Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers starts with something we might find in a toolbox:
- 17A. One of a daily three at the table : SQUARE MEAL
- 41A. Ten-spot : SAWBUCK
- 64A. Reality show hosted by rapper M.C. : HAMMERTIME
- 11D. Military marching unit : DRILL TEAM
- 34D. Utmost effort : LEVEL BEST
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Took a powder : LEFT
The phrase “to take a powder” means “to scram, vanish”. This meaning was first recorded in the 1920s, and may derive from the medical instruction “take a powder”, which may imply having to make a quick exit!
10. Real estate ad abbr. after 2 or 3, commonly : BDRM
14. Golfer Aoki : ISAO
Isao Aoki is one of Japan’s greatest golfers. Aoki’s best finish in a major tournament was runner-up to Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 US Open.
15. Blender button : PUREE
A “purée” is a food that has been made smooth by straining or blending. “Purée” is a French term, which I believe is now used to mean “pea soup” (more completely written as “purée de pois”). The French verb “purer” means “to strain, clean”, from the Latin “purare” meaning “to purify, clean”.
16. “Wonderfilled” cookie : OREO
Nabisco launched an ad campaign for the Oreo brand of in 2012, telling us that the cookie is “wonderfilled”, that the modest little Oreo cookie can bring about a positive change of perspective and create a sense of wonder. I think that’s the idea …
17. One of a daily three at the table : SQUARE MEAL
A “square meal” is one that is substantial and nourishing. According to some sources, the phrase originated with the Royal Navy, and the square wooden plates on which meals were served. However, this centuries-old practice is an unlikely origin as the phrase is first seen in print in the US, in 1856. An advertisement for a restaurant posted in a California newspaper offers a “square meal” to patrons, in the sense of an “honest, straightforward meal”. The “honest” meaning of “square” was well-established at the time, as in “fair and square”, “square play” and “square deal”.
19. __ colada: cocktail : PINA
“Piña colada” is a Spanish term which translates into “strained pineapple”. The Piña colada cocktail was introduced in the Caribe Hilton San Juan in 1954, and since 1978 it has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico. Yum …
20. Heart rate : PULSE
One’s “pulse” is the rhythmic throbbing of arteries that is usually detected at the wrist or the neck. The contraction of the heart creates a pressure wave in the blood that moves the arterial walls, which is detected as the pulse.
22. Tar Heel State university : ELON
Elon is a city in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, close to the city of Burlington. Elon University is a private liberal arts school founded in 1889.
Tar Heel is a nickname for anyone living in, or from, the state of North Carolina. As such, it is the nickname also of the athletic teams of the University of North Carolina. No one seems to know for sure where the term “Tar Heel” originated, but it is thought to be related to the historical importance of the tar, pitch and turpentine industries that thrived in the state due to the presence of vast forests of pine trees.
23. Hunting dog : SETTER
The breeds of dog known as setters are all gundogs and are used in hunting game.
25. Israeli currency : SHEKEL
The shekel is the currency used today in Israel. The first use of the word “shekel” was in Mesopotamia around 3000 BCE when it probably referred to a specific weight of barley.
29. Fiber-__ cable : OPTIC
Optical fibers are lengths of glass or plastic that are slightly thicker than a human hair. They are usually bundled into cables, and then used for transmission of data signals. Optical transmission has advantages over electrical transmission, especially in terms of interference and loss of signal strength.
35. Jinx : HOODOO
Hoodoo is a traditional African-American folk magic and spirituality that has West African, Native American and European roots. Hoodoo is sometimes confused with Voodoo, especially as they both have West African connections. However, the two practices are very different.
A jinx is a charm or a spell, and the word “jinx” comes from an older word “jyng” from the 17th-century. A “jyng” was another word for the wryneck, a type of bird much used in witchcraft.
39. Tokyo, long ago : EDO
Edo is the former name of the Japanese city of Tokyo. Edo was the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate, a feudal regime that ruled from 1603 until 1868. The shogun lived in the magnificent Edo castle. Some parts of the original castle remain and today’s Tokyo Imperial Palace, the residence of the Emperor of Japan, was built on its grounds.
41. Ten-spot : SAWBUCK
“Sawbuck” is slang for a ten dollar bill. The term was applied to the bill as the Roman numeral X (which used to appear on the bill) resembles the end of sawhorse.
42. Ga. neighbor : ALA
Alabama is known as the Yellowhammer State, in honor of the state bird. Alabama is also called the “Heart of Dixie”.
The US state of Georgia has two nicknames: the Peach State, and the Empire State of the South.
43. Voting mo. : NOV
Election Day was chosen by Congress back in 1845. The month of November was selected as it suited an agricultural society, following the fall harvest and yet not too far into winter, which could make travel difficult. Tuesday was chosen so that people had time to travel to polling stations. Monday elections might have meant that some would have to start out on Sunday, and that could interfere with Christian services.
45. Visa rival, for short : AMEX
“Amex” is short for American Express. In dollar terms, there are more transactions conducted in the US using American Express than any other card.
46. Mournful toll : KNELL
The word “knell” is used for a solemn ring from a bell, often associated with death or a funeral. “Knell” comes the Old English “cnell” and is probably imitative in origin, sounding like a peal from a large bell.
48. Former OTC market regulator : NASD
The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) no longer exists per se. Since 2007, it’s functions are carried out by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). These functions include regulation of trading in equities, bonds, futures and options. In 1971, the NASD set up a new computerized trading system called the NASD Automated Quotations stock market, a system we know better by the acronym NASDAQ.
Over-the-counter (OTC) trading of stocks is a way of trading directly between two parties, as opposed to exchange trading in which trading occurs in an exchange.
54. NFL team that moved from St. Louis in 2016 : LA RAMS
The Los Angeles Rams are the only franchise to have won NFL championships in three different cities, i.e. Cleveland (1945), Los Angeles (1951) and St. Louis (1999). The Rams were based in Cleveland from 1936 to 1945, in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1994, in St. Louis from 1995 to 2015, and returned to Los Angeles in 2016.
58. Perfume that sounds forbidden : TABU
Tabu is a whole line of cosmetics and perfumes produced by the House of Dana. The company’s brand names were purchased by a Florida company called Dana Classic Fragrances in 1999.
62. “The Bourne Identity” star Matt : DAMON
Matt Damon is an actor and screenwriter from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Damon’s big break came with the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting” in which he starred. He co-wrote the screenplay with his childhood friend Ben Affleck.
“The Bourne Identity” is a great spy novel written by Robert Ludlum, and first published in 1980. It has been ranked as the second best spy novel of all time, just behind the even more enjoyable “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” by John le Carre. I’ll agree with that sentiment. Ludlum wrote two sequels, and all three parts of the Bourne Trilogy have been made into very successful movies now, starring Matt Damon in the title role. Ludlum died before he could write more than three novels featuring Jason Bourne, but five more titles in the series have been published, written by Eric Van Lustbader. I must check them out …
63. Universal donor’s blood type, briefly : O-NEG
The most important grouping of blood types is the ABO system. Blood is classified as either A, B, AB or O, depending on the type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A secondary designation of blood is the Rh factor, in which other antigens are labelled as either positive or negative. When a patient receives a blood transfusion, ideally the donor blood should be the same type as that of the recipient, as incompatible blood cells can be rejected. However, blood type O-neg can be accepted by recipients with all blood types, A, B, AB or O, and positive or negative. Hence someone with O-neg blood type is called a “universal donor”.
64. Reality show hosted by rapper M.C. : HAMMERTIME
Rapper MC Hammer (aka Hammer and Hammertime) was born Stanley Kirk Burrell, and was very popular in the 80s and 90s. Being around that early, MC Hammer is considered to be one of the forefathers of rap. Nowadays, MC Hammer is a preacher, and uses the initials MC to stand for “Man of Christ”. If you are so inclined, you can learn a little about Hammer and his family life by watching past episodes of the reality TV show “Hammertime”, which aired in 2009.
68. Salinger title girl : ESME
J. D. Salinger wrote a short story called “For Esmé – with Love and Squalor”, originally published in “The New Yorker” in 1950. It is a story about a young English girl called Esme and an American soldier, and is set in WWII.
69. Aardvark fare : ANTS
The aardvark is the oddest looking of creatures, a nocturnal burrowing animal, native to Africa. The name “aardvark” is Afrikaans for “earth pig”, although it is not in fact related to the pig. Aardvarks are noted, among other things, for their unique teeth. Their teeth have no enamel and wear away quite readily, but continuously regrow. The aardvark feeds mainly on ants and termites.
71. __-Pei: wrinkly dog : SHAR
The Shar-Pei breed of dog is that one with the wrinkly face and really dark tongue. The breed originated in China, with “Shar-Pei” being the British spelling of the Cantonese name.
1. Talks like Sylvester : LISPS
Sylvester J. Pussycat was also known as Puddy Tat, and was a character who appeared in “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” cartoons. Sylvester was the cat who was often trying to get the better of Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales and Hippety Hopper. Sylvester’s trademark line is the exclamation “Sufferin’ succotash!”, which emphasizes the characters pronounced lisp.
2. Suffix with arab : -ESQUE
In the ballet position known as “arabesque”, the dancer stands on one leg, with one leg extended behind the body.
3. San Andreas __ : FAULT
The famous San Andreas Fault in California lies along the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. The faultline was named in 1885 after a small lake just south of San Francisco called Laguna de San Andreas.
5. Jungle chest-beater : APE
Apes and monkeys both belong to the order of primates. The most obvious way to distinguish apes from monkeys is by the presence or lack of a tail. Almost all apes have no tail, and almost all monkeys have tails.
7. Real estate calculations : AREAS
The terms “realty” and “real estate” date back to the later 1600s, and are derived from the earlier meaning “real possession”, something one owns that is tangible and real.
9. Brawl : MELEE
Our word “melee” comes from the French “mêlée”, and in both languages the word means “confused fight”.
10. Girl with a missing flock : BO-PEEP
The lines that are most commonly quoted for the rhyme about “Little Bo Peep” are:
Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can’t tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, And they’ll come home,
Wagging their tails behind them.
But, there are actually four more verses, including this one:
It happened one day, as Bo-peep did stray
Into a meadow hard by,
There she espied their tails side by side,
All hung on a tree to dry.
12. Gambling town northeast of Sacramento : RENO
The city of Reno’s economy took off when open gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931. Within a short time, a syndicate had built the Bank Club in Reno, which was the largest casino in the world at the time.
26. Oddball : KOOK
“Kooky” is a slang word meaning “out there, crazy”. It has been around since the beatnik era, and it may be a shortened version of the word “cuckoo”.
32. Luxurious fur : MINK
There are two species of mink extant: the European Mink and the American Mink. There used to be a Sea Mink which was much larger than its two cousins, but it was hunted to extinction (for its fur) in the late 1800s. American Minks are farmed over in Europe for fur, and animal rights activists have released many of these animals into the wild when raiding mink farms. As a result the European Mink population has declined due to the presence of its larger and more adaptable American cousin.
33. Twitter’s bird, e.g. : ICON
The familiar blue Twitter logo is known as “Larry the Bird”, and was named for former Boston Celtics player Larry Bird.
36. Brit. honor : OBE
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry in the UK that was established in 1917 by King George V. There are five classes within the order, which are in descending seniority:
- Knight Grand Cross (GBE)
- Knight Commander (KBE)
- Commander (CBE)
- Officer (OBE)
- Member (MBE)
37. Brooks’ country music partner : DUNN
Brooks & Dunn was a country music duo made up of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn.
49. Iraq’s __ City : SADR
Sadr City is a suburb of Baghdad, oft in the news these days. Sadr City is named after the deceased Shia leader Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr.
52. SeaWorld orca : SHAMU
Shamu was the name of the third orca (aka “killer whale”) ever to be featured in a public exhibition. Shamu starred in a popular SeaWorld show in San Diego in the sixties. After she died in 1971, her name lived on as the name “Shamu” is still used by SeaWorld for its killer whale shows. That original Shamu was retired after she grabbed and refused to let go of the leg of one of her trainers.
SeaWorld was started in San Diego in 1964. The original plan was build an underwater restaurant with a marine life show. Eventually the founders dropped the idea of the eating establishment and just went with a theme park. SeaWorld has been mired in controversy since the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish”, which tells of the involvement of a particular orca (killer whale) in the death of two SeaWorld employees and one SeaWorld visitor.
55. Horse-and-buggy-driving sect : AMISH
The Amish are a group of Christian churches, a subgroup of the Mennonite churches. The Amish church originated in Switzerland and Alsace in 1693 when it was founded by Jakob Ammann. It was Ammann who gave the name to the Amish people. Many Amish people came to Pennsylvania in the 18th century.
58. Frat party robe : TOGA
In Ancient Rome the classical attire known as a toga (plural “togae”) was usually worn over a tunic. The tunic was made from linen, and the toga itself was a piece of cloth about twenty feet long made from wool. The toga could only be worn by men, and only if those men were Roman citizens. The female equivalent of the toga was called a “stola”.
59. Very shortly, to Shakespeare : ANON
“Anon” originally meant “at once” and evolved into today’s meaning of “soon” apparently just because the word was misused over time.
61. Mid-21st century date : MMLI
The year 2051 can be written in Roman numerals as “MMLI”.
65. Cornea’s place : EYE
The cornea is the transparent part of the eye in the front, covering the iris and the pupil. Even though the cornea is not part of the lens it acts as a lens, and in fact does most of the work focusing light coming in through the eye. The cornea is in effect a fixed-focus lens passing on light to the variable-focus lens that is inside the eye.