Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to comments
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
8. Percussion instrument : TIMPANI
The timpani are also called the kettledrums. “Timpani” is an Italian term with the same meaning as in English, the plural of “timpano”.
15. Contemporary of Plácido : LUCIANO
Luciano Pavarotti has to have been one of the most celebrated tenors of all time. He was able to appeal to audiences beyond the traditional fans of opera, helped by his performances with the Three Tenors: Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. Pavarotti made his final performance on stage at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, where he sang his famous rendition of the moving aria “Nessun dorma” and brought the house down. Pavarotti passed away from pancreatic cancer the following year, at the age of 71.
Plácido Domingo is a Spanish tenor, from Madrid. Famously, Domingo was one of the Three Tenors, the performing trio that brought classical arias to the masses. The other two “Tenors” were fellow-Spaniard José Carreras and Italian Luciano Pavarotti.
18. Like the flame at Graceland : ETERNAL
Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and moved to Memphis, Tennessee with his family when he was 13-years-old. Once he had achieved fame, Elvis purchased Graceland, the famous Memphis home that he used for himself and his family. I visited Graceland some years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
20. Workout spot : YMCA
The YMCA is a worldwide movement that has its roots in London, England. There, in 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded with the intent of promoting Christian principles through the development of “a healthy spirit, mind and body”. The founder, George Williams, saw the need to create YMCA facilities for young men who were flocking to the cities as the Industrial Revolution flourished. He saw that these men were frequenting taverns and brothels, and wanted to offer a more wholesome alternative.
25. Springfield bar : MOE’S
Moe Szyslak is the surly bartender and owner of Moe’s Tavern in “The Simpsons” animated TV show. I don’t really care for “The Simpsons”, but Hank Azaria who supplies the voice for the Moe character … him I like …
“The Simpsons” television show is meant to be set in “anytown, USA”. The creators chose the name “Springfield”, as it is one of most common town and city names in the country.
26. Traditional March 14 servings : PIES
The first three digits of the mathematical constant pi are 3.14. Pi Day has been celebrated on March 14th (3/14) every year since 1988, when it was inaugurated at the San Francisco Exploratorium. In countries where the day is usually written before the month, Pi Day is July 22nd, reflecting the more accurate approximation of pi as 22/7. Interestingly, March 14th is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.
27. Venus, when appearing as the morning star : LUCIFER
Due to the difference in orbit between the Earth and Venus, Venus appears in the night sky sometimes after sunset, and sometimes just before sunrise. Ancient civilization perceived this light in the sky as two different entities, labelling one appearance as the “evening star”, and one as the “morning star”. Ancient Romans named the evening star “Vesper” (from the Greek for “evening”), and the morning star “Lucifer” (from the Greek for “light bringer”).
29. Paradise in “On the Road” : SAL
Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel “On the Road” is largely autobiographical, telling the story of Sal Paradise (Jack K.) and the road trips that he and his friends took across the country in the fifties.
34. Longtime NBC hit : SNL
NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1975 under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. Back then “The Tonight Show” had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to put together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and he came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.
36. Pittsburgh’s __ Park : PNC
PNC Park is the home to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. The park is sponsored by PNC Financial Services, the sixth largest bank in the US, and founded and based in Pittsburgh.
37. Thanksgiving, e.g.: Abbr. : THU
Thanksgiving Day was observed on different dates in different states for many years, until Abraham Lincoln fixed the date for the whole country in 1863. Lincoln’s presidential proclamation set that date as the last Thursday in November. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November, arguing that the earlier date would give the economy a much-needed boost.
38. Helpful program for frequent fliers : TSA PRECHECK
The Transportation Security Administration operates its a precheck program known as “TSA Pre✓”. Members of the program receive expedited screening at airports at most airports. In order to become a member, a traveler must apply online, appear in person at a designated office for a background check and fingerprinting, and pay a fee for a 5-year membership.
42. Joan of Arc, for one : HEROINE
Joan of Arc (also “Jeanne d’Arc”, her birth name) led the French Army successfully into battle a number of times during the Hundred Years War with England. When she was eventually captured, Joan was tried in Rouen, the seat of the occupying English government in France at that time. There she was burned at the stake having been found guilty of heresy. In fact, after the fire died down, the executioner raked the coals to display the charred body, proving Joan had died, and then burned the corpse again, twice, so that relics could not be collected. The remaining ashes were then cast into the Seine River. Joan of Arc was canonized some 600 years later, in 1920, and is now one of the patron saints of France.
43. Fill up : SATE
“Sate” is a variant of the older word “satiate”. Both terms can mean either to satisfy an appetite fully, or to eat to excess.
47. Father’s ceremony : MASS
The principal act of worship in the Roman Catholic tradition is the Mass. The term “Mass” comes from the Late Latin word “missa” meaning “dismissal”. This word is used at the end of the Latin Mass in “Ite, missa est” which translates literally as “Go, it is the dismissal”.
48. The first “A” in A.A. Milne : ALAN
Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne was an English author, best known for his delightful “Winnie-the-Pooh” series of books. He had only one son, Christopher Robin Milne, born in 1920. The young Milne was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin character in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Winnie-the-Pooh was named after Christopher Robin’s real teddy bear, one he called Winnie, who in turn was named after a Canadian black bear called Winnie that the Milnes would visit in London Zoo. The original Winnie teddy bear is on display at the main branch of the New York Public Library in New York.
49. Great Plains st. : OKLA
The Great Plains lie between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains in North America. This vast grassland is known as “the Prairies” in Canada.
50. Maestro Doráti : ANTAL
Antal Doráti was a Hungarian-born conductor and composer who directed several respected orchestras around the world, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1963-66), the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. (1970-77), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1975-79).
52. Trattoria staple : RAVIOLI
Ravioli (singular “raviolo”) are filled dumplings served in Italian cuisine.
54. Theater originally lit with oil lamps : LA SCALA
La Scala Opera House opened in 1778. It was built on the site of the church of Santa Maria della Scala, which gave the theater its name: “Teatro alla Scala” in Italian.
2. They started the Arab Spring : TUNISIANS
The term “Arab Spring” has been applied to the wave of protests, riots and civil wars that impacted the Arab world for 2010 to 2012. The uprisings were sparked by the Tunisian Revolution at the end of 2010 that led to the ouster of the longtime president and the institution of democratic elections. The period of instability that followed in some Arab League countries has been dubbed the “Arab Winter”.
3. Like Pentatonix performances : A CAPPELLA
“A cappella” music is sung without instruments accompanying. The name translates from Italian as “in the manner of the chapel”.
Pentatonix (sometimes “PTX”) is an a cappella group that was founded by school chums in Arlington, Texas. The group’s break came with a win in 2011 on the NBC reality show “The Sing-Off”.
4. Unlikely GoFundMe supporters : MISERS
GoFundMe is what is known as “crowdfunding” website, based in San Diego.
“Crowdsourcing” is mainly an online phenomenon, and is the solicitation of perhaps services, ideas or content from a large group of people. “Crowdsourcing” is a portmanteau of “crowd” and “outsourcing”. One example of crowdsourcing is “crowdfunding”, where an individual solicits many small contributions from a large number of people to fund a project.
5. One taking a fall : PATSY
The etymology of the word “patsy” meaning “fall guy” isn’t really understood. One colorful theory suggests that the term comes from an 1890s vaudeville character named Patsy Bolivar, who always got the blame when something went wrong.
8. Dancers seen in strips? : THE CHIPPENDALES
Chippendales is a big touring operation featuring exotic male dancers. The original Chippendales was a nightclub in Los Angeles in the early eighties. The establishment’s name was inspired by the Chippendale-style furniture used in the club.
9. Little bit : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.
10. Fr. title : MME
The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame), in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora) and in Portuguese is also “Sra.” (Senhora).
12. Jack’s links rival : ARNIE
Arnold Palmer was one of the greats of the world of golf. He was very popular with many fans of the game, and his followers were usually referred to as “Arnie’s Army”. Off the course, Palmer was an avid pilot, until his latter years. He resided in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for much of the year and the local airport is named in his honor: Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.
Jack Nicklaus is a professional golfer from Columbus, Ohio. Nicknamed “the Golden Bear”, Nicklaus holds the record for winning the most major championships (18). Tiger Woods is in second place, having won 14 to date.
25. Pharmaceutical giant : MERCK
Merck & Co., Inc. is a US company, once a subsidiary of the German company known today as Merck KGaA. The US subsidiary of the German firm was confiscated in 1917 during WWI, and set up as an independent company that grew into the giant that it is today.
30. Hawked stuff : WARES
The verb “to hawk” has a Germanic origin, from the Low German word “hoken” meaning “to peddle”. A hawker is actually slightly different from a peddler by definition, as a hawker is a peddler that uses a horse and cart, or a van nowadays perhaps, to sell his or her wares.
33. Knight who co-founded Death Row Records : SUGE
Suge Knight is a record producer, and the co-founder of the record company Death Row Records. Early in his career, Knight played two NFL games for the LA Rams, albeit during the 1987 NFL players’ strike. Knight has been involved in many violent incidents, and has spent time in jail. In 2014, he was shot six times at a party, but survived. Knight was arrested and charged with murder in 2015 after a hit-and-run incident that left one of Knight’s friends dead and another seriously injured.
40. Barrier for Sisyphus : HILL
In the Greek myth, Sisyphus is condemned to roll a boulder up a hill, watch it fall back, then roll it up the hill again for eternity.
43. Safe havens : SANCTA
A “sanctum” (plural “sancta”) is a private place where one can hide away without fear of intrusion. I love my sanctum …
45. “Ungainly fowl” of poetry : RAVEN
“The Raven” is a narrative poem by Edgar Allan Poe that tells of a student who has lost the love of his life, Lenore. A raven enters the student’s bedchamber and perches on a bust of Pallas. The raven can talk, to the student’s surprise, but says nothing but the word “nevermore” (“quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’”). As the student questions all aspects of his life, the raven taunts him with the same comment, “nevermore”. Finally the student decides that his soul is trapped beneath the raven’s shadow and shall be lifted “nevermore” …
47. __ jar : MASON
Mason jars were invented in 1858 in Philadelphia, by a tinsmith named John Landis Mason.
49. Lena of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” : OLIN
Lena Olin is a Swedish actress, and clearly someone who had acting in her blood. Her mother was the actress Britta Holmberg and her father the actor and director Stig Olin. Olin had a very successful career in Sweden, often working with the great Ingmar Bergman. Olin’s breakthrough international and English-speaking role was playing opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” released in 1988. Way back in 1974, the lovely Miss Olin was crowned Miss Scandinavia in a beauty pageant for Nordic women held in Helsinki, Finland.
“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” is a 1988 big screen adaptation of a 1984 novel of the same name by Milan Kundera. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Lena Olin, the film explores the complicated relationship of two couples living in Prague in 1968. That was the year of the Prague Spring, the brief period of political liberalization under Communist Party leader Alexander Dubček. It was also the year of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact countries in response to Dubček’s reforms.
53. Coty subsidiary that makes nail polish : OPI
Opi is a manufacturer of nail polish based in North Hollywood, California. One of Opi’s marketing coups was the introduction of a line of Legally Blonde 2 polishes, which featured in the film.
55. Brandy statistic : AGE
Brandy is a spirit distilled from wine. The term “brandy” ultimately comes from the Dutch “gebrande wijn” meaning “burnt wine”. The length of this aging of the spirit defines the various grades of brandy:
- VS: Very Special … at least 2 years storage
- VSOP: Very Special (or Superior) Old Pale … at least 4 years storage
- XO: Extra Old … at least 6 years
- VSO: Very Superior Old … 12-17 years