Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers starts with the name of a famous BILL associated with the Wild West:
- 52A. Stack for the bookkeeper to pay … or, literally, what 20-, 33- and 40-Across’ first words constitute : PILE OF BILLS
- 20A. Bovine skin once used as a painting surface by Native Americans : BUFFALO HIDE (giving “Buffalo Bill”)
- 33A. Untamed equines : WILD HORSES (giving “Wild Bill”)
- 40A. Rio Grande feeder : PECOS RIVER (giving “Pecos Bill”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
9. Exxon merger partner : MOBIL
The Exxon Corporation was a descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Exxon merged with Mobil (yet another descendant of Standard Oil) in 1999 to form ExxonMobil.
14. Musk of Tesla Motors : ELON
Elon Musk is successful businessman who has founded or led some very high-profile companies, namely PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
20. Bovine skin once used as a painting surface by Native Americans : BUFFALO HIDE (giving “Buffalo Bill”)
Buffalo Bill Cody was a great showman after he retired from the US Army. While serving in the Army, Buffalo Bill was awarded the Medal of Honor. William Frederick Cody earned his “Buffalo Bill” nickname while supplying buffalo meat to the Kansas Pacific Railroad. Cody “hunted” and slaughtered over 4,000 American bison in an 18-month period to fulfill his contract with the railroad.
25. Peruvian peaks : ANDES
The Andes range is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world, running right down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles. The highest peak in the Andes is Mt. Aconcagua, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the planet. That’s because of the equatorial “bulge” around the Earth’s “waist”.
30. Zsa Zsa, to Eva : SISTER
Zsa Zsa Gabor is a Hungarian American actress, born in Budapest as Sári Gábor (the older sister of the actress Eva). Zsa Zsa Gabor has been married a whopping nine times, including a 5-year stint with Conrad Hilton and another 5 years with the actor George Sanders. One of Gabor’s famous quips was that she was always a good housekeeper, as after every divorce she kept the house!
Eva Gabor was the youngest of the Gabor sisters, all three of whom were celebrated Hollywood actresses and socialites (her siblings were Zsa-Zsa and Magda). One of Eva’s claims to fame is the unwitting promotion of the game called “Twister”, the sales of which were languishing in 1996. In an appearance on “The Tonight Show” she got on all fours and played the game with Johnny Carson. Sales took off immediately, and Twister became a huge hit.
33. Untamed equines : WILD HORSES (giving “Wild Bill”)
In 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was playing poker in a saloon in the town of Deadwood in the Black Hills in the Dakota Territory. For once, the gunfighting lawman was sitting with his back to the door, something he almost always avoided. He had twice tried to change seats to give him a view of the door, but his card-playing comrades weren’t obliging. An enemy of Wild Bill’s named Jack McCall then was able to enter the saloon without being noticed. He walked up to the table and shot Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The hand that Hickok was holding contained four black cards, two aces and two eights. Since the killing, black aces and eights in a poker hand have been referred to as the “dead man’s hand”.
37. Baba who outwitted thieves : ALI
There is some controversy about the story “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” in that it has been suggested it was not part of the original collection of Arabic tales called “One Thousand and One Nights”. The suggestion is that the Ali Baba tale was added by one of the European translators of the collection.
38. Actor Mineo : SAL
The actor Sal Mineo’s most famous role was John “Plato” Crawford, the kid who was in awe of the James Dean character in “Rebel Without a Cause”. Sadly, Mineo was murdered in 1976 when he was just 37 years old. He was attacked in the alley behind his Los Angeles apartment and stabbed through the heart. When an arrest was made it was discovered that the murderer had no idea that his victim was a celebrity, and that his plan was just to rob anyone who came along.
39. Med. care option : HMO
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
40. Rio Grande feeder : PECOS RIVER (giving “Pecos Bill”)
The Pecos River rises north of the village of Pecos in New Mexico, and flows almost a thousand miles before entering the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas.
Pecos Bill has become a character in tall tales of the Old West after having been introduced in 1917 by author Edward O’Reilly. Legend has it that Bill was travelling in a covered wagon from Texas with his family when he fell out unnoticed by the party. He was lost near the Pecos River, hence his name. He was found and raised by a pack of coyotes, but years later was recovered by his real brother. Pecos Bill grew up to be a cowboy and married a woman called Slue-Foot Sue who he met riding a giant catfish down the Rio Grande.
45. Italia’s capital : ROMA
In Italian, “Roma” (Rome) is the “capitale” (capital) of “Italia” (Italy).
46. Halloween goodies : TREATS
All Saints’ Day is November 1st each year. The day before All Saints’ Day is All Hallows Eve, better known by the Scottish term, “Halloween”.
51. Guerrilla Guevara : CHE
Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Argentina, and in 1948 he started to study medicine at the University of Buenos Aires. While at school he satisfied his need to “see the world” by taking two long journeys around South America, the story of which are told in Guevara’s memoir later published as “The Motorcycle Diaries”. While travelling, Guevara was moved by the plight of the people he saw and their working conditions and what he viewed as capitalistic exploitation. In Mexico City he met brothers Raul and Fidel Castro and was persuaded to join their cause, the overthrow of the US-backed government in Cuba. He rose to second-in-command among the Cuban insurgents, and when Castro came to power Guevara was influential in repelling the Bay of Pigs Invasion and bringing Soviet nuclear missiles to the island. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to continue his work as a revolutionary. He was captured by Bolivian forces in 1967, and was executed. Fidel Castro led the public mourning of Guevara’s death, and soon the revolutionary was an icon for many left-wing movements around the world.
Guerrilla (sometimes “guerilla”) warfare is a type of fighting engaged in by irregular forces using ambushes and sabotage. The term “guerra” is Spanish for war, and “guerrilla” translates as “little war”.
58. Western writer Bret : HARTE
Bret Harte was a storyteller noted for his tales of the American West, even though he himself was from back East, born in Albany, New York. One work attributed to him is “Ah Sin”, a disastrously unsuccessful play written by Bret Harte and Mark Twain. The two writers didn’t get on at all well during the writing process, and when the play was produced for the stage it was very poorly received. Nevertheless, Twain suggested a further collaboration with Harte, and Harte downright refused!
63. Rural storage cylinder : SILO
“Silo” is a Spanish word that we absorbed into English, originally coming from the Greek word “siros” that described a pit in which one kept corn.
64. Scarlett O’Hara’s home : TARA
Scarlett O’Hara’s home is the Tara plantation, in Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”. Tara was founded not far from the Georgia city of Jonesboro by Scarlett’s father, Irish immigrant Gerald O’Hara. Gerald won the square mile of land on which Tara was built in an all-night poker. He named his new abode after the Hill of Tara back in his home country, the ancient seat of the High King of Ireland.
66. Go berserk : SNAP
Our word “berserk” meaning “deranged” comes from the “Berserkers”, Norse warriors described in Old Norse literature. Berserkers were renowned for going into battle in a fury, and some believe that they consumed drugged food to get themselves worked up for the fighting ahead.
1. Basil or rosemary : HERB
Traditionally, basil is considered “the king of herbs”. And in fact, the herb’s name comes from the Greek “basileus” meaning “king”.
The herb known as rosemary is reputed to improve the memory. As such, rosemary has been used as a symbol of remembrance, especially in Europe and Australia. For example, mourners might throw sprigs of rosemary into graves, symbolically remembering the dead. The character Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” utters the line “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”. The name of the herb comes from the Latin “ros marinus” which means “dew of the sea”. The idea is that rosemary can in fact grow in some arid locations with only the moisture that is carried by a sea breeze.
2. Baseball family name : ALOU
Moises Alou played major league baseball, as did his father Felipe and his uncles Matty and Jesús.
6. N’awlins sandwich : PO’ BOY
A po’ boy is a submarine sandwich from Louisiana. There are a lot of theories about where the name came from, and none sound too convincing to me. A po’ boy differs from a regular submarine sandwich in that it uses Louisiana French bread, which is soft in the middle and crusty on the outside.
Apparently the “N’awlins” pronunciation of “New Orleans” is common, but is usually uttered by tourists. Locals are more likely to say “New Awlins”.
8. “The Little Red Hen” denial : NOT I
“The Little Red Hen” is an old folk tale, probably from Russia. In the story, the little red hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help to plant it. “Not I” is the response she gets, repeatedly. She does the work herself, eventually baking bread from the harvested grain. She asks for help in eating the bread, and gets lots of volunteers. But, the hen decides to save the bread for herself and her chicks, seeing as no one would help her plant the wheat in the first place.
9. Souvenir : MEMENTO
A “souvenir” is a memento, a token of remembrance. We imported the word from French, in which language it has the same meaning. The term comes from the Latin “subvenire” meaning “to come to mind”, or literally “to come up”.
21. Stein filler : ALE
A stein is a type of beer glass. The term is German in origin, and is short for “Steinkrug” meaning “stone jug”. “Stein” is the German for “stone”.
22. Pinch from a chef : DASH
In cooking, the terms “dash”, “pinch” and “smidgen” can all be used for a very small measure, one that is often undefined. However, you can in fact buy some measuring spoons that define these amounts as follows:
- a dash is 1/8 teaspoon
- a pinch is 1/16 teaspoon
- a smidgen is 1/32 teaspoon
26. German article : DER
The definite article in German is der, die or das, for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns. The indefinite article is ein, eine or ein, again depending on the gender of the noun. A further complication, relative to English, is that the masculine form (and only the masculine form) of the article changes when used in the accusative case, when used with the object of a sentence. The accusative forms are “den” and “einen”.
29. Leif’s father : ERIC THE RED
According to Icelandic tradition, Erik the Red was the man responsible for founding the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. Erik had a famous son: the explorer Leif Ericson.
30. Poles and Serbs : SLAVS
The Slavic peoples are in the majority in communities covering over half of Europe. This large ethnic group is traditionally broken down into three smaller groups:
- the West Slavic (including Czechs and Poles)
- the East Slavic (including Russians and Ukrainians)
- the South Slavic (including Bulgarians and Serbs)
35. Poet Lazarus : EMMA
Emma Lazarus was a poet from New York City who is best known as the author of an 1883 sonnet “The New Colossus”. “The New Colossus” sits on a bronze plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, a fitting location given that the title refers to Lady Liberty.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
41. Guatemala gold : ORO
Guatemala in Central America became independent from Spain in 1821, first becoming part of the Mexican Empire, and then completely independent two years later.
42. Eden tempter : SERPENT
In the Christian tradition, the “fall of man” took place in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This went against the bidding of God, and was at the urging of the serpent. As a result, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden to prevent them becoming immortal by eating from the tree of life. The first humans had transitioned from a state of innocent obedience to a state of guilty disobedience.
43. Rajah’s mate : RANI
A ranee (also spelled “rani”) is a queen or a princess, the female equivalent of a raja in India.
44. Santa’s landing spot : ROOFTOP
The notion of Santa landing in his sleigh on the roofs of houses originated in the celebrated 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
49. SeaWorld orca : SHAMU
Shamu was the name of the third orca, or killer whale, ever to be featured in a public exhibition. Shamu starred in a popular SeaWorld show in San Diego in the sixties. After she died in 1971, her name lived on as the name “Shamu” is still used by SeaWorld for its killer whale shows. That original Shamu was retired after she grabbed and refused to let go of the leg of one of her trainers.
50. Dough in a wallet : MOOLA
Lettuce, cabbage, kale, dough, scratch, simoleons, clams and moola are all slang terms for money.
51. “Pet” with Smiley and Winky versions : CHIA
Chia is a flowering plant in the mint family. Chia seeds are an excellent food source and are often added to breakfast cereals and energy bars. There is also the famous Chia Pet, an invention of a San Francisco company. Chia Pets are terracotta figurines to which are applied moistened chia seeds. The seeds sprout and the seedlings become the “fur” of the Chia Pet.
54. Model Nordegren once married to Tiger Woods : ELIN
Elin Nordegren is the ex-wife of Tiger Woods. Nordegren is a native of Sweden, and it was back in Sweden that she was hired as a nanny by the wife of golfer Jesper Parnevik. The job brought her to the US where she became a popular attraction on the professional golfing circuit. Apparently there was a long line of single golfers who wanted to be introduced to her, with Tiger Woods asking for an introduction for a year before he finally got to go out with her. The pair were married in 2004. Tiger and Elin have two children together: Sam Alexis born in 2007, and Charlie Axel born in 2009.
56. Tomb Raider’s __ Croft : LARA
Lara Croft was introduced to the world as the main character in a pretty cool video game (I thought, back then) called “Tomb Raider” in 1996. Lara Croft moved to the big screen in 2001 and 2003, in two pretty awful movie adaptations of the game’s storyline. Angelina Jolie played Croft, and she did a very energetic job.
59. Mai __ : TAI
The Mai Tai cocktail is strongly associated with the Polynesian islands, but the drink was supposedly invented in 1944 in Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California. One recipe is 6 parts white rum, 3 parts orange curaçao, 3 parts Orgeat syrup, 1 part rock candy syrup, 2 parts fresh lime juice, all mixed with ice and then a float added of 6 parts dark rum.