Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase, but with the letters EX inserted:
- 72A. They sometimes intrude at weddings, and also in this puzzle’s theme : EXES
- 17A. Illicit buzzing in the hive? : BEE SEXTING (from “bee sting”)
- 24A. Slipshod building addition? : RAGGEDY ANNEX (from “Raggedy Ann”)
- 40A. Beginning of a very thorough biography? : FETAL EXPOSITION (from “fetal position”)
- 50A. Aerosol product that will help you fit in in Houston? : SPRAY-ON TEXAN (from “spray-on tan)
- 64A. Too much shooting at the table? : EXCESS POOL (from “cesspool”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Clever stroke : COUP
A coup d’état (often just “coup”) is the sudden overthrow of a government, and comes from the French for “stroke of state”. The Swiss-German word “putsch” is sometimes used instead of “coup”, with “Putsch” translating literally as “sudden blow”.
15. Actor Firth : COLIN
Colin Firth is an English actor who came to prominence playing Mr Darcy in the fabulous television adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” that came out in 1995 (I cannot recommend that six-episode drama enough). More recently, Firth won the Best Actor Oscar for playing King George VI in “The King’s Speech”.
16. Initial contribution : ANTE
That would when playing cards, poker perhaps.
17. Illicit buzzing in the hive? : BEE SEXTING (from “bee sting”)
“Sexting” (a portmanteau of “sex” and “texting”) is the sending of explicit dialog and images between cell phones. The term “sexting” was first coined by the UK’s “Sunday Telegraph Magazine” in a 2005 article. Apparently the practice is “rampant” among teens and young adults. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie …?
24. Slipshod building addition? : RAGGEDY ANNEX (from “Raggedy Ann”)
Raggedy Ann is a rag doll, created by Johnny Gruelle in 1915 for his daughter, Marcella. He decided to name the doll by combining the titles of two poems by James Whitcomb Riley, “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphan Annie”. Gruelle introduced Raggedy Ann in a series of books three years later. Sadly, Marcella died at 13 years of age with her father blaming a smallpox vaccination she was given at school. Gruelle became very active in the movement against mass vaccination, for which Raggedy Ann became a symbol.
Someone of something described as “slipshod” is slovenly in appearance or sloppy. The term probably comes from the idea of someone appearing in one’s slippers, someone who hasn’t made an effort in their dress.
28. Zodiac animal : RAM
Aries the Ram is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries you would know that! “Aries” is the Latin word for “ram”.
31. Aran Islands country: Abbr. : IRE
The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay in the west of Ireland. They are beautiful and desolate places, and one of the few places in Ireland where the main language spoken is Irish, as opposed to English. If you’ve seen the television comedy “Father Ted”, you’ll be familiar with the landscape, as many of the external shots are from Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands.
35. Parker’s rank in “McHale’s Navy”: Abbr. : ENS
“McHale’s Navy” is a classic sitcom that originally aired in the sixties. The title character is played by Ernest Borgnine. McHale was a captain of a tramp steamer who now serves in the US Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. McHale’s goofy second-in-command is Ensign Parker, played by Tim Conway. Borgnine actually served in the US Navy from 1935 to 1941, and then reenlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
37. Pincered insect : EARWIG
The insect known as the earwig may have gotten its name from the mistaken belief that it burrowed into the human brain via the ear canal in order to lay its eggs in the brain.
40. Beginning of a very thorough biography? : FETAL EXPOSITION (from “fetal position”)
The word “fetus”, used for an unborn young animal, comes from Latin as one might expect. “Fetus” is the Latin word for the act of hatching or bringing forth a young animal or child. The mistaken spelling “foetus” is seen quite a lot, but there’s no historical basis for adding that “o”.
44. Six-pack set : ABS
The abdominal muscles (abs) are more correctly referred to as the rectus abdominis muscles. They are all called a “six-pack” in a person who has developed the muscles and who has low body fat. In my case, more like a keg …
45. Jazz singer James : ETTA
Etta James was best known for her beautiful rendition of the song “At Last”. Sadly, as she disclosed in her autobiography, James lived a life that was ravaged by drug addiction leading to numerous legal and health problems. Ms. James passed away in January 2012 having suffered from leukemia.
46. Nevada was the first st. to allow it : 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.
47. Clickbait site, as of Sep. 2016 : OED
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added the word “clickbait” to its latest edition in September 2016.
“Clickbait” is trickery used by website designers to entice a reader to click on a particular link. That link may be a disguised ad, so that the website owner gets some income from the advertiser.
49. Metaphorical hiding place : HAT
Keep it under your hat.
50. Aerosol product that will help you fit in in Houston? : SPRAY-ON TEXAN (from “spray-on tan)
The city of Houston, Texas was named for General Sam Houston, who served as President of the Republic of Texas and then as Governor after Texas was annexed as a US state in 1845.
56. Athlete lead-in : TRI-
An Ironman Triathlon is a race involving a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon run of just over 26 miles. The idea for the race came out of a debate between some runners in the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay. They were questioning whether runners, swimmers or bikers were the most fit athletes. The debaters decided to combine three local events to determine the answer, inviting athletes from all three disciplines. The events that were mimicked to come up with the first triathlon were the Waikiki Roughwater swim (2.4 miles), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 miles) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles). The idea was that whoever finished first would be called “the Iron Man”. The first triathlon was run in 1978, with fifteen starters and only twelve finishers. The race format is used all over the world now, but the Hawaiian Ironman is the event that everyone wants to win.
57. French honey : AMIE
A male friend in France is “un ami”, and a female friend is “une amie”.
58. Coffee shop order : MOCHA
Mocha is a port city in Yemen on the Red Sea and was once the principal port for the capital city of Sana’a. Mocha was the major marketplace in the world for coffee until the 1600s, and gave its name to the Mocha coffee bean, which in turn gave it’s name to the mocha brown color, and to the flavor of coffee infused with chocolate.
62. Immune lead-in : AUTO-
An autoimmune disease is one in which there is an immune response not against an invading pathogen, but rather against a normal body part. Examples of autoimmune diseases are lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
64. Too much shooting at the table? : EXCESS POOL (from “cesspool”)
A cesspit (also “cesspool”) is a covered tank or pit used for the disposal of human waste.
68. Architect Frank : GEHRY
Frank Gehry is an architect from Toronto who is based in Los Angeles. Listed among Gehry’s famous creations are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in Spain, The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and his own private residence in Santa Monica, California. He is currently working on the upcoming Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial that will be placed in Washington, D.C. I hope to see that one day …
69. One of three in “To be or not to be” : IAMB
An iamb is a metrical foot containing an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” consists of lines made up of four sequential iambs e.g. “Whose woods / these are / I think / I know”. With a sequence of four iambs, the poem’s structure is described as iambic tetrameter.
There has been centuries of debate about how one interprets Hamlet’s soliloquy that begins “To be or not to be …”. My favorite opinion is that Hamlet is weighing up the pros and cons of suicide (“to not be”).
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles …
1. Uber competitors : CABS
Uber is a ridesharing service that was founded in 2009 and is based in San Francisco. The service is somewhat controversial and has been described as an illegal taxicab operation. Central to Uber’s service is the company’s mobile app, which can use the client’s GPS location to help find the nearest available ride. Uber’s main competitor is Lyft. Personally, I love the service and have only had good experiences …
2. Margarine : OLEO
Emperor Louis Napoleon III of France announced a competition to develop a substitute for butter, a substitute that would be more accessible to the lower classes and more practical for the armed forces. A French chemist called Hippolyte Mege-Mouries came up with something he called oleomargarine in 1869, which was eventually manufactured under the trade name “margarine”. The name “oleomargarine” also gives us our generic term “oleo”.
5. Early 7th-century year : DCX
The year 610 is written as DCX in Roman numerals.
12. Chopin work : ETUDE
An étude is a short instrumental composition that is usually quite hard to play and is intended to help the performer master a particular technique. “Étude” is the French word for “study”. Études are commonly performed on the piano.
Frédéric Chopin was a Polish composer who spent most of his life in France. He was most famous for his piano works in the Romantic style. Chopin was a sickly man and died quite young, at 39. For many of his final years he had a celebrated and tempestuous relationship with the French author George Sand (the nom de plume of the Baroness Dudevant). Those years with Sand may have been turbulent, but they were very productive in terms of musical composition.
18. Actor Morales : ESAI
The actor Esai Morales is best known in the world of film for the 1987 movie “La Bamba”, which depicted the life of Ritchie Valens and his half-brother Bob Morales (played by Esai). On the small screen, Morales plays Lt. Tony Rodriguez on “NYPD Blue” and Joseph Adama on “Caprica”.
22. Religion founded in Persia : BAHA’I
The Baha’i Faith is relatively new in the grand scheme of things, and was founded in Persia in the 1800s. One of the tenets of the religion is that messengers have come from God over time, including Abraham, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and most recently Bahá’u’lláh who founded the Baha’i Faith.
25. Gullible : GREEN
A “gull” is someone easily cheated, a dupe. The term “gull” gave rise to the word “gullible”, which is in common use today. Did you know that the word “gullible” has been removed from online dictionaries?
26. Group including some Brat Pack members : GEN-X
The term Generation X originated in the UK where it was the name of a book by Jane Deverson. Her book detailed the results of a study of British youths in 1964, contrasting their lifestyle to those of previous generations. It was Canadian author Douglas Coupland who was responsible for popularizing the term, with his more successful publication “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture”. By the latest accepted definition, Gen-Xers were born between 1961 and 1981.
The Brat Pack moniker is reminiscent of the Rat Pack of the fifties and sixties (Franks Sinatra & co.). To qualify as a “founding” member of the Brat Pack, the actor had to appear in either “The Breakfast Club” or “St. Elmo’s Fire”, or both. So we have Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.
27. Mazatlán-to-Chihuahua dirección : NORTE
“Norte” (north) is a “dirección” (direction), in Spanish.
Mazatlán is a city in Mexico on the Pacific coast sitting right opposite the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula.
The city of Chihuahua is the capital of the Mexican state of the same name. The city was founded in 1709 by Spanish explorers as a village called El Real de Minas de San Francisco de Cuéllar. However, the current name “Chihuahua” predates the Spanish conquest of Mexico, although the name wasn’t adopted until 1823.
28. Monthly pmts. reducer : REFI
29. “Voulez-vous coucher __ moi?” : AVEC
“Lady Marmalade” is a song that was most famously recorded by Labelle in 1975. A 2001 cover version by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink was also very successful, released from the soundtrack of the film “Moulin Rouge!”. The song is noted for its suggestive chorus “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”, which translates from French as “Do you want to sleep with me tonight?”
30. Falling stars that reach the ground : METEORITES
A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body travelling through space. Once in the atmosphere, the meteoroid is referred to as a “meteor” or “shooting star”. Almost all meteoroids burn up, but if one is large enough to survive and reach the ground then we call it a meteorite. The word “meteor” comes from the Greek “meteōros” meaning “high in the air”.
34. Many a reggae artist : RASTA
I must admit that I don’t really know much about Rastafarianism. I do know that a “Rasta”, like Bob Marley, is a follower of the movement. Some say that Rastafarianism is a religion, some not. I also know that it involves the worship of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.
Reggae is a genre of music that developed in the late sixties, evolving out of the genres of ska and rocksteady.
36. Eponymous Belgian town : SPA
The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as Spa is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.
37. English county on the North Sea : ESSEX
Essex is a county in England, referred to as one of the “home counties”. The home counties are those that surround the city of London, outside of London itself. “Home county” is not an official designation but has been in popular use since the 1800s.
The North Sea is an offshoot of the Atlantic Ocean that is located between Britain and Scandinavia.
38. Tiny bit : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.
39. Airborne pest : GNAT
Gnats are attracted to the smell of rotting food, and to vinegar. Simple homemade traps that use vinegar are often constructed to attract and kill gnats.
41. OPEC member since 1962 : LIBYA
The Italo-Turkish War was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy from September 1911 and October 1912. At the end of the conflict the Ottoman Empire ceded to Italy the three provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. These provinces became Italian North Africa, and ultimately the country that we know today as Libya. The name “Libya” comes from the Ancient Greek “Libúē”, the historical name for Northwest Africa.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in 1960 at a conference held in Baghdad, Iraq that was attended by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Nine more countries joined the alliance soon after, and OPEC set up headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and then Vienna, Austria in 1965. The basic aim of OPEC was to wrench control of oil prices from the oil companies and to put it in the hands of the sovereign states that own the natural resource.
42. High wind? : OBOE
The oboe is perhaps my favorite of the reed instruments. The name “oboe” comes from the French “hautbois” which means “high wood”. When you hear an orchestra tuning before a performance you’ll note (pun intended!) that the oboe starts off the process by playing an “A”. The rest of the musicians in turn tune to that oboe’s “A”.
50. Unwavering : STAID
Something described as “staid” is unwavering, fixed. This usage expanded to mean “sober, sedate”. The term dates back to the 16th century, and comes from verb “to stay”. “Staid” is a rewriting of the past participle “stayed”.
51. Goody two shoes : PRUDE
The expression “goody two-shoes” is used for someone who is virtuous, but in a smug way. The term comes from a nursery tale published in 1765 called “The History of Goody Two-Shoes”. Goody Two-Shoes is the heroine of the tale, and actually isn’t smug at all. Instead, she is a Cinderella-like character in a retelling of the Cinderella story.
52. End of a series : OMEGA
The Greek alphabet starts with the letter “alpha”, and ends with the letter “omega”.
53. Vetoes : NIXES
The use of “nix” as a verb, meaning “to shoot down”, dates back to the early 1900s. Before that “nix” was just a noun meaning “nothing”. “Nix” comes from the German “nichts”, which also means “nothing”.
“Veto” comes directly from Latin and means “I forbid”. The word was used by tribunes of Ancient Rome to indicate that they opposed measures passed by the Senate.
55. Fabled lost mittens punishment : NO PIE
The first verse of the nursery rhyme “Three Little Kittens” is:
The three little kittens they lost their mittens,
And they began to cry,
Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear
Our mittens we have lost
What? Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.
We shall have no pie.
Our mittens we have lost.
59. Cajole : COAX
To coax is to cajole, to influence using gentle persuasion. Back in the 16th century, “coax” was a noun meaning “fool”, and was used in the sense of “make a coax of, make a fool of”.
61. Priestly garments : ALBS
An alb is a white, neck-to-toe vestment worn by priests, usually with a rope cord around the waist. The term alb comes from “albus”, the Latin word for “white”.
66. Part of CBS: Abbr. : SYS
CBS used to be known as the Columbia Broadcasting System. It is the second-largest broadcaster in the world, second only to the BBC in the UK. CBS introduced its “eye” logo in 1951.