LA Times Crossword 12 Dec 19, Thursday

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Constructed by: Joe Deeney
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Mars

Themed answers each have the same clue, namely “Mars”:

  • 20A Mars : FOURTH PLANET
  • 33A Mars : CHOCOLATE BAR
  • 41A Mars : POP STAR BRUNO
  • 53A Mars : SON OF JUPITER

Bill’s time: 6m 53s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Baseball Hall of Famer Speaker : TRIS

Tris Speaker was a Major League Baseball player, and the holder of the record for the most doubles hit in a career. He led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series championships, in 1912 and 1915.

5 Big name in interstellar communication : UHURA

Lt. Nyota Uhura is the communications officer in the original “Star Trek” television series, and is played by Nichelle Nichols. The role is significant in that Uhura was one of the first African American characters to figure front and center in US television. In a 1968 episode, Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Uhura kiss, the first interracial kiss to be broadcast in the US. Apparently the scene was meant to be shot twice, with and without the kiss, so that network executives could later decide which version to air. William Shatner claims that he deliberately ran long on the first shoot (with the kiss) and fluffed the hurried second shoot (without the kiss), so that the network would have no choice.

10 Window part : SASH

A movable (up-and-down) window frame is called a sash, from the French word for a frame “châssis”. The term is also applied to that part of a door or window into which windows are set.

14 Rope fiber : HEMP

Hemp, also known as “cannabis”, is a hardy, fast-growing plant that has many uses mainly due to the strength of the fibers in the plant’s stalks. Hemp is used to make rope, paper and textiles. The term “hemp” is sometimes reserved for varieties of the plant grown for non-drug use.

15 Weighs an empty container on, as a deli scale : TARES

Tare is the weight of a container that is deducted from the gross weight to determine the net weight, the weight of the container’s contents.

16 Oberlin’s state : OHIO

Oberlin, Ohio is a city southwest of Cleveland. The city is home to Oberlin College, the biggest employer in town. Oberlin was named after Jean-Frédéric Oberlin, a pastor from Alsace. Oberlin was the first college in the country to admit African American students (in 1835), and the first to admit female students (in 1837).

17 “Frozen” sister : ELSA

“Frozen” is a 2013 animated feature from Walt Disney Studios that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. The film is all about the exploits of Princess Anna, the younger sister of Elsa, Snow Queen of Arendelle. Spoiler alert: Prince Hans of the Southern Isles seems to be a good guy for most of the film, but turns out to be a baddie in the end. And, a snowman named Olaf provides some comic relief.

18 Early 2010s Mideast anti-government movement : ARAB SPRING

The term “Arab Spring” has been applied to the wave of protests, riots and civil wars that impacted the Arab world from 2010 to 2012. The uprisings were sparked by the Tunisian Revolution at the end of 2010 that led to the ouster of the longtime president and the institution of democratic elections. The period of instability that followed in some Arab League countries has been dubbed the “Arab Winter”

20 Mars : FOURTH PLANET

Because Mars is a greater distance from the Sun, the Martian year is about two Earth-years long.

22 American Red Cross founder : BARTON

Clara Barton was deeply disturbed by her experiences caring for the wounded during the Civil War. She dedicated herself after the war towards American recognition of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The American Red Cross was inevitably formed, in 1881, and Barton was installed as its first president.

32 “Te __”: Rihanna song : AMO

Singer Rihanna was born and grew up on the island of Barbados and moved to the US when she was 16-years-old to pursue a singing career. “Rihanna” is her stage name, as she was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty. The name “Rihanna” is derived from the Welsh name “Rhiannon”.

33 Mars : CHOCOLATE BAR

Having lived on both sides of the Atlantic, I find the Mars Bar to be the most perplexing of candies! The original Mars Bar is a British confection (and delicious) that was first manufactured in 1932. The US version of the original Mars Bar is called a Milky Way. But there is a candy bar called a Milky Way that is also produced in the UK, and it is completely different to its US cousin, being more like an American “3 Musketeers”. And then there is an American confection called a Mars Bar, something different again. No wonder I try not to eat candy bars …

36 Giants manager before Bochy : ALOU

Bruce Bochy was appointed manager of the San Francisco Giants baseball team in 2007. Bochy is a little unusual in the Major League Baseball world in that he was born in France (his father was a US Army officer stationed there). Bruce became the first European-born manager to win the World Series when the Giants emerged victorious in 2010.

Felipe Alou is a former professional baseball player and manager. Alou managed the Montreal Expos from 1992 to 2001, and the San Francisco Giants from 2003 to 2006. Alou was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and came to the US to play for the Giants in 1955. Felipe’s brothers Matty and Jesús followed him to the US, and into Major League baseball.

39 “Two Women” Oscar winner : LOREN

Sophia Loren certainly has earned her exalted position in the world of movies. In 1962 Loren won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the Italian film “Two Women”, marking the first actress to win an Academy Award for a non-English speaking performance. She received a second nomination for Best Actress for her role in “Marriage Italian-Style”, another Italian-language movie, released in 1964.

“Two Women” (“La Ciociara”, in Italian, meaning “The Woman from Ciociara”) is a 1960 film that won Sophia Loren that season’s Best Actress Oscar. The title characters are a widowed shopkeeper (played by Loren) and her 12-year-old daughter. The movie is set in WWII, and there is a very disturbing scene in which the two “women” are gang-raped by a group of soldiers. Actress Eleonora Brown played the daughter, and was actually only 12 years of age at the time of shooting. A tough scene to watch, and surely a tough scene to film …

40 Valentine letters : XOXO

Saint Valentine’s Day was introduced by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD to honor various martyrs with the name Valentine. However, the saint’s day was dropped by the Roman Catholic church in 1969, by Pope Paul VI. Try telling that to Hallmark though …

41 Mars : POP STAR BRUNO

Bruno Mars is a singer-songwriter from Honolulu who has been active in the music business since 2006. “Bruno Mars” is a stage name, as Mars was born Peter Hernandez.

44 Number one woman? : EVE

According to the Bible, Eve was created as Adam’s companion by God, creating her from Adam’s rib.

46 CBS news anchor Barnett : ERROL

Errol Barnett was a CNN anchor based in Johannesburg, South Africa and then Atlanta, Georgia before moving to Washington, D.C to work for CBS News in 2016. Barnett was born in England, but was educated in Phoenix, Arizona.

50 It’s in your jeans : DENIM

Denim fabric originated in Nimes in France. The French phrase “de Nimes” (meaning “from Nimes”) gives us the word “denim”. Also, the French phrase “bleu de Genes” (meaning “blue of Genoa”) gives us our word “jeans”.

52 Gap : LACUNA

A lacuna is a missing piece of text (or music) in a larger work. Usually the text has been lost due to damage of an older manuscript. Lacunae can be very controversial as experts vie with each other to suggest what words have been lost.

53 Mars : SON OF JUPITER

Jupiter, also known as Jove, was the king of the gods in the Roman tradition, as well as the god of sky and thunder. Jupiter was the Roman equivalent to the Greek god Zeus.

Mars was the god of war in ancient Rome. Mars was also viewed as the father of the Roman people and the father of Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers who founded Rome according to Roman mythology.

58 Yellow mollusk that became the U.C. Santa Cruz mascot : BANANA SLUG

The original mascot for the sports teams of UC Santa Cruz was the sea lion. The students apparently didn’t like this choice and changed the mascot to the banana slug after a campus referendum in 1986.

66 Big name in baseball cards : TOPPS

Topps was a relaunch of an older company called American Leaf Tobacco, with the Topps name used from 1938. The earlier company was in trouble because it could not get supplies of its Turkish tobacco, so it moved into another chewy industry, making bubblegum. Nowadays, Topps is known for including (mainly) sports-themed trading cards in the packs of gum.

1 DOJ division since 1908 : THE FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was set up in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), with the name changing in 1935. The Bureau was set up at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt. President Roosevelt was largely moved to do so after the 1901 assassination of President McKinley, as there was a perception that anarchists were threatening law and order. The FBI’s motto uses the organization’s initialism, and is “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity”.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) was created in 1870 by the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant, although the office of the Attorney General had been operating since 1789. The DOJ Building in Washington, D.C. was completed in 1935, and was named the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in 2001.

4 Gladiator played by Kirk Douglas : SPARTACUS

“Spartacus” is a famous 1960 historical drama directed by Stanley Kubrick. Based on a true story, the film tells the story of Spartacus and his role in the Third Servile War, the last of the unsuccessful slave rebellions of ancient Rome. Spartacus is played by Kirk Douglas, and indeed Douglas was very much the driving force behind making the movie. He had failed to win the title role in “Ben-Hur”, losing out to Charlton Heston. Douglas then decided to make a competing film, with a similar theme and setting. You judge which is best …

Megastar Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in Upstate New York. One of Douglas’ coups was to purchase the film-making rights to the play “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, in which he starred on Broadway in the mid-sixties. He gave those rights to his son, actor Michael Douglas, who made it into the magnificent movie of the same name. Kirk Douglas celebrated his 100th birthday in December, 2016.

5 Jazz aficionado? : UTAHN

The Utah Jazz professional basketball team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. As one might guess from the name, the team originated in New Orleans, but only played there for five seasons. New Orleans was a tough place to be based because venues were hard to come by, and Mardi Gras forced the team to play on the road for a whole month.

An aficionado is an enthusiast. Imported from Spanish, “aficionado” was originally used in English to describe a devotee of bullfighting.

7 Risk territory between Ukraine and Siberia : URAL

Risk is a fabulous board game that was introduced in France in 1957. It 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 …

8 First name in country : REBA

Reba McEntire is a country music singer and television actress. McEntire starred in her own sitcom called “Reba” that aired on the WB and the CW cable channels from 2001 to 2007.

11 Big tuna : AHI

Yellowfin and bigeye tuna are usually marketed as “ahi”, the Hawaiian name. They are both big fish, with yellowfish tuna often weighing over 300 pounds, and bigeye tuna getting up to 400 pounds.

19 __ four: small cake : PETIT

A petit four is a small confection served at the end of a meal, either as a dessert or with coffee. The name “petit four” is French for “small oven”.

21 Peter of reggae : TOSH

Peter Tosh was a musician from Jamaica, a member of the Wailers reggae band. Sadly, Tosh was murdered in a home invasion and extortion attempt in 1987.

24 Mexican resort, for short : CABO

Cabo San Lucas is a major tourist destination at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. “Cabo” is sometimes referred to as the “Fort Lauderdale of Mexico”.

25 Big-screen format : IMAX

The IMAX Corporation, which is behind the IMAX film format, is a Canadian company. The impetus for developing the system came after Expo ’67 in Montreal. Back then large format screenings were accomplished using multiple projectors with multiple screens, with images basically stitched together. The team behind the IMAX technology set out to simplify things, and developed a single-camera, single-projector system.

26 Capa attacker : TORO

In Spanish, a “toro” (bull) attacks the “capa” (cape) in a bullfight.

29 Kevin who played Hercules on TV : SORBO

Actor Kevin Sorbo is best known for playing the leads in the TV shows “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Andromeda”. Sorbo married actress Sam Sorbo in 1998, after meeting her on the set of “Hercules”.

31 Premier League rival of Arsenal, familiarly : MAN U

Manchester United (“Man U”) is one of the most successful football (soccer) clubs in England, having won more League titles than any other in the history of the game. The club is also famous for an airplane crash known as the 1958 Munich air disaster. The British European flight crashed during takeoff, resulting in the death of 23 passengers, including eight members of the Manchester United team.

Arsenal Football Club (nicknamed “the Gunners”) is an English soccer team based in the Holloway district of London. The club was founded in 1886 as Dial Square by workers at the Royal Arsenal munitions factory. Dial Square was the name given to the workshops at the center of the Royal Arsenal complex. After just a few weeks in existence, the club changed its name to Royal Arsenal, which was eventually shortened to just Arsenal.

35 Ways of dealing with inner demons? : EXORCISMS

An exorcist is a religious figure who is believed to be able to cast out demons that have possessed a person or perhaps a building.

42 Pumbaa’s “The Lion King” pal : TIMON

Timon and Pumbaa are a pair of characters in Disney’s 1994 animated film “The Lion King”. Timon is a meerkat, and was voiced by the great Nathan Lane. Pumbaa is a warthog, and was voiced by Ernie Sabella.

43 __ tide : NEAP

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon on the oceans. At neap tide, the smaller gravitational effect of the sun cancels out some of the moon’s effect. At spring tide, the sun and the moon’s gravitational forces act in concert causing more extreme movement of the oceans.

47 Foster of folk music : RUTHIE

Ruthie Foster is a blues and folk singer from Texas. She served in the US Navy in her younger days, and sang in the naval band called Pride that performed at recruitment drives.

49 Pantry : LARDER

The Latin word for bacon or lard, is “lardum”, from which developed a Middle Latin word “lardarium” meaning a “room for meats”. This came into English as “larder” to describe a meat storeroom. Over time, our larders stored all types of foods and our fresh meats went into refrigerators.

The word “pantry” dates back to 1300, when it came into English from the Old French “panetrie” meaning a “bread room”. Bread is “pain” in French, and “panis” in Latin.

51 “Wicked Game” singer Chris : ISAAK

Chris Isaak is not only a rock musician, but also has had a lot of acting parts. Isaak had small roles in movies like “Married to the Mob” and “The Silence of the Lambs”, but I remember him as astronaut Ed White in the fabulous HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon”.

52 Olympic racers : LUGES

A luge is a small sled used by one or two people, on which one lies face up and feet first. The luge can be compared to the skeleton, a sled for only one person and on which the rider lies face down and goes down the hill head-first. Yikes!

54 Condé __ : NAST

Condé Nast is a mass media corporation that has a very large portfolio of publications, including “Vogue”, “GQ”, “House and Garden”, “Golf Digest”, “Wired”, “Vanity Fair” and “The New Yorker”.

55 Nobel ceremony city : OSLO

The Norwegian Nobel Institute was established in Oslo in 1904. The main task of the Institute is to assist the Norwegian Nobel Committee in selecting the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and to organize the annual Nobel event.

60 Used to be called : NEE

“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”. The term “née” is mainly used in English when referring to a married woman’s birth name, assuming that she has adopted her husbands name, e.g. Michelle Obama née Robinson, and Melania Trump née Knavs.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Baseball Hall of Famer Speaker : TRIS
5 Big name in interstellar communication : UHURA
10 Window part : SASH
14 Rope fiber : HEMP
15 Weighs an empty container on, as a deli scale : TARES
16 Oberlin’s state : OHIO
17 “Frozen” sister : ELSA
18 Early 2010s Mideast anti-government movement : ARAB SPRING
20 Mars : FOURTH PLANET
22 American Red Cross founder : BARTON
23 Silently understood : TACIT
27 Creative nuggets : IDEAS
28 “Me too” : AS AM I
32 “Te __”: Rihanna song : AMO
33 Mars : CHOCOLATE BAR
36 Giants manager before Bochy : ALOU
39 “Two Women” Oscar winner : LOREN
40 Valentine letters : XOXO
41 Mars : POP STAR BRUNO
44 Number one woman? : EVE
45 Plan B lead-in : IF NOT …
46 CBS news anchor Barnett : ERROL
50 It’s in your jeans : DENIM
52 Gap : LACUNA
53 Mars : SON OF JUPITER
58 Yellow mollusk that became the U.C. Santa Cruz mascot : BANANA SLUG
61 Booted, say : SHOD
62 __ rug : AREA
63 Oozy stuff : SLIME
64 “Hands off!” : MINE!
65 __ chic : GEEK
66 Big name in baseball cards : TOPPS
67 Fortuneteller : SEER

1 DOJ division since 1908 : THE FBI
2 Browser’s circular arrow function : RELOAD
3 “No doubt about it!” : I’M SURE!
4 Gladiator played by Kirk Douglas : SPARTACUS
5 Jazz aficionado? : UTAHN
6 Angelic strings : HARP
7 Risk territory between Ukraine and Siberia : URAL
8 First name in country : REBA
9 Org. : ASSN
10 Ish : SORTA
11 Big tuna : AHI
12 Do wrong : SIN
13 Refuse to share : HOG
19 __ four: small cake : PETIT
21 Peter of reggae : TOSH
24 Mexican resort, for short : CABO
25 Big-screen format : IMAX
26 Capa attacker : TORO
28 Some kind of a nut : ACORN
29 Kevin who played Hercules on TV : SORBO
30 On one’s toes : ALERT
31 Premier League rival of Arsenal, familiarly : MAN U
34 “Frozen” snowman : OLAF
35 Ways of dealing with inner demons? : EXORCISMS
36 Made like : APED
37 Word with bird or nest : LOVE …
38 Go first : OPEN
42 Pumbaa’s “The Lion King” pal : TIMON
43 __ tide : NEAP
47 Foster of folk music : RUTHIE
48 Impossible NFL score : ONE-ONE
49 Pantry : LARDER
51 “Wicked Game” singer Chris : ISAAK
52 Olympic racers : LUGES
54 Condé __ : NAST
55 Nobel ceremony city : OSLO
56 Lose one’s cool : FLIP
57 Leap : JUMP
58 Carry-on unit : BAG
59 “__ you serious?” : ARE
60 Used to be called : NEE

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 12 Dec 19, Thursday”

  1. This was a tough one and required a bit of reworking. No errors in the
    end, but was unfamiliar with the word lacuna meaning gap. But went
    with it anyway as everything else seemed to fit.

  2. 21:24 no errors in what seemed like an easy Thursday puzzle……BTW Kirk Douglas just celebrated his 103rd birthday…..what the heck is GEEK CHIC ?……Ravens Jets tonight

  3. 6:39, and today I learned “LACUNA.”

    I agree, way too many proper names in this puzzle, it was just by luck that I either happened to know them or was able to guess (RUTHIE Foster). Got bogged down a bit after putting in SUSAN Barnett… she was a news anchor on my local CBS station here in Illinois and I’m not sure why I thought that gave her enough notoriety to be in a crossword puzzle, but off I went. Hadn’t heard of ERROL Barnett although now that I’ve looked him up, I guess I should have.

    And oh look, here’s the ALOU family again!

  4. 16:14. Usually, I’m hesitant to chime in and pile on about any given puzzle’s shortcomings, but wow it’s hard to deny the number of proper names in this one. I will say that there were an awful lot of them I didn’t know but got via a lot of crosswordese (Read: easy) crosses. RUTHIE was a shot in the dark for me too.

    I suspect the setter and editor realized all the names and attempted to make the crossings relatively doable. I was able to finish error free so I guess they succeeded. Then again perhaps I’m giving them too much credit.

    Best –

  5. 11:55, no errors, just by chance. 52A was totally out of ken for me, and I’m somewhat familiar with music. Wow. I’ve got a LACUNA in my musical knowledge, for sure!!
    A fair number of overwrites (THE FBI, and of course, UTAHN, and even SASH). FOURTH PLANET didn’t come easily either. This was not an easy one.

  6. No real difficulties with today’s grid. I was a bit unsure of lacuna, but I got it from down crosses and once I saw it spelled out I knew it was right.

    For those who do the WSJ daily I think this was a true challenge today. I finished without final error, but for a while I thought I was going to end up with a DNF.

  7. After 3 Googles (UHURA, TIMON, MANU) and accidentally getting ERROL, RUTHIE, TRIS, CABOand BANANA SLUG, I realized there was something seriously wrong in the NW. That was I had “the red PLANET” instead of FOURTH PLANET. Once I got that, the NW fell in. But wow, so many proper nouns.
    The weight had to be TARES, but is TARES a verb?

    The theme was clever.

  8. Mostly easy Thursday for me; took 19 minutes with no errors, although quite a bit of waiting for crosses. Normally I would complain about all the proper nouns, but I was able to navigate them with crosses and lucky guesses.

    Really liked the BANANA SLUG reference – UCSC, my alma mater. They must of had the referendum in the Spring of ’86, since I got there in the Fall and it was a done deal. Walking between classes, through the woods, we would often see our mascots, oozing along the path 🙂

  9. Greetings y’all!!🦆

    No errors, but a challenging fill. That SE corner was tough!!😫 I didn’t know ERROL, RUTHIE, or LACUNA. They just fit. Also didn’t know TARES — wow there’s a word for that!! I guess it makes sense that there is.

    Glad to know the word LACUNA tho. That’s a good term to toss out in convo and see whom I can impress. 😊

    I guess there were a lot of proper nouns here; maybe it didn’t bother me since I knew all but ERROL and RUTHIE. It’s the crossword luck-of-the-draw. Next week we’ll have a puzzle with a bunch of names that I DON’T know. 🤔

    Be well ~~🥂

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