Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers use a pair of GREEK LETTERS at the start. Each themed answer sounds like the actual answer referred to in the clue:
- 56A. “Antigone” characters? : GREEK LETTERS
- 20A. Unused car using some 56-Across? : NU ALPHA ROMEO (sounds like “new Alfa Romeo”)
- 35A. Movies using some 56-Across? : PSI-PHI FILMS (sounds like “sci-fi films”)
- 42A. Compulsive sort using some 56-Across? : PI-RHO-MANIAC (sounds like “pyromaniac”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Serious service : MASS
The principal act of worship in the Roman Catholic tradition is the Mass. The term “Mass” comes from the Late Latin word “missa” meaning “dismissal”. This word is used at the end of the Latin Mass in “Ite, missa est” which translates literally as “Go, it is the dismissal”.
10. Moxie : ZEAL
Back as far as 1876, Moxie was a brand name of a “medicine” peddled with the claim that it “built up your nerve”. In 1924, Moxie was registered as a trademark for a bitter, non-alcoholic beverage (no more claims of nerve-building). And we’ve used the term “moxie” to mean “nerve” ever since …
17. Taboo : NO-NO
The word “taboo” was introduced into English by Captain Cook in his book “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean”. Cook described “tabu” (likely imitative of a Tongan word that he had heard) as something that was both consecrated and forbidden.
18. Parade instruments : SNARE DRUMS
Snare drums are so called because they have a set of wire strands (called snares) stretched across the bottom surface of the drum. When the drum is struck, the snares vibrate against the bottom drumhead producing a unique sound.
20. Unused car using some 56-Across? : NU ALPHA ROMEO (sounds like “new Alfa Romeo”)
The Latin equivalent of the Greek letter “nu” is “N”. An uppercase nu looks just like the Latin capital N, however, the lowercase nu looks like our lowercase “v”. Very confusing …
The Greek alphabet starts with the letter “alpha”, and ends with the letter “omega”.
The “Alfa” in Alfa Romeo is actually an acronym, standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.
22. It can be bid : ADIEU
“Adieu” is the French for “goodbye” or “farewell”, from “à Dieu” meaning “to God”. The plural of “adieu” is “adieux”.
23. Coin toss winner’s option : RECEIVE
That would probably be football.
27. Large Eurasian group : SLAVS
The Slavic peoples are in the majority in communities covering over half of Europe. This large ethnic group is traditionally broken down into three smaller groups:
- the West Slavic (including Czechs and Poles)
- the East Slavic (including Russians and Ukrainians)
- the South Slavic (including Bulgarians and Serbs)
31. Very, to Puccini : ASSAI
The Italian term “assai” translates as “very”, and is used in music with the same meaning.
Giacomo Puccini was an Italian composer, famous for his operas that are so often performed all over the world. Included in the list of his works are “La bohème”, “Tosca”, “Madama Butterfly” and “Turandot”. Puccini died in Brussels, Belgium in 1924 having suffered from throat cancer. An audience attending a performance of “La bohème” in Rome heard of the composer’s death in the middle of the performance. At the news, the opera was stopped, and the orchestra instead played Chopin’s “Funeral March”.
32. DJIA company alphabetically following Home Depot : IBM
IBM was founded as the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. The company changed its name to the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) in 1911 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1916. The name of International Business Machines (IBM) was given first to the company’s Canadian subsidiary, and then its South American subsidiary. In 1924, it was decided to adopt the International Business Machines name for the whole company. Good choice …
The Home Depot is the largest home improvement retail chain in the US, ahead of Lowe’s. Home Depot opened their first two stores in 1979. The average store size if just over 100,000 square feet. The largest Home Depot outlet is in Union, New Jersey, and it is 225,000 square feet in size. That’s a lot of nuts and bolts …
Dow Jones & Company was founded as a publishing house in 1882 by three newspaper reporters, Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser. Today, the company’s most famous publication has to be “The Wall Street Journal”. In 1884, Charles Dow started reporting the average dollar value of the stock of eleven companies, an index which spawned a whole host of metrics that carry the Dow Jones name to this day, including the renowned Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), also known as the “Dow 30”.
35. Movies using some 56-Across? : PSI-PHI FILMS (sounds like “sci-fi films”)
The Greek letter psi is the one that looks a bit like a trident or a pitchfork.
Phi is the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. It’s the letter that looks like an “O” with a vertical line through it.
42. Compulsive sort using some 56-Across? : PI-RHO-MANIAC (sounds like “pyromaniac”)
Pi is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and is probably most famous to us as a symbol for a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The letter pi has represented this constant since the mid-1700s, and was chosen because pi is the first letter of the Greek word “perimetros” meaning “circumference”.
Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.
45. Yahoo! alternative : MSN
The Microsoft Network (MSN) used to be an Internet service provider (ISP). These days, MSN is mainly a web portal.
Jerry Yang and David Filo called their company “Yahoo!” for two reasons. Firstly, a Yahoo is a rude unsophisticated brute from Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”. Secondly, Yahoo stands for “Yet another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”.
46. “Silas Marner” author : ELIOT
“Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe” is a novel written by George Eliot and first published in 1861. There’s an excellent BBC TV version of the tale (shown on PBS) starring Ben Kingsley in the title role, with Patsy Kensit playing Eppie, the young orphaned child that Marner takes under his wing.
52. Latin dance : SAMBA
The samba is a Brazilian dance, very much symbolic of the festival known as Carnival. Like so much culture around the world, the samba has its roots in Africa, as the dance is derived from dances performed by former slaves who migrated into urban Rio de Janeiro in the late 1800s. The exact roots of the name “samba” seem to have been lost in the mists of time. However, my favorite explanation is that it comes from an African Kikongo word “semba” which means “a blow struck with the belly button”. We don’t seem to have a need for such a word in English …
56. “Antigone” characters? : GREEK LETTERS
“Antigone” is a tragedy written by Greek playwright Sophocles and first performed in 442 BC. Antigone is the daughter of King Oedipus of Thebes, born out of the incestuous relationship with his mother Jocasta.
60. Dawn, for example : LIQUID SOAP
Procter & Gamble’s Dawn is the best-selling brand of dishwashing liquid in the US. Outside of the home, animal rescue crews routinely use a 10% solution of Dawn to clean animals that have been caught in oil spills.
63. Place for pins and needles : ETUI
An etui is an ornamental case used to hold small items, in particular sewing needles. We imported both the case design and the word “etui” from France. The French also have a modern usage of “etui”, using the term to depict a case for carrying CDs.
64. Amazon ID : ISBN
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was invented by one Gordon Foster who is now a professor at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. The code was originally developed for booksellers, so that they had a unique number (and now a barcode) for each publication.
65. Unlimited free mileage pioneer : ALAMO
The third largest car rental company over recent years is Alamo, a relative newcomer that was founded in 1974. Alamo made inroads (pun!) into the market by popularizing the idea of “unlimited mileage”.
66. Mapmaking name since 1872 : RAND
Rand McNally is a company long associated with the city of Chicago. Its roots go back to 1856 when William Rand opened a printing shop in the city. Two years later he hired an Irish immigrant named Andrew McNally and the pair turned to printing tickets and timetables for the railroad industry. They diversified into “railroad guides” in 1870, including the first Rand McNally map in the December 1872 edition. When automobile travel started to become significant, Rand and McNally turned their attention to roads and they published their first road map in 1904, a map of New York City. Rand and McNally popularized the use of highway numbers, and indeed erected many roadside highway signs themselves, long before the state and federal authorities adopted the idea.
69. Wild plum : SLOE
The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush, and the main flavoring ingredient in sloe gin. A sloe looks like a small plum, but is usually much more tart in taste.
1. Heavenly food : MANNA
According to the Book of Exodus, manna was a food eaten by the Israelites as they traveled out of Egypt. The manna “fell” to Earth during the night, six days a week, and was gathered in the morning before it had time to melt.
3. Decalogue delivery site : SINAI
According to the Bible, Mount Sinai is the mountain on which Moses was given the Ten Commandments. The Biblical Mount Sinai is probably not the mountain in Egypt that today has the same name, although this is the subject of much debate. The Egyptian Mount Sinai has two developed routes that one can take to reach the summit. The longer gentler climb takes about 2 1/2 hours, but there is also the steeper climb up the 3,750 “steps of penitence”.
“Decalogue” is another name for the Ten Commandments. The term comes into English via Latin from the Greek “hoi deka logoi”, which translates literally as “the ten sayings”. The term has been broadened and is sometimes used generically in English to describe a fundamental set of authoritative rules.
4. Wraps not made in delis : STOLES
A stole is a lady’s clothing accessory, a narrow shawl. It can be made of quite light decorative material, or it can be heavier especially if made of fur.
6. Poet __ St. Vincent Millay : EDNA
Edna St. Vincent Millay was an American poet and playwright, the third woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (in 1923 for “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver”). Millay was noted not only for her work, but also for the open arrangement that she and her husband had in their marriage. Millay took many lovers, including the poet George Dillon, for whom she wrote a number of sonnets.
7. 2013 Katy Perry chart-topper : ROAR
Katy Perry is an American singer who grew up listening to and singing gospel music, as she was the daughter of two Christian pastors. In fact, her first musical release was a gospel album in 2001. She has branched out since then. Her first successful single was “Ur so Gay”, followed by “I Kissed A Girl”. She was married (only for a year) to the British comedian Russell Brand, until 2012.
8. Diamond mishap : ERROR
That would be a baseball diamond.
11. Part of an academic address : EDU
The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:
- .com (commercial enterprise)
- .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
- .mil (US military)
- .org (not-for-profit organization)
- .gov (US federal government entity)
- .edu (college-level educational institution)
13. 62-Down protectors : LTS
(62D. Snap receivers: Abbr. : QBS)
In football, a left tackle (LT) protects the quarterback (QB).
19. It may be served from an orange-handled pot : DECAF
The first successful process for removing caffeine from coffee involved steaming the beans in salt water, and then extracting the caffeine using benzene (a potent carcinogen) as a solvent. Coffee processed this way was sold as Sanka here in the US. There are other processes used these days, and let’s hope they are safer …
24. Faith with Five Pillars : ISLAM
Followers of the Muslim tradition believe in the Five Pillars of Islam, five obligatory acts that underpin Muslim life. The Five Pillars are:
- The Islamic creed
- Daily prayer
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan
- The pilgrimage to Mecca (haj) once during a lifetime
25. Sirens : VAMPS
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”.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were seductive bird-women who lured men to their deaths with their song. When Odysseus sailed closed to the island home of the Sirens he wanted to hear their voices, but in safety. He had his men plug their ears with beeswax and then ordered them to tie him to the mast and not to free him until they were safe. On hearing their song Odysseus begged to be let loose, but the sailors just tightened his bonds and and the whole crew sailed away unharmed. We sometimes use the term “siren” today to describe a seductively charming woman.
26. Innsbruck iron : EISEN
Innsbruck is the capital city of the Austrian state of Tyrol. Located in the Alps, Innsbruck is a famous center for winter sports and has hosted two Winter Olympic Games, in 1964 and 1976. The name “Innsbruck” translates as “Inn bridge”, with the Inn being the river on which the city is built.
29. “Livin’ la __ Loca”: Ricky Martin hit : VIDA
“Livin’ la Vida Loca” is a 1999 single recorded by Ricky Martin, the title of which translates as “living the crazy life”.
33. Sri Lankan pop music : BAILA
Bayila (also “baila”) is a genre of music that is popular in Sri Lanka. The style is heavily influenced by Portuguese culture as Portuguese forces took control of mainly the coastal areas of the island starting in the early 16th century. The name “bayila” comes from the Portuguese “bailar” meaning “to dance”.
34. Periodic McDonald’s pork sandwich : MCRIB
The McDonald’s McRib sandwich is based on a pork patty. There isn’t any pork rib in the patty though. It is primarily made up of pork shoulder meat reconstituted with tripe, heart and stomach tissue. Enjoy …
36. What alopecia sufferers lose : HAIR
Alopecia is hair loss, usually from the head. The term “alopecia” comes from the Greek for “loss of fur” and originally referred to the fur of a fox. The Greek for “fox” is “alopix”.
43. Cheri of “SNL” : OTERI
Cheri Oteri was the SNL (“Saturday Night Live”) cast member who regularly appeared with Will Ferrell in the skit featuring a pair of Spartan cheerleaders.
44. “__ la vie” : C’EST
“C’est la vie” is French for “that’s life”.
48. Yelp users : RATERS
yelp.com is a website that provides a local business directory and reviews of services. The site is sort of like Yellow Pages on steroids, and the term “yelp” is derived from “yel-low p-ages”.
50. 65-Across choice : SEDAN
(65A. Unlimited free mileage pioneer : ALAMO)
The American “sedan” car is the equivalent of the British “saloon” car. By definition, a sedan car has two rows of seating and a separate trunk (boot in the UK), although in some models the engine can be at the rear of the car.
51. Roadster maker : TESLA
Tesla Motors is a manufacturer of electric vehicles based in Palo Alto, California. Tesla is noted for producing the first electric sports car, called the Tesla Roadster. The company followed the sports car with a luxury sedan, the Model S. The Model S was the world’s best selling plug-in electric vehicle of 2015.
54. Musical Mars : BRUNO
Bruno Mars is a singer-songwriter from Honolulu who has been active in the music business since 2006.
55. Better half? : A-SIDE
That would be the A-side of a record.
57. Zen riddle : KOAN
The concept of “koan” appears in the Zen Buddhist tradition. A koan is a story, question or perhaps a statement that is used as an aid to meditation. It often takes the form of a problem or riddle that has no logical solution and is intended to help the meditator break free of reason and develop intuition.
58. Buddhist teacher : LAMA
“Lama” is a Tibetan word, meaning “chief” or “high priest”.
The Buddhist tradition has two major branches. The Theravada is “the School of the Elders”, and the Mahayana is “the Great Vehicle”. The Theravada is the older of the two schools, whereas the Mahayana split from the Theravada around the 1st century CE.
59. “Beowulf,” for one : EPOS
“Epos” is the Greek word for a story or a poem. We have absorbed it into English as “epic”, a long narrative poetic work describing heroic deeds and ventures.
“Beowulf” is an old epic poem from England, although the story is set in Scandinavia. Beowulf fights a battle, defending the Danish King Hrothgar from the ferocious outcast Grendel. Hrothgar had built a great hall for his people in which they could celebrate; singing, dancing and drinking lots of mead. Grendel was angered by the carousing and attacked the hall, devouring many of the incumbent warriors as they slept. A bit of an extreme reaction to noisy neighbors I’d say …
60. Adjective for rapper Jon or Kim : LIL’
Lil Jon is a rapper, with the real name Jonathan Mortimer Smith. That’s all I know …
Lil’ Kim is the stage name of rap artist Kimberly Denise Jones from Brooklyn, New York. Lil’ Kim spent a year in jail in 2005 for lying to a jury in a case about a shooting.
61. Tonic go-with? : ISO-
“Isotonic” means “of equal tension” and is of Greek origin. There are two common uses of the term. Solutions of equal concentration are said to be isotonic. An isotonic solution of saline has the same amount of salt (NaCl) as there is in blood. Also, in the isotonic contraction of a muscle, the amount of tension stays the same whereas the muscle’s length changes. Lifting an object at a constant speed causes the isotonic contract of the lifting muscle.
62. Snap receivers: Abbr. : QBS
That would be football.