Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers are common phrases that have been “RAILROADED”, with the letters RR inserted:
- 56A. Convicted hastily and unfairly … or, in a way, like the four other longest puzzle answers? : RAILROADED
- 17A. Really bad béchamel? : SORRY SAUCE (from “soy sauce”)
- 20A. Unpaid stack for scofflaw Aaron? : BURR’S TICKETS (from “bus tickets”)
- 35A. What happens at the end of a Manilow concert? : BARRY LEAVES (from “bay leaves”)
- 51A. Furry creature that isn’t cool? : SQUARE FERRET (from “square feet”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
10. Big name in luxury retailing : SAKS
Saks Fifth Avenue is a high-end specialty store that competes with the likes of Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. The original Saks & Company business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1867. The first Saks Fifth Avenue store was opened on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1924. There are now Saks Fifth Avenue stores in many major cities in the US, as well in several locations worldwide.
14. About 30% of Earth’s land area : ASIA
Most of the world’s population lives in Asia (60%), and Asia is the largest continent in terms of landmass (30% of the world). Asia also has the highest population density (246 people per square mile), and the most populous city on the continent is Shanghai, China.
17. Really bad béchamel? : SORRY SAUCE (from “soy sauce”)
Béchamel sauce is a roux made from butter and flour cooked in milk. It is sometimes known simply as white sauce. Béchamel is also considered the “mother sauce” in French cuisine as it is the base of other sauces. For example, Mornay sauce is béchamel with cheese.
Soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans with a mold, in the presence of water and salt. Charming …
19. Letters facilitating sorting : ATTN
20. Unpaid stack for scofflaw Aaron? : BURR’S TICKETS (from “bus tickets”)
Aaron Burr was the third vice-president of the US, serving under Thomas Jefferson. In the final year of his term in office, Burr fought an illegal duel and killed his political rival Alexander Hamilton. Burr wasn’t brought to justice, but he did pay the price politically. Thomas Jefferson dropped him from his ticket in the election held the following year.
A “scofflaw” is someone who flouts the law, although usually the term applies to folks commit misdemeanors such as jaywalking and not paying parking fines.
25. Comedian dubbed “Mr. Television” : BERLE
Comedian Milton Berle was known as “Uncle Miltie” and “Mr. Television”, and was arguably the first real star of American television. Berle was hosting “Texaco Star Theater” back in 1948.
26. Mitchell protagonist : O’HARA
In Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind”, when Rhett Butler finally walks out on Scarlett O’Hara he utters the words “My dear, I don’t give a damn”. Most of us are more familiar with the slightly different words spoken by Clark Gable in the film adaption of the story: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
31. Seaweed for sushi : NORI
Nori is an edible seaweed that we used to know as “laver” when I was living in Wales. Nori is usually dried into thin sheets. Here in the US, we are most familiar with nori as the seaweed used as a wrap for sushi.
35. What happens at the end of a Manilow concert? : BARRY LEAVES (from “bay leaves”)
Barry Manilow’s real name is Barry Alan Pincus. Barry took his mother’s family name, Manilow, as the time of his Bar Mitzvah. When he was young, Manilow attended the Juilliard performing arts school, and then practiced his craft on the New York City music circuit. He worked in the sixties and seventies writing jingles for advertisements. “Like a good neighbor, Statefarm is there …”, that’s the work of Mr. Manilow!
The seasoning known as bay leaf is the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel tree or shrub. Fresh bay leaves aren’t very flavorful and need to be dried and aged a few weeks before use in the kitchen.
42. Letters with Arizona or Maine : USS
The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor sits across the sunken hull of the battleship, the resting place of 1,102 out of 1,117 sailors of the Arizona who were killed during the 1941 attack. After the attack, the superstructure of the Arizona protruded above the surface of the water. This was removed during and after WWII, leaving just a submerged hull. The memorial itself was approved by President Eisenhower in 1958, and the building was opened in 1962. In 1999, the battleship USS Missouri was permanently moored in Pearl Harbor, docked nearby and perpendicular to the Arizona. It was on the Missouri that the Japanese surrendered, marking the end of WWII.
The USS Maine was a pre-dreadnought battleship launched in 1890. The Maine sunk in Havana Harbor in 1898 due to a massive explosion. A Naval Court of Inquiry found that the explosion was caused by a mine, a finding that helped precipitate the start of the Spanish-American War that began one month later. Those advocating the war were often heard crying, “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!”
46. One of composer John Williams’ five : OSCAR
The great composer John Williams has won five Academy Awards for his work on film scores, for:
- “Fiddler on the Roof”
- “Star Wars”
- “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”
- “Schindler’s List”
47. Harlem Renaissance writer Zora __ Hurston : NEALE
Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, most famous for her 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. Like the author, the main character in the novel is an African American woman, a part played by Halle Berry in a television movie adaptation that first aired in 2005.
“Harlem Renaissance” is the term used to describe a cultural movement in the 1920s that was known at the time as the “New Negro Movement”. The movement involved new cultural expression by African Americans that was centered mainly in urban areas in the northeast and midwest, and that was especially vibrant in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood.
55. Bee in Mayberry, e.g. : AUNT
Aunt Bee was a character in “The Andy Griffith Show”. The character’s full name was Beatrice Taylor but everyone in Mayberry called her “Aunt Bee”. In the storyline she was the aunt of the protagonist, Sheriff Andy Taylor, and great-aunt to Andy’s son Opie. Aunt Bee was played by actress Frances Bavier.
62. Confucius, by reputation : SAGE
The sayings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (anglicized from “K’ung Fu-Tse”) are collected in a work called “The Analects” or “Linyu”. It wasn’t Confucius who wrote down his thoughts though, but rather his pupils, some 40 or so years after his death in 479 BC.
64. Fashionista’s concern : TREND
The Spanish suffix “-ista” indicates a supporter or follower. Examples would be “fashionista” (a follower of fashion) and “Sandinista” (member of a Nicaraguan political party named for revolutionary Augusto César Sandino).
1. __ Cruces : LAS
Las Cruces (Spanish for “the crosses”) is the second largest city in the state of New Mexico, and is the home of New Mexico State University.
2. Prefix with metric : ISO-
The word “isometric” comes from Greek, and means “having equal measurement”. Isometric exercise is a resistance exercise in which the muscle does not change in length (and the joint angle stays the same). The alternative would be dynamic exercises, ones using the joint’s full range of motion.
3. Defunct space station : MIR
The Russian Mir Space Station was a remarkably successful project, with the station still holding the record for the longest continuous manned presence in space, at just under ten years. Towards the end of the space station’s life however, the years began to take their toll. There was a dangerous fire, multiple system failures, and a collision with a resupply ship. The Russian commitment to the International Space Station drained funds for repairs, so Mir was allowed to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in 2001. “Mir” is a Russian word meaning “peace” or “world”.
4. Conan, for one : BARBARIAN
The character known as Conan the Barbarian first appeared in “Weird Tales” magazine in a fantasy story in 1932. The character was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian”, and in a 1984 sequel “Conan the Destroyer”.
5. Iraqi port : BASRA
Basra is a Iraq’s main port, and is located in the south of the country, 34 miles from the Persian Gulf. Access to the gulf ii via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, a river that discharges into the gulf in the port city of Umm Qasr.
6. Dazzling style : OP ART
Op art is also known as optical art, and puts optical illusions to great effect.
7. Vince Gill’s “Look __” : AT US
Vince Gill is a country music singer-songwriter. Gill has been honored with 20 Grammy Awards, which is more than any other male country singer.
9. Half of sechs : DREI
In German, half of “sechs” (six) is a “drei” (three).
18. City about 150 miles east of San Diego : YUMA
The city and county of Yuma, Arizona take their name from the Quechan (aka “Yuma”) Native American tribe that inhabited the area.
21. “NCIS” airer : CBS TV
NCIS is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which investigates crimes in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The service gives its name to the CBS TV show “NCIS”, a spin-off drama from “JAG” in which the main “NCIS” characters were first introduced. The big star in “NCIS” is the actor Mark Harmon. “NCIS” is now a franchise, with spinoff shows “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans”.
32. Decimated sea : ARAL
The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet Union irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …
“To decimate” is wipe out a large proportion of a population. The term arose in the from the ancient practice of punishing military units found guilty of mutiny. One in ten soldiers in the rebellious group would be executed, with the choice made in a lottery. The term comes from the Latin “decimare” meaning “to remove one-tenth”.
33. Erato’s instrument : LYRE
In Greek mythology, Erato was the Muse of lyric poetry, and is often depicted playing a lyre.
40. “Norma __” : RAE
“Norma Rae” is a 1979 movie starring Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster in a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called “Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance”.
41. Union title? : MRS
Mr. is an abbreviation for “master”, and Mrs. is an abbreviation for “mistress”.
43. “The Bourne Supremacy,” e.g. : SEQUEL
“The Bourne Supremacy” is the 2004 sequel to the excellent 2002 movie “The Bourne Identity”. Both films star Matt Damon, and are based on the Robert Ludlum novels of the same name.
44. Hot spots : SAUNAS
As my Finnish-American wife will tell you, “sauna” is a Finnish word, and is correctly pronounced “sow-nah” (with “sow” as in the female pig).
48. Barista’s offering : LATTE
The person who serves coffee in a coffee shop is often called a “barista”. “Barista” is the Italian for “bartender”.
49. “Over the Rainbow” composer : ARLEN
Harold Arlen is a composer of popular music who will forever be associated with his composition “Over the Rainbow” from the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. Arlen also composed the music to “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” and the wonderful “Stormy Weather”.
“Over the Rainbow” is a classic song written especially for the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”. It was sung by the young Judy Garland (Dorothy) in the film, and it was to become her signature song. There is an introductory verse that wasn’t used in the movie, and is very rarely heard:
When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around,
Heaven opens a magic lane
When all the clouds darken up the skyway,
There’s a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your window pane
To a place behind the sun,
Just a step beyond the rain.
52. While lead-in : ERST-
“Erst” is an archaic way of saying “formerly, before the present time”. The term is mostly seen as part of the word “erstwhile”, an adjective meaning “of times past”.
54. The Auld Sod : EIRE
“Auld Sod” (meaning simply “old sod”) is a familiar term for Ireland, especially when referring to the country as one’s homeland from abroad. ‘Tis true …
57. “SNL” castmate of Gilda and Chevy : DAN
Gilda Radner was a comedian and actress, and one of the original cast members of the hit television show “Saturday Night Live”. Radner left her first husband to marry comedic actor Gene Wilder, whom she met while they were both filming the Sidney Poitier movie “Hanky Panky”.
Chevy Chase is a comedian and actor from Lower Manhattan who was born into a wealthy New York City family who can trace its heritage back to the Mayflower. Chase’s real name is Cornelius and he was given his nickname “Chevy” by his grandmother who took it from the old English song The Ballad of Chevy Chase”.
Dan Aykroyd is a Canadian comedian and actor, born in Ottawa, Ontario, although he is now a naturalized US citizen. He was of course an original cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and, along with John Belushi, fronted the Blues Brothers.