Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers all start with words that are synonyms, words that might be replaced with CLUB:
- 17A. Celebration with personnel : STAFF PARTY
- 29A. Hangman man, e.g. : STICK FIGURE
- 44A. React in the slightest way : BAT AN EYELID
- 60A. Hoarse-voiced “Maggie May” singer : ROD STEWART
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Joined, as a team of oxen : YOKED
A yoke is a wooden beam used between a pair of oxen so that they are forced to work together.
10. Pockmark, e.g. : SCAR
A “pock” is an eruptive mark on the skin, usually caused by an infectious disease. The Middle English plural form “pokkes” gave rise to our term “pox”.
14. Bacteria in rare meat, maybe : E COLI
Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.
19. Like certain inappropriate remarks : UN-PC
To be “un-PC” is to be politically incorrect, not be politically correct (PC).
20. __ Destiny: 19th-century U.S. doctrine : MANIFEST
Manifest Destiny was the belief expressed in the 19th century that the United States was “destined” to expand right across North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
21. Television host : EMCEE
The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism standing for Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.
22. Cloister members : NUNS
Cloisters are usually such beautifully peaceful areas. They are found as part of religious buildings in particular. Cloisters are rectangular open spaces surrounded by covered walkways that are attached to other structures. The use of the term has evolved to also describe a monastery or convent.
23. Title for Elton John : SIR
Elton John’s real name is Reginald Dwight. Sir Elton was knighted in 1998, not for his music per se, but for his charitable work. He founded his own Elton John AIDS Foundation back in 1992.
29. Hangman man, e.g. : STICK FIGURE
The word-guessing game called Hangman seems to have been played first in Victorian England. At one time it was known as “Birds, Beasts and Fishes” as the words to be guessed had to be types of animal.
44. React in the slightest way : BAT AN EYELID
At least as far back as the 1800s, the term “batting” was used in falconry to describe the fluttering of a hawk’s wings while on a perch or a fist, as if the bird intended to fly away. The usage of “batting” extended to the fluttering of a human’s eyelids, giving us the expressions “batting an eye” and “batting an eyelid”.
48. Born, on society pages : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.
49. Israeli weapon : UZI
The first Uzi submachine gun was designed in the late 1940s by Major Uziel “Uzi” Gal of the Israel Defense Forces, who gave his name to the gun.
50. Thurman of “Gattaca” : UMA
“Gattaca” is a science fiction movie starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman that was released in 1997. Set in the not-too-distant future, the film describes a society in which potential children are preselected so that they inherit the most desirable traits from their parents. The title “Gattaca” is the space agency featured in the storyline. I saw this one relatively recently, and found it very absorbing …
55. Says over : ITERATES
The verb “to iterate” means to repeat over again. The verb “reiterate” means the same thing. One might suspect that “reiterate” is one of those words that has crept into the language due to repeated (reiterated?!) misuse. Well, that’s not quite the case, but close. Back in the 1400s, “iterate” meant “repeat”, and “reiterate” meant “repeat again and again”. We’ve lost the distinction between those two definitions over time.
60. Hoarse-voiced “Maggie May” singer : ROD STEWART
The English singer Rod Stewart first achieved success with the Jeff Beck Group in the late sixties before launching a solo career while recording with a new lineup called Faces. Stewart is an ardent soccer fan, and actually supports the Scottish national team (Rod’s father was Scottish). Stewart plays the game himself, playing for a team called the LA Exiles along with a few other celebrities. He even kicks autographed soccer balls into the audience at his concerts.
“Maggie May” is a wonderful 1971 song recorded and co-written by Rod Stewart. Stewart tells us that the story told in “Maggie May” is basically true, and was inspired by the first woman with whom Stewart had a relationship, at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival in 1961.
63. Norway’s capital : OSLO
Oslo is the capital of Norway. The city of Oslo burns trash to fuel half of its buildings, including all of its schools. The problem faced by the city is that it doesn’t generate enough trash. So, Oslo imports trash from Sweden, England and Ireland, and is now looking to import some American trash too.
65. Cut with a beam : LASE
The term “laser” comes is an acronym, “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” (LASER). It has been pointed out that a more precise name for laser technology is “Light Oscillation by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”, but the resulting acronym isn’t quite so appealing, namely LOSER!
66. Complaint : BEEF
A “beef” is a complaint or a grievance. It’s not quite clear how “beef” came to have this meaning, but one suggestion is that derives from the habit of soldiers at the end of the 1800s complaining about the quality or availability of beef in their rations.
3. Zen paradox : KOAN
The concept of “koan” appears in the Zen Buddhist tradition. A koan is a story, question or perhaps a statement that is used as an aid to meditation. It often takes the form of a problem or riddle that has no logical solution and is intended to help the meditator break free of reason and develop intuition.
4. Spritelike : ELFIN
Something “elfin” or “fay” is like an elf or a fairy.
6. Court 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?
8. Muesli morsel : OAT
“Muesli” is a Swiss-German term describing a breakfast serving of oats, nuts, fruit and milk. “Muesli” is a diminutive of the German word “Mues” meaning “puree”. Delicious …
13. Draw back, as one’s hairline : RECEDE
I wouldn’t know …
21. Buffalo’s lake : ERIE
Buffalo is the second most-populous city in the state of New York. The city takes its name from Buffalo Creek that runs through the metropolis (although the waterway is called Buffalo River within the city). The source of the name Buffalo Creek is the subject of much speculation, but one thing is clear, there were never any bison in the area.
27. Comic/writer Schumer : AMY
Amy Schumer is a stand-up comedian, and an alumna of the reality TV show “Last Comic Standing”, in which she placed fourth. Schumer now has her own comedy series “Inside Amy Schumer”, which airs on Comedy Central. Amy is a first cousin once removed of Chuck Schumer, the senior US Senator from New York.
33. Woman seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan : LEDA
In Greek mythology, Leda was the beautiful Queen of Sparta who was seduced by Zeus when he took the form of a swan. Leda produced two eggs from the union. One egg hatched into the beautiful Helen, later to be known as Helen of Troy and over whom was fought the Trojan War. The other egg hatched into the twins Castor and Pollux. Castor and Pollux had different fathers according to the myth. Pollux was the son of Zeus and was immortal, while Castor was the son of Leda’s earthly husband, and so he was a mortal. In the world of the arts, William Butler Yeats wrote a famous sonnet called “Leda and the Swan” in 1924, and Peter Paul Rubens made a copy of a now-lost painting called “Leda and the Swan” by Michelangelo.
40. Nice summer? : ETE
In French, the season of “été” (summer) starts in “juin” (June).
The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera.
42. Bearded beasts : GNUS
A gnu is also known as a wildebeest, an antelope native to Africa. Wildebeest is actually the Dutch word for “wild beast”.
43. 221B Baker Street, e.g. : ADDRESS
In the “Sherlock Holmes” stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous detective has lodgings at 221b Baker Street in London. Holmes shares rooms with his friend and chronicler Dr. Watson. The landlady in the residence is the amiable Mrs. Hudson.
45. Hank who voices some “Simpsons” characters : AZARIA
Hank Azaria is one of my favorite American actors, someone who I think can really expertly portray a vast array of characters. I can’t stand “The Simpsons” mind you, a show to which Azaria is inextricably linked, but if you look at his role in “The Birdcage” as a flamboyant gay houseboy, and his role in “Shattered Glass” as a stoic magazine editor, you’ll get a taste for Azaria’s extensive range. Azaria was married to actress Helen Hunt, although it was only for 17 months.
52. Escorted to the penthouse, say : SAW UP
Originally, the term “penthouse” was used to describe a modest building attached to a main structure. In fact, in centuries past, the manger in which Jesus was born was often referred to as a penthouse. The modern, more luxurious connotation dates back to the early twenties.
54. Latin being : ESSE
“Esse” is the Latin for “to be”. “Sum” means “I am” and “erat” means “he, she was”.
55. Eric of “Monty Python” : IDLE
Eric Idle is one of the founding members of the Monty Python team. Idle was very much the musician of the bunch, and is an accomplished guitarist. If you’ve seen the Monty Python film “The Life of Brian”, you might remember the closing number “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. It was sung by Idle, and was indeed written by him. That song made it to number 3 in the UK charts in 1991.
56. Hawaiian root : TARO
The corm of some taro plants is used to make poi, the traditional Hawaiian dish (that I think tastes horrible). When a taro plant is grown as an ornamental, it is often called Elephant Ears due to the shape of its large leaves.
57. “And thus … ” : ERGO
Ergo is the Latin word for “hence, therefore”.
58. WWII weapon : STEN
The STEN gun is an iconic armament that was used by the British military. The name STEN is an acronym. The S and the T comes from the name of the gun’s designers, Shepherd and Turpin. The EN comes from the Enfield brand name, which in turn comes from the Enfield location where the guns were manufactured for the Royal Small Arms Factory, an enterprise owned by the British government.
61. Suffix with rib- or lact- : -OSE
Ribose is a so called “simple sugar”, a monosaccharide. Ribose is the key component in RNA that differentiates it from DNA.
The sugar known as lactose is a disaccharide, comprising a molecule of galactose combined with a molecule of glucose. Lactose is a major component in milk, and it is broken down in the body by an enzyme called lactase. The production of lactase used to diminish over time in humans, as babies stopped nursing and transitioned to solid food. Many human populations have evolved to maintain lactose production throughout life, in response to the inclusion of animal milk in the diet. Individuals and populations that do not have the genes enabling lifelong production of lactase are said to be lactose intolerant.