LA Times Crossword 13 Dec 19, Friday

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Constructed by: Victor Barocas
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Trim the Tree

Themed answers start with a type of TREE. When we TRIM THE last letter from that TREE, we get a common phrase:

  • 60A Do some holiday decorating … and what you need to do to four puzzle answers to produce familiar phrases? : TRIM THE TREE
  • 17A “O Tannenbaum” and others? : PINE NUMBERS (trims to “PIN numbers”)
  • 24A One trying to photograph a partridge during the holidays? : PEAR SHOOTER (trims to “peashooter”)
  • 38A Muchacho working with wood? : ELM NINO (trims to “El Nino”)
  • 50A Boob tube yule log residue? : ASH SEEN ON TV (trims to “as seen on TV”)

Bill’s time: 9m 01s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

11 “That cracks me up!” : LOL!

Laugh out loud (LOL)

14 Video game giant : ATARI

At one point, the electronics and video game manufacturer Atari was the fastest growing company in US history. However, Atari never really recovered from the video game industry crash of 1983.

17 “O Tannenbaum” and others? : PINE NUMBERS (trims to “PIN numbers”)

“O Tannenbaum” is a traditional German Christmas carol, the title of which is usually translated as “O Christmas Tree”. “Tannenbaum” is the German name for a fir tree.

One enters a Personal Identification Number (PIN) when using an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Given that the N in PIN stands for “number”, then “PIN number” is a redundant phrase. And, given that the M in ATM stands for “machine”, then “ATM machine” is a redundant phrase as well. Grr …!

22 Styx home : HADES

Hades was the god of the underworld to the ancient Greeks. Over time, Hades gave his name to the underworld itself, the place where the dead reside. The term “Hades” was also adopted into the Christian tradition, as an alternative name for hell. But, the concept of hell in Christianity is more akin to the Greek “Tartarus”, which is a dark and gloomy dungeon located in Hades, a place of suffering and torment.

The River Styx of Greek mythology was the river that formed the boundary between the Earth and the Underworld (or “Hades”). The souls of the newly dead had to cross the River Styx in a ferry boat piloted by Charon. Traditionally, a coin would be placed in the mouths of the dead “to pay the ferryman”.

24 One trying to photograph a partridge during the holidays? : PEAR SHOOTER (trims to “peashooter”)

The fabulous Christmas Carol called “The Twelve Days of Christmas” dates back at least to 1780 when it was first published in England, though it may be French in origin. The concept of twelve days of Christmas comes from the tradition that the three kings came to visit the Christ Child twelve days after he was born. This same tradition is the origin of the title to Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”.

30 Multilevel marketing giant : AMWAY

Founded in 1959, Amway is still going strong. It is one of the largest privately-held companies in the United States, with sales of around $8 billion and about 13,000 employees. The name “Amway” is short for “American Way”.

31 Most Belgraders : SERBS

Belgrade is the capital city of Serbia. The name “Belgrade” translates into “White City”.

38 Muchacho working with wood? : ELM NINO (trims to “El Nino”)

In Spanish a boy is a “niño” or a “muchacho”. One can call also an adult male a “muchacho”, as in “one of the boys”. Calling an adult male a “niño” would be an insult.

When the surface temperature of much of the Pacific Ocean rises more than half a degree centigrade, then there is said to be an El Niño episode. That small temperature change in the Pacific has been associated with climatic changes that can stretch right across the globe. El Niño is Spanish for “the boy” and is a reference to the Christ child. The phenomenon was given this particular Spanish name because the warming is usually noticed near South America and around Christmas-time.

41 Title for Jagger : SIR

The Rolling Stones lead singer’s full name is Sir Michael Philip Jagger. “Mick” was knighted for his services to popular music in 2003.

42 NRA member? : ASSN

National Rifle Association (NRA)

44 Actress Skye : IONE

Ione Skye is an American actress born in London, England. She is best known for portraying the character Diane Court in the 1989 high school romance movie “Say Anything…”, starring opposite John Cusack. Skye is the daughter of the Scottish folk singer Donovan.

47 Lacrosse need : STICK

A lacrosse stick is also known as a “crosse”.

50 Boob tube yule log residue? : ASH SEEN ON TV (trims to “as seen on TV”)

“Idiot box” and “boob tube” are nicknames for television.

A Yule log is a large log made from a very hard wood that is burned as part of the Christmas celebration. There is also a cake called a Yule log that is served at Christmas, especially in French-speaking parts of the world. The cake is made from sponge that is rolled up to resemble a wooden Yule log.

54 Air Force prog. that first admitted women in 1969 : ROTC

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a training program for officers based in colleges all around the US. The ROTC program was established in 1862 when as a condition of receiving a land-grant to create colleges, the federal government required that military tactics be part of a new school’s curriculum.

59 Like rappers Jon and Wayne : LIL

Lil Jon is a rapper from Atlanta whose real name is Jonathan Mortimer Smith. Smith adopted his stage name early in his career, when collaborating with Big Sam and Lil’ Bo.

“Lil Wayne” is the stage name used by rap artist Dwayne Carter, Jr. from New Orleans.

60 Do some holiday decorating … and what you need to do to four puzzle answers to produce familiar phrases? : TRIM THE TREE

The custom of decorating trees at Christmas seems to have originated in Renaissance Germany. Those first trees were placed in guildhalls and were decorated with sweets and candy for the apprentices and children. After the Protestant Reformation, the Christmas tree became an alternative in Protestant homes for the Roman Catholic Christmas cribs. The Christmas tree tradition was imported into Britain by the royal family because of its German heritage. That tradition spread from Britain into North America.

63 Monopoly abbr. : AVE

The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman named Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.

64 “Biography” channel : A AND E

The A&E television network used to be a favorite of mine, with the “A&E” standing for “arts and entertainment”. A&E started out airing a lot of the old classic dramas, as well as biographies and arts programs. Now there seems to be more reality TV, with one of the flagship programs being “Dog the Bounty Hunter”. A slight change of direction I’d say …

65 Toroidal bread : 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.

A torus (plural “tori”) is a shape resembling a doughnut.

67 “Understood” : ROGER

The term “roger”, meaning “yes” or “acknowledged”, comes from the world of radiotelephony. The British military used a phonetic alphabet in the fifties that included “Roger” to represent the letter “R”. As such, it became customary to say “Roger” when acknowledging a message, with R (Roger) standing for “received”.

Down

3 Clydesdale feature : MANE

The Budweiser Clydesdales were first used in 1933, when they carried the first case of beer produced by the Anheuser Busch Brewery in a ceremonial trip through St. Louis to celebrate the end of prohibition. The team of horses was then transported by rail to New York City, where they were used to present two cases of Budweiser to Al Smith, a former governor of New York who vigorously opposed prohibition.

7 Picture puzzle : REBUS

A rebus is a puzzle that uses pictures to represent letters and groups of letters. For example, a picture of a “ewe” might represent the letter “U” or the pronoun “you”, and a picture of an “oar” might represent the letter “R” or the conjunction “or”.

8 Zimbalist of “Remington Steele” : STEPHANIE

Stephanie Zimbalist is an actress who is best known for playing the female lead on the 1980’s detective show “Remington Steele”. Stephanie is the daughter of actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who starred in the TV shows “77 Sunset Strip” and “The F.B.I.”

The eighties detective show “Remington Steele” stars Stephanie Zimbalist as a private detective Laura Holt, and Pierce Brosnan as the handsome bad boy Remington Steele, who’s really a good boy. The show successfully melds the detective genre with elements of romantic comedy.

9 Hockey legend : ORR

Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn’t skate anymore. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking. While still 31 years old, in 1979, Orr became the youngest person inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Prior to that, in 1967, Orr became the youngest person named the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

18 Its Space Command has HQ in Colorado : USAF

Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs is the headquarters of the US Air Force Space Command.

23 Not much at all : A TAD

Back in the 1800s, “tad” was used to describe a young child, and this extended into our usage of “small amount” in the early 1900s. The original use of “tad” for a child is very likely a shortened version of “tadpole”.

27 Cuban pronoun : ESTA

In Spanish, the “otra” (other) is neither “esta” (this) nor “esa” (that).

29 Financial report line : GROSS SALES

In a financial statement, “net sales” are “gross sales” net of customer discounts, customer returns and sales allowances paid if a product proves to be defective.

32 Caterpillar’s exhalation in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” : SMOKE RING

“Alice in Wonderland” is a 1951 Disnet animated feature that is based on both of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”. Although now considered a Disney classic, “Alice in Wonderland” was originally panned by the critics and flopped at the box office.

33 Andy’s doll pal : ANN

Raggedy Ann is a rag doll that was created by Johnny Gruelle in 1915 for his daughter, Marcella. He decided to name the doll by combining the titles of two poems by James Whitcomb Riley, “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphan Annie”. Gruelle introduced Raggedy Ann in a series of books three years later. Sadly, Marcella died at 13 years of age with her father blaming a smallpox vaccination she was given at school. Gruelle became very active in the movement against mass vaccination, for which Raggedy Ann became a symbol.

39 Tiny parasites : LICE

Lice (singular “louse”) are small wingless insects, of which there are thousands of species. There are three species of lice affecting humans, i.e. head lice, body lice and pubic lice. Most lice feed on dead skin found on the body of the host animal, although some feed on blood. Ick …

48 Fictional title country in a 1987 film : ISHTAR

“Ishtar” is a 1987 film that really bombed at the box office. It stars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, as lounge singers working in Morocco! There’s a Cold War plot and, thank goodness, it’s a comedy. Apparently, the film is so bad that it never even made it to DVD.

49 Foot fraction : INCH

An inch is 1/12 of a foot. The term “inch” comes from the Latin “uncia” meaning “twelfth”.

51 __ plume : NOM DE

“Nom de plume” translates from French simply as “pen name”.

52 River swimmer : OTTER

Male and female otters are known as dogs and bitches, with the offspring called pups. Males and females are are sometimes referred to as boars and sows. A collection of otters is a bevy, family, lodge or perhaps a romp. When in water, a collection of otters can be called a raft.

56 Ship to Colchis : ARGO

In Greek mythology, Colchis was a wealthy land located at the edge of the world. It was in Colchis that Jason and the Argonauts found the Golden Fleece.

In Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts sailed on the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece. The vessel was called “Argo” in honor of the ship’s builder, a man named Argus.

61 ’90s Indian prime minister : RAO

P. V. Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996. Rao is seen by most as the leader who transformed his country’s economy into the market-driven engine that it is today.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Innocents : LAMBS
6 Uncool crime? : ARSON
11 “That cracks me up!” : LOL!
14 Video game giant : ATARI
15 Old-school : RETRO
16 Leave breathless : AWE
17 “O Tannenbaum” and others? : PINE NUMBERS (trims to “PIN numbers”)
19 Resting place : INN
20 Meal in a pot : STEW
21 Meal in a pot : SOUP
22 Styx home : HADES
24 One trying to photograph a partridge during the holidays? : PEAR SHOOTER (trims to “peashooter”)
27 Submerge : ENGULF
30 Multilevel marketing giant : AMWAY
31 Most Belgraders : SERBS
32 Playing with a full deck : SANE
34 Free game version, perhaps : DEMO
37 This answer’s consonant count, aptly : TWO
38 Muchacho working with wood? : ELM NINO (trims to “El Nino”)
41 Title for Jagger : SIR
42 NRA member? : ASSN
44 Actress Skye : IONE
45 Barely leading : UP ONE
47 Lacrosse need : STICK
49 Finds exciting : IS INTO
50 Boob tube yule log residue? : ASH SEEN ON TV (trims to “as seen on TV”)
53 Fail to match : CLASH
54 Air Force prog. that first admitted women in 1969 : ROTC
55 Sworn statement : OATH
59 Like rappers Jon and Wayne : LIL
60 Do some holiday decorating … and what you need to do to four puzzle answers to produce familiar phrases? : TRIM THE TREE
63 Monopoly abbr. : AVE
64 “Biography” channel : A AND E
65 Toroidal bread : BAGEL
66 Victorious shout : YES!
67 “Understood” : ROGER
68 Fair-haired : BLOND

Down

1 Track count : LAPS
2 Fighting : AT IT
3 Clydesdale feature : MANE
4 Craft beer server : BREWPUB
5 Serious code-breaking? : SIN
6 Strong suit : ARMOR
7 Picture puzzle : REBUS
8 Zimbalist of “Remington Steele” : STEPHANIE
9 Hockey legend : ORR
10 Reason for an empty seat : NO-SHOW
11 Saw : LAID EYES ON
12 “For sale by” sign poster : OWNER
13 Spyglass part : LENS
18 Its Space Command has HQ in Colorado : USAF
23 Not much at all : A TAD
25 Otherwise : ELSE
26 Sign to interpret : OMEN
27 Cuban pronoun : ESTA
28 Latest : NEWS
29 Financial report line : GROSS SALES
32 Caterpillar’s exhalation in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” : SMOKE RING
33 Andy’s doll pal : ANN
35 36-Down flavor : MINT
36 Classic cookie : OREO
39 Tiny parasites : LICE
40 Drive from power : OUST
43 Unnamed degrees : NTHS
46 Indispensable : PIVOTAL
48 Fictional title country in a 1987 film : ISHTAR
49 Foot fraction : INCH
50 Still in the game : ALIVE
51 __ plume : NOM DE
52 River swimmer : OTTER
53 Art class medium : CLAY
56 Ship to Colchis : ARGO
57 Many a gamer : TEEN
58 Kept : HELD
61 ’90s Indian prime minister : RAO
62 Recede : EBB

18 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 13 Dec 19, Friday”

  1. This one went totally over my head. I thought it was just plain dumb. Guess I just didn’t click with this constructor. Elm nino? Groan. Toroidal? Yeah, right. At least I knew Stephanie. I loved her!

  2. Got along quite well until 64 across ~~AANDE aka the biography channel and then 61 down. RAO. Both new to me.

    Eddie

  3. 7:01 for me. This one felt fresh, and I thought the theme was clever, although I didn’t quite fully get it until TRIM THE TREE went in (I just assumed it was wood-based puns). Much more fun to do than yesterday’s!

  4. I somehow survived this puzzle and was surprised that I did. It seemed very hard at first but made it though without any errors. Liked the theme and sense of humor though out.

  5. 15:37. Fun one. Oof – the acknowledgement of “PIN number” as a common phrase makes me gag. An otherwise good puzzle gets downgraded severely for that. For some reason I found ASH SEEN ON TV particularly amusing when I got it.

    Great story about the Clydesdales delivering two cases of Budweiser (my own beer of choice FWIW) to the governor of New York. I had never heard that. The clydesdales are indeed impressive to see in person.

    I didn’t even know what AMWAY sold. I just had to Google it. It sounds like there’s some controversy surrounding it. Apparently something like 0.3% of people that go into that business actually make any profit at all. Ouch.

    Best –

  6. 15 mins 10 sec, 2 errors (ELMNINO/ANN). 38A makes no damn sense. How is EL NINO (as a storm or as a child) a “muchacho”? And, I don’t even like to see REBUS as a “fill” in a puzzle, it turns out. Better than ruining a puzzle, but still.

  7. For a Friday, I did pretty good for me. 3 Googles: ATARI, EL NINO, SMOKE RING.

    Had bAbeS before LAMBS. I got all the references, but thought they were either strange or too clever by half.

    But, I’m always glad to see some improvement for myself in a Friday puzzle,

  8. Fun tricky Friday for me; ended up taking 39 minutes with no errors. I got ASH SEEN ON TV before TRIM THE TREE and it took a bit to see any connection. Had to change bAbeS to LAMBS and OpEN to OMEN.

    @Bill – I figured I’d check out Ione Skye, since I didn’t know anything about her. You have her being born in Hertfordshire, but googling her gives her being born in Hamstead Heath, London. I’m guessing you maybe switched Hemstead, Hertfordshire with Hamstead, but what do I know. She sure has a toothy smile.

    …And, I just watched a video where she says she was born in St John’s Wood, which is pretty darn close to Hamstead Heath.

  9. Hi every buddy!!🦆

    No errors, but I almost threw in the towel early on when I couldn’t get PINE NUMBERS or LAPS. And I had NAIFS at first instead of LAMBS. Had to do a Tony Michaels and WALK AWAY. Things fell into place when I returned. 😁

    I never knew that IONE Skye was Donovan’s daughter!! What do you know. She was cute in “Say Anything ” but seemed to disappear after that.

    Where’s A Nonny Muss??🤔

    Be well ~~🍹

    1. I have it on reliable authority that “A Nonny Muss” is enjoying the sun and sand on that little island in the Bahamas where he goes to rest and recuperate from “cross culture wars”: Dee Jay Cay … 😜.

      1. Yup. Sun and sand and surf, a sip or two of rum, and all the oldies on the local radio station … gotta love it … 🤪.

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