LA Times Crossword Answers 2 Dec 15, Wednesday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Alan DerKazarian
THEME: Bears Down … each of themed answers today is in the DOWN-direction, and each starts with a type of BEAR:

55A. Focuses even harder … and a hint to the starts of the answers to starred clues BEARS DOWN

3D. *Rhode Island school BROWN UNIVERSITY (giving “BROWN BEAR”)
5D. *Like Southern California beaches SUN-DRENCHED (giving “SUN BEAR”)
11D. *Title female “trying to make a devil out of me,” in a Santana hit BLACK MAGIC WOMAN (giving “BLACK BEAR”)
24D. *One of two cold atmospheric cyclones POLAR VORTEX (giving “POLAR BEAR”)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 8m 36s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. “Mamma Mia!” group ABBA
The hit musical “Mamma Mia!” was written to showcase the songs of ABBA. I’m a big fan of ABBA’s music, so I’ve seen this show a couple of times and just love it. “Mamma Mia!” is such a big hit on the stage that on any given day there are at least seven performances going on somewhere in the world. There is a really interesting film version of the show that was released in 2008. I think the female lead Meryl Streep is wonderful in the movie, but the male leads … not so much! By the way, one can tell the difference between “Mamma Mia” the ABBA song and “Mamma Mia!” the musical, by noting the difference in the punctuation in the titles.

14. Talking iPhone feature SIRI
Siri is software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. You’ve probably seen the ads on television, with folks talking to their iPhones asking for information and responding with a voice. I hear that Google is a little scared by Siri, as Siri is non-visual. There’s no need to touch a screen or a keyboard to work with Siri, no opportunity to click on one of Google’s ads! By the way, voice-over artist Susan Bennett recently revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

15. Destroyer destroyer U-BOAT
U-boat stands for the German “Unterseeboot” (undersea boat). Notably, a U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania in 1915, an event that helped propel the US into WWI.

17. __ smasher ATOM
Nowadays we call an “atom smasher” a “particle accelerator”. The accelerator creates highly focused beams of fast-moving ions, then “smashes” them into various atoms, producing new particles from the collision. Important work, apparently …

19. Hindu deity RAMA
In the Hindu tradition, the god known as Vishnu has seven different avatars i.e. incarnations or manifestations. Rama is the seventh of these avatars.

25. Seasonal malady FLU
Influenza (flu) is an ailment that is caused by a virus. The virus is readily inactivated by the use of soap, so washing hands and work surfaces is especially helpful in containing flu outbreaks.

30. Shakespearean fairy queen MAB
In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Mercutio refers to the fairy known as Queen Mab. It seems that Queen Mab was Shakespeare’s creation, although she became popular in subsequent works of literature. For example, she is referred to in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, in Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”, and Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote a large poetic work called “Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem”.

33. Large-leafed tree LINDEN
Linden trees are also called lime trees and basswood trees.

35. Batman portrayer Kilmer VAL
Val Kilmer’s first big leading role in a movie was playing Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic “The Doors”. A few years later, Kilmer was chosen for the lead in another big production, “Batman Forever”. Things haven’t really gone as well for Kilmer since then, I’d say. Off the screen, he flirted with the idea of running for Governor of New Mexico in 2010. A Hollywood actor as a Governor? Would never happen …

36. Skating commentator Lipinski TARA
When American skater Tara Lipinski won the figure skating gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, she was only 15 years old. To this day, Lipinski is the youngest person to win an individual gold at the Winter Games.

38. Dishes for company CHINA
The ceramic known as “porcelain” can be referred to as “china” or “fine china”, as porcelain was developed in China.

41. Golfer Ballesteros SEVE
Seve Ballesteros was a very entertaining golfer from Spain, once ranked as the world’s number one player. Sadly, Ballesteros died from brain cancer in 2011, at the age of 54.

45. Charlemagne’s realm: Abbr. HRE
Pepin the Short (aka Pepin the Younger, Pepin III) was Duke of the Franks from 751 to 768. Pepin expanded the Frankish Empire and then law dictated that he had to leave the Empire divided between his two sons, Carloman I and Charlemagne. Carloman I was given lands that were centered around Paris, and Charlemagne was given lands that completely surrounded his brothers territory. So it fell to Charlemagne to defend and extend the borders of the empire. It is because of this division of power that it’s Charlemagne who we read about today, not Carloman I. It was Emperor Charlemagne who in effect founded the Holy Roman Empire (HRE).

46. Avant-garde NEW-WAVE
People described as avant-garde are especially innovative. “Avant-garde” is French for “advance guard”.

53. Syria’s Bashar al-__ ASSAD
Dr. Bashar al-Assad is the current President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the son of the former President Hafez al-Assad whom he replaced in 2001. President Assad is a medical doctor, speaks fluent English and conversational French. Assad was studying ophthalmology in London when he met his wife, who is an Englishwoman.

59. Letters after phis CHIS
The Greek letter “chi” is the one that looks like our “X”.

60. “The Planets” composer HOLST
Despite the Scandinavian-sounding name, Gustav Holst was born in Britain and was the most English of classical composers. His most famous work is the orchestral suite known as ‘The Planets”. The suite has seven movements, one for each of the planets known at the time (1914-1916) except Earth. Pluto was discovered during Holst’s lifetime, but decades after he had completed his masterpiece. And Pluto was relegated from the league of planets anyway …

61. Texter’s “If you ask me” IMHO
In my humble opinion (IMHO)

65. “Until next time,” in texts TTYL
Talk to you later (TTYL)

66. Oscar’s roommate FELIX
“The Odd Couple” is a play by the wonderfully talented Neil Simon first performed on Broadway, in 1965. This great play was adapted for the big screen in 1968, famously starring Jack Lemmon (as Felix Unger, the neat-freak) and Walter Matthau (as Oscar Madison, the slob). The success of the play and the film gave rise to an excellent television sitcom that ran from 1970-1975, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. In 1985, Neil Simon even went so far as to adapt the play for an all-female cast, renaming it “The Female Odd Couple”. I’d like to see that one …

67. Tolkien’s Treebeard et al. ENTS
Ents are those tree-like creatures that live in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth in his series of books “The Lord of the Rings”. “Ent” is an Old English word for “giant”. The oldest of the Ents is Treebeard, who may even be the oldest creature in the whole of Middle-earth.

Down
1. PDQ ASAP
As soon as possible (ASAP)

Pretty darn quick (PDQ)

2. __-Honey BIT-O
Bit-O-Honey is a candy bar consisting of pieces of almond in a honey-flavored taffy. Bit-O-Honey has been around since 1924.

3. *Rhode Island school BROWN UNIVERSITY (giving “BROWN BEAR”)
Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the eight Ivy League schools. Brown has been around a long time, founded in 1764, years before America declared independence from England. The university took the name of Brown in 1804 after one Nicholas Brown, Jr. gave a substantial gift to the school.

Brown bears are found over much of northern Europe, Asia, and North America. The biggest subspecies of brown bear is the Kodiak Bear, the largest land-based predator in the world. The Kodiak grows to about the same size as the enormous polar bear.

4. Pop singer Mann AIMEE
Aimee Mann is a rock singer and guitarist from Virginia. Mann is married to Michael Penn, the brother of actor Sean Penn.

5. *Like Southern California beaches SUN-DRENCHED (giving “SUN BEAR”)
The sun bear is native to Southeast Asia, but is endangered due to deforestation that destroys its habitat. The sun bear is sometimes called the honey bear as it loves honey and honeycombs.

6. Duck player in “Peter and the Wolf” OBOIST
As is the case for many I am sure, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” was my introduction to the world of classical music, as it was played for us at school many, many moons ago. Prokofiev wrote the piece as a commissioned work for the Central Children’s Theater in Moscow, in 1936. He loved the idea of the project, and wrote the story and music in just four days!

8. Risk, e.g. GAME
Risk is a fabulous board game, first sold in France in 1957. Risk was invented by a very successful French director of short films called Albert Lamorisse. Lamorisse called his new game “La Conquête du Monde”, which translates into English as “The Conquest of the World”. A game of Risk is a must during the holidays in our house …

9. Canonized Mlle. STE
“Sainte” (ste.) is French for “saint”, when referring to a female.

In French, a young girl (jeune fille) might be addressed as Miss (Mademoiselle or “mlle.”)

11. *Title female “trying to make a devil out of me,” in a Santana hit BLACK MAGIC WOMAN (giving “BLACK BEAR”)
Before “Black Magic Woman” became a hit for Santana in 1970, it was a relatively popular release by Fleetwood Mac that charted in 1968.

The American black bear is the most common species of bear on the planet. My wife and I “ran across” one on a hiking trail not too long ago …

12. “¿__ está?” COMO
“Cómo está?” is Spanish for “how are you, how’s it going?”

13. Fix, as a pet SPAY
Our verb “to spay”, meaning “to surgically remove the ovaries of” (an animal) comes from an old Anglo-French word “espeier” meaning “to cut with a sword”.

22. Cotillion honoree DEB
Deb is short for “debutante”, which translates from French as “female beginner”.

“Cotillion” is an American term that we’ve been using since about 1900 for a formal ball. In France a cotillion was a type of dance, with the term deriving from an Old French word for a petticoat. I guess the cotillion dance was one in which the lady would flash her petticoats as she did a twirl!

24. *One of two cold atmospheric cyclones POLAR VORTEX (giving “POLAR BEAR”)
The polar vortices are two persistent cyclones that are found over the Earth’s poles, one over the Arctic and one over the Antarctic. It is within the southern polar vortex that we now have a hole in the ozone layer, but there is also depletion of ozone taking place in the northern polar vortex.

Polar bears are close cousins of brown bears, and are thought to have evolved from a population of brown bears that became isolated during a period of glaciation. Most polar bears live north of the Arctic Circle, and live mainly on seals that they capture near to the edge of ice floes.

26. Iron-rich meat LIVER
The human liver has many functions, one of which is to store vital substances. The list of substances stored in the liver includes glucose (as glycogen), vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin K, iron and copper.

28. Miller’s “__ From the Bridge” A VIEW
“A View From the Bridge” is a play by Arthur Miller. It has an unusual structure for a play first performed in 1955 in that it is a verse-drama, meaning that all of the dialog is spoken in the form of verse, somewhat like the works of Shakespeare.

29. First calendar pg. JAN
Janus is a Roman god, usually depicted with two heads, one looking to the past and the other to the future. As such, as a god Janus is often associated with time. The Romans named the month of Ianuarius (our “January”) after Janus.

32. Something to pick lox for BAGEL
The bagel was invented in the Polish city of Kraków in the 16th century. Bagels were brought to this country by Jewish immigrants from Poland who mainly established homes in and around New York City.

Lox is a cured salmon fillet, finely sliced. The term “lox” comes into English via Yiddish, and derives from the German word for salmon, namely “Lachs”.

34. ’50s political monogram DDE
President Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas and given the name David Dwight Eisenhower, but by the time he made it to the White House he was going by the name Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE). Growing up, his family called him Dwight, and when “Ike” enrolled in West Point he himself reversed the order of his given names.

46. Author Buntline NED
Ned Buntline was the pen name of E. Z. C. Judson, a writer of dime novels in nineteenth century. Judson had run away to sea as a boy, so he was familiar with a “buntline”, the rope that sits at the bottom of a square sail. After he had established himself as a writer, he met up with Buffalo Bill Cody on a lecture tour. Reluctantly at first, Cody agreed to be the subject of a series of dime novels called “Buffalo Bill Cody – King of the Border Men”.

47. Tennis great Andre AGASSI
Renowned tennis professional Andre Agassi wrote an autobiography called “Open”, published in 2009. An amazing revelation in the book is that Agassi’s famous head of hair was actually a wig for much of his playing career. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to play tennis at his level with a rug stuck on?

50. Studio piece EASEL
The word “easel” comes from an old Dutch word meaning “donkey” would you believe? The idea is that an easel carries its load (an oil painting, say) just as a donkey would be made to carry a load.

52. “Swan Lake” swan ODILE
“Swan Lake” is such a delightfully light and enjoyable ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. “Swan Lake” tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by a sorcerer. The ballet also features Odile, Odette’s “evil twin”. Odile is disguised to look like Odette with the goal of tricking the prince to fall in love with her. In the ballet, the roles of Odette and Odile are played by the same ballerina.

53. Customer holding: Abbr. ACCT
Account (acct.)

56. Tel Aviv airline EL AL
El Al Israel Airlines is the flag carrier of Israel. The term “el al” translates from Hebrew as “to the skies”.

The full name of Israel’s second largest city is Tel Aviv-Yafo. Tel Aviv translates into “Spring Mound”, a name chosen in 1910.

57. Smidgen WHIT
Both “whit” and “fig” are used to describe a trivial amount, a mere trifle.

Our word “smidgen”, meaning a small amount, might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.

60. Celeb with a mansion HEF
Hugh Hefner (often called “Hef”) is from Chicago. His first publishing job was in the military, where he worked as a writer for a US Army newspaper from 1944-46. He went to college after his military service and then worked as a copywriter for “Esquire” magazine. He left “Esquire” to found his own publication that he called “Playboy”, which first hit the newsstands in 1953. “Playboy” has been around ever since.

The Playboy Mansion is Hugh Hefner’s home, although much of the building and grounds are also used for corporate events. The mansion was built in 1927 for Arthur Letts, Jr., the son of Arthur Letts who founded the Broadway chain of department stores. Playboy bought the property in 1971 for just over a million dollars, and it’s now worth about 50 times that amount.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. “Mamma Mia!” group ABBA
5. Tunes SONGS
10. Fundamentals ABCS
14. Talking iPhone feature SIRI
15. Destroyer destroyer U-BOAT
16. Messy stuff GLOP
17. __ smasher ATOM
18. “I’m innocent!” NOT ME!
19. Hindu deity RAMA
20. High-speed war plane maneuver POWER DIVE
22. Hunter’s device DECOY
23. Gets close to NEARS
24. Cheat, in a way PEEK
25. Seasonal malady FLU
27. Find work GET A JOB
30. Shakespearean fairy queen MAB
33. Large-leafed tree LINDEN
35. Batman portrayer Kilmer VAL
36. Skating commentator Lipinski TARA
37. Passionate AVID
38. Dishes for company CHINA
40. Eagerly excited AGOG
41. Golfer Ballesteros SEVE
42. Furrow maker HOE
43. Ruling period REGIME
45. Charlemagne’s realm: Abbr. HRE
46. Avant-garde NEW-WAVE
48. Low or no follower -CAL
49. Insert for a 6-Down REED
51. Shoot well under par, in golf lingo GO LOW
53. Syria’s Bashar al-__ ASSAD
55. Focuses even harder … and a hint to the starts of the answers to starred clues BEARS DOWN
59. Letters after phis CHIS
60. “The Planets” composer HOLST
61. Texter’s “If you ask me” IMHO
62. Adorable CUTE
63. Wipe off ERASE
64. Dismissed, with “off” LAID
65. “Until next time,” in texts TTYL
66. Oscar’s roommate FELIX
67. Tolkien’s Treebeard et al. ENTS

Down
1. PDQ ASAP
2. __-Honey BIT-O
3. *Rhode Island school BROWN UNIVERSITY (giving “BROWN BEAR”)
4. Pop singer Mann AIMEE
5. *Like Southern California beaches SUN-DRENCHED
6. Duck player in “Peter and the Wolf” OBOIST
7. Punishment with a grounding NO TV
8. Risk, e.g. GAME
9. Canonized Mlle. STE
10. Feel the same way AGREE
11. *Title female “trying to make a devil out of me,” in a Santana hit BLACK MAGIC WOMAN (giving “BLACK BEAR”)
12. “¿__ está?” COMO
13. Fix, as a pet SPAY
21. Blow one’s top RAGE
22. Cotillion honoree DEB
24. *One of two cold atmospheric cyclones POLAR VORTEX (giving “POLAR BEAR”)
25. Jiffy FLASH
26. Iron-rich meat LIVER
28. Miller’s “__ From the Bridge” A VIEW
29. First calendar pg. JAN
31. Food court attraction AROMA
32. Something to pick lox for BAGEL
34. ’50s political monogram DDE
36. Label TAG
39. “__ so?” HOW
44. Fish caught in pots EELS
46. Author Buntline NED
47. Tennis great Andre AGASSI
50. Studio piece EASEL
52. “Swan Lake” swan ODILE
53. Customer holding: Abbr. ACCT
54. Closed SHUT
55. Produced, as fruit BORE
56. Tel Aviv airline EL AL
57. Smidgen WHIT
58. Quiet yeses NODS
60. Celeb with a mansion HEF

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11 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword Answers 2 Dec 15, Wednesday”

  1. Not so good on this one…4 errors, definitely some confusing parts to me.

    Holst's Planets

    You can definitely note John Williams took inspiration from it for what he did in the original Star Wars movies.

  2. Wow, way too much stuff to comment on in this grid. Which I suppose abates some of the utter dreck that fills in the rest. I didn't know of a sun bear, apparently they like sticking their tongues out for the camera (if Google is any judge). I would have subbed Hal LINDEN at 33A, but I just like the show. The only MEB I remembered is Queen Medb of Irish mythology, who started the "Tain Bo Culiange."

    Submarine films…too many good ones: The Hunt for Red October, Das Boot, The Enemy Below, Run Silent Run Deep…

    For the unfamiliar, Santana's BLACKMAGICWOMAN.

    HEF is (a) not a celeb (b) does not own the PB mansion. The company owns the mansion, which is pledged a collateral for a $50MM loan from the Bank of America. In fact, the insipid company has to spend over $100K per year for an auditor to come in and determine how much HEF should pay the company for renting it. Some "magnate."

    And finally, a funny take on SIRI vs. Cortana. (careful on some of the language)

    Yay, December!

  3. Wow, Willie D., I sure am glad I posted after you, and clicked on your links. Santana is great, but the next video of the Magic Woman song overlay with the Ukranian belly dancer, took my breath away. Sound AND sight.

    Does anybody remember a 'Black Magic' box of chocolates, marketed by Rowntree's of England ? Since the black metal tins remained in our possession long after the chocolates were gone, it is one of my favorite childhood memories.

    SIRI vs. Cortana, in Willie's link above, required some intricate programming by an expert programmer, who was not mentioned in the video. Its all about who-you-are and not what-you-know.

    I am glad some auditor is making a good living doing some complex calculations, as required by tax law. Does he get to interview Hef's girl friends, as well ?

    On other news, the puzzle was quite complex, but I had a good time. I notice also that Bill took a little longer, as well. Gotta go.

  4. Another quick solve. I had to get a few answers via crosses. NED Buntline – a dime novelist pseudonym from the 19th century?? That's about as obscure as it gets.

    I was also a fan of Hal Linden and Barney Miller. Great show. But I got LINDEN because there's a LINDENwood University outside my hometown of St. Louis.

    I've played golf most of my life, but I don't ever remember hearing the expression to "GO LOW" – perhaps because I've never had the "problem" of shooting well under par….

    I'm off to Puerto Vallarta today for the next week. I had to change plans because we had originally made reservations for the week hurricane Patricia hit. Ironically, Patricia ended up hitting here in Houston worse than in Puerto Vallarta as we got about a foot of rain that weekend from its remnants.

    I'll check in when/if I can so have a good week and weekend all. Forecast is sunny with afternoon temps in the mid 80's….I sense a tequileria tour coming 🙂

    Best –

  5. 95% super easy, 5% didn't get at all.
    The scary thing abt voice recognition devices is that they are always "on" and pick up everything, including discussions of your financial situation or political views, not to mention arguments w/ your significant other. It's only a matter of time bef that source of info is used in some unsavory way.
    Matt

  6. OK, I've got some time. I never got the theme in the puzzle – rushed over to read the blog. Brown University is definitely ivy league …. a recent graduate assured me so.

    Flu … Flu ? …. I think I just got the flu bug yesterday, or before the incubation period. I'll spare you the details of the symptoms. TMI. One Tylenol (TM) and plenty of sleep – except that I've work to do, which won't wait. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure the bug doesn't travel over the internet. ;-D) …. I wonder if its too late to take a flu shot ….

    Lox – thinly sliced smoked salmon – is preferred at the breakfast table, since under jewish kosher laws, fish is considered 'neutral' – neither meat nor dairy, so it can be paired with either. Thus bagles and lox can be eaten with milk laced coffee.

    Have a nice day, all.

  7. @Vidwan I'm sorry you're sick. Take it easy and rest!
    Never heard of the Black Magic tin of chocolates, but if I did it would have made it into my collection of tins.
    Several years ago I picked up 2 of these repros of Whitman's tins when they came out.
    WHITMAN'S SALMAGUNDI TIN
    The puzzle was fun. Impressive long answers. Congrats to Mr. DerKazarian.
    Some day i will learn the Greek alphabet…..NOT!

  8. Thank you, Pookie, for your kind thoughts and good wishes. have just eaten a small, small bowl of rice porridge, with salt and a dab of oil. Now, I am going to take a full tablet of Tylenol+OxyCodone ( left over, from my earlier eye surgery – ) and sleep like a baby through the night. If I wake up, I'll be sure and log in tomorrow…

    Have a great trip to Sunny Mexico, Jeff. Don't break any senorita's heart.

  9. I didn't find it hard, which means it must have been geared to oldsters.

    Don't store your tins in the basement. I lost at least 100 to flooding. Only the ones I used for decorating upstairs survived. This makes me wonder if the type of person who does puzzles collects tins.

  10. @Sfingi In California basements are rare, but having lived on the East Coast for a time I know the dangers of storing things there. I just find enamel painted tins attractive and hard to recycle… (let go of). A Chinese student of my husband's gave us a tin of Moon Cakes and I will not throw it out!
    I don't know if crossword puzzle solvers and tin boxes are common collectibles, but I also favor glass jars that are not common anymore.
    Too much stuff!!!

  11. @Vidwan: IF you wake up??!
    @Jeff, have a fabulous time! I'm not jealous in the least–sandy beaches and tequila shots!! :-
    Enjoyed the grid; just challenging enough, IMHO. Always wondered who that great Santana singer was on BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, so I googled it. It is one Gregg Rolie, who apparently also was Journey's first lead singer. Interesting. Also CUTE to note that Fleetwood Mac, in their very early days, recorded that song.
    Busy day tomorrow (Thursday), and I'm trying to determine what if anything I can GET OUT OF!!
    Be well~~™

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