Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Each of today’s themed answers is a type of person, and that person is described with reference to an item of clothing:
- 17A. Ineffectual exec : EMPTY SUIT
- 28A. Pioneers : TRAILBLAZERS
- 44A. Self-important sort : STUFFED SHIRT
- 60A. Traitors : TURNCOATS
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
9. Multitudes : SLEWS
Our usage of “slew” to mean “large number” has nothing to do with the verb “to slew”. The noun “slew” come into English in the early 1800s from the Irish word “sluagh” meaning “host, crowd, multitude”.
14. “Red” nuisance : TAPE
Back in the days of yore in England, official documents were bound in bundles with red ribbon. So, getting through all the paperwork required “cutting through the red tape”.
15. Spitballs, to class clowns : AMMO
The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.
16. One-named “Tik Tok” singer : KESHA
Kesha (formerly “Ke$ha”) is the stage name used by singer Kesha Rose Sebert.
19. “The Addams Family” actor John : ASTIN
The actor John Astin is best known for playing Gomez, the head of the household on “The Addams Family” TV series.
23. Final check? : MATE
In the game of chess, when the king is under immediate threat of capture it is said to be “in check”. If the king cannot escape from check, then the game ends in “checkmate” and the player in check loses. In the original Sanskrit game of chess, the king could actually be captured. Then a rule was introduced requiring that a warning be given if capture was imminent (today we announce “check!”) so that an accidental and early ending to the game doesn’t occur.
24. Await with trepidation : DREAD
Our word “trepidation”, meaning “fear”. comes from the Latin verb “tridare” meaning “to tremble”.
33. Bagel flavor : ONION
The bagel was invented in the Polish city of Kraków in the 16th century. Bagels were brought to this country by Jewish immigrants from Poland who mainly established homes in and around New York City.
36. Like overly graphic tabloid stories : LURID
Tabloid is the trademarked name (owned by Burroughs, Wellcome and Co,) for a “small tablet of medicine”, a name that goes back to 1884. The word “tabloid” had entered into general use to mean a compressed form of anything, and by the early 1900s was used in “tabloid journalism”, applied to newspapers that had short, condensed articles and stories printed on smaller sheets of paper.
37. Padre’s hermana : TIA
In Spanish, the “hermana” (sister) of your “padre” (father) is your “tia” (aunt).
38. Keystone State Ivy : PENN
The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) was founded in 1740 by by Benjamin Franklin. Penn was the first school in the country to offer both graduate and undergraduate courses. Penn’s sports teams are known as the Quakers, or sometimes “the Red & Blue”.
Visually, the thirteen original states formed an arch that stretched up much of the east coast of North America. One might imagine Pennsylvania as the keystone of that visual arch, which explains why Pennsylvania is often referred to as the Keystone State.
39. Purple shade : LILAC
The ornamental flowering plant known as lilac is native to the Balkans, and is a member of the olive family.
41. Tiny amount : TAD
Back in the 1800s, “tad” was used to describe a young child, and this extended into our usage of “small amount” in the early 1900s. The original use of “tad” for a child is very likely a shortened version of “tadpole”.
42. Topples (over) : KEELS
The literal meaning of “keel over” is to capsize, turn a boat over so that her keel lies up from the surface. We use the term figuratively to mean “collapse, faint”.
51. Logician’s word : ERGO
“Ergo” is the Latin word for “hence, therefore”.
52. Pago Pago resident : SAMOAN
Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa in the South Pacific. The island was used by the US Navy during WWII and it managed to escape most of the conflict. The only military incident of consequence was the shelling of the city’s harbor by a Japanese submarine. A more devastating event was the tsunami that hit Pago Pago and surrounding areas in 2009, causing widespread damage and numerous deaths.
58. “Live at __”: The Who album : LEEDS
The English rock band called the Who was formed in 1964, bringing together famed musicians Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. According to “Rolling Stone” magazine, the Who were the third arm of the holy trinity of British rock, alongside the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
I went to school for a while not far from Leeds in West Yorkshire in the north of England. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, Leeds was a major center for the production and trading of wool, and then with the onset of mechanization it became a natural hub for manufacture of textiles. These days Leeds is noted as a shopping destination and so has been dubbed “the Knightsbridge of the North”.
60. Traitors : TURNCOATS
Treason is a serious crime committed against the nation (or the sovereign). One who commits “treason” is called a “traitor”. In the past, the term treason also applied to lesser crimes (like a woman killing her husband) so there was a differentiation between high treason against the king, and “petit treason”, against a more common citizen.
62. Jackie’s predecessor : MAMIE
Mamie Eisenhower has to have been one of the most charming of all the First Ladies of the United States. Ms. Eisenhower suffered from an inner ear complaint called Ménière’s disease which caused her to lose her balance quite often. Because she was unsteady on her feet there were unfounded rumors floating around Washington that Ms. Eisenhower had a drinking problem. People can be very unkind …
Jackie Kennedy Onassis was born into a privileged family, the daughter of Wall Street stock broker John Vernou Bouvier III. Ms. Bouvier moved in the same social circles as the Kennedy clan, and first met the then-US Representative John Kennedy at a dinner party hosted by mutual friends. Years later, after she saw her husband assassinated and then her brother-in-law (Bobby Kennedy) suffer the same fate, Jackie declared that she feared for the life of her children as they bore the Kennedy name. She left the country, eventually meeting and marrying Aristotle Onassis. Reportedly she was very satisfied that the Greek shipping magnate was able to provide privacy and security for her children.
64. Massive landmass inhabited by masses : ASIA
Most of the world’s population lives in Asia (60%), and Asia is the largest continent in terms of landmass (30% of the world). Asia also has the highest population density (246 people per square mile), and the most populous city on the continent is Shanghai, China.
65. Trapshooting : SKEET
There are three types of competitive shotgun target shooting sports:
- Skeet shooting
- Trap shooting
- Sporting clays
66. Japanese soybean paste : MISO
Miso is the name of the seasoning that makes the soup. Basic miso seasoning is made by fermenting rice, barley and soybeans with salt and a fungus to produce a paste. The paste can be added to stock to make miso soup, or perhaps to flavor tofu.
67. End of Oktober? : -FEST
Oktoberfest is a 16-day beer festival in Munich that actually starts in September. About six million people attend every year, making it the largest fair in the world. I’ve been there twice, and it really is a great party …
1. Crock-Pot concoction : STEW
We often use the term “crockpot” as an alternative for “slow cooker”. The generic term comes from the trademark “Crock-Pot”, now owned by Sunbeam products.
5. Ancient fortress overlooking the Dead Sea : MASADA
The name Masada comes from the Hebrew word for fortress, and is a plateau in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is home to the ruins of ancient palaces and fortifications that date back to the days of Herod the Great, father of Herod who figured in the lives of Jesus of Nazareth and John the Baptist. After the Romans invaded Jerusalem, Jewish extremists settled on the mountaintop using it as a base to harass the invaders. Eventually Romans mounted an attack on the elevated fortress, building an elaborate wall and rampart to get to the encampment with some cover. After months of preparation, the Romans breached the walls only to discover the inner buildings all ablaze, and the 1,000 rebels and their families dead after a mass suicide.
6. Flightless birds : EMUS
The large flightless birds called emus make sounds by manipulating inflatable necks sacs. The sac is about a foot long, has a thin wall and allows the bird to emit a booming sound. The type of sound emitted is the easiest way to differentiate between male and female emus.
9. Jamaican genre : SKA
Ska originated in Jamaica in the late fifties and was the precursor to reggae music. No one has a really definitive etymology of the term “ska”, but it is likely to be imitative of some sound.
10. “Fantine’s Arrest” B’way show : LES MIZ
The 1980 musical “Les Misérables” is an adaptation of the 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. The show opened in London in 1985, and is the longest running musical in the history of London’s West End. My wife and I saw “Les Miz” in the Queen’s Theatre in London quite a few years ago, but were only able to get tickets in the very back row. The theater seating is very steep, so the back row of the balcony is extremely high over the stage. One of the big events in the storyline is the building of a street barricade over which the rebels fight. At the height we were seated we could see the stagehands behind the barricade, sitting drinking Coke, even smoking cigarettes. On cue, the stagehands would get up and catch a dropped rifle, or an actor who had been shot. It was pretty comical. I didn’t really enjoy the show that much, to be honest. Some great songs, but the musical version of the storyline just didn’t seem to hang together for me.
25. Ian Fleming’s alma mater (and the school that expelled James Bond) : ETON
The world-famous Eton College is just a brisk walk from Windsor Castle, which itself is just outside London. Eton is noted for producing many British leaders including David Cameron who took power in the last UK general election. The list of Old Etonians also includes Princes William and Harry, the Duke of Wellington, George Orwell, and the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming (as well as 007 himself as described in the Fleming novels).
31. Full of chutzpah : BRASH
Our word “chutzpah” meaning “nerve, gall, impudence” is derived from the Yiddish “khutspe”, which has the same meaning.
32. Fifth Avenue landmark : SAKS
Saks Fifth Avenue is a high-end specialty store that competes with the likes of Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. The original Saks & Company business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1867. The first Saks Fifth Avenue store was opened on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1924. There are now Saks Fifth Avenue stores in many major cities in the US, as well in several locations worldwide.
39. Vichyssoise veggies : LEEKS
The leek is a vegetable closely related to the onion and the garlic. It is also a national emblem of Wales (along with the daffodil), although I don’t think we know for sure how this came to be. One story is that the Welsh were ordered to wear leeks in their helmets to identify themselves in a battle against the Saxons. Apparently, the battle took place in a field of leeks.
Vichyssoise is a thick puréed potato soup that can be served hot, but is usually served cold. As well as potatoes, a classic vichyssoise contains leeks, onions, cream and chicken stock. Although the origin is disputed, it seems that the vichyssoise was invented in America, albeit by a French chef. That chef named his soup after the town of Vichy in France.
40. Keystone State univ. : PITT
The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) was founded back in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy. Pitt was a private school until 1966, but is now one of four universities receiving state funding.
42. Chain whose website has a “Find a Colonel Near You” feature : KFC
The famous “Colonel” of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fame was Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur from Henryville, Indiana. Although not really a “Colonel”, Sanders did indeed serve in the military. He enlisted in the Army as a private in 1906 at the age of 16, lying about his age. He spent the whole of his time in the Army as a soldier in Cuba. It was much later, in the 1930s, that Sanders went into the restaurant business making his specialty deep-fried chicken. By 1935 his reputation as a “character” had grown, so much so that Governor Ruby Laffoon of Kentucky gave Sanders the honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel”. Later in the fifties, Sanders developed his trademark look with the white suit, string tie, mustache and goatee. When Sanders was 65 however, his business failed and in stepped Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s. Thomas simplified the Sanders menu, cutting it back from over a hundred items to just fried chicken and salads. That was enough to launch KFC into the fast food business. Sanders sold the US franchise in 1964 for just $2 million and moved to Canada to grow KFC north of the border. He died in 1980 and is buried in Louisville, Kentucky. The Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices is indeed a trade secret. Apparently there is only one copy of the recipe, a handwritten piece of paper, written in pencil and signed by Colonel Sanders. Since 2009, the piece of paper has been locked in a computerized vault surrounded with motion detectors and security cameras.
43. Former French capital : FRANC
The French franc was made up of 100 centimes, before being replaced by the Euro.
50. Himalayan legends : YETIS
The yeti, also called the abominable snowman, is a beast of legend. “Yeti” is a Tibetan term, and the beast is fabled to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Our equivalent legend in North America is that of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. The study of animals whose existence have not yet been substantiated is called cryptozoology.
54. Bond category, for short : MUNI
A municipal bond (muni) is one that is issued by a city or local government, or some similar agency. Munis have an advantage over other investments in that any interest earned on the bond is usually exempt from state and federal income taxes.
57. Test for a future atty. : LSAT
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)