Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each include a string of three circled letters in the grid. That string comprises the letters POT rearranged, STIRRED up:
- 61A. Cause trouble … and a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters : STIR THE POT
- 17A. Dice roller’s exhortation : COME TO PAPA!
- 40A. Actor with near-synonymous first and last names : RIP TORN
- 11D. Pretty darn simple : IDIOT PROOF
- 25D. Toaster snack : POP-TART
- 29D. Verses by Allen Ginsberg, e.g. : BEAT POETRY
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
5. Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant : K-CARS
The Dodge Aries (and the Plymouth Reliant) were Chrysler’s first “K-cars”, introduced in 1981. The K-cars were designed to carry 6 passengers, on two bench seats. Remember taking a corner a little too fast on those seats, in the days when no one wore seat belts?
16. Pop singer Brickell : EDIE
Edie Brickell is a singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas. Brickell has been married to fellow singer Paul Simon since 1991.
19. Scrabble piece : TILE
The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.
23. Satchel feature : STRAP
A satchel is a soft-sided bag, usually with a strap that is often worn diagonally across the body. When we were kids in Ireland, we’d carry our books to and from school in a backpack satchel. All Irish schoolchildren had a satchel back then.
26. Margarita glass rim coating : SALT
No one seems to know for sure who first created the cocktail known as a margarita. The most plausible and oft-quoted is that it was invented in 1941 in Ensenada, Mexico. The barman mixed the drink for an important visitor, the daughter of the German ambassador. The daughter’s name was Margarita Henkel, and she lent her name to the new drink. The basic recipe for a margarita is a mixture of tequila, orange-flavored liqueur (like Cointreau) and lime juice.
27. Curved sword : SABER
A saber is a sword with a curved blade and a relatively large hand guard. It is thought that the term originated with the Hungarian verb “szabni” meaning “to cut”.
30. Application info: Abbr. : DOB
Date of birth (DOB)
38. P-like Greek letter : RHO
Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.
39. Actress Thurman : UMA
Robert Thurman was the first westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Robert raised his children in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and called his daughter “Uma” as it is a phonetic spelling of the Buddhist name “Dbuma”. Uma’s big break in movies came with her starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction”. My favorite Uma Thurman film is the wonderful 1996 romantic comedy “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”.
40. Actor with near-synonymous first and last names : RIP TORN
Rip Torn is the actor who played the veteran television producer Artie on “The Larry Sanders Show”. That said, I always associate Torn with the role of Agent Zed in the “Men in Black” movies. Torn was married three times, to actresses Ann Wedgeworth, Geraldine Page and Amy Wright. His first cousin is actress Sissy Spacek. “Rip” is a nickname that runs in the Torn family. The actor was born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr.
44. Yuletide : NOEL
“Noël” is the French word for the Christmas season, ultimately coming from the Latin word for “birth” (natalis). Noel has come to be used as an alternative name for a Christmas carol.
Yule celebrations coincide with Christmas, and the words “Christmas” and “Yule” (often “Yuletide”) 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.
47. __ Lanka : SRI
The island nation of Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast of India. The name “Sri Lanka” translates from Sanskrit into English as “venerable island”. Before 1970, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon, a name given to the country during British rule.
49. Upper, in Ulm : OBER
Ulm is in the south of Germany and sits on the River Danube. Ulm is famous as home to the tallest church in the world, Ulm Minster, a Gothic building with a steeple that is 530 feet tall, with 768 steps to climb. Ulm is also the birthplace of Albert Einstein, and is where the entire Austrian army surrendered to Napoleon after the Battle of Ulm in 1805.
60. Wee bit : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.
65. Emulate Vesuvius : ERUPT
Mount Vesuvius is on the Bay of Naples, just over five miles from the city of Naples. The most famous of the volcano’s eruptions took place in AD 79, the one which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Today, Vesuvius is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, largely because it is at the center of the most densely populated volcanic region in the world, with 3 million people living nearby.
66. Scarlet letter of fiction : RED A
The main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter” is Hester Prynne. When Prynne is convicted by her puritanical neighbors of the crime of adultery, she is forced to wear a scarlet “A” (for “adultery”) on her clothing for the rest of her life, hence the novel’s title “The Scarlet Letter”.
67. Slow Churned ice cream brand : EDY’S
Dreyers’ ice cream sells its products under the name Dreyers in the Western United States, and Edy’s in the Eastern states. The company’s founders were William Dreyer and Joseph Edy.
68. Hagar of Van Halen : SAMMY
Rock vocalist and guitarist Sammy Hagar achieved fame in the seventies as a member of the group Montrose. He then carved out a successful solo career, and in 1985 took over from David Lee Roth as the lead vocalist of Van Halen.
Van Halen is a heavy metal band formed in Pasadena, California back in 1972. Brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen originally called the band Mammoth, changing the name to Van Halen in 1974 when they found out there was another Mammoth playing the circuit. Early on, the brothers were renting a sound system from David Lee Roth, and they decided to save some money by bringing him into the band and saving on the rental fee!
1. Random House vol. : DICT
The Random House publishing house was founded in 1925 by Donald Klopfer and the marvelous Bennett Cerf of TV’s “What’s My Line”. Apparently, Klopfer and Cerf originally resolved to “publish a few books on the side at random”, and hence came up with the name “Random House”.
2. Woodwind instrument : OBOE
Woodwind instruments are a subcategory of wind instruments that were traditionally made of wood, although some are now made from metal. There are two main classes of woodwind: flutes and reed instruments. Flutes produce sound by blowing air across the edge of a hole in a cylindrical tube. Reed instruments produce sounds by blowing into a mouthpiece, which then directs the air over a reed or reeds, causing them to vibrate.
3. Dalai __ : LAMA
The Dalai Lama is a religious leader in the Gelug branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th to hold the office. He has indicated that the next Dalai Lama might be found outside of Tibet for the first time, and may even be female.
5. Soup mix brand : KNORR
When I was growing up in Ireland, we never saw Campbell’s soup on the shelves. It was basically all Knorr products, and dehydrated soup from a packet at that. How times have changed. Knorr is a German brand, now owned by the Anglo-Dutch Company Unilever.
6. “Blue Bloods” extra : COP
“Blue Bloods” is a police drama series about a family of police officers led by Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, played by Tom Selleck. The show has been on the air since 2010.
7. Pie-mode connection : 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.
8. TV host Kelly : RIPA
When Kelly Ripa secured the co-host spot on morning television with Regis Philbin, she was still acting in “All My Children” in a role she had been playing for over ten years. After a year of holding down two jobs, she eventually gave up the acting gig. Ripa has acted as spokeswoman for several brands over the years, most recently for Electrolux and Rykä.
12. Housecat’s perch : SILL
“Sill plate” or simply “sill” is an architectural term for a bottom horizontal member to which vertical members are attached. A “window sill” is specific sill plate that is found at the bottom of a window opening.
25. Toaster snack : POP-TART
Pop-Tart is the most successful single brand for the Kellogg company, as millions of the sugary treats are sold every year. The US Military bought quite a few in 2001, and dropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts into Afghanistan during the invasion after 9/11.
28. Evangelist __ Semple McPherson : AIMEE
Aimee Semple McPherson was a pioneer in the arena of evangelism, being one of the first to use radio to get across her message. In 1926, McPherson disappeared under mysterious circumstances at Venice Beach, California. About a month later, Aimee’s mother received a ransom note, which she says that she tossed away thinking that her daughter had drowned. A few days later, McPherson was found wandering around in a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona, claiming that she had been kidnapped and had escaped. There were many discrepancies in her story though, and five witnesses claimed to have seen her in a seaside cottage in Carmel, California while she was “gone”. No one seems to know for sure what exactly happened during that month.
29. Verses by Allen Ginsberg, e.g. : BEAT POETRY
Allen Ginsberg was a poet from from Newark, New Jersey whose name became inextricably linked with the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s. His most famous work is the 1955 poem “Howl”, in which Ginsberg denounces capitalism and conformity in the US.
33. Burglar : THIEF
The crime of burglary is the breaking into and entering of a building with the intent to steal. The actual theft is a separate crime.
34. “Deck the Halls” greenery : HOLLY
The music for the Christmas song “Deck the Halls” is a traditional Welsh tune that dates back to the 16th century. The same tune was used by Mozart for a violin and piano duet. The lyrics with which we are familiar (other than the “tra-la-la”) are American in origin, and were recorded in 19th century. “‘Tis the season to be jolly …”
48. Luxurious : POSH
No one really knows the etymology of the word “posh”. The popular myth that POSH stands for “Port Out, Starboard Home” is completely untrue, and is a story that can actually be traced back to the 1968 movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. The myth is that wealthy British passengers travelling to and from India would book cabins on the port side for the outward journey and the starboard side for the home journey. This trick was supposedly designed to keep their cabins out of the direct sunlight.
52. Well-dressed : NATTY
A natty dresser is one who dresses smartly. The term may come from the Middle English “net” meaning “fine, elegant”, in which case it shares its etymology with the word “neat”.
57. Weapon with a tip guard : EPEE
The French word for sword is “épée”. In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.
59. Walk of Fame figure : STAR
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a series of sidewalks taking up 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood. The Walk of Fame is an ever-changing monument dedicated to those who have achieved greatness in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera. The first stars installed in the sidewalk were a group of eight, officially laid in 1960. That group consisted of:
- Joanne Woodward (actor)
- Olive Borden (actor)
- Ronald Colman (actor)
- Louise Fazenda (actor)
- Preston Foster (actor)
- Burt Lancaster (actor)
- Edward Sedgwick (director)
- Ernest Torrence (actor)
62. Periodic table suffix : -IUM
Dmitri Mendeleev was a Russian chemist. When Mendeleev classified elements according to their chemical properties, he noticed patterns and was able to group elements into his famous 1869 Periodic Table. So powerful was his table that he actually predicted the properties of some elements that had not even been discovered in 1869. Element number 101 is mendelevium and was named after Mendeleev.
63. Turntable no. : RPM
The first standard for the rotational speed of gramophone records was 78 rpm. Like so many things it seems, the US version of “78” was slightly different from that for the rest of the world. The US record was designed to play at 78.26 rpm, whereas the standard in the rest of the world was 77.92 rpm. So, imported records playing on American equipment didn’t sound quite as they were intended.