Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers contains a rearrangement of the letters in the word CLUE, a CRYPTIC “CLUE” as it were:
- 64A. Hint in a specialty crossword, and, literally, what’s found in 17-, 20-, 38- and 59-Across : CRYPTIC CLUE
- 17A. Infomercial promise : MIRACLE CURE
- 20A. Powerful 1970s Pittsburgh defensive line, familiarly : STEEL CURTAIN
- 38A. “The Card Players” artist : PAUL CEZANNE
- 59A. Sticker on store fruit : PRODUCE LABEL
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Jackson with a 1972 Lifetime Achievement Grammy : MAHALIA
Mahalia Jackson was an African-American gospel singer who was known as the first Queen of Gospel Music. She recorded many records, including 12 that went “gold”, i.e. sold more than a million copies each.
8. Rx watchdog : FDA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started out as the Food, Drug and Insecticide organization in 1906, after President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Food and Drug Act. The main driver behind the Act was concern over public hygiene.
There seems to some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.
16. Md. neighbor : DEL
The state of Delaware takes its name from Virginia’s first colonial governor, Englishman Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. Delaware is known as the First State as it was the first to ratify the US Constitution, in 1787.
19. Md. neighbor : WVA
The state of West Virginia was formed during the civil war when the western counties in the old state of Virginia voted to secede from the Confederate state.
20. Powerful 1970s Pittsburgh defensive line, familiarly : STEEL CURTAIN
The Pittsburgh Steelers football team were founded in 1933, making them the oldest franchise in the AFC. Back in 1933, the team was known as the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates name was chosen as the Pittsburgh baseball team was the Pirates. The name was changed to the Steelers in 1940, and then the Steagles in 1943 when the team merged with the Philadelphia Eagles. There was a further merger in 1944, with the Chicago Cardinal to form Card-Pitt. From 1945, the Steelers name was resurrected.
22. Didst whack : SMOTE
“To smite” is to strike with a firm blow. The term can also mean to strike down and slay.
25. Spot checker? : VET
“Vet” is an abbreviation for “veterinarian”, a professional who treat animals for disease and injury. The word “veterinary” comes from the Latin “veterinae” meaning “working animals, beasts of burden”.
26. One-named Deco master : ERTE
“Erté” was the pseudonym of French (Russian born) artist and designer Romain de Tirtoff. Erté is the French pronunciation of his initials “R.T.” Erté’s diverse portfolio of work included costumes and sets for the “Ziegfeld Follies” of 1923, as well as productions of the Parisian cabaret show “Folies Bergère”. Erté’s most famous work by far is an image titled “Symphony in Black”. It depicts a tall and slender woman dressed in black, holding a black dog on a leash.
27. Swiss river : AAR
The Aar (also called the “Aare” in German) is the longest river entirely in Switzerland. The Aar is a major tributary of the Rhine, and flows through Bern, the nation’s capital.
35. Algonquin Round Table member, e.g. : WIT
The Algonquin Round Table was a group of writers, critics and actors who met each day for lunch at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s. My guess is that the most famous “permanent” member of the group was the poet Dorothy Parker. The list of those moving in and out of the circle included Noel Coward and Harpo Marx.
37. Role for Dustin : RATSO
Enrico Salvatore “Ratso” Rizzo is one of the characters in the groundbreaking 1969 movie “Midnight Cowboy”. Rizzo is a down-and-out con man played by Dustin Hoffman.
38. “The Card Players” artist : PAUL CEZANNE
Paul Cézanne was a Post-Impressionist artist who was born and worked in the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. Cézanne has the reputation of being the artist who bridged the late 19th century Impressionist movement with the early 20th century Cubist movement. Both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are quoted as saying that Cézanne “is the father of us all”.
“The Card Players” is a series of five paintings from the 1890s by French Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne. All of the paintings feature male Provençal peasants smoking pipes and playing cards intently. One painting in the series was sold in 2011 for $250-300 million, making it the third most expensive work of art ever sold.
42. Amu __: Asian river : DARYA
The Amu Darya is a major river in Central Asia that empties into the Aral Sea. It is also called the Oxus or Amu River.
44. Verizon subsidiary : AOL
Founded as Quantum Computer Services in 1983, the company changed its name in 1989 to America Online. As America Online went international, the acronym AOL was used in order to shake off the “America-centric” sound to the name. During the heady days of AOL’s success the company could not keep up with the growing number of subscribers, so people trying to connect often encountered busy signals. That’s when users referred to AOL as “Always Off-Line”.
The telecommunications company that we know today as Verizon was founded in 1983 as Bell Atlantic, and was one of the “Baby Bells” that were formed after the breakup of AT&T. Bell Atlantic merged with fellow Baby Bell NYNEX in 1997, and then merged with GTE in 2000 to form Verizon. The new company name is a portmanteau of “veritas” (“truth” in Latin) and “horizon”.
48. Anka song with the phrase “Kiss me mucho” : ESO BESO
“Eso Beso” is Spanish for “That Kiss”, and is the name of a hit song recorded by Canadian-born singer Paul 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”.
54. A giraffe has a long one : MANE
The giraffe is the tallest terrestrial animal on the planet. The giraffe’s main source of food is acacia leaves that they eat from high, high up in trees, where other herbivores cannot reach.
55. Org. concerned with briefs : ABA
The American Bar Association (ABA)
57. “Swing Shift” Oscar nominee : LAHTI
Christine Lahti is an actress probably best known for playing Dr. Kate Austen on the TV medical drama “Chicago Hope”. If you read “The Huffington Post” you might run across her as well, as Lahti is a contributing blogger.
“Swing Shift” is a 1984 movie starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. It was while filming “Swing Shift” that Hawn and Russell met for the first time, and have been in a relationship ever since.
64. Hint in a specialty crossword, and, literally, what’s found in 17-, 20-, 38- and 59-Across : CRYPTIC CLUE
I grew up solving cryptic crosswords back in Ireland, and they’re still my favorite type of puzzle. The clues and grids for cryptic crosswords are very different than the standard American-style puzzle. I actually worked full-time creating cryptic puzzles for a while, and have had more than a hundred cryptics published in an Irish daily newspaper. My only claim to fame!
68. Actor Wallach : ELI
Eli Wallach appeared consistently and made great performances on the big and small screens since the 1950s. Wallach’s most famous role was probably as “the Ugly” in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. More recently he gave a very strong performance in 2006’s “The Holiday”. Sadly, Wallach passed away in June 2014, at the age of 98.
69. Jeans name : LEE
The Lee company that’s famous for making jeans was formed in 1889 by one Henry David Lee in Salina, Kansas.
71. “Amen!” : YES!
The word “amen” translates as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is also likely to be influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.
1. “Mrs. Miniver” studio : MGM
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film studio was founded in 1924 by Marcus Loew. Loew was already a successful movie theater owner when he purchased Metro Pictures Corporation in 1919, and then Goldwyn Pictures in 1924. Later in 1924, Loew also purchased Louis B. Mayer Pictures, mainly so that Louis B. Meyer could merge all three studios and run them himself as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
“Mrs Miniver” is a 1942 movie starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon that is based on a 1940 book of the same name by Jan Struther. The book itself is actually a compilation of newspaper columns that Struther wrote for “The Times” of London. The columns were reflections of daily life in the run up to WWII as seen through the eyes of the fictional “Mrs. Miniver”. When the film was completed, President Roosevelt stepped in and had it rushed to theaters as he believed it would help convince the American people that the US needed to intervene in the war raging in Europe.
2. 2001 W.S. champs : ARI
The Arizona Diamondbacks joined Major League Baseball’s National League in 1998. By winning the World Series in 2001, the Diamondbacks became the fastest expansion team to do so in Major League history.
4. Stop at sea : AVAST
“Avast” is a nautical term used to tell someone to stop or desist from what they are doing. The word comes from the Dutch “hou vast” meaning “hold fast”.
5. Hopkins role : LECTER
The top 5 movie villains in the American Film Institute’s list “100 Years … 100 Heroes & Villains” are:
- Dr. Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs”
- Norman Bates in “Psycho”
- Darth Vader in “The Empire Strikes Back”
- The Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”
- Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
The marvelous actor Anthony Hopkins got his big break in movies playing Richard the Lionheart in the 1968 historical drama “The Lion in Winter”. Hopkins hails from the south coast of Wales, and was encouraged in his early career by fellow Welshman Richard Burton, whom he met when he was a teenager. I’d say that Hopkins’ best-known film role was Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs”.
6. Scotland’s Arran, e.g. : ISLE
The Isle of Arran is in Scotland, and is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde. The Isle of Arran is often confused with the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland, because of the similarity in names.
8. Leak source : FAUCET
The common “faucet” in an American house is almost always referred to as a “tap” on the other side of the pond.
9. Diminutive celeb sexologist : DR RUTH
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a German sex therapist who made a name for herself as a media personality. Westheimer is the daughter of Orthodox Jews and was sent away from Germany by her family just before WWII. She ended up in Palestine and participated in the 1948 Palestine War serving as a scout and sniper. Westheimer was seriously wounded, and spent several months unable to walk. She moved to France in 1950, and soon after arrived in the US. It was in the US where she did her training as a sex therapist.
10. Taiwanese PC maker : ACER
I’ve owned several Acer laptops, which are for my money the most reliable machine at the best price. Acer is a Taiwanese company that I used to visit a lot when I was in the electronics business. I was very impressed back then with the company’s dedication to quality, although I have heard that things haven’t gone so well in recent years …
11. Pirate on the Queen Anne’s Revenge : EDWARD TEACH
“Blackbeard” was the nickname of the celebrated English pirate Edward Teach who plied his trade around the West Indies and up and and down the North American coast. Teach’s most famous command was the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a merchant vessel that he captured from the French and refitted with 40 guns. He ran the Queen Anne’s Revenge aground off the coast of North Carolina in 1718, and what’s left of the wreck was discovered there in 1996.
12. Descendants of a son of Jacob and Leah : LEVITES
In the Torah, the Israelites are traced back to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Jacob’s twelve sons became the ancestors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jacob’s sons were:
According to the Bible, Leah was one of the two wives of Jacob, the other being Leah’s sister Rachel. Jacob’s intention had been to marry Rachel, but the Leah and Rachel’s father “switched” his daughters and provided Leah as the veiled bride. Jacob married Rachel a week later, and lived with the two wives concurrently.
13. Venezuelan cowboy : LLANERO
A llanero is a herdsman from Venezuela or Colombia. “Llanero” comes from “Llanos”, the South American grasslands. “Llano” is the Spanish word for “plain”.
The country name “Venezuela” originated with the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci saw stilt houses around Lake Maracaibo that reminded him of the city of Venice, leading him to call the region “Veneziola” meaning “Little Venice”. Over time, “Veneziola” evolved into “Venezuela” as a result of Spanish influence.
18. MDL ÷ X : CLV
In Roman numerals, MDL (1550) divided by X (10) is CLV (155).
22. Glum : SAD
Both “glum” and “gloom” have the same root, coming from the Middle English verb “gloumen” meaning “to become dark”.
23. Kentucky Derby time : MAY
The first Kentucky Derby took place in 1875, and is a race modelled on the Epsom Derby in England and the Grand Prix de Paris (now called the “Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe”). As such, the Kentucky Derby was run over 1½ miles, although in 1896 this was shortened to 1¼ miles. The winning horse is presented with a very elaborate blanket made of red roses. The race is held on the first Saturday in May each year, and is limited to 3-year-old horses.
24. Latin “pray for us” : ORA PRO NOBIS
“Ora pro nobis” translates from Latin as “pray for us”. It is a common phrase used in the Roman Catholic tradition and is often shortened to “OPN”.
29. Barn __ : OWL
The barn owl is the most common species of owl. It is found everywhere in the world, except in desert and polar regions.
30. Light source : BIC
Société Bic is a French company, based in Clichy in France. The first product the company produced, more than fifty years ago, was the Bic Cristal ballpoint pen that is still produced today. Bic also makes other disposable products such as lighters and razors.
32. Banquet dispenser : URN
A banquet is an elaborate feast. “Banquet” is a term that seems to have reversed in meaning over time. Coming into English via French from Old Italian, “banquet” is derived from “banco” meaning “bench”. The original “banco” meal was simply a snack eaten on a bench, rather than at a table.
34. Futon kin : DAYBED
Those of you that have visited Japan are maybe familiar with the traditional Japanese futon. Unlike what we tend to call futon in this country, the Japanese original is a padded mattress and quilt. Japanese futons are usually rolled up in the morning so that the space used for sleeping can be repurposed during the day.
39. OPEC member : 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.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in 1960 at a conference held in Baghdad, Iraq that was attended by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Nine more countries joined the alliance soon after, and OPEC set up headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and then Vienna, Austria in 1965. The basic aim of OPEC was to wrench control of oil prices from the oil companies and to put it in the hands of the sovereign states that own the natural resource.
42. Portrayer of “McDreamy” on “Grey’s Anatomy” : DEMPSEY
Patrick Dempsey is the actor who plays Dr. Derek Shepherd (aka “McDreamy”) on TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”. Dempsey is also an avid race car driver in his spare time.
“Gray’s Anatomy” is a very successful human anatomy textbook that was first published back in 1858 and is still in print today. The original text was written by English anatomist Henry Gray, who gave his name to the work. The TV medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” (note “Grey” vs. Gray”) is centered on the character Dr. Meredith Grey, but the show’s title is a nod to the title of the famous textbook.
46. Boozer : SOT
Our word “sot” comes from the Old English “sott”, meaning “fool”. The word “sot” started to be associated with alcohol and not just foolery in the late 1500s.
47. Colorful carp : KOI
Koi are also called Japanese carp. Koi have been bred for decorative purposes and there are now some very brightly colored examples found in Japanese water gardens.
56. High point of a European trip? : ALP
There are eight Alpine countries:
58. Foil giant : ALCOA
The Aluminum Corporation of America (ALCOA) is the largest producer of aluminum in the United States. The company was founded in 1888 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where its headquarters are to this day.
Before thin sheets of aluminum metal were available, thin sheets of tin were used in various applications. Tin foil isn’t a great choice for wrapping food though, as it imparts a tinny taste. On the other side of the pond, aluminum foil has a different name. No, it’s not just the different spelling of aluminum (“aluminium”). We still call it “tin foil”. You see, we live in the past …
60. Golden St. campus : UCLA
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) gets more applications from students than any other university in the country. UCLA also has more students enrolled than any other university in the state.
“The Golden State” has been the official nickname of California since 1968. The nickname reflects the expansion of the state’s economy that followed the discovery of gold, and also the fields of golden poppies seen growing wild across California in the spring.
61. Yours, to Yves : A TOI
“À toi” is the French term for “yours”, when talking to someone with whom one is familiar. “À toi” literally means “to you”.
65. Not of the cloth : LAY
Anything described as laic (or “laical, lay”) is related to the laity, those members of the church who are not clergy. The term “laic” ultimately comes from the Greek “laikos” meaning “of the people”.
66. __ Nimitz : USS
The USS Nimitz is a nuclear-powered supercarrier that was launched in 1972. The ship was named for Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet during WWII. The Nimitz’s homeport is now Naval Base Kitsap near Seattle. And, the USS Nimitz is now the oldest aircraft carrier in active service with the US Navy.
67. DDE’s command : ETO
General Dwight D. Eisenhower (“Ike”) was in command of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during WWII. If you’re a WWII buff like me, then I recommend you take a look at a great, made-for-TV movie starring Tom Selleck as Eisenhower called “Ike: Countdown to D-Day” that came out in 2004.