Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
15. Only pitcher whose jersey number was retired by the Mets : TOM SEAVER
George Thomas “Tom” Seaver is a former baseball pitcher, noted for his ten-year stint with the New York Mets from 1967 to 1977. Seaver earned the nickname “Tom Terrific”, and is the only Met player to have his jersey number retired. When he quit baseball he moved out here to California and opened up a small winery in Calistoga. Keep an eye out for the vineyard’s name, “Seaver Family Vineyards”, and their cabernets “Nancy’s Fancy” and “GTS”.
16. Certain internet chatter : AOLER
Even though instant messaging (sending IMs) has been around since the 1960s, it was AOL who popularized the term “instant message” in the eighties and nineties. The “AOL Instant Message” service was known as AIM.
18. Lopez who played Jiminez in “The Dirty Dozen” : TRINI
Trini Lopez is a noted singer and guitarist from Dallas, Texas. He is perhaps best known for his international hit “If I Had a Hammer” from 1963, as well as “Lemon Tree” from 1965.
“The Dirty Dozen” is a very entertaining 1967 WWII movie that is based on a 1965 novel of the same name by E. M. Nathanson. In turn, the novel was inspired by a real-life military unit nicknamed “the Filthy Thirteen”. The latter were a demolition unit in the 101st Airborne Division whose mission was to targets behind enemy lines. The movie had quite the cast, led by Lee Marvin and supported by Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland, as well as football player Jim Brown and singer Trini Lopez.
20. Company whose old factory had a water tower shaped like the company’s product : DIXIE CUP
Dixie Cup is a brand of disposable papers cups. The first such cups were introduced to promote hygiene at shared water fountains, as prior to disposable cups, glasses or dippers were shared by people taking a drink. As such, the Dixie Cup was introduced in 1907 as the “Health Kup”. The name was changed in 1919 to Dixie Cup, after a line of dolls (presumably as the cups were relatively small).
30. Test ban subjects : A-BOMBS
There are two classes of nuclear weapons, both of which get the energy for the explosion from nuclear reactions. The first nuclear bombs developed, called atomic bombs (A-bombs), use fission reactions. Uranium nuclei are split into smaller nuclei with the release of an awful lot of energy in the process. The second class of nuclear weapons are fusion bombs. These devices are called thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs (H-bombs). In a fusion reaction, the nuclei of hydrogen isotopes are fused together to form bigger nuclei, with the release of even greater amounts of energy.
33. Coloratura Gluck : ALMA
Alma Gluck was the stage name of Romanian-born American soprano Reba Feinsohn. Gluck’s second marriage was to violinist Efrem Zimbalist. Gluck and Zimbalist’s son was Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. the noted actor and star of television’s “77 Sunset Strip”.
The musical term “coloratura” is used to describe elaborate melody that may include runs and trills. “Coloratura” translates from Italian literally as “coloring”. The term has been extended to include operatic roles featuring such melodies, and singers who are associated with such roles.
34. Crow heard on tracks : SHERYL
Sheryl Crow famously dated cyclist Lance Armstrong from 2003-2006. Armstrong has stated publicly more than once that Crow’s music cured his cancer.
36. Keats wrote on one : URN
Here’s the first verse of the poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats:
THOU still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
39. Santa __ winds : ANA
The Santa Ana winds are the very dry air currents that sweep offshore late in the year in Southern California. Because these air currents are so dry, they are noted for their influence over forest fires in the area, especially in the heat of the fall. The winds arise from a buildup of air pressure in the Great Basin that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Under the right conditions, that air spills over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and basically “falls” down the side of the Sierra range, heading for the ocean. As the air falls it becomes drier and heats up so that relative humidity can fall to below 10% by the time it hits the coast.
40. The blahs : ENNUI
“Ennui” is the French word for boredom, a word that we now use in English. It’s one of the few French words we’ve imported that we haven’t anglicized and actually pronounce “correctly”.
42. New England sch. in Kingston : URI
The University of Rhode Island (URI) was first chartered as an agricultural school, back in 1888. URI’s main campus today is located in the village of Kingston.
43. 1980 film with the #1 hit “Magic” : XANADU
“Xanadu” is a 1980 musical film starring Olivia Newton John. The film is largely remembered for its soundtrack, which features number-one hits “Xanadu” by Newton-John and ELO, and “Magic” by Newton-John. The movie itself was so poorly received that it inspired publicist John J. B. Wilson to inaugurate the annual Golden Raspberry Awards.
46. Like the Kara Kum : ARID
The Karakum Desert is located in Turkmenistan in Central Asia, covering about 70% of the country. It is bordered to the north by the infamous Aral Sea, the southern part of which continues to dry out. As such, the Karakum is expanding in size.
47. Goddess on whose bust Poe’s raven perched : PALLAS
“The Raven” is a narrative poem by Edgar Allan Poe that tells of a student who has lost the love of his life, Lenore. A raven enters the student’s bedchamber and perches on a bust of Pallas. The raven can talk, to the student’s surprise, but says nothing but the word “nevermore” (“quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’”). As the student questions all aspects of his life, the raven taunts him with the same comment, “nevermore”. Finally the student decides that his soul is trapped beneath the raven’s shadow and shall be lifted “nevermore” …
53. Bad check letters : NSF
Not sufficient funds (NSF)
54. It takes a licking : LOLLIPOP
A lollipop is piece of candy on a stick. The name “lollipop” surfaced in 1908, and was taken from a prominent race horse of the day name Lolly Pop.
65. Death in Venice : MORTE
The city of Venice in northeast Italy is built in a saltwater lagoon on the Adriatic Coast, on 117 small islands. The classic transportation along the waterways is the gondola, but this is really only used for tourists these days, as well as on ceremonial occasions. The locals rely on the motorized water-buses.
66. Bright one in a school : NEON TETRA
The neon tetra is a freshwater fish, native to parts of South America. The tetra is a very popular aquarium fish and millions are imported into the US every year. Almost all of the imported tetras are farm-raised in Asia and very few come from their native continent.
67. Hebrew letters : BETHS
“Aleph” is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and “beth” the second.
68. Montana’s has a plow, a pick and a shovel : STATE SEAL
The state name Montana comes from the Spanish “montaña” meaning “mountain, mountain country”. The naming of the state was the subject of much debate in the past, with some objecting due to the fact that most of “Montana” isn’t mountainous.
1. Pedometer unit : STEP
A pedometer is an instrument worn by a runner or walker that measures the number of steps taken. The name of the device comes from “pes”, the Latin for “foot”.
2. Georgetown newspaper, with “The” : HOYA
“The Hoya” has been the student newspaper of Georgetown University since 1920.
The athletic teams of Georgetown University are known as the Hoyas. The name is derived from “Hoya Saxa”, a traditional cheer yelled out at Georgetown games as far back as 1893. The term is a mixture of Greek and Latin, with the Greek word “hoya” meaning “such” or “what”, and “saxa” translating from Latin as “rocks” or “small stones”. The cheer is usually rendered in English as “what rocks!”.
4. Brand on the Alcan Highway : ESSO
The brand name Esso has its roots in the old Standard Oil company as it uses the initial letters of “Standard” and “Oil” (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but ESSO is still used in many other countries.
The Alaska Highway is also known as the Alaska-Canadian Highway or ALCAN Highway. A highway connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska was proposed in the twenties, but the Canadian authorities didn’t believe the project had much merit as the road would be used by very few of its citizens. The perceived importance of the route increased during WWII and President Roosevelt deemed the road a strategic necessity so he made a deal with Canada. The cost of construction would be born by the US, but the road and related facilities were to be handed over to Canada at the end of the war. The project was accelerated when the Japanese invaded and occupied Kiska and Attu Islands in the Aleutians. The road of course has been improved and is still in use today. The ALCAN Highway forms part of what is popularly known as the Pan-American Highway, which runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the south of Argentina or Chile depending on how the route is defined.
6. Tam patterns : TARTANS
A tam o’shanter is a man’s cap traditionally worn by Scotsmen. “Tams” were originally all blue (and called “blue bonnets”) but as more dyes became readily available they became more colorful. The name of the cap comes from the title character of the Robert Burns poem “Tam O’Shanter”.
7. Some gametes : OVA
A gamete is a reproductive cell that has half the full complement of genes needed to make a normal cell. In sexual reproduction, it takes two gametes, one from each parent, to fuse into one cell which then develops into a new organism. The female gamete is the ovum, and the male the sperm.
8. Journalist Whitelaw __ : REID
Journalist Whitelaw Reid learned his trade working on his his father’s newspaper, the “New York Herald Tribune”, starting in 1938. He took over the reins at the paper in 1953, succeeding his mother in that role. Outside of work, Reid was an avid tennis player. In 1998, he won the national indoor singles championship for competitors 85 and older. In 2003, he won with his partner the national clay-court doubles championship for men over age 90.
9. Orange half of a comic duo : ERNIE
For many years, I believed that the “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie were named after two roles played in the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In the movie, the policeman’s name is Bert and his taxi-driving buddy is named Ernie. However, the “Sesame Street” folks have stated that the use of the same names is just a coincidence.
12. 2013 literature Nobelist : ALICE MUNRO
Alice Munro is a writer from southwestern Ontario in Canada. Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature.
13. Eye care brand : RENU
ReNu is a brand name of contact lens products sold by Bausch & Lomb.
21. Letter between Whiskey and Yankee : X-RAY
The NATO phonetic alphabet is also called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. It goes Alfa, Bravo, Charlie … X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
23. “Herbie: Fully Loaded” star : LOHAN
“Herbie: Fully Loaded” is a 2005 comedy movie starring LIndsay Lohan, Michael Keaton and Matt Dillon. The film is a continuation of the “Herbie” series of films that made its debut in 1963.
“The Love Bug” is a 1969 film from Walt Disney, the star of which is a 1963 Volkswagen Bug named Herbie. Believe it or not, the movie is based on a book called “Car, Boy, Girl” written by Gordon Buford. “The Love Bug” spawned a series of sequels such as “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo” (1977) and “Herbie: Fully Loaded” (2005).
31. TD Garden skater : BRUIN
TD Garden is a sports arena that was built in the 1990s to replace the aging Boston Garden as home for the Boston Celtics basketball team and the Boston Bruins hockey team.
32. Snarky : SNIDE
“Snark” is a term that was coined by Lewis Carroll in his fabulous 1876 nonsense poem “The Hunting of the Snark”. Somehow, the term “snarky” came to mean “irritable, short-tempered” in the early 1900s, and from there “snark” became “sarcastic rhetoric” at the beginning of the 21st century.
35. Odorless gas : RADON
Radon is a radioactive gas, a byproduct produced when uranium decays naturally in the earth. Radon gas can collect and accumulate in buildings and rooms that are particularly well insulated with very little air exchange. The danger is very real, as radon is listed as the second most frequent cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoke.
41. Styron’s Turner : NAT
“The Confessions of Nat Turner” is a 1976 novel by William Styron. It is written as a first-person narrative by slave and rebellion leader Nat Turner, and is based on a real document, a “confession” told by Turner to attorney Thomas Gray while he awaited trial.
Nat Turner was a slave in Virginia who led a slave rebellion in 1831 that led to the deaths of over a hundred people. Half of the casualties were white,and half were black. The 55 white deaths took place on the day of the rebellion as a growing mob of slaves traveled from house-to-house freeing fellow slaves but also killing any white people they came across; men, women and children. The rebellion was suppressed within two days by a white militia. Slaves involved in the rebellion were tried for insurrection and related crimes, and a total of 56 blacks were executed on suspicion of involvement in the uprising. In the aftermath, life for slaves became even more difficult as any freedoms that they had earned were largely curtailed.
44. Hustler’s request : ASAP
As soon as possible (ASAP)
48. Demon of Semitic lore : LILITH
Lilith is a demon in Jewish mythology. According to Jewish folklore, God created Lilith from the same dirt as Adam, and was Adam’s first wife. Other legends state that Lilith refused to become subservient to Adam, and would not live with him in the Garden of Eden.
52. Stops on a commuter train : TOWNS
Our verb “to commute”, meaning “to go back and forth to work”, ultimately derives from the Latin “commutare”, meaning “to often change”. Back in the late 1800s, a “commutation ticket” was a season pass, so named because it allowed one to “change” one kind of payment into another. Quite interesting …
54. Souvlaki choice : LAMB
Souvlaki is a “fast food” from Greece, consisting of meat (often lamb) grilled on a skewer, and sometimes served in a pita sandwich.
55. Plains native : OTOE
The Otoe (also Oto) Native American tribe originated in the Great Lakes region as part of the Winnebago or Siouan tribes. The group that would become the Otoe broke away from the Winnebago and migrated southwestwards ending up in the Great Plains. In the plains the Otoe adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle dependent on the horse, with the American bison becoming central to their diet.
56. Painter Mondrian : PIET
Piet Mondrian was a painter from the Netherlands who also lived and worked in Paris, London and New York. Mondrian’s works ranged in style from Impressionism to Abstract.
59. Electoral analyst Silver : NATE
Nate Silver is a statistician who first gained notoriety by developing a forecasting system that predicted the future performance of baseball players. He then made a name for himself in the world of politics by predicting the outcome of the 2008 US presidential race. Silver successfully predicted the outcome of the election in 49 of the 50 states, missing out on Indiana, which Barack Obama won by less than 1% of the vote. Silver publishes his polling data at the website FiveThirtyEight.com.
60. Cajun staple : OKRA
The plant known as okra is mainly grown for it edible green pods. The pods are said to resemble “ladies’ fingers”, which is an alternative name for the plant. Okra is known as “ngombo” in Bantu, a name that might give us the word “gumbo”, the name for the name of the southern Louisiana stew that includes okra as a key ingredient.
The great explorer Verrazano gave the name “Arcadia” to the coastal land that stretched from north of present day Virginia right up the North American continent to Nova Scotia. The name Arcadia was chosen as it was also the name for a part of Greece that had been viewed as idyllic from the days of classical antiquity. The “Arcadia” name quickly evolved into the word “Acadia” that was used locally here in North America. Much of Acadia was settled by the French in the 1600s, and then in 1710 Acadia was conquered by the British. There followed the French and Indian War after which there was a mass migration of French Acadians, often via the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) to the French colony of Louisiana. The local dialectic pronunciation of the word “Acadian” was “Cajun”, giving the name to the ethnic group for which Louisiana has been home for about 300 years.
61. Sci-fi author Stephenson : NEAL
Neal Stephenson is a novelist and video game designer whose work is often classified as science fiction or speculative fiction. I must admit, I haven’t indulged …
64. 1988 film noir remake : DOA
Both the original 1950 film “D.O.A.” starring Edmond O’Brien, and its 1988 remake starring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, are excellent movies in my opinion. The basic storyline is that the lead character discovers he has been poisoned, and uses the limited time he has to live in order to discover who “murdered” him.