Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s themed answers end with increasing numbers, all divisible by 10, and adding 10 sequentially as we progress down the grid:
- 17A. Evening show with headlines and stories : NEWS AT TEN
- 29A. Like perceptive hindsight : TWENTY/TWENTY
- 47A. Generic pre-sunrise hour : OH DARK THIRTY
- 64A. Farm’s remote acreage : BACK FORTY
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Ophthalmic sore : STYE
A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.
16. Chopin piece : ETUDE
An étude is a short instrumental composition that is usually quite hard to play and is intended to help the performer master a particular technique. “Étude” is the French word for “study”. Études are commonly performed on the piano.
Frédéric Chopin was a Polish composer who spent most of his life in France. He was most famous for his piano works in the Romantic style. Chopin was a sickly man and died quite young, at 39. For many of his final years he had a celebrated and tempestuous relationship with the French author George Sand (the nom de plume of the Baroness Dudevant). Those years with Sand may have been turbulent, but they were very productive in terms of musical composition.
20. Swiss convention city : GENEVA
The First Geneva Convention is one of four treaties aimed at protecting the victims of armed conflict. The first of these treaties was signed in 1864 by the major European powers at the urging of relief activist Henri Dunant. Dunant also established the Red Cross in 1863, an organization that is specifically called out in the First Geneva Convention as an agency that is allowed to provide protection and relief for wounded and sick soldiers. The first treaty was significantly updated and expanded in 1906, 1929 and 1949.
24. ’60s protest org. : SDS
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was an activist group in the sixties. The SDS organized the largest student strike in the history of the United States on 26 April 1968, with about a million students staying away from class that day. The “Students for a Democratic Society” name was revived in 2006 with the foundation of a new US-based student organization with left wing beliefs. Today’s SDS was founded by a pair of high school students from Greenwich Village, New York.
25. Periods that may decide 5-Acrosses, briefly : OTS
27. Andean animal : LLAMA
Many female mammals lick off their newborn. That’s not an option for llamas as their tongues only reach out of their mouths about half an inch. Instead llama dams nuzzle their young and hum to them.
29. Like perceptive hindsight : TWENTY/TWENTY
I only understand the expression “20/20 vision” in non-technical terms. Apparently someone with 20/20 vision can see just as well as a standard/normal person at 20 feet from an eye chart. Someone with 20/40 vision can see just as well as a standard/normal person at 40 feet. Someone with 20/100 vision can see just as well as a standard/normal person at 100 feet, and so on. Those of you living in Metric Land use the term 6/6, with the standard distance being 6 meters instead of 20 feet.
37. Journalist Couric : KATIE
Katie Couric left NBC’s “The Today Show” in 2006 and took over as news anchor for “CBS Evening News”. In so doing she became the first solo female anchor of a broadcast network evening news program. Couric also has the honor of being the only person to guest-host on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”. In fact she “swapped jobs” on that particular day, and Leno filled in for Couric on “The Today Show”.
38. German coal valley : RUHR
The Ruhr is a large urban area in western Germany. The area is heavily populated, and is the fifth largest urban area in the whole of Europe, after Istanbul, Moscow, London and Paris. The Ruhr became heavily industrialized due to its large deposits of coal. By 1850, the area contained nearly 300 operating coal mines. Any coal deposits remaining in the area today are too expensive to exploit.
39. Lifts on slopes : T-BARS
A T-bar is a ski lift on which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of a T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skiers as they remain standing on their skis (hopefully!). There’s also a J-bar, a similar device, but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.
45. One collaring a perp : COP
46. Watch displays, briefly : LEDS
A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is a specialized form of semiconductor that when switched on releases photons (light). LEDs were used in early digital watches, and are getting more and more popular even though their use in electronic equipment is fading away. LEDs are used now as a replacement for the much less efficient tungsten light bulb. I replaced all of my tungsten Xmas lights a few years ago and saved a lot on my electricity bill.
47. Generic pre-sunrise hour : OH DARK THIRTY
“Oh dark thirty” originated as military slang. The term refers to military time, and the use of a zero as a the first digit in the early, pre-sunrise hours, e.g. 01:30 (“zero one thirty” or “oh one thirty”).
52. Use a shovel : DIG
A shovel is a manual tool used for lifting and throwing material such as earth and coal. Our words “shovel” and “shove” are related etymologically, as a “shovel” is used to “shove” things aside.
56. __ Palmas: Canary Islands city : LAS
The Spanish province of Las Palmas comprises about half of the islands of Gran Canaria, and several other small islands, located off the northwest coast of Africa. Gran Canaria is perhaps better known as the “Canary Islands” in English.
60. Five cents : NICKEL
The 5-cent American coin known as a nickel is actually made up of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The first nickel was introduced in 1866, and was named the Shield nickel due to the shield design on the front of the coin. The current design is the Jefferson nickel, which was introduced in 1938.
62. Yellowish brown : OCHER
Ocher is a light, yellowy-brown color, although variations of the pigment are possible such as red ocher and purple ocher. “Ocher” is usually spelled “ochre” on the other side of the pond.
64. Farm’s remote acreage : BACK FORTY
In the Public Land Survey System, land right across the country is divided into townships and sections. A section is roughly equivalent to a square mile, 640 acres. It became the practice to refer to quarter-quarter divisions of a section, with a quarter of a quarter of a section being equal to 40 acres (check the math!). From this sprung phrases like “lower 40” (nominally the lowest elevation 40 acres on a property) and the “back 40” (nominally a 40 acre parcel that was undeveloped on a property, “out the back”).
66. French sweetie : CHERI
“Chéri” is a form of familiar address in French, meaning “dear”. “Chéri” is the form used when talking to a male, and “chérie” when addressing a female.
67. Inland Asian 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 …
69. Frankfurt’s state : HESSE
Hesse is a German state. The capital of Hesse is Wiesbaden, although the largest city in the state is Frankfurt.
70. Lowdown : DOPE
Our use of the word “dope” to mean “inside information” probably comes from horse racing. The idea is that a better might have information about which horse has been drugged (doped) to influence its performance.
71. Soon, to a bard : ANON
“Anon” originally meant “at once” and evolved into today’s meaning of “soon” apparently just because the word was misused over time.
1. Billy Joel creations : SONGS
Billy Joel is the third-best selling solo artist in the US, after Elvis Presley and Garth Brooks. Joel’s name has been associated with two supermodels in his life. He dated Elle Macpherson, and wrote two songs about their relationship: “This Night” and “And So It Goes”. Joel’s second wife was Christie Brinkley, to whom he was married from 1985 to 1994. Brinkley appeared in the title role in the music video for “Uptown Girl”.
5. Software trial : BETA TEST
In the world of software development, the first tested issue of a new program is usually called the “alpha” version. Expected to have a lot of bugs that need to be fixed, the alpha release is usually distributed to a small number of testers. After reported bugs have been eliminated, the refined version is called a “beta” and is released to a wider audience, but with the program clearly labeled as “beta”. The users generally check functionality and report further bugs that are encountered. The beta version feeds into a release candidate, the version that is tested just prior to the software being sold into the market, hopefully bug-free.
6. Halloween mo. : OCT
All Saints’ Day is November 1st each year. The day before All Saints’ Day is All Hallows’ Eve, better known by the Scottish term “Halloween”.
7. Food for Miss Muffet : WHEY
When milk curdles it separates into two parts, the solid curds and the liquid whey.
“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey”, in the popular nursery rhyme. A tuffet is a low seat or a footstool, another word for a pouffe or a hassock. When milk curdles it separates into two parts, the solid curds and the liquid whey. Then “along came a spider and sat down beside her”.
9. Seattle athlete : SEAHAWK
The Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1976, along with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Seahawks have enthusiastic fans, often referred to as the “12th man”, a reference to how well their support can buoy the team. The Seahawks fans have twice broken the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event.
12. Carving tool : ADZE
An adze (also “adz”) is similar to an axe, but is different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool’s shaft. An axe’s blade is set in line with the shaft.
22. Bottom-row PC key : ALT
The Alt (alternate) key is found on either side of the space bar on US PC keyboards. The Alt key evolved from what was called a Meta key on old MIT keyboards, although the function has changed somewhat over the years. Alt is equivalent in many ways to the Option key on a Mac keyboard, and indeed the letters “Alt” have been printed on most Mac keyboards starting in the nineties.
28. Insultingly small, as a payment : MEASLY
Back in the 17th century, someone described as measly was affected with measles. The use of “measly” to describe something insultingly small was initially recorded as slang in the mid-1800s.
Measles is a viral infection of the respiratory system. Apparently, there is no really effective treatment of measles, although there is some evidence that high doses of vitamin A can reduce the chances of mortality in the very young. Measles is also known as rubeola, not to be confused with rubella, an alternative name for German measles.
32. Strong desires : YENS
The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium.
40. __ rage: PED user’s aggression : ROID
Steroids are found commonly in nature, with familiar examples being cholesterol and testosterone. The controversial class of drugs called anabolic steroids (known informally as “roids” or simply “steroids”) are artificially produced chemicals designed to mimic the effect of the male sex hormone, testosterone. They are termed “anabolic” as they build up cellular tissue (particularly muscle) in a process called anabolism. Taking anabolic steroids can be termed “juicing”, and the aggressive behavior that can be a side-effect is known as “roid rage”.
Performance-enhancing drug (PED)
48. Netherlands airline : KLM
The initialism KLM stands for “Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij”, which translates from Dutch as “Royal Aviation Company”. KLM is the flag carrier for the Netherlands, and is the oldest airline in the world still operating with its original name. It was founded in 1919. KLM merged with Air France in 2004.
50. Jubilant end-of-week cry : TGIF!
“Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF) is a relatively new expression that apparently originated in Akron, Ohio. It was a catchphrase used first by disk jockey Jerry Healy of WAKR in the early seventies. That said, one blog reader wrote me to say that he had been using the phrase in the fifties.
53. Ohio rubber city : AKRON
For much of the 1800s, the Ohio city of Akron was the fasting growing city in the country, feeding off the industrial boom of that era. The city was founded in 1825 and its location, along the Ohio and Erie canal connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River, helped to fuel Akron’s growth. Akron sits at the highest point of the canal and the name “Akron” comes from the Greek word meaning “summit”. Indeed, Akron is the county seat of Summit County. The city earned the moniker “Rubber Capital of the World” for most of the 20th century, as it was home to four major tire companies: Goodrich, Goodyear, Firestone and General Tire.
55. Swashbuckling Errol : FLYNN
Actor Errol Flynn was born 1909 in Tasmania, Australia where he was raised. In his twenties, Flynn lived in the UK where he pursued his acting career. Around the same time he starred in an Australian film “In the Wake of the Bounty” and then appeared in a British film “Murder at Monte Carlo”. It was in the latter film that he was noticed by Warner Brothers who brought him to America. Flynn’s non-American heritage shone through even while he was living the American dream in California. He regularly played cricket, along with his friend David Niven, in the Hollywood Cricket Club.
A swashbuckler is a flashy swordsman. The term probably derives somehow from “swash” meaning “fall of a blow”, and “buckler” meaning “small round shield”.
56. __ Ness monster : LOCH
The Loch Ness monster has been talked about for centuries, but modern interest started in 1933 when a spate of sightings was reported. Those sightings don’t seem to have stopped, with photographs really sparking the imagination.
59. Corn syrup brand : KARO
Karo is a brand of corn syrup, an industrially manufactured sweetener derived from corn.
63. Ambulance destinations: Abbr. : ERS
Our word “ambulance” originated in the French term “hôpital ambulant” meaning field hospital (literally “walking hospital”). In the 1850s, the term started to be used for a vehicle transporting the wounded from the battlefield, leading to our “ambulance”.