Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers is a US city that includes the two-letter postal abbreviation for the state in which the city is located. Those state abbreviations are circled in the grid:
- 5A. Southern city just south of a national forest with the same name : OZARK (Arkansas = AR)
- 3D. Where the Crimson Tide play : TUSCALOOSA (Alabama = AL)
- 7D. City almost at the end of the Columbia River : ASTORIA (Oregon = OR)
- 11D. Red River Valley city in the upper Midwest : GRAND FORKS (North Dakota = ND)
- 25D. State university city in the Midwest : BLOOMINGTON (Indiana = IN)
- 28D. Sunny city with a famous pier : SANTA MONICA (California = CA)
- 46D. Original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal : ALBANY (New York = NY)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
5. Southern city just south of a national forest with the same name : OZARK (Arkansas = AR)
The city of Ozark, Arkansas lies along the Arkansas River just to the south of the Ozark Mountains. Ozark is part of the Fort Smith metropolitan area.
10. Shout after a stressful week : 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.
14. Mrs. Peacock’s game : CLUE
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 …
15. Cello bow application : ROSIN
Rosin is a solid form of resin derived from plant sources. Rosin is formed into cakes that players of stringed instruments use to rub along the hairs of their bows to help improve sound quality. The rosin increases the degree of friction between the strings and the bow. That same friction-increasing property comes into play when baseball pitchers use rosin to get a better grip on the ball, or when dancers apply rosin to the soles of their shoes.
19. It’s a big blow : GALE
A gale is a very strong wind, a wind that is defined by Beaufort Wind Scale as a wind with speeds from 50 to just over 100 kilometers per hour.
20. Pixar’s “Monsters, ___” : INC
The animated feature “Monsters, Inc.” was released in 2001, and was Pixar’s fourth full-length movie. It’s about cute monsters, and that’s all I know other than that the voice cast included the likes of John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi.
24. R&B singer Bryson : PEABO
Peabo Bryson is a singer from Greenville, South Carolina. Bryson is noted for singing hits on Disney film soundtracks, often duets. Examples are “Beauty and the Beast” with Céline Dion, and “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme) with Regina Bella.
26. ___ Levin, author of “Rosemary’s Baby” : IRA
As well as writing novels, Ira Levin was a dramatist and a songwriter. Levin’s first novel was “A Kiss Before Dying”, and his most famous work was “Rosemary’s Baby” which became a Hollywood hit. His best known play is “Deathtrap”, a production that is often seen in local theater (I’ve seen it a couple of times around here). “Deathtrap” was also was a successful movie, starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. My favorite of Levin’s novels though are “The Boys from Brazil” and “The Stepford Wives”.
“Rosemary’s Baby” is a novel by Ira Levin. It is a horror story, and was made into a very creepy 1968 film of the same name starring Mia Farrow. Levin published a sequel in 1997 titled “Son of Rosemary”, and dedicated that sequel to Mia Farrow.
27. Windows precursor : MS-DOS
MS-DOS (short for Microsoft Disk Operating System) was the main operating system used by IBM-compatible PCs in the eighties and for much of the nineties.
29. Undergraduate law deg. : LLB
Bachelor of Laws (LLB) is a an undergraduate degree in law. The abbreviation “LLB” stands for Legum (“LL”, for the plural “laws”) Baccalaureus (B, for Bachelor).
32. Egg ___ yung (Chinese dish) : FOO
Egg foo yung is a dish served in Chinese restaurants, and is basically an omelet. It probably takes its name from a flower called the Fu Yung.
33. Newborn horses : FOALS
There are lots of terms to describe horses of different ages and sexes, it seems:
- Foal: horse of either sex that is less that one year old
- Yearling: horse of either sex that is one to two years old
- Filly: female horse under the age of four
- Colt: male horse under the age of four
- Gelding: castrated male horse of any age
- Stallion: non-castrated male horse four years or older
- Mare: female horse four years or older
39. Common churchyard conifer : YEW TREE
The family of trees known as yews propagate by producing a seed surrounded by soft, sweet and brightly colored aril. Birds eat the fruit and then disperse the seed in their droppings. The birds leave the seed undamaged, and so are unharmed by the potent poisons taxine and taxol that are found within the seed. The seeds are highly toxic to humans.
42. Destiny : KISMET
“Kismet” is a Turkish word, meaning “fate, fortune, one’s lot”.
45. ___-Man : PAC
The Pac-Man arcade game was first released in Japan in 1980, and is as popular today as it ever was. The game features characters that are maneuvered around the screen to eat up dots and earn points. The name comes from the Japanese folk hero “Paku”, known for his voracious appetite. The spin-off game called Ms. Pac-Man was released in 1981.
49. Adm. Horatio Nelson, for one : NAVAL HERO
Admiral Horatio Nelson is noted for his victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. The battle was a decisive win for the British during the Napoleonic Wars, fought against the combined fleets of France and Spain. Nelson was fatally wounded by a marksman from one of the French ships, but as he was conscious he continued to monitor the battle, dying three hours after he was shot. Nelson was much revered by his crew who felt that his body had to be returned to England. The body was placed in a barrel full of brandy and the barrel lashed to the mainmast of the Victory and placed under guard. The damaged flagship was towed to Gibraltar where the body was transferred to a lead-lined coffin and the brandy replaced by aqua vitae (spirits of wine). While the body continued its journey home, dispatches reporting the outcome of the battle were carried to England on a ship called … HMS Pickle. A boozy end to a distinguished life …
60. Rorschach test shape : BLOT
The Rorschach test is a psychological test in which a subject is asked to interpret a series of inkblots. The test was created by Swiss Freudian psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach in the 1920s.
63. No-brainer? : BOZO
A bozo is a man with a low IQ, and one who is usually quite muscular. We’ve been using the term since the early 1900s and it possibly comes from the Spanish “bozal” that was used to describe someone who speaks Spanish poorly.
65. Champagne bottle stopper : CORK
Champagne is made primarily using Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier grapes (both mainly used to make red wine), as well as white Chardonnay grapes. Rosé Champagne is made from a blend of all three grapes, Blanc de noir Champagne from solely Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier, and Blanc de blanc from 100% Chardonnay.
66. “Truer words have never been spoken!” : AMEN
The word “amen” translates as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is also likely to be influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.
1. TV blocking device : V-CHIP
All television sets produced for the US market since the year 2000 are required by law to include a component called a V-chip. A V-chip allows a TV to be configured so that programming of specific “ratings” can be blocked from viewing. The “V” in V-chip stands for “viewer control”. It sounds like a great idea, but a lot of kids these days quickly do a search online and work out how to reset the password.
3. Where the Crimson Tide play : TUSCALOOSA (Alabama = AL)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama was named in honor of Chief Tuskaloosa, head of a Muskogean-speaking tribe. The city was the capital of Alabama from 1826 to 1846.
The athletic teams of the University of Alabama (“Bama”) are nicknamed the Crimson Tide, a reference to the team colors of crimson and white.
7. City almost at the end of the Columbia River : ASTORIA (Oregon = OR)
The city of Astoria, Oregon developed from Fort Astoria, which was established in 1810. Fort Astoria was a fur-trading post built by John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company, hence the “Astoria” name.
11. Red River Valley city in the upper Midwest : GRAND FORKS (North Dakota = ND)
Grand Forks is located on the eastern border of North Dakota, alongside the twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The twin cities are at the center of a metropolitan area often referred to as “the Grand Cities”. Grand Forks is a located at the forks of the Red River and Red Lake River. The location was initially referred to as “Les Grandes Fourches” (the Big Forks) by French fur trappers in the early to mid 1700s.
12. House that’s cool to live in? : IGLOO
The Inuit word for “house” is “iglu”, which we usually write as “igloo”. The Greenlandic (yes, that’s a language) word for “house” is very similar, namely “igdlo”. The walls of igloos are tremendous insulators, due to the air pockets in the blocks of snow.
22. Plan for hosp. patients : HMO
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
25. State university city in the Midwest : BLOOMINGTON (Indiana = IN)
The Indiana city of Bloomington was established by a group settlers from the American South. Said settlers referred to the area as “a haven of blooms”, and so chose the name “Bloomington”. Today, Bloomington is home to the original and largest campus of Indiana University.
28. Sunny city with a famous pier : SANTA MONICA (California = CA)
Santa Monica, California lies on Santa Monica Bay and is in Los Angeles County. The city is home to the world-famous Santa Monica Pier, which opened in 1909.
32. “Here are my thoughts,” online : FWIW
For what it’s worth (FWIW)
34. 1/60 of a min. : SEC
The hour is subdivided into 60 parts, each of which was known as a “pars minuta prima” in Medieval Latin, translating as “first small part”. This phrase “pars minuta prima” evolved into our word “minute”. The “pars minuta prima” (minute) was further divided into 60 parts, each called a “secunda pars minuta”, meaning “second small part”. “Secunda pars minuta” evolved into our term “second”.
37. Calypso-influenced genre : SKA
Ska originated in Jamaica in the late fifties and was the precursor to reggae music. No one has a really definitive etymology of the term “ska”, but it is likely to be imitative of some sound.
The musical style known as calypso originated in Trinidad and Tobago, but there seems to be some debate about which influences were most important as the genre developed. It is generally agreed that the music was imported by African slaves from their homeland, but others emphasize influences of the medieval French troubadours. To me it sounds more African in nature. Calypso reached the masses when it was first recorded in 1912, and it spread around the world in the thirties and forties. It reached its pinnacle with the release of the famous “Banana Boat Song” by Harry Belafonte.
38. “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” org. : PETA
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a very large animal rights organization, with 300 employees and two million members and supporters worldwide. Although the group campaigns for animal rights across a broad spectrum of issues, it has a stated focus in opposition of four practices:
- Factory farming
- Fur farming
- Animal testing
- Use of animals in entertainment
45. Argentine grassland : PAMPAS
The Pampas are fertile lowlands covering a large part of Argentina, Uruguay and some of Brazil. “Pampa” is a Quechua word meaning “plain”.
46. Original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal : ALBANY (New York = NY)
New York’s state capital of Albany was founded as a Dutch trading post called Fort Nassau in 1614. The English took over the settlement in 1664 and called it Albany, naming it after the future King of England James II, whose title at the time was the Duke of Albany. It became the capital of New York State in 1797.
The Erie Canal runs from Albany to Buffalo in the state of New York. What the canal does is allow shipping to proceed from New York Harbor right up the Hudson River, through the canal and into the Great Lakes. When it was opened in 1825, the Erie Canal had immediate impact on the economy of New York City and locations along its route. It was the first means of “cheap” transportation from a port on the Atlantic seaboard into the interior of the United States. Arguably it was the most important factor contributing to the growth of New York City over competing ports such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. It was largely because of the Erie Canal that New York became such an economic powerhouse, earning it the nickname of “the Empire State”. Paradoxically, one of the project’s main proponents was severely criticized. New York Governor DeWitt Clinton received so much ridicule that the canal was nicknamed “Clinton’s Folly” and “Clinton’s Ditch”.
47. French sweetie : CHERIE
“Chéri” is a form of familiar address in French, meaning “dear, … “Chéri” is the form used when talking to a male, and “chérie” to a female.
50. Italian motor scooter : VESPA
Vespa is a brand of motor scooter that was originally made in Italy (and now all over the world) by Piaggio. “Vespa” is Italian for “wasp”.
52. Group with the hit “Waterloo” : ABBA
We have a big event across Europe every year called the Eurovision Song Contest. Each nation enters one song in competition with each other, and then voters across the whole continent decide on the winner. That’s how ABBA got their big break when they won in 1974 with “Waterloo”. In 1973, Spain’s entry was “Eres tú” (the Spanish for “You Are”) sung by the band Mocedades. “Eres tu” came second in the competition, but should have won in my humble opinion.
53. Grab (onto) : GLOM
“Glom” is a slang term meaning “steal”, although it can also be used to mean “latch onto” when used as “glom onto”. The term probably comes from the Scots word “glam” meaning “to snatch at”.
57. Musk, e.g. : ODOR
“Musk” has such an elegant connotation these days because of it’s use in the world of perfumery. However, its origin is not quite so glamorous. The original substance called musk, used in perfumes, was extracted from a gland in the rectal area of the male musk deer. The name “musk” is a Sanskrit word for “testicle”.
59. Tasting of wood, as some chardonnays : OAKY
The Chardonnay grape is believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region of France. Now it’s grown “everywhere”. Drinkers of California “Chards” seem to be particularly fond of “oak” flavor, so most Chardonnay wines are aged in oak barrels.