Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed clues is in the format “number/number”:
- 17A. 4/4 : COMMON TIME
- 27A. 11/11 : VETERANS DAY
- 44A. 20/20 : GREAT VISION
- 60A. 50/50 : EVEN-STEVEN
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
10. The Kleenex of cotton swabs : Q-TIP
Cotton swabs were originally marketed under the name Baby Gays, but this was changed in 1926 to Q-Tips, with the Q standing for “quality”.
Even though “Kleenex” is sometimes used today as a generic term for a tissue, “Kleenex” is a brand name owned by Kimberly-Clark. Kleenex facial tissues came about after WW1. The material used in the tissue had been developed as a replacement for cotton that was in high demand as surgical tissue during the war. The material developed was called “Cellucotton” and was used in gas mask filters. It was first sold as a facial tissue under the name “Kleenex” in 1924.
14. Predator of dolphins : ORCA
The taxonomic name for the killer whale is Orcinus orca. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.
15. Press secretary ___ Huckabee Sanders : SARAH
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was made White House Press Secretary in the Trump administration, following the resignation of Sean Spicer. Huckabee is the youngest child of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
16. ___ Major (Big Dipper’s constellation) : URSA
The constellation named Ursa Major (Latin for “Larger Bear”) is often just called the Big Dipper because of its resemblance to a ladle or dipper. Ursa Major also resembles a plow, and that’s what we usually call the same constellation back in Ireland, the “plough”.
17. 4/4 : COMMON TIME
The most common time signature used for Western popular music is 4/4. I guess that’s why said time signature is known as “common time”.
19. Smidgen : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.
Our word “smidgen” (sometimes shortened to “smidge”) is used to describe a small amount. The term might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.
20. Prepare to be knighted : KNEEL
The rite of passage that conferred knighthood on an apprentice was known as the ”accolade” or “dubbing” back in the Middle of Ages. Part of that ceremony is still used today, including the tapping of the flat side of a sword by a monarch on the shoulders of the new knight.
21. Indianapolis-to-Cleveland dir. : ENE
Indianapolis is the largest city in Indiana, and is the state capital. The state of Indiana was formed in 1816, with the state capitol being named as Corydon. The capital was changed to Indianapolis in 1825. Indianapolis is the closest of all capitals to the center of its state.
Cleveland, Ohio was named after the man who led the team that surveyed the area prior to founding of the city. General Moses Cleaveland did his work in 1796 and then left Ohio, never to return again.
22. To whom “break a leg” is said : ACTOR
There are many, many colorful theories for the origins of the expression “break a leg”, used in the world of theater to mean “good luck”. Regardless of the origin, what is clear is that using the phrase “good luck” is considered to be very bad luck.
25. Basketball highlight : DUNK
In basketball, a player makes “slam dunk” by jumping up and powering the ball downward into the basket with his or her hands over the rim. The term “slam dunk” was coined by Chick Hearn, an announcer for the L.A. Lakers. The NBA even holds an annual Slam Dunk Contest.
27. 11/11 : VETERANS DAY
Veterans Day used to be known as Armistice Day, and is observed on November 11th each year. This particular date was chosen as the Armistice that ended WWI was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
32. Hay and such for farm animals : FODDER
“Fodder”, meaning “animal feed”, is an Old English word for “food”.
36. “The Raven” poet : POE
“The Raven” is a narrative poem by Edgar Allan Poe that tells of a student who has lost the love of his life, Lenore. A raven enters the student’s bedchamber and perches on a bust of Pallas. The raven can talk, to the student’s surprise, but says nothing but the word “nevermore” (“quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’”). As the student questions all aspects of his life, the raven taunts him with the same comment, “nevermore”. Finally the student decides that his soul is trapped beneath the raven’s shadow and shall be lifted “nevermore” …
38. Girlfriends in Paris : AMIES
A male friend in France is “un ami”, and a female friend is “une amie”.
39. “Great Expectations” protagonist : PIP
The novel “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens is written in the first person, through the eyes of the hero of the piece, a young orphan boy called Pip.
42. “The Lord of the Rings” baddie : ORC
Orcs are mythical humanoid creatures that appear in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. Since Tolkien’s use of orcs, they have also been featured in other fantasy fiction and in fantasy games.
44. 20/20 : GREAT VISION
I only understand the expression “20/20 vision” in non-technical terms. Apparently someone with 20/20 vision can see just as well as a standard/normal person at 20 feet from an eye chart. Someone with 20/40 vision can see just as well as a standard/normal person at 40 feet. Someone with 20/100 vision can see just as well as a standard/normal person at 100 feet, and so on. Those of you living in Metric Land use the term 6/6, with the standard distance being 6 meters instead of 20 feet.
59. European automaker : OPEL
Adam Opel founded his company in 1863, first making sewing machines in a cowshed. Commercial success brought new premises and a new product line in 1886, namely penny-farthing bicycles. Adam Opel died in 1895, leaving his two sons with a company that made more penny-farthings and sewing machines than any other company in the world. In 1899 the two sons partnered with a locksmith and started to make cars, but not very successfully. Two years later, the locksmith was dropped in favor of a licensing arrangement with a French car company. By 1914, Opel was the largest manufacturer of automobiles in Germany. My Dad had an Opel in the seventies, a station wagon (we’d say “estate car” in Ireland) called an Opel Kadett.
62. “The Simpsons” character with a palindromic name : OTTO
Otto Mann drives the school bus on the TV show “The Simpsons”. Otto is a Germanic character voiced by Harry Shearer, and his name is a play on “Ottoman Empire”. Whenever Bart sees him, he greets Otto with the words “Otto, man!”
63. “Sexy” woman in a Beatles song : SADIE
“Sexy Sadie” is a song written by John Lennon and released by the Beatles in 1968. Lennon wrote the song in India, and its original title was “Maharishi”.
1. Argyle pair : SOCKS
The argyle pattern is based on the Campbell tartan. The Campbell clan is based in the Argyll region (note the spelling) in the west of Scotland, giving the Argyle pattern its name.
3. Zeniths : ACMES
The nadir is the direction pointing immediately below a particular location (through to the other side of the Earth for example). The opposite direction, that pointing immediately above, is called the zenith. We use the terms “nadir” and “zenith” figuratively to mean the low and high points in a person’s fortunes.
5. I.R.S. digits: Abbr. : SSN
Social Security number (SSN)
7. The Emerald Isle : ERIN
Ireland is often referred to as the “Emerald Isle” (and described as “green”) because of all that green grass that grows due to the seemingly non-stop rain.
8. Say “When I was with my good friend Barack last week …,” e.g. : NAME DROP
President Obama’s first name Barack is Swahili with roots in an old Arabic word meaning “blessed”. Barack was the President’s father’s name. President Obama’s middle name is Hussein, an Arabic word meaning “good” or “handsome one”. Hussein was the name of the President’s grandfather on the paternal side. His surname, Obama, doesn’t really have a translation, but is common among the Luo tribe of Kenya.
13. Jack of the old “Tonight Show” : PAAR
Jack Paar was most famous as the host of “The Tonight Show”, from 1957 to 1962. When he died in 2004, “Time” magazine wrote that Paar was “the fellow who split talk show history into two eras: “Before Paar and Below Paar”. Very complimentary …
22. Advice-giving Landers : ANN
“Ask Ann Landers” was an advice column written by Eppie Lederer from 1955 to 2002. Eppie was the twin sister to Pauline Phillips, the person behind “Dear Abby”. Eppie took over the “Ask Ann Landers” column from Ruth Crowley who started it in 1943.
24. “___ the land of the free …” : O’ER
The words “o’er the land of the free” come from “The Star-Spangled Banner” written by Francis Scott Key.
The lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” were written first as a poem by Francis Scott Key. Key’s inspiration was the bombarding by the British of the American forces at Fort McHenry that he witnessed during the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. The words were then set to the tune of a popular British drinking song penned by John Stafford Smith called “The Anacreontic Song”, with the Anacreontic Society being a men’s club in London.
26. Dubai’s home: Abbr. : UAE
Dubai is one of the seven Emirates that make up the federation known as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The two largest members of the UAE (geographically) are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the only two of the seven members that have veto power over UAE policy.
29. Monopoly card : DEED
The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman called Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.
30. Asia’s disappearing ___ Sea : ARAL
The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet Union irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …
31. Oxen connector : YOKE
A yoke is a wooden beam used between a pair of oxen so that they are forced to work together.
32. Dracula’s biter : FANG
“Dracula” is a novel written by the Irish author Bram Stoker and first published in 1897. Dracula wasn’t the first vampire of literature, but he certainly was the one who spawned the popularity of vampires in theater, film and television, and indeed more novels. Personally, I can’t stand vampire fiction …
33. Vizquel with 11 Gold Gloves : OMAR
The Gold Glove is an annual award given by Major League Baseball to the player judged to be the best in each fielding position in a season. The award was instituted in 1957 by the baseball glove manufacturer Rawlings.
35. Olympic event won by Bruce Jenner in 1976 and Ashton Eaton in 2012 and 2016 : DECATHLON
The decathlon event is a track and field competition, with the name “decathlon” coming from the Greek “deka” (ten) and “athlos” (contest). The ten events in the men’s decathlon are:
- 100 meters
- Long jump
- Shot put
- High jump
- 400 meters
- 110 meters hurdles
- Discus throw
- Pole vault
- Javelin throw
- 1500 meters
40. One of 154 by Shakespeare : SONNET
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. The Shakespearean sonnet, for example, is composed of three quatrains (4 lines) and a final couplet (2 lines).
46. Like Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe painting : ICONIC
American artist Andy Warhol was a leader in the pop art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s. Many of his works became the most expensive paintings ever sold. A 1963 Warhol canvas titled “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” fetched over 100 million dollars in 2013.
49. Onetime HBO series set in New Orleans : TREME
“Treme” is an HBO series set in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. The show deals with the rebuilding of lives and culture are the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
51. “Skyfall” singer : ADELE
I have not been a fan of Daniel Craig as James Bond (preferring Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan in the role). However, I saw “Skyfall” when it first came out and have been won over. “Skyfall” is one of the best Bond films so far, in my humble opinion. And, Adele’s rendition of the title song is an added plus …
52. Periods after Mardi Gras : LENTS
In Latin, the Christian season that is now called Lent was termed “quadragesima” (meaning “fortieth”), a reference to the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry. When the church began its move in the Middle Ages towards using the vernacular, the term “Lent” was introduced. “Lent” comes from “lenz”, the German word for “spring”.
“Mardi Gras” translates from French as “Fat Tuesday”, and gets its name from the practice of eating rich foods on the eve of the fasting season known as Lent. Lent starts on the next day, called Ash Wednesday.
55. Org. in Carl Sagan’s “Contact” : SETI
SETI is the name given to a number of projects that are searching for extraterrestrial life. The acronym stands for “search for extraterrestrial intelligence”. One of the main SETI activities is the monitoring of electromagnetic radiation (such as radio waves) reaching the Earth in the hope of finding a transmission from a civilization in another world.
“Contact” is a sci-fi novel by Carl Sagan that was first published in 1985. Sagan had written “Contact” originally as a screenplay in 1979, but when plans for the film stalled, Sagan decided to go ahead and create the novel. An excellent film did eventually hit the theaters in 1997, and starred Jodie Foster.