LA Times Crossword Answers 21 Dec 2017, Thursday

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Constructed by: Morton J. Mendelson
Edited by: Rich Norris

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Today’s Theme: The Four Tops

Today’s themed answers are FOUR TOPS:

  • 55A. Motown group … and what 17-, 25-, 37- and 46-Across comprise? : THE FOUR TOPS
  • 17A. Whirligig : SPINNING TOY
  • 25A. Mont Blanc, e.g. : ALPINE PEAK
  • 37A. Fine woolen wear : CASHMERE SWEATER
  • 46A. Westminster award : BEST IN SHOW

Bill’s time: 6m 47s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

11. Texting format, briefly : SMS

Short Message Service (SMS) is the name for the text messaging service that many of us still use on our cell phones to contact our friends and family.

14. Saint of Ávila : TERESA

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.

15. Opera set in Egypt : AIDA

“Aida” is a famous opera by Giuseppe Verdi that is actually based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radames is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then of course complications arise!

19. Toothpaste-approving org. : ADA

American Dental Association (ADA)

20. Northernmost capital on the Mississippi : ST PAUL

Saint Paul that is the state capital of Minnesota, and is one half of the “Twin Cities” , also known as Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Saint Paul used to be called Pig’s Eye, named after a popular tavern in the original settlement in the area. In 1841, Father Lucien Galtier established a log chapel nearby that he dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, giving the city it’s current name. The magnificent Cathedral of St. Paul now sits on the site where the log chapel was built.

21. Key of Grieg’s only piano concerto: Abbr. : A MIN

Edvard Grieg is Norway’s best known composer, some who was active in the Romantic Era. Grieg’s most famous works are the gorgeous “Piano Concerto in A minor”, and his incidental music for the play “Peer Gynt” by Henrik Ibsen.

25. Mont Blanc, e.g. : ALPINE PEAK

Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps. The name “Mont Blanc” translates from French into “white mountain”. The mountain lies on the border between France and Italy, and it has been generally accepted for decades that the summit lies within French territory. However, there have been official claims that the summit does in fact fall within the borders of Italy.

28. Class-conscious gp.? : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

29. Actress de Armas of “Blade Runner 2049” : ANA

“Blade Runner 2049” is a 2017 sequel to 1982’s “Blade Runner”. Harrison Ford appears in both movies. He has stated that he is open to appearing in another sequel, about which there is a lot of chatter.

Ana de Armas is an actress from Cuba. Having attended the National Theater School of Cuba, she moved to Spain at the age of 18. Thre, she made a name for herself in a Spanish TV series called “El Internado”. De Armas moved to Los Angeles in 2014, after which her performance opposite Ryan Gosling in 2017’s “Blade Runner 2049” earned her critical acclaim.

30. Swivel around : SLUE

“To slue” (also “slew) is to turn sharply, or to rotate on an axis.

37. Fine woolen wear : CASHMERE SWEATER

Cashmere wool comes from not only the Cashmere goat, but also from other types of goat. Technically, cashmere isn’t really a wool, but rather a hair. Unlike hair, wool is elastic and grows in clusters.

41. Rogue : KNAVE

We’ve been using “knave” to mean a cad since about 1200, and as an alternative name for the jack in a deck of cards since the mid-1500s. “Knave” comes from the Old English word “cnafa”, a “boy, male servant”.

42. Lively, in mus. : ANIM

As one might expect, the Italian word “animato” is used in a musical score to indicate that one should play “spiritedly”.

43. Charlottesville sch. : UVA

The University of Virginia (UVA) was founded by Thomas Jefferson, who then sat on the original Board of Visitors alongside former US Presidents James Madison and James Monroe. In fact, the original UVA campus was built on land near Charlottesville that was once a farm belonging to President Monroe.

45. Majors in acting : LEE

Lee Majors is the actor best known for his roles on television. He played Heath Barkley on the Western show “The Big Valley” from 1965 to 1969, Steve Austin on the sci-fi show “The Six Million Dollar Man” from 1973 to 1978, and Colt Seavers on the action show “The Fall Guy”. Majors has been married four times, including to fellow actor Farrah Fawcett from 1973 to 1979.

46. Westminster award : BEST IN SHOW

The first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was held in 1877, which makes it the second oldest sporting event in the country (narrowly beaten out by the Kentucky Derby, first run in 1875). The show was originally limited to gun dogs and was established by a group of hunters who routinely met at the Westminster Hotel in Manhattan, New York.

50. Admiral who explored the Antarctic : BYRD

Rear Admiral Richard Byrd was an officer in the US Navy, famous as an aviator and explorer of the polar regions. Byrd was the first person to cross the South Pole by air, in 1929. Three years earlier, Byrd claimed he had flown over the North Pole, and would have been the first person to have done so if this was true. But whether or not Byrd actually made it over the North Pole continues to be the subject of much debate.

52. 11th Greek letter : LAMBDA

The Greek letter lambda is equivalent to the letter L in our modern Latin alphabet. The uppercase lambda resembles the caret character on a keyboard (over the number 6 key).

55. Motown group … and what 17-, 25-, 37- and 46-Across comprise? : THE FOUR TOPS

The original lineup of the Four Tops agreed to form a vocal quartet when they were high school students together in Detroit. The group started out using the name “The Four Aims”, but changed it to Four Tops to avoid confusion with the Ames Brothers.

62. Garden figures in red hats : GNOMES

In English folklore, the fairy’s anti-hero is the diminutive gnome, an evil ugly character. Over the centuries, the gnome has become more lovable so we now have garden gnomes, and even the Travelocity Gnome.

64. Scalawags : IMPS

The American word “scalawag” meaning “rogue” was used as a nickname for southern white people who supported reconstruction after the Civil War.

Down

1. Euro parts: Abbr. : CTS

The euro is divided in 100 cents, sometimes referred to as “euro cents”. Some countries within the European Union (Ireland, for example) have taken steps to withdraw the 1-cent and 2-cent coins from circulation by allowing cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest five cents. I found it a little odd when buying something in Ireland recently that was priced at 99 cents, and getting no change after handing over a euro coin …

2. Street cred : REP

Reputation (rep)

3. “__ tu”: Verdi aria : ERI

Every crossword constructors’ favorite aria “Eri tu” is from Verdi’s opera “Un ballo in maschera” (“A Masked Ball”). The opera tells the story of the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden during a masked ball.

6. Clavell’s “Shogun” sequel : TAI-PAN

“Tai-Pan” is a novel by James Clavell, and the second in his famous “Asian Saga” suite of six titles. The six books are, in order of publication:

  • “King Rat”
  • “Tai-Pan”
  • “Shōgun”
  • “Noble House”
  • “Whirlwind”
  • “Gai-Jin”

7. Prepare to advance after a fly ball : TAG UP

That would be baseball.

13. Two-time Best Actress winner Hilary : SWANK

The actress Hilary Swank had her first major role in “The Next Karate Kid” released in 1994, in which she played the first female student of the sensei Mr. Myagi.

18. Simba’s mate : NALA

In “The Lion King”, Nala is a lioness and the childhood friend of Simba. By the end of the story, Nala and Simba become wedded. “The Lion King” is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, with Simba representing the title character, and Nala representing Hamlet’s love interest Ophelia.

21. Hypothetical evolutionary link : APEMAN

The term “missing link” is usually applied to the concept that there existed some form of animal that is a hybrid between apes and humans. The idea that there was some “apeman” is discounted these days by the scientific community, which now favors the theory of evolution.

24. Language that gave us “bazaar” : FARSI

“Farsi” is one of the local names for Persian, an Iranian language.

Our word “bazaar”, meaning “market”, comes from the Persian “bazar”, which means the same thing.

26. Sweet’__: coffee additive : ‘N LOW

Sweet’n Low is an artificial sweetener with saccharin as the main ingredient. At least that’s in the US. In Canada the main ingredient is sodium cyclamate. Saccharin was banned in Canada in 1977 due to fears that the sweetener causes cancer. The original studies showing the incidence of cancer in lab rats were eventually shown to be faulty, and so the ban was lifted in 2014.

27. California’s motto : EUREKA

“Eureka” is the Greek for “I have found it”, and is the motto of the state of California. The motto was chosen as a nod to the discovery of gold in the state.

29. Stylish suit : ARMANI

Giorgio Armani is an Italian fashion designer and founder of the company that has borne his name since 1975. Although Armani is famous for his menswear, the company makes everything from jewelry to perfume.

33. But, to Brutus : SED

The most famous man with the name “Brutus” in Ancient Rome was Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger. It was this Brutus that Julius Caesar turned to when he was assassinated on the steps of the Senate. William Shakespeare immortalized Brutus by featuring him in his play, “Julius Caesar”, and giving his victim the line “Et tu, Brute?”

36. Avarice : GREED

Our word “avarice”, meaning a desire for wealth, ultimately derives from the Latin word for crave, “avere”.

38. Mother of Sam and Charlie Woods : ELIN

Elin Nordegren is the ex-wife of Tiger Woods. Nordegren is a native of Sweden, and it was back in Sweden that she was hired as a nanny by the wife of golfer Jesper Parnevik. The job brought her to the US, where she met Tiger Woods. The pair were married in 2004, and have two children together: Sam Alexis born in 2007, and Charlie Axel born in 2009. The marriage fell apart after Woods admitted to infidelity and the couple divorced in 2010.

39. Dreaming phase : REM SLEEP

“REM” is an acronym standing for Rapid Eye Movement sleep. REM sleep takes up 20-25% of the sleeping hours and is the period associated with one’s most vivid dreams.

44. Beetles : VW BUGS

VW stands for Volkswagen, which translates from German into “people’s car”. The original Volkswagen design was the Beetle and was built under a directive from Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap car built that ordinary people could afford to purchase. He awarded the contract to engineer Ferdinand Porsche, whose name (paradoxically) would forever be associated with high performance, expensive cars. The Beetle was the official name of the VW model released in North America, but it was usually referred to as a “Bug” here in the US, and a “Beetle” elsewhere in the world.

53. Spy-fi villain on Crab Key : DR NO

“Dr. No” may have been the first film in the wildly successful James Bond franchise, but it was the sixth novel in the series of books penned by Ian Fleming. Fleming was inspired to write the story after reading the Fu Manchu tales by Sax Rohmer. If you’ve read the Rohmer books or seen the films, you’ll recognize the similarities between the characters Dr. Julius No and Fu Manchu.

55. “I don’t need the deets!” : TMI

TMI (too much information!)

“Deets” is slang for “details”.

57. Medical suffix : -OMA

In the world of medicine, the suffix “-oma” is used to denote a swelling or a tumor. For example, a lipoma is a benign fatty tumor.

58. Odie, to Jon Arbuckle : PET

Jon Arbuckle is a fictional character, the owner of Odie from Jim Davis’s comic strip “Garfield”. Garfield is Arbuckle’s orange tabby cat. Odie is his less-than-smart beagle.

59. Org. funded by FICA : SSA

The Social Security Administration (SSA) was set up as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The first person to receive a monthly retirement benefit was Ida May Fuller of Vermont who received her first check for the sum of $22.54 after having contributed for three years through payroll taxes. The New Deal turned out to be a good deal for Ms. Fuller, as she lived to 100 years of age and received a total benefit of almost $23,000, whereas her three years of contributions added up to just $24.75.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA) was introduced in the 1930s as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. FICA payments are made by both employees and employers in order to fund Social Security and Medicare.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. It can generate a lot of interest : CREDIT
7. Become less aloof : THAW
11. Texting format, briefly : SMS
14. Saint of Ávila : TERESA
15. Opera set in Egypt : AIDA
16. Fell with an ax : HEW
17. Whirligig : SPINNING TOY
19. Toothpaste-approving org. : ADA
20. Northernmost capital on the Mississippi : ST PAUL
21. Key of Grieg’s only piano concerto: Abbr. : A MIN
22. Careful way to play it : SAFE
25. Mont Blanc, e.g. : ALPINE PEAK
28. Class-conscious gp.? : PTA
29. Actress de Armas of “Blade Runner 2049” : ANA
30. Swivel around : SLUE
31. Fielding mishap : ERROR
33. Attacking fiercely : STORMING
37. Fine woolen wear : CASHMERE SWEATER
40. Increased steadily : SPIRALED
41. Rogue : KNAVE
42. Lively, in mus. : ANIM
43. Charlottesville sch. : UVA
45. Majors in acting : LEE
46. Westminster award : BEST IN SHOW
50. Admiral who explored the Antarctic : BYRD
51. x, y and z, in math : AXES
52. 11th Greek letter : LAMBDA
54. “Hey, ewe!” : BAA!
55. Motown group … and what 17-, 25-, 37- and 46-Across comprise? : THE FOUR TOPS
60. Large shade tree : ELM
61. Run into : MEET
62. Garden figures in red hats : GNOMES
63. Muddy pen : STY
64. Scalawags : IMPS
65. Grieg wrote only one for piano : SONATA

Down

1. Euro parts: Abbr. : CTS
2. Street cred : REP
3. “__ tu”: Verdi aria : ERI
4. Not getting it : DENSE
5. Ain’t right? : ISN’T?
6. Clavell’s “Shogun” sequel : TAI-PAN
7. Prepare to advance after a fly ball : TAG UP
8. Schedules of items to deal with : HIT LISTS
9. Hubbub : ADO
10. Path : WAY
11. “Tut-tut!” : SHAME!
12. __ blitz : MEDIA
13. Two-time Best Actress winner Hilary : SWANK
18. Simba’s mate : NALA
21. Hypothetical evolutionary link : APEMAN
22. Short glasses? : SPECS
23. Set __ for: lure : A TRAP
24. Language that gave us “bazaar” : FARSI
26. Sweet’__: coffee additive : ‘N LOW
27. California’s motto : EUREKA
29. Stylish suit : ARMANI
32. “Darn it!” : OH RATS!
33. But, to Brutus : SED
34. See 43-Down : ITALY
35. When the sun rises in the west : NEVER
36. Avarice : GREED
38. Mother of Sam and Charlie Woods : ELIN
39. Dreaming phase : REM SLEEP
43. Man, in 34-Down : UOMO
44. Beetles : VW BUGS
46. Innocent ones : BABES
47. Sing the praises of : EXALT
48. Hardly wholesome : SEAMY
49. Sword handles : HAFTS
50. Relay stick : BATON
53. Spy-fi villain on Crab Key : DR NO
55. “I don’t need the deets!” : TMI
56. Fence (in) : HEM
57. Medical suffix : -OMA
58. Odie, to Jon Arbuckle : PET
59. Org. funded by FICA : SSA

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14 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword Answers 21 Dec 2017, Thursday”

  1. LAT: 9:35, no errors. Newsday: 10:09, no errors, but one of its clues references the Greek alphabet in a way that, while marginally defensible, makes me wonder if the setter and/or editor made an error. WSJ: 15:27, no errors, but I certainly had a harder time with it than I should have; I think I’d have been better off to have taken a minute or two in the middle to figure out the theme gimmick instead of waiting until the end.

    @Carrie … Sorry to hear about the fibromyalgia … ? … and thank you for the comment about stretching exercises being helpful for sciatica … I now know atorvastatin caused 95% of my recent problems, but I also think the exercises I’ve been neglecting are going to become important. Life … sigh … better than the alternative, as they say … ?

  2. 23:14. Never got the theme completely until I had finished.

    Mont Blanc mentioned in both the NYT and LAT today – a conspiracy theorist’s delight. In both cases, they were referring to the Alp as opposed to the pen. FWIW – I could never write very easily with one of those. Maybe it’s a left handed thing. I use a gold Cross pen when I want to give the illusion I’m important…..

    My favorite “kick the nicotine habit” story is that of General Eisenhower. He had smoked 4 packs – 80 cigarettes! – a day for decades. One day it just occurred to him that was just too much. He quit on the spot and never smoked another cigarette in his life.

    I looked up fibromyalgia on wikipedia, and what struck me the most was how little I knew about it. I had no idea there was chronic pain involved among many other symptoms. It sounds awful. I hope modern medicine has come up with something effective to treat it. Treatment sounds a little hit and miss to me.

    Best –

  3. UOMO!!! Aargh…. I had HOMO (man in Italian? / Latin?), but of course that didn’t fit in with the College. Gave up and went to see Bill. UOMO — Ugh.

  4. @Glenn … I just finished Tim Croce’s #220 (2017/01/03): 56:35, no errors; a lot of classic Croce cluing, but not all that bad, considering (though I lucked out a little by having read a novel that is referenced in a couple of the clues). I’m beginning to think that he just turned his inner sadist loose for a while later in January. Having now finished all his puzzles from 2017 (aside from that “Wordomino” that I essentially gave up on, though it’s still in my stack), I’m going to go back to the earliest puzzles available on Croce’s site and see what those are like.

  5. I had a tough time. Very Challenging. As expected for a Thursday. The long answers were a big help. I did enjoy the experience though.

    Thank you Bill, for the blog … learnt a lot of things. I had never heard of SED and UOMO.
    I recently heard of a new apeman, other than homo sapien and Neanderthal and Austropithecus etc. … .
    The new entrant is a Denisovan or a Denisova hominin who lived at the same time as a Neanderthal. Isn’t the ancient history of extinct hominids fascinating.?

    Have a nice day, all.

    1. Thanks, Vidwan. Most interesting.

      One more comment: As I said, “23AndMe” says I have an unusual number of Neanderthal gene variants, but National Geographic’s “Genographic Project”, in which I also participated, gave me a somewhat different breakdown, saying that my Neanderthal numbers are not that high, but my Denisovan numbers are. I think (but I’m not absolutely sure of it) that this is because “23AndMe” doesn’t separate out Denisovan variants from Neanderthal variants. Given that my ancestry is basically European, with a little input, many generations back, from Native Americans, it’s a little difficult to explain Denisovan gene variants, as they were more Asian. (I intend to research this, if and when I find the time.)

  6. Not a timer, but finished without an error. OK theme, decent fill. Refreshing to see 21A (AMIN) clued without Idi. But 8D: HIT LISTS clued as “Schedule of items to deal with.” Huh?! For years, I’ve worked at least two puzzles a day, and that’s either a truly lazy, stupid clue or I’m missing whatever keeps it from being one. If I am, please tell me what it is, and I’ll apologize for the unflattering remarks.

  7. Moderately tricky Thursday; took about 30 minutes with no errors, but some pretty dodgy clues.

    So how can Tai-pan be a sequel to Shogun if it comes before it. Also, didn’t know ANA and the cross of NALA didn’t help.. Agree with Joe and Dave that Hit List is pretty sketchy for “schedule of items to deal with.” UOMO would only have been right with UVA as the cross.

    @Bill – You may need to update your ELIN explanation, even if it is technically correct. They’ve been divorced for a while now.

    Well, at least I escaped unscathed and ready for Friday…

    1. @Dirk
      Thanks for the note about Ms. Nordegren. I’ve updated the comment.

      Also, the list I give of Clavell novels is in order of publication. If you sort the six books in order of storyline-date (if you know what I mean!), then “Shogun” comes first, and “Tai-Pan” second. My guess is that’s what the constructor means by “sequel”.

  8. Aloha meine freunden!! ?
    Average Thursday; no errors, and it was neat to see the Four Tops in a puzzle!! “Standing in the Shadows of Love” and “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I’ve Got” are two faves by them. ? At first I thought that the​ theme would be The Jackson Five, with one brother’s name hidden in each theme answer. No such luck! That woulda been cute, I think​. ?

    Dave, thank you! ! ?

    Yes….. CFS and fibromyalgia are not the types of illnesses that get much attention. You never hear of a “Five-K for CFS.” The medical community doesn’t understand them and only a handful of practitioners​ even try!! ?

    I’m having a few friends over tomorrow evening, and I only today realized that I haven’t really “festivized” my house! I decided on no Christmas tree this year, but I forgot to fetch a sheaf of pine tree cuttings from the local tree lot. Guess I’d better do that tomorrow. It’s on my HIT LIST!!! (Agreed ~~very weird term as presented in this grid.)
    Be well~~™?

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