Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers are constructed by combining two terms, the first of which ends in a solitary letter, and the second of which starts with that same solitary letter:
- 17A. Cut most likely to win a BBQ competition? : MODEL T-BONE (“Model T” & “T-bone”)
- 25A. Keurig coffee for the big day? : SPECIAL K-CUP (“Special K” & “K-Cup”)
- 35A. Rental to get the twins to college? : DOUBLE U-HAUL (“double-U” & “U-Haul”)
- 47A. Sports competitions in anti-gravity? : SPACE X GAMES (“SpaceX” & “X Games”)
- 56A. Ring up a short story writer? : DIAL O HENRY (“dial 0” & “O Henry”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Seize : USURP
To usurp is to seize and hold by force, say the power or authority of a ruler. The term “usurp” comes to us from Latin via French, from “usus” (a use) and “rapere” (to seize).
14. Justice nominated by Barack : SONIA
Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice on the US Supreme Court, and the third female justice. Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace the retiring Justice David Souter.
17. Cut most likely to win a BBQ competition? : MODEL T-BONE (“Model T” & “T-bone”)
The Ford Model T was the first really affordable car that was offered for sale, and it was produced from 1908 to 1927. It was the Model T that ushered in the era of assembly line production, which greatly cut down the cost of manufacture. The Model T’s engine was designed to run on petrol, kerosene or ethanol. Ford stated in 1909 that “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black”. In actual fact, from 1908 through 1913, the Model T wasn’t available in black, and only grey, green, blue and red. The “black only” strategy applied from 1914.
19. TT automaker : AUDI
The TT is a 2-door sports car that Audi introduced to the market in 1998. The “TT” name comes from the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race. In turn, the abbreviation TT used in the name of the race stands for “Tourist Trophy”.
21. Feminine side : YIN
The yin and the yang can be illustrated using many different metaphors. In one, as the sun shines on a mountain, the side in the shade is the yin and the side in the light is the yang. The yin is also regarded as the feminine side, and the yang the masculine. The yin can also be associated with the moon, while the yang is associated with the sun.
22. Keyboard shortcuts : MACROS
A macroinstruction (usually shortened to “macro”) is a set of instructions in a computer program that are abbreviated to one simple command.
24. TV scientist with 19 Emmys : NYE
That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on PBS for four years, from 1993-97.
25. Keurig coffee for the big day? : SPECIAL K-CUP (“Special K” & “K-Cup”)
A K-Cup is a single-portion cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate in which the beverage is prepared in situ. K-Cup packs are used with brewing machines made by Keurig, a manufacturer of coffee brewers based in Reading, Massachusetts. Personally, I use a Nespresso machine …
We’ve been eating Special K since 1956. One has to give credit to the marketing folks at Kellogg’s, as I am sure we all view special K as a diet breakfast cereal. In fact, there is more fat in Special K than Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and just one less calorie per serving.
29. Richmond-to-D.C. direction : NNE
The city of Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The original town was named in 1737 after the English town of Richmond that is now part of London. British planter William Byrd II thought that view of the James River was reminiscent of the view of the River Thames from England’s Richmond Hill.
31. Finishes second : PLACES
In a horse race, the first-place finisher is said to “win”. The second-place finisher “places” and the third-place finisher “shows”.
35. Rental to get the twins to college? : DOUBLE U-HAUL (“double-U” & “U-Haul”)
The U-Haul company was started by married couple Leonard Shoen and Anna Mary Carty in Ridgefield, Washington in 1945. The Shoens used $5,000 of seed money to build trailers in their garage, and then cleverly recruited gas station owners as franchisees with whom they would split the rental revenue. There are now about 15,000 U-Haul dealers across the country.
The letter W can be written as “double-U”.
38. Word before or after pack : RAT
The original Rat Pack from the fifties was a group of actors that centered on Humphrey Bogart, and included a young Frank Sinatra. Supposedly, Bogart’s wife, Lauren Bacall, christened them the Rat Pack after seeing them all return from one of their nights on the town in Las Vegas. The sixties Rat Pack was a reincarnation of the fifties version, with the core group of actors being Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin (Dino), Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.
A pack rat is rodent that can also be called a woodrat. The pack rat is so called because it frequently drags back objects to its nest. We’ve been using the term “pack rat” for a hoarder since the mid 1800s, so it’s not certain if the rodent was named for the human, or the human for the rodent.
40. Asian New Year : TET
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.
41. Harmless cyst : WEN
“Wen” is the common name for a number of different growths that can occur on or under the skin. A wen can be a lipoma for example, a benign fatty growth that can form under the skin.
43. They’re tossed up before they’re made : PIZZAS
Pizza was invented in Naples where it has a long tradition that goes back to Ancient Rome. During an 1889 visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Savoy was served a special pizza that was created with toppings designed to mimic the colors of the Italian flag. The ingredients of tomato (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green) can still be found together on menus today, on a pie usually named Pizza Margherita after the queen. I do love basil on my pizza …
47. Sports competitions in anti-gravity? : SPACE X GAMES (“SpaceX” & “X Games”)
The X Games are annual events, with a Summer X Games held every year as well as a Winter X Games. It’s very much a commercial venture, with all aspects controlled by the TV station ESPN. The games focus on extreme action sports, like skateboarding and freestyle motocross in the summer and various extreme snowboarding events in the winter.
SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) is a space transportation company that was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, veteran of PayPal and Tesla Motors. In 2012, SpaceX became the first private concern to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. Apparently, SpaceX is the lowest-price player in the game.
51. Uganda’s Amin : IDI
Idi Amin ruled Uganda as a dictator from 1971 until 1979. Amin started his professional career as a cook in the Colonial British Army. Amin seized power from President Milton Obote in a 1971 coup d’état. The former cook eventually gave himself the title “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”.
52. Ciudad Juárez neighbor : EL PASO
The Mexican city sitting across the border from El Paso is more correctly called Ciudad Juárez. Juárez used to be called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). It was to be the younger settlement on the northern side of the Rio Grande which would retain the “El Paso” name.
56. Ring up a short story writer? : DIAL O HENRY (“dial 0” & “O Henry”)
“O. Henry” was the pen name of writer William Sydney Porter from Greensboro, North Carolina. O. Henry is famous for his witty short stories that have a clever twist in the tail.
59. Bering Sea barker : SEAL
The Bering Sea in the very north of the Pacific Ocean is named for the Danish navigator Vitus Bering who was the first European to systematically explore the area in 1728. Many believe that the first humans arrived in the Americas from Asia when the waters of the Bering Sea were lower during the last ice age, over what is known as the Bering land bridge.
60. Impromptu modern group pic : USIE
A selfie is a self-portrait, usually one taken with a digital camera or cell phone. A group “selfie” is sometimes referred to as a “groufie” or “wefie”. A couple’s “selfie” is known as an “usie” or “ussie”, although those terms are sometimes also used for a group picture.
61. King Triton’s mermaid daughter : ARIEL
“The Little Mermaid” is a 1989 animated feature from Disney that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. It tells the story of a mermaid princess named Ariel who falls in love with the human Prince Eric. Ariel’s father is chief merman King Triton. Her best friend is Flounder, who despite his name is not a flounder at all and is actually a tropical fish. Ariel is also friends with Sebastian, a red Jamaican crab whose full name is Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian.
62. Poet __ St. Vincent Millay : EDNA
Edna St. Vincent Millay was an American poet and playwright, the third woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (in 1923 for “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver”). Millay was noted not only for her work, but also for the open arrangement that she and her husband had in their marriage. Millay took many lovers, including the poet George Dillon, for whom she wrote a number of sonnets.
1. Org. that makes cents : US MINT
The nation’s first mint was established in Philadelphia in 1792, as back then Philadelphia was the capital of the United States. That first mint was established in a building that previously housed a whiskey distillery.
2. Woody’s wife : SOON-YI
Soon-Yi Previn is the adopted daughter of actress Mia Farrow and pianist/conductor André Previn. After Farrow and Previn divorced, Farrow started seeing famed movie director Woody Allen. That relationship ended when Farrow discovered that Allen was having an affair with her daughter Soon-Yi. Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn were married in 1997.
4. It meant nothing to Edith Piaf : RIEN
The word “nothing” translates to “nada” in Spanish and “rien” in French.
“La Môme Piaf” (the Little Sparrow) was the nickname of France’s most famous singer, Édith Piaf. What a voice this woman had, and what gorgeous ballads she sang. Édith Piaf lived a life that was not without controversy. She was raised by her mother in a brothel in Normandy, and had a pimp as a boyfriend in her teens. She had one child, while very young, born illegitimately and who died at 2-years-old from meningitis. Her singing career started when she was discovered in the Pigalle area of Paris by nightclub owner Louis Leplée. Leplée was murdered soon after, and Piaf was accused of being an accessory to the murder but was later acquitted. During World War II she was branded a traitor by many as she frequently performed for the German occupying forces, although there are other reports of her supporting the resistance movement. Later in her life she was seriously injured in no less than three, near-fatal car accidents, including one with her friend, Charles Aznavour. While recovering from her injuries she became addicted to pain medication, an addiction that lasted for the rest of her life. When she died in 1963 she was denied a Catholic funeral mass because of her lifestyle, but the crowds that turned out for her funeral procession managed to stop all traffic in Paris, the only time that has happened since the end of WWII.
6. Chicago 7 first name : ABBIE
Abbie Hoffman was the founder of the “Yippies”, an activist group that had violent clashes with the police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Hoffman, along with six other defendants, were eventually brought up on charges related to the protests and became known collectively as the “Chicago Seven”.
7. Rodeo bucker : BRONC
A bronco (also “bronc”) is a horse that is untamed. In Mexican Spanish “bronco” is a word for “horse”, and in the original Spanish “bronco” means “rough, rude”.
8. Writer/illustrator Falconer known for “Olivia” children’s books : IAN
Olivia is a pig featured in a series of children’s books that is written and illustrated by Ian Falconer. The character was inspired by Falconer’s niece, also named Olivia.
9. Stan “__” Musial : THE MAN
Stan Musial was a retired baseball player who went by the nickname “Stan the Man”, a moniker he was awarded by the Brooklyn Dodgers fans in 1946. Apparently, off the field Stan was quite the harmonica player.
18. Rare blood designation : TYPE AB
Here is an approximate distribution of blood types across the US population:
- O-positive: 38 percent
- O-negative: 7 percent
- A-positive: 34 percent
- A-negative: 6 percent
- B-positive: 9 percent
- B-negative: 2 percent
- AB-positive: 3 percent
- AB-negative: 1 percent
23. Dogfish Head brew : ALE
Dogfish Head is a brewery in Milton, Delaware that set up shop in 1995. The brewery is named for Dogfish Head in Maine, where the founder spent summers as a child.
25. “Star Trek” role for Takei and Cho : SULU
Mr. Sulu was played by George Takei in the original “Star Trek” series. Takei has played lots of roles over the years, and is still very active in television. Did you know that he appeared in the 1963 film, “Pt-109”? He played the helmsman steering the Japanese destroyer that ran down John F. Kennedy’s motor torpedo boat. From destroyer helmsman to starship helmsman …
John Cho is an actor and musician who was born in Seoul, South Korea but who has lived in the US since he was a young boy. Cho’s break in movies came in playing Harold Lee in the ”Harold & Kumar” films. He is now making a name for himself playing Mr. Sulu in the latest “Star Trek” movies.
34. Secretary of Agriculture under Nixon : BUTZ
Earl Butz served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Nixon and Ford administrations. Butz’s name is often associated with the change in agricultural policy that moved the nation away from reliance on small farmer to a dependence on corporate farming. Butz resigned from office in 1976 after reports appeared in the press about some racist remarks that he had made.
37. Craigslist caveat : AS IS
Craigslist is an online network of communities that features classified advertisements organized geographically. Craigslist was started by Craig Newmark in 1995, originally as an email distribution list for his friends who lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A caveat is a warning or a qualification. “Caveat” is the Latin for “let him beware”.
40. Fly around the equator? : TSETSE
Tsetse flies live on the blood of vertebrate mammals. The name “tsetse” comes from Tswana, a language of southern Africa, and translates simply as “fly”. Tsetse flies are famous for being carriers of the disease known as “sleeping sickness”. Sleeping sickness is caused by a parasite which is passed onto humans when the tsetse fly bites into human skin tissue. If one considers all the diseases transmitted by the insect, then the tsetse fly is responsible for a staggering quarter of a million deaths each year.
41. Actor Bentley : WES
Wes Bentley is an actor who is perhaps best known for playing Ricky Fitts, the voyeuristic son of the homophobic Colonel Frank Fitts in the 1999 blockbuster film “American Beauty”. A 2009 documentary called “My Big Break” tells of Bentley’s career taking off after “American Beauty” was released, and his subsequent struggles which addiction to drugs and alcohol that led to financial ruin. Bentley is well on the road to recovery, and has been appearing regularly on the small and large screens since 2010.
42. It included a sweet, not sorrowful, parting : EXODUS
The Red Sea (sometimes called the Arabian Gulf) is a stretch of water lying between Africa and Asia. The Gulf of Suez (and the Suez Canal) lies to north, and the Gulf of Aden to the south. According to the Book of Exodus in the Bible, God parted the Red Sea to allow Moses lead the Israelites from Egypt.
44. Sunflower relative : ZINNIA
Zinnias are plants in the daisy family that are named for the German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn. A NASA astronaut started an experiment in 2015 to grow flowering crops in space, aboard the International Space Station. As a result, zinnias became the first flowers ever grown outside the Earth’s biosphere.
46. Delphic diviners : SIBYLS
The word, and name, sibyl, comes from the Greek word “sibylla” meaning “prophetess”. There were many sibyls, but most famous is probably the Delphic Sibyl.
48. Lily plant : CALLA
“Calla lily” is a common name for a lily of the genus Zantedeschia. There is a lily genus called calla, but the calla lily isn’t in it. Now that, that is confusing …
54. Broadway’s Walter __ Theatre : KERR
Walter Kerr was a Broadway theater critic for the “New York Herald Tribune” and the “New York Times”. Together with his wife Jean, Kerr also wrote the Tony-winning musical “Goldilocks”, which premiered in 1958. There is a relatively small Walter Kerr Theatre in Broadway that was opened in 1921 as the Ritz Theatre. It was refurbished and reopened under its current name in 1990.
57. Classified ad shorthand for “seeking” : ISO
In search of (ISO)