Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers ends with a freedom protected by the FIRST AMENDMENT of the US Constitution:
- 52A. Source of the freedoms found at the ends of this puzzle’s four other longest answers : FIRST AMENDMENT
- 20A. 2010 Best Picture Oscar winner : THE KING’S SPEECH
- 27A. Become born-again, perhaps : GET RELIGION
- 37A. United Nations gathering : GENERAL ASSEMBLY
- 44A. Self-publishing option : VANITY PRESS
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
5. Hook-shaped ski lift : J-BAR
A T-bar is a type of ski lift on which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skiers as they remain standing on their skis (hopefully!). There’s also a J-bar, a similar device, but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.
9. Canon setting : F-STOP
Varying the f-stop in a lens varies how big the lens opening (the aperture) is when a photograph is taken. Smaller apertures (higher f-stop values) admit less light, but result in a greater depth of field (more of the photograph is in focus).
15. Deep sea predator : ORCA
The taxonomic name for the killer whale is Orcinus orca. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.
16. PEN/Faulkner, for one : AWARD
The PEN/Faulkner Award is presented annually to a living American author who has produced an outstanding work of fiction. The current award grew out of the William Faulkner Foundation Award that was inaugurated in 1961 using funds donated by writer William Faulkner from his 1949 Nobel Prize win. The PEN/Faulkner Foundation was established in 1980 after the William Faulkner Foundation was dissolved in 1970. The first PEN/Faulkner Award was presented in 1981. PEN International is an association of writers that was founded in London in 1921. PEN is the world’s oldest international literary organization.
19. Beantown team : CELTS
The Boston Celtics NBA basketball team were founded just after WWII in 1946. The Celtics won eight league championships in a row from 1958 to 1966. That’s the longest consecutive championship winning streak of any professional sports team in North America.
In the days of sail, the natural trade routes across the Atlantic involved a lot of ships arriving in Boston directly from West Indies. One of the main cargoes carried by these vessels coming from the West Indies was molasses. An abundance of cheap molasses led to an abundance of baked beans in the port city, and all those baked beans gave rise to Boston’s nickname “Beantown”.
20. 2010 Best Picture Oscar winner : THE KING’S SPEECH
“The King’s Speech” is a wonderful, wonderful 2010 film about King George VI and his efforts to overcome his speech impediment. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter all do fabulous jobs playing the lead characters. It is an independent film, so was made with a relatively low budget of $15 million, but grossed almost $400 million at box offices worldwide. “The King’s Speech” is the most successful British independent film of all time.
22. Env. insert : ENC
An envelope (env.) might include an enclosure (enc.).
23. Former Mississippi senator Trent : LOTT
Trent Lott is a political figure who first went to Washington to work as an administrative assistant to Representative William M. Colmer, from Mississippi. After four years working for Colmer, Lott ran for the House seat that Colmer was to leave vacant on his retirement. Colmer endorsed Lott in that election, even though Colmer was a Democrat and Lott ran as a Republican. Lott won the race very handily, launching a 35-year career representing his home state of Mississippi in both the House and the Senate. Lott eventually ran into trouble for remarks he made that were interpreted as being racially motivated, and ended up resigning in 2007.
24. Post-J.D. degree : LLM
The advanced degree of Master of Laws is commonly abbreviated to “LL.M”, a shortening of the Latin term “Legum Magister” meaning “Master of Laws”.
The law degree abbreviated to J.D. is more fully known as Juris Doctor.
35. Society page word : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.
36. City bonds, for short : MUNIS
A municipal bond (muni) is one that is issued by a city or local government, or some similar agency. Munis have an advantage over other investments in that any interest earned on the bond is usually exempt from state and federal income taxes.
37. United Nations gathering : GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Charter of the United Nations was signed by the member states in San Francisco in June 1945 and came into force on 24 October 1945. October 24 was chosen as United Nations Day in 1947. In 1971 the United Nations further resolved to make UN Day a public holiday in all UN member states.
41. Layer with a hole : OZONE
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are the propellants that were once used in aerosols. CFCs make their way up into the ozone layer and trigger a chain reaction that converts ozone (O3) into regular oxygen (O2). That conversion creates “holes” in the ozone layer. Regular O2 is good stuff, but we need O3 to absorb harmful UV radiation raining down on us. CFC is not good stuff …
42. Pocatello sch. : ISU
Pocatello is a city in the southeast of Idaho. It is home to Idaho State University (ISU). The city was founded as a railroad stop in the days of the gold rush. Pocatello was named for the chief of the Shoshone tribe who granted the right of way for the railroad to pass through the nearby Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
43. “The Da Vinci Code” priory : SION
The Priory of Sion is presented in the preface of Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” as a secret society that did in fact exist. However, there is a lot of evidence that the priory was an invention, created in forged documents in the sixties. Regardless, Dan Brown’s book is a really enjoyable read, in my humble opinion …
44. Self-publishing option : VANITY PRESS
A vanity press is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their works published.
48. Health products chain : GNC
General Nutrition Centers (GNC) is a retailer of health and nutrition supplements based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company was founded in 1935 as a small health food store in downtown Pittsburgh. There are now about 5,000 stores in the US. The GNC slogan is “Live Well”.
49. One who may converse in Erse : GAEL
A Gael is anyone of a race that speaks or spoke one of the Erse tongues. There are actually three Erse languages. Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).
52. Source of the freedoms found at the ends of this puzzle’s four other longest answers : FIRST AMENDMENT
The Constitution of the United States was adopted on September 17, 1787. There have been 27 amendments to the constitution, the first ten of which are collectively called the Bill of Rights. In essence the Bill of Rights limits the power of the Federal Government and protects the rights of individuals. For example, the First Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
62. Pelee Island’s lake : ERIE
Pelee Island in Lake Erie is the southernmost populated point in the whole of Canada.
63. Zilch : ZERO
We use the term “zilch” to mean “nothing”. Our current usage evolved in the sixties, before which the term was used to describe “meaningless speech”. There was a comic character called Mr. Zilch in the 1930s in “Ballyhoo” magazine. Mr. Zilch’s name probably came from the American college slang “Joe Zilch” that was used in the early 1900s for “an insignificant person”.
64. Decreases in strength : WANES
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.
3. Farm fraction : ACRE
At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. This was more precisely defined as a strip of land “one furrow long” (i.e. one furlong) and one furlong wide. The length of one furlong was equal to 10 chains, or 40 rods. A area of one furlong times 10 rods was one rood.
5. WWE wrestler in the film “Trainwreck” : JOHN CENA
John Cena is a professional wrestler turned rapper and actor. Although wrestling, rapping and “Cena-style” movies wouldn’t be my cup of tea, I have to admire Cena’s philanthropic record. He holds the title for the most wishes granted by a single individual for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that benefits children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“Trainwreck” is a romantic comedy released in 2015 that brings together the talents of Judd Apatow as director and Amy Schumer as writer. Schumer also stars.
6. Naval lockup : BRIG
A brig, short for brigantine, is a type of ship. It was the use of brigantines as prison ships that led to use of “brig” as the word for a jail or prison cell on a seagoing vessel.
7. Pocket rockets, at the poker table : ACES
A pair of aces are referred to as pocket rockets, particularly when holding them in the hand (the pocket) in the popular variant of poker known as Texas hold ‘em. The term “rockets” is used as the letters A written side-by-side look like two small rockets on the launchpad (AA).
9. Video chat option : FACETIME
FaceTime is an Apple video-telephony application. I guess it’s similar to Skype. Personally, I gave up on Skype and am now a loyal user of Google Hangouts …
10. Trees with fragrant sap : SWEETGUMS
The sweetgum tree is named for the sweet resinous sap that is exuded when the trunk is cut. The scientific name for the tree’s genus is Liquidambar, which is also a reference to the sap.
13. Troopers’ gps. : PDS
Police department (PD)
18. Troubling engine sound : PING
Pinging is also known as “engine knocking”. It is a metallic sound, created when not all of the fuel-air mixture is detonated by the spark plug, with some of it detonated late in the cycle. The late detonation causes the knocking/pinging sound. Additives (anti-knock agents) in gasoline can help reduce the chances of pinging.
25. Talk show host who won “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2015, familiarly : LEEZA
Leeza Gibbons has her own radio show called “Hollywood Confidential”, and used to have her own talk show on NBC television that aired from 1994 to 2000. Gibbons is the founder of a nonprofit group called Leeza’s Place which supports people giving care to patients with memory disorders. Since 2007 she has been a board member of California’s stem cell research agency, appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
26. Runners occupying bases : MEN ON
That would be baseball.
32. “Bye Bye Bye” boy band : NSYNC
NSYNC was a boy band from Orlando, Florida that was formed in 1995. The name of the group came from a comment by the mother of band member Justin Timberlake, who said the boys voices sounded “in sync”. But, it’s also true that the letters of the name NSYNC are the last letters of the given names of the five band members:
- Justin Timberlake
- Chris Kirkpatrick
- Joey Fatone
- Lance “Lansten” Bass
- JC Chasez
34. Bad-mouth : DENIGRATE
To denigrate is to defame, to cast aspersions on someone’s reputation. The term comes from the Latin verb “denigrare” meaning “to blacken”.
40. “The Partridge Family” actress : SUSAN DEY
The actress Susan Dey first appeared on “The Partridge Family” when she was 17-years-old when she had no acting experience. Years later, Dey won a Golden Globe for playing the leading role of Grace Van Owen in “L. A. Law”.
46. Pre-curtain call : PLACES!
Take your places on the stage, everyone!
47. “Smooth Operator” singer : SADE
The singer Sade’s real name is Helen Folasade Adu. Although she was born in Nigeria, Sade grew up and lives in the UK. She was the lead vocalist for the English group Sade, and adopted the name of the band. The band’s biggest hits were “Smooth Operator” (1984) and “The Sweetest Taboo” (1985).
52. Broad bean : FAVA
Fava bean is an alternative name for the broad bean. “Broad bean” is used “broadly” (pun!) in the UK, whereas “fava bean” is common in the US. “Fava” is the Italian name for the broad bean.
55. Old Norse explorer : ERIC
According to Icelandic tradition, Erik the Red was the man responsible for founding the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. Erik had a famous son: the explorer Leif Ericson.
57. Detective Wolfe : NERO
Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective and the hero of many stories published by author Rex Stout. There are 33 Nero Wolfe novels for us to read, and 39 short stories. There are also movie adaptations of two of the novels: “Meet Nero Wolfe” (1936) which features a young Rita Hayworth, and “The League of Frightened Men” (1937). One of Wolfe’s endearing traits is his love of good food and beer, so he is a pretty rotund character.
58. 1982 sci-fi film with a 2010 sequel : TRON
Released in 1982, Disney’s “Tron” was one of the first mainstream films to make extensive use of computer graphics. The main role in the movie is played by Jeff Bridges. The original spawned a 2010 sequel called “Tron: Legacy”, as well as a 2012 TV show called “Tron: Uprising”.