Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each comprise two words that are CONNECTED by the letters USB (as in a computer’s “universal serial bus” connection).
- 120B…PC connection found in this puzzle’s eight longest answers..USB
- 21A…Omaha Steaks Private Reserve product..ANGUS BEEF
- 27A…2009 recession response..STIMULUS BILL
- 43A…Gillette razor for women..VENUS BREEZE
- 92A…Eponymous explorer of the Aleutians..VITUS BERING
- 111A…Department of Commerce division..CENSUS BUREAU
- 119A…Apple Store support station..GENIUS BAR
- 14B…Sacred conviction..RELIGIOUS BELIEF
- 42B…Not something to kid about..SERIOUS BUSINESS
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1…Abbr. for an unfilled slot..TBA
Something not yet on the schedule (sked) is to be advised (TBA).
9…Literally meaning “stick,” it’s the first word in a California city named for a 1,000-year-old redwood..PALO
The city of Palo Alto, California takes its name from a specific redwood tree called El Palo Alto (Spanish for “the tall stick”) that is located within the bounds of the city. The tree is 110 feet tall and over a thousand years old.
I think a bowler hat is usually called a derby here in the US. The bowler was first produced in 1849 in London by hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler, hence the name. The alternative name of “derby” comes from the tradition of wearing bowler hats at the Derby horse race (a major race held annually in England).
18…Merged oil giant..MOBIL
Mobil was founded as part of the the breakup of Standard Oil in 1911. The company was originally called Socony (Standard Oil Company of New York). Socony merged with Magnolia Petroleum Company in the thirties and adopted Magnolia’s Pegasus emblem, and it has been used ever since. Mobil merged with Exxon in 1999 but the Mobil brand and Pegasus emblem are alive and well.
Suede is leather made from the underside of the skin, mainly from a lamb. As such it is very soft, although not as durable as leather made from the exterior skin. The soft leather was, and is still used for making gloves. Back in 1859 these gloves were called “gants de Suede” in France, or “gloves of Sweden”. So, the name “suede” comes from the French word for Sweden.
21…Omaha Steaks Private Reserve product..ANGUS BEEF
The full name of the cattle breed is Aberdeen Angus, the name used around the world outside of the US. The breed was developed by crossbreeding cattle from the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus in Scotland. The breed stands out in the US, as Angus cattle don’t have horns.
25…One doing a bank job?..PERP
26…Protest topics: Abbr…RTS
29…#1 thriller on AFI’s “100 Years…100 Thrills”..PSYCHO
The classic Alfred Hitchcock suspense film “Psycho” released in 1960 is based on a 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The Bloch novel in turn is loosely based on actual crimes committed by murderer and grave robber Ed Gein. When “Psycho” was making its initial run in theaters, latecomers were not granted admission, a policy instigated by Hitchcock himself. He felt that anyone missing the opening scenes would not enjoy the film.
The American Film Institute’s (AFI’s) list of the top suspense movies is known as “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills”. The top five films on the list are:
- “Psycho” (1960)
- “Jaws” (1975)
- “The Exorcist” (1973)
- “North by Northwest” (1959)
- “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Shag carpet is one with a deep pile, one with a “shaggy” appearance.
Saks Fifth Avenue is a high-end specialty store that competes with the likes of Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. The original Saks & Company business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1867. The first Saks Fifth Avenue store was opened on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1924. There are now Saks Fifth Avenue stores in many major cities in the US, as well in several locations worldwide.
The Bloomingdale’s chain of department stores was founded by two Bloomingdale brothers in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The company’s original product line was hoop skirts.
35…Folk legend Joan..BAEZ
Joan Baez is an American folk singer and a prominent activist in the fields of non-violence, civil rights, human rights and environmental protection. Baez has dated some high-profile figures in her life including Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs (of Apple) and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.
40…Start to sing?..ESS
The word “sing” starts with a letter S (ess).
43…Gillette razor for women..VENUS BREEZE
Gillette introduced the Trac II in 1971, the world’s first double-bladed razor. “Saturday Night Live” featured a sketch in 1975 touting the “Triple-Trac”, a supposed three-blade razor. The SNL slogan was “The Triple-Trac. Because you’ll believe anything”. Gillette eventually embraced the concept and introduced the Mach3 in 1998, the world’s first triple-blade razor. We will indeed believe anything …
Anders Celsius was a Swedish astronomer. The temperature scale that Celsius created was the reverse of that used today, with “zero” representing the boiling point of water and “100” representing water’s freezing point. This scale was “upended” (in 1744) just after Celsius died, by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. The resulting temperature scale then became known as the centigrade scale for over 200 years, until in 1948 it was decided to adopt the “degree Celsius”. So, anyone still using “degrees centigrade” is actually way behind the times …
Rum was first distilled by slaves on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 1800s, with the tradition being that the very first production came from Barbados.
“Terra firma” is Latin for “solid ground”.
56…Poorly paid workers..PEONS
A peon is a lowly worker with no real control over his/her working conditions. The word comes into English from Spanish where it has the same meaning.
59…Parks on a bus..ROSA
Rosa Parks was one of a few brave women in days gone by who refused to give up their seats on a bus to white women. It was the stand taken by Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 that sparked the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. President Clinton presented Ms. Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. When she died in 2005, Rosa Parks became the first ever woman to have her body lie in honor in the US Capitol Rotunda.
60…Best Play, e.g…ESPY
The ESPY Awards are a creation of the ESPN sports television network. One difference with similarly named awards in the entertainment industry is that ESPY winners are chosen solely based on viewer votes.
61…Morphine is one..OPIATE
Opiates are the narcotic alkaloids found in the opium poppy plant, although some synthetic versions and derivatives of the same alkaloids are also called opiates. To produce opiates, the latex sap of the opium poppy is collected and processed. The naturally-occurring drugs of morphine and codeine can both be extracted from the sap. Some synthesis is required to make derivative drugs like heroin and oxycodone.
63…Sailor’s guardian..ST ELMO
St. Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. He lends his name to the electrostatic weather phenomenon (often seen at sea) known as St. Elmo’s fire. The “fire” is actually a plasma discharge caused by air ionizing at the end of a pointed object (like the mast of a ship), something often observed during electrical storms.
65…Easygoing sort..TYPE B
The Type A and Type B personality theory originated in the fifties. Back then, individuals were labelled as Type A in order to emphasize a perceived increased risk of heart disease. Type A personality types are so called “stress junkies”, whereas Type B types are relaxed and laid back. But there doesn’t seem to be much scientific evidence to support the linkage between the Type A personality and heart problems.
77…Artemis’ twin brother..APOLLO
In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of the goddess Artemis. Among other things, Apollo was worshiped as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, as well as healing and plague.
Army privates can be found on an army base.
80…Subj. for a future vet..ANAT
“Vet” is an abbreviation for “veterinarian”, a professional who treat animals for disease and injury. The word “veterinary” comes from the Latin “veterinae” meaning “working animals, beasts of burden”.
85…Pop foursome formed in Stockholm..ABBA
I am an unapologetic fan of ABBA’s music. ABBA was the Swedish group who topped the charts in the seventies and eighties. The name ABBA is an acronym formed from the first letters of the given names of each of the band members, namely: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid.
The Latin “uterus” (plural “uteri”) translates as both “womb” and “belly”. The Latin word was derived from the Greek “hystera” also meaning womb, which gives us the words “hysterectomy”, and “hysterical”.
92…Eponymous explorer of the Aleutians..VITUS BERING
Vitus Bering was a Danish navigator who worked for the Russian Navy. He was the first European to discover Alaska, which he did in 1741. Bering died on the same voyage of discovery and was buried on the largest of the Commander Islands, now called Bering Island in his honor. He also gave his name to the Bering Sea and the Bering Strait.
Back in the day, a wealthy man would “bring home the bacon” and sit around with guests and “chew the fat”.
98…Children’s advocate LeShan..EDA
Eda LeShan wrote “When Your Child Drives You Crazy”, and was host of the PBS television show “How Do Your Children Grow?”
100…Will of “The Waltons”..GEER
Actor Will Geer died in 1978, just after filming the sixth season of “The Waltons” in which he played Grandpa Zeb Walton. Geer was a noted social activist and was blacklisted in the fifties for refusing to appear before the all-powerful House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.
Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare’s “Othello”. Iago is a soldier who fought alongside Othello and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. He hatches a plot designed to discredit his rival Cassio by insinuating that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello’s wife. By the end of the play it’s Iago himself who is discredited and Othello (before committing suicide) apologizes to Cassio for having believed Iago’s lies. Heavy stuff …
111…Department of Commerce division..CENSUS BUREAU
The original census was taken during the days of the Roman Republic, and was a reckoning of all adult males who were fit for military service. The first US Census was taken in 1790, and was conducted by Federal marshals.
A gyro is a traditional Greek sandwich made with pita bread and containing meat, tomato, onion and tzatziki (a yogurt and cucumber sauce). The meat for gyros is usually roasted on a tall vertical spit and is sliced from the spit as required.
119…Apple Store support station..GENIUS BAR
The technical support desk found in Apple Retail Stores is rather inventively called the Genius Bar. The certified support technicians are known as “Geniuses”. The trainees are called GYOs: Grow-Your-Own-Geniuses”.
In its modern usage, the term “basilica” applies to a Roman Catholic church that has been given special ceremonial rights by the Pope.
American Dental Association (ADA)
“Periodontium” is the name given to the tissues that surround and support the teeth.
In Spanish, an uncle (tio) is the brother of the father or the mother (hermano del padre o de la madre).
127…Brightest star in Cygnus..DENEB
Deneb is the brightest star in the constellation called Cygnus, the Swan. The name “Deneb” comes from the Arabic word “dhaneb” meaning “tail”, as it lies at the tail of the swan.
1…”The Sound of Music” family name..TRAPP
“The Sound of Music” is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, made into a celebrated movie in 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The musical is based on “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”, a memoir by Maria von Trapp. The von Trapp family ended up in Stowe, Vermont after the war, and one family descended from the Vermont von Trapps lives here in the same town in which I live in California.
Today we tend to use the word “bane” to mean anathema, a source of persistent annoyance. A few centuries ago, a bane was a cause of harm or death, perhaps a deadly poison.
The 12-hour clock has been around a long time, and was even used in sundial format in Ancient Egypt. Our use of AM and PM dates back to Roman times, with AM standing for Ante Meridiem (before noon) and PM standing for Post Meridiem (after noon). However, the Romans originally used the AM concept a little differently, by counting backwards from noon. So, 2AM to the Romans would be two hours before noon, or 10AM as we would call it today.
7…Polygraph blips, perhaps..LIES
We are most familiar with the term “polygraph” as the generic name for a lie detector instrument. This usage began in 1921, although the term had been around since the end of the 18th century. Back then, a polygraph was a mechanical device use to make multiple copies as something was written or drawn. Famously, Thomas Jefferson used a polygraph to preserve copies of letters that he wrote to correspondents.
8…Tolkien race member..ELF
J. R. R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien was an English author, best known by far for his fantasy novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”. Although Tolkien lived in England and was a professor at Oxford, he served for many years as an external examiner at my old school, University College Dublin in Ireland.
9…Prize administered by Columbia University..PULITZER
Playwright William Inge had a run of success on Broadway in the early fifties. Inge’s most celebrated work of that time was the play “Picnic”, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. The original 1953 cast of “Picnic” included a young male actor making his debut on Broadway. His name was Paul Newman. Many of Inge’s works are set in the American heartland and so he became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.
Anime is cartoon animation in the style of Japanese Manga comic books.
11…Party headed by Netanyahu..LIKUD
The Israeli political party Likud was founded in 1973. Likud is a right-of-center party. “Likud” is Hebrew for “consolidation”.
Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has been the Prime Minister of Israel since 2009. Netanyahu is the only leader of the country to date who was born in the state of Israel. After graduating high school, he served in the Israeli special forces and participated in several combat missions, and was wounded on multiple occasions. After leaving the army in 1972, Netanyahu studied at MIT in the US, earning bachelors degree in architecture and a masters degree in business.
12…First-year J.D. student..ONE L
“One L” is a name used in general for first year law students.
The law degree abbreviated to J.D. is more fully known as Juris Doctor.
13…Two-time Masters champ Watson..BUBBA
Bubba Watson is a golfer on the PGA Tour from Bagdad, Florida. Watson is known as a big driver of the ball. He can hit a golf ball over 350 yards.
19…Cowboy singer Tex..RITTER
Tex Ritter was a country singer and actor from Murvaul, Texas. On the big screen, Ritter was known as a “singing cowboy”, and appeared in around 40 westerns in which he belted out a tune or two. Tex’s son was actor John Ritter, who played Jack Tripper so well in the sitcom “Three’s Company”.
22…Lines at Walmart?..UPCS
UPC stands for Universal Price Code or Universal Product Code. The first UPC-marked item to get scanned in a store was on June 26, 1974 at 08:01 a.m. at Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio. It was a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum …
A SAAB 9-5 is high-end car that you can buy over here in the US. Back in Sweden the 9-5 is used as a cop car, I believe.
28…Troop entertainment gp…USO
The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of FDR “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.
31…Air rifle ammo..BB SHOT
A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.080″ in diameter) to size FF (.23″). 0.180″ diameter birdshot is size BB, which gives the airgun its name.
36…Paine and Hugo, philosophically..DEISTS
Deism (from the Latin “deus” meaning god) is the belief that a supreme being created the universe, a belief based on observation and reason and without the need for faith. Further, a deist does not accept divine intervention and rather believes that the supreme being, having created the universe, leaves the world to it own devices.
Thomas Paine was an English author who achieved incredible success with his pamphlet “Common Sense” published in 1776 which advocated independence of colonial America from Britain. Paine had immigrated to the American colonies just two years before his pamphlet was published, and so was just in time to make a major contribution to the American Revolution.
Victor Hugo was a French poet and playwright, known in his native country mainly for his poetry. However, outside of France, Hugo is perhaps more closely associated with his novels such as “Les Misérables” and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”.
Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.
Eero Saarinen was a Finnish American architect, renowned in this country for his unique designs for public buildings such as Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Dulles International Airport Terminal, and the TWA building at JFK. The list of his lesser-known, but still impressive, works includes several buildings erected on academic campuses. For example, the Chapel and Kresge Auditorium on the MIT campus, the Emma Hartman Noyes House at Vassar College, the Law School building at the University of Chicago, and Yale’s David S. Ingalls Rink.
48…Give the willies..CREEP OUT
A “fit of the willies” is a spell of nervousness. The expression is probably a derivative of “the woollies”, a colloquial expression for “nervous” likely to be a reference to itchiness caused by wool garments.
“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.
57…Eye of __: “Macbeth” witches’ ingredient..NEWT
The witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” have some lovely lines as they boil up and evil brew and cast a spell:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Sloops and cutters are sailboats, and each has just one mast. One major difference between the two types of vessel is that the mast on a cutter is set much further aft than the mast on a sloop.
The word “regatta” is Venetian dialect and was originally used to describe boat races among the gondoliers of Venice on the Grand Canal back in the mid-1600s.
The acronym ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (although many folks insist that the C was for “Computer”). ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was designed to calculate artillery firing tables, but it ended up being used early on to make calculations necessary for the development of the hydrogen bomb. Given its uses, it’s not surprising to hear that development of ENIAC was funded by the US Army during WWII.
66…Lifestyle website targeting female millennials..POPSUGAR
POPSUGAR is a website aimed at young women that features articles on topics such as fitness, food, fashion, entertainment and parenting. POPSUGAR was launched in 2006 in San Francisco by husband and wife team Brian and Lisa Sugar (hence the name).
68…Palais des Nations locale..GENEVA
The Palais des Nations was built in the thirties in Geneva, designed to house the League of Nations. After WWII, the Palais des Nations was taken over by the UN.
72…Assume as fact..POSIT
“To posit” is to assume as fact, to lay down as a “position”.
74…”Ignore this change”..STET
“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.
Our word “coliseum”, meaning an arena, was first imported into English to describe a music hall in the early 1700s. The term is a variant of the Latin “Colosseum”, the huge amphitheater in Rome.
81…Baba or a boxer..ALI
In the folk tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, the title character is a poor woodcutter who discovers the magic words “Open Sesame” that open the thieves’ den.
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? Ali was presented with a gold medal during those ’96 Games, a replacement for the medal he won at the 1960 Olympics. He had thrown the original into the Ohio River as a gesture of disgust after being refused service at a “whites only” restaurant.
83…”Fat chance, Friedrich!”..NEIN!
“Nein” is the German for “no”, and “ja” translates as “yes”.
“Fat chance” means “you’ve only got a slim chance”, somewhat paradoxically …
87…Sources of irritation..BUGBEARS
A bugbear is a character from English folklore, a goblin in the form of a bear who was said to eat naughty children. Our contemporary bugbear is less scary and is simply something that is annoying or irritating.
A “segue” is a transition from one topic to the next. “Segue” is an Italian word that literally means “now follows”. It was first used in musical scores directing the performer to play into the next movement without a break.
“Serape” is the English pronunciation and spelling of the Spanish word “zarape”. A zarape is like a Mexican poncho, a soft woolen blanket with a hole in the middle for the head. Most serapes have colorful designs that use traditional Mayan motifs.
A “beau” is the boyfriend of a “belle”, a young lady. “Beau” and “belle” are the masculine and feminine forms of the French word for “handsome, beautiful”.
95…Part of a preschool schedule..NAPTIME
And also part of a post-crossword schedule …
“Dos” is Spanish for “two”.
Peru’s name comes from the word “Biru”. Back in the early 1500s, Biru was a ruler living near the Bay of San Miguel in Panama. The territory over which Biru ruled was the furthest land south in the Americas known to Europeans at that time. The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro was the first European to move south of Biru’s empire and the land that he found was designated “Peru”, a derivative of “Biru”.
It’s not really clear where the term “nog” (as in “eggnog”) comes from although it might derive from the word “noggin”, which was originally a small wooden cup that was long associated with alcoholic drinks.
104…Until now..AS YET
“Yule” celebrations coincide with Christmas, and the words “Christmas” and “Yule” have become synonymous in much of the world. However, Yule was originally a pagan festival celebrated by Germanic peoples. The name “Yule” comes from the Old Norse word “jol” that was used to describe the festival.
105…Day after dimanche..LUNDI
In French, “lundi” (Monday) is the day after “dimanche” (Sunday).
106…Mischievous droid, familiarly..ARTOO
Artoo’s proper name is R2-D2. R2-D2 is the smaller of the two famous droids from the “Star Wars” movies. British actor Kenny Baker, who stands just 3 ft 8 ins tall, has been the man inside the R2-D2 droid for all six of the “Star Wars” movies.
109…Home of Velázquez’ “Las Meninas”..PRADO
The Museo del Prado is in Madrid, the capital of Spain, and has one of the finest art collections in the world. The gallery’s most famous work is “Las Meninas” By Velazquez.
“Las Meninas” is a painting by Diego Velázquez, the name of which translates to “The Maids of Honor”. “Las Meninas” is the most famous painting owned by the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
Diego Velázquez was a Spanish painter during the Baroque period. He was a member of the court of King Philip IV in the first half of the 17th century, and as such was commissioned to paint many portraits and scenes of historical importance.
The word “Torah” best translates as “teaching”, I am told.
111…Its burning is a major source of Beijing smog..COAL
“Smog” is a portmanteau word formed by melding “smoke” and “fog”. The term was first used to describe the air around London in the early 1900s. Several cities around the world have a reputation of being particularly smoggy. For example, the most smog-plagued city in Latin America is Mexico City, which is located in a highland “bowl” that traps industrial and vehicle pollution.
The city of Beijing in China was given its name in 1403, with “Beijing” chosen as it translates as “Northern Capital”. The name distinguished it from the city of Nanjing, which name translates as “Southern Capital”.
“To gad about” is to move around with little purpose. The word “gad” comes from the Middle English “gadden” meaning “to hurry”.
120…PC connection found in this puzzle’s eight longest answers..USB
Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.