Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers end with a SET of words that often follow the word LIFE:
- 60A. Having financial freedom … and, literally, what the last words of the answers to starred clues comprise : SET FOR LIFE
- 20A. *Old West transport : STAGECOACH (giving “life coach”)
- 40A. *Trailways, for one : BUS LINE (giving “lifeline”)
- 11D. *Handsome guy or gorgeous gal : DREAMBOAT (giving “lifeboat”)
- 34D. *Temporary group for a specific job : TASK FORCE (giving “life-force”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Catnip or coriander : HERB
About 50% of all cats are affected in some way by the plant catnip. There is a terpenoid in the oil of the plant called nepetalactone that the cat inhales and that can cause anything from drowsiness to anxiety.
What we know here in North America as cilantro is called coriander in the UK and other parts of the world. “Cilantro” is the Spanish name for the herb.
5. Throw in the towel : QUIT
The expression “to throw in the towel” means “to give up”, and of course comes from the world of boxing. In boxing, when someone in the corner feels that a fight needs to be stopped, he or she throws a towel into the ring and accepts the loss. Back in the 1700s, it wasn’t a towel that was thrown into the ring, but rather a sponge.
9. Former “Idol” judge Paula : ABDUL
Paula Abdul is primarily a singer and dancer, and someone who endeared herself even more to the American public in recent years as a judge on “American Idol”. Abdul had a famous husband for a couple of years, as she was married to actor Emilio Estevez from 1992-94.
14. Old music halls : ODEA
In Ancient Greece an odeon (also “odeum”) was like a small theater, with “odeon” literally meaning a “building for musical competition”. Odea were used in both Greece and Rome for entertainments such as musical shows and poetry readings.
16. Author John le __ : CARRE
John Le Carré is the pen name of David Cornwell, an English author famous for his spy novels. Cornwell worked for British Intelligence during the fifties and sixties, even as he was writing his spy thrillers. He left MI6 soon after his most famous 1963 novel “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, became such a great success.
18. Road in old Rome : ITER
“Iter” is the Latin for “road, journey”.
19. Martial arts-based fitness routine : TAE BO
Tae Bo isn’t an ancient martial art, even though it perhaps sounds like one. The discipline was developed as a form of aerobic exercise in the 1990s by taekwondo expert Billy Blanks who gave it the name Tae Bo, a melding of “taekwondo” and “boxing”.
20. *Old West transport : STAGECOACH (giving “life coach”)
Although the stagecoach is very much associated with the Wild West, the vehicle originated in England in the 16th century. Stagecoaches provided transportation for travellers and goods over long distances. The rest points for the travellers were known as “stages”, and later “stations”, hence the name “stagecoach”.
23. British brew with a red triangle in its logo : BASS
The red triangle on the label of a bottle of Bass Ale was registered in 1875 and is UK Registered Trade Mark (TM) No: 00001, the first trademark issued in the world.
25. Captain Marvel’s magic word : SHAZAM
“Shazam” is a word that was coined in the “Captain Marvel” comics in 1940. Billy Batson is a boy who can transform himself into the superhero Captain Marvel by speaking the magic word “Shazam”.
32. Good—and bad—dietary substances : FATS
Saturated fats (“bad” fats) differ from unsaturated fats (“good” fats) chemically in that saturated fats have chains of fatty acids that are relatively straight, allowing individual molecules to pack closely together. This close packing largely explains why saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fatty acids on the other hand have “kinks” in the chains of their fatty acids, so that they cannot pack together closely. Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. Food manufacturers have learned that humans get sick by consuming saturated fats (i.e. fats from animal sources). So, they market “healthy” vegetable fats (naturally unsaturated and liquid at room temperature) that they have magically transformed in solid fats (like vegetable spreads). All they did was saturate the healthy fats, so that now it solidifies at room temperature, and in your arteries. There should be a law …
38. Jiffy Lube supply : OIL
Jiffy Lube is an automotive service chain of businesses that specializes in quick oil changes. The Jiffy Lube slogan is “The Well-Oiled Machine”.
39. __ Fáil: Irish “stone of destiny” : LIA
The “Lia Fáil” is the coronation stone that is found on the Hill of Tara, the traditional seat of the High Kings of Ireland. “Lia Fáil” translates from Irish as “stone of destiny”.
40. *Trailways, for one : BUS LINE (giving “lifeline”)
Trailways is a network of about 70 independent bus companies based in Fairfax, Virginia. All of the member companies include word “Trailways” name in their name, e.g. Adirondack Trailways in Hurley, New York and Lone Star Trailways in Tyler, Texas.
43. Pennysaver contents : ADS
Today, “pennysaver” is a generic term for a free periodical issued in a community, offering items and services for sale. The original “Pennysaver” was published in 1948 in Ohio by Horace Greeley and Ralph St. Denny.
44. “Family Matters” nerd : URKEL
Steve Urkel is a character on the TV show “Family Matters” that aired in the late eighties and nineties. The Urkel character was the archetypal “geek”, played by Jaleel White. Urkel was originally written into the show’s storyline for just one episode, but before long Urkel was the show’s most popular recurring character.
45. Kenton of jazz : STAN
Stan Kenton was a pianist, composer and jazz orchestra leader from Wichita, Kansas. Kenton’s style of music was called “the Wall of Sound”, and that was back in the 1940s. Phil Spector used the same phrase decades later, in the early sixties.
48. DVR pioneer : TIVO
TiVo was introduced in 1999 and was the world’s first commercially successful DVR (Digital Video Recorder).
51. Charlatans : FAKERS
A charlatan is someone who makes false claims of skill or knowledge. It is a word we imported from French, although the original derivation is the Italian “ciarlatano”, the term for “a quack”.
62. Bouquet __: chef’s tasty bundle : GARNI
“Bouquet garni” is French for “garnished bouquet”, and is the name given to a bundle of herbs often tied together and added to soups, stocks and stews. The bouquet garni adds flavor, but is removed prior to serving. The list of herbs included in the “bundle” varies, but thyme and bay leaf are often the base ingredients.
64. Retail complex : MALL
Surprisingly, our word “mall”, meaning “shady walk” or “enclosed shopping space”, comes from the Italian for “mallet”. All of our shopping-style malls are named for “The Mall” in St. James’s Park in London. This tree-lined promenade was so called as it used to a famous spot to play the croquet-like game called “pall-mall”. The game derived its name from the Italian for ball (palla) and mallet “maglio”. The London thoroughfare called the Mall still exists, at one end of which is Buckingham Palace. Indeed, parallel to the Mall is a street called Pall Mall.
66. One sent back down the river? : EX-CON
The pen (penitentiary) is “up the river”. The phrase derives from the fact that Sing Sing prison (in Ossining, NY) is up the Hudson River from New York City.
67. “Metamorphoses” poet : OVID
“The Metamorphoses” is a narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid that deals with a lofty subject. It describes the history of the world from creation until the “present day”, that is Ovid’s “present day”, the era of Julius Caesar. A lot of the storyline makes use of Greek mythology (rather than Roman).
68. Russian river : URAL
The Ural River rises in the Ural Mountains in Russia and flows for half its length through Russian territory until it crosses the border into Kazakhstan, finally emptying into the Caspian Sea.
70. Nickname for José : PEPE
“José” is the Spanish for “Joseph”. Friends might also refer to José as “Pepe”. Both José and Pepe derive from Saint Joseph, the father of Jesus. Saint Joseph is sometimes referred to as “padre putativo” meaning “presumed father”. The initialism “PP”, standing for “padre putativo”, led to the name “Pepe”.
2. Novelist Wharton : EDITH
Edith Wharton was a novelist and designer from New York City. Wharton was a wealthy woman and built her own estate in Lenox, Massachusetts called the Mount. My wife and I had the privilege of touring the Mount a few years ago, and there we saw evidence of what design meant to Wharton.
4. Annoys persistently : BADGERS
“To badger” is to harass. The term comes from the cruel practice of “badger-baiting”, which dates back to medieval times. Badger-baiting is a blood sport in which a dog is used as “bait” for a badger in its den, to draw him out into the open. The den is an artificial structure built to resemble a natural badgers’ den, complete with a tunnel entrance. The dog is sent down the tunnel causing the badger and dog to lock their jaws on each other. The badger and dog are then removed from the den by pulling on the dog’s tale. I am ashamed to say that badger-baiting is still practiced (illegally) in Ireland, with ten convictions in the courts over the past 20 years.
5. Pielike brunch serving : QUICHE
The classic dish called quiche is made with eggs (“oeufs” in French). Even though the quiche is inextricably linked to French cuisine, the name “quiche” comes from the German word for cake, “Kuchen”. The variant called “quiche lorraine” includes bits of smoked bacon as an ingredient.
6. Golden rule word : UNTO
The Golden Rule is also known as the ethic of reciprocity, and is a basis for the concept of human rights. A version of the rule used in the Christian tradition is attributed to Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
8. Olympic symbol : TORCH
A flame is used as the symbol for the Olympic Games in commemoration of the theft of fire for humanity by Prometheus from Zeus in Greek mythology. The symbolic flame was introduced to the Modern Olympics in the 1928 Summer Games in Amsterdam. I was surprised to learn that the tradition of the Olympic torch relay started out as political theater devised and funded by Nazi Germany for the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin.
12. Metro regions : URBS
“Urbs” is a slang term for “city”.
13. Many August babies : LEOS
Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac. People born from July 23 to August 22 are Leos.
21. Water in the Seine : EAU
“Eau” is the French word for “water”.
The Seine is the river that flows through Paris. The Seine empties into the English Channel to the north, at the port city of Le Havre.
26. Kindle read, briefly : ZINE
A “zine” is a magazine, with the term often reserved for noncommercial publications including those issued online.
Amazon’s Kindle line of e-book readers was introduced in 2007. The name “kindle” was chosen to evoke images of “lighting a fire” through reading and intellectual stimulation. I bought myself a Kindle Fire HD not that long ago. I’ve started reading e-books for the first time in my life, as well as enjoying other computing options available with the tablet device. I love it …
30. “__ Rose”: “The Music Man” song : LIDA
“The Music Man” is a musical by Meredith Willson. The show was a big hit on Broadway in 1957. “The Music Man” won the first ever Grammy Award for the “Best Original Cast Album”. The show is set in the fictional River City, Iowa.
31. North Carolina campus : ELON
Elon is a city in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, close to the city of Burlington. Elon University is a private liberal arts school founded in 1889.
33. Verdi princess : AIDA
“Aida” is the famous opera by Giuseppe Verdi, actually based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radames is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then of course complications arise!
49. Wagner princess : ISOLDE
“Tristan und Isolde” is an epic opera by Richard Wagner (Wagner … not one of my favorites!). Many see the work as the first serious move away from the traditional harmony and tonality of the classical and romantic eras.
50. 48-Across ancestor : VCR
(48A. DVR pioneer : TIVO)
Video Cassette Recorder (VCR)
53. Avoid, with “off” : STAVE
The word “stave” was originally the plural of “staff”, a wooden rod. To “stave off” originated with the concept of holding off with a staff. In the world of barrel-making, a stave is a narrow strip of wood that forms part of a barrel’s sides.
55. Sporty ’80s Pontiac : FIERO
General Motors produced the two-seater Pontiac Fiero sports car from 1984 to 1988. “Fiero” means “proud” in Italian and “wild, fierce, ferocious” in Spanish.
63. Elected pols : INS
A “pol” is a politician, especially one known for making deals.