Edited by: Will Shortz
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. The Mideast’s City of Jasmine : DAMASCUS
Damascus is the second largest city in Syria (after Aleppo), and is the country’s capital. Damascus has the distinction of being the oldest, continuously-inhabited city in the world, having been settled in the 2nd millennium BC. Also, it has the nickname “City of Jasmine”.
9. Backup for R&B’s Booker T. : THE MG’S
Booker T. & the M.G.’s were in effect the house band at Stax Records, and so appeared on loads of famous recordings including some by Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. As such, they became synonymous with what became known as the Stax Sound. One of the unique things about the band was that it was racially integrated, with two white guys making a name for themselves in soul music, which at the time was very much part of black culture. And of course Booker T. & the M.G.’s produced the fabulous 1962 hit “Green Onions”.
15. Open, one-seated horse-drawn carriage : STANHOPE
A stanhope is a small, horse-drawn carriage with a high seat and a closed back. The carriage was named for a Captain Henry Stanhope.
17. Iconic snacks that re-debuted in 2013 : HOSTESS TWINKIES
The snack cakes called Twinkies have been around since 1930. They were created by a baker called James Dewar, who chose the name from a billboard advertising “Twinkle Toe Shoes”. The original filling in the cake was a banana cream, but this was swapped out as a result of rationing during WWII. The vanilla cream became so popular that the banana recipe was dropped completely.
19. Sainted archbishop of Canterbury : ANSELM
Anselm was one of the Archbishops of Canterbury (in England) during Medieval times, from 1093 to 1109. As well as holding the important office within the Church, Anselm was an active and respected philosopher. He is often referred to as the founder of scholasticism, a method of learning that reigned in Medieval universities right across Europe for about 400 years.
22. Tara of the “Sharknado” films : REID
Tara Reid is an actress known for roles she played on television and the big screen. My guess is her most-remembered performances were in the “American Pie” series of movies in which she played Vicky. Sadly, Reid succumbed to the pressure to alter her looks with plastic surgery. In interviews, she has shared that her first experience under the knife “went wrong” leading to more surgeries in attempts to rectify the resulting deformity.
“Sharknado” is a 2013 tongue-in-cheek disaster movie that was made for the Syfy television channel. The basis of the plot is a freak hurricane that hits Los Angeles, resulting in a flood that leaves man-eating sharks roaming the city. I don’t think so …
25. Score mark indicating a passage to be repeated : SEGNO
“Dal segno” can appear on a musical score, sometimes abbreviated to “D.S.” The term translates from Italian as “from the sign”, and is an instruction to repeat a passage starting from a special sign, often called the “segno” in English.
27. Adobe document suffix : PDF
Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format introduced by Adobe Systems in 1993. PDF documents can be shared between users and read using many different applications, making them more universally accessible than documents saved by one particular program.
28. Honker : SCHNOZ
“Schnoz” is a slang term for a nose, particularly a large one.
31. Exquisite gem : BIJOU
The noun “bijou” (plural “bijoux”) is used for a small expensive trinket. “Bijou” is French for “jewel”.
34. Toon who often congratulates himself with “You’ve done it again!” : MR MAGOO
Mr. Quincy Magoo is a wonderful cartoon character voiced by Jim Backus. Backus is probably equally well-known for playing Mr. Magoo as well as Thurston Howell, III on “Gilligan’s Island”. Mr. Magoo first appeared on the screen in a short called “The Ragtime Bear” in 1949. His persona was at least in part based on the antics of W. C. Fields. Backus originally used a fake rubber nose that pinched his nostrils in order to create the distinctive voice, although in time he learned to do the voice without the prop. My absolute favorite appearance by Mr. Magoo is in “Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol”, a true classic from the sixties. There was a movie adaptation of “Mr Magoo” released in 1997, with Leslie Nielsen playing the title role.
37. Near Eastern inns : IMARETS
Imarets were inns or hostels used by pilgrims throughout the Ottoman Empire. The network of imarets was set up to provide food to anyone in need, so they also served as “soup kitchens”.
38. Duke legend, to fans : COACH K
Mike Krzyzewski is a coach and former basketball player from Chicago, Illinois. As a young man, Krzyzewski captained the Army Cadets basketball team, before serving in the Army for five years. After resigning from active duty, Coach K (as he is called) eventually took the head coaching job with the Army Cadets followed by the head coach’s position with Duke, where he has been since 1980. Today, Coach K also coaches the US International team.
39. Phrase said five times by Lady Macbeth soon after “Out, damned spot!” : TO BED
Lady Macbeth is an evil and treacherous woman in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. The most famous line uttered by Lady Macbeth has to be:
Out, damned spot! Out, I say!
In this line, Lady Macbeth is frantically rubbing at her hand trying to get rid of an imaginary bloodstain left there after she committed four murders.
40. Kellogg’s brand : EGGO
Eggo is the brand name of a line of frozen waffles made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced “Froffles”, the original name chosen by melding “frozen” and “waffles”.
43. Display of glee : JIG
The dance known as a “jig” is most associated with Ireland and Scotland. In traditional Irish dancing, the jig is second in popularity only to the reel. The most famous Irish jig is probably “The Irish Washerwoman”. I may not dance a jig, but I sure do know the tune of “The Irish Washerwoman” …
46. World’s largest religious denomination : SUNNI
The Islamic sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims differ in the belief of who should have taken over leadership of the Muslim faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Followers of the Sunni tradition agree with the decision that the Prophet Muhammad’s confidante Abu Bakr was the right choice to become the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. Followers of the Shia tradition believe that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet Muhammad’s own family, and favoured the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali.
Over 50% of the world’s population consider themselves to be adherents of the “big three” Abrahamic religions: Christianity (2-2.2 billion), Islam (1.6-1.7 billion) and Judaism (14-18 million).
48. Steed noted for its stamina : ARAB
The Arab (also “Arabian”) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.
50. Part of a Connecticut trio? : CEE
There are three letters C (cee) in the word “Connecticut”.
51. Amts. of powder, maybe : TSPS
55. Sext symbols : HOT PEPPER EMOJIS
Sexting (a portmanteau of “sex” and “texting”) is the sending of explicit dialog and images between cell phones. The term “sexting” was coined by the UK’s “Sunday Telegraph Magazine” in a 2005 article. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie …?
58. The Mona Lisa’s smile, e.g. : ENIGMA
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.
59. Coral reef inhabitant : SEA SNAKE
I used to live in the Philippines and spent almost every weekend SCUBA diving (happy days!). Occasionally, I’d come across a sea snake slithering through the water. The rule was always to never swim “above” sea snakes as they don’t have gills and have to come to the surface to breathe. You don’t want to be in the way of a sea snake when it’s coming up for a breath of air, as all sea snakes are venomous and many fatalities have been recorded from their bites.
3. Cluster of mountains : MASSIF
“Massif” is a geological term describing a section of the earth’s crust that moves upwards due to the action of tectonic plates. The whole massif retains its structure, with movement taking place at surrounding fault lines. The term “massif” is also used for a group of mountains formed by such geological action. “Massif” is French for “massive”.
5. First name in children’s literature : 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.
10. Some deer : HINDS
Nowadays, a hart is a male red deer, over five years old. A hind is a female red deer.
11. Some deer : ELK
The elk (also known as “wapiti”) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the “huge” wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely “elk”. The more correct name for the beast is “wapiti”, which means “white rump” in Shawnee. It’s all very confusing …
14. Contractions of the heart : SYSTOLES
In the heart, systole describes the rhythmic contraction of the ventricles to pump the blood around the body.
24. Shoe designer Jimmy : CHOO
Jimmy Choo is a designer of handmade women’s shoes who was born in Malaysia but grew up and was educated in London. Choo sold the 50% stake that he had in his shoe manufacturing company in 2001, for 10 million pounds.
29. Dweller between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers : ZIMBABWEAN
The country now known as Zimbabwe started out as a British colony called Southern Rhodesia, and later just “Rhodesia”. The original colony was named for Cecil Rhodes, the British empire builder.
31. Earnings, in slang : BACON
Back in the day, a wealthy man would “bring home the bacon”, and sit around with guests “chewing the fat”.
33. Turndowns across the Atlantic : NAES
“Nae” is the Scottish vernacular for “no”.
34. Artist who drew “Waterfall” and “Hand With Reflecting Sphere” : MC ESCHER
M. C. Escher was a graphic artist from the Netherlands. Escher was noted for creating works inspired by mathematics, often works that were physical impossibilities. ONe famous such works is “Drawing Hands” (1948) in which a pair of hands emerge from a piece of paper and actually draw themselves. He also created a drawing in which a group of red ants are crawling around a Möbius strip, never reaching the end.
37. Where Macbeth is buried : IONA
Although the small island of Iona lies just off the west coast of Scotland, it was the site of a monastery built in the Middle Ages by a monk from Ireland names Colm Cille (also known as Columba). Colm Cille and his followers were sent into exile from the Irish mainland and settled in Iona, as at that time the island was part of an Irish kingdom. This monastery in Iona expanded its influence over the decades and founded other institutions all over Ireland and Great Britain. It is believed that the famous Book of Kells may have been written, or at least started, at the monastery on Iona. Iona is also the burial site for Macbeth, King of Scotland who was immortalized in Shakespeare’s fictional account of the king’s life.
42. Certain Finn : LAPP
Lapland is a geographic region in northern Scandinavia, largely found within the Arctic Circle. Parts of Lapland are in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The people who are native to the region are called the Sami people. The Sami don’t like to be referred to as “Lapps” and they regard the term as insulting.
45. Jet launcher : GEYSER
The Great Geysir in Iceland is the first known geyser to have been discovered and documented. The name “Geysir” comes from the Icelandic and Old Norse word “geysa” meaning “to gush”. It is the Great Geysir that gives us our English word “geyser”.
54. Locale of Dostoyevsky’s exile : OMSK
Omsk is a city in southwest Siberia. It is located over 1400 miles from Moscow and was chosen as the destination for many internal exiles in the mid-1900s. Perhaps the most famous of these exiles was the author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s most famous novels are “Crime and Punishment” and “The Brothers Karamazov”. Dostoyevsky was arrested in 1849 and sentenced to death by Tsar Nicholas I for being part of a liberal intellectual group. He endured a mock execution before being told that his sentence was commuted to four years hard labor and exile in a camp at Omsk in Siberia.
56. ___ Championship (event since 1916) : PGA
The four major golf competitions in men’s golf are:
- the Masters Tournament
- the US Open
- the Open Championship (aka “the British Open”)
- the PGA Championship