THEME: SATURDAY NIGHT … all the theme answers start with a word that can follow SATURDAY NIGHT i.e. SPECIAL FORCES (Saturday night special), FEVER PITCH (Saturday Night Fever), LIVE REMOTE (Saturday Night Live).
COMPLETION TIME: 7m 30s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
1. Limerick or sonnet : POEM
No one knows for sure how the limerick got its name, although there does seem to be agreement the name does indeed come from the city or county of Limerick in Ireland.
A sonnet is a short poem, with varying rhyming schemes, but always with 14 lines. The sonnet form has been around at least since the 13th century.
9. Sales talk : SPIEL
A spiel is a lengthy speech or argument designed to persuade, perhaps a sales pitch. “Spiel” comes to us from German, either directly (“spiel” is the German for “play”) or via the Yiddish “shpil”.
14. Jai ___ : ALAI
Even though jai alai is often said to be the fastest sport in the world (because of the speed of the ball), in fact golf balls often get going at a greater clip.
15. Solo for Pavarotti : ARIA
Luciano Pavarotti has to have been one of the most celebrated tenors of all time. He was able to appeal to audiences beyond the traditional fans of opera, helped by his performances “The Three Tenors“, Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. Pavarotti made his final performance on stage at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, where he sang his famous rendition of the moving aria “Nessum dorma” and brought the house down. Pavarotti passed away from pancreatic cancer the following year, at the age of 71.
16. Commie : PINKO
The term “pinko” came to us courtesy of “Time” magazine, in 1925. Back then it was used to describe those who were politically left of center. Red was the color associated with the left going back to the 1800s (how times have changed!), and “pink” was assigned to people who were not aligned with the left politically, but had left-leaning tendencies.
The US Army Special Forces are known as the Green Berets because they wear … green berets. The Green Beret is also worn by the Royal Marines of the British Army. When US Army Rangers and OSS operatives were trained by the Royal Marines in Scotland during WWII, graduates of the gruelling training program were awarded green berets. The US soldiers, proud of their new headgear, were not allowed to wear it as part of their uniform, and had to wait until1961 when President Kennedy authorized the green beret for exclusive use by US Special Forces.
“Saturday Night Special” is a slang term for an inexpensive handgun, the type of gun that often finds its way into the world of petty, armed crime. The term “Saturday night special” was first used in a 1968 article in the New York Times, when a reporter made the point that such inexpensive guns were the favorites of “holdup men”.
23. Pest attracted to light : MOTH
It isn’t really understood why moths are attracted to artificial lights. There is one theory that sounds plausible to me though. It is suggested that moths can navigate at night by maintaining the moon’s position (the brightest celestial object) at a fixed angle. When a moth finds a brighter light source, like an artificial light, it gets confused.
30. The Peacock Network : NBC
NBC has had a number of different logos in the history of the company. There was a microphone from 1942-1954, and a xylophone from 1954-1959. The first peacock appeared in 1956, but was replaced with a snake in 1959. A second peacock raised its head in 1962, only to be shot down by an “N” logo in 1975. Today’s peacock finally emerged in 1986. That first peacock was introduced in the early days of color television and was designed to illustrate how wonderful color television would be, so go buy one! (NBC was owned by RCA, and they had a vested interest in sales of color television sets).
Remakes of movies tend to come decades after the original, but the movie “Fever Pitch” and it’s remake came only eight years apart. The better known in the US is the American version with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, a romantic comedy about a baseball-obsessed young man and his new girlfriend. The original, a much better film in my opinion, stars Colin Firth as a soccer-obsessed guy in England dealing with a new relationship. The original is also closer to the book on which the movies are based, by author Nick Hornby.
“Saturday Night Fever” was a phenomenal movie in its day, but I don’t think it has aged well, to be honest. I still love the soundtrack though, the second best selling movie soundtrack of all time (number one is “The Bodyguard“, would you believe?). “Saturday Night Fever” was the first film for which the soundtrack was launched before the movie itself, in a cross-marketing exercise designed to hype the movie before release.
35. Mrs. Dithers in “Blondie” : CORA
“Blondie” was created as a comic strip by Chic Young. It was first published in 1930, and is still being created today (although the strip is now controlled by Chic’s son, Dean). The series spawned a series of radio programs (1939-1950) and a series of Blondie films (1938-1950). Blondie is married to Dagwood Bumstead. Dagwood slaves away at a construction company run by Julius Dithers, whose wife is Cora.
37. “Everybody Hurts” band : REM
The band’s name, R.E.M., has nothing to do with Rapid Eye Movement (the stage of sleep when one dreams) as is widely assumed. Apparently is means absolutely nothing.
38. Revolutionary War hero John Paul ___ : JONES
John Paul Jones, America’s first real naval hero, was actually a Scotsman. He established his reputation as a seaman sailing with the British merchant navy, and soon after arriving in American signed up to serve with the newly-formed Continental Navy.
40. Out-of-studio TV broadcast : LIVE REMOTE
Making “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”
NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” in 1975, under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. In those days, “The Tonight Show” has a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday episodes and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to pull together a variety show to fill the vacant slot.
43. First, second, third or home : BASE
When I went to my first Major League Baseball game (it happened to be the one where the San Francisco Giants won the pennant in 1989), I was such a neophyte that I told people my seat was behind fourth base …
44. Nuclear experiments, for short : A-TESTS
There used to be a lot of Atomic-bomb tests.
45. ___ Lanka : SRI
The name Sri Lanka translates from Sanskrit into English as “venerable island”. Before 1970, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon, a name given to the country during British rule.
46. ___ monster : GILA
A Gila monster is a venomous lizard found in the southwestern US and northern Mexico, and is the only venomous lizard native to America. Gila monsters move along at a snail’s pace so it isn’t really a danger to humans.
47. Popular date time … or a phrase that can precede the starts of 20-, 33- and 40-Across : SATURDAY NIGHT
53. Chinese province where Mao was born : HUNAN
Mao Zedong was burn on December 16, 1893 in the Hunan Province of China. As he was the son of a peasant farmer, his prospects for education were limited. Indeed he left school at 13 to work on the family farm, but did eventually get to secondary school in Changsa, the capital of Hunan Province. In the years following he continued his education further in Beijing, but did turn down an opportunity to study in France.
54. Spain’s longest river : EBRO
The Ebro is the longest, and also the most voluminous river in Spain.
55. Hoity-toity manners : AIRS
Believe it or not, the word “hoity-toity” has been in the English language since the 1660s, but back then it meant “riotous behavior”. It began to be used to mean “haughty” in the late 1800s, simply because the two terms sounded familiar.
57. Bandleader Shaw : ARTIE
Artie Shaw was a composer, bandleader a jazz clarinetist. His real name was Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, born in New York City in 1910. Of his many claims to fame is the fact that he (a white bandleader) hired Billie Holiday (a black vocalist) and toured the segregated South in the late thirties. Holiday chose to leave the band though, due to hostility from audiences in the South back then.
58. Jesus of the 1960s Giants : ALOU
Jesus Alou played major league baseball, as did his brothers, Matty and Felipe, as well as Felipe’s son, Moises.
60. “Project Runway” host Klum : HEIDI
German-born Heidi Klum is married to the successful English singer, Seal. She is a talented lady, and has built a multi-faceted career based on her early success as a model. She is the force behind the Bravo reality show called “Project Runway” that has been on the air since 2004. Klum has been nominated for an Emmy for the show 4-5 times.
1. Soft food for babies : PAP
Pap is soft or semiliquid food for babies and small children. “Pap” comes into English, via French, from the Latin word used by children for “food”.
2. Cheers at a fútbol match : OLES
“Fútbol” is the Spanish word for football, soccer.
“Ole Ole Ole!” is chanted at soccer games by many Spanish speaking (or shouting) fans. I am very proud to claim that the fans of the Irish national team have adopted the chant as their own, and it can be heard practically non-stop when Ireland is playing (with some inventive melody behind it!).
3. Dodge City lawman Wyatt : EARP
Wyatt Earp participated in what has to be the most famous gunfight in the history of the Old West, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona. Strangely enough, the fight didn’t happen at the O.K. Corral, but happened six doors down the street in a vacant lot next to a photography studio.
4. Portrayer of Austin Powers, “international man of mystery” : MIKE MYERS
Mike Myers does do a great British accent, witness his performance in the madcap “Austin Powers” movies. He has an advantage though, as both his parents are British, living in Canada.
The second film in the Austin Powers series, “The Spy Who Shagged Me” ran into a few problems over in the UK and other parts of the world. Over there the word “shag” is pretty rude.
5. Chew the scenery : HAM IT UP
The phrase “chew the scenery” means to overact, to play the part with too much emphasis or emotion, to ham it up.
6. Dickens’s ___ Heep : URIAH
Uriah Heep is a sniveling, insincere character in the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. The character is such a “yes man”, that even today we might call someone we believe to behave the same way “a Uriah Heep”.
12. Manages, with “out” : EKES
I believe that technically speaking one can’t actually “eke out” an existence, as to “eke out” means to “make something tangible go further or last longer”. So, you can eke out your income by cutting back on expenses, but you can’t eke out your existence, or any existence.
13. Twitter titter : LOL
LOL is an abbreviation used in Instant Messages and phone text messages, meaning Laughing Out Loud.
I have never tweeted in my life, and have no plans to do so. Twitter is a micro-blogging service, that limits the post sent to just 140 characters. In a sense, it is similar to this blog. Here I send out a post once a day containing information that I think might be useful to folks (thank you for reading!). I don’t think I could send much of interest using just 140 characters. So, people who do tweet tend to send out messages like “I’m at dinner now. I am having sushi”. Nope, I don’t think so. But, if someone knows how tweeting could help me provide a better New York Times Crossword service, just send me an email!
21. Operator of the largest brewery facility in the world : COORS
The Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado is the largest single brewery facility in the world. Fittingly perhaps, Coors also operates the world’s largest aluminum can producing plant nearby.
25. Hairstyles of Sly and the Family Stone : AFROS
Sly and the Family Stone are a rock, funk and soul band from San Francisco that’s still performing today, although their heyday was from 1966 to 1983. They were one of the first rock bands to have a racially integrated lineup, as well as representatives of both sexes. There were a few afro hairstyles in there.
28. Jobs in Silicon Valley : STEVE
Steve Jobs certainly is a business icon in Silicon Valley. I don’t think it is too surprising to learn that Jobs didn’t finish his college education, dropping out of Reed College in Oregon after only one semester.
31. QB Favre : BRETT
Brett Favre is best known as the former, starting-quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, and now plays for the Minnesota Vikings. Among the many NFL records held by Favre, he has thrown the most career touchdown passes, and has made the most consecutive starts.
32. Assignments for Sam Spade : CASES
Private detective Sam Spade came from the pen of Dashiell Hammett and appears in “The Maltese Falcon“.
34. Colored part of the eye : IRIS
The iris is the colored part of the eye that has an aperture in the center which can open or close depending on the level of light hitting the eye.
38. Martial arts champion-turned-film star : JET LI
Jet Li’s real name is Li Jian Jie, a martial artist and international film star from Beijing, China. He played a villain in “Lethal Weapon 4“, and had a leading role in the 2000 movie “Romeo Must Die“.
43. Pacific sultanate : BRUNEI
The official name of Brunei is the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace. Brunei is situated in the island of Borneo, almost completely surrounded by Malaysia. Brunei’s government is dictated by the constitution adopted in 1959, and is ruled by a sultan with full executive authority.
46. Pita sandwiches : GYROS
A gyro is a traditional Greek dish, a sandwich made with pita bread containing meat, tomato, onion and tzatziki, a yoghurt and cucumber sauce. The meat for gyros is usually roasted on a tall vertical spit, and is sliced from the spit as required.
48. Prefix with knock : ANTI
Pinging is also known as “engine knocking”. It is a metallic sound, created when not all of the fuel-air mixture is detonated by the spark plug, with some of it detonated late in the cycle. The late detonation causes the knocking/pinging sound. Additives (anti-knock agents) in gasoline can help reduce the chances of pinging.
49. “___ Abby” : DEAR
The advice column “Dear Abby” first appeared in 1956. Pauline Phillips was Abby back then, but now the column is written by Jeanne Phillips, her daughter. The full name of the “Abby” pen name is Abigail Van Buren, which Pauline Philips came up with by combining “Abigail” from the biblical Book of Samuel, and “Van Buren” after the former US president.
51. Enroll in a witness protection program, say : HIDE
The formal US Witness Protection Program was set up in 1970 under the Organized Crime Control Act. Most witnesses are protected by the US Marshals Service.