Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answer ends with a type of LETTER, with a word that often HEADS the word LETTER:
- 61A. Stationery that may include a company logo … or what the ends of answers to the starred clues can be? : LETTERHEAD
- 17A. *Seeks shelter : TAKES COVER (giving “cover letter”)
- 38A. *Bob Marley togetherness classic : ONE LOVE (giving “love letter”)
- 11D. *System that gets goods to customers : SUPPLY CHAIN (giving “chain letter”)
- 25D. *Major golf tournament won five times by Tom Watson : BRITISH OPEN (giving “open letter”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
10. Deadly snakes in hieroglyphics : ASPS
The episodes of delirium that can accompany withdrawal from alcohol are called Delirium Tremens (the DTs). The literal translation of this Latin phrase is “trembling madness”.
15. Italian money until 2002 : LIRA
The word “lira” is used in a number of countries for currency. “Lira” comes from the Latin for “pound” and is derived from a British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. For example, the lira (plural “lire”) was the official currency of Italy before the country changed over to the euro in 2002.
19. Samoa’s capital : APIA
Apia is the capital city, and in fact the only city, of the Pacific island-nation of Samoa. The harbor of Apia is famous for a very foolish incident in 1889 involving seven naval vessels from Germany, the US and Britain. A typhoon was approaching so the safest thing to do was to head for open water away from land, but no nation would move its ships for fear of losing face in front of the others. Six of the ships were lost in the typhoon as a result and 200 American and German sailors perished. The British cruiser HMS Calliope barely managed to escape from the harbor and rode out the storm safely. Apia is also known as the home of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, for the last four years of his life.
21. Not up to snuff : SUBPAR
The term “up to snuff” today means “up to standard”. It was introduced to us for the first time in 1811 in a play called “Hamlet Travestie” by Englishman John Poole. He used the term to mean “in the know”. It was perhaps a reference to the habit of taking powdered tobacco, a practice back then that was associated with the upper classes, the educated, those in the know.
26. Actor Jared : LETO
Jared Leto is an actor and musician. In the world of music, Leto is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars. In the film world, one of his most critically acclaimed role was that of a heroin addict in “Requiem for a Dream”. He also appeared in “American Psycho”, “Panic Room” and “Lord of War”. Leto won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for portraying a transgender woman in 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club”.
33. Jellyfish bites : STINGS
Jellyfish are found all over the ocean, right across the whole planet. They have been around for 500-700 million years, and so are the oldest multi-organ animal extant.
34. Thrilla in Manila boxer : ALI
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had three memorable fights. The first was billed as the “Fight of the Century” and took place in 1971 in Madison Square Garden. It was a fight between two great boxers, both of whom were undefeated up till that point. Frazier won in a unanimous decision after fifteen rounds. A couple of years later, in 1973, Frazier lost his title to George Foreman. Ali and Frazier had a non-title rematch in 1974, with Ali coming out ahead this time, also in a unanimous decision. Later that year, Ali grabbed back the World Heavyweight Title in “The Rumble in the Jungle”, the famous “rope-a-dope” fight against George Foreman. That set the stage for the third and final fight between Ali and Frazier, “The Thrilla in Manila”. Ali won the early rounds, but Frazier made a comeback in the middle of the fight. Ali took control at the end of the bout, so much so that Frazier wasn’t able to come out of his corner for the 15th and final round. He couldn’t come out of his corner because both of his eyes were swollen shut, giving Ali a victory due to a technical knockout (TKO).
38. *Bob Marley togetherness classic : ONE LOVE (giving “love letter”)
“One Love” is a classic reggae song from 1977 recorded by Bob Marley and the Wailers. A ska version of “One Love” had been released by the Wailers as early as 1965, but it is the 1977 release that we all remember, I am sure.
41. Mag mogul often seen in pj’s : HEF
Hugh Hefner (often called “Hef”) is from Chicago. His first publishing job was in the military, where he worked as a writer for a US Army newspaper from 1944-46. He went to college after his military service and then worked as a copywriter for “Esquire” magazine. He left “Esquire” to found his own publication that he called “Playboy”, which first hit the newsstands in 1953. “Playboy” has been around ever since.
43. Letters in geometry : PIS
The ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is a mathematical constant, which we denote with the Greek letter pi (π). The ratio pi can be used to calculate the area of a disk, by multiplying the constant by the square of the radius (πr2).
45. Duracell size : AAA
Duracell is a brand of batteries made today by Procter & Gamble. “Duracell” is a portmanteau of “durable” and “cell”.
48. Ivory and Coast, for two : SOAPS
Ivory soap is one of Procter & Gamble’s oldest products, introduced way back in 1879. Ivory soap is noted for its “purity” and also because of its property of floating in water. Despite urban myths to the contrary, the property of floating in water was developed deliberately by a chemist at the time Ivory was being formulated. The soap floats because the ingredients are mixed longer than necessary for homogenization, which introduces more air into the product.
Coast is a deodorant soap that was launched by Procter & Gamble in 1976. The target market for Coast is men.
50. Tom Brady, notably : PATRIOT
The New England Patriots football team was founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots. The “Patriots” name was selected from suggestions made by football fans in Boston. The team played at several different stadiums in the Boston area for just over ten years, before moving to their current home base in Foxborough, Massachusetts. At the time of the move, the “Boston” name was dropped and changed to “New England”.
Tom Brady plays quarterback for the New England Patriots. Brady is from San Mateo, California, which isn’t very far from here. He dated actress Bridget Moynahan for a couple of years, and the pair have a child together. Brady has been married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen since 2009.
51. Garden bug : APHID
Aphids are called “greenfly” back in the British Isles where I come from. The most effective way to control aphids in my experience is to make sure there are plenty of ladybugs in the garden (called ladybirds in Ireland!).
53. Airline to Tel Aviv : 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.
The full name of Israel’s second largest city is Tel Aviv-Yafo. Tel Aviv translates into “Spring Mound”, a name chosen in 1910.
55. “The Piano” actress Paquin : ANNA
Anna Paquin is an actress from New Zealand who won an Oscar as an 11-year-old for her role in “The Piano”. In the HBO series “True Blood” she plays Sookie Stackhouse, a role for which she won a Golden Globe.
“The Piano” is a 1993 film set and filmed in New Zealand starring Harvey Keitel, Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin. The movie tells the story of a mute piano player and her daughter, and her efforts to regain her piano after it is sold. Holly Hunter managed to get three screen credits in “The Piano”. She was credited for her acting role, for playing her own piano pieces in the film, and for being the sign-language coach for young Anna Paquin.
58. La Scala solos : ARIAS
La Scala Opera House opened in 1778. It was built on the site of the church of Santa Maria della Scala, which gave the theater its name: “Teatro alla Scala” in Italian.
61. Stationery that may include a company logo … or what the ends of answers to the starred clues can be? : LETTERHEAD
“Stationery” is a noun describing writing materials and office supplies, items that are sold by a stationer. Centuries ago, a stationer was someone who sold goods from a shop or a “station”, from a fixed, stationary stall.
70. Toboggan, e.g. : SLED
“Toboggan” came into English from the French Canadian “tabagane”, the name for a long sled with a flat bottom. The French Canadian word is probably from the Algonquian word for a sled, “tobakun”,
71. Second or sixth president : ADAMS
John Adams was the second President of the United States. I must admit that I learned much of what I know about President Adams in the excellent, excellent HBO series “John Adams”. Having said that, I have also visited his home in Quincy, Massachusetts several times. He was clearly a great man with a great intellect …
John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, was the 6th President. Like his father, John Quincy worked for many years as a diplomat representing the young United States. After leaving office, Adams served in Congress as Representative from Massachusetts, becoming the only president ever to enter the House after leaving the office as President.
2. Color TV pioneer : RCA
During WWI, the US government actively discouraged the loss of certain technologies to other countries, including allies. The developing wireless technologies were considered to be particularly important by the army and navy. The government prevented the General Electric Company from selling equipment to the British Marconi Company, and instead facilitated the purchase by GE of the American Marconi subsidiary. This purchase led to GE forming the Radio Corporation of America that we know today as RCA.
7. Fastener for Rosie : RIVET
Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon that represented women working in factories across the country during WWII as part of the war effort. The term “Rosie the Riveter” first appeared as the title of a 1942 song that was a national hit.
10. Montgomery’s home : ALABAMA
Montgomery is the capital of Alabama, and is the state’s second biggest city (after Birmingham). Montgomery is a port city, located on the Alabama River. The city is actually named for an Irishman. Richard Montgomery was an Irish-born soldier who served in the British Army and later in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
12. Trojan War king : PRIAM
Priam was king of Troy during the Trojan War. Reputedly, Priam was father to fifty sons and many daughters with his many wives. His eldest son and heir to the throne was Hector. Paris was another of Priam’s sons, the man who caused the Trojan War by eloping with Helen, Queen of Sparta.
22. Wire service org. : UPI
Founded in 1958, United Press International (UPI) used to be one of the biggest news agencies in the world, sending out news by wire to the major newspapers. UPI ran into trouble with the change in media formats at the end of the twentieth century and lost many of its clients as the afternoon newspapers shut down due to the advent of television news. UPI, which once employed thousands, still exists today but with just a handful of employees.
23. Most wanted __ : LIST
The FBI was the first agency to create a “most wanted list”, introducing the “FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list in 1950. Director J. Edgar Hoover came up with the idea after fielding a question from a journalist asking for the names and description of the “toughest guys” being sought by the FBI. One misconception about the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list is that it is ranked, but there is no such thing as the “#1 Most Wanted Fugitive”.
25. *Major golf tournament won five times by Tom Watson : BRITISH OPEN (giving “open letter”)
The golf tournament that we usually refer to as “the British Open” here in North America, is more correctly known as “The Open Championship”. The tournament has earned its somewhat Haughty title as it is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. The Open was first played in 1860, at Scotland’s Prestwick Golf Club. That first tournament attracted a grand field of eight professional golfers, with Scotsman Willie Park, Sr. emerging victorious.
27. Nobel Institute city : OSLO
The Norwegian Nobel Institute was established in Oslo in 1904. The main task of the Institute is to assist the Norwegian Nobel Committee in selecting the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and to organize the annual Nobel event.
34. Pie __ mode : A LA
In French, “à la mode” simply means “fashionable”. In America, the term has also come to describe a way of serving pie. Pie served à la mode includes a dollop of cream or ice cream, or as I recall from my time living in Upstate New York, with a wedge of cheddar cheese.
36. Wyoming’s Grand __ National Park : TETON
Grand Teton National Park (NP) is located just south of Yellowstone NP, and a must-see if you are visiting the latter. The park is named after the tallest peak in the magnificent Teton Range known as Grand Teton. The origins of the name “Teton” is not very clear, although my one story is that it was named by French trappers, as the word “tetons” in French is a slang term meaning “breasts”.
40. Md. winter hours : EST
Eastern Standard Time (EST)
The Province of Maryland was one of the original colonies that joined together in rebellion against Great Britain. The colony was named after Henrietta Maria of France, Queen Consort of King Charles I of England who was ruling at the time the colony was granted its charter.
42. Spanakopita cheese : FETA
Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months before it is eaten.
Spanakopita is a savory pastry from Greece. The term “spanakopita” translates from Greek as “spinach pie”. The pie’s filling includes feta cheese, onions and egg, along with the spinach.
44. Evening affairs : SOIREES
“Soir” is the French word for “evening” and a “soirée” is an “evening party”. The French word “soirée” has an acute accent over the first “e”, but we tend to drop this when using the word in English.
47. Seriously vandalized : TRASHED
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.
49. USN bigwig : ADM
51. Month with showers : APRIL
The phenomenon of “April showers” really applies to the UK and Ireland. Increased occurrence of rain during April is largely due to an annual change in the position of the jet stream.
54. Foamy pick-me-up : LATTE
The term “latte” is an abbreviation of the Italian “caffelatte” meaning “coffee (and) milk”. Note that in the correct spelling of “latte”, the Italian word for milk, there is no accent over the “e”. An accent is often added by mistake when we use the word in English, perhaps meaning to suggest that the word is French.
63. Pitcher’s stat : ERA
Earned run average (ERA)
65. __ Moines : DES
The city of Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, and takes its name from the Des Moines River. The river in turn takes its name from the French “Riviere des Moines” meaning “River of the Monks”. It looks like there isn’t any “monkish” connection to the city’s name per se. “Des Moines” was just the name given by French traders who corrupted “Moingona”, the name of a group of Illinois Native Americans who lived by the river. However, others do contend that French Trappist monks, who lived a full 200 miles from the river, somehow influenced the name.