Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers sounds quite like a well-known phrase, but with a “y-ish” sound inserted. An example that I might give is the word “coot” becoming “cute”, perhaps. Although, as with all of these “sounds like” themes, a lot depends on regional accent:
- 20A. One traveling around Scandinavia? : FJORD EXPLORER (from”Ford Explorer”)
- 35A. Visit to the salon? : BEAUTY CALL (from “booty call”)
- 40A. Argument that involves pointing? : FINGER FEUD (from “finger food”)
- 49A. Soldiers in line formation? : MILITARY QUEUE (from “military coup”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Female singer with a hit album in every decade since the 1960s : CHER
Cher’s real name is Cherilyn Sarkisian. Formerly one half of husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher, she is often referred to as the Goddess of Pop. In her acting career, Cher was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar of 1984 for her performance in “Silkwood”. She went further in 1988 and won the Best Actress Oscar for playing Loretta Castorini in “Moonstruck”.
10. House speaker Ryan : PAUL
Paul Ryan was a nominee for Vice President in the 2012 election, and was on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. Ryan was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015 after John Boehner resigned. At 45, Ryan then became the youngest Speaker since 1875.
15. New Zealand native : MAORI
The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They are eastern Polynesian in origin and began arriving in New Zealand relatively recently, starting some time in the late 13th century. The word “māori” simply means “normal”, distinguishing the mortal human being from spiritual entities. The Māori refer to New Zealand as “Aotearoa”.
18. Many a charity golf tourney : PRO-AM
“Tourney” is another word for a tournament. The term comes from the Old French word for “contest of armed men”, with “tournoier” meaning “to joust, jilt”.
19. Rainbow flag letters : LGBT
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
The best-known rainbow flag is the one representing gay pride. Such usage of the rainbow flag was popularized in 1978 by artist Gilbert Baker. The varying colors of the flag represent the diversity of the gay community.
20. One traveling around Scandinavia? : FJORD EXPLORER (from”Ford Explorer”)
A drowned valley might be called a ria or a fjord, with both formed as sea level rises. A ria is a drowned valley created by river erosion, and a fjord is a drowned valley created by glaciation.
The Ford Explorer SUV was introduced in 1990, and is still going strong.
24. Cesar who played the Joker on TV : ROMERO
Cesar Romero was an American actor of Cuban descent from New York. He played a wide variety of roles on the big screen, but is remembered by many for playing the Joker on the “Batman” television show in the sixties.
27. Rice-and-broth dish : PILAF
“Pilaf” is a Persian word, one that we use for rice that is browned in oil and then cooked in a seasoned broth.
30. Texting format, in brief : SMS
Short Message Service (SMS) is the name for the text messaging service that many of us still use on our cell phones to contact our friends and family.
35. Visit to the salon? : BEAUTY CALL (from “booty call”)
“Booty” is a slang term for the buttocks.
“Booty call” is a slang meaning “request for casual sexual relations”.
37. Rock’s Brian : ENO
Brian Eno is a musician, composer and record producer from England who first achieved fame as the synthesizer player with Roxy Music. As a producer, Eno has worked with David Bowie, Devo, Talking Heads and U2.
38. “South Park” kid : CARTMAN
“South Park” is an adult-oriented cartoon series on Comedy Central. I don’t do “South Park” …
42. France’s Pic de Rochebrune, e.g. : MONT
Pic de Rochebrune is a mountain in France located in the southwestern Alps. The name translates literally into English as “Peak of Brown Rock”.
43. Ancient worshiper of Huitzilopochtli : AZTEC
Huitzilopochtli was the national god of the Aztecs.
48. ___ America : BBC
BBC America is one of my favorite television networks. It is owned by the BBC, although it shows more that just BBC shows, and includes shows bought from other British networks and a little American programming as well. Some of my favorites on BBC America over the years are: “Law and Order UK”, “The Graham Norton Show”, “Doctor Who” and “The Tudors”.
49. Soldiers in line formation? : MILITARY QUEUE (from “military coup”)
A coup d’état (often just “coup”) is the sudden overthrow of a government, and comes from the French for “stroke of state”. The Swiss-German word “putsch” is sometimes used instead of “coup”, with “Putsch” translating literally as “sudden blow”.
56. Late journalist Ifill : GWEN
Gwen Ifill was a television journalist who was regularly seen on PBS’s “Newshour”. Ifill was also the moderator on the weekly PBS show “Washington Week”, and was also selected to moderate the US Vice Presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.
58. Shirk one’s responsibilities : DOG IT
“To dog it” is a slang term meaning to not expend the effort necessary to accomplish a task. Folks tell me that the expression is quite common, but I must confess that I personally haven’t heard it used outside of crosswords. I’ll have to listen more carefully in the future …
59. Grammy and Tony nominee Bareilles : SARA
Sara Bareilles achieved success with her 2007 “Love Song” with the help of the iTunes online store. In one week in June of that year, iTunes offered the song as “free single of the week” and it quickly became the most downloaded song in the store, and from there climbed to the number spot in the charts.
61. Mojave plant : AGAVE
The agave is a succulent plant found mainly in Mexico. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), the agave is unrelated to the cactus, and isn’t related to the aloe plant either. The blue agave is used in the production of tequila.
The Mojave Desert in the southwest is named after the Native American Mohave tribe. Famous locations within the boundaries of the desert, are Death Valley, Las Vegas, Nevada and the ghost town of Calico, California.
62. Mendes and Longoria : EVAS
I best know the actress Eva Mendes as the female lead in the movie “Hitch”, playing opposite Will Smith. Mendes was known off the screen for dating actor Ryan Gosling from 2011 to 2013.
Eva Longoria is a fashion model and actress who had a regular role on TV’s “Desperate Housewives”, playing Gabrielle Solis.
63. Comme ci, comme ça : SO-SO
The French phrase “comme ci, comme ça” translates literally as “like this, like that”. We use the phrase in English to mean “so-so, neither good nor bad”.
2. Muslim pilgrimage : HADJ
A Haji (also “Hajji”) is the term used for someone who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and it is sometimes also used as a form of address for such a person. The journey itself goes by the name “haj”, “hajj” or “hadj”.
3. Pinza of “South Pacific” : EZIO
Ezio Pinza was an opera singer from Italy. Pinza performed for many years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York before retiring from the Met in 1948. He then launched a career on Broadway and in Hollywood.
The 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific” is based on stories from the 1947 book “Tales of the South Pacific” by James A. Michener. “South Pacific” really is a classic show featuring some classic songs, like “Bali Ha’i”, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”, “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Happy Talk”.
5. Noted architect who turned 100 in 2017 : IM PEI
I. M. Pei (full name: Ieoh Ming Pei) is an exceptional American architect who was born in China. Of Pei’s many wonderful works, my favorite is the renovation of the Louvre in Paris, especially the Glass Pyramid in the courtyard.
6. Who said religion “is the opium of the people” : MARX
Karl Marx was a German philosopher and revolutionary who helped develop the principles of modern communism and socialism. Marx argued that feudal society created internal strife due to class inequalities which led to its destruction and replacement by capitalism. He further argued that the inequalities created in a capitalist society create tensions that will also lead to its self-destruction. His thesis was that the inevitable replacement of capitalism was a classless (and stateless) society, which he called pure communism.
According to Karl Marx:
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
10. Controversial argument : POLEMIC
“Polemic” can also be spelled as “polemical”. Either way, the term describes something controversial. The word came into English from the Greek “polemos” meaning “war”.
11. News site like the Drudge Report : AGGREGATOR
Matt Drudge came to fame along with the website he founded called the “Drudge Report”. The “Drudge Report” is a news aggregation site, mainly made up of links to stories published by the world media. The “Drudge Report” hit the big time in 1998 when it was first to report on the Lewinsky scandal, after “Newsweek” allegedly refused to run the story.
22. One-named Swedish singer with the 1997 hit “Show Me Love” : ROBYN
Robyn is the stage name of Swedish singer Robin Miriam Carlsson. Never heard of her outside of crosswords …
30. Drudges : SERFS
A serf was a member of the lowest feudal class, someone attached to land owned by a lord. “Serf” comes from the Latin “servus”, meaning “slave”.
31. San ___, Calif. : MATEO
San Mateo is a city located south of San Francisco, just across the other side of the Bay from where I live. San Mateo is Spanish for Saint Matthew.
35. Setting for many a joke about a priest, a rabbi and a minister : BAR
A rabbi, a priest and a duck walk into a bar, and the bartender says, “What is this? A joke?”
38. Rhodes of the Rhodes scholarship : CECIL
Cecil Rhodes (famous in America as the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship), was a very successful English businessman and South African politician. He founded the De Beers diamond mining company, and also founded the state of Rhodesia which was named after him. The British colony gained its independence over time in the latter half of the 20th century, and is known today as the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Rhodesian capital of Salisbury was renamed in 1982 to Harare, the current capital of Zimbabwe.
45. Many a Labor Day event, for short : BBQ
Labor Day is a federal holiday observed every year on the first Monday in September. The tradition of honoring workers with a holiday started in Boston in 1878, when a day of observance was organized by the Central Labor Union, the major trade union at the time. There was a bloody dispute in 1894 between labor unions and the railroads called the Pullman Strike, which led to the death of some workers when the US Military and US Marshals were instructed to maintain order. President Grover Cleveland submitted a “Labor Day” bill to Congress which was signed into law just six days after the end of the strike. The introduction of a federal holiday to honor the worker was a move designed to promote reconciliation between management and unions after the bitter conflict.
48. Gig parts : BYTES
In the world of computing, a bit is the basic unit of information. It has a value of 0 or 1. A “byte” is a small collection of “bits” (usually 8), the number of bits needed to uniquely identify a character of text. The prefix mega- stands for 10 to the power of 6, so a megabyte (meg) is 1,000,000 bytes. And the prefix giga- means 10 to the power of 9, so a gigabyte (gig) is 1,000,000,000 bytes. Well, those are the SI definitions of megabyte and kilobyte. The purists still use 2 to the power of 20 for a megabyte (i.e. 1,048,576), and 2 to the power of 30 for a gigabyte.
51. Gelatin substitute : AGAR
Agar (also “agar-agar”) is a jelly extracted from seaweed that has many uses. Agar is found in Japanese desserts, and can also be used as a food thickener or even as a laxative. In the world of science it is the most common medium used for growing bacteria in Petri dishes.
Gelatin is a foodstuff that is used as a gelling agent in cooking, and for the shells of pharmaceutical capsules. Over 800 million pounds of gelatin are produced every year worldwide. It is produced from by-products of the meat and leather industries. Gelatin is basically modified collagen derived from pork skins and the bones of cattle, pigs and horses. So, vegans usually avoid things like gummy bears and marshmallows.
54. River forming part of the boundary between Europe and Asia : URAL
The Ural River rises in the Ural Mountains in Russia and flows for half its length through Russian territory until it crosses the border into Kazakhstan, finally emptying into the Caspian Sea.
The eastern side of the Ural Mountains in Russia is generally regarded as the natural divide between the continents of Europe and Asia.