LA Times Crossword Answers 25 Dec 15, Friday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Jeffrey Wechsler
THEME: Letter Swapping … Merry Christmas, everyone! Each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase ending with 4-letter word in the form “-I-E”. The twist is that the first and third letters of that 4-letter word have been swapped:

19A. Word game for beginners? SCRABBLE LITE (tile)
27A. Ordinary little insect? STANDARD MITE (time)
37A. Radial destroyed during testing? SACRIFICIAL TIRE (rite)
45A. Fate of one constantly reliving the past? CIRCULAR LIFE (file)
55A. Memoirs of an African river explorer? I WALK THE NILE (line)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 15m 13s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Sport enjoyed by Henry VIII TENNIS
Our modern sport of tennis evolved from the much older racquet sport known as “real tennis”. Originally just called “tennis”, the older game was labeled “real tennis” when the modern version began to hold sway. Real tennis is played in a closed court, with the ball frequently bounced off the walls.

15. Sitcom friend of Jerry ELAINE
The character called Elaine Benes, unlike the other lead characters (Jerry, Kramer and George), did not appear in the pilot episode of “Seinfeld”. NBC executives specified the addition of a female lead when they picked up the show citing that the situation was too “male-centric”.

17. Olympian drink NECTAR
In Greek mythology, according to Homer anyway, the drink of the gods was nectar, and their food was ambrosia.

18. Great Sand Dunes National Park location COLORADO
Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is home to the tallest sand dunes on the continent, with some rising about 750 feet. It is a spectacular and very special location …

19. Word game for beginners? SCRABBLE LITE (tile)
The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

21. It starts in juin ETE
In French, the season of “été” (summer) starts in “juin” (June).

22. Big Ben trio III
The number 3 is written as III on the face of the clock on the tower of the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben is the name commonly used for the large bell in the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament). Big Ben’s official name is the Great Bell, and there is some debate about the origins of the nickname. It may be named after Sir Benjamin Hall who oversaw the bell’s installation, or perhaps the English heavyweight champion of the day Benjamin Caunt.

23. Fund-raising target ALUM
An “alumnus” (plural … alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural … alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.

27. Ordinary little insect? STANDARD MITE (time)
Mites are tiny arthropods in the arachnid (spider) class. Mites are (annoyingly!) very successful creatures that have adapted to all sorts of habitats, and being so small, they generally pass unnoticed. Ick …

32. Chancel neighbor APSE
The apse of a church or cathedral is a semicircular recess in an outer wall, usually with a half-dome as a roof and often where there resides an altar. Originally apses were used as burial places for the clergy and also for storage of important relics.

The chancel of a Christian church is the space surrounding the altar. The chancel sometimes includes the choir and the pulpit.

36. Metaphoric vilification MUD
That would be mud-slinging.

“To vilify” is to defame, speak ill of. Our modern usage of the term evolved from the original meaning “to make vile”.

37. Radial destroyed during testing? SACRIFICIAL TIRE (rite)
Radial tires (actually “radial-ply” tires) are so called because the cord plies embedded in the rubber are arranged radially from the centre of the tire. This means that the plies are at right angles to the direction of travel. In older tires, the plies were criss-crossed over each other, at angles of 60 and -60 degrees from the direction of travel. Such tires are called “cross-ply” or “bias” tires.

42. Waterfront org. ILA
International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA)

43. Penicillin, often CURE
The antibiotic called penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. He noted that a blue-green mold growing in a Petri dish produced a substance that inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus bacteria, which was growing on the same substrate. The mold was Penicillium notatum, and Fleming named the antibiotic penicillin after the mold.

44. Province of Catania attraction ETNA
Catania is the second largest city on the island of Sicily (after Palermo). Catania has a long and rich cultural history, and today is best known as a center for technology industries earning it the nickname of the “European Silicon Valley”. The Catania skyline features a nice view of the nearby Mount Etna volcano.

50. “A Day Without Rain” artist ENYA
Enya’s real name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, which can translate from Irish into Enya Brennan. Her Donegal family (in the northwest of Ireland) formed a band called Clannad, which included Enya. In 1980 Enya launched her very successful solo career. She sure does turn up a lot in crosswords!

52. U.S. Army award since 1918 DSM
The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) is the highest (non-valorous) decoration awarded for services to the US military.

55. Memoirs of an African river explorer? I WALK THE NILE (line)
Depending on definition, the Nile is generally regarded as the longest river on the planet. The Nile forms from two major tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, which join together near Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. From Khartoum the Nile flows north, traveling almost entirely through desert making it central to life for the peoples living along its length.

“I Walk the Line” is a 1956 written and recorded by Johnny Cash that was destined to become Cash’s first number-one hit. The song inspired the title of a 2005 biographical film about the Cash’s life, “Walk the Line”.

61. Liqueur made with Jamaican rum TIA MARIA
Tia Maria is a coffee liqueur that was invented just after WWII in Jamaica, using Jamaican coffee beans, Jamaican rum, vanilla and sugar. The drink’s name translates to “Aunt Maria”.

64. Ancient looker ADONIS
In Greek mythology, Adonis is a beautiful young god loved by Aphrodite. Adonis dies in a hunting accident (gored by a boar), but not before he gives Aphrodite a child. Adonis was originally a Phoenician god “absorbed” into Greek lore (Phoenicia is modern day Lebanon). The child born of Adonis to Aphrodite was called Beroe, after which is named Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. We also use the term “adonis” to mean “beautiful male”.

65. Inborn IMMANENT
The adjective “immanent” (not to be confused with “imminent”) means inherent, remaining within.

Down
3. Mother-of-pearl NACRE
Mother-of-pearl is another name for nacre. Nacre is the strong iridescent material laid down by some mollusks on the inside of their shells, and it’s also what makes up pearls. The creature lays down nacre as a defensive mechanism, protecting the soft tissue of its body from the rough surface of the outer shell. Similarly, it uses nacre to encapsulate harmful debris or a parasite that penetrates the shell, and that’s how a pearl is formed.

4. Female rock guitarist Strauss NITA
Nita Strauss is a rock guitarist who is best known as a member of an all-female Iron Maiden tribute band called the Iron Maidens.

6. Landlocked European nation SERBIA
Serbia is a landlocked country in southeast Europe. After WWII, Serbia became one of several states making up the nation called Yugoslavia. Serbia became independent again in 2006 as Yugoslavia broke up after the declaration of independence by Montenegro.

7. Dirty __ RICE
“Dirty rice” is a white rice made to look “dirty” by cooking it with chicken liver, green peppers, celery and onion, as well as cayenne and black pepper. Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish.

9. Most piano sonatas SOLI
“Soli” (the plural of “solo”) are pieces of music performed by one artist, whereas “tutti” are pieces performed by all of the artists.

The term “sonata” comes via Italian from the Latin word “sonare” meaning “to sound”. A sonata is a piece of music that is played, as opposed to a cantata (from Latin and Italian “cantare” meaning “to sing”), a piece of music that is sung.

12. Botanist Gray ASA
Asa Gray was an important American botanist in the nineteenth century. He was a lifelong friend of Charles Darwin, albeit mainly through correspondence. Darwin’s book “Forms of Flowers”, was dedicated to Gray.

14. Confident and loyal sort, so it’s said LEO
Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac. People born from July 23 to August 22 are Leos.

20. Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer LIN
Maya Lin is a Chinese American born in Athens Ohio, and is an artist and architect. Her most famous work is the moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin was only 21-years-old when she won a public design competition in 1981 to create the memorial. Although her design is very fitting, sadly Lin was not a popular choice for the work given her Asian heritage. As she said herself, she probably would not have been picked had the competition been judged with the knowledge of who was behind each submission.

26. Euripides tragedy MEDEA
Euripides was a celebrated playwright of Ancient Greece, renowned for his tragedies. Euripides was one of the three great writers of tragedy of classical Athens, alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles.

27. Sun. address SER
Sermon (ser.)

29. Singer DiFranco ANI
Ani DiFranco is a folk-rock singer and songwriter. DiFranco has also been labeled a “feminist icon”, and in 2006 won the “Woman of Courage Award” from National Organization of Women.

30. Alabama label RCA
Alabama is a band from Fort Payne, Alabama that performs a blend of country music and southern rock.

31. UPS competitor DHL
Back in the sixties, Larry Hillblom was making pocket money as a Berkeley law student by doing courier runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After law school, Hillblom decided to parlay his experience into his own business and set up a courier service flying bills of lading ahead of freight from San Francisco to Honolulu. He brought in two buddies, Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn, as partners and the three were soon hopping on and off commercial flights and gradually making more and more money. And DHL was born … D (for Dalsey) H (for Hillblom) L (for Lynn).

United Parcel Service (UPS) is based in Sandy Springs, Georgia and has its own airline that operates out of Louisville, Kentucky.

33. “The Python Years” diarist Michael PALIN
Michael Palin is a marvelously talented comedian and actor, most famous as one of the “Monty Python” team. Palin is well known as a travel writer and has made some outstanding travel documentaries for television. He did one show called “Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days” in which he followed the route called out in the Jules Verne classic, without using airplanes. Palin also made “Pole to Pole”, a journey from the North to South Poles, along the 30 degree line of longitude. Currently, Michael Palin is the President of the Royal Geographical Society.

38. Hosp. section ICU
Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

40. Investment initials IRA
Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

46. South American crocodilian CAIMAN
Caimans are relatively small, crocodile-like reptiles that inhabit Central and South America. That said, the largest species can grow to 13 feet in length, but many are about 3 feet long.

56. Big name in early computers WANG
The Wang computer company was founded in 1951 by computer engineers An Wang and G. Y. Chu. Wang was the first computer company to run ad during the Super Bowl, doing so in 1978. That ad went after IBM, casting Wang as David and IBM as Goliath. Experts say that Wang’s products eventually fell from favor due to the focus on word processing, without adapting to the growing demand for general-purpose computing.

59. The Duchess of Cambridge, familiarly KATE
Kate Middleton is the wife of Prince William of the UK. Middleton is what one might call a commoner, although since her marriage she is known as the Duchess of Cambridge. She was born to parents who had worked together as flight attendants before becoming quite wealthy running their own mail-order business. As is so often the case in Britain, Kate’s ancestry can be traced back far enough to show that she and William do have common ancestors, dating back to the 1500s on her mother’s side and to the 1400s on her father’s side.

60. “… for __ of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” NONE

Be bloody, bold and resolute: laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.

61. Robbins of “The Shawshank Redemption” TIM
Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” was adapted into a 2009 stage play and a 1994 film, both called “The Shawshank Redemption”. The Ohio State Reformatory was used for exterior shots of the fictional Shawshank Prison. That same facility was used for the prison scenes in the 1997 film “Air Force One”.

Tim Robbins is a Hollywood actor, director and producer. I’d say that Robbins’ best-known roles are the leads in “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Player”. Robbins also wrote, produced and directed the 1995 movie “Dead Man Walking” starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Robbins was married for almost thirty years to Susan Sarandon, although they split up in 2009.

62. “__ Man”: Spencer Davis Group hit I’M A
The Spencer Davis Group is a band from the Midlands of England that was formed in the mid-sixties by Spencer Davis and Steve Winwood. The band’s biggest hit was their version of Jackie Edwards’ “Keep on Running”, recorded in 1965. Another big hit was their own song “Gimme Some Lovin’”, from 1966.

63. Côte d’Azur companion AMI
A male friend in France is “un ami”, and a female friend is “une amie”.

The Côte d’Azur is on the Mediterranean coast of France and stretches from Saint Tropez in the west and to the Italian border in the east. In English we often refer to the area as the French Riviera. It’s a little crowded for me (okay, “expensive”), especially in the summer.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Sport enjoyed by Henry VIII TENNIS
7. Goes for broke RISKS ALL
15. Sitcom friend of Jerry ELAINE
16. “It eludes me … ” I DON’T SEE …
17. Olympian drink NECTAR
18. Great Sand Dunes National Park location COLORADO
19. Word game for beginners? SCRABBLE LITE (tile)
21. It starts in juin ETE
22. Big Ben trio III
23. Fund-raising target ALUM
27. Ordinary little insect? STANDARD MITE (time)
32. Chancel neighbor APSE
35. Edge INCH
36. Metaphoric vilification MUD
37. Radial destroyed during testing? SACRIFICIAL TIRE (rite)
42. Waterfront org. ILA
43. Penicillin, often CURE
44. Province of Catania attraction ETNA
45. Fate of one constantly reliving the past? CIRCULAR LIFE (file)
50. “A Day Without Rain” artist ENYA
51. Indefinite pronoun ONE
52. U.S. Army award since 1918 DSM
55. Memoirs of an African river explorer? I WALK THE NILE (line)
61. Liqueur made with Jamaican rum TIA MARIA
64. Ancient looker ADONIS
65. Inborn IMMANENT
66. Hotel supply LINENS
67. Security booth site MAIN GATE
68. Green Party concern ENERGY

Down
1. Frazzled TENSE
2. Choose ELECT
3. Mother-of-pearl NACRE
4. Female rock guitarist Strauss NITA
5. “Soon” IN A BIT
6. Landlocked European nation SERBIA
7. Dirty __ RICE
8. One with loyal followers IDOL
9. Most piano sonatas SOLI
10. Square or slip follower KNOT
11. Continuous flow STREAM
12. Botanist Gray ASA
13. Wasn’t behind anyone LED
14. Confident and loyal sort, so it’s said LEO
20. Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer LIN
24. Boundary LIMIT
25. Rush hour improbability U-TURN
26. Euripides tragedy MEDEA
27. Sun. address SER
28. Kitchen gadget DICER
29. Singer DiFranco ANI
30. Alabama label RCA
31. UPS competitor DHL
32. Cold __ AS ICE
33. “The Python Years” diarist Michael PALIN
34. Like nightmares SCARY
38. Hosp. section ICU
39. Spoon extension? -FUL
40. Investment initials IRA
41. Apparel with a message, perhaps TEE
46. South American crocodilian CAIMAN
47. Developer’s offering LOT
48. Checkup request INHALE
49. Supply with, as carrots to a food processor FEED IN
52. 24-hour eatery, often DINER
53. Medical support SLING
54. Complicated MESSY
56. Big name in early computers WANG
57. Expanse AREA
58. Home filter target LINT
59. The Duchess of Cambridge, familiarly KATE
60. “… for __ of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” NONE
61. Robbins of “The Shawshank Redemption” TIM
62. “__ Man”: Spencer Davis Group hit I’M A
63. Côte d’Azur companion AMI

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5 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword Answers 25 Dec 15, Friday”

  1. Just to give credit where credit is due, the lowly mite of 27A also happens to be the worlds fastest animal — Paratarsotomus macropalpis, a mite native to Southern California and smaller than a sesame seed, can run up to 322 body-lengths per second. A cheetah by comparison running at 60 miles per hour attains only 16 body-lengths per second. It's roughly equivalent to a human running 1300 miles per hour.
    Merry Christmas to all!

  2. @macaronijack – I'd still like to see a mite in a quarter mile race vs. a Cheetah…

    I wonder how well Henry the VIII covered the court?

    Not a bad puzzle. Fun without being a brain killer. Merry Xmas to all…and to all a good day (and night).

  3. @Tony Michaels

    In a FAIR race, where we either shrink the cheetah or blow up the mite — admittedly a challenge to our current technical know-how — my money's still on the mite.

  4. Christmas morning…. crossword puzzle….
    Jeffrey Wechsler…. #%^$$%!!!
    Why did I get a coal in my stocking??
    You mean to say Rich Norris had NO Christmas
    crosswords in the queue?
    Bah Humbug. Hated it. Finished it, but hated it.STANDARD MITE gimme a break.
    Hope you all have a nice day.

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