Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase, but with the letters of one word written in reverse (like changing DRAW to WARD).
- 58A. Attract … or, as three words, sequence change with a hint about 18-, 24-, 38- and 51-Across : DRAW TOWARD or DRAW TO WARD
- 18A. Chat at the supermarket checkout? : GROCERY GAB (from “grocery bag”)
- 24A. Marsh bird with uncontrollable urges? : COMPULSIVE RAIL (from “compulsive liar”)
- 38A. Way into Wayne Manor? : BAT KEYS (from “tab keys”)
- 51A. Work of a major opera house villain? : EVIL FROM THE MET (from “Live from the Met”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Alan of “Tower Heist” : ALDA
“Tower Heist” is a 2011 comedy film that I had hoped to see when it was playing in theaters, but I missed it. It stars Ben Stiller as an employee of an apartment building who loses his pension due to fraudulent investing activities by a Wall Street businessman. Stiller and his cohorts execute a heist to get back their money, and hilarity ensues (I am told).
5. Partridge family tree? : PEAR
The fabulous Christmas Carol called “The Twelve Days of Christmas” dates back at least to 1780 when it was first published in England, though it may be French in origin. The concept of twelve days of Christmas comes from the tradition that the three kings came to visit the Christ Child twelve days after he was born. This same tradition is the origin of the title to Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”.
9. Eliot’s Bede : ADAM
“Adam Bede” was the first novel written by the English writer George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans). It was published in 1859 and has been in print since then, for over 150 years.
13. He shared the AP Driver of the Century award with Andretti : FOYT
A. J. Foyt is a retired racing driver. Foyt is the only driver to have won the Indianapolis 500 (four times, in fact), the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Mario Andretti is a retired Italian American racing driver who was named US Driver of the Year in 1967, 1978 and 1984. Both of Mario’s sons, Michael and Jeff are successful auto racers, as well as Mario’s nephews, John and Adam Andretti. John and Adam are sons of Mario’s brother Aldo Andretti. Aldo also raced cars, but quit after a crash in 1969 that severely damaged his face. Aldo is Mario’s identical twin brother, but there is no resemblance after the reconstructive surgery necessitated by the accident.
16. Con __: tempo marking : MOTO
The musical term “con moto” indicates that a passage should be played quickly, briskly, The term translates from Italian as “with motion”.
20. Bigelow offering : TEA
The Bigelow Tea Company is a family-owned business that was founded in 1945 by Ruth C. Bigelow. The company is headquartered in in Fairfield, Connecticut, and owns America’s only tea plantation, which is located in Charleston, South Carolina.
22. “Utopia” author : MORE
The word “Utopia” was coined by Sir Thomas More for his book “Utopia” published in 1516 describing an idyllic fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More’s use of the name Utopia comes from the Greek “ou” meaning “not” and “topos” meaning “place”. By calling his perfect island “Not Place”, More was apparently making the point that he didn’t think that the ideal could actually exist.
23. Request on “ER” : MRI
MRI scans can be daunting for many people as they usually involve the patient lying inside a tube with the imaging magnet surrounding the body. Additionally, the scan can take up to 40 minutes in some cases. There are some open MRI scanners available that help prevent a feeling of claustrophobia. However, the image produced by open scanners are of lower quality as they operate at lower magnetic fields.
“ER” is a TV medical drama that was created by successful novelist and screenwriter Michael Crichton. The show had an original run of 15 seasons and featured quite a cast of actors who came and went over time. The cast included Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Eriq La Salle, Julianna Margulies and Angela Bassett.
24. Marsh bird with uncontrollable urges? : COMPULSIVE RAIL (from “compulsive liar”)
Rails are birds of the family Rallidae (hence their name). Outside of America, the name “rail” tends to be reserved for long-billed specie and the the term “crake” is used for short-billed species.
28. Oldest Japanese beer brand : SAPPORO
The Sapporo Brewery was founded in 1876 as the Kaitakushi Brewery, making it the oldest producer of beer in Japan. Kaitakushi’s first brewer was German-trained Seibei Nakagawa. The first beer that Nakagawa produced was Sapporo lager, which was named for the city in which Kaitakushi was located.
31. Trivial amount : SOU
A sou is an old French coin. We use the term “sou” to mean “an almost worthless amount”.
37. Paella veggie : PEA
Paella is sometime referred to as the Spanish national dish, but not by Spaniards. In Spain, paella is regarded as a typical regional dish from Valencia.
38. Way into Wayne Manor? : BAT KEYS (from “tab keys”)
Wayne Manor is the home of Bruce Wayne, the alter-ego of Batman. It is a huge manor that lies just outside Gotham City. Looking after the house is the Wayne family servant, Alfred. Beneath the grounds of the manor is an extensive cave system where Bruce Wayne put together his Batcave. Access is to the cave is via a staircase behind a hidden door. The door is opened by moving the hands of a non-functioning grandfather clock to 10:47, the time at which Wayne’s parents were murdered. It is the murder of his parents that sets Bruce off on his journey of crime fighting.
Like most features on our computer keyboards, the tab key is a hangover from the days of typewriters. When using a typewriter, making entries into a table was very tedious, involving lots of tapping on the spacebar and backspace key. So, a lever was added to typewriters that allowed the operator to “jump” across the page to positions that could be set by hand. Later this was simplified to a tab key which could be depressed, causing the carriage to jump to the next tab stop in much the same way that the modern tab key works on a computer.
41. “Eureka!” : AHA!
“Eureka” translates from Greek as “I have found it”. The word is usually associated with Archimedes, uttered as he stepped into his bath one day. His discovery was that the volume of water that was displaced was equal to that of the object (presumably his foot) that had been submerged. He used this fact to determine the volume of a crown, something he needed in order to determine if it was made of pure gold or was a forgery.
42. Legendary first name in skating : SONJA
Sonja Henie was a World and Olympic Champion figure skater from Norway from the days when “amateur” sports stars were not paid. Henie made up for her lack of income from competing by developing a career in Hollywood. She was one of highest-paid film stars at the height of her movie career.
44. Northwest Passage explorer : RAE
John Rae was a Scottish explorer who took on the task of searching for the ill-fated Franklin Expedition of 1845. The Franklin Expedition was itself searching for the elusive Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. John Rae stirred up much controversy back in England when he reported evidence of cannibalism among the ill-fated Franklin explorers.
The Northwest Passage (NWP) is a collection of sea routes allowing navigation between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The first expedition to traverse the NWP was led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, an expedition lasting from 1903 until 1906.
45. Cinco times dos : DIEZ
In Spanish, “cinco” (five) times “dos” (two) is “diez” (ten).
46. Noodle bar order : UDON
Udon noodles are made from wheat-flour and are very popular in Japanese cuisine like tempura.
51. Work of a major opera house villain? : EVIL FROM THE MET (from “Live from the Met”)
“Live from the Met” is a PBS show presenting complete operas from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The first broadcast aired in 1977, and was a live production of “La Bohème” starring Luciano Pavarotti and Renata Scotto. “Live from the Met” was replaced in PBS schedules with “Great Performances at the Met” in 2007. The new program is a repeat broadcast of live video productions shown in movie theaters.
57. SHO-owned cinematic channel : TMC
The Movie Channel is owned by Showtime, which in turn is subsidiary of CBS. The channel’s name is often abbreviated to “TMC”, although this is informal usage.
65. Skye, for one : ISLE
The Isle of Skye is off the northwest coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides. It is the second largest island in the country, and has been linked to the mainland by a road bridge since 1995. I’ve never been there, but I hear the views are spectacular.
66. Card worth a fortune? : TAROT
Tarot cards have been around since the mid-1400s, and for centuries were simply used for entertainment as a game. It has only been since the late 1800s that the cards have been used by fortune tellers to predict the future. The list of tarot cards includes the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man and the Lovers.
69. Sweet tubers : YAMS
Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the the world than they are in this country, and are especially found in Africa.
1. Laughlin in Tex., e.g. : AFB
Del Rio is a border city in Texas, sitting opposite the Ciudad Acuña in the Mexican state of Coahuila. Del Rio was chosen as the site for Laughlin Air Force Base back in the forties. Laughlin was closed after just a few years but reopened during the Cold War, mainly for flight training. Laughlin is now the busiest flight training base in the US Air Force.
2. He often batted after Babe : LOU
The New Yankee’s baseball team of the late twenties had a particularly successful core group of batters. That line-up was nicknamed “Murderers’ Row”. The most famous “Murderers’ Row” played with the 1927 Yankees, and was made up of:
- Earle Combs
- Mark Koenig
- Babe Ruth
- Lou Gehrig
- Bob Meusel
- Tony Lazzeri
3. Like “The Hunger Games” society : DYSTOPIAN
A dystopia is an imaginary community in which the residents live unhappily and in fear. “Dystopia” is the opposite of “utopia”. One example of such a society is that described by George Orwell in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. A more contemporary example would be the setting for the novels “The Hunger Games”.
6. Ringing organ? : EAR
Tinnitus is a ringing sound in the ears when there is actually no sound present. The term derives from the Latin verb “tinnire” meaning “to ring”.
9. Youngest of the “Little Women” : AMY
“Little Women” is a novel written by American author Louisa May Alcott. The quartet of little women is Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March. Jo is a tomboy and the main character in the story, and is based on Alcott herself.
10. Article of faith : DOGMA
A dogma is a set of beliefs, with the plural being “dogmata” (or “dogmas”, if you’re not a pedant like me!)
11. Arcade giant : ATARI
At one point, the electronics and video game manufacturer Atari was the fastest growing company in US history. However, Atari never really recovered from the video game industry crash of 1983.
Our word “arcade” comes from the Latin “arcus” meaning “arc”. The first arcades were passages made from a series of arches. This could be an avenue of trees, and eventually any covered avenue. I remember arcades lined with shops and stores when I was growing up on the other side of the Atlantic. Arcades came to be lined with lots of amusements, resulting in amusement arcades and video game arcades.
12. Exxon follower? : -MOBIL
The Exxon Corporation was a descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Exxon merged with Mobil (yet another descendant of Standard Oil) in 1999 to form ExxonMobil.
19. Giant in little candy : REESE’S
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented by Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese. Peanut Butter Cups were originally called penny cups, reflecting the price at which they were sold. Then inflation took over, and maybe that’s why they were broken into smaller “Pieces” …
21. GI’s address : APO
Army post office (APO)
24. Typical Hitchcock role : CAMEO
Alfred Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance in 39 of his 52 movies. My favorite, and perhaps the most innovative, is in the movie “Lifeboat”. In the film, there is a limited cast, just the people in a lifeboat and no extras. Hitchcock managed to make his appearance in a print ad in a newspaper read by one of the survivors in the boat.
25. Celestial bear : URSA
The constellation named Ursa Major (Latin for “Larger Bear”) is often just called the Big Dipper because of its resemblance to a ladle or dipper. Ursa Major also resembles a plow, and that’s what we usually call the same constellation back in Ireland, the “plough”.
26. Take from a job : LOOT
“Loot” is the name given to anything taken by dishonesty or force, particularly during war. The term came into English from the Hindi “lut” meaning “goods taken from an enemy”.
27. Johannesburg’s land: Abbr. : RSA
The Republic of South Africa (RSA)
Johannesburg is the most populous city in South Africa. The city developed from a prospecting settlement, and was named after two surveyors: Johannes Meyer and Johannes Rissik.
32. Former SSR : UKR
Ukraine is a large country in Eastern Europe that was a Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) before the dissolution of the USSR. In English, we often call the country “the Ukraine”, but I am told that we should say just “Ukraine”.
34. Go ballistic : RAISE CAIN
As Cain was the first murderer according the Bible, he is associated with evil or trouble. The idiom “raise Cain” is the equivalent of “raise Hell” and “raise the Devil”. In all cases, the meaning is to bring back evil or to cause trouble.
40. Repeated word in the Beatles’ “She Loves You” : YEAH
The Beatles song “She Loves You” was released in 1963. It was one of five songs that together achieved an amazing feat in the US charts. At one point that year, those five songs were in the top five positions. The top five songs were:
- “Can’t Buy Me Love”
- “Twist and Shout”
- “She Loves You”
- “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
- “Please Please Me”
Amazingly, further down the charts and still in the top 100, were seven more Beatles songs.
48. 42-Across’ homeland : NORWAY
(42. Legendary first name in skating : SONJA)
Norway has been ranked as the country in the world with the highest standard of living almost every year since 2001. Norway is rich in natural resources and has a relatively low population. The people benefit from a comprehensive social security system, subsidized higher education for all citizens and universal health care. And Norway is famous for her success at the Winter Olympic Games, having won more gold medals than any other nation in the world.
50. Vietnamese holiday : TET
The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.
51. __ Bauer : EDDIE
The Eddie Bauer clothing chain was established in Seattle in 1920 by an outdoorsman called Eddie Bauer (unsurprisingly!). Bauer was the man who patented the first quilted down jacket, in 1940.
54. Anne of comedy : MEARA
Anne Meara married fellow comedic actor Jerry Stiller in 1954. The couple’s children are actors Ben and Amy Stiller. Meara co-starred with Carroll O’Connor and Martin Balsam in the eighties sitcom “Archie Bunker’s Place”, a spinoff from “All in the Family”.
59. Director Craven : WES
Wes Craven was a very successful film director and writer specializing in movies of the horror genre, which means that I don’t watch them! He was responsible for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Scream” films. Craven passed away in August 2015.
60. Danube Delta country: Abbr. : ROM
Romania sits just east of Hungary and north of Bulgaria in Europe. Romania was formed from the union of two principalities in 1859, Moldavia and Wallachia. The Kingdom of Romania grew larger in size after WWI with the addition of three new regions, including the “vampirish” Transylvania.
The Danube Delta is located where the River Danube empties into the Black Sea, and takes up almost 2,000 square miles of land in Romania and Ukraine. It is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta in Russia.
61. Drying-out hurdle : DTS
The episodes of delirium that can accompany withdrawal from alcohol are called Delirium Tremens (the DTs). The literal translation of this Latin phrase is “trembling madness”.
64. Taxus shrub : YEW
The family of trees known as yews propagate by producing a seed surrounded by soft, sweet and brightly colored aril. Birds eat the fruit and then disperse the seed in their droppings. The birds leave the seed undamaged, and so are unharmed by the potent poisons taxine and taxol that are found within the seed. The seeds are highly toxic to humans.