Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each start with a number. We have the sequence ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR moving from the top to the bottom of the grid:
- 17A. Mega-mall convenience : ONE-STOP SHOPPING
- 25A. Small-time bad guy : TWO-BIT GANGSTER
- 42A. Office attire with a vest : THREE-PIECE SUIT
- 56A. Barbershop quartet blend : FOUR-PART HARMONY
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
6. Great Salt Lake state : UTAH
The Great Salt Lake in Utah is extremely shallow, and so the area of the lake fluctuates greatly with the changing volume of water. Back in 1963 the lake shrunk to 950 square miles, whereas in 1988 the area was measured at a whopping 3,300 square miles.
14. 1971 Clapton classic : LAYLA
Layla is one of the great rock anthems of the seventies, released by Derek and the Dominos as a single in 1971. It is a masterpiece of composition, with the first half of the song a great vehicle for the guitar-playing talents of Eric Clapton. The second half is a beautifully melodic piano coda (a coda … taking up half the length of the track!). To top things off we have the “unplugged” version recorded by Clapton in 1992, a fabulous and inventive variation on the original.
Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.
15. Pre-Columbian prefix with America : MESO-
Mesoamerica is a region extending from Central Mexico, south to Costa Rica. It is known as an area where societies flourished prior to the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries.
16. Director Kazan : ELIA
Elia Kazan won Oscars for best director in 1948 for “Gentleman’s Agreement” and in 1955 for “On The Waterfront”. In 1999 Kazan was given an Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. He also directed “East of Eden”, which introduced James Dean to movie audiences, and “Splendor in the Grass” that included Warren Beatty in his debut role.
20. Horror director Craven : WES
Wes Craven was a very successful film director and writer specializing in movies of the horror genre, which means I don’t watch them! He was responsible for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Scream” films. Craven passed away in August 2015.
22. Founder of Taoism : LAO TSE
Lao Tse (also “Lao-Tzu”) was a central figure in the development of the religion/philosophy of Taoism. Tradition holds that Lao-Tzu wrote the “Tao Te Ching”, a classical Chinese text that is fundamental to the philosophy of Taoism.
23. Has office hours : IS IN
For example, the doctor has office hours from 9 to 5, is in from 9 to 5.
31. Pueblo-dwelling people : HOPI
Many of the Hopi nation live on a reservation that is actually located within the much larger Navajo reservation in Arizona.
A pueblo is a Native American village, a term used in the American Southwest. The buildings in a pueblo are usually made of stone and adobe mud.
33. Igor’s workplace : LAB
In the world of movies, Igor has been the assistant to Dracula, Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein among others. Igor is almost invariably portrayed as a hunchback.
36. Shrimp relative : PRAWN
The terms “prawn” and “shrimp” are often used interchangeably on menus. Over in the UK, the term “prawn” is most common, while “shrimp” is seen more often here in North America. Sometimes there is a differentiation from a food standpoint, with “prawn” being used for larger species and “shrimp” for smaller species. As a result, “jumbo prawns” seems to be an acceptable descriptor for a dish, whereas “jumbo shrimp” seems to be an oxymoron.
38. Adriatic resort : LIDO
The Lido di Venezia is a famous sandbar, about 11 km long, in Venice, Italy. It may be just a sandbar, but it is home to about 20,000 residents, as well as the Venice Film Festival that takes place there every September. The Lido is also the setting for Thomas Mann’s famous novel “Death in Venice”. The name “lido” has become a term for any fashionable beach resort.
39. Federal hush-hush org. : NSA
The National Security Agency (NSA) seal was introduced in 1965 and features an eagle perched upon a key. The eagle represents the agency’s national mission, and the key represents security.
40. Common-interest voting group : BLOC
“Bloc” is the French word for “block”.
41. State after North Dakota, alphabetically : OHIO
The state of Ohio takes its name from the Ohio River, and in turn river takes its name from the Iroquois “ohi-yo”, which translates as “large creek”.
42. Office attire with a vest : THREE-PIECE SUIT
Here’s another word that often catches me out. What we call a vest here in the US is a waistcoat back in Ireland. And the Irish use the word “vest” for an undershirt.
48. Part of many old German duchy names : SAXE
Saxony was the name given at different times in history to states along the Elbe river in central Europe. As the various states broke up, they spawned many duchies that retained the name “Saxe”. The most famous of these duchies was probably Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, two united duchies in Germany that ceased to exist after WWII. A notable branch of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha House is the British Royal Family, as Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. King George V of the United Kingdom changed the name of the family to the House of Windsor in a politically sensible move during WWI.
49. Belief systems : CREDOS
A creed or credo is a confession of faith, or a system of belief or principles. “Credo” is Latin for “I believe”.
52. Razor brand : ATRA
Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977 as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.
56. Barbershop quartet blend : FOUR-PART HARMONY
Barbershop music is played in the a cappella style, meaning that it is unaccompanied vocal music. Barbershop music originated in the African American communities in the South, as gospel quartets often gathered in neighborhood barber shops to sing together.
59. Other, in Oaxaca : OTRA
Oaxaca is a state in the southern part of Mexico on the Pacific coast. The state takes the name of Oaxaca, its largest city.
61. Fountain drinks : MALTS
Walgreens claims to have introduced the malted milkshake, back in 1922.
63. God with a hammer : THOR
The hammer associated with the Norse god Thor is known as Mjölnir. The name “Mjölnir” translates as “crusher”.
64. Baker’s dough raiser : YEAST
Yeasts are unicellular microorganisms in the Fungi kingdom. The species of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been used for centuries in the making of wine and beer, and in breadmaking. Saccharomyces cerevisiae converts carbohydrates into carbon dioxide and alcohol in the process of fermentation. When making beer and wine, the carbon dioxide and alcohol may be captured by the liquid. When making bread, the carbon dioxide and alcohol is driven off by heat.
2. Mr. Peanut prop : CANE
Planters is the company with the Mr. Peanut icon. Mr. Peanut was the invention of a first-grader named Antonio Gentile, a young man who won a design contest in 1916. A remarkable achievement, I’d say …
5. ’60s dance : WATUSI
The Watusi was almost as popular as the twist in the early sixties. The dance took its name from the Batutsi tribe in Rwanda.
9. Ruffian : HOOLIGAN
“Hooligan” is a word that arose in England in the late 1800s and describes an aggressive and violent youth. The term is apparently derived from the Irish family name of “Houlihan”. I can’t think why …
10. Share, as an internet meme : REPOST
A “meme” (short for “mineme”) is a cultural practice or idea that is passed on verbally or by repetition from one person to another. The term lends itself very well to the online world where links, emails, files etc. are so easily propagated.
12. Kegler’s targets : PINS
A “kegler” is a person who plays ten-pin bowling. “Kegel” is a German word for “bowling pin”.
13. “Parsley, __, Rosemary and Thyme” : SAGE
In Britain, sage is listed as one of the four essential herbs. And those would be “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”.
“Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” is a studio album released by Simon and Garfunkel in 1966. The title is a lyric from the opening track “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”.
“Scarborough Fair” is a delightful ballad that originated in Yorkshire in the North of England. Simon & Garfunkel recorded a famous version of the song in 1966, setting it in counterpoint with one of Simon’s own creations called “Canticle”.
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
She was once a true love of mine.
19. Blue Ribbon brewer : PABST
Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is the most recognizable brand of beer from the Pabst Brewing Company. There appears to be some dispute over whether or not Pabst beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle until it was dropped in 1916 and incorporated into the label.
23. Sacred bird of ancient Egypt : IBIS
The ibis is a wading bird that was revered in ancient Egypt. “Ibis” is an interesting word grammatically speaking. You can have one “ibis” or two “ibises”, and then again one has a flock of “ibis”. And if you want to go with the classical plural, instead of two “ibises” you would have two “ibides”!
27. Daytime TV celeb who founded Harpo Productions : OPRAH
Oprah Winfrey’s multimedia production company is known as Harpo Studios. “Harpo” is “Oprah” spelled backwards, and is also the name of the husband of the character Winfrey played in the movie “The Color Purple”.
28. Beaded calculators : ABACI
The abacus (plural “abaci”) was used as a counting frame long before man had invented a numbering system. It is a remarkable invention, particularly when one notes that abaci are still widely used today across Africa and Asia.
29. Root or Yale : ELIHU
Elihu Root was an American statesman, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912 for his diplomatic work that brought “nations together through arbitration and cooperation”. Root served as Secretary of State under President Theodore Roosevelt.
Elihu Yale was a wealthy merchant born in Boston in 1649. Yale worked for the British East India Company, and for many years served as governor of a settlement at Madras (now Chennai) in India. After India, Yale took over his father’s estate near Wrexham in Wales. It was while resident in Wrexham that Yale responded to a request for financial support for the Collegiate School of Connecticut in 1701. He sent the school a donation, which was used to erect a new building in New Haven that was named “Yale” in his honor. In 1718, the whole school was renamed to “Yale College”. To this day, students of Yale are nicknamed “Elis”, again honoring Elihu.
30. Wheel spokes, essentially : RADII
Radius (plural “radii”) is a Latin word, as one might expect, meaning “spoke of a wheel”. Makes sense, huh …?
40. Jazz genre : BEBOP
The jazz term “bebop” probably came from “Arriba! Arriba!”, words of encouragement from Latin American bandleaders to their musicians.
44. Bible book named for a woman : ESTHER
Esther was a Jewish queen, wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus, and the heroine of the Book of Esther in the Bible. By the way, Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn’t mention the word “God”.
45. Adored one, in Asti : CARA
Asti is a city in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The region is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine.
49. Corp. fiscal execs : CFOS
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
50. __ IRA : ROTH
Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (Roth IRAs) were introduced in 1997 under a bill sponsored by Senator William Roth of Delaware, hence the name.
51. Continental coin : EURO
Euro coins are issued by all the participating European states. The reverse side is a common design used by all countries, whereas the obverse is a design specific to each nation. For example, the one euro coin issued by Malta features the Maltese Cross. That Maltese euro is legal tender right across the eurozone. The Irish euro features a harp.
52. Prefix with sphere : ATMO-
An atmosphere is the layer of gases surrounding a body, usually a planet. The word “atmosphere” comes from the Greek “atmos” meaning “vapor, steam”. The term was first applied to the Moon, which is a real paradox as the Moon doesn’t have any atmosphere.
53. Coca-__ : COLA
The first cola drink to become a commercial success was Coca-Cola, soon after it was invented by a druggist in 1886. That original Coca-Cola was flavored mainly with kola nuts and vanilla. The formulation was based on an alcoholic drink called Coca Wine that had been on sale for over twenty years.
54. “Carpenter” crawlers : ANTS
Carpenter ants can wreak havoc in a wooden structure. They burrow into damp wood creating galleries and pathways that form a complex network of nests. Unlike termites though, carpenter ants don’t feed on the wood.
55. Computer adventure game : MYST
In the days when I played the occasional video game, the best of the bunch was undoubtedly “Myst”. It is a game full of puzzles with the player wandering through a beautifully-designed (for its day) interactive world.
58. Wisecracking West : MAE
Comic actress Mae West can be quoted so easily, as she had so many great lines delivered so well. Here are a few:
- When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.
- When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.
- I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
- Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.
- I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
- Why don’t you come on up and see me sometime — when I’ve got nothin’ on but the radio.
- It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.
- To err is human, but it feels divine.
- I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I’m a woman, but loose enough to show I’m a lady.
- I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
- Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?