Edited by: Rich Norris
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To come up with today’s answers we take common phrases starting with the letters SP-, and then take that SP OUT:
- 25A. Plumber, at times? : (SP)ELL CHECKER
- 27A. Boxer in the wrong profession? : (SP)RING CHICKEN
- 44A. Herb-carrying semi? : (SP)RIG OF PARSLEY
- 83A. Unlikely to get sick? : (SP)ILL-RESISTANT
- 104A. One with a questionable sense of fashion? : (SP)IFFY DRESSER
- 106A. News of a crude carrier sighting? : (SP)OILER ALERT
- 35D. Flat-bodied fish depiction? : (SP)RAY PAINTING
- 43D. “Jush one more, bartender,” e.g.? : (SP)LIT DECISION
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
10. Musical with the song “A New Argentina” : EVITA
“Evita” was the followup musical to “Jesus Christ Superstar” for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Both of these works were originally released as album musicals, and very successful ones at that (I remember buying them when they first came out).
19. Major attachment : -ETTE
A drum major is a the leader of a marching band, and is a position that originated in the British Army Corp of Drums in 1650. The drum major’s job is to lead the group and ensure that the whole ensemble keeps time. To help him do so, a drum major often uses a large baton. Over time, it became customary for the baton to be twirled and tossed in an elaborate display. The drum major tradition was embraced by high school marching bands in America. Drum-majorettes became popular in the 1930s, with groups of females taking up baton-twirling and marching with bands. According to an article in “Life” magazine published on October 10th, 1938, “the perfect majorette is a pert, shapely, smiling extrovert, who loves big, noisy crowds and knows how to make those crowds love her.” It was a different time …
20. Many an emailer : AOLER
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”.
22. Northern terminus of I-79 : ERIE
Interstate 79 runs from Charleston, West Virginia in the south to Erie, Pennsylvania in the north.
25. Plumber, at times? : (SP)ELL CHECKER
“Plumbum” is the Latin for lead, explaining why the symbol of the element in the Periodic Table is “Pb”. It also explains why the original lead weight on the end of a line used to check vertical was called a “plumb line”. And, as pipes were originally made of lead, it also explains why we would call in a “plumber” if one of them was leaking.
31. NBC show anchored by Lester Holt : DATELINE
Lester Holt is a television journalist. Holt is anchor for the weekend editions of the shows “Today” and “Nightly News” on NBC, as well as the show “Dateline NBC”.
32. “Pagliacci” clown : TONIO
“Pagliacci” (“The Clowns” in English) is an opera by Ruggero Leoncavallo, first performed in 1892 in Milan. Included in the opera is one of the most famous arias of all time, “Vesti la giubba” (“put on the costume”).
34. Muzzleloading aid : RAMROD
A ramrod is a “stick” that is inserted into the barrel of an older firearm in order to pack the bullet or ball tightly against the charge of gunpowder. A ramrod can also be used to push a cleaning rag through the barrel of a gun.
39. Snowblower brand : TORO
Toro is a manufacturer of mainly lawn mowers and snow removal equipment based in Bloomington, Minnesota. The company was started in 1914 to build tractor engines.
40. Light beer? : PALE ALE
Pale ale is a beer made using mainly pale malt, which results in a relatively light color for a malted beer.
49. Monogram on L’Homme products : YSL
Yves Saint-Laurent (YSL) was a French fashion designer, actually born in Algeria. Saint-Laurent started off working as an assistant to Christian Dior at the age of 17. Dior died just four years later, and as a very young man Saint-Laurent was named head of the House of Dior. However, in 1950 Saint-Laurent was conscripted into the French Army and ended up in a military hospital after suffering a mental breakdown from the hazing inflicted on him by his fellow soldiers. His treatment included electroshock therapy and administration of sedatives and psychoactive drugs. He was released from hospital, managed to pull his life back together and started his own fashion house. A remarkable story …
52. Menu words : A LA
The phrase “in the style of” can be translated in “alla” in Italian and “à la” in French.
54. Help in the gym : SPOT
People at the gym who are doing weight training will often “spot” for each other. This means that the person who is spotting assists in the lift, allowing the “lifter” to work with more weight than usual.
56. Pay ending? : -PAL
PayPal is an e-commerce business that has been around since the year 2000, born out of a merger of two older companies: Confinity and X.com. PayPal performs payment processing for online vendors. The company was so successful that it was the first of the beleaguered dot.com companies to successfully complete an IPO after the attacks of 9/11. Then in 2002, PayPal was bought by eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion.
59. “This Gun for Hire” actor : LADD
The last few years of actor Alan Ladd’s life were pretty rough. In 1962 he was found unconscious in a pool of blood with a bullet wound in his chest, an abortive suicide attempt. Two years later he was found dead, apparently having succumbed to an accidental overdose of drugs and sedatives. He was 50 years old.
“This Gun for Hire” is a 1942 movie based on a 1936 novel by Graham Greene. The big headliner in this film noir is femme fatale Veronica Lake, but the movie is perhaps best remembered for providing Alan Ladd’s breakthrough role.
60. Mag man with a mansion : HEF
The Playboy Mansion is Hugh Hefner’s home, although much of the building and grounds are also used for corporate events. The mansion was built in 1927 for Arthur Letts, Jr., the son of Arthur Letts who founded the Broadway chain of department stores. Playboy bought the property in 1971 for just over a million dollars, and it’s now worth about 50 times that amount.
62. Actor Morales : ESAI
The actor Esai Morales is best known in the world of film for the 1987 movie “La Bamba”, which depicted the life of Ritchie Valens and his half-brother Bob Morales (played by Esai). On the small screen, Morales plays Lt. Tony Rodriguez on “NYPD Blue” and Joseph Adama on “Caprica”.
65. Winter air : CAROL
The word “carol” came into English via the Old French word “carole”, which was a “dance in a ring”. When “carol” made it into English, about 1300 AD, the term was used to describe a dance as well as a joyful song. Around 1500 AD, carols that were sung came to be associated with Christmas.
69. Biblical brother : CAIN
The story of Cain and Abel not only appears in the Christian and Hebrew Bibles, it also features in the Qur’an. In the Muslim account the brothers are named Qabil and Habil.
71. Pester for payment : DUN
“To dun” is to insist on payment of a debt. The etymology of the term is unclear, with one suggestion that it dates back to a famous debt collector in London named Joe Dun.
72. Quattro competitor : ATRA
Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977 as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.
Quattro (Italian for “four”) is a series of four-bladed safety razors made by Wilkinson Sword under the brand name Schick.
75. What an iron often causes : DIVOT
A divot is a chunk of grass and earth that is removed by a golf club while striking the ball. “Divot” is derived from a Scottish word for a piece of turf or sod used as a roofing material.
76. Pen name : 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.
77. Gonzalez in 2000 news : ELIAN
The immigration status of young Cuban boy Elián González was all over the news in 2000. Elián’s mother drowned while trying to enter the US illegally, whereas Elián and his mother’s boyfriend survived the journey. The INS placed Elián in the care of paternal relatives in the US who then petitioned to have the boy stay with them permanently, against the wishes of Elián’s father back in Cuba. After court proceedings, the federal authorities forcibly removed Elián from his relatives in the US, and he was returned to his father who took him back to Cuba. Back in Cuba, Fidel Castro stepped in and befriended Elián, so he has influential sponsorship now in his homeland as a result of his ordeal. Elián has grown up, and earned himself a degree in industrial engineering in 2016.
79. Willamette River capital : SALEM
The Willamette River in northwestern Oregon is a major tributary of the Columbia River. The Willamette flows through the state capital of Salem, as well as through Portland, Oregon’s largest city.
81. Have an inkling : SENSE
Our word “inkling” apparently comes from the Middle English word “inclen” meaning “to hint”.
87. H.S. dropout’s exam : GED
The General Educational Development (GED) tests are a battery of five tests designed to demonstrate that a student has the academic skills of someone who has graduated from an American or Canadian high school.
94. Filibuster site : SENATE
A filibuster is a procedure used in parliamentary circles whereby someone extends a debate in order to prevent a vote taking place. The use of the filibuster has led to most legislation needing a 60% vote in order to come the floor of the US Senate. At least that has been the case since 1975. The filibuster was an option in the US House as well until 1842, at which time a rule was introduced that limits the duration of a debate.
95. Not in anymore : PASSE
“Passé” is a French word, meaning “past, faded”.
104. One with a questionable sense of fashion? : (SP)IFFY DRESSER
A spiff is a well-dressed man.
110. Mumbai money : RUPEE
The rupee is a unit of currency, used in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. The term “rupee” comes from the Sanskrit word “rupya”, which once meant “stamped, impressed” and then “coin”.
Mumbai is the most populous city in India, and the second most populous city in the world (after Shanghai). The name of the city was changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995.
112. Skedaddle : FLEE
“Skedaddle ” is a slang term meaning “run away” that dates back to the Civil War.
114. __ Gay : ENOLA
The Enola Gay was the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb, on Hiroshima in August 1945. Enola Gay was the name of the mother of pilot Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.
115. Island off Tuscany : ELBA
I had a lovely two-week vacation in Tuscany once, including what was supposed to be a two-night stay on the island of Elba. I had envisioned Elba as a place full of history, and maybe it is, but it is also overrun with tourists who use it as a beach getaway. We left after one day and we won’t be going back again …
118. Ill-fated Ford : EDSEL
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”.
1. Darwin wore one : BEARD
Englishman Charles Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland but neglected his studies largely due to his interest in nature and natural history. In the early 1830s, a friend put forward Darwin’s name as a candidate for the post of “collector” on the voyage of HMS Beagle. The Beagle was intending to spend two years at sea primarily charting the coast of South America. The voyage ended up taking five years, during which time Darwin sent back copious letters describing his findings. Back in Britain these letters were published as pamphlets by a friend and so when Darwin eventually returned home in 1836, he had already gained some celebrity in scientific circles. It was while on the Beagle that Darwin developed his initial ideas on the concept of natural selection. It wasn’t until over twenty years later that he formulated his theories into a scientific paper and in 1859 published his famous book “On the Origin of the Species”. This original publication never even mentioned the word “evolution” which was controversial even back then. It was in 1871 that Darwin addressed head-on the concept that man was an animal species, in his book “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex”.
2. Sunlit courts : ATRIA
In modern architecture an atrium (plural “atria” or “atriums”) is a large open space usually in the center of a building and extending upwards to the roof. The original atrium was an open court in the center of an Ancient Roman house. One could access most of the enclosed rooms of the house from the atrium.
5. Sushi bar order : SASHIMI
“Sashimi” is thinly sliced raw fish, although it can also be raw meat. The word “sashimi” translates literally as “pierced body”, which may be a reference to the practice of sticking the tail and fin to sliced fish to identify it.
6. 2014 U.S. Senior Open winner Montgomerie : COLIN
Colin Montgomerie is a popular Scottish golfer who nows play on the Champions Tour. “Monty” is particularly noted for his play on the European Ryder Cup team. He has been a member of that team eight times and has never lost a singles match.
7. “I’ve had such a curious dream!” speaker : ALICE
The title character in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is based on a child named Alice Liddell. Lewis Carroll (real name “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson”) met the Liddell family while he was photographing Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, after which he befriended the Liddells. Carroll told the three Liddell sisters (including Alice) a story about a little girl named Alice and her adventures, in order to entertain the children while on a boating trip on the River Isis in Oxford. He elaborated on the story for the girls on a subsequent boat trip, and agreed to write down the tale as the children loved it so much. Carroll’s writings became a full-fledged manuscript, including the author’s own illustrations. It was first published in 1865, three years after that boat trip.
11. “Grease” singer : VALLI
Frankie Valli is a great singer, best known for fronting the Four Seasons in the sixties. Valli had an incredible number of hits, with and without the Four Seasons. The extensive list includes, “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Rag Doll”, “My Eyes Adored You” and “Grease”.
“Grease” was, and still is, a very successful stage musical with a blockbuster film version released in 1978. The movie stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Travolta wasn’t the first choice for the lead role. It was first offered to Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” fame in which he played “the Fonz”. Winkler turned down the role for fear of being typecast as a leather-clad fifties “hood”.
12. Domed dwelling : IGLOO
The Inuit word for “house” is “iglu”, which we usually write as “igloo”. The Greenlandic (yes, that’s a language) word for “house” is very similar, namely “igdlo”. The walls of igloos are tremendous insulators, due to the air pockets in the blocks of snow.
13. Sleuths, for short : TECS
“Tec” is a slang term for a private detective, a private investigator (PI).
The word “sleuth” came into English from Old Norse as far back as 1200 when it meant the “track or trail of a person”. In the mid-1800s, a sleuthhound described a keen investigator, a hound close on the trail of the suspect. Sleuthhound was shortened to “sleuth” and was used for a detective in general.
16. Old Testament sanctuary : ARK
The term “ark”, when used with reference to Noah, is a translation of the Hebrew word “tebah”. The word “tebah” is also used in the Bible for the basket in which Moses was placed by his mother when she floated him down the Nile. It seems that the word “tebah” doesn’t mean “boat” and nor does it mean “basket”. Rather, a more appropriate translation is “life-preserver” or “life-saver”. So, Noah’s ark was Noah’s life-preserver during the flood.
28. Red wine choice : CLARET
Clairet is a dark rosé wine. Although it is uncommon today, clairet used to be the most common wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. For centuries now, English consumers have used the derivative term “claret” to describe all red wine from Bordeaux.
29. “A Doll’s House” heroine : NORA
“A Doll’s House” is probably the most famous play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The play deals with the feminist awakening of the lead character, Nora Helmer. “A Doll’s House” is sometimes referred to as the “first true feminist play”.
36. The Christina in Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” : OLSON
“Christina’s World” is an Andrew Wyeth painting that dates back to 1948. The subject of the work is Christina Olson, a woman who suffered from polio that paralyzed her lower body. In the picture, Wyeth painted Christina crawling across a field towards a house in the distance.
37. Lats relatives : DELTS
The deltoid “muscle” is actually a group of muscles, the ones that cover the shoulder and create the roundness under the skin. The deltoids (delts) are triangular in shape resembling the Greek letter delta, hence the name.
The muscles known as the “lats” are the latissimi dorsi, the broadest muscles in the back. “Latissimus” is the Latin for “broadest” and “dorsum” is Latin for “back”.
39. Maker of nonstick cookware : T-FAL
Tefal (also T-Fal) is a French manufacturer of cookware, famous for its nonstick line. The name “Tefal” is a portmanteau, of TEFlon and ALuminum, the key materials used in producing their pots and pans.
40. Lats relatives : PECS
“Pecs” is the familiar term for the chest muscle, more correctly known as the pectoralis major muscle. “Pectus” is a the Latin word for “breast, chest”.
41. Places to browse : MALLS
Surprisingly, our word “mall”, meaning “shady walk” or “enclosed shopping space”, comes from the Italian for “mallet”. All of our shopping-style malls are named for “The Mall” in St. James’s Park in London. This tree-lined promenade was so called as it used to a famous spot to play the croquet-like game called “pall-mall”. The game derived its name from the Italian for ball (palla) and mallet “maglio”. The London thoroughfare called the Mall still exists, at one end of which is Buckingham Palace. Indeed, parallel to the Mall is a street called Pall Mall.
46. Minnesota’s St. __ College : OLAF
St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota was named for the former king and patron saint of Norway, Olaf II.
47. Infomercial pitch : SPIEL
A spiel is a lengthy speech or argument designed to persuade, like a sales pitch. “Spiel” comes to us from German, either directly (“spiel” is the German for “play”) or via the Yiddish “shpil”.
51. Ernst genre : DADA ART
Max Ernst was a painter and sculptor, a pioneer in the Dada movement and Surrealism. Ernst was born near Cologne in Germany in 1891 and he was called up to fight in WWI, as were most young German men at that time. In his autobiography he writes “Max Ernst died the 1st of August, 1914” a statement about his experiences in the war. In reality, Ernst died in 1976 having lived to the ripe old age of 85.
57. 1995 Reform Party founder : PEROT
Ross Perot graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1953, as president of his class. Perot served his 4-year commitment but then resigned his commission, apparently having become somewhat disillusioned with the navy. He was ranked number 101 on the Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans in 2012, and at that time was worth about $3.5 billion. Back in 1992, Perot ran as an independent candidate for US president. He founded the Reform Party in 1995, and ran as the Reform Party candidate for president in 1996.
58. Baton Rouge sch. : LSU
LSU’s full name is Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, and is located in Baton Rouge. LSU was founded in 1860 as a military academy, with then-Colonel William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent.
60. Female lobster : HEN
A male lobster is called a cock, and a female a hen. A lobster weighing less than a pound is called a chicken.
65. Spelunker : CAVER
Spelunking is an American term for caving, although the word has Latin roots (“spelunca” is the Latin for “cave”). The term originated in the 1940s in New England when it was adopted by a group of men who explored caves in the area.
66. New Mexico state flower : YUCCA
Yuccas are a genus of shrubs and trees that live in hot and dry areas of North and South America. One of the more famous species of Yucca is the Joshua tree. Yuccas has a very unique pollination system, with moths transferring pollen from plant to plant.
68. Subsided : WANED
The verbs “to wax” and “to wane” come from Old English. To wax is to increase gradually in size, strength, intensity or number. To wane is to decrease gradually.
71. Scuttlebutt : DIRT
Just as modern day office workers gather around the water cooler to gossip, on board a ship back in the early 1800s the sailors would gather around the water barrel on the deck to shoot the breeze. That water barrel was called a “scuttlebutt”, from “scuttle” (opening in a ship’s deck) and “butt” (barrel). Quite interesting …
76. Private home : BASE
An army private make his or her home on an army base.
93. Fate : KISMET
“Kismet” is a Turkish word, meaning fate or fortune, one’s lot.
95. “Pet” problem : PEEVE
The phrase “pet peeve”, meaning “thing that provokes one most”, seems to be somewhat ironic. A “peeve” is a source of irritation, and the adjective “pet” means “especially cherished”.
98. Two-time Billboard Top Artist awardee : ADELE
Adele is the stage name of English singer Adele Adkins. Adele’s debut album is “19”, named after the age she was during the album’s production. Her second album was even more successful than the first. Called “21”, the second album was released three years after the first, when Adele was three years older. More recently, her third studio album “25”, released in 2015, broke the first-week sales records in both the UK and the US.
100. Novi Sad natives : SERBS
Novi Sad is a city in Serbia located on the River Danube. It is the second largest metropolis in the country, after the capital Belgrade.
103. Rorschach image : BLOT
The Rorschach test is a psychological test in which a subject is asked to interpret a series of inkblots. The test was created by Swiss Freudian psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach in the 1920s.
107. Key for Ravel? : ILE
“Île” is the French for “island, key”.
Maurice Ravel was a great French composer of the Romantic Era. Ravel’s most famous piece of music by far is his “Bolero”, the success of which he found somewhat irksome as he thought it to be a trivial work. Personally though, I love the minimalism and simplicity …
109. Some OT winners : TDS
In football, touchdowns (TDs) are sometimes scored in overtime (OT).