Edited by: Rich Norris
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We have a mini-theme today, with one of Mae West’s marvelous quotes:
- 38A. She said, “It’s better to be 19-Across than 55-Across” : MAE WEST
- 19A. See 38-Across : LOOKED OVER
- 55A. See 38-Across : OVERLOOKED
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. One who’s often over a barrel? : COOPER
A cooper is a craftsman who makes wooden vessels, such as barrels. The term “cooper” ultimately derives from the Latin “cupa” meaning “barrel”.
7. Band member with a vihuela : MARIACHI
The name “mariachi”, used for a typically Mexican popular band, is said to be a corruption of the French word for “marriage” (i.e. “mariage”). This perhaps dates back to the times of Napoleon II when France had political and cultural influence over Spain.
A vihuela is a stringed instrument that dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The most common vihuela was played in Spain. Shaped like a guitar, the player strummed and plucked six pairs of double-strings. There is a contemporary instrument known as a Mexican vihuela that has five strings and is often featured in mariachi bands.
15. Use a combine : THRESH
A combine harvester is a machine that “combines” the work that without would take three steps: reaping, binding and threshing.
Years ago I was taking a tour of a beautiful Elizabethan manor house in England, and was told a little “threshing” story by the guide as we stood in one of the rooms. She reminded us that threshing was the removal of seeds from chaff, and told us that back in the day the “chaff” was sometimes called the “thresh”. Thresh would be used on the floors, particularly in the kitchen areas where it would soak up spills and provide some thermal insulation, much as sawdust was used in my favorite pubs many moons ago. She pointed to two slots at the bottom of the door jambs where she said a low board was placed upright on the floor, to hold the thresh in the room. The board was called a “thresh-hold”, giving us our contemporary word “threshold”. I am not sure if all of that is really true, but it makes a nice story.
16. Tiny orbiter : ELECTRON
Niels Bohr and Ernest Rutherford introduced a model in which the atom comprised a small, positively charged nucleus around which traveled negatively-charged electrons. This model is often referred to as the Rutherford-Bohr model, or simply the Bohr model.
21. “The Owl and the Pussycat” poet : LEAR
“The Owl and the Pussycat” is a poem by Edward Lear first published in 1871. It tells of an owl and a pussycat who set out to sea in a pea green boat with honey and plenty of money wrapped in a five pound note …
23. Chocolate-flavored spread : NUTELLA
Nutella is a delicious hazelnut-chocolate spread made by Ferrero, a company based in Italy. Sadly, 70% of the Nutella recipe is saturated fat and processed sugar.
33. Glitterati member : CELEB
“Glitterati” is a melding of the words “glitter” and “literati”.
37. IV sites : ORS
One might see intravenous drips (IVs) in an operating room (OR).
38. She said, “It’s better to be 19-Across than 55-Across” : MAE WEST
(19A. See 38-Across : LOOKED OVER)
(55A. See 38-Across : OVERLOOKED)
Comic actress Mae West can be quoted so easily, as she had so many great lines delivered so well. Here are a few:
- When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.
- When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.
- I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
- Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.
- I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
- Why don’t you come on up and see me sometime — when I’ve got nothin’ on but the radio.
- It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.
- To err is human, but it feels divine.
- I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I’m a woman, but loose enough to show I’m a lady.
- I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
- Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
41. Rwandan ethnic group : TUTSI
The Tutsi are the second largest population of people in Rwanda, with the Hutu being the largest group. The bloody conflict that has existed between the Tutsi and Hutu peoples dates back to about 1880 when Catholic missionaries arrived in the region. The missionaries found that they had more success converting the Hutus than the Tutsi, and when the Germans occupied the area during WWI they confiscated Tutsi land and gave it to Hutu tribes in order to reward religious conversion. This injustice fuels fighting to this very day.
43. One of Pop’s partners : SNAP
Snap, Crackle and Pop are three elves employed as the mascots for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. The trio first appeared in an ad campaign in 1933, although the phrase “snap, crackle and pop” had been used for the cereal for some time in radio ads. By the way, the elves are selling “Rice Bubbles” in Australia, and the elves have different names in other parts of the world (like “Cric!, Crac! and Croc! in Quebec).
44. “Roast beast”-eating people : WHOS
The Whos live in Whoville in Dr. Seuss’ children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
45. Adobe file format : PDF
Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format introduced by Adobe Systems in 1993. PDF documents can be shared between users and read using many different applications, making them more universally accessible than documents saved by one particular program.
47. Shelley dedicated an ode to one of them : SKYLARKS
“To a Skylark” is an 1820 poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The opening line “Hail to thee, blithe Spirit” is the inspiration used by Noel Coward for the title of his famous comic play called “Blithe Spirit”.
49. Musical star who received a 1949 Honorary Award Oscar : ASTAIRE
Dancer, actor and singer Fred Astaire never won a competitive Academy Award, and received just one nomination: for Best Supporting Actor in 1974’s “The Towering Inferno”. However, was presented with an honorary Academy Award in the 1949 season “for his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures”. That honorary Oscar was presented by his longtime film and dance partner Ginger Rogers.
62. Current quantity : AMPERE
The unit of electric current is the ampere, abbreviated correctly to “A” rather than “amp”. It is named after French physicist André-Marie Ampère, one of the main scientists responsible for the discovery of electromagnetism.
63. Antlion relative : LACEWING
Green lacewings are considered to be beneficial insects, from the perspective of humans. They are important predators of soft bodied insects such as aphids, which are sap-sucking creatures that prey on new plant growth.
“Doodlebug” is a name given to the larva of an antlion, a type of flying insect. Antlions tend to live in sandy areas, and their larvae move through the sand leaving winding spirals that look like doodles, inattentive drawings. Hence the name “doodlebug”.
65. Dramatic break : ENTR’ACTE
The term “entr’acte” comes to us from French, and is the interval “entre deux actes” (between two acts) of a theatrical performance. The term often describes some entertainment provided during that interval.
66. American of Japanese descent : SANSEI
There are some very specific terms used to describe the children born to Japanese immigrants in their new country. The immigrants themselves are known as “Issei”. “Nisei” are second generation Japanese, “Sansei” the third generation (grandchildren of the immigrant), and “Yonsei” are fourth generation.
1. PC key : CTRL
The Control (CTRL) key on a PC keyboard is used to modify the function of other keys. For example, pressing CTRL+C copies a selection to the clipboard, and CTRL+V pastes the contents of the clipboard to a location defined by the cursor. Control keys were introduced on teletypewriters to generate “control characters”, which are non-printing characters that instruct a computer to do something like print a page, ring a bell etc.
2. Its state quarter displays the Wright Flyer : OHIO
The Wright Flyer was the first heavier-than-air powered aircraft. It was used by the Wright Brothers to make the series of famous flights in 1903 at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. As a result, the Wright Flyer appears on North Carolina’s state quarter. The same plane also appears on Ohio’s state quarter, as the brothers developed and built the Wright Flyer in Dayton, Ohio.
6. Onetime Botswana neighbor : RHODESIA
Cecil Rhodes (famous in America as the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship), was a very successful English businessman and South African politician. He founded the De Beers diamond mining company, and also founded the state of Rhodesia which was named after him. The British colony gained its independence over time in the latter half of the 20th century, and is known today as the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Rhodesian capital of Salisbury was renamed in 1982 to Harare, the current capital of Zimbabwe.
Botswana is a country in southern Africa that is located just north of South Africa. Someone from Botswana is called a “Motswana” (yes, with an M), with the plural being “Batswana” (yes, with a B).
7. “Jeopardy!” first name : MERV
Merv Griffin was quite the entertainer, truly a mogul in the business. He started his career as a singer on the radio during the big band era. In the sixties he hosted his own talk show, and then famously developed such great game shows as “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune”.
9. Shining example of mirror-writing? : RED RUM
“Red rum” is the word “murder” written backwards.
10. Curling surface : ICE
I think curling is such a cool game (pun!). It’s somewhat like bowls, but played on a sheet of ice. The sport was supposedly invented in medieval Scotland, and is called curling because of the action of the granite stone is it moves across the ice. A player can make the stone take a curved path (“curl”) by causing it to slowly rotate as it slides.
12. Angler’s wicker basket : CREEL
A creel is a basket used for catching sea creatures (lobsters, for example). Creel is also the name given to the small wicker basket used to hold fish that have been caught by an angler. “Creel” is originally a Scottish word.
The Wych elm is also known as the Scots elm. It is the most common species of elm found in Europe. The term “wych” comes from the Old English “wice” meaning “pliant, supple”. The word “wice” also gives rise to our word “wicker”.
14. Hindu weather deity : INDRA
In Hindu mythology, Indra is the King of the gods, Lord of Heaven. Indra is also the God of War, Storms and Rainfall.
27. Right in the atlas? : EAST
The famous Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator published his first collection of maps in 1578. Mercator’s collection contained a frontispiece with an image of Atlas the Titan from Greek mythology holding up the world on his shoulders. That image gave us our term “atlas”.
28. Potential queens : PAWNS
In the game of chess, the pawns are the weakest pieces on the board. A pawn that can make it to the opposite of the board can be “promoted” to a piece of choice, usually a queen. Using promotion of pawns, it is possible for a player to have two or more queens on the board at one time. However, standard chess sets come with only one queen per side, so a captured rook is often used as the second queen by placing it on the board upside down.
34. Memorable big cat portrayer : LAHR
Bert Lahr’s most famous role was that of the cowardly lion in “The Wizard of Oz”. Lahr had a long career in burlesque, vaudeville and on Broadway. Remember the catchphrase made famous by the cartoon character Snagglepuss, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”? Snagglepuss stole that line from a 1944 movie called, “Meet the People” in which it was first uttered by none other than Bert Lahr.
35. Furry Endor native : EWOK
The Ewoks are creatures who live on the moon of Endor, first appearing in “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”. They’re the cute and cuddly little guys that look like teddy bears.
36. Catfish Row heroine of opera : BESS
“Porgy and Bess” is an opera with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and libretto by DuBose Heyward. The storyline of the opera is based on the novel “Porgy” written by DuBose Heyward and and wife Dorothy. “Porgy and Bess” was first performed in 1935, in New York City, but really wasn’t accepted as legitimate opera until 1976 after a landmark production by the Houston Grand Opera. The most famous song from the piece is probably the wonderful aria “Summertime”.
42. “CSI” evidence : SPATTER
The “CSI” franchise of TV shows has been tremendously successful, but seems to have finally wound down. “CSI: Miami” (the “worst” of the franchise, I think) was cancelled in 2012 after ten seasons. “CSI: NY” (the “best” of the franchise) was cancelled in 2013 after nine seasons. The original “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, set in Las Vegas, hung in there until 2015 when it ended with a two-hour TV movie. The youngest show in the series was “CSI: Cyber”. It lasted for two season before being canceled in 2016.
48. Oompa-__: Wonka worker : LOOMPA
The Oompa-Loompas are characters in the Roald Dahl book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and indeed in the sequel story “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator”. Willy Wonka came across the Oompa-Loompas on an isolated island in the Atlantic and invited them to work in his factory in order to escape those hunting them on the island. Right before Dahl’s book was first published, he was intending to call the Oompa-Loompas the “Whipple-Scrumpets”.
49. Big __ : APPLE
Apparently the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:
Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.
Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.
50. Leftovers cover : SARAN
What’s known as plastic wrap in America, we call cling-film in Ireland. The brand name Saran is often used generically in the US, while Glad wrap is common down under. Plastic wrap was one of those unintended inventions, a byproduct of a development program to create a hard plastic cover for cars.
57. Guy dolls : KENS
Barbie’s male counterpart doll is Ken, and Ken’s family name is Carson. Barbie’s full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. When Ken was introduced in 1959, it was as Barbie’s boyfriend. In 2004 it was announced that Ken and Barbie were splitting up, and needed to spend quality time apart. Soon after the split, Barbie “met” Blaine, a boogie boarder from Australia.
58. Mahler’s earth : ERDE
“Erde” is the German word for “earth”.
I’m still trying to keep an open mind when it comes to the music of Gustav Mahler, but I find it hard to appreciate. Mahler was an Austrian composer, active in the late-Romantic period. During his own lifetime he was most notable as a conductor, and his compositions gained in popularity only after his death in 1911. Mahler’s music was banned as “degenerate” during the Nazi Era, as Mahler was Jewish.
59. ’50s sitcom name : DESI
Desi Arnaz was famous for his turbulent marriage to Lucille Ball. Arnaz was a native of Cuba, and was from a privileged family. His father was Mayor of Santiago and served in the Cuban House of Representatives. However, the family had to flee to Miami after the 1933 revolt led by Batista.
61. Longtime Howard Hughes asset : TWA
Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a big carrier in the US, but was perhaps even more recognized for its extensive presence in Europe and the Middle East. For many years, especially after the collapse of Pan Am and TWA’s purchase by Howard Hughes, TWA was considered the unofficial flag carrier for the US. The company started in 1930, the product of a forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express. The Transcontinental and Western Air that resulted (the original meaning of the initialism “TWA”) was what the Postmaster General wanted, a bigger airline to which the Postal Service could award airmail contracts.
Businessman Howard Hughes made a name for himself first as a film producer, and then in the aviation industry. Nowadays, Hughes is perhaps best known for the eccentric behavior that he exhibited late in his life. He was very much an eccentric, and suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and became a germaphobe. Perhaps the most approachable way of gaining insight into the life of Hughes is a viewing of the Martin Scorsese film “The Aviator”, in which Hughes is played by Leonardo DiCaprio.