Edited by: Will Shortz
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Dystopian backdrop : HELLSCAPE
A dystopia is an imaginary community in which the residents live unhappily and in fear. “Dystopia” is the opposite of “utopia”. One example of such a society is that described by George Orwell in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. A more contemporary example would be the setting for the novels “The Hunger Games”.
10. Icy : GELID
“Gelid” is such a lovely word, with the meaning “icy cold”. “Gelid” derives from the Latin “gelum” meaning “frost, intense cold”.
17. Director/co-star of “The Bigamist,” 1953 : IDA LUPINO
Actress Ida Lupino was also a successful director, in the days when women weren’t very welcome behind the camera. She had already directed four “women’s” shorts when she stepped in to direct the 1953 drama “The Hitch-Hiker”, taking over when the original director became ill. “The Hitch-Hiker” was the first film noir movie to be directed by a woman, and somewhat of a breakthrough for women in the industry.
18. Second-oldest national park in North America : BANFF
Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is located high in the Canadian Rockies and is a popular tourist destination. The town of Banff and the surrounding park were given their name in 1884 by then president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, George Stephen. He named Banff for his birthplace of Banffshire in Scotland.
23. Weapon swung by a gaucho : BOLA
Bolas are heavy balls connected by cords that constitute a throwing weapon. Bolas are often used to capture animals by tripping them as they run. The weapon is usually associated with gauchos, the South American cowboys, although there is evidence that the Inca army used them in battle.
A gaucho is someone who lives in the South American pampas, the fertile lowlands in the southeast of South America. The term “gaucho” is also used as the equivalent of our “cowboy”.
24. Unslurred speech? : PC LANGUAGE
Politically correct (PC)
31. Song on the soundtracks of “Lilo & Stitch” and “Surf’s Up” : ALOHA ‘OE
“Aloha ‘Oe” is a song of Hawaii composed by Liliuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii and her only queen. The title translates as “Farewell to Thee”.
“Lilo & Stitch” was released by Disney in 2002. Compared to other Disney feature-length cartoons, “Lilo & Stitch” was relatively cheaply produced, using the voices of lesser-known actors. One interesting change had to take place in the storyline during production, when Lilo was meant to fly a Jumbo Jet through downtown Honolulu in one sequence. This was replaced with a sequence using a spaceship instead, as the producers were sensitive to public sentiment after the September 11 attacks.
34. Champagne grapes : PINOTS
Champagne is made primarily using Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier grapes (both of which are 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.
37. Princess Fiona, for one : OGRESS
Princess Fiona is the love interest in the “Shrek” series of films.
Before “Shrek” was a successful movie franchise and Broadway musical, it was a children’s picture book called “Shrek!” authored and illustrated by William Steig. The title “Shrek!” came from the German/Yiddish word Schreck, meaning “fear” or “terror”.
40. Corvine calls : CAWS
The adjective “corvine” can be used to describe things pertaining to crows and ravens. “Corvus” is the Latin word for “raven”.
41. 1989 Queen hit : I WANT IT ALL
Queen is an English rock band that was formed back in 1970. With the help of lead singer Freddie Mercury (now deceased), Queen has a long list of great hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. “Bohemian Rhapsody” spent a total of nine weeks at number one in the UK.
44. Entente : PACT
An entente cordiale (sometimes just “entente”) is a friendly understanding, usually between two nations. The term, which translates from French as “cordial agreement”, was first used to describe a set of agreements between the UK and France that were put in place 1904.
55. 2005 film starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche : BEE SEASON
Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche starred in “The Bee Season”, a 2005 movie adapted from the Myla Goldberg novel of the same name. The “bee” in the title is a spelling bee.
Richard Gere has played such great roles on the screen, and I find him to be a very interesting character off the screen. Gere has been studying Buddhism since 1978 and is a very visible supporter of the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet.
The wonderful Juliette Binoche is a French actress and dancer. Binoche is perhaps most recognized in the US for her Oscar-winning portrayal of Hana in the 1996 movie “The English Patient”. I must say that a favorite Binoche film of mine is the lighter “Dan in Real Life” from 2007.
56. Literally, “singing place” : ODEON
In Ancient Greece an odeon (also “odeum”) was like a small theater, with “odeon” literally meaning a “building for musical competition”. Odea were used in both Greece and Rome for entertainments such as musical shows and poetry readings.
58. Windows forerunner : 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.
1. “Caveat: Realism, Reagan and Foreign Policy” memoirist : HAIG
Alexander Haig was Secretary of State under President Reagan, and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Nixon and Ford. Famously, Haig took over temporary control of the country immediately after President Reagan was shot in 1981. To do so was a pragmatic move, while waiting on Vice President Bush to arrive in Washington. There was much debate at the time about the legality of the steps taken, as the presidential line of succession called out in the US Constitution is President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the US Senate, and then Secretary of State.
2. Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie, for short : EX-DA
Rudy Giuliani became known around the world as he stepped up and led his city during the terrible days following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. His actions that September earned him a number of accolades. He was named as “Time” magazine’s person of the year, and was given an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is a prominent member of the Republican Party, and indeed a prominent player in the 2016 presidential campaign. Christie is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and has attended over a hundred Springsteen concerts.
4. 1970 hit with a spelled-out title : LOLA
“Lola” is a fabulous song, written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks back in 1970. Inspired by a real life incident, the lyrics tell of young man who met a young “lady” in a club, danced with her, and then discovered “she” was actually a transvestite. The storyline isn’t very traditional, but the music is superb.
8. Candy ass? : PINATA
Piñatas originated in Mexico, probably among the Aztecs or Mayans. Today piñatas are usually made from cardboard that is brightly decorated with papier-mâché. Traditionally a piñata was made out of a clay pot, adorned with feathers and ribbons and filled with small treasures. During religious ceremonies the clay pots would be suspended and broken open so that the contents would spill out onto the ground at the feet of a god as an offering.
12. The early ’60s, in U.S. politics : LINCOLN ERA
I admit to having profound respect and admiration for great speeches delivered by great men and women. Forgive me as I reproduce here the full text of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
20. One who tries to avoid being touched : EPEEIST
The French word for sword is “épée”. In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.
24. Insubstantial fare : PAP
One meaning of “pap” is soft or semi-liquid food for babies and small children. “Pap” comes into English via French, from the Latin word used by children for “food”. In the 1500s, “pap” also came to mean “an oversimplified” idea. This gives us a usage that’s common today, describing literature or perhaps TV programming that lacks real value or substance. Hands up those who think there’s a lot of pap out there, especially on television …
25. They go to all the best spots : CLIO AWARDS
The Clio Awards are the Oscars of the advertising world and are named after Clio, the Greek Muse of History. Clio was also the recorder of great deeds, the proclaimer and celebrator of great accomplishments and a source of inspiration and genius. The Clio Awards were first presented in 1959.
28. ___ the Great, detective of children’s stories : NATE
The “Nate the Great” series of children’s novels was written (mainly) by Marjorie Sharmat. Nate is like a young Sherlock Holmes, with a dog for a sidekick called Sludge. Some of the books have been adapted for television.
29. Dish transmitters : GOSSIPS
“To dish the dirt” is talk about someone or something without regard to veracity. The phrase comes from “dish” (in the sense of dishing out food) and “dirt” (in the sense of negative information).
33. Prefix with thesis : ANTI-
36. ___ du pays (homesickness: Fr.) : MAL
Here are some French terms for some unpleasant conditions:
- Mal de tête (headache)
- Mal de mer (seasickness)
- Mal de pays (homesickness)
38. Stabilizer in suspensions : SWAY BAR
That would be the suspension in an automobile.
49. Heavy-metal band with the hit albums “Out of the Cellar” and “Infestation” : RATT
Ratt is a rock band based in Los Angeles. Ratt was formed out of a San Diego group called Mickey Ratt.
50. The East : ASIA
In geographical terms there are three “Easts”. The Near East and Middle East are terms that are often considered synonymous, although “Near East” tends to be used when discussing ancient history and “Middle East” when referring to the present day. The Near/Middle East encompasses most of Western Asia and Egypt. The term “Far East” describes East Asia (including the Russian Far East), Southeast Asia and South Asia.
51. Keyboard instrument : MOOG
In the sixties, Robert Moog invented the Moog Synthesizer, an electronic device that he used to produce music. I used to own a few of his albums, including a Moog version of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. What a great performance that was …
54. Down Under critter : ROO
The word “kangaroo” comes from the Australian Aborigine term for the animal. There’s an oft-quoted story that the explorer James Cook (later Captain Cook) asked a local native what was the name of this remarkable-looking animal, and the native responded with “Kangaroo”. The story is that the native was actually saying “I don’t understand you”, but as cute as that tale is, it’s just an urban myth.