Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers sounds like a familiar phrase:
- 16A. Played hooky from the office? : DUCKED WORK (sounds like “ductwork”)
- 26A. Was sorry to have set the alarm? : RUED AWAKENING (sounds like “rude awakening”)
- 46A. Made it through the Civil War? : PASSED HISTORY (sounds like “past history”)
- 60A. Reached the 2016 Olympics the hard way? : ROWED TO RIO (sounds like “Road to Rio”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
6. Zurich-based sports org. : FIFA
The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA, standing for “Fédération Internationale de Football Association”) is the governing body of the game of soccer. FIFA was founded in 1904 in Paris, but the organization’s first permanent headquarters was established in Zurich, in 1932.
10. Dis : RIP
“Dis” is a slang term meaning “insult” that originated in the eighties. It is a shortened form of “disrespect” or “dismiss”.
13. Metaphorical title word in a McCartney-Wonder hit : EBONY
“Ebony and Ivory” is a hit song written by Paul McCartney and recorded by him with Stevie Wonder in 1982. The song uses the image of the ebony and ivory keys on a piano to symbolize racial integration and harmony.
14. Major composition : OPUS
The Latin for “work” is “opus”, with the plural being “opera”.
15. Dr Pepper Museum city : WACO
Dr Pepper was introduced in 1885 in Waco, Texas, one year before the competing Coca-Cola was released to the market. I spent an entertaining few hours at the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco a while back.
16. Played hooky from the office? : DUCKED WORK (sounds like “ductwork”)
Apparently the term “playing hooky” comes from “hoekje”, the Dutch name for the game hide-and-seek. To play hooky is to shirk one’s responsibility, as in a schoolkid taking a day off without permission.
18. Journalist/author Larson : ERIK
Erik Larson is a journalist, most notably contributing features to “The Wall Street Journal” and “TIME” magazine. Larson is also a very successful author of nonfiction books, such as “The Devil in the White City” (about the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893) and “Dead Wake” (about the sinking of the Lusitania).
19. Telegram period : STOP
The punctuation mark used to terminate a sentence is called a “period” in American English, and a “full stop” in British English. The same punctuation mark has no symbol in Morse code, so the word STOP is used instead in telegraphy.
21. Texas-Louisiana border river : SABINE
The Sabine River passes through the states of Louisiana and Texas, forming part of the border between the two states for some of its length. There are a lot of cypress trees growing along the river’s banks as it approaches the Gulf of Mexico. These trees give the river its name as “sabinas” is the Spanish for “cypress trees”.
32. Give a halfhearted effort : DOG IT
“To dog it” is a slang term (unknown to me outside of crosswords) meaning to not expend the effort necessary to accomplish a task.
33. Gratified and then some : SATED
“Sate” is a variant of the older word “satiate”. Both terms can mean either to satisfy an appetite fully, or to eat to excess.
36. Pizzeria staples : PIES
Pizza was invented in Naples where it has a long tradition that goes back to Ancient Rome. During an 1889 visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Savoy was served a special pizza that was created with toppings designed to mimic the colors of the Italian flag. The ingredients of tomato (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green) can still be found together on menus today, on a pie usually named Pizza Margherita after the queen. I do love basil on my pizza …
40. Bush advisor : ROVE
Karl Rove is a Republican political consultant, and the man who is usually credited with the successful election campaigns mounted by George W. Bush. As well managing Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, Rove was also at the helm for Bush’s 1994 and 1998 gubernatorial victories in Texas. Rove is a Christmas baby, born on December 25, 1950.
43. Piaggio transport : VESPA
Vespa is a brand of motor scooter originally made in Italy (and now all over the world) by Piaggio. “Vespa” is Italian for “wasp”.
45. X or Y preceder : GEN-
The term Generation X originated in the UK where it was the name of a book by Jane Deverson. Her book detailed the results of a study of British youths in 1964, contrasting their lifestyle to those of previous generations. It was Canadian author Douglas Coupland who was responsible for popularizing the term, with his more successful publication “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture”. By the latest accepted definition, Gen-Xers were born between 1961 and 1981.
The Millennial Generation are sometimes referred to as “Generation Y” (Gen-Y). Millennials were born after the “Gen-Xers”, from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.
49. Lunchbox container : THERMOS
The vacuum flask was invented in 1892 by Sir James Dewar. It comprises two flasks, one inside the other, joined at the neck. The air between the walls of the two flasks is expelled, creating a near-vacuum. This vacuum minimizes heat transfer, so that liquids in the inner flask remain hot or cold longer. Two German glassblowers commercialized Dewar’s design, starting in 1904, and sold the flasks under the trademarked name “Thermos”. Thermos is still a registered trademark in some countries, but was deemed a genericized trademark in the US in 1963.
51. “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” airer : NPR
Chicago Public Radio produces one of my favorite radio shows, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” It is indeed a fun game show, hosted by Peter Sagal. The “Morning Edition” newsreader Carl Kasell used to act as judge and scorekeeper, until he retired in 2014. There should be more game shows of that ilk on the radio, in my humble opinion …
52. Small creek : RUNLET
A “runnel” or “runlet” is a small stream or creek.
59. Downwind : ALEE
“Alee” is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing “aweather”.
60. Reached the 2016 Olympics the hard way? : ROWED TO RIO (sounds like “Road to Rio”)
Even though the 2016 Olympic Games was a “summer” competition, it was held in Rio de Janeiro in the winter. As Rio is in the southern hemisphere, the opening ceremony on 5th August 2016 fell in the local season of winter. The 2016 games was also the first to be held in South America, and the first to be hosted by a Portuguese-speaking country.
“Road to Rio” is the fifth of the “Road” series of films that starred Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. “Road to Rio” was released in 1947. Crosby and Hope play vaudeville performers who stow away on an ocean liner bound for Rio. Lamour plays someone with a crooked guardian who is a fortune hunter, and who uses hypnosis to control the young woman.
63. Joker, for one : CARD
Playing cards, in various forms, have been around for centuries and were probably invented in China. The Joker card is an American invention, appearing first in the late 1860s. The Joker was introduced as a card for the game of Euchre, and the suggestion is that the term “Joker” comes from “Juker” or “Juckerspiel”, the original German name for Euchre.
64. Continental divide : URAL
The eastern side of the Ural Mountains in Russia is generally regarded as the natural divide between the continents of Europe and Asia.
65. “Buffy” spin-off : ANGEL
“Angel” is a TV series that ran for five seasons starting in 1999. It is a spin-off from the very successful “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, with Angel originally introduced in “Buffy” as a love interest for the title character. Angel was an Irishman who lived in the 1700s who became a sadistic vampire. He was cursed with a human soul, so becomes a “good guy”.
66. Superhero symbol : ESS
There’s a letter S (ess) on the chest of the uniform worn by Superman.
68. Crystalline stone : GEODE
A geode is a rock in which there is a cavity lined or filled with crystal formations.
1. Bench mates? : REDS
Johnny Bench is a former Major League Baseball catcher who played for the Cincinnati Reds. Bench is now a spokesman for the Stryker Corporation, makers of medical implants. After a career as a baseball catcher, his natural hip joint was in bad shape and so he had very successful replacement surgery in 2004. Bench isn’t just a spokesman for Stryker, he’s a customer.
7. 2001 Apple debut : IPOD
The iPod is Apple’s signature line of portable media players. The iPod first hit the market in 2001 with a hard drive-based device, now known as the iPod Classic. Later models all use flash memory, allowing a smaller form factor. The smallest of the flash-based models is the iPod Shuffle, which was introduced in 2005.
8. Lab coat : FUR
The Labrador (Lab) breed of dog has been around at least since 1814. The breed comes in three registered colors: black, yellow and chocolate.
15. Online workshop : WEBINAR
Webinar is short for “Web-based seminar”, a presentation, lecture or similar event held online. In a Webinar there is two-way interaction, with the audience able to ask questions of the presenter.
17. The Platters’ genre : DOO-WOP
The Platters were a vocal group from Los Angeles active in original form from 1954 until 1970. They had four #1 records: “The Great Pretender” (1955), “My Prayer” (1956), “Twilight Time” (1958) and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (1958).
25. Amulet : FETISH
At the beginning of the 19th century, “fetishism” was the worship of “fetishes”. Back then, a fetish was an object that was revered and considered to have mysterious powers. A few decades later, the usage of the term “fetish” was extended, probably by New England Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, to describe an object of blind devotion. The concept of sexual fetishism arose at the end of the 19th century.
Amulets are items worn to ward off disease or to protect against harmful magical spells.
26. Emulates Eminem : RAPS
Rap star Eminem’s real name is Marshall Mathers, a native of Saint Joseph, Missouri. Mathers grew up poor, raised by a single-mom as the family was abandoned by his father when he was 18 months old. Marshall and his mother moved around the country before settling in a suburb of Detroit. He didn’t do well at school, and dropped out at the age of 17. But in the end he made it pretty big …
29. Plants used to make tequila : AGAVES
Tequila is a spirit made from the blue agave. The drink takes its name from the city of Tequila, located about 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara.
30. Cashed, as a forged check : KITED
Check kiting is illegal. The idea behind kiting is to write a check, even though there are insufficient funds to cover the amount. The con artist then writes another check, also with insufficient funds, from another bank’s account to cover the original check. I am not sure it would work nowadays, but then I am as honest as the day is long! Oh, and I think the term “kiting” comes from the older phrase “go fly a kite”, the idea being that the bad check is floated on air (non-existent funds).
39. Put in one’s two cents : OPINED
“To put in one’s two cents” is to add one’s opinion. The American expression derives from the older English version, which is “to put in one’s two pennies’ worth”.
42. Mrs. Cullen in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” : ESME
The reference is to a character in “The Twilight” series of books by Stephenie Meyer. “The Twilight Saga” is a series of films based on the books. “The Twilight” books feature vampires, and I don’t do vampires …
44. Venomous snake : ASP
The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.
50. Luau entertainment : HULAS
The “hula” is a native dance of Hawaii that uses arm movements to relate a story. The hula can be performed while sitting (a “noho” dance”) or while standing (a “luna” dance).
53. Gala giveaways : SWAG
“Swag” is “loot, stolen property”, a term that started out as criminal slang in England in the 1830s. Swag is also the name given to the promotional freebies available at some events. That said, there’s an urban myth that the promotional “swag” is an acronym standing for “stuff we all get”.
54. “Electric” swimmers : EELS
Electrophorus electricus is the biological name for the electric eel. Despite its name, the electric “eel” isn’t an eel at all, but rather what is called a knifefish, a fish with an elongated body that is related to the catfish. The electric eel has three pairs of organs along its abdomen, each capable of generating an electric discharge. The shock can go as high as 500 volts with 1 ampere of current (that’s 500 watts), and that could perhaps kill a human.
56. “For that reason … ” : ERGO
“Ergo” is the Latin word for “hence, therefore”.
58. North __ : POLE
The geographic North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, although there is almost always a covering of sea ice at that location. The geographic South Pole is located on land, on the continent of Antarctica.