Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers includes the hidden word RAT:
- 58A. Suspicious comment … and a hint to what’s hidden in 18-, 24-, 36- and 51-Across : I SMELL A RAT
- 18A. Swimmer who medaled at five Olympic Games : DARA TORRES
- 24A. Subjected to harsh criticism : UNDER ATTACK
- 36A. Soccer deadlock breaker : EXTRA TIME
- 51A. Many a Sports Illustrated cover figure : STAR ATHLETE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. “MasterChef” tools : PANS
“MasterChef” is a cooking competition TV show franchise that originated on the BBC in the UK in 1990. There are now versions of MasterChef made all over the world, from Albania to Vietnam. I quite enjoy the US version of the “MasterChef Junior” manifestation of the show …
13. Maker of Anew skin care products : AVON
In 1886, a young man called David McConnell was selling books door-to-door. To enhance his sales numbers he was giving out free perfume to the ladies of the houses that he visited. Seeing as his perfume was more popular than his books, he founded the California Perfume Company in New York City and started manufacturing and selling across the country. The company name was changed to Avon in 1939, and the famous “Avon Calling” marketing campaign was launched in 1954.
16. Cuban dance : RUMBA
The rumba (sometimes “rhumba”) is a Cuban dance, with influences brought by African slaves and Spanish colonists. The name “rumba” comes from “rumbo”, the Spanish word for “party, spree”.
18. Swimmer who medaled at five Olympic Games : DARA TORRES
Dara Torres is a US swimmer who has won twelve Olympic medals. Torres is also the only American swimmer to have competed in five Olympic Games. She is the oldest swimmer to have competed on the US Olympic team, having done so at 41 years of age.
22. Exodus peak : SINAI
According to the Book of Exodus, God inscribed the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets and gave them to Moses on Mount Sinai.
23. Actor’s rep. : AGT
27. Belgian detective played by Ustinov, Welles, Finney and others : POIROT
Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie’s most beloved characters. He is a wonderful Belgian private detective who plies his trade from his base in London. Poirot’s most famous case is the “Murder on the Orient Express”. First appearing in 1920’s “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”, Poirot finally succumbs to a heart condition in the 1975 book “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case”. Famously, Poirot is fond of using his “little grey cells”.
Peter Ustinov was a fabulous actor from England. It has to be said though, he was multi-talented and I remember him as a great guest on the talk show circuit.
Orson Welles is perhaps best-remembered in the world of film for his role in 1941’s “Citizen Kane”. In the world of radio, Welles is known for 1938’s famous broadcast of “The War of the Worlds”, a broadcast that convinced many listeners that the Earth was indeed being invaded by aliens.
Albert Finney is a marvelous English actor whose long career has included starring roles in movies such as “Annie” (1982) and “Erin Brockovich” (2000). My favorite of Finney’s performance is perhaps less well known, namely “Two for the Road” (1967) in which he stars opposite the lovely Audrey Hepburn.
30. Fast Company magazine competitor : INC
“Inc.” is a business magazine that specializes in articles about growing companies. “Inc.” publishes a list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the country each year, calling it the “Inc. 500”. The “Inc 5000” is an expanded list also published by the magazine.
“Fast Company” is a business and technology magazine that was launched in 1995.
31. Nobelist Bohr : NIELS
Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist, who won his 1922 Nobel Prize for his work on quantum mechanics and atomic structure. Later in his life, Bohr was part of the team working on the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bomb. Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein had a series of public debates and disputes in the twenties and thirties. Although the two respected each other very highly, they held very different views on quantum theory, different views on the laws of physics at the atomic level. The passage of time has shown that Bohr won out in those debates.
36. Soccer deadlock breaker : EXTRA TIME
Soccer (also known as “association football”) is the most popular sport in the world. The term “association football” was introduced in 1863 in England, with the name chosen to distinguish the sport from rugby football. The term “soccer” started to appear about 20 years later in Oxford, as an abbreviation for “association”.
39. “Bad” cholesterol, initially : LDL
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is one of the compounds responsible for transporting fats around the body. When LDL is combined with cholesterol it can be referred to as “bad cholesterol”. This is because LDL actually transports cholesterol into the inner walls of blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis.
41. Battery-free calculators : ABACI
The abacus (plural “abaci”) was used as a counting frame long before man had invented a numbering system. It is a remarkable invention, particularly when one notes that abaci are still widely used today across Africa and Asia.
42. Mama bear, in Chihuahua : OSA
In Spanish, “osa” is a female bear, and “oso” is a male. An “oso” might be found in “un zoológico” (a zoo).
The city of Chihuahua is the capital of the Mexican state of the same name. The city was founded in 1709 by Spanish explorers as a village called El Real de Minas de San Francisco de Cuéllar. However, the current name “Chihuahua” predates the Spanish conquest of Mexico, although the name wasn’t adopted until 1823.
45. Home to about 740 million : EUROPE
Here’s a list of the world’s continents by population, based on 2016 data:
- Asia: 4,440 million (60%)
- Africa: 1,230 million (16%)
- Europe: 740 million (10%)
- North America: 580 million (8%)
- South America: 420 million (6%)
- Australia: 40 million (1%)
- Antarctica: < 5,000
48. Christmas cupful : EGGNOG
It’s not really clear where the term “nog” (as in “eggnog”) comes from although it might derive from the word “noggin”, which was originally a small wooden cup that was long associated with alcoholic drinks.
51. Many a Sports Illustrated cover figure : STAR ATHLETE
“Sports Illustrated” is read by 23 million people every week, including a whopping 19% of adult males in the US. And that’s every week, not just the swimsuit issue …
57. Bottom : TUSH
“Tush”, a word for the backside, is an abbreviation of “tochus” that comes from the Yiddish “tokhes”.
64. “Game of Thrones,” for one : SAGA
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is a fantasy television drama that is adapted from a series of novels by George R. R. Martin called “A Song of Ice and Fire”. “Game of Thrones” is actually filmed in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland.
65. Architect Saarinen : EERO
Eero Saarinen was a Finnish American architect, renowned in this country for his unique designs for public buildings such as Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Dulles International Airport Terminal, and the TWA building at JFK. The list of his lesser-known, but still impressive, works includes several buildings erected on academic campuses. For example, the Chapel and Kresge Auditorium on the MIT campus, the Emma Hartman Noyes House at Vassar College, the Law School building at the University of Chicago, and Yale’s David S. Ingalls Rink.
2. French city on the Rhone : AVIGNON
Avignon is a city in the southeast of France on the Rhône river. Avignon is sometimes called the “City of Popes” as it was home to seven popes during the Catholic schism from 1309 to 1423.
8. Three-horse vehicle : TROIKA
“Troika” is a Russian word meaning “set of three”. “Troika” can apply to a sled or carriage drawn by three horses, or to a folk dance between one man and two women. The term might also apply to a triumvirate of political leaders.
9. “__ Song”: Taylor Swift hit : OUR
“Our Song” is a song recorded by Taylor Swift in 2006 that Swift wrote during her freshman year for a high school talent show.
10. Satellite service for road trips : XM RADIO
XM Satellite Radio used to be in competition with Sirius Satellite Radio but the FCC allowed the two companies to merge in 2008 forming Sirius XM Radio.
15. Fox’s “X-Files” partner : DANA
“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.
19. Tic __: mints : TACS
Tic Tacs aren’t American candy (as I always mistakenly believed). Tic Tacs are made by the Italian company Ferrero, and were introduced in 1969.
21. Borough bordering Yonkers : BRONX
The New York City borough known as the Bronx takes its name from the Bronx River that runs through it. The river was named after Jonas Bronck, an early immigrant to the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Bronck’s farm gave rise to the name “Broncksland” and “Bronck’s River”.
The city of Yonkers is built on land that was granted to Adriaen van de Donck in 1645. Van der Donck was known by locals as the “young gentleman” or “Johnkeer” in Dutch. It is the word “Jonkheer” that gives us the name “Yonkers”.
24. Wire service co. : UPI
Founded in 1958, United Press International (UPI) used to be one of the biggest news agencies in the world, sending out news by wire to the major newspapers. UPI ran into trouble with the change in media formats at the end of the twentieth century and lost many of its clients as the afternoon newspapers shut down due to the advent of television news. UPI, which once employed thousands, still exists today but with just a handful of employees.
34. Metro stop: Abbr. : STA
36. Symphonic rock gp. : ELO
The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) is a symphonic rock group from the north of England.
37. “Law & Order: SVU” actor : ICE T
Rapper Ice-T must be sick of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles (I know I am!). Ice-T has been interested in acting for decades and made his film debut in the 1984 movie about breakdancing called “Breakin’”. He has also played Detective Fin Tutuola in the TV show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” since the year 2000.
“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a spin-off from the TV crime drama “Law & Order”. “SVU” has been on the air since 1999, and is set in New York City. Interestingly (to me), there is a very successful Russian adaptation of the show that is set in Moscow.
39. Ambien alternative : LUNESTA
Lunesta is a Sunovion-owned brand name for the hypnotic drug eszopiclone that can be prescribed for insomnia.
Ambien is a brand name for the prescription drug zolpidem. I have a friend who used to swear by Ambien for helping cope with jet lag. I once had to deal with jet lag almost monthly and swear by the diet supplement melatonin, which you can buy over the counter here in the US. But, I am no doctor so don’t listen to anything I say …
46. Bible book with 150 poems : PSALMS
The Greek word “psalmoi” originally meant “songs sung to a harp”, and gave us the word “psalms”. In the Jewish and Western Christian traditions, the Book of Psalms contains 150 individual psalms, divided into five sections.
49. Muscles strengthened by lunges : GLUTEI
There are three gluteal muscles in the human body, the largest of which is the gluteus maximus. It’s the gluteus maximus which really dictates the shape and size of the human buttocks. In evolutionary terms, the human “glutes” (also “glutei”) are larger than those in related species because they play a big role maintaining our erect posture.
60. Parlor art, for short : TAT
The word “tattoo” (often shortened to “tat”) was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word “tatau” into our “tattoo”. Tattoos are also sometimes referred to as “ink”.