Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Bass-baritone role in an 1885 Savoy Theatre premiere : MIKADO
“The Mikado” is a wonderful comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, set in the exotic location of Japan. “Mikado” is a former term for the “Emperor of Japan”. In the opera, Ko-Ko is the name of the Lord High Executioner of Titipu.
The Savoy Theatre In London’s West End was built specifically for Gilbert and Sullivan by the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte, who also founded the opera company that took his name. The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company staged the Gilbert and Sullivan’s Savoy Operas, the series of works that were presented in said theater.
7. King Features Syndicate parent : HEARST
Hearst is a mass media company that owns many newspapers, magazines and television entities including the “San Francisco Chronicle”, “Cosmopolitan” and significant share of ESPN. The Hearst company was founded in 1987 by William Randolph Hearst, with several of the founder’s descendents still actively involved in the business.
King Features Syndicate is a company that distributes comic strip, newspaper columns and puzzles to many newspapers around the world.
13. Brown world? : ACADEME
“Academe” is a term used for the academic world. The expression “the groves of academe” is a reference to the location of Plato’s original “Academy” in a walled-off grove of olive trees just outside Athens.
Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island is one of the eight Ivy League schools. Brown has been around a long time, founded in 1764, years before America declared independence from England. The university took the name of Brown in 1804 after one Nicholas Brown, Jr. gave a substantial gift to the school. The school’s athletic teams are known as the Brown Bears, and their mascot is Bruno.
19. MSN, for one : ISP
The Microsoft Network (MSN) used to be an Internet service provider (ISP). These days, MSN is mainly a web portal.
20. Wore with jaunty confidence : ROCKED
Our words “jaunty” and “genteel” are related in that they both derive from the French “gentil” meaning “nice, pleasing”. In modern usage, someone described as jaunty has a buoyant air. Someone described as genteel is refined in manner.
22. Scuttle : NIX
The use of “nix” as a verb, meaning “to shoot down”, dates back to the early 1900s. Before that “nix” was just a noun meaning “nothing”. “Nix” comes from the German “nichts”, which also means “nothing”.
26. 11, at times: Abbr. : NOV
November is the eleventh month in our calendar. The name comes from the Latin “novem” meaning “nine”, as November was the ninth month in the ancient Roman calendar.
28. Vital vessels : AORTAS
The aorta originates in the heart and extends down into the abdomen. It is the largest artery in the body.
30. W-9 filers : NEW HIRES
IRS form W-9 is a Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification. The W-9 is filled out by employees and used by employers for payroll purposes. The form is not submitted to the IRS.
35. Panasonic flat-screen : VIERA
Not so long ago, Panasonic was called Matsushita Electronics, the name it took from its founder when the company started in 1918. The products manufactured back then were lamp sockets, and in 1927 the company introduced a bicycle lamp. Even after the company became famous for producing electrical and electronic goods, Matsushita had a very successful line of Panasonic bicycles, as the founder was raised in a family with a bicycle shop and he was passionate about cycling.
36. Welsh herder : CORGI
The Welsh corgi is a herding dog that originated in Britain, with two recognized breeds: the Pembroke and Cardigan. Corgis aren’t speedy enough to do their job by running around livestock like collies, and instead nip at the heels.
44. Four-time WWE World Champion Brock __ : LESNAR
Professional wrestler Brock Lesnar is the youngest person to win the WWE Championship, doing so just over a month after turning 25 years old. In total, Lesnar has won the WWE Championship four times.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is a company promoting professional wrestling as a form of entertainment.
49. Curling piece : STONE
I think curling is such a cool game (pun!). It’s somewhat like bowls, but played on a sheet of ice. The sport was supposedly invented in medieval Scotland, and is called curling because of the action of the granite stone is it moves across the ice. A player can make the stone take a curved path (“curl”) by causing it to slowly rotate as it slides.
51. How cherries jubilee is served : FLAMBE
Flambé is the French word for “flamed”, and was originally a term used to describe certain types of porcelain. The word “flambé” crept into cookery just after 1900.
Cherries jubilee might be considered a “light” dessert, certainly not due to the calorie count, but rather due to the “lighting” of the liqueur that is poured over the cherries. Usually one takes cherries, pours a liqueur like Kirschwasser (German for “cherry water”) and then sets the liqueur alight and flambés the cherries. The reduced liqueur and cherries are then poured as a source over vanilla ice cream. Apparently the recipe was invented by French Chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel restaurant in London, to celebrate one of Queen Victoria’s jubilees.
54. Dungeons & Dragons bird : ROC
The mythical roc is a huge bird of prey, reputedly able to carry off and eat elephants. The roc was said to come from the Indian subcontinent. The supposed existence of the roc was promulgated by Marco Polo in the accounts that he published of his travels through Asia.
Dungeons & Dragons is a complex role-playing game (RPG) introduced in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules Incorporated (TSR). Dungeons & Dragons was probably the first of the modern role-playing games to be developed, and the most successful. It is still played by lots of people today, including my youngest son …
57. 1984 Winter Olympics city : SARAJEVO
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city is famous for many historical events. In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated there, the single event that sparked off WWI. More happily, Sarajevo was the host of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. Just over a decade later the city was the center of the longest siege in the history of modern warfare, lasting almost four years from 1992 to 1996.
61. Alito and Thomas : YALE MEN
Associate Justice Samuel Alito was nominated to the US Supreme Court by President George W. Bush. Alito is the second Italian-American to serve on the Supreme Court (Antonin Scalia was the first). Alito studied law at Yale and while in his final year he left the country for the first time in his life, heading to Italy to work on his thesis about the Italian legal system.
Clarence Thomas is the second African American to serve on the US Supreme Court. Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall who was the first American with African heritage to serve. Thomas is generally regarded as the most conservative member of the court. He doesn’t have a lot say, verbally anyway. Thomas made a joking remark in January 2013 during oral argument, the first time he had spoken at all during oral argument for almost seven years.
62. Danny, vis-à-vis the “Bloodline” siblings : ELDEST
“Bloodline” is a Netflix-original thriller television series. It’s a cleverly constructed program about a well-off family in the Florida Keys. As the show progresses, more and more dark secrets are revealed about each of the family members. I enjoyed this one …
63. Sharp weapons : SABERS
A saber (sometimes “sabre”) is a sword with a curved blade and a relatively large hand guard. It is thought that the term originated with the Hungarian verb “szabni” meaning “to cut”.
1. Best Supporting Actress two years after Whoopi : MARISA
Marisa Tomei’s first screen role was in the daytime soap “As the World Turns”, but her break came with a recurring role in “The Cosby Show” spinoff “A Different World”. Tomei won an Oscar for her delightful performance in “My Cousin Vinny” in 1992.
The magnificent Whoopi Goldberg’s real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson. Goldberg is multi-talented, and is one of a very short list of entertainers to have won all four major showbiz awards:
- an Oscar (for “Ghost”)
- an Emmy (two, for “The View”)
- a Grammy (for “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, as a producer)
- a Tony (also for producing “Thoroughly Modern Millie”)
3. ’90s loser to Deep Blue : KASPAROV
Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster and former World Chess Champion. When he first became champion in 1985 he was 22 years old, making him the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion. Kasparov retired in 2005 in order to pursue a career in Russian politics.
Deep Blue was a computer developed by IBM specifically for playing chess. In 1996 it became the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion. The champion in question was the great Garry Kasparov, although he came out on top in the end by winning the 6-game competition 4-2.
6. “Rubáiyát” poet : OMAR
Omar Khayyam was a Persian with many talents. He was a poet as well as an important mathematician, astronomer and physician. A selection of his poems were translated by one Edward Fitzgerald in a collection called “Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam”. Here are some famous lines from that collection:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
8. Israel’s Olmert : EHUD
Ehud Olmert took over as Acting Prime Minister when Ariel Sharon suffered a severe stroke early in 2006. Olmert then led his party to victory in a general election held later that same year. He held Israel’s highest office in his own right until 2009, when he had to step down facing allegations of corruption.
9. Sharp-edged tool : ADZ
An adze (also “adz”) is similar to an axe, but is different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool’s shaft. An axe’s blade is set in line with the shaft.
10. Nine Inch Nails founder Trent : REZNOR
Nine Inch Nails is the name of a rock band that was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1988 by singer-songwriter Trent Reznor. Reznor chose the name “Nine Inch Nails” mainly because it abbreviated easily and succinctly, to “NIN”.
11. Briny : SALINE
The “briny” is the sea, from “brine” meaning “salty water”. The term “briny” was originally used for “tears”.
12. Natural history museum attractions, briefly : T REXES
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.
14. School with trimesters called halves : ETON
London’s Eton College has three academic terms, although those three terms are known as “halves”. That name dates back to when the school year was split into two halves. The current terms are:
- The Michaelmas Half (early September to mid-December)
- The Lent Half (mid-January to late March)
- The Summer Half (late April to late-June/early-July)
21. Bellyache : KVETCH
The word “kvetch” comes to us from Yiddish, with “kvetshn” meaning “to complain” or “squeeze”.
24. Kan. Army installation : FT RILEY
Fort Riley is an active military installation in Northeast Kansas. The original fort was built in 1853 and was named for a Major General Bennet C. Riley who led the first military escort along the Santa Fe trail. The fort itself was established to protect travellers on the Oregon, California and Santa Fe Trails. Fort Riley became a major post for the US Cavalry and, in 1865, it was home to the renowned George Custer.
29. Cape Cod catch : SCROD
Scrod is the name given to fish that has been “scrawed” i.e. split open, dried and then broiled.
Cape Cod is indeed named after the fish. It was first called Cape Cod by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602 as his men caught so many fish there.
31. Forensics ridge : WHORL
Fingerprint patterns are classified into three different patterns: loops, whorls and arches.
32. Stallone roles, e.g. : HEROES
If ever there was a movie that defines a career breakthrough for an actor, it would have to be “Rocky” for Sylvester Stallone. Stallone was a struggling actor in 1975 when a Muhammad Ali fight inspired Stallone to write a screenplay for a boxing movie, which he did in just three days. His efforts to sell the script went well but for the fact that the interested studios wanted a big name for the lead role, and Stallone was determined to be the star himself. Stallone persevered and “Rocky” was eventually made with him playing title role of Rocky Balboa. The movie won three Oscars, and “Sly” Stallone had arrived …
34. Sitting Bull’s people : LAKOTA
The Lakota people are Native Americans from the Great Plains, occupying lands mainly in North and South Dakota. The list of famous persons from the Lakota people includes Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who were instrumental in the Lakota victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota Native American who led his people in resisting settlement of tribal lands. Sitting Bull is most notably associated with the victory over the US Cavalry, led by Lt. Col. Custer, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. US forces pursued Sitting Bull for five years after Little Bighorn until he surrendered in 1881. He was held as a prisoner of war for almost two years before being released onto a reservation. In 1884, he was allowed to leave the reservation and joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, where he earned a tidy sum for a few months. Several years later an order was issued for his arrest due to concern that he was about to flee his reservation. Sitting Bull was shot during an altercation as he was being taken into custody.
40. German royal house, 1714-1901 : HANOVER
The House of Hanover is a German royal dynasty that was founded in 1635. Famously, members of the House of Hanover sat on the British throne from 1714 (the coronation of George I) until 1901 (the death of Queen Victoria).
41. Knight aide : SQUIRE
A squire can be an escort, say one attending to a woman. A squire is also a young nobleman who attended a knight in days of yore. A fun example would be Sancho Panza who accompanied the deluded Don Quixote.
48. Weird Al song that wonders, “Tell me why I bid on Shatner’s old toupee” : EBAY
“eBay” is one of Weird Al Yankovic’s parody songs. This one is a parody of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.
William Shatner is a Canadian actor, famous for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” television series. Shatner was trained as a classical Shakespearean actor, and appeared on stage in many of the Bard’s works early in his career. While playing the Kirk character, he developed a reputation for over-acting, really emphasizing some words in a speech and using an excessive number of pauses. He gave his name to a word “shatneresque”, which describes such a style.
“Weird Al” Yankovic is a singer-songwriter who is noted for writing and performing parodies of popular songs. Of the 150 or so such songs, the best known are probably “Eat It” (parodying “Beat It” by Michael Jackson) and “Like a Surgeon” (parodying “Like a Virgin” by Madonna).
58. Like : A LA
The phrase “in the style of” can be translated in “alla” in Italian and “à la” in French.
59. Politico with a father, brother and son named George : JEB
Jeb Bush is the son of President George H. W. Bush, and the brother of President George W. Bush. I always thought that Jeb was an American nickname for James or Joseph but I must be wrong, because George and Barbara’s son John Ellis Bush is called “Jeb”. A kind blog reader has suggested the the name “Jeb” may have been chosen as JEB are the initials of John Ellis Bush.