Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s puzzle is a FAIR GAME, with each of the themed answers starting with a word that often follows FAIR:
- 39D. Open to attack, and based on the starts of the answers to starred clues, what this puzzle is : FAIR GAME
- 17A. *Exchange insults : TRADE BARBS (giving “fair trade”)
- 61A. *Come-on for new customers : TRIAL OFFER (giving “fair trial”)
- 6D. *”I’d like a hand” : DEAL ME IN (giving “fair deal”)
- 11D. *Pretend to be out : PLAY POSSUM (giving “fair play”)
- 27D. *Go-getter : BALL OF FIRE (giving “fair ball”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
14. Ring unit : CARAT
The carat is a unit of mass used in measuring gemstones that is equal to 200 mg.
A karat (also “carat”, the spelling outside of North America) is a measure of the purity of gold alloys, with 24-karat representing pure gold.
15. Website with a Collectibles & Art section : EBAY
eBay was founded in 1995 as AuctionWeb as part of a computer programmer’s personal website. One of the first items purchased was a broken laser pointer, for $14.83. The buyer collected broken laser pointers …
16. “Dark Angel” actress Jessica : ALBA
Actress Jessica Alba got her big break when she was cast in the Fox science fiction show “Dark Angel”. Alba had a tough life growing up as she spent a lot of time in hospital and so found it difficult to develop friendships. As a youngster she twice had a collapsed lung, frequently caught pneumonia, suffered from asthma, had a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst. On top of all that she acknowledges that she suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child. It seems that she has really turned her life around …
“Dark Angel” is a sci-fi series that ran from 2000 to 2002, and gave the star Jessica Alba her big break as an actress. Alba plays a genetically-enhanced super-soldier in post-apocalyptic Seattle. The show is a creation of celebrated producer and director James Cameron.
23. Thailand’s previous name : SIAM
Siam was the official name of Thailand up to 1939 (and again from 1945 to 1949).
26. “Tap the app, get a ride” company : UBER
Uber is a ridesharing service that was founded in 2009 and is based in San Francisco. The service is somewhat controversial and has been described as an illegal taxicab operation. Central to Uber’s service is the company’s mobile app, which can use the client’s GPS location to help find the nearest available ride. Uber’s main competitor is Lyft. Personally, I love the service and have only had good experiences …
28. “¿Cómo __?” : ESTAS
“Cómo estas?” is Spanish for “how are you?”
30. Cockney’s wish? : ‘OPE
A Cockney might pronounce the word “hope” as “‘ope”, dropping the letter H.
A Cockney is someone who, according to tradition, is born within the sound of Bow Bells in the center of London. The Cockney accent is usually considered “working class”. Cockney speakers often use a wonderful form of speech called rhyming slang. So, Cockney’s drink a lot of “Rosie Lea” (tea), and climb the “apples and pears” (stairs) using their “plates of meat” (feet). Cockneys also tend to “drop their aitches”, so home becomes ‘ome and horse becomes ‘orse.
35. Montreal brewery founded in 1786 : MOLSON
The Molson Brewery in Montreal is the oldest brewery in North America, having been established in 1786. In fact, Molson (now owned by Coors) is the second oldest company in Canada, after the Hudson’s Bay Company.
37. 1953 Leslie Caron film : LILI
“Lili” is 1953 musical film starring Leslie Caron in the title role, a naive French orphan girl. A famous song from the movie is “Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo”.
38. Chaotic mess : SNAFU
SNAFU is an acronym standing for Situation Normal: All Fouled Up (well, that’s the “polite” version!). As one might perhaps imagine, the term developed in the US Army, during WWII.
45. Former Prizm maker : GEO
Geos were small vehicles manufactured by General Motors mainly in the nineties. Geos were designed to compete head-to-head with the small imports that were gaining market share at the time in the US. Some Geo models that you might remember are the Metro, the Prizm and the Storm. The cars were actually built as joint-ventures with Japanese manufacturers. The Prizm was a GM/Toyota project, the Metro was GM/Suzuki, and the Storm was GM/Isuzu.
46. Cola with emoji bottle labels : PEPSI
Pepsi has what it calls a “PepsiMoji” marketing campaign. Central to the campaign are hundreds of proprietary PepsiMoji characters (emojis) that the company uses on bottles, its website, advertising and apps.
An emoji is a character found on many cell phones now that is much like an emoticon, but more elaborate.
48. Holiday tubers : YAMS
Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the the world than they are in this country, and are especially found in Africa.
49. Indigenous plant life : FLORA
The fauna is the animal life of a particular region, and the flora is that region’s plant life. The term “fauna” comes from the Roman goddess of earth and fertility who was called Fauna. Flora was the Roman goddess of plants, flowers and fertility.
55. Formal wear at the Forum : TOGAS
In Ancient Rome the classical attire known as a toga (plural “togae”) was usually worn over a tunic. The tunic was made from linen, and the toga itself was a piece of cloth about twenty feet long made from wool. The toga could only be worn by men, and only if those men were Roman citizens. The female equivalent of the toga was called a “stola”.
The Roman forum was the public space in the middle of a city, taking it’s name from the Latin word “forum” meaning “marketplace, town square”. “The Roman Forum” is most famous example of such a space. The Forum is at the heart of the city of Rome, is surrounded by the ruins of several ancient government buildings, and has been referred to as the most celebrated meeting place in the world.
64. Mixed martial artist Holly : HOLM
Holly Holm is a competitive mixed martial artist from Albuquerque. I am sure she’s a very nice person, but that wouldn’t be a sport I’d have an interest in …
65. Aptly named novelist : READE
Charles Reade was an English author who came to public attention with a two-act comedy play called “Masks and Faces”. Reade turned the play into a prose story in 1852 that he called “Peg Woffington”. Reade also wrote a historical novel called “The Cloister and the Hearth” about a married man who becomes a Dominican friar on hearing that his wife has died. Years later he discovers that his wife is in fact still living and a struggle develops between the man’s obligation to family and his obligation to the Roman Catholic Church.
66. Washington bills : ONES
The nation’s first president, George Washington, is on the US one-dollar bills produced today. However, when the first one-dollar bill was issued in 1863, it featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury.
1. Entr’__ : ACTE
The term “entr’acte” comes to us from French, and is the interval “between two acts” (“entre deux actes”) of a theatrical performance. The term often describes some entertainment provided during that interval.
2. Ruth’s Chris request : RARE
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is a huge chain of fine-dining restaurants, with well over 100 establishments. The company was started by a single mother of two called Ruth Fertel. In 1965 Fertel bought the Chris Steak House in New Orleans, and under the agreement governing the purchase, she had to retain the name “Chris”. So Fertel added her own name in front of the existing name, and Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses were born.
4. Magazine with Don Martin cartoons : MAD
“Mad” magazine has been around since 1952, although back then it was more of a comic book than a magazine. The original founder and editor was Harvey Kurtzman and in order to convince him to stay, the publisher changed the format to a magazine in 1955. That’s when the publication really took off in terms of popularity.
Cartoonist Don Martin was most famous for his contributions to “Mad” magazine over a 32-year period, starting in 1956. The magazine described Martin as “Mad’s Maddest Artist”.
7. River of Spain : EBRO
The Ebro is the longest river in Spain. The river was known by the Romans as the Iber, and it is the “Iber” river that gives the “Iberian” Peninsula its name.
9. Lille lily : LYS
“Lys” (also “lis”) is the French word for “lily”, as in “fleur-de-lys”, the heraldic symbol often associated with the French monarchy.
Lille is a large city in the very north of France sitting right on the border with Belgium. The name “Lille” is a derivation of the term “l’isle” meaning “the island”. The name “L’Isle” dates back to 1066, and is a reference to a castle that once stood on an island in the Deûle river that runs through the city. The city grew around the island and the castle.
11. *Pretend to be out : PLAY POSSUM (giving “fair play”)
The idiom “playing possum” means pretending to be dead. The phrase is used in recognition of the behavior of the Virginia Opossum that does just that, plays dead as a defense mechanism. We often use the term “possum” colloquially for the opossum species that live here in North America, but in fact, the true “possums” are marsupials native to Australia.
13. Stun, in a way : TASE
“To tase” is to use a taser, a stun gun.
18. __ constrictor : BOA
Boa constrictors are members of the Boidae family of snakes, all of which are non-venomous. Interestingly, the female boa is always larger than the male.
22. El __, Texas : PASO
Although there have been human settlements in the El Paso area for thousands of years, the first European settlement was founded in 1659 by the Spanish. That first community was on the south bank of the Rio Grande, and was called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). Most of the urban development under Spanish rule took place on the south side of the river, with El Paso del Norte acting as the center of governance for the Spanish for the territory of New Mexico. The Rio Grande was chosen as the border between Mexico and the US in 1848, so most of the city of El Paso del Norte became part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua (and is now called Ciudad Juarez). The area north of the river developed as a US military post, eventually becoming the modern city of El Paso, Texas.
23. Old photo tint : SEPIA
Sepia is that lovely rich, brown-grey color so common in old photographs. “Sepia” is the Latinized version of the Greek word for cuttlefish, as sepia pigment is derived from the ink sac of the cuttlefish.The “sepia tone” of old photographs is not the result of deterioration over time. Rather, it is the result of a deliberate preservation process which converts the metallic silver in the photographic image to a more stable silver sulfide. Prints that have been sepia-toned can last in excess of 150 years.
25. Entire spectrum : GAMUT
In medieval times, the musical scale was denoted by the notes “ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la”. The term “gamma ut”, shortened to “gamut”, was used to describe the whole scale. By the 1620s, “gamut” was being used to mean the entire range of anything, the whole gamut.
29. Marquee listings : STARS
A marquee is a large sign that is placed over the entrance to a theater. The marquee usually displays the names of the film or play currently showing, as well as the principal actors performing.
31. Kilmer and Keats : POETS
The American journalist and poet Joyce Kilmer is primarily known for his 1913 poem titled “Trees”. The original text of the poem is:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Kilmer died a few years after writing “Trees”. He was a casualty of the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918 at the age of 31.
The English poet John Keats died in Rome in 1821, and is buried there in the Protestant Cemetery. His last wish was that his grave be marked with a tombstone bearing just the words “”Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water”, and no name nor a date. Keats’ friends honored his request to some extent, as the words were included on the stone and no name is given. The full epitaph reads:
contains all that was Mortal
Young English Poet
on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
these Words to be
engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water.
24 February 1821
33. Smelting waste : SLAG
The better lead ores are processed in a blast furnace, to extract the metal. The “waste” from this process is called “slag”. Slag does contain some lead and it can be processed further in a “slag furnace” to extract the residual metal. Slag furnaces also accept poorer lead ores as a raw material.
34. Convection oven brand : OSTER
The Oster brand of small appliances was introduced in 1924 by John Oster. He started out by making manually-powered hair clippers designed for cutting women’s hair, and followed up with a motorized version in 1928. The clippers kept the company in business until 1946 when Oster diversified, buying a manufacturer of liquefying blenders in 1946. The blender was renamed an Osterizer, and was a big hit. Oster was bought up by Sunbeam, which has owned the brand since 1960.
36. Indiana Jones’ creator : LUCAS
The producer and director George Lucas has amassed an incredibly large fortune, primarily due to the phenomenal success of his movie franchises “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones”. Worth about $3 billion, Lucas has gone the way of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, agreeing to give half of his fortune to charity as part of “The Giving Pledge”.
George Lucas created a lead character named Indiana Smith for what was to be his “Indiana Jones” series of films. Lucas asked Steven Spielberg to direct the first film, and Spielberg wasn’t too fond of the name “Smith”. Lucas then suggested Jones as an alternative, and Indiana Jones was born.
52. Chi.-based flier : UAL
United Airlines (UAL) has a complicated history, but can trace its roots back to Aviation Enterprises, founded in 1944 and later called Texas International. The first use of the “United” name in the company’s history was when airplane pioneer William Boeing merged his Boeing Air Transport with Pratt & Whitney to form the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (UATC) in 1929. The Air Mail Act of 1934 required that UATC be broken up into United Aircraft (which became United Technologies), the Boeing Aircraft Company and United Air Lines.
53. French twist, for one : UPDO
Apparently French twist is the name of that updo hairstyle where a ponytail is twisted and lifted up to the top of the head and secured with pins or a clip. Not my forte …
54. Leavened flatbread : NAAN
Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.