Edited by: Rich Norris
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We have a mini-sized theme today, about a maxi-sized event. There are three answers that are interconnected:
- 4A. Largest galaxy in the Local Group : ANDROMEDA
- 34A. With 35- and 36-Across, second-largest galaxy in the Local Group : THE …
- 35A. See 34-Across : … MILKY …
- 36A. See 34-Across : … WAY
- 56A. By some calculations, projected fate of 4-Across and 34-/35-/36-Across in three to four billion years : COLLISION
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
4. Largest galaxy in the Local Group : ANDROMEDA
Our galaxy is the Milky Way, and the nearest “spiral galaxy” to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy. Andromeda is not the nearest galaxy, as that honor belongs to the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy.
In terms of astronomy, the Local Group is a group of galaxies including our Milky Way. The Local group comprises over fifty galaxies, with the largest being the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way and the Triangulum Galaxy.
16. Strains at the balcony : SERENADES
A ”serenade” is a musical performance in the open air, specifically at night. We tend to think of the term applying to a young man serenading his lover from below her window. We imported the word via French from the Italian “serenata” meaning “evening song”, influenced by the Italian “sera” meaning “evening”.
17. “Birth of the Cool” trumpeter : DAVIS
The jazz musician Miles Davis was born into a relatively affluent family, so he had plenty of music lessons as a child. After high school, Davis studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York but he dropped out before finishing his studies. He stated later that the Juilliard classes focused too much on European and “white” music, but he acknowledged that the school gave him a foundation in music theory that helped him in later life.
19. Talmud letters : ALEPHS
“Aleph” is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and “beth” the second.
The Talmud is a collection of writings by thousands of rabbis and is a central text in Rabbinic Judaism, second only to the Torah.
24. Urban legends website : SNOPES
Snopes.com is the place to go if you want to check the validity or history of an urban legend or Internet rumor. The site was launched in 1995 by a couple in California, Barbara and David Mikkelson.
27. Saturn SUV : VUE
The VUE is a compact SUV made by General Motors under the Saturn brand from 2001 to 2009. The VUE was the best-selling of all Saturn models.
29. Zaps : TASES
“To tase” is to use a taser, a stun gun.
34. With 35- and 36-Across, second-largest galaxy in the Local Group : THE …
35. See 34-Across : … MILKY …
36. See 34-Across : … WAY
The Milky Way is the name given to our own galaxy, the home to the Solar System. In fact, the word “galaxy” comes from the Greek “galaxias” meaning “milky”.
37. Poetic twilight : E’EN
Twilight is the light experienced when the sun is below the horizon, both in the morning and the evening. The prefix “twi-” seems to come from the sense of “half”, and in “half light”. There appears to be no connection to the word “twice”, despite twilight occurring twice each day.
38. Japanese box lunch : BENTO
A bento is a single-person meal that is commonly eaten in Japan. A bento can be purchased as a take-out meal, or it may be packed at home. A bento is usually sold as a “bento box”.
41. With 14-Down, “Iron Man” of sports : CAL …
14. See 41-Across : … RIPKEN
Cal Ripken played his entire, 20-year professional baseball career for the Baltimore Orioles. Ripken was known as the “Iron Man” because he showed up for work every day, come rain or shine. He played 2,632 straight games, blowing past the previous 2,130-game record held by Lou Gehrig.
44. Friday revelation? : I’M A COP
The TV detective show “Dragnet” opened up each episode with lines spoken by the character Sergeant Joe Friday:
This is the city, Los Angeles, California, I work here. I’m a cop.
In later series, the phrase “I’m a cop” was replaced with “I carry a badge”.
48. Treat with scorn : DERIDE
“To deride” is to treat with contemptuous mirth. The term comes into English via Old French from the Latin “deridere” meaning “to ridicule”. In turn, “deridere” comes from the prefix “de-” (down) and “”ridere” (to laugh). So, to ridicule or deride is “to laugh down at”.
49. Something hit on a range : DRIVER
That would be golf.
53. Deli qty. : ONE LB
The unit of mass that we know today as a “pound” is descended from the old Roman unit of weight known as a “libra”. That “libra” connection is why we abbreviate “pound” to “lb”. The name “pound” though comes from the Latin “pondo” meaning “weight”. Our term “ounce” (abbreviated to “oz.”) comes from the Latin “uncia”, which was 1/12 of a Roman “libra”.
56. By some calculations, projected fate of 4-Across and 34-/35-/36-Across in three to four billion years : COLLISION
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, and the Andromeda Galaxy are the two largest galaxies in the what’s called the Local Group. Calculations suggest that the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxies are on a collision course and will merge in about 4 billion years. The resulting merged galaxy has already been nicknamed, and referred to as either Milkomeda or Milkdromeda.
57. SOP part: Abbr. : STD
Standard operating procedure (SOP)
3. Whitney Houston appeared on its cover in 1981 : SEVENTEEN
“Seventeen” is a monthly magazine aimed at teenage girls that was first issued in 1944.
Whitney Houston is the only singer to have a run of seven consecutive Billboard number-one hits. Houston’s recording of the wonderful Dolly Parton song “I Will Always Love You”, from the soundtrack of 1992’s “The Bodyguard”, is the best-selling single for a female artist in the history of recorded music. Houston died at the age of 48 in 2012, drowning in her bathtub.
4. Critter in Egyptian art : ASP
The venomous snake called an asp was a symbol of royalty in Ancient Egypt.
5. Born identity intro : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.
6. Wee nips : DRAMS
The dram is a confusing unit of measurement, I think. It has one value as an ancient unit of mass, and two different values as a modern unit of mass, another value as a unit of fluid volume, and yet another varying value as a measure of Scotch whisky!
9. Marvel Comics hybrid supervillain : MAN-APE
Man-Ape is a supervillain the Marvel Comics universe. Man-Ape, the alter ego of African warrior M’Baku, usually goes up against the superhero known as the Black Panther.
10. Roman magistrate : EDILE
In the days of the Roman Republic, aediles (also “ediles”) were magistrates who had responsibility for the management and upkeep of public facilities such as public buildings, streets and markets.
11. Fakes on the ice : DEKES
A deke, also known as a dangle, is a technique used to get past an opponent in ice hockey. “Deke” is a colloquial shortening of the word “decoy”.
15. Brando wore one in “Streetcar” : T-SHIRT
Desire is the name of a neighborhood in New Orleans, a destination for a streetcar line. The name “Desire” appears on the front of streetcars bound for that neighborhood, hence the title of the 1947 Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in the 1972 blockbuster “The Godfather”. He turned down the award and didn’t attend the ceremony. Instead he sent a Native American rights activist called Sacheen Littlefeather who made a speech protesting the depiction of Native Americans in Hollywood movies. Brando wasn’t the first person to refuse an Oscar. George C. Scott did the same thing when he won for playing the title role in 1970’s “Patton”. Scott just didn’t like the whole idea of “competing” with other actors.
26. Valletta is its capital : MALTA
The island state of Malta is relatively small (122 square miles), but its large number of inhabitants makes it one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. Malta’s strategic location has made it a prized possession for the conquering empires of the world. Most recently it was part of the British Empire and was an important fleet headquarters. Malta played a crucial role for the Allies during WWII as it was located very close to the Axis shipping lanes in the Mediterranean. The Siege of Malta lasted from 1940 to 1942, a prolonged attack by the Italians and Germans on the RAF and Royal Navy, and the people of Malta. When the siege was lifted, King George VI awarded the George Cross to the people of Malta collectively in recognition of their heroism and devotion to the Allied cause. The George Cross can still be seen on the Maltese flag, even though Britain granted Malta independence in 1964.
Valletta is the capital city of the island state of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. The city is named in honor of Jean Parisot de Valette, a French nobleman who commanded the resistance against the Ottomans at the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. With a population of about 9,000 (excluding the metro area), Valletta is the smallest national capital in the European Union.
30. Trifling amount : SKOSH
“Skosh” is a slang term meaning “a little bit”, originally military slang that came out of the Korean War. “Skosh” derives from the Japanese word “sukoshi” which translates as “few, little, some”.
31. 2008 Phoenix/Paltrow romantic drama : TWO LOVERS
“Two Lovers” is a 2008 based on the short story “White Nights” by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The male lead is Joaquin Phoenix, who gets caught up a kind of love triangle with two women, played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw.
33. Precious gem source : OYSTER BED
A group of oysters is commonly referred to as a “bed”, and oysters can be farmed in man-made beds. The largest body of water producing oysters in the US today is Chesapeake Bay, although the number of beds continues to dwindle due to pollution and overfishing. Back in the 1800s, most of the world’s oysters came from New York Harbor.
35. Earworms, say : MELODIES
“Earworm” is a colloquial term used for a catchy tune that is also somewhat irritating, one that you can’t get out of your head.
38. Rod-shaped bacteria : BACILLI
All bacilli are rod-shaped bacteria, although all rod-shaped bacteria aren’t necessarily bacilli. One of the more famous members of the genus Bacillus is Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax.
39. Minute Maid Park team : ASTROS
Enron Field, as it was known, is a retractable-roof ballpark that was built next to Houston’s old Union Station. Enron paid $100 million to get its name on the field, and then when the world found out what a scam Enron actually was, the Astros bought back the contract for the name, for a mere $2.1 million. The stadium became Astros Field for a few months, until the Coke people paid $170 million for a 28-year contract to rename the stadium Minute Maid Park. A good deal for the Astros, I’d say.
40. Sesame seed paste : TAHINI
“Tahini” is the Arabic name for the paste made from ground sesame seeds. Tahini is a major ingredient in hummus, one of my favorite dishes.
41. “The Office” star : CARELL
The actor Steve Carell has achieved great success on both television and in movies. On the small screen, Carell came to prominence on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and then of course as the lead in the US version of “The Office”. On the big screen he starred in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Evan Almighty” and my personal favorite, ”Dan in Real Life”, starring opposite the wonderful Juliette Binoche.
The excellent sitcom “The Office” is set in a branch of a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. If you haven’t seen the original UK version starring Ricky Gervais, I do recommend you check it out. Having said that, the US cast took the show to a whole new level. Great television …
44. State with a 45-mile Canadian border : IDAHO
Idaho borders six states, and one Canadian province:
- British Columbia, Canada
45. Calcium, e.g. : METAL
The name of the element “calcium” comes from the Latin “calcis” meaning “lime”. “Quicklime” is a common name for calcium oxide.
46. Former Finnish coin : PENNI
A penni was one hundredth of a markka, the currency of Finland that was used until it was replaced by the euro in 2002. The markka was introduced by the Finns in 1860 to replace the Russian ruble.
50. XX x XXXV : DCC
In Roman numerals, XX (20) x XXXV (35) = DCC (700)
51. Id controller : EGO
Sigmund Freud created a structural model of the human psyche, breaking it into three parts: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. The id is that part of the psyche containing the basic instinctual drives. The ego seeks to please the id by causing realistic behavior that benefits the individual. The super-ego almost has a parental role, contradicting the id by introducing critical thinking and morals to behavioral choices.
52. Sanders or Cruz: Abbr. : SEN
Bernie Sanders has served as US Senator from Vermont since 2007. Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist, and used to appear on the ballot as an independent. Prior to joining the Democratic Party in 2015, Sanders had been the longest-serving independent in the history of the US Congress.
US Senator Ted Cruz served as Solicitor General for the state of Texas before heading to Washington. Cruz was appointed Solicitor General in 2003 at the age of 32, making him the youngest Solicitor General in the country. Famously, Cruz is an opponent of the Affordable Care Act and made a speech in 2013 in the US Senate on the subject that lasted for 21 hours and 19 minutes. It was the fourth longest speech in the history of the Senate.