Edited by: Rich Norris
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The letters V in today’s grid can be joined together with lines to create a FIVE-POINTED STAR. There are also a few clues/answers that relate to said shape:
- 7D. What can be drawn using the only V’s, representing vertices, in this puzzle’s grid : FIVE-POINTED STAR
- 19D. See 7-Down : PENTAGRAM
- 25D. Like a flag featuring a 19-Down : ETHIOPIAN
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Render inconceivable? : SPAY
Our verb “to spay”, meaning “to surgically remove the ovaries of” (an animal) comes from an old Anglo-French word “espeier” meaning “to cut with a sword”.
5. Carl who composed “Carmina Burana” : ORFF
“Carmina Burana” is a cantata by Carl Orff based on a collection of medieval poems that go by the same name. The name translates as “Songs from Beuern”. The best known movement of the cantata by far is the dramatic “O Fortuna” used at the opening and closing of the piece. One study placed “O Fortuna” as the most often played piece of classical music in the UK over the past 75 years, largely due to its use in television commercials. Famously, the piece appeared in the US in ads for Gatorade and Old Spice aftershave.
9. Itching for action : 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.
14. Hamlet’s first choice : TO BE
There has been centuries of debate about how one interprets Hamlet’s soliloquy that begins “To be or not to be …”. My favorite opinion is that Hamlet is weighing up the pros and cons of suicide (“to not be”).
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles …
16. River of Champagne : MARNE
The River Marne runs roughly northwestward for over 300 miles, running into the River Seine just outside Paris. The Marne was the site of two major battles in WWI, one fought in 1914, and one in 1918.
Champagne is a historic province in the northeast of France, famous of course for its sparkling white wine.
20. One-named singer with the #1 hit “Royals” : LORDE
Lorde is a stage name of the singer-songwriter Ella Yelich-O’Connor from New Zealand. Lorde’s cover version of the great Tears for Fears song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was used in the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013). Her song “Yellow Flicker Beat” is included in the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”.
23. “Frontline” airer : PBS
“Frontline” is a much-acclaimed PBS documentary program that has been airing since 1983. The show is a creation of WGBH-TV in Boston.
26. Big wheel : NABOB
A nabob is a person of wealth and prominence. “Nabob” comes from the title of a governor in India.
28. Scholar : SAVANT
A “savant” is a learned person. The term “savant” can also be short for “idiot savant”, the outdated name for someone with a mental disability but who has above-normal capabilities in perhaps calculation or musical expression.
33. Draft letters : IPA
India pale ale (IPA) is a style of beer that originated in England. The beer was originally intended for transportation from England to India, hence the name.
34. Despot who raced in the 67 Olympics : NERO
Nero was Emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 CE, and towards the end of his reign participated in the Olympic Games in the year 67. The Roman leader raced in a ten-horse chariot, of which he lost control and nearly perished after being thrown from the vehicle. Acting and singing were Olympic events back then, and Nero also took part in those competitions. By all accounts, Nero performed badly in every event in which he vied, and yet somehow still managed to win Olympic crowns that he paraded around Rome on his return from Greece.
A “despot” is a ruler with absolute power, often one who wields that power oppressively. “Despot” is an old French term from the 14th century, ultimately derived from the Greek “despotes” meaning “master of a household, absolute ruler”.
42. PDQ : ASAP
As soon as possible (ASAP)
Pretty darn quick (PDQ)
45. Prescribed meds : RXS
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.
47. “Rigoletto” composer Verdi : GIUSEPPE
Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian composer, mainly of operas, who was active during the Romantic era. Equally as famous as Verdi’s operas, are arias from those operas such as “La donna è mobile” from “Rigoletto”, “The Drinking Song” from “La Traviata” and “The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” from “Nabucco”.
“Rigoletto” is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most famous and oft-performed operas. The storyline comes from a Victor Hugo play called “Le roi s’amuse” (usually translated as “The King’s Fool”). Rigoletto is the king’s fool, the jester.
49. 86 and 99 : AGENTS
The satirical comedy series called “Get Smart” was the creation of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, and starred Don Adams as Agent 86, Maxwell Smart. Agent 86 worked for the spy agency CONTROL, alongside the lovely Agent 99. CONTROL’s sworn enemy was the criminal organization called KAOS. Smart’s shoe phone was a hilarious prop used in almost every episode. When Smart dialed the number 117, the shoe converted into a gun. Cool stuff …
53. Turntable needles : STYLI
The needle of a record player is referred to as a stylus (plural “styli”).
54. Wells islander played by Brando : DR MOREAU
“The Island of Doctor Moreau” is an 1896 novel penned by H. G. Wells. The book tells the story of a shipwrecked man who ends up on the island of Doctor Moreau. Moreau engages in vivisection and creates new beasts (the “Beast Folk”) by combining different species. The novel was adapted into at least two films of the same name: in 1977 with Burt Lancaster and Michael York, and in 1996 with Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer.
56. Creator of Finch and Radley : LEE
Nelle Harper Lee was an author from Monroeville, Alabama. For many years, Lee had only one published novel to her name. That is a “To Kill a Mockingbird”, a contribution to the world of literature was enough to earn her the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Pulitzer Prize. Harper Lee was a close friend of fellow author Truman Capote who was the inspiration for the character named “Dill” in her novel. Lee was all over the news in 2015 as she had published a second novel, titled “Go Set a Watchman”. The experts seem to be agreeing that “Go Set a Watchman” is actually a first draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Lee passed away less than a year after “Go Set a Watchman” hit the stores.
Atticus Finch is the protagonist in Harper Lee’s great novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Atticus is the father of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, the narrator of the piece, and of Scout’s younger brother Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch.
In Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Boo Radley is the reclusive neighbor living next door to the children Jem and Scout. The kids are both afraid of and at the same time fascinated by Boo.
57. France dance : VALSE
In French, a triple-meter dance might be a “valse” (waltz).
60. Boundary between the illuminated and darkened part of the moon, in astronomy : TERMINATOR
The division between the illuminated and dark parts of the moon is known as the Lunar terminator. It is the moon’s equivalent of the dividing line between night and day on the Earth.
63. Ballet move : PLIE
The French word for “bent” is “plié”. In the ballet move known as a plié, the knees are bent. A “demi-plié” is a similar move, but with less bending of the knees.
64. T. rex et al. : DINOS
The Tyrannosaurus rex (usually written “T. rex”) was a spectacular looking dinosaur. “Tyrannosaurus” comes from the Greek words “tyrannos” (tyrant) and “sauros” (lizard) and “rex” the Latin for “king”. They were big beasts, measuring 42 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hips, and weighing 7.5 tons.
65. Wrapped garment : SARI
The item of clothing called a “sari” (also “saree”) is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that is unstitched along the whole of its length. The strip of cloth can range from four to nine meters long (that’s a lot of material!). The sari is usually wrapped around the waist, then draped over the shoulder leaving the midriff bare. I must say, it can be a beautiful item of clothing.
67. __ Curry, first unanimous NBA MVP : STEPH
Steph Curry is a professional basketball player who was named the league’s MVP in 2015, the same season that he led the Golden State Warriors to their first NBA championship since 1975. Steph’s father is former NBA player Dell Curry, and the older brother of current NBA player Seth Curry.
68. “By that reasoning … ” : ERGO …
“Ergo” is the Latin word for “hence, therefore”.
69. Rectangular paving stone : SETT
A sett is a small rectangular paving stone with a rounded top used to make a road surface. It’s like a cobblestone, I think …
2. Cal Poly city : POMONA
Cal Poly is more familiar name for California Polytechnic State University. There are actually two Cal Poly institutions, one in San Luis Obispo (the most famous) and one in Pomona.
5. Hogwarts mail carrier : OWL
In the “Harry Potter” universe, messages are sent by owl post, which uses owls as mail carriers.
In J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” universe, The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded by the four most brilliant witches and wizards of their time: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. Each of the founders lent their name to a House in the school, i.e. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
6. __ Island : RHODE
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, but is the second most densely populated. (after New Jersey). Rhode Island is known as the Ocean State, largely because about 14% of the state’s area is made up of ocean bays and inlets. Exactly how Rhode Island got its name is a little unclear. What is known is that way back in 1524, long before the Pilgrims came to New England, the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano likened an island in the area to the Island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean. There were subsequent references to “Rhode Island” in English publications, before the colonists arrived.
10. “Unforgettable” Cole : NAT
Nat King Cole’s real name was Nathaniel Adams Coles. Cole made television history in 1956 when his own show debuted on NBC, a first for an African-American. Cole couldn’t pick up a national sponsor, so in order to save money and possibly save the show, many guest artists worked for no fee at all – the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte and Peggy Lee. The show survived for a year, but eventually Nat King Cole had to pull the plug on it himself.
Natalie Cole is the daughter of Nat King Cole. Natalie’s mother was Maria Cole, a singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The most famous version of the hit song “Unforgettable” was released in 1951 by Nat King Cole. In 1991, Natalie Cole recorded a version that was mixed with an earlier 1961 version sung by her father, creating an “unforgettable” father-daughter duet that was made 26 years after Nat King Cole had passed away.
12. Condescension : SNOBBERY
Back in the 1780s, a “snob” was a shoemaker or a shoemaker’s apprentice. By the end of the 18th century the word was being used by students at Cambridge University in England to refer to all local merchants and people of the town. The term evolved to mean one who copies those who are his or her social superior (and not in a good way). From there it wasn’t a big leap for “snob” to include anyone who emphasized their superior social standing and not just those who aspired to rank. Nowadays a snob is anyone who looks down on those considered to be of inferior standing.
13. Pines : YENS
The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium!
19. See 7-Down : PENTAGRAM
(7D. What can be drawn using the only V’s, representing vertices, in this puzzle’s grid : FIVE-POINTED STAR)
A pentagram is a star-shape with five points that has been drawn using five straight lines. The name “pentagram” comes from the Greek for “five line”. The shape is sometimes also called a “pentacle”, “pentalpha” or “pentangle”. The pentagram is used as a prominent symbol in several religions and movements, notably in modern occultism.
21. Ferber and a Dame : EDNAS
Edna Ferber was a novelist and playwright from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ferber won a Pulitzer for her novel “So Big”, which was made into a film a few times, most famously in 1953 starring Jane Wyman. Ferber also wrote “Show Boat”, “Cimarron” and “Giant”, which were adapted successful for the stage and/or big screen.
Dame Edna Everage is the outrageous character created and played by Australian comedian Barry Humphries. I saw him/her perform live in a San Francisco theater, and what a great show it was …
25. Like a flag featuring a 19-Down : ETHIOPIAN
The background of the flag of Ethiopia consists of a horizontal tricolor of green, yellow and red. The center of the flag consists of the national emblem, comprising a yellow pentagram radiating rays of light within a circular blue disc.
27. Arabic “son of” : BIN
In Arabic names, “ibn” is a word meaning “son of”. The words “bin” and “ben” are also used for “son of”. The word “bint” means “daughter of”. Similarly, in Hebrew “ben” is used to mean “son of”, and “bat” is used to mean “daughter of”.
31. Unknown John : DOE
Though the English court system does not use the term today, John Doe first appeared as the “name of a person unknown” in England in 1659, along with another unknown, Richard Roe. An unknown female is referred to as Jane Doe. Variants of “John Doe” are “Joe Blow” and “John Q. Public”.
37. Semisweet American white wine : SAUTERNE
Sauternes is a sweet wine from the Sauternais region in Bordeaux. Production of Sauternes calls for the grapes used to become infected with a fungus known as noble rot. The infection can be somewhat unpredictable, resulting in high prices for the wine as supply can be limited and quality can vary. There is a semi-generic wine produced in the US known as “Sauterne”, which has a deliberately misspelled name.
39. Alibi problem : GAP
“Alibi” is the Latin word for “elsewhere” as in, “I claim that I was ‘elsewhere’ when the crime was committed … I have an ‘alibi’”.
40. Sarah Palin, e.g., briefly : EX-GOV
Famously, Sarah Palin was the Governor of Alaska from 2006 until 2009, and had been the Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska from 1996 until 2002. However, Palin is not a native Alaskan. She was born Sarah Heath in 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho. Her father was a science teacher and took a position in Skagway, Alaska when Palin was just a few months old.
43. Humanities subj. : PSY
The academic studies of human culture are collectively called the humanities. Subjects included in the humanities are languages, literature, philosophy, religion and music.
46. Six-winged angels, in Isaiah : SERAPHS
A seraph is a celestial being found in Hebrew and Christian writings. The word “seraph” (plural “seraphim”) literally translates as “burning one”. Seraphs are the highest-ranking angels in the Christian tradition, and the fifth-ranking of ten in the Jewish tradition.
48. Tolkien language : ELVISH
J. R. R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien was an English author, best known by far for his fantasy novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”. Although Tolkien lived in England and was a professor at Oxford, he served for many years as an external examiner at my old school, University College Dublin in Ireland.
50. Nervous one? : NELLIE
A nervous Nellie is someone easily upset and hesitant to act. The term comes from “Old Nell”, a name often used for a nag. “Nervous Nellie” was originally used to describe a highly-strung racehorse.
51. I Ching adherent, perhaps : TAOIST
The “I Ching” is an ancient Chinese text dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. The text deals with aspects of cosmology and divination, and perhaps served as a guide for making predictions of the future. The statements in the “I Ching” consist of 64 hexagrams, sets of six lines composed in horizontal stacks.
The Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Tao signifies the true nature of the world.
56. Classic Fords : LTDS
There has been a lot of speculation about what the abbreviation LTD stands for in the car model known as “Ford LTD”. Many say it is an initialism standing for Luxury Trim Decor, and others say that it is short for “limited”. Although the car was produced in Australia with the initialism meaning Lincoln Type Design, it seems LTD was originally chosen as just three meaningless letters that sound well together.
58. Emit coherent light : LASE
The term “laser” comes is an acronym standing for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” (LASER). It has been pointed out that a more precise name for laser technology is “Light Oscillation by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”, but the resulting acronym isn’t quite so appealing, namely LOSER!
62. Carnival site : RIO
Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil (after São Paulo). “Rio de Janeiro” translates as “January River”. The name reflects the discovery of the bay on which Rio sits, on New Year’s Day in 1502.
The celebration of carnival comes right before the Lenten period in some Christian traditions. It is thought that carnival perhaps arose from the need to “eat and drink up” any excess food and drink before the beginning of Lent.