Edited by: Rich Norris
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With today’s grid, we are in LA LA LAND. Each of the themed answers comprises two words beginning with the letters LA:
- 41D. 2016 Best Picture (no, wait; it wasn’t!) … and a fitting place for the answers to starred clues? : LA LA LAND
- 20A. *Teaching aid for learning foreign tongues : LANGUAGE LAB
- 59A. *Deep blue gemstone : LAPIS LAZULI
- 5D. *Superboy’s girlfriend : LANA LANG
- 11D. *Satisfaction after setbacks : LAST LAUGH
- 35D. *Cowboy star with a bullwhip : LASH LARUE
Bill’s errors: 0
Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
15. Plant used in tequila production : AGAVE
Tequila is a city in Mexico that is located about 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. The city is the birthplace of the drink called “tequila”. Local people made a variety of a drink called mezcal by fermenting the heart of the blue agave plant that is native to the area surrounding Tequila. It was the Spanish who introduced the distillation process to the mescal, giving us what we now know as “tequila”.
16. Spencer of “Good Morning America” : LARA
Lara Spencer has been co-anchor of “Good Morning America” since 2011, working alongside Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. Back in 2004/2005, PBS viewers will have seen Spencer hosting the hit show “Antiques Roadshow”.
25. Arbor Day month : APRIL
Arbor Day is a holiday each year in which people traditionally plant and care for trees. The first Arbor Day was held way back in 1872.
39. Spy org. created under Truman : CIA
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during WWII. The CIA was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.
42. Prefix with centric or caching : GEO-
Claudius Ptolemy was an Egyptian of Greek ethnicity who lived in the days when Egypt was ruled by Ancient Rome. Ptolemy was, among other things, a mathematician and astronomer. He published a famous treatise on astronomy called “Almagest” which included a list of 48 constellations in a star catalogue. The Ptolemaic system described the cosmos geocentrically, with the Earth at the center and other celestial bodies orbiting. Ptolemy also wrote a work titled “Geography”, which compiled much of the geographical knowledge of the Roman Empire at that time. Centuries after Ptolemy died, Christopher Columbus used the maps in “Geography” to aid him on his voyages of discovery.
Geocaching is a game rather like “hide and seek” that is played outdoors using hi-tech equipment. The idea is that someone places a waterproof container in a specific location with known GPS coordinates. The container has a logbook inside, so that players who find the “cache” can record their discovery along with any notes of interest. The location of the container is listed on special sites on the Internet for anyone to access. You can check out caches near you at www.geocaching.com. You will probably be surprised at how many there are! I know I was …
46. “Believe” singer : CHER
When Cher recorded the 1998 song “Believe”, the audio engineers routinely corrected the sound of Cher’s voice to ensure that all notes were sung with perfect pitch (all singers “cheat”, it seems!). The software that does this pitch correction is called “Auto-Tune”. Then, for a bit of fun, the same engineers played with the Auto-Tune software and created a special effect in her voice that she so liked it was left in the final release. You can easily detect the strange effect if you listen to the song. The process is now called the “Cher Effect” and is used by other artists in their recordings.
59. *Deep blue gemstone : LAPIS LAZULI
Lapis lazuli is a blue, semi-precious stone mined mainly in Afghanistan. “Lapis Lazuli” is Latin for “stone of Lazhward”, referring to the Persian name for the location where the stone was mined. Our word “azure”, a shade of blue, has the same root.
64. Dreadlocks wearer : RASTA
I must admit that I don’t really know much about Rastafarianism. I do know that a “Rasta”, like Bob Marley, is a follower of the movement. Some say that Rastafarianism is a religion, some not. I also know that it involves the worship of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.
Dreadlocks are matted coils of hair nowadays usually formed intentionally, although if one lets hair grow out without grooming then it naturally forms twisted and matted dreadlocks. The hairstyle is associated with the Rastafarian movement in which “dread” is a very positive term meaning “fear of the Lord”.
65. “__ la Douce” : IRMA
“Irma la Douce” is a wonderful Billy Wilder movie that was released in 1963. It stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Lemmon plays a maligned Parisian policeman, and MacLaine is the popular prostitute Irma la Douce (literally “Irma the Sweet”). Don’t let the adult themes throw you, as it’s a very entertaining movie …
66. Essential point : CRUX
“Crux” is the Latin word for “cross”. The term came into English meaning “a central difficulty” in the early 1700s.
70. Mortimer on Bergen’s knee : SNERD
Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s most famous character was Charlie McCarthy, but Bergen also worked with Mortimer Snerd.
1. Picasso who painted Gertrude Stein : PABLO
The artist Pablo Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name he was given right from birth. Got that?
Gertrude Stein was a great American writer who spent most of her life in France. Gertrude Stein met Alice B. Toklas in Paris in 1907 and the two were life partners until Stein died in 1946. Cleverly, Stein published her own memoirs in 1933 but called the book “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”. It was to become her best selling title.
2. Arctic or Indian : OCEAN
The Arctic Ocean is in the north polar region, and is almost completely covered by sea ice in the winter. I think it’s common knowledge that the amount of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean during the summer has been dropping in recent times as a consequence of climate change.
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world’s oceans, and was named for the country of India that forms much of its northern boundary.
3. Sumatran ape : ORANG
Orangutans (also “orangs”) are arboreal creatures, in fact the largest arboreal animals known to man. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, living in the rain forests. Like most species in rain forests these days, orangutans are endangered, with only two species surviving. The word “orangutan” is Malay, meaning “man of the forest”.
Sumatra is a very large island in western Indonesia, the sixth largest island in the world and home to 22% of the country’s population.
5. *Superboy’s girlfriend : LANA LANG
Smallville, Kansas is the town on Earth in which Superman grew up (as Clark Kent). One of Clark’s best friends in Smallville, and the romantic interest of his youth, was Lana Lang.
7. Ming museum piece : VASE
The Ming Dynasty lasted in China from 1368 to 1644. The Ming Dynasty oversaw tremendous innovation in so many areas, including the manufacture of ceramics. Late in the Ming period, a shift towards a market economy in China led to the export of porcelain on an unprecedented scale, perhaps explaining why we tend to hear more about Ming vases than we do about porcelain from any other Chinese dynasty.
8. Hometown of St. Teresa : AVILA
Avila is famous for the walled defenses around the old city, which date back to 1090. They were constructed out of brown granite, and are still in excellent repair. There are nine gateways and eighty-towers in all. Even the cathedral built between the 12th and 14th centuries is part of the city’s defenses, so it looks like an imposing fortress.
St. Teresa of Avila (also known as St. Teresa of Jesus) was a Carmelite nun living in Spain in the 1500s. She is particularly noted for her writings on Christian meditation and mental prayer.
9. High-ranking angel : SERAPH
A seraph is a celestial being found in Hebrew and Christian writings. The word “seraph” (plural “seraphim”) literally translates as “burning one”. Seraphs are the highest-ranking angels in the Christian tradition, and the fifth-ranking of ten in the Jewish tradition.
10. Winter ailment : 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 surfaces is especially helpful in containing flu outbreaks.
21. Dubai’s fed. : UAE
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates (states) in the Middle East. Included in the seven are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the city of Abu Dhabi being the UAE capital and cultural center.
28. Sonic the Hedgehog game company : SEGA
Sega is a Japanese videogame company headquartered in Tokyo. Sega actually started out 1940 in the US as Standard Games and was located in Honolulu, Hawaii. The owners moved the operation to Tokyo in 1951 and renamed the company to Service Games. The name “Sega” is a combination of the first two letters of the words “Se-rvice” and “Ga-mes”.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a title character in a videogame and the mascot of Sega, the computer game developer. Sonic was set up as a rival to Nintendo’s mascot “Mario”.
33. Civil rights gp. : ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its roots in the First World War when it was founded to provide legal advice and support to conscientious objectors. The ACLU’s motto is “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”. The ACLU also hosts a blog on the ACLU.org website called “Speak Freely”.
35. *Cowboy star with a bullwhip : LASH LARUE
Alfred LaRue was an actor who appeared in a lot of western movies in the forties and fifties. He was very adept with the bullwhip, earning him the nickname “Lash”. Years after his onscreen career ended, LaRue was the guy who trained Harrison Ford how to use a bullwhip for his role in the “Indiana Jones” series of films.
37. Terrier on the Yellow Brick Road : TOTO
Toto is Dorothy’s dog in the film “The Wizard of Oz”, and in the original book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. Toto was played in the movie by a dog called Terry, but Terry’s name was soon changed to Toto in real life due to the success of the film.
According to L. Frank Baum’s series of “Oz” novels, there are two Yellow Brick Roads that lead to the Emerald City from Munchkin Country, and it turns out that Dorothy chose the harder of the two. There is also a Red Brick Road, which leads from Munchkin County to the Country of the Quadlings.
40. Filmdom’s Flynn : ERROL
Errol Flynn was born 1909 in Tasmania, Australia where he was raised. In his twenties, Flynn lived in the UK where he pursued his acting career. Around the same time he starred in an Australian film “In the Wake of the Bounty” and then appeared in a British film “Murder at Monte Carlo”. It was in the latter film that he was noticed by Warner Brothers who brought him to America. Flynn’s non-American heritage shone through even while he was living the American dream in California. He regularly played cricket, along with his friend David Niven, in the Hollywood Cricket Club.
41. 2016 Best Picture (no, wait; it wasn’t!) … and a fitting place for the answers to starred clues? : LA LA LAND
“La La Land” is a 2016 romantic musical film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a musician and actress who fall in love in “La La Land” (Los Angeles, i.e. “LA”). The film was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who had found success two years earlier with the musical drama “Whiplash”. “La La Land” won a record-breaking seven Golden Globes and tied for the record number of Oscar nominations at fourteen, winning six.
44. Fair-hiring letters : EEO
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was set up by the Civil Rights Act. Title VII of the Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.
50. Case workers’ org.? : ABA
The American Bar Association (ABA)
52. Iberian Peninsula country : SPAIN
The Iberian Peninsula in Europe is largely made up of Spain and Portugal. However, also included is the Principality of Andorra in the Pyrenees, a small part of the south of France, and the British Territory of Gibraltar. Iberia takes its name from the Ebro, the longest river in Spain, which the Romans named the “Iber”.
54. Supercharger : TURBO
A turbocharger is a device that is designed to extract more power out of an internal combustion engine. It does so by increasing the pressure of the air entering the intake. The pressure increase comes from the use of a compressor, which is cleverly powered by the engine’s own exhaust gases.
55. “St. __ Fire” : ELMO’S
Saint Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. More formally referred to as Erasmus of Formia, St. Elmo is perhaps venerated by sailors as tradition tells us that he continued preaching despite the ground beside him being struck by a thunderbolt. Sailors started to pray to him when in danger of storms and lightning. He lends his name to the electrostatic weather phenomenon (often seen at sea) known as St. Elmo’s fire. The “fire” is actually a plasma discharge caused by air ionizing at the end of a pointed object (like the mast of a ship), something often observed during electrical storms.
56. “Cheers” waitress : DIANE
Diane Chambers was one of the original lead characters in the sitcom “Cheers”. Diane was played by actress Shelley Long.
The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness two!). The owner of the Bill & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.
58. Like 24-karat gold : PURE
A karat (also “carat”, the spelling outside of North America) is a measure of the purity of gold alloys, with 24-karat representing pure gold.
60. “__ skies of blue and clouds of white … “: “What a Wonderful World” : I SEE
“What a Wonderful World” is a beautiful song recorded by Louis Armstrong and released in 1967. The original release was a big flop over here in the US, but it rocketed to the number-one spot in the British charts, and in fact became the biggest-selling single in the UK the following year.
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
63. With 71-Across, rocker whose first name anagrams a West Coast airport code : AXL
(71A. See 63-Down : ROSE)
Axl Rose is the lead vocalist of the American rock band, Guns N’ Roses.
Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and the busiest here on the West Coast of the US. The airport was opened in 1930 as Mines Field and was renamed to Los Angeles Airport in 1941. On the airport property is the iconic white structure that resembles a flying saucer. This is called the Theme Building and I believe it is mainly used as a restaurant and observation deck for the public. The airport used to be identified by the letters “LA”, but when the aviation industry went to a three-letter standard for airport identification, this was changed to “LAX”. Apparently the “X” has no significant meaning.