Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers is a LAND (geographic location) that includes two instances of the letter sequence “LA”. Those letters LA are circled in the grid:
- 53D. With 58-Down, head-in-the-clouds place … or a hint to each answer that has four circles : LA-LA …
- 58D. See 53-Down : … LAND
- 16A. Kuala Lumpur’s locale : MALAY PENINSULA
- 22A. Titular California district in a Steinbeck novel : TORTILLA FLAT
- 29D. 1980 Winter Olympics host : LAKE PLACID
- 31D. Washington city with a repetitive name : WALLA WALLA
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Pitchfork-shaped letter : PSI
Psi is 23rd letter in the Greek alphabet, and the one that looks a bit like a trident or a pitchfork.
4. Brillo alternative : SOS PAD
S.O.S is a brand name of scouring pads made from steel wool impregnated with soap. The product was invented as a giveaway by an aluminum pot salesman in San Francisco called Ed Cox. His wife gave it the name “S.O.S” as an initialism standing for “Save Our Saucepans”. Note the punctuation! There is no period after the last S, and that is deliberate. When Cox went to register the trademark, he found that “S.O.S.” could not be a trademark because it was used as an international distress signal. So he dropped the period after the last S, and I hope made a lot of money for himself and his wife.
Brillo Pad is a soapy, steel wool pad, patented in 1913. The company claims that the name “Brillo” is derived from the Latin word for “bright”.
10. The drug acid, by another name : LSD
The drug LSD is often sold impregnated into blotting paper. The paper blotter is usually divided into squares with ¼-inch sides, with each square referred to as a “tab”.
13. “!!!!,” in a text : OMG
OMG is text-speak for “Oh My Gosh!” “Oh My Goodness!” or any other G-words you might think of …
14. Hairstyling substance : POMADE
Pomade is perfumed ointment, mainly used for grooming the hair. The word “pomade” is derived from the Latin “pomum” meaning “apple”, as the original ointment recipe used smashed apples.
16. Kuala Lumpur’s locale : MALAY PENINSULA
The Malay Peninsula is that long, thin land mass that forms the southernmost part of the Asian mainland. On the peninsula are the countries of Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore (an island nation off the southern tip of the peninsula). People of the Malay ethnic group are mainly found on the Malay peninsula.
The capital city of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, which is very often abbreviated to “KL”. The name “Kuala Lumpur” translates into English as “muddy estuary”. Famously, KL is home to the spectacular Petronas Twin Towers, currently the tallest twin towers in the world and the tallest of any building from 1998 to 2004.
20. “Calvin and Hobbes” conveyance : SLED
The comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” is still widely syndicated, but hasn’t been written since 1995. The cartoonist Bill Watterson named the character Calvin after John Calvin, the 16th century theologian. Hobbes was named for Thomas Hobbes a 17th century English political philosopher.
22. Titular California district in a Steinbeck novel : TORTILLA FLAT
“Tortilla Flat” was the first of John Steinbeck’s novels to become a commercial success, and was published in 1935. The title refers to a fictional run-down locale north of Monterey on the California Coast. “Tortilla Flat” was made into a film of the same name in 1942 starring Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr (with Akim Tamiroff playing Pablo).
26. Setting for much of “Moana” : SEA
“Moana” is a 2016 animated feature film, the 56th animated Disney movie. The title character is the daughter of a Polynesian chief who heads off in search of the demigod Maui, hoping that he can save her people.
27. Kind of diet regimen based on nonmodern eating habits : PALEO
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. T. J. ___ (department store chain) : MAXX
TJ Maxx is a chain of department stores in the US, that has outlets in Europe as well. Over in the UK, the stores use the name “TK Maxx”.
40. Arctic bird : AUK
Auks are penguin-like sea birds that live in colder northern waters including the Arctic. Like penguins, auks are great swimmers, but unlike penguins, auks can fly.
41. Counterparts of dots, in Morse code : DASHES
Samuel Morse came up with the forerunner to modern Morse code for use on the electric telegraph, of which he was the co-inventor. Morse code uses a series of dots and dashes to represent letters and numbers. The most common letters are assigned the simplest code elements e.g. E is represented by one dot, and T is represented by one dash. When words are spelled aloud in Morse code, a dot is pronounced as “dit”, and a dash is pronounced as “dah”.
44. Issa who stars on HBO’s “Insecure” : RAE
Issa Rae is Stanford University graduate who created a YouTube web series called “Awkward Black Girl”. Rae also plays the title role in the series, a young lady named “J”.
45. “Fighting” N.C.A.A. team : ILLINI
The Illini (also “Fighting Illini”) are the athletic teams and marching band of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Illinois” is a French name that was given to the people who lived in the area (called “Illiniwek”).
47. 4.0, in school : PERFECT GPA
Grade point average (GPA)
50. Happy accident : FLUKE
A fluke is a stroke of luck, and is a term that is thought to have originated as a lucky stroke in the game of billiards back in the mid-1800s.
53. Pb, to chemists : LEAD
“Plumbum” is the Latin for “lead”, explaining why the symbol of the element in the Periodic Table is “Pb”. It also explains why the original lead weight on the end of a line used to check vertical was called a “plumb line”. And, as pipes were originally made of lead, it also explains why we would call in a “plumber” if one of those popes was leaking.
54. Not worth discussing : MOOT
“To moot” is to bring up as a subject for discussion or debate. So, something that is moot is open to debate. Something that is no longer moot, is no longer worth debating. We don’t seem to be able get that right, which drives me crazy …
59. California-based gas company : ARCO
The company name “ARCO” stands for the Atlantic Richfield Company. One of ARCO’s claims to fame is that it is responsible for the nation’s largest Superfund site. Mining and smelting in the area around Butte, Montana polluted the region’s water and soil, and ARCO have agreed to pay $187 million to help clean up the area.
64. Musk of Tesla : ELON
Elon Musk is successful businessman who has founded or led some very high-profile companies, namely PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
65. Actor Alan : ALDA
Alan Alda has had a great television career, especially of course as a lead actor in “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.
66. Christmas season : YULE
Yule celebrations coincide with Christmas, and the words “Christmas” and “Yule” (often “Yuletide”) have become synonymous in much of the world. However, Yule was originally a pagan festival celebrated by Germanic peoples. The name “Yule” comes from the Old Norse word “jol” that was used to describe the festival.
67. ___ McNally (mapmaker) : RAND
Rand McNally is a company long associated with the city of Chicago. Its roots go back to 1856 when William Rand opened a printing shop in the city. Two years later he hired an Irish immigrant named Andrew McNally and the pair turned to printing tickets and timetables for the railroad industry. They diversified into “railroad guides” in 1870, including the first Rand McNally map in the December 1872 edition. When automobile travel started to become significant, Rand and McNally turned their attention to roads and they published their first road map in 1904, a map of New York City. Rand and McNally popularized the use of highway numbers, and indeed erected many roadside highway signs themselves, long before the state and federal authorities adopted the idea.
1. “___ and Circumstance” : POMP
Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance Marches” is a work that takes its name from a line in William Shakespeare’s “Othello”.
Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th’ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
The most famous part of the whole work is the trio section of March No. 1, also known as “Land of Hope and Glory”. Here in the US, that trio section is often referred to simply as “Pomp and Circumstance”, or sometimes as “The Graduation March” as it is a staple at school graduations across the country.
3. Ice pad? : IGLOO
The Inuit word for “house” is “iglu”, which we usually write as “igloo”. The Greenlandic (yes, that’s a language) word for “house” is very similar, namely “igdlo”. The walls of igloos are tremendous insulators, due to the air pockets in the blocks of snow.
4. Person wearing a trench coat and sunglasses, stereotypically : SPY
The trench coat was developed primarily for the use of the military. It is a waterproof coat that extends to just below the knee, and generally has a removable lining. In the world of Hollywood we often encounter the trench coat. One is worn by Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”, and by Peter Sellers in the “Pink Panther” movies.
8. Nike rival : ADIDAS
The brand name Adidas dates back to when Adolf “Adi” Dassler started making his own sports shoes in his mother’s laundry room in Bavaria after returning from WWI. With his brother, Adi founded Dassler shoes. The company’s big break came in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics, when Adi persuaded American sprinter Jesse Owens to use his shoes, and with the success of Jesse Owens came success for the fledgling shoe company. After WWII the brothers split, acrimoniously. Adi’s brother, Ru-dolf Da-ssler, formed “Ruda” shoes (later to become Puma), and Adi Das-sler formed “Adidas”.
10. Mrs. George W. Bush : LAURA
Laura Bush, wife of President George W. Bush, had her memoir “Spoken from the Heart” published in 2010. Born Laura Lane Welch, the former First Lady has a Master’s degree in Library Science (as does my wife, my own First Lady!). Given that background, it’s not surprising that two causes that Laura Bush focused on while in the White House were education and literacy. She established the annual National Book Festival, first held in Washington, D.C. in 2001, after having co-founded the Texas Book Festival in her home state.
18. Deep bow : SALAAM
The word “salaam” is an Anglicized spelling of the Arabic word for “peace”. It can describe an act of deference, and in particular a very low bow.
28. Contents of el océano : AGUA
In Spanish, “el océano” (the ocean) contains lots of “agua” (water).
29. 1980 Winter Olympics host : LAKE PLACID
Beautiful Lake Placid in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State borders the village of Lake Placid, which famously was host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Here in the US, the most memorable event of the 1980 Winter Games was the “Miracle on Ice”, in which an amateur US hockey team beat what was in effect a professional USSR team, and then went on to win gold. A lesser known fact from the 1980 Games is that the Lake Placid Middle/High School served as a private bar for the Olympics. It is the only high school in the US to have been issued a license to serve alcohol.
31. Washington city with a repetitive name : WALLA WALLA
The Washington city of Walla Walla used to be called Steptoeville, named for Edward Steptoe, an officer in the US Army who served in the Indian Wars. Walla Walla is a Native American phrase meaning “place of many waters”.
33. Annual Austin festival, for short : SXSW
South by Southwest, also known as SXSW, is an annual festival that has been taking place in Austin, Texas since 1987. SXSW is a melded event, combining a music festival, a film festival and an interactive festival.
36. ___ of Wight : ISLE
The Isle of Wight is the largest island in England, and lies about five miles off the south coast of the country.
37. Fashionable : CHIC
“Chic” is a French word meaning “stylish”.
38. University in northeast Ohio : KENT STATE
Kent State University’s main campus is located in Kent, Ohio. Kent State will forever be associated with student activism and opposition to the Vietnam War in the late sixties and early seventies. The fateful day was May 4, 1970 when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students, killing four protesters and wounding nine.
41. N.B.A. star Nowitzki : DIRK
Dirk Nowitzki is an NBA player from Northern Bavaria in Germany. Nowitzki has scored more points in the NBA than any other foreign-born player in the league’s history. He also turns out for the German national team, for which is the captain. Indeed, Nowitzki was named German Sports Personality of the Year in 2011.
48. Writer Welty : EUDORA
Eudora Welty was an author from Jackson, Mississippi who wrote short stories and novels about the American South. Welty won a Pulitzer in 1973 for her novel “The Optimist’s Daughter”. She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1980.
50. Wild : FERAL
“Feral”, meaning existing in a wild or untamed state, comes from the Latin word “fera” meaning “a wild animal”.
53. With 58-Down, head-in-the-clouds place … or a hint to each answer that has four circles : LA-LA …
(58D. See 53-Down : … LAND)
“La-la land” is a euphemism for a state of unconsciousness.
55. Hawaiian island : OAHU
Oahu has been called “The Gathering Place”, although the word “O’ahu” has no translation in Hawaiian. It seems that “O’ahu” is simply the name of the island. One story is that it is named after the son of the Polynesian navigator who first found the islands. The island is made up of two volcanoes, Wai’anae and Ko’olau, joined together by a broad valley, the O’ahu Plain.
56. October birthstone : OPAL
97% of the world’s opals come from Australia, so it’s no surprise perhaps that the opal is the national gemstone of the country. The state of South Australia provides the bulk of the world’s production, about 80%.