Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers all end with a “noo” sounding syllable, each spelled differently:
- 20A. Mork’s signoff : NANU NANU
- 28A. Eastside Manhattan thoroughfare : FIRST AVENUE
- 35A. Confidentially, in Cannes : ENTRE NOUS
- 46A. Boat made from a hollowed tree trunk : DUGOUT CANOE
- 55A. Request for the latest update : WHAT’S NEW?
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Song of praise : PSALM
The Greek word “psalmoi” originally meant “songs sung to a harp”, and gave us the word “psalms”. In the Jewish and Western Christian traditions, the Book of Psalms contains 150 individual psalms, divided into five sections.
6. Madagascar primate : LEMUR
Lemurs are the most unusual-looking creatures, native to the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. With their white fur and dark eyes that are very reflective at night, they have a “ghostly” appearance. Indeed, the animals takes their name from Roman mythology in which “lemures” were spirits of the restless dead.
11. “Norma __” : RAE
“Norma Rae” is a 1979 movie starring Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster in a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called “Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance”.
14. Fiber-__ cable : OPTIC
Optical fibers are lengths of glass or plastic that are slightly thicker than a human hair. They are usually bundled into cables, and then used for transmission of data signals. Optical transmission has advantages over electrical transmission, especially in terms of interference and loss of signal strength.
15. Last Olds model : ALERO
The Oldsmobile Alero was the last car made under the Oldsmobile brand. The Alero was produced from 1999 to 2004.
17. Massachusetts witch trial town : SALEM
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings held in 1692 and 1693 in colonial Massachusetts, most famously in Salem. As a result of mass hysteria, twenty people were convicted of practicing witchcraft and were executed. The events were deemed to be a terrible injustice almost immediately. As early as 1696, there was a legal ruling by the Massachusetts General Court that referred to the outcome of the trials as a tragedy. In 2001, the massachusetts legislature officially exonerated all of those convicted.
20. Mork’s sign-off : NANU NANU
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 …
22. Cute Aussie “bear” : KOALA
The koala bear really does look like a little bear, but it’s not even closely related. The koala is an arboreal marsupial and a herbivore, native to the east and south coasts of Australia. Koalas aren’t primates, and are one of the few mammals other than primates who have fingerprints. In fact, it can be very difficult to tell human fingerprints from koala fingerprints, even under an electron microscope. Male koalas are called “bucks”, females are “does”, and young koalas are “joeys”. I’m a little jealous of the koala, as it sleeps up to 20 hours a day …
26. Native of Damascus : SYRIAN
Damascus is the second largest city in Syria (after Aleppo), and is the country’s capital. Damascus has the distinction of being the oldest, continuously-inhabited city in the world, having been settled in the 2nd millennium BC.
27. Chinese menu letters : 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 …
28. Eastside Manhattan thoroughfare : FIRST AVENUE
The famous grid layout of Manhattan’s streets and avenues was the result of the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811. The plan only applied to streets above Houston Street as almost all of the development in lower Manhattan had taken place organically, as the originally colony of New Amsterdam grew. One notable exception from the 1811 plan was New York’s magnificent Central Park, which was not envision until the 1850s.
31. Dijon darling : CHERI
Dijon is a city in eastern France, in the Burgundy region. Dijon is famous for its mustard, a particularly strong variation of the condiment. The European Union doesn’t protect the name “Dijon” so anyone can use it on a label. That seems fair enough to me, given that 90% of the mustard made in and around Dijon is produced using mustard seed imported from Canada!
33. Brain scan: Abbr. : EEG
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a record of electrical activity caused by the firing of neurons within the brain. The EEG might be used to diagnose epilepsy, or perhaps to determine if a patient is “brain dead”.
35. Confidentially, in Cannes : ENTRE NOUS
In French, something might perhaps be discussed “entre deux” (between two) or “entre nous” (between us).
Cannes is a city on the French Riviera, noted as host of the Cannes Film Festival. The decision to host an annual film festival was adopted by the city just before WWII. However, the festival had to wait for the end of the war for its launch in 1946.
39. Univ. near Harvard : MIT
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.
46. Boat made from a hollowed tree trunk : DUGOUT CANOE
The boat called a canoe takes its name from the Carib word “kenu” meaning “dugout”. It was Christopher Columbus who brought “kenu” into Spanish as “canoa”, which evolved into our English “canoe”.
51. Zambia neighbor : ANGOLA
Angola is a country in south-central Africa, on the west coast. Angola is the fourth largest diamond exporter in Africa, after Botswana, the Congo and South Africa. Such a valuable export hasn’t really helped the living standard of the country’s citizens as life expectancy and infant mortality rates are among the poorest on the continent.
The landlocked nation of Zambia in Southern Africa was ruled by the British for many years as a colony known as Northern Rhodesia. Northern Rhodesia finally gained independence in 1964, adopting the name Zambia. The new name comes from the Zambezi river, which forms much of the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The famous Victoria Fall lies on the Zambezi, on that border.
54. Pastoral poem : IDYLL
An “idyll” (also “idyl”) is a short poem with a pastoral theme, usually depicting the scene in romantic and idealized terms. The word comes from the Greek “eidyllion”, which literally translates to “little picture” but was a word describing a short, poem with a rustic theme.
59. Kind of Boy Scout badge : MERIT
As every little boy (of my era) knows, the Scouting movement was founded by Lord Baden Powell, in 1907. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) soon followed, in 1910. And, the Boy Scouts motto is “Be Prepared”.
61. Ancient region of Asia Minor : IONIA
The geographic region called Ionia is located in present day Turkey. Ionia was prominent in the days of Ancient Greece although it wasn’t a unified state, but rather a collection of tribes. The tribal confederacy was more based on religious and cultural similarities than a political or military alliance. Nowadays we often refer to this arrangement as the Ionian League.
Asia Minor is also known as Anatolia. It is the geographic part of Asia that protrudes out into the west, towards Europe, and is roughly equivalent to modern-day Turkey.
63. “Lux” composer Brian : ENO
“Lux” is a 2012 album released by musician Brian Eno. The album is a collection of ambient music that Eno previously composed as background “soundscapes” for art galleries and airport terminals.
64. Tylenol alternative : ALEVE
Aleve is a brand name used for the anti-inflammatory drug Naproxen sodium.
Tylenol is pain relieving drug, with the active ingredient acetaminophen (which we call paracetamol back in Ireland, and outside of America).
65. “Filthy” moolah : LUCRE
Our word “lucre” meaning “money, profits” comes from the Latin “lucrum” that means the same thing.
67. Eight plus one, to aviators : NINER
In the NATO phonetic alphabet, the number 9 is pronounced “niner”.
2. Language of Chile : SPANISH
The land of Chile has a very distinctive shape. It is a narrow strip that runs up the west coast of South America. The average width of the country is only a little over 100 miles, and yet its length is about 2,700 miles. Chile is touted as the longest country in the world, although I am not so sure what that means exactly. I mean, Russia extends about 4,800 miles from east-to west, so maybe “longest” implies long in the north-south direction?
4. Property encumbrance : LIEN
A lien is the right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.
5. Golden Arches egg sandwich : MCMUFFIN
The McDonald’s McMuffin breakfast sandwich was introduced, without the knowledge of the corporate office, by the operator of a Santa Barbara, California franchise in 1972. Back then, McDonald’s only offered food for lunch and dinner. The initial reaction of the corporate office on hearing about the McMuffin was to reprimand the Santa Barbara franchise operator, before embracing the concept.
6. Hollywood’s Hedy : LAMARR
Hedy Lamarr was an American actress, originally from Vienna in modern-day Austria. Not only was Lamarr a successful Hollywood performer, during WWII she was the co-inventor of the frequency-hopping spread-spectrum method of transmitting radio signals that is still used to this day in wireless communication. Impressive …
7. Stylish vigor : ELAN
Our word “élan” was imported from French, in which language the word has a similar meaning to ours, i.e “style” or “flair”.
9. Ocean State sch. : URI
The University of Rhode Island (URI) was first chartered as an agricultural school, back in 1888. URI’s main campus today is located in the village of Kingston.
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, but is the second most densely populated. (after New Jersey). Rhode Island is known as the Ocean State, largely because about 14% of the state’s area is made up of ocean bays and inlets. Exactly how Rhode Island got its name is a little unclear. What is known is that way back in 1524, long before the Pilgrims came to New England, the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano likened an island in the area to the Island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean. There were subsequent references to “Rhode Island” in English publications, before the colonists arrived.
10. 1990 Stallone boxing film which at the time was thought to be the conclusion of its series : ROCKY V
1990’s “Rocky V” was intended to be the last in the “Rocky” series of films. It seems that all parties were unhappy with the movie, both the critics and Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the screenplay and starred. Stallone eventually made a sixth film though, 2006’s “Rocky Balboa”, which got a much better reception.
11. Caesar salad lettuce : ROMAINE
Romaine is also known as cos lettuce, with the “romaine” name being most common here in North America.
The Caesar Salad was created by restaurateur Caesar Cardini at the Hotel Caesar’s in Tijuana, Mexico. The original recipe called for whole lettuce leaves that were to be lifted up by the stem and eaten with the fingers.
13. Flammable hydrocarbon : ETHANE
Ethane is the second largest component of natural gas, after methane. Ethane’s main use is in the production of ethylene, a compound that is widely used in the chemical industry.
24. “Breaking Bad” channel : AMC
AMC, formerly known as American Movie Classics, is one of my favorite television channels. Although the channel’s focus has shifted from airing classic movies to including other programming, there’s still a lot of quality output. AMC’s flagship shows are “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad”.
The AMC drama “Breaking Bad” is a well-written show about a high school teacher stricken by lung cancer who turns to a life of crime to make money. It turns out that the teacher has a talent for making high-quality crystal meth. The show was created by Vince Gilligan who had spent many years as producer and writer of “The X-Files”. There is a “Breaking Bad” spin-off show running on AMC called “Better Call Saul” that focuses on the life of lawyer Saul Goodman. I hear that it’s pretty good …
26. Palm starch : SAGO
When I was growing up in Ireland I was very familiar with pearl sago, which is very similar to pearl tapioca. Pearls of sago are simply little balls of sago starch used to make breads, pancakes, biscuits, or the steamed puddings that we ate as kids. Sago comes from pith of the sago palm tree. To get at the starch the tree has to be cut down and the trunk split to reveal the pith. The pith is crushed and manipulated to make the starch available, which is then washed out of a fibrous suspension. One sago palm tree yields about 150-300 kg of starch. Personally I love the stuff, but then, I am a bit weird …
30. X, to Cato : TEN
Cato the Elder was a Roman statesman, known historically as “the elder” in order to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger. Cato the Elder’s ultimate position within Roman society was that of Censor, making him responsible for maintaining the census, and for supervising public morality.
37. GOP fundraising org. : RNC
National leadership of the Republican Party is provided by the Republican National Committee (RNC). Only one chairperson of the RNC has been elected to the office of US president, and that was George H. W. Bush.
The Republican Party has had the nickname Grand Old Party (GOP) since 1875. That said, the phrase was coined in the “Congressional Record” as “this gallant old party”. The moniker was changed to “grand old party” in 1876 in an article in the “Cincinnati Commercial”. The Republican Party’s elephant mascot dates back to an 1874 cartoon drawn by Thomas Nast for “Harper’s Weekly”. The Democrat’s donkey was already an established symbol. Nast drew a donkey clothed in a lion’s skin scaring away the other animals. One of the scared animals was an elephant, which Nast labeled “The Republican Vote”.
40. “Lust for Life” punk rocker : IGGY POP
Iggy Pop is a punk rock performer from Muskegon, Michigan. When he was in high school, he was a drummer for a local band called the Iguanas, and so was given the nickname “Iggy”.
44. 2000s crime drama set in Baltimore : THE WIRE
I didn’t watch the HBO series called “The Wire” when it first aired. We ending up buying all five series on DVD and we watched the whole thing a few years ago. It’s is a great drama series, and I thoroughly recommend it. Personally, I think that HBO produces some of the best dramas on American television.
45. Cast a spell on : HEX
“Hexen” is a German word meaning “to practice witchcraft”. The use of the word “hex” in English started with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the early 1800s.
46. Dan of old MGM musicals : DAILEY
Dan Dailey was a Hollywood actor from New York City. Dailey’s third marriage was to Gwen Carter O’Connor, who was once married to dancer and actor Donald O’Connor.
47. Tracey on whose show “The Simpsons” debuted : ULLMAN
Tracey Ullman is an outrageous comic actress from the UK. She moved to the US and brought out her own series in the late eighties called “The Tracey Ullman Show”. Famously, it was from “The Tracey Ullman Show” that “The Simpsons” was spun off in 1989.
49. Dinner plate scrap : ORT
Orts are small scraps of food left after a meal. “Ort” comes from Middle English, and originally described scraps left by animals.
55. Chirpy bird : WREN
A wren is a small songbird belonging to the family troglodytidae and the genus troglodytes. Wrens are known for making dome-shaped nests.
56. Home with drones : HIVE
Drone bees and ants are fertile males of the species, whose sole role in life seems to be to mate with a queen.
60. Yale collegian : ELI
Elihu Yale was a wealthy merchant born in Boston in 1649. Yale worked for the British East India Company, and for many years served as governor of a settlement at Madras (now Chennai) in India. After India, Yale took over his father’s estate near Wrexham in Wales. It was while resident in Wrexham that Yale responded to a request for financial support for the Collegiate School of Connecticut in 1701. He sent the school a donation, which was used to erect a new building in New Haven that was named “Yale” in his honor. In 1718, the whole school was renamed to “Yale College”. To this day, students of Yale are nicknamed “Elis”, again honoring Elihu.
62. __ Lingus: Irish carrier : AER
Aer Lingus is my favorite airline! Well, the service isn’t that great, but when I get on board an Aer Lingus plane I feel like I am back in Ireland. Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland, with “Aer Lingus” being a phonetic spelling of the Irish “aer-loingeas” meaning “air fleet”. These days Aer Lingus can only lay claim to the title of Ireland’s oldest airline as it is no longer the biggest. That honor goes to the controversial budget airline called Ryanair.