Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers each comprise two words starting with the letters RT, which sounds like ARTY. And, as was pointed out in a comment below, the second letter of each word in the themed answers form a vowel progression:
- 61D. Pretentiously cultured, and a phonetic hint to the answers to starred clues : ARTY (sounds like “RT”)
- 18A. *Increases homeowner levies, say : RAISES TAXES
- 24A. *EMS group : RESCUE TEAM
- 41A. *Meaty barbecued pork dish : RIB TIPS
- 50A. *Marinara sauce ingredient : ROMA TOMATO
- 62A. *Restaurant chain named for a Rolling Stones hit : RUBY TUESDAY
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Oysters are found in one : BED
A group of oysters is commonly referred to as a “bed”, and oysters can be farmed in man-made beds. The largest body of water producing oysters in the US today is Chesapeake Bay, although the number of beds continues to dwindle due to pollution and overfishing. Back in the 1800s, most of the world’s oysters came from New York Harbor.
9. Bowler’s challenge : SPLIT
In ten pin bowling, a split takes place when the number-one pin (headpin) is a knocked down with the first ball and two or more non-adjacent pins are left standing. The most difficult split to deal with is the infamous 7-10 split, where just the rear pins at the extreme right and left remain standing.
22. Tartan wrap : KILT
The Scottish skirt called a “kilt” takes its name from the Middle English word “kilten” meaning “to tuck up”. The idea is that the kilt can be tucked up around the body to give freedom to the legs.
Tartan is sometimes called “plaid” over here in the US, a word not used in the same sense outside of this country. In Scotland a “plaid” is a blanket or a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder.
24. *EMS group : RESCUE TEAM
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
27. 2015 FedExCup champ Jordan : SPIETH
Jordan Spieth is a young golfer from Dallas who made a name for himself in 2015 by becoming the second-youngest person to win the Masters, with only Tiger Woods being younger.
The FedExCup is a championship trophy that has been awarded since 2007 to golfers on the PGA Tour. Players win points throughout the season, with those earning the most points entering into playoff tournaments at the end of the season.
29. ’80s-’90s legal drama : 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.
33. Williams in the Country Music Hall of Fame : HANK
Hank Williams was a country singer who was regarded by many as the greatest country singer of all time. Williams topped the charts eleven times between 1948 and 1953. His career was cut short though, as he died at only 29 years of age. Williams suffered from spina bifida and was prescribed strong painkillers for his back pain, including morphine. He abused the drugs and alcohol and in 1952, even though he was at the height of his success, he was fired from the “Grand Ole Opry” and told not to return until he was sober. He died on New Year’s Day 1953 from heart failure exacerbated by alcohol and drugs.
34. “Brokeback Mountain” director : ANG LEE
The very successful 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain” is an adaptation of a short story written by Annie Proulx. The two romantic lead characters were Ennis del Mar (played by Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal).
40. Dutch financial powerhouse : ING
ING is a huge Dutch banking institution created via a merger in 1991. The company headquarters is in a spectacular building in Amsterdam called simply ING House. ING stands for Internationale Nederlanden Groep.
48. Siouan speakers : OSAGES
The Osage Nation originated in the Ohio River valley in what we now call Kentucky. They were forced to migrate west of the Mississippi by the invading Iroquois tribe. Most of the tribe members now live in Osage County, Oklahoma.
50. *Marinara sauce ingredient : ROMA TOMATO
The Roma tomato isn’t considered an heirloom variety, but it is very popular with home gardeners, especially those gardeners that don’t have a lot of space. It is a bush type (as opposed to vine type) and needs very little room to provide a lot of tomatoes.
Italians use the term “marinara” not for a sauce, but in the name of a recipe that includes a tomato-based sauce. For example, “spaghetti alla marinara” would be a spaghetti dish, served “mariner’s style”. The tomato sauce that we call “marinara” is called “salsa di pomodoro” in Italy.
58. San Joaquin Valley problem : SMOG
“Smog” is a portmanteau formed by melding “smoke” and “fog”. The term was first used to describe the air around London in the early 1900s. Several cities around the world have a reputation of being particularly smoggy. For example, the most smog-plagued city in Latin America is Mexico City, which is located in a highland “bowl” that traps industrial and vehicle pollution.
The San Joaquin Valley is in the southern part of the Central Valley of California (the northern part is the Sacramento Valley). The San Joaquin Valley is plagued with smog due to the surrounding mountains holding in pollution generated by traffic in built-up areas. The smog is bad that the San Joaquin Valley is one of the three worst areas in the country for pollution, along with Los Angeles and Houston.
59. Prying type : YENTA
Yenta (also “Yente”) is actually a female Yiddish name. In Yiddish theater “yenta” came to mean a busybody, a gossip.
62. *Restaurant chain named for a Rolling Stones hit : RUBY TUESDAY
“Ruby Tuesday” is a 1966 song by the Rolling Stones written by Keith Richards, and is apparently about a groupie that he once knew. The American chain of restaurants with the name Ruby Tuesday is named after the song.
66. “Hello” Grammy winner : ADELE
“Adele” is the stage name of English singer Adele Adkins. Adele’s debut album is “19”, named after the age she was during the album’s production. Her second album was even more successful than the first. Called “21”, the second album was released three years after the first, when Adele was three years older. More recently, her third studio album “25”, released in 2015, broke the first-week sales records in both the UK and the US.
68. Mining supply : TNT
“TNT” is an abbreviation for trinitrotoluene. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.
71. Pig’s pad : STY
Back in the 16th century a “pad” was a bundle of straw to lie on, and came to mean a “sleeping place” in the early 1700s. The term was revitalized in the hippie era.
2. Fictional governess : EYRE
“Jane Eyre” is a celebrated novel written by Charlotte Brontë, under the pen name Currer Bell. Over the years, I’ve shared here on my blogs that the “Jane Eyre” story line is a little too dark and Gothic for my taste, but a very persuasive blog reader convinced me to look more at the romantic side of the story and give it a second chance. I watched a wonderful 4-hour television adaptation of the novel made by the BBC a while back and I have to say that because I was focused on the relationship between Jane and Rochester, I was able to push past the Gothic influences (that depress me) so I really enjoyed the story. I thoroughly recommend the 2006 BBC adaptation to fans of the novel.
3. Double : DEAD RINGER
A “ringer” was originally a fast horse that was substituted surreptitiously into a race for a slower one. The term was derived from the verb “to ring in”, meaning to substitute. We use the phrase “dead ringer” to describe an exact duplicate.
5. Pirate’s milieu : SEA
We use the French term “milieu” to mean an environment, surroundings. In French, “milieu” is the word for “middle”.
6. Japanese 17-syllable poem : HAIKU
A haiku is a very elegant form of Japanese verse. When writing a haiku in English we tend to impose the rule that the verse must contain 17 syllables. This restriction comes from the rule in Japanese that the verse must contain 17 sound units called “moras”, but moras and syllables aren’t the same thing. What the difference is though, is not so clear to me. Here’s an example of a Haiku:
Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense
7. Borden spokescow : ELSIE
Elsie the Cow is the mascot of the Borden Company. Elsie first appeared at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, introduced to symbolize the perfect dairy product. She is so famous and respected that she has been awarded the degrees of Doctor of Bovinity, Doctor fo Human Kindness and Doctor of Ecownomics. Elsie was also given a husband named Elmer the Bull. Elmer eventually moved over to the chemical division of Borden where he gave his name to Elmer’s Glue.
8. Silvery food fish : SMELT
Smelt is the name given to several types of small silvery fish, examples being Great Lake smelts and whitebait smelts.
10. Blood component : PLASMA
Plasma (sometimes “plasm”) is the clear, yellow-colored liquid component of blood and lymph in which cells are suspended.
11. Very fancy : LUXE
“Luxe” is another word for luxury. The term came into English via French from the Latin “luxus” meaning luxury.
19. Sault __ Marie : STE
Sault Ste. Marie is the name of two cities on either side of the Canada-US border, one in Ontario and the other in Michigan. The two cities were originally one settlement in the 17th century, established by Jesuit Missionaries. The missionaries gave the settlement the name “Sault Sainte Marie”, which can be translated as “Saint Mary’s Falls”. The city was one community until 1817, when a US-UK Joint Boundary Commission set the border along the St. Mary’s River.
21. Adorkable one : GEEK
The original “geek” was a sideshow performer, perhaps at a circus. We use the term today for someone regarded as foolish or clumsy, but also for someone who is technically driven and expert, but socially inept.
I consider “dork” to be pretty offensive slang. It originated in the sixties among American students, and has its roots in another slang term, a term for male genitalia.
26. Tavern drinks : ALES
Our lovely word “tavern” comes into English via Old French, from the Latin “taberna”, the word for a “shop, inn, alehouse”.
30. Chant for D.C.’s baseball club : LET’S GO, NATS!
The Washington Nationals (“The Nats”) baseball team started out life as the Montreal Expos in 1969, and were the first Major League Baseball team in Canada. The Expos moved to Washington in 2005 becoming the Nats. There are only two Major Leagues teams that have never played in a World Series, one being the Mariners and the other the Nats.
32. Court orders : WRITS
A writ is an order issued by some formal body (these days, usually a court) with the order being in “written” form. Warrants and subpoenas are examples of writs.
35. Org. with Warriors and Wizards : NBA
The Golden State Warriors is our local NBA franchise out here in the San Francisco Bay Area and is based in Oakland, California. The team was founded in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors, becoming the San Francisco Warriors when they moved to City by the Bay in 1962. They changed named again (to Golden State) when they relocated to Oakland in 1971. The statewide name reflected the fact that the team played some of their 1971-72 season games in San Diego, and as such were “California’s” team.
The Washington Wizards are the professional basketball team based in the nation’s capital. The franchise began playing in Chicago as the Packers, in 1961. One year later, the Chicago team changed its name to the Zephyrs. After one more season, the franchise relocated and became the Baltimore Bullets. In 1973, the team moved to Landover, Maryland to became the Capital Bullets, and then took the Washington Bullets name the following season. The final name change came in 1995, as the owner was uncomfortable with the violent images conjured up by the “Bullets” name. The Wizards name was chosen after a fan contest.
36. Alfa Romeo sports cars : GTS
The “Alfa” in Alfa Romeo is actually an acronym, standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.
38. Surrey town known for salts : EPSOM
The Surrey town of Epsom in England is most famous for its racecourse (Epsom Downs), at which is run the Epsom Derby every year, one of the three races that make up the English Triple Crown. We also come across Epsom salt from time to time. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters. Epsom was indeed a spa town at one time. The town is also home to Epsom College, an English “public school” (which actually means “private, and expensive”). One of Epsom’s “old boys” was the Hollywood actor Stewart Granger.
41. San __: Riviera resort : REMO
The Italian city of San Remo sits on the Mediterranean, right on the border with France. In Italian the city is named Sanremo, just one word, although the spelling of “San Remo” dates back to ancient times.
“Riviera” is an Italian word meaning “coastline”. The term is often applied to a coastline that is sunny and popular with tourists. The term “the Riviera” is usually reserved for the French Riviera (the Mediterranean coastline in southeastern France), and the Italian Riviera (the Mediterranean coastline centered on Genoa).
45. Hors d’oeuvres spread : PATE
Pâté is a rich spreadable paste made up of a mixture of ground meat and fat, to which various vegetables, herbs and spices may be added. The most famous version of the paste is pâté de foie gras, made from the fattened livers of geese (“foie gras” means “fat liver” in French).
An hors d’oeuvre is the first course in a meal. “Hors d’oeuvre” translates from French as “apart from the work”, really meaning “not the main course”.
47. Diamond-shaped pattern : ARGYLE
The argyle pattern is based on the Campbell tartan. The Campbell clan is based in the Argyll region (note the spelling) in the west of Scotland, giving the Argyle pattern its name.
51. The Spartans of the NCAA : MSU
The sports teams of Michigan State University (MSU) used be called the Aggies, as the school was founded as the State Agricultural College of Michigan. The team name was changed to the Spartans in 1925, reflecting the school’s shift in focus beyond agriculture-centered education. The school mascot Sparty hit the scene in 1989.
53. Puccini premiere of 1900 : TOSCA
Unlike so many operas, Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” was a big hit right from day one, when it was first performed in 1900 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. “Tosca” is currently the eighth-most performed opera in America.
54. Nash who rhymed “grackle” with “debacle” : OGDEN
The grackle’s voice is less than mellow,
His heart is black, his eye is yellow,
He bullies more attractive birds
With hoodlum deeds and vulgar words,
And should a human interfere,
Attacks that human in the rear.
I cannot help but deem the grackle
An ornithological debacle.
55. Dull : DRAB
We now use the word “drab” to mean “dull, cheerless”. Back in the late 17th century, “drab” was the color of natural, undyed cloth.
57. Popular rideshare app : UBER
Uber is a ridesharing service that was founded in 2009 and is based in San Francisco. The service is somewhat controversial and has been described as an illegal taxicab operation. Central to Uber’s service is the company’s mobile app, which can use the client’s GPS location to help find the nearest available ride. Uber’s main competitor is Lyft. Personally, I love the service and have only had good experiences …
63. Spring Festival : China :: __ : Vietnam : TET
What we refer to as “Chinese New Year” here in North America, is known as “Spring Festival” in mainland China.
The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.