Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each contain a hidden word shown with circled letters in the grid. Each of those themed answers is a type of SWORD:
- 58A. Activity one might see at a circus … or in the Across answers containing circles? : SWORD-SWALLOWING
- 17A. Gadget used on carrots : VEGETABLE PEELER (swallowed “EPEE”)
- 28A. Deepwater Horizon catastrophe : GULF OIL SPILL (swallowed “FOIL”)
- 44A. Inhales : TAKES A BREATH (swallowed “SABRE”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. TV drama whose title appeared on a California license plate : LA LAW
“L.A. Law” ran on NBC from 1986 to 1994, and was one of the network’s most successful drama series. It took over from the equally successful “Hill Street Blues” in the Thursday night 10 p.m. slot until, after a six-year run, it was itself replaced by yet another respected drama, “E.R.” The opening credits showed that famous California licence plate. The plate was on a Jaguar XJ for most of the series, but moved onto a Bentley towards the end of the run. For each series the registration sticker was updated, so no laws were being broken.
6. Beatrix Potter’s “The __ of Peter Rabbit” : TALE
Beatrix Potter was an English author, famous for the children’s books she wrote and illustrated. The most famous character in her stories was Peter Rabbit, whose sisters were Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. Potter put her talent as an artist to good use in the scientific world as well. She recorded many images of lichens and fungi as seen through her microscope. As a result of her work, she was respected as an expert mycologist.
15. Goat with recurved horns : IBEX
Ibex is a common name for various species of mountain goat. “Ibex” is a Latin name that was used for wild goats found in the Alps and Apennines in Europe.
16. Circle dance : HORA
The hora is a circle dance that originated in the Balkans. It was brought to Israel by Romanian settlers, and is often performed to traditional, Israeli folk songs. The hora (also horah) is a regular sight at Jewish weddings. Sometimes the honoree at an event is raised on a chair during the hora.
17. Gadget used on carrots : VEGETABLE PEELER (swallowed “EPEE”)
The sword known as an épée has a three-sided blade. The épée is similar to a foil and sabre, both of which are also thrusting weapons. However, the foil and saber have rectangular cross-sections.
20. Inventor Whitney : ELI
The inventor Eli Whitney is a best known for inventing the cotton gin. Whitney also came up with the important concept of “interchangeable parts”. Parts that are interchangeable can be swapped out of equipment or perhaps used in related designs.
28. Deepwater Horizon catastrophe : GULF OIL SPILL (swallowed “FOIL”)
The infamous Deepwater Horizon oil rig was operated by BP from 2001 in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, an explosion and blowout killed 11 men, and caused the largest oil spill ever recorded in US waters.
Before the foil was introduced as a sporting weapon, it was used as a blunted weapon for sword practice. It has been suggested that the sword was blunted by wrapping metal foil around the tip, hence the name.
32. Slanted type : ITALIC
Italic type leans to the right, and is often used to provide emphasis in text. The style is known as “italic” because the stylized calligraphic form of writing originated in Italy, probably in the Vatican.
33. Bronze component : TIN
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.
38. Swamp reptile : GATOR
Crocodiles and alligators do indeed bear a resemblance to each other, although they belong to distinct biological families. One of the main ways used to distinguish them is by their teeth and jaws. Both the upper and lower sets of teeth of a crocodile are visible when its mouth is closed, whereas only the upper teeth of an alligator are visible with the mouth shut.
39. Lobbying gp. : PAC
A Political Action Committee (PAC) is a private group that works to influence the outcome of a particular election or group of elections. Any group becomes a PAC by law when it receives or spends more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election. In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that PACS that did not make direct contributions to candidates or parties could accept unlimited contributions. These “independent, expenditure-only committees” are commonly referred to as “super PACs”.
40. __ New Guinea : PAPUA
Papua New Guinea is a country occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (the western side of the island is part of Indonesia).
41. Mets’ home through 2008 : SHEA
Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York was named after William A. Shea, the man credited with bringing National League baseball back to the city in the form of the New York Mets. Shea Stadium was dismantled in 2008-2009, and the site now provides additional parking for the new stadium nearby called Citi Field.
44. Inhales : TAKES A BREATH (swallowed “SABRE”)
A saber (sometimes “sabre”) is a sword with a curved blade and a relatively large hand guard. It is thought that the term originated with the Hungarian verb “szabni” meaning “to cut”.
47. Key near Caps Lock : TAB
Like most features on our computer keyboards, the tab key is a hangover from the days of typewriters. When using a typewriter, making entries into a table was very tedious, involving lots of tapping on the spacebar and backspace key. So, a lever was added to typewriters that allowed the operator to “jump” across the page to positions that could be set by hand. Later this was simplified to a tab key which could be depressed, causing the carriage to jump to the next tab stop in much the same way that the modern tab key works on a computer.
50. Spy org. : CIA
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during WWII. The CIA was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.
51. Time to chill, briefly : R AND R
Rest and relaxation/recuperation/recreation (R&R)
54. CDX x V : MML
In Roman numerals, CDX x V = MML (410 x 5 = 2050).
55. Extinct New Zealand bird : MOA
Moas were flightless birds native to New Zealand that are now extinct. The fate of the Moa is a great example of the detrimental effect that humans can have on animal populations. The Maoris arrived in New Zealand about 1300 AD, upsetting the balance of the ecosystem. The Moa were hunted to extinction within 200 years, which had the knock-on effect of killing off the Haast’s Eagle, the Moa’s only predator prior to the arrival of man. Moas were huge creatures, measuring up to 12 feet tall with their necks stretched upwards.
63. Rummikub piece : TILE
Rummikub is a tile-based game that was created in the 1940s by Ephraim Hertzano in Israel. Hertzano’s game combines elements of mahjong with the card game rummy. Rummikub was the bestselling game in the US back in 1977.
2. Skater’s leap : AXEL
An Axel is a forward take-off jump in figure skating. The maneuver was first performed by Norwegian Axel Paulsen at the 1882 World Figure Skating championships.
5. Like an unfun blanket? : WET
A wet blanket might be used to extinguish a fire. We use the phrase “wet blanket” figuratively to describe someone who tends to dampen enthusiasm or enjoyment.
6. Related to the shinbone : TIBIAL
The tibia is the shin bone, the larger of the two bones right below the knee. The tibia is the strongest weight-bearing bone in the human body. “Tibia” is the Roman name for a Greek flute and it is thought that the shin bone was given the same name because flutes were often fashioned out of the shin bones of animals.
8. Calm side : LEE
“Alee” is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing “aweather”.
18. High point of a home tour? : ATTIC
An attic or loft is a room or space located below the roof of a building. The term “attic” is a shortened form of “attic story”, the uppermost story or level of a house. This term “attic story” originally applied to a low, decorative level built on top of the uppermost story behind a building’s decorative facade. This use of decoration at the top of buildings was common in ancient Greece, and was particularly important in the Attica style. That Attica style was so called because it originated in the historical region of Attica that encompassed the city of Athens. And that’s how our attics are linked to ancient Greece.
25. Gritty film genre : NOIR
The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.
26. “Iliad” or “Aeneid” : EPIC
“The Iliad” is an epic poem by the Greek poet Homer, which tells the story of the ten-year siege of Ilium (also known as Troy) during the Trojan war. “The Odyssey”, also attributed to Homer, is sometimes described as a sequel to “The Iliad”.
Aeneas was a Trojan who traveled to Italy and became the ancestor of all Romans. Aeneas’s story is told in Virgil’s epic poem “The Aeneid”.
28. Jobs for a band : GIGS
Musicians use “gig” to describe a job, a performance. The term originated in the early 1900s in the world of jazz.
29. The Beehive State : UTAH
When Mormon pioneers were settling what is today the state of Utah, they referred to the area as Deseret, a word that means “beehive” according to the Book of Mormon. Today Utah is known as the Beehive State and there is a beehive symbol on the Utah state flag.
30. Corset stiffeners : STAYS
A corset is a close-fitting undergarment that is stiffened with a material such as whalebone. Corsets are more usually worn by women, to shape the body. The word “corset” is a diminutive of the Old French “cors” meaning “body”.
36. Many a fourth-down play : PUNT
That would be football.
37. Singer with Crosby and Stills : NASH
Graham Nash is a singer-songwriter from England. Nash is famous as one of the founders of the Hollies, and as a member of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
40. Lewd literature : PORN
The word “pornography” comes from the Greek “pornographos” meaning “writing of prostitutes”.
48. Egypt’s __ High Dam : ASWAN
The Aswan Dam on the River Nile is actually two dams. The Low Dam was first built in 1902 (and modified later). The High Dam was completed in 1970.
53. Work units : ERGS
An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, as there are 10 million ergs in one joule. it has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off. The term comes from “ergon”, the Greek word for work.
54. The Niger River flows through it : MALI
The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa, south of Algeria. Formerly known as French Sudan, the nation’s most famous city is Timbuktu. Mali is the third-largest producer of gold on the continent, after South Africa and Ghana.
The principal river in western Africa is the Niger, running 2,600 miles through the continent. The river has a boomerang shape, taking a sharp turn around the the ancient city of Timbuktu in Mali.
56. “__ upon a midnight dreary … ” : ONCE
The first verse of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” is:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door