Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
16. Conforming phrase : WHEN IN ROME
The proverb “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” probably dates back to the days of St. Augustine. St. Augustine wrote a letter around 390 AD in which he states:
When I go to Rome, I fast on Saturday, but here [Milan] I do not. Do you also follow the custom of whatever church you attend, if you do not want to give or receive scandal?
21. Like the title girl in a 2014 David Fincher film : GONE
“Gone Girl” is a thriller novel written by Gillian Flynn that was first published in 2012. The story tells of a man whose wife has disappeared, with the reader not being certain if the husband is involved in the disappearance. The book was adapted into a movie of the same name released in 2014, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.
22. Further south of the border? : MAS
“Mas” is Spanish for “more”.
23. Before Phelps, he held the record for most golds in a single Olympics : SPITZ
Mark Spitz is a retired competitive swimmer, and famously the winner of seven gold medals for the US at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. That was a record number of gold medals won for a single Olympic Games, which stood until the 2008 games when Michael Phelps won a total of 8 golds. Spitz was only 22 years of age right after the 1972 Games, at which point he retired from competition. Having said that, Spitz briefly came out of retirement in 1992 and tried for a place in the US team for the Barcelona Olympics at the age of 41. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make the grade.
Michael Phelps is a competitive swimmer from Towson, Maryland. Phelps won 28 medals in total in the five Olympic Games in which he has competed from 2004 to 2016. Those 28 medals make him the most decorated Olympian of all time, by far. Coming in second is former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won won 18 medals between 1956 and 1964.
25. 1969 World Series MVP Clendenon : DONN
As a professional baseball player, Donn Clendenon is best remembered as the World Series MVP for 1969, the year of the “Amazin’ Mets”. After he retired from the game in 1972, Clendenon went back to school, earning a JD degree in 1978 after which he practiced law.
26. Rx amt. : TSP
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.
27. QB’s stat : ATT
In football, one statistic (stat) used to track the performance of a quarterback (QB) is attempts (ATT)
29. Stumping sites : PODIA
“Podium” (plural “podia”) is the Latin word for “raised platform”.
“To stump” can mean to go on a speaking tour during a political campaign. This peculiarly American term dates back to the 19th century. Back then a “stump speech” was an address given by someone standing on a large tree stump that provided a convenient perch to help the speaker get his or her message across to the crowd.
30. Rouen Cathedral series painter : CLAUDE MONET
French artist Claude Monet was one of the founders of the Impressionist movement, and indeed the term “Impressionism” comes from the title of his 1872 painting “Impression, Sunrise”. That work depicts the port of Le Havre, which was Monet’s hometown. Later in his life, Monet purchased a house in Giverny, and famously installed lily ponds and a Japanese bridge in the property’s extensive gardens. He spent two decades painting the water lily ponds, producing his most famous works.
Impressionist Claude Monet produced a series of paintings of Rouen Cathedral in the 1890s. Famously, Monet painted the same subject at varying times of the day and times of the year, with the intention of recording the changes in appearance with differing light. He produced over thirty such paintings of Rouen Cathedral over a two-year period, resulting in one of the artist’s most famous and prized series of works.
34. So-called “Nobel Prize of Mathematics” : FIELDS MEDAL
The Fields Medal is a prize in mathematics that is awarded by the International Mathematical Union every four years. The official name of the award is the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics. The unofficial name is in honor of Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields who founded the award.
35. Event for disabled athletes : PARALYMPICS
The Winter and Summer Paralympic Games grew out of a gathering of British disabled WWII veterans that coincided with 1948’s Summer Olympic Games. The first official Paralympic Games was held in Rome in 1960.
38. Include covertly, briefly : BCC
A blind carbon copy (bcc) is a copy of a document or message that is sent to someone without other recipients of the message knowing about that extra copy.
41. Calvary inscription : INRI
The letters written on the cross on which Jesus died were “INRI”. INRI is an initialism for the Latin “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”, which translates into English as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.
According to the Gospels of the Christian New Testament, Jesus was crucified just outside the walls of Jerusalem at the location called Golgotha. The Bible translates “Golgotha” as the “place of the skull”. This phrase translates into Latin as “Calvariæ Locus”, from which we get the English name “Calvary”.
42. Cabinet mem. : SECY
In the Westminster system, the Cabinet is a group of sitting politicians chosen by the Prime Minister to head up government departments and also to participate collectively in major governmental decisions in all areas. In the US system, the Cabinet is made up not of sitting politicians, but rather of non-legislative individuals who are considered to have expertise in a particular area. The Cabinet members in the US system tend to have more of an advisory role outside of their own departments.
45. __ wind : SOLAR
The Sun’s upper atmosphere continually ejects a stream of the charged particles that have such high energy that they can escape the Sun’s gravity. This supersonic plasma consisting of mainly electrons, protons and alpha particles is referred to as the solar wind. The solar wind extends as far as the outer limits of our solar system, and is responsible for phenomena such as the Earth’s northern and southern lights, the geomagnetic storms that affect radio reception, and the plasma tails of comets.
47. Indian bread : NAN
Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.
48. Updike title character : BECH
John Updike features the character Henry Bech in many short stories, all of which have been compiled into books. Bech is generally regarded as Updike’s alter-ego.
49. View from Tokyo, on clear days : MT FUJI
Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest and most famous mountain. It is an active volcano situated just west of Tokyo.
55. First name in mystery : ERLE
I must have read all of the “Perry Mason” books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when I was facing the pressure of exams. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn’t get into the profession the easy way. Gardner went to law school, but got himself suspended after a month. So, he became a self-taught attorney and opened his own law office in Merced, California. Understandably, he gave up the law once his novels became successful.
56. Strong six-pack : ABS OF STEEL
The abdominal muscles (abs) are more correctly referred to as the rectus abdominis muscles. They are all called a “six-pack” in a person who has developed the muscles and who has low body fat. In my case, more like a keg …
57. Bar array : RYES
For whiskey to be labelled as “rye” in the US, it has to be distilled from at least 51% rye grain. In Canada however, a drink called rye whiskey sometimes contains no rye at all.
4. Pulitzer-winning film critic : EBERT
Roger Ebert was a film critic for “The Chicago Sun-Times” for 50 years. He also co-hosted a succession of film review television programs for over 23 years, most famously with Gene Siskel until Siskel passed away in 1999. Siskel and Ebert famously gave their thumbs up or thumbs down to the movies they reviewed. Ebert was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which he did in 1975. He was diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer in 2002, and finally succumbed to a recurrence of the disease in April 2013.
6. Physics Nobelist Steven in Obama’s Cabinet : CHU
Steven Chu is a former Secretary of Energy in the Obama Cabinet. Chu is a physicist by trade, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997.
9. They have their pride : LIONS
A group of lions is known as a “pride” of lions. It’s possible that the term “pride” in this context derives from the Latin “”praeda” meaning “prey”.
12. Tyra Banks reality show, familiarly : TOP MODEL
Tyra Banks is a tremendously successful model and businesswoman. Banks created and hosts the hit show “America’s Next Top Model “, and also has her own talk show. She was also the first African American woman to make the cover of the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue.
14. Wichita-based aviation company : CESSNA
The Cessna Aircraft manufacturing company was founded in 1911 by Clyde Cessna, a farmer from Kansas. Cessna is headquartered in Wichita and today has over 8,000 employees.
20. Showy shrubs : AZALEAS
Azaleas are very toxic to horses, sheep and goats, but strangely enough cause no problem for cats or dogs. And if you go to Korea you might come across “Tug Yonju”, which is azalea wine made from the plant’s blossoms. Azaleas are usually grown as shrubs, but are also seen as small trees, and often indoors.
25. Some European women : DONAS
In Spain, a title of respect for men is “Don”. The equivalent female title is “Dona”.
28. Starbucks order : TALL
Starbucks introduced us to coffee drinks in a whole range of volumes:
- Demi … 3 fl oz
- Short … 8 fl oz
- Tall … 12 fl oz
- Grande … 16 fl oz (Italian for “large”)
- Venti … 20 fl oz (Italian for “twenty”)
- Trenta … 30 fl oz (Italian for “thirty”)
29. Online entertainment : PODCAST
A podcast is basically an audio or video media file that is made available for download. The name comes from the acronym “POD” meaning “playable on demand”, and “cast” from “broadcasting”. So, basically a podcast is a broadcast that one can play on demand, simply by downloading and opening the podcast file.
30. Clouds from the Latin for “curls” : CIRRI
Cirrus (plural “cirri”) clouds are those lovely wispy, white strands that are often called “mare’s tails”.
31. Mil. decoration : DSM
The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) is the highest (non-valorous) decoration awarded for services to the US military.
33. Israel’s Iron Lady : MEIR
Golda Meir was known as the “Iron Lady” when she was Prime Minister of Israel, long before that sobriquet came to be associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Golda Meir was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev (in modern-day Ukraine), and when she was a young girl she moved with her family to the United States and settled in Milwaukee. As a teenager she relocated to Denver where she met and married Morris Meyerson, at the age of 19. She and her husband joined a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921, when she was in her twenties. Meir had been active in politics in the US, and continued her political work in Palestine. She was very influential during WWII, and played a leading role in negotiations after the war leading to the setting up of the state of Israel. By the time she was called on to lead the country, Meir had already retired, citing exhaustion and ill health. But serve she did, and led Israel during turbulent times (e.g. the massacre at the Munich Olympics, and the Yom Kippur War). She eventually resigned in 1974, saying that was what the people wanted.
36. Thing to bash at a bash : PINATA
Piñatas originated in Mexico, probably among the Aztecs or Mayans. Today piñatas are usually made from cardboard that is brightly decorated with papier-mâché. Traditionally a piñata was made out of a clay pot, adorned with feathers and ribbons and filled with small treasures. During religious ceremonies the clay pots would be suspended and broken open so that the contents would spill out onto the ground at the feet of a god as an offering.
39. Coax : CAJOLE
To coax is to cajole, to influence using gentle persuasion. Back in the 16th century, “coax” was a noun meaning “fool”, and was used in the sense of “make a coax of, make a fool of”.
43. Bravura : ECLAT
“Éclat” can mean a brilliant show of success, or the applause or accolade that one receives. The word derives from the French “éclater” meaning “to splinter, burst out”.
“Bravura” is an Italian word meaning “bravery, spirit”. We started using the term in English to describe a piece of music that is florid and colorful, and requires great skill to play. The meaning was extended in the early 1800s to also describe a show of brilliancy or daring.
48. Quarrel : BEEF
A “beef” is a complaint or a grievance. It’s not quite clear how “beef” came to have this meaning, but one suggestion is that derives from the habit of soldiers at the end of the 1800s complaining about the quality or availability of beef in their rations.
49. Crossword legend Reagle : MERL
Merl Reagle was a renowned constructor of puzzles in crossword circles. Despite the availability of computer tools Reagle was known for constructing puzzles using pencil and paper. There is an interesting segment in the 2006 movie “ Wordplay” in which we see Reagle in action creating a puzzle for the New York Times. Reagle even made an appearance in a 2008 episode of “The Simpsons”.
51. GATT successor : WTO
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was laid down in 1949, a compromise solution reached by participating governments after they failed in their goal to establish the International Trade Organization. Finally in 1995, a similar organization was formed and the World Trade Organization (WTO) effectively succeeded GATT.