Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers includes the letters WIDE “SPREAD” apart, moved to either end of the answer:
- 64A. Far-reaching … and a literal feature of the answers to starred clues : WIDESPREAD
- 17A. *Rain-X auto product : WIPER BLADE
- 21A. *Manhattan theater district locale : WEST SIDE
- 40A. *Electrician’s basic knowledge : WIRING COLOR CODE
- 54A. *Many a military spouse : WAR BRIDE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Anemic : WEAK
The term “anemia” (or “anaemia” as we write it back in Ireland) comes from a Greek word meaning “lack of blood”. Anemia is a lack of iron in the blood, or a low red blood cell count. Tiredness is a symptom of the condition, and so we use the term “anemic” figuratively to mean “lacking in vitality or substance”.
5. Dukes not among royalty : FISTS
“Dukes” is a slang term for “fists, hands”. The route taken by “dukes” to become fists seems very tortuous, but might just be true. The term “fork” has been slang for “hand” for centuries (and gives rise to “fork out” meaning “hand over”). The slang term “fork” is expressed in Cockney rhyming slang as “Duke of York”, shortened to “duke”. As I said, tortuous …
14. Rod in a hot rod : AXLE
A “hot rod” is an American car that has been modified for speed by installing a larger than normal engine. A “street rod” is generally a more comfortable type of “hot rod”, with the emphasis less on the engine and more on custom paint jobs and interiors. By definition, a street rod must be based on an automobile design that originated prior to 1949.
15. Kate’s sitcom pal : ALLIE
“Kate & Allie” ran from 1984 to 1989, starring Susan Saint James as Kate, and Jane Curtin as Allie. Jane Curtin won two Emmy awards for her work on the series, while Susan Saint James … did not.
16. Pilaf base : RICE
“Pilaf” is a Persian word, and we use it to describe rice that is browned in oil and then cooked in a seasoned broth.
17. *Rain-X auto product : WIPER BLADE
Rain-X is company that mainly makes products used to repel water. The active ingredients in Rain-X formulations are polysiloxanes, compounds that bind to the surface of glassy materials.
19. Like port, usually : AGED
The city of Oporto in Portugal gave its name to port wine in the late 1600s, as it was the seaport through which most of the region’s fortified red wine was exported.
21. *Manhattan theater district locale : WEST SIDE
While there are many neighborhoods in New York City’s Manhattan, there are some broader terms that are used to navigate one’s way around the island:
- Uptown: above 59th Street
- Midtown: between 59th Street and 14th Street (but sometimes 23rd Street or 34th Street)
- Downtown: below 14th Street
- Upper Manhattan: above 96th Street
- Lower Manhattan: below Chambers Street
- East Side: east of Fifth Avenue
- West Side: west of Fifth Avenue
23. Proofer’s mark : STET
“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.
25. Feathery layer : HEN
A hen is “feathery” and is a “layer” of eggs.
33. Org. with the staff of Aesculapius in its logo : AMA
The Rod of Asclepius (also “Aesculapius”) is a rod around which a serpent is entwined. It was carried by the Greek god Asclepius, hence the name. Asclepius was associated with medicine and healing, and so the Rod of Asclepius has long been associated with health care. It appears in the logo of many organizations, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association. The Rod of Asclepius is sometimes confused with the caduceus, the traditional symbol of the god Hermes. The caduceus features two snakes winding around a winged staff. Famously, the US Army Medical Corps adopted the caduceus as a symbol, apparently in error, and as a result, the caduceus is sometimes associated with healthcare groups to this day.
36. Big name in gas : AMOCO
“Amoco” is an abbreviation for “American Oil Company”, an oil company that merged with BP in 1998. Amoco had been the first oil company to introduce gasoline tanker trucks and drive-through filling stations. I wonder did they know what they were starting …?
38. Slam-dance : MOSH
Moshing (also “slam dancing”) is the pushing and shoving that takes place in the audience at a concert (usually a punk or heavy metal concert). The area directly in front of the stage is known as the mosh pit. When a performer does a “stage dive” it is into (or I suppose “onto”) the mosh pit. It doesn’t sound like fun to me. Injuries are commonplace in the mosh pit, and deaths are not unknown.
39. Compressed video format : MPEG
The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) was established in 1988 to set standards for audio and video compression. The standards they’ve come up with use the acronym MPEG.
46. Cotillion girl : DEB
“Cotillion” is an American term that we’ve been using since about 1900 for a formal ball. In France a cotillion was a type of dance, with the term deriving from an Old French word for a petticoat. I guess the cotillion dance was one in which the lady would flash her petticoats as she did a twirl!
50. Nonpro sports gp. : AAU
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) sponsors the AAU Junior Olympic Games, an annual competition held in different cities across the United States, starting in Washington D.C. in 1967, and most recently in Des Moines, Iowa in 2009.
52. Trapper’s trophy : PELT
A “pelt” is the skin of a furry animal.
63. Continental coin : EURO
Euro coins are issued by all the participating European states. The reverse side is a common design used by all countries, whereas the obverse is a design specific to each nation. For example, the one euro coin issued by Malta features the Maltese Cross. That Maltese euro is legal tender right across the eurozone. The Irish euro features a harp.
67. Like nocturnally counted critters : OVINE
The Latin word for “sheep” is “ovis”, giving us the adjective “ovine”, meaning “like a sheep”.
70. Archibald and Thurmond of the NBA : NATES
Nate Archibald is a retired basketball player who played mainly for the Kansas City Kings and the Boston Celtics. Archibald could get the ball in the basket, but was also willing pass to a teammate when advantageous. He is only player to lead the league in assists and scoring in the same season.
Nate Thurmond is a retired basketball player who was known to fans as “Nate the Great”. Thurmond spent most of his career with the Golden State Warriors, but also played with the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers in his latter years. After retiring from the game, Thurmond returned to San Francisco and opened a restaurant called Big Nate’s BBQ.
1. Bedtime drink, in totspeak : WAWA
A tot drinks “wawa” (water), perhaps out of a sippy cup.
3. Chop House dog food brand : ALPO
Alpo is a brand of dog food first produced by Allen Products in 1936, with “Alpo” being an abbreviation for “Allen Products”. Lorne Greene used to push Alpo in television spots, as did Ed McMahon and Garfield the Cat, would you believe?
4. Laments loudly : KEENS
“To keen” is to wail in lamentation. The word “keening” has its roots in Ireland, coming from the Irish word “caoinim” meaning “I weep, wail, lament”.
7. Cabbage dish : SLAW
The term “coleslaw” is an Anglicized version of the Dutch name “koolsla”, which in itself is a shortened form of “Koolsalade” meaning “cabbage salad”.
8. Laundry room brand : TIDE
Tide is a laundry detergent that has been made by Procter & Gamble since 1946. Back then, Tide was marketed as “America’s Washday Favorite”.
11. Risky purchase, metaphorically : PIG IN A POKE
“Poke” is an old term for a sack. One wouldn’t want to buy a pig in a poke, in a sack, sight unseen.
22. With 43-Across, fraternal order : THE …
(43A. See 22-Down : … ELKS)
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a “club” in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren’t welcome.
24. Alley scavenger : TOMCAT
A group of cats can be referred to as a “clowder” or a “glaring”. A male cat is a “tom” or “tomcat”, and a neutered male is a “gib”. An unaltered female cat is a “queen”, and a spayed female might be referred to informally as a “molly”. A young cat is of course a “kitten”.
27. Writer Zola : EMILE
The most famous work of French writer Émile Zola is his 1898 open letter “J’Accuse!” written to then French president Félix Faure. The letter was published on the front page of a leading Paris newspaper, and accused the government of anti-Semitism in its handling of the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus was a Jewish military officer in the French army, falsely accused and convicted of spying for Germany. Even after the error was discovered, the government refused to back down and let Dreyfus rot away on Devil’s Island rather than admit to the mistake. It wasn’t until 1906, 12 years after the wrongful conviction, that Dreyfus was freed and reinstated, largely due to the advocacy of Emile Zola.
28. Special-interest government spending : PORK BARREL
Pork barrel politics have been around for a long time. The term originated in 1863 in a story by Edward Everett Hale called “The Children of the Public”. Hale used “pork barrel” in a positive way, describing any public spending by government for the benefit of citizens. By the 1870s the term “pork” had negative connotations, with references in the press to “pork barrel bills” in Congress. Nowadays “pork” really applies to any government project designed to benefit a relatively small group of citizens (usually potential voters for a particular politician) with the bill being paid by the citizenry as a whole.
34. Greek sorceress : MEDEA
In Greek mythology, Medea was the wife of Jason, the heroic leader of the Argonauts. Medea was a sorceress who pledged to help Jason in his search for the Golden Fleece, on condition that he take her as his wife. According to some accounts, Jason left Medea and took up with Glauce, the daughter of the king of Corinth. Medea got her own back by sending Glauce a golden coronet and a dress that were covered with poison. The poison killed Glauce, and her father the king. To further her revenge on Jason, Medea killed two of her own children that were fathered by him.
37. Sue Grafton’s “__ for Corpse” : C IS
Sue Grafton writes detective novels, and her “alphabet series” features the private investigator Kinsey Millhone. She started off with “A Is for Alibi” in 1982 and is working her way through the alphabet, most recently publishing “’W’ is for Wasted” in 2009. Apparently Ms. Grafton is working on her “X is for …” novel, and has already decided that “Z is for Zero” will be the final title in the series. What a clever naming system!
41. Safari grazer : GNU
A gnu is also known as a wildebeest, an antelope that is native to Africa. Wildebeest is actually the Dutch word for “wild beast”.
53. Deck that’s worth a fortune? : TAROT
Tarot cards have been around since the mid-1400s, and for centuries were simply used for entertainment as a game. It has only been since the late 1800s that the cards have been used by fortune tellers to predict the future. The list of tarot cards includes the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man and the Lovers.
54. “Dragnet” star Jack : WEBB
Jack Webb played Sergeant Joe Friday on “Dragnet” on both TV and radio … and what a voice he had! Off the screen, Webb was a lover of jazz, and he played the cornet. It was within the world of jazz that he met and fell in love with Julie London, the famous singer with “the smoky voice”. The couple married and had two kids together.
57. One who insists on the spotlight : DIVA
The term “diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. “Diva” is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.
60. Fictional sleuth Wolfe : NERO
Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective and the hero of many stories published by author Rex Stout. There are 33 Nero Wolfe novels for us to read, and 39 short stories. There are also movie adaptations of two of the novels: “Meet Nero Wolfe” (1936) which features a young Rita Hayworth, and “The League of Frightened Men” (1937). One of Wolfe’s endearing traits is his love of good food and beer, so he is a pretty rotund character.
61. “La __ aux Folles” : CAGE
The musical “La Cage aux Folles” opened on Broadway in 1985. “La Cage aux Folles” is a musical adaptation of the French play of the same name by Jean Poiret that was first staged in 1973. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the stage play nor the musical, but I love the wonderful movie adaptation, “The Birdcage”, released in 1996. The film has a very strong cast that includes Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman and Hank Azaria.
62. “Grand” ice cream brand : EDY’S
Dreyers’ ice cream sells its products under the name Dreyers in the Western United States, and Edy’s in the Eastern states. The company’s founders were William Dreyer and Joseph Edy.
65. Denver-to-Des Moines dir. : ENE
Denver, Colorado is nicknamed the “Mile-High City” because its official elevation is listed as exactly one mile. Denver City was founded in 1858 as a mining town. The name was chosen in honor of the Kansas Territorial Governor at the time, James W. Denver.
The city of Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, and takes its name from the Des Moines River. The river in turn takes its name from the French “Riviere des Moines” meaning “River of the Monks”. It looks like there isn’t any “monkish” connection to the city’s name per se. “Des Moines” was just the name given by French traders who corrupted “Moingona”, the name of a group of Illinois Native Americans who lived by the river. However, others do contend that French Trappist monks, who lived a full 200 miles from the river, somehow influenced the name.