Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers includes a pair of SILENT letters:
- 57A. Nonactive member of a firm … or what G, H and W each have in 20-, 29- and 49-Across? : SILENT PARTNER
- 20A. Yard displays at election time : CAMPAIGN SIGNS (includes a pair of silent Gs)
- 29A. Mongol Empire founder : GENGHIS KHAN (includes a pair of silent Hs)
- 49A. “Nope, guess again” : WRONG ANSWER (includes a pair of silent Ws)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
15. Duffer’s warning : FORE!
No one seems to know for sure where the golfing term “fore!” comes from. It has been used at least as far back as 1881, and since then has been called out to warn other golfers that a wayward ball might be heading their way. My favorite possibility for its origin is that it is a contraction of the Gaelic warning cry “Faugh a Ballagh!” (clear the way!) which is still called out in the sport of road bowling. Road bowling is an Irish game where players bowl balls along roads between villages, trying to reach the end of the course in as few bowls as possible, just like in golf!
A “duffer” is a golfer, and not a very good one.
16. + end on an electrolytic cell : ANODE
A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electric energy. A simple battery is made up of three parts: a cathode, an anode and a liquid electrolyte. Ions from the electrolyte react chemically with the material in the anode producing a compound and releasing electrons. At the same time, the electrolyte reacts with the material in the cathode, absorbing electrons and producing a different chemical compound. In this way, there is a buildup of electrons at the anode and a deficit of electrons at the cathode. When a connection (wire, say) is made between the cathode and anode, electrons flow through the resulting circuit from the anode to cathode in an attempt to rectify the electron imbalance.
19. Vegetation along a British golf course : GORSE
Gorse can be a lovely plant to view, largely because of its showy yellow flower. However, gorse took over my front yard so I was glad to see the back of it when I relandscaped recently, going instead with a drought-tolerant design.
24. Org. for the Big East, Big South and Big 12 : NCAA
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) dates back to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. When his son broke his nose playing football at Harvard, President Roosevelt turned his attention to the number of serious injuries and even deaths occurring in college sports. He instigated meetings between the major educational institutions leading to the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) in 1906, which was given the remit of regulating college sports. The IAAUS became the NCAA in 1910. The NCAA has been headquartered in Indianapolis since 1999.
29. Mongol Empire founder : GENGHIS KHAN
Genghis Khan was the founder of the Mongol Empire who was destined to be the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world. He first built his empire by uniting nomadic tribes of northeast Asia, but once Genghis Khan had consolidated his position, he initiated Mongol invasions throughout Eurasia. At it’s height, the Mongol Empire stretched from the River Danube to the Sea of Japan.
31. “Gymnopédies” composer Erik : SATIE
Erik Satie was a French composer most famous for his beautiful composition, the three “Gymnopédies”. I have tried so hard to appreciate other works by Satie but I find them so very different from the minimalist simplicity of the lyrical “Gymnopédies”.
33. Geologist’s division : EON
Geological time is divided into a number of units of varying lengths. These are, starting from the largest:
- eon (also “aeon”)
34. Claudius’s successor : NERO
Nero was Emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 CE, and towards the end of his reign participated in the Olympic Games in the year 67. The Roman leader raced in a ten-horse chariot, of which he lost control and nearly perished after being thrown from the vehicle. Acting and singing were Olympic events back then, and Nero also took part in those competitions. By all accounts, Nero performed badly in every event in which he vied, and yet somehow still managed to win Olympic crowns that he paraded around Rome on his return from Greece.
I find Claudius to be the most fascinating of all the Roman Emperors. Claudius had a lot going against him as he walked with a limp and was slightly deaf. He was put in office by the Praetorian Guard (the emperor’s bodyguards) after Caligula was assassinated. Claudius had very little political experience and yet proved to be very forward-thinking and capable.
38. ___-Ball : SKEE
Skee Ball is that arcade game where you roll balls up a ramp trying to “bounce” it into rings for varying numbers of points. The game was first introduced in Philadelphia, in 1909.
53. Cracklin’ ___ Bran : OAT
Kellogg’s has been making Cracklin’ Oat Bran since 1977. The recipe for the cereal was revamped in 1989 in order to reduce the saturated fat content.
54. Susan who wrote “In America” : SONTAG
Susan Sontag was a writer and political activist from New York City. Sontag wrote extensively on a number of subjects, including photography. She spent the last decade of her life in a relationship with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.
55. U.S. city whose name looks oxymoronic : HILO
Hilo is the largest settlement on the big island of Hawai’i, with a population of over 43,000 (that’s not very many!). I love the Big Island …
The word “oxymoron” is in itself an oxymoron, as it is derived from the Greek words “Oxys” and “moros” meaning “sharp” and “stupid”.
56. Lead-in to an alias : AKA
Also known as (aka)
62. Burnett of CNN : ERIN
Erin Burnett is a television journalist and the host of her own show on CNN called “Erin Burnett OutFront”. Apparently Burnett also used to show up occasionally as advisor to Donald Trump on “The Celebrity Apprentice”.
64. K. T. of country music : OSLIN
Singer K. T. Oslin is best known for her string of country hits in the eighties.
65. Offer mortgages : LEND
Our word “mortgage” comes from the Old French “mort gaige” which translated as “dead pledge”. Such an arrangement was so called because the “pledge” to repay “dies” when the debt is cleared.
67. Trattoria course : PASTA
A trattoria is an Italian restaurant. In Italian, a “trattore” is the keeper of an eating house.
69. George Foreman Jr., George Foreman III, George Foreman IV, etc. : SONS
George Foreman is a former World Heavyweight Champion boxer and Olympic gold medalist. Famously, Foreman lost his title to Muhammad Ali in the 1974 title fight that was billed as “the Rumble in the Jungle”. Foreman is also known for promoting the George Foreman Grill, and for naming all five of his sons “George”.
1. Army fliers since 1984 : APACHES
The 4-bladed Apache helicopter was introduced back in 1975 as a replacement for the 2-bladed Cobra. The Apache first entered service in 1986, and is still very much in use, mainly with the US Army, the Israel Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
2. Advice-giver on SiriusXM : DR LAURA
According to Dr. Laura Schlessinger herself, her radio show “preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, values and ethics.”
5. Setting for “Dilbert” : OFFICE
“Dilbert” is a comic strip drawn by Scott Adams, a “neighbor” of mine here in the Bay Area. Adams used to be co-owner of a restaurant at the end of my street that had a menu replete with “Dilbertesque” comments.
7. Period in Europe starting around 1100 B.C. : IRON AGE
Ancient societies can be classified by the “three-age system”, which depends on the prevalence of materials used to make tools. The three ages are:
- The Stone Age
- The Bronze Age
- The Iron Age
The actual dates defined by each age depend on the society, as the timing of the transition from the use of one material to another varied around the globe.
8. “___ of the D’Urbervilles” : TESS
In Thomas Hardy’s novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”, the heroine and title character is Tess Durbeyfield. Her father is an uneducated peasant and when he hears that his name is a corruption of the noble name of “D’Urberville”, the news goes to his head.
9. Sheep dish popular in Scotland : HAGGIS
Haggis is the national dish of Scotland. It is savory pudding made from the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep, mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices. The pudding was originally cooked in the sheep’s stomach but these days is usually prepared in a sausage casing.
11. Boxster maker : PORSCHE
The Boxster is a roadster built by Porsche that was introduced in 1996. The name “Boxster” comes from a melding of “boxer” and “roadster”. A “boxer” engine (or “flat” engine) is one in which the pistons move in a horizontal plane, with the cylinders laid out in two rows opposing each other.
13. Actor Billy ___ Williams : DEE
The actor Billy Dee Williams is most famous for playing the character Lando Calrissian in two of the “Stars Wars” movies.
27. ___ Balls (snack food) : SNO
The Hostess cakes called Sno Balls are usually pink in color, although in its original form each packet of two cakes contained one white and one pink. Around Halloween you can buy Sno Balls in the form of Scary Cakes and Glo Balls that are colored orange and green. and on St. Paddy’s Day there’s a green one available. Yoo hoo!
30. Sounds from the Jolly Green Giant : HOS
The Jolly Green Giant was introduced by Minnesota Valley Canning in 1925 to help sell the company’s peas. He was named after one of the varieties of pea that the company sold, the “Green Giant”. The Jolly Green Giant first appeared in a television commercial in 1953, walking through a valley with young boys running around at his feet. That first commercial proved to be so scary for younger viewers that it was immediately pulled off the air. In 1972, the Jolly Green Giant was given an apprentice called the Little Green Sprout.
32. Aid in producing a suspect’s picture : IDENTI-KIT
A facial composite is a graphical representation of the face, usually of a suspect in a crime. Such composites used to be put together by trained artists, but then in the sixties interchangeable templates were developed to standardize and simplify the process. The kit of templates called “Identi-kit” was produced by Smith & Wesson.
40. Bugs on the road? : VWS
VW stands for Volkswagen, which translates from German into “people’s car”. The original Volkswagen design was the Beetle and was built under a directive from Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap car built that ordinary people could afford to purchase. He awarded the contract to engineer Ferdinand Porsche, whose name (paradoxically) would forever be associated with high performance, expensive cars. The Beetle was the official name of the VW model released in North America, but it was usually referred to as a “Bug” here in the US, and a “Beetle” elsewhere in the world.
41. Medalla de ___ (first-place award in Mexico) : ORO
In Spanish, a “medalla” (medal) might be made from “oro” (gold).
42. Painful things to have removed : TONSILS
The palatine tonsils are located at the back of the human throat. The exact role that tonsils play isn’t completely understood, but it is known that they are in the first line of defense in the body’s immune system. They provide some level of protection against pathogens that are ingested and inhaled.
44. Source of wood for baseball bats : ASH TREE
The wood of the ash tree is a hardwood, although it is relatively elastic. Famously, ash is the wood of choice for baseball bats. It is also the wood of choice for hurleys, the wooden sticks used in the Irish sport of hurling.
50. Main ore of lead : GALENA
Galena is the most widely used mineral to produce lead. It is a form of lead sulfide. Galena is the state mineral of Missouri and of Wisconsin.
52. African antelopes : ELANDS
An eland is a large African antelope, in fact the largest on the continent. Both male and female elands have horns, and those horns have a steady spiral ridge along their length.
58. “Little” Dickens girl : NELL
“The Old Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens tells the story of little 14-year-old Nell Trent and her grandfather who live in the Old Curiosity Shop in London. If you visit London, there actually is an “Old Curiosity Shop”, in Westminster. It is an establishment selling odds and ends, old curiosities, and is believed to have been the inspiration for the shop in the Dickens story. The building has been around since the 1500s, but the name “The Old Curiosity Shop” was added after the book was published.
61. Smokey Bear was in an early one, for short : PSA
Public service announcement (PSA)
Smokey Bear is the mascot of the US Forest Service. Smokey first appeared in 1944, in an advertising campaign directed towards preventing forest fires.