Edited by: Rich Norris
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The ends (FINALE) of today’s themed answers are words (shown with circled letters) that often follow GRAND:
- 59A. Climactic show ending, and a literal hint to this puzzle’s circled letters : GRAND FINALE
- 17A. Change one’s route to avoid heavy traffic, say : MAKE A DETOUR (giving “grand tour”)
- 23A. Likely successor to the throne : HEIR APPARENT (giving “grandparent”)
- 37A. “You’re confusing me” : I DON’T UNDERSTAND (giving “grandstand”)
- 48A. Sprained ankle, often : SPORTS INJURY (giving “grand jury”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Negative attention from the press, briefly : BAD PR
Public relations (PR)
6. Deep-voiced opera singer : BASSO
The bass is the lowest male singing voice. A man with such a voice might be called a “basso” (plural “bassi”).
15. Gossip spreader : YENTA
Yenta (also “Yente”) is actually a female Yiddish name. In Yiddish theater “yenta” came to mean a busybody, gossip.
16. Abu Dhabi is its cap. : UAE
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates (states) in the Middle East. Included in the seven are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the city of Abu Dhabi being the UAE capital and cultural center.
17. Change one’s route to avoid heavy traffic, say : MAKE A DETOUR (giving “grand tour”)
The “Grand Tour” was a rite of passage for young wealthy men, mainly in the 18th century. Rich families (especially the English) would send off their sons after finishing their schooling to be exposed to the various cultures across Europe. Essential stops along the way were Paris, Venice and Rome.
19. Org. for marksmen : NRA
National Rifle Association (NRA)
21. Pipe-cleaning brand : DRANO
To clean out drains we might buy Crystal Drano which is sodium hydroxide (lye) mixed with sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (table salt) and aluminum. The contents of Drano work in concert to clear the clog. The lye reacts with any fats creating soap which may be enough to break up the clog. Also, the finely-divided aluminum reacts with water creating tremendous heat so that that mixture boils and churns, then any hair or fibers are cut by the sharp edges of the nitrate and chloride crystals. Having said all that, I find that boiling water poured down the drain almost always does the job …
22. Composer Stravinsky : IGOR
The composer Igor Stravinsky’s most famous works were completed relatively early in his career, when he was quite young. His three ballets “The Firebird”, “Petrushka” and “The Rite of Spring” were published in 1910-1913, when Stravinsky was in his early thirties.
29. Epps of “House” : OMAR
Omar Epps is the actor who played Eric Forman on the excellent television series “House”. Prior to playing Dr. Forman, Epps had a recurring role playing Dr. Dennis Grant on “ER”. And, in another link to the world of medicine, Epps was born in Savannah, Georgia to single mom, Dr. Bonnie Epps.
31. Fabulist mentioned by Aristotle : AESOP
Aesop is remembered today as a fabulist, a writer of fables. Aesop lived in Ancient Greece, probably around the sixth century BC. Supposedly he was born a slave, somehow became a free man, but then met with a sorry end. Aesop was sent to the city of Delphi on a diplomatic mission but instead insulted the Delphians. He was tried on a trumped-up charge of stealing from a temple, sentenced to death and was thrown off a cliff.
41. Capitol Hill fig. : POL
A “pol” is a politician, especially one known for making deals.
Washington D.C.’s designer Pierre L’Enfant chose the crest of a hill as the site for the future Congress House. He called the location “Jenkins Hill” and “Jenkins Heights”. Earlier records show the name as “New Troy”. Today we call it “Capitol Hill”.
43. Machu Picchu resident : INCA
Machu Picchu is known as “The Lost City of the Incas”, and it can be visited on a mountain ridge in Peru, 50 miles northwest of the city of Cuzco in the southeast of the country. The name Machu Picchu means “old peak”. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu originates about 50 miles from Cusco on the Urubamba River in Peru. It can take travelers about 5 days to trek the full length of the trail, passing through many Incan ruins before reaching the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu mountain. The trail was becoming greatly overused, forcing the Peruvian government to limit the number of people on the trail each day to 500. Book early …
46. Sacred river of India : GANGES
The River Ganges rises in the western Himalaya and flows through the northeast of India before crossing into Bangladesh where it enters the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is worshipped by Hindus as the goddess Ganga, and is the most sacred of all rivers in Hinduism.
48. Sprained ankle, often : SPORTS INJURY (giving “grand jury”)
A grand jury is a group of 16-23 citizens who are empowered to investigate potential criminal conduct. Only the US and Liberia use grand juries today, with the rest of the world employing other forms of preliminary hearing. The phrase “grand jury” has its roots in French, with “grand” implying “large”. The 12-person jury used in a criminal trial can be referred to as a “petit” (small) jury.
53. “Peter Pan” beast : CROC
In J. M. Barrie’s play “Peter Pan”, it is not specifically stated how Captain Hook lost his hand, although previous writings by Barrie reveal that Peter Pan cut it off during a swordfight. What is revealed is that Peter fed the severed hand to a crocodile, and that crocodile pursues Captain Hook for the rest of his days, seeking to finish off his meal. The crocodile also swallowed a clock, and the ticking of the clock warns Captain Hook of his pursuer’s approach.
55. Help in finding the hidden treasure : MAP
Our word “map” comes from the Latin “mappa” meaning “napkin, cloth”. Maps were drawn on cloth, hence the name.
62. Blanc who voiced Bugs : MEL
Mel Blanc was known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices”. We’ve all heard Mel Blanc at one time or another, I am sure. His was the voice behind such cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Woody Woodpecker, Elmer Fudd and Barney Rubble. And the words on Blanc’s tombstone are … “That’s All Folks”.
64. Kind of panel or system : SOLAR
Solar panels make use of what’s known as the photovoltaic effect. We are more likely to have learned about the photoelectric effect in school, in which electrons were ejected from the surface of some materials when it was exposed to light or other forms of radiation. The photovoltaic effect is related but different. Instead of being electrons ejected from the surface, in the photovoltaic effect electrons move around in the material creating a difference in voltage.
There are several mnemonics used to remember the planets and the order in which they are found in the Solar System. One example is “My Very Easy Method Just Shows Us Nine Planets” which doesn’t really work since Pluto was relegated from “planethood”. The most oft-quoted mnemonic for the eight planets is “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos”. Given the relegation of Pluto, I kind of like “Many Very Educated Men Just Screwed Up Nature”.
65. Keats work : ODE
The English poet John Keats died in Rome in 1821, and is buried there in the Protestant Cemetery. His last wish was that his grave be marked with a tombstone bearing just the words “”Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water”, and no name nor a date. Keats’ friends honored his request to some extent, as the words were included on the stone and no name is given. The full epitaph reads:
contains all that was Mortal
Young English Poet
on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
these Words to be
engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water.
24 February 1821
66. Annual celebrations, for short : B-DAYS
1. The Crimson Tide, familiarly : BAMA
The athletic teams of the University of Alabama (“Bama”) are nicknamed the Crimson Tide, a reference to the team colors of crimson and white.
3. Storied water barrier : DIKE
“Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates” is a children’s novel written by American author Mary Mapes Dodge, first published in 1865. The novel is famous for introducing a story, told with within the novel’s own storyline, the tale of the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the leaking dike. I always thought the tale of the boy and the dike was a Dutch legend but no, it was a literary invention of Mary Mapes Dodge …
7. Insurance giant : AETNA
When the healthcare management and insurance company known as Aetna was founded, the name was chosen to evoke images of Mt. Etna, the European volcano.
9. Good name for a lover of hearty meals : STU
Because “Stu” sounds like “stew”.
12. Packers quarterback Rodgers : AARON
Aaron Rodgers signed with the Green Bay Packers as quarterback in 2005. Aaron has a younger brother Jordan who played football with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
13. EKG organ : HEART
An EKG measures electrical activity in the heart. Back in my homeland of Ireland, an EKG is known as an ECG (for electrocardiogram). We use the German name in the US, Elektrokardiogramm, giving us EKG. Apparently the abbreviation EKG is preferred as ECG might be confused (if poorly handwritten, I guess) with EEG, the abbreviation for an electroencephalogram.
18. Smidgen : DRIB
A “drib” is a negligible amount, as in “dribs and drabs”.
Our word “smidgen” (sometimes shortened to “smidge”) is used to describe a small amount. The term might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.
22. Nest egg acronym : IRA
Individual retirement account (IRA)
25. Gig equipment : AMPS
Musicians use “gig” to describe a job, a performance. The term originated in the early 1900s in the world of jazz.
31. Director Lee : ANG
Taiwanese director Ang Lee sure has directed a mixed bag of films, mixed in terms of genre but not in terms of quality. He was at the helm for such classics as “Sense & Sensibility” (my personal favorite), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hulk”, “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi”.
32. School URL ending : EDU
35. Fairy tale starter : ONCE
The stock phrase “Once upon a time” has been used in various forms as the start of a narrative at least since 1380. The stock phrase at the end of stories such as folktales is often “and they all lived happily ever after”. The earlier version of this ending was “happily until their deaths”.
36. High-tech appt. books : PDAS
Personal digital assistant (PDA)
39. “Exodus” author Leon : URIS
“Exodus” is a wonderful novel written by American writer Leon Uris, first published in 1947. The hero of the piece is Ari Ben Canaan, played by Paul Newman in the 1960 film adaptation directed by Otto Preminger.
45. Tolkien beast : ORC
Orcs are mythical humanoid creatures that appear in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. Since Tolkien’s use of orcs, they have also been featured in other fantasy fiction and in fantasy games.
46. __ of Mexico : GULF
The Gulf of Mexico is a notorious site for oil exploration. There are about 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells on the Gulf’s seabed.
47. Whistler, but not his mother : ARTIST
James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born painter who spent most of his working life in Britain. His most famous work is the 1871 painting usually referred to as “Whistler’s Mother”. That actual title of the piece is “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1”.
48. Blockhead : SCHMO
“Schmo” (also “shmo”) is American slang for a dull or boring person, from the Yiddish word “shmok”.
49. Jimmied (open) : PRIED
“Jimmy” is a variant of the word “jemmy” that is used for a type of crowbar, one associated with burglars back in the 1800s.
50. The first Mrs. Trump : IVANA
Ivana Winklmayr was born in Czechoslovakia. Winklmayr was an excellent skier, and was named as an alternate for the 1982 Czech Olympic Team. She was promoting the Montreal Olympics in New York in 1976 when she met Donald Trump. Ivana and Donald’s marriage was very public and well-covered by the media, but not nearly so well as their very litigious divorce in the early nineties.
51. Mary Poppins, e.g. : NANNY
The “Mary Poppins” series of children’s novels was written by Australian-born English writer and actress P. L. Travers. Mary Poppins is a magical children’s nanny with a best friend called Bert. In the famous musical film adaptation of the Mary Poppins stories, Poppins is played by Julie Andrews and Bert is played Dick Van Dyke.
52. Biblical betrayer : JUDAS
A “judas” is a treacherous person, and a term derived from the disciple named Judas Iscariot. Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver to identify Jesus so that he could be arrested. He did so with a kiss, at which point he was taken by the soldiers of the High Priest Caiaphas and handed over to Pontius Pilate, the prefect of the Roman province of Judea.
55. Timbuktu’s country : MALI
The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa, south of Algeria. Formerly known as French Sudan, the nation’s most famous city is Timbuktu. Mali is the third-largest producer of gold on the continent, after South Africa and Ghana.
56. “__, poor Yorick!”: Hamlet : ALAS
In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, there is a scene when Prince Hamlet holds in his hand the skull of the deceased court jester Yorick. Hamlet starts into a famous monologue at this point:
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is …
The opening line is often misquoted as “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well.”
59. Pres. #43 : GWB
President George W. Bush (GWB) is named for his father, George H. W. Bush. The “W” in the name of both father and son stands for “Walker”. Walker was the family name of President George H. W. Bush’s mother, Dorothy Walker.