THEME: Use the letters OPST … all the theme answers start with an anagram of the letters OPST i.e. TOPS (THE LIST), POST (NO BILLS), STOP (OFF), OPTS (OUT), SPOT (REMOVER), POTS (OF MONEY).
COMPLETION TIME: 7m 19s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
5. Yankees’ “$275 million man,” informally : A-ROD
Poor old Alex Rodriguez earned more nicknames that just A-Rod. He has been called “the Cooler” by some players as there is a perception that teams go cold when he joins them, and hot when he leaves. He has also been called “A-Fraud” by teammates because of another perception, that he is over-demanding.
9. Test proctor’s command : BEGIN
A “proctor” is a supervisor, especially of an examination in a school, or perhaps of a dormitory. The word “proctor” originated in the late 1500s, a contraction of the word “procurator”, the name given to an official agent of a church.
17. ___ mater : ALMA
The literal translation for the Latin phrase “alma mater” is “nourishing mother”. Alma mater was used in Ancient Rome to refer to mother goddesses, and in Medieval Christianity the term was used to refer to the Virgin Mary. Nowadays, one’s alma mater is the school one attended, either high school or college, usually one’s last place of education.
18. The “Y” in Y.S.L. : YVES
Yves Saint-Laurent was a French fashion designer, actually born in Algeria. He started off working as an assistant to Christian Dior, at the age of 17. Dior died just four years later, and as a very young man Saint-Laurent was named head of the House of Dior. However, in 1950, Saint-Laurent was conscripted into the French Army, and ended up in a military hospital after suffering a mental breakdown from the hazing inflicted by his fellow soldiers. His treatment included electroshock therapy and administration of sedatives and psychoactive drugs. He was released from prison, managed to pull his life back together, and started his own fashion house. Remarkable …
20. Is ranked #1 : TOPS THE LIST
Arrange the letters OPST to make the word TOPS.
23. Bizarre : ODD
“Bizarre” is a French word, with the same meaning in French as English. However, back in the 16th century, “bizarre” used to mean “handsome, brave” in French. So that’s what my wife means when she refers to me as “bizarre” …
24. Climate-change protocol city : KYOTO
The Kyoto Protocol is designed to fight global warming and was adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. Almost 200 states have since signed the protocol and have committed to achieving the year 2012 targets laid down in the document. The most notable signature absent on the document is of course one representing the United States, as we are responsible for over one third of the greenhouse gases emitted across the world. The other significant polluters that have not ratified the agreement are China, India and Brazil.
27. Disney dwarf with glasses : DOC
In the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Snow White”, the seven dwarfs were not given any names. The names were created for the 1937 classic animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” from Walt Disney. The seven dwarfs are:
– Doc (the leader of the group)
– Grumpy (that would be me, according to my wife …)
30. Sign on a construction site fence : POST NO BILLS
Arrange the letters OPST to make the word POST.
37. Part of a school year: Abbr. : SEM
“Semester” is a German word, from the Latin “semestris” an adjective meaning “of six months”. We of course use “semester” in a system that divides an academic year into two roughly equal parts. A trimester system has three parts, and a quarter system has four.
39. Brief visit along the way : STOP OFF
Arrange the letters OPST to make the word STOP.
42. Declines to participate : OPTS OUT
Arrange the letters OPST to make the word OPTS.
The word “sutra” is used in Hinduism for a learned text, usually meant to be studied by students.
The Kama Sutra is renowned for its descriptions of positions that can be used for sexual intercourse, but the sutra includes many other texts that deal with other matters of a sexual nature including how to woo a woman, the conduct of a “chief wife”, the conduct of “other” wives, how to make money as a courtesan and much, much more, as if that isn’t enough …
45. Play from which the word “robot” comes : RUR
R.U.R. is a play written in Czech by Karel Capek and first produced in 1921. It is a science fiction work, and is remarkable in that it introduced the world to the word “robot”. The words “automaton” and “android” were already in use, but Capek introduced the term “robot” from the original Czech “robota” meaning “forced labor”.
47. Civic maker : HONDA
Introduced in 1972, the Honda Civic is the oldest brand of Japanese car made for the US today (only the Toyota Corolla has been around longer). Today’s Civic is a compact car, but the original was smaller, and classed as a sub-compact. The original design had a transverse mounted engine and front-wheel drive to save on space, copying the design introduced with the British Mini.
48. Dry cleaner’s fluid : SPOT REMOVER
Arrange the letters OPST to make the word SPOT.
56. Drinking binge : JAG
The word “jag” is used to describe periods of unrestrained activity, particularly involving alcohol, and has been in use since the 1800s.
66. Fodder holder : SILO
Silo is a Spanish word that we absorbed into English, originally coming from the Greek word “siros” that described a pit in which one kept corn.
69. Source of indigo dye : ANIL
Anil is another name for the indigo plant, as well as the name for the blue indigo dye that is obtained from it. And that blue is relatively close to “navy” blue.
73. Glasgow gal : LASS
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, and sits on the River Clyde. And lovely lasses it has too …
1. Ulster, for one : COAT
If you’ve watched Victorian dramas you might have seen the original Ulster coat, which is very distinctive. It is a full length, heavy coat, with an attached cape made from the same material that hangs down as far as the waist. The cape was dropped in the 20th century, and now it’s a relatively simple, hard-wearing, double-breasted overcoat.
4. Toper’s back-pocket item : FLASK
“To tope” is to drink alcohol excessively and habitually.
5. “Moving on then …” : ANYHOO
“Anyhoo” is a slang term for “anyway” or “anyhow”.
7. Forest felines : OCELOTS
The ocelot is found mainly in South and Central America, although there have been sightings as far north as Arkansas. An ocelot doesn’t look too different from a domestic cat, and some have been kept as pets. Perhaps most famously, Salvador Dali had one that he brought everywhere with him.
8. Arnaz of “I Love Lucy” : DESI
Desi Arnaz was of course famous for his turbulent marriage to Lucille Ball. Desi Arnaz was a native of Cuba, and from a privileged family. His father was Mayor of Santiago and served in the Cuban House of Representatives. However, the family had to flee to Miami after the 1933 revolution led by Batista.
9. Toper’s expense : BAR TAB
The use of the word “tab” is peculiarly American, so one has to be careful using it when traveling outside of the country. We’ve been using it since the late 1880s and is probably a shortened from of “tabulation”.
The musical genre of “emo” originated in Washington D.C. in the 80s, and takes its name from “emotional hardcore”. Not my cup of tea …
11. Cat in una casa : GATO
A cat (gato) in a house (una casa) in Spanish.
12. Shirt brand : IZOD
Jack Izod was a tailor of some repute over in England, producing shirts for King George V as well as other members of the royal family. As he was about to retire, he was approached for the use of his name by an American clothing manufacturer based in New York. The brand Izod of London was introduced to America in 1938.
13. Dweeby sort : NERD
Dweeb is relatively recent American slang that came out of college life in the late sixties. Dweeb, squarepants, nerd, they’re all are not-nice terms that mean the same thing: someone excessively studious and socially inept.
21. Like a universal donor’s blood : TYPE O
The most important grouping of blood types is the ABO system. Blood is classified as either A, B, AB or O, depending on the type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A secondary designation of blood is the Rh factor, in which other antigens are labelled as either positive or negative. When a patient receives a blood transfusion, ideally the donor blood should be the same as that of the recipient, as incompatible blood cells can be rejected by the recipient. However, blood type O-Neg can be accepted by recipients with all blood types, AB or O, positive or negative. Hence someone with O-neg blood type is called a “universal donor”.
26. Toper, slangily : DIPSO
“To tope” is to drink alcohol excessively and habitually. “Dipsomania” is a craving for alcohol to the point of damaging one’s health. “Dipsa” is the Greek for “thirst”, hence a “manic thirst”.
29. Andrew of New York politics : CUOMO
Andrew Cuomo won the gubernatorial election for the State of New York in 2010. Andrew is the son of former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo. Andrew was also married for 13 years to Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.
31. Prefix with con or classical : NEO
“Neocon” is short for neoconservative.
32. Sierra ___ : LEONE
The Republic of Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa, lying on the Atlantic Coast. The capital city of Freetown was originally set up as a colony to house the “Black Poor” of London, England. These people were mainly freed British slaves of Caribbean descent, who were living a miserable life in the run-down parts of London. Perhaps to help the impoverished souls, perhaps to rid the streets of “a problem”, three ships were chartered in 1787 to transport a groups of blacks, with some whites, to a piece of land purchased in Sierra Leone. Those who made the voyage were guaranteed British citizenship and protection. The descendants of these immigrants, and others who made the journey over the next 60 years, make up the ethnic group that’s today called the Sierra Leone Creole.
33. Honor, on a diploma : LAUDE
When an academic degree is awarded a level of distinction can be noted depending on the degree of success achieved by the student. There are three types of honors, each with a Latin name:
– cum laude: meaning with honor (literally “with praise”)
– magna cum laude: meaning with great honor
– summa cum laude: meaning with highest honor
34. Astronomical red giant : S STAR
Red giants are very large stars with a relatively low mass. The atmosphere of a red giant is also very inflated, so the surface of that atmosphere that we see is relatively cool, which gives it a red color.
40. Corleone who broke Michael’s heart : FREDO
Fredo Corleone is a middle son in the Corleone family that features in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather”. He was considered the weak son, and was reduced to the role of “gopher”. Fredo was with his father when Don Corleone was shot. He tried to retaliate as the shooting took place, but dropped his gun. On the screen, Fredo was played by Italian-American actor John Cazale.
41. “Fee fi fo ___” : FUM
The line “fee-fi-fo-fum” (with various spellings) comes from the famous English fairy tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Within the story, the Giant at the top of the Beanstalk utters a little poem when he detects the presence of Jack:
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
43. Rhythmic humming sound : THRUM
“To thrum” is to strum a stringed instrument in an idle and monotonous way. “Thrum” has been around a long time, since the 1590s.
46. “William Tell” composer : ROSSINI
The overture to Rossini’s opera “William Tell” has to be one of the most recognized pieces of classical music on the planet. It has always been a favorite of mine, since the days I used to watch episodes of “The Lone Ranger” at the cinema on a Saturday morning as a kid. More recently it has gained notoriety in a Honda advertising stunt. If you drive at a steady speed of 55 mph down a road near Lancaster, California, grooves cut in the road surface interact with the car’s tires to create the sound of the main “William Tell” theme.
49. Ice-T or Ice Cube : RAPPER
Rapper Ice-T must be sick of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles. maybe he should have stuck to his real name, Tracy Marrow. Then again, maybe not …
50. Isaac Stern’s instrument : VIOLIN
Isaac Stern was Ukranian-born, but moved with his family to San Francisco at a very young age. A wonderful violin virtuoso …
55. L.A.’s area, for short : SOCAL
SoCal is short for Southern California.
58. Island “where America’s day begins” : GUAM
Guam is a US territory in the western Pacific Ocean, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands. Guam is also the westernmost territory in the United States, so it is the first place to see the sun rise. As such, it has adopted the motto, “Where America’s day begins”.
60. Pre-1917 autocrat : TSAR
The term czar (also tsar) is a Slavic word, and was first used as a title by Simeon I of Bulgaria in 913 A.D. It is derived from the word Caesar, which was synonymous with emperor at that time.
61. Suddenly bright star : NOVA
A nova is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different. It is a very bright burst of light and energy, created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a super-nova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.
62. Amor’s Greek counterpart : EROS
The word for “love” in Latin is “amor”, and in Ancient Greek is “eros”.
63. Trees yielding archery bow wood : YEWS
The wood from the yew tree is the wood of choice for the longbow, a valued weapon in the history of England. The longbow is constructed with a core of heartwood (as the heartwood resists compression) with a sheath of sapwood (as the sapwood resists stretching). The yew was in such demand for longbows that for centuries yew trees were in short supply in Britain and the wood had to be imported from all over Europe.
65. “___ Got a Secret” : I’VE
The television panel game show “I’ve Got a Secret” was a spin-off of the wonderful show “”What’s My Line?” Whereas “What’s My Line?” featured a celebrity panel trying to guess the line of business of regular contestants, “I’ve Got a Secret” required the celebrity panel to guess a contestants “secret”. This secret was usually something relatively unusual, unexpected and often humorous.