Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers is something with a BRIDGE:
- 61A. Hollywood family name … and what the answers to starred clues have in common : BRIDGES
- 14A. *Billboard entry : POP SONG
- 20A. *Upright instrument in a bluegrass band : BASS FIDDLE
- 36A. *Place to land when there’s no land in sight : AIRCRAFT CARRIER
- 49A. *LensCrafters products : EYEGLASSES
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) director : ROMERO
George A. Romero is a film director noted for making satirical horror films such as “Night of the Living Dead”, “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead”. Ugh …
“Dawn of the Dead” is a 1978 horror movie all about zombies going after some folks barricaded into a shopping mall. I really don’t do zombies nor horror films …
7. Street, in Stuttgart : STRASSE
Stuttgart is the sixth-largest city in Germany, and is located in southern Germany. The city is sometimes called “the cradle of the automobile” as Karl Benz made his first cars and motorcycles there, as were the first VW Beetle prototypes. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche cars are still manufactured in Stuttgart and the surrounding area.
14. *Billboard entry : POP SONG
In a popular song, a bridge is a connecting device, usually between verse and chorus.
“Billboard” was founded way back in 1894 as a trade magazine for the advertising and bill posting industry. The editorial focus gradually moved towards music as phonographs, radios and the recorded music business took off in the early part of the 20th century. “Billboard” published its first “music hit parade” 1936, and is now famous for its collection of lists that track music sales.
17. First of a film series about Damien Thorn : THE OMEN
The original film “The Omen” was released in 1976. “Damien: Omen II” hit the screens in 1978. We were regaled with “Omen III: The Final Conflict” in 1981, and there was even a TV movie “Omen IV: The Awakening” in 1991. The original was remade in 2006 as “The Omen: 666”, and was released on 6/6/06. I haven’t seen any of them, and have no interest in doing so (despite the excellent cast) as I really don’t like the genre …
18. Cultural environments : MILIEUS
We use the French term “milieu” to mean an environment, surroundings. In French, “milieu” is the word for “middle”.
19. Marines NCO : SSGT
Staff sergeant (SSgt)
20. *Upright instrument in a bluegrass band : BASS FIDDLE
The double bass is usually referred to as the bass fiddle or bass violin in the world of folk and bluegrass music.
22. Head of Hollywood : EDITH
Edith Head was a Hollywood costume designer. Head won eight Academy Awards for Best Costume Design for her work on movies including 1951’s “All About Eve”, 1954’s “Roman Holiday” and 1955’s “Sabrina”. She ended up winning more Oscars than any other woman in history, in any category.
24. Switchback feature : ESS
A switchback is road that zigzags through mountainous terrain. The term “switchback” dates back to the 1860s, and originally applied to zig-zag rail tracks.
25. Bordeaux wine : CLARET
Clairet is a dark rosé wine. Although it is uncommon today, clairet used to be the most common wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. For centuries now, English consumers have used the derivative term “claret” to describe any red wine from Bordeaux.
30. Mauna __ : LOA
Mauna Loa on the “big island” of Hawaii is the largest volcano on the planet (in terms of volume). The name “Mauna Loa” is Hawaiian for “Long Mountain”.
33. 19-Across boss : LOOIE
A “looie” (lieutenant) has a higher rank than a “noncom” (noncommissioned officer).
34. Conniption : FIT
A conniption, or more commonly a conniption fit, is a bout of violent anger or panic.
40. Span. miss : SRTA
“Señorita” (Srta.) is Spanish and “Mademoiselle” (Mlle.) is French for “Miss”.
41. “U R 2 funny!” : LOL
Laugh out loud (“LOL” in text-speak)
42. Goosebump-inducing : EERIE
The terms “goosebumps” and “goose flesh” come from the fact that skin which is cold can look like the flesh of a plucked goose.
43. Neptune’s realm : SEA
Neptune was the Roman god of the sea and of freshwater. He was sometimes known as “Neptunus Equester” as he was also the god of horses and patron of horse-racing.
46. Post-Manhattan Project org. : AEC
The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was set up right after WWII in 1946, with the aim of promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy. Establishing the AEC was a significant move made by President Truman, as it passed control of atomic energy from the military to the civilian sector. The AEC continued to operate until 1974 when its functions were divided up into two new agencies: the Energy Research and Development Administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
The Manhattan project was the joint US-Canada-UK project to develop an atomic bomb during WWII. Initially, the Army headquarters for the program was located on the 18th floor of a building on Broadway in New York City. Eventually, because of that first location, the project adopted the name “Manhattan”.
49. *LensCrafters products : EYEGLASSES
Lenscrafters is a eye-care retail chain that was founded in 1983. It is now the largest optical chain in the US. LensCrafters is owned by Italian eyewear company Luxottica.
60. “Inka Dinka Doo” singer : DURANTE
Jimmy Durante was a very talented entertainer, with that wonderful, gravelly voice, as well as that large nose that he used in so much of his humor (and earned him the nickname “Schnozzola”). Durante appeared in the Broadway stage musical “Jumbo” in 1935. In one scene, he leads a live elephant across the stage, and gets stopped by a police officer who asks, “What are you doing with that elephant?” Durante replies “What elephant?” and brings the house down every night.
“Inka Dinka Doo” was Jimmy Durante’s theme song, a novelty piece composed by Durante in 1934. Such was his association with the song that when Durante’s charity paid for a heated therapy swimming pool in Port Arthur, Texas in 1968, it was named the “Inka Dinka Doo Pool”.
61. Hollywood family name … and what the answers to starred clues have in common : BRIDGES
The actor Lloyd Bridges is noted for his many television and movie roles over a long and distinguished career. Lloyd is also remembered as the father of two great actor sons: Beau Bridges and jeff Bridges. Lloyd served with the US Coast Guard during WWII, and was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary after the war. Sons Beau and Jeff also served in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve.
62. Son of Clytemnestra : ORESTES
Orestes is a character appearing in Greek mythology, and is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays. In a story by Homer, Orestes kills his mother Clytemnestra. He does so in revenge as Clytemnestra had killed Agamemnon, who was her husband and father to Orestes. Agamemnon was killed by his wife for sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia in order to get favorable winds on a sea voyage. Heavy stuff …
3. Compressed video file format : MPEG
The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) was established in 1988 to set standards for audio and video compression. The standards they’ve come up with use the acronym MPEG.
4. Abstruse knowledge : ESOTERICA
Something described as “esoteric” is meant only for a select few with special knowledge. The term comes from the Greek “esoterikos” meaning “belonging to an inner circle”.
5. Com can follow it : ROM
Romantic comedy (rom-com)
7. “The Urbz: __ in the City”: video game : SIMS
SimCity is a very clever computer game. Players build and grow cities and societies by creating the conditions necessary for people (the Sims) to move in and thrive. “SimCity” was launched in 1989, and to this day it is consistently ranked as one of the greatest computer games of all time.
8. Long-odds bet : TRIFECTA
In horse racing, a trifecta is a bet in which the first, second and third place finishers are predicted in the correct order. The same bet can be made in jai alai competitions, predicting which the top three finishers.
9. It’s often put on a dog : RELISH
A hot dog is a sausage served in a split roll. The term “hot dog” dates back to the 19th-century and is thought to reflect a commonly-held opinion that the sausages contained dog meat.
10. Litmus reddeners : ACIDS
Litmus is a mixture of naturally-occurring dyes that responds to acidity by changing color. Litmus was probably first used around 1300 by the Spanish alchemist Arnaldus de Villa Nova, who extracted the blue dye from lichens. One suggestion is that the term “litmus” comes from the Old Norse “litmose” meaning “lichen for dyeing”. Litmus is often absorbed onto filter paper, creating “litmus paper” or “pH paper”.
11. Short itinerary? : SKED
Something not yet on the schedule (“sked” or “sched.”) is to be advised/announced (TBA).
12. Motown music : SOUL
The city of Detroit was founded in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a French explorer. The original settlement was named for the Detroit River, which in turn takes its name from the French word “détroit” meaning “strait”. Detroit became inextricably linked with the automotive business from the very early 20th century when Henry Ford and others set up manufacturing in the area. This link to transportation led to Detroit’s nicknames of “Motor City” and “Motown”. The city’s economic strength declined at the beginning of the 21st century, resulting in a 25% drop in population between 2000 and 2010. Detroit filed for the country’s largest municipal bankruptcy in history in 2013, facing a debt of $18.8 billion. The city exited bankruptcy at the end of 2014.
Motown Records is a record label that was founded in 1959 in Detroit (aka “Motor City” or “Motown”). The founder of Motown records was Berry Gordy, Jr.
13. First word of Massachusetts’ motto : ENSE
The motto of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem”, a Latin phrase that can be translated as “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty”. The quotation is from a passage written by English politician Algernon Sidney who was executed for treason by King Charles II.
23. Stag, for one : DEER
A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and females cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …
26. French wine valley : LOIRE
The Loire is the longest river in France. It is so long that it drains one-fifth of the nation’s land mass. The Loire rises in the southeast, in the Cevennes mountain range, then heads north then due west, emptying into the Bay of Biscay at the city of Nantes. The Loire Valley is home to some of France’s most famous wine production, and includes the wine regions of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Muscadet.
27. Main artery : AORTA
The aorta originates in the heart and extends down into the abdomen. It is the largest artery in the body.
31. NBC newsman Roger : O’NEIL
Roger O’Neil is a news reporter who has been working for NBC for over 30 years.
37. Like many steakhouse menus : A LA CARTE
On a restaurant menu, items that are “à la carte” are priced and ordered separately. A menu marked “table d’hôte” (also called “prix fixe”) is a fixed-price menu with limited choice.
45. Unmannerly sorts, in Canadian slang : HOSERS
The derogatory word “hoser”, meaning “foolish or uncultivated person”, is apparently attributed to Canadians. That said, I just read that the term is in fact rarely used north of the border.
46. Turkish honorifics : AGHAS
“Aga” (also “agha”) is a title that was used by both civil and military officials in the Ottoman Empire.
50. Part of FYI : YOUR
You might see FYI (for your information) or Attn. (attention) at the top of a memo.
51. Raison d’__ : ETRE
“Raison d’être” is a French phrase meaning “reason for existence”.
54. Latvian capital : RIGA
Riga is the capital city of Latvia. The historical center of Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, declared as such because of the city’s magnificent examples of Art Nouveau architecture.
55. Taiwan-based computer giant : ACER
Acer is a Taiwanese company that I used to visit a lot when I was in the electronics business. I was very impressed back then with the company’s dedication to quality, although I have heard that things haven’t gone so well in recent years …
56. Gershwin heroine : BESS
“Porgy and Bess” is an opera with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and libretto by DuBose Heyward. The storyline of the opera is based on the novel “Porgy” written by DuBose Heyward and and wife Dorothy. “Porgy and Bess” was first performed in 1935, in New York City, but really wasn’t accepted as legitimate opera until 1976 after a landmark production by the Houston Grand Opera. The most famous song from the piece is probably the wonderful aria “Summertime”.
59. Parsons of “Hidden Figures” : JIM
Jim Parsons is an actor from Houston, Texas who is best known for playing Sheldon Cooper on the television sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”. As of 2014, Parsons and his costars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco are earning one million dollars per episode of the show.
“Hidden Figures” is an excellent 2016 film based on a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. Both book and film tell the story of female African American mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Mercury and Apollo programs in the 1960s.