Edited by: Rich Norris
Quicklink to a complete list of today’s clues and answers
Today’s themed answers end with words often preceded by the word ESCAPE:
- 54A…Magician suggested by the ends of 20-, 27- and 47-Across..ESCAPE ARTIST
- 20A…Bar exhortation..DOWN THE HATCH (giving “escape hatch”)
- 27A…”Defence of Fort M’Henry” poet..FRANCIS SCOTT KEY (giving “escape key”)
- 47A…”Let’s do it!”..SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN! (giving “escape plan”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1…Bid with a weak hand, often..I PASS
That would be in bridge, the card game.
6…Nikon D5300, e.g…SLR
SLR stands for “single lens reflex”. Usually cameras with changeable lenses are the SLR type. The main feature of an SLR is that a mirror reflects the image seen through the lens out through the viewfinder, so that the photographer sees exactly what the lens sees. The mirror moves out of the way as the picture is taken, and the image that comes through the lens falls onto unexposed film, or nowadays onto a digital sensor.
Nikon was founded in 1917 with the merger of three companies making various optical devices. After the merger, the company’s main output was lenses (including the first lenses for Canon cameras, before Canon made its own). During the war, Nikon sales grew rapidly as the company focused on (pun!) equipment for the military including periscopes and bomb sights.
14…Like newly Botoxed skin..TAUT
Botulinum toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The toxin is a protein that can cause botulism, an extremely dangerous illness in humans and animals. Botulinum toxin is sold under the trade name Botox. Botox is used therapeutically and in cosmetic applications to weaken muscles, perhaps muscles that are in uncontrollable spasm. The cosmetic application involves the paralyzing of facial muscles in order to eliminate or reduce wrinkles, at least for a few months.
The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.
18…When Valjean adopts Cosette..ACT I
Victor Hugo’s famous 1862 novel “Les Misérables”, has been translated into English several times. However, the title is usually left in the original French as a successful translation of “les misérables” seems to be elusive. Some suggestions for an English title are “The Wretched”, “The Victims” and “The Dispossessed”. The novel follows the lives of several characters including an ex-convict Jean Valjean, a fanatic police inspector Javert, a beautiful prostitute Fantine, and Fantine’s illegitimate daughter Cosette.
19…Sorento and Sedona..KIAS
The Kia Sorento is an SUV, and the Kia Sedona is a minivan.
“Kerfuffle” comes from the Scottish “curfuffle”, with both words meaning “disruption”.
26…It can cover a lot..TAR
The terms “tar”, “tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call Tarmac.
27…”Defence of Fort M’Henry” poet..FRANCIS SCOTT KEY (giving “escape key”)
The lyrics to the US national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner” were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key as a poem called “Defence of Fort M’Henry”. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted for official use by the US Navy in 1889, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1889. The US Congress designated the song as the national anthem in 1931, with an act that was signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.
33…”Total Recall” (2012) director Wiseman..LEN
Len Wiseman is a movie director best known for the films “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Total Recall”. Wiseman is married to English actress Kate Beckinsale.
“Total Recall” is a very entertaining 1990 sci-fi action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film is loosely based on a short story by Philip K. Dick called “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”. The 1990 film was remade in 2012. The 2012 version stars Colin Farrell, and is very forgettable …
Anne Klein was a fashion designer from Brooklyn, New York.
36…Acting coach Hagen..UTA
Uta Hagen was a German-born American actress. Hagen married Jose Ferrer in 1938, but they were divorced ten years later after it was revealed that she was having a long-running affair with Paul Robeson. Her association with Robeson, a prominent civil rights activist, earned her a spot on the Hollywood Blacklist during the McCarthy Era. This forced her away from film, but towards a successful stage career in New York City.
37…”Don’t text and drive” ad, briefly..PSA
Public service announcement (PSA)
Estimated time of arrival (ETA)
A brogue is more commonly called a wingtip here in the US, I think. The shoe design originated in Ireland and Scotland, and “brog” the Irish word (and similar Scottish word) for shoe gives rise to the name. The brogue/wingtip design includes decorative perforations in the leather uppers. The toe cap of a brogue curves back in a shape that suggest the tip of a bird’s wing, hence the alternative name.
The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.
It is thought that the relatively gentle term “poppycock”, meaning “nonsense”, comes from a Dutch word for “dung” combined with a Latin word for “excrete”. Not so gentle after all …
Nowadays the word “luau” denotes almost any kind of party on the Hawaiian Islands, but to the purist a luau is a feast that always includes a serving of “poi”, the bulbous underground stems of taro baked with coconut milk.
7…Cause of much intolerance?..LACTOSE
Lactase is an enzyme produced in the digestive system of all infant humans. Lactase breaks down lactose, the complex sugar in milk. Lactase is produced by some adult humans, mainly those of European descent. Anyone lacking the ability to produce lactase is said to be “lactose intolerant”.
8…Babe or Baby..RUTH
Jack Dunn was the owner/manager of the Baltimore Orioles back in 1913, when he signed on George Herman Ruth as a pitcher. The other players called Ruth “Jack’s newest babe”, and the name “Babe” stuck.
One might be forgiven for thinking that the candy bar called a Baby Ruth was named after baseball legend Babe Ruth. However, the Curtiss Candy Company that introduced the confection in 1921 has stated that it was in fact named for Ruth Cleveland, the daughter of President Grover Cleveland. That said, there seems to be some debate …
9…Capital of Indonesia..JAKARTA
Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and is located on the northwest coast of the island of Java. The city’s name comes from “Jayakarta” meaning “complete victory”.
The iMac is a desktop computer platform from Apple introduced in 1998. One of the main features of the iMac is an “all-in-one” design, with the computer console and monitor integrated. The iMac also came in a range of colors, that Apple marketed as “flavors”, such strawberry, blueberry and lime.
Our word “nosh” has been around since the late fifties, when it was imported from the Yiddish word “nashn” meaning “to nibble”. We use “nosh” as a noun that means snack, or as a verb meaning to eat between meals.
A slang term for a “head” might be “bean” or “noggin”.
24…Second word of Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”..XANADU
“Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is my wife’s favorite poem. Coleridge wrote his masterpiece one night in 1797 after a vivid dream heavily influenced by opium.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
That would be the flagstick marking a golf hole.
29…It’s swung by some pinch hitters..CRICKET BAT
In cricket, a “pinch hitter” is a batsman who is already listed in the batting order, but who is promoted in that order. This tactic usually promotes a less valuable batsman in order to make more aggressive but risky shots. So, a pinch hitter is not a substitute, as is the case in baseball.
Cricket is the national game of England. The term “cricket” apparently comes from the Old French word “criquet” meaning “goalpost, stick”.
The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.
45…Fits in a cabin?..AIR RAGE
Incidents of “air rage”, disruptive and violent behavior by a passenger on an aircraft, seems to be a recent phenomenon. However, the first documented case of air rage dates back to 1947, with a drunk man assaulting a fellow passenger and an attendant on a flight from Havana to Miami.
The lovely dip/spread called hummus usually contains mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. The name “hummus” is an Arabic word for “chickpeas”.
55…Tough navy guy..SEAL
SEAL is an acronym used by the US Navy’s SEa, Air and Land teams. The SEALs were born out of the Navy’s special warfare groups from WWII, like the Underwater Demolition Teams and the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons. The Navy SEAL unit was established soon after President Kennedy’s famous speech in which he announced the plan to put a man on the moon, as in the same speech the president allocated $100m of funding to strengthen special operations forces. The Navy used some of this money to set up guerrilla and counterguerrilla units, which soon became the SEALs.
57…Many a Meccan..ARAB
Mecca is in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia and is the holiest city in Islam. Every year several million Muslims perform the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
63…Manjula’s husband, on “The Simpsons”..APU
The fictional Kwik-E-Mart store is operated by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on “The Simpsons” TV show. Apu is married to Manjula, and the couple have eight children. The convenience store owner doesn’t seem to be making much use of his Ph.D in computer science that he earned in the US. Apu’s undergraduate degree is from Caltech (the Calcutta Technical Institute), where he graduated top of his class of seven million students …