1. Red October detector : SONAR
“The Hunt for Red October” was the first novel published by Tom Clancy, and one of his best in my humble opinion. The story is centered on the defection of the captain of a top-secret Soviet submarine, who attempts to surrender his vessel to the Americans without the knowledge of his crew. The gripping storyline is actually inspired by real events, the failed mutiny on board the Soviet submarine Storozhevoy, in 1975. Unusually, the book was published by the United States Naval Institute, marking the first time it had ever published a fictional work. To this day it is the Institutes’s most successful title.
11. Support grp. for the troops : USO
The United Service Organization was founded in 1941 at the request of FDR, “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is a tour by a troupe of entertainers, many who are big-name celebrities, to troop locations that often including combat zones.
14. Pong maker : ATARI
Do you remember the arcade video game that was like a game of tennis, with paddles moved up and down to hit what looked like a ball, over what looked like a net? Well, that was Pong.
The kids today probably don’t realize that we had a video game console back in the seventies, but it wasn’t a Nintendo nor a PlayStation. The Atari 2600 game system introduced the idea of separating out computing hardware (the console) from the game code (a cartridge). The same concept persists to this day, although cartridges have been displaced by discs.
15. Hardly chic : DUMPY
“Chic” is a French word, meaning “stylish”.
The term “dumpy”, meaning “short and stout” dates back to 1750, somehow tying in with the word “dump” but the connection seems unclear.
Before finishing high school, James Taylor suffered from clinical depression and spent nine months in the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, a stay that he regards as a lifesaver. Taylor has said that his hit 1970 song “Fire and Rain” is actually about his experiences in mental institutions. The “fire” referred to in the song is symbolic of electric shock therapy, with the “rain” being the cold showers that followed the treatment.
20. See 2-Down : ESCALATOR
2. Big name in the 20-Across business : OTIS
Escalators have an advantage over elevators in that they can move larger numbers of people in the same time frame. They can also be placed in just about the same physical space that would be needed for a regular staircase. Patents for escalator-type devices were first filed in 1859, but the first working model wasn’t built until 1892 by one Jesse Reno. It was erected alongside a pier in Coney Island, New York, with the second escalator being placed at an entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Soon after, the Otis elevator company purchased the necessary patents and went into the business.
22. Mischievous rural pastime : COW TIPPING
Cow tipping is supposedly the pushing over of cows, for “fun”, as they sleep on their feet, and it’s an urban myth. Cows sleep lying down, and it’s practically impossible to push them over when they are standing up. No, I haven’t tried …
25. Kind of agent : CAUSAL
A causal agent is something or someone that causes something else to happen, that creates an effect.
31. Hatch on the Senate floor : ORRIN
Senator Orrin Hatch is a Republican from Utah. He’s also quite the musician, and plays the piano, violin and organ. He has also composed various compositions, including a song called “Heal Our Land” that was played at the 2005 inauguration of President George W. Bush.
35. Keeping your elbows off the table, e.g. : DINNER ETIQUETTE
41. Basslike fish : SNOOK
The common snook is found in coastal waters, in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean. It has a distinctive black stripe running down along each of its sides. It is remarkable in that it is one of only a few species of fish that changes sex during its lifetime. When the snook reaches about 27 inches in length it changes sex from male to female. Go figure …
Dana Carvey, along with the likes of Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon, was part of the new breed of “Saturday Night Live” comedians accredited with resurrecting the show in the late eighties. One of Carvey’s most popular characters was the Church Lady, and he became so associated with her that among fellow cast members Carvey was often referred to simply as “the Lady”. Carvey had open-heart surgery in 1997 to clear a blocked artery, but the surgical team operated on the wrong artery. To recover, he had to have five more procedures, so ended up suing for medical malpractice, and donating the $7.5 million compensation payment to charity.
50. Eastern discipline : YOGA
In the west, we tend to think of yoga as a physical discipline, a means of exercise that uses specific poses to stretch and strengthen muscles. While it is true that the ancient Indian practice of yoga does involve such physical discipline, the physical aspect of the practice plays a relatively small part in the whole philosophy. Other major components are meditation, ethical behavior, breathing and contemplation.
51. Bygone warship : IRONSIDES
“Ironsides”was a term used to denote an ironclad ship. “Old Ironsides” was a nickname given to the USS Constitution, which is actually a wooden-hulled ship. She was launched in 1797 and can still be seen at sea today. She is the oldest, commissioned naval vessel in the world. You can visit Old Ironsides at the Boston Navy Yard.
57. 1989 play about Capote : TRU
“Tru” was written by Jay Presson Allen, a play about Truman Capote that premiered in 1989. There is an interesting anachronism in the piece. It is set in Capote’s New York City apartment in Christmas 1975, and at one point the Capote character talks about suicide saying he has enough pills to stage his own Jonestown Massacre. The Jonestown Massacre didn’t happen until three years later, in 1978.
58. Sound of capitalism? …or a hint to the starts of 17-, 22-, 35- and 46-Across : OPENING BELL
The opening and closing bells are rung to signify the start and end of trading in many stock exchanges around the world.
63. Bus. card info : EXT
One’s business card might show one’s telephone extension number. Why have telephone extensions? Well, in a location with lots of telephones, not everyone is dialing out at the same time, so it is usually cheaper to have a relatively small number of trunk lines leaving the location that can be shared by a relatively large number of extensions. That’s why we used to “dial 9 for an outside line”.
64. Luxurious : RITZY
The adjective “ritzy” meaning “high quality and luxurious” takes its name from the opulent Ritz hotels in New York, London, Paris etc.
Cesar Ritz was a Swiss hotelier, who had a reputation for developing the most luxurious of accommodations and attracting the wealthiest clientèle. He opened the Hotel Ritz in Paris in 1898, and the second of his most famous hotels, the Ritz Hotel in London, in 1906. Ritz was lucky in his career, as before starting his own hotel chain, he had been dismissed from the Savoy Hotel in London, implicated in the disappearance of a substantial amount of wine and spirits.
2. Big name in the 20-Across business : OTIS
Elevators (simple hoists) had been around for a long time. What Elisha Otis did was come up with the “safety elevator”. He showcased his design at the 1853 World’s Fair in New York. He would stand on an elevated platform in front of onlookers and order his assistant to cut the single rope holding up the platform. His safety system kicked in when the platform had only fallen a few inches, amazing the crowd. After this display at the fair, the orders came rolling in.
3. Undercover buster : NARC
Narcotics agents sometimes go undercover to bust narcotics rings.
5. Iranian money : RIAL
The Rial is name of the currency of Iran (as well as Yemen , Oman, Cambodia and Tunisia!).
7. “Presumed Innocent” author : TUROW
“Presumed Innocent” is a great debut novel by Scott Turow, first published in 1987. The screen adaption in 1990, starring Harrison Ford, did justice (pun intended!) to the book. Turow came out with a sequel to “Presumed Innocent” not too long ago (in May, 2010) called “Innocent“. It’s going on my Christmas list.
9. Prefix with dermis : EPI
The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. The thickest piece of epidermal tissue in humans is on the soles of the feet and the palms, measuring about 1.5 mm. The thinnest measures 0.1 mm, and that would be the human eyelid.
10. Rand who wrote “Civilization is the process of setting man free from men” : AYN
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist born Alisa Rosenbaum. Her two best known works are her novels “The Fountainhead” published in 1943 and “Atlas Shrugged” in 1957. Back in 1951, Ayn Rand moved from Los Angeles to New York City. Soon after, she gathered a group of admirers around her with whom she discussed philosophy and shared drafts of her magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged”. This group called itself “The Collective”, and one of the “founding members” was future Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan.
11. Best of all possible worlds : UTOPIA
The word Utopia was invented by Sir Thomas More for his book “Utopia” published in 1516, describing an idyllic, fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More’s use of the name Utopia comes from the Greek “ou” meaning “not” and “topos” meaning “place”. By calling his perfect island “Not Place”, More was making the point that he didn’t think that the ideal could actually exist.
12. Idiot ___ : SAVANT
The term “idiot savant” is French, and literally means “learned idiot” … not very nice, huh? Nowadays we use the term savant syndrome to describe a very specific condition in which an individual displays extensive expertise on one area in contrast with overall behavioral limitations. I suppose the archetypal savant was played by Dustin Hoffman in the fictional movie, 1988’s “Rain Man“. It was a work of fiction, but the lead character was based on real-life savant Kin Peek.
13. “High,” in the Homeland Security Advisory System : ORANGE
The Homeland Security Advisory System was a created in 2002 after the September 11th attacks. There are five threat levels defined, each color coded, ranging from low to severe. The level selected by the Department of Homeland Security is important, because it triggers activities at public facilities, especially airports.
18. Common crystals, chemically : NACL
Sodium chloride (NaCl) is an ionic compound, a crystal lattice made up of large chloride (Cl) ions in a cubic structure, with smaller sodium (Na) ions in between the chlorides.
21. Body organs associated with anger : SPLEENS
The spleen has a couple of functions in the human body. It removes old red blood cells, and recycles the iron contained therein. The waste product of this recycling is bile. It also holds a reserve of blood that can be released when necessary (if the body goes into “circulatory shock”).
Greek and Roman physicians ascribed to the theory that the body had four basic substances, the so-called four humors. All diseases were caused by these four substances getting out of balance. The four humors were:
– Black bile (melancolia)
– Yellow bile (cholera)
– Phlegm (phlegma)
– Blood (sanguis)
Out terms “splenetic” and “venting one spleen”are derived from this concept of have the humors out of balance.
23. “The Hurt Locker” setting : IRAQ
The 2008 movie “The Hurt Locker” is a disturbing drama about a US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team on the front lines during the Iraq War. The film appears to be very realistic, and was filmed in Jordan just a few miles form the Iraqi border. The screenplay was written by Mark Boal, a journalist who was embedded with an EOD team in 2004. “The Hurt Locker” won six Academy Awards, including Best Director for Kathyrn Bigelow, the first woman to be so honored.
25. Mail-order option : COD
Cash on Delivery.
26. ___ Gold, agent on “Entourage” : ARI
Ari Gold is a fictional character in the HBO series “Entourage“. “Entourage” tells the story of a rising film star, Vincent Chase, a native of New York but now learning to handle himself in Hollywood. Vincent’s Hollywood agent is Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven.
28. Singer honored on a 2008 U.S. postage stamp : SINATRA
Frank Sinatra was the only child of Italian immigrants living in Hoboken, New Jersey. Like so many of our heroes, Sinatra had a rough upbringing. His mother was arrested several times and convicted of running an illegal abortion business in the family home. Sinatra never finished high school, being expelled for rowdy conduct, and he was arrested on a morals charge as a youth, for carrying on with a married woman, an offence back then. But, he straightened himself out by the time he was twenty, and started singing professionally.
29. Lacking brio : ANEMIC
Brio is borrowed from the Italian, in which language it means vigor and vivacity. “Con brio” is a musical direction often found on a score, instructing that the musicians play “with energy, vigor”.
33. Frequent Weekly World News subjects, briefly : ETS
You could pick up a copy of the “Weekly World News” in your supermarket checkout line from 1979 up till 2007. It was one of the best sources for stories about Bat Boy, Aliens, and sightings of Elvis (after he was reported as “dead”). In 2004, the “Weekly World News” started publishing an informational line in each edition, “the reader should suspend disbelief for the sake of enjoyment”. You reckon?
39. Just make (out) : EKE
I believe that technically speaking one can’t actually “eke out” an existence, as to “eke out” means to “make something go further or last longer”. So, you can eke out your income by cutting back on expenses, but you can’t eke out your existence, or any existence.
42. Swath maker : SCYTHE
The word “swath” comes from the German “Schwad” meaning “a row of cut grass”.
44. Lordly : AUGUST
The month of August takes its name from the Emperor Augustus Caesar. The adjective “august”, meaning “lordly, venerable” came in to usage in the 1660s, and probably has the same origins as Caesar Augustus’s name. It likely meant “consecrated by the augurs”, the augurs being the religious officials in Ancient Rome responsible for interpreting omens.
45. Boston suburb : LYNN
The city of Lynn, Massachusetts lies only 12 miles north of Boston. The name of Lynn was chosen after the seaport in Norfolk, England called King’s Lynn.
48. Ball’s partner : ARNAZ
Desi Arnaz was of course famous for his turbulent marriage to Lucille Ball. Desi Arnaz was from Cuba, and from a privileged family. His father was mayor of Santiago and served in the Cuban House of Representatives. However, the family had to flee to Miami after the 1933 revolution led by Batista.
49. Valentine embellishment : DOILY
There was a draper in London in the seventeenth century called Doiley, and he gave his name to the lace fabric that he sold, which in turn gave its name to the ornamental mats we call doilies. I can’t stand them!
55. Designer Schiaparelli : ELSA
Elsa Schiaparelli was an Italian fashion designer, a great rival of the perhaps more famous Coco Chanel. Schiaparelli was most successful between the two World Wars, but her business closed in 1954, as she failed to adapt to changing tastes after WWII,
58. “___ Father …” : OUR
“Our Father …” are the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer (“Pater Noster” in Latin), probably the best-known prayer in the Christian tradition.
59. Tire abbr. : PSI
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) is a measure of pressure.