Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Today’s themed answers are pairs of US states, with the names of those states overlapped in the grid. Those same STATES actually share a geographical BORDER:
- 47A. What the answers to three “pair” clues share, both in this grid and in reality : STATE BORDERS
- 19A. Midwestern pair : NEBRASKANSAS (“Nebraska” + “Kansas”)
- 26A. Northeastern pair : MAINEW HAMPSHIRE (“Maine” + “New Hampshire”)
- 42A. Southwestern pair : NEW MEXICOLORADO (“New Mexico” + “Colorado”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Many opera villains : BASSI
The bass is the lowest male singing voice. A man with such a voice might be called a “basso” (plural “bassi”).
6. Georgia __ : TECH
The Georgia Institute of Technology (commonly “Georgia Tech”) is located in Atlanta. The school was founded in 1885 as part of the reconstruction effort to rebuild the infrastructure in the South after the Civil War. President Theodore Roosevelt delivered an address to the school in 1905, and then shook hands with every single student. Back then the school didn’t have over 20,000 students as it does today …
10. ’70s Israeli prime minister : MEIR
Golda Meir was known as the “Iron Lady” when she was Prime Minister of Israel, long before that sobriquet came to be associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Golda Meir was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev (in modern-day Ukraine), and when she was a young girl she moved with her family to the United States and settled in Milwaukee. As a teenager she relocated to Denver where she met and married Morris Meyerson, at the age of 19. She and her husband joined a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921, when she was in her twenties. Meir had been active in politics in the US, and continued her political work in Palestine. She was very influential during WWII, and played a leading role in negotiations after the war leading to the setting up of the state of Israel. By the time she was called on to lead the country, Meir had already retired, citing exhaustion and ill health. But serve she did, and led Israel during turbulent times (e.g. the massacre at the Munich Olympics, and the Yom Kippur War). She eventually resigned in 1974, saying that was what the people wanted.
15. Antioxidant-rich fruit in smoothies : ACAI BERRY
Açaí is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.
18. Celestial explosion : SUPERNOVA
A nova (plural “novae”) is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness of a nova is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different from a nova. A supernova is a very bright burst of light and energy created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a supernova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.
19. Midwestern pair : NEBRASKANSAS (“Nebraska” + “Kansas”)
Nebraska gets its name from the Platte River which flows through the state. “Nebraska” is an anglicized version of Otoe and Omaha words meaning “flat water”.
The US state of Kansas is named after the Kansa Native American tribe that lived in the area. The first European to explore what is now Kansas Spanish conquistador Vázquez de Coronado, who also was first to see the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. The first permanent settlement of Europeans was Fort Leavenworth, founded in 1827. The territories of Nebraska and Kansas were established at the same time in 1854, with the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In the following decade, settlers arrived in Kansas, both from slave states and slave-free states. Violent conflict between the two factions led to the territory earning the name “Bleeding Kansas”. Kansas was eventually admitted as a slave-free state in 1861, making it the last state admitted prior to the Civil War that broke out later that year.
21. Japanese prime minister since 2012 : ABE
Shinzo Abe first became Prime Minister of Japan in 2006, at which time he was the youngest person to hold the post since WWII and was the first PM born after the war. Abe was in office for less than a year, but was voted in again in 2012. Abe is usually characterized as a right-wing nationalist.
22. Cold War weapons : ICBMS
An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with the range necessary to cross between continents. Being ballistic (unlike a cruise missile), an ICBM is guided during the initial launch phase, but later in flight just relies on thrust and gravity to arrive at its target. It is defined as intercontinental as it has a range greater than 3,500 miles. ICBMs are really only used for delivering nuclear warheads. Scary stuff …
The term “Cold War” was coined by the novelist George Orwell in a 1945 essay about the atomic bomb. Orwell described a world under threat of nuclear war as having a “peace that is no peace”, in a permanent state of “cold war”. The specific use of “cold war” to describe the tension between the Eastern bloc and the Western allies is attributed to a 1947 speech by Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
26. Northeastern pair : MAINEW HAMPSHIRE (“Maine” + “New Hampshire”)
There seems to be some uncertainty how the US state of Maine got its name. However, the state legislature has adopted the theory that it comes from the former French province of Maine. The legislature included language to that effect when adopting a resolution in 2001 to establish Franco-American Day.
The US state of New Hampshire takes its name from the former British colony known as the Province of New Hampshire, In turn, the colony was named for the English county of Hampshire by Captain John Mason, who was the first proprietor of the Province of New Hampshire.
36. Morse clicks : DITS
Samuel Morse came up with the forerunner to modern Morse code for use on the electric telegraph, of which he was the co-inventor. Morse code uses a series of dots and dashes to represent letters and numbers. The most common letters are assigned the simplest code elements e.g. E is represented by one dot, and T is represented by one dash. When words are spelled aloud in Morse code, a dot is pronounced as “dit”, and a dash is pronounced as “dah”.
37. Fly catchers : MITTS
That would be baseball.
38. Corp. money execs : CFOS
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
39. Puerto Rican pronoun : ESO
In Spanish, if it’s not “esto” (this) or “eso” (that) then it’s the “otro” (other).
Puerto Rico is located in the northeastern Caribbean (in the Atlantic Ocean), east of the Dominican Republic. The name “Puerto Rico” is Spanish for “rich port”. The locals often call their island Borinquen, the Spanish form of “Boriken”, the original name used by the natives.
41. Ring figure? : CARAT
The carat is a unit of mass used in measuring gemstones that is equal to 200 mg.
42. Southwestern pair : NEW MEXICOLORADO (“New Mexico” + “Colorado”)
The region now covered by the US state of New Mexico was known as “Nuevo México” at least since 1563. Spanish explorers gave the area this name due to an erroneous belief that it was home to a branch of the Mexica, a people who were indigenous to the Valley of Mexico. So, the region has had the “New Mexico” name for centuries before the nation of Mexico adopted its name in 1821.
The state of Colorado took its name from the prior Territory of Colorado that existed from 1861 to 1876. The name was chosen for the Colorado river that originated in the territory. The river in turn was named by the Spanish as “Rio Colorado”, meaning “ruddy, reddish river”.
45. Queen __ lace : ANNE’S
What we call “Queen Anne’s Lace” over here in the US is known by many in the British Isles as “wild carrot”. The roots of Queen Anne’s Lace are indeed edible, just like carrots, but only when they are very young because later in life they get very woody. The wild carrot was given the name Queen Anne’s Lace when it was introduced into America as the flowers do resemble white lace. There is one small red flower in the center of the plant that is said to be a drop of blood that Queen Anne spilled when she pricked herself as she was making the lace.
46. Lode load : ORE
A lode is a metal ore deposit that’s found between two layers of rock or in a fissure. The “mother lode” is the principal deposit in a mine, usually of gold or silver. “Mother lode” is probably a translation of “veta madre”, an expression used in mining in Mexico.
55. Soldier of Fortune subject : MERCENARY
“Soldier of Fortune” is a monthly magazine that has been published since 1975. The print version of the magazine was shut down in 2016, while the online version continues publication.
59. Grifter : CON ARTIST
“Grift” is money made dishonestly, especially as the result of a swindle. The term perhaps is an alteration of the the word “graft”, which can have a similar meaning.
60. __ del Sol : COSTA
Spain’s Costa del Sol (“Coast of the Sun”) is in Andalusia in the South of Spain. It lies sandwiched between two other “costas”, the Costa de la Luz and the Costa Tropical. The city of Malaga is on the Costa del Sol, as well as the famous European tourist destinations of Torremolinos and Marbella. The Costa del Sol was made up of sleepy little fishing villages until the 1980s when the European sunseekers descended on the region. I wouldn’t recommend it for a holiday quite frankly …
62. On the less windy side : ALEE
“Alee” is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing “aweather”.
4. Many opera heroines : SOPRANOS
The soprano is the highest singing voice. The term comes from the Italian “sopra” meaning “above”. A male countertenor who is able to sing in the soprano voice range is known as a sopranist. A castrated male who can sing in the same range is known as a “castrato”, and a boy soprano is referred to as a treble.
7. Galapagos locale: Abbr. : ECUA
“Ecuador” is the Spanish word for “equator”, which gives the country its name.
The Galápagos Islands lie over 500 miles west of Ecuador. The Galápagos owe their celebrity to the voyage of HMS Beagle which landed there in 1835, with Charles Darwin on board. It was Darwin’s study of various species on the islands that inspired him to postulate his Theory of Evolution.
8. Bos’n’s boss : CAP’N
A boatswain works on the deck of a boat. A boatswain is unlicensed, and so is not involved in the navigation or handling of the vessel. He or she has charge of the other unlicensed workers on the deck. Boatswain is pronounced “bosun” and this phonetic spelling is often used interchangeably with “boatswain”. The contraction “bo’s’n” is also very popular.
9. Hustles : HIES
“To hie” is to move quickly, to bolt.
10. Stand-up sort : MENSCH
“Mensch” is yet another word that comes to us via Yiddish, ultimately derived from the German “mensch” meaning “human being”. We use the term to mean someone of integrity and honor.
11. Mancinelli opera “__ e Leandro” : ERO
The Greek myth of Hero and Leander gave rise to a couple of operas (one by Giovanni Bottesini and another by Arrigo Boito) and a more famous cantata from George Frideric Handel, all called “Ero e Leandro”.
12. Robbins of Baskin-Robbins : IRV
The Baskin-Robbins chain of ice cream parlors is the largest in the word. The chain was founded by Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins in Glendale, California in 1945. The company started using the slogan “31 flavors” in 1953, suggesting that a customer could order a different flavor of ice cream on every day of every month.
13. Shaggy Scandinavian rug : RYA
A rya is a traditional Scandinavian rug, originally used as heavy covers by mariners as an alternative to furs. The name “rya” comes from a village in southwest Sweden.
23. Former African secessionist territory : BIAFRA
The Republic of Biafra was a Nigerian state that seceded in 1967 helping to spark a bloody civil war. Biafra agreed to a ceasefire just two-and-a-half years later and was reunited with Nigeria. That was after about a million civilians had died directly from the war and from terrible famine.
24. “The Wind in the Willows” character : MR TOAD
“The Wind in the Willows” is a classic children’s novel first published in 1908. Featured in the story are characters such as Mole, Ratty, Mr. Toad and Mr. Badger. The story’s author was Kenneth Grahame, a man who held the exalted position of Secretary of the Bank of England.
26. Italian headquarters of Maserati : MODENA
Modena is a city in northern Italy that is known as center for the nation’s automotive industry. The area around Modena is or was home to factories of Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani and Maserati. Ferrari even has a car that’s branded the 360 Modena.
Maserati is a manufacturer of luxury cars in Italy. The company was founded in Bologna in 1914 by five brothers: Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto Maserati. The company uses a trident logo that is based on the trident depicted in the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza Maggiore in Bologna.
29. French-speaking republic : HAITI
The Republic of Haiti occupies the smaller, western portion of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. The rest of the island is taken up by the Dominican Republic. Haiti is one of only two nations in the Americas to have French as an official language, the other being Canada.
31. “Crossroads of America” in Indiana, e.g. : MOTTO
Indiana adopted “The Crossroads of America” as the state’s official motto in 1937. The same phrase also applies unofficially to Indianapolis, a reference to the state capital’s location at the junction of four interstates in the center of Indiana.
32. Law-and-order gps. : PDS
Police department (PD)
40. Mother of Pearl, in an 1850 novel : HESTER
The main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter” is Hester Prynne. After the birth of her illegitimate daughter Pearl, she is convicted by her puritanical neighbors of the crime of adultery. Hester is forced to wear a scarlet “A” (for “adultery”) on her clothing for the rest of her life, hence the novel’s title “The Scarlet Letter”.
41. PC part? : CORRECT
Politically correct (PC)
43. Cantina quaff : MESCAL
Mezcal (also “mescal”) is a distilled spirit made from the a mezcal distilled specifically from the blue agave.
“Quaff” is both a verb and a noun. One quaffs (takes a hearty drink) of a quaff (a hearty drink).
44. Head of England? : LOO
It has been suggested that the British term “loo” comes from Waterloo (water-closet … water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of “lanterloo”, in which the pot was called the loo!
In old sailing ships the toilet area for the regular sailors was located in the forward part (the head) of the ship, hence the term “head” that has been used since then for any toilet on board a boat.
48. Masonry support : ANTA
An anta is a post or pillar on either side of the entrance to a Greek temple.
50. Gaelic tongue : ERSE
There are actually three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).
51. Bunch of bits : BYTE
In the world of computing, a bit is the basic unit of information. It has a value of 0 or 1. A “byte” is a small collection of “bits” (usually 8), the number of bits needed to uniquely identify a character of text. The prefix mega- stands for 10 to the power of 6, so a megabyte (meg) is 1,000,000 bytes. And the prefix giga- means 10 to the power of 9, so a gigabyte (gig) is 1,000,000,000 bytes. Well, those are the SI definitions of megabyte and kilobyte. The purists still use 2 to the power of 20 for a megabyte (i.e. 1,048,576), and 2 to the power of 30 for a gigabyte.
54. D.C. Metro stops : STAS
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) provides transit service within and around Washington, D.C. The service generally goes by the name “Metro”. The authority’s two main services are Metrorail and Metrobus.
55. Escher and Hammer : MCS
M. C. Escher was a graphic artist from the Netherlands. Escher was noted for creating works inspired by mathematics, often works that were physical impossibilities. ONe famous such works is “Drawing Hands” (1948) in which a pair of hands emerge from a piece of paper and actually draw themselves. He also created a drawing in which a group of red ants are crawling around a Möbius strip, never reaching the end.
Rapper MC Hammer (aka Hammer and Hammertime) was born Stanley Kirk Burrell, and was very popular in the 80s and 90s. Being around that early, MC Hammer is considered to be one of the forefathers of rap. Nowadays, MC Hammer is a preacher, and uses the initials MC to stand for “Man of Christ”. If you are so inclined, you can learn a little about Hammer and his family life by watching past episodes of the reality TV show “Hammertime”, which aired in 2009.
56. Fair-hiring letters : EOE
Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE)
57. Protein-building molecule : RNA
Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by what is called transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.