Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers are common phrases in which the word HAM has been inserted:
- 57A. Went all out on stage … or a hint to the four other longest puzzle answers : HAMMED IT UP
- 16A. Early sustenance for Bruce Wayne? : GOTHAM MILK (from “got milk?)
- 22A. Handing a St. Louis team an embarrassing loss? : SHAMING THE BLUES (from “sing the blues”)
- 33A. Tribal VIP’s family? : SHAMAN KIN (from “sank in”)
- 49A. Easy out in rodent baseball? : POP-UP TO A HAMSTER (from “pop-up toaster”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Kind of rain or rock : ACID
Acid rain is any precipitation that is unusually acidic. The acidity in rain mainly comes from sulfur dioxide that is discharged into the atmosphere from industrial plants and volcanic eruptions.
The musical genre known as acid rock is a subset of psychedelic rock. The term comes from the influence of the drug LSD (acid) on some compositions in the early days.
12. Like the “funny bone” nerve : ULNAR
The ulnar nerve runs alongside the ulna (one of the bones in the lower arm). The ulnar nerve is the largest unprotected (not surrounded by muscle or bone) nerve in the human body. The nerve can be touched under the skin at the outside of the elbow. Striking the nerve at this point causes and an electric-type shock, known as hitting one’s “funny bone” or “crazy bone”.
14. Poet Silverstein : SHEL
Author Shel Silverstein had a varied career and did a lot more than write books. Silverstein was a poet, composer, cartoonist and screenwriter among other things. One of his successful children’s books is “The Giving Tree”, which was first published in 1964. “The Giving Tree” tells of a young boy who has a special relationship with a tree in a forest. The message of the book seems to be that the tree provides the little boy with everything he needs.
16. Early sustenance for Bruce Wayne? : GOTHAM MILK (from “got milk?)
Gotham had been a nickname for New York City long before it was picked up by comic books as a setting for Batman tales. The term was coined by Washington Irving in a periodical that he published in 1807. Irving was lampooning New York politics and culture, and lifted the name from the village of Gotham in Nottinghamshire, England. The original Gotham was, according to folklore, inhabited by fools.
Bruce Wayne is the secret identity of Batman in the comic series created by DC Comics. The first name of Bruce was chosen as a homage to the Scottish king and heroic figure, Robert the Bruce. The family name was a nod to “Mad Anthony” Wayne, the US Army general and statesman who rose to prominence in the Revolutionary War.
The “got milk?” advertising campaign was funded originally by the California Milk Processor Board and later by milk processors and dairy farmers. The “got milk?” ads encourage us to drink cow’s milk, and lots of it.
18. Country where Quechua is spoken : PERU
Quechua was the Native American language adopted by the Incan Empire and favored over other dialects. Today, Quechua is one of the official languages in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, alongside Spanish.
19. Great Plains native : UTE
The Ute is a group of Native American tribes that now resides in Utah and Colorado. The Ute were not a unified people as such, but rather a loose association of nomadic groups. The word “Ute” means “Land of the Sun”, and “Ute” also gave us the state name “Utah”.
20. Pluto quintet : MOONS
The dwarf planet Pluto has five moons, that we know of. The first of these, Charon, was discovered as recently as 1978. The five moons are named Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.
22. Handing a St. Louis team an embarrassing loss? : SHAMING THE BLUES (from “sing the blues”)
The St. Louis Blues hockey team takes its name from the song “St. Louis Blues”, a jazz and popular music classic.
26. Mother with a Nobel prize : TERESA
Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in the city that is now called Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. At birth she was given the names Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (“Gonxha” means “little flower” in Albanian). She left home at the age of 18 and joined the Sisters of Loreto, and headed to Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham in Dublin, Ireland in order to learn English. Her goal was to teach in India, and English was the language used there for instruction by the nuns. After Mother Teresa passed away in 1997 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, a step on the road to canonization. In order for her to be beatified there had to be documented evidence of a miracle that was performed due to her intercession. The miracle in question was the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of a woman due to the application of a locket containing a picture of Mother Teresa. Documentation of a second miracle is required for her to be declared a saint. The canonization process seems to well underway, with Pope Francis recognizing a second miracle in December 2015.
32. Central Dallas? : ELS
There are two letters L (el) at the center of the word “Dallas”.
33. Tribal VIP’s family? : SHAMAN KIN (from “sank in”)
A shaman is a supposed intermediary between the human world and the spirit world.
37. Elastic wood : ASH
The wood of the ash tree is a hardwood, although it is relatively elastic. Famously, ash is the wood of choice for baseball bats. It is also the wood of choice for hurleys, the wooden sticks used in the Irish sport of hurling.
40. Sister magazine of Jet : EBONY
“Ebony” is a lifestyle magazine founded in 1945 that is marketed towards the African-American community. Way back in 1957/58, “Ebony” was home to a monthly advice column penned by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Titled “Advice for Living”, he used the column to answer many of letters that the magazine received that were addressed to Dr. King personally. Having recently read a few of those columns, I must say that they provide some fascinating insight into race relations in the 1950s …
41. God with a quiver : EROS
Eros, the Greek god of love, gives rise to our word “erotic”, meaning “arousing sexual desire”. Also known as Amor, the Roman counterpart to Eros was Cupid.
A quiver is a container used for carrying arrows.
47. Soi-__: self-styled : DISANT
“Soi-disant” is a French term that we’ve imported into English. Meaning “self-styled, so-called”, we tend to use the term disparagingly, suggesting an element of self-promotion. “Soi-disant” translates literally from French as “saying oneself”.
49. Easy out in rodent baseball? : POP-UP TO A HAMSTER (from “pop-up toaster”)
The rodents known as hamsters are commonly kept as house pets. Male hamsters are called bucks, females are called does, and baby hamsters are known as pups.
53. Components of 56-Across : HOPS
(56A. Malt creations : ALES)
The foodstuff that we call “hops” are actually the female flower of the hop plant. The main use of hops is to add flavor to beer. The town in which I live here in California used to be home to the largest hop farm in the whole world. Most of the harvested hops were exported all the way to the breweries of London, where they could fetch the best price.
54. Quartet member : VIOLA
A standard string quartet is made up of two violins, a viola and a cello. A string quintet consists of a standard string quartet with the addition of a fifth instrument, usually a second viola or cello.
55. Org. with Jungians : APA
American Psychiatric Association (APA)
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, and the founder of analytical psychology. Jung was very much associated with the analysis of dreams, and also introduced us to the psychological concepts of introversion and extroversion.
57. Went all out on stage … or a hint to the four other longest puzzle answers : HAMMED IT UP
The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is apparently a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.
60. Protected, in a way : ALEE
Alee is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing aweather.
61. Sister of Thalia : ERATO
In Greek mythology, the muses are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. The number of muses is a subject of debate at times, but the most popular view is that there are nine:
- Calliope (epic poetry)
- Clio (history)
- Erato (lyric poetry)
- Euterpe (music)
- Melpomene (tragedy)
- Polyhymnia (choral poetry)
- Terpsichore (dance)
- Thalia (comedy)
- Urania (astronomy)
Before the adoption of the nine muses of Greek mythology, there were originally three muses, the three Boeotian Muses. These were:
- Mneme (memory)
- Melete (meditation)
- Aoede (song)
62. Hardy heroine : TESS
In Thomas Hardy’s novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”, the heroine and title character is Tess Durbeyfield. Her father is an uneducated peasant and when he hears that his name is a corruption of the noble name of “D’Urberville”, the news goes to his head.
63. Perception-changing drug : LSD
LSD (known colloquially as “acid”) is short for lysergic acid diethylamide. A Swiss chemist called Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 in a research project looking for medically efficacious ergot alkaloids. It wasn’t until some five years later when Hofmann ingested some of the drug accidentally that its psychedelic properties were discovered. Trippy, man …
1. Masters course : AUGUSTA
The Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia was founded in 1933 by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Famously, Augusta hosts the Masters Tournament each year. Augusta is very much a private club, and some of its policies have drawn criticism over the years. Prior to 1959, the club had a bylaw requiring that all caddies be African American. There were no African-American club members admitted until 1990, and no women until 2012.
2. Fabled emperor’s lack : CLOTHES
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is an 1837 story penned by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson. The tale tells of two tailors who hoodwink an emperor into believing they provided him clothes that were invisible to his aides who were unfit for their office. It took a child to cry out “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” to reveal the scam.
4. Morse “T” : DAH
Samuel Morse came up with the forerunner to modern Morse code for use on the electric telegraph, of which he was the co-inventor. Morse code uses a series of dots and dashes to represent letters and numbers. The most common letters are assigned the simplest code elements e.g. E is represented by one dot, and T is represented by one dash. When words are spelled aloud in Morse code, a dot is pronounced as “dit”, and a dash is pronounced as “dah”.
6. Like Roald Dahl, by birth : WELSH
Roald Dahl’s name is Norwegian. Dahl’s parents were from Norway, although Dahl himself was Welsh. Dahl became one of the most successful authors of the twentieth century. Two of his most famous titles are “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
7. Yellowstone grazer : ELK
Yellowstone was the first National Park to be established in the world, when it was designated as such by President Grant in 1872. What a great tradition it started! The American National Parks truly are a treasure.
10. Voice of President Business in “The Lego Movie” : FERRELL
“The Lego Movie” is a 2014 computer animated film in which all the characters are Lego figures. Apparently “The Lego Movie” was well received, and resulted in the spin-off film “The Lego Batman Movie”.
13. “Ghostbusters” actor : RAMIS
Harold Ramis was a real all-rounder, a very successful actor, director and writer. Indeed, in both “Ghostbusters” and “Stripes” he was a co-writer as well as playing a lead character. Ramis worked as writer-director on “Caddyshack”, “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This”.
1984’s “Ghostbusters” really is an entertaining movie. It stars Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, and was directed by Ivan Reitman (a trio that also worked together on 1981’s “Stripes”). The first draft of the screenplay was written by another star of the movie, Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd originally envisioned “Ghostbusters” as a vehicle for himself and John Belushi, but sadly Belushi passed away before the project could be realized.
14. Air quality issue : 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.
17. Lisa’s title : MONA
Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece that we know in English as the “Mona Lisa” is called “La Gioconda” in Italian, the language of the artist. It’s also known as “La Joconde” by the Government of France which owns the painting and displays it in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The title comes from the name of the subject, almost certainly Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo. Giocondo was a wealthy silk merchant in Florence who commissioned the painting for the couple’s new home to celebrate the birth of their second son.
23. Team whose mascot’s head is a baseball : METS
Mr. Met is the mascot of the New York Mets. He is a guy with a large baseball as a head. There’s also a Mrs. Met, a mascot that was previously known as Lady Met.
24. Viking history VIP : ERIK
According to Icelandic tradition, Erik the Red was the man responsible for founding the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. Erik had a famous son: the explorer Leif Ericson.
25. Island near Java : BALI
Bali is both an island and a province in Indonesia. It is a popular tourist spot, although the number of visitors dropped for a few years as a result of terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 that killed mainly tourists. Bali became more popular starting in 2008 due to a significant and favorable change in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Indonesian rupiah.
Java is a large island in Indonesia that is home to the country’s capital, Jakarta. With a population of over 130 million, Java is the most populous island in the world, with even more people than Honshu, the main island of Japan.
35. Assist badly? : ABET
The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (it literally means “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.
36. Storied loch : NESS
Loch Ness is one of the two most famous lakes in Scotland. Loch Ness is famous for its “monster”, and Loch Lomond is famous for the lovely song “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”. Oh, ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road …
37. It might be on the road for years : ASPHALT
The asphalt surface on roads (or basketball courts) is more properly called asphaltic concrete, because asphalt itself is just a sticky black liquid that comes from crude petroleum. Asphalt is used as a binder with aggregate to form asphaltic concrete.
38. Cop’s info source : STOOLIE
Stoolies, also called “canaries”, will sing to the cops given the right incentive. “Stoolie” is short for “stool pigeon”. A stool pigeon was a decoy bird tied to a stool so as to lure other pigeons. Originally a stoolie was a decoy for the police, rather than an informer, hence the name.
42. Snare drum sound : RAT-A-TAT
Snare drums are so called because they have a set of wire strands (snares) stretching across the bottom surface of the drum. When the drum is struck, the snares vibrate against the bottom drumhead producing a unique sound.
43. Feature of many a birdie : ONE PUTT
The following terms are routinely used in golf for scores relative to par:
- Bogey: one over par
- Birdie: one under par
- Eagle: two under par
- Albatross (also “double eagle”): three under par
- Condor: four under par
No one has ever recorded a condor during a professional tournament.
44. Secure, as a knapsack : STRAP ON
“Knapsack” is a Low German word describing a bag with straps designed to be carried on the back. The word “knapsack” probably comes from the German verb “knappen” meaning “to eat”.
48. “__ these wars for Egypt”: Antony : I MADE
The following lines are from the play “Antony and Cleopatra” by William Shakespeare:
I made these wars for Egypt, and the Queen,
Whose heart I thought I had, for she had mine—
57. Clarke computer : HAL
In Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey” (famously adapted for the big screen as “2001: A Space Odyssey”) the computer system that went rogue was called HAL 9000, or simply “HAL”. HAL stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. Even though, Clarke denied it, there’s a good argument that can be made that the acronym HAL is a veiled reference to IBM, the big player in the world of computing at the time of the novel’s publication (1968). The acronym HAL is just a one-letter shift from the initials “IBM”.