Edited by: Will Shortz
Today’s themed answers are bands and singers, with each being clued “punnily” with reference to a fictional superhero:
- 23A. Aquaman’s favorite singer? : BILLY OCEAN
- 25A. The Human Torch’s favorite band? : ARCADE FIRE
- 35A. The Hulk’s favorite band? : GREEN DAY
- 44A. Iceman’s favorite band? : COLDPLAY
- 55A. The Flash’s favorite singer? : TAYLOR SWIFT
- 68A. Magneto’s favorite band? : METALLICA
- 78A. Spider-Man’s favorite band? : THE SPINNERS
- 89A. Batman’s favorite rapper? : LIL WAYNE
- 99A. Thor’s favorite rapper? : MC HAMMER
- 112A. Electro’s favorite singer? : FRANK ZAPPA
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies
1. Agcy. for Kennedy and Reagan : TSA
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks that check passengers and baggage at airports.
14. Provider of directions, for short : GPS
Global positioning system (GPS)
17. Penne ___ vodka : ALLA
Penne alla vodka is a pasta dish with a sauce made of vodka, cream, tomatoes, onions and sausage or bacon.
19. Around : CIRCA
“Circa” is a Latin word meaning “around, near, about the time of”. We use “circa” directly in English to mean “about the time of”, as well as in derivative words such as “circle” and “circus”.
23. Aquaman’s favorite singer? : BILLY OCEAN
Billy Ocean was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and moved with his family to England when he was 8-years old. He was born Leslie Sebastian Charles, but took the name Billy Ocean from a local football team in Trinidad, “Ocean’s Eleven”, who in turn took their name from the famous Frank Sinatra movie. Ocean achieved chart success as early as 1976, with “Love Really Hurts Without You”. However, his global career took off with his 1984 smash “Caribbean Queen”. Perhaps Ocean had global success in mind, because quite cannily he recorded the song under three different names around the world. There’s a version called “European Queen”, and there’s an “African Queen” version out there somewhere as well …
Aquaman is a comic book superhero who first appeared in 1941. Aquaman was inspired by a character in a Russian science-fiction novel called Amphibian Man.
25. The Human Torch’s favorite band? : ARCADE FIRE
Arcade Fire is an indie rock band from Montreal. The group is a bit of a family affair as two of the band’s members are husband and wife, and one is the husband’s brother.
The Human Torch was one of the founding members of the Marvel Comics “good-guy” team called the Fantastic Four.
27. ___ Edberg, two-time U.S. Open tennis champion : STEFAN
Stefan Edberg is a Swedish tennis player, and former world number one. Sadly, one part of Edberg’s legacy is his involvement in a freak accident at the 1983 US Open. A ball struck by Edberg hit one of the linesmen causing him to topple off his chair, fracturing his skull as he hit the ground. That injury was fatal.
35. The Hulk’s favorite band? : GREEN DAY
Green Day is a punk rock band from just down the road here, from Berkeley, California. The name “Green Day” was chosen by the band to reflect their fondness for marijuana. “Green day” is a slang term used to describe a day spent smoking the drug.
The comic book hero called “the Hulk” first made an appearance in 1962. The Hulk is the alter ego of reserved and withdraw physicist Bruce Banner. Banner mutates into the Hulk when he gets angry.
40. Sculptor/collagist Jean : ARP
Jean Arp was a French artist renowned for his work with torn and pasted paper, although that wasn’t the only medium he used. Arp was the son of a French mother and German father and spoke both languages fluently. When he was speaking German he gave his name as Hans Arp, but when speaking French he called himself Jean Arp. Both “Hans” and “Jean” translate into English as “John”. In WWI Arp moved to Switzerland to avoid being called up to fight, taking advantage of Swiss neutrality. Eventually he was told to report to the German Consulate and fill out paperwork for the draft. In order to get out of fighting, Arp messed up the paperwork by writing the date in every blank space on the forms. Then he took off all of his clothes and walked with his papers over to the officials in charge. Arp was sent home …
42. Number between cinque and sette : SEI
In Italian, one might count “cinque, sei, sette” (six, seven eight).
43. Mama ___ Elliot : CASS
Cass Elliot was one of the four singers in the Mamas and the Papas, a sensational group from the sixties. “Mama Cass” was performing sold-out concerts in London in 1974 when she was found dead one morning, having had a heart attack. She was only 32 years old. Eerily, Elliot died in the same flat (on loan from Harry Nilsson) in which the Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die just four years later.
44. Iceman’s favorite band? : COLDPLAY
Coldplay is a rock band that was formed in London in 1996 by Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland. Chris Martin was married to the American actress Gwyneth Paltrow for twelve years.
48. Bermuda, e.g. : ISLE
Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory that is located off the east coast of the US. It is named for the Spaniard Juan de Bermúdez who in 1503 become the first European to discover the archipelago. Bermuda is the oldest remaining British Overseas Territory (since Newfoundland became part of Canada in 1949). It is also the most populous British Overseas Territory (since Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997).
52. 14-pound unit : STONE
We’ve used pounds and stones in Ireland, for all my life there. However, they no longer have any “official” status in the country, as we’ve made the conversion to the metric system. Having said that, many folks still tend to measure body weight in stones and pounds. One stone is equal to fourteen pounds.
55. The Flash’s favorite singer? : TAYLOR SWIFT
Singer Taylor Swift had one of her first gigs at the US Open tennis tournament when she was in her early teens. There she sang the national anthem and received a lot of favorable attention for the performance.
The Flash is a DC Comics superhero who is nicknamed “the Scarlet Speedster” or “the Crimson Comet”. The Flash’s superpower is his ability to move extremely quickly, with speed that defies the laws of physics.
60. Animator’s frame : CEL
In the world of animation, a cel is a transparent sheet on which objects and characters are drawn. In the first half of the 20th century the sheet was actually made of celluloid, giving the “cel” its name.
68. Magneto’s favorite band? : METALLICA
Metallica is a heavy metal band from Los Angeles that formed in 1981. Not my thing …
78. Spider-Man’s favorite band? : THE SPINNERS
Spider-Man is a creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and first appeared in comics in 1962. Spider-Man was a somewhat groundbreaking character in that his alter ego was a teenage high school student (named Peter Parker), which marked the first time that a young person featured front and center as the superhero.
85. Like Hägar the Horrible : NORSE
“Hägar the Horrible” is a comic strip that was created by the late Dik Browne and is now drawn by his son, Chris Browne. “Hägar the Terrible” (not “Horrible”) was the nickname given to Dik by his sons. The strip’s title character is a red-bearded Viking living on the Norwegian coast during the Middle Ages. Hägar lives with his overbearing wife Helga, his sensitive son Hamlet, his pretty daughter Honi, and his clever dog Snert.
87. ___ Martin : ASTON
Aston Martin is a British car manufacturer, founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin. The Aston part of the company name comes from Aston Hill, a famous site for hill-climbing cars that is nearby the original factory. Aston Martin cars are much loved by the British entertainment industry. James Bond was given one in “Goldfinger”, and Michael Caine drove one in the 1969 version of “The Italian Job”. Also, Roger Moore’s character drove a yellow Aston Martin in the seventies television show “The Persuaders!”.
89. Batman’s favorite rapper? : LIL WAYNE
Rapper Lil Wayne’s real name is … Dwayne Carter, Jr.
Bruce Wayne is the secret identity of Batman in the comic series created by DC Comics. The first name of Bruce was chosen as a homage to the Scottish king and heroic figure, Robert the Bruce. The family name was a nod to “Mad Anthony” Wayne, the US Army general and statesman who rose to prominence in the Revolutionary War.
93. Not only that but also : NAY
Some crosswords are really tough, nay, some are impossible to solve.
95. Singer Sumac : YMA
Yma Sumac was a Peruvian soprano. Sumac had a notable vocal range of five octaves.
96. The Avalanche, on sports tickers : COL
The Colorado Avalanche is a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche were founded in Quebec in 1972 as the Quebec Nordiques, and moved to Denver in 1995.
99. Thor’s favorite rapper? : MC HAMMER
Rapper MC Hammer (aka Hammer and Hammertime) was born Stanley Kirk Burrell, and was very popular in the 80s and 90s. Being around that early, MC Hammer is considered to be one of the forefathers of rap. Nowadays, MC Hammer is a preacher, and uses the initials MC to stand for “Man of Christ”. If you are so inclined, you can learn a little about Hammer and his family life by watching past episodes of the reality TV show “Hammertime”, which aired in 2009.
Thor is a superhero who was introduced to us by Marvel Comics in 1962. The character is of course based on the Norse god Thor, and comes complete with a magical hammer. Like so many comic book heroes it seems, Thor has made it to the big screen. Actor Chris Hemsworth played the role in the 2011 film “Thor” directed by the great Kenneth Branagh. Branagh must have needed the cash. Thor’s father Odin is played by Anthony Hopkins. He must have needed the cash too …
101. Actress Thurman : UMA
Robert Thurman was the first westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Robert raised his children in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and called his daughter “Uma” as it is a phonetic spelling of the Buddhist name “Dbuma”. Uma’s big break in movies came with her starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction”. My favorite Uma Thurman film is the wonderful 1996 romantic comedy “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”.
102. 32° Fahrenheit, in Celsius : ZERO
When Gabriel Fahrenheit first defined his temperature scale he set 0 degrees as the temperature of a mixture ice, water and salt. He defined 100 degrees as the temperature under his wife’s armpit! Using this scale he determined that water boiled at 210 degrees. Later refinements moved the boiling point of water up to 212 degrees, and as a result “body temperature” was shifted downwards to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anders Celsius was a Swedish astronomer. The temperature scale that Celsius created was the reverse of that used today, with “zero” representing the boiling point of water and “100” representing water’s freezing point. This scale was “upended” (in 1744) just after Celsius died, by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. The resulting temperature scale then became known as the centigrade scale for over 200 years, until in 1948 it was decided to adopt the “degree Celsius”. So, anyone still using “degrees centigrade” is actually way behind the times …
104. ___ volente (God willing) : DEO
“Deo volente” is Latin for “God willing”. If you read letters or emails from Ireland, you might come across “D.V.” in the text, as it is an abbreviation that we Irish commonly use to mean “God willing” or “Please God”.
105. Old-fashioned provider of directions : ATLAS
The famous Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator published his first collection of maps in 1578. Mercator’s collection contained a frontispiece with an image of Atlas the Titan from Greek mythology holding up the world on his shoulders. That image gave us our term “atlas”.
112. Electro’s favorite singer? : FRANK ZAPPA
Frank Zappa was an American composer and guitarist, a solo artist as well as the founding member of the rock band Mothers of Invention. You might like to meet his four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.
119. Princess Fiona, after sunset : OGRE
Princess Fiona is the title character’s love interest in the “Shrek” series of films.
Before “Shrek” was a successful movie franchise and Broadway musical, it was a children’s picture book called “Shrek!” authored and illustrated by William Steig. The title “Shrek!” came from the German/Yiddish word Schreck, meaning “fear” or “terror”.
120. One begins “Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness” : ODE
Here’s the first verse of the poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats:
THOU still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
122. Chocolate cup inventor H. B. ___ : REESE
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented by Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese. Peanut Butter Cups were originally called penny cups, reflecting the price at which they were sold. Then inflation took over, and maybe that’s why they were broken into smaller “Pieces” …
11. Divine bovine? : SACRED COW
A sacred cow is something that is immune from criticism or questioning. The phrase alludes to the reverence for cows in the Hindu tradition. The use of figurative idiom seems to have originated in the late 1800s in the US.
15. Opening in cosmetology? : PORE
Cosmetology is the art of using cosmetics. Not my forte …
18. Woodard with four Emmys : ALFRE
Alfre Woodard is an actress from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Woodard was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the 1983 film “Cross Creek”. Off the stage and screen she is very active in the Democratic Party.
21. Covalent bonds of a carbon atom, e.g. : TETRAD
In chemical compounds, covalent bonds generally involve the sharing of pairs of electrons between two atoms. A single bond is a covalent bond comprising one pair of electrons. A double bond comprises two pairs of electrons, and a triple bond uses consists of three pairs.
29. Some economic figs. : GDPS
A country’s Gross National Product (GNP) is the value of all services and products produced by its residents in a particular year. GNP includes all production wherever it is in the world, as long as the business is owned by residents of the country concerned. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is different, although related, and is the value of all services and goods produced within the borders of the country for that year.
36. Santa ___, Calif. : ROSA
Santa Rosa is the largest city in California’s Wine Country, and the county seat of Sonoma County. The epicenter of the so-called 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was located near Santa Rosa. There was actually more damage in Santa Rosa, for the size of the city, than there was in San Francisco.
38. City by the Bay, informally : SAN FRAN
“Frisco” is not a term you’d hear used in the San Francisco Bay Area for our main city. Acceptable nicknames are “the City by the Bay” and “Fog City”. We usually just refer to it as “the City”.
45. Jay with jokes : LENO
Jay Leno was born James Leno in New Rochelle, New York. Jay’s father was the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother was from Scotland. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and actually dropped out of school on the advice of a high school guidance counsellor. However, years later he went to Emerson college and earned a Bachelor’s degree in speech therapy. Leno also started a comedy club at Emerson in 1973. Today Jay Leno is a car nut and owns about 200 vehicles of various types. You can check them out on his website: www.jaylenosgarage.com.
49. ___ Brand, two-time N.B.A. All-Star : ELTON
Elton Brand is a professional basketball player who played most of his career with the LA Clippers (from 2001 to 2008).
63. Song with the lyric “A loko e hana nei” : ALOHA ‘OE
“Aloha ‘Oe” is a song of Hawaii composed by Liliuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii and her only queen. The title translates as “Farewell to Thee”.
66. ___ dish : PETRI
Julius Richard Petri was a German bacteriologist and was the man after whom the Petri dish is named. The petri dish can have an agar gel on the bottom which acts a nutrient source for the specimen being grown and studied, in which case the dish plus agar is referred to as an “agar plate”.
69. “___ bon” : C’EST
“C’est bon” is French for “it’s good”.
71. Pup grown up : SEAL
Male seals are called bulls, females are cows, and babies are pups.
72. Uptown : TONY
Something described as “tony” is elegant or exclusive. “Tony” is derived from the word “tone”.
79. Puerto Rican city that shares its name with an explorer : PONCE
Ponce is the second largest city in Puerto Rico. The famous conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon first landed on the island in 1508, with Spanish settlers following soon after. Among the earliest settlers was Juan Ponce de Leon’s great-grandson, Juan Ponce de León y Loayza. The great-grandson was politically savvy and was instrumental in getting a royal permit to establish the settlement that became today’s Ponce. Ponce is named after Juan Ponce de Leon y Loayza rather than his more famous great-grandfather.
81. Part of a so-called “grand tour” : ROME
The “Grand Tour” was a rite of passage for young wealthy men, mainly in the 18th century. Rich families (especially the English) would send off their sons after finishing their schooling to be exposed to the various cultures across Europe. Essential stops along the way were Paris, Venice and Rome.
84. Like some saws and bobsleds : TWO-MAN
Bobsleds are so called because competitors in the sport originally would “bob” in and out of the sled in order to increase its speed.
92. University in North Carolina : ELON
Elon is a city in the Piedmont region of North Carolina located close to the city of Burlington. Elon University is a private liberal arts school founded in 1889.
98. “___ fugit” : TEMPUS
“Tempus fugit” is a Latin phrase meaning “time flies”, which we use in English in the same sense. The expression was coined by Roman poet Virgil in his work “Georgics”.
99. Gooey chocolate treat : MUD PIE
The chocolate-based dessert called Mississippi mud pie probably originated in the state for which it is named. It is said that the gooey mass resembles the banks of the Mississippi River.
108. Victim of a revolution : TSAR
The year 1917 saw two revolutions in Russia, with the pair collectively called “the Russian Revolution”. As a result of the February Revolution that centered on Petrograd, the last Emperor of Russia (Tsar Nicholas II) abdicated and members of the Imperial parliament took control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The Provisional Government was itself overthrown in the October Revolution, which was led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik party.
113. Stridex target, informally : ZIT
Stridex is a line of acne treatments owned by Blistex that comes as medicated pads. The active ingredient in most Stridex products is salicylic acid, but others include benzoyl peroxide.