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Today’s Reveal Answer: Even Odds

All across answers comprise an even number of letters, and all down answers an odd number:

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 Aidy of “Saturday Night Live” : BRYANT

Actor and comedian Aidy Bryant made her debut on “Saturday Night Live” in 2012. Bryant married fellow comedian Conner O’Malley in 2018.

19 Bulrush, e.g. : REED

Cattails are flowering plants found in wetlands. We call them bulrushes back in Ireland …

20 Zoom call background effect : BLUR

Zoom is a videoconferencing app that became remarkably popular in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The market deemed Zoom to be the easiest to use of the free videoconferencing apps. I’ve been using it, but really prefer Google’s Meet offering …

22 Coveted magic item in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” : BEAN

“Jack and the Beanstalk” is a fairy tale from England. In the story, young Jack sells the family cow for some magic beans. He plants the beans and a massive beanstalk grows up into the sky. At the top of the beanstalk there lives an ogre. Jack climbs the beanstalk and adventures ensue …

“Into the Woods” is a Stephen Sondheim musical that premiered in 1986. The storyline uses characters from several fairy tales, including “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella”. The borrowed characters are held together with an underlying original tale about a baker and his wife who long to have a child, but cannot due to a curse placed on them by a witch.

28 Really tiny machines : NANOBOTS

Nanorobots (also “nanobots”) are tiny devices that range from 0.1 to 10 micrometers in size. The technology of nanorobotics is in its infancy, but it is hoped that nanobots might be used (for example) in medicine one day. The oft-cited application is the use of nanobots inserted inside the body to identify and destroy cancer cells.

39 Largest of the Society Islands : TAHITI

Tahiti is the most populous island in French Polynesia, which is located in the central Southern Pacific. Although Captain Cook landed in Tahiti in 1769, he wasn’t the first European to do so. However, Cook’s visit was the most significant in that it heralded a whole spate of European visitors, who brought with them prostitution, venereal disease and alcohol. Included among the subsequent visitors was the famous HMS Bounty under the charge of Captain Bligh.

The Society Islands (in French, “Îles de la Société”) are a group of islands in the South Pacific that are part of French Polynesia. It is thought that the islands were named by English explorer Captain James Cook in honor of the Royal Society. The Society Islands are divided into two groups: The Windward Islands (the most famous of which is Tahiti) and the Leeward Islands (which includes the island of Bora Bora).

40 Calculus AB or Physics C, e.g. : AP TEST

The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers college-level courses to kids who are still in high school (HS). After being tested at the end of an AP course, successful students receive credits that count towards a college degree.

41 Showbiz sappiness : SCHMALTZ

“Schmaltz” is an informal term used to describe things that are excessively sentimental. The word comes from the Yiddish “shmalts”, which means “melted fat”. Indeed, the modern German word for fat or grease is Schmaltz, and it can be used in the same figurative way in that language.

43 Bottle of rum go-with : YO-HO-HO!

The fictional sea shanty called “Dead Man’s Chest” was introduced in Robert Louis Stevenson’s great novel, “Treasure Island”. In the book, Stevenson only describes the chorus, which goes:

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest–
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest–
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

53 Snack item since 1912 : OREO

National Oreo Cookie Day is March 6th each year. There is an urban legend that the particular day was chosen as this was the day that the name “Oreo” was registered as a trademark. However, that’s not the case. The application was filed on March 14, 1912 and registration took place on August 12, 1913. The suggestion is that the first Oreos went on sale on March 6, 1912.

54 Fruit-bearing shrub known botanically as Prunus spinosa : SLOE

The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush, and the main flavoring ingredient in sloe gin. A sloe looks like a small plum, but is usually much more tart in taste.

56 Davy Jones was one : MONKEE

The Monkees pop group was assembled in 1966 specifically for a planned television series called “The Monkees”. The show aired from 1966 to 1968, and the band continued to perform in concerts until 1970. 20 years after the band was formed, there was a revival in interest for both the show and the band’s music, so the Monkees got together for several reunion tours. The lead singer of the group was Englishman Davy Jones, who passed away in February 2012.

Davy Jones was the apparent lead vocalist for the Monkees, but it was drummer Micky Dolenz who took the lead in most of their hit songs. Peter Tork was the band member who was portrayed as the “dumb one” on “The Monkees” television show, but he was far from a dummy. In the early days of the band, session musicians played all the instruments for the records, except Tork. Tork got to play his guitar. The things that are kept from us …

59 Portrayer of the lawyer Robert Shapiro in “The People v. O.J. Simpson” : TRAVOLTA

Actor, dancer and singer John Travolta got his first break playing student Vinnie Barbarino in the sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” in the seventies. While still on the TV show, Travolta showed off his dancing skills on two fabulous musical films: “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) and “Grease” (1978). His career then took a bit of a dip, before resurging again with his role in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino blockbuster “Pulp Fiction”.

“American Crime Story” is a true crime anthology TV series. Each season is a standalone mini-series. The first three seasons aired were:

  1. “The People v. O. J. Simpson”
  2. “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”
  3. “Impeachment” (the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal)

Down

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2 Bank regulator : LEVEE

A levee is an artificial bank, usually made of earth, that runs along the length of a river. It is designed to hold back river water at a time of potential flooding. “Levée” is the French word for “raised” and is an American term that originated in French-speaking New Orleans around 1720.

4 Accomplishes the impossible with cats : HERDS

The idiomatic phrase “herding cats” describes a futile attempt to control a group of people (perhaps) who are inherently uncontrollable. This phrase originated relatively recently, and appears to come from a line spoken in the 1979 film “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”. In the movie’s opening, three shepherds are discussing sheep, and move on to cats: “Can you imagine a herd of cats waiting to be sheared? Meow! Meow! Woo hoo hoo.”

5 Big inits. in payroll services : ADP

Automatic Data Processing (ADP) is an enterprise based in Roseland, New Jersey that provides business services to companies. The company was founded back in 1949 by Henry Taub as Automatic Payrolls, Inc.

6 Surround sound pioneer : DOLBY

The Dolby noise-reduction system was introduced in the 1960s by Dolby Laboratories, founded by engineer Ray Dolby. Basically, that initial Dolby noise-reduction system was designed to reduce background hiss heard on audio tapes.

Monophonic sound (“mono”) is sound reproduced using just one audio channel, which is usually played out of just one speaker. Stereophonic sound is reproduced using two audio channels, with the sound from each channel played out of two different speakers. The pair of stereo speakers are usually positioned apart from each other so that sound appears to come from between the two. Quadraphonic sound (4.0 surround sound) uses four audio channels with the sound played back through four speakers that are often positioned at the corners of the room in which one is listening.

8 They make up families : GENUSES

Taxonomy is the classification of organisms into groups or categories known as taxons (plural “taxa”). We are most familiar with the classification of organisms in the major taxonomic ranks (taxa):

  • Life
  • Domain
  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus (plural “genera”)
  • Species

9 Some shot : BBS

A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.070″ in diameter) to size FF (.230″). Birdshot that is size BB (0.180″ in diameter) gives the airgun its name.

10 Joey who doesn’t wear pants : ROO

A male kangaroo is known as a buck, jack or boomer. A female is called a jill, flyer or doe. A young kangaroo is a joey, and a group of kangaroos is a mob or troop.

13 Common kind of battery : NICAD

A NiCad rechargeable battery is so called because the electrodes are made of nickel oxide hydroxide (“Ni”) and metallic cadmium (“Cad”).

28 Big employer of U.S. mathematicians, in brief : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) runs an annual Codebreaker Challenge that is aimed mainly at the student population. As best I can tell, the focus of the challenge is reverse software engineering. Checking out the Codebreaker Challenge website suggests that the NSA runs this program in order to identify and attract potential new employees.

29 Something that may be toted on a tour : AMP

An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier (amp) to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.

32 Get drunk, formally : BESOT

Our word “sot” comes from the Old English “sott”, meaning “fool”. The word “sot” started to be associated with alcohol and not just foolery in the late 1500s. The derivative term “besotted” means “muddled with drunkenness”, or more figuratively “infatuated”.

36 Old telecom inits. : ITT

International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) was formed in 1920 from the Puerto Rico Telephone Company. ITT divested its telecommunications business in 1986, today the company is known for its products in the field of water and fluids management, as well motion and flow control. Many of ITT’s products are sold into the aerospace market.

37 Cheney of politics : LIZ

Liz Cheney is the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. She was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2016, representing the state of Woming’s single seat. Her father held that same seat for ten years. Watch this space …

41 Scottish sheepdog, informally : SHELTIE

The Shetland Islands in Scotland have given their name to a few breeds of animals, including Shetland cattle, Shetland ponies, Shetland sheep, Shetland sheepdogs and Shetland geese. The Shetlands lie about 110 miles northeast of the Scottish mainland.

42 Small-screen milestone of the 1950s : COLOR TV

Early television programming was broadcast in monochrome, i.e. black-and-white or grayscale. The introduction of color television built on the technology behind monochrome TV in the sense that color television images are a combination of three monochrome images. The colors of these three monochrome signals are red, green and blue (RGB).

44 Extra periods, for short : OTS

Overtime (OT)

49 Ring bearer of note : FRODO

Frodo Baggins is a principal character in J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”. Frodo is a Hobbit, and is charged with the quest of destroying Sauron’s Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Frodo is portrayed by American actor Elijah Wood in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the novels.

57 Antidiscrimination inits. : EEO

“Equal Employment Opportunity” (EEO) is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was set up by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.

58 Layer of green eggs : EMU

Emu eggs are very large, with a thick shell that is dark-green in color. One emu egg weighs about the same as a dozen chicken eggs. It is the male emu that incubates the eggs. The incubation period lasts about 8 weeks, during which time the male neither eats nor drinks, just lapping up any morning dew that is nearby. While incubating a clutch of eggs, male emus lose about a third of their weight.

60 Mover’s need, maybe : VAN

The vehicle we call a “van” takes its name from “caravan”, and so “van” is a shortened version of the older term. Back in the 1600s, a caravan was a covered cart. We still use the word “caravan” in Ireland to describe what we call a “mobile home” or “recreational vehicle” here in the US.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Team leader : ALPHA DOG
9 Aidy of “Saturday Night Live” : BRYANT
15 “Yeah, I’m breaking up with you” : WE’RE DONE
16 Kind of board at the beach : BOOGIE
17 Prepare for everything, maybe : OVERPLAN
18 Journalist’s secret : SOURCE
19 Bulrush, e.g. : REED
20 Zoom call background effect : BLUR
22 Coveted magic item in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” : BEAN
23 Retirement spots : DENS
24 “Absolutely!” : YES INDEEDY!
27 Check in : REPORT
28 Really tiny machines : NANOBOTS
34 Explosive feedback? : RECOIL
38 A heavy one may want a lighter : SMOKER
39 Largest of the Society Islands : TAHITI
40 Calculus AB or Physics C, e.g. : AP TEST
41 Showbiz sappiness : SCHMALTZ
43 Bottle of rum go-with : YO-HO-HO!
45 “I can’t say for sure” : HARD TO TELL
49 Gift tag word : FROM
53 Snack item since 1912 : OREO
54 Fruit-bearing shrub known botanically as Prunus spinosa : SLOE
55 Food you might eat in a bed : RICE
56 Davy Jones was one : MONKEE
59 Portrayer of the lawyer Robert Shapiro in “The People v. O.J. Simpson” : TRAVOLTA
61 Regard : ESTEEM
62 “You’re on!” : IT’S A DEAL!
63 “Who, me?” rejoinder : YES, YOU
64 A 50/50 chance … or a description of the lengths of this puzzle’s Across and Down answers, respectively : EVEN ODDS

Down

1 “Can we talk?,” tersely : A WORD
2 Bank regulator : LEVEE
3 Show vanity, in a way : PREEN
4 Accomplishes the impossible with cats : HERDS
5 Big inits. in payroll services : ADP
6 Surround sound pioneer : DOLBY
7 Ready : ON ALERT
8 They make up families : GENUSES
9 Some shot : BBS
10 Joey who doesn’t wear pants : ROO
11 “Absolutely!” : YOU BETCHA!
12 Match : AGREE
13 Common kind of battery : NICAD
14 Minute : TEENY
21 Light (into) : RIP
25 0° : NORTH
26 Free movie starring yourself? : DREAM
28 Big employer of U.S. mathematicians, in brief : NSA
29 Something that may be toted on a tour : AMP
30 ___ at all : NOT
31 “Yep, that’s fine” : OKEY DOKEY
32 Get drunk, formally : BESOT
33 Straight: Prefix : ORTHO-
35 Something you might strike : OIL
36 Old telecom inits. : ITT
37 Cheney of politics : LIZ
41 Scottish sheepdog, informally : SHELTIE
42 Small-screen milestone of the 1950s : COLOR TV
44 Extra periods, for short : OTS
45 Cozy : HOMEY
46 Popped up : AROSE
47 Signs a 48-Down : RENTS
48 See 47-Down : LEASE
49 Ring bearer of note : FRODO
50 All ___ up (irritated) : RILED
51 Eightsome : OCTAD
52 Board, so to speak : MEALS
57 Antidiscrimination inits. : EEO
58 Layer of green eggs : EMU
60 Mover’s need, maybe : VAN

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