Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers is a group of items sometimes represented by individual letters. Those individual letters are listed in the corresponding clue:
- 18A. A B C D E F G : MUSIC NOTES
- 23A. A B C D F : LETTER GRADES
- 39A. B C F H I K N O P S U V W Y : CHEMICAL SYMBOLS
- 52A. G R X : MOVIE RATINGS
- 62A. A B O : BLOOD TYPES
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
17. Chicken pen : COOP
The Old English word “cypa”, meaning “basket”, evolved in the 14th century to the word “coop” to describe a small cage for poultry. And, we still use that word today.
22. Longtime Time magazine rival, briefly : US NEWS
“US News & World Report” is a web-based news source that was known mainly as a magazine until 2010. “United States News” magazine and “World Report” magazine merged to form “US News & World Report” in 1948.
36. Campbell’s container : CAN
The Campbell’s Soup company is named for one of the enterprise’s two founders, Joseph A. Campbell. He and Abraham Anderson started the business in 1869. The iconic design of the Campbell’s can was introduced in 1989 and has hardly changed since then. The gold seal in the design comes from the 1900 Paris Exhibition.
38. Narrow inlet : RIA
A drowned valley might be called a ria or a fjord, with both formed as sea level rises. A ria is a drowned valley created by river erosion, and a fjord is a drowned valley created by glaciation.
39. B C F H I K N O P S U V W Y : CHEMICAL SYMBOLS
Okay, okay … I’ll list them:
- B = boron
- C = carbon
- F = fluorine
- H = hydrogen
- I = Iodine
- K = potassium
- N = nitrogen
- O = oxygen
- P = phosphorus
- S = sulfur
- U = uranium
- V = vanadium
- W = tungsten
- Y = yttrium
44. French affirmative : OUI
“Oui” is “yes” in French, and “non” is “no”.
49. Strands in a cell? : DNA
DNA was first isolated in 1869 by Swiss physician and biologist. The molecular structure of DNA was identified in 1953, by the American and British team of James Watson and Francis Crick.
51. Not the main choice: Abbr. : ALT
52. G R X : MOVIE RATINGS
The Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) film-rating system (PG-13, R, etc.) is purely voluntary and is not backed by any law. Movie theaters agree to abide by the rules that come with the MPAA ratings in exchange for access to new movies.
57. Taj Mahal material : MARBLE
The most famous mausoleum in the world has to be the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal was built after the death of the fourth wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal (hence the name of the mausoleum). The poor woman died in childbirth delivering the couple’s 14th child. When Shah Jahan himself passed away 35 years later, he was buried beside his wife Mumtaz, in the Taj Mahal.
60. “My Country, ___ of Thee” : ‘TIS
The patriotic song “America” is also known by its first line, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. The song was written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831, and was the de facto national anthem of the country until “The Star-Spangled Banner” was declared the official anthem in 1931. The melody of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” is identical with the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen”.
My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!
61. Glass of “This American Life” : IRA
Ira Glass is a well-respected presenter on American Public Radio who is perhaps best known for his show “This American Life”. I was interested to learn that one of my favorite composers, Philip Glass, is Ira’s first cousin.
62. A B O : BLOOD TYPES
The most important grouping of blood types is the ABO system. Blood is classified as either A, B, AB or O, depending on the type of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. A secondary designation of blood is the Rh factor, in which other antigens are labelled as either positive or negative. When a patient receives a blood transfusion, ideally the donor blood should be the same type as that of the recipient, as incompatible blood cells can be rejected. However, blood type O-neg can be accepted by recipients with all blood types, A, B, AB or O, and positive or negative. Hence someone with O-neg blood type is called a universal donor.
65. Jump in an ice rink : AXEL
An axel is a forward take-off jump in figure skating. The maneuver was first performed by Norwegian Axel Paulsen at the 1882 World Figure Skating championships.
67. ___ of Sandwich : EARL
Meats placed between slices of bread was first called a sandwich in the 18th century, named after the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. The Earl was fond of eating “sandwiches” while playing cards at his club.
69. Lecherous figure of myth : SATYR
The satyrs of Greek mythology came with a very high sex drive. They are the “rude” male subjects drawn on the side of old Greek vases. The nubile maidens known as nymphs were often an object of attention for the satyrs.
70. Eye affliction : STYE
A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.
71. Paul who sang “Eso Beso” : ANKA
“Eso Beso” is Spanish for “That Kiss”, and is the name of a 1962 hit song recorded by Canadian-born singer Paul Anka.
8. It comes between chi and omega : PSI
Psi is 23rd letter in the Greek alphabet, and the one that looks a bit like a trident or a pitchfork.
9. Fairy tale character who leaves a trail of bread crumbs in the forest : HANSEL
“Hansel and Gretel” is a Germanic fairy tale found in the collection of the Brothers Grimm. It tells of two siblings, Hansel and Gretel, the children of a woodcutter. The youngsters are abandoned in a forest at the behest of an evil stepmother. Clever Hansel hears of the plan and leaves a trail of pebbles so that he and his sister can find their way home, which they do. But the children are abandoned again and this time leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, the crumbs are eaten by birds and so the children do indeed become lost. But eventually they do all live happily ever after …
10. King of Naples in “The Tempest” : ALONSO
In William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”, Alonso is the King of Naples. Alonso helps Antonio to depose his brother Prospero as Duke of Milan and set him adrift in a boat with Prospero’s young daughter Miranda.
11. Bar mitzvah or communion : RITE
A Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah at 12 years of age, the age at which she becomes responsible for her actions. Boys become Bar Mitzvahs at 13. The terms translate into English as daughter and son of the commandments.
The Communion rite is the part of the Mass in the Roman Catholic tradition. The rite involves distribution of the Communion bread (the host, a wafer) to the faithful.
13. Gas company famous for its toy trucks : HESS
The Hess Corporation is an oil company based in New York City. In 1964, the company started selling toy trucks with the Hess logo on them, in Hess gas stations. The company has been selling them every since, bringing out new models just before Christmas. Hess toy trucks have become quite collectible and the old ones can fetch a pretty penny.
19. Cow’s chew : CUD
Ruminants are animals that “chew the cud”. Ruminants eat vegetable matter but cannot extract any nutritional value from cellulose without the help of microbes in the gut. Ruminants collect roughage in the first part of the alimentary canal, allowing microbes to work on it. The partially digested material (the cud) is regurgitated into the mouth so that the ruminant can chew the food more completely exposing more surface area for microbes to do their work. We also use the verb “to ruminate” in a figurative sense, to mean “to muse, ponder, chew over”.
21. Physicist Enrico : FERMI
Enrico Fermi was born in Rome, Italy. Fermi moved to the US just before WWII, largely to escape the anti-Semitic feelings that were developing in Italy under Mussolini. It was Fermi’s work at the University of Chicago that led to the construction of the world’s first nuclear reactor. Fermi died at 53 years of age from stomach cancer . Cancer was a prevalent cause of death among the team working on that first nuclear pile.
30. Play and film about a 1977 series of interviews with a former president : FROST/NIXON
The British journalist David Frost is perhaps best known in the US for hosting the television show “Through the Keyhole” and for his celebrity interviews, most notably with former President Richard Nixon. That interview was adapted as a play and then a movie called “Frost/Nixon”. The movie was directed by Ron Howard. “Frost/Nixon” is a little slow, but it is a must see for political history addicts like me.
31. One of a hundred in Scrabble : TILE
The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.
34. ___ Pet (1980s fad item) : CHIA
Chia is a flowering plant in the mint family. Chia seeds are an excellent food source and are often added to breakfast cereals and energy bars. There is also the famous Chia Pet, an invention of a San Francisco company. Chia Pets are terracotta figurines to which are applied moistened chia seeds. The seeds sprout and the seedlings become the “fur” of the Chia Pet.
37. Big Apple inits. : NYC
Apparently the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:
Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.
Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.
40. Car with the slogan “Truth in engineering” : AUDI
In most countries around the world, Audi uses its corporate tagline in advertising, namely “Vorsprung durch Technik” (which translates as “Advancement through Technology”). However, the literal translation from the German has been dropped for the US market, in favor of “Truth in Engineering”.
42. East Indies tourist destination : BALI
Bali is both an island and a province in Indonesia. It is a popular tourist spot, although the number of visitors dropped for a few years as a result of terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 that killed mainly tourists. Bali became more popular starting in 2008 due to a significant and favorable change in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Indonesian rupiah.
The exact definition of “East Indies” can vary. In its most general sense the term can describe all the lands of South and Southeast Asia. More specifically, the East Indies can refer to just the islands of Southeast Asia. The colonial influence in the area is reflected in the names of the regions within the East Indies, e.g. the British East Indies (Malaysia), the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and Spanish East Indies (the Philippines). The use of the word “Indies” is a reference to the Indus River.
48. Electrician’s alloy : SOLDER
Solder is a metal alloy that is used to join pieces of a work together using the principle that the melting point of the alloy is below the melting point of the workpieces.
56. Spicy dance or dip : SALSA
The genre of music called salsa is a modern interpretation of various Cuban traditional music styles.
“Salsa” is simply the Spanish for “sauce”.
57. Some Wharton degs. : MBAS
Wharton is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. The school was established in 1881 largely due to a donation from industrialist Joseph Wharton, co-founder of Bethlehem Steel.
58. Jessica of “Sin City” : ALBA
Actress Jessica Alba got her big break when she was cast in the Fox science fiction show “Dark Angel”. Alba had a tough life growing up as she spent a lot of time in hospital and so found it difficult to develop friendships. As a youngster she twice had a collapsed lung, frequently caught pneumonia, suffered from asthma, had a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst. On top of all that she acknowledges that she suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child. It seems that she has really turned her life around …
“Sin City” is a 2005 thriller movie that is based on a series of graphic novels by Frank Miller. Miller also co-directs the film. “Sin City” has a large ensemble cast that includes Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Clive Owen and Mickey Rourke. The author Frank Miller even plays a role himself.