Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers include two occurrences of SOME THREE-letter sequence, one at the start of the answer, and one at the end:
- 57. Each answer to a starred clue begins and ends with identical ones : THREESOMES
- 17. *Process of electron gain or loss : IONIZATION
- 24. *Beneficial substance in berries : ANTIOXIDANT
- 34. *Eating : INGESTING
- 48. *London subway system, with “the” : UNDERGROUND
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Chickens (out) : WIMPS
Our term “wimp”, describing a “timid person”, probably is an alteration of “whimper”, the sound that such an individual may make.
15. Advil target : ACHE
Advil is Wyeth’s brand of ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug.
19. Killer whale : ORCA
The taxonomic name for the killer whale is Orcinus orca. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.
20. Cereal with lemony lemon and orangey orange flavors : TRIX
Trix is a corn-based breakfast cereal that has been around since 1954, produced by General Mills. Ads for the cereal featured Trix Rabbit, who would try hard to get hold of bowls of the cereal. He would always get caught though, and be admonished with, “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!” With 46% sugar content, the rabbit probably wouldn’t have liked it anyway …
22. Bryn Mawr undergrads : WOMEN
I used to live not far from Bryn-mawr (sometimes written as “Brynmwar”) in Wales, the town with the highest elevation in the country. Appropriately enough, “bryn mawr” is Welsh for “big hill”. There is also a Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania (note the different capitalization) that is named after its Welsh counterpart. At the Pennsylvania location there’s a Bryn Mawr college, a private women’s school that was the first American university to offer graduate degrees to women.
29. Katy who voiced Smurfette in “The Smurfs” : PERRY
Katy Perry is an American singer who grew up listening to and singing gospel music, as she was the daughter of two Christian pastors. In fact, her first musical release was a gospel album in 2001. She has branched out since then. Her first successful single was “Ur so Gay”, followed by “I Kissed A Girl”. She was married (only for a year) to the British comedian Russell Brand, until 2012.
“The Smurfs” is a 2011 animated feature film featuring the “The Smurfs” comic book characters. The movie has an impressive cast of live actors, including Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris and Sofía Vergara, as well Katy Perry, Alan Cumming and Jonathan Winters as voice actors.
The Smurfs are little blue people created in 1958 by the Belgian cartoonist who went by the pen name Peyo. The Smurfs became famous in the US when Hanna-Barbera used them in a children’s cartoon series. The characters are largely a group of males. The original lineup included just one “Smurfette”, who is wooed by almost all of the boy Smurfs. Later, another female was introduced into the mix called Sassette, and still later along came Granny Smurf.
30. “Jeopardy!” creator Griffin : 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”.
45. Asian rice porridge : CONGEE
Congee is an Asian dish, a gruel prepared by cooking rice in water for an extended period, long enough for the grains to practically disintegrate.
48. *London subway system, with “the” : UNDERGROUND
The official name “London Underground” is a little deceptive, as over half of the track system-wide is actually “over ground”, with the underground sections reserved for the central areas. It is the oldest subway system in the world, opening in 1863. It was also the first system to use electric rolling stock, in 1890. “The Tube”, as it is known by Londoners, isn’t the longest subway system in the world though. That honor belongs to the Shanghai Metro. My personal favorite part of the Tube is the Tube map! It is a marvel of design …
54. “Monday Night Countdown” airer : ESPN
“Monday Night Countdown” is an ESPN show, runup to that evening’s Monday Night Football game.
55. Cruciverbalist Reagle of “Wordplay” : MERL
Merl Reagle was a renowned constructor of puzzles in crossword circles. Despite the availability of computer tools Reagle was known for constructing puzzles using pencil and paper. There is an interesting segment in the 2006 movie “ Wordplay” in which we see Reagle in action creating a puzzle for the New York Times. Reagle even made an appearance in a 2008 episode of “The Simpsons”.
“Cruciverbalist” is a term developed in the 1990s to describe crossword enthusiasts. The word comes from the Latin for cross (crux) and word (verbum). “Cruciverbalist” is sometimes limited to those who actually construct the puzzles. Over on the other side of the Atlantic, we call such people “setters”.
56. Danish shoe company : ECCO
I have to say, after owning several pairs, that ECCO shoes are the most comfortable in the world …
59. Big bunch : SLEW
Our usage of “slew” to mean “large number” has nothing to do with the verb “to slew”. The noun “slew” come into English in the early 1800s from the Irish word “sluagh” meaning “host, crowd, multitude”.
61. Sailor’s “Halt!” : AVAST!
“Avast” is a nautical term used to tell someone to stop or desist from what they are doing. The word comes from the Dutch “hou vast” meaning “hold fast”.
62. Gull relative : TERN
Terns are a family of seabirds. They are similar to gulls, but more slender and more lightly built. Many species of tern are known for their long-distance migrations, with the Arctic tern migrating so far that it is believed to see more daylight in a year than any other animal.
64. __-Bismol : PEPTO
Pepto-Bismol was originally marketed as a remedy for infant diarrhea, and sold under the name “Bismosol: Mixture Cholera Infantum”.
4. Amount to pay in Calais : PRIX
“Prix” is French for “price”.
Calais is a major ferry port in northern France that overlooks the Strait of Dover, which is the narrowest point in the English Channel. The strait is just over 20 miles wide, making Calais the nearest French town to England.
7. “The Martian” genre : SCI-FI
“The Martian” is a very intriguing 2015 science fiction film starring Matt Damon as an astronaut who is accidentally stranded on Mars. The movie is based on a 2011 novel of the same name by Andrew Weir. One thing that I liked about the film is that the science cited is fairly realistic. In fact, NASA collaborated with the filmmakers extensively from script development to principal casting.
8. Snapchat upload : PHOTO
Snapchat is a messaging system that allows users to send photos and video clips to a limited list of recipients. The photos and clips, called “snaps”, can be viewed for only a few seconds before they are deleted from the recipient’s device, and from the Snapchat servers.
9. Nikkei index currency : YEN
The Korean Won, the Chinese Yuan, and the Japanese Yen (all of which are Asian currencies) take their names from the Chinese written character that represents “round shape”.
The Nikkei is a stock market index for the Tokyo Stock Exchange that has been published by the “Nihon Keizai Shimbun” newspaper since 1950. The “Nihon Keizai Shimbun” has the largest circulation of any financial newspaper in the world, and is read by over 3 million people daily.
10. Diabetic’s concern : BLOOD SUGAR
Diabetes is a group of disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s failure to make enough insulin, a hormone that promotes the absorption of glucose from the blood. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body’s cells fail to respond properly to insulin.
12. Holy smoke : INCENSE
Incense is a plant material that gives off a pleasant-smelling smoke when burned. Examples of such material are camphor, frankincense, balsam, myrrh and sandalwood. The term “incense” describes the material that is burned, and not the smoke or aroma that is given off.
18. Former Education secretary Duncan : ARNE
Long before Arne Duncan became Secretary of Education he was a professional basketball player, but not in the NBA. Duncan played for the National Basketball League of Australia, for the Eastside Spectres in Melbourne.
22. Golfer Michelle : WIE
Michelle Wie is an American golfer on the LPGA Tour. Wie began playing golf at the age of four and was the youngest player ever to qualify for an LPGA tour event. She turned pro just before her 16th birthday …
24. Kirk __, first movie Superman : ALYN
Kirk Alyn was the actor who played the title role in the first ever “Superman” movie, way back in 1948. Alyn reprised the role in a 1950 sequel called “Atom Man V. Superman”.
25. Last Super Bowl won by the Giants : XLVI
Super Bowl XLVI was played at the end of the 2011 season, with the New York Giants emerging victorious over the New England Patriots with a score of 21-17. MVP for the game was Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
27. Capital of Barbados : BRIDGETOWN
Bridgetown is the largest city and capital of the island nation of Barbados. Barbados was uninhabited when the British landed there in 1625. Permanent English settlers established a settlement in the area now known as Bridgetown three years later, in 1628. The settlement had grown by the 1650s into what was called the Town of Saint Michael. The name changed to Bridgetown following the construction of a new bridge over the Constitution River that runs through the town in 1654. As an aside, Bridgetown was the only city that George Washington ever visited that was located outside of the United States.
31. PC key : ESC
The escape key (Esc) was originally used to control computer peripherals. It was a key that allowed the computer operator to stop what the peripheral was doing (cancel a print job, for example). Nowadays the escape key is used for all sorts of things, especially in gaming programs.
32. MapQuest output: Abbr. : RTE
MapQuest is a very popular Internet site, one that provides driving directions and maps. MapQuest has been owned by AOL since 2000. One nice feature of MapQuest is a page where gas prices are recorded by users, allowing others to find the lowest price in their area.
35. Oldest Brady boy : GREG
The character Greg Brady was the oldest Brady son in the sitcom “The Brady Bunch”. Greg was played by Christopher Daniel Barnes in the TV show. It was revealed in spin-offs of the original sitcom that Greg married a nurse and became an obstetrician.
38. Accessory for Mr. Peanut : MONOCLE
Planters is the company with the Mr. Peanut icon. Mr. Peanut was the invention of a first-grader named Antonio Gentile, a young man who won a design contest in 1916. A remarkable achievement, I’d say …
39. Ambien, vis-à-vis sleep : INDUCER
Ambien is a brand name for the prescription drug Zolpidem. I have a friend who used to swear by it for helping cope with jet lag. I once had to deal with jet lag almost monthly and swear by the diet supplement melatonin, which you can buy over the counter here in the US. But, I am no doctor so don’t listen to anything I say …
We can use the French phrase “vis-à-vis” as a preposition meaning “compared with”. When used as an adverb or adjective, it means “face-to-face”, which is a more literal translation from French.
43. “Into Thin Air” peak : EVEREST
Mount Everest was first summited in 1953 by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hillary and Norgay were part of an expedition from which two pairs of climbers were selected to make a summit attempt. The first pair were Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, and they came within 330 feet of their goal but had to turn back. The expedition sent up the second pair two days later, and history was made on 29 May 1953.
“Into Thin Air” is a 1997 book by Jon Krakauer in which he gives a firsthand account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. That disaster was centered on a rogue storm that enveloped the summit of the mountain and led to the death of eight climbers. The book was adapted into an intense 1997 TV movie of the same name.
46. Workplaces for LPNs : ERS
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) might work in an operating room (OR), emergency room (ER) or an intensive care unit (ICU).
47. Green Gables girl : ANNE
“Anne of Green Gables” is a 1908 novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery that she set in the fictional Prince Edward Island community of Avonlea. Montgomery wrote several sequels to “Anne”, with them all being set on Prince Edward Island (PEI), from where the author hailed.
50. “Hamlet” courtier : OSRIC
In William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, Osric is the courtier that Claudius dispatches to invite Hamlet to participate in a duel.
58. Con man’s target : SAP
“Sap” is slang for a fool, someone easily scammed. The term arose in the early 1800s in Britain when it was used in “saphead” and “sapskull”. All these words derive from “sapwood”, which is the soft wood found in tree trunks between the bark and the heartwood at the center.