Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Runway covering : TARMACADAM
The terms “Tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call Tarmac.
17. Source of sweet-scented spice : NUTMEG TREE
The fruit of the nutmeg tree yields two very different spices. What we call “nutmeg” comes from the seed of the tree. “Mace” is the dried covering of the seed.
19. What suspects may be charged with : TASERS
Victor Appleton wrote a novel for young adults called “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle”. The company that developed the TASER electroshock weapon partly named its product as a homage to the novel. The acronym “TASER” stands for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”.
22. Something else : LULU
We call a remarkable thing or a person a “lulu”. The term is used in honor of Lulu Hurst, the Georgia Wonder, who was a stage magician active in the 1880s.
23. First name in legal fiction : ERLE
I must have read all of the “Perry Mason” books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when I was facing the pressure of exams. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn’t get into the profession the easy way. Gardner went to law school, but got himself suspended after a month. So, he became a self-taught attorney and opened his own law office in Merced, California. Understandably, he gave up the law once his novels became successful.
32. Pan Am competitor : TWA
Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a big carrier in the US, but was perhaps even more recognized for its extensive presence in Europe and the Middle East. For many years, especially after the collapse of Pan Am, TWA was considered the unofficial flag carrier for the US. The company started in 1930, the product of a forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express. The Transcontinental and Western Air that resulted (the original meaning of the initialism “TWA”) was what the Postmaster General wanted, a bigger airline to which the Postal Service could award airmail contracts.
Pan American World Airways (usually just “Pan Am”) started out as a mail and passenger service between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba in 1927. From very early in the company’s life it was the de facto representative air carrier of the United States. For many years Pan Am’s fleet was built around the Boeing 314 Clipper, a long-range flying boat that was one of the largest aircraft around at the time. Pan Am adopted the Clipper as part of its image, even using “clipper” as the call sign for its flights.
34. Darken, in a way : TAN
Leather is of course made from animal skins. When the flesh, fat and hair is removed from the skin and it is dried, the resulting product is called “rawhide”. Further treatment of the skin with chemicals that permanently alter the protein structure of the skin is called “tanning”, and the resulting product is “leather”.
38. Leftover bit : ORT
Orts are small scraps of food left after a meal. “Ort” comes from Middle English, and originally described scraps left by animals.
42. Like some horses : PIED
Something described as “pied” is patchy or blotchy in color, piebald. The term comes from the Middle English “pie”, an old name for the magpie, and is a reference to the bird’s black and white plumage.
44. Hunting dogs : COONHOUNDS
Coonhounds are American hunting dogs. The breed was originally developed for hunting raccoons, hence the name.
48. Depict artistically : LIMN
“To limn” is to describe, or portray in a painting or a drawing. “Limn” has the same root as “illuminate”, in the sense of illuminating a manuscript.
49. Certain game extensions, briefly : OTS
In overtime (OT)
50. Force user : OBI-WAN
Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the more beloved of the “Star Wars” characters. Kenobi was portrayed by two fabulous actors in the series of films. As a young man he is played by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, and as an older man he is played by Alec Guinness.
56. Hand or foot : UNIT
A hand is a 4-inch unit of measure used primarily for giving the height of a horse. The original “hand” was the width of the hand, held without splaying the thumb or fingers. The height of a horse is measure from the ground to the withers, the ridge between the shoulder blades.
57. Flipper, for one : BOTTLENOSE
Bottlenose dolphins have a very large brain to body mass ratio, second only to humans among mammals in general. Along with the brain-size comes high intelligence. Many dolphins have been trained to carry out military tasks. And then there is their acting ability, as exemplified by “Flipper”.
59. “Constant Craving” singer : LANG
k.d. lang is the stage name of Kathryn Dawn Lang, a Canadian singer and songwriter. Beyond her performing career, lang is a noted activist focused on animal rights, gay rights, and human rights in Tibet.
61. Gucci or Rossi : ALDO
Gucci was founded in Rome in 1921, by Guccio Gucci. Guccio’s son Aldo took over the company after his father’s death in 1953. It was Aldo who established the international presence for the brand and opened the company’s first overseas store, in New York City.
Aldo Rossi was an architect from Milan, Italy, where much of his work can be seen.
8. War-torn Sudanese region : DARFUR
In response to a 2003 rebellion in the Darfur region of Sudan, the Sudanese government embarked on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the non-Arab population in the region. Hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths ensued, and eventually Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir was indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. al Bashir is still in office.
22. Flat-panel TV component : LCD
Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) are the screens that are found in most laptops today, and in flat panel computer screens and some televisions. LCD monitors basically replaced Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) screens, the old television technology.
24. 1956 rockabilly hit : BE-BOP-A-LULA
“Be-Bop-A-Lula” is an early rock and roll song, recorded in 1956 by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. The unusual name is probably related to the song “Be-Baba-Leba” recorded just over ten years earlier, in 1945 by Helen Humes. Both these titles derive from a similar sounding phrase common in jazz circles in the forties, which gave the name to the “bebop” style of music. And the original jazz term “bebop” probably came from “Arriba! Arriba!”, words of encouragement from Latin American bandleaders to their musicians.
26. Code-breaking game with colored pegs : MASTERMIND
Mastermind is a code breaking game that uses colored pegs on decoding board. The “codemaker” sets a hidden “code” of four colored pegs into one end of the board, and then the “codebreaker” guesses the sequence of colors by laying four pegs into the decoding section of the same board. The codemaker responds by revealing how many pegs are guessed correctly and in the right position, and how many are guessed correctly and in the wrong position. The codebreaker uses this information to break the code within a specified number of guesses.
27. __ Kids: “Sesame Street” brand : PBS
Children’s programming on the Public Broadcasting Service has gone by the name “PBS Kids” since 1994.
Back in 1966, the Carnegie Institute allocated money to study the use of television to help young children prepare for school. The institute gave an $8million grant to set up the Children’s Television Workshop with the task of creating an educational TV program for young people. The program began to come together, especially after Jim Henson (of Muppet fame) got involved. The name “Sesame Street” was chosen simply because it was the “least disliked” of all names proposed just before the program went on the air.
28. Am or Fm : ELEM
“Am” is the symbol for the element Americium. Americium was first produced during WWII at the University of California in Berkeley. The discovery was related to the Manhattan Project and so was kept secret from the public until after the war.
“Fm” is the symbol for the element Fermium. Fermium was discovered as a result of the first hydrogen bomb explosion, in 1952. It is named for Enrico Fermi, a leading Italian nuclear physicist of the day. Fermium is the element with the atomic number of 100.
29. Fictional Soviet sub : RED OCTOBER
“The Hunt for Red October” was the first novel published by Tom Clancy, and one of his best in my humble opinion. The story is centered on the defection of the captain of a top-secret Soviet submarine, who attempts to surrender his vessel to the Americans without the knowledge of his crew. The gripping storyline is actually inspired by real events, the failed mutiny on board the Soviet submarine Storozhevoy in 1975. Unusually, the novel was published by the United States Naval Institute, marking the first time it had ever published a fictional work. To this day, “The Hunt for Red October” is the Institutes’s most successful title.
37. Voice of Master Viper in “Kung Fu Panda” films : LIU
Lucy Liu is an actress from Queens, New York. Liu’s big break came when she was chosen to play the Ling Woo character in “Ally McBeal”. I liked her in the 2000 film “Charlie’s Angels” but as I am no fan of Quentin Tarantino, I did not enjoy the movie “Kill Bill”. I am having fun watching one of Liu’s more recent projects, in which she plays Jane Watson, one of the two lead characters in the TV crime drama “Elementary”.
“Kung Fu Panda” is a 2008 animated film from DreamWorks. It’s all about a panda who is expert in kung fu, as one might guess …
40. Flamenco guitarist Carlos : MONTOYA
Carlos Montoya was a renowned flamenco guitarist from Madrid, Spain. Montoya brought his music to much of the world while touring during the 1920s and 1930s. He was touring America when WWII broke out in Europe, an event that led to his settling in the US.
50. A little of this, a little of that : OLIO
“Olio” is a term meaning a hodgepodge or a mixture, coming from the mixed stew of the same name. The stew in turn takes its name from the Spanish “olla”, the clay pot used for cooking.
51. One of the March sisters : BETH
“Little Women” is a novel written by American author Louisa May Alcott. The quartet of little women is Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March. Jo is a tomboy and the main character in the story, and is based on Alcott herself.
55. Headland : NESS
A “ness” is a headland or promontory. The term comes from Old Norse and has the same roots as our word “nose”.
58. Light head? : TWI-
“Twilight” is the light experienced when the sun is below the horizon, both in the morning and the evening. The prefix “twi-” seems to come from the sense of “half”, and in “half light”. There appears to be no connection to the word “twice”, despite twilight occurring twice each day.