Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Modern categorizing aid : HASHTAG
A hashtag is a word preceded by the symbol #. Hashtags are big these days because of Twitter, a microblogging service that I don’t think I will ever understand …
15. Pennsylvania home of the world’s oldest operating wooden roller coaster : ALTOONA
Altoona is in central Pennsylvania, and is home to the Ivyside Park Campus of Pennsylvania State University. Altoona is also home to Lakemont Park and Leap-The-Dips, the world’s oldest operating wooden roller coaster.
17. Homophonically named ’60s sitcom lady : JEANNIE
The name “Jeannie” is a homophone of “genie”.
Back in 1964, the second most watched show on American television was ABC’s “Bewitched”. Sidney Sheldon was tasked with the job of creating a rival sitcom and he came up with “I Dream of Jeannie”, which first aired in 1965 and starred Barbara Eden in the title role. The censors had a big say in how the story developed. For starters, Jeannie’s skimpy costume was permitted on air, provided that Eden didn’t show off her navel on the screen. Also, Jeannie was only allowed to live with an unmarried man as long as the story made it clear that she slept in a bottle.
18. Steel work : ROMANCE
Danielle Steel is a remarkably popular author. She has sold over 800 million copies of her novels, making her the eighth best-selling writer in history.
19. It’s cut and dried : JERKY
Jerky is meat that has been trimmed of fat and dried. The term “jerky” comes into English via Spanish from the Incan Quechua “ch’arki” meaning “dried flesh”.
20. Fish-eating bird : LOON
The great northern loon is the provincial bird of Ontario, and the state bird of Minnesota. The loon once appeared on Canadian $20 bills and also appears on the Canadian one-dollar coin, giving the coin the nickname “the Loonie”.
23. Coast Guard pickup : SOS
The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots), although in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so SOS is in effect only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are also mnemonics, introduced after the “SOS” signal was adopted.
The US Coast Guard (USCG) has the distinction of being the country’s oldest continuous seagoing service. The USCG was founded as the Revenue Cutter Service by Alexander Hamilton in 1790.
25. Wave function symbols : PSIS
A wave function in quantum mechanics is usually denoted with the Greek letter psi. A wave function is a mathematical function that describes the quantum state of a particle and how it behaves.
28. Financial pg. debut : IPO
An initial public offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).
31. “The __ of King William”: Old English poem : RIME
“The Rime of King William” is an old English poem that dates back to 1087. The poem’s subject is the death of King William the Conqueror. Nothing is known about the author, other than he or she was a member of the the king’s household.
33. “Golden Boy” dramatist : ODETS
“Golden Boy” is a play written by Clifford Odets that was first performed in 1937 on Broadway. There was a film adaptation released in 1939 that starred a young William Holden. “Golden Boy” was the film that launched Holden’s career.
35. Friend of the Fry Kids : RONALD MCDONALD
“Fast Food Nation” is an expose by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser that reveals in the inner workings of the US fast food industry. One of Schlosser’s more controversial findings was the deliberate targeting of children by the marketing folks at McDonald’s. McDonald’s copied the marketing plans of Walt Disney to attract not only children, but also their parents and grandparents. That’s how Ronald McDonald was born …
The Fry Kids are characters used in McDonald’s advertising who were introduced in 1972 under the name “Gobblins”. They were given the name “Fry Guys” in 1983, and then finally “Fry Kids” in 1987 after someone decided it would be a good idea to include “Fry Girls”.
42. It’s generally celebrated on the same day as Tet : CHINESE NEW YEAR
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.
46. Nevada copper town : ELY
Ely is a city in eastern Nevada. The city was founded as a Pony Express stagecoach station, and then experienced a mining boom after copper was discovered locally in 1906. One of Ely’s former residents was First Lady Pat Nixon, who was born there in 1912.
47. Troubling bank msg. : NSF
Not sufficient funds (NSF)
48. Cutlass, e.g. : OLDS
Oldsmobile made the Cutlass Ciera from 1982 to 1996. The Ciera was the most successful model that bore the Oldsmobile badge.
51. Angels’ org. : MLB
The Anaheim Angels are today more correctly called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The “Angels” name dates back to 1961 when the team was founded in the “City of Angels”, Los Angeles. When the franchise moved to Anaheim in 1965 they were known as the California Angels, then the Anaheim Angels, and most recently the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim. The Angels are also known as “the Halos”.
53. Peabody-winning journalist Ifill : GWEN
Gwen Ifill was a television journalist who was regularly seen on PBS’s “Newshour”. Ifill was also the moderator on the weekly PBS show “Washington Week”, and was also selected to moderate the US Vice Presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.
The Peabody Awards have been presented annually since 1941 to individuals and organizations for excellence in broadcasting. They are named for businessman and philanthropist George Foster Peabody, who provided the funds to establish the awards program.
57. Buckwheat porridge : KASHA
Kasha is a type of porridge made from roasted whole-grain buckwheat. The dish is most popular in the Russian and Jewish cultures.
Despite the name, “buckwheat” is not related to wheat, and nor is it a grass. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb. As the seeds are eaten, it is known as a “pseudocereal”. The name comes from “beech wheat”, a reference to the resemblance of buckwheat seeds to beech nuts from the “beech” tree, and the fact that buckwheat seeds are used like “wheat”.
63. Studio mascot : MGM LION
There has been a lion in the logo of the MGM studio since 1924. The original was an Irishman (!), a lion named Slats who was born in Dublin Zoo in 1919. However, it wasn’t until Jackie took over from Slats in 1928 that the roar was heard, as the era of silent movies was coming to an end. The current lion is called Leo, and he has been around since 1957.
68. Only president to win a Pulitzer Prize : KENNEDY
“Profiles in Courage” is 1957 book by John F. Kennedy, who was at that time a US Senator. Kennedy’s collaborator was his speechwriter Ted Sorensen, and most of the research and writing was done in 1954 and 1955 while the Kennedy was bedridden following back surgery. “Profiles in Courage” is a collection of the biographies of eight US Senators, eight Senators who despite criticism and loss of popularity acted in the best interests of the country and its citizens. Kennedy won a Pulitzer in 1957 for the book, making him the only US President to have been so honored.
1. Pillar of Islam : HAJJ
Followers of the Muslim tradition believe in the Five Pillars of Islam, five obligatory acts that underpin Muslim life. The Five Pillars are:
- The Islamic creed
- Daily prayer
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan
- The pilgrimage to Mecca (haj) once during a lifetime
2. Nautical direction : ALEE
“Alee” is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing “aweather”.
3. Michelin unit : STAR
Michelin is a manufacturer of tires based in France. The company was founded by brothers Édouard and André Michelin in 1888. The brothers were running a rubber factory at the time, and invented the world’s first removable pneumatic tire, an invention that they used to launch their new company. Michelin is also noted for rating restaurants and accommodation in its famous Michelin Travel Guides, awarding coveted Michelin “stars”.
5. “Candida” singer : TONY ORLANDO
Singer Tony Orlando’s birth name is Michael Cassavitis. He had two hits in 1970 while performing with studio backup singers in an act called Dawn, namely “Candida” and “Knock Three Times”. His greatest success came in 1973 with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”, which was released by “Dawn featuring Tony Orlando”.
6. “The Phantom Menace” boy : ANI
Anakin “Ani” Skywalker is the principal character in the first six of the “Star Wars” movies. His progress chronologically through the series of films is:
- Episode I: Anakin is a 9-year-old slave boy who earns the promise of Jedi training by young Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Episode II: Anakin is 18-years-old and goes on a murdering rampage to avenge the killing of his mother.
- Episode III: Anakin is 21-years-old and a Jedi knight, but he turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader. His wife Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia Skywalker.
- Episode IV: Darth Vader, comes into conflict with his children, Luke Skywalker and the Princess Leia.
- Episode V: Darth Vader attempts to coax his son Luke over to the dark side, and reveals to Luke that he is his father.
- Episode VI: Luke learns that Leia is his sister, and takes on the task of bringing Darth Vader back from the Dark Side in order to save the Galaxy. Vader saves his son from the Emperor’s evil grip, dying in the process, but his spirit ends up alongside the spirits of Yoda and Obi-Wan. They all live happily ever after …
7. Certain Celt : GAEL
A Gael is anyone of a race that speaks or spoke one of the Erse tongues. There are actually three Erse languages. Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).
The Celts were a very broad group of people across Europe, linked by common languages. The Celts were largely absorbed by other cultures, although a relatively modern revival of the “Celtic identity” is alive and well in the British Isles. Such Celtic peoples today are mainly found in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany in France..
9. “Madam Secretary” actress : LEONI
Téa Leoni is an American actress. One of Leoni’s early parts was in the great film “A League of Their Own” (a minor role, Racine at first base). She also played the fiancée of Sam Malone from “Cheers” on the spin-off sitcom “Frasier”. A leading role on the big screen was opposite Adam Sandler in “Spanglish”. My favorite of her more prominent movie roles was as Jane in “Fun with Dick and Jane”. Leoni is now playing the title role in the drama series “Madam Secretary”, a show that I really enjoy …
“Madam Secretary” is TV show that first aired in 2014. It is about an ex-CIA analyst who is appointed as US Secretary of State. Téa Leoni plays the title role, ably supported by a favorite actress of mine, Bebe Neuwirth. I like this show …
10. Flee : LAM
To be “on the lam” is to be in flight, to have escaped from prison. “On the lam” is American slang that originated at the end of the 19th century. The word “lam” also means to “beat” or “thrash”, as in “lambaste”. So “on the lam” might derive from the phrase “to beat it, to scram”.
11. Word with grass : CRAB
Crabgrass may be considered a weed and a scourge of the lawn-loving population, but it has its uses. In Africa, the seeds of some species of crabgrass are toasted and ground into a flour that is used to make porridge, or better still, to make beer.
12. Poe classic : ANNABEL LEE
“Annabel Lee” was the last complete poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. The opening lines are:
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
The closing lines are:
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
21. Org. Indonesia left in 2008 : OPEC
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in 1960 at a conference held in Baghdad, Iraq that was attended by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Nine more countries joined the alliance soon after, and OPEC set up headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and then Vienna, Austria in 1965. The basic aim of OPEC was to wrench control of oil prices from the oil companies and to put it in the hands of the sovereign states that own the natural resource.
26. Pioneering music player : SONY WALKMAN
Walkman is a brand of portable audio and video products manufactured by Sony. The first Walkman was introduced in 1979 and popularized the practice of carrying music around and listening through lightweight headphones.
28. Radio host Glass : IRA
Ira Glass is a well-respected presenter on American Public Radio, most noted for his show “This American Life”. I was interested to learn that one of my favorite composers, Philip Glass, is Ira’s first cousin.
32. Fr. titles : MMES
The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame), in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora) and in Portuguese is also “Sra.” (Senhora).
34. “The Voice” host Carson : DALY
Carson Daly is a radio and television personality who is perhaps best known today as host of the reality show “The Voice”. If you stay up late enough on New Year’s Eve, you might also know him from NBC’s “New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly”.
“The Voice” is yet another reality television show. “The Voice” is a singing competition in which the judges hear the contestants without seeing them in the first round. The judges then take on chosen contestants as coaches for the remaining rounds. “The Voice” is a highly successful worldwide franchise that originated in the Netherlands as “The Voice of Holland”.
36. Section in Disney’s Animal Kingdom : ASIA
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a zoo-based theme park in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Animal Kingdom covers 580 acres in total, making it the largest theme park in the world.
38. Greek theater : ODEUM
In Ancient Greece an odeon (also “odeum”) was like a small theater, with “odeon” literally meaning a “building for musical competition”. Odea were used in both Greece and Rome for entertainments such as musical shows and poetry readings.
44. Old name for England : ANGLIA
The Romans referred to Britain as “Brittania”, from which the island took its name. Also, the Latin for Scotland is “Caledonia”, and for Ireland is “Hibernia”. Centuries after the Romans left, a German tribe called the Angles settles in the part of Britain now known as England. The word “Angle” is the root of the name “England”, as in medieval times the country was called Anglia, its late-Latin name.
50. Con targets : DUPES
A dupe is someone who is easily fooled, a “live one”, one who is easily the victim of deception.
52. Dwarf who traveled with Bilbo : BALIN
Balin is a dwarf in the Middle-earth universe created by J. R. R. Tolkien. He is played by Scottish actor Len Stott in the Peter Jackson film adaptation of “The Hobbit”.
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel “The Hobbit”, the title character is Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who stumbles across a magical ring and then embarks on a series of adventures.
54. “The Old Curiosity Shop” girl : NELL
“The Old Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens tells the story of little 14-year-old Nell Trent and her grandfather who live in the Old Curiosity Shop in London. If you visit London, there actually is an “Old Curiosity Shop”, in Westminster. It is an establishment selling odds and ends, old curiosities, and is believed to have been the inspiration for the shop in the Dickens story. The building has been around since the 1500s, but the name “The Old Curiosity Shop” was added after the book was published.
56. Trans-Siberian Railway city : OMSK
Omsk is a city in southwest Siberia. It is located over 1400 miles from Moscow and was chosen as the destination for many internal exiles in the mid-1900s. Perhaps the most famous of these exiles was the author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Siberia is a vast area in Northern Asia. The region’s industrial development started with the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway from 1891 to 1916, which linked Siberia to Russia in the west.
58. __ wave : SINE
A sine wave is a mathematical function that describes a simple, smooth, repetitive oscillation. The sine wave is found right throughout the natural world. Ocean waves, light waves and sound waves all have a sine wave pattern.
60. Red’s pal in “The Shawshank Redemption” : ANDY
Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” was adapted into a 2009 stage play and a 1994 film, both called “The Shawshank Redemption”. The Ohio State Reformatory was used for exterior shots of the fictional Shawshank Prison. That same facility was used for the prison scenes in the 1997 film “Air Force One”.
64. Former AT&T rival : GTE
GTE was a rival to AT&T, the largest of the independent competitors to the Bell System. GTE merged with Bell Atlantic in 2000 to form the company that we know today as Verizon. Verizon made some high-profile acquisitions over the years, including MCI in 2005 and AOL in 2015.