Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers ends with something that is often SKIPPED:
- 50D. “Never mind” … or what one might do with the last word of 17-, 35-, 43- and 62-Across : SKIP IT
- 17A. Of the poorest quality : THIRD CLASS (giving “skip class”)
- 35A. Novel or short story, say : LITERARY WORK (giving “skip work”)
- 43A. Fashionable dude : MAN ABOUT TOWN (giving “skip town”)
- 62A. Well-hit line drive, in baseball jargon : FROZEN ROPE (giving “skip rope”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
14. California wine valley : NAPA
The first commercial winery in Napa Valley, California was established way back in 1858. However, premium wine production only dates back to the 1960s, with the region really hitting the big time after its success at the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. The story of that famous blind wine tasting is told in the entertaining 2008 film “Bottle Shock”.
19. The “I” in MIT: Abbr. : INST
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 1861 and first offered classes in 1865, in the Mercantile building in Boston. Today’s magnificent campus on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge opened in 1916.
21. Communication syst. for the hearing-impaired : ASL
It’s really quite unfortunate that American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one cannot understand someone signing in the other.
25. Heart exam: Abbr. : ECG
An EKG measures electrical activity in the heart. Back in my homeland of Ireland, an EKG is known as an ECG (for electrocardiogram). We use the German name in the US, Elektrokardiogramm, giving us EKG. Apparently the abbreviation EKG is preferred as ECG might be confused (if poorly handwritten, I guess) with EEG, the abbreviation for an electroencephalogram.
28. One of the five basic tastes : UMAMI
Umami is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. “Umami” is a Japanese word used to describe “a pleasant savory taste”. Umami was proposed as a basic taste in 1908, but it wasn’t until 1985 that the scientific community finally accepted it as such.
30. Inventor Howe : ELIAS
Elias Howe was an American inventor. Howe wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of a sewing machine, but he was the first to develop one that was functional.
32. River through southern Russia : URAL
The Ural River rises in the Ural Mountains in Russia and flows for half its length through Russian territory until it crosses the border into Kazakhstan, finally emptying into the Caspian Sea.
35. Novel or short story, say : LITERARY WORK (giving “skip work”)
Our word “novel”, used for a lengthy work of fiction, comes from the Latin “novella” meaning “new things”.
41. Typically reddish-brown ape : ORANG
Orangutans (also “orangs”) are arboreal creatures, in fact the largest arboreal animals known to man. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, living in the rain forests. Like most species in rain forests these days, orangutans are endangered, with only two species surviving. The word “orangutan” is Malay, meaning “man of the forest”.
46. “The A-Team” muscleman : MR T
Mr. T’s real name is Laurence Tero Tureaud. Mr. T is famous for many things, including the wearing of excessive amounts of jewelry. He started this habit when he was working as a bouncer, wearing jewelry items that had been left behind by customers at a nightclub so that the items might be recognized and claimed. It was also as a bouncer that he adopted the name Mr. T. His catch phrase comes from the movie “Rocky III”. In the film, before he goes up against Rocky Balboa, Mr. T says, “No, I don’t hate Balboa, but I pity the fool”. He parlayed that line into quite a bit of success. He had a reality TV show called “I Pity the Fool”, and produced a motivational video called “Be Somebody … or Be Somebody’s Fool!”.
47. Pet food brand : ALPO
Alpo is a brand of dog food first produced by Allen Products in 1936, with “Alpo” being an abbreviation for “Allen Products”. Lorne Greene used to push Alpo in television spots, as did Ed McMahon and Garfield the Cat, would you believe?
51. “Waiting for Lefty” playwright Clifford : ODETS
Clifford Odets was a playwright, screenwriter and director from Philadelphia. “Waiting for Lefty” was the first play by Clifford Odets that made it to stage, in 1935. The storyline deals with cab drivers who are planning a strike. Famously, the play breaks through the “fourth wall” by placing actors within the audience who react to the action taking place on the stage.
53. Capote nickname : TRU
The larger-than-life Truman Capote was a celebrated author and comedian. Capote is perhaps most associated with his novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and his true crime novel “In Cold Blood”. Truman Capote grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. There he met, and became lifelong friends with, fellow novelist Harper Lee. Capote was the inspiration for the character “Dill” in Lee’s celebrated work “To Kill a Mockingbird”. In turn, Harper Lee was the inspiration for the character “Idabel” in Capote’s “Other Voices, Other Rooms”.
57. Canadian tribe : CREE
The Cree are one of the largest groups of Native Americans on the continent. In the US most of the Cree nation live in Montana on a reservation shared with the Ojibwe people. In Canada most of the Cree live in Manitoba.
58. Sgt., e.g. : NCO
A Chief Petty Officer (CPO) is a non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the Navy (USN) and Coast Guard (USCG). The “Petty” is derived from the French word “petit” meaning “small”.
62. Well-hit line drive, in baseball jargon : FROZEN ROPE (giving “skip rope”)
In baseball, a “frozen rope” is a line drive that is hard hit, or a strong throw from the outfield. I guess a frozen rope is as straight as an arrow, or a well-hit baseball …
66. Choice on the fairway : IRON
That would be golf.
68. Big Apple stage award : OBIE
The Obies are the “Off-Broadway Theater Awards”. The Obies are presented annually and the recipients are chosen by “The Village Voice” newspaper.
Apparently the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:
Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.
Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.
71. Politician Romney : MITT
Mitt Romney was born Willard Mitt Romney in 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. Romney’s parents named him after J. Willard Marriott (the hotel magnate) who was the father’s best friend, and after Milton “Mitt” Romney who was the father’s cousin and quarterback for the Chicago Bears.
2. Pakistani city : LAHORE
Lahore is a large city in Pakistan, second in size only to Karachi. It is known as the Garden of the Mughals (or in English, Moguls) because of its association with the Mughal Empire. The Mughals ruled much of India from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
4. Dinghy blade : OAR
Our word “dinghy” comes from the Hindi “dingi”, the word for a small boat.
5. Fly ball paths : ARCS
That would be baseball.
6. 2008 Pixar robot : WALL-E
“WALL-E” is a very cute Pixar movie, released in 2008. The hero of the piece is a robot called WALL-E, who loves his “Hello Dolly”, and who falls in love with another robot called EVE.
7. Letters before an alias : AKA
Also known as (aka)
8. Hi-__ graphics : RES
9. Magazine VIPs : EDS
10. Poppy narcotic : OPIUM
The opium poppy is the source of the narcotic alkaloids known as opiates. To produce opiates, the latex sap of the opium poppy is collected and processed. The naturally-occurring drugs of morphine and codeine can both be extracted from the sap. Some synthesis is required to make derivative drugs like heroin and oxycodone.
11. Left the 44-Down sans permission : WENT AWOL
The Military Police (MPs) often track down personnel who go AWOL (absent without leave).
In French, “avec” (with) is the opposite of “sans” (without).
13. Richard Gere title role : DR T
The 2000 movie “Dr. T & the Women” is a pretty good film, starring Richard Gere in the title role. There can’t be many romantic comedies about gynecologists …
18. __ Lama : DALAI
The Dalai Lama is a religious leader in the Gelug branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th to hold the office. He has indicated that the next Dalai Lama might be found outside of Tibet for the first time, and may even be female.
24. The name Fred yells at the end of “The Flintstones” closing theme song : WILMA
Wilma is the wife of cartoon character Fred Flintstone. On the TV show, Wilma was voiced by Jean Vander Pyl. Vander Pyl was also provided the voice for Rosie the Robot on “The Jetsons”.
26. Museum manager : CURATOR
The term “curator” is Latin and applies to a manager, guardian or overseer. In English, the original curators were the guardians and overseers of minors and those with mental disease.
33. Noble gas : ARGON
The rare gases are better known as the noble gases, but neither term is really very accurate. Noble gas might be a better choice though, as they are all relatively nonreactive. But rare they are not. Argon, for example, is a major constituent (1%) of the air that we breathe.
38. Rifle range rounds : AMMO
The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.
39. Dyed-in-the-wool : HARDCORE
Something described as “dyed-in-the-wool”, is deeply ingrained, uncompromising in principle. The literal meaning of the phrase is “dyed before spinning”, the color being applied to thread before it is woven into fabric. Color applied this way is expected to be more enduring that in a fabric that is dyed after it has been woven.
40. Words to click on at a sweepstakes website : ENTER NOW
A “sweepstakes” is a lottery in which the participants pay into a fund that becomes the prize. The term “sweepstakes” comes from the Middle English word “swepestake”, the name for the person who “sweeps up” all the stakes in a game.
49. Jedi Master Obi-Wan __ : KENOBI
Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the more beloved of the “Star Wars” characters. Kenobi was portrayed by two fabulous actors in the series of films. As a young man he is played by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, and as an older man he is played by Alec Guinness.
54. Open, as a parka : UNZIP
A parka is a hooded jacket, often lined with fur, that is worn in cold weather. The original parka was a pullover design, but nowadays it is usually zipped at the front. “Parka” is the Russian name for the garment , absorbed into English in the late 1700s via the Aleut language.
56. Icy precipitation : SLEET
Apparently “sleet” is a term used to describe two weather conditions. One is a shower of ice pellets, smaller than hail, and the second is a mixture of rain and snow, with the snow melting as it falls.
59. Small change : CENT
The original one-cent coin was introduced in the US in 1793 and was made of 100% copper. The composition varied over time, and was 100% bronze up to the 1940s. During WWII there was a shortage of copper to make bronze, so the US Mint switched to zinc-coated steel for production of one-cent coins in 1943. The steelie is the only coin ever issued by the US mint that can be picked up by a magnet. Today’s one-cent coin is comprised mainly of zinc.
61. eBay action : BID
eBay is an auction site with a twist. If you don’t want to enter into an auction to purchase an item, there’s a “Buy It Now” price. Agree to pay it, and the item is yours!
62. Big Pharma watchdog: Abbr. : FDA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves drugs for specific conditions. It is quite legal for a healthcare professional to prescribe an approved medication for a use that is different to the FDA-approved indication. This usage of the drug is described as “off-label”.
63. Cleared (of) : RID
Big Pharma is the nickname for the pharmaceutical industry. The nickname comes from the acronym for the lobbying group for the industry, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
65. CD-__ : ROM
CD-ROM stands for “compact disc read only memory”. The name indicates that you can read information from the disc (like a standard music CD for example), but you cannot write to it. You can also buy a CD-RW, which stands for “compact disc – rewritable”, with which you can read data and also write over it multiple times using a suitable CD drive.