Edited by: Will Shortz
If we take a look at the across-answers in today’s puzzle, we note that they are in alphabetical order.
Bill’s errors: 2
- STEWIE (Stevie)
- ROWR (rovr!!!)
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
8. Late bloomers : ASTERS
Apparently, most aster species and cultivars bloom relatively late in the year, usually in the fall. The name “aster” comes into English via Latin from the Greek word “astéri” meaning “star”, a reference to the arrangement of the petals of the flower.
16. Like some information on food labels : CALORIC
I wish we’d stop using the term “calorie”, because it is so confusing. In terms of physics, a calorie is amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree celsius (at one atmosphere of pressure). The so called “food calorie” is one thousand times as large, as it is defined in terms of kilograms instead of grams. In attempts to differentiate between these two definitions, the former is sometimes referred to as the “small calorie” and is given the symbol “cal”. The latter is referred to as the “large calorie” and given the symbol “Cal”, with a capital C. If only we’d use the SI system of units, we’d be think in just joules, instead of large and small and food calories.
17. Lady Bird Johnson’s real given name : CLAUDIA
President Lyndon Johnson’s wife Claudia Alta Taylor was named after her mother’s brother Claud. Taylor’s more familiar name came from her childhood nurse Alice Tittle, who remarked that as a little baby Claudia was “purty as a ladybird”. A ladybird is what we call a ladybug on the other side of the Atlantic. So, the moniker “Lady Bird” stuck with the future First Lady throughout her life.
18. Newspaper unit: Abbr. : COL
19. Plying with wine and roses, say : COURTING
“To court” someone is to woo them, to offer homage, as one might do at court, hence the use of the term.
20. Old TV screens, for short : CRTS
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)
25. Non-P.C. suffix : -ESS
Non-politically correct (non-PC)
26. ___ polloi : HOI
“Hoi polloi” is a Greek term, literally meaning “the majority, the many”. In English, “hoi polloi” has come to mean “the masses” and is often used in a derogatory sense.
37. Scarlet stigma : LETTER A
The main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter” is Hester Prynne. After the birth of her illegitimate daughter Pearl, she is convicted by her puritanical neighbors of the crime of adultery. Hester is forced to wear a scarlet “A” (for “adultery”) on her clothing for the rest of her life, hence the novel’s title “The Scarlet Letter”.
44. Longtime record label for Elton John and Mary J. Blige : MCA
Elton John’s real name is Reginald Dwight. Sir Elton was knighted in 1998, not for his music per se, but for his charitable work. He founded his own Elton John AIDS Foundation back in 1992.
Mary J. Blige is a singer-songwriter from the the Bronx, New York. Her best known album is probably “My Life”, released in 1994. Blige is also making a name for herself as an actress and is slated to play jazz singer Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic “Nina”.
47. “Love ___” (Beatles song) : ME DO
“Love Me Do” is a song written by Paul McCartney on a day that he was playing hooky from school when he just 16 years of age.
48. Sch. on the bank of the Charles River : MIT
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 1861 and first offered classes in 1865, in the Mercantile building in Boston. Today’s magnificent campus on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge opened in 1916.
49. Kingston dude : MON
That would be Kingston, Jamaica.
54. Capital of the Land of the Midnight Sun : OSLO
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an ancient city that was founded around 1048. The medieval city was destroyed by fire in 1624 and was rebuilt by the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV and renamed to Christiana. In 1877 there was an official change of the spelling of the city’s name to “Kristiana”, and then more recently in 1925 the name was restored to the original Oslo. Things have almost gone full circle and now the center of Oslo, the area that would have been contained by the original medieval walls, has apparently been renamed to Christiana.
The summer phenomenon of “midnight sun” occurs north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle. At those locations, and at those times of the year, the sun is visible at midnight, and indeed for the full 24 hours.
55. Optimistic bridge calls : OVERBIDS
That would be bridge, the card game.
57. They’re parked in parks : RVS
Recreational vehicle (RV)
59. People who might greet you by saying “Talofa, afio mai!” (“Hello, welcome!”) : SAMOANS
The official name for the South Pacific country formerly known as Western Samoa is the Independent State of Samoa. Samoa is the western part of the island group, with American Samoa lying to the southeast. The whole group of islands used to be known as Navigators Island, a name given by European explorers in recognition of the seafaring skills of the native Samoans.
64. Brian’s pal on “Family Guy” : STEWIE
“Family Guy” is a very successful animated television show. It was created by Seth MacFarlane, the same guy who came up with “American Dad!”. My kids love them both. Me, I can’t stand ‘em.
65. Former “Weekend Update” co-anchor : TINA FEY
Comic actress Tina Fey has a scar on her face a few inches long on her left cheek, which I was shocked to learn was caused by a childhood “slashing” incident. When she was just five years old and playing in the front yard of her house, someone just came up to her and slashed her with a knife. How despicable!
“Weekend Update” is the longest-running of any recurring sketch on “Saturday Night Live”. In fact, the segment made its debut on the very first show, back in 1975. The first “anchor” at the “Weekend Update” was Chevy Chase.
67. Its atomic number is 39 : YTTRIUM
Yttrium is one of the rare earth elements, and has the symbol Y.
Rare earth elements are so called because they are rarely found in mineral form in a sufficient concentration for exploitation.
2. Stephen of “V for Vendetta” : REA
Stephen Rea is an Irish actor from Belfast. Rea’s most successful role was Fergus in 1992’s “The Crying Game”, for which performance he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In “The Crying Game”, Fergus was a member of the IRA. In real life, Rea was married to IRA bomber and hunger striker Dolours Price at the time he made the movie.
“V for Vendetta” is a 2006 movie based on the political thriller graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The film stars Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman and Stephen Rea. Two other Moore novels made it to the big screen: “From Hell” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.
3. OPEC units: Abbr. : BBL
The volume of one oil barrel is equivalent to 42 US gallons. A barrel is correctly abbreviated to “bbl”. Barrels aren’t really used for transporting crude oil anymore. Instead, oil moves in bulk through pipelines and in tankers. “Barrel” is just used as a unit of volume these days.
4. Classic Camaros : IROCS
The IROC-Z is a model of Camaro that was introduced by Chevrolet in 1978. The IROC-Z takes its name from a famous stock car race, the International Race of Champions.
5. Tropical tuber : TARO
The corm of some taro plants is used to make poi, the traditional Hawaiian dish (that I think tastes horrible). When a taro plant is grown as an ornamental, it is often called Elephant Ears due to the shape of its large leaves.
6. “Nothing is easier than to denounce the ___; nothing is more difficult than to understand him”: Dostoyevsky : EVILDOER
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s most famous novels are “Crime and Punishment” and “The Brothers Karamazov”. Dostoyevsky was arrested in 1849 and sentenced to death by Tsar Nicholas I for being part of a liberal intellectual group. He endured a mock execution before being told that his sentence was commuted to four years hard labor and exile in a camp at Omsk in Siberia.
11. Singer Gormé : EYDIE
Eydie Gorme is best known for her work with her husband Steve Lawrence. The duo started traditional popular music together in the late fifties.
13. Retrieves, as balls : SHAGS
“To shag” (I am reliably informed, never having played a game of baseball in my life!) is to chase and catch a fly ball.
17. British runner Sebastian : COE
Sebastian Coe is a retired middle distance runner from the UK who won four Olympic medals including golds in the 1500m in 1980 and 1984. After retiring from athletics, Coe went into politics and served as a Member of Parliament from 1992 to 1997. In the year 2000, he was made a Life Peer, and so Coe now sits in the House of Lords. Lord Coe headed up London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
21. Loggers’ contest : ROLEO
The log-rolling competition traditionally engaged in by lumberjacks is referred to as “roleo”.
29. “___ yellow ribbon …” : TIE A
A yellow ribbon is symbolically worn by people awaiting the return of a loved one, usually from military service overseas, but also from a penal institution. The song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” tells the tale of a convict returning home. His loyal loved one is waiting for him and she ties a whole boatload of yellow ribbons around the old oak tree to greet him.
31. Modern educational acronym : STEM
The acronym STEM stands for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. An alternative acronym with a similar meaning is MINT, standing for mathematics, information sciences, natural sciences and technology.
32. Something you feel in your gut? : ULCER
Until fairly recently, a peptic ulcer was believed to be caused by undue amounts of stress in one’s life. It is now known that 70-90% of all peptic ulcers are in fact associated with a particular bacterium.
36. Green sauce : PESTO
The term “pesto” applies to anything made by pounding. What we tend to know as pesto sauce is more properly called “pesto alla genovese”, pesto from Genoa in northern Italy. I love, love pesto sauce …
40. Brandy label letters : VSO
Brandy is a spirit distilled from wine. The term “brandy” ultimately comes from the Dutch “gebrande wijn” meaning “burnt wine”. The length of this aging of the spirit defines the various grades of brandy:
- VS: Very Special … at least 2 years storage
- VSOP: Very Special (or Superior) Old Pale … at least 4 years storage
- XO: Extra Old … at least 6 years
- VSO: Very Superior Old … 12-17 years
43. Ones calling people out? : UMPS
Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came for Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.
45. Lead singer of Nirvana : COBAIN
Nirvana is a rock band, formed in Washington in 1987 by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. The band effectively disbanded in 1994 after Cobain committed suicide.
51. Setting of Hercules’ first labor : NEMEA
“The Twelve Labors of Hercules” is actually a Greek myth, although Hercules is the Roman name for the hero that the Greeks called Heracles. The first of these labors was to slay the Nemean Lion, a monster that lived in a cave near Nemea. Hercules had a tough job as the lion’s golden fur was impenetrable to normal weapons. One version of the story is that Hercules killed the lion by shooting an arrow into its mouth. Another version says that Hercules stunned the monster with a club and then strangled him with his bare hands.
53. License to drill, for short? : DDS
Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
54. Schindler with a list : OSKAR
Oskar Schindler is the protagonist in the Steven Spielberg movie “Schindler’s List”. Schindler was a real person who survived WWII. During the Holocaust, Schindler managed to save almost 1,200 Jews from perishing by employing them in his factories. After the war, Schindler and his wife were left penniless having used his assets to protect and feed his workers. For years the couple survived on the charity of Jewish groups. Schindler tried to make a go of it in business again but never had any real success. He died a pauper in 1974 in Hildesheim, not far from Hanover. His last wish was to be buried in Jerusalem. Schindler was the only former member of the Nazi Party to be buried on Mount Zion.
56. “Hey there, tiger!” : ROWR!
Never heard of it …
61. “___ Ruled the World” (1996 Nas hit) : IF I
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 …
62. Opposite of old, in Oldenburg : NEU
“Neu” is the German word for “new”.
Oldenburg is a city in the northwest of Germany.
63. It might precede a shower : GYM
Our word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek “gymnasion” meaning “public place where exercise is taken”. The Greek term comes from “gymnos” meaning “naked”, as that physical training was usually done unclothed.