Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each start with a type of DEAL:
- 42D. “Agreed!” … and what can be said about the start of the answers to starred clues : IT’S A DEAL!
- 17A. *Boot camp newbie : RAW RECRUIT (giving “raw deal”)
- 66A. *Defensible alibi : GOOD EXCUSE (giving “good deal”)
- 11D. *Grand scheme of things : BIG PICTURE (giving “big deal”)
- 29D. *It may be rational, in math : REAL NUMBER (giving “real deal”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
5. Crowbar, basically : LEVER
A crowbar is a wonderful tool, one that can be used to pry open things, and to remove nails. The claw at one or both ends of the tool aids in that nail removal, and it is likely this iron claw was said to resemble the claw of a crow, giving us the name “crowbar”. Back in Elizabethan times. the same tool was called an “iron crow”. There’s a line in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” that reads “Get me an iron crow and bring it straight/Unto my cell.”
10. Vanishing ski lift : T-BAR
A T-bar is a ski lift on which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of a T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skiers as they remain standing on their skis (hopefully!). There’s also a J-bar, a similar device, but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.
16. MasterCard rival : VISA
Visa doesn’t actually issue any credit or debit cards. Visa just sells the electronic systems and infrastructure to banks who then put the Visa logo on their own cards. And so, both the customer and merchant know to use the VISA system when making a transaction.
Mastercard is a financial services company that is headquartered in Harrison, New York. The company was originally called Master Charge and was set up by a group of California banks to compete with BankAmericard (which later became Visa).
21. Play the hand you were dealt : STAND PAT
To stand pat is to resist change. The term comes from the game of poker, in which one stands pat if one keeps one’s hand as is, not drawing any extra cards.
25. __-Locka, Florida : OPA
Opa-Locka is a rather interesting city in Florida. Located near Miami, Opa-Locka has a themed city plan that is based on “One Thousand and One Nights”. The city hall has a very Arabian look, and some examples of street names are Ali Baba Avenue and Sesame Street.
26. Aetna’s bus. : INS
When the healthcare management and insurance company known as Aetna was founded, the name was chosen to evoke images of Mt. Etna, the Italian volcano.
27. Michelin product : CAR TIRE
Michelin is a manufacturer of tires that is based in France. The company was founded by brothers Édouard and André Michelin in 1888. The brothers were running a rubber factory at the time, and invented the world’s first removable pneumatic tire, an invention that they used to launch their new company. Michelin is also noted for rating restaurants and accommodation in its famous Michelin Travel Guides, awarding coveted Michelin “stars”.
33. Fuel-efficient Chevy : AVEO
The Chevrolet Aveo is a subcompact automobile that has been around since 2002. The Aveo is manufactured by GM Daewoo, the GM subsidiary in South Korea. Although the Aveo name is still used in some markets, here in North America the Aveo has been sold as the Chevrolet Sonic since 2012. By the way, GM Daewoo is the third largest manufacturer of automobiles in South Korea, after Hyundai and Kia.
34. Physics work unit : ERG
An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, as there are 10 million ergs in one joule. it has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off. The term comes from “ergon”, the Greek word for work.
36. Starts the kitty : ANTES
The pot in a card game has been referred to as the kitty since the 1880s. It’s not certain how the name “kitty” evolved but possibly it came from “kit”, the necessary equipment for the game.
40. Nebula Award genre : SCI-FI
The best works of science fiction and fantasy published each year are recognized annually by the Nebula Awards. The first Nebulas were awarded in 1966.
47. __ Minor: Little Bear : URSA
Ursa Minor (Latin for “Smaller Bear”) sits right beside the constellation Draco (Latin for “dragon”). Ursa Minor used to be considered the wing of Draco, and so was once called “Dragon’s Wing”.
48. Chinese menu promise : NO MSG
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of a naturally-occurring,non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid. It is used widely as a flavor enhancer, particularly in many Asian cuisines. Whether or not it is harmful seems to be still under debate. I say that something produced in a test tube shouldn’t be in our food …
51. Company co-founded by J.P. Morgan : US STEEL
US Steel was founded in 1901 with a merger of Carnegie Steel, Federal Steel and National Steel. The resulting company immediately became the world’s first billion-dollar corporation. US Steel reorganized in 1986 and changed its name to USX Corporation, but reverted to the US Steel name in 2001. I think I’m right in saying that the USX name was chosen because US Steel is traded under the symbol “X” on the New York Stock Exchange …
John Pierpont Morgan was a financier and banker active in the last half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Given the tremendous power that came with his wealth, J. P. Morgan and other tycoons were at times unpopular with the masses. Morgan did not often respond to criticism although did once say “I owe the public nothing”. Around the same time, John D. Rockefeller habitually rebuffed public inquiries with the words “silence is golden”.
53. “The Simpsons” disco guy : STU
On “The Simpsons”, the character of Disco Stu is voiced by Hank Azaria, although he was voiced for a while by Phil Hartman. Disco Stu is described as “a black, wrinkly John Travolta”.
55. Sport-__: 4 x 4 : UTE
A utility vehicle is often called a “ute” for short. Nowadays one mainly hears about sport-utes and crossover-utes.
56. 90 deg. at the North Pole, e.g. : LAT
Lines of latitude are the imaginary horizontal lines surrounding the planet. The most “important” lines of latitude are, from north to south:
- Arctic Circle
- Tropic of Cancer
- Tropic of Capricorn
- Antarctic Circle
60. One of Santa’s reindeer : DASHER
We get the names for Santa’s reindeer from the famous 1823 poem called “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, although we’ve modified a couple of the names over the years. The full list is:
- Donder (originally “Dunder”, and now often “Donner”)
- Blitzen (originally “Blixem”)
Rudolph was added to the list by retailer Montgomery Ward, would you believe? The store commissioned Robert L. May to create a booklet that could be handed out to children around Christmas in 1939, and May introduced us to a new friend for Santa, namely Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
65. “SOS” pop group : ABBA
The ABBA song “SOS.” was originally titled “Turn Me On”. In the movie “Mamma Mia!”, “S.O.S.” is performed by Meryl Streep (brilliantly) and by Pierce Brosnan (terribly).
71. Tortoise 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.
1. Prefix with scope : PERI-
The prefix “peri-” is Greek in origin and means “around”. An example of its use is “periscope”, a device on a submarine for looking “around”.
2. Hall of Fame catcher Rodriguez : IVAN
Iván Rodríguez is a retired MLB catcher who played most of his career for the Texas Rangers. He also played in the World Series with Detroit Tigers in 2006, and won the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003. Iván’s son Dereck was drafted in 2011 by the Minnesota Twins.
3. Newton’s motion trio : LAWS
Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion are the basis of classical mechanics. The three laws define the relationship between a body and the forces acting on that body, and its resulting motion.
4. Color of raw silk : ECRU
The shade called ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.
7. “Parlez-__ français?” : VOUS
In French, “Parlez-vous français?” means “Do you speak French?”
22. Simba’s playmate : NALA
In “The Lion King”, Nala is a lioness and the childhood friend of Simba. By the end of the story, Nala and Simba become wedded. “The Lion King” is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, with Simba representing the title character, and Nala representing Hamlet’s love interest Ophelia.
24. Defunct Ford division, for short : MERC
The Mercury brand of car was made by Ford from 1938 until 2011. Mercury was introduced by Henry Ford’s son Edsel Ford. Mercury vehicles were positioned as being more luxurious that the regular Ford models, and more economical than Ford’s high-end Lincoln models.
28. Sports shoe brand : AVIA
The Avia brand name for athletic shoes was chosen as “avia” is the Latin word for “to fly”, and suggests the concept of aviation. Avia was founded in Oregon in 1979.
29. *It may be rational, in math : REAL NUMBER (giving “real deal”)
A “rational number” is a number that can be written as a simple fraction, i.e. a ratio of two integers. For example 1.5 is rational, as it can be written as 3/2. An “irrational number” is the opposite, a number that cannot be written as a simple fraction. The classic example of an irrational number is “pi”, which is 3.14159… and cannot be written as a ratio of two integers. All rational and irrational numbers are “real numbers”, numbers that can be written on a number line. Almost all numbers that we can think of are “real numbers”. Infinity is not a real number, and nor are “imaginary numbers”, e.g. the square root of minus 1.
30. Sculptor’s subject : TORSO
“Torso” (plural “torsi”) is an Italian word meaning the “trunk of a statue”, and is a term that we imported into English.
37. Highland tongue : ERSE
There are actually three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).
The Scottish Highlands are that part of the country not classified as the Lowlands(!). The Highlands make up the north and west of Scotland.
45. Grounded Aussie 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.
49. Mark of disgrace : STIGMA
A stigma (plural “stigmata), in a social sense, is a distinguishing mark of disgrace. For example, one might have to suffer the stigma of being in prison. The term derives from the Greek “stigma” meaning “mark, brand”.
50. Columbus, by birth : GENOAN
Genoa is a seaport in the very north of Italy, in the region known as Liguria. One of Genoa’s most famous sons was Christopher Columbus. Another was the violinist Niccolò Paganini.
52. Lay’s chips-in-a-can brand : STAX
Stax is a brand of potato snack made by Lay’s. Stax are similar to its famous competitor Pringles.
53. Dangerous bacterium : STAPH
Staphylococcus is a genus of bacteria. Under a microscope it can be seen that the individual bacteria form into clusters like bunches of grapes. “Staphylococcus” comes from the Greek word meaning “bunch of grapes”.
54. Knee-to-ankle bone : TIBIA
The tibia is the shin bone, the larger of the two bones right below the knee. The tibia is the strongest weight-bearing bone in the human body. “Tibia” is the Roman name for a Greek flute and it is thought that the shin bone was given the same name because flutes were often fashioned out of the shin bones of animals.
59. Skull Island ape : KONG
The fictional Skull Island is home to King Kong in most of the movies featuring the giant gorilla. Kong has also been found on Farou Island (in “King Kong vs. Godzilla”) and Mondo Island (in “King Kong Escapes”). Skull Island is said to be located off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
62. Island dance : HULA
The hula is a native dance of Hawaii that uses arm movements to relate a story. The hula can be performed while sitting (a noho dance) or while standing (a luna dance).