1. Not reacting to pain, say : STOIC
Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosophers famous for teaching at the Stoa Poikile, the “Painted Porch”, located on the north side of the Ancient Agora of Athens. Because of the location of his classes, his philosophy became known as stoicism (from “stoa”). And yes, we get our adjective “stoic” from the same root.
6. Playboy centerfold, e.g. : PINUP
The term “centerfold”, as it is now used to describe a nude model pictured in the center pages of a magazine, was first coined by Hugh Hefner, founder of “Playboy” magazine. “Playboy’s” first centerfold was Marilyn Monroe, appearing in the debut issue in 1953. In that first issue, Monroe was given the title of “Sweetheart of the Month”. In January of 1954, the centerfold was Margie Harrison, the first model to be given the title of “Playmate of the Month”. Nowadays a “Playmate of the Month” is apparently paid $25,000 for posing, and the “Playmate of the Year” gets another $100,000, and a car, and a motorcycle.
11. Col. Sanders’s restaurant : KFC
The famous “Colonel” of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame was Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur from Henryville, Indiana. Although not really a “Colonel”, Sanders did indeed serve in the military. He enlisted in the Army as a private in 1906 at the age of 16, by lying about his age. He spent the whole of his time as a soldier in Cuba. It was much later, in the 1930s, that Sanders went into the restaurant business, making his specialty deep-fried chicken. By 1935, his reputation as a “character” had grown, so much so that Governor Ruby Laffoon of Kentucky gave Sanders the honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel”. Later, in the fifties, Sanders developed his trademark look, with the white suit, string tie, mustache and goatee. When Sanders was 65 however, his business failed, and in stepped Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s. Thomas simplified the Sanders menu, cutting it back from over a hundred items to just fried chicken and salads. That was enough to launch KFC into the fast food business. Sanders sold the US franchise in 1964 for just $2 million, and moved to Canada to grow KFC north of the border. He died in 1980, and is buried in Louisville, Kentucky.
15. Tennis champ Agassi : ANDRE
“Open” is the autobiography of tennis professional Andre Agassi, published in 2009. An amazing revelation in the book was that Agassi’s famous head of hair was actually a wig for much of his playing career. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to play tennis at his level, with a rug pinned on?
16. “… ___ he drove out of sight” : ERE
The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in 1823, and is better known today by its first line “‘Twas the night before Christmas”. Most scholars believe the poem was written by Clement Clark Moore, a theologian from New York City. Others say that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr. a poet from Upstate New York.
17. Aid for a person with a limp : WALKING CANE
19. Yang’s counterpart : YIN
The yin and the yang can be explained using many different metaphors. In one, as the sun shines on a mountain, the side in the shade is the yin, and the bright side is the yang.
21. Blue Ribbon beer brewer : PABST
There appears to be some dispute over whether the Pabst brand of beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle, until 1916.
23. Brussels ___ : SPROUTS
As the Irishman in the house, I somehow managed to brainwash my kids so that they have always loved Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are a cultivar of the wild cabbage, as one might imagine. The ancestors to the modern Brussels sprout were probably grown in Ancient Rome, and the sprout that we know today came out of what is now Belgium, in the 13th century. When my wife prepares fresh sprouts, she prepares them the Irish way, with two knife cuts in the bottom, in the shape of a cross (spooky!). The cross apparently allows the hot water to penetrate further into the stalk making it more tender.
26. Arabian V.I.P.’s : SHEIKS
The word “sheik” is an honorific title in the Arabic world, translating into English as “elder”.
27. River past Westminster Palace : THAMES
Westminster Palace is perhaps better known outside of the UK as the Houses of Parliament, the building with the magnificent clock tower that is home to Big Ben. The first royal palace was built on the site in the 11th century, and it was the principal residence for English royalty until a huge fire in 1512. Since the fire, the complex was rebuilt and has served as the home of Parliament alone (as Parliament had been sharing the site with the monarch since the 13th century). Another fire destroyed many of the buildings in 1834, leading to the construction of the famous Perpendicular Gothic structure that stands by the Thames today.
35. ___ Alamos, N.M. : LOS
The town of Los Alamos, New Mexico takes its name from the Spanish for “the poplars”. Famously it is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory which was founded during WWII to work on the Manhattan Project, the development of the first atomic bomb. The town of Los Alamos didn’t exist as such, until it was planned and constructed to support the employees working on development of the bomb.
36. Drug from Colombia : COCAINE
The coca plant is native to South America, similar in appearance to a blackthorn bush. Coca leaves have been chewed for centuries, perhaps even as far back as 3,000 years ago. Chewing the leaves apparently produces a pleasurable, numb sensation in the mouth and a pleasant taste. The most famous alkaloid in the leaf is cocaine, but this wasn’t extracted in its pure form until the mid-1800s. The cocaine was used in a medicines and tonics and other beverages, including the original version of Coca-Cola! Before 1903, a glass of Coke would contain about 9mg of cocaine. Coca-Cola still uses coca leaves, as the flavor is prized, but the cocaine is extracted before it arrives at the bottling plant.
39. Virgil’s 61 : LXI
Publius Vergilius Maro (better known as Virgil) was a poet from Ancient Rome. His best known works are:
– The “Eclogues” (or Bucolics)
– The “Gerogics”
– The “Aeneid”
40. Long-armed ape, for short : ORANG
Orangutans are arboreal creatures, in fact the largest arboreal animals known to man. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, living in the rain forests. Like most species in rain forests these days, orangutans are endangered creatures, with only two species surviving. The word “orangutan” is Malay, meaning “man of the forest”.
41. Late West Virginia senator Robert : BYRD
Democratic Senator Robert Byrd passed away in June, 2010. He was the US Senator from West Virginia, elected to office in 1959, and retained his seat until his death. Senator Byrd was the longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress.
42. W.W. II admiral Chester : NIMITZ
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz is perhaps best remembered as the commander of fleet operations in the Pacific in WWII. Above and beyond the many honors formally awarded to Admiral Nimitz, he was chosen in 1945 to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the decks of the Missouri, as the official representative of his country.
44. Island where many a 40-Across lives : BORNEO
40. Long-armed ape, for short : ORANG
Borneo is the third largest island on the planet, and is located north of Australia in Maritime Southeast Asia. Most of the island is part of Indonesia (73% of the land mass) with almost all of the remainder being part of Malaysia (26%). The final 1% is home to the sovereign state of Brunei.
46. Disheveled : RAGTAG
“Ragtag and bobtail” is a colorful phrase that’s used to describe the lowest classes, or the rabble. A “bobtail” is a horse that has had its tail cut short, a word that goes back as least as far as Shakespeare as he used it in “King Lear”. A “tag” is a piece of cloth that is torn and hanging, which was readily combined with “rag” in the original phrase “tag, rag and bobtail”. This idiom, perhaps originally quoted from Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1659, referred to the lower classes as “tag, rag and bobtail, dancing, singing and drinking”. The phrase evolved, giving us our contemporary word “ragtag” meaning ragged and unkempt.
50. Mick Jagger and bandmates, informally : STONES
Even though Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been the driving force behind the Rolling Stones for decades, they didn’t start the group. The band was the idea of guitarist and harmonica player, Brian Jones, and it was he who invited Richards and Jagger as well as Ian Stewart with Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts rounding out the original lineup of six musicians. Jones called the band “Rollin’ Stone” back then in 1962, named for the song by Muddy Waters. Jones was the leader, manager and decision maker for the first few years, until songs written by Richards and Jaggers became hits, and he started to lose artistic control. In 1967, Jones was arrested for drug possession, and again in 1968. When his trouble with the law prevented him from getting a US work visa, Jones wasn’t able to accompany the Stones on a 1969 US tour. That was the last straw, it seems, and Jones and the Stones parted company. Famously, one month later, Jones was found dead, at the bottom of his swimming pool.
52. ___ carte : A LA
Carte is a word sometimes used in French for a menu. Menu items that are “à la carte” are priced and ordered separately, as opposed to “table d’hôte” which is a fixed price menu with limited choice.
53. 1941 Orson Welles classic : CITIZEN KANE
“Citizen Kane” was the first film made by Orson Welles, one considered by many to be the finest film ever made. It’s a remarkable achievement, especially as Welles played the lead, as well as produced and directed. Despite all the accolades for “Citizen Kane” over the decades, the movie was far from a commercial success in its early days, and actually lost money at the box office.
58. Architect I. M. ___ : PEI
I. M. Pei is an exceptional American architect, born in China. Of his many wonderful works, my favorite is the renovation of the Louvre in Paris, especially the Glass Pyramid in the courtyard, albeit controversial with Parisians.
59. French word before cuisine or couture : HAUTE
“Haute” is the feminine form of the French word for “high”.
“Haute cuisine”, literally “high cooking” in French, is the name given to skillfully and elegantly prepared food, especially if it is in the French style.
“Haute couture”, literally “high dressmaking” in French, is a name given to the creation of exclusive fashions.
61. ID on an I.R.S. form : SSN
The main purpose of a Social Security Number is to track individuals for the purposes of taxation, although to me it is looking more and more like an “identity number” these days. The system was introduced in 1936. Before 1986, a SSN was required only for persons with substantial income, so many children under 14 had no number assigned. There was concern that a lot of people were claiming children as dependents on their tax forms who did not exist, so from 1986 onwards it was a requirement to get a SSN for any dependents over the ago of 5. Sure enough, in the following year’s tax returns, seven million dependents “disappeared”.
63. Actress Winona : RYDER
The Hollywood actress Winona Ryder’s real name is Winona Horowitz. She was born near the town of Winona in Minnesota, from which she got her name. Ryder’s success on the screen has garnered as much media attention as her life off the screen. The papers had a field day when she was arrested in 2001 on a shoplifting charge, and then went through a very public court appearance. Her engagement with Johnny Depp in the early nineties was another media frenzy. Depp had “Winona Forever” tattooed on his arm, which he had changed after the breakup to “Wino Forever”. A man with a sense of humor …
2. Old “Up, up and away” carrier : TWA
Trans World Airlines was a big carrier in the US, but was perhaps even more recognized for its extensive presence in Europe and the Middle East. For many years, especially after the collapse of Pan-Am, TWA was considered the unofficial flag carrier for the US. The company started in 1930, the product of a forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express. The Transcontinental and Western Air that resulted was what the Postmaster General wanted, a bigger airline to which it could award airmail contracts.
The song “Up, Up and Away”, famously used by TWA in its advertising, was released by the 5th Dimension in 1967.
5. In-group : CLIQUE
A “clique” is a small, exclusive group of people. The term of course comes to us from France, where it has the same meaning. In French it somehow evolved in meaning from the original “clique” meaning a sharp noise, or as we would say today, a “click”.
6. Senate gofers : PAGES
US Senate Pages are 16 and 17-year-old high school juniors who get to watch the political action up close in Washington, while doing the “gofer” jobs needed by the Senators and permanent staff. There are 30 Pages during the school year, 16 appointed by the majority party, and 14 by the minority. The list of former Senate Pages includes Amy Carter (daughter of the President), Chris Dodd (who became a Senator) and Spiro Agnew (who made it to the Vice President’s Office).
7. Early Peruvian : INCA
The Inca people emerged as a tribe around the 12th century, in what today is southern Peru. The Incas developed a vast empire over the next 300 years, extending along most of the western side of South America. The Empire of course fell to the Spanish, finally dissolving in 1572 with the execution of Tupac Amaru, the last Incan Emperor.
8. Fargo’s home: Abbr. : N. DAK
Fargo, North Dakota is the biggest city in the state. The original name for the city was Centralia, when it was a stopping point for steamboats that traveled the Red River in the later 19th century. The town really grew with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway, so the name “Fargo” was adopted in honor of one of the railroad company’s directors, William Fargo (of Wells Fargo Express fame).
11. Nixon’s Florida home : KEY BISCAYNE
Key Biscayne is the southernmost of the Barrier Islands lying off the Florida coast. President Nixon owned a compound on the island, made up of three houses which he purchased. He visited Key Biscayne at least fifty times while he was in office, so the President’s residence there was nicknamed the Florida White House, or sometimes the Winter White House.
12. Pat down, as for weapons : FRISK
Back in the 1500s, the verb “frisk” meant to dance or frolic. It took on the meaning “pat down in a search” in the late 1700s.
18. Items in a Planters can : NUTS
Planters is the company with the Mr. Peanut icon. Mr. Peanut was the invention of a first-grader called Antonion Gentile, a young man who won a design contest in 1916. A remarkable legacy, I’d say …
22. ___ Lingus : AER
Aer Lingus, my favorite airline! Well, the service isn’t great, to be honest, but when I get on board an Aer Lingus plane I feel like I am back in Ireland. Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland, with Aer Lingus being a phonetic spelling of the Irish “aer-loingeas” meaning “air fleet”. These days Aer Lingus can only lay claim to the title of Ireland’s oldest airline as it’s no longer the biggest. That honor goes to the controversial Ryan Air.
24. Showy flowers : PHLOX
Phlox is a genus of 67 species of plants found mainly in North America. There is one species found in Siberia!
25. Creating a ruckus : RAISING CAIN
As Cain was the first murderer according the Bible, he is associated with evil or trouble. The idiom “raise Cain” is the equivalent to “raise Hell” and “raise the Devil”. In all cases the meaning is to bring back evil, to cause trouble.
26. Stereotypical Swedish man’s name : SVEN
“Sven” is a Nordic first name, an Old Norse word meaning “young man” or “young warrior”.
28. Writer Kafka : FRANZ
Franz Kafka was born in 1883 Prague, then part of Bohemia, today the capital of the Czech Republic. He is known today as one of the greatest novelists who worked in the German language, and even has an adjective named after him. Something that is “kafkaesque” is senseless, disorienting and may have menacing complexity. As it was for many great artists, Kafka’s fame came after his death, when much of his work was published.
33. Fairy tale monsters : OGRES
The word “ogre” comes from a 1713 translation of “The Arabian Nights” in which there figures a “hogre”, a man-eating giant.
34. Whom Vladimir and Estragon were waiting for, in a Beckett play : GODOT
An Irishman I may be, but I have sat through so many Samuel Beckett plays (the Irish dramatist), and I have yet to come away feeling satisfied that I spent my time well. Of course, I am in the minority, as his play “Waiting for Godot” was once voted the most significant English language play of the 20th century. Maybe I will try again one day …
37. Copier input: Abbr. : ORIG
Make copies of the original.
43. Judge in the O. J. Simpson trial : ITO
Judge Lance Ito came in for a lot of criticism for his handling of the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The lead prosecutor in that trial was Marcia Clark, you might recall. I read her book “Without a Doubt” a few years ago, and she pointed out one trait of Judge Ito that I thought quite telling. Ito would almost always refer to the prosecutor as “Marcia”, while addressing the men on both sides of the case as “Mister”.
50. Poker variety : STUD
Stud poker is the name given to many variants of the game, all characterized by the dealer giving each player a mix of cards face-down and face-up. The cards facing downwards are called “hole cards”, cards only visible to the individuals who hold that particular hand. That gives rise to the phrase “ace in the hole”, a valuable holding that only the player with the ace is aware of.
51. Latin jazz great Puente : TITO
After serving in the navy in WWII for three years, Tito Puente studied at Julliard, gaining a great grounding in conducting, orchestration and theory. He parlayed this education into a career in Latin Jazz and Mambo. As well being called El Rey, he was known as “The King of Latin Music”.
54. Author Fleming or McEwan : IAN
Ian Fleming is most famous of course for writing the “James Bond” series of spy novels. You might also know that he wrote the children’s story “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, made into a cute movie released in 1968, and even a stage musical that opened in 2002.
Ian McEwan is an English novelist with a long track record of writing successful novels. His most famous work at the moment I would say is “Atonement” which has benefited from the success of the fabulous movie adaptation released in 2007.
56. Jacqueline Kennedy ___ Bouvier : NEE
Jackie Kennedy Onassis was born into a privileged family, the daughter of a Wall Street stock broker, John Vernou Bouvier III. Ms. Bouvier moved in the same social circles as the Kennedy clan, and met the then-US Representative John Kennedy at a dinner party hosted by mutual friends. After she saw her husband assassinated, and her brother-in-law Bobby Kennedy, she declared that she feared for the life of her children, who bore the Kennedy name. She left the country, eventually meeting and marrying Aristotle Onassis. Reportedly she was very satisfied that the Greek shipping magnate was able to provide privacy and security for her children.