Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers are familiar expressions that refer to a food item, and are clued with the words “… to a food critic”.
- 17A. Shrewd person, to a food critic? : SHARP COOKIE
- 29A. Important person, to a food critic? : BIG CHEESE
- 47A. Despicable person, to a food critic? : ROTTEN EGG
- 66A. Lazy person, to a food critic? : COUCH POTATO
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Brawl : MELEE
Our word “melee” comes from the French “mêlée”, and in both languages the word means “confused fight”.
11. L.A. Galaxy’s org. : MLS
The LA Galaxy is one of the ten charter clubs of Major League Soccer (MLS). The team is known for signing some high-profile players from more established leagues. England star and celebrity David Beckham played for the Galaxy from 2007 to 2012.
15. Asinine : INANE
Our word “inane” meaning silly or lacking substance comes from the Latin “inanitis” meaning “empty space”.
The adjective “asinine” means “stupid, obstinate”, and comes from the Latin for “like an ass”.
19. African antelope : GNU
A gnu is also known as a wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. Wildebeest is actually the Dutch word for “wild beast”.
21. Like skunks and zebras : STRIPED
Skunks have anal scent glands that can be used as defensive weapons. The glands produce sulfur-containing chemicals that have a really awful smell and that can irritate the eyes and skin.
The name “zebra” comes from an old Portuguese word “zevra” meaning “wild ass”. Studies of zebra embryos show that zebras are basically black in color, with white stripes that develop with growth. Before this finding, it was believed they were white, with black stripes.
26. James Bond’s school : ETON
The world-famous Eton College is just a brisk walk from Windsor Castle, which itself is just outside London. Eton is noted for producing many British leaders including David Cameron who took power in the last UK general election. The list of Old Etonians also includes Princes William and Harry, the Duke of Wellington, George Orwell, and the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming (as well as 007 himself as described in the Fleming novels).
29. Important person, to a food critic? : BIG CHEESE
The phrase “the big cheese” doesn’t have its roots in the word “cheese” at all. The original phrase was “the real cheese” meaning “the real thing”, used way back in late 1800s (long before Coke picked it up). “Chiz” is a Persian and Hindi word meaning “thing”, and it’s not hard to see how the expression “the real chiz” would morph into “the real cheese”. Then in early-20th century America, instead of a “real cheese”, the most influential person in a group was labeled as “the big cheese”. And I think that is about the only use of the word “cheese” that is in anyway complimentary!
39. Avian symbol of pride : PEACOCK
The male peafowl is known as a peacock, and the female a peahen. The peafowl’s young are sometimes called peachicks.
52. Math average : MEAN
In a set of numbers, the mean is the average value of those numbers. The median is the numeric value at which half the numbers have a lower value, and half the numbers a higher value. The mode is the value that appears most often in the whole set of numbers.
53. Fencing sword : EPEE
The French word for sword is “épée”. In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.
54. Witch trial town : SALEM
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings held in 1692 and 1693 in colonial Massachusetts, most famously in Salem. As a result of mass hysteria, twenty people were convicted of practicing witchcraft and were executed. The events were deemed to be a terrible injustice almost immediately. As early as 1696, there was a legal ruling by the Massachusetts General Court that referred to the outcome of the trials as a tragedy. In 2001, the massachusetts legislature officially exonerated all of those convicted.
57. Impressive banquet displays : SPREADS
A banquet is an elaborate feast. “Banquet” is a term that seems to have reversed in meaning over time. Coming into English via French from Old Italian, “banquet” is derived from “banco” meaning “bench”. The original “banco” meal was simply a snack eaten on a bench, rather than at a table. I guess we eat more these days …
68. CIA forerunner : OSS
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was formed during WWII in order to carry out espionage behind enemy lines. A few years after the end of the war the OSS functions were taken up by a new group, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.
69. Vaudeville show : REVUE
“Revue” is the French word for “review”.
The Vire is a river that flows through Normandy in France. The poets of the Vire valley were known as the “Vau de Vire”, a term that some say gave rise to our word “Vaudeville”.
70. “He loves me” piece : PETAL
“He loves me, he loves me not” …
71. Tetley product : TEA
Tetley was founded by Joseph Tetley in Yorkshire in 1837. Joseph and his brother used to sell salt door-to-door from a pack horse and started to distribute tea the same way. They became so successful selling tea that they relocated to London. Notably, Tetley’s was the first company to introduce tea bags in the UK, back in 1953.
72. Class-ending pair? : ESSES
There are two letters S (ess) ending the word “class”.
1. Uncategorized stuff: Abbr. : MISC
Out terms “miscellany” and “miscellaneous” ultimately come from the Latin verb “miscere” meaning “to mix”.
12. White sale goods : LINENS
The first white sale took place in January of 1878 in a Philadelphia department store. It was called a white sale because it was only bed linens (which were all white) that were discounted. Over time, white sales have evolved to include almost any household items.
22. President married to Mamie : IKE
When the future president was growing up, the Eisenhower family used the nickname “Ike” for all seven boys in the family, as “Ike” was seen as an abbreviation for the family name. “Big Ike” was Edgar, the second oldest boy. “Little/Young Ike” was Dwight, who was the third son born. Dwight had no sisters.
Mamie Eisenhower has to have been one of the most charming of all the First Ladies of the United States. Ms. Eisenhower suffered from an inner ear complaint called Ménière’s disease which caused her to lose her balance quite often. Because she was unsteady on her feet there were unfounded rumors floating around Washington that Ms. Eisenhower had a drinking problem. People can be very unkind …
26. Out-of-this-world beings, in brief : ETS
31. Rep on the street : CRED
“Street cred” is slang for “street credibility”, of which I have none …
32. When repeated, “Great speech!” : HEAR
The phrase “hear! hear!” is an expression of support that is perhaps more commonly used in the UK than on this side of the Atlantic. The phrase evolved from “Hear him! Hear him!”, which was the original utterance used in the UK parliament in the 17th century.
34. Weapon in Clue : ROPE
Clue is board game that we knew under a different name growing up in Ireland. Outside of North America, Clue is marketed as Cluedo. Cluedo was the original name of the game, introduced in 1949 by the famous British board game manufacturer Waddingtons. There are cute differences between the US and UK versions. For example, the man who is murdered is called Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in the US), one of the suspects is the Reverend Green (Mr. Green in the US), and the suspect weapons include a dagger (a knife in the US), a lead pipe (lead piping in the US) and a spanner (a wrench in the US). I think it’s a fabulous game, a must during the holidays …
40. Traveler to work : COMMUTER
Our verb “to commute”, meaning “to go back and forth to work”, ultimately derives from the Latin “commutare”, meaning “to often change”. Back in the late 1800s, a “commutation ticket” was a season pass, so named because it allowed one to “change” one kind of payment into another. Quite interesting …
42. Civil War org. : CSA
The Confederate States of America (CSA) set up government in 1861 just before Abraham Lincoln took office. Jefferson Davis was selected as President of the CSA at its formation, and retained the post for the life of the government.
43. Boy doll : KEN
Barbie’s male counterpart doll is Ken, and Ken’s family name is Carson. Barbie’s full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. When Ken was introduced in 1959, it was as Barbie’s boyfriend. In 2004 it was announced that Ken and Barbie were splitting up, and needed to spend quality time apart. Soon after the split, Barbie “met” Blaine, a boogie boarder from Australia.
45. Classic British sports cars : MGS
My neighbor used to keep his MG Midget roadster in my garage (away from his kids!) back in Ireland many moons ago. The Midget was produced by the MG division of the British Motor Corporation from 1961 to 1979, with the MG abbreviation standing for “Morris Garages”.
49. Revered Mother : 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.
58. Land parcel : ACRE
At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. This was more precisely defined as a strip of land “one furrow long” (i.e. one furlong) and one furlong wide. The length of one furlong was equal to 10 chains, or 40 rods. A area of one furlong times 10 rods was one rood.
60. Santa Fe and Tucson, in the auto world : SUVS
“SUV” is an initialism standing for sports utility vehicle, and is a term that was introduced by our marketing friends. Using the phrase “sports utility vehicle” was a very clever way to get us to pay a lot of money for what was essentially a station wagon on a truck chassis, or at least it was back then.