Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed clues contains exactly FOUR letters F:
- 40A. Not suitable for military service … or an apt description of 17-, 27-, 49- and 64-Across : FOUR-F
- 17A. Extemporaneous, as a speech : OFF THE CUFF
- 27A. Appointed White House overseer : CHIEF OF STAFF
- 49A. Laundry service option : FLUFF AND FOLD
- 64A. Beanstalk giant’s chant : FEE-FI-FO-FUM
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
10. Tax pros : CPAS
Certified public accountant (CPA)
14. Cohort of Larry and Curly : MOE
If you’ve seen a few of the films starring “The Three Stooges” you’ll have noticed that the line up changed over the years. The original trio was made up of Moe and Shemp Howard (two brothers) and Larry Fine (a good friend of the Howards). This line up was usually known as “Moe, Larry and Shemp”. Then Curly Howard replaced his brother when Shemp quit the act, creating the most famous trio, “Moe, Larry And Curly”. Shemp returned when Curly had a debilitating stroke in 1946, and Shemp stayed with the troupe until he died in 1955. Shemp was replaced by Joe Besser, and then “Curly-Joe” DeRita. When Larry Fine had a stroke in 1970, it effectively marked the end of the act.
15. Not widely understood : ARCANE
Something that is “arcane” is something that is understood by only a few, something that might be described as mysterious.
16. Boffo review : RAVE
“Boffo” is show biz slang for “very successful”, and is a term that dates back to the early sixties.
17. Extemporaneous, as a speech : OFF THE CUFF
To speak “off the cuff” is to speak extemporaneously. The idea is that someone doing so would not be using learned lines, but rather is speaking with the use of a few notes that have been jotted on his cuffs or shirtsleeves.
19. Theater honor : OBIE
The Obies are the “Off-Broadway Theater Awards”. The Obies are presented annually and the recipients are chosen by “The Village Voice” newspaper.
20. “Firework” singer Perry : KATY
Katy Perry is an American singer who grew up listening to and singing gospel music, as she was the daughter of two Christian pastors. In fact, her first musical release was a gospel album in 2001. She has branched out since then. Her first successful single was “Ur so Gay”, followed by “I Kissed A Girl”. She was married (for only a year) to the British comedian Russell Brand, until 2012.
21. Near-perfect bridge feat : SMALL SLAM
A grand slam in bridge is the winning of all thirteen tricks by one player. If the player wins twelve tricks, the achievement is called a small slam.
26. Liam of “Michael Collins” : NEESON
Irish actor Liam Neeson got his big break when he played Oskar Schindler in the Spielberg epic, “Schindler’s List”. Neeson was in the news some years ago when he lost his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, in a tragic skiing accident in 2009.
Michael Collins was one of the most famous leaders of the revolutionary war that led to an independent Irish state after the British withdrew. There is an excellent Neil Jordan biopic called “Michael Collins” that was released in 1996 with Liam Neeson in the title role. British actor Alan Rickman does a great job playing Éamon de Valera, the man who opposed Collins in the Irish Civil War that followed independence.
27. Appointed White House overseer : CHIEF OF STAFF
The position of White House Chief of Staff is regarded as the most senior post at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The designation “White House Chief of Staff” was introduced in 1953 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. From 1946 to 1953, the Chief of Staff’s responsibilities were carried out by the Assistant to the President of the United States.
32. __ Vegas : LAS
Back in the 1800s, the Las Vegas Valley was given its name from the extensive meadows (“las vegas” is Spanish for “the meadows”) present in the area courtesy of the artesian wells drilled by local farmers. Las Vegas was incorporated as a city in 1905, in the days when it was a stopping-off point for pioneers travelling west. It eventually became a railroad town, although with the coming of the railroad growth halted as travelers began to bypass Las Vegas. The city’s tourism industry took off in 1935 with the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam, which is still a popular attraction. Then gambling was legalized, and things really started to move. Vegas was picked, largely by celebrated figures in “the mob”, as a convenient location across the California/Nevada state line that could service the vast population of Los Angeles. As a result, Las Vegas is the most populous US city founded in the 20th century (Chicago is the most populous city founded in the 19th century, just in case you were wondering).
34. Dalai Lama’s homeland : TIBET
Tibet is a plateau region that is part of China, and is located northeast of the Himalayas. Tibet declared its independence from China in 1913, but fell back under Chinese control after the Invasion of Tibet in 1951. The Tibetan leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled the country during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion. Since then, he has led the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India.
40. Not suitable for military service … or an apt description of 17-, 27-, 49- and 64-Across : FOUR-F
The US government maintains information on all males who are potentially subject to military conscription, using what is called the Selective Service System (SSS). In the event that a draft was held, men registered would be classified into groups to determine eligibility for service. Class 1-A registrants are those available for unrestricted military service. Other classes are 1-A-O (conscientious objector available for noncombatant service), 4-A (registrant who has completed military service) and 4-D (Minister of religion).
43. Thick book : TOME
“Tome” first came into English from the Latin “tomus” which means “section of a book”. The original usage in English was for a single volume in a multi-volume work. By the late 16th century “tome” had come to mean “a large book”.
44. Salami type : GENOA
Genoa salami is made using preservation techniques that originated in Ancient Rome.
“Salame” (note the letter E at the end) is an Italian sausage that is traditionally associated with the peasant classes. The meat in the sausage is preserved with salt, and it can be hung and stored for as long as ten years. The name “salame” comes from “sale”, the Italian word for salt, and “-ame”, a suffix indicating a collective noun. Our English word “salami” is actually the Italian plural for “salame”.
46. Nevada senator Harry : REID
Democrat Harry Reid was the Senate Majority leader from 2007 until 2015. Reid had a big day in the Senate from a Democratic perspective with the successful passage of the so-called ObamaCare Bill. Paradoxically, Harry Reid’s wife was in hospital at the time, having broken her back in a car accident. Reid took over as Senate Majority leader from Republican Bill Frist who retired from politics in 2007. Reid was replaced in 2015 by Republican Mitch McConnell.
48. Red wine choice, for short : ZIN
Zinfandel is one of my favorite red wine varietals. It amazes me that the rich and heavy red Zinfandel comes from the same grape as does the sweet White Zinfandel.
53. ’60s dance craze : WATUSI
The dance called the Watusi was almost as popular as the twist in the early sixties. The Watusi took its name from the Batutsi tribe in Rwanda.
55. Opus __: “The Da Vinci Code” sect : DEI
Opus Dei is Roman Catholic institution that was founded in Spain in 1928, and officially approved by the church in 1950. In 2010, Opus Dei had over 90,000 members, mostly lay people. The institution’s mission is to promote certain aspects of the Roman Catholic doctrine. Opus Dei was portrayed as a sinister organization by Dan Brown in his novel “The Da Vinci Code”.
56. DJ known for playing novelty tunes : DR DEMENTO
Dr. Demento is the persona used on radio by broadcaster Barry Hansen. Dr. Demento is best known for bringing “Weird Al” Yankovic to national attention. Yankovic has returned the favor since achieving his fame and has given Dr. Demento spots in his music video’s and in his movie “UHF”.
59. Surrealist Salvador : DALI
The famous surrealist painter Salvador Dalí was born in Figueres, Spain. I had the privilege of visiting the Dalí Museum in Figueres some years ago, just north of Barcelona. If you ever get the chance, it’s a “must see” as it really is a quite magnificent building with a fascinating collection.
63. Geological age : AEON
Geological time is divided into a number of units of varying lengths. These are, starting from the largest:
- eon (also “aeon”)
64. Beanstalk giant’s chant : FEE-FI-FO-FUM
The line “fee-fi-fo-fum” (with various spellings) comes from the famous English fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Within the story, the giant at the top of the beanstalk utters a little poem when he detects the presence of Jack:
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.
68. Like bears : URSINE
The Latin word for a bear is “ursus”.
69. Alias, on police blotters : AKA
Also known as (aka)
A police blotter is (or used to be) a daily record of arrests made.
70. List of appts. : SKED
71. English writer Edward Bulwer-__ : LYTTON
Edward Bulwer-Lytton was an English politician and writer. Among his writings, Bulwer-Lytton came up with some phrases that have endured, such as:
- “the great unwashed”
- “pursuit of the almighty dollar”
- “the pen is mightier than the sword”
- “It was a dark and stormy night …”
72. “Oedipus __” : REX
“Oedipus Rex” (also “Oedipus the King”) is a tragedy penned by the Ancient Greek playwright Sophocles. The play tells the story of Oedipus, a man who becomes king of Thebes. Famously, Oedipus was destined from birth to murder his father and marry his mother.
2. Living room seat : SOFA
“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.
4. Scoff from Scrooge : BAH!
The classic 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens has left us with a few famous phrases and words. Firstly, it led to popular use of the phrase “Merry Christmas”, and secondly it gave us the word “scrooge” meaning a miserly person. And thirdly, everyone knows that Ebenezer Scrooge uttered the words “Bah! Humbug!”.
6. Covertly sends an email dupe to : BCCS
A blind carbon copy (bcc) is a copy of a document or message that is sent to someone without other recipients of the message knowing about that extra copy.
7. “The Wizard of Oz” author : BAUM
L. Frank Baum (the “L” is for Lyman) is of course famous for writing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. Writing early in the 20th century, Baum actually described in his books things that had yet to be invented, like television, laptop computers and wireless telephones.
8. __ terrible: difficult child, in French : ENFANT
An “enfant terrible”, French for “terrible child”, is one who embarrasses his or her parents with untimely candid remarks.
9. Rid of parasites, as a dog : DEFLEA
Fleas are flightless insects, but they sure can jump. Their very specialized hind legs allow them to jump up to 50 times the length of their bodies.
10. Multi-discipline strength-training program : CROSSFIT
CrossFit is a trademarked fitness, strength and conditioning program that was introduced in 2000.
11. Painter Picasso : PABLO
The artist Pablo Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name he was given right from birth. Got that?
12. Like many nest-builders : AVIAN
“Avis” is the Latin word for “bird”, giving rise to our adjective “avian” meaning “relating to birds”.
24. N.Y. Jets’ org. : AFC
American Football Conference (AFC)
Just like the New York Giants, the New York Jets are based in New Jersey, headquartered in Florham Park. The Jets and the Giants have a unique arrangement in the NFL in that the two teams share Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets were an AFL charter team, formed in 1959 as the Titans of New York. The Titans changed their name to the Jets in 1963.
28. Cocksure Aesopian racer : HARE
“The Tortoise and the Hare” is perhaps the most famous fable attributed to Aesop. The cocky hare takes a nap during a race against the tortoise, and the tortoise sneaks past the finish line for the win while his speedier friend is sleeping.
To be “cocksure” is to be confident, “as assured as a cock”. English author D. H. Lawrence introduced us to a female version of the term: “hensure”.
29. Library ID : ISBN
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was invented by one Gordon Foster who was a professor at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. The code was originally developed for booksellers, so that they had a unique number (and now a barcode) for each publication.
30. Mel’s Diner waitress : FLO
Florence Jean “Flo” Castleberry was a waitress in the sitcom “Alice” which aired on CBS in the 70s and 80s. Flo got her own sitcom (called “Flo”) which had a brief run in the early 80s. I saw a few episodes of “Alice”, but that’s about it. Flo was played by Polly Holliday.
The sitcom “Alice” is set in Mel’s Diner, which is supposedly frequented by locals and truckers on the outskirts of Phoenix. There is a real Mel’s Diner in Phoenix, and the restaurant’s sign is used in the opening credits. The real-world Mel’s was called “Chris’ Diner”, but the owner agreed to a temporary change in name for the purposes of the show. But, “Chris” never came back, and “Mel’s” is still serving customers today.
31. Blue toon : SMURF
The Smurfs are little blue people created in 1958 by the Belgian cartoonist who went by the pen name Peyo. The Smurfs became famous in the US when Hanna-Barbera used them in a children’s cartoon series. The characters are largely a group of males. The original lineup included just one “Smurfette”, who is wooed by almost all of the boy Smurfs. Later, another female was introduced into the mix called Sassette, and still later along came Granny Smurf.
35. Memorable clown : BOZO
Bozo the Clown is a character created in 1946 by Alan Livingston. Bozo was introduced in the first ever “record reader”, a children’s illustrated read-along book that came with a vinyl recording of the story. The book/record was so successful that Bozo moved to television, and he has been around ever since.
36. Disney’s “__ and the Detectives” : EMIL
“Emil and the Detectives” is a novel first published in 1929. It was originally written in German and was titled “Emil und die Detektive”. The Disney company released a screen adaptation in 1964.
41. Stephen of “Michael Collins” : REA
Stephen Rea is an Irish actor from Belfast. Rea’s most successful role was Fergus in 1992’s “The Crying Game”, for which performance he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In “The Crying Game”, Fergus was a member of the IRA. In real life, Rea was married to IRA bomber and hunger striker Dolours Price at the time he made the movie.
45. Grad : ALUM
An “alumnus” (plural … alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural … alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.
47. Pres. before JFK : DDE
Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK)
51. Fancy duds : FINERY
“Duds” is an informal word for clothing, coming from the word “dudde” that was used around 1300 as the name for a cloak.
52. Pal of Rover : FIDO
“Fido”, the name for many a dog, is Latin for “I trust”.
53. Perpetrate, as havoc : WREAK
Havoc is a great damage or destruction. The term comes from the Anglo-French phrase “crier havok”, which was an order given in the late 1500s to soldiers, instructing them to seize plunder.
61. “Use the Force, __” : LUKE
The Force is a metaphysical power much cited in all of the “Star Wars” movies, and still today we may hear someone in real life say “May the Force be with you”.
62. Big-screen format : IMAX
The IMAX Corporation, which is behind the IMAX film format, is a Canadian company. The impetus for developing the system came after Expo ’67 in Montreal. Back then large format screenings were accomplished using multiple projectors with multiple screens, with images basically stitched together. The team behind the IMAX technology set out to simplify things, and developed a single-camera, single-projector system.
65. Masculine Italian suffix with bamb- : -INO
In Italian, a “bambino” (male child) might call his mother “Mamma”.