LA Times Crossword Answers 14 Aug 15, Friday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Jeffrey Wechsler
THEME: Leapin’ Lizards! … today’s grid features four sets of circled letters, with each spelling out a type of LIZARD. And, the arrangement of the letters hints at them LEAPING into the air. The four LIZARDS are:

– GECKO
– SKINK
– MONITOR
– CHAMELEON

34A. Classic comics catchphrase … and a hint to four sets of puzzle circles LEAPIN’ LIZARDS!

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 26m 23s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 3 … ATACAMA (Atacata), SAMISEN (samisin), MED (TID!!!)

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

5. Place for oysters BED
Pearls form in oysters because of a reaction that is similar to an immune system response in higher animals. The pearl is formed as the oysters lays down successive layers of calcium carbonate around some microscopic foreign body that has penetrated the shell.

12. Beef __: dish sometimes made with Guinness IN ALE
Guinness is the most popular beer sold in Ireland. The beer is a stout and has that famous creamy white head, a result of mixing the beer with nitrogen as it is poured. You can also buy Guinness that has no nitrogen, which is sold in bottles bearing the the name Guinness Export. This carbonated version of the beer has a very different taste, and is my personal favorite …

14. Enzyme suffix -ASE
Enzymes are basically catalysts, chemicals that act to increase the rate of a particular chemical reaction. For example, starches will break down into sugars over time, especially under the right conditions. However, in the presence of the enzyme amylase (found in saliva) this production of sugar happens very, very quickly.

17. Record number, briefly RPM
Revolutions per minute (rpm)

18. Hides SKINS
Both the verb “to hide” and the noun “hide”, meaning “skin”, derive from the Old English “hyd” meaning “skin”. The idea is that “to hide” something is similar to covering it with a skin.

19. Higher ed challenge GRE
Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is usually a requirement for entry into graduate school here in the US.

23. Hägar creator Browne DIK
“Hagar the Horrible” is a comic strip that was created by the late Dik Browne and is now drawn by his son, Chris Browne. “Hagar the Terrible” (not “Horrible”) was the nickname given to Dik by his sons. Hage of the comic strip lives with his wife Hagar Horrible, their children Hamlet and Honi, and their dog Snert.

24. Emperor before Vitellius OTHO
Otho was Emperor of Rome for only three months, before he committed suicide. It is thought that Otho killed himself as a gesture intended to avoid a civil war.

Vitellius was the Emperor of Rome for only eight months, in the year 69 CE, which was known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Otho succeeded Galba and Otho, both of whom only ruled for a matter of months. Vitellius’s claim to the throne was disputed, which led to civil war after which Vitellius abdicated to allow Vespasian to become emperor. Abdication was not enough for Vespasian’s soldiers, who executed Vitellius anyway.

28. “Runaround Sue” singer DION
The singer and songwriter Dion DiMucci went by the stage name of just “Dion”. Dion’s most successful year was 1961, when he released his big hits “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer”.

29. Path lead-in OSTEO-
The healthcare discipline known as osteopathy was founded in 1892 by an American physician who opened up the first school of osteopathy in 1892 in Kirksville, Missouri. Osteopaths emphasise the role played by the musculoskeletal system in health and disease.

31. Setting for a Tony-winning Miller play SALEM
“The Crucible” is a 1952 play by Arthur Miller that tells the story of the Salem witch trials. Miller wrote it as an allegory for the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings that were being chaired by Senator Joe McCarthy around that time. Miller was called before the Committee himself, and was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to “name names”.

34. Classic comics catchphrase … and a hint to four sets of puzzle circles LEAPIN’ LIZARDS!
“Leapin’ lizards!” and “Gee whiskers” are two catchphrases of Little Orphan Annie.

46. What Barry White often sings? BASS
Barry White was a singer-songwriter from Texas who grew up in South Central Los Angeles. White has a rough start to life and ended up in jail at 17 for stealing Cadillac tires. It was while in prison that White was inspired to begin a musical career, after listening Elvis Presley on record singing “It’s Now or Never”. White’s greatest chart success was in the mid-seventies, with recordings such as “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” and “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything”.

50. Cosmic clouds NEBULAE
In astronomical terms a nebula is a cloud of dust and ionized gases (“nebula” is the Latin for “cloud”). Many nebulae form as gases collapse in on themselves under the influence of enormous gravitational forces. Ultimately these collapses can result in the creation of new stars.

54. Fireplace wood BEECH
Beech wood is prized as firewood as it burns for many hours with a bright flame and is easily split.

56. South American desert ATACAMA
Even deserts get rain at some point in the year, with very few exceptions. One of those exceptions is the Atacama Desert in South America, which receives no rain at all.

61. Plucked Japanese instrument SAMISEN
A samisen is a traditional Japanese instrument, with three strings, vaguely like a banjo. The samisen is played with a plectrum that is called a bachi.

63. Sci-fi staples ETS
Extraterrestrial (ET)

Down
1. Self-important authoritarians TIN GODS
A “tin god” is a person who claims authority and is full of self-importance. The use of “tin” is apt as it is a base metal with relatively little value.

2. __ navigation: aerospace guidance system INERTIAL
Inertial navigation systems track location relative to a starting point by using gyroscopes and accelerometers to measure motion.

3. Wingtip feature LACE HOLE
A brogue is more commonly called a wingtip here in the US, I think. The shoe design originated in Ireland and Scotland, and “brog” the Irish word (and similar Scottish word) for shoe gives rise to the name. The brogue/wingtip design includes decorative perforations in the leather uppers. The toe cap of a brogue curves back in a shape that suggest the tip of a bird’s wing, hence the alternative name.

4. Rockies grazer ELK
The elk (also known as the wapiti) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the “huge” wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely “elk”. The more correct name for the beast is “wapiti”, which means “white rump” in Shawnee. It’s all very confusing …

5. Some nobility BARONS
In Britain, there are five ranks of peer, namely duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron, in descending order.

6. Lively wit ESPRIT
Our word “esprit”, meaning “liveliness of mind”, comes to us from Latin via French. The Latin “spiritus” means “spirit.

8. Albanian coin LEK
The official currency of Albania is called the lek. The first lek was introduced in 1926, and was apparently named after Alexander the Great.

11. Navajo craftwork products BASKETS
There are more speakers of the Navajo (also “Navaho”) language than any other Native American language north of the US-Mexico border. Famously, the Navajo language was used by the “code talkers” in the Pacific Theater during WWII to send secure communications by radio. These Navajo “coded” messages were used in fast tactical communications, with one bilingual Navajo speaker talking over the radio to another speaker, and the two acting as translators at either end of the conversation. The Navajo code was never broken by the Japanese.

13. That, in Madrid ESO
Madrid is the largest city in Spain and the capital. Madrid is located very close to the geographical center of the country. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (after London and Paris). People from Madrid called themselves Madrileños.

15. Rejects, usually: Abbr. MSS
Manuscript (MS)

21. Laurel and Hardy, e.g. DUO
Stan Laurel was an English comic actor (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson), who made a great career for himself in Hollywood. Laurel ended up at the Hal Roach studio directing films, intent on pursuing a career in writing and directing. However, he was a sometime actor and was asked to step in when another comic actor, Oliver Hardy, was injured and couldn’t perform. Laurel and Hardy started to share a stage together during that time and when it was clear they worked so well together, their partnership was born. Oh, and the oft-quoted story that Clint Eastwood is the son of Stan Laurel … that’s just an urban myth.

22. 1941 FDR creation USO
The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (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.

25. Selective Service status ONE-A
The US government maintains information on all males who are potentially subject to military conscription, using what is called the Selective Service System(SS). In the event that a draft was held, men registered would be classified into groups to determine eligibility for service. Class 1-A registrants are those available for unrestricted military service. Other classes are 1-A-O (conscientious objector available for noncombatant service), 4-A (registrant who has completed military service) and 4-D (Minister of religion).

27. “__ a Thousand Tongues to Sing”: Christian hymn O FOR
“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” is a Christian hymn penned by Charles Wesley in 1739.

32. USMC enforcers MPS
The Military Police (MPs) often track down personnel who go AWOL (absent without leave).

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is the smallest of the four branches in the US Department of Defense (DOD).

37. Corrosive material LYE
What we call “lye” is usually sodium hydroxide, although historically the term was used for potassium hydroxide. Lye has many uses, including to cure several foodstuffs. Lye can make olives less bitter, for example. The chemical is also found in canned mandarin oranges, pretzels and Japanese ramen noodles. More concentrated grades of lye are used to clear drains and clean ovens. Scary …

38. Key ISLE
A “key” (also “cay”) is a low island offshore, as in the Florida Keys. Our term in English comes from the Spanish “cayo” meaning “shoal, reef”.

39. Big name in jewelry ZALE
The first Zales jewelry store was opened by Morris and William Zale and Ben Lipshy in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1924. Zales became successful largely by offering credit to their customers, a revolutionary concept at the time.

44. Stanley who plays Flickerman in “The Hunger Games” TUCCI
Stanley Tucci is a favorite actor of mine. Of his many fine performances, I really liked him in 2009’s “Julie & Julia” in which he plays the husband of celebrity chef Julia Child. Tucci is quite the cook himself in real life and released “The Tucci Cookbook” in 2012. He is also a co-owner of the Finch Tavern restaurant in Croton Falls, New York.

“The Hunger Games” is a 2008 novel by Suzanne Collins, the first in a trilogy of titles that also includes “Catching Fire” (2009) and “Mockingjay” (2010). “The Hunger Games” was adapted into a very successful movie released in 2012, with the sequels following soon after.

46. Sommelière’s suggestion BLANC
“Sommelier” is the French word for a wine steward. If that steward(ess) is a female, then the French term is “sommelière”.

49. Sonnet part SESTET
A sestet is a group of six lines of poetry similar to a quatrain, a group of four lines.

A sonnet is a short poem with varying rhyming schemes but always with 14 lines. The sonnet form has been around at least since the 13th century. The Shakespearean sonnet, for example, is composed of three quatrains (4 lines) and a final couplet (2 lines).

51. Tibet University city LHASA
Tibet University has two campuses, one in the capital city of Lhasa, and the other in Nyingchi.

57. Rx spec MED
There seems to some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.

59. Nice word MOT
“Mot” is the French for “word”.

The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera.

60. Geisha’s band OBI
The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied in what is called a butterfly knot.

The Japanese term “geisha” best translates as “artist” or “performing artist”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Game piece TILE
5. Place for oysters BED
8. Perch, at times LIMB
12. Beef __: dish sometimes made with Guinness IN ALE
14. Enzyme suffix -ASE
15. Social __ MEDIA
16. Narrow landforms NECKS
17. Record number, briefly RPM
18. Hides SKINS
19. Higher ed challenge GRE
20. Aromatic ODOROUS
23. Hägar creator Browne DIK
24. Emperor before Vitellius OTHO
26. Yards, e.g. UNITS
27. Rude look OGLE
28. “Runaround Sue” singer DION
29. Path lead-in OSTEO-
30. Pace maker? FOOT
31. Setting for a Tony-winning Miller play SALEM
33. Cheers ROOTS
34. Classic comics catchphrase … and a hint to four sets of puzzle circles LEAPIN’ LIZARDS!
40. Patronizes, as a hotel STAYS AT
41. Hold on a diner order OMIT
45. Common sense SMELL
46. What Barry White often sings? BASS
50. Cosmic clouds NEBULAE
52. Slithery EELLIKE
54. Fireplace wood BEECH
55. Relief provider OASIS
56. South American desert ATACAMA
59. Like some landscape paintings MOONLIT
61. Plucked Japanese instrument SAMISEN
62. Bleepworthy OBSCENE
63. Sci-fi staples ETS
64. Calculate, in a way ADD
65. See 35-Down TIE
66. U.S. Army E-5 SGT

Down
1. Self-important authoritarians TIN GODS
2. __ navigation: aerospace guidance system INERTIAL
3. Wingtip feature LACE HOLE
4. Rockies grazer ELK
5. Some nobility BARONS
6. Lively wit ESPRIT
7. Punish for a military rules violation, perhaps DEMOTE
8. Albanian coin LEK
9. “Yay, me!” I DID GOOD!
10. Small currency-market trading quantities MINI-LOTS
11. Navajo craftwork products BASKETS
13. That, in Madrid ESO
15. Rejects, usually: Abbr. MSS
21. Laurel and Hardy, e.g. DUO
22. 1941 FDR creation USO
25. Selective Service status ONE-A
27. “__ a Thousand Tongues to Sing”: Christian hymn O FOR
32. USMC enforcers MPS
33. Singer? RAT
35. With 65-Across, soccer game cry IT’S A
36. Word before or after brand NAME
37. Corrosive material LYE
38. Key ISLE
39. Big name in jewelry ZALE
41. Distracting the pitcher, maybe ON BASE
42. Use for a rendezvous MEET AT
43. Steel girders I-BEAMS
44. Stanley who plays Flickerman in “The Hunger Games” TUCCI
46. Sommelière’s suggestion BLANC
47. Theatrical features AISLES
48. It may be freestyle SKIING
49. Sonnet part SESTET
51. Tibet University city LHASA
53. Free LOOSE
57. Rx spec MED
58. Furthermore AND
59. Nice word MOT
60. Geisha’s band OBI

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10 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword Answers 14 Aug 15, Friday”

  1. After a while, the theme presented itself well. But too many errors to declare any sort of victory today, especially in the NW. And the thing is: in hindsight, these words were not all that difficult. I'm beginning to suspect there is a psychological angle to the weekend grids. I just think to myself, "Oh poo…it's Friday–this is gonna hurt." I rarely heard about Annie as a kid.

    My knowledge of the ATACAMA desert recalls that its topography (between two mountain ranges) make it so arid, rain has not fallen for over 500 years. Ouch.

    Anyone want some coffee?

  2. @Willie D Take consolation in that this time you're one up on Bill, who apparently didn't know ATACAMA –and neither did I. I also somehow failed to notice the M and R in MONITOR and so ended up looking up ONITO in the dictionary, with predictable results.

  3. For a long time I thought I wasn't going to get that NE corner to fall, but eventually it did. The key to getting it was finally discarding my approach to solving 8 Across "Perch at times" for which I had put in "sill" and to finally get the correct answer "limb" which then led to "baskets" going down for Navajo craft work products.

    This was a very challenging puzzle and I have a feeling of a well won victory at having gotten it finally. I'll probably be smug for the rest of today and right up until tomorrow when the Saturday puzzle will kick my apostrophe to the curb.

    Hope everyone has a great Friday. See you all tomorrow.

  4. Not your fault, of course, but the correct name for a "Japanese plucked instrument" is "shamisen." In hiragana, it's spelled with the characters "shi, small ya, mi, se and n. The shi and small ya give the sound "sha" when I lived in Japan, I studied shamisen very briefly. I was absolutely dreadful!

  5. Your definition of a Shakespearean sonnet is somewhat incorrect. You have described English sonnet. A Shakespearean sonnet is an English sonnet written by Shakespeare. Only Shakespeare can write a Shakespearean sonnet…

  6. Great Leapin Horny Toads that was tough. I thought Yosemite Sam was the one who said LEAPIN LIZARDS, but apparently he never did. Great leapin horny toads was one of his claims to fame.

    Finished eventually but with help. Tony will have to be smug enough to cover for me this Friday.

    The layout of this puzzle did us no favors. It was almost 6 separate small puzzles. Solving one part didn't help much in getting started in the next section. One or two letters. That was it.

    There is a great documentary about Sommeliers that came out a few years ago called Somm. It's about 4 guys studying to become "Master Sommeliers" and shows how grueling that exam is. I think at the time they made the movie, only 170 people in the world had ever passed the exam. Absolutely amazing what these guys went through to basically learn every wine on the planet, everything about them, how to identify them all in blind taste tests…etc..etc. I highly recommend it.

    Best –

  7. @Bill – I think what kurt gravenhorst was getting at above is that "A sestet is the name given to the second division of an Italian sonnet (as opposed to an English or Spenserian Sonnet), which must consist of an octave, of eight lines, succeeded by a sestet, of six lines." So this answer must refer to an Italian sonnet and not an English sonnet.

  8. The puzzle was easier than the theory of relativity – which I don't even pretend to understand. I have to just marvel at the general knowledge and word association of others.

    A small nit :- RE: Dik Brown, who is from N E Ohio. Hagar's wife is Helga, son Hamlet ( 10 yr old ?) , daughter Honi ( 16 yr old – ), dog Snert, and Duck ( german – !) Kvack. Honi's boyfriend is Lute. Hamlet also has a little girl who has domestic plans on her mind, and she is Hernia. Obviously, I used to read his comics faithfully. I'm especially fond of his tax collector – 'The Tax Collector'. Also there is 'Lucky Eddie' – who is anything but lucky.

    ATACAMA desert lack of rainfall and aridity also had the greatest concentration of Sodium Nitrate ( the precursor to the gunpowder explosive, Potassium Nitrate ). Sod Nitrate was one of their most important exports prior to the WW I.

    Enough speechifing. Have a nice weekend all.
    Vidwan827

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