Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers are common phrases starting with an adjective that points to a country. Each phrase has been reinterpreted in a “punny” way by the clue:
- 20A. Volleyball players in Dublin? : IRISH SETTERS
- 28A. Euros in Rome? : ITALIAN BREAD
- 37A. Airport inspectors in Beijing? : CHINESE CHECKERS
- 45A. Dance lessons in Madrid? : SPANISH STEPS
- 56A. Number cruncher in New Delhi? : INDIAN SUMMER
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
15. Jai __ : ALAI
Even though jai alai is often said to be the fastest sport in the world because of the speed of the ball, in fact golf balls usually get going at a greater clip. Although, as a blog reader once pointed out to me, you don’t have to catch a golf ball …
18. Board member? : KING
In the game of chess, when the king is under immediate threat of capture it is said to be “in check”. If the king cannot escape from check, then the game ends in “checkmate” and the player in check loses. In the original Sanskrit game of chess, the king could actually be captured. Then a rule was introduced requiring that a warning be given if capture was imminent (today we announce “check!”) so that an accidental and early ending to the game doesn’t occur.
20. Volleyball players in Dublin? : IRISH SETTERS
In volleyball, each team can only touch the ball a maximum of three times before it returns to the other side of the net. The three contacts are often a “bump” (a preliminary pass) and a “set” (setting up the attacking shot) followed by a “spike” (a shot into the opposing court).
The city of Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is known as “Baile Átha Cliath” in Irish (“town of the hurdled ford”). The English name “Dublin” is an anglicized form of the older Irish name for the city “Dubh Linn”, meaning “black pool”.
23. New York’s __ Island : STATEN
Staten Island is part of New York City and is the least populous of the city’s five boroughs. The island was originally called Staaten Eylandt by Henry Hudson and was named after the Dutch parliament, the Staaten Generaal.
24. Sturgeon delicacy : ROE
Caviar is the roe of a large fish that has been salted and seasoned, and especially the roe of a sturgeon. Beluga caviar comes from the beluga sturgeon, found primarily in the Caspian Sea. It is the most expensive type of caviar in the world. 8 ounces of US-farmed beluga caviar can be purchased through Amazon.com for just over $850, in case you’re feeling peckish …
25. Engineering sch. on the Hudson River : RPI
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private school in Troy, New York. The university is named after its founder Stephen Van Rensselaer who set up the school in 1824. The goal of RPI has always been the “application of science to the common purposes of life”, an objective set by the founder. Given that, the name for the school’s sports teams is quite apt: the Engineers.
The Hudson River flows through eastern New York State from Henderson Lake in the Adirondacks to the Port of New York and New Jersey. The river is named for the English explorer Henry Hudson who navigated it in 1609.
28. Euros in Rome? : ITALIAN BREAD
The Euro is the official currency of most of the states in the European Union, but not all. The list of states not using the Euro includes the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
36. __ Trinket, “The Hunger Games” chaperone played by Elizabeth Banks : EFFIE
Traditionally, a chaperone (often “chaperon” in the British Isles) was a woman accompanying a younger unmarried lady in public, with the term “chaperone” originating in France. The French word was used to mean “hood, cowl” going back to the 12th century, a diminutive of “chape” meaning “cape”. So, out word “chaperone” has the same roots as our word “cape” and indeed “cap”. The idea is that a chaperone is “covering” someone who is vulnerable socially.
Elizabeth Banks is known on TV for playing Avery Jessup on the sitcom “30 Rock”, and on the big screen for playing Effie Trinket in “The Hunger Games” series of movies. Behind the cameras, Banks also co-produced and directed the 2012 film “Pitch Perfect 2”.
37. Airport inspectors in Beijing? : CHINESE CHECKERS
The city of Beijing in China was given its name in 1403, with “Beijing” chosen as it translates as “Northern Capital”. The name distinguished it from the city of Nanjing, which name translates as “Southern Capital”. Beijing was written in English as Peking for centuries.
The board game known as Chinese Checkers has nothing to with checkers, nor anything to do with China. It was invented in Germany in 1892, under the name “Stern-Halma”. The Chinese Checkers moniker was the creation of the Pressman Company which purchased the rights to the game in the US in 1928.
42. Cosmonaut Vladimir : TITOV
Former cosmonaut Vladimir Titov went into space four times in all. After retiring, Titov became Director for Space and Communications with Boeing, in the company’s Moscow operation.
44. Most of Ariz. doesn’t observe it : DST
Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states in the US that do not observe daylight saving time (DST). having opted out when the Uniform Time Act was passed by the US Congress in 1966. Some Native American nations also observe DST, and some don’t. As a result, times can change back and forth a few times while driving across Arizona during the summer.
45. Dance lessons in Madrid? : SPANISH STEPS
Madrid is the largest city in Spain and the capital. Madrid is located very close to the geographical center of the country. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (after London and Paris). People from Madrid called themselves Madrileños.
Rome’s Spanish Steps are known locally as the “Scalinata” and are a set of 135 steps that sit above the Piazza di Spagna. The Spanish Steps actually form the widest staircase in Europe. They always remind me of the movie “Roman Holiday”, as that is where Audrey Hepburn enjoyed her gelato.
50. CIA predecessor : OSS
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was formed during WWII in order to carry out espionage behind enemy lines. A few years after the end of the war the OSS functions were taken up by a new group, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.
51. Drivers’ org. : AAA
The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit organization focused on lobbying, provision of automobile servicing, and selling of automobile insurance. The AAA was founded in 1902 in Chicago and published the first of its celebrated hotel guides back in 1917.
52. Phillies’ div. : NL EAST
Philadelphia’s baseball team was founded in 1883 as the Quakers, with the name changing to the Philadelphias and Phillies not long into the team’s history. The Phillies have been based in the same city using the same team name longer than any other team in US professional sports.
56. Number cruncher in New Delhi? : INDIAN SUMMER
New Delhi is the capital city of India. New Delhi resides within the National Capital Territory of Delhi (otherwise known as the metropolis of Delhi). New Delhi and Delhi, therefore, are two different things.
59. SALT subject : ICBM
An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with the range necessary to cross between continents. Being ballistic (unlike a cruise missile), an ICBM is guided during the initial launch phase, but later in flight just relies on thrust and gravity to arrive at its target. It is defined as intercontinental as it has a range greater than 3,500 miles. ICBMs are really only used for delivering nuclear warheads. Scary stuff …
There were two rounds of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the US and the Soviet Union, and two resulting treaties (SALT I & SALT II). The opening round of SALT I talks were held in Helsinki as far back as 1970, with the resulting treaty signed by President Richard Nixon and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in 1972. Brezhnev also signed the SALT II treaty, with President Jimmy Carter in 1979.
62. Crab Key villain : DR NO
The Canadian actor Joseph Wiseman was perhaps best known for playing the original “James Bond” supervillain, portraying the title character in the 1962 movie “Dr. No”.
63. Mazda MX-5, familiarly : MIATA
The Mazda MX-5 is sold as the Miata in North America, and as the Roadster in Japan. I’ve always liked the looks of the Mazda Miata, probably because it reminds me so much of old British sports cars. The Miata is built in Hiroshima, Japan.
65. Novelist O’Brien : EDNA
Edna O’Brien is an Irish novelist and playwright who is known for her works that shine a light on the problems of women relating to men and society in general. O’Brien’s first novel, “The Country Girls”, was banned, burned and denounced by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. As a result, O’Brien left the country and now lives in London.
66. Bunsen burner kin : ETNAS
“Etna” (after the volcano) is another name for a Bunsen Burner that is used in a laboratory.
The Bunsen burner is common piece of lab equipment that is used for heating and combustion. The device was invented in 1854 by Robert Bunsen at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
69. One of Franklin’s two certainties : DEATH
In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy dated 13 Nov 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
1. Musée d’Orsay city : PARIS
The Musée d’Orsay is one of the premier museums in Paris, and holds the world’s largest collection of impressionist art. It is a truly beautiful building, a former Beaux-Arts railway station.
3. Salsa singer Cruz : CELIA
Celia Cruz was born and bred in Cuba, but spent most of her working life in the United States, playing out her salsa singing career in New Jersey. Around the world she was known as the “Queen of Salsa”.
4. Spring 2008 “Dancing with the Stars” champion Yamaguchi : KRISTI
Kristi Yamaguchi is a figure skater, an Olympic champion in 1992. She is quite the dancer too, having won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2008. Yamaguchi started skating and taking ballet as a young child as physical therapy, as she had club feet …
5. Potpourri pouch : SACHET
A sachet is a small packet of perfumed powder left in perhaps a closet or trunk to scent clothes. The word “sachet” is a diminutive of the French word “sac” meaning “bag”.
The French term “pot pourri” literally translates to “rotten pot”, but in France it used to mean “stew”. Over time, the term “potpourri” evolved in English usage to mean a “medley”, and eventually a mixture of dried flowers and spices.
8. Hindu incantation : MANTRA
A mantra is a word that is used as a focus for the mind while meditating. The term is Sanskrit in origin, and is now used figuratively in English to describe any oft-repeated word or phrase.
9. Word with carrier or passenger : PIGEON
A carrier pigeon is a homing pigeon that has a message attached to its leg.
The passenger pigeon was a bird native to North America that is now extinct. The name “passenger” comes from the French “passager”, a word meaning “passing by”. This is a reference to the large flocks that could be seen migrating across the whole continent. The passenger pigeon was largely hunted to extinction.
22. Lute-like instrument : REBEC
The rebec is an old stringed instrument played with a bow. It was played like a violin, under the chin or sometimes on the arm.
27. In other words, in other words : ID EST
“Id est” is Latin for “that is”, and is often abbreviated to “i.e.” when used in English.
29. Novelist Harper : LEE
Nelle Harper Lee was an author from Monroeville, Alabama. For many years, Lee had only one published novel to her name. That is a “To Kill a Mockingbird”, a contribution to the world of literature was enough to earn her the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Pulitzer Prize. Harper Lee was a close friend of fellow author Truman Capote who was the inspiration for the character named “Dill” in her novel. Lee was all over the news in 2015 as she had published a second novel, titled “Go Set a Watchman”. The experts seem to be agreeing that “Go Set a Watchman” is actually a first draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Lee passed away less than a year after “Go Set a Watchman” hit the stores.
30. Quechua speakers : INCAS
Quechua was the existing Native American language that was adopted by the Incan Empire and favored over other dialects. Today, Quechua is one of the official languages in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, alongside Spanish.
31. He served as A.G. under his brother : RFK
Robert “Bobby” Francis Kennedy (RFK) was the US Attorney General (AG) in the administration of his brother President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1964. He then served as US Senator for the State of New York from 1965 until 1968, when he was assassinated. Bobby was killed during his own run for the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
34. Pockets for falafel : PITAS
Pita is a lovely bread in Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Pita is usually round, and has a “pocket” in the center. The pocket is created by steam that puffs up the dough during cooking leaving a void when the bread cools.
Falafel is a ball of ground chickpeas or fava beans that has been deep fried and served in pita bread. I love chickpeas, but falafel is often too dry to me …
39. French spa : EVIAN
Évian-les-Bains (or simply Évian) is in the very east of France, on the shores of Lake Geneva directly across the lake from Lausanne, Switzerland. As one might imagine, Évian is the home of Évian mineral water, the most successful business in town. Personally, I can’t stand the distinctive taste of Évian water …
41. Utopias : EDENS
The word “Utopia” was coined by Sir Thomas More for his book “Utopia” published in 1516 describing an idyllic fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More’s use of the name Utopia comes from the Greek “ou” meaning “not” and “topos” meaning “place”. By calling his perfect island “Not Place”, More was apparently making the point that he didn’t think that the ideal could actually exist.
47. Bob, for one : HAIRDO
A “bob cut” is a short hairstyle in which the hair is cut straight around the head, at about the line of the jaw. Back in the 1570s a “bob” was the name given to a horse’s tail that was cut short, and about a century later it was being used to describe short hair on humans. The style became very popular with women in the early 1900s (as worn by actress Clara Bow, for example), with the fashion dying out in the thirties. The style reemerged in the sixties around the time the Beatles introduced their “mop tops”, with Vidal Sassoon leading the way in styling women’s hair in a bob cut again. Personally, I like it …
48. Like peacocks : PLUMED
The male peafowl is known as a peacock, and the female a peahen. The peafowl’s young are sometimes called peachicks.
49. Many a Mideast native : SEMITE
The word “Semitic” comes from the Greek for “Shem”, one of the three sons of Noah. A Semite is one of a large list of peoples, from the Assyrians and Babylonians to the Hebrews. The term “anti-Semite” however, almost always refer to anti-Jewish sentiment.
53. Appliance maker since 1934 : AMANA
The Amana Corporation takes its name from the location of its original headquarters, in Middle Amana, Iowa. Today, the Amana name is very much associated with household appliances. The company was founded in 1934 to manufacture commercial walk-in coolers.
55. Vandalize : TRASH
A “vandal” is someone who destroys something beautiful or valuable. The term comes from the Germanic tribe called the Vandals who sacked Rome in the year 455. Our contemporary term “vandalism” was coined by Henri Grégoire in 1794, when he was describing the destruction of artwork during the French Revolution.
57. Kendrick of “Pitch Perfect” : ANNA
Anna Kendrick is a marvelous actress whose big break came when she played the sidekick to George Clooney’s character in the very interesting 2009 film “Up in the Air”. Kendrick can sing as well as act, and played a student a cappella singer in the 2012 movie “Pitch Perfect”.
58. “Syntactic Structures” author Chomsky : NOAM
Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at MIT. Chomsky is known as one of the fathers of modern linguistics.
59. Nos. averaging 100 : IQS
Although it is correct these days to say that the abbreviation IQ stands for “intelligence quotient”, the term was actually coined by German psychologist William Stern, so it actually is an abbreviation for the German “Intelligenz-Quotient”.
60. What a shark strikes with : CUE
A pool shark is a player who hustles others in a pool hall, aiming to make money unfairly in competition. The term used to be “pool sharp”.
61. Wite-Out maker : BIC
Wite-Out is a brand of correction fluid made by Bic.
Société Bic is a French company, based in Clichy in France. The first product the company produced, more than fifty years ago, was the Bic Cristal ballpoint pen that is still produced today. Bic also makes other disposable products such as lighters and razors.