Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers are each a common phrase containing a synonym of the word “BLANK”. We take the word in the clue and use it to replace the BLANK in the answer grid, hence revealing the missing phrase:
- 38A. Provide missing info … and what four clues do to their answers : FILL IN THE BLANKS
- 20A. NOTHING : BLANK BUT NET (giving “nothing but net”)
- 56A. NAUGHT : ALL FOR BLANK (giving “all for naught”)
- 11D. SPACE : OPEN BLANK (giving “open space”)
- 31D. EMPTY : BLANK NEST (giving “empty nest”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
11. Bobby on the ice : 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.
16. Baltimore Ravens mascot named for an author : POE
The Baltimore football team’s name “the Ravens” has a literary derivation. Baltimore was the home of the writer Edgar Allen Poe, and so the team took its moniker from his most famous poem, “The Raven”. The name was selected in a fan contest. Baltimore’s mascot is a raven named Poe. Prior to the 2008 season, the Raven’s had a trio of avian mascots: Edgar, Allan and Poe.
17. Attendant who invites Hamlet to duel Laertes : OSRIC
In William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, Osric is the courtier that Claudius dispatches to invite Hamlet to participate in a duel.
In William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, Laertes is the son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia. It is Laertes who kills Hamlet using a poisoned sword..
20. NOTHING : BLANK BUT NET (giving “nothing but net”)
“Nothing but net” is a phrase used in basketball to describe a “clean basket”. A clean basket is a score in which the ball doesn’t touch the backboard or even the rim, and touches only the net.
22. “Stillmatic” rapper : NAS
Rapper Nas used to go by another stage name, Nasty Nas, and before that by his real name, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. Nas released his first album “Illmatic” in 1994, and inventively titled his fifth studio album “Stillmatic”, released in 2001. Not my cup of tea, I would say …
23. Equinox mo. : SEP
An equinox is a phenomenon dictated by the tilt of the earth’s axis. Twice every year, that tilt “evens out” and the sun is equidistant from points at the same latitude both north and south of the equator. It is as if the earth has no tilt relative to the sun. The term “equinox” comes from the Latin for “equal night”, inferring that night and day are equally long, as the effect of the earth’s “tilt” is nullified. Equinoxes occur around March 21st and September 23rd each year.
27. Sulky state : PET
Apparently there’s a phrase “in a pet” meaning “in a snit, in a temper”.
28. L.A.’s region : SOCAL
Southern California (SoCal)
29. Jessica of “Fantastic Four” films : ALBA
Actress Jessica Alba got her big break when she was cast in the Fox science fiction show “Dark Angel”. Alba had a tough life growing up as she spent a lot of time in hospital and so found it difficult to develop friendships. As a youngster she twice had a collapsed lung, frequently caught pneumonia, suffered from asthma, had a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst. On top of all that she acknowledges that she suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child. It seems that she has really turned her life around …
“Fantastic Four” is a 2005 movie about the band of comic heroes made famous in Marvel Comics. The Fantastic Four are:
- Mr. Fantastic (played by Ioan Gruffudd)
- The Invisible Woman (played by Jessica Alba)
- The Human Torch (played by Chris Evans)
- Thing (played by Michael Chiklis)
32. Waimea Bay island : OAHU
Waimea Bay is located on the north shore of O’ahu in the Hawaiian Islands.
41. Author Asimov : ISAAC
Isaac Asimov was a wonderful science fiction writer, and a professor of biochemistry. He was a favorite author as I was growing up and I must admit that some hero worship on my part led me to study and work as a biochemist for a short while early in my career. My favorite of his works is the collection of short stories called “I, Robot”. Asimov wrote three autobiographies, the last of which was called “I, Asimov”, which was published in 1994, two years after his death.
43. Boxing stats : TKOS
In boxing, a knockout (KO) is when one of the fighters can’t get up from the canvas within a specified time, usually 10 seconds. This can be due to fatigue, injury, or the participant may be truly “knocked out”. A referee, fighter or doctor may also decide to stop a fight without a physical knockout, especially if there is concern about a fighter’s safety. In this case the bout is said to end with a technical knockout (TKO).
44. Explosive experiment : N-TEST
There are two classes of nuclear weapons, both of which get the energy for the explosion from nuclear reactions. The first nuclear bombs developed, called atomic bombs (A-bombs), use fission reactions. Uranium nuclei are split into smaller nuclei with the release of an awful lot of energy in the process. The second class of nuclear weapons are fusion bombs. These devices are called thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs (H-bombs). In a fusion reaction, the nuclei of hydrogen isotopes are fused together to form bigger nuclei, with the release of even greater amounts of energy.
52. These, in Nantes : CES
Nantes is a beautiful city located on the delta of the Loire, Erdre and Sèvre rivers. It has the well deserved nickname of “The Venice of the West”. I had the privilege of visiting Nantes a couple of times on business, and I can attest that it really is a charming city …
59. Word with Iron or Bronze : … AGE
Ancient societies can be classified by the “three-age system”, which depends on the prevalence of materials used to make tools. The three ages are:
- The Stone Age
- The Bronze Age
- The Iron Age
The actual dates defined by each age depend on the society, as the timing of the transition from the use of one material to another varied around the globe.
61. Tropical porch : LANAI
A lanai is a type of veranda, and a design that originated in Hawaii. A kind blog reader tells me that the etymology of “lanai” seems unclear, but that the island name of “Lana’i” is not related.
63. Año Nuevo month : ENERO
In Spanish, one wishes someone “un prospero año nuevo” (a happy new year) in “enero” (January).
64. Ham it up : EMOTE
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.
65. Cockpit abbr. : ALT
66. Building leveler, to a Brit : RASER
To “raze” (“rase”, in UK English) is to level to the ground. I’ve always thought it a little odd that “raise”, a homophone of “raze”, means to build up.
2. Stocking thread : LISLE
Lisle is a cotton fabric that has been through an extra process at the end of its manufacture that burns off lint and the ends of fibers leaving the fabric very smooth and with a clean edge. Cotton lisle is mainly used in the manufacture of underwear and stockings. The process to make the thread was invented in the French city of Lille (formerly “Lisle”), hence the name.
5. Badger from the bleachers : HECKLE
The original use of the verb “to heckle” was to mean questioning severely, and for many years was associated with the public questioning of parliamentary candidates in Scotland. In more recent times, the meaning has evolved into questioning that is less polite and that is directed at standup comics.
At a sports event one might sit in the “bleachers”. “Bleachers” is a particularly American term used to describe the tiered stands that provide seating for spectators. These seats were originally wooden planks, and as they were uncovered they would be “bleached” by the sun, giving them the name we use today. Sometimes the fans using the bleachers might be referred to as “bleacherites”.
6. Anvil-shaped ear bone : INCUS
The middle ear is the portion of the ear immediately behind the eardrum. The middle ear contains three small bones called the ossicles, the three smallest bones in the human body. The ossicles’ job is to transmit sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. The shape of the bones gives rise to their names: the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus) and stirrup (stapes).
8. Burnett of CNN : ERIN
Erin Burnett is a television journalist and the host of her own show on CNN called “Erin Burnett OutFront”. Apparently Burnett also used to show up occasionally as advisor to Donald Trump on “The Celebrity Apprentice”.
9. ACTIVE NATURALS skin care brand : AVEENO
Aveeno is a manufacturer of skincare and haircare products that was founded in 1945. The name Aveeno comes from the Latin name for the common oat: “Avena sativa”.
13. Piece maker? : REESE
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented by Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese. Peanut Butter Cups were originally called penny cups, reflecting the price at which they were sold. Then inflation took over, and maybe that’s why they were broken into smaller “Pieces” …
26. Golf ball material : BALATA
Balatá is a tree from which latex is extracted for use in industrial applications. The dried latex is a rubber-like material that is inelastic. There was a time when balatá was used almost exclusively as the outer layer of high-end golf balls. Nowadays, there are man-made alternative materials that perform better and last longer on the golf course.
28. Bird feeder food : SUET
Fat, when extracted from the carcass of an animal, is called “suet”. Untreated suet decomposes at room temperature quite easily so it has to be “rendered” or purified to make it stable. Rendered fat from pigs is what we call “lard”. Rendered beef or mutton fat is known as “tallow”.
29. John Williams won its 2016 Life Achievement Award: Abbr. : AFI
The American Film Institute (AFI) introduced its annual Life Achievement Award in 1973. Notable recipients have been:
- John Ford in 1973: the first recipient
- Bette Davis in 1977: the first female recipient
- Lillian Gish in 1984: the only recipient from the silent film era
- Tom Hanks in 2002: the youngest recipient, at 45 years of age
- John Williams in 2016: the first composer to receive the award
30. Fleur-de-__ : LIS
“Lys” (also “lis”) is the French word for “lily”, as in “fleur-de-lys”, the heraldic symbol often associated with the French monarchy.
34. Dept. that oversees the FDA : HHS
The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) was split in 1979, into the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started out as the Food, Drug and Insecticide organization in 1906, after President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Food and Drug Act. The main driver behind the Act was concern over public hygiene.
36. “Citizen Kane” studio : RKO
1941’s “Citizen Kane” was the first film made by Orson Welles, and considered by many to be the finest film ever made. It’s a remarkable achievement by Wells, as he played the lead, and also produced and directed. Despite all the accolades for “Citizen Kane” over the decades, the movie was far from a commercial success in its early run and actually lost money at the box office.
37. Ed.’s backlog : MSS
Editors (eds.) might read or edit a manuscript (MS)
40. Bergman’s “Gaslight” co-star : BOYER
The marvelous actor Charles Boyer was a success in French theater in the 1920s, and then a Hollywood star from the 1930s. In the thirties Boyer played mainly romantic leads, but my favorite role of his is the menacing male lead in the 1944 thriller “Gaslight”. Boyer was married once, to British actress Pat Paterson, a marriage that lasted for 44 years. Boyer committed suicide just two days after his wife died in 1978.
The wonderful actress Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm and named for Princess Ingrid of Sweden. The three Bergman performances that stand out for me are in 1942’s “Casablanca” opposite Humphrey Bogart, in 1944’s “Gaslight” opposite Charles Boyer and in 1946’s “Notorious” opposite Cary Grant. What a stunningly beautiful woman she was …
“Gaslight” is a 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer that is a remake of the 1938 play called “Gas Light”. Boyer plays an evil husband who manipulates his wife, played by Bergman, into thinking that she is going insane. We’ve been using the verb “gaslighting” colloquially since the 1960’s to describe such manipulation. The verb comes from the title of the film.
45. Title Tejano singer in a 1997 biopic : SELENA
Singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, known professionally simply as “Selena”, was murdered in 1995 by the president of her own fan club at the height of her career. In a 1997 biopic about Selena’s life, Jennifer Lopez played the title role. Selena had often been referred to as the “Queen of Tejano” during her career.
Tejano is the Spanish word for “Texan”. Tejano music is strongly influenced by Cajun culture, because of the proximity of Texas to Louisiana. The other strong influence came with immigrants from the Poland and what is now the Czech Republic. These immigrants brought with them the waltz, polka … and the accordion.
47. Starbucks’ mermaid, e.g. : EMBLEM
Starbucks is a coffee company based in Seattle, Washington. It is the largest coffeehouse company in the world and has over 19,000 stores. In the 1990s, Starbucks was opening one new store every single day! Starbucks is named after the chief mate on the Pequod in Herman Melville’s book “Moby Dick”.
49. Broadway backer : ANGEL
An angel investor is one who provides capital very early in a business’s life cycle. The term “angel” is borrowed from Broadway, where angels were wealthy people who provided funds to stage theatrical productions.
52. Pachelbel work : CANON
Johann Pachelbel was a composer from Germany active in the Baroque Era. Pachelbel’s music was very popular during his own lifetime, and today his best-known work is his “Canon in D”. which has become one of the most popular choices during modern wedding ceremonies.
53. Related on mom’s side : ENATE
Something that is enate is growing outward, and “enate” is used to describe ancestors related on the mother’s side. Something that is agnate comes from a common source, and “agnate” is used to describe relatives on the father’s side of the family tree.
57. Caustic cleaners : LYES
What we call “lye” is usually sodium hydroxide, although historically the term was used for potassium hydroxide. Lye has many uses, including to cure several foodstuffs. Lye can make olives less bitter, for example. The chemical is also found in canned mandarin oranges, pretzels and Japanese ramen noodles. More concentrated grades of lye are used to clear drains and clean ovens. Scary …
58. Tibetan spiritual adviser : LAMA
“Lama” is a Tibetan word, meaning “chief” or “high priest”.