Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers start with a vowel progression in the form NxT-, where x represents the vowels A through U as we progress down the grid:
- 17A. Innate talent : NATURAL APTITUDE
- 22A. Broadcaster’s transmission to affiliated stations : NETWORK FEED
- 39A. Sharp-smelling air pollutant : NITROGEN DIOXIDE
- 49A. Hardly any time at all : NOTHING FLAT
- 60A. With “The,” Tchaikovsky work that ends with “Waltz of the Flowers” : NUTCRACKER SUITE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
10. Nutmeg spice : MACE
The fruit of the nutmeg tree yields two very different spices. What we call “nutmeg” comes from the seed of the tree. “Mace” is the dried covering of the seed.
14. Actor La Salle : ERIQ
Eriq La Salle played Dr. Peter Benton on “ER”, and is best known in film for his portrayal of Darryl in the 1998 comedy “Coming to America”.
15. Crams, with “up” : BONES
The phrasal verb “to bone up” means “to study”, and is student slang that dates back to the 1880s. The term probably comes a series of books used by students back then called “Bohn’s Classical Library”.
16. Sea of __: Black Sea arm : AZOV
The Sea of Azov lies east of the Crimean Peninsula and is linked to the larger Black Sea via the narrow Strait of Kerch. The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world, with the depth never going above forty-six feet.
20. “Wicked Game” singer Chris : ISAAK
Chris Isaak is not only a rock musician, but also has had a lot of acting parts. Isaak had small roles in movies like “Married to the Mob” and “The Silence of the Lambs”, but I remember him as astronaut Ed White in the fabulous HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon”.
25. “My gal” of song : SAL
“My Gal Sal” is a song written by composer Paul Dresser. “My Gal Sal” is also the name of the movie recounting Dresser’s life made in 1942. It stars Victor Mature as Dresser, and Rita Hayworth as Sally “Sal” Elliott.
26. Carpentry joints : MITERS
A miter joint is one in which two pieces of wood are joined at ninety degrees, with the ends of each individual piece of wood cut at 45 degrees. The four joints in the corners of a picture frame are often miter joints.
35. “I Put a Spell on You” singer Simone : NINA
Nina Simone was the stage name of Eunice Waymon. Simone was very much associated with jazz music, although she really wanted to be a classical musician early in her career, inspired by a love for the music of Bach.
“I Put a Spell on You” is a song written and recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, first released in 1956. Nina Simone recorded a popular cover version that was released in 1965, and re-released in 1969. Another cover version of the song was released in 2010 by Shane MacGowan and Friends, a record that was sold to help Concern Worldwide’s work in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed so many. Included in the list of “friends” was Johnny Depp, playing the guitar.
38. Full range : GAMUT
In medieval times, the musical scale was denoted by the notes “ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la”. The term “gamma ut”, shortened to “gamut”, was used to describe the whole scale. By the 1620s, “gamut” was being used to mean the entire range of anything, the whole gamut.
39. Sharp-smelling air pollutant : NITROGEN DIOXIDE
NItrogen dioxide (NO2) is a reddish-brown gas that has a very sharp and biting odor. Trace amounts of NO2 are released into the atmosphere by phenomena such as bacterial respiration, volcanic eruptions and lightning. However, NO2 has become an atmospheric pollutant as it is a byproduct of several man-made processes. Most notably, NO2 is emitted by internal combustion engines burning fossil fuels.
42. Writer of tales with talking animals : AESOP
Aesop is remembered today as a fabulist, a writer of fables. Aesop lived in Ancient Greece, probably around the sixth century BC. Supposedly he was born a slave, somehow became a free man, but then met with a sorry end. Aesop was sent to the city of Delphi on a diplomatic mission but instead insulted the Delphians. He was tried on a trumped-up charge of stealing from a temple, sentenced to death and was thrown off a cliff.
47. Springfield presidential library nickname : ABE
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is located in the Illinois state capital, Springfield. As someone who has visited almost all of the nation’s presidential libraries, I must say that I found the Lincoln Library a little strange. There are some exhibits that use technology that I more associate with a theme park, and so I found them quite “jarring”. Regardless, visiting the library and museum is a wonderful way to learn more about one of America’s greatest presidents.
56. Legendary Rhine siren : LORELEI
The Lorelei is a 300-foot tall rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine in Germany. The Lorelei juts out into the river creating a strong current as the water is forced through the narrows. The current combined with numerous rocks under the waterline have led to numerous boating accidents. Appropriately enough, Lorelei is the name of a legendary mermaid who lured fishermen to their death on the rocks by singing a beautiful song.
59. Cruller coating : GLAZE
Crullers (also “twisters”) are fried pastries that have a twisted shape. The pastry’s name comes from the Dutch “kruller” meaning “to curl”. Crullers are a traditional dish served on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Lent) in some European countries, including Germany.
60. With “The,” Tchaikovsky work that ends with “Waltz of the Flowers” : NUTCRACKER SUITE
“The Waltz of the Flowers” from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” features one of the most famous harp solos in the classical repertoire.
64. French term of endearment : CHERE
“Cher” is the French for “dear”. The spelling is “chère” when used with a feminine noun.
67. County near London : ESSEX
Essex is a county in England, referred to as one of the “home counties”. The home counties are those that surround the city of London, outside of London itself. “Home county” is not an official designation but has been in popular use since the 1800s.
68. Mil. medals : DSCS
The Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) is the second highest honor awarded to members of the US Army. The DSC is equivalent to the Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross.
1. Russian Revolution leader : LENIN
“Lenin” wasn’t the birth name of the Russian leader. He was born Vladimir Ulyanov, and originally used the name “Lenin” as a pen name.
The year 1917 saw two revolutions in Russia, with the pair collectively called “the Russian Revolution”. As a result of the February Revolution that centered on Petrograd, the last Emperor of Russia (Tsar Nicholas II) abdicated and members of the Imperial parliament took control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The Provisional Government was itself overthrown in the October Revolution, which was led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik party.
4. __ Valley, Calif.: 1960 Winter Olympics site : SQUAW
The Squaw Valley ski resort is in the Lake Tahoe area of California. Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. These were the first Winter Games to be televised live, which gave Squaw Valley a huge commercial boost.
5. Sched. uncertainty : TBA
Something not yet on the schedule (“sked” or “sched.”) is to be advised/announced (TBA).
6. Big name in ISPs : AOL
AOL was a leading Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the 1980s and 1990s. The company does still provide dial-up access to the Internet for some subscribers, but most users now access AOL using faster, non-AOL ISPs.
7. Wolf (down) : SNARF
“To snarf down” is to gobble up, to eat voraciously. “Snarf” is a slang term that is probably related to “scarf”, which has the same meaning.
8. Conical shelter : TEPEE
A tepee (also written as “tipi” and “teepee”) is a cone-shaped tent traditionally made from animal hides that is used by the Great Plains Native Americans. A wigwam is a completely different structure and is often a misnomer for a tepee. A wigwam is a domed structure built by Native Americans in the West and Southwest, intended to be a more permanent dwelling. The wigwam can also be covered with hides but more often was covered with grass, reeds, brush or cloth.
10. Damon of “We Bought a Zoo” : MATT
Matt Damon is an actor and screenwriter from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Damon’s big break came with the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting” in which he starred. He co-wrote the screenplay with his childhood friend Ben Affleck.
“We Bought a Zoo” is a 2011 film that is based on a 2008 memoir by Benjamin Mee. Matt Damon plays Mee on screen. Mee is a widower with two children who decides to buy a rundown zoo, renovate it and reopen it to the public. Scarlett Johansson plays the lead zookeeper and longtime zoo employee. I haven’t seen this one …
11. Blue sky color, in Calais : AZUR
In French, “azur” is a shade of “bleu” (blue).
Calais is a major ferry port in northern France that overlooks the Strait of Dover, which is the narrowest point in the English Channel. The strait is just over 20 miles wide, making Calais the nearest French town to England.
12. Showman Buffalo Bill : CODY
Buffalo Bill Cody was a great showman after he retired from the US Army. While serving in the Army, Buffalo Bill was awarded the Medal of Honor. William Frederick Cody earned his “Buffalo Bill” nickname while supplying buffalo meat to the Kansas Pacific Railroad. Cody “hunted” and slaughtered over 4,000 American bison in an 18-month period to fulfill his contract with the railroad.
18. Bygone theaters : RKOS
The RKO Pictures studio was formed when RCA (RADIO Corporation of America) bought the KEITH-Albee-ORPHEUM theaters (and Joe Kennedy’s Film Booking Offices of America). The RKO initialism then comes from the words “Radio”, “Keith” and “Orpheum”.
19. Spectrum shade : INDIGO
The name of the color “indigo” ultimately comes from the Greek “indikon” meaning “blue dye from India”.
24. __ light: filming tool : KLIEG
A klieg light is the intensely bright spotlight used to illuminate film sets and theater stages. The lights use tungsten-halogen filaments, and were invented by brothers John and Anton Kliegl.
28. Qatari ruler : EMIR
Qatar is a sovereign state in the Middle East occupying the Qatar Peninsula, itself located in the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar lies on the Persian Gulf and shares one land border, with Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar has more oil and gas reserves per capita of population than any other country in the world. In 2010, Qatar had the fastest growing economy in the world, driven by the petrochemical industry. Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, although the nation’s eligibility to do so is under question after a far-reaching bribery scandal was uncovered at the sport’s governing body.
30. Some Fr. martyrs : STES
“Sainte” (ste.) is French for “saint”, when referring to a “femme” (woman).
37. Dwight’s opponent : ADLAI
Adlai Stevenson (AES) ran for president unsuccessfully against Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE) in 1952 and in 1956. Some years after his second defeat, Stevenson served under President Kennedy (JFK) as Ambassador to the United Nations. Stevenson was always noted for his eloquence and he had a famous exchange in a UN Security Council meeting during the Cuban missile crisis. Stevenson bluntly demanded that the Soviet representative on the council tell the world if the USSR was installing nuclear weapons in Cuba. His words were “Don’t wait for the translation, answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’!” followed by “I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over!”
40. Swiss army knife tool : OPENER
Swiss Army knives are multi-tools made by the Swiss company Victorinox. The device was first produced in 1891 when Victorinox’s predecessor company was awarded the contract to supply the knife to the Swiss Army. The name “Swiss Army knife” was actually an American invention as it was the term used by American GIs during and after WWII as an alternative to pronouncing the more difficult German “Schweizer Offiziersmesser” (Swiss Officer Knife).
41. Copyright pg. ID : ISBN
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was invented by one Gordon Foster who was a professor at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. The code was originally developed for booksellers, so that they had a unique number (and now a barcode) for each publication.
53. Milks, in Marseilles : LAITS
Marseille (often written “Marseilles” in English) is the second largest city in France, after Paris. Marseille is also the largest commercial port in the country. I used to live nearby, and can attest that Marseille and environs is a great place to visit …
54. Tenochtitlán native : AZTEC
Tenochtitlán was a city-state that was the capital of the Aztec Empire in the 15th century. It was located in on an island in Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. After Tenochtitlán was captured by the Spanish in 1521, they leveled the city and their own settlement, which grew into today’s Mexico City.
56. Minstrel’s instrument : LUTE
The lute is a stringed instrument with a long neck and usually a pear-shaped body. It is held and played like a guitar, and was popular from the Middle Ages right through to the late Baroque era. A person who plays the lute can be referred to as a “lutenist”.
57. Plains native : OTOE
The Otoe (also Oto) Native American tribe originated in the Great Lakes region as part of the Winnebago or Siouan tribes. The group that would become the Otoe broke away from the Winnebago and migrated southwestwards ending up in the Great Plains. In the plains the Otoe adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle dependent on the horse, with the American bison becoming central to their diet.
58. Law gp. that now only uses horses for ceremonial events : RCMP
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the Mounties, RCMP) is an unusual police force in that it provides all policing for the whole country. The RCMP works on the national level, and right down to the municipal level. The force’s distinctive uniform of red serge tunic, blue pants with a yellow stripe, stetson hat etc. is known internally as “Review Order”. The red uniform dates back to the days of the North-West Mounted Police, which was one of the existing forces that were merged in 1920 to form the RCMP.
62. “Toy Story” dinosaur : REX
In the excellent Pixar film “Toy Story”, Rex is a tyrannosaurus, and a pretty clumsy one. He is voiced by actor Wallace Shawn, whose name is perhaps less familiar than his face. Shawn played the neighbor on “The Cosby Show” as well as many, many other supporting roles on TV and the big screen.