Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers starts with a word used in placing a bet in a game of poker:
- 62A. “Care to wager?” … and a question answered, one way or the other, by the first words of the answers to starred clues : WANNA BET?
- 17A. *Pay for your online purchases, say : CHECK OUT
- 31A. *Skip work because of illness : CALL IN SICK
- 37A. *Cause a ruckus : RAISE CAIN
- 47A. *Go out of business : FOLD UP SHOP
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
4. Fave texting buds : BFFS
Best friend forever (BFF)
14. Gorilla, for one : APE
The gorilla is the largest primate still in existence, and is one of the nearest living species to humans. Molecular biology studies have shown that our nearest relatives are in fact the species in the genus Pan (the chimpanzee and the bonobo), which split from the human branch of the family 4-6 million years ago. Gorillas and humans diverged at a point about 7 million years ago. The term “gorilla” derives from the Greek “gorillai” meaning “tribe of hairy women”. Wow!
15. To whom Rick said, “We’ll always have Paris” : ILSA
I love the words of one critic describing the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman in the film “Casablanca” … “she paints his face with her eyes”. Wow!
20. Actress O’Donnell : ROSIE
We don’t get to see Rosie O’Donnell on the screen very much these days. She had a very successful chat show that ran from 1996 to 2002. My favorite performance of hers on the big screen is in a supporting role to Meg Ryan in the 1993 movie “Sleepless in Seattle”.
21. Caspian, e.g. : SEA
The Caspian Sea is a landlocked body of water lying between Asia and Europe. By some definitions, the Caspian is the largest lake on the planet. The name “Caspian” comes from the Caspi people who lived to the southwest of the sea in South Caucasus.
23. Nick and Nora’s dog : ASTA
Asta is the wonderful little dog in the superb “The Thin Man” series of films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles). In the original story by Dashiell Hammett, Asta was a female Schnauzer, but on screen Asta was played by a wire-haired fox terrier called “Skippy”. Skippy was also the dog in “Bringing up Baby” with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the one who kept stealing the dinosaur bone. Skippy retired in 1939, so Asta was played by other dogs in the remainder of “The Thin Man” films.
24. Ancients, for instance? : ANAGRAM
“Ancients” is an anagram of “instance”, and indeed of “canniest”.
29. White wine apéritif : KIR
Kir is a French cocktail, made by adding a teaspoon or so of creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) to a glass, and then topping it off with white wine. The drink is named after Felix Kir, the Mayor of Dijon in Burgundy, who used to offer the drink to his guests. My wife (expensive tastes!) is particularly fond of a variant called a Kir Royale, in which the white wine is replaced with champagne.
An apéritif is an alcoholic drink served before a meal, to stimulate the palate. A digestif is an alcoholic drink served after a meal, to aid digestion.
35. One to say “G’day” to : MATE
In Australia, one might say “G’day” to one’s mate/pal.
37. *Cause a ruckus : RAISE CAIN
As Cain was the first murderer according the Bible, he is associated with evil or trouble. The idiom “raise Cain” is the equivalent of “raise Hell” and “raise the Devil”. In all cases the meaning is to bring back evil or to cause trouble.
The word “ruckus” is used to mean a commotion, and has been around since the late 1800s. “Ruckus” is possibly a melding of the words “ruction” and “rumpus”.
50. Coin named for a continent : EURO
The continent of Europe was named for Europa, a Phoenician princess of Greek mythology.
51. ER staffers : RNS
One might find a registered nurse (RN) or a medical doctor (MD) in an emergency room (ER).
55. Sport shirt brand : IZOD
Jack Izod was a tailor of some repute over in England, producing shirts for King George V as well as other members of the Royal Family. As Izod was about to retire, he was approached for the use of his name by an American clothing manufacturer based in New York. The brand Izod of London was introduced to America in 1938.
59. Santa __ racetrack : ANITA
Santa Anita Park is a racetrack for horses located in Arcadia, California. The most famous races on the track’s calendar are the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap.
60. Tenor Enrico : CARUSO
Enrico Caruso was an Italian tenor from Naples, famous as one of the first opera singers to embrace the phonograph technology of the early 1900s. He made 290 recordings that were released between 1902 and 1920, and today they’re all available on CD or as digital downloads.
65. Tennis great Andre : AGASSI
Retired tennis professional Andre Agassi has been married to fellow player Steffi Graf since 2001. Agassi wrote an autobiography called “Open”, published in 2009. An amazing revelation in the book is that Agassi’s famous head of hair was actually a wig for much of his playing career. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to play tennis at his level with a rug stuck on?
66. Gung-ho : AVID
Kung ho is a Chinese expression meaning “work together, cooperate”. The anglicized version “gung ho” was adopted by a Major Evans Carlson as an expression of combined spirit for his 2nd Marine Raider Battalion during WWII. From there the term spread throughout the Marine Corps and back to America where it persists to this day.
67. __ Fáil: Irish coronation stone : LIA
The Lia Fáil is the coronation stone that is found on the Hill of Tara, the traditional seat of the High Kings of Ireland. “Lia Fáil” translates from Irish as “stone of destiny”.
68. Port on the Loire : NANTES
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 …
The Loire is the longest river in France. It is so long that it drains one-fifth of the nation’s land mass. The Loire rises in the southeast, in the Cevennes mountain range, then heads north then due west, emptying into the Bay of Biscay at the city of Nantes. The Loire Valley is home to some of France’s most famous wine production, and includes the wine regions of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Muscadet.
69. Dickens’ Uriah : HEEP
Uriah Heep is a sniveling insincere character in the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. The character is such a “yes man” that today, if we know someone who behaves the same way, then we might call that person a “Uriah Heep”.
70. Junior nav. officer : ENS
Ensign is (usually) the most junior rank of commissioned officer in the armed forces. The name comes from the tradition that the junior officer would be given the task of carrying the ensign flag.
1. Knot-tying art : MACRAME
Macramé is a way to make cloth that uses a knotting technique rather than weaving or knitting. Macramé was popularised at sea, where sailors would decorate the likes of knife handles, bottles and even parts of the ship.
2. Siri speaks on them : IPHONES
Siri is software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. You’ve probably seen the ads on television, with folks talking to their iPhones asking for information and responding with a voice. I hear that Google is a little scared by Siri, as Siri is non-visual. There’s no need to touch a screen or a keyboard to work with Siri, no opportunity to click on one of Google’s ads! By the way, voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri not that long ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.
4. Hog rider : BIKER
The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company was started up in the very early 1900s by two childhood friends, William Harley and Arthur Davidson, . Their first design was in effect an engine hooked up to a pedal bicycle, but the 116 cc cylinder capacity simply couldn’t generate enough power to get up the hills of their native city of Milwaukee. The pair came up with a redesigned model that had a cylinder capacity of 405 cc, which the partners built in a shed at the back of Davidson’s house. In 1906, the partners built their first factory, located where the company’s headquarters is to this day, on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Famously, Harley motorcycles are nicknamed “hogs”.
5. Perky spokeswoman in Progressive ads : FLO
Progressive is a popular auto insurance company, the one that uses the perky character named “Flo” as a spokeswoman. Flo is played by comedian and actress Stephanie Courtney.
6. Seminoles’ sch. : FSU
Florida State University (FSU) is located in Tallahassee, the state capital of Florida. The school’s athletic teams are known as the Seminoles (sometimes “the ‘Noles”). The team name was chosen in 1947 by the students in a vote, and alludes to the Seminole people who originally lived in the state. Most of the Seminole now live in Oklahoma, after their forced relocation by the US government in the 1840s.
7. Pre-coll. exams : SATS
Today the standardized test for admission to colleges is known as the SAT Reasoning Test, but it used to be called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, which led to the abbreviation SAT.
8. Jungle adventure : SAFARI
“Safari” is a Swahili word, meaning “journey” or “expedition”.
9. Approx. touchdown hour : ETA
Expected time of arrival (ETA)
10. Italian volcano : ETNA
Mt. Etna is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy. Mt Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-gauge railway, and two ski resorts.
25. Berry rich in antioxidants : ACAI
Açaí is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.
28. Broadway orphan : ANNIE
The Broadway musical “Annie” is produced in more than one version. There is an “Annie Jr.” that has been edited down to a shortened version more suitable for young performers and audiences. An even shorter version that lasts only 30 minutes is called “Annie KIDS”, and is meant for performers still in elementary school.
32. Parasite : LEECH
We are most familiar with medicinal leeches, which feed on the blood of mainly vertebrate animals. However, most leeches are predatory and swallow other invertebrates for food.
33. __ Andreas Fault : SAN
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.
35. “Don’t be a wimp!” : MAN UP!
Our term “wimp”, describing a “timid person”, probably is an alteration of “whimper”, the sound that such an individual might make.
41. Spokane school with a strong basketball program : GONZAGA
Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington was founded by Jesuits in 1887 to serve the local Native American community. The school is named for the Jesuit saint Aloysius Gonzaga.
46. Piano works : SONATAS
A cantata is a piece of music that is sung, as opposed to a sonata, which is a piece that is played on some instrument, often a piano. A sonatina is in effect a sonata that has been labelled as something lighter and shorter.
48. Regional dialect : PATOIS
“Patois” is a word that we imported from French, in which language it also means “native or local speech”.
49. __-Caps: candy : SNO
Sno-Caps are a brand of candy usually only available in movie theaters. Sno-caps have been around since the 1920s, would you believe?
50. Sicilian resort city : ENNA
The city of Enna sits very high up in the hills of Sicily, overlooking the whole island below. Enna is the capital of the province that bears its name, which is the highest province in the whole of Italy.
54. Food retailer named for two oceans : A AND P
The supermarket chain commonly known as A&P is more fully called the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. The company started out selling tea directly from plantations in China in 1859, and by cutting out the middleman became very successful selling tea at lower prices. A&P moved into groceries, still with the philosophy of undercutting prices, building large stores and even getting into legal trouble for using predatory pricing tactics. The company completely dominated the retail grocery market until competition ate into their share starting in the seventies.
56. Clean with Pledge : DUST
Pledge is a cleaning product that was introduced in 1958. It is primarily marketed as a dust remover.
63. Prop. often named for a state in Monopoly : AVE
The street names in the US version of Monopoly are locations in or around Atlantic City, New Jersey.
64. Nietzsche’s “never” : NIE
Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher. Not my cup of tea …