Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase with EAR inserted:
- 22A. Candy served on a corporate blimp? : GOODYEAR GUMDROPS (from “goody gumdrops”)
- 36A. Often censored musical groups? : SWEARING BANDS (from “swing bands”)
- 67A. Rather uninspired cocktail? : DREARY MARTINI (from “dry martini”)
- 95A. What happens at the southern terminus of Interstate 65? : MOBILE APPEARS (from “mobile apps”)
- 115A. Pair of lustrous Kleenex? : TWO PEARLY TISSUES (from “two-ply tissues”)
- 15D. First asp most likely to bite when the group is disturbed? : NEAREST OF VIPERS (from “nest of vipers”)
- 42D. How sundaes are often served? : BEARING CHERRIES (from “bing cherries”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
6. Brie-ripening agent : BACTERIA
Brie is a soft cheese, named after the French region from which it originated. Brie is similar to the equally famous (and delicious) Camembert.
14. SASEs, e.g. : ENCS
An SAE is a “stamped, addressed envelope”. An SASE is a “self-addressed, stamped envelope”.
22. Candy served on a corporate blimp? : GOODYEAR GUMDROPS (from “goody gumdrops”)
There is an important difference between a “blimp” (like the Goodyear Blimp) and an airship (like a Zeppelin). An airship is a rigid structure with an internal framework that helps maintain the shape of the airbag, whereas a blimp uses the pressure of the helium gas inside the airbag to give it shape.
24. “Better Call ___” : SAUL
“Better Call Saul” is a spinoff drama series from the hit show “Breaking Bad”. The main character is small-time lawyer Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, who featured in the original series. “Better Call Saul” is set six years before Goodman makes an appearance in the “Breaking Bad” storyline. The lawyer’s real name is James Morgan McGill, and his pseudonym is a play on the words “S’all good, man!”
25. Fine netting : TULLE
Tulle is a lightweight net fabric often used in veils, wedding gowns and ballet tutus.
26. Discipline that often emphasizes breathing : YOGA
In the West we tend to think of yoga as a physical discipline, a means of exercise that uses specific poses to stretch and strengthen muscles. While it is true that the ancient Indian practice of yoga does involve such physical discipline, the corporeal aspect of the practice plays a relatively small part in the whole philosophy. Other major components are meditation, ethical behavior, breathing and contemplation.
27. LAX report : ETA
Expected time of arrival (ETA)
Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and the busiest here on the West Coast of the US. The airport was opened in 1930 as Mines Field and was renamed to Los Angeles Airport in 1941. On the airport property is the iconic white structure that resembles a flying saucer. This is called the Theme Building and I believe it is mainly used as a restaurant and observation deck for the public. The airport used to be identified by the letters “LA”, but when the aviation industry went to a three-letter standard for airport identification, this was changed to “LAX”. Apparently the “X” has no significant meaning.
28. “Rigoletto” composer : VERDI
“Rigoletto” is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most famous and oft-performed operas. The storyline comes from a Victor Hugo play called “Le roi s’amuse” (usually translated as “The King’s Fool”). Rigoletto is the king’s fool, the jester.
31. “Say it soft and it’s almost like praying” song : MARIA
“Maria” is a song from “West Side Story”.
Say it loud and there’s music playing,
Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.
I’ll never stop saying Maria!
Leonard Bernstein’s musical “West Side Story” is based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The musical is set in New York City and features two rival gangs: the Sharks from Puerto Rico and the Jets with working-class, Caucasian roots. Tony from the Jets (played by Richard Beymer) falls in love with Maria (played by Natalie Wood) from the Sharks. All this parallels Romeo from the House of Montague falling for Juliet from the House of Capulet in the Italian city of Verona.
40. Former NBA exec Jackson : STU
Stu Jackson is a former NBA head coach. Jackson worked with the New York Knicks and the Vancouver Grizzlies in the nineties.
41. Network with its HQ in Ottawa : CBC
“CBC” stands for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s national public radio and television broadcaster. In terms of financing and structure, CBC is akin to the BBC in Britain. But as commercial advertising is permitted, it perhaps more akin to RTE, the national broadcasting company in my homeland of Ireland.
45. City on the Ohio and Erie Canal : AKRON
For part 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.
50. Airline with blue-striped jets : EL AL
El Al Israel Airlines is the flag carrier of Israel. The term “el al” translates from Hebrew as “to the skies”. The company started operations in 1948, with a flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv.
52. Get bluffed out, say : LOSE
That might be in the card game poker, say.
53. Biblical landing site : ARARAT
Mount Ararat is in Turkey. Ararat is a snow-capped, dormant volcano with two peaks. The higher of the two, Greater Ararat, is the tallest peak in the country. Ararat takes its name from a legendary Armenian hero called Ara the Beautiful (or Ara the Handsome). According to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat as the Great Flood subsided.
58. Disengaged : ALOOF
I suppose one might guess from the “feel” of the word “aloof” that is has nautical roots. Originally “aloof” meant “to windward” and was the opposite of “alee”. A helmsman might be instructed to stay aloof, to steer the boat into the weather to keep a distance from a lee-shore. It is from this sense of maintaining a distance that aloof came to mean “distant” in terms of personality. Interesting, huh …?
61. Element #5 : BORON
Boron is the chemical element with the atomic number of 5 and symbol B. It lies over to the right in Group 13 of the Periodic Table of the Elements. Uncombined, elemental boron is not found naturally on Earth. The boron that is mined is found in oxide form, not as uncombined boron.
62. Quotable late athlete : BERRA
Yogi Berra is regarded by many as the greatest catcher ever to play in Major League Baseball, and has to be America’s most celebrated “author” of malapropisms. Here are some greats:
- It ain’t over till it’s over.
- 90% of the game is half mental.
- Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.
- When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
- It’s déjà vu all over again.
- Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.
- A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
63. “In spades!” : IS IT EVER!
The phrase “in spades” meaning “in abundance” dates back to the late twenties and probably comes from the game of bridge, in which spades are the highest-ranking suit.
66. Label for the Swedish duo Roxette : EMI
EMI was a British music company, with the abbreviation standing for Electric and Musical Industries.
Swedish pop rock performers Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle came together in 1986 to form the duo Roxette.
67. Rather uninspired cocktail? : DREARY MARTINI (from “dry martini”)
The term “martini” probably takes it name from the “Martini & Rossi” brand of dry vermouth, although no one seems to be completely sure. What is clear is that despite the Martini name originating in Italy, the martini drink originated in the US. The original martini was made with gin and sweet vermouth, but someone specifying a “dry” martini was given gin and dry vermouth. Nowadays we use dry vermouth for all martinis and the term “dry” has become a reference to how little vermouth is included in the drink. Famously, Noel Coward liked his drink very dry and said that a perfect martini is made by “filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy”. The German-American journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken referred to the martini as “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet”.
71. Suffix with concert : -INO
A “concertino” is a short concerto.
A concerto is a musical work usually composed of three movements, and is usually written for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra.
74. Alberto VO5 competitor : BRECK
Breck shampoo is noted for its “Breck Girls” series of ads that ran from the mid-thirties right up to the mid-seventies.
75. Barcelona bar fare : TAPAS
Tapa is the Spanish word for “lid”, and there is no clear rationale for why this word came to be used for an appetizer. There are lots of explanations cited, all of which seem to involve the temporary covering of one’s glass of wine with a plate or item of food to either preserve the wine or give one extra space at the table.
78. Rusty nail liquor : SCOTCH
The cocktail called a Rusty Nail is a mixture of Drambuie and Scotch, usually served over ice. Without the ice the drink is sometimes called a Straight Up Nail. There is also a Canadian version of a Rusty Nail that uses rye whiskey instead of Scotch that’s called a Donald Sutherland, after the celebrated Canadian actor.
80. Ancient warship with two decks of oars : BIREME
Triremes were galleys used in the Mediterranean by a number of cultures, including the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The trireme was so called because there were three rows of oars on each side of the vessel. The term “trireme” comes from the Latin “tres remi” meaning “three-oar”. There was also a less ambitious version of the trireme that had only two banks of oars, and that was known as a bireme.
85. Bucket list list : DESIRES
A “bucket list” is a list of things one wants to achieve before dying, before “kicking the bucket”. The expression hasn’t been used in this context for very long, only a decade or so, but was popularized by the 2007 film “The Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
89. 2005 “Survivor” island : PALAU
Palau is a tiny island nation lying 500 miles east of the Philippines, and 2,000 miles south of Japan. Palau was once a Spanish possession and was sold by Spain to Germany in the late 19th century. During WWI, Japan invaded the islands (as Japan had declared war on Germany) and was awarded the islands as a territory by the League of Nations at the end of hostilities. In WWII the US took Palau from the Japanese in a bloody battle in 1944. Palau emerged from American administration in 1994 and is now a sovereign state.
The reality show “Survivor” is based on a Swedish television series created in 1997 called “Expedition Robinson”.
92. Nemo’s realm : SEA
The Jules Verne sci-fi novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” was first published in 1869-1870 as a serial in a French magazine. Star of the novel (to me) is Captain Nemo’s magnificent submarine called the Nautilus. The distance travelled by the Nautilus is the “20,000 leagues” in the title, not a depth. 20,000 leagues is about three times the circumference of the Earth.
93. High-speed letters : DSL
The abbreviation “DSL” originally stood for Digital Subscriber Loop, but is now accepted to mean (Asymmetric) Digital Subscriber Line. DSL is the technology that allows Internet service be delivered down the same telephone line as voice service, by separating the two into different frequency signals.
94. Stroke from Venus? : ACE
Venus Williams is the older of the two Williams sisters playing professional tennis. In 2002, Williams became the first black woman to earn the World No. 1 ranking by the Women’s Tennis Association.
95. What happens at the southern terminus of Interstate 65? : MOBILE APPEARS (from “mobile apps”)
Interstate 65 is a highway running the whole length of the country, from the Great Lakes in the north, to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The northern terminus is an interchange with I-90 in Gary, Indiana. The southern terminus is an interchange with I-10 in Mobile, Alabama. That’s a distance of just under 890 miles.
99. Relevant : GERMANE
Something that is “germane” is relevant. “Germane” originally meant “having the same parents”, but it was used more figuratively as “on topic” by William Shakespeare in “Hamlet”. And that’s the way we’ve been using it ever since “Hamlet” was first performed in the 1600s.
101. Iraqi port : BASRA
Basra is a Iraq’s main port, and is located in the south of the country, 34 miles from the Persian Gulf. Access to the gulf ii via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, a river that discharges into the gulf in the port city of Umm Qasr.
107. Jones with nine Grammys : NORAH
The beguiling Norah Jones is the daughter of famous sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, and is one of my favorite singers. If you haven’t heard Jones sing her song “Come Away with Me”, you just haven’t lived …
108. Ring legend : ALI
The boxer Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. was born in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam in 1964. Who can forget Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame for the 1996 games in Atlanta?
111. Italian man : UOMO
“Uomo” is the Italian word for “man”. The Italian for “woman” is “donna”.
113. Sycophant : TOADY
A sycophant is a selfish person, one who flatters. The term comes from the Greek “sykophantes” which originally meant “one who shows the fig”. This phrase described a vulgar gesture made with the thumb and two fingers.
114. “Amores” author : OVID
Ovid wrote a book of poems called “Amores”, as did the author D. H. Lawrence.
The Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso is today known simply as Ovid. Ovid is usually listed alongside the two other great Roman poets, Horace and Virgil.
115. Pair of lustrous Kleenex? : TWO PEARLY TISSUES (from “two-ply tissues”)
Even though Kleenex is sometimes used today as a generic term for a tissue, Kleenex is a brand name owned by Kimberly-Clark. Kleenex facial tissues came about after WW1. The material used in the tissue had been developed as a replacement for cotton that was in high demand as surgical tissue during the war. The material developed was called “Cellucotton” and was used in gas mask filters. It was first sold as a facial tissue under the name Kleenex in 1924.
119. Oracle : SEER
In Ancient Greece and Rome, an oracle was someone believed inspired by the gods to give wise counsel. The word “oracle” derives from the Latin “orare” meaning “to speak”, which is the same root for our word “orator”.
120. Thwart bigtime : SABOTAGE
There is a story that disgruntled textile workers would kick their wooden shoes, called sabots, into the looms in order to disable them so that they didn’t have to work. This act of vandalism was named for the shoe, an act of … sabotage.
122. Celtic language : 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 Celts were a very broad group of people across Europe, linked by common languages. The Celts were largely absorbed by other cultures, although a relatively modern revival of the “Celtic identity” is alive and well in the British Isles. Such Celtic peoples today are mainly found in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany in France..
124. Prepare for a dubbing : KNEEL
The rite of passage that conferred knighthood on an apprentice was known as the ”accolade” or “dubbing” back in the Middle of Ages. Part of that ceremony is still used today, including the tapping of the flat side of a sword by a monarch on the shoulders of the new knight.
2. Oahu outsider : HAOLE
The Hawaiian term “haole” is used to refer to a foreigner, particular a Caucasian.
4. Press secretary under LBJ : MOYERS
Journalist Bill Moyers served as White House Press Secretary under President Johnson from 1965 to 1967. These days, Moyers is probably best known for hosting the news program “Bill Moyers Journal” on PBS for many years, finally come off the air in 2010.
6. Nonchooser? : BEGGAR
Beggars can’t be choosers.
8. Magna __ laude : CUM
When an academic degree is awarded, a level of distinction can be noted depending on the degree of success achieved by the student. There are three types of honor, each with a Latin name:
- cum laude: meaning “with honor” (literally “with praise”)
- magna cum laude: meaning “with great honor”
- summa cum laude: meaning “with highest honor”
10. French 101 infinitive : ETRE
The French for “to be” is “être”.
13. Power players in state law: Abbr. : AGS
Attorneys General (AGs)
16. Bite-size veggies : CRUDITES
“Crudités” are a French appetizer made up of sliced and whole raw vegetables that are dipped into a sauce. The French word “crudité” simply means a raw vegetable, and derives from the Latin word “crudus” meaning “raw”.
18. Snorkel and his peers: Abbr. : SGTS
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.
35. OR personnel : MDS
One might find a medical doctor (MD) in an operating room (OR).
37. Dawn goddess : EOS
In Greek mythology, Eos is the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos is Aurora.
39. Tokyo-based airline : ANA
All Nippon Airways (ANA) is a Japanese airline, second in size only to Japan Airlines (JAL).
42. How sundaes are often served? : BEARING CHERRIES (from “bing cherries”)
The bing cherry is the most widely grown sweet cherry in the US. The cultivar was created in Oregon in 1875 by Seth Lewelling. Lewelling was a horticulturist, and he named the cherry for his Chinese foreman Ah Bing.
There’s a lot of speculation about how the dessert called a sundae got its name, but there seems to be agreement that it is an alteration of the word “Sunday”.
43. LBJ biographer Robert __ : CARO
Journalist and author Robert Caro is best known for his biographies of New York urban planner Robert Moses and President Lyndon Johnson. Those two biographies won Caro two Pulitzer Prizes.
48. Napoleonic Wars weapon : SABER
Napoleon I led a series of conflicts against several European powers from 1803 until 1815, which are referred to collectively as the Napoleonic Wars. In all, Bonaparte fought about sixty battles throughout his military career, losing seven in all. Perhaps the most significant of those defeats was as the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, after while Napoleon was exiled to the British island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821.
49. Property destroyer : VANDAL
A “vandal” is someone who destroys something beautiful or valuable. The term comes from the Germanic tribe called the Vandals who sacked Rome in the year 455. Our contemporary term “vandalism” was coined by Henri Grégoire in 1794, when he was describing the destruction of artwork during the French Revolution.
51. Ophthalmologist’s procedure : LASIK
LASIK surgery uses a laser to reshape the cornea of the eye to improve vision. The LASIK acronym stands for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis”.
54. Cook, as scallops : SEAR
A scallop is a marine mollusk that is served as seafood. Scallops are often served baked in milk and this method of preparation has become known as “scalloping”. So, scalloped potatoes are potatoes baked in milk.
57. Film series Vietnam veteran : RAMBO
“First Blood” was the original of the four “Rambo” films starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled Vietnam War veteran. I thought “First Blood” was a pretty good film actually, but the sequels were terrible, and way too violent for me. But action all the way …
59. Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer : LIN
Maya Lin is a Chinese American born in Athens Ohio, and is an artist and architect. Her most famous work is the moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin was only 21-years-old when she won a public design competition in 1981 to create the memorial. Although her design is very fitting, sadly Lin was not a popular choice for the work given her Asian heritage. As she said herself, she probably would not have been picked had the competition been judged with the knowledge of who was behind each submission.
60. Canal problem? : OTITIS
Otitis is inflammation of the ear.
68. 45 rpm record pioneer : RCA
The first vinyl records designed to play at 33 1/3 rpm were introduced by RCA Victor in 1931, but were discontinued due to quality problems. The first Long Play (LP) 33 1/3 rpm disc was introduced by Columbia Records many years later in 1948, with RCA Victor following up with a 45 rpm “single” the following year, in 1949.
69. Busts and such : ART
A bust is a sculpture of the upper torso and head. We imported the word from Italy, where the word “busto” means “upper body”.
84. Venerable N.Y. tech school : RPI
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private school in Troy, New York. The university is named after its founder Stephen Van Rensselaer who set up the school in 1824. The goal of RPI has always been the “application of science to the common purposes of life”, an objective set by the founder. Given that, the name for the school’s sports teams is quite apt: the Engineers.
85. Busting org. : DEA
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
87. Eastern nursemaid : AMAH
“Amah” is an interesting word in that we associate it so much with Asian culture and yet it actually comes from the Portuguese “ama” meaning “nurse”. Ama was imported into English in the days of the British Raj in India when a wet-nurse became known as an amah.
88. Cargo measure : TON
“Cargo” is freight carried by some vehicle. The term comes into English via Spanish, ultimately deriving from the Latin “carricare” meaning “to load on a cart”.
90. Gp. following gas prices : AAA
The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit organization focused on lobbying, provision of automobile servicing, and selling of automobile insurance. The AAA was founded in 1902 in Chicago and published the first of its celebrated hotel guides back in 1917.
92. Of ill repute : SEAMY
We’ve used “seamy” to mean “the least pleasant, the worst” since the 1600s. The idea comes from the seamed side of a sewn garment being the less attractive.
97. “1984” working class : PROLES
George Orwell introduced us to the “proles”, the working class folk in his famous novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. Collectively, the proles make up the section of society known as the proletariat.
George Orwell’s famous novel actually has the title “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (as opposed to “1984”), with the date spelled out.
100. Familia member : MADRE
In Spanish, a “madre” (mother) is a member of “la familia” (the family).
103. Western sheriff’s aid : POSSE
Our word “posse” comes from an Anglo-Latin term from the early 15th century “posse comitatus” meaning “the force of the county”.
104. __ cuisine : HAUTE
“Haute cuisine”, literally “high cooking” in French, is the name given to skillfully and elegantly prepared food, especially if it is in the French style.
105. 1961 Newbery Medal winner Scott __ : O’DELL
Author Scott O’Dell mainly wrote historical novels for young people. His best-known work is the 1960 novel “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, which is about a young girl stranded for years on an island off the California coast. The book is based on a true story of a Native American girl left alone on one of California’s Channel Islands for 18 years, before being rescued in 1853.
106. Where KO means Coca-Cola : NYSE
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) can give some quite descriptive ticker symbols to companies, for example:
- Anheuser-Busch (BUD, for “Budweiser”)
- Molson Coors Brewing Company (TAP, as in “beer tap”)
- Steinway Musical Instruments (LVB, for “Ludwig van Beethoven”)
- Sotheby’s (BID, for the auction house)
110. 106-Down debuts : IPOS
An Initial Public Offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).
112. Gambling option in many sts. : OTB
Off-Track Betting (OTB) is the legal gambling that takes place on horse races outside of a race track. A betting parlor can be referred to as an OTB.
115. “The Waste Land” monogram : TSE
Eliot wrote his poem called “The Waste Land” in 1922. “The Waste Land” opens with the famous line, “April is the cruellest month …”.
116. DDE’s command : ETO
General Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE) was in command of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during WWII.
117. River within Switzerland : AAR
The Aar (also called the “Aare” in German) is the longest river entirely in Switzerland.