Edited by: Rich Norris
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There’s “no W here” in the themed answers today. Each is a common phrase with a W dropped:
- 23A. Black kitten crossing your path? : LITTLE OMEN (from “Little Women”)
- 34A. Transgressions timeline? : THE AGES OF SIN (from “the wages of sin”)
- 49A. Matching food containers? : IDENTICAL TINS (from “identical twins”)
- 64A. New England proceedings concerning allergic reactions? : SALEM ITCH TRIALS (from “Salem witch trials”)
- 86A. Cheating millionaire? : HEEL OF FORTUNE (from “Wheel of Fortune”)
- 99A. Tony Soprano’s quilt? : DON COMFORTER (from “down comforter”)
- 114A. Wrigley’s in-house hip-hop group? : GUM RAPPERS (from “gum wrappers”)
Bill’s errors: 2
- RICOLA (RC Cola)
- LIRR (LCRR!!!)
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Where there’s smoke : FLUE
The flue in a chimney is a duct that conveys exhaust gases from a fire to the outdoors. An important feature of a flue is that its opening is adjustable. When starting a fire, the flue should be wide open, maximizing airflow to get help ignition.
5. Happy, in Juárez : FELIZ
The Mexican city sitting across the border from El Paso is more correctly called Ciudad Juárez. Juárez used to be called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). It was to be the younger settlement on the northern side of the Rio Grande which would retain the “El Paso” name.
19. Ninth Greek letter : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.
20. Girl who obeyed 4-Down : ALICE
(4D. Fictional words written in currants : EAT ME)
Lewis Carroll wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in 1865, and the sequel called “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” in 1871. Because in the second adventure Alice went through a looking glass, the themes were deliberately chosen to be mirror images of the themes in “Wonderland”. Whereas “Wonderland” begins indoors, is set in summer, and uses playing card imagery, “Looking Glass” begins out of doors, is set in winter and uses images from the game of chess.
21. Courtier in “Hamlet” : OSRIC
In William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, Osric is the courtier that Claudius dispatches to invite Hamlet to participate in a duel.
22. Gem for some Libras : OPAL
Here is the “official” list of birthstones by month, that we tend to use today:
- January: Garnet
- February: Amethyst
- March: Bloodstone or Aquamarine
- April: Diamond
- May: Emerald
- June: Pearl or Moonstone
- July: Ruby
- August: Sardonyx or Peridot
- September: Sapphire or Lapis Lazuli
- October: Opal or Pink Tourmaline
- November: Topaz or Citrine
- December: Turquoise or Zircon (also now, Tanzanite)
The constellation of Libra is named for the scales held by the goddess of justice. Libra is the only sign of the zodiac that isn’t named for a living creature.
23. Black kitten crossing your path? : LITTLE OMEN (from “Little Women”)
“Little Women” is a novel written by American author Louisa May Alcott. The quartet of little women is Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March. Jo is a tomboy and the main character in the story, and is based on Alcott herself.
26. Old TV knob : VERT
Remember the “horizontal hold” (HOR) and “vertical hold” (VER) on old TV sets? Our kids have no idea what we had to go through …
30. Princess Peach creator : NINTENDO
Princess Peach is the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom in Nintendo’s “Mario” universe. Princess Peach is Mario’s love interest.
34. Transgressions timeline? : THE AGES OF SIN (from “the wages of sin”)
The consequences of evildoing might be described as “the wages of sin”. The phrase comes from the Epistle to the Romans in the Christian New Testament.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
36. Villain Luthor : LEX
Lex Luthor is the arch-nemesis of Superman in comics. Luthor has been portrayed in a number of guises in the comic world as well in movies and on the small screen. For example, he appeared as Atom Man in the 1950 film series “Atom Man vs. Superman”, and was played by actor Lyle Talbot, opposite Kirk Alyn’s Superman.
37. “Boston Legal” co-star : SHATNER
William Shatner is a Canadian actor, famous for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” television series. Shatner was trained as a classical Shakespearean actor, and appeared on stage in many of the Bard’s works early in his career. While playing the Kirk character, he developed a reputation for over-acting, really emphasizing some words in a speech and using an excessive number of pauses. He gave his name to a word “shatneresque”, which describes such a style.
“Boston Legal” is a comedy drama TV series that originally aired from 2004 until 2008. Although it had a pretty good cast (led by James Spader, Candice Bergen and William Shatner), I’ve never watched the show. “Boston Legal” is a spin-off of “The Practice”. Fans of British legal drama might be interested to learn that one of the consultant for the series was John Mortimer, creator of “Rumpole of the Bailey”.
38. Name change indicator : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.
43. Superfund agcy. : EPA
The 1980 law called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is more usually referred to as “Superfund”. Superfund gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to compel polluters to clean up contaminated sites.
56. Angler’s shout : GOT ONE!
We use the verb “to angle” to mean “to fish” because “angel” was an Old English word for a hook.
59. Straight : HETERO
“Heterosexuality” is sexual attraction between persons of the opposite gender. The prefix “hetero-” comes from the Greek “heteros” meaning “different, other”.
60. Biblical prophet : AMOS
Amos is one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible.
62. Medium power? : ESP
Extrasensory perception (ESP)
63. It feels like forever : AEON
Geological time is divided into a number of units of varying lengths. These are, starting from the largest:
- eon (also “aeon”)
64. New England proceedings concerning allergic reactions? : SALEM ITCH TRIALS (from “Salem witch trials”)
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings held in 1692 and 1693 in colonial Massachusetts, most famously in Salem. As a result of mass hysteria, twenty people were convicted of practicing witchcraft and were executed. The events were deemed to be a terrible injustice almost immediately. As early as 1696, there was a legal ruling by the Massachusetts General Court that referred to the outcome of the trials as a tragedy. In 2001, the massachusetts legislature officially exonerated all of those convicted.
69. Indication to stop playing : REST
That would be the musical direction.
74. Brand whose ads feature alpenhorns : RICOLA
Ricola is a Swiss brand of cough drops and breath mints.
78. Pipe plastic : PVC
PVC is polyvinyl chloride, the third most widely produced plastic in the world (after polyethylene and polypropylene). PVC is resistant to corrosion from biological and chemical agents making it a favored choice these days for sewage lines, replacing the traditional metal materials. It is so chemically stable, that it will be around a long, long time …
79. Arms treaty subjects, briefly : N-TESTS
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.
82. 2001 boxing biopic : ALI
“Ali” is a 2001 biographical movie about Muhammad Ali, with Will Smith in the title role. Among other things, the film is noted for its realistic fight scenes. The scenes were realistic because Smith was really being hit, as hard as his opponents could manage.
86. Cheating millionaire? : HEEL OF FORTUNE (from “Wheel of Fortune”)
Contestants have been spinning the “Wheel of Fortune” since the game show first aired in 1975.
89. Doc’s pal : SLEEPY
In the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale called “Snow White”, the seven dwarfs were not given any names. The names were added for the 1937 classic Disney film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The seven dwarfs are:
- Doc (the leader of the group)
- Grumpy (that would be me, according to my wife …)
91. TV’s “Science Guy” : NYE
That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on PBS for four years from 1993-97.
96. Gardner of old Hollywood : AVA
Ava Gardner is noted for her association with some big movies, but also for her association with some big names when it came to the men in her life. In the world of film, she appeared in the likes of “Mogambo” (1953), “On the Beach” (1959), “The Night of the Iguana” (1964) and “Earthquake” (1974). The men in her life included husbands Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra. After her marriages had failed (and perhaps before!) she had long-term relationships with Howard Hughes and bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin whom she met through her friend Ernest Hemingway.
99. Tony Soprano’s quilt? : DON COMFORTER (from “down comforter”)
“The Sopranos” is an outstanding television drama that was made by HBO and is a story about Italian-American mobsters in New Jersey. “The Sopranos” is regularly cited as one of the best TV series of all time. It’s “must see TV” …
111. First century Roman emperor : OTHO
Otho was Emperor of Rome for only three months, before he committed suicide.
112. When “eye of newt” is mentioned in “Macbeth” : ACT IV
The witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” have some lovely lines as they boil up and evil brew and cast a spell:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
114. Wrigley’s in-house hip-hop group? : GUM RAPPERS (from “gum wrappers”)
The Wrigley Company is the largest manufacturer of chewing gum in the world. Wrigley’s was founded in 1891 in Chicago by William Wrigley, Jr. to sell scouring soap. Wrigley switched to baking powder, and then began to offering two packs of gum as an incentive to buy a can of baking powder. The gum turned out to be more popular than the baking powder.
117. Feudal lord : LIEGE
A liege was a feudal lord, one to whom service or allegiance was owed under feudal law. “Liege” was also the term used for one who owed allegiance or service to a lord. Very confusing …
118. Two-time N.L. batting champ Lefty : O’DOUL
Lefty O’Doul was a baseball player and manager from San Francisco. O’Doul was instrumental in spreading the popularity of the sport in Japan both before and after WWII. In fact, the Tokyo Giants were named by O’Doul, a reference to the New York Giants franchise with whom he spent much of his playing career. O’Doul also owned a restaurant in San Francisco that bears his name and which still operates today (near Union Square). There’s a bridge near AT&T Park, the Giant’s relatively new ballpark, that’s called Lefty O’Doul Bridge.
119. __ facto : IPSO
“Ipso facto” is Latin, meaning “by the fact itself”. Ipso facto describes something that is a direct consequence of particular act, as opposed to something that is the result of some subsequent event. For example, my father was born in Dublin and was an Irish citizen ipso facto. My son was born in California and is an Irish citizen by virtue of being the son of an Irish citizen (“not” ipso facto).
123. IRS agents : T-MEN
A T-man is a law-enforcement agent of the US Treasury (T is for Treasury).
2. Chateau-dotted valley : LOIRE
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. Perhaps equally famous are the beautiful Châteaux of the Loire Valley, magnificent edifices built by members of the French royalty during the Renaissance.
4. Fictional words written in currants : EAT ME
In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, Alice follows the white rabbit down a rabbit hole and finds a bottle labelled “DRINK ME”. When she drinks the contents, it causes her to shrink. She also sees a cake adorned with the words “EAT ME” written using currants, and when she eats the cake she grows so big she finds it hard to stand up. After eating the cake, she utters the famous words, “Curiouser and curiouser”.
5. Spenser’s “The __ Queene” : FAERIE
“The Faerie Queene” is an epic poem by Edmund Spenser. It is one of the longest poems written in the English language.
6. “Don’t Bring Me Down” gp. : ELO
“Don’t Bring Me Down” was the biggest hit the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) had in the US, and was dedicated to the NASA’s Skylab which reentered the earth’s orbit in the same year the song was released, in 1979.
9. Apex : ZENITH
The nadir is the direction pointing immediately below a particular location (through to the other side of the Earth for example). The opposite direction, that pointing immediately above, is called the zenith. We use the terms “nadir” and “zenith” figuratively to mean the low and high points in a person’s fortunes.
11. Camel debris : ASH
The advertising mascot for Camel cigarettes was officially known as “Old Joe”, but was popularly known as “Joe Camel”. Joe originated in the seventies, in an advertising campaign that ran only in Europe where sometimes he was depicted wearing a French Foreign Legion cap. He was imported to the US in 1988 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Camel brand. The big controversy surrounding the use of the camel character was that a 1991 study found that 5-6 year old children could recognize Joe Camel more readily than either Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone. Also, soon after Old Joe was introduced in the US, the Camel brand’s share of the illegal market to underage smokers went up from 1% to just under 33%.
16. “Let me in,” facetiously : OPEN SESAME
In the folk tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, the title character is a poor woodcutter who discovers the magic words “open sesame” that open the thieves’ den.
17. Restaurateur with an honorary Tony : SARDI
Sardi’s is a renowned restaurant in the Theater District of Manhattan that was opened in 1927 by Italian immigrant Vincent Sardi, Sr. Sardi’s is famous for attracting celebrities who pose for caricatures that are then displayed on the restaurant’s walls. After the death of actress and director Antoinette Perry in 1946, her friend and partner Brock Pemberton was having lunch at Sardi’s and came up with idea of a theater award that could be presented in Perry’s honor. The award was to be called the Tony Award. In fact, Vincent Sardi, Sr. was presented with a special Tony at the first award ceremony, held in 1947.
18. “The Lion King” co-composer John : ELTON
Elton John won the 1995 Best Original Song Oscar for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King”. He won the 2000 Best Original Musical Score Tony Award for the musical “Aida”, which he wrote with Tim Rice.
29. Puppeteer Lewis : SHARI
Shari Lewis was the original puppeteer behind the PBS children’s show “Lamb Chop”. After Shari Lewis died in 1998, her daughter Mallory took over the role of puppeteer on the show.
31. Marquee time : TONITE
A marquee is a large sign that is placed over the entrance to a theater. The marquee usually displays the names of the film or play currently showing, as well as the principal actors performing.
33. Biz bigwig : EXEC
A “bigwig” is someone important. The use of the term harks back to the days when men of authority and rank wore big wigs.
37. Hero material? : SALAMI
Salame (note the “e” at the end) is an Italian sausage that is traditionally associated with the peasant classes. The meat in the sausage is preserved with salt, and it can be hung and stored for as long as ten years. The name “salame” comes from “sale”, the Italian word for salt, and “-ame”, a suffix indicating a collective noun. Our English word “salami” is actually the Italian plural for “salame”.
41. Like a pin? : NEAT
Apparently the idiom “neat as a pin” arose in the early 1800s, with the advent of mass production. Up until that time, pins were handmade and so were irregular and relatively flawed. Mass-produced pins were uniform and of consistent quality. So, something that was uniform and of consistent quality came to be described as “neat as a pin”.
42. Get some Intel, say : INVEST
Intel is the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor chips. The company was founded in 1968, and the name “Intel” is a derived from the term “int(egrated) el(ectronics)”. Recognition of the Intel brand has been greatly helped by the success of the “Intel Inside” campaign that started back in 1991.
44. Undercover attire? : PAJAMAS
Our word “pajamas” (“PJs” for short) comes to us from the Indian subcontinent, where “pai jamahs” were loose fitting pants tied at the waist and worn at night by locals and ultimately by the Europeans living there. And “pajamas” is another of those words that I had to learn to spell differently when I came to America. In the British Isles the spelling is “pyjamas”.
46. Longtime “SNL” announcer : DON PARDO
Don Pardo’s distinctive voice announced the show “Saturday Night Live, and did so from the premiere episode that aired in 1975 until his death in 2014. Pardo was the announcer for all the SNL shows except for the 1981-82 season. Pardo retired from NBC in 2004 and moved to Tucson, Arizona, but the producers of “Saturday Night Live” persuaded him to stay on as announcer for their show. He had a lifetime contract, one of only two people ever to have such an arrangement with NBC (the other was Bob Hope!). Pardo celebrated his 90th birthday on air, blowing out candles on his birthday cake at the end of an episode of SNL.
47. Freezer aisle breakfast brand : EGGO
Eggo is the brand name of a line of frozen waffles made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced the original name chosen, which was “Froffles”, created by melding “frozen” and “waffles”.
48. “Jurassic Park” co-star : DERN
The actress Laura Dern is the daughter of the actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Among her many notable roles, Laura played the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the 2008 movie “Recount”, and Dr. Ellie Sattler in the 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park”.
53. Mozart’s “__ fan tutte” : COSI
Mozart’s comic opera “Così fan tutte” is also known in English as “The School for Lovers”. The literal translation of the opera’s title is “Thus do all (women)”, or “Women are like that”.
63. Natty neckwear : ASCOTS
An Ascot tie is a horrible-looking (I think!), wide tie that narrows at the neck, which these days is only really worn at weddings. The tie takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race at which punters still turn up in formal wear at Ascot Racecourse in England.
A natty dresser is one who dresses smartly. The term may come from the Middle English “net” meaning “fine, elegant”, in which case it shares its etymology with the word “neat”.
67. Raptor features : TALONS
“Raptor” is a generic term for a bird of prey, one that has talons to grip its victims.
68. NYC line to the Hamptons : LIRR
The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the commuter rail service that runs all over Long Island, New York with 124 stations and 700 miles of track. More people use the LIRR than any other commuter railroad in the US. It is also the only commuter railroad in the country that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hamptons are a group of villages on the South Fork of Long Island, New York. The area has been a fashionable summer resort and home to many members of New York’s high society since the late 1800s. “The Hamptons” name comes from the main town of Southampton and East Hampton. The term “hampton” has been used for centuries in England to mean “little town” or “hamlet”.
69. Record speeds, for short : RPMS
Revolutions per minute (rpm)
75. “Movin’ __”: “The Jeffersons” theme : ON UP
“Movin’ On Up” is the theme song for “The Jeffersons” sitcom that was first broadcast in the seventies and eighties.
The very popular sitcom called “The Jeffersons” ran from 1975 until it came to an abrupt end in 1985. CBS cancelled the show without even allowing a series finale that “wrapped things up”. In fact the lead actor, Sherman Hemsley, first learned of the show’s cancellation in the newspaper.
76. Contemporary of Ella : LENA
Lena Horne was an American jazz singer, actress, dancer and civil rights activist. Horne started out her career as a nightclub singer and then began to get some meaty acting roles in Hollywood. However, she ended up on the blacklist during the McCarthy Era for expressing left wing political views. One of Horne’s starring roles was in the 1943 movie “Stormy Weather” for which she also performed the title song.
Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song”, had a hard and tough upbringing. She was raised by her mother alone in Yonkers, New York. Her mother died while Ella was still a schoolgirl, and around that time the young girl became less interested in her education. She fell in with a bad crowd, even working as a lookout for a bordello and as a Mafia numbers runner. She ended up in reform school, from which she escaped, and found herself homeless and living on the streets for a while. Somehow Fitzgerald managed to get herself a spot singing in the Apollo Theater in Harlem. From there her career took off and as they say, the rest is history.
77. Mideast seaport : ADEN
Aden is a seaport in Yemen, located on the Gulf of Aden by the eastern approach to the Red Sea. Aden has a long history of British rule, from 1838 until a very messy withdrawal in 1967. A native of Aden is known as an Adeni. Some believe that Cain and Abel are buried in the city.
87. Ruhr Valley city : ESSEN
Essen is a large industrial city located on the River Ruhr in western Germany.
94. Union union : AFL-CIO
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded in 1886, making it one of the first federations of unions in the country. Over time the AFL became dominated by craft unions, unions representing skilled workers of particular disciplines. In the early thirties, John L. Lewis led a movement within the AFL to organize workers by industry, believing this would be more effective for the members. But the craft unions refused to budge, so Lewis set up a rival federation of unions in 1932, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The two federations became bitter rivals for over two decades until finally merging in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO.
95. Christopher Paolini fantasy best-seller : ERAGON
Christopher Paolini began writing his best-selling fantasy story “Eragon” at the age of 15. Christopher’s parents, when they read the final version two years later, they decided to self-publish it and support Christopher as he toured the US promoting the novel. It was eventually republished by Alfred A. Knopf in 2003, and became the second-best-selling children’s paperback of 2005. The book was adapted for the big screen in 2006. I’d call that a success story …
105. Like the mythological Aesir-Vanir War : NORSE
The gods and goddesses of Norse mythology generally belong to either the Aesir tribe or the Vanir tribe. Most of the Norse gods with which we are familiar belong to Aesir, including Odin, Thor, Frigg and Tyr. Examples of the Vanir gods are Freya and Njord. The Aesir live in Asgard, and the Vanir in Vanaheim. The Aesir and Vanir eventually united into one pantheon after the Aesir-Vanir War.
106. HP competitor : EPSON
Seiko Epson is a Japanese company, one of the largest manufacturers of printers in the world. The company has its roots in the watch business, roots that go back to 1942. Seiko was chosen as the official timekeeper for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and was asked to supply a timer that produced a printed record. This request brought Seiko into the business of printer production. The company developed the world’s first mini-printer for the 1964 Games and called it EP-101 (EP standing for Electronic Printer). In 1975 Seiko introduced the next generation of EP printers which was called EPSON, from “SON of EP”. Cute, huh?
109. Hosiery shade : NUDE
The word “hose” meaning a “covering for the leg” has the same roots as the contemporary German word “Hose” meaning “trousers, pants”.
113. Supermarket chain with a red-and-white logo : IGA
IGA stands for Independent Grocers Alliance, a chain of supermarkets that extends right around the world. IGA’s headquarters is in Chicago. The company uses the slogan “Hometown Proud Supermarkets”.