Edited by: Rich Norris
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Today’s CROP of themed answers each start with a word that often follows BUMPER:
- 53A. Abundant farm yield … and what the first words of the answers to starred clues comprise? : BUMPER CROP
- 16A. *Feature of gated community entrances : GUARDHOUSE (giving “bumper guard”)
- 21A. *GEICO product : CAR INSURANCE (giving “bumper car”)
- 33A. *Plaything for a backyard swimming spot : POOL TOY (giving “bumper pool”)
- 44A. *Source of showroom shock? : STICKER PRICE (giving “bumper sticker”)
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
1. DEA agent : NARC
“Narc” is a slang term for a law enforcement officer who tracks down criminals associated with illegal drugs. “Narc” is short for “narcotics officer”. Narcs might work for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
5. Traveller in London’s Tube : BRIT
The official name “London Underground” is a little deceptive, as over half of the track system-wide is actually “over ground”, with the underground sections reserved for the central areas. It is the oldest subway system in the world, opening in 1863. It was also the first system to use electric rolling stock, in 1890. “The Tube”, as it is known by Londoners, isn’t the longest subway system in the world though. That honor belongs to the Shanghai Metro. My personal favorite part of the Tube is the Tube map! It is a marvel of design …
9. With 15-Across, Apple media player since 2005 : IPOD
15. See 9-Across : NANO
The iPod Nano is the successor to the iPod Mini and was introduced to the market at the end of 2005. There have been seven versions of the Nano to date and the current Nano as well as playing tunes is an FM player, records voice memos, has a pedometer and can connect with external devices (like a heart monitor, maybe) using Bluetooth technology.
14. Colorado-based brewery : COORS
Adolph Coors founded the Coors brewing company in 1873, in Golden, Colorado. Coors was originally from the Rhine Province in Prussia, and worked in various brewers around what is today Germany before immigrating to the US in 1868. Despite all of his success as a brewer here in America, Coors ended up taking his own life in 1929, by jumping to his death out of a hotel window.
16. *Feature of gated community entrances : GUARDHOUSE (giving “bumper guard”)
Bumper guards are the front and rear bumpers on a car.
19. Like checks, when splitting the tab : SEPARATE
When we “run a tab” at a bar say, we are “running a tabulation”, a listing of what we owe. Such a use of “tab” is American slang that originated in the 1880s.
20. Dungeness and Alaskan king : CRABS
Dungeness crabs are found of the west coast of North America. The species takes its name from the port of Dungeness in Washington state, although the port is named for a headland in the southwest of England called Dungeness.
Fishing for Alaskan king crab is a dangerous occupation, about 80 times more dangerous that the average job. Apparently, about one crab fisherman dies every week during the fishing season, mostly from drowning or hypothermia.
21. *GEICO product : CAR INSURANCE (giving “bumper car”)
GEICO was founded in 1936 with a very specific mission, to provide auto insurance for employees of the federal government and their families, hence the name Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO). GEICO is a private company, despite the word “government” in its name. The founders’ idea was to focus on government employees as they believed such a group represented a lower risk profile than the rest of the population. Nowadays any qualifying person can take out a policy with GEICO.
Bumper cars are a fairground ride comprising electrically-powered cars that are driven with the intent of bumping into each other. Invented in the US, one of the most successful brands of bumper car is the Dodgem. In fact, the term “dodgem” is used generically instead of “bumper car” outside of North America.
28. Adam’s grandson : ENOS
Enos was the son of Seth, and therefore the grandson of Adam and Eve. According to the ancient Jewish work called the Book of Jubilees, Enos married his own sister Noam.
29. “… disguised as Clark Kent, mild-__ reporter” : MANNERED
Superman’s comic book creators gave their title character’s alter-ego the name “Clark Kent” by melding the names of Clark Gable and Kent Taylor, two leading men of the cinema at the time Superman was created. However, they modeled Clark’s character more on the silent film actor Harold Lloyd.
32. Hoopla : ADO
The word “hoopla” means “boisterous excitement”. The term probably comes from “houp-là”, something the French say instead of “upsy-daisy”. Then again, “upsy-daisy” probably isn’t something said very often here in the US …
33. *Plaything for a backyard swimming spot : POOL TOY (giving “bumper pool”)
Bumper pool is a variant of pocket billiards that is played on a special pool table that includes cushioned obstacles (called “bumpers” on the surface. Several of the bumpers guard the pockets, which are actually circular holes in the playing surface.
36. Fifth month : MAY
The month of May was named after Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility.
39. Batman’s hideout : CAVE
Wayne Manor is where Bruce Wayne lives, the alter-ego of Batman. It is a huge manor that lies just outside Gotham City. Looking after the house is the Wayne family servant, Alfred. Beneath the grounds of the manor is an extensive cave system where Bruce Wayne put together his Batcave. Access is to the cave is via a staircase behind a hidden door. The door is opened by moving the hands of a non-functioning grandfather clock to 10:47, the time at which Wayne’s parents were murdered. It is the murder of his parents that sets Bruce off on his journey of crime fighting.
40. Donna Summer’s music : DISCO
Discotheques first appeared during WWII in Occupied France. American-style music (like jazz and jitterbug dances) was banned by the Nazis, so French natives met in underground clubs that they called discotheques where records were often played on just a single turntable. After the war, these clubs came out into the open. One famous Paris discotheque was called “Whiskey a Gogo”. In that Paris disco, non-stop music was played using two turntables next to a dance-floor, and this concept spread around the world.
Donna Summer is known as “The Queen of Disco”, with great hits like “Love to Love You, Baby”, “I Feel Love” and “Hot Stuff”. In the late sixties and early seventies, LaDonna Gaines (her real name) lived and worked in Germany. There she met and married an Austrian actor called Helmuth Sommer. They divorced not long after the marriage, but Donna kept his family name, just changing the “o” to “u” to give her the stage name of “Donna Summer”.
47. The Stones’ “__ Tonk Women” : HONKY
“Honky Tonk Women” is a 1969 song released by the Rolling Stones that topped the charts both in the US and the UK. The term “honky tonk women” refers to dancing girls who worked in a saloon. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards actually wrote the song while on vacation on a ranch in the city of Matão, Brazil.
56. Foreign relief org. created by JFK : USAID
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) was set up by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The agency’s mission is to end extreme poverty and promote democratic societies, while helping to advance the security and prosperity of the US.
57. Pac-12 sch. : UCLA
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) gets more applications from potential students than any other university in the country. UCLA also has more students enrolled than any other university in the state.
1. Badgers : NAGS
“To badger” is to harass. The term comes from the cruel practice of “badger-baiting”, which dates back to medieval times. Badger-baiting is a blood sport in which a dog is used as “bait” for a badger in its den, to draw him out into the open. The den is an artificial structure built to resemble a natural badgers’ den, complete with a tunnel entrance. The dog is sent down the tunnel causing the badger and dog to lock their jaws on each other. The badger and dog are then removed from the den by pulling on the dog’s tale. I am ashamed to say that badger-baiting is still practiced (illegally) in Ireland, with ten convictions in the courts over the past 20 years.
2. Fever with chills : AGUE
An ague is a fever, one usually associated with malaria.
3. Garner from the fields : REAP
A garner is a granary, a building in which grain is stored. The related verb “to garner” means to gather into a granary. We also use the verb figuratively to mean “accumulate, collect” in general.
6. City where Joan of Arc died : ROUEN
Rouen is the major city in Normandy in northern France. During the days of Norman Britain, Rouen was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties. Rouen was also where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431.
Joan of Arc (also “Jeanne d’Arc”, her birth name) led the French Army successfully into battle a number of times during the Hundred Years War with England. When she was eventually captured, Joan was tried in Rouen, the seat of the occupying English government in France at that time. There she was burned at the stake having been found guilty of heresy. In fact, after the fire died down, the executioner raked the coals to display the charred body, proving Joan had died, and then burned the corpse again, twice, so that relics could not be collected. The remaining ashes were then cast into the Seine River. Joan of Arc was canonized some 600 years later, in 1920, and is now one of the patron saints of France.
7. Tax form org. : IRS
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was set up during the Civil War to raise money to cover war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, the government was funded by levies on trade and property.
8. “The Waste Land” poet’s monogram : TSE
T. S. Eliot wrote his poem called “The Waste Land” in 1922. “The Waste Land” opens with the famous line, “April is the cruellest month …”
10. Like “X-Files” cases : PARANORMAL
“The X-Files” is a very successful science fiction show that aired on the Fox network from 1993 to 2002. The stars of the show are David Duchovny (playing Fox Mulder) and the very talented Gillian Anderson (playing Dana Scully). By the time the series ended, “The X-Files” was the longest running sci-fi show in US broadcast history. An “X-Files” reboot started airing in 2016 with Duchovny and Anderson reprising their starring roles.
11. Year before AD yrs. started : ONE BC
The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.
12. Wield a divining rod : DOWSE
Dowsing is the practice of divining, not just for water, but also for buried metals and gemstones. Often a dowser will use a Y-shaped or L-shaped rod as a tool, which can also be called a dowser. Here in the US, the tool used might be referred to as a “witching rod”, as it is usually made from witch-hazel.
17. Low, sturdy cart : DRAY
A dray is a sideless, 4-wheeled cart that is used for hauling goods.
20. Close friend : CRONY
A crony is a friend or companion. The term originated as slang in Cambridge University in England in the 1600s. “Crony” is probably derived from the Greek “khronios” meaning “long-lasting”.
29. Chicago Fire’s org. : MLS
The Chicago Fire is the name of the city’s Major League Soccer (MLS) team. The Fire were founded in 1997, and are named for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
34. Fairy tale start : ONCE
The stock phrase “Once upon a time” has been used in various forms as the start of a narrative at least since 1380. The stock phrase at the end of stories such as folktales is often “and they all lived happily ever after”. The earlier version of this ending was “happily until their deaths”.
35. Skunk’s defense : ODOR
Skunks have anal scent glands that can be used as defensive weapons. The glands produce sulfur-containing chemicals that have a really awful smell and that can irritate the eyes and skin.
39. Close-cropped hair style : CREW CUT
The term “crew cut” probably originated in Yale in the 1890s. The Yale football players were noted for wearing their hair relatively long, as it helped protect their heads inside the flimsy leather football helmets of the day. In contrast, the rowing team wore their hair relatively short, in a style that came to be known as the “crew cut”.
41. Apprehensive : TREPID
Our word “trepidation”, meaning “fear”. comes from the Latin verb “tridare” meaning “to tremble”.
46. Image maker, briefly : PR MAN
Public relations (PR)
50. 1970 Kinks hit : LOLA
“Lola” is a fabulous song, written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks back in 1970. Inspired by a real life incident, the lyrics tell of young man who met a young “lady” in a club, danced with her, and then discovered “she” was actually a transvestite. The storyline isn’t very traditional, but the music is superb.
The Kinks were an English band who participated in the British Invasion of America in the sixties, although only briefly. After touring the US in the middle of 1965, the American Federation of Musicians refused permits for the Kinks to book concerts for four years, apparently in response to some rowdy on-stage behavior by the band.
53. Fella : BUB
“Bub” is American slang, a term used to address males. “Bub” is possibly a variation of “bud”.