Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Spent : JADED
Our term “jaded”, meaning tired and feeling a little “ho-hum”, comes from the noun “jade” which in the 14th century was an old, worn-out horse.
6. Wine city SSE of the Matterhorn : ASTI
Asti is a city in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The region is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine.
Matterhorn is the German name for the famous Alpine peak that lies on the border between Switzerland and Italy. The Italian name for the same mountain is Monte Cervino, and the French call it Mont Cervin. “Matterhorn” comes from the German words Matte and Horn meaning “meadow” and “peak”. Cervino and Cervin come from the Latin name for the mountain, Mons Silvius meaning “Forest Mountain”.
10. Pasta alle vongole ingredient : CLAM
“Spaghetti alle vongole” is Italian for “spaghetti with clams”. The dish is originated in Naples, but is popular all over Italy, and indeed all over North America.
14. 1955 Dior innovation : A-LINE
An A-line skirt is one that fits snugly at the hips and flares toward the hem.
Christian Dior was a French fashion designer. As WWII approached, Dior was called up by the French military, drawing a temporary halt to his career in fashion. He left the army in 1942 and for the duration of the war designed clothes for wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. After the war his designs became so popular that he helped reestablish Paris as the fashion center of the world.
16. Actress Loughlin : LORI
Lori Loughlin played Rebecca Donaldson-Katsopolis on the sitcom “Full House”. Loughlin later appeared in a spinoff of the TV show “Beverly Hills, 90210” titled, inventively enough, “90210”.
18. Vintage vessels : TUNS
A “tun” is a barrel, often a large barrel used in winemaking. The term “tun” came to be a measure of volume, originally 256 gallons of wine. The weight of such a volume of wine was referred to as a “tun”, which evolved into our contemporary unit “ton”.
20. Quantum mechanics symbol : SCHRODINGER’S CAT
Erwin Schrödinger was an Austrian theoretical physicist, one of the so-called “fathers of Quantum Mechanics”. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933 for developing the Schrödinger Equation, the “Newton’s Law” of Quantum Mechanics. Famously, Schrödinger devised a thought experiment that illustrates the concept of a paradox. The scenario, known as “Schrödinger’s cat”, presents us with a cat that can be both alive and dead at the same time. I used to be able to Schrödinger’s Cat, and then I got old …
23. __ wire : GUY
A “guy wire” or “guide wire” is a tensioned cable that is used to add stability to a relatively tall free-standing structure. Ship’s masts, radio masts and utility poles usually have guy wires attached so that they stay vertical. The term is nautical in origin and comes from the Old French meaning “guie” meaning “guide”.
30. Roast runner : EMCEE
The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism standing for Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.
31. Dramatic start? : MELO-
A “melodrama” is a play or film that usually pits good against evil, with an obvious hero or heroine vying against an obvious villain. Melodrama has evolved over time, originating in the 18th century as a drama for which there was a musical accompaniment. The term is derived from the Greek “melos” meaning “music” and the French “drame” meaning “drama”.
33. Place with Sundance : ETTA
Etta Place is the schoolteacher character played by the lovely Katharine Ross in the 1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.
37. Herbie and Christine : SELF-DRIVING CARS
“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).
“Christine” is a 1983 novel from the pen of horror maestro Stephen King. The title character is a 1958 Plymouth Fury automobile that is apparently possessed by supernatural forces. Not my cup of tea …
42. Capital at the foot of Vitosha Mountain : SOFIA
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. Natives pronounce the name “Sofia” with the emphasis on the “o”, while the rest of us tend to stress the “i”. Bulgarians do agree with us though when it comes to the girl’s name “Sofia”, then they stress the “i” like we do!
43. Network with a lot of reruns : ION
Ion Television started out as PAX TV in 1998, was renamed to i:Independent Television in 2005 and then to Ion in 2007.
51. Crowbar, e.g. : PRY
A crowbar is a wonderful tool, one that can be used to pry open things, and to remove nails. The claw at one or both ends of the tool aids in that nail removal, and it is likely this “claw” was said to resemble that of a crow, giving us the name “crowbar”. Back in Elizabethan times. the same tool was called an “iron crow”. There’s a line in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” that reads “Get me an iron crow and bring it straight/Unto my cell.”
52. Game with a disc : ULTIMATE FRISBEE
Ultimate is a team sport, similar to football or rugby in that the goal is to get a flying disc into an endzone or goal area. The sport used to be called “Ultimate Frisbee”, but the “Frisbee” was dropped as it is a registered trademark.
57. Architect Mies van der __ : ROHE
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German architect who was routinely referred to simply as “Mies”. I am a philistine, I know, but Mies’ buildings look very plain to me. However, he did come up with two far-from-plain sayings, namely “less is more” and “God is in the details”.
58. Big name in credit : CITI
In 1998, one of the biggest company mergers in history took place, between Citicorp and Travelers Group. The result was Citigroup, a seemingly unstoppable giant, until we taxpayers bailed the company out in 2008 with $25 billion.
59. It’s quite a blast : N-TEST
Nuclear test (N-test)
61. “Ad Parnassum” painter : KLEE
The artist Paul Klee was born in Switzerland, but studied art in Munich in Germany. You can see many of Klee’s works in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. If you get to Bern in Switzerland, even more of them can be seen at the Zentrum Paul Klee that was opened in 2005. Klee’s most celebrated work is his pointillist painting from 1932 called “Ad Parnassum”, which is owned by the Kunstmuseum, also located in Bern.
64. Vassal : SERF
A serf was a member of the lowest feudal class, someone attached to land owned by a lord. “Serf” comes from the Latin “servus”, meaning “slave”.
Feudalism was a legal and military system that flourished in medieval Europe. Central to the system were the concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs. Lords would grant fiefs (land or rights) to vassals in exchange for allegiance and service.
65. Line drive, say : SMASH
In baseball, a line drive is a ball that is hit low, hard and straight.
2. Smart guy? : ALEC
Apparently the original “smart Alec” (sometimes “Aleck”) was Alec Hoag, a pimp, thief and confidence trickster who plied his trade in New York City in the 1840s.
3. Bobby Flay creation : DISH
Bobby Flay is a celebrity chef who has hosted several shows on the Food Network. Flay is also an Iron Chef on the show “Iron Chef America”, which also airs on the Food Network.
4. Like the Toyota Prius : ENERGY EFFICIENT
The Toyota Prius is still the most fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered car sold in the US, according to the EPA. The name “Prius” is a Latin word meaning “ahead, leading”. In the US we pronounce the name “pree-us”, but across the Atlantic it’s pronounced “pry-us”. According to Toyota, the plural of “Prius” is “Prii”.
6. When Valjean is released from prison : ACT I
Victor Hugo’s famous 1862 novel “Les Misérables”, has been translated into English several times. However, the title is usually left in the original French as a successful translation of “les misérables” seems to be elusive. Some suggestions for an English title are “The Wretched”, “The Victims” and “The Dispossessed”. The novel follows the lives of several characters including an ex-convict Jean Valjean, a fanatic police inspector Javert, a beautiful prostitute Fantine, and Fantine’s illegitimate daughter Cosette.
8. Soupçon : TINGE
“Soupçon” translates literally from French into English as “suspicion”, and can be used in the sense that a “suspicion” of something is a just a hint, a crumb.
9. Like Halloween pumpkins : IN SEASON
It’s thought that the tradition of pumpkin carving originated in Ireland, although turnips and beets were used over there instead of pumpkins. The turnips and beets were carved for the festival called Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season.
11. “Oda a Salvador Dalí” poet García __ : LORCA
Garcia Lorca was a Spanish poet and dramatist. Lorca is as famous for his poems and his plays as he is for the circumstances of his death. Although it has never been irrefutably proven, many believe that he was shot and killed while in the custody of Nationalist militia, one month after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
21. Batik need : DYE
Genuine batik cloth is produced by applying wax to the parts of the cloth that are not to be dyed. After the cloth has been dyed, it is dried and then dipped in solvent that dissolves the wax.
22. Dietary no. : RDA
Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) were introduced during WWII, and were replaced by Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) in 1997.
25. Zaire’s Mobutu __ Seko : SESE
Mobutu Sese Seko was the longtime President of Zaire (later to be called the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Mobutu was known to be a very corrupt dictator and it is believed that he embezzled over $5 billion from his country. On a lighter note, Mobutu was the money man behind the famous 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”. Mobutu was anxious to expand the image of Zaire so he used his nation’s funds to entice the fighters to have a go at each other in his homeland.
26. Counterfeit cops? : T-MEN
The responsibility for investigating the use of counterfeit US currency lies with the Secret Service, which was part of the Department of Treasury until 2003. As a result of the USA Patriot Act that became law in 2001, the Secret Service was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.
27. Scopes Trial gp. : ACLU
In 1925, Tennessee passed the Butler Act which made it unlawful for a public school teacher to teach the theory of evolution over the Biblical account of the origin of man. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sought to challenge this law and found a test case of a Tennessee high school teacher named John Scopes, who was charged with violating the law by presenting to his students ideas put forth by Charles Darwin. Celebrity lawyers descended on the small town of Dayton, Tennessee to argue the case. At the end of a high-profile trial, teacher John Scopes was found guilty as charged and was ordered to pay a fine.
28. Nice friends : AMIS
A male friend in France is “un ami”, and a female friend is “une amie”.
The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera.
32. Late Ottoman currency : LIRA
The currency of Turkey is the Turkish lira, which is divided into 100 kuruş. In 1927, the Turkish lira replaced the Ottoman lira, which had been in use since 1844.
34. Chief justice before Hughes : TAFT
William Howard Taft may have been the 27th President of the United States, but his lifelong ambition was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. President Taft was able to realize that dream in 1921, eight years after losing his bid for re-election as president. As Chief Justice, this former US President swore in two new presidents: Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929). William Howard Taft is also remembered as the most obese president. In the last year of his presidency, he weighed about 340 pounds (he was 5 feet 11 inches tall). Twelve months after leaving the White House, President Taft had dropped 80 pounds and substantially lowered his blood pressure.
Charles Evans Hughes Hughes was an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1910 until he resigned his position in order to run as the Republican candidate for US president in 1916. He was narrowly defeated by incumbent President Woodrow Wilson, after which Hughes did not assume another public office until he was made Secretary of State in 1921 by President Warren G. Harding. Hughes was returned to the US Supreme Court in 1930 when he was nominated as Chief Justice by President Herbert Hoover. It was Chief Justice Hughes who swore in President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his three terms in office.
36. “Pronto!” : ASAP
The Spanish, Italian (and now English) word “pronto” is derived from the Latin “promptus” meaning “ready, quick”.
44. Bit of resistance : OHM
The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every schoolkid knows as Ohm’s Law.
46. Easter time: Abbr. : SPR
54. Test release : BETA
In the world of software development, the first tested issue of a new program is usually called the “alpha” version. Expected to have a lot of bugs that need to be fixed, the alpha release is usually distributed to a small number of testers. After reported bugs have been eliminated, the refined version is called a “beta” and is released to a wider audience, but with the program clearly labeled as “beta”. The users generally check functionality and report further bugs that are encountered. The beta version feeds into a release candidate, the version that is tested just prior to the software being sold into the market, hopefully bug-free.
55. Those, in Tenerife : ESAS
Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands located off the coast of Morocco in North Africa. Part of Spain, Tenerife is the nation’s most populous island, home to almost 900,000 people. It also receives about five million visitors annually, making it one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.