Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase with the letters FUN inserted:
- 51A. “It’s party time!” … or a hint to 17-, 24- and 40-Across : LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!
- 17A. Complain, “Don’t I get anything to do around here?”? : DEMAND A FUNCTION (from “demand action”)
- 24A. Compensation for an incomplete sundae? : CHERRY REFUND (from “cherry red”)
- 40A. When a restaurant offers its weekly mushroom specials? : FUNGAL FRIDAY (from “gal Friday”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Asian priests : LAMAS
“Lama” is a Tibetan word meaning “chief” or “high priest”.
6. Miso base : DASHI
Dashi is a style of cooking stock used in Japanese cuisine. Most famously, dashi is the stock that is used as the base for miso soup. Traditional dashi is a fish stock to which is added edible kelp called kombu and shavings of preserved and fermented skipjack tuna called katsuobushi.
11. Zodiac critter : RAM
Aries the Ram is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries you would know that! “Aries” is the Latin word for “ram”.
15. How gourmands enjoy their food : IMMENSELY
A gourmand is someone who takes great pleasure in consuming food and drink, often eating and drinking to excess. The related term “gourmet” refers to someone who has a refined palate.
19. Distressed sort? : DAMSEL
A damsel is a young woman, often referring to a lady of noble birth. The term came into English from the Old French “dameisele”, which had the same meaning. The modern French term is “demoiselle”, which in turn is related to the term of address “mademoiselle”.
20. Medium for much body art : HENNA
Henna has been used for centuries as a dye, not just for leather and wool, but also for the hair and skin. In modern days, henna is also used for temporary tattoos.
24. Compensation for an incomplete sundae? : CHERRY REFUND (from “cherry red”)
There’s a lot of speculation about how the dessert called a sundae got its name, but there seems to be agreement that it is an alteration of the word “Sunday”.
28. European luxury vehicles : AUDIS
The Audi name has an interesting history. The Horch company was founded by August Horch in 1909. Early in the life of the new company, Horch was forced out of his own business. He set up a new enterprise and continued to use his own name as a brand. The old company sued him for using the Horch name so a meeting was held to choose something new. Horch’s young son was studying Latin in the room where the meeting was taking place. He pointed out that “horch” was German for “hear” and he suggested “Audi” as a replacement, the Latin for “listen”.
29. Atari release of 1972 : PONG
Do you remember the arcade video game that was like a game of tennis, with paddles moving up and down to hit what looked like a ball, over what looked like a net? Well, that was Pong. The arcade version of Pong was introduced in 1972, with Atari selling a home version through Sears for the Christmas market in 1975.
30. Twaddle : PAP
One meaning of “pap” is soft or semi-liquid food for babies and small children. “Pap” comes into English via French, from the Latin word used by children for “food”. In the 1500s, “pap” also came to mean “an oversimplified” idea. This gives us a usage that’s common today, describing literature or perhaps TV programming that lacks real value or substance. Hands up those who think there’s a lot of pap out there, especially on television …
“Twaddle” is a trivial talk, and is a word that has been around since the late 1700’s. It probably evolved from the earlier term “twattle” that had the same meaning.
38. Territory east of the Philippines : GUAM
Guam is a US territory in the western Pacific Ocean, the largest of the Mariana Islands. Guam is also the first territory in the United States to see the sun rise on any particular day. As such, the territory has adopted the motto, “Where America’s day begins”. During WWII, the US territory of Guam was occupied by the Japanese for 31 months until it was liberated in the Battle of Guam in July 1944. Of the 18,000 Japanese men holding the island, only 485 surrendered, so almost all perished in the invasion. One Japanese sergeant hid out on the island for an incredible 28 years, finally surrendering in 1972!
When the Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos discovered the islands of Leyte and Samar, he named them Felipinas, after King Philip II of Spain. Eventually, the name was used for the whole archipelago, becoming what we know in English as the Philippines.
39. Dance performed with passion : TANGO
The dramatic dance called the tango originated in the late 1800s in the area along the border between Argentina and Uruguay. Dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires in particular traveled to Europe and beyond in the early twentieth century and brought the tango with them. The tango craze first struck Europe in Paris in the 1910s, and from there spread to London and Berlin, crossing the Atlantic to New York in 1913.
40. When a restaurant offers its weekly mushroom specials? : FUNGAL FRIDAY (from “gal Friday”)
In Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel “Robinson Crusoe”, the castaway encounters a companion that Crusoe calls “Friday”, because the two first met on that day. Friday soon becomes his willing servant. This character is the source of our terms “Man/Guy Friday” and “Girl/Guy Friday”, which are used to describe a particularly competent and loyal assistant.
43. Witless sorts : MORONS
The unsavory term “moron” was formerly used by the medical community to describe someone with a degree of mental retardation. The term comes from the Greek “moros” meaning “foolish, dull”. Back in the early 1900s, IQ tests were used to classify those suffering from mental retardation into categories:
- “idiot” … IQ of 0-20
- “imbecile” … IQ of 21-50
- “moron” …IQ of 51-70
46. Water nymph : NAIAD
The Naiads of Greek mythology were water nymphs, associated with fountains, wells, springs and streams. The saltwater equivalents of the freshwater Naiads were the Oceanids.
47. Diarist Nin : ANAIS
Anaïs Nin was a French author, famous for her journals that she wrote for over sixty years from the age of 11 right up to her death. Nin also wrote highly regarded erotica and cited D. H. Lawrence as someone from whom she drew inspiration. Nin was married to banker and artist Hugh Parker Guiler in 1923. Decades later in 1955, Nin married former actor Rupert Pole, even though she was still married to Guiler. Nin and Pole had their marriage annulled in 1966, but just for legal reasons, and they continued to live together as husband and wife until Nin passed away in 1977.
56. 2003 best-selling nutritional self-help book : EAT TO LIVE
“Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss” is a 2003 book written by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. A central premise of the book is the formula “health = nutrients/calories”. I suppose one could infer from that formula that a diet based on nutrient-rich calories promotes health.
57. Raring to go : ANTSY
The word “antsy” embodies the concept of “having ants in one’s pants”, meaning being nervous and fidgety. However, “antsy” has been used in English since the 1830s, whereas “ants in the pants” originated a century later.
1. Any Boy Scout : LAD
As every little boy (of my era) knows, the Scouting movement was founded by Lord Baden Powell, in 1907. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) soon followed, in 1910. And, the Boy Scouts motto is “Be Prepared”.
3. NYC cultural attraction : MOMA
The founding of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City was very much driven by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller, son of the oil magnate. Working with two friends, Abby managed to get the museum opened in 1929, just nine days after the Wall Street Crash. The MoMA’s sculpture garden bears the name of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and has done so since 1949.
4. Tracy/Hepburn classic : ADAM’S RIB
And here it is! My favorite movie of all time. “Adam’s Rib” is a classic romantic comedy starring the powerful duo, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, playing two lawyers married to each other. Inevitably, the married couple have to take opposite sides in a high-profile court case, and hilarity ensues. The film is an interesting exploration of the roles of men and women in 1949 American society.
6. Electronic telemarketing tool : DIALER
Hate, hate, hate …
7. Big initials in bowling : AMF
AMF Bowling Centers, Inc. is an operator of bowling alleys, and is in fact the largest such company in the world.
8. Dallas campus: Abbr. : SMU
Southern Methodist University (SMU) is located in University Park, Texas (part of Dallas), and was founded in 1911. The school’s athletic teams are known as the Mustangs. Also, SMU is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
13. Birds that may babble : MYNAS
Some species of myna (also “mynah”) bird are known for their ability to imitate sounds.
22. One taking things back? : REPO MAN
23. Balderdash : BUNK
The word “bunk” is short for “bunkum”, the phonetic spelling of “Buncombe”, which is a county in North Carolina. Supposedly, a state representative made a dull and irrelevant speech that was directed to his home county of Buncombe, bringing the term “bunkum” into the language with the meaning of “nonsense”. The derivative word “debunk” first appeared in a novel by William Woodward in 1923, when he used it to describe “taking the bunk out of things”.
“Balderdash” means “senseless jumble of words”. The original balderdash (back before the late 1600s) was a jumbled mix of liquids, like maybe beer and wine, or even beer and milk!
25. Netflix competitor : HULU
Hulu.com is a website providing streaming video of full television shows. It is a joint venture of NBC and Disney, and so features a lot of their content. The service is free and is supported by advertising, but you can sign up for a premium subscription and get access to more shows. A lot of younger folks seem to use it a lot …
Netflix was founded in Los Gatos, California in 1997 as a DVD rental company that sent out titles by mail. Netflix no longer focuses on distribution by mail, and instead provides programming on demand. The company is now making a big name for itself producing films and TV programs.
26. Dutch export : EDAM
Edam cheese takes its name from the Dutch town of Edam in North Holland. The cheese is famous for its coating of red paraffin wax, a layer of protection that helps Edam travel well and prevents spoiling. You might occasionally come across an Edam cheese that is coated in black wax. The black color indicates that the underlying cheese has been aged for a minimum of 17 weeks.
27. Rock’s __ Fighters : FOO
Foo Fighters are described as an alternative rock band, one formed in 1994 by the drummer from Nirvana, Dave Grohl. The term “Foo fighters” originally applied to unidentified flying objects reported by allied airmen during WWII. Spooky …
30. 31-Down environment : POND
31. Bit of 30-Down life : ALGA
Algae are similar to terrestrial plants in that they use photosynthesis to create sugars from light and carbon dioxide, but they differ in that they have simpler anatomies, and for example lack roots.
40. Pass off (on) : FOIST
The word “foist”, meaning “to pass off as genuine”, comes from the Dutch word meaning “take in hand”. The original concept came from playing dice, in which one die was held surreptitiously in one hand.
42. Baklava dough : FILO
Filo (also “phyllo”) is an extremely thin unleavened dough used in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. The most famous dish made from filo is baklava, a rich and sweet pastry made from layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and held together with syrup.
44. Retired NBA center : O’NEAL
Retired basketball player Shaquille O’Neal now appears regularly as an analyst on the NBA TV show “Inside the NBA”. Shaq has quite a career in the entertainment world. His first rap album, called “Shaq Diesel”, went platinum. He also starred in two of his own reality show: “Shaq’s Big Challenge” and “Shaq Vs.”
49. Mennen lotion : AFTA
Afta is an aftershave in the Mennen range of products that is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.
50. “… prologue to the history of __ and foul thoughts”: Iago : LUST
Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare’s “Othello”. He is a soldier who fought alongside Othello and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. Iago hatches a plot designed to discredit his rival Cassio by insinuating that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello’s wife.
52. Ring legend : ALI
Muhammad Ali won 56 professional fights, 37 of which were knockouts. He lost 5 fights, 4 being decisions and one being a technical knockout (TKO). The TKO-loss was Ali’s second-last fight, against Larry Holmes. By the time Ali took on Holmes, he was already showing signs of Parkinson’s Syndrome, although the diagnosis would not come until four years later.
53. Get-up-and-go : VIM
“Vim” and “pep” are words that both mean “energy, power”.
55. TV’s “Science Guy” : NYE
That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on PBS for four years from 1993-97.