Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers includes letters at either end that have been circled in the grid. When joined together, those letters spell out the name of a stage musical. So, there is a break in each musical, like an INTERMISSION:
- 37A. Break … such as at the middle of 18-, 27-, 50- or 58-Across? : INTERMISSION
- 18A. Honolulu-based carrier, informally : HAWAIIAN AIR (giving “HAIR”)
- 27A. Piece of pottery featuring Achilles, say : GREEK VASE (giving “GREASE”)
- 50A. Military bottoms, informally : CAMO PANTS (giving “CATS”)
- 58A. Made snappy comments : WISECRACKED (giving “WICKED“)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
5. Goaded (on) : EGGED
The verb “edge” has been used to mean to incite, to urge on, from the 16th century. Somewhere along the way “edge” was mistakenly replaced with “egg”, giving us our term “to egg on” meaning “to goad”.
10. Clock setting for an alarm : AM/PM
The 12-hour clock has been around a long time, and was even used in sundial format in Ancient Egypt. Our use of AM and PM dates back to Roman times, with AM standing for Ante Meridiem (before noon) and PM standing for Post Meridiem (after noon). However, the Romans originally used the AM concept a little differently, by counting backwards from noon. So, 2AM to the Romans would be two hours before noon, or 10AM as we would call it today.
14. 2015 “Rocky” sequel : CREED
“Creed” is a 2015 boxing movie, the seventh in the “Rocky” franchise. Sylvester Stallone returns as Rocky Balboa, but this time as a trainer. Rocky trains Apollo Creed’s son Adonis. Stallone was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in the film. It was the first Academy Award nomination he had received since the first “Rocky” film, which was released almost forty years earlier.
16. String quartet member : VIOLA
The viola looks like and is played like a violin, but is slightly larger. It is referred to as the middle voice in the violin family, between the violin and the cello.
A standard string quartet is made up of two violins, a viola and a cello. A string quintet consists of a standard string quartet with the addition of a fifth instrument, usually a second viola or cello.
18. Honolulu-based carrier, informally : HAWAIIAN AIR (giving “HAIR”)
The full name of the famed show from the sixties is “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical”. This controversial work outraged many when it was first performed in the sixties, as it attacked many aspects of life at the time. For example, the song “Air” is a satirical look at pollution, sung by a character who comes onto the stage wearing a gas mask. The opening lines are “Welcome, sulfur dioxide. Hello carbon monoxide. The air … is everywhere”. How things have changed in fifty years said he … satirically …
20. Corp. money managers : CFOS
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
21. “Big Blue” : IBM
The origin of the IBM nickname “Big Blue” seems to have been lost in the mists of time. That said, maybe it has something to do with the fact that the IBM logo is blue, and almost every mainframe they produced was painted blue. I remember visiting IBM on business a few times in my career, and back then we were encouraged to wear white shirts and blue suits to “fit in” with our client’s culture.
22. Like caves with streams running through them : DANK
“Dank” is such a lovely word that has largely been superseded by “damp”, another nice word. It is thought that “dank” came into English from Scandinavia some time before the 14th century. The modern Swedish word “dank” means “moist place”.
23. Early Uber policy unpopular with drivers : NO TIPS
Uber is a ridesharing service that was founded in 2009 and is based in San Francisco. The service is somewhat controversial and has been described as an illegal taxicab operation. Central to Uber’s service is the company’s mobile app, which can use the client’s GPS location to help find the nearest available ride. Uber’s main competitor is Lyft. Personally, I love the service and have only had good experiences …
27. Piece of pottery featuring Achilles, say : GREEK VASE (giving “GREASE”)
Achilles is a Greek mythological figure, and the main protagonist of Homer’s “Iliad”. When Achilles was born, his mother attempted to make him immortal by dipping him into the River Styx. As he was held by the heel as he was immersed, this became the only vulnerable point on his body. Years later he was killed when a poisoned arrow struck him in the heel. That arrow was shot by Paris.
“Grease” was, and still is, a very successful stage musical with a blockbuster film version released in 1978. The movie stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Travolta wasn’t the first choice for the lead role. It was first offered to Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” fame in which he played “the Fonz”. Winkler turned down the role for fear of being typecast as a leather-clad fifties “hood”.
35. Ike’s monogram : DDE
Future US president Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas in 1890 and given the name David Dwight, but by the time he made it to the White House he was going by the name Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE). Growing up, his family called him Dwight, and when “Ike” enrolled in West Point he himself reversed the order of his given names.
40. ___ Paulo, Brazil : SAO
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It is also the city with the highest number of helicopters in the world. This is partly driven by the horrendous traffic jams in São Paulo, but also by the wealthy having a very real fear of being kidnapped on the city’s streets.
46. Desert refuge : OASIS
An isolated area of vegetation in a desert is called an oasis (plural “oases”). As water is needed for plant growth, an oasis might also include a spring, pond or small lake.
50. Military bottoms, informally : CAMO PANTS (giving “CATS”)
Our word “camouflage” (often abbreviated to “camo”) evolved directly from a Parisian slang term “camoufler” meaning “to disguise”. The term was first used in WWI, although the British navy at that time preferred the expression “dazzle-painting” as it applied to the pattern painted on the hulls of ships.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s source material for his hit musical “Cats” was T. S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. Eliot’s collection of whimsical poems was published in 1939, and was a personal favorite of Webber as he was growing up. “Cats” is the second longest running show in Broadway history (“Phantom of the Opera” is the longest and is still running; deservedly so in my humble opinion). My wife and I have seen “Cats” a couple of times and really enjoyed it …
56. Trail Blazers’ org. : NBA
They would be the Portland Trail Blazers.
57. Bar mitzvah, e.g. : 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.
63. Rose petal oil : ATTAR
Attar is a fragrant essential oil obtained from flowers, and the term often particularly refers to attar of roses.
64. Enrique Peña ___, Mexican president beginning in 2012 : NIETO
Enrique Peña Nieto became President of Mexico in 2012. President Nieto quickly struggled with a plummeting approval rating, initially due to a sluggish economy and a weakened Mexican Peso.
65. Their maximum scores are 1600 : SATS
Today, the standardized test for admission to colleges is known as the SAT Reasoning Test, but it used to be called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test, which led to the abbreviation SAT.
1. Serious rift : SCHISM
A schism is a split or a division, especially in a religion.
2. Supportive of cultivation : ARABLE
Arable land is land suitable for farming. The term “arable” came into English from the Latin “arare” meaning “to plow”.
4. Antismuggling org. : DEA
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was set up in 1973 while President Nixon was in office.
5. Actress ___ Rachel Wood : EVAN
Actress Evan Rachel Wood’s most famous role to date is playing one of the leads in the 2003 movie “Thirteen”. She is working on two new films which sound intriguing, namely “Bronte” in which she plays one of the author sisters, Anne, and “Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll”. Wood’s private life draws a lot of attention, especially as she was romantically linked for some time with the “outrageous” musician Marilyn Manson.
6. Tree whose leaves appear in many Chinese fossils : GINKGO
The Ginkgo tree is quite remarkable in that it is regarded as a living fossil. This means that it has not evolved as a living organism and, based on fossil evidence, is the same species today as it was million of years ago. It is a remarkably successful species, having survived many extinction events that wiped out so much of life on the planet.
8. Certain Ivy Leaguer : ELI
Elihu Yale was a wealthy merchant born in Boston in 1649. Yale worked for the British East India Company, and for many years served as governor of a settlement at Madras (now Chennai) in India. After India, Yale took over his father’s estate near Wrexham in Wales. It was while resident in Wrexham that Yale responded to a request for financial support for the Collegiate School of Connecticut in 1701. He sent the school a donation, which was used to erect a new building in New Haven that was named “Yale” in his honor. In 1718, the whole school was renamed to “Yale College”. To this day, students of Yale are nicknamed “Elis”, again honoring Elihu.
10. “Fresh Off the Boat” network : ABC TV
The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is the world’s largest broadcaster in terms of revenues. ABC was formed in 1943, created out of the former NBC Blue radio network.
11. Certain crime boss : MAFIA DON
Apparently “Cosa Nostra” is the real name for the Italian Mafia. “Cosa Nostra” translates as “our thing” or “this thing of ours”. The term first became public in the US when the FBI managed to turn some members of the American Mafia. The Italian authorities established that “Cosa Nostra” was also used in Sicily when they penetrated the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s. The term “mafia” seems to be just a literary invention that has become popular with the public.
19. McKellen of “The Hobbit” : IAN
Sir Ian McKellen is a marvelous English actor, someone who is comfortable playing anything from Macbeth on stage to Magneto in an “X-Men” movie. On the big screen, McKellen is very famous for playing Gandalf in “The Lord of Rings”. In the UK, Sir Ian is noted for being at the forefront of the campaign for equal rights for gay people, a role he has enthusiastically embraced since the eighties.
28. Fashion designer Gernreich : RUDI
Rudi Gernreich was a fashion designer, born in Austria. Gernreich fled Austria due to Nazi influence, and ended up in Los Angeles. He is noted for design of the monokini, the first topless swimsuit.
38. Paleo diet staple : MEAT
The paleolithic or caveman diet is a fad diet that became popular in the 2000s. The idea is to eat wild plants and animals that would have been available to humans during the Paleolithic era (roughly the Stone Age). This period precedes the introduction of agriculture and domestication of animals. As a result, someone on the diet avoids consuming grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods. The diet consists mainly of lean meat (about 45-65% of the total calorie intake), non-starchy vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts.
39. Tony Stark’s alter ego in comics and movies : IRON MAN
Iron Man is another one of those comic book superheroes, this one created by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics. The character has become very famous in recent years since the appearance of the 2008 action movie “Iron Man” starring Robert Downey, Jr. in the title role. Iron Man’s love interest, Pepper Potts, is routinely played by Gwyneth Paltrow in the same series of films.
43. Mythical figure who flew too close to the sun : ICARUS
Daedalus was a master craftsman of Greek mythology who was tasked with creating the Labyrinth on the island of Crete that was to house the Minotaur. After the Labyrinth was completed, King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in a tower, so that he could not spread word of his work. Daedalus fabricated wings so that he and Icarus could escape by flying off the island. Despite being warned by his father, Icarus flew too close to the sun so that the wax holding the wings’ feathers in place melted. Icarus drowned in the sea, and Daedalus escaped.
48. Not quite ready for full release : IN BETA
In the world of software development, the first tested issue of a new program is usually called the “alpha” version. Expected to have a lot of bugs that need to be fixed, the alpha release is usually distributed to a small number of testers. After reported bugs have been eliminated, the refined version is called a “beta” and is released to a wider audience, but with the program clearly labeled as “beta”. The users generally check functionality and report further bugs that are encountered. The beta version feeds into a release candidate, the version that is tested just prior to the software being sold into the market, hopefully bug-free.
51. Clifford who wrote “Golden Boy” : ODETS
Clifford Odets was a playwright, screenwriter and director from Philadelphia. “Waiting for Lefty” was the first play by Clifford Odets that made it to stage, in 1935. The storyline deals with cab drivers who are planning a strike. Famously, the play breaks through the “fourth wall” by placing actors within the audience who react to the action taking place on the stage.
“Golden Boy” is a play written by Clifford Odets that was first performed in 1937 on Broadway. There was a film adaptation released in 1939 that starred a young William Holden. “Golden Boy” was the film that launched Holden’s career.
55. Something to build on : ACRE
At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. This was more precisely defined as a strip of land “one furrow long” (i.e. one furlong) and one furlong wide. The length of one furlong was equal to 10 chains, or 40 rods. A area of one furlong times 10 rods was one rood.
59. Japanese figure skater Midori : ITO
Midori Ito is a Japanese figure skater. Ito was the first woman to land a triple/triple jump and a triple axel in competition. In fact, she landed her first triple jump in training when she was only 8 years old.
61. El ___ (Spanish hero) : CID
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was known as El Cid Campeador, which translates as “The Champion” or perhaps “The Lord, Master of Military Arts”. El Cid was a soldier who fought under the rule of King Alfonso VI of Spain (among others). However, he was sent into exile by the King in 1080, after acting beyond his authorization in battle. El Cid then offered his services to his former foes, the Moorish kings, After a number of years building a reputation with the Moors, he was recalled from exile by Alfonso. By this time El Cid was very much his own man. Nominally under the orders of Alfonso, he led a combined army of Spanish and Moorish troops and took the city of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, making it is headquarters and home. He died there, quite peacefully in 1099.