Edited by: Rich Norris
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Happy Labor Day, everyone! Each of today’s themed answers has the same clue, namely “Chill! It’s Labor Day!”
- 17A. “Chill! It’s Labor Day!” : SIT BACK AND RELAX!
- 38A. “Chill! It’s Labor Day!” : LET YOUR HAIR DOWN!
- 61A. “Chill! It’s Labor Day!” : DON’T LIFT A FINGER!
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
4. Nike logo : SWOOSH
I remember seeing a lady named Carolyn Davidson on the television show “I’ve Got a Secret”. Davidson created the Nike “swoosh” back in 1971 when she was a design student at Portland State. She did it as freelance work for Blue Ribbon Sports, a local company introducing a new line of athletic footwear. The “swoosh” is taken from the wing of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. Years later, BRS changed its name to Nike, so I suppose the company should be grateful to Carolyn for both the great design, and a great company name.
10. H.S. junior’s exam : PSAT
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)
14. “__ Beso (That Kiss!)”: Paul Anka song : ESO
“Eso Beso” is Spanish for “That Kiss”, and is the name of a 1962 hit song recorded by Canadian-born singer Paul Anka.
15. Stephen King’s telekinetic high schooler : CARRIE
“Carrie” is a 1976 horror film based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. Sissy Spacek plays the title role, a breakthrough role for her. I’m afraid I have never seen the movie, because I am afraid of horror films …!
17. “Chill! It’s Labor Day!” : SIT BACK AND RELAX!
38. “Chill! It’s Labor Day!” : LET YOUR HAIR DOWN!
61. “Chill! It’s Labor Day!” : DON’T LIFT A FINGER!
Labor Day is a federal holiday observed every year on the first Monday in September. The tradition of honoring workers with a holiday started in Boston in 1878, when a day of observance was organized by the Central Labor Union, the major trade union at the time. There was a bloody dispute in 1894 between labor unions and the railroads called the Pullman Strike, which led to the death of some workers when the US Military and US Marshals were instructed to maintain order. President Grover Cleveland submitted a “Labor Day” bill to Congress which was signed into law just six days after the end of the strike. The introduction of a federal holiday to honor the worker was a move designed to promote reconciliation between management and unions after the bitter conflict.
20. Open, as a Chablis : UNCORK
Chablis wine comes from the Chablis region that is the most northerly wine district in the Burgundy region of France. It is a dry white wine made mainly from Chardonnay grapes.
21. Toy block brand : LEGO
Lego is manufactured by Lego Group, a privately held company headquartered in Billund, Denmark. The company was founded by a carpenter called Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1934 and the now-famous plastic interlocking blocks were introduced in 1949. The blocks were originally sold under the name “Automatic Binding Bricks” but I think “Lego” is easier to remember! The name “Lego” comes from the Danish term “leg godt” meaning “play well”.
22. NYC airport on Flushing Bay : LGA
Fiorello La Guardia was the Mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945, racking up three full terms in office. The famous airport that bears La Guardia’s name was built at his urging, stemming from an incident that took place while he was in office. He was taking a TWA flight to “New York” and was outraged when the plane landed at Newark Airport, in the state of New Jersey. The Mayor demanded that the flight take off again and land at a small airport in Brooklyn. A gaggle of press reporters joined him on the short hop and he gave them a story, urging New Yorkers to support the construction of a new commercial airport within the city’s limits. The new airport, in Queens, opened in 1939 as New York Municipal, often called “LaGuardia” as a nickname. The airport was officially relabeled as “LaGuardia” (LGA) in 1947.
Flushing Bay is a tidal embankment in New York City that takes its name from the town of Flushing. Flushing was settled in 1645 by the Dutch and was named for the port of Vlissingen in the southwest Netherlands. “Flushing” is the English name for the Dutch port.
23. Gas for signs : NEON
The basic design of neon lighting was first demonstrated at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Such lighting is made up of glass tubes containing a vacuum into which has been introduced a small amount of neon gas. When a voltage is applied between two electrodes inside the tube, the neon gas “glows” and gives off the familiar light.
33. Señora Perón : EVA
Eva Perón was the second wife of President Juan Perón who was in office from 1946 to 1955. The Argentine First Lady was known affectionately by the people as “Evita”, the Spanish language diminutive of “Eva”. “Evita” was also the follow-up musical to “Jesus Christ Superstar” for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and was based on the life of Eva Perón.
34. River, in Mexico : RIO
Mexico is a federal republic, and like the US is a collection of states and one federal district. The US has 50 states and the District of Columbia, whereas Mexico has 31 states and Mexico City. Our southern neighbor’s official name is the United Mexican States.
43. “… at the __ ball game!”: song lyric : OLD
“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is a 1908 song that is traditionally sung during the seventh inning stretch of a baseball game. Even though the song has is now inextricably linked to baseball, neither of the two composers had ever been to a game before they wrote it.
45. Coax (out), as a genie : RUB
The “genie” in the bottle takes his or her name from “djinn”. “Djinns” were various spirits considered lesser than angels, with people exhibiting unsavory characteristics said to be possessed by djinn. When the book “The Thousand and One Nights” was translated into French, the word “djinn” was transformed into the existing word “génie”, because of the similarity in sound and the related spiritual meaning. This “génie” from the Arabian tale became confused with the Latin-derived “genius”, a guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. Purely as a result of that mistranslation the word genie has come to mean the “djinn” that pops out of the bottle. A little hard to follow, I know, but still quite interesting …
46. Letters in a certain bachelor’s ad : SWM
Single white male (SWM)
52. Came home in a cloud of dust : SLID
That would be baseball.
54. Inventor Whitney : ELI
The inventor Eli Whitney is a best known for inventing the cotton gin. Whitney also came up with the important concept of “interchangeable parts”. Parts that are interchangeable can be swapped out of equipment or perhaps used in related designs.
55. Hawkeyes’ home : IOWA
Iowa is nicknamed the Hawkeye State in honor of Chief Black Hawk, a leader of the Sauk people during the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War.
57. Historic cold period : ICE AGE
Ice ages are periods in the Earth’s history when there are extensive ice sheets present in the northern and southern hemispheres. One might argue that we are still in an ice age that began 2.6 million years ago, as evidenced by the presence of ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.
64. “Young Frankenstein” seductress : INGA
I am not really a big fan of movies by Mel Brooks, but “Young Frankenstein” is the exception. I think the cast has a lot to do with me liking the film, as it includes Gene Wilder (Dr. Frankenstein), Teri Garr (Inga), Marty Feldman (Igor) and Gene Hackman (Harold, the blind man).
65. Big name in little trains : LIONEL
Lionel is the name most associated with toy trains in the US. The first Lionel trains rolled off the production line in 1901 and they are still produced today, although the original Lionel Corporation is long gone. In 1995, the brand was bought by an investment company that included train enthusiast Neil Young (the singer), and operated as Lionel, LLC. Neil Young’s financial involvement ended after a 2008 reorganization of the company following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, but the company is still producing and selling.
68. Holy female fig. in a Renaissance painting : ST MARY
According to the Christian New Testament and the Quran, the mother of Jesus was Mary (“Maryam” in the Islamic account), a woman from Nazareth.
1. Son of God, in a Bach cantata title : JESU
The Bach cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life) has ten movements. The most famous of these movements is the last one, a chorale titled “Jesus bleibet meine Freude”, usually translated as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”.
3. Campus mil. unit : ROTC
The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a training program for officers based in colleges all around the US. The ROTC program was established in 1862 when as a condition of receiving a land-grant to create colleges, the federal government required that military tactics be part of a new school’s curriculum.
6. Mork’s planet : ORK
The sitcom “Mork & Mindy” was broadcast from 1978 to 1982. We were first introduced to Mork (played by Robin Williams) in a special episode of “Happy Days”. The particular episode in question has a bizarre storyline culminating in Fonzie and Mork having a thumb-to-finger duel. Eventually Richie wakes up in bed, and alien Mork was just part of a dream! Oh, and “Nanu Nanu” means both “hello” and “goodbye” back on the planet Ork. “I am Mork from Ork, Nanu Nanu”. Great stuff …
10. Antonym of post- : PRE-
An antonym is an “anti-synonym”. A synonym is word having the same sense as another, and an antonym the opposite. For example, “love” is an antonym of “hate”, and “stop” is an antonym of “go”.
12. “Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit,” e.g. : ADAGE
“Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit” is a line from William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”.
William Shakespeare wrote his comedy “Twelfth Night” as a Christmas entertainment (Twelfth Night being the end of the Christmas season). The play’s protagonist is a young woman named Viola. The plot calls for Viola to dress as eunuch named Cesario who goes into the service of Duke Orsino. Orsino has Cesario go to Duchess Olivia to express his love for her. But Olivia falls for Cesario, Cesario (Viola) falls for Orsino, and hilarity ensues …
13. Lone Star State : TEXAS
The single star on the state flag of Texas is a reminder of the “lone star” on the 1836 National Standard of Texas. The single gold star on a blue background symbolized Texas as an independent republic and its struggle for independence from Mexico.
18. Leftover for Fido : BONE
“Fido”, the name for many a dog, is Latin for “I trust”.
24. Former Neet rival : NAIR
Nair is a hair removal product that has some pretty harsh ingredients. The most important active constituents are calcium hydroxide (“slake lime”) and sodium hydroxide (“caustic soda”). Other Nair components seem to be there to soothe the skin after the harsher chemicals have done their job. The name “Nair” probably comes from combining “no” and “hair”.
The hair removal product “Neet” was launched in Canada in 1901, and was also sold as “Immac”. Today it is sold under the name “Veet”.
26. SoCal cop force : LAPD
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is the third largest local law enforcement agency in the country, after New York PD and Chicago PD. Among other things, LAPD is famous for creating the first Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in the US, in 1965.
35. “The butler __ it” : DID
The cliché “the butler did it” is often attributed to a 1930 crime novel called “The Door” by Mary Roberts Rinehart. In “The Door”, the butler actually did commit the crime.
37. Irish New Age songwriter : ENYA
Enya’s real name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, which can translate from Irish into Enya Brennan. Her Donegal family (in the northwest of Ireland) formed a band called Clannad, which included Enya. In 1980 Enya launched her very successful solo career, eventually becoming Ireland’s best-selling solo musician. And, she sure does turn up a lot in crosswords!
47. Italy’s largest island : SICILY
In the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, the “boot” is the mainland of Italy, and the the ball being kicked by the boot is the island of Sicily.
48. Biblical garden : EDEN
According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve lived in a garden “in” Eden, with Eden being geographically located by reference to four rivers including the Tigris and the Euphrates. Some scholars hypothesize that Eden was located in Mesopotamia, which encompasses much of modern-day Iraq.
49. Immerse in salsa again, as a chip (only do this if you’re 50-Down!) : REDIP
“Salsa” is simply the Spanish for “sauce”.
59. Group after boomers : GEN-X
The term Generation X originated in the UK where it was the name of a book by Jane Deverson. Her book detailed the results of a study of British youths in 1964, contrasting their lifestyle to those of previous generations. It was Canadian author Douglas Coupland who was responsible for popularizing the term, with his more successful publication “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture”. By the latest accepted definition, Gen-Xers were born between 1961 and 1981.
A baby boomer is someone who was born in the post-WWII baby boom. The rate of births had been falling fairly steadily in the US at least since 1900, but this trend was sharply reversed in 1946 after WWII. The higher birth rate continued until 1964, when it returned to pre-war levels. Since then the birth rate has continued to decline, although at a slower pace. The period between 1946 and 1964 is defined as the “baby boom”.
60. Spooky-sounding lake : ERIE
Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes by area (Lake Ontario is the smallest). The lake takes its name from the Erie tribe of Native Americans that used to live along its southern shore. Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume and the shallowest, something for which nearby residents must be quite grateful. Being relatively shallow, much of Erie freezes over part way through most winters putting an end to most of the lake-effect snow that falls in the snow belt extending from the lake’s edge.
63. Santa __, California : ANA
Santa Ana is the county seat of Orange County, California and takes its name from the Santa Ana River that runs through the city.