Edited by: Rich Norris
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In today’s grid we have several instances of two letters O sitting one over the other. Each pair of letters O resemble the number 8, and are used as such in today’s themed answers:
- 30D. Treasure chest coins represented graphically by two consecutive letters in six puzzle answers (including this one) : PIECES OF 8
- 3D. ’70s-’80s show about a big family : 8 IS ENOUGH
- 7D. Obsolete audio technology : 8-TRACK
- 9D. Federal housing assistance program : SECTION 8
- 32D. 1875 Alcott novel : 8 COUSINS
- 40D. Budget motel chain : SUPER 8
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Short pants? : TROU
“Trou” is short for “trousers”.
“Trousers” are pants, the garment covering the lower body and each leg separately. Ultimately, the word “trousers” evolved from the Erse word “triubhas” that described close-fitting shorts. Back in the 1600s there was a colorful saying:
A jellous wife was like an Irish trouze, alwayes close to a mans tayle
5. “Gloria in Excelsis __” : DEO
“Gloria in excelsis Deo” is a Latin hymn, the title of which translates as “Glory to God in the highest”.
8. Where JFK, Nixon and Carter served : US NAVY
Future US president John F. Kennedy served with the US Navy during WWII. Famously, Lieutenant Kennedy was assignedto a Motor Torpedo Squadron. Kennedy’s most noted command was Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109. PT-109 was sunk in an engagement with a Japanese destroyer in the Solomon Islands. The story of the crew’s evasion of the Japanese and subsequent rescue is told in the 1963 film “PT 109”.
Future US president Richard Nixon might have claimed exemption from the draft during WWII as he was a Quaker from birth. Instead, he sought a commission in the US Navy and was made a lieutenant junior grade in the Naval Reserve in 1942. After a year-long stint in Iowa, Lieutenant Nixon requested sea duty and was assigned to the South Pacific Theater. Nixon was in charge of several logistic operations supporting combat while stationed at Guadalcanal and Green Island in Papua New Guinea.
President James Earl “Jimmy” Carter (JEC) is a graduate of the US Naval Academy (USNA). Carter served in the Navy on surface ships and submarines, and chose to pursue a career in the submarine service as he was interested in nuclear power and believed it had a great future in submarine design. As a result, he became an expert in nuclear propulsion. In 1952, the Navy sent the young Carter to the Chalk River Laboratories in Canada to lead the US effort to shutdown the reactor after an accident and partial meltdown of a reactor core. He and his team had to be lowered into the leaking reactor core for mechanical disassembly, staying there for only seconds at a time to minimise exposure to radiation. Decades later as US President, it was this experience that influenced Carter’s decision not to complete the development of the neutron bomb.
14. Brazil’s largest city : SAO PAULO
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It is also the city with the highest number of helicopters in the world. This is partly driven by the horrendous traffic jams in São Paulo, but also by the wealthy having a very real fear of being kidnapped on the city’s streets.
16. Military builder : SEABEE
The Seabees are members of the Construction Battalions (CB) of the US Navy, from which the name “Seabee” originates. There’s a great 1944 movie called “The Fighting Seabees” starring John Wayne that tells the story of the birth of the Seabees during WWII. The Seabees’ official motto is “Construimus. Batuimus”, Latin for “We build. We fight.” The group’s unofficial motto is “Can Do!”
18. MLB single-season recordholder for most hits : ICHIRO
Ichiro Suzuki plays baseball for the New York Yankees. Suzuki holds quite a few batting records including the single-season record for base hits (262), and a record-breaking streak of 10 consecutive 200-hit season. Ichiro Suzuki is a huge celebrity in his native-Japan. His agent says that if you address fan mail to “Ichiro Suzuki, Japan”, he’ll get your letter …
20. Musical set in Manhattan’s East Village : RENT
The musical “Rent” by Jonathan Larson is based on the Puccini opera “La bohème”. “Rent” tells the story of struggling artists and musicians living in the Lower East Side of New York, and is set against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic. We saw “Rent” on Broadway quite a few years ago and we were very disappointed …
22. Shooting marble : TAW
In the game of marbles, the “taw” is the shooting marble, and is shot at the “ducks”.
23. “Xanadu” gp. : ELO
The title song of the 1980 movie “Xanadu” was performed by the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and Olivia Newton-John (who starred in the film). Despite the popularity of ELO around the world, the song “Xanadu” was the band’s only number one hit back in their homeland of the UK.
24. Youngest Simpson : MAGGIE
Maggie Simpson is the youngest child of Marge and Homer Simpson on the animated tv show “The Simpsons”. Maggie is voiced by Nancy Cartwright, who also voices Bart Simpson.
28. Somewhat, to Saint-Saëns : POCO
“Poco” is an Italian word for “little”, and is used in musical notation to mean “a little”.
Camille Saint-Saens was one of the great French composers in my opinion. Saint-Saëns composed during the Romantic Era, and it was he who introduced the symphonic poem to France. Even his light and airy “The Carnival of the Animals” is a lovely work.
31. Spanish pronoun : ESO
In Spanish, if it’s not “esto” (this) or “eso” (that) then it’s the “otro” (other).
32. Pen pal’s greeting? : OINK
That would be a pig pen.
36. No-hitter, usually : SHUTOUT
That would be baseball.
39. Hogwarts subjects : MAGICS
In J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” universe, The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded by the four most brilliant witches and wizards of their time: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. Each of the founders lent their name to a House in the school, i.e. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
40. Ford maverick? : SOLO
Han Solo is the space smuggler in “Star Wars” played by Harrison Ford. Ford was originally hired by George Lucas just to read lines for actors during auditions for “Star Wars”, but over time Lucas became convinced that Ford was right for the pivotal role of Han Solo.
The concept of being one’s own person, going it alone, is popularly known as being a “maverick”. In the days of open range ranching, a maverick was a steer that didn’t carry a brand. An unbranded animal was usually the result of a branded animal giving birth on the open range, with the young growing up without having being captured and claimed by an owner. The use of the name “maverick” comes from Texas rancher Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. He stated that he did not want to inflict pain on his cattle, and so laid claim to any cattle on the range that weren’t branded. His stubborn refusal to cooperate with the neighboring ranchers gave rise to our modern description of a single-minded individual as a “maverick”.
41. Windy City transit initials : CTA
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
It seems that the derivation of Chicago’s nickname as the “Windy City” isn’t as obvious as I would have thought. There are two viable theories. First that the weather can be breezy, with wind blowing in off Lake Michigan. The effect of the wind is exaggerated by the grid-layout adopted by city planners after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The second theory is that “windy” means “being full of bluster”. Sportswriters from the rival city of Cincinnati were fond of calling Chicago supporters “windy” in the 1860s and 1870s, meaning that they were full of hot air in their claims that the Chicago White Stockings were superior to the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
42. Blue Shield offering : HMO
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association formed in 1982 with the merger of Blue Shield and Blue Cross Association in 1982. Blue Cross health insurance plans were established in 1929 based on a plan used at Baylor University in Dallas. Blue Shield plans were first developed by employers in lumber and mining camps in the Pacific Northwest in 1910.
44. Hardy title teenager : TESS
The full name of Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel is “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented”. When it was originally published, “Tess …” received very mixed reviews, largely because it addressed some difficult sexual themes including rape, and sexual double standards (attitudes towards men vs women). I suppose the most celebrated screen adaptation is Roman Polanski’s “Tess” released in 1979. Polanski apparently made “Tess” because his wife, Sharon Tate, gave him Hardy’s novel as her last act before she was murdered by the Manson family. There is a dedication at the beginning of the movie that just says “To Sharon”.
45. Carpathian Mountains locale : EUROPE
The Carpathian Mountains are the second longest range in Europe (after the Scandinavian Mountains), and run from the Czech Republic through Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Romania and into Serbia.
47. Do diner work : BUS
A busboy is a person who assists a waiter, mainly by clearing tables. The verb “to bus” arose in the early 1900s and is probably a reference to the wheeled cart that was used to carry dishes.
48. Roadie’s box : AMP
A roadie is someone who loads, unloads and sets up equipment for musicians on tour, on the road.
51. Product made from fermented rice : SAKE
We refer to the Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice as “sake”. We’ve gotten things a bit mixed up in the West. “Sake” is actually the word that the Japanese use for all alcoholic drinks. What we know as sake, we sometimes refer to as rice wine. Also, the starch in the rice is first converted to sugars that are then fermented into alcohol. This is more akin to a beer-brewing process than wine production, so the end product is really a rice “beer” rather than a rice “wine”.
52. Game typically with 81 squares : SUDOKU
Number puzzles similar to our modern-day Sudoku first appeared in French newspapers in the late 1800s. The format that we use today was created by Howard Garns, a 74-year-old freelance puzzle constructor from Connersville, Indiana and first published in 1979. The format was introduced in Japan in 1984 and given the title of “Sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru”, which translates to “the digits are limited to one occurrence”. The rather elaborate Japanese title was eventually shortened to Sudoku. No doubt many of you are fans of Sudoku puzzles. I know I am …
62. Muesli bit : OAT
“Muesli” is a Swiss-German term describing a breakfast serving of oats, nuts, fruit and milk. “Muesli” is a diminutive of the German word “Mues” meaning “puree”. Delicious …
1. Russia had one in the 20th century : TSAR
The last ruler of Imperial Russia was Tsar Nicholas II (of the House of Romanov). Famously, the Tsar and his family were murdered in 1918 in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg, Russia by members of the Bolshevik secret police. The Tsar’s youngest daughter was 16-year-old Anastasia and rumors of her escape have persisted for years. The rumors grew with the help of numerous women who claimed to be Anastasia. In 2009, DNA testing finally proved that the remains of all of the Tsar’s immediate family, including Anastasia, have been found and identified.
3. ’70s-’80s show about a big family : 8 IS ENOUGH
“Eight Is Enough” is a comedy drama that originally ran from 1977 to 1981 on ABC. Star of the show was Dick Van Patten who played Tom Bradford, a newspaper columnist and father of eight children. The show was inspired by the real life situation of journalist Tom Braden who wrote a book called “Eight is Enough”. Braden co-hosted CNN’s “Crossfire” for ten years with Pat Buchanan and then Robert Novak.
5. “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love,” e.g. : DUET
“Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” is a lovely 1983 duet recorded by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack.
6. Brother of Peyton : ELI
Eli Manning plays as quarterback for the New York Giants. Eli’s brother Peyton Manning retired from football as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2015. Eli and Peyton’s father is Archie Manning, who was also a successful NFL quarterback. Eli, Peyton and Archie co-authored a book for children titles “Family Huddle” in 2009. It describes the Mannings playing football together as young boys.
7. Obsolete audio technology : 8-TRACK
“8-track” is a common term for the sound recording technology more correctly called “Stereo 8”. 8-track became popular for a while because its magnetic tape came in a cartridge that was convenient to use in a car.
9. Federal housing assistance program : SECTION 8
The Section 8 program provides federal subsidies to private landlords so that they can rent housing to qualified low income tenants. The title of the program is a reference to Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, which authorizes such payments.
24. Pyrénées peak : MONT
The Pyrénées is a mountain range that runs along the border between Spain and France. Nestled between the two countries, high in the mountains, is the lovely country of Andorra, an old haunt of my family during skiing season …
25. Mike of “Next Friday” : EPPS
Mike Epps is a stand-up comedian and actor from Indianapolis. Epps played Day-Day Jones in the 2000 stoner film “Next Friday”, and in the 2002 sequel “Friday After Next”.
27. Org. that inspects workplaces : OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 during the Nixon administration. OSHA regulates workplaces in the private sector and regulates just one government agency, namely the US Postal Service.
28. Any of 12 popes : PIUS
There have been twelve popes named Pius, the latest being Pope Pius XII who led the Roman Catholic Church until his death in 1958.
30. Treasure chest coins represented graphically by two consecutive letters in six puzzle answers (including this one) : PIECES OF 8
The coin called a “peso” is used in many Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The coin originated in Spain where the word “peso” means “weight”. The original peso was what we know in English as a “piece of eight”, a silver coin of a specific weight that had a nominal value of eight “reales”.
32. 1875 Alcott novel : 8 COUSINS
“Eight Cousins” is an 1875 work by Louisa May Alcott, who is most famous for her 1868 novel “Little Women” and it two sequels. “Eight Cousins” tells the story of orphan Rose Campbell who finds her place with her guardian, Uncle Alec, and her seven boy cousins.
33. Uma’s role in “The Producers” : ULLA
Robert Thurman was the first westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Robert raised his children in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and called his daughter “Uma” as it is a phonetic spelling of the Buddhist name “Dbuma”. Uma’s big break in movies came with her starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction”. My favorite Uma Thurman film is the wonderful 1996 romantic comedy “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”.
“The Producers” is a 1968 satirical movie written and directed by Mel Brooks, the first film he ever directed. Brooks adapted the movie into a hugely successful Broadway musical that won a record 12 Tony Awards. The original leads in the stage show, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, then appeared in a 2005 movie adaptation of the musical version of the original film!
37. Fourth dimension : TIME
In the world of physics, spacetime is a 4-dimensional model that melds the three dimensions of space with a time as a fourth dimension. I’ve tried to understand spacetime so many times, but have never gotten very far. What I hear all the “time” is that the curvature of spacetime is … gravity.
40. Budget motel chain : SUPER 8
Super 8 is a budget hotel chain. The chain got the name as the original room rate (back in 1972) was set at $8.88.
43. Hunky-dory : A-OK
Our term “A-OK” is supposedly an abbreviation for “A(ll systems are) OK”, and arose in the sixties during the Space Program.
Surprisingly (to me), the term “hunky-dory” has been around a long time, and is documented back in the mid-1800s. Nobody’s really sure of its origin, but some say it is an Anglicization of Honcho dori, that back in the day was a street of ill repute in Yokohama, Japan.
44. Elizabeth I’s line : TUDORS
The Elizabethan Era, the period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, is considered by many to be the golden age of English history, the age of Shakespeare and the English Renaissance. Elizabeth I was the last sovereign of the House of Tudor, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
47. “Hamilton” role : BURR
“Hamilton” is a 2015 musical based on the life or US Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, as described in the 2004 biography by Ron Chernow. The show opened off-Broadway in February 2015, and transferred to Broadway in August of the same year. Advance ticket sales for the Broadway production were unprecedented, and reportedly amounted to $30 million. The representations of the main characters is decidedly ground-breaking. The show is rooted in hip-hop and the main roles such as Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are all played by African-American and Hispanic actors.
48. Help with a job? : ABET
The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (it literally means “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.
52. Editor’s mark : STET
“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.
53. Captain hanged for piracy : KIDD
William Kidd was a Scottish privateer who went by the name “Captain Kidd”. Although Kidd was a privateer, someone authorized by the government to attack foreign shipping, he was eventually arrested and executed for piracy. There is common opinion held today that the charges against Kidd were actually trumped up. Captain Kidd’s story was the basis of a 1945 film called “Captain Kidd” starring Charles Laughton in the title role. Laughton also appeared as Captain Kidd in 1952’s comic movie “Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd”.
54. 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”.
58. Spacewalk initials : EVA
Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is the name given to any work done by an astronaut outside of his or her spacecraft. The term would encompass walking on the moon, as well as making a space walk i.e. floating around in space tethered to spacecraft.