Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers comprise three words starting with the letters POP:
- 64A. Portmanteau word describing some great music … or, initially, four answers in this puzzle : POPTASTIC
- 17A. Type of film industry contract : PAY OR PLAY
- 24A. M&M’s choice : PLAIN OR PEANUTS
- 39A. Academic ultimatum : PUBLISH OR PERISH
- 51A. Shopper’s decision : PAPER OR PLASTIC
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Memo phrase : IN RE
The term “in re” is Latin, derived from “in” (in) and “res” (thing, matter). “In re” literally means “in the matter”, and is used to mean “in regard to”, or “in the matter of”.
5. Music-playing Apple : IPOD
The iPod is Apple’s signature line of portable media players. The iPod first hit the market in 2001 with a hard drive-based device, now known as the iPod Classic. Later models all use flash memory, allowing a smaller form factor. The smallest of the flash-based models is the iPod Shuffle, which was introduced in 2005.
9. Improvises musically : SCATS
Scat singing is a vocal improvisation found in the world of jazz. There aren’t any words as such in scat singing, just random nonsense syllables made up on the spot.
15. “__ Lisa” : MONA
“Mona Lisa” is a marvelous 1950 song that topped the charts for Nat King Cole for eight weeks. The song was written for the film “Captain Carey, U.S.A.” that was released that same year, starring Alan Ladd. “Mona Lisa” won the Oscar for Best Original Song.
17. Type of film industry contract : PAY OR PLAY
Major players in the film industry have the box-office power to demand “pay-or-play” contracts when signing up for a movie. Such contracts guarantee the individual full payment, or a substantial part of the full payment, should the film not go into production.
19. Capital south of Moscow : BOISE
Boise, Idaho is the largest metropolitan area in the state by far. There are a number of stories pertaining to the etymology of the name “Boise”. One is that French trappers named the tree-lined river that ran through the area “la rivière boisée”, meaning “the wooded river”.
In its early days the city of Moscow, Idaho was known as Paradise Valley, with the name change taking place in 1875. The choice of “Moscow” seems unexplained, but it is more likely related to Moscow, Pennsylvania than Moscow, Russia. Moscow is home to the University of Idaho.
20. Former justice Antonin : SCALIA
Antonin Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1986, and was the longest serving member of the court on the occasion of his passing in 2016. Justice Scalia’s minority opinions were known for the scathing language that he used to criticize the Court’s majority.
24. M&M’s choice : PLAIN OR PEANUTS
Peanut M&M’s were introduced in 1954, and at first were only produced in a tan color.
28. “High Voltage” band : AC/DC
The hard rock band AC/DC recorded two albums titled “High Voltage”. The first was released in 1975, only in their native Australia. The second was released in 1976, but this version of “High Voltage” was marketed internationally. The second album bears little resemblance to the first.
35. Mothers of Invention leader : ZAPPA
Frank Zappa was an American composer and guitarist, a solo artist as well as the founding member of the rock band Mothers of Invention. You might like to meet Zappa’s four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.
39. Academic ultimatum : PUBLISH OR PERISH
The phrase “publish or perish” is commonly used in the world of academia to describe the pressure to continually produce academic papers in order to further one’s career. The phrase probably dates back to the 1920s.
43. Early computer : ENIAC
The acronym ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (although many folks insist that the C was for “Computer”). ENIAC was introduced at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946, at which time it was the first general-purpose electronic computer. Its original purpose was the calculation of artillery firing tables, but it ended up being used early on to make calculations necessary for the development of the hydrogen bomb. Given its uses, it’s not surprising to hear that development of ENIAC was funded by the US Army during WWII.
49. Cavity filler’s org. : ADA
American Dental Association (ADA)
58. Smelting waste : SLAG
The better lead ores are processed in a blast furnace, to extract the metal. The “waste” from this process is called “slag”. Slag does contain some lead and it can be processed further in a “slag furnace” to extract the residual metal. Slag furnaces also accept poorer lead ores as a raw material.
59. Neighbor of Turk. : SYR
The modern state that we know as Syria was established after WWI as a French mandate. Syria was granted independence from France in 1946.
62. Dutch city, with “The” : HAGUE
Den Haag is the Dutch name for the city in the Netherlands that we know in English as The Hague. Even though The Hague is the seat of the Dutch parliament and is where Queen Beatrix resides, it is not the country’s capital city. That honor goes to Amsterdam.
64. Portmanteau word describing some great music … or, initially, four answers in this puzzle : POPTASTIC
A portmanteau was a large suitcase, one that could be taken apart into two separate pieces. The word “portmanteau” is French for a “travelling bag”, from “porter” (to carry) and “manteau” (a coat, cloak). We also use “portmanteau” to mean a word that has been melded together from two parts (just as the suitcase comprised two parts). This usage was introduced to the world by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. He explained to Alice that the nonsense words in the “Jabberwocky” poem were actually portmanteau words. For example “slithy” comes from from “slimy” and “lithe”.
67. Not yours, in Tours : A MOI
“À moi” (literally “to me”) is French for “mine”.
Tours is the largest city in the Centre region of France. It is said that the people of Tours speak the “purest” form of French in the whole country, and when spoken by a local it is also said to be free of any accent.
68. Singer k.d. : LANG
k.d. lang is the stage name of Kathryn Dawn Lang, a Canadian singer and songwriter. Beyond her performing career, lang is a noted activist focused on animal rights, gay rights, and human rights in Tibet.
70. Short period of time, for short : NSEC
“Nanosecond” is more correctly abbreviated to “ns” (as opposed to “nsec”) and really is a tiny amount of time: one billionth of a second.
2. Rights org. since 1909 : NAACP
The full name of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is remarkable in that it actually still uses the offensive term “colored people”. The NAACP was founded in 1909, by a group that included suffragette and journalist Mary White Ovington, wealthy socialist William English Walling, and civil rights activist Henry Moscowitz. Another member of the founding group was W. E. B. Du Bois, the first African-American to earn a doctorate at Harvard University. The date chosen for the founding of the NAACP was February 12th, 1909, the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, the man most visibly associated with the emancipation of African-American slaves.
3. Saudi currency : RIYAL
The Saudi riyal is currency of Saudi Arabia, and the Qatari riyal is the currency of Qatar.
4. Name on a 1945 bomber : ENOLA
The Enola Gay was the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb, on Hiroshima in August 1945. Enola Gay was the name of the mother of pilot Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.
5. Populates, as a grand jury : IMPANELS
A grand jury is a group of 16-23 citizens who are empowered to investigate potential criminal conduct. Only the US and Liberia use grand juries today, with the rest of the world employing other forms of preliminary hearing. The phrase “grand jury” has its roots in French, with “grand” implying “large”. The 12-person jury used in a criminal trial can be referred to as a “petit” (small) jury.
11. “Farewell, ma chère” : ADIEU
“Adieu” is the French for “goodbye” or “farewell”, from “à Dieu” meaning “to God”. The plural of “adieu” is “adieux”.
“Cher” is the French for “dear”. The spelling is “chère” when used with a feminine noun.
18. Social reformer Jacob : RIIS
Jacob Riis is famous for his photographs and newspaper articles that highlighted the plight of the impoverished in New York City. He wrote “How the Other Half Lives”, originally an extensive article that appeared in “Scribner’s Magazine” at Christmas 1889. The article had such an impact that Riis was commissioned to expand it into a book, which was published the following year.
22. Noir sleuth : TEC
“Tec” is a slang term for a private detective, a private investigator (PI).
The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.
25. Texter’s “however” : OTOH
On the other hand (OTOH)
26. Cooper’s tool : ADZE
An adze (also “adz”) is similar to an axe, but is different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool’s shaft. An axe’s blade is set in line with the shaft.
A cooper is a craftsman who makes wooden vessels, such as barrels. The term “cooper” ultimately derives from the Latin “cupa” meaning “barrel”.
29. Lummox : APE
The word “lummox” comes from East Anglian slang (northeast of London), and describes an ungainly and often clueless person. The term is probably a contraction of “lumbering ox”.
31. Back-tied sash : OBI
The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied at the back in what is called a butterfly knot.
32. Distress signal devices : FLARE GUNS
The most commonly used flare gun was invented by an American naval officer, called Edward Wilson Very. He put his name to his invention (from the late 1800s), so we often hear the terms Very pistol, Very flare, and maybe even Very “light”. A Very pistol is indeed a gun, with a trigger and a hammer that’s cocked and can be reloaded with Very flares.
36. Dental suffix with Water : -PIK
Waterpik is a brand name of oral irrigator, a device that uses a stream of water to remove food debris and dental plaque from the teeth. There are claims made that water irrigators are more effective than dental floss.
37. Pressure meas. : PSI
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) is a measure of pressure.
41. Twitter handle word for a celeb, perhaps : REAL
I don’t use Twitter, but I understand that some celebrities use the word “real” before their name in a user ID. The idea is to distinguish themselves from users impersonating them.
42. Overly focused on minor rules : PEDANTIC
A pedant, someone who is pedantic, is a person “who trumpets minor points of learning”, a person who tends to nit-pick. “Pedant” comes via Middle French from the Italian word “pedante” meaning “teacher”.
47. Lip balm brand derived from “evolution of smooth” : EOS
eos Products is a company that was founded in 2006 in New York City. eoS sells beauty products such as lotions and creams, and is most famous for its lip balm. The initials “eos” stand for “Evolution of Smooth”.
52. Mission on a commemorative 1936 stamp : ALAMO
The US post office issued a 3-cent stamp in 1936 that commemorated 100th anniversary of Texas’s independence from Mexico. The stamp features the portraits of Sam Houston and Stephen Austin on either side of the Alamo.
54. Providers of senior moments? : PROMS
A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them “formals” over in Ireland). The term “prom” is short for “promenade”, the name given to a type of dance or ball.
55. Inventor Nikola : TESLA
Nikola Tesla was born in Serbia, but later moved to the US. Tesla’s work on mechanical and electrical engineering was crucial to the development of alternating current technology, the same technology that is used by equipment at the backbone of modern power generation and distribution systems.
57. Patsy of country : CLINE
Patsy Cline was a country music singer who managed to cross over into the world of pop music where she enjoyed great success. Cline is one of a long list of musical legends who died in plane crashes. Cline was 30 years old when she was killed in 1963 in a Piper Comanche plane piloted by her manager, Randy Hughes. Hughes and Cline decided to make that last flight despite warnings of inclement weather, and it was a severe storm that brought down the plane in a forest outside Camden, Tennessee.
61. Heart tests, briefly : ECGS
An EKG measures electrical activity in the heart. Back in my homeland of Ireland, an EKG is known as an ECG (for electrocardiogram). We use the German name in the US, Elektrokardiogramm, giving us EKG. Apparently the abbreviation EKG is preferred as ECG might be confused (if poorly handwritten, I guess) with EEG, the abbreviation for an electroencephalogram.
63. Del. summer hrs. : EDT
Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
65. “The Fall of the House of Usher” author : POE
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is perhaps the most famous short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1839. The story is a Gothic tale, an interview with Robert Usher in his house which literally “falls”, breaks into two and is swallowed up by a lake. Some believe that the story was inspired by events at a real Usher House that once stood on Boston’s Lewis Wharf. When the Usher House was torn down, the bodies of a man and woman were found embracing in a cavity in the cellar, a fact reflected in the story as Robert Usher’s sister is supposedly buried alive in the crypt.