Edited by: Rich Norris
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Happy Mother’s Day to all the great mothers out there. Today’s themed answers each comprise three words starting with the letters MOM:
- 22A. Tycoon, e.g. : MAN OF MEANS
- 27A. Euterpe : MUSE OF MUSIC
- 44A. Antacid name since 1872 : MILK OF MAGNESIA
- 63A. Takes action : MAKES ONE’S MOVE
- 72A. Encounter stiff competition : MEET ONE’S MATCH
- 95A. Willpower : MIND OVER MATTER
- 111A. Rich, and then some : MADE OF MONEY
- 122A. Apt time to recognize this puzzle’s honoree : MONTH OF MAY
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Sharp group : MENSA
If you ever learned Latin, “mensa” was probably taught to you in lesson one as it’s the word commonly used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means “table”. The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford, England back in 1946. To become a member, you have to have an IQ that is in the top 2% of the population.
6. 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.
18. Beatles’ “White Album” song whose title follows “If you want me to” : I WILL
Perhaps one of the most notable facts about the Beatles’ song “I Will”, is that not all of the band members participated in the recording. George Harrison wasn’t around that day.
21. Beatnik’s “Gotcha” : I’M HIP
The term “beatnik” was coined by journalist Herb Caen in 1958 when he used it to describe the stereotypical young person of the “beat generation” that was oft associated with the writer Jack Kerouac.
22. Tycoon, e.g. : MAN OF MEANS
Our term “tycoon” meaning powerful business person was originally used by foreigners to describe the shogun of Japan. “Tycoon” is an anglicization of the Japanese “taikun” meaning “great lord or prince”.
25. Bete __ : NOIRE
“Bête noire” translates from French as “black beast” and is used in English to describe something or someone that is disliked.
27. Euterpe : MUSE OF MUSIC
In Greek mythology, the muses are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. The number of muses is a subject of debate at times, but the most popular view is that there are nine:
- Calliope (epic poetry)
- Clio (history)
- Erato (lyric poetry)
- Euterpe (music)
- Melpomene (tragedy)
- Polyhymnia (choral poetry)
- Terpsichore (dance)
- Thalia (comedy)
- Urania (astronomy)
40. Drubbing : ROUT
A drubbing is a beating, given either literally or figuratively. The term “drub” dates back in English to the 17th century when it was imported from the Arabic word for a beating: “darb”.
41. Boater or bowler : HAT
A boater is a straw hat often associated with boating, hence the name.
I think a bowler hat is usually called a derby here in the US. The bowler was first produced in 1849 in London by hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler, hence the name. The alternative name of “derby” comes from the tradition of wearing bowler hats at the Derby horse race (a major race held annually in England).
44. Antacid name since 1872 : MILK OF MAGNESIA
Magnesia is an alternative name for magnesium oxide. Magnesia is used in many cement formulations, and is also used as an antacid. “Milk of magnesia” is a suspension of magnesium hydroxide that was introduced in 1872 by English pharmacist Charles Henry Phillips under the brandname Phillip’s Milk of Magnesia.
51. K.T. of country music : OSLIN
Singer K. T. Oslin is best known for her string of country hits in the eighties.
54. Venezia casino winner : SETTE
“Sette” is Italian for “seven”.
In Italian, the city of “Venezia” (Venice) is in “Italia” (Italy).
57. Transcript info : GPA
Grade point average (GPA)
67. Metro barrier : STILE
A stile is a structure allowing people to pass over or through a fence, while at the same time preventing livestock from escaping. The derivative term “turnstile” describes a revolving structure in a wall or fence that allows the controlled passage of people.
77. Toy, perhaps : LAPDOG
The toy group of dogs is made up of the smallest breeds. The smallest breeds are sometimes called “teacup” breeds.
81. Novelist Seton : ANYA
Anya Seton was the pen name of Ann Seton, an author of historical romances from New York City. Seton’s 1944 novel “Dragonwyck” was released into theaters in 1946 and starred Gene Tierney and Walter Huston.
83. Jones many keep up with? : DOW
Dow Jones & Company was founded as a publishing house in 1882 by three newspaper reporters, Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser. Today, the company’s most famous publication has to be “The Wall Street Journal”. In 1884, Charles Dow started reporting the average dollar value of the stock of eleven companies, an index which spawned a whole host of metrics that carry the Dow Jones name to this day, including the renowned Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), also known as the “Dow 30”.
87. Dummy Mortimer : SNERD
Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s most famous character was Charlie McCarthy, but Bergen also worked with Mortimer Snerd.
92. Move, at Coldwell Banker : RELO
The real estate company Coldwell Banker was founded in San Francisco, just after the 1906 earthquake.
99. Medical research org. : NIH
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is made up of 27 different institutes that coordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.
100. Comics resident of the Okefenokee Swamp : POGO
“Pogo” is a comic strip that was launched in 1948, the creation of cartoonist Walt Kelly. The story centers on animals that live in the Okefenokee Swamp on the Georgia-Florida border, with the title character “Pogo Possum” being an anthropomorphic opossum.
102. NATO founding member : USA
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded not long after WWII in 1949 and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The first NATO Secretary General was Lord Ismay, Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant during WWII. Famously, Lord Ismay said the goal of NATO was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
103. Jimmy on sausage labels : DEAN
The Jimmy Dean brand of sausage was introduced in 1969 by singer and actor Jimmy Dean. Although he was at the height of his singing and acting career in 1950s and 1960s, I best remember Dean for playing reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte in the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever”.
105. Brass, e.g. : ALLOY
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.
107. Prayer leaders : IMAMS
An imam is a Muslim leader, often the person in charge of a mosque or perhaps a Muslim community.
122. Apt time to recognize this puzzle’s honoree : MONTH OF MAY
Note the official punctuation in “Mother’s Day”, even though one might think it should be “Mothers’ Day”. President Wilson and Anna Jarvis, who created the tradition, specifically wanted Mother’s Day to honor the mothers within each family and not just “mothers” in general, so they went with the “Mother’s Day” punctuation.
123. Pond denizens : NEWTS
Nowadays we use “denizen” to mean simply a resident, but historically a denizen was an immigrant to whom certain rights had been granted, somewhat like today’s “resident alien”.
124. Indian tourist city : AGRA
Agra is a medieval city on the banks of the river Yamuna in India. Agra was also the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- The Taj Mahal: the famous mausoleum built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal.
- Agra Fort: the site where the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
- Fatehpur Sikri: a historic city that’s home to well-preserved Mughal architecture.
127. Gas across the border : ESSO
The brand name Esso has its roots in the old Standard Oil company as it uses the initial letters of “Standard” and “Oil” (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but ESSO is still used in many other countries.
128. Highlander : GAEL
The Scottish Highlands are that part of the country not classified as the Lowlands(!). The Highlands make up the north and west of Scotland.
130. “Fiddler” meddler : YENTE
Yenta (also “Yente”) is actually a female Yiddish name. In Yiddish theater “yenta” came to mean a busybody, a gossip.
The enduring musical “Fiddler on the Roof” is based on a collection of stories by Sholem Aleichem about Tevye, a milkman living in Tsarist Russia. The musical version of the tales first opened on Broadway in 1964. “Fiddler on the Roof” had such a long run that it became the first musical to reach 3,000 performances.
1. “La Bohème” role : MIMI
“La bohème” by Giacomo Puccini is the second most frequently performed opera in the US (after Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”). The lead female role in the piece is Mimì, a seamstress.
2. McGregor of “Trainspotting” : EWAN
Ewan McGregor is a very talented Scottish actor, one who got his break in the 1996 film “Trainspotting”. McGregor’s first big Hollywood role was playing the young Obi-Wan-Kenobi in the “Star Wars” prequels. Less known is his televised marathon motorcycle journey from London to New York via central Europe, Ukraine, Siberia, Mongolia and Canada. The 2004 trip was shown as “Long Way Round” on TV. McGregor did a similar trip in 2007 called “Long Way Down”, which took him and the same travelling companion from the north of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa.
“Trainspotting” is a pretty dark comedy-drama film released in 1996 that is based on a novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh. Directed by Danny Boyle, it’s all about a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh, Scotland. “Trainspotting” really launched the careers of lead actors Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly MacDonald and Ewen Bremner. A sequel titled “T2 Trainspotting” was released in 2017.
3. Familia girl : NINA
In Spanish, a “familia” (family) might include a “niña” (girl).
5. Creamy sauce : ALFREDO
Alfredo sauce is usually associated with the Italian dish called fettuccine Alfredo. The sauce is made from Parmesan cheese and butter, and is named for the Italian restaurant owner Alfredo Di Lelio. Di Lelio’s nephews still own and run a restaurant in Rome called “Il Vero Alfredo”. Here in the US, we often add other ingredients to the basic cheese and butter recipe. The name “fettuccine Alfredo” won’t be found on a menu in Italy today, and instead one can order “fettuccine al burro”.
6. __ Biscuit, product debut of 1912 : OREO
The Oreo was the best-selling cookie in the 20th century, and almost 500 billion of them have been sold since they were introduced in 1912 by Nabisco. In those early days the creme filling was made with pork fat, but today vegetable oils are used instead. If you take a bite out of an Oreo sold outside of America you might notice a difference from the homegrown cookie, as coconut oil is added in the overseas version to give a different taste.
7. ’50s-’60s sitcom nickname : BEAV
We used to see a lot of American television programming growing up in Ireland, but “Leave It to Beaver” was one show that didn’t make it across the Atlantic. I’ve seen a couple of episodes, and I am not sure it would travel well. The show went on the air for the first time the day that Sputnik was launched by the Russians, and aired its last show just a few months before President Kennedy was assassinated. An iconic series, by all accounts.
8. “The Wreck of the Mary Deare” author Hammond __ : INNES
Hammond Innes was an English author who mainly wrote thrillers, of which several have been made into films. The most famous of his novels is probably “The Wreck of the Mary Deare”, which was first published in 1956. It was made into a successful movie of the same name in 1959 starring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston.
9. “MIB” characters : ETS
“Men in black” (MIB) are said to have appeared in the past whenever there have been reports of UFO sightings. Supposedly, these men are government agents whose job it is to suppress reports of alien landings. The conspiracy theorists got their day in the movies with the release of a pretty good sci-fi comedy in 1997 called “Men in Black”, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
13. Words after “jolly” in an iconic ad : HO HO HO
The reference is to the jingle “From the valley of the Jolly — ho, ho, ho — Green Giant.”
The Jolly Green Giant was introduced by Minnesota Valley Canning in 1925 to help sell the company’s peas. He was named after one of the varieties of pea that the company sold, the “Green Giant”. The Jolly Green Giant first appeared in a television commercial in 1953, walking through a valley with young boys running around at his feet. That first commercial proved to be so scary for younger viewers that it was immediately pulled off the air. In 1972, the Jolly Green Giant was given an apprentice called the Little Green Sprout.
14. Affaire de coeur : AMOUR
In French, “amour” (love) is an “affaire de coeur” (matter of the heart).
16. Diva Te Kanawa : KIRI
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is an outstanding soprano from New Zealand who was in great demand for operatic performances in the seventies and eighties.
27. Whiz : MAVEN
I’ve always loved the word “maven”, another word for an expert. Maven comes into English from the Yiddish “meyvn” meaning someone who appreciates and is a connoisseur.
28. Big beef : FEUD
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.
33. Ping-Pong shot : SMASH
Ping-Pong is called table tennis in the UK, where the sport originated in the 1880s. Table tennis started as an after-dinner activity among the elite, and was called “wiff-waff”. To play the game, books were stacked in the center of a table as a “net”, two more books served as “”rackets” and the ball used was actually a golf ball. The game evolved over time with the rackets being upgraded to the lids of cigar boxes and the ball becoming a champagne cork (how snooty is that?). Eventually the game was produced commercially, and the sound of the ball hitting the racket was deemed to be a “ping” and a “pong”, giving the sport its alternative name. The name “Ping-Pong” was trademarked in Britain in 1901, and eventually sold to Parker Brothers in the US.
34. __ bean : PINTO
Pinto beans are so-called because their skins have a mottled (“pinto”) appearance.
35. “Good Eats” host Brown : ALTON
Alton Brown is a celebrity chef who is behind the Food Network show “Good Eats”, and the host of “Iron Chef America”.
42. “Double, double toil and trouble” time : ACT IV
The witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” have some lovely lines as they boil up and evil brew and cast a spell:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
46. Rock genre : GLAM
I remember the days of glam rock so well, as it was a hugely popular genre of music in the British Isles during the early seventies. Artistes wore the wildest of clothes, big hair, shiny outfits and really high platform boots. Names associated with glam rock are T. Rex, David Bowie, Roxy Music and Gary Glitter.
47. Heron cousin : 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”!
56. Simpson trial figure Kaelin : KATO
The actor Kato Kaelin’s 15 minutes of fame came in 1964 when he was called as a witness in the trial of O. J. Simpson for the murders of his wife and Ronald Goldman. Kaelin had been staying at the guest house on the Simpson property and was called to account for some of the movements of O. J. on that fateful night.
58. Chicago exchange, briefly, with “the” : MERC
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange started its life as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board in 1898. The Merc is the site for exchange of commodities, among other things.
62. Fey in American Express ads : TINA
Comic actress Tina Fey has a scar on her face a few inches long on her left cheek, which I was shocked to learn was caused by a childhood “slashing” incident. When she was just five years old and playing in the front yard of her house, someone just came up to her and slashed her with a knife. How despicable!
66. Hollywood Walk of Fame symbol : STAR
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a series of sidewalks taking up 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood. The Walk of Fame is an ever-changing monument dedicated to those who have achieved greatness in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera. The first stars installed in the sidewalk were a group of eight, officially laid in 1960. That group consisted of:
- Joanne Woodward (actor)
- Olive Borden (actor)
- Ronald Colman (actor)
- Louise Fazenda (actor)
- Preston Foster (actor)
- Burt Lancaster (actor)
- Edward Sedgwick (director)
- Ernest Torrence (actor)
69. __ Pie : ESKIMO
An Eskimo Pie is a chocolate-covered ice cream bar. The (delicious) dessert item was created in 1920, and first sold under the name “I-Scream Bar”.
73. Boredom : ENNUI
“Ennui” is the French word for boredom, a word that we now use in English. It’s one of the few French words we’ve imported that we haven’t anglicized and actually pronounce “correctly”.
75. Certain bond, briefly : MUNI
A municipal bond (muni) is one that is issued by a city or local government, or some similar agency. Munis have an advantage over other investments in that any interest earned on the bond is usually exempt from state and federal income taxes.
76. Best Buy buy : HDTV
Best Buy is a retailer specializing in the supply of consumer electronics. Best Buy services include the famous “Geek Squad”, a band of technical experts that will help solve your computer and other consumer electronic problems.
80. Maestro Solti : GEORG
Sir Georg Solti was a great Hungarian-British conductor, who spent 22 years as music director of the Chicago Symphony, one of many prestigious positions he held in the world of classical music and opera. Solti was awarded 31 Grammy Awards, the most won by any individual in any genre of music. I think it’s kind of cool that Solti’s name comprises two notes in the solfa scale: sol-ti …
91. Author Chomsky : NOAM
Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at MIT. Chomsky is known as one of the fathers of modern linguistics.
98. Antipasto fish : ANCHOVY
Anchovies are saltwater fish that are quite small, although their adult size can vary from under an inch to over 15 inches depending on the species. Vegans should beware, as they are a ingredient in several common foods including Worcestershire sauce and Caesar salad dressing.
Antipasto is the first course of a meal in Italy. “Antipasto” translates as “before the meal”.
113. One of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” : OLGA
Olga, Masha and Irina were the “Three Sisters” in the play by Anton Chekhov. The three title characters were inspired by the three Brontë sisters, the English authors.
116. Pac-12 team : UTES
The Runnin’ Utes are the basketball team of the University of Utah. The team was given the nickname the Runnin’ Redskins back when Jack Gardner was the head coach from 1953 to 1971. The “Runnin’” part of the name was chosen because Gardner was famous for playing quick offenses. The “Redskins” name was later dropped in favor of the less controversial “Utes”.
117. Harbinger : OMEN
A harbinger is a person or a thing that indicates what is to come. The word comes from the Middle English “herbenger”, a person sent ahead to arrange lodgings.
118. Imperfection : WART
A wart is a small eruption on the skin caused by a localized viral infection. The most successful treatment is topical use of salicylic acid, with a cure rate of 75%. I think it’s best to try to avoid getting them …
119. Where Anheuser-Busch is BUD : NYSE
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) can give some quite descriptive ticker symbols to companies, for example:
- Anheuser-Busch (BUD, for “Budweiser”)
- Molson Coors Brewing Company (TAP, as in “beer tap”)
- Steinway Musical Instruments (LVB, for “Ludwig van Beethoven”)
- Sotheby’s (BID, for the auction house)
122. “Ben-Hur” studio : MGM
The celebrated Charlton Heston movie “Ben-Hur” is a dramatization of a book published in 1880 by Lew Wallace titled “Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ”. The 1959 epic film won a record 11 Academy Awards, a feat that has been equaled since then but has never been beaten. The other winners of 11 Oscars are “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Rings”.