Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase with the opening letters DI-removed, the opening letters DI- SPIRITED AWAY:
- 24A. Software update strategies? : (DI)VERSION TACTICS
- 36A. Counsel offered by Carlo Rossi? : (DI)VINE GUIDANCE
- 54A. Dream about childbirth? : (DI)VISION OF LABOR
- 67A. Views about poetry? : (DI)VERSE OPINIONS
- 86A. Reminded guests that certain casual attire is required? : (DI)STRESSED JEANS
- 99A. Uncompromising boss? : (DI)STRICT LEADER
- 118A. Mastering a basic golf lesson? : (DI)STANCE LEARNING
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
20. Attention-getting type: Abbr. : ITAL
Italic type leans to the right, and is often used to provide emphasis in text. The style is known as “italic” because the stylized calligraphic form of writing originated in Italy, probably in the Vatican.
22. Russian bread : RUBLE
The ruble (also “rouble”) is the unit of currency in Russia, as well as several other countries of the former Soviet Union. One ruble is divided into one hundred kopecks (also “kopeks”).
23. Crooner Vic : DAMONE
Vic Damone is a singer from Brooklyn, New York. As a young man Damone started taking voice lessons, inspired by his favorite singer, Frank Sinatra. Decades later, Sinatra said that Damone had “the best pipes in the business”.
27. Urban view obscurer : SMOG
“Smog” is a portmanteau formed by melding “smoke” and “fog”. The term was first used to describe the air around London in the early 1900s. Several cities around the world have a reputation of being particularly smoggy. For example, the most smog-plagued city in Latin America is Mexico City, which is located in a highland “bowl” that traps industrial and vehicle pollution.
31. Stand in a loft : EASEL
The word “easel” comes from an old Dutch word meaning “donkey” would you believe? The idea is that an easel carries its load (an oil painting, say) just as a donkey would be made to carry a load.
33. Title absentee : GODOT
“Waiting for Godot” is a play by novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett that premiered in 1953. Irishman Beckett actually wrote the piece in French, under the title “En attendant Godot”. He then translated the play into English himself.
35. Bridge installer’s deg. : DDS
Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
36. Counsel offered by Carlo Rossi? : (DI)VINE GUIDANCE
Carlo Rossi is a brand of wine produced by E & J Gallo. The name was chosen in honor of a salesman working for the winery named Charles Rossi, who was also a member of the Gallo family by marriage. Charles Rossi used to appear in TV ads for the wine in seventies.
57. What alibis may be : LIES
“Alibi” is the Latin word for “elsewhere” as in, “I claim that I was ‘elsewhere’ when the crime was committed … I have an ‘alibi’”.
60. Ultra-secret org. : NSA
National Security Agency (NSA)
65. Co-host Shapiro of “All Things Considered” : ARI
Ari Shapiro was the very able White House correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) for several years. He became a co-host of network’s drive-time program “All Things Considered” in 2015.
75. ’60s-’80s Brit. sports car : MGB
The MGB sports car was produced by British car manufacturer MG Cars from 1962 to 1980. The acronym “MG” stood for Morris Garages.
76. Frozen fruit-flavored snack : OTTER POP
Otter Pops are plastic tubes filled with frozen fruit juice. Well, Otter Pops are usually sold at room temperature and are frozen by the consumer before consumption.
82. 1999 Moviefone acquirer : AOL
Moviefone is a movie listing service that is available by telephone in many parts of the country. Moviefone was launched in 1989, and purchased by AOL ten years later for $388 million.
91. Yoga pose : ASANA
“Asana” is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.
92. Pic for a doc : MRI
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
96. When Le Havre heats up : ETE
In French, the season of “été” (summer) starts in “juin” (June).
Le Havre is a city on the mouth of the river Seine on the northwest coast of France. The city’s name translates as “the haven”.
104. Mar. parade honoree : ST PAT
There is a fair amount known about Saint Patrick, some of which comes from two letters written in his own hand. St. Patrick lived in the fifth century, but was not born in Ireland. He was first brought to Ireland at about 16 years of age from his native Britain, by Irish raiders who made him a slave for six years. Patrick managed to escape and returned to his homeland where he studied and entered the Church. He went back to Ireland as a bishop and a missionary and there lived out the rest of his life. There seems to be good evidence that he died on March 17th (now celebrated annually as Saint Patrick’s Day), although the year is less clear. The stories about shamrock and snakes, I am afraid they are the stuff of legend.
122. Salon dye : HENNA
Henna has been used for centuries as a dye, not just for leather and wool, but also for the hair and skin. In modern days, henna is also used for temporary tattoos.
123. Scepter top, perhaps : ORB
A scepter is a ceremonial staff, one often held by a monarch.
124. Salon, for one : E-MAG
Salon.com is a popular online magazine, one of the first “ezines” ever published. “Salon” focuses on American politics and current affairs, but also has articles about books, music and films. The magazine was launched in 1995, and managed to survive many loss-making years. Most of “Salon’s” content is free, but it does make money by offering a premium service with extra content, and by selling ad space.
127. They’re often grad students : TAS
Teaching assistant (TA)
4. Orbital high point : APOGEE
In the celestial world, an apsis is a point in an orbit when the orbiting body is at its greatest, or least, distance from it’s center of orbit. The farthest and closest points of orbit are known as the apogee and perigee, when talking about bodies orbiting the Earth. The farthest and closest points for bodies orbiting the sun are known as the aphelion and perihelion.
7. “The Four Seasons” composer : VIVALDI
Antonio Vivaldi was one of the great composers of the Baroque period. He achieved fame and success within in his own lifetime, notoriety that faded soon after he died. Vivaldi’s music has reemerged in recent decades and I am sure everyone is familiar with at least part of his most famous composition, the violin concerto called “The Four Seasons”. Vivaldi was nicknamed “The Red Priest” because he was indeed a priest, and he had red hair.
10. “Frozen” princess : ELSA
“Frozen” is a 2013 animated feature from Walt Disney Studios that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”.
11. Disco phrase : A GOGO
Discotheques first appeared during WWII in Occupied France. American-style music (like jazz and jitterbug dances) was banned by the Nazis, so French natives met in underground clubs that they called discotheques where records were often played on just a single turntable. After the war, these clubs came out into the open. One famous Paris discotheque was called “Whiskey a Gogo”. In that Paris disco, non-stop music was played using two turntables next to a dance-floor, and this concept spread around the world.
12. Pal of Harry : RON
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are the principal characters in the “Harry Potter” series of fantasy novels by J. K. Rowling.
14. St. Louis landmark : ARCH
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, and is the tallest monument in the United States. It was designed by Eero Saarinen, with the help of structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel. They did their design work back in 1947, but construction wasn’t started until 1963. In 1980, a daredevil took it upon himself to parachute onto the top of the arch, intending to further jump from the apex of the arch and parachute to the ground. He hit the arch alright, and slid all the way down one of the arches to his death. No comment …
15. Renaissance instrument : LUTE
The lute is a stringed instrument with a long neck and usually a pear-shaped body. It is held and played like a guitar, and was popular from the Middle Ages right through to the late Baroque era. A person who plays the lute can be referred to as a “lutenist”.
“Dark Ages” was a term that used to be popular as a description of the period following the decline of the Roman Empire in Europe, the period after the “light of Rome” was extinguished. The Dark Ages were said to end with the rise of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century. The Italian Renaissance was centered on the cities of Florence and Siena in Tuscany.
16. 1954 Ford debut : T-BIRD
Ford manufactured the Thunderbird (T-Bird) from 1955 to 2005. Originally a two-seater sporty convertible, the T-Bird was introduced as a competitor to Chevrolet’s new sports car, the Corvette.
17. Legendary Spanish hero : EL CID
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was known as El Cid Campeador, which translates as “The Champion” or perhaps “The Lord, Master of Military Arts”. El Cid was a soldier who fought under the rule of King Alfonso VI of Spain (among others). However, he was sent into exile by the King in 1080, after acting beyond his authorization in battle. El Cid then offered his services to his former foes, the Moorish kings, After a number of years building a reputation with the Moors, he was recalled from exile by Alfonso. By this time El Cid was very much his own man. Nominally under the orders of Alfonso, he led a combined army of Spanish and Moorish troops and took the city of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, making it is headquarters and home. He died there, quite peacefully in 1099.
25. “Picnic” playwright : INGE
Playwright William Inge had a run of success on Broadway in the early fifties. Inge’s most celebrated work of that time was the play “Picnic”, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. The original 1953 cast of “Picnic” included a young male actor making his debut on Broadway. His name was Paul Newman. Many of Inge’s works are set in the American heartland and so he became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.
26. Queen’s subjects : ANTS
The queen ant of some species can live to the ripe old age of 30 years, which is one of the longest lifespans in the insect world.
29. Princess from Alderaan : LEIA
The full name of the character played by Carrie Fisher in the “Star Wars” series of films is Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, and later Leia Organa Solo. Leia is the twin sister of Luke Skywalker, and the daughter of Anakin Skywalker (aka “Darth Vader”) and Padmé Amidala. Leia is raised by her adoptive parents Bail and Breha Organa. She eventually marries Han Solo.
34. Grammy-winning singer Krall : DIANA
Diana Krall is a jazz singer and piano player from Nanaimo, British Columbia. Krall is married to English rock musician Elvis Costello.
38. Skin lotion brand : NIVEA
Nivea is a brand name of skin-care products from Germany. The Latin word “nivea” means “snow-white”.
39. Menlo Park middle name : ALVA
Thomas Alva Edison (TAE) was nicknamed “The Wizard of Menlo Park” by a newspaper reporter, a name that stuck. He was indeed a wizard, in the sense that he was such a prolific inventor. The Menlo Park part of the moniker recognizes the location of his first research lab, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
40. Justice Gorsuch who replaced Antonin : NEIL
Neil Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme court by the Trump administration, and assumed office in 2017. Gorsuch took the seat on the court that was left vacant with the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. Gorsuch is the first Supreme Court justice to serve alongside another justice for whom he once clerked, doing so for Anthony Kennedy from 1993 to 1994.
43. 8/21/2017 celestial event : ECLIPSE
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the shadow cast by the earth from the light of the sun, in other words when the earth is positioned directly between the sun and the moon. The more spectacular solar eclipse takes place when moon passes in front of the sun, so that the earth falls into the shadow cast by the moon.
44. Vagabond : TRAMP
A vagabond is a person without a home who moves from place to place. The term derives from the Latin “vagabundus” meaning “wandering, strolling about”.
47. Violinist’s need : ROSIN
Rosin is a solid form of resin derived from plant sources. Rosin is formed into cakes that players of stringed instruments use to rub along the hairs of their bows to help improve sound quality. The rosin increases the degree of friction between the strings and the bow. That same friction-increasing property comes into play when baseball pitchers use rosin to get a better grip on the ball, or when dancers apply rosin to the soles of their shoes.
49. Quartet named for its members : ABBA
I am an unapologetic fan of ABBA’s music. ABBA was the Swedish group who topped the charts in the seventies and eighties. The name ABBA is an acronym formed from the first letters of the given names of each of the band members: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid. Early in their careers, the four fell in love and formed two married couples: Agnetha and Bjorn, and Benny and Anni-Frid. However, at the height of their success, the relationships became strained and both couples divorced.
53. Connection method: Abbr. : ISP
Internet service provider (ISP)
55. Cross inscription : INRI
The letters written on the cross on which Jesus died were “INRI”. INRI is an initialism standing for the Latin “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”, which translates into English as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.
56. Spark producer : FLINT
Flint is a form of the mineral quartz. Flint can be used to start a fire. The hard edge of flint when struck against steel can shave off a particle of the metal. The particle of steel contains exposed iron that reacts with oxygen in the air creating a spark that can light dry tinder.
59. Critical care ctrs. : ERS
Emergency room (ER)
64. Houdini’s family name : WEISS
“Harry Houdini” was the stage name of Hungarian-born escapologist and magician Erik Weisz (later changed to “Harry Weiss”). Many people are under the impression that Houdini died while performing an escape that went wrong, an impression created by the storyline in a couple of movies about his life. The truth is that he died of peritonitis from a burst appendix. It is also true that a few days prior to his death Houdini took a series of punches to his stomach as part of his act, but doctors believe that his appendix would have burst regardless.
65. BOLO equivalent : APB
An All Points Bulletin (APB) is a broadcast from one US law enforcement agency to another.
A BOLO is a police alert, with the acronym standing for “be on the look-out”. A BOLO can also be called an APB, an “all-points bulletin”.
68. Expressive online image : EMOJI
An emoji is a character found on many cell phones now that is much like an emoticon, but more elaborate.
70. Apple mobile platform : IOS
iOS is what Apple now call their mobile operating system, It was previously known as iPhone OS.
71. Rick calls her “kid” : ILSA
The famous line “Here’s looking at you, kid.” from 1942’s “Casablanca” was ranked no. 2 in a list of top movie quotes compiled by “The Hollywood Reporter”. The top of the list makes interesting reading, with the following comprising the top five:
- “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” from “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
- “Here’s looking at you, kid.” from “Casablanca” (1942)
- “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” from “Jaws” (1975)
- “May the Force be with you.” from “Star Wars” (1977)
- “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
73. Quattro competitor : ATRA
Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977, as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.
Quattro (Italian for “four”) is a series of four-bladed safety razors made by Wilkinson Sword under the brand name Schick.
77. Turntable letters : RPM
The first vinyl records designed to play at 33⅓ rpm were introduced by RCA Victor in 1931, but were discontinued due to quality problems. The first long play (LP) 33⅓ rpm disc was introduced by Columbia Records many years later in 1948, with RCA Victor following up with a 45 rpm “single” the following year, in 1949.
83. U.S. dept. with a windmill on its seal : ENER
The US Department of Energy (DOE) came into being largely as a result of the 1973 oil crisis. The DOE was founded in 1977 by the Carter administration. The DOE is responsible for regulating the production of nuclear power, and it is also responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons. The official DOE seal features symbols denoting five sources of energy: the sun, an atom, an oil derrick, a windmill and a dynamo.
84. Wine city near Turin : ASTI
Turin (“Torino” in Italian) is a major city in the north of Italy that sits on the Po River. Back in 1861, when the Kingdom of Italy was formed, Turin was chosen as the first capital of the country.
88. In-flight fig. : ALT
89. Railing feature : BALUSTER
A balustrade is a decorative railing in which the major components are individual balusters. The term “baluster” is thought to come from the Italian “balaustra” meaning “pomegranate flower”. The name reflects a baluster’s resemblance in shape to that of a half-open pomegranate flower.
94. Earl with a three-finger banjo-picking style named for him : SCRUGGS
Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt are the musicians who founded the bluegrass band called the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948.
95. Berkshire boarding school : ETON
Berkshire is a county in England that is referred to as one of the “home counties”. The home counties are those that surround the city of London, outside of London itself. “Home county” is not an official designation but has been in popular use since the 1800s.
99. Foment, with “up” : STIR
To foment is to promote the growth of.
101. Rolls with rice : SUSHI
Sushi is a Japanese dish that has as its primary ingredient cooked, vinegared rice. The rice is usually topped with something, most often fish, and can be served in seaweed rolls. If we want raw fish by itself, then we have to order “sashimi”.
103. “Moneyball” baseball exec Billy : BEANE
Michael Lewis wrote his book “Moneyball” about the way Billy Beane built up the Oakland Athletics baseball team by bringing on board players who were “undervalued”, getting the maximum benefit from his limited payroll budget. I must admit I know nothing about baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Moneyball”, as well as the film adaptation with Brad Pitt playing Beane.
105. Mettlesome mounts : ARABS
The Arab (also “Arabian”) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.
“Mettle” is such a lovely word. It means courage and fortitude, or spirit. “Mettle” is simply a variant spelling of the word “metal”.
108. Paquin of “True Blood” : ANNA
Anna Paquin is an actress from New Zealand who won an Oscar as an 11-year-old for her role in “The Piano”. In the HBO series “True Blood” she plays Sookie Stackhouse, a role for which she won a Golden Globe.
121. “Lux” composer Brian : ENO
“Lux” is a 2012 album released by musician Brian Eno. The album is a collection of ambient music that Eno previously composed as background “soundscapes” for art galleries and airport terminals.