Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Picture with a surprise ending? : PHOTOBOMB
Photobombing is the act of intruding during the taking of a photograph as a practical joke. The term has gotten a lot of usage in recent years due to the proliferation of smartphone cameras. Collins English Dictionary named “photobomb” as Word of the Year for 2014.
10. Cheaply, with “for” : A SONG
Something that goes “for a song” is sold very cheaply. The first known use of the phrase in print is in William Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”.
Why, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the
ruff and sing; ask questions and sing; pick his
teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of
melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song.
15. Land across the Baltic from Sweden : LITHUANIA
The nation of Lithuania is a former Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) sitting on the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe. The capital of Lithuania is Vilnius, and 16 miles north of Vilnius is a point that is officially recognized as the Geographic Center of Europe.
The Baltic is a sea in northern Europe that is much less saline than the oceans. The lower amount of salt in the Baltic partially explains why almost half of the sea freezes over during the winter. In fact, the Baltic has been known to completely freeze over several times over the past few centuries.
17. Burden to bear : ALBATROSS
An “albatross” is sometimes a metaphor for a psychological burden. This usage comes from the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the story, an albatross is following a ship, a sign of good fortune. Then the “ancient mariner” shoots the albatross with a crossbow, an act that will bring a curse on the ship. The other sailors punish the mariner by forcing him to wear the dead albatross around his neck.
19. Much data: Abbr. : NOS
Our word “data” (singular “datum”) comes from the Latin “datum” meaning “given”. The idea is that data are “things given”.
20. River of Tuscany : ARNO
The Arno is the principal river in the Tuscany region of Italy, passing through the cities of Florence and Pisa. Famously the Arno flooded in 1966, the worst flood in the region for centuries. There were numerous deaths and extensive destruction of priceless art treasures, particularly in Florence.
21. Oliver Twist, for one : ORPHAN
“Oliver Twist” is a novel by Charles Dickens. It is a popular tale for adaptation to the big screen. There were two silent film versions, in 1909 and 1922, and the first talkie version was released in 1933, with many to follow. The latest “Oliver” for the big screen was a 2005 Roman Polanski production.
22. Architectural molding : OGEE
An ogee is a type of S-curve. Specifically it is a figure consisting of two arcs that curve in opposite directions (like an S) but both ends of the curve end up parallel to each other (which is not necessarily true for an S).
27. The King’s middle name : ARON
Elvis Aron Presley (aka “the King”) was the younger of two identical twins. His brother was stillborn, delivered 35 minutes before Elvis. The brother was named Jesse Garon Presley. So, although born a twin, Elvis was raised as an only child.
28. McBride of “Draft Day” : CHI
The actor Chi McBride plays Captain Lou Grover on the reboot of the crime drama “Hawaii Five-0”. He was born Kenneth McBride in Chicago, from where he was given the nickname “Chi”.
“Draft Day” is a 2014 sports drama about the general manager of the Cleveland Browns NFL team and the rigmarole that he goes through to come up with the number pick in that year’s draft. Kevin Costner plays the Browns’ GM. The original screenplay called for the GM to work for the Buffalo Bills, but the team was changed to Browns in order to take advantage of lower production casts in Ohio.
29. Metz meal : REPAS
Our word “repast”, meaning “meal”. came to us via French (in which language “repas” is “meal”). Ultimately the term comes from the Latin “repascere” meaning “to repeatedly graze”.
The city of Metz is in the northeast of France, close to the German border. Given the proximity to Germany, Metz has both a strong German tradition and a strong French tradition. Metz was handed over to the French following WWI, after nearly 50 years of German rule. It quickly fell back into German hands in 1940 during WWII, with many German officers delighted to have back the city of their birth. Perhaps because of this long association with Germany, the US Army under General Patton encountered stiff resistance when liberating Metz in 1944. The cathedral in Metz is home to the largest expanse of stained glass in the world, almost 70,000 square feet in all.
31. Wi-Fi relative : LAN
Local Area Network (LAN)
32. Eisner’s successor at Disney : IGER
Robert Iger took over from Michael Eisner as CEO in 2005. Iger worked for ABC when it was taken over by Disney in 1996, and in 1999 he was named president of Walt Disney International. Iger is doing okay for himself; he earned more than $29 million in 2009.
33. Org. formed in Manila in 1954 : SEATO
The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was set up in 1954, a defense organization with the mission to block communist influence growing in Southeast Asia. The driving force behind the organization’s creation was President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Dulles. The list of SEATO members included Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK and the US. The organization was never really considered effective and it fell apart in 1977 largely due to a lack of interest by the members.
34. Pulitzer poet Van Duyn : MONA
Mona Van Duyn was a poet from Waterloo, Iowa. Van Duyn won the National Book Award in 1971, the Pulitzer Prize in 1991, and served as US Poet Laureate from 1992 to 1993.
35. With 22-Down, immortal 20th-century racer : MAN …
(22D. See 35-Across : … O’ WAR)
Man o’ War is thought by many to be the greatest thoroughbred racehorse of all time, having won 20 of 21 races in his career just after WWI.
36. British county : SHIRE
The word “shire” comes from the Old English “scir” meaning “administrative district”. The term was replaced with county as far back as the 14th century, but the usage persists to this day, largely because some counties retain the use of -shire as a suffix (Yorkshire, Lancashire etc.).
37. Spherical bacteria : COCCI
Bacteria can be classified into three groups, according to shape:
- Round-shaped (coccus)
- Rod-shaped (bacillus)
38. Racing Unsers : ALS
The Unser family seems to have racing cars in their blood. Al Unser, Sr. won the Indy 500 on four occasions. Al’s brother Jerry was the first of the Unsers to compete at Indianapolis. Al’s other brother Bobby, won the Indy three times. Al’s son, Al Junior, won the Indy twice. Al Junior’s son is also a racing driver who competes at the Indy Speedway.
40. Quenched : SLAKED
“To slake” is to satisfy a craving, as in slaking one’s thirst.
41. Downwind current : LEE TIDE
A leeward tide (sometime “lee tide”) is one that runs in the same direction that the wind is blowing. A windward tide, on the other hand, runs in the opposite direction to the wind. I think that the main danger with a lee tide is when a boat is at anchor. If the tide and wind are acting in concert then the anchor is more likely to slip.
43. Improvisational style : SCAT
Scat singing is a vocal improvisation found in the world of jazz. There aren’t any words as such in scat singing, just random nonsense syllables made up on the spot.
45. Sainted pope called “the Great” : LEO I
The first pope named Leo is now known as Pope Saint Leo the Great. Leo I is famous for meeting with the feared Attila the Hun and persuading him to turn back his invading force that was threatening to overrun Western Europe.
49. Heron relative : EGRET
Egrets are a group of several species of white herons. Many egret species were faced with extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s due to plume hunting, a practice driven by the demand for egret plumes that could be incorporated into hats.
Herons are birds with long legs that inhabit freshwater and coastal locales. Some herons are routinely referred to as egrets, and others as bitterns. Herons look a lot like storks and cranes, but differ in their appearance in flight. Herons fly with their necks retracted, whereas storks and cranes have their necks extended.
50. Product announced but never produced or canceled : VAPORWARE
“Vaporware” is hardware or software that is announced but never produced, and never canceled. The term was coined by a Microsoft engineer in 1982 with reference to the company’s Xenix operating system. Xenix was a Unix-based operating system that Microsoft seemed ready to offer to the public in the eighties. Xenix was indeed licenced to the likes of Intel and Tandy, but Microsoft never actually made it available to the general public. Xenix seemed to just fade away, like a vapor.
52. Coeur d’__ : ALENE
The city, lake and river in Idaho called Coeur d’Alene are all named for the Coeur d’Alene People, Native Americans who lived in the area when it was first explored by French Canadian fur traders. “Coeur d’Alene” translates from French as “heart of an awl”. The Native American people were given this name as they were perceived as shrewd traders by their Canadian counterparts.
54. Treat again, as leather : RETAN
Leather is 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”.
2. Hawaii’s __ Bay : HILO
Hilo Bay is a large bay on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is named for Hilo, the town that overlooks the bay. Hilo Bay is sometimes referred to as the tsunami capital of the US as the bay’s geography renders the town of Hilo particularly susceptible to damage from tsunamis caused by earthquakes as far away as Chile and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The 1946 earthquake in the Aleutians resulted in 96 deaths in Hilo, and the 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile caused 61 fatalities in the same location.
3. Places with indoor windows, briefly : OTBS
Off-Track Betting (OTB) is the legal gambling that takes place on horse races outside of a race track. A betting parlor can be referred to as an OTB.
7. Two __: fast-break advantage : ON ONE
That would be sports.
8. Protein-rich paste : MISO
Miso is the name of the seasoning that makes the soup. Basic miso seasoning is made by fermenting rice, barley and soybeans with salt and a fungus to produce a paste. The paste can be added to stock to make miso soup, or perhaps to flavor tofu.
9. Humanities degs. : BAS
The academic studies of human culture are collectively called the humanities. Subjects included in the humanities are languages, literature, philosophy, religion and music.
14. Federal subsidy : GRANT-IN-AID
A “grant-in-aid” is funding from a central government to a local government as aid for a particular project.
21. College town about 100 miles NE of Portland : ORONO
The town of Orono is home to the University of Maine, founded in 1862. The college is actually located on an island (Marsh island) lying between the Penobscot and Stillwater rivers. The town of Orono is named after Joseph Orono, a chief of the Penobscot Nation.
Portland is the largest city in Maine, and home to over a third of the state’s population. The name of Portland was chosen in 1786, a reference to the Isle of Portland, which is the southernmost point in the county of Dorset, England.
23. Hackneyed : TRITE
Hackney is a location in London, and it probably gave it’s name to a “hackney”, an ordinary type of horse around 1300. By 1700 a “hackney” was a person hired to do routine work, and “hackneyed” meant “kept for hire”, and then “stale, uninteresting”. This morphed into a hackney carriage, a carriage or car for hire, and into “hack”, a slang term for a taxi driver or cab.
24. 1993 William Diehl thriller on which a 1996 film was based : PRIMAL FEAR
“Primal Fear” is a very enjoyable crime-thriller film released in 1996, starring Richard Gere. The most acclaimed performance in the movie came from Edward Norton, in his film debut.
25. Formidable court figure : LEGAL EAGLE
A “legal eagle” is a skilled lawyer.
26. Nevada’s Area 51, notably : OPEN SECRET
The famed Area 51 is a remote base in the USAF Nevada Test and Training Range. There’s no question that Area 51 is an unusual base in that frontline operational units are not deployed there. It seems that it is used for developing and testing new and classified weapons facilities for the US Military and other US agencies like the CIA. The government did not even acknowledge that Area 51 existed until 1995, and this official position fueled a theory that the base is home to UFOs that landed on Earth.
27. Agatha or Edgar : AWARD
The Agathas are literary awards given annually for mystery and crime writers producing exceptional works in the “cozy mystery” genre. “Cozies” are crime fiction in which there is a dearth of sex and violence, and in which the crime is committed and solved in a small community or gathering. The awards are named for the queen of the cozy mystery genre, Agatha Christie.
The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (the Edgars) are presented annually by the Mystery Writers of America.
30. The Pont Neuf spans it : SEINE
Paradoxically, Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge standing today that crosses the River Seine in Paris. The paradox is that the name translates to “new bridge”. The bridge is in two parts, as it crosses from the Left Bank to the Île de la Cité (on which stands Notre Dame) and then from the Île de la Cité to the Right Bank.
34. Defense that may be all wet : MOAT
A “moat” is a protective trench that surrounds a castle, say, or a an exhibit in a zoo. A moat may or may not be filled with water.
36. Gaga : SMITTEN
“Smitten” is a past participle of “smite” meaning “to inflict a heavy blow”. We tend to use “smitten” to mean “affected by love, love-struck”.
37. “Does she … or doesn’t she?” brand : CLAIROL
Clairol had been around since 1931 selling hair coloring products to salons, and then hit the big time with the introduction of a one-step hair coloring product for use at home. As famous as the product was the “does she … or doesn’t she” advertising campaign. Six years after the launch of the campaign, 70% of women in the US were coloring their hair.
40. Part of a fictional dog name inspired by Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” : SCOOBY
“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” is a series of cartoons produced for Hanna-Barbera Productions, first broadcast in 1969. The title character is a great Dane dog owned by a young male called Shaggy Rogers. The character’s name was inspired by the famous “doo-be-doo-be-doo” refrain in the Frank Sinatra hit “Strangers in the Night”. Shaggy was voiced by famed disk jockey Casey Kasem.
42. R&B singer __ Marie : TEENA
Teena Marie was a very successful R&B singer, born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, California.
43. Dividing walls : SEPTA
In the world of anatomy, a septum (plural “septa”) is a dividing wall within a chamber or other structure. For example, the interatrial septum separates the left and right atria of the heart, and the nasal septum separates the nostrils of the nose.
45. Café supply : LAIT
“Café au lait” (coffee with milk) is usually strong drip coffee to which one adds steamed milk. At least that’s the way we tend to make in this country.
46. León relative : GATO
In Spanish, a “león” (lion) is a big “gato” (cat).
47. Piccadilly Circus statue : EROS
London’s Piccadilly Circus is a major road junction in the West End of London. The junction is at one end of the thoroughfare called Piccadilly, hence the first part of the name. The junction’s shape is roughly circular, hence the use of “circus”, a Latin word meaning “circle”. Famously, there is a statue of Eros at the center of the junction.
50. Beta rival : VHS
The video standard known as VHS is more fully referred to as the Video Home System. VHS was one of many standards touted by various manufacturers in the seventies. The biggest rival to VHS was Betamax, but we all knew which of the two standards won the final round in that fight.
51. Org. that complements the IMF : WTO
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The stated aim of the WTO is to liberalize international trade. The organization was founded in 1995 when an international agreement on trade was reached that effectively replaced the existing General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that was laid down in 1949.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established at the end of 1945 with 29 major economies supporting and funding an effort to stabilize economies across the globe after WWII. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., today the IMF has 187 member countries.