Edited by: Rich Norris
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We have a COLLECTION of themed answers today, each comprising two words starting with the letters SA (sounds like “ESSAY”):
- 35A. Anthology of personal writings … and a phonetic hint to what is literally comprised by the answers of 17-, 23-, 46- and 56-Across : ESSAY COLLECTION (sounds like “SA collection”)
- 17A. Wise guy : SMART ALECK
- 23A. Original “Tonight Show” host : STEVE ALLEN
- 46A. Home safety feature : SMOKE ALARM
- 56A. Home of the NBA’s Spurs : SAN ANTONIO
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
10. Final notice? : OBIT
“Obituary” comes from the Latin “obituaris”, originally the record of the death of a person, although the literal meaning is “pertaining to death”.
14. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” playwright Edward : ALBEE
Playwright Edward Albee’s most famous play is “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Albee won three Pulitzer Prizes for Drama:
- 1967: “A Delicate Balance”
- 1975: “Seascape”
- 1994: “Three Tall Women”
Albee also won three Tony Awards:
- 1963: “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (Best Play)
- 2002: “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?”
- 2005: Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is an Edward Albee play that premiered on Broadway in 1962. The play won a Tony in 1963, and was adapted in a successful film in 1966 starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal and Sandy Dennis. The stage version is a lengthy production, lasting over three hours.
15. “Hud” actress Patricia : NEAL
Patricia Neal won her Best Actress Oscar relatively late in her career, for playing the middle-aged housekeeper in 1963’s “Hud”. A few years’ later she was offered the role of Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” but turned it down. Famously, Neal had an affair with Gary Cooper who was married at the time. She became pregnant with his child, but he persuaded her to have an abortion. Not long afterwards Neal married British writer Roald Dahl (of “Willy Wonka” fame) and the couple had five children together before divorcing in 1983.
The modern-day, western movie called “Hud” was released in 1963 and has become a classic. “Hud” stars Paul Newman (in the title role) and Patricia Neal and is an adaptation of a novel by Larry McMurtry called “Horseman, Pass By”. Patricia Neal’s role in the film was relatively small, yet her performance was enough to earn her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
17. Wise guy : SMART ALECK
Apparently the original “smart Alec” (sometimes “Aleck”) was Alec Hoag, a pimp, thief and confidence trickster who plied his trade in New York City in the 1840s.
20. Major Can. city : TOR
Beautiful Toronto, Ontario is the largest city in Canada, and the fourth largest city in North America (after New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston).
21. Composer Stravinsky : IGOR
The composer Igor Stravinsky’s most famous works were completed relatively early in his career, when he was quite young. His three ballets “The Firebird”, “Petrushka” and “The Rite of Spring” were published in 1910-1913, when Stravinsky was in his early thirties.
23. Original “Tonight Show” host : STEVE ALLEN
Steve Allen was a television personality who always seemed to be on air in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Famously, Allen was the original host of “The Tonight Show”. He also played a little piano and composed over 10,000 songs, perhaps more than anyone in history. His best known song is probably “This Could Be the Start of Something Big”.
“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)
26. Computer antivirus brand : MCAFEE
McAfee is a security software company now known as Intel Security Group. Purchased by Intel in 2011, the company was founded by John McAfee in 1987. John McAfee might be described as a “bit of a character”. He lived in Belize for several years, before being forced out of the country. After returning to the US, McAfee went after the Libertarian Party nomination for US president in the 2016 election.
28. Dugout rack lumber : BAT
A dugout is an underground shelter. The term was carried over to baseball because the dugout is slightly depressed below the level of the field. This allows spectators behind the dugout to get a good view of home plate, where a lot of the action takes place.
29. Neon or Freon : GAS
Neon was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers who chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid. They warmed the liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.
Freon is a DuPont trade name for a group of compounds used as a refrigerant and also as a propellant in aerosols. Freon is used in the compressors of air conditioners as a vital component in the air-cooling mechanism. Freon used to contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which had a devastating effect on the Earth’s ozone layer. Use of CFCs is now banned, or at least severely restricted.
32. Oyster gem : PEARL
Pearls form in oysters because of a reaction that is similar to an immune system response in higher animals. The pearl is formed as the oysters lays down successive layers of calcium carbonate around some microscopic foreign body that has penetrated the shell.
33. Tasseled topper : FEZ
A fez is a red cylindrical hat worn mainly in North Africa, and by Shriners here in the US. The fez used to be a very popular hat across the Ottoman Empire. The etymology of “fez” is unclear, although it might have something to do with the Moroccan city named Fez.
34. “City of New Orleans” singer Guthrie : ARLO
Arlo Guthrie is the son of Woody Guthrie. Both father and son are renowned for their singing of protest songs about social injustice. Arlo is most famous for his epic “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, a song that lasts a full 18m 34s. In the song Guthrie tells how, after being drafted, he was rejected for service in the Vietnam War based on his criminal record. He had only one incident on his public record, a Thanksgiving Day arrest for littering and being a public nuisance when he was 18-years-old.
“City of New Orleans” is a 1971 folk song written by Chicago singer-songwriter Steve Goodman. The song describes a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans and was inspired by a rail journey that Goodman himself took to visit his wife’s family. “City of New Orleans” was a hit on two occasions, in 1972 for Arlo Guthrie and in 1985 for Willie Nelson.
39. Madeline of “Paper Moon” : KAHN
Madeline Kahn was an American actress best known for her comedic roles, especially those directed by Mel Brooks. Kahn also had her own TV sitcom, called “Oh Madeline”. But, it only lasted the one season, in 1983.
“Paper Moon” is a 1973 comedy film that tells the story of a father and daughter during the Great Depression. The onscreen father and daughter are played by real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal. The original choices for the lead roles were Paul Newman and his daughter Nell Potts, but they left the project after director John Huston also dropped out.
40. Lennon’s lady : ONO
Yoko Ono is an avant-garde artist. Ono actually met her future husband John Lennon for the first time while she was preparing her conceptual art exhibit called “Hammer a Nail”. Visitors were encouraged to hammer in a nail into a wooden board, creating the artwork. Lennon wanted to hammer in the first nail, but Ono stopped him as the exhibition had not yet opened. Apparently Ono relented when Lennon paid her an imaginary five shillings to hammer an imaginary nail into the wood.
41. “Grey’s Anatomy” patient who proposed to Izzie : DENNY
“Gray’s Anatomy” is a very successful human anatomy textbook that was first published back in 1858 and is still in print today. The original text was written by English anatomist Henry Gray, who gave his name to the work. The TV medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” (note “Grey” vs. Gray”) is centered on the character Dr. Meredith Grey, but the show’s title is a nod to the title of the famous textbook.
43. __ de plume : NOM
“Nom de plume” translates from French simply as “pen name”.
44. Yanni’s genre : NEW AGE
Yanni is a remarkable Greek musician, very successful in the world of New Age music. What I find so remarkable is that he is a self-taught musician. Yanni was born Yiannis Chryssomallis in Kalamata, Greece and moved to the US in 1972 to attend the University of Minnesota.
51. Spice Girl Halliwell : GERI
Geri Halliwell was nicknamed Ginger Spice when she was with the Spice Girls, because of her red hair. Halliwell was quite a bit older than the rest of the group and so sometimes she was less charitably referred to as “Old Spice”. After launching her solo career, Halliwell released a fabulous 2001 version of the song “It’s Raining Men”, which was originally recorded by the Weather Girls in 1982. Great song …
56. Home of the NBA’s Spurs : SAN ANTONIO
The Spurs are the professional basketball team based in San Antonio, Texas. The team was founded as the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1967.
59. “Famous” cookie guy : AMOS
Wally Amos was a talent agent, one who was in the habit of taking home-baked cookies with him as an enticement to get celebrities to see him. He was urged by friends to open a cookie store (the cookies were that delicious, I guess) and this he did in Los Angeles in 1975 using the name “Famous Amos”. The store was a smash hit and he was able build on the success by introducing his cookies into supermarkets. The brand was eventually bought up making Wally a rich man, and Famous Amos cookies are still flying off the shelf. Wally Amos also became an energetic literacy advocate. He hosted 30 TV programs in 1987 entitled “Learn to Read” that provided reading instruction targeted at adults.
60. Saint Laurent of fashion : YVES
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 …
62. Madcap : ZANY
Something described as “zany” is clownish and bizarre. “Zany” can also be a noun, a term used for a clown or a buffoon. The original noun was “Zanni”, a Venetian dialect variant of Gianni, short for Giovanni (John). Zanni was a character who appeared in comedy plays of the day, and was someone who aped the principal actors.
63. Small salamander : NEWT
Newts wouldn’t be my favorite animals. They are found all over the world living on land or in water depending on the species, but always associated with water even if it is only for breeding. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental stages during their lives. They start off as larvae in water, fertilized eggs that often cling to aquatic plants. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, the first developmental form of the newt. After living some months as tadpoles swimming around in the water, they undergo another metamorphosis, sprouting legs and replacing their external gills with lungs. At this juvenile stage they are known as efts, and leave the water to live on land. A more gradual transition takes place then, as the eft takes on the lizard-like appearance of the adult newt.
Salamanders are lizard-like amphibians found in all across the northern hemisphere. They are the only vertebrate animals that can regenerate lost limbs.
64. Status symbol watch : ROLEX
My most prized possession is a beautiful stainless steel Rolex watch that my uncle bought while serving with the RAF in Canada during WWII. Rolex watches were made available to the Canadian servicemen at that time as they were shipping overseas. My uncle brought his Rolex home to Ireland after the war. He needed money for booze one weekend and so sold the watch to my Dad, for five pounds. My Dad gave it to me just before he died, as he knew I loved the watch, and my brothers weren’t interested in it all. Not so long ago I had the watch appraised ($3,000), and my brothers suddenly took a liking to it! Still, it’s not something that will ever be sold, that’s for sure …
2. Red Muppet : ELMO
The “Sesame Street” character named Elmo has a birthday every February 3rd, and on that birthday he always turns 3½ years old. The man behind/under Elmo on “Sesame Street” is Kevin Clash. If you want to learn more about Elmo and Clash, you can watch the 2011 documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey”.
3. Ski lift : T-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.
4. __ Lingus : AER
Aer Lingus is my favorite airline! Well, the service isn’t that great, but when I get on board an Aer Lingus plane I feel like I am back in Ireland. Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland, with “Aer Lingus” being a phonetic spelling of the Irish “aer-loingeas” meaning “air fleet”. These days Aer Lingus can only lay claim to the title of Ireland’s oldest airline as it is no longer the biggest. That honor goes to the controversial budget airline called Ryanair.
7. Big name in field equipment : DEERE
John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Prior to Deere’s invention, farmers used an iron or wooden plow that constantly had to be cleaned as rich soil stuck to its surfaces. The cast-steel plow was revolutionary as its smooth sides solved the problem of “stickiness”. The Deere company that John founded uses the slogan “Nothing Runs Like a Deere”, and has a leaping deer as its logo.
8. Fond du __, Wisconsin : LAC
“Fond du lac” is French and translates as “bottom of the lake”, an apt name for the city of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin located at the foot of Lake Winnebago. If you like to play the lottery, you might want to stop off in Fond du Lac as there is a stretch of South Main Street called “Miracle Mile”. Back in 1993, someone bought a ticket there and won $100 million. Then in 2006, another store sold a ticket that won $209 million. These things always come in threes, so buy your tickets now …
9. Antlered animal : ELK
The elk (also known as the wapiti) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the “huge” wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely “elk”. The more correct name for the beast is “wapiti”, which means “white rump” in Shawnee. It’s all very confusing …
11. Where Ali did his rope-a-dope : BOXING RING
The Rumble in the Jungle was the celebrated 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman that took place in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The fight was set in Zaire because of financial arrangements between promoter Don King and Zaire’s President Mobutu Seko. Ali coined the term “Rope-a-dope” to describe his incredibly successful strategy in the contest. From the second round onwards, Ali adopted a protected stance on the ropes letting Foreman pound him with blows to the body and head, with Ali using his arms to dissipate the power of the punches. He kept this up until the eighth round and then opened up and downed the exhausted Foreman with a left-right combination. I hate boxing but I have to say, that was an fascinating fight …
13. Noggin in Nice : TETE
The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera.
A slang term for a “head” might be “bean” or “noggin”.
18. Tommie of the Amazin’ Mets : AGEE
Tommie Agee was a Major League Baseball player who played mainly with the Indians, White Sox and Mets. He was one of the “Amazin’ Mets”, and was famous for making two phenomenal catches in game three of the 1969 world series, potentially saving five runs. Agee was also the first Mets outfielder to win a Gold Glove, doing so in 1970.
22. Sandwich initials : BLT
The BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) is the second most popular sandwich in the US, after the plain old ham sandwich.
23. Transparent wrap : SARAN
What’s known as plastic wrap in America, we call cling-film in Ireland. The brand name Saran is often used generically in the US, while Glad wrap is common down under. Plastic wrap was one of those unintended inventions, a byproduct of a development program to create a hard plastic cover for cars.
24. Brother of Cain : ABEL
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.
26. Flat-topped formations : MESAS
“What’s the difference between a butte and a mesa?” Both are hills with flat tops, but a mesa has a top that is wider than it is tall. A butte is a much narrower formation, taller than it is wide.
31. Walkman maker : SONY
Walkman is a brand of portable audio and video products manufactured by Sony. The first Walkman was introduced in 1979 and popularized the practice of carrying music around and listening through lightweight headphones.
32. Chinese lap dog, for short : PEKE
The pekingese (“peke”) breed originated in China, as one might suspect from the name. Breeding practices have resulted in the the dog having many health problems, including breathing issues related to the “desirable” flat face. Standards have been changed in recent years, demanding an “evident muzzle” in an attempt to breed healthier “pekes”.
33. Progressive insurance spokeswoman : FLO
Progressive is a popular auto insurance company, the one that uses the perky character named “Flo” as a spokeswoman. Flo is played by comedian and actress Stephanie Courtney.
44. Washington Nats’ div. : NL EAST
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.
48. Nixon’s first veep : AGNEW
Spiro Agnew served as Vice-President under Richard Nixon, before becoming the only VP in American history to resign because of criminal charges (there was a bribery scandal). Agnew was also the first Greek-American to serve as US Vice President as he was the son of a Greek immigrant who had shortened the family name from Anagnostopoulos.
49. Actress Cameron __ : DIAZ
The Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz started out her professional life as a model. Diaz’s first acting role was in the 1994 film “The Mask”, starring alongside Jim Carrey.
50. Tomato type : ROMA
The Roma tomato isn’t considered an heirloom variety, but it is very popular with home gardeners, especially those gardeners that don’t have a lot of space. It is a bush type (as opposed to vine type) and needs very little room to provide a lot of tomatoes.
52. Part of IOC: Abbr. : INTL
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded in 1894, and has its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
56. Thesaurus abbr. : SYN
The first person to use the term “thesaurus” to mean a “collection of words arranged according to sense” was Roget in 1852, when he used it for the title of his most famous work. Up to that point in time, a thesaurus was basically an encyclopedia. Before being used with reference to books, a thesaurus was a storehouse or treasury, coming from the Latin “thesaurus” meaning “treasury, treasure”.
58. Kitchenware brand : OXO
The OXO line of kitchen utensils is designed to be ergonomically superior to the average kitchen too. The intended user of OXO products is someone who doesn’t have the normal range of motion or strength in the hands e.g. someone suffering from arthritis.