Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
11. They’re sometimes black : OPS
“Black ops” is the name given to covert operations, activities that are usually outside of standard military protocol and may even be against the law. Funding for black ops is usually provided by a secret “black budget”.
14. Question at an alumni gathering : REMEMBER ME?
An “alumnus” (plural … alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural … alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.
19. Tijuana addr. : SRA
The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame), in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora) and in Portuguese is also “Sra.” (Senhora).
Tijuana is the largest city in the Mexican state of Baja California, and lies just across the US-Mexico border from San Diego. Tijuana is also the most westerly of all Mexican cities. A lot of Tijuana’s growth took place in the twenties as tourists flocked south of the border during the days of prohibition in the US. One of the many casinos and hotels that flourished at that time was Hotel Caesar’s in the Avenida Revolución area. Hotel Caesar’s claims to be the birthplace of the now ubiquitous Caesar Salad.
20. Nada : Nogales :: __ : Reims : RIEN
The word “nothing” translates to “nada” in Spanish, and to “rien” in French.
23. County in Ulster : TYRONE
County Tyrone is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland, that part of the island of Ireland that is included in the United Kingdom. The name “Tyrone” comes from the Irish “Tír Eoghain” meaning “land of Eoghan”. Eoghan (equivalent to the English “Owen”) was the son of one of the Irish kings.
25. Some broken pegs, or where they’re found : TEES
In the game of golf, a “tee” is the wooden or plastic peg on which one can place a ball when “teeing off”. Also, the “teeing ground” (sometimes “tee” or “tee box”) is the area at the beginning of the hole from which the first stroke is taken, from where one tees off.
27. Multi-purpose shortening : ETC
The Latin phrase “et cetera” translates as “and other things”. The term is usually abbreviated to “etc.”
28. Cooler tenant : CON
The cooler, the pen, the slammer … prison.
30. 4-Down in France : THE
(4D. 30-Across in America : TEA)
In French, a “tasse” (cup) might contain perhaps “thé” (tea) or “café” (coffee).
34. Pot addition : ANTE
That might be a game of poker.
35. Patriot target : SCUD
Scud missiles were developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Soviets called them R-11 missiles at first, with later versions known as R-17 and R-300 Elbrus. The name “Scud” was actually the name NATO used for the missile, a name created by Western intelligence officers. Ballistic missiles haven’t been used a lot in actual warfare, the exception being the German V-2 rocket attacks on England during WWII. After the V-2, the second most-used ballistic missile in warfare is the Scud, which featured in a number of conflicts:
- used by Egypt against Israel in the Yom Kippur War of 1973
- used by the USSR in Afghanistan
- used by Libya against a US Coast Guard station in the Mediterranean in 1986
- used by Iranians and Iraqis in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88
- used by Iraq in the Gulf War of 1990-91
Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system manufactured by Raytheon. The radar component of the system is called the “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept On Target”, known by the acronym PATRIOT.
36. Went berserk : HAD A FIT
Our word “berserk” meaning “deranged” comes from the “Berserkers”, Norse warriors described in Old Norse literature. Berserkers were renowned for going into battle in a fury, and some believe that they consumed drugged food to get themselves worked up for the fighting ahead.
38. Sushi bar appetizer : EDAMAME
Edamame is a simple dish made of immature soybeans still in the pod. The pods are boiled and then salted before serving, usually as a snack or side dish. The name “edamame” translates as “twig bean”.
40. “… crafty seer, with __ wand”: Pope : EBON
“… crafty seer, with ebon wand” is from “The Dunciad”, a satire by Alexander Pope.
Alexander Pope was an English poet, famous for his own compositions as well as for a translation of Homer’s works. One of Pope’s most notable poems is “Ode on Solitude” that opens with:
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Pope wrote that when he was just twelve years old!
41. “__ Yankees” : DAMN
In the musical show “Damn Yankees”, the title refers to the New York Yankees baseball team that dominated the sport in the fifties. That said, the show tells the story of the a man who sells his soul to help his beloved Washington Senators team beat the Yankees and win the pennant. So, “Damn Yankees” is yet another version of the classic German legend of “Faust”. The show was written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, a production that turned out to be a very successful follow-up to their prior hit, “The Pajama Game”. The future was looking really rosy for Adler and Ross but, sadly, Jerry Ross died of an obstructive lung disease only a few weeks after “Damn Yankees” opened on Broadway in 1955. He was just 29 years old.
43. Feet in a meter? : IAMBS
An iamb is a metrical foot containing an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” consists of lines made up of four sequential iambs e.g. “Whose woods / these are / I think / I know”. With a sequence of four iambs, the poem’s structure is described as iambic tetrameter.
44. Title of respect, in Tokyo : SAN
The Japanese honorific “-san” is added to the end of names as a title of respect, and can be translated as “Mr.” or “Ms.” The usage is wider than it is in English, though. Sometimes “-san” is added to the name of a company, for example.
45. Bug zappers? : SERA
Blood serum is the clear, yellowish part of blood i.e. that part which is neither a blood cell or a clotting factor. Included in blood serum are antibodies, the proteins that are central to our immune system. Blood serum from animals that have immunity to some disease can be transferred to another individual, hence providing that second individual with some level of immunity. Blood serum used to pass on immunity can be called “antiserum”.
46. Ed. basics : RRR
The “three Rs” (RRR) are reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.
47. “Major Crimes” network : TNT
The TV cop show “Major Crimes” is a follow-on spin-off of “The Closer”. The first episode of “Major Crimes” was aired right after the last episode of “The Closer” on August 13, 2012.
57. Old televangelism letters : PTL
“The PTL Club” was a daily television show hosted by televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. PTL is short for both “Praise the Lord” and “People that Love”. The show ended its run of over ten years in 1987 when it was revealed that Jim Bakker was involvement in financial and sexual scandals. Bakker served 5 years in jail, part of an 18-year sentence.
58. Second-largest Middle East country : IRAN
The largest country in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia, which covers over 750,000 square miles. The smallest country is Bahrain, covering less than 700 square miles.
62. Scrapple ingredient : PORK
Scrapple is a dish made from pork offal mixed with cornmeal, flour and spices. It appears that the recipe was introduced into America by German colonists who settled near Philadelphia in the 1600s.
2. Edsel’s father : HENRY
The Edsel brand of automobile was named for Edsel, son of Henry Ford. Sadly, the name “Edsel” has become synonymous with “failure”, which was no fault of Edsel himself who had died several years before the Edsel line was introduced. When the Ford Motor Company introduced the Edsel on 4 September 1957, Ford proclaimed the day to be “E Day”.
3. “Making AIDS History” org. : AMFAR
amfAR is an organization that has been supporting AIDS research since 1983. The acronym amFAR stands for American Foundation for AIDS Research.
5. Brand in many a Moscow mule : SMIRNOFF
The Smirnoff brand of vodka was introduced by Pyotr Smirnov in his Moscow distillery in the late 1800s. Smirnoff was the first vodka to use charcoal filtration in the vodka production process.
A Moscow Mule is a cocktail made from vodka, ginger beer and lime. I like the occasional Moscow Mule, mainly because the ginger beer was my soda of choice as kid. Vodka … not so much …
6. “The Barefoot Contessa” Oscar winner Edmond : O’BRIEN
Edmond O’Brien was a character actor who appeared in many films starting in the 1940s. Although he played in all movie genres, O’Brien is perhaps most associated with his supporting roles in film noir.
“The Barefoot Contessa” is an excellent film released in 1954, with Ava Gardner in the title and also starring Humphrey Bogart and Edmond O’Brien. The movie tells the story of Maria Vargas, a nightclub dancer who eventually weds a count, and who likes to go around in bare feet. Hence, the title …
7. Island goose : NENE
The bird called a nene is a native of Hawaii, and is also known as the Hawaiian goose. The name “nene” is imitative of its call. When Captain Cook landed on the islands in 1778, there were 25,000 nene living there. By 1950, the number was reduced by hunting to just 30 birds. Conservation efforts in recent years have been somewhat successful.
8. 1776 battleground : TRENTON
The city of Trenton, New Jersey was first settled in 1679 by Quakers. The settlement was named Trent-towne in 1719 in honor of William Trent, who was one of the biggest landowners in the area. The name “Trent-towne” was later shortened to Trenton. The city was the site of George Washington’s first military victory in the Revolutionary War, in 1776. Because of the Battle of Trenton, the New Jersey capital is sometimes called the “Turning Point of the Revolution”.
9. Morning hrs. : AMS
The 12-hour clock has been around a long time, and was even used in sundial format in Ancient Egypt. Our use of AM and PM dates back to Roman times, with AM standing for Ante Meridiem (before noon) and PM standing for Post Meridiem (after noon). However, the Romans originally used the AM concept a little differently, by counting backwards from noon. So, 2AM to the Romans would be two hours before noon, or 10AM as we would call it today.
11. Like some wills : ORAL
Most wills are written documents. Oral wills are wills that have been delivered orally to witnesses, usually by someone who is close to passing. Not all US states recognize oral wills.
12. Poker telecast equipment : POCKETCAM
Poker tables used in televised poker tournament often feature “pocketcams”, small cameras that are used to view each player’s hole cards, or “pocket” cards.
13. Metaphor for obvious protrusion : SORE THUMB
Someone or something that “sticks out like a sore thumb” is easily noticed.
16. Car in a King title : MERCEDES
“Mr. Mercedes” is a 2014 Stephen King novel, and an unusual one for him, I’d say. It’s a detective novel. No horror …
22. Biblical beast : ASS
The ass or donkey is mentioned several times in the Bible. One of the most-quoted biblical stories involving an ass is the story of Balaam. Balaam was a diviner who appears in the Book of Numbers in. In one account, Balaam is held to task by an angel for particularly cruel treatment of an ass.
31. Busy Las Vegas area : THE STRIP
The stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard on which most of the big casinos are concentrated is referred to as the “Las Vegas Strip”. The Strip was named for LA’s Sunset Strip by former Los Angeles law enforcement officer Guy McAfee. McAfee was a notoriously corrupt head of the LAPD vice squad in 1920s and 1930s who ran several brothels and gambling saloons. McAfee moved to Las Vegas in 1939 where he opened several casinos, including the Golden Nugget.
32. They’re high on the Scoville scale : HABANEROS
The habanero chili has a very intense flavor. Interestingly, the correct spelling of the chili’s name is “habanero”, although in English we try to be clever and add a tilde making it “habañero”, which isn’t right at all …
The Scoville scale is a measure of the spiciness of chili pepper. The scale was invented by a pharmacist in 1912, Wilbur Scoville. To determine the position of a pepper on Scoville scale, the amount of capsaicin in the chili is measured. Capsaicin is an irritant that causes the sensation of burning when it comes into contact with tissue, particularly the mucous membranes.
34. Arcade giant : ATARI
At one point, the electronics and video game manufacturer Atari was the fastest growing company in US history. However, Atari never really recovered from the video game industry crash of 1983.
39. Carrier to Beijing : AIR CHINA
Air China is a flag carrier for the People’s Republic of China, and is based in Beijing. The airline is not to be confused with China Airlines, the flag carrier of the Republic of China (aka “Taiwan”).
The city of Beijing in China was given its name in 1403, with “Beijing” chosen as it translates as “Northern Capital”. The name distinguished it from the city of Nanjing, which name translates as “Southern Capital”. Beijing was written in English as Peking for centuries.
42. Fuchsia cousin : MAGENTA
The colors fuchsia and magenta are identical when used on the Web. In the world of print, there’s a slight difference.
45. Pommes frites seasoning : SEL
In French, one might put “sel” (salt) on “pommes frites” (French fries).
46. Weisz of “The Constant Gardener” : RACHEL
Rachel Weisz is an actress from England. I first remember Weisz playing the female lead in the excellent 2001 WWII movie “Enemy at the Gates”. She also appeared in 2005’s “The Constant Gardener”, winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Weisz married fellow actor Daniel Craig in 2011.
“The Constant Gardener” is a 2001 novel by John le Carré (author of “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”). The story is about a British diplomat called Justin Quayle who investigates the murder of his wife, Tessa. Le Carré’s traditional Cold War setting is replaced by the world of corporate cover-ups. The novel was adapted into a movie of the same name in 2005 starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz.
52. Kilt fold : PLEAT
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.
54. “My Way” lyricist : ANKA
The song “My Way” has lyrics that were written by Paul Anka in 1969, but the tune itself was composed two years earlier by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. The song had been released with completely different lyrics in France as “Comme d’habitude” (“As Usual”). When Anka heard the song on television in Paris he sought out and obtained the rights to use it himself, for free. Supposedly, “Comme d’habitude” has been recorded in more languages, by more artists, than any other song in the contemporary repertoire.
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
56. Arboreal Amazon monkey : TITI
Titis are monkeys found in much of South America. Totis have tails that are a little bit longer than the length of their heads and bodies.
60. Georges, par exemple : NOM
In French, “Georges” (George) “par exemple” (for example) is a “nom” (name).