Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers starts with the name of a Major League Baseball team player:
- 69A. Sports org. for the players that begin the answers to starred clues : MLB
- 17A. *Found middle ground : MET HALFWAY (giving “New York Met”)
- 39A. *Hockey rink divider : RED LINE (giving “Cincinnati Red”)
- 58A. *Shaft from the sun : RAY OF LIGHT (giving “Tampa Bay Ray”)
- 10D. *”Unforgettable” crooner : NAT KING COLE (giving “Washington Nat”)
- 25D. *Jimmy Olsen, notably : CUB REPORTER (giving “Chicago Cub”)
- 26D. *”The Tonight Show” host after Johnny Carson : JAY LENO (giving “Toronto Blue Jay”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
16. Scarlett’s plantation : TARA
Scarlett O’Hara’s home is the Tara plantation, in Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”. Tara was founded not far from the Georgia city of Jonesboro by Scarlett’s father, Irish immigrant Gerald O’Hara. Gerald won the square mile of land on which Tara was built in an all-night poker game. He named his new abode after the Hill of Tara back in his home country, the ancient seat of the High King of Ireland.
17. *Found middle ground : MET HALFWAY (giving “New York Met”)
The New York Mets baseball team was founded in 1962 as a replacement for two teams that the city had lost, namely the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. For several years the Mets played very poorly, finishing no better than second-to-last in their division. Then of course along came the “Miracle Mets” (aka “Amazin’ Mets”) who beat the Baltimore Orioles in 1969 to claim the World Series in a huge upset.
19. Caesar’s stunned words : ET TU
It was Shakespeare who popularized the words “Et tu, Brute?” (And you, Brutus?), in his play “Julius Caesar”, although the phrase had been around long before he penned his drama. It’s not known what Julius Caesar actually said in real life just before he was assassinated on the steps of the Senate in Rome.
23. __ Wall Street: 2011 protest : OCCUPY
The Occupy movement is a protest directed against economic and social inequality worldwide. The first such protest to garner major attention took place in Wall Street in 2011, and from there similar protests spread around the world.
28. Resort island near Venezuela : ARUBA
Aruba is one of the so-called ABC Islands located off the northern coast of Venezuela. “ABC Islands” is a name given to the three westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean. The nickname comes from the first letters of the island names: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. All three of the ABC Islands are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
30. Rainier or Rushmore: Abbr. : MTN
Mount Rainier is an active volcano in the state of Washington in the Cascade Mountain Range. Native Americans first called the peak “Tacoma” meaning “mother of waters”. When Captain George Vancouver discovered Puget Sound in 1792, he named the peak in honor of his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. There have been movements to change the name back to Tacoma, but these seem to have petered out (pun!).
The four presidents whose faces are carved in the granite face of Mount Rushmore are (from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Each of the presidents is about 60 feet in height, although they might have been larger. The original intent was for the presidents to be depicted from head to waist, but the project lost funding.
39. *Hockey rink divider : RED LINE (giving “Cincinnati Red”)
The Red Scare (i.e. anti-communist sentiment) following WWII had such an effect on the populace that it even caused the Cincinnati baseball team to change its name from the Reds. The team was called the Cincinnati Redlegs from 1953-1958, as the management was fearful of losing money due to public distrust of any association with “Reds”.
42. 69-Across list of games, briefly : SKED
45. Texter’s “Holy cow!” : OMG
OMG is text-speak for “Oh My Gosh!” “Oh My Goodness!” or any other G words you might think of …
48. Suffix with chlor- : -INE
Chlorine is a yellow-green gas that is very poisonous at high concentrations. As such, chlorine gas was used in WWI, earning the shameful title of the world’s first gaseous chemical weapon. Chlorine was mistakenly believed to be an oxide for many years, until English chemist Sir Humphry Davy correctly concluded that the gas was an element. Davy coined the name “chlorine”, from the Greek “chloros” meaning “”green-yellow”.
49. __ Waldo Emerson : RALPH
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an essayist and poet who was active in the mid-1800s. Most of the essays that Emerson wrote were composed originally as lectures and then revised for print. He is often referred to as “The Sage of Concord”, as Emerson spent much of his life in Concord, Massachusetts.
57. FBI employees : AGTS
What we know today as the FBI was set up in 1908 as the BOI, the Bureau of Investigation. The name was changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. The Bureau was set up at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt. President Roosevelt was largely moved to do so after the 1901 assassination of President McKinley, as there was a perception that anarchists were threatening law and order. The FBI’s motto uses the organization’s initialism, and is “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity”.
58. *Shaft from the sun : RAY OF LIGHT (giving “Tampa Bay Ray”)
The Tampa Bay Rays are a relatively “young” franchise, having been formed in 1998. The initial name of the franchise was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. While known as the Devil Rays, the team finished last in the league in almost every year. The name was changed to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and I am told the Rays started into a streak of winning seasons soon after.
64. Fictional pirate often addressed as “Mr.” : SMEE
In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is Hook’s right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on the pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.
65. Like basic wall switches : ON/OFF
Not only did I have to learn new spellings of words when I moved here from Ireland (here I go, whining again!) but I had to learn that down is the “off” position for a switch most times, and up is the “on” position. It’s exactly the opposite on the other side of the pond. Have I ever ranted about the steering wheel position in the car? Aaargh!
66. Boyfriend : BEAU
A “beau” is the boyfriend of a “belle”, a young lady. “Beau” and “belle” are the masculine and feminine forms of the French word for “handsome, beautiful”.
67. “B.C.” cartoonist Johnny : HART
“B.C.” is a comic strip that was drawn by Johnny Hart, and now since Hart’s passing, is produced by his grandson. Hart introduced “B.C.” in 1958. One of the non-human characters in the strip is the Anteater, who sucks up ants with his sticky tongue making a “ZOT” sound. Hart’s Anteater is the inspiration for Peter the Anteater, the team mascot for UC Irvine. Johnny Hart’s other famous comic strip is the brilliant “The Wizard of Id”.
69. Sports org. for the players that begin the answers to starred clues : MLB
Major League Baseball (MLB)
4. Like many pretzels : SALTY
Pretzels originated in Europe and are especially popular in Southern Germany where a pretzel is known as “Brezel”. Pretzels were introduced into the US in the 1800s by immigrants from Germany and Switzerland who came to be known over here as the Pennsylvania Dutch.
7. Actress Thurman : UMA
Uma Thurman started her working career as a fashion model, at the age of 15. She appeared in her first movies at 17, with her most acclaimed early role being Cécile de Volanges in 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons”. Thurman’s career really took off when she played the gangster’s “moll” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” in 1994. My favorite of all Thurman’s movies is “The Truth About Cats & Dog’s”, a less acclaimed romcom released in 1996. She took a few years off from 1998 until 2002, doing very little work in favor of motherhood. It was Tarantino who relaunched her career, giving her the lead in the “Kill Bill” films.
10. *”Unforgettable” crooner : NAT KING COLE (giving “Washington Nat”)
Nat King Cole’s real name was Nathaniel Adams Coles. Cole made television history in 1956 when his own show debuted on NBC, a first for an African-American. Cole couldn’t pick up a national sponsor, so in order to save money and possibly save the show, many guest artists worked for no fee at all – the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte and Peggy Lee. The show survived for a year, but eventually Nat King Cole had to pull the plug on it himself.
Natalie Cole is the daughter of Nat King Cole. Natalie’s mother was Maria Cole, a singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The most famous version of the hit song “Unforgettable” was released in 1951 by Nat King Cole. In 1991, Natalie Cole recorded a version that was mixed with an earlier 1961 version sung by her father, creating an “unforgettable” father-daughter duet that was made 26 years after Nat King Cole had passed away.
The Washington Nationals (“The Nats”) baseball team started out life as the Montreal Expos in 1969, and were the first Major League Baseball team in Canada. The Expos moved to Washington in 2005 becoming the Nats. There are only two Major Leagues teams that have never played in a World Series, one being the Mariners and the other the Nats.
11. Soviet cooperative : ARTEL
The Russian cooperative associations known as artels were often pretty informal affairs. Basically any group could get together and form an artel for any specific commercial purpose … anything from gold-mining and fishing, to stealing and begging.
18. Live-in household helper : AU PAIR
An au pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working and living as part of a host family. The term “au pair” is French, and means “on a par”, indicating that an au pair is treated as an equal in the host family.
22. Sleep stage : REM
“REM” is an acronym, short for Rapid Eye Movement sleep. REM sleep takes up 20-25% of the sleeping hours and is the period associated with one’s most vivid dreams.
23. Desert respites : OASES
An isolated area of vegetation in a desert is called an oasis (plural “oases”). As water is needed for plant growth, an oasis might also include a spring, pond or small lake.
24. Sound from a lily pad : CROAK
Water lilies have leaves and flowers that float on the surface of a body of water. However, the roots of the plant are embedded in soil, soil at the bottom of the pond or lake.
25. *Jimmy Olsen, notably : CUB REPORTER (giving “Chicago Cub”)
In the “Superman” stories, Jimmy Olsen is a cub photographer who works on the “Daily Planet” newspaper with Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
26. *”The Tonight Show” host after Johnny Carson : JAY LENO (giving “Toronto Blue Jays”)
“The Tonight Show” has had six permanent hosts so far:
- Steve Allen (1954-57)
- Jack Paar (1957-62)
- Johnny Carson (1962–92)
- Jay Leno (1992–2009, 2010–14)
- Conan O’Brien (2009–10)
- Jimmy Fallon (2014–present)
The Toronto Blue Jays baseball franchise was founded in 1977. The Blue Jays are the only team based outside the US to have won a World Series, doing so in 1992 and 1993. And since the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, the Blue Jays are the only Major League Baseball team now headquartered outside of the US.
40. Jazzman Garner : ERROLL
Erroll Garner was a jazz pianist and composer. Garner’s most famous composition by far is 1954’s “Misty”, which has become a jazz standard.
47. Toronto’s prov. : ONT
The Canadian province of Ontario takes its name from the Great Lake. In turn, Lake Ontario’s name is thought to be derived from “Ontari:io”, a Huron word meaning “great lake”. Ontario is home to the nation’s capital of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Canada’s most populous city (and the capital of the province).
50. Actor’s unwritten line : AD LIB
“Ad libitum” is a Latin phrase meaning “at one’s pleasure”. In common usage the phrase is usually shortened to “ad lib”. On the stage the concept of an “ad lib” is very familiar.
52. Igneous rock, once : MAGMA
Magma is the molten material below the Earth’s surface. When magma cools, it forms igneous rock. “Magma” is a Greek term used for a thick ointment.
59. Santa __ winds : ANA
The Santa Ana winds are the very dry air currents that sweep offshore late in the year in Southern California. Because these air currents are so dry, they are noted for their influence over forest fires in the area, especially in the heat of the fall. The winds arise from a buildup of air pressure in the Great Basin that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Under the right conditions, that air spills over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and basically “falls” down the side of the Sierra range, heading for the ocean. As the air falls it becomes drier and heats up so that relative humidity can fall to below 10% by the time it hits the coast.
60. Partner of hither : YON
“Hither and yon” is a phrase meaning “from here to over there”.
62. Uncooperative “2001” computer : HAL
In Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey” (famously adapted for the big screen as “2001: A Space Odyssey”) the computer system that went rogue was called HAL 9000, or simply “HAL”. HAL stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. Even though, Clarke denied it, there’s a good argument that can be made that the acronym HAL is a veiled reference to IBM, the big player in the world of computing at the time of the novel’s publication (1968). The acronym HAL is just a one-letter shift from the initials “IBM”.