Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Today’s puzzle includes a quip made by stand-up comedian Mitch Hedberg:
- 54A. Standup comic known for one-liners : MITCH HEDBERG
- 20A. Start of a one-liner by 54-Across : MY FAKE PLANTS …
- 25A. One-liner, part 2 : … DIED …
- 29A. One-liner, part 3 : … BECAUSE …
- 38A. One-liner, part 4 : … I DID NOT …
- 40A. One-liner, part 5 : … PRETEND …
- 46A. One-liner, part 6 : … TO WATER …
- 49A. End of the one-liner : … THEM
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Snake, footwise : APOD
Something described as “apod” has no feet. An example of an apod animal would be a snake.
5. Instagram and Pinterest : APPS
Instagram is a photo-sharing application, one that is extremely popular. Instagram was started in San Francisco in 2010. Facebook purchased Instagram two years later, paying $1 billion. The billion-dollar Instagram company had just 13 employees at the time of the sale …
Pinterest is a free website which can be used to save and manage images (called “pins”) and other media. For some reason, the vast majority of Pinterest users are women.
14. Saboteur, e.g. : MOLE
There is a story that disgruntled textile workers would kick their wooden shoes, called sabots, into the looms in order to disable them so that they didn’t have to work. This act of vandalism was named for the shoe, an act of … sabotage.
15. Fruit used in alcohol flavoring : SLOE
The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush, and the main flavoring ingredient in sloe gin. A sloe looks like a small plum, but is usually much more tart in taste.
17. Criticism : FLAK
“Flak” was originally an acronym from the German term for an aircraft defense cannon (FLiegerAbwehrKanone). Flak then became used in English as a general term for antiaircraft fire, and ultimately a term for verbal criticism as in “to take flak”.
23. Tiresome type : PILL
The term “pill” can be used to describe a boring and disagreeable person, a “bitter pill to swallow”.
24. Cavaliers, on scoreboards : CLE
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavs joined the NBA as an expansion team in 1970.
32. Paella pot : OLLA
An olla is a traditional clay pot used for the making of stews. “Olla” was the Latin word used in Ancient Rome to describe a similar type of pot.
Paella is sometime referred to as the Spanish national dish, but not by Spaniards. In Spain, paella is regarded as a typical regional dish from Valencia.
33. NFL receivers : TES
In American football, a quarterback (QB) might throw to a tight end (TE).
36. Actress Skye : IONE
Ione Skye is an American actress born in Hertfordshire in England. She is best known for portraying the character Diane Court in the 1989 high school romance movie “Say Anything …”, starring opposite John Cusack. Skye is the daughter of the Scottish folk singer Donovan.
42. Stands for funerals : BIERS
Biers are the special stands on which one rests a coffin for a service, or perhaps if the corpse is to lie in state. A bier may have wheels on it so that it can be used to transport the coffin to the graveside. The original biers were just flat pieces of wood on which the body was placed, covered with a shroud. Nowadays, we place the body in a casket, and then onto the bier.
43. Black and Red : SEAS
There are four seas named for colors in English:
- the Yellow Sea
- the Black Sea
- the Red Sea
- the White Sea.
44. “__ of Light”: 1998 Madonna album : RAY
Madonna’s full name is Madonna Louise Ciccone. Born in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna was destined to become the top-selling female recording artist of all time.
45. Words to a traitor : 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.
50. Andean root vegetable : OCA
The plant called an oca is also known as the New Zealand Yam. The tubers of the oca are used as a root vegetable.
51. California tourist attraction : NAPA
The first commercial winery in Napa Valley, California was established way back in 1858. However, premium wine production only dates back to the 1960s, with the region really hitting the big time after its success at the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. The story of that famous blind wine tasting is told in the entertaining 2008 film “Bottle Shock”.
54. Standup comic known for one-liners : MITCH HEDBERG
Mitch Hedberg was a stand-up comedian from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He made a lot of jokes about his drug use, and in 2003 he was arrested for possession of heroin. He was found dead in a hotel room in 2005, having overdosed on cocaine and heroin.
59. Stereotypically haunted area : ATTIC
An attic or loft is a room or space located below the roof of a building. The term “attic” is a shortened form of “attic story”, the uppermost story or level of a house. This term “attic story” originally applied to a low, decorative level built on top of the uppermost story behind a building’s decorative facade. This use of decoration at the top of buildings was common in ancient Greece, and was particularly important in the Attica style. That Attica style was so called because it originated in the historical region of Attica that encompassed the city of Athens. And that’s how our attics are linked to ancient Greece.
66. Sea eagles : ERNS
The ern (sometimes “erne”) is also called the white-tailed eagle, or the sea-eagle.
67. “__ Stardust”: David Bowie song : ZIGGY
David Bowie was the stage name of English singer David Jones. Bowie adopted the alter ego Ziggy Stardust during his glam rock phase in the 1970s. Sadly, Bowie passed away from liver cancer in early 2016.
68. Chihuahua sounds : YIPS
Chihuahua is a state in northern Mexico that shares a border with Texas and New Mexico. Chihuahua is the largest state in the country, so has the nickname “El Estado Grande”. The state takes its name from the Chihuahuan Desert which lies largely within its borders. The Chihuahua breed of dog takes its name from the state.
69. Afternoon fare : SOAP
The original soap operas were radio dramas back in the fifties. Given the structure of society back then, the daytime broadcasts were aimed at women working in the home as housewives. For some reason the sponsors of those radio shows, and the television shows that followed, were soap manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers. And that’s how the “soap” opera got its name …
1. Switch letters : AM/FM
In telecommunications, a radio signal is transmitted using a sinusoidal carrier wave. Information is transmitted using this carrier wave in two main ways, by varying (modulating) the instantaneous amplitude (signal strength) of the carrier wave, and by modulating the instantaneous frequency of the carrier wave. The former is referred to as an AM signal (for “amplitude modulation”), and the latter as an FM signal (for “frequency modulation”).
2. Tentacled creature : POLYP
Polyps are tiny sea creatures that are found attached to underwater structures or to other polyps. Polyps have a mouth at one end of a cylindrical “body” that is surrounded by tentacles. Some polyps cluster into groups called stony corals, with stony corals being the building blocks of coral reefs. The structure of the reef comprises calcium carbonate exoskeletons secreted by the coral polyps.
3. Start of a Norwegian line : OLAF I
Of the many kings of Norway named Olaf/Olav (and there have been five), Olaf II is perhaps the most celebrated as he was canonized and made patron saint of the country. Olaf II was king from 1015 to 1028 and was known as “Olaf the Big” (or Olaf the Fat) during his reign. Today he is more commonly referred to as “Olaf the Holy”. After Olaf died he was given the title of Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae, which is Latin for “Norway’s Eternal King”.
4. Northern Illinois University city : DEKALB
The city of DeKalb, Illinois was founded as DeKalb Center in the 1850s. It was named for a major general in the Revolutionary War named Baron Johann de Kalb.
5. “Off the Court” memoirist : ASHE
“Off the Court” is a 1981 autobiography by tennis player Arthur Ashe. The book deals with Ashe’s life off the court, including his involvement in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
8. Flower parts : SEPALS
In a flower, the sepals are the green, leaf-like structures that are “interleaved” with the petals, providing support. Prior to acting as support for the petals, the sepals protect the flower in bud.
9. Switch partner : BAIT
The term “bait-and-switch” describes a kind of fraud engaged in by disingenuous retailers. Customers are drawn in (baited) by advertising products at an extremely attractive price. Once the customer visits the store in search of the deal, he or she discovers that the advertised goods aren’t in fact available. A deceptive salesperson then guides (switches) the customer to a similar and higher-priced item.
12. Med. research agency : NIH
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) organization is made up of 27 different institutes that coordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.
21. Calvin and Anne : KLEINS
Calvin Klein is an American fashion designer who was born in the Bronx in New York City. Klein’s biography, entitled “Obsession”, is named for one the most famous brands in his line of fragrances.
Anne Klein was a fashion designer from Brooklyn, New York. Anna was born Hannah Golofski, and founded her first clothing company in the 1940s along with her first husband Ben Klein.
22. Born, in France : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.
27. Colleague of Ruth and Sonia : ELENA
Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States who replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. That made Justice Kagan the first female US Solicitor General and the fourth female US Supreme Court justice. I hear she is a fan of Jane Austen, and used to reread “Pride and Prejudice” once a year. Not a bad thing to do, I’d say …
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg serves on the US Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg was the second woman to join the Court, nominated by President Bill Clinton. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. During that time she did not miss one day on the bench. In 2009 Justice Ginsburg had surgery for pancreatic cancer, and was back to work 12 days later.
Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice on the US Supreme Court, and the third female justice. Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace the retiring Justice David Souter.
31. Bad picnic omen : ANT
Our term “picnic” comes from the French word that now has the same meaning, namely “pique-nique”. The original “pique-nique” was a fashionable pot-luck affair, and not necessarily held outdoors.
33. Area sometimes called “The Roof of the World” : TIBET
Tibet is a plateau region that is part of China, and is located northeast of the Himalayas. Tibet declared its independence from China in 1913, but fell back under Chinese control after the Invasion of Tibet in 1951. The Tibetan leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled the country during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion. Since then, he has led the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India.
34. “Downton Abbey” lady : EDITH
In the incredibly successful period drama “Downton Abbey”, the patriarch of the family living at Downton is Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham or Lord Grantham. The character is played by Hugh Bonneville. Lord Grantham married American Cora Levinson (played by Elizabeth McGovern. Lord and Lady Grantham had three daughters, and no son. The lack of a male heir implied that the Grantham estate would pass to a male cousin, and out of the immediate family. The Grantham daughters are Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery), Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) and Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay). Lady Sybil had the audacity to marry the family chauffeur, an Irish nationalist. The shame of it all …
35. Number of Maravillas del Mundo : SIETE
In Spanish, there are “siete” (seven) “Maravillas del Mund” (Wonders of the World).
The full list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is:
- the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt
- the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece
- the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
- the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
- the Colossus of Rhodes
- the Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt
41. Fink : RAT
A “fink” is an informer, someone who rats out his cohorts.
43. Linguistic origin of Kwanzaa : SWAHILI
Swahili is one of the many Bantu languages spoken in Africa. There are hundreds of Bantu languages, with most being spoken in central, east and southern Africa. The most commonly spoken Bantu language is Swahili, with Zulu coming in second.
Kwanzaa is a celebration of African heritage that lasts from December 26 to January 1 annually. The holiday was introduced in 1966 as an alternative to the existing holidays at the end of the year. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “first fruits of the harvest”. The seven days of Kwanzaa are dedicated to seven core principles known as “Nguzo Saba”.
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
- Nia (Purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (Faith)
48. Hydrophobia : RABIES
“Rabies” is actually the Latin word for “madness”. The name is a good choice for the viral disease, as once the virus spreads to the brain the infected person or animal exhibits very tortured and bizarre behavior including hydrophobia, a fear of water. The virus is passed on to humans most often through a bite from an infected dog. It is curable if it is caught in time, basically before symptoms develop. Once the virus passes up the peripheral nervous system to the spine and the brain, there isn’t much that can be done. We can also use the derivative term “rabid” figuratively, to mean extremely violent, to have extreme views.
52. “Napoleon Dynamite” sidekick Sánchez : PEDRO
“Napoleon Dynamite” is a comedy film released in 2004 that stars Jon Heder in the title role. The movie was a commercial success above and beyond expectations. “Napoleon Dynamite” was made on the relatively low budget of about $400,000, and yet grossed almost $45 million within a year. The title character is a nerdy high school student who spends much of life living in his fantasy world.
56. Dickens schemer : HEEP
Uriah Heep is a sniveling insincere character in the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. The character is such a “yes man” that today, if we know someone who behaves the same way, then we might call that person a “Uriah Heep”.
57. Those, in Chihuahua : ESAS
The city of Chihuahua is the capital of the Mexican state of the same name. The city was founded in 1709 by Spanish explorers as a village called El Real de Minas de San Francisco de Cuéllar. However, the current name “Chihuahua” predates the Spanish conquest of Mexico, although the name wasn’t adopted until 1823.
59. Woodworker’s tool : ADZ
An adze (also “adz”) is similar to an axe, but is different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool’s shaft. An axe’s blade is set in line with the shaft.