Edited by: Will Shortz
Each of today’s themed answers are common 2-word phrases that have been reinterpreted as 3 words. That is, a GAP (space) has been inserted into one of the words in the original phrase:
- 39A. Something to mind … in 18-, 24-, 47- and 58-Across : THE GAP
- 18A. Feet in the city? (3 wds.) : URBAN LEG ENDS (from “urban legends”)
- 24A. Friendly Communist ghost? (3 wds.) : KIND RED SPIRIT (from “kindred spirit”)
- 47A. Slim monarch who gets around fast? (3 wds.) : QUICK THIN KING (from “quick thinking”)
- 58A. Head off to stare at some pictures? (3 wds.) : GO OGLE IMAGES (from “Google Images”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
6. Fast-food chain with a red-haired girl in its logo : WENDY’S
Famously, the Wendy’s chain of fast food restaurants was founded by Dave Thomas, in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Dave named his establishment after his fourth child, Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas.
15. 2008 Pixar film about a robot : WALL-E
“WALL-E” is a very cute Pixar movie, released in 2008. The hero of the piece is a robot called WALL-E, who loves his “Hello Dolly”, and who falls in love with another robot called EVE.
17. Comedian Philips : EMO
Emo Philips is a stand-up comedian from Chicago. He has had a long and successful career, and listed on his resume is a small acting part in the 1992 hit movie “Meet the Parents” starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller. Philips was also the executive producer for that very same film, so, I’d say he made a few pennies …
20. PC part, for short : CPU
The central processing unit (CPU) is the main component on the motherboard of a computer. The CPU is the part of the computer that carries out most of the functions required by a program. Nowadays you can get CPUs in everything from cars to telephones.
22. Baldwin famous for his Donald Trump impersonation : ALEC
Alec Baldwin is the oldest of the acting Baldwin brothers. I think Alec’s big break was playing Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October”, but thank goodness that role was taken over by Harrison Ford for the subsequent Jack Ryan movies. Baldwin also made a name for himself playing Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock”, opposite Tina Fey. More recently, he is known for impersonating President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live”.
24. Friendly Communist ghost? (3 wds.) : KIND RED SPIRIT (from “kindred spirit”)
The association of the color red with communism dates back to the French Revolution. A red flag was chosen as a symbol by the revolutionaries, with the color representing the blood of workers who had died in the fight against capitalism.
29. Singer Midler : BETTE
One of my favorite singers, and indeed all-round entertainers, is Bette Midler. If you’ve ever seen her live show you’ll know that “camp” is a good word to describe it, as her humor is definitely “out there” and quite bawdy. Early in her career, Midler spent years singing in the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in New York City. There she became very close friends with her piano accompanist, Barry Manilow. While singing in the bathhouse, Bette only wore a white towel, just like the members of her audience. It was in those days that she created her famous character “the Divine Miss M” and also earned herself the nickname “Bathhouse Betty”.
32. Angels’ headwear : HALOS
The Greek word “halos” is the name given to the ring of light around the sun or moon, which gives us our word “halo” that is used for a radiant light depicted above the head of a saintly person.
39. Something to mind … in 18-, 24-, 47- and 58-Across : THE GAP
“Mind the Gap” is a very famous announcement made in several stations on the London Underground. The announcement is needed as there can be a large gap between the doorways of trains and the platform. This gap arises because the platforms of some stations are quite curved, while the train cars are of course straight.
41. Tree whose name sounds like a letter of the alphabet : YEW
“Yew” sounds like “U”.
The family of trees known as yews propagate by producing a seed surrounded by soft, sweet and brightly colored aril. Birds eat the fruit and then disperse the seed in their droppings. The birds leave the seed undamaged, and so are unharmed by the potent poisons taxine and taxol that are found within the seed. The seeds are highly toxic to humans.
42. City in southern France : TOULON
As well as being a town on southern coast of France, Toulon is a military port and home to the French Mediterranean Fleet. In particular, it is the home port of the French Navy’s sole aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle.
43. Principal principle : TENET
A tenet is an article of faith, something that is held to be true. “Tenet” is Latin for “he holds”.
44. ___ monkey : RHESUS
The Rhesus macaque is also known as the Rhesus monkey. As it is widely available and is close to humans anatomically and physically, the Rhesus macaque has been used in scientific research for decades. The Rhesus monkey was used in the development of rabies, smallpox and polio vaccines, and it also gave its name to the Rhesus factor that is used in blood-typing. It was also Rhesus monkeys that were launched into space by the US and Soviet space programs. Humans and macaques share about 93% of their DNA and had a common ancestor about 25 million years ago.
51. “Do ___ others …” : UNTO
The Golden Rule is also known as the ethic of reciprocity, and is a basis for the concept of human rights. A version of the rule used in the Christian tradition is attributed to Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
57. Word after Holiday or Comfort : INN
The 1942 classic movie “Holiday Inn” stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, and is noted for the song “White Christmas”. And yes, the movie is the inspiration for the name of the Holiday Inn chain of hotels.
The Comfort Inn chain is part of Choice Hotels International. I stay in Comfort Suites every so often. They’re usually not at all bad for the price …
58. Head off to stare at some pictures? (3 wds.) : GO OGLE IMAGES (from “Google Images”)
The Google Images search engine was introduced in 2001. Apparently, Google developed the Images search service in response to the overwhelming number of Google text searches for images of Jennifer Lopez in an exotic green Versace dress that she wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards.
62. General who’s 34-Down spelled backward : LEE
(34D. Fish that’s 62-Across spelled backward : EEL)
Robert E. Lee is renowned as a southern officer in the Civil War. Lee was a somewhat reluctant participant in the war in that he opposed the secession of his home state of Virginia from the Union. At the beginning of the war, President Lincoln invited Lee to take command of the whole Union Army but he declined, choosing instead to stay loyal to his home state. During the Civil War, Lee’s men referred to him affectionately as “Marse Robert”, with “marse” being slang for “master”.
1. Done the backstroke, e.g. : SWUM
“Swam” is the simple past tense of the verb “to swim”, as in “I swam in my pool”. “Swum” is the verb’s past participle, as in “I have swum in your pool”.
3. “Able was I ere I saw ___” : ELBA
The three most famous palindromes in English have to be:
- Able was I ere I saw Elba
- A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
- Madam, I’m Adam
One of my favorite words is “Aibohphobia”, although it doesn’t appear in the dictionary and is a joke term. “Aibohphobia” is a great way to describe a fear of palindromes, by creating a palindrome out of the suffix “-phobia”.
4. Food for whales : PLANKTON
Plankton are organisms that float in water and are incapable of swimming against a current. There are three general classifications of plankton:
- Phytoplankton, which live on the surface and use light for photosynthesis.
- Zooplankton, small animals that mainly feed on other plankton.
- Bacterioplankton, the bacterial component of plankton.
5. Hamilton’s bill : TEN
The US ten-dollar bill features the image of Alexander Hamilton, the first US Secretary of the Treasury, on the obverse. As such, ten-dollar bills are sometimes called “Hamiltons”. By the way, the $10 bill is the only US currency in circulation in which the portrait faces to the left. The reverse of the ten-dollar bill features the US Treasury Building.
9. ___ Juan (lover) : DON
Don Juan is a flighty character who has been featured by a number of authors, poets and composers, including Molière, Byron, and Mozart. In the underlying legend, Don Juan ends up talking to the statue of the dead father of one of his conquests. Don Juan dines with the ghost of the dead man and when shaking the hand of the ghost he is dragged away to hell. We now use the term “Don Juan” to describe any womanizer or ladies’ man.
10. Financial spreadsheet column: Abbr. : YTD
13. Wave measurements : AMPLITUDES
In telecommunications, a radio signal is transmitted using a sinusoidal carrier wave. Information is transmitted using this carrier wave in two main ways, by varying (modulating) the instantaneous amplitude (signal strength) of the carrier wave, and by modulating the instantaneous frequency of the carrier wave. The former is referred to as an AM signal (for “amplitude modulation”), and the latter as an FM signal (for “frequency modulation”).
23. It guards a dribbler : BIB
The word “bib” comes from the Latin “bibere” meaning “to drink”, as does our word “imbibe”. So, maybe it’s less about spilling the food, and more about soaking up the booze …
26. 2016 Nobel laureate Bob : DYLAN
President Obama used the words “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music” when awarding musician Bob Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Dylan was in good company. On the same day, the president awarded the medal to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Justice John Paul Stevens, former Israeli President Shimon Peres and astronaut John Glenn. In 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
27. Vichyssoise or borscht : SOUP
Vichyssoise is a thick puréed potato soup that can be served hot, but is usually served cold. As well as potatoes, a classic vichyssoise contains leeks, onions, cream and chicken stock. Although the origin is disputed, it seems that the vichyssoise was invented in America, albeit by a French chef. That chef named his soup after the town of Vichy in France.
Borscht is a beetroot soup that originated in Ukraine. Borscht can be served both hot and cold.
30. Inventor of the cotton gin : ELI WHITNEY
The inventor Eli Whitney is a best known for inventing the cotton gin. Whitney also came up with the important concept of “interchangeable parts”. Parts that are interchangeable can be swapped out of equipment or perhaps used in related designs.
The term “cotton gin” is a contraction of “cotton eng-ine”. The gin is a machine that mechanically separates cotton fibers from the cotton seed.
35. “A long time ___ in a galaxy far, far away …” : AGO
Every “Star Wars” film starts out with an opening crawl announcing “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”
37. Dog doc : VET
“Vet” is an abbreviation for “veterinarian”, a professional who treat animals for disease and injury. The word “veterinary” comes from the Latin “veterinae” meaning “working animals, beasts of burden”.
40. Serbia’s capital : BELGRADE
Belgrade is the capital city of Serbia. The name “Belgrade” translates into “White City”.
43. Wine cask : TUN
A “tun” is a barrel, often a large barrel used in winemaking. The term “tun” came to be a measure of volume, originally 256 gallons of wine. The weight of such a volume of wine was referred to as a “tun”, which evolved into our contemporary unit “ton”.
48. Computer-savvy office fellow : IT GUY
Information technology (IT)
49. Wafer brand : NILLA
As one might expect, “Nilla” is a shortened form of “vanilla”. However, you won’t find any vanilla in Nilla brand cookies or wafers. They have always been flavored with vanillin, which is synthetic vanilla. Is nothing sacred …?
58. Audience members for a U.S.O. show : GIS
The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of FDR “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.
59. Toronto’s province: Abbr. : ONT
Beautiful Toronto, Ontario is the largest city in Canada, and the fourth most populous city in North America (after Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles).