Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Today’s grid includes five set of circled letters in an X-configuration. Those letters can be rearranged to spell out the word FILES:
- 39A. ’90s-’00s sci-fi hit … or what this puzzle’s circles graphically depict : THE X-FILES
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Sound check item : AMP
An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier (amp) to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.
8. Euripides tragedy : MEDEA
“Medea” is a tragedy penned by Ancient Greek playwright Euripides. Dealing with the myth of Jason and Medea, it was not received well at its debut in 431 BC. It was premiered at that year’s Dionysia festival in Athens, competing against plays by Euphorion and Sophocles. Euphorion’s play won the competition and Euripides’ “Medea” came in last.
13. __ cross : TAU
Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, the letter which gave rise to our Roman “T”. Both the letters tau (T) and chi (X) have long been symbolically associated with the cross.
16. Hipbone-related : ILIAC
The ilium is the upper portion of the hipbone.
19. Quantum of solace? : SOFT C
A quantum is a share or portion.
A quantum (portion) of the word “solace” is a soft letter C (cee).
22. Copier room quantity : REAM
A ream is 500 sheets of paper. As there were 24 sheets in a quire, and 20 quires made up a ream, there used to be 480 sheets in a ream. Ever since the standard was changed to 500, a 480-sheet packet of paper has been called a “short ream”. We also use the term “reams” to mean a great amount, evolving from the idea of a lot of printed material.
29. Dawn goddess : EOS
In Greek mythology, Eos is the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos is Aurora.
30. Bread component : CARB
Only relatively small amounts of carbohydrate can be stored by the human body, but those stores are important. The actual storage molecule is a starch-like polysaccharide called glycogen, which is found mainly in the liver and muscles. Glycogen is a quick source of energy when required by the body. Most of the body’s energy is stored in the form of fat, a more compact substance that is mobilized less rapidly. Endurance athletes often eat meals high in carbohydrate (carbo-loading) a few hours before an event, so that their body’s glycogen is at optimum levels.
31. Toy used on flights : SLINKY
The marvelous Slinky toy was invented in the early forties by a naval engineer called Richard James. James was developing springs for the navy that could stabilize sensitive instruments in rough seas. One day he accidentally knocked one of his experimental coils off a shelf and watched it “step” onto a stack of books, then onto a table and from there onto the floor where it recoiled itself very neatly. The Slinky was born …
35. Disney character who sings, “The cold never bothered me anyway” : ELSA
“The cold never bothered me anyway” is the last line in the chorus of the hit song “Let It Go” from the soundtrack of the 2013 Disney movie “Frozen”.
“Let It Go” is an incredibly successful song from the Disney animated film “Frozen” released in 2013. It was performed in the movie by Idina Menzel, who also was the voice actor for the character Elsa. “Let It Go” is one of the very few Disney songs to make it into the Billboard Top Ten.
36. Go Fish request : TENS
Go Fish a very simple card game, usually played by children:
Q. Do you have any queens?
Q. Go fish!
37. Turns red, maybe : RUSTS
Rust is iron oxide. Rust forms when iron oxidizes, reacts with oxygen.
39. ’90s-’00s sci-fi hit … or what this puzzle’s circles graphically depict : THE X-FILES
“The X-Files” is a very successful science fiction show that aired on the Fox network from 1993 to 2002. The stars of the show are David Duchovny (playing Fox Mulder) and the very talented Gillian Anderson (playing Dana Scully). By the time the series ended, “The X-Files” was the longest running sci-fi show in US broadcast history. An “X-Files” reboot started airing in 2016 with Duchovny and Anderson reprising their starring roles.
42. 2006 demotion : PLUTO
Pluto was discovered in 1930, and was welcomed as the ninth planet in our solar system. Pluto is relatively small in size, just one fifth of the mass of our own moon. In the seventies, astronomers began to discover more large objects in the solar system, including Eris, a “scattered disc object” at the outer reaches. Given that Eris is actually bigger than Pluto, and other objects really aren’t that much smaller, Pluto’s status as a planet was drawn into question. In 2006 there was a scientific definition for a “planet” agreed for the first time, resulting in Pluto being relegated to the status of “dwarf planet”, along with Eris.
45. Heracles’ beloved : IOLE
Iole was a beautiful young woman of Greek Mythology who was loved by Heracles. But Heracles could not marry Iole because her father refused to allow the match. In Roman mythology, Heracles was known as Hercules.
51. 1962 “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” singer : MONROE
Famously, the actress Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to President John F. Kennedy at an event celebrating his 45th birthday. The rendition was extremely sensual and provocative, a mood that was helped by Monroe’s sultry tone and her very tight-fitting dress. That dress later sold at auction in 1999 for over one and a quarter million dollars. Sadly, Monroe was to commit suicide just three months later.
53. Fla. resort : BOCA
The name of the city of Boca Raton in Florida translates from Spanish as “Mouse Mouth”. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive etymology of the name but one plausible explanation is a nautical one. “Boca”, as well as meaning “mouth” can mean “inlet”. “Ratón”, as well as meaning “mouse” was also used to describe rocks that chewed away at a ship’s anchor cable. So possibly Boca Raton was named for a rocky inlet.
55. Physics unit : ERG
An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, as there are 10 million ergs in one joule. it has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off. The term comes from “ergon”, the Greek word for work.
58. Trident-shaped letters : PSIS
The Greek letter psi is the one that looks a bit like a trident or a pitchfork.
63. Sugar source : BEETS
The biggest producer of sugar beets in the world is Russia, with France and the US in second and third place.
64. Civilian garb : MUFTI
Mufti is civilian dress that is worn by someone who routinely wears a uniform. The term is probably related somehow to the Arabic “mufti”, the word for a Muslim scholar who interprets Islamic law.
66. Pair in the score for Beethoven’s Fifth : OBOES
If I had to name which of Beethoven’s symphonies I listen to most often, at the top of the list comes the 7th followed closely by the 9th, and then the 5th a little further down. But that four-note opening of the 5th … that is superb …
68. Dandy : FOP
A dandy is a man who is overly fastidious with regard to his personal appearance. There’s a suggestion that the term originated in Scotland, where “Dandy” is a diminutive of the name “Andrew”. Back in the early 1800s, when the use of “dandy” was at its height, the female equivalent was a dandizette.
69. Partner of ciencias : ARTES
In Spanish, one might study the “ciencias” (sciences) and/or the “artes” (arts).
71. Pizzeria chain : UNO
The chain of pizza parlors known today as Uno Chicago Grill used to be called Pizzeria Uno, or just “Uno’s”. Apparently Uno’s created the world’s first deep dish pizza.
73. Holden Caulfield, for one : TEEN
“The Catcher in the Rye” is the most famous novel from the pen of J. D. Salinger. The main character and narrator in the book is Holden Caulfield, a teenager who gets expelled from a university prep school. Caulfield also makes appearances in several short stories written by Salinger, as do other members of the Caulfield family.
1. Visiting Pimlico : AT A RACE
Pimlico Race Course is a horse racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland that is most famous as host for the Preakness Stakes. The track opened in 1870 in area that had been known as Pimlico since the mid 17th century. The “Pimlico” name was given by English settlers as a nod to Olde Ben Pimlico’s Tavern in London.
3. Blowfish : PUFFERS
“Fugu” is the Japanese name for pufferfish, also known as blowfish. Fugu is a notorious dish on a Japanese menu as it can be extremely poisonous. The liver, ovaries and eyes of the pufferfish contain lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin, which paralyses muscles causing death by asphyxiation.
6. “The Big Sleep” genre : NOIR
The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.
“The Big Sleep” is a film released in 1946, and a great example of the film noir genre. Based on Raymond Chandler’s 1939 novel of the same name, the movie stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe, and Lauren Bacall as the sultry daughter of Marlowe’s client.
9. Wells race : ELOI
In the 1895 novel by H. G. Wells called “The Time Machine”, there are two races that the hero encounter in his travels into the future. The Eloi are the “beautiful people” who live on the planet’s surface. The Morlocks are a race of cannibals living underground who use the Eloi as food.
11. Enjoys a buffet, usually : EATS OUT
Our word “buffet” comes from the French “bufet” meaning “bench, sideboard”. So, a buffet is a meal served from a “bufet”.
15. Farm structure : GRAIN SILO
“Silo” is a Spanish word that we absorbed into English, originally coming from the Greek word “siros” that described a pit in which one kept corn.
21. Company that survived Canada’s Prohibition : LABATT
The Labatt Brewing Company is the largest brewer in Canada. The company was founded by John K. Labatt in London, Ontario in 1847.
23. Jan. honoree : MLK
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a US Federal holiday taking place on the third Monday of each year. It celebrates the birthday of Dr. King, and was signed into law by President Reagan in 1983, and first observed in 1986. However, some states resisted naming the holiday MLK Day, and gave it alternative names (like “Civil Rights Day”). It was officially celebrated as MLK Day in all 50 states from the year 2000 onwards.
26. Tequila sunrise direction : ESTE
Tequila is a city in Mexico that is located about 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. The city is the birthplace of the drink called “tequila”. Local people made a variety of a drink called mescal by fermenting the heart of the blue agave plant that is native to the area surrounding Tequila. It was the Spanish who introduced the distillation process to the mescal, giving us what we now know as “tequila”.
28. Old plucked strings : LYRE
The lyre is a stringed instrument most closely associated with Ancient Greece, and with the gods Hermes and Apollo in particular. According to myth, Hermes slaughtered a cow from a sacred herd belonging to Apollo and offered it to the gods but kept the entrails. Hermes used the entrails to make strings that he stretched across the shell of a tortoise, creating the first lyre. Apollo liked the sound from the lyre and agreed to accept it as a trade for his herd of cattle.
32. Minuteman Statue city : LEXINGTON
The Massachusetts town of Lexington is famous as the site of the Battle of Lexington, when the opening shots were fired in the American Revolution. Lexington is now a suburb of Boston.
Back in the colony of Massachusetts Bay, the local militia was made up of all the able-bodied males in the colony who were aged between 16 and 60. These men were called to service only when necessary. Some of the men in towns around the colony were trained for rapid deployment, and were known as “minute men”.
41. Garlic relative : LEEK
The leek is a vegetable closely related to the onion and the garlic. It is also a national emblem of Wales (along with the daffodil), although I don’t think we know for sure how this came to be. One story is that the Welsh were ordered to wear leeks in their helmets to identify themselves in a battle against the Saxons. Apparently, the battle took place in a field of leeks.
42. Stage employee : PROP MAN
We use the term “props” for objects that are used by actors on stage during a play. The term is a shortening of the older term “properties”, which was used with the same meaning up through the 19th century.
48. Paint thinner solvent : ACETONE
Acetone is the active ingredient in nail polish remover and in paint thinner.
52. Hosp. areas : ORS
Surgery (surg.) is usually performed in an operating room (OR).
57. “An Enemy of the People” playwright : IBSEN
“An Enemy of the People” is an 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.
Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright, considered by many to be the greatest playwright since William Shakespeare. Ibsen was famous for shocking his audiences by exploring subjects that offended the sensibilities of the day (the late 1800s).
59. Editor’s afterthought : 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.
61. Act as lookout, say : ABET
The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (it literally means “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.
65. Orbiting research facility: Abbr. : ISS
International Space Station (ISS) is a modular facility that comprises components launched into space by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and by American Space Shuttles. The station has been occupied by astronauts and scientists continually since November, 2000.
67. “Fairest of creation,” in a Milton classic : EVE
“Paradise Lost” is an epic poem written by Englishman John Milton. It is indeed an epic work, published originally in ten volumes with over ten thousand lines of verse. The “paradise” that is “lost” is the Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve were expelled by God in the “Fall of Man”.