Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers is a phrase that would require us to REFORM our CALENDAR, if taken literally:
- 52A. The change from Julian to Gregorian … or what would be needed to make 20-, 31- and 40-Across possible? : CALENDAR REFORM
- 20A. 1965 Beatles hit that starts “Ooh, I need your love, babe” : EIGHT DAYS A WEEK
- 31A. HBO show hosted by John Oliver : LAST WEEK TONIGHT
- 40A. 1974 John Updike novel : A MONTH OF SUNDAYS
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Civil rights pioneer Du Bois : WEB
W. E. B. Du Bois was sociologist and civil rights activist from Massachusetts. Du Bois was the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, and went on to become a professor at Atlanta University. In 1909, he was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
4. Shade of blue : CYAN
“Cyan” is short for “cyan blue”. The term comes from the Greek word “kyanos” meaning “dark blue, the color of lapis lazuli”.
8. Rant : TIRADE
The term “tirade” describes a long and vehement speech, and is a word that came into English from French. “Tirade” can have the same meaning in French, but is also the word for “volley”. So, a tirade is a “volley” of words.
15. Racer with the tortoise : HARE
“The Tortoise and the Hare” is perhaps the most famous fable attributed to Aesop. The cocky hare takes a nap during a race against the tortoise, and the tortoise sneaks past the finish line for the win while his speedier friend is sleeping.
17. Only major-league player to enter the 3,000-hit club in the 1980s : ROD CAREW
Rod Carew is a former Major League Baseball player from Panama. Actually. Carew is a “Zonian”, meaning that he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, a political entity that existed for decades from 1903.
20. 1965 Beatles hit that starts “Ooh, I need your love, babe” : EIGHT DAYS A WEEK
The Lennon/McCartney song “Eight Days a Week” was recorded by the Beatles in 1964. The title came from a conversation that Paul McCartney had with one of two people (the facts seem to have gotten confused over time). One day, McCartney asked either a chauffeur who was driving him or Ringo Starr “How’ve you been?” The answer was “Oh, working hard, working eight days a week”.
26. Maidenform product : BRA
Maidenform is a manufacturer of underwear for women that was founded in 1922. The three co-founders were driven to defy the norms of the day that dictated a flat-chested look for women. They produced items that fit the female body, hence the name “Maidenform”.
37. Home for the Hawks and Braves: Abbr. : ATL
The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks started out as the Buffalo Bisons in 1946, although after only a few months the team was moved to Moline, Illinois as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were one of the 17 original teams playing at the founding of the National Basketball Association. There was another move in 1951 and a renaming to the Milwaukee Hawks, and yet again in 1955 when the team became the St. Louis Hawks. The latest move was to Atlanta, in 1968.
The Atlanta Braves are the only team to have won baseball’s World Series in three different home cities. They won as the Boston Braves in 1914, the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and the Atlanta Braves in 1995.
39. Pal of Pooh : ROO
Like most of the characters in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh”, the kangaroo named Roo was inspired by a stuffed toy belonging to Milne’s son Christopher Robin.
44. Greek cheese : FETA
Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months before it is eaten.
52. The change from Julian to Gregorian … or what would be needed to make 20-, 31- and 40-Across possible? : CALENDAR REFORM
Our contemporary western calendar was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, giving it the name “Gregorian” calendar. The Gregorian calendar superseded the Julian calendar, both of which were aligned with movement of the sun across the sky. At issue was that the Julian calendar was misaligned with the solar year by about 11 minutes, creating an error that accumulated over time. Pope Gregory corrected the length of the year by introducing a more accurate rule for calculating leap years. He also wiped out the cumulated “misalignment”, in order to bring together the Christian celebration of Easter and the spring equinox. That correction involved the “loss” of 11 days. The last day of the Julian calendar (Thursday, 4 October 1582) was immediately followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar (Friday, 15 October 1582).
62. Three on a grandfather clock : III
There are several sizes of longcase clocks, tall and freestanding clocks driven by a pendulum swinging inside a tower below the clock face. A longcase clock over 6 feet tall is called a grandfather, and one below five feet is a granddaughter, One that falls between five and six feet is known as a grandmother. The name of the clock derives from an 1876 song called “My Grandfather’s Clock”.
63. Dictation experts : STENOS
Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek “steno” (narrow) and “graphe” (writing).
64. Hankerings : YENS
The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium.
2. “The Time Machine” people : ELOI
In the 1895 novel by H. G. Wells called “The Time Machine”, there are two races that the hero encounter in his travels into the future. The Eloi are the “beautiful people” who live on the planet’s surface. The Morlocks are a race of cannibals living underground who use the Eloi as food.
3. Edifice: Abbr. : BLDG
To edify is to provide instruction in order to improve spiritually, morally or intellectually. The intent is to “build up” someone’s faith or morality, and so “edify” comes from the Latin “aedificare” meaning “to build, construct”. This Latin root also gives us our word “edifice”, meaning “massive building”.
5. Gridiron gains : YARDS
We never used the word “gridiron” when I was growing up in Ireland (meaning a grill used for cooking food over an open fire). So, maybe I am excused for finding out relatively recently that a football field gridiron is so called because the layout of yard lines over the field looks like a gridiron used in cooking!
6. Bay ___ (San Francisco, Oakland, etc.) : AREA
The San Francisco Bay Area comprises the nine counties that impinge on the San Francisco Bay itself: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma. The region also includes the major cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.
7. When repeated, Frank Sinatra title city : NEW YORK
The classic Frank Sinatra hit “New York, New York” is actually the theme song from the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same name. Liza Minnelli performed the song for the movie
These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
8. Holy Jewish scroll : TORAH
The Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, are traditionally believed to have been written by Moses. As such, they are sometimes referred to as the Law of Moses, or Mosaic Law.
10. Classic game with black-and-white discs : REVERSI
The game of Reversi is also sold as Othello. The name Othello was chosen as a nod to the play by William Shakespeare.
12. Cold and damp, as a dungeon : DANK
“Dank” is such a lovely word that has largely been superseded by “damp”, another nice word. It is thought that “dank” came into English from Scandinavia some time before the 14th century. The modern Swedish word “dank” means “moist place”.
21. Believer in a strong federal government : STATIST
Statism (also “etatism”) is the political philosophy that the state should control economic and social policy. The belief that the state should not be involved in either policy is known as anarchism.
24. Message on a cake in “Alice in Wonderland” : EAT ME
In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, Alice follows the white rabbit down a rabbit hole and finds a bottle labelled “DRINK ME”. When she drinks the contents, it causes her to shrink. She also sees a cake adorned with the words “EAT ME” written using currants, and when she eats the cake she grows so big she finds it hard to stand up. After eating the cake, she utters the famous words, “Curiouser and curiouser”.
25. Fancy tie : ASCOT
An Ascot tie is a horrible-looking (I think!), wide tie that narrows at the neck, which these days is only really worn at weddings. The tie takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race at which punters still turn up in formal wear at Ascot Racecourse in England.
26. Pulitzer-winning Toni Morrison novel : BELOVED
The writer Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Amongst other things, Morrison is noted for coining the phrase “our first black President”, a reference to President Bill Clinton.
28. Google ___ Viewer (tool for charting word frequency over time) : NGRAM
Google’s Ngram Viewer searches for words or phrases and charts the frequency of their usage in print media. The database used for the search comprises sources printed between the years 1500 and 2008.
29. Ship-to-ship communications? : AHOYS
“Ahoy!” is a nautical term used to signal a vessel. When the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, he suggested that “ahoy” be used as a standard greeting when answering a call. However, Thomas Edison came up with “hello”, and we’ve been using that ever since.
30. Classic Pontiacs : GTOS
The Pontiac GTO was produced by GM from 1964 to 1974, and again by a GM subsidiary in Australia from 2004 to 2006. The original GTO’s design is credited to Pontiac chief engineer at the time John DeLorean, who later was found the DeLorean Motor Company.
32. Angkor ___ (Cambodian site) : WAT
Angkor Wat is a temple in Cambodia built in the 12th century. The beautiful building is iconic in Cambodia and is even featured in the center of the country’s national flag.
34. The Beavers of the Pac-12, for short : OSU
The athletic teams of Oregon State University (OSU) are known as the Beavers. The big rivals to the Beavers are the Ducks of the University of Oregon, a rivalry that has been dubbed “the Civil War”. The two schools’ football teams play a game every year for the Platypus Trophy.
35. The “N” of NCO : NON-
Non-commissioned officer (NCO)
43. Homer Simpson’s favorite beers : DUFF’S
The regulars on “The Simpsons” hang out at Moe’s Tavern, which is named for and run by Moe Szyslak. The most popular beer at Moe’s is Duff Beer. The name “Duff” is a reference to the real-life Duffy’s Tavern that used to be East 13th Street in Eugene, Oregon. “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening used to frequent Duffy’s regularly, and Moe’s looks very much like Duffy’s in terms of decor and floorplan.
56. Antipest spray : RAID
Raid insecticide has been killing bugs since 1956.
57. Some hospital pics : MRIS
An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine uses powerful magnetic fields to generate images that can be used by medical professionals to diagnose injury and disease.
58. Things with ® symbols: Abbr. : TMS