Edited by: Rich Norris
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In order to make sense of today’s themed answers, we need to note the literal position of the words in the grid. Part of the answer is literally place IN the other part of the answer:
- 23A. At center stage, literally : RIGHT (in) THE THICK OF THINGS
- 36A. Start the day cheerfully, literally : WAKE UP (in) A GOOD MOOD
- 70A. Stinging rebuke, literally : SLAP (in) THE FACE
- 104A. Request reassignment, literally : PUT (in) FOR A TRANSFER
- 121A. Delivers, literally : COMES THROUGH (in) THE CLUTCH
- 35D. Now and then, literally : ONCE (in) AWHILE
- 48D. Pay no admission price, literally : GET (in) FOR FREE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
10. Asian vine leaf : BETEL
The betel nut is something that is chewed, especially in parts of Asia. “Betel nut” is a bit of misnomer, as the nut in question is actually an Areca nut from the Areca palm. For chewing, the Areca nut is wrapped in betel leaves and the whole thing is called a “betel nut”.
19. Cadenza, e.g. : SOLO
“Cadenza” is a musical term, the name for a passage that is sung or played by a soloist. A cadenza is often encountered in a concerto, when the orchestra stops playing and the soloist performs alone. The soloist’s performance can be improvised or written, at the composer’s discretion.
20. Kidney-related : RENAL
Something described as “renal” is related to the kidneys. “Ren” is the Latin word for “kidney”.
22. Suvari of “American Beauty” : MENA
Mena Suvari’s most famous role to date is probably “the beauty” in the 1999 movie “American Beauty”. She plays the teenage girl with whom the Kevin Spacey character becomes infatuated. She also played Heather in the “American Pie” films.
While I found the film “American Beauty” to be an enjoyable and interesting film (loved Annette Bening in it), I also found it very depressing. If you haven’t seen it, the main story is about a man having a midlife crisis (played by Kevin Spacey) and developing an infatuation for his teenage daughter’s flirtatious friend (played by Mena Suvari, and whom I guess is the “American Beauty”). It’s definitely worth watching, and received got huge accolades when released in 1999.
27. Pond buildup : ALGAE
Algae are similar to terrestrial plants in that they use photosynthesis to create sugars from light and carbon dioxide, but they differ in that they have simpler anatomies, and for example lack roots.
28. Talk about incessantly : HARP ON
“To harp on” something is to talk too much about it. The original expression with the same meaning was “to harp on the same string”, a reference to the musical instrument.
29. Floor-length garment : TOGA
In Ancient Rome the classical attire known as a toga (plural “togae”) was usually worn over a tunic. The tunic was made from linen, and the toga itself was a piece of cloth about twenty feet long made from wool. The toga could only be worn by men, and only if those men were Roman citizens. The female equivalent of the toga was called a “stola”.
30. Asian New Year : TET
The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.
31. Lao Tzu principle : TAO
Lao Tse (also Lao-Tzu) was a central figure in the development of the religion/philosophy of Taoism. Tradition holds that Lao-Tzu wrote the “Tao Te Ching”, a classical Chinese text that is fundamental to the philosophy of Taoism.
33. Apple core, for short? : IOS
iOS is what Apple now call their mobile operating system, previously known as iPhone OS.
34. Chopin work : POLONAISE
Two of the most famous Polish national dances are the polonaise (French for “Polish”) and the mazurka. Both dances are very much associated with Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, who wrote the best-known polonaises and mazurkas in the classical repertoire.
43. Rock’s __ Lobos : LOS
Los Lobos are an American Chicano rock band, who released their first LP in 1978 and are still going strong today. The band’s name “Los Lobos” translates from Spanish as “The Wolves”.
45. Tazo offerings : TEAS
The Tazo Tea Company was founded in 1994 in Portland, Oregon. Tazo was purchased in 1999 by Starbucks. Starbucks now runs tea shops that are fully dedicated to Tazo teas.
46. CPO’s org. : USN
A Chief Petty Officer (CPO) is a non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the Navy (USN) and Coast Guard (USCG). The “Petty” is derived from the French word “petit” meaning “small”.
47. Links transport : GOLF CART
The oldest type of golf course is a links course. The name “links” comes from the Old English word “hlinc” meaning “rising ground”. “Hlinc” was used to describe areas with coastal sand dunes or open parkland. As a result, we use the term “links course” to mean a golf course that is located at or on the coast, often amid sand dunes. The British Open is always played on a links course.
49. Smart Simpson : LISA
Lisa Simpson is Bart’s brainy younger sister on TV’s “The Simpsons”. Lisa is voiced by actress Yeardley Smith. In a 2008 episode of the show, Lisa enters a crossword tournament. Crossword celebrities Merl Reagle and Will Shortz make appearances in that episode, basically playing cartoon versions of themselves.
51. Made out : NECKED
The term “necking” applies to kissing and caressing. I like what Groucho Marx had to say on the subject: “Whoever named it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.”
55. Milne character : POOH
Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne was an English author, best known for his delightful “Winnie-the-Pooh” series of books. He had only one son, Christopher Robin Milne, born in 1920. The young Milne was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin character in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Winnie-the-Pooh was named after Christopher Robin’s real teddy bear, one he called Winnie, who in turn was named after a Canadian black bear called Winnie that the Milnes would visit in London Zoo. The original Winnie teddy bear is on display at the main branch of the New York Public Library in New York.
56. Elevator innovator : OTIS
Elevators (simple hoists) have been around for a long time. What Elisha Otis did was come up with the “safety elevator”, a design that he showcased at the 1853 World’s Fair in New York. At the Fair, Otis would stand on an elevated platform in front of onlookers and order his assistant to cut the single rope holding up the platform. His safety system kicked in when the platform had only fallen a few inches, amazing the crowd. After this demonstration, the orders came rolling in.
60. “A Streetcar Named Desire” wife : STELLA
“Stella! Hey, Stella!” is a famous line cried out by Marlon Brando’s character (Stanley Kowalski) as his wife Stella (played by Kim Hunter) leaves for the last time with her child, in the movie “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
68. Track runner, to a tout : NAG
A “tout” (mainly in the British Isles) is someone who checks out racehorses and sells information gained to people placing bets.
77. Gob : TAR
A Jack Tar, or just “tar”, was a seaman in the days of the British Empire. The term probably arose due to a sailor’s various uses of tar back then, including waterproofing his clothes and using tar in his hair to slick down his ponytail.
“Gob” is a slang term for a sailor, and it may derive from a slang term for chewing tobacco, itself a derivative of the slang term for a mouth, a “gob”.
80. 1956 Triple Crown winner : MANTLE
Mickey Mantle only played professional baseball for the one team, spending 18 years with the New York Yankees. Mickey Mantle memorabilia is highly prized, especially since he retired from the game in 1969, and even more so since he died in 1995. The only other player memorabilia said to command a higher price is Babe Ruth’s. Mantle holds the record for the most career home runs by a switch hitter, as well as the most World Series home runs.
In Major League baseball, a player can earn the Triple Crown when he is the leader in three specific statistics. The pitching Triple Crown includes wins, strikeouts and earned run average (ERA). The batting Triple Crown includes home runs, runs batted in (RBI) and batting average.
85. Linguist Chomsky : NOAM
Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at MIT. Chomsky is known as one of the fathers of modern linguistics.
87. Logician Turing : ALAN
Alan Turing was an English mathematician. He was deservedly well-respected for his code-breaking work during WWII at Bletchley Park in England. However, despite his contributions to cracking the German Enigma code and other crucial work, Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952. He agreed to chemical castration, treatment with female hormones, and then two years later he committed suicide by taking cyanide. Turing’s life story is told in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the lead. I thoroughly enjoyed that film …
91. Johnny’s 2014 Olympics figure skating co-commentator : TARA
Johnny Weir is a figure skater from Pennsylvania who was US national champion for three consecutive years starting in 2004.
When American skater Tara Lipinski won the figure skating gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, she was only 15 years old. To this day, Lipinski is the youngest person to win an individual gold at the Winter Games.
97. Part of DMV: Abbr. : DEPT
In most states, the government agency responsible for vehicle registration and the issuing of driver’s licenses is called the DMV. This initialism usually stands for the Department of Motor Vehicles, but there are “variations on the theme”. For example, in Arizona the responsible agency is called the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), and in Colorado the familiar abbreviation “DMV” stands for Division of Motor Vehicles.
100. “Sweet as apple cider” girl of song : IDA
“Ida! Sweet as Apple Cider” is a song that dates back to 1903 when it was written by Eddie Leonard and Eddie Munson.
Ida! Sweet as apple cider,
Sweeter than all I know,
Come out! In the silv’ry moonlight,
Of love we’ll whisper, so soft and low!
Seems as tho’ can’t live without you,
Listen, please, honey do!
Ida! I idolize yer
I love you, Ida, ‘deed I do.
108. Iron-attracting magnetite : LODESTONE
Magnetite is a form of iron oxide ore, a valuable source of iron. It is the most magnetic of all known minerals, hence the name. Pieces of magnetite called lodestone were used in ancient times to study the property of magnetism.
110. Byron’s “before” : ERE
George Gordon Byron, known simply as “Lord Byron”, was an English poet active in the early 1800s. Byron was equally as famous for his poetry as he was for the wild excesses in his personal life. Byron lived much of that life outside of England, and fought for revolutionaries in both Italy and Greece. He died from a fever contracted while fighting for the Greeks against the Ottomans.
113. Heavy reading? : TOME
“Tome” first came into English from the Latin “tomus” which means “section of a book”. The original usage in English was for a single volume in a multi-volume work. By the late 16th century “tome” had come to mean “a large book”.
125. Skinny fish : EELS
Eels swim by creating waves of motion that travel the length of their bodies. They can also swim backwards, just by reversing the direction of the body waves.
126. Sambuca flavoring : ANISE
Sambuca is an Italian liqueur that is flavored with anise. Sambuca is often served straight up with three coffee beans floating on the surface. The beans are said to represent health, happiness and prosperity. A more “saucy” representation for the beans is the husband, wife and mistress.
127. “On Narcissism” author : FREUD
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist, and founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry. One of Freud’s tenets was that our dreams are a necessary part of sleep as they prevent the dreamer from awakening due to desire for unfulfilled wishes. The dream’s content represents those unfulfilled wishes and satisfies the desire.
Narcissus was a proud and vain hunter in Greek mythology. He earned himself a fatal punishment, being made fall in love with his own reflection in a pool. So, take was he by his own image, that he could not leave it and wasted away and died by the pool. Narcissus gives us our term “narcissism” meaning “excessive love of oneself”.
128. Went lickety-split : TORE
“Lickety-split” is the latest in a line of terms that derived from the word “lick”, which was used in the sense of a “fast sprint in a race” back in the early 1800s. From “lick” there evolved “licketie”, “lickety-click”, “lickety-cut” and finally “lickety-split”, all just colorful ways to say “fast”.
130. Bum __ : STEER
“Bum steer” is a slang term meaning “misleading advice”.
132. See 4-Down : SPUD
(4. Oft-fried food : POTATO)
The word “spud” is used as a slang term for a potato and was first recorded in the mid-1800s, in New Zealand would you believe?
1. Movie role played by Skippy : ASTA
Asta is the wonderful little dog in the superb “The Thin Man” series of films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles). In the original story by Dashiell Hammett, Asta was a female Schnauzer, but on screen Asta was played by a wire-haired fox terrier called “Skippy”. Skippy was also the dog in “Bringing up Baby” with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the one who kept stealing the dinosaur bone. Skippy retired in 1939, so Asta was played by other dogs in the remainder of “The Thin Man” films.
2. Sci-fi writer Frederik : POHL
Frederik Pohl is an American science-fiction writer, a winner of three Hugo awards. Pohl started off his career as a literary agent, and was the only agent ever hired by Isaac Asimov.
3. First name in fashion : OLEG
Oleg Cassini, the French-born American fashion designer, had two big names particularly associated with his designs. In the sixties he produced the state wardrobe for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and he was also the exclusive designer for Hollywood’s Gene Tierney, who was Cassini’s second wife.
7. “Diana” singer : ANKA
Canadian-born Paul Anka’s big hit was in 1957, the song entitled “Diana”. Anka was the subject of a much-lauded documentary film in 1962 called “Lonely Boy”.
8. Tinker Bell’s creator : BARRIE
Tinker Bell is a fairy in the “Peter Pan” story by J. M. Barrie. “Tink” is a minor character in the original play and novel, but evolved into a major character in the many, many film and television adaptation of the tale.
25. Mark, for one : GOSPEL
“Gospel” is a term that came to us via Old English. The Old English term is “godspel” meaning “good story”, and referred to the glad tidings announced by Jesus. There are four Gospels in the Christian New Testament: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
32. “__ piece of the rock”: Prudential slogan : OWN A
The Prudential Insurance company was started in 1875 as The Widows and Orphans Friendly Society. The company’s first product was simply burial insurance. Prudential has been using the very memorable Rock of Gibraltar logo since the 1890s.
34. Support for the sheriff : POSSE
Our word “posse” comes from an Anglo-Latin term from the early 15th century “posse comitatus” meaning “the force of the county”.
36. Subj. with x’s : ALG
Algebra (alg.) is a branch of mathematics in which arithmetical operations are performed on variables rather than specific numbers (x,y etc). The term “algebra” comes from the Arabic “al jebr” meaning “reunion of broken parts”.
38. Nobel Peace Prize city : OSLO
The Peace Prize is the most famous of the five prizes bequeathed by Alfred Nobel. The others are for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. There is also a Nobel Prize in Economics that is awarded along with the original five, but it is funded separately and is awarded “in memory of Alfred Nobel”. Four of the prizes are awarded by Swedish organizations (Alfred Nobel was a Swede) and so the award ceremonies take place in Stockholm. The Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and that award is presented in Oslo.
40. Toon flapper Etta : KETT
“Etta Kett” was a comic strip that first ran in 1925. The strip ceased to be published in 1974, when creator Paul Robinson passed away. The initial intent was to offer tips to teenagers on manners and social graces, hence the name of the title character Etta Kett (sounds like “etiquette”).
Flappers were the so-called “new breed” of young women of the twenties. The flappers wore their hair short (with ringlets), dressed in short skirts and generally rebelled against the accepted norms of the time. The term “flapper” comes from the 1920 movie “The Flapper” starring Olive Thomas as a young woman who lived the more liberal lifestyle that was emerging at that time.
50. Río contents : AGUA
In Spanish, there is water (agua) flowing in a river (río).
52. “Red Balloon” painter : KLEE
The artist Paul Klee was born in Switzerland, but studied art in Munich in Germany. You can see many of Klee’s works in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. If you get to Bern in Switzerland, even more of them can be seen at the Zentrum Paul Klee that was opened in 2005. Klee’s most celebrated work is his pointillist painting from 1932 called “Ad Parnassum”, which is owned by the Kunstmuseum, also located in Bern.
54. Blocker of “Bonanza” : DAN
Dan Blocker was the actor who played Eric “Hoss” Cartwright in the Western TV series “Bonanza”. Hoss was the “slow” character on the show. Paradoxically, Dan Blocker was the most-educated member of the cast, having earned a master’s degree in the dramatic arts. Blocker passed away while “Bonanza” was still running. He was undergoing relatively routine gallbladder surgery and developed a pulmonary embolism which killed him. Bonanza ran for just one more season after Blocker passed away.
58. ’40s-’50s pitcher Maglie : SAL
Sal Maglie was a professional baseball pitcher, one of just a few players who played for all three New York teams of his day, namely the New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Maglie was known as Sal the Barber because he was said to give “close shaves” to hitters, frequently pitching on the inside.
64. Cricket club : BAT
Cricket is the national game of England. The term “cricket” apparently comes from the Old French word “criquet” meaning “goalpost, stick”.
66. Brooklyn Bridge seller, say : SCAMMER
Back in the early 1900s, con man George C. Parker made an illegal living selling well-known landmarks in New York to unsuspecting immigrants. Famously, he sold the right to control access to the Brooklyn Bridge on more than one occasion. Some of his victims had to be removed from the bridge by police as they tried to erect toll booths. It was this scam that led to the expression, “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you!”
68. First captain? : NOAH
According to the Book of Genesis, Noah lived to a ripe old age. Noah fathered his three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth when he was 500 years old, and the Great Flood took place when he was 600.
69. Vogue editor-in-chief Dame __ Wintour : ANNA
Anna Wintour is fashion editor in Britain, and is also the editor-in-chief of American “Vogue”. Lauren Weisberger wrote the book “The Devil Wears Prada” with the tyrannical main character apparently based on Wintour.
71. Bridge position : EAST
The four people playing a game of bridge are positioned around a table at seats called north, east, south and west. Each player belongs to a pair, with north playing with south, and east playing with west.
72. Mythical flutist : PAN
Pan was the god of shepherds in Greek mythology, and lived in the rustic surroundings of Arcadia. Arcadia was a mountainous region of Ancient Greece, well known for the innocence and contentment of its people who lived a simple, pastoral life. Arcadia has been used ever since as the name of a place offering peace and simplicity.
75. Film watcher’s channel : TMC
The Movie Channel is owned by Showtime, which in turn is subsidiary of CBS. The channel’s name is often abbreviated to “TMC”, although this is informal usage.
83. San Diego player : PADRE
The San Diego Padres were founded in 1969. The Padres took their name from a Minor League team that had been in the the city since 1936. The name is Spanish for “fathers” and is a reference to the Franciscan Friars from Spain who founded San Diego in 1769.
84. __ code : AREA
Area codes were introduced in the 1940s. Back then the “clicks” one heard when dialling a number led to mechanical wear on various pieces of equipment. In order to minimize overall mechanical wear, areas with high call volumes were given the most efficient area codes (lowest number of clicks). That led to New York getting the area code 212, Los Angeles 213 and Chicago 313.
95. Two more than an eagle : PAR
The following terms are routinely used in golf for scores relative to par:
- Bogey: one over par
- Birdie: one under par
- Eagle: two under par
- Albatross (also “double eagle”): three under par
- Condor: four under par
No one has ever recorded a condor during a professional tournament.
101. “The Name of the Rose” actor Christian : SLATER
Christian Slater is an actor from New York City. My favorite roles that he has played are in “Broken Arrow” with John Travolta, and on the TV series “The West Wing”.
“The Name of the Rose” is a 1986 film adaptation of the 1980 novel of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery plays a Franciscan friar who finds himself investigating a series of mysterious deaths in a medieval abbey.
102. American sparrow relative : TOWHEE
“Towhee” is the common name for several species of bird, including the extinct Bermuda towhee, the California towhee and white-throated towhee.
103. Citation and Corsair : EDSELS
The Edsel brand of automobile was named for Edsel, son of Henry Ford. Sadly, the name “Edsel” has become synonymous with “failure”, which was no fault of Edsel himself who had died several years before the Edsel line was introduced. When the Ford Motor Company introduced the Edsel on 4 September 1957, Ford proclaimed the day to be “E Day”.
109. Inquisitor __ de Torquemada : TOMAS
Tomás de Torquemada was a Dominican friar famous as the Inquisitor General of Spain in the 15th century. As head of the Spanish Inquisition, de Torquemada was responsible for burning at the stake about one person every nine days.
114. “Moonstruck” Oscar winner : CHER
“Moonstruck” is a 1987 movie, a romantic comedy starring Cher and Nicolas Cage. There’s a bit of a love triangle in the storyline, with Danny Aiello playing the man who loses the girl. “Moonstruck” won three Oscars and was a huge success, and somehow, I’ve never seen it …
115. Arch style : 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).
119. Stocking shade : ECRU
The shade called ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.
122. Chicago winter hrs. : CST
Central Standard Time (CST)
123. “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” monogram : TSE
“Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” is a 1939 collection of poems by T. S. Eliot. The collection of whimsical poetry was a favorite of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber when he was a child. Webber used Eliot’s poems as inspiration for this megahit musical “Cats”.