Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers is someone associated with SPIN or SPINNING, who might perhaps hold a SPIN CLASS:
- 60A. Modern exercise option … or what the answers to 17-, 26-, 36- or 49-Across could teach? : SPIN CLASS
- 17A. Peter Parker is his alter ego : SPIDER-MAN (spins a web)
- 26A. Grammy-winning electronic music producer and D.J. : SKRILLEX (spins records)
- 36A. Name assumed by billiards great Rudolf Wanderone : MINNESOTA FATS (spins the cue ball)
- 49A. Longtime co-worker of Vanna White : PAT SAJAK (spins the Wheel of Fortune)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Early Peruvian : INCAN
The Inca people emerged as a tribe around the 12th century, in what today is southern Peru. The Incas developed a vast empire over the next 300 years, extending along most of the western side of South America. The Empire fell to the Spanish, finally dissolving in 1572 with the execution of Tupac Amaru, the last Incan Emperor.
6. “Gone With the Wind” studio : MGM
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film studio was founded in 1924 by Marcus Loew. Loew was already a successful movie theater owner when he purchased Metro Pictures Corporation in 1919, and then Goldwyn Pictures in 1924. Later in 1924, Loew also purchased Louis B. Mayer Pictures, mainly so that Louis B. Meyer could merge all three studios and run them himself as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
As casting proceeded for the movie version of “Gone With the Wind”, Clark Gable was a shoo-in from day one. The role of Scarlett O’Hara was considered very desirable in the acting community, with Bette Davis on the short list, and Katherine Hepburn demanding an appointment with producer David O. Selznick to discuss the role. Vivien Leigh was an unlikely contender, an English actress for the definitive Southern belle role. Selznick was adamant though, and stuck by his choice despite a lot of protests.
15. Folk singer DiFranco : ANI
Ani DiFranco is a folk-rock singer and songwriter. DiFranco has also been labeled a “feminist icon”, and in 2006 won the “Woman of Courage Award” from National Organization for Women.
16. Edward Snowden, e.g. : EXILE
Edward Snowden is a former NSA contractor who leaked several top secret NSA documents to the media beginning in June 2013. After disclosing his name as the source of the leaks, Snowden tried to seek asylum in Ecuador. While travelling to Ecuador he had a layover in Moscow. While in Moscow, the US government revoked his passport, which effectively left him stranded in the transit area of Moscow Airport. The Russian government eventually granted him annually-renewable temporary asylum.
17. Peter Parker is his alter ego : SPIDER-MAN (spins a web)
Spider-Man is a creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and first appeared in comics in 1962. Spider-Man was a somewhat groundbreaking character in that his alter ego was a teenage high school student (named Peter Parker), which marked the first time that a young person featured front and center as the superhero.
19. Musical piece for nine : NONET
A nonet is a piece of music requiring nine musicians for a performance. The term is also used for the group itself.
21. Wipes out on the half-pipe, say : EATS IT
Half-pipes and quarter-pipes are ramped structures used in extreme sports, such as skateboarding, snowboarding and freestyle BMX.
23. Comedian Philips : EMO
Emo Philips is a stand-up comedian from Chicago. He’s had a long and successful career, and listed on his resume is a small acting part in the 1992 hit movie “Meet the Parents” starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller. Philips was also the executive producer for that very same film, so, I’d say he made a few pennies …
26. Grammy-winning electronic music producer and D.J. : SKRILLEX (spins records)
“Skrillex” is a the stage name of Sonny Moore, a producer of electronic dance music. Not something that or someone who I know anything about …
29. Red Cross response : AID
Back in 1859, a Swiss businessman called Henri Dunant went to meet French emperor Napoleon III, to discuss making it easier to conduct commerce in French-occupied Algeria. The Emperor was billeted at Solferino, where France and Austria were engaged in a major battle. In one day, Dunant witnessed 40,000 soldiers die in battle and countless wounded suffering on the battlefield without any organized medical care. Dunant abandoned his business agenda and instead spent a week caring for the sick and wounded. Within a few years he had founded the precursor to the Red Cross, and in 1901 he was awarded the first ever Nobel Peace Prize.
31. J. Peterman employee on “Seinfeld” : ELAINE
The character Elaine Benes, unlike the other lead characters (Jerry, Kramer and George), did not appear in the pilot episode of “Seinfeld”. NBC executives specified the addition of a female lead when they picked up the show citing that the situation was too “male-centric”.
32. Excited Spanish cry : ARRIBA!
“Arriba” is Spanish for “above”. Speedy Gonzales used to yell out “Arriba!” a lot, meaning “get up!”.
35. D-Day carriers: Abbr. : LSTS
“LST” stands for Landing Ship, Tank. LSTs are the large vessels used mainly in WWII that have doors at either ends through which tanks and other vehicles can roll off and onto beaches. The design concept persists to this day in the huge fleet of commercial roll-on/roll-off car ferries, all inspired by the LST.
36. Name assumed by billiards great Rudolf Wanderone : MINNESOTA FATS (spins the cue ball)
“Minnesota Fats” was the nickname adopted by professional pool player Rudolf Wanderone. The original Minnesota Fats was a character in the Walter Tevis novel “The Hustler”, played in the 1961 film adaptation by Jackie Gleason. Prior to the release of the film, Wanderone had been using the name “New York Fats”. A story emerged that the character “Fats” in the book and movie had been inspired by Wanderone, and so Wanderone stopped using “New York Fats” to become “Minnesota Fats”.
41. Way to watch “Game of Thrones” on your phone : HBO NOW
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is a fantasy television drama that is adapted from a series of novels by George R. R. Martin called “A Song of Ice and Fire”. “Game of Thrones” is actually filmed in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland.
42. Tater Tots maker : ORE-IDA
Ore-Ida frozen foods are all made using potatoes. The company is located in Oregon, just across the border from Idaho. “Ore-Ida” is a melding of the two state names.
Ore-Ida’s founders came up with the idea for Tater Tots when they were deciding what to do with residual cuts of potato. They chopped up the leftovers, added flour and seasoning, and extruded the mix through a large hole making a sausage that they cut into small cylinders. We eat 70 million pounds of this extruded potato every year!
46. ___ Kat : KIT
I grew up eating Kit Kat bars as a kid, as the chocolate confection has been around since the thirties. Kit Kats didn’t hit the shelves in the US until the seventies. I’ve seen new varieties of Kit Kat over in the UK, such as an orange-flavored version, but haven’t seen anything like that over here.
49. Longtime co-worker of Vanna White : PAT SAJAK (spins the Wheel of Fortune)
Pat Sajak took over the hosting of “Wheel of Fortune” from Chuck Woolery back in 1983 and has been doing the job ever since. Sajak had a short run as a talk show host in 1989/1990 and used to sub quite often for Larry King and Regis Philbin.
Vanna White is the lady who turns the letters on the “Wheel of Fortune” game show. White is big into knitting and crochet, and has her own line of yarns called “Vanna’s Choice”.
52. Chevy’s response to the Mustang : CAMARO
The Chevrolet Camaro is a car produced by General Motors from 1966 to 2002, and reintroduced in 2009. The Camaro shared much of its design with the Pontiac Firebird, and was introduced as a potential competitor to the Ford Mustang.
55. Sushi condiment : WASABI
Sometimes called Japanese horseradish, wasabi is a root used as a condiment in Japanese cooking. The taste of wasabi is more like mustard than a hot pepper in that the vapors that create the “hotness” stimulate the nasal passages rather than the tongue. Personally, I love the stuff …
58. TBS late-night host : CONAN
Before Conan O’Brien came to fame as a late night talk show host he was a writer. He wrote for both “Saturday Night Live” and “The Simpsons”.
62. A straight one is 180° : ANGLE
In geometry, there are several classes of angles:
- Acute (< 90 degrees)
- Right (= 90 degrees)
- Obtuse (> 90 degrees and < 180 degrees)
- Straight (180 degrees)
- Reflex (> 180 degrees)
64. Fictional orphan protected by Punjab : ANNIE
“Little Orphan Annie” is a comic strip created in 1924 by Harold Gray. The title was taken from a poem written in 1885 by James Whitcomb Riley called “Little Orphant Annie” (and yes, that spelling “orphant” is correct). Strangely enough, the original name of the poem was “Little Orphant Allie”, changed forever at its third printing, purely because of a typesetter’s error!
66. West who said “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful” : MAE
Comic actress Mae West can be quoted so easily, as she had so many great lines delivered so well. Here are a few:
- When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.
- When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.
- I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
- Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.
- I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
- Why don’t you come on up and see me sometime — when I’ve got nothin’ on but the radio.
- It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.
- To err is human, but it feels divine.
- I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I’m a woman, but loose enough to show I’m a lady.
- I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
- Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
2. Huey, Dewey or Louie, to Donald Duck : NEPHEW
Donald Duck’s nephews are identical triplets called Huey, Dewey and Louie, and they first appeared on the screen in 1938. Once in awhile due to errors in production, a fourth duck can be seen in the background. This little “mistake” is affectionately called “Phooey Duck” by folks in the industry.
5. Bill ___, the Science Guy : NYE
That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on PBS for four years from 1993-97.
6. One of the Three Bears : MAMA
The story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was first recorded in 1837, in England, although the narrative was around before it was actually written down. The original fairy tale was rather gruesome, but successive versions became more family-oriented. The character that eventually became Goldilocks was originally an elderly woman, and the three “nameless” bears became Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.
7. Cloud in the summer : GNATS
Gnats are attracted to the smell of rotting food, and to vinegar. Simple homemade traps that use vinegar are often constructed to attract and kill gnats.
8. Capital of Belarus : MINSK
Minsk is the capital of Belarus, formerly known as the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. One of Minsk’s more infamous residents was Lee Harvey Oswald, who lived there from 1960 to 1962.
9. Kind of soup mentioned in Genesis : LENTIL
Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When their mother Rebekah gave birth to the twins “the first emerged red and hairy all over (Esau), with his heel grasped by the hand of the second to come out (Jacob)”. As Esau was the first born, he was entitled to inherit his father’s wealth (it was his “birthright”). Instead, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of a “mess of pottage” (a meal of lentils).
10. Losing tic-tac-toe line : O-X-O
When I was growing up in Ireland we played “noughts and crosses” … our name for the game tic-tac-toe.
12. Earth, wind and fire : ELEMENTS
The Greek philosopher Empedocles proposed that there are four elements that made up the universe, namely earth, water, air and fire. Aristotle later proposed a fifth element which he called aether (also “ether”). Aether was the divine substance that made up the stars and planets.
27. 1980s-’90s NBC drama : LA LAW
“L.A. Law” ran on NBC from 1986 to 1994, and was one of the network’s most successful drama series. It took over from the equally successful “Hill Street Blues” in the Thursday night 10 p.m. slot until, after a six-year run, it was itself replaced by yet another respected drama, “E.R.” The opening credits showed that famous California licence plate. The plate was on a Jaguar XJ for most of the series, but moved onto a Bentley towards the end of the run. For each series the registration sticker was updated, so no laws were being broken.
30. One running away in “Hey Diddle Diddle” : DISH
The nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle” has been around at least since the mid-1700s.
Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
33. Short cut : BOB
A bob cut is a short hairstyle in which the hair is cut straight around the head, at about the line of the jaw. Back in the 1570s, “bob” was the name given to a horse’s tail that was cut short, and about a century later it was being used to describe short hair on humans. The style became very popular with women in the early 1900s (as worn by actress Clara Bow, for example), with the fashion dying out in the thirties. The style reemerged in the sixties around the time the Beatles introduced their “mop tops”, with Vidal Sassoon leading the way in styling women’s hair in a bob cut again. Personally, I like it …
36. With Pelé, co-winner of FIFA’s Player of the Century award : MARADONA
Diego Maradona has to be the most famous of Argentina’s soccer players. He is also one of the country’s most controversial sportsmen, noted for his outspoken manner with journalists and his cocaine addiction.
“Pelé” is the nickname of Edson de Nascimento, a soccer player who has used the name “Pelé” for most of his life. Pelé is now retired, and for my money was the world’s greatest ever player of the game. He is the only person to have been part of three World Cup winning squads, and is a national treasure in his native Brazil. One of Pele’s nicknames is “O Rei do Futebol” (the King of Football).
38. Advil alternative : ANACIN
Anacin is a brand of pain reliever that comprises aspirin and caffeine as active ingredients.
44. 1977 Steely Dan album : AJA
Steely Dan’s heyday was in the seventies when they toured for a couple of years, although the group mainly focused on studio work. The band was formed in 1972 and broke up in 1981. The core of the band reunited in 1993 and they are still going strong today. Steely Dan’s best-selling album is “Aja” (pronounced “Asia”), which was released in 1977.
46. Samurai sword : KATANA
The katana is a curved sword worn by the samurai of Japan. The katana is sometimes referred to as a “samurai sword”.
47. Silent film opener : IRIS-IN
In the word of movie-making, An “Iris” is a technique in which an image is shown in only a small round area of the screen. An “Iris-out” starts as a pinpoint in the screen then moves outward to reveal a full scene. An “Iris-in” begins as a full scene and then closes down to pinpoint a specific circular area in the scene.
50. Kind of tea from Asia : ASSAM
Assam is a state in the very northeast of India, just south of the Himalayas. Assam is noted for its tea as well as its silk.
51. 10th of 24 : KAPPA
Kappa is the 10th letter of the Greek alphabet, and the equivalent of our letter K.
53. Pooh creator : MILNE
Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne was an English author who is best known for his delightful “Winnie-the-Pooh” series of books. He had only one son, Christopher Robin Milne, born in 1920. The young Milne was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin character in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Winnie-the-Pooh was named after Christopher Robin’s real teddy bear, one he called Winnie, who in turn was named after a Canadian black bear called Winnie that the Milnes would visit in London Zoo. The original Winnie teddy bear is on display at the main branch of the New York Public Library in New York.
56. Orthodontist’s concern : BITE
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry dealing with the straightening of teeth. The name comes from the Greek “orthos” meaning “straight” and “dontia” meaning “teeth”.
61. Kiss ___ : CAM
The kiss cam is a diversion during some sporting events in which a video camera picks out random couples in the crowd, projecting their image onto the giant screen at the venue. The couples are encouraged to kiss, for the entertainment of the fans. Famously, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama kissed for the kiss cam at a basketball game a few years ago, as did former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.