Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each INCLUDE a type of CIRCLE:
- 53A…Influential groups, and what each of the answers to starred clues contains..INNER CIRCLES
- 20A…*Many a smartphone download..FREE RINGTONE
- 29A…*Beef cut..TOP ROUND STEAK
- 44A…*Traction aid for off-road vehicles..ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
The most famous supersonic transport (SST) is the retired Concorde. Famously, the Concorde routinely broke the sound barrier, and cruised at about twice the speed of sound. Above Mach 2, frictional heat would cause the plane’s aluminum airframe to soften, so airspeed was limited.
Eiders are large sea ducks. Their down feathers are used to fill pillows and quilts, giving the name to the quilt called an “eiderdown”.
A “duvet” is a large flat bag that is filled with down, feathers or a synthetic substitute that is used as a top cover for a bed. Although a duvet is similar to what is called a “comforter” in the US, there is a difference. A duvet is often has an easily removed cover that is usually laundered at the same time as the bottom sheet and pillowcases. We use them a lot in Europe, and generally without a top sheet due to the ease of laundering.
The largest opal ever found, and the most valuable, is the Olympic Australis. It was discoveredin South Australia in 1956. That same year, the Summer Olympics were being held in Melbourne so the newly discovered stone was given the name “Olympic Australis”.
16…Carne __: burrito filling..ASADA
“Carne Asada” translates from Spanish as “roasted meat”.
Nina Simone was the stage name of Eunice Waymon. Simone was very much associated with jazz music, although she really wanted to be a classical musician early in her career, inspired by a love for the music of Bach.
The viola looks like and is played like a violin, but is slightly larger. It is referred to as the middle voice in the violin family, between the violin and the cello.
24…Good to go, at NASA..A-OK
Our term “A-OK” is supposedly an abbreviation for “A(ll systems are) OK”, and arose in the sixties during the Space Program.
29…*Beef cut..TOP ROUND STEAK
A round steak comes from the rump of a cow, which is why it’s called a rump steak back in the British Isles.
“Nyet” is Russian for “no”, and “da” is Russian for “yes”.
Spider-Man was a creation of Stan Lee, along with Steve Ditko, and first appeared in comics in 1962. Spider-Man was a somewhat groundbreaking character in that his alter ego was a teenage high school student (named Peter Parker), marking the first time that a young person featured front and center as the superhero.
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 …
44…*Traction aid for off-road vehicles..ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
All-wheel drive (AWD)
48…”New Hampshire’s Gate City”..NASHUA
The New Hampshire city of Nashua was named for the Nashaway people who inhabited the upstream portions of the Nashua River Valley. The name “Nashaway” translates as “river with a pebbled bottom”.
Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE)
50…Clean Air Act org…EPA
The Clean Air Act of 1963 is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
57…Site with “Health A-Z” guides..WEBMD
WebMD is a website containing health information that has been online since 1996. WebMD is read by over 80 million readers each month.
60…Home Depot purchase..TOOL
The Home Depot is the largest home improvement retail chain in the US, ahead of Lowe’s. Home Depot opened their first two stores in 1979. The average store size if just over 100,000 square feet. The largest Home Depot outlet is in Union, New Jersey, and it is 225,000 square feet in size. That’s a lot of nuts and bolts …
62…Shake an Etch A Sketch, e.g…ERASE
Etch A Sketch was introduced in 1960. The toy was developed in France by inventor André Cassagnes.
63…In the buff..NUDE
Buffe leather was commonly used in the 1500s, leather taken from the original buffalo, a type of ox. This concept of “buffe” as a hide or skin led to the phrase “in the buff”, meaning “in the nude”.
64…Fried corn bread..PONE
“Pone” is another word for corn bread, from the Powhatan word “apan” meaning “something baked”.
The satyrs of Greek mythology came with a very high sex drive. They are the “rude” male subjects drawn on the side of old Greek vases. The nubile maidens known as nymphs were often an object of attention for the satyrs.
2…To the left, at sea..APORT
The left side of a ship used to be called the “larboard” side, but this was dropped in favor of “port” as pronunciation of “larboard” was easily confused with “starboard”, the right side of the vessel. The term “port” was chosen as it was customary to dock a ship, for loading in port, with the left side of the vessel against the dock.
6…Three sheets to the wind..STINKO
A sheet is the rope that is used to control a sail on a sailing vessel. The expression “three sheets to the wind” meaning “drunk” dates back to the early 1800s. It likely derives from the notion that a sailboat with three sails, and with all three sheets slipped out of control, would behave like someone who was drunk, and vice versa.
When early European settlers came across red berries growing in the bogs of the northern part of America, they felt that the plant’s flower and stem resembled the head and bill of a crane. As such, they called the plant “craneberry”, which later evolved into “cranberry”.
12…Academic address ending..EDU
The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified.
We use “rat race” figuratively to describe an endless, pointless pursuit. The term comes from the laboratory, where one might imagine rats racing around a maze in search of some cheese.
A gavel is a small hammer that is rapped on a table or desk to call a meeting to order, or perhaps to signify a sale at an auction.
26…”Middlemarch” novelist..GEORGE ELIOT
George Eliot’s novel “Middlemarch” was first published in installments in 1871-72. The storyline is set some fifty years earlier, in the fictional English Midlands town of Middlemarch.
27…1976 Olympics star Comaneci..NADIA
Nadia Comaneci won three golds in the 1976 Summer Olympics and was the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of a ten in the gymnastics competition. Comaneci published a book called “Letters to a Young Gymnast” in 2003, and now lives in the United States.
28…RR station postings..SKEDS
30…Part of MYOB..OWN
Mind your own business (MYOB)
32…PBS “Science Guy” Bill..NYE
That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on Disney for four years from 1993-97.
34…Clapton woman who’s “got me on my knees”..LAYLA
“Layla” is one of the great rock anthems of the seventies, released by Derek and the Dominos in December of 1970. It is a masterpiece of composition, with the first half of the song a great vehicle for the guitar-playing talents of Eric Clapton. The second half is a beautifully melodic piano coda (a coda … taking up half the length of the track!). To top things off we have the “unplugged” version recorded by Clapton in 1992, a fabulous and inventive variation on the original.
Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.
38…Song of praise..PAEAN
A paean is a poem or song that expresses triumph or thanksgiving. “Paean” comes from the ancient Greek “paian” meaning “song of triumph”.
39…Application file suffix..EXE
In the Windows Operating System, a file with the extension .exe is an “executable” file.
40…Head in a capital: Abbr…GOV
The word “thunder” precedes the word “lightning” in the phrase “thunder and lightning”. However, thunder comes after lighting in reality, at least to the observer. The observer sees the flash of lightning and then seconds later hears the crash of thunder. That’s because light travels faster than sound.
43…Row at Dodger Stadium..TIER
Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is the third oldest stadium currently used in Major League Baseball (after Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago).
51…Pasta often served alla vodka..PENNE
Penne alla vodka is a pasta dish with a sauce made of vodka, cream, tomatoes, onions and sausage or bacon.
54…European volcano that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site..ETNA
Mt. Etna is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy. Mt Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-guage railway and two ski resorts, and was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.
55…Butter-and-flour sauce thickener..ROUX
A roux is a mixture of wheat flour and clarified butter (or other fat) cooked together until it can be used as a thickening agent. Roux is an essential ingredient in French cooking, although “healthier” versions of roux are being used more and more these days.
“To cop” was northern British dialect for “to seize, catch”. This verb evolved in the noun “copper”, describing a policeman, someone who catches criminals. “Copper” is often shortened to “cop”.
Wes Anderson’s most famous movie is probably “The Royal Tenenbaums”, released in 2001, not my favorite film by any stretch. However, his 2007 release “The Darjeeling Limited”, that I enjoyed.
Era was the first liquid laundry detergent produced by Procter & Gamble.
Wisk is a laundry detergent made by Sun Products. It was introduced in 1956 as the first liquid detergent. The Wisk “ring around the collar” campaign was introduced in 1968.