Edited by: Rich Norris
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Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Cleaning up a mess? : ON KP
KP is a US military slang term that stands for either “kitchen police” or “kitchen patrol”.
15. River to the Laptev Sea : LENA
The Lena is a Siberian river, the third-longest in Asia. It rises in the Baikal Mountains in the south, and runs almost 2,800 miles to empty into the Laptev Sea in the Arctic Ocean.
The Laptev sea is a division of the Arctic Ocean located off the coast of Siberia. It is named for Dmitry and Khariton Laptev, two cousins who were Arctic explorers, and who were the first to map the shores of the sea from 1735 t0 1740.
18. Sharper : SCAM ARTIST
A “sharper” is a gamester who cheats, a “card sharp”.
A “card sharp” is someone who is skilled and deceptive with playing cards, particularly when playing gambling games like poker. It seems that the term “card sharp” predates the related “card shark”, both of which have the same meaning.
19. Publication for pitchers? : ADWEEK
“Adweek” is a weekly trade magazine serving the advertising industry. It is the second-biggest seller in the sector, behind “Advertising Age”.
22. “I have a lady in the balcony” old radio/TV quiz show : DR IQ
“Dr. I.Q.” is a quiz show that aired on the radio from 1939 until 1950, with a television version airing from 1953 until 1954, and again from 1958 until 1959. The show’s format called for assistants to wander through the theater seeking audience members will to participate in the quiz. This led to the show’s catchphrase “I have a lady in the balcony, Doctor!”, which was announced when the assistant found someone for the quizmaster to challenge.
24. Binge-watcher’s aid : TIVO
TiVo was introduced in 1999 and was the world’s first commercially successful Digital Video Recorder (DVR).
I’m a big fan of binge-watching, the practice of watching perhaps two or three (even four!) episodes of a show in a row. My wife and I will often deliberately avoid watching a recommended show “live” and wait until whole series have been released on DVD or online. I’m not a big fan of “tune in next week …”
25. Showman named Phineas : PT BARNUM
Phineas Taylor “PT” Barnum was one of the great American showmen, famous for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus. By some measures, Barnum was the first ever “show business” millionaire. Beyond the world of entertainment, Barnum was also a politician for a while and served two terms in the Connecticut legislature, and was mayor of the city of Bridgeport. Barnum was a very successful author as well. One of his most famous books was “The Humbugs of the World”, an exposé of deceptions in the world of entertainment. He was a believer in illusions, providing they gave value for money in terms of entertainment. However, Barnum had an intense dislike of fraudulent deception and came down hard on spiritualist mediums in particular.
34. Largest Italian lake : GARDA
Lake Garda in northern Italy is the nation’s largest body of water. The lake is named for the town of Garda that is located on its shore, about 20 miles from the city of Verona.
36. __ Valley, Calif. : SIMI
Nowadays Simi Valley, California is perhaps best known as home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library is a great place to visit, and there you can tour one of the retired Air Force One planes.
37. Court judgment : LET
That would tennis, perhaps.
38. Metaphorical social barrier : ICE
It’s often best to “break the ice”.
40. They might be about nothing : ADOS
The phrase “much ado about nothing” was coined by William Shakespeare when he used it as the title of his celebrated comedy. We use the phrase to describe a big fuss over a trifling issue.
“Much Ado About Nothing” is a play by William Shakespeare, and is a favorite of mine. It is a comedic tale of two pairs of lovers with lots of mistaken identities and double meanings. I once saw it performed in the fabulous Globe Theatre in London … by an all-female cast. Such a performance was somewhat ironic, given that in Shakespeare’s day the practice was to use an all-male cast.
44. Self-named 1954 or 1964 jazz album : MONK
Thelonious Monk was a jazz pianist and composer, the second-most recorded jazz composer after the great Duke Ellington. That’s a pretty impressive statistic given that Ellington wrote more than 1,000 songs, whereas Monk only wrote about 70. Monk was a pioneer in the development of the jazz style called “bebop”, which gained popularity in the 1940s.
49. Novelist O’Flaherty : LIAM
Liam O’Flaherty was novelist and political activist from Ireland. For what it’s worth, I was quite a good friend with Liam’s daughter Joyce when I was at university in Dublin.
51. X-Ray __: U.K. punk band : SPEX
X-Ray Spex (as opposed the novelty item “x-ray specs”) was a punk band from England that formed in 1976 and finally broke up in 2008. Their most famous hit was the first song they recorded: “Oh Bondage Up Yours!”
52. Socrates or Plato : ATHENIAN
Plato was a Greek philosopher and mathematician. He was a student of the equally famous and respected Socrates, and Plato in turn was the teacher and mentor of the celebrated Aristotle.
56. Meditative discipline : TAI CHI
More correctly called tai chi chuan, tai chi is a martial art that is mostly practiced to improve overall health and increase longevity.
60. Agenda : THINGS TO DO
“Agenda” is a Latin word that translates as “things to be done”, coming from the verb “agere” meaning “to do”.
62. Kennebunk-based personal care products brand, familiarly : TOM’S
Tom’s of Maine is a brand of personal-care products that emphasises the use of natural ingredients and that does not test products on animals. The brand was introduced when Tom and Kate Chappell started their own company in Kennebunk, Maine in 1970. I’m a big fan of Tom’s lavender-scented deodorant …
64. Noodle bar order : UDON
Udon noodles are made from wheat-flour and are very popular in Japanese cuisine like tempura.
1. Wife of Igor of Kiev : OLGA
Saint Olga of Kiev was actually a ruler of the medieval state of Rus (located in Eastern Europe) from 945 – 963 AD. By all accounts, Olga was a brutal woman in the early days of her reign. She came to power after her husband Igor’s assassination and ruled as regent, acting for their son. She carried out terrible acts of vengeance on those responsible for her husband’s death. Later in her rule, she converted to Christianity. She was eventually proclaimed a saint for her efforts to spread the Christian religion in Rus.
8. Keith Hernandez, e.g. : EX-MET
Keith Hernandez is a former professional first baseman who played Major League Baseball mainly with the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets. After retiring in 1990, Hernandez became a television broadcaster for Mets games. He also appeared in three episodes of the sitcom “Seinfeld”, including the last episode, playing himself. In the show, Hernandez dated Elaine, and became the object of Jerry’s “male crush”.
9. Marathoner’s need : STAMINA
The marathon commemorates the legendary messenger-run by Pheidippides from the site of the Battle of Marathon back to Athens, and is run over 26 miles and 385 yards. The first modern Olympic marathon races were run over a distance that approximated the length of the modern-day Marathon-Athens highway, although the actual length of the race varied from games to games. For the 1908 Olympics in London, a course starting at Windsor Castle and ending in front of the Royal Box at White City Stadium was defined. This course was 26 miles and 385 yards, the standard length now used at all Olympic Games. Organizers of subsequent games continued to vary the length of the race, until a decision was made in 1921 to adopt the distance used in London in 1908.
11. Pool habitués : BETTORS
A “habitué” is someone who frequents a particular spot. “Habituer” is the French word for “to accustom”.
14. Storefront sign abbr. : ESTD
20. Miss an easy spare, say : ERR
In bowling, the downing of all ten pins in two balls in the same frame is a “spare”, scoring ten points. The player gets a bonus, equal to the number of pins downed with the next ball, which could be up to ten. Hence, a spare can be worth up to 20 points
23. Bobwhite, e.g. : QUAIL
“Quail” is a name used for several chicken-like wild birds. Quail are common prey for hunters.
25. Classroom with mice : PC LAB
The first computer mouse was invented at the Stanford Research Institute in 1963, by one Douglas Engelbart. Sadly for him, his patent ran out before mice became standard equipment on computers, so he never made any money from his amazing invention.
26. Old-time screen vamp Bara : THEDA
A “vamp” (short for vampire) is a seductive woman. The term was first used in reference to the sultry performance of actress Theda Bara in the 1915 film “A Fool There Was”. The movie’s title is a quotation from Rudyard Kipling’s 1897 poem “The Vampire”. Bara’s role was positioned as a “vampire”, a woman out to seduce a man, launching the use of “vamp” as an alternative term for a “femme fatale”.
28. Ernie Banks’ sobriquet : MR CUB
First baseman Ernie Banks was known as “Mr. Cub”, and played his entire 19-year professional career with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs retired Banks’ uniform number 14 in 1982, making him the first Cubs player to be so honored. Banks was known for his catchphrase, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame … Let’s play two!”, a reference to his love of the game, always wanting to play a doubleheader.
A sobriquet is an affectionate nickname. “Sobriquet” is French for “nickname”.
31. Fix, as copy : EMEND
The verb “to amend” means “to change for the better, put right, alter by adding”. The related verb “to emend” is used more rarely and mainly in reference to the editing of professional writing. Both terms are derived from the Latin “emendare” meaning “to remove fault”.
32. Track apparel : SILKS
The colorful silk clothing made from silk that is worn by a jockey is known as “racing silks”. The specific colors and pattern of racing silks are registered to particular owner or trainer.
41. A quarter of a half? : SILENT L
The letter L is one quarter of, one letter in, the word “half”, and it’s a silent letter L.
42. Some recliners : CHAISES
A “chaise longue” (sometimes just “chaise”) is an elongated, upholstered, sofa-like chair that is long enough to support the legs. “Chaise longue” is French for “long chair”. And, the term has nothing to do with a “lounge” … it’s a “longue” (long) chair, not a “lounge” chair.
43. Beer openers : POP-TOPS
The term “pop top” refers to a whole family of designs for opening the top of a soda or beer can. The oldest method is the “pull tab” or “ring pull”, invented in Canada in 1956. The design was long-lived, but it had its problems, so the world heaved a sigh of relief with the invention of the stay-on-tab in 1975. The new design led to less injuries and eliminated all those used pull tabs that littered the streets.
46. One of Pete Rose’s record 3,215 : SINGLE
Pete Rose was a talented baseball player who holds the record for all-time Major League hits. Rose’s nickname was “Charlie Hustle”. In recent years of course his reputation has been tarnished by admissions that he bet on games in which he played and managed.
48. ’80s-’90s co-star with Betty, Rue and Estelle : BEA
Actress Bea Arthur’s most famous roles were on television, as the lead in the “All in the Family” spin-off “Maude” and as Dorothy Zbornak in “The Golden Girls”. Arthur also won a Tony for playing Vera Charles on stage in the original cast of “Mame” in 1966, two years after she played Yente the matchmaker in the original cast of “Fiddler on the Roof”.
The comic actress Betty White has been at the top of her game for decades. White started her television career with an appearance with high school classmates on a local Los Angeles show back in 1939. Her most famous TV run was co-hosting the Tournament of Roses Parade, a gig she had for nineteen years in the sixties and seventies. Given her long career, White holds a number of records in the world of entertainment. For example, she is the oldest person to host “Saturday Night Live” (at 88) and she is the oldest woman to win a Grammy (at 90).
The actress Rue McClanahan was best known for her television sitcom roles, as Vivian Harmon on “Maude” and as Blanche Devereaux on “The Golden Girls”.
The actress Estelle Getty was best known for playing Sophia Petrillo on “The Golden Girls”. Bea Arthur played Sophia’s daughter on the show, even though Estelle was actually a year younger than Bea in real life!
52. First razor with a pivoting head : ATRA
Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977 as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.
53. Chiang Mai native : THAI
Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and is located about 435 miles north of the capital of Bangkok. The name “Chiang Mai” translates as “new city”.
54. Battleship goals : HITS
Battleship was a game that we used to play as kids using pencil and paper. The game had been around at least since WWI, and was eventually turned into a board game by Milton Bradley in 1967.
55. Myrna’s role in “The Thin Man” : NORA
“The Thin Man” is a detective novel written by Dashiell Hammett that was first published in the magazine “Redbook” in 1934. Hammett never wrote a sequel to his story, but it spawned a wonderful, wonderful series of “The Thin Man” films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles). “The Thin Man” was the last novel that Hammett wrote.
57. Musical closing : CODA
In music, a coda is primarily a passage that brings a movement to a conclusion. “Coda” is Italian for “tail”.
58. Managed care gps. : HMOS
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
61. Brooklynese pronoun : DAT
The New York dialect of English is sometimes referred to as “Brooklynese”. In Brooklynese, we might take “dis”, “dat”, “dese” or “dose” (this, that, these or those).