Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s grid contains four sets of circled letters. Each of those sets of letters spells out the name of a celebrated LION:
- 36D. Hostile place … and where to find the circled animals in this puzzle : LION’S DEN
- 16A. “Is that your __?”: “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” inquiry : FINAL ANSWER (hiding “NALA”)
- 61A. Colorful burger topper : PURPLE ONION (hiding “LEO”)
- 10D. Quaint light during a power outage : GAS LANTERN (hiding “ASLAN”)
- 28D. Secure places for guests’ valuables : HOTEL SAFES (hiding “ELSA”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
5. Seasoned rice dish : PILAF
“Pilaf” is a Persian word, one that we use for rice that is browned in oil and then cooked in a seasoned broth.
14. Sandwich chain known for artisan bread : PANERA
Panera Bread is a chain of bakery/coffeehouses. A Panera restaurant is a good place to get online while having a cup of coffee. Back in 2006 and 2007, Panera was the largest provider of free Wi-Fi access in the whole of the US.
16. “Is that your __?”: “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” inquiry : FINAL ANSWER (hiding “NALA”)
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” is a worldwide game show franchise that started out in the UK in 1998. The US version of the show debuted in 1999 with Regis Philbin as the host. The Indian version is one of the most famous, having provided the setting for the incredibly successful Danny Boyle film “Slumdog Millionaire” that was released in 2008.
19. Blender brand with an -izer product suffix : OSTER
The Oster brand of small appliances was introduced in 1924 by John Oster. He started out by making manually-powered hair clippers designed for cutting women’s hair, and followed up with a motorized version in 1928. The clippers kept the company in business until 1946 when Oster diversified, buying a manufacturer of liquefying blenders in 1946. The blender was renamed to “Osterizer” and was a big hit. Oster was bought up by Sunbeam, which has owned the brand since 1960.
20. Spam container : TIN
Spam is a precooked meat product that is sold in cans. It was introduced by Hormel Foods in 1937. The main meat ingredients are pork shoulder meat and ham. The name “Spam” was chosen as the result of a competition at Hormel, with the winner earning himself a hundred dollars. According to the company, the derivation of the name “Spam” is a secret known by only a few former executives, but the speculation is that it stands for “spiced ham” or “shoulders of pork and ham”. Spam is particularly popular in Hawaii, so popular that it is sometimes referred to as “the Hawaiian steak”.
22. Amazon : Alexa :: Apple : __ : SIRI
Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. You’ve probably seen the ads on television, with folks talking to their iPhones asking for information and responding with a voice. I hear that Google is a little scared by Siri, as Siri is non-visual. There’s no need to touch a screen or a keyboard to work with Siri, no opportunity to click on one of Google’s ads! By the way, voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri not that long ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.
Amazon’s Alexa is a personal assistant application that is most associated with the Amazon Echo smart speaker. Apparently, one reason the name “Alexa” was chosen is because it might remind one of the Library of Alexandria, the “keeper of all knowledge”.
24. Malia Obama’s sister : SASHA
Sasha is the younger of the two Obama children, having been born in 2001. She was the youngest child to reside in the White House since John F. Kennedy, Jr. moved in with his parents as a small infant. Sasha’s Secret Service codename is “Rosebud”, and her older sister Malia has the codename “Radiance”.
Malia Obama is the oldest of Barack and Michelle Obama’s two daughters. Malia graduated from the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., the same school that Chelsea Clinton attended. Malia took a gap year after leaving high school, and spent the 2016 summer as an intern in the US Embassy in Madrid, before heading off to Harvard in 2017.
29. Surg. facilities : ORS
Surgery (surg.) is usually performed in an operating room (OR).
31. Touch of color : TINCT
To tinct is to add a little color to something. The term ultimately derives from the Latin verb “tingere” meaning “to dye”.
43. Library return spot : BOOK DROP
Our word “library” ultimately derives from the Latin “liber” meaning “book”.
45. Nick of “A Walk in the Woods” : NOLTE
The actor Nick Nolte got his big break playing opposite Jacqueline Bisset and Robert Shaw in “The Deep”, released in 1976. Prior to that, he had worked as a model. Nolte appeared in a magazine advertisement for Clairol in 1972 alongside fellow model and future actor Sigourney Weaver.
46. __-dried tomatoes : SUN
Tomatoes can be placed in the sun for 4-10 days in order to dry out. They lose about 90% of their weight to become “sun-dried” tomatoes.
51. Tiny time meas. : PSEC
A picosecond is one trillionth of a second, and is correctly abbreviated to “ps” in the SI system of measurements. I guess that’s what “psec” is meant to be …
53. “See ya, Luigi” : CIAO
“Ciao” is the Italian for “‘bye”. “Arrivederci” is more formal, and translates as “goodbye”.
55. Alumna bio word : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.
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 an alumnus is a foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.
57. Monopoly cards : DEEDS
The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman called Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.
61. Colorful burger topper : PURPLE ONION (hiding “LEO”)
The constellation called Leo can be said to resemble a lion. Others say that it resembles a bent coat hanger. “Leo” is the Latin for “lion”, but I’m not sure how to translate “coat hanger” into Latin …
65. Annual golf or tennis tournament : US OPEN
The US Open is one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, having started out as the US National Championship in 1881. Today, the US Open is the last major tournament in the Grand Slam annual series, following the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon.
Golf’s US Open Championship is held on the third Sunday of every June, which also happens to be Father’s Day. The first US Open was held in 1894. 36 holes were played over one day on a 9-hole course in Newport, Rhode Island.
67. “Viva __ Vegas” : LAS
“Viva Las Vegas” is an Elvis Presley movie released in 1964 that is considered one of his best films. The good reception for the movie was at least in part due to the performance of the female lead, the talented actress Ann-Margret.
1. Sports inst. in Cooperstown : HOF
Cooperstown is a village in New York that is famous as the home to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The village was named for Judge William Cooper, the founder of Cooperstown and the father of the noted writer James Fenimore Cooper.
2. Akron’s state : OHIO
For much of the 1800s, the Ohio city of Akron was the fasting growing city in the country, feeding off the industrial boom of that era. The city was founded in 1825 and its location, along the Ohio and Erie canal connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River, helped to fuel Akron’s growth. Akron sits at the highest point of the canal and the name “Akron” comes from the Greek word meaning “summit”. Indeed, Akron is the county seat of Summit County. The city earned the moniker “Rubber Capital of the World” for most of the 20th century, as it was home to four major tire companies: Goodrich, Goodyear, Firestone and General Tire.
6. The “I” in MIT: Abbr. : INST
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 1861 and first offered classes in 1865, in the Mercantile building in Boston. Today’s magnificent campus on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge opened in 1916.
7. Novelist C.S. __ : LEWIS
Irishman C. S. Lewis moved to Britain after serving in the British Army in WWI. A man of many achievements, Lewis is perhaps best remembered for his series of novels for children called “The Chronicles of Narnia” (which includes “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”). He also wrote the “The Four Loves”, a nonfiction work exploring the nature of love from a Christian perspective.
10. Quaint light during a power outage : GAS LANTERN (hiding “ASLAN”)
In the C. S. Lewis series of books known as “The Chronicles of Narnia”, Aslan is the name of the lion character (as in the title “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”). “Aslan” is actually the Turkish word for lion. Anyone who has read the books will recognize the the remarkable similarity between the story of Aslan and the story of Christ, including a sacrifice and resurrection.
21. Muslim denomination : SHIA
The Islamic sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims differ in the belief of who should have taken over leadership of the Muslim faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Followers of the Sunni tradition agree with the decision that the Prophet Muhammad’s confidante Abu Bakr was the right choice to become the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. Followers of the Shia tradition believe that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet Muhammad’s own family, and favoured the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali.
23. “__ la Douce” : IRMA
“Irma la Douce” is a wonderful Billy Wilder movie that was released in 1963. It stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Lemmon plays a maligned Parisian policeman, and MacLaine is the popular prostitute Irma la Douce (literally “Irma the Sweet”). Don’t let the adult themes throw you, as it’s a very entertaining movie …
25. Bird on birth announcements : STORK
In German and Dutch society, storks resting on the roof of a house were considered a sign of good luck. This tradition led to nursery stories that babies were brought to families by storks.
26. González in 2000 headlines : ELIAN
The immigration status of young Cuban boy Elián González was all over the news in 2000. Elián’s mother drowned while trying to enter the US illegally, whereas Elián and his mother’s boyfriend survived the journey. The INS placed Elián in the care of paternal relatives in the US who then petitioned to have the boy stay with them permanently, against the wishes of Elián’s father back in Cuba. After court proceedings, the federal authorities forcibly removed Elián from his relatives in the US, and he was returned to his father who took him back to Cuba. Back in Cuba, Fidel Castro stepped in and befriended Elián, and the young man still has influential sponsorship in his homeland as a result of his ordeal. Elián has grown up, earning himself a degree in industrial engineering in 2016.
27. Second longest African river : CONGO
The Congo River in Africa is the second-largest in the world in terms of volume of water discharged (after the Amazon), and also the second longest river in Africa (after the Nile). The Congo is named for the ancient Kingdom of Kongo that was once located at the mouth of the river.
28. Secure places for guests’ valuables : HOTEL SAFES (hiding “ELSA”)
The life story of Elsa the lion was told by game warden Joy Adamson, who had a very close relationship with the lioness from when Elsa was orphaned as a young cub. Adamson wrote the book “Born Free” about Elsa, and then “Living Free” which tells the story of Elsa and her three lion cubs. In the 1966 film based on “Born Free”, Adamson is played by the talented actress Virginia McKenna.
30. Belgrade natives : SERBS
Belgrade is the capital city of Serbia. The name “Belgrade” translates into “White City”.
32. Actress Sevigny : CHLOE
The actress Chloë Sevigny’s big breakthrough role was playing one of the three Mormon wives in the excellent HBO drama series “Big Love”. More recently, I saw Sevigny in “Love & Friendship”, a 2016 big screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s epistolary novel “Lady Susan”. I must say that Sevigny’s performance really paled when compared to that of the lead, Kate Beckinsale.
35. Psychologist Alfred : ADLER
Alfred Adler was one of the group of medical professionals that founded the psychoanalytic movement. Today, Adler is less famous than his colleague Sigmund Freud.
42. “Beetle Bailey” dog : OTTO
Sgt. Snorkel (“Sarge”) is Beetle Bailey’s nemesis in the cartoon strip that bears his name. Snorkel has a dog called Otto that he dresses up to look just like himself. Otto started off as a regular dog, but artist Mort Walker decide to draw him more like his owner, and soon Otto became a big hit.
44. Museum guides : DOCENTS
“Docent” is a term used for a university lecturer. There are also museum docents, people who serve as guides for visitors to their institutions and who usually provide their services for free. The term comes from the Latin “docere” meaning “to teach”.
50. Evita’s married name : PERON
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” is also the title of a tremendously successful musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that is based on the life of Eva Perón.
52. Fair-hiring abbr. : EEO
“Equal Employment Opportunity” (EEO) is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was set up by the Civil Rights Act. Title VII of the Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.
53. Stuff for Frosty’s eyes : COAL
“Frosty the Snowman” is a song that was recorded first by Gene Autry, in 1950. The song was specifically written in the hope that it would become a follow-up hit to Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” that topped the charts the previous year.
56. “Almost Christmas” actor Omar : EPPS
Omar Epps is the actor who played Eric Forman on the excellent television series “House”. Prior to playing Dr. Forman, Epps had a recurring role playing Dr. Dennis Grant on “ER”. And, in another link to the world of medicine, Epps was born in Savannah, Georgia to single mom, Dr. Bonnie Epps.
“Almost Christmas” is a 2016 comedy-drama movie starring Danny Glover as the widowed head of a pretty dysfunctional family that comes together for a holiday celebration. I haven’t seen this one …
62. Director Spike : LEE
Film director Spike Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia but has very much made New York City his home and place of work. Most of Lee’s films are set in New York City, including his first feature film, 1986’s “She’s Gotta Have It”. That film was shot over two weeks with a budget of $175,000. “She’s Gotta Have It” grossed over $7 million at the US box office.