most people are more likely to have seen the musical adaptation of “Pygmalion” that goes by the title “My Fair Lady”.
49. User’s way out : ESC
The escape key (esc) was originally used to control computer peripherals. It was a key that allowed the computer operator to stop what the peripheral was doing (cancel a print job, for example). Nowadays the escape key is used for all sorts of things, especially in gaming programs.
50. Brought out : EDUCED
“To educe” is to draw out, although the term can also have a similar meaning to deduce.
52. Panini cheese : ASIAGO
Asiago is a crumbly cheese, named after the region in northeastern Italy from where it originates.
57. The Jetsons’ dog : ASTRO
“The Jetsons” is an animated show from Hanna-Barbera that had its first run in 1962-1963, and then was recreated in 1985-1987. When it was debuted in 1963 by ABC, “The Jetsons” was the network’s first ever color broadcast. “The Jetsons” are like a space-age version of “The Flintstones”. The four Jetson family members are George and Jane, the parents, and children Judy and Elroy. Residing with the family are Rosie the household robot, and Astro the pet dog.
59. The Snake R. forms part of its eastern border : OREG
The Snake River in the US northwest is the largest tributary of the Columbia River.
60. Prefix with physics : META-
The word “metaphysics” comes from the Greek “meta” (beyond) and “physika” (physical), and is a branch of philosophy that investigates reality beyond the principles of science. Not something I would understand …
61. Kalanikupule’s kingdom : OAHU
The island of Oahu was conquered in 1783 by Kahekili II, the King of Maui. Kahekili the placed his son Kalanikupule on Oahu’s throne.
62. German grandpa : OPA
The German for grandpa is “Opa”, and for grandma is “Oma”.
63. Evil eye : HEX
“Hexen” is a German word meaning “to practice witchcraft”. The use of the word “hex” in English started with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the early 1800s.
The “evil eye” is a curse that is cast by giving a malicious glare.