Edited by: Rich Norris
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In honor of his 90th birthday, today’s themed answers are titles of movies made by Mel Brooks. Happy birthday, Mr. Brooks!
- 35D…Born 6/28/1926, director of the answers to starred clues..MEL BROOKS
- 17A…*1977 Hitchcock parody..HIGH ANXIETY
- 60A…*1976 parody of pre-talkies..SILENT MOVIE
- 3D…*With “The,” 1968 parody of dishonest Broadway financiers..PRODUCERS
- 23D…*With 25-Down, 1974 Western parody..BLAZING …
25D…See 23-Down.. …SADDLES
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1…Official on a baseline..UMP
Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came for Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.
Woody Boyd is the lovable and naive bartender on several seasons of the sitcom “Cheers”. Woody is portrayed by Woody Harrelson. The Woody character replaced the bartender called Coach, when actor Nicholas Colasanto passed away.
9…Warehouse club with 652 locations..SAM’S
Sam’s Club is owned and operated by Walmart and is named after the company’s founder, Sam Walton.
The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness two!). The owner of the Bill & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.
17…*1977 Hitchcock parody..HIGH ANXIETY
“High Anxiety” is a Mel Brooks film released in 1977 that parodies suspense films, particularly Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”, “Vertigo” and “The Birds”. In fact, Hitchcock actually helped Brooks with the movie’s screenplay. He also sent Brooks a case of wine after viewing the film with a note that read “A small token of my pleasure, have no anxiety about this.”
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.
22…Laptop port letters..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.
23…Air gun shot..BBS
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.
27…Muslim holy city..MECCA
Mecca is in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia and is the holiest city in Islam. Every year several million Muslims perform the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
Rwanda is a sovereign nation in central Africa that is populated by three groups: the Hutu, Tutsi (aka “Watutsi”) and Twa. The Tutsi are the second largest population of people in Rwanda, with the Hutu being the largest group. The bloody conflict that has existed between the Tutsi and Hutu peoples dates back to about 1880 when Catholic missionaries arrived in the region. The missionaries found that they had more success converting the Hutus than the Tutsi, and when the Germans occupied the area during WWI they confiscated Tutsi land and gave it to Hutu tribes in order to reward religious conversion. This injustice fuels fighting to this very day.
When the African countries of Zanzibar and Tanganyika merged in 1964, the resulting state was named the United Republic of Tanzania, with “Tanzania” being a portmanteau of “Zanzibar” and “Tanganyika”.
41…Ambient music pioneer Brian..ENO
Brian Eno was one of the pioneers of the “ambient” genre of music. Eno composed an album in 1978 called “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”, the first in a series of four albums with an ambient theme. Eno named the tracks somewhat inventively: 1/1, 1/2, 2/1 and 2/2.
42…Suburb of Phoenix..MESA
The city of Mesa, Arizona is in effect a suburb of Phoenix. The original settlement of non-Native Americans was founded by Daniel Webster Jones who led a Mormon group from St. George, Utah. The settlement was first called Jonesville, then Fort Utah and eventually Lehi. A second group of Mormons arrived and formed a settlement on top of a nearby mesa. It was this use of a mesa that eventually gave the city its current name.
44…Remington 700s, e.g…RIFLES
Remington Arms Company was founded way back, in 1816. That makes Remington the oldest continuously operating manufacturer of any product here in North America.
In Britain and Ireland the most common type of business (my perception anyway) is one that has private shareholders whose liability is limited to the value of their investment. Such a company is known as a private limited company, and has the letters “Ltd” after the name. If the shares are publicly traded, then the company is a public limited company, and has the letters “plc” after the name.
A company that has incorporated uses the abbreviation “Inc.” after its name. By incorporating, a company forms a corporation, which is a legal entity that has legal rights similar to those of an individual. For example, a corporation can sue another corporation or individual. However, a corporation does not have all the rights of citizens. A corporation does not have the Fifth Amendment right of protections against self-incrimination, for example. It is perhaps understandable that the concept of “corporations as persons” is a frequent subject for debate.
Connie Chung has been a news anchor and reporter for many of the television networks over the years. Chung is married to talk show host Maury Povich.
No one seems to know for sure how the term “hobo” originated, although there are lots of colorful theories. My favorite is that “hobo” comes from the first letters in the words “ho-meward bo-und”, but it doesn’t seem very plausible. A kind blog reader tells me that according to Click and Clack from PBS’s “Car Talk” (a great source!), “hobo” comes from “hoe boy”. Hoe boys were young men with hoes looking for work after the Civil War. Hobos differed from “tramps” and “bums”, in that “bums” refused to work, “tramps” worked when they had to, while “hobos” traveled in search of work.
A “boxcar” is a basic railroad car used to carry freight. It’s the car shaped like a big box, with large doors at each side.
53…Fast sports cars..GTS
GT stands for “Grand Touring” (English) or “Gran Turismo” (Italian).
54…Incoming flight info: Abbr…ARR
55…Hams it up..EMOTES
The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is apparently a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.
57…Green Giant’s “Little Green” buddy..SPROUT
The Jolly Green Giant was introduced by Minnesota Valley Canning in 1925 to help sell the company’s peas. He was named after one of the varieties of pea that the company sold, the “Green Giant”. The Jolly Green Giant first appeared in a television commercial in 1953, walking through a valley with young boys running around at his feet. That first commercial proved to be so scary for younger viewers that it was immediately pulled off the air. In 1972, the Jolly Green Giant was given an apprentice called the Little Green Sprout.
60…*1976 parody of pre-talkies..SILENT MOVIE
The 1976 Mel Brooks film “Silent Movie” is a parody of the films of the silent era. There is only one word spoken in the whole film, and that’s “non” (French for “no”), which is uttered by celebrated French mime artist “Marcel Marceau”.
65…Slanted type: Abbr…ITAL
Italic type leans to the right. The style is known as “italic” because the stylized calligraphic form of writing originated in Italy, probably in the Vatican.
67…Kipling’s young spy..KIM
“Kim” is a novel by Rudyard Kipling that was first published in serial form, from 1900 to 1901. The title character is the orphaned son of an Irish soldier who lives like a vagabond in India during the days of the British Raj. The boy grows up to become a spy working for the British.
68…The Big Apple, in addresses..NY, NY
Apparently the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:
Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.
Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.
70…Gas additive brand..STP
STP is a brand name for automotive lubricants and additives. The name STP comes from “Scientifically Treated Petroleum”.
1…Transportation network app..UBER
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 …
Mage is an archaic word for a magician.
3…*With “The,” 1968 parody of dishonest Broadway financiers..PRODUCERS
“The Producers” is a 1968 satirical movie written and directed by Mel Brooks, the first film he ever directed. Brooks adapted the movie into a hugely successful Broadway musical that won a record 12 Tony Awards. The original leads in the stage show were, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who then appeared in a 2005 movie adaptation of the musical version of the original film!
The .org domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:
- .com (commercial enterprise)
- .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
- .mil (US military)
- .org (not-for-profit organization)
- .gov (US federal government entity)
- .edu (college-level educational institution)
7…Paternity suit evidence, briefly..DNA
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the DNA of living things is so very similar across different species. Human DNA is almost exactly the same for every individual (to the degree of 99.9%). However, those small differences are sufficient to distinguish one individual from another, and to determine whether or not individuals are close family relations.
The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium!
Back in the 15th century, a spigot was specifically a plug to stop a hole in a cask. Somewhere along the way, a spigot had a valve added for variable control of flow.
The Aleuts live on the Aleutian Islands of the North Pacific, and on the Commander Islands at the western end of the same island chain. The Aleutian Islands are part of the United States, and the Commander Islands are in Russia.
11…Allots, with “out”..METES
To “mete out” is to distribute by allotments. The verb comes from the Old English word “metan” meaning “to measure”, which is also believed to be the root of our word “meter”.
14…Shakespearean nickname..THE BARD
William Shakespeare is known as the Bard of Avon as he was born and raised in the lovely town of Stratford-upon-Avon in the English midlands.
18…TV princess played by Lucy Lawless..XENA
The Xena character, played by New Zealander Lucy Lawless, was introduced in a made-for-TV movie called “Hercules and the Amazon Women”. Lawless reprised the role in a series called “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”. Xena became so popular that a series was built around her character, with Lawless retained for the title role. The fictional Xena supposedly came from the “non-fictional” Greek city of Amphipolis.
23…*With 25-Down, 1974 Western parody..BLAZING …
25…See 23-Down….. SADDLES
“Blazing Saddles” is a 1974 Mel Brooks movie that has become a modern-day classic. I really only enjoy one Mel Brooks film, and “Blazing Saddles” isn’t it. Just in case you’re interested, I very much enjoy “Young Frankenstein” …
28…Buffalo’s county and lake..ERIE
Buffalo is the second most-populous city in the state of New York. The city takes its name from Buffalo Creek that runs through the metropolis (although the waterway is called Buffalo River within the city). The source of the name Buffalo Creek is the subject of much speculation, but one thing is clear, there were never any bison in the area.
35…Born 6/28/1926, director of the answers to starred clues..MEL BROOKS
Mel Brooks’ real name is Melvin Kaminsky. Brooks is one of very few entertainers (there are only ten) who has won the “Showbiz Award Grand Slam” i.e. an Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy. He is in good company, as the list also includes the likes of Richard Rogers, Sir John Gielgud, Marvin Hamlisch and Audrey Hepburn.
36…Golden rule word..UNTO
The Golden Rule is also known as the ethic of reciprocity, and is a basis for the concept of human rights. A version of the rule used in the Christian tradition is attributed to Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
37…Saturn and Mars..GODS
Saturn was a Roman deity, the god of agriculture and harvest. Both the planet Saturn and the day of the week Saturday are named after Saturn the god.
Mars was the god of war in Ancient Rome. Mars was viewed as the father of the Roman people, and the father of Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers who founded Rome according to Roman mythology..
49…Hockey great Bobby..ORR
Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn’t skate anymore. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking.
Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn’t skate anymore. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking …
51…Island in “Jaws”..AMITY
“Jaws” is a thrilling 1975 movie directed by Steven Spielberg that is based on a novel of the same name by Peter Benchley. The film has a powerful cast, led by Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. “Jaws” was perhaps the first “summer blockbuster” with the highest box office take in history, a record that stood until “Star Wars” was released two years later.
52…Strikeout king Ryan..NOLAN
Nolan Ryan is famous for having more career strikeouts that any other baseball pitcher. However, he also holds the record for the most career walks and wild pitches. Another record that Ryan holds is the most no-hitters, a total of seven over his career.
59…Weather Channel stat..TEMP
The Weather Channel opened for business in 1982 and has been broadcasting weather forecasts and weather-related news stories 24 hours a day since then.
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
The Juilliard School, now located in the Lincoln Center in New York City, was founded in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art. The school was named in honor of Augustus D. Juillard, a successful textile merchant who left a substantial amount of money for the purpose of advancing music in the US. The immense popularity of the school is perhaps illustrated by its acceptance rate. In 2007 the school had 2,138 applications, and only 162 students were admitted. That’s an acceptance rate of well under 10%.
The boxer breed of dog (one of my favorites!) originated in Germany. My first dog was a boxer/Labrador mix, a beautiful animal. Our current family dog is a boxer/pug mix, another gorgeous creature.