Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase containing a number, but that number has been increased BY HALF:
- 54A. Overly inventive … or a hint to the answers to 17-, 26- and 42-Across : TOO CLEVER BY HALF
- 17A. Classic game needing no equipment : THIRTY QUESTIONS (from “twenty questions”)
- 26A. You might not want to touch something with this : FIFTEEN-FOOT POLE (from “ten-foot pole”)
- 42A. 1965 Beatles hit : TWELVE DAYS A WEEK (from “Eight Days a Week”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
10. Jockey’s accessory : CROP
A crop is a type of whip, one without a long lash.
14. Actor Epps : OMAR
Omar Epps is the actor who played Eric Forman on the excellent television series “House”. Prior to playing Dr. Forman, Epps had a recurring role playing Dr. Dennis Grant on “ER”. And, in another link to the world of medicine, Epps was born in Savannah, Georgia to single mom, Dr. Bonnie Epps.
15. Charles or Ray after whom a chair is named : EAMES
Charles and Ray Eames were a husband-wife team of furniture designers. One of the more famous of their designs is the Eames lounge chair that comes with an ottoman. This trendy piece of furniture featured in a late episode of the television show “Frasier”. In the show, Frasier’s Dad remarks that the Eames chair is so comfortable that he might have gotten rid of his tatty old recliner a long time ago.
16. Onetime Ritz rival : HI-HO
Sunshine Biscuits was an independent producer of cookies and crackers which produced Hi-Ho crackers in competition to the successful Ritz brand. In 1996, Sunshine was absorbed by the Keebler Company and Hi-Ho Crackers was on the list of brands that was discontinued because of the merger.
17. Classic game needing no equipment : THIRTY QUESTIONS (from “twenty questions”)
The parlor game called “twenty questions” originated in the US and really took off in the late forties as it became a weekly quiz show on the radio. Am I the only one who thinks that there aren’t enough quiz shows on the radio these days? I have to resort to listening to the BBC game shows over the Internet …
21. One of the friends on “Friends” : ROSS
Ross Geller is the character on “Friends” played by David Schwimmer. The role was actually written with Schwimmer in mind, so Ross was the first of the “Friends” to be cast.
22. Doing a pirouette, say : ON TOE
We took our word “pirouette” directly from French, in which language it has the same meaning, i.e. a rotation in dancing. “Pirouette” is also the French word for a spinning top.
23. Start of the Lord’s Prayer : OUR
Our Father … (“Pater noster” in Latin) are the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer, which is probably the best-known prayer in the Christian tradition.
24. Common baby ailment : CROUP
The respiratory condition known as “croup” results in a characteristic cough that produces a “barking” sound. The condition is usually caused by the viral infection in the upper airway.
33. Diarist Nin : ANAIS
Anaïs Nin was a French author who was famous for the journals that she wrote for over sixty years from the age of 11 right up to her death. Nin also wrote highly regarded erotica and cited D. H. Lawrence as someone from whom she drew inspiration. Nin was married to banker and artist Hugh Parker Guiler in 1923. Decades later in 1955, Nin married former actor Rupert Pole, even though she was still married to Guiler. Nin and Pole had their marriage annulled in 1966, but just for legal reasons, and they continued to live together as husband and wife until Nin passed away in 1977.
34. Edward James ___, star of “Stand and Deliver” : OLMOS
Edward James Olmos is a Mexican American actor. I mostly remember Olmos as the Lieutenant who was the boss of Crockett and Tubbs on television’s “Miami Vice”.
”Stand and Deliver” is a 1988 drama film based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher in East LA.
36. Contents of Pandora’s box : ILLS
According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. She was created by the gods, with each god bestowing on her a gift. Her name can be translated from Greek as “all-gifted”. Pandora is famous for the story of “Pandora’s Box”. In actual fact, the story should be about Pandora’s “Jar” as a 16th-century error in translation created a “box” out of the “jar”. In the story of Pandora’s Box, curiosity got the better of her and she opened up a box she was meant to leave alone. As a result she released all the evils of mankind, just closing it in time to trap hope inside.
37. High winds? : OBOES
The oboe is perhaps my favorite of the reed instruments. The name “oboe” comes from the French “hautbois” which means “high wood”.
38. El ___ (weather phenomenon) : NINO
When the surface temperature of much of the Pacific Ocean rises more that half a degree centigrade, then there is said to be an El Niño episode. That small temperature change in the Pacific has been associated with climatic changes that can stretch right across the globe. El Niño is Spanish for “the boy” and is a reference to the Christ child. The phenomenon was given this particular Spanish name because the warming is usually noticed near South America and around Christmas-time.
39. “N.Y. State of Mind” rapper : NAS
Rapper Nas used to go by another stage name, Nasty Nas, and before that by his real name, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. Nas released his first album “Illmatic” in 1994, and inventively titled his fifth studio album “Stillmatic”, released in 2001. Not my cup of tea, I would say …
42. 1965 Beatles hit : TWELVE DAYS A WEEK (from “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”.
46. Letters on exploding boxes in Angry Birds : TNT
Angry Birds is a video game that was developed for smartphones. Angry Birds is the third most downloaded game, after Tetris and Pac-Man. There is a whole series of Angry Birds games now, including Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Star Wars and Angry Birds Transformers.
47. Cause for a food recall : E COLI
Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.
51. Yes, in Yokohama : HAI
Yokohama is the second-most populous city in Japan. Yokohama lies on Tokyo Bay and is just a 40-minute drive from the nation’s capital.
58. Alan of “Bridge of Spies” : ALDA
Alan Alda has had a great television career, especially of course on “M*A*S*H”. Alda won his first Emmy in 1972, for playing Hawkeye Pierce on “M*A*S*H”. He won his most recent Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of Presidential candidate Arnold Vinick in “The West Wing”. When it comes to the big screen, my favorite of Alda’s movies is the 1978 romantic comedy “Same Time, Next Year” in which he starred opposite Ellen Burstyn.
“Bridge of Spies” is a 2015 historical thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and starring his friend Tom Hanks. The story is all about the arrest and trial of U-2 pilot Gary Powers, who was shot down over the Soviet Union while on a spying mission for the CIA. Hanks plays lawyer James B. Donovan, the lawyer who negotiates Powers’ release. Powers was actually exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, with the exchange taking place at the bridge connecting Potsdam with Berlin, the “Bridge of Spies”.
60. Maven : BUFF
A buff or a nut is someone who is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a subject. For example, one might be a movie buff, or perhaps a baseball nut.
61. Like omega, in the Greek alphabet : LAST
The Greek alphabet starts with the letter “alpha”, and ends with the letter “omega”.
62. It’s a wrap : STOLE
A stole is a lady’s clothing accessory, a narrow shawl. It can be made of quite light decorative material, or it can be heavier especially if made of fur.
63. Big name in oil? : OLAY
Oil of Olay was developed in South Africa in 1949. When Oil of Olay was introduced internationally, it was given slightly different brand names designed to appeal in the different geographies. In Ireland we know it as Oil of Ulay, for example, and in France it is Oil of Olaz.
1. Drilling grp. : ROTC
The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a training program for officers based in colleges all around the US. The ROTC program was established in 1862 when as a condition of receiving a land-grant to create colleges, the federal government required that military tactics be part of a new school’s curriculum.
2. Texter’s qualifier : IMHO
In my humble opinion (IMHO)
3. Third person : CAIN
The story of Cain and Abel not only appears in the Christian and Hebrew Bibles, it also features in the Qur’an. In the Muslim account the brothers are named Qabil and Habil.
5. Pessimist in Pooh books : EEYORE
Eeyore is the donkey character in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”. Eeyore is very lovable, but has a gloomy and pessimistic outlook on life.
6. Online help features, for short : FAQS
Most websites have a page listing answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Even this blog has one!
7. “___ in the Morning” : IMUS
Don Imus’s syndicated radio show “Imus in the Morning” used to broadcast from New York City. Imus has been described as a “shock jock”, a disc jockey who deliberately uses provocative language and humor that many would find offensive . I’m not a big fan of shock jocks …
8. Ang who directed “Brokeback Mountain” : LEE
Taiwanese director Ang Lee sure has directed a mixed bag of films, mixed in terms of genre but not in terms of quality. He was at the helm for such classics as “Sense & Sensibility” (my personal favorite), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hulk”, “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi”.
The very successful 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain” is an adaptation of a short story written by Annie Proulx. The two romantic lead characters were Ennis del Mar (played by Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal).
11. Anarchy queller : RIOT POLICE
Our word “anarchy”, used to describe a society without a publicly enforced government, comes from the Greek “an-” (without) and “arkhos” (leader).
23. “Miss” with regrets : OTIS
“Miss Otis Regrets” is a Cole Porter composition written in 1934 that is usually sung in a blues style. Porter wrote the song as a friendly bet. He had boasted that he could write a song about any subject, so the challenge from some friends was to create something using the next words they should hear. Porter and friends were at lunch in a restaurant, and they heard a waiter at an adjoining table say “Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today”. And that became a classic song …
25. Down Under critters : ROOS
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.
30. Fauna’s counterpart : FLORA
The fauna is the animal life of a particular region, and the flora is that region’s plant life. The term “fauna” comes from the Roman goddess of earth and fertility who was called Fauna. Flora was the Roman goddess of plants, flowers and fertility.
32. Kindle download : E-BOOK
Amazon’s Kindle line of e-book readers was introduced in 2007. The name “kindle” was chosen to evoke images of “lighting a fire” through reading and intellectual stimulation. I bought myself a Kindle Fire HD not that long ago. I’ve started reading e-books for the first time in my life, as well as enjoying other computing options available with the tablet device. I love it …
38. Pond denizen : NEWT
Nowadays we use “denizen” to mean simply a resident, but historically a denizen was an immigrant to whom certain rights had been granted, somewhat like today’s “resident alien”.
40. Singer Lavigne : AVRIL
Avril Lavigne is a Canadian musician. Lavigne was the youngest female solo artist to reach number one in the charts in the UK, which she did at 17 years of age in 2002 with her debut album “Let Go”.
41. One “hat” for an au pair : NANNY
An au pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working and living as part of a host family. The term “au pair” is French, and means “on a par”, indicating that an au pair is treated as an equal in the host family.
43. Many a feline Facebook posting : LOLCAT
A lolcat is an image of a cat with a humorous message superimposed in text. Such images have been around since the late 1800s, but the term “lolcat” only surfaced in 2006 as the phenomenon was sweeping across the Internet. “Lolcat” is a melding of the acronym for “laugh out loud” (LOL) and “cat”.
48. RC, for one : COLA
Nehi Corporation was the nickname for the Chero-Cola/Union Bottle Works that introduced the Nehi drink in 1924. Years later the company developed a new brand, Royal Crown Cola (also known as RC Cola). By 1955, RC Cola was the company’s flagship product, so the “Nehi Corporation” became the “Royal Crown Company”. In 1954, RC Cola became the first company to sell soft drinks in cans.
49. Jared who won an Oscar for “Dallas Buyers Club” : LETO
Jared Leto is an actor and musician. In the world of music, Leto is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars. In the film world, one of his most critically acclaimed role was that of a heroin addict in “Requiem for a Dream”. He also appeared in “American Psycho”, “Panic Room” and “Lord of War”. Leto won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for portraying a transgender woman in 2013’s “Dallas Buyers Club”.
“Dallas Buyers Club” is a 2013 film that tells the real-life story of AIDS patient Ron Woodruff. Woodruff smuggled unapproved AIDS drugs across the US border into Texas in opposition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The movie won the Best Actor Oscar for Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto.
51. Carry by semitrailer, say : HAUL
A “semi” is a “semi-trailer truck”. The vehicle is so called because it consists of a tractor and a half-trailer. The half-trailer is so called because it only has wheels on the back end, with the front supported by the tractor.
52. ___ Romeo (Italian car) : ALFA
The “Alfa” in Alfa Romeo is actually an acronym, standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.
55. Ambulance letters : EMS
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
56. Farm doc : VET
“Vet” is an abbreviation for “veterinarian”, a professional who treat animals for disease and injury. The word “veterinary” comes from the Latin “veterinae” meaning “working animals, beasts of burden”.
57. Home for “Girls” : HBO
“Girls” is an HBO comedy-drama series that was created by and stars Lena Dunham. The show follows a group of female friends living their lives in New York City. Good show …