Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answer each start with a synonym of “classy”.
- 20A. Fabric with a slight sheen : POLISHED COTTON
- 25A. Sophisticated-sounding hair treatment product : SUAVE SHAMPOO
- 46A. Coffee sweetener : REFINED SUGAR
- 55A. Plowed ground for crop-raising : CULTIVATED LAND
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
15. Sultan’s group : HAREM
“Harem” is a Turkish word, derived from the Arabic for “forbidden place”. Traditionally a harem was the female quarters in a household in which a man had more than one wife. Not only wives (and concubines) would use the harem, but also young children and other female relatives. The main point was that no men were allowed in the area.
16. Carrier to Tel Aviv : EL AL
El Al Israel Airlines is the flag carrier of Israel. The term “el al” translates from Hebrew as “to the skies”. The company started operations in 1948, with a flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv.
The full name of Israel’s second largest city is Tel Aviv-Yafo. Tel Aviv translates into “Spring Mound”, a name chosen in 1910.
18. BP merger partner : AMOCO
“Amoco” is an abbreviation for “American Oil Company”, an oil company that merged with BP in 1998. Amoco had been the first oil company to introduce gasoline tanker trucks and drive-through filling stations. I wonder did they know what they were starting …?
BP is an oil and gas company headquartered in London, UK. BP started out as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909 with the remit of exploiting oil discovered in Iran. The company name was changed to British Petroleum in 1954, and today the name used is simply “BP”.
19. Longfellow’s “The Bell of __” : ATRI
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “The Sicilian’s Tale; The Bell of Atri”, a narrative poem set in the small town of Atri in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
20. Fabric with a slight sheen : POLISHED COTTON
The fabric known as “polished cotton” is a plain weave cotton with a smooth and shiny surface. That sheen is often achieved by passing the fabric between heated rollers under pressure, a process known as “calendering”. The sheen is sometimes enhanced by adding a resin treatment.
23. Clay pigeon sport : SKEET
There are three types of competitive shotgun target shooting sports:
- Skeet shooting
- Trap shooting
- Sporting clays
24. Tee shots into the hole : ACES
That would be golf.
25. Sophisticated-sounding hair treatment product : SUAVE SHAMPOO
Suave is a line of personal care products from Unilever. The original Suave product was a hair tonic that was introduced in 1937.
32. Slacks holder-upper : BELT
The term “slacks” was introduced in the early 1800s with the the meaning “loose trousers”. Those early slacks were part of a military uniform.
36. Like old apples : MEALY
Something described as “mealy” resembles meal in texture, and so is granular in consistency.
37. “Norma __” : RAE
“Norma Rae” is a 1979 movie starring Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster in a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called “Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance”.
41. Word in a bride’s bio : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.
42. The three monkeys’ taboos : EVILS
The old adage “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” originated in the 17th century. The phrase comes as an interpretation of a wood carving over a door in a shrine in Nikko, Japan. The carving depicts the “Three Wise Monkeys”:
- Mizaru, covering his eyes
- Kikazaru, covering his ears
- Iwazaru, covering his mouth
44. Guernsey greeting : MOO
Guernsey cattle were originally bred on Guernsey in the British-owned Channel Islands. Guernsey cows are famous for the rich flavor of their milk.
50. Apple or pear : POME
The Latin word for “fruit” is “pomum”, which gives us the botanical term “pome” that is used for a group of fleshy fruits, including apples and pears.
51. “Spider-Man” actor Willem : DAFOE
Willem Dafoe is an American actor, from Wisconsin. He was born just plain William Dafoe, but didn’t like being called “Billy”. So, he changed his name to Willem, which was the pronunciation of his name by his Scottish babysitter. Those Scots …
The Green Goblin is a supervillain from Marvel Comics who generally is pitted against Spider-Man. The Green Goblin is the antagonist in the 2002 movie “Spider-Man”, and is played by Willem Dafoe.
60. Classic clown : BOZO
Bozo the Clown is a character created in 1946 by Alan Livingston. Bozo was introduced in the first ever “record reader”, a children’s illustrated read-along book that came with a vinyl recording of the story. The book/record was so successful that Bozo moved to television, and he has been around ever since.
61. African country whose name is contained in the name of its southern neighbor : NIGER
Niger shares a border with Nigeria in the south.
The Republic of Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa that gets its name from the Niger River. 80% of the country lies within the bounds of the Sahara Desert.
Nigeria is in West Africa, and it takes its name from the Niger River which flows through the country. Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent, with over 170 million inhabitants. It is also the most populous member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
64. Porthole view : OCEAN
A porthole is a circular window in the side of a ship that provides light and air. As it penetrates the hull of the ship, the porthole cover provides a strong, watertight seal. The name “porthole” has nothing to do with the port side of a ship, and rather is derived from the French word “porte” meaning “door”. Henry VI of England hired a French shipbuilder to come up with a way mount large guns on his warships, below the upper deck. The design called for holes in the hull, and “doors” (“portes”) to be fitted for use in heavy weather.
65. Flair : ELAN
Our word “élan” was imported from French, in which language the word has a similar meaning to ours, i.e “style” or “flair”.
68. Once-sacred snakes : ASPS
The venomous snake called an asp was a symbol of royalty in Ancient Egypt.
4. Most stylish : TONIEST
Something described as “tony” is elegant or exclusive. “Tony” is derived from the word “tone”.
5. Former Iranian despot : SHAH
The last Shah of Iran was Mohammed-Reza Shah Pahlavi, as he was overthrown in the revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The post-revolution government sought the extradition of the Shah back to Iran while he was in the United States seeking medical care (he had cancer). His prolonged stay in the United States, recovering from surgery, caused some unrest back in Iran and resentment towards the United States. Some say that this resentment precipitated the storming of the US Embassy in Tehran and the resulting hostage crisis.
7. Ex-slugger and Fox Sports analyst, familiarly : A-ROD
Baseball player Alex Rodriguez, nicknamed “A-Rod”, broke a lot of records in his career, albeit under a shroud of controversy due to his use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. When he signed a 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers for $252 million in 2000, it was the most lucrative contract in sports history. In 2007, Rodriguez signed an even more lucrative 10-year contract with the New York Yankees, worth $275 million. Rodriguez retired in 2016.
8. Major tourist draws : MECCAS
We’ve been using “mecca” to mean “a place one holds sacred” since the 1850s, and have since extended the usage to include any center of activity. The term derives from the sacred city of Islam, the birthplace of Muhammad.
11. Voice above tenor : ALTO
In choral music, an alto (plural “alti”) is the second-highest voice in a four-part chorus made up of soprano, contr(alto), tenor and bass. The word “alto” describes the vocal range, that of the deepest female singing-voice, whereas the term “contralto” describes more than just the alto range, but also its quality and timbre. An adult male’s voice (not a boy’s) with the same range as an alto is called a “countertenor”.
13. With 10-Across, “Open sesame” sayer : ALI …
(10. See 13-Down : … BABA)
In the folk tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, the title character is a poor woodcutter who discovers the magic words “open sesame” that open the thieves’ den.
21. Early Beatle Sutcliffe : STU
Stu Sutcliffe was one of the original four members of The Silver Beatles (as The Beatles were known in their early days), along with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Sutcliffe apparently came up with name “Beatles” along with John Lennon, as a homage to their hero Buddy Holly who was backed by the “Crickets”. By all reports, Sutcliffe wasn’t a very talented musician and was more interested in painting. He went with the group to Hamburg, more than once, but he eventually left the Beatles and went back to art school, actually studying for a while at the Hamburg College of Art. In 1962 in Hamburg, Sutcliffe collapsed with blinding headaches. He died in the ambulance on the way to hospital, his death attributed to cerebral paralysis.
22. Bears and Grizzlies : TEAMS
The Chicago Bears were founded in Decatur, Illinois in 1919 and moved to Chicago in 1921. The Bears are one of only two franchises in the NFL that were around at the time of the NFL’s founding (the other is the Arizona Cardinals, who were also based in Chicago in 1921).
The Grizzlies are the NBA team based in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001, having been founded as the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995. As a result of the move, the Grizzlies became the only team from the “big four” professional sports based in Memphis, and the Toronto Raptors were left as the only Canadian team in the NBA.
27. Bigwig : VIP
A “bigwig” is someone important. The use of the term harks back to the days when men of authority and rank wore big wigs.
30. Butterlike spread : OLEO
Emperor Louis Napoleon III of France announced a competition to develop a substitute for butter, a substitute that would be more accessible to the lower classes and more practical for the armed forces. A French chemist called Hippolyte Mege-Mouries came up with something he called oleomargarine in 1869, which was eventually manufactured under the trade name “margarine”. The name “oleomargarine” also gives us our generic term “oleo”.
31. Command from a bailiff : OYEZ!
“Oyez” is an Anglo-French word traditionally called out three times, meaning “hear ye!”
32. Uncle Remus rabbit’s title : BR’ER
Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox are characters in the Uncle Remus stories, written by Joel Chandler Harris. The Uncle Remus stories are adaptations of African American folktales that Harris collected across the Southern States. “Br’er” is an abbreviated form of “brother”.
34. Mariner Ericson : LEIF
According to Icelandic tradition, Erik the Red was the man responsible for founding the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. Erik had a famous son: the explorer Leif Ericson.
39. Singer Rawls : LOU
Lou Rawls was an American soul and blues singer known for his smooth vocal style. With his singing career well on the way, Rawls was asked to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1977 at a Muhammad Ali fight in Madison Square Garden. This performance led to him being asked to sing the anthem many, many times in the coming years with his last rendition being at a World Series game in 2005. Rawls passed away in January of the following year.
40. Nautical journal : LOG
The word “logbook” dates back to the days when the captain of a ship kept a daily record of the vessel’s speed, progress etc. using a “log”. A log was a wooden float on a knotted line that was dropped overboard to measure speed through the water.
45. Shrinking Asian lake : ARAL SEA
The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet Union irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …
56. Commando weapons : UZIS
The first Uzi submachine gun was designed in the late 1940s by Major Uziel “Uzi” Gal of the Israel Defense Forces, who gave his name to the gun.
57. “A Death in the Family” author James : AGEE
James Agee was a noted American film critic and screenwriter. Agee wrote an autobiographical novel “A Death in the Family” that won him his Pulitzer in 1958, albeit posthumously. He was also one of the screenwriters for the 1951 classic movie “The African Queen”.