Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers starts with a slang term for someone who might be targeted by a CON MAN:
- 43D. People who target the starts of 17-, 30-, 40- and 57-Across : CON MEN
- 17A. Base for long-distance carriers? : PIGEON COOP
- 30A. A mere pittance : CHUMP CHANGE
- 40A. Unexpected hit : SUCKER PUNCH
- 57A. Cleopatra’s lover : MARK ANTONY
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Flaky mineral : MICA
Mica is a mineral, a sheet silicate. Thin sheets of mica are transparent and are used in place of glass in certain applications. This form of mica is called isinglass, and as it has a better thermal performance than glass it is a great choice for “peepholes’ in boilers and lanterns. Mica is also used in the electronics industry, making use of its unique electrical and thermal insulating properties.
5. She “walked like a woman and talked like a man,” in a Kinks song : LOLA
“Lola” is a fabulous song that was written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks back in 1970. Inspired by a real life incident, the lyrics tell of young man who met a young “lady” in a club, danced with her, and then discovered “she” was actually a transvestite. The storyline isn’t very traditional, but the music is superb.
14. Film format that’s sometimes in 3-D : IMAX
The IMAX Corporation, which is behind the IMAX film format, is a Canadian company. The impetus for developing the system came after Expo ’67 in Montreal. Back then large format screenings were accomplished using multiple projectors with multiple screens, with images basically stitched together. The team behind the IMAX technology set out to simplify things, and developed a single-camera, single-projector system.
15. Mushroom’s reproductive cell : SPORE
Spores are produced by many bacteria, fungi and non-flowering plants. A spore is a reproductive body encased in a protective shell that is highly resistant to damage, and resistant to heat in particular.
17. Base for long-distance carriers? : PIGEON COOP
The Old English word “cypa”, meaning “basket”, evolved in the 14th century to the word “coop” to describe a small cage for poultry. And, we still use that word today.
21. Person setting the stage? : ROADIE
A roadie is someone who loads, unloads and sets up equipment for musicians on tour, on the road.
22. Archaeologist played by Harrison Ford, informally : INDY
In the “Indiana Jones” series of films, Dr. “Indy” Jones is played by Harrison Ford. Dr. Marcus Brody is played by the veteran English actor Denholm Elliott.
23. Lyricist Gershwin : IRA
Ira Gershwin was the lyricist who worked with his brother George to create such American classics as the songs “I Got Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me”, as well as the opera “Porgy and Bess”. After George Gershwin died, Ira continued to create great music, working with the likes of Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill.
25. Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida ___” : LOCA
“Livin’ la Vida Loca” is a 1999 single recorded by Ricky Martin, the title of which translates as “living the crazy life”.
26. South Asian shade tree : BANYAN
The banyan is a fig and germinates in cracks and crevices of a host tree and then sends roots down towards the ground. The roots that head down the the host give rise to a familiar name for the banyan, namely the strangler fig. The banyan tree is the national tree of India.
30. A mere pittance : CHUMP CHANGE
A pittance is a small amount, often a living allowance or remuneration. The term came into English from Old French, and is basically an amount given out of “pity”.
35. Ink-squirting creature : SQUID
Octopodes and squid have the ability to release a dark pigment into the water as a means of escape. The dark pigment is called cephalopod ink (the squid and octopus belong to the class cephalopoda). The dark color is created by melanin, the same substance that acts as a pigment in human skin.
43. Size in a lingerie shop : C-CUP
“Lingerie” is a French term, but as used in France it just means any underwear, worn by either males or females. In English we use “lingerie” to describe alluring underclothing worn by women. The term “lingerie” comes into English via the French word “linge” meaning “washables”, and ultimately from the Latin “linum”, meaning “linen”. We tend not to pronounce the word correctly in English, either here in the US or across the other side of the Atlantic. The French pronunciation is more like “lan-zher-ee”, as opposed to “lon-zher-ay” (American) and “lon-zher-ee” (British).
47. Rebel on many T-shirts : CHE
“Guerrillero Heroico” is the name of an iconic photograph taken Alberto Korda of the revolutionary Che Guevara. With the title translating into English as “Heroic Guerrilla Fighter”, the image shows Guevara in a dark beret, with an “implacable” stare. It is versions of this photo that have been used so many time in tattoos, poster, paintings, etc. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has determined that “Guerrillero Heroico” has been reproduced more than any other image in the history of photography.
50. “The Star-Spangled Banner” contraction : O’ER
The words “o’er the land of the free” come from “The Star-Spangled Banner” written by Francis Scott Key.
51. Hardly an upscale bar : DIVE
We’ve been using the word “dive” in American English for a run-down bar since the latter half of the 19th century. The term comes from the fact that disreputable taverns were usually located in basements, so one had to literally and figuratively dive into them.
52. Cell that fires on impulse : NEURON
A nerve cell is more correctly called a neuron. The branched projections that receive electrochemical signals from other neurons are known as dendrites. The long nerve fiber that conducts signals away from the neuron is known as the axon. A neuron that has no definite axon is referred to as “apolar” or “nonpolar”. In apolar neurons the nerve impulses radiate in all directions.
54. Emission from radioactive decay : BETA RAY
Beta particles (the constituents of beta rays) are the products of decay of a radioactive element. Beta particles are high-energy electrons or positrons emitted from the nucleus of the decaying element.
61. Annual athletic awards : ESPYS
The ESPY Awards are a creation of the ESPN sports television network. One difference with similarly named awards in the entertainment industry is that ESPY winners are chosen solely based on viewer votes.
62. Canadian Plains tribe : CREE
The Cree are one of the largest groups of Native Americans on the continent. In the US most of the Cree nation live in Montana on a reservation shared with the Ojibwe people. In Canada most of the Cree live in Manitoba.
63. Wee bit : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.
64. Eliot who chased Capone : NESS
Eliot Ness was the Treasury agent charged with the task of bringing down the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. When Ness took on the job in 1930, Chicago law-enforcement agents were renowned for being corrupt, for being on the take. Ness handpicked 50 prohibition agents who he thought he could rely on, later reducing the group to a cadre of 15 and ultimately just 11 trusted men. That group of 11 earned the nickname “The Untouchables”, the agents who couldn’t be bought.
66. IDs collected by H.R. : SSNS
The Human Resources (HR) department might record a social security number (SSN) as an identity (ID) number.
1. Storied traveling trio : MAGI
“Magi” is the plural of the Latin word “magus”, a term applied to someone who was able to read the stars. Hence, magi is commonly used with reference to the “wise men from the East” who followed the star and visited Jesus soon after he was born. In Western Christianity, the three Biblical Magi are:
- Melchior: a scholar from Persia
- Caspar: a scholar from India
- Balthazar: a scholar from Arabia
4. Stop and go, e.g. : ANTONYMS
An antonym is an “anti-synonym”. A synonym is word having the same sense as another, and an antonym the opposite. For example, “love” is an antonym of “hate”, and “stop” is an antonym of “go”.
8. Body spray brand : AXE
Axe is a brand of male grooming products. Axe is sold under the name Lynx in some parts of the world.
9. High-level H.S. class with integrals : AP CALC
The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers college-level courses to kids who are still in high school. After being tested at the end of the courses, successful students receive credits that count towards a college degree.
10. It has its charms : VOODOO
Voodoo is a religion that originated the French slave colony of Saint-Domingue on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
11. Beethoven’s Third : EROICA
Beethoven originally dedicated his “Symphony No. 3” to Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven admired the principles of the French Revolution and as such respected Bonaparte who was “born” out of the uprising. When Napoleon declared himself Emperor, Beethoven (and much of Europe) saw this as a betrayal to the ideals of the revolution so he changed the name of his new symphony from “Bonaparte” to “Eroica”, meaning “heroic, valiant”.
15. ___-Cat (winter vehicle) : SNO
The brand name “Sno-Cat” is owned by the Tucker company. All snowcats are tracked vehicles built to work in snow, and are famously used in expeditions to the polar regions. The modern Sno-Cat from Tucker differs from its competitors in that it has four independently-mounted tracks.
18. Chimp’s relative : ORANG
Orangutans (also “orangs”) are arboreal creatures, in fact the largest arboreal animals known to man. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, living in the rain forests. Like most species in rain forests these days, orangutans are endangered, with only two species surviving. The word “orangutan” is Malay, meaning “man of the forest”.
26. Secretive email option : BCC
A blind carbon copy (bcc) is a copy of a document or message that is sent to someone without other recipients of the message knowing about that extra copy.
31. Actress Anne of “Donnie Brasco” : HECHE
My favorite movie starring the actress Anne Heche is “Six Days Seven Nights”, a romantic comedy in which she plays opposite Harrison Ford. Heche is noted for her difficult private life. She wrote that her father had molested her as a child and gave her a sexually transmitted disease (he later revealed that he was homosexual, and died of AIDS). Heche dated comedian Steve Martin for two years, and then lived with comedian Ellen DeGeneres for three. Soon after breaking up with DeGeneres, she started exhibiting eccentric behavior for a while, claiming that she was the daughter of God, and that she would take everyone back to heaven in her spaceship. Happily, I think things have calmed down for her in recent years.
The 1997 movie “Donnie Brasco” is about an FBI agent who infiltrates a New York City crime family. The film is loosely based on the true story of agent Joseph Pistone who worked his way into the Bonanno family. Johnny Depp plays Pistone on screen, and uses the name Donnie Brasco when undercover.
32. ___ de corps : ESPRIT
“Esprit de corps” is the morale of a group, best translated from French perhaps as “team spirit”.
36. 1951 film featuring Nero : QUO VADIS
“Quo Vadis” is an epic drama made in 1951, an adaptation of the 1896 novel of the same name written by Henryk Sienkiewicz. At the top of the bill are Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr, with Peter Ustinov playing the Emperor Nero. There was also an uncredited extra making her first appearance on the screen, a young lady by the name of Sophia Loren.
39. Some A.L. sluggers : DHS
In baseball, designated hitters (DHs) may replace the pitcher (P) at bat.
41. N.C.A.A. women’s basketball powerhouse : UCONN
The University of Connecticut (UConn) was founded in 1881 as the Storrs Agricultural School, taking its name from the Storrs brothers who donated the land and provided initial funding.
42. Overnight flights : RED-EYES
A red-eye flight is one departing late at night and arriving early the next morning. The term is a reference to tired passengers disembarking with red eyes.
45. Takes by force : USURPS
To usurp is to seize and hold by force. The term “usurp” comes to us from Latin via French, from “usus” (a use) and “rapere” (to seize).
53. Intl. group headquartered in D.C. : OAS
The Organization of American States (OAS) has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Not all of the independent states in the Americas are members. Cuba was barred from participation in the organization after a vote in 196. Honduras had her membership suspended after the country’s 2009 coup.
54. Rare blood type, for short : B-NEG
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
58. Channel showing old films : TCM
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is one of my favorite television channels, delivering just what its name promises: classic movies.