Edited by: Rich Norris
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Each of today’s themed answers starts with a type of SEATING:
- 62A. Wedding reception headache … and what the starts of the answers to starred clues constitute? : SEATING PLAN
- 17A. *Sub in the dugout : BENCHWARMER (giving “bench”)
- 25A. *TV addict with a remote : COUCH POTATO (giving “couch”)
- 37A. *Largest of the Quad Cities : DAVENPORT, IOWA (giving “davenport”)
- 54A. *Car section under the passenger compartment : ROCKER PANEL (giving “rocker”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. Child in a kitchen : JULIA
Julia Child was an American chef who is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public. During WWII, Julia Child joined the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the predecessor to the CIA. She worked for the OSS in Washington, Ceylon and China. While in the OSS, she met her husband Paul Child who was also an OSS employee. Paul joined the Foreign Service after the war, and it was his posting to France that created the opportunity for Julie to learn about French cuisine. If you haven’t seen it, I highly, highly recommend the movie “Julie & Julia”, one of the best films of 2009. Meryl Streep does a fabulous job playing the larger-than-life Julia Child.
11. Auditing pro : CPA
Certified public accountant (CPA)
14. African antelope : ELAND
An eland is a large African antelope, in fact the largest on the continent. Both male and female elands have horns, and those horns have a steady spiral ridge along their length.
15. Gymnast Comaneci : NADIA
Nadia Comaneci won three golds in the 1976 Summer Olympics and was the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of a ten in the gymnastics competition. Comaneci published a book called “Letters to a Young Gymnast” in 2003, and now lives in the United States.
17. *Sub in the dugout : BENCHWARMER (giving “bench”)
A dugout is an underground shelter. The term was carried over to baseball because the dugout is slightly depressed below the level of the field. This allows spectators behind the dugout to get a good view of home plate, where a lot of the action takes place.
23. Org. created the same year as the first Earth Day : EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was set up during the Nixon administration and began operation at the end of 1970.
Earth Day was founded in the US, where it was introduced by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Earth Day was designed to increase awareness and appreciation of our planet’s natural environment. The original Earth Day was on April 22nd, 1970. Decades later, the day is observed in over 175 countries.
32. Alma mater of many Oxford students : ETON
The world-famous Eton College is just a brisk walk from Windsor Castle, which itself is just outside London. Eton is noted for producing many British leaders including David Cameron who took power in the last UK general election. The list of Old Etonians also includes Princes William and Harry, the Duke of Wellington, George Orwell, and the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming (as well as 007 himself as described in the Fleming novels).
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The exact date of the school’s founding is uncertain, although teaching was recorded there as early as 1096. Back in the early 1200s, the authorities from the town of Oxford hanged two Oxford University scholars following the death of a woman. There followed a dispute between the townsfolk and the university that resulted in many academics leaving Oxford. Many ended up in Cambridge, leading to the founding of the University of Cambridge in 1209. The two universities a similar status today, and are often referred to jointly as “Oxbridge”.
The literal translation for the Latin term “alma mater” is “nourishing mother”. The phrase was used in Ancient Rome to refer to mother goddesses, and in Medieval Christianity the term was used to refer to the Virgin Mary. Nowadays, one’s alma mater is the school one attended, either high school or college, usually one’s last place of education.
37. *Largest of the Quad Cities : DAVENPORT, IOWA (giving “davenport”)
Davenport, Iowa sits on the Mississippi River. The city was founded in 1836 by landowner and businessman Antoine LeClaire, with the assistance of a group of investors. The investors resisted the use of LeClaire’s name for the new settlement as LeClaire was of mixed race, had a French name and was a Catholic. Instead, it was named for George Davenport, one of the other investors.
The Quad Cities are a group of five cities located on the Iowa-Illinois border and on either side of the Mississippi River. The Iowa cities are Davenport and Bettendorf, and the Illinois cities are Rock Island, Moline and East Moline. The grouping was originally just three cities (Davenport, Rock Island and Moline) and used the name “Tri-Cities”. This changed to “Quad Cities” as East Moline grew to a size comparable to the original three cities. With the growth of Bettendorf, the list of linked cities became five. There has been talk of changing the name to “Quint Cities”, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on.
The word “davenport”, when used to mean a sofa, is one of those generic terms that evolved for an item from the name of a prominent manufacturer. The long-gone Davenport Company sold a lot of furniture in the midwest and upstate New York, so the term is especially common in that part of the country.
44. India’s first prime minister : NEHRU
Jawaharlal Nehru was the very first prime minister of India, serving from 1947-64. Nehru was basically the heir to his mentor Mahatma Gandhi. Nehru’s only daughter Indira, also became prime minister (known as Indira Gandhi through marriage, though she was no relation to Mahatma).
46. Candy sold in pairs : TWIX
I remember Twix bars from way back in 1967 when they were introduced in the British Isles. Twix bars made it to the US over a decade later, in 1979. The name “Twix” is a portmanteau of “twin bix”, short for “twin biscuit”.
50. Productive city for van Gogh : ARLES
Quite a few years ago now, I had the privilege of living just a short car-ride from the beautiful city of Arles in the South of France. Although Arles has a long and colorful history, the Romans had a prevailing influence over the city’s design. Arles has a spectacular Roman amphitheater, arch, circus as well as old walls that surround the center of the city. In more modern times, it was a place Vincent van Gogh often visited, and was where he painted many of his most famous works, including “Cafe Terrace at Night” and “Bedroom in Arles”.
53. Speaker’s podium : DAIS
Ultimately our word “dais”, meaning “raised platform for a speaker”, comes from the Latin “discus” meaning a “disk-shaped object”. I guess that the original daises had such a shape.
“Podium” (plural “podia”) is the Latin word for “raised platform”.
54. *Car section under the passenger compartment : ROCKER PANEL (giving “rocker”)
The rocker panels (sometimes just “rockers” or “sills”)) are the sections of a car’s body that run right under the door openings. The term “rocker panel” is a throwback to the days of horse-drawn carriages. Back then, a carriage was often constructed like a box with a smaller box below into which the seated passengers placed their feet. Such a design was deemed awkward-looking and inelegant and so panels were added below the doors to give a curved, appealing look to the base of the carriage. The resulting curved outline at the base of the carriage was reminiscent of the base of a rocking cradle, leading to the term “rocker panel”.
57. Indent key : TAB
Like most features on our computer keyboards, the tab key is a hangover from the days of typewriters. When using a typewriter, making entries into a table was very tedious, involving lots of tapping on the spacebar and backspace key. So, a lever was added to typewriters that allowed the operator to “jump” across the page to positions that could be set by hand. Later this was simplified to a tab key which could be depressed, causing the carriage to jump to the next tab stop in much the same way that the modern tab key works on a computer.
69. “Snowy” bird : EGRET
The snowy egret is a small white heron, native to the Americas. At one time the egret species was in danger of extinction due to hunting driven by the demand for plumes for women’s hats.
70. West, to Juan : OESTE
The cardinal directions in Spanish are “norte” (north), “este” (east), “sur” (south) and “oeste” (west).
71. IRS deadline mo. : APR
April 15th wasn’t always Tax Day in the US. The deadline for returns was March 1st from 1913-18, when it was moved to March 15th. Tax Day has been April 15th since 1955.
1. Bush of Florida : JEB
Jeb Bush is the son of President George H. W. Bush, and the brother of President George W. Bush. I always thought that Jeb was an American nickname for James or Joseph but I must be wrong, because George and Barbara’s son John Ellis Bush is called “Jeb”. A kind blog reader has suggested the the name “Jeb” may have been chosen as JEB are the initials of John Ellis Bush.
3. Alaska’s is the largest of the 50 states : LAND AREA
The largest US states by land area are, in order:
- New Mexico
The smallest US states are:
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
5. For a special purpose : AD HOC
The Latin phrase “ad hoc” means “for this purpose”. An ad hoc committee, for example, is formed for a specific purpose and is disbanded after making its final report.
8. Nav. leader : ADM
10. Slow tempo : LARGO
“Largo” is a instruction to play a piece of music with a very slow tempo. “Largo” is the Italian word for “broadly”.
12. Fast tempo : PRESTO
On a musical score, the instruction “presto” is used to indicate a fast tempo. “Presto” is the Italian word for “quick”.
22. Salt Lake City collegian : UTE
The Utah Utes are the athletic teams of the University of Utah.
24. Atlantic Ocean, to Brits : POND
The Atlantic Ocean has been referred to as “the pond” for quite a long time. The expression dates back to the 1640s.
26. Top-selling Toyota : COROLLA
Toyota management likes the idea of naming their cars after the word “crown”, as they did with the Toyota Crown, followed by the Toyota Corona (Latin for crown), the Toyota Corolla (Latin for small crown), and the Toyota Camry (Japanese for crown).
30. Driver’s lic. issuer : DMV
In most states, the government agency responsible for vehicle registration and the issuing of driver’s licenses is called the DMV. This initialism usually stands for the Department of Motor Vehicles, but there are “variations on the theme”. For example, in Arizona the responsible agency is called the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), and in Colorado the familiar abbreviation “DMV” stands for Division of Motor Vehicles.
39. Robber, to a cop : PERP
In cop-speak, a “perp” (perpetrator) might prey on a a “vic” (victim).
40. 20-volume ref. : OED
Work started on what was to become the first “Oxford English Dictionary” (OED) in 1857. Several interim versions of the dictionary were published in the coming years with the first full version appearing, in ten bound volumes, in 1928. The second edition of the OED appeared in 1989 and is made up of twenty volumes. The OED was first published in electronic form in 1988 and went online in 2000. Given the modern use of computers, the publishing house responsible feels that there will never be a third print version of the famous dictionary.
45. Port on a PC : USB
Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.
46. Country singer Yearwood : TRISHA
Trisha Yearwood is an American country music singer. She was discovered by the man who is now her third husband, country music legend Garth Brooks.
49. Classic Jaguar : XKE
XKand XKE are models of Jaguar motor car.
Auto manufacturer Jaguar started out as a manufacturer of sidecars for motorcycles back in 1922, when the company was known as the Swallow Sidecar Company (SS for short). The company changed its name to Jaguar after WWII, because of the unfortunate connotations of the letters “SS” in that era (i.e. the Nazi paramilitary organization).
55. Ford failure : EDSEL
The Edsel brand of automobile was named for Edsel, son of Henry Ford. Sadly, the name “Edsel” has become synonymous with “failure”, which was no fault of Edsel himself who had died several years before the Edsel line was introduced. When the Ford Motor Company introduced the Edsel on 4 September 1957, Ford proclaimed the day to be “E Day”.
56. Nigerian city that’s Africa’s most populous : LAGOS
Lagos is a port and the biggest city in Nigeria. Lagos used to be the country’s capital, until it was replaced in that role in 1991 by Abuja, a city built for just for this purpose. Lagos is also the most populous city in the whole of Africa (followed by Cairo in Egypt).
65. Vietnamese New Year : TET
The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.