LA Times Crossword 15 Dec 19, Sunday

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Constructed by: Robin Stears
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: *Black Magic

Themed answers each comprise two words, with both words often seen after BLACK:

  • 23A *Landmark near Waikiki : DIAMOND HEAD (black diamond & blackhead)
  • 29A *Down time on Wall Street? : BEAR MARKET (black bear & black market)
  • 47A *It’s larger than a littleneck : CHERRYSTONE (black cherry & Black Stone)
  • 50A *Where land and ocean meet : SEABOARD (Black Sea & blackboard)
  • 66A *Cowhide accessory : LEATHER BELT (black leather & black belt)
  • 81A *Negative-studier’s aid : LIGHTBOX (blacklight & black box)
  • 83A *Kozy Shack dessert : RICE PUDDING (black rice & black pudding)
  • 104A *Fancy decoration particles : GOLD POWDER (black gold & black powder)
  • 112A *Former Queens home of the US Open : FOREST HILLS (Black Forest & Black Hills)

Bill’s time: 20m 56s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Pulitzer-winning Ferber novel : SO BIG

“So Big” is a Pulitzer-winning novel by Edna Ferber that was first published in 1924. The book follows the life of Dutch-American Selina Peake De Jong, who is a character inspired by real-life immigrant Antje Paarlberg. In the story, De Jong has a child who she nicknames “So Big”, from the kiddy-talk “How big is baby” … “So-o-o-o big!” The novel has been adapted for the big screen several times. Barbara Stanwyck played the lead in a 1932 film, and Jane Wyman in 1953.

6 PC key not used by itself : CTRL

The Control (CTRL) key on a PC keyboard is used to modify the function of other keys. For example, pressing CTRL+C copies a selection to the clipboard, and CTRL+V pastes the contents of the clipboard to a location defined by the cursor. Control keys were introduced on teletypewriters to generate “control characters”, which are non-printing characters that instruct a computer to do something like print a page, ring a bell etc.

10 “Joy to the World,” e.g. : CAROL

“Joy to the World” is a very popular Christmas carol that dates back to the early 1700s. The hymn’s lyrics were written by Isaac Watts and are based on lines in the Bible’s Book of Psalms and Book of Genesis. The music for the version that we hear most often today was composed by Lowell Mason in the mid-1800s.

15 Costa del __ : SOL

Spain’s Costa del Sol (“Coast of the Sun”) is in Andalusia in the South of Spain. It lies sandwiched between two other “costas”, the Costa de la Luz and the Costa Tropical. The city of Malaga is on the Costa del Sol, as well as the famous European tourist destinations of Torremolinos and Marbella. The Costa del Sol was made up of sleepy little fishing villages until the 1980s when the European sunseekers descended on the region. I wouldn’t recommend it for a holiday quite frankly …

18 Mocedades song covered by Eydie Gormé as “Touch the Wind” : ERES TU

We have a big event across Europe every year called the Eurovision Song Contest. Each nation enters one song in competition with each other, and then voters across the whole continent decide on the winner. That’s how ABBA got their big break when they won in 1974 with “Waterloo”. In 1973, Spain’s entry was “Eres tú” (“It’s You”, literally “You Are”) sung by the band Mocedades. “Eres tú” came second in the competition, but should have won in my humble opinion.

20 Riskily off base : AWOL

MPs (military police officers) often track down personnel who go AWOL (absent without leave).

22 Peak pique : IRE

Our term “pique” meaning “fit of ill feeling” is a French word meaning “prick, sting, irritation”.

23 *Landmark near Waikiki : DIAMOND HEAD (black diamond & blackhead)

Diamond Head on the Hawaiian island of Oahu was given its name by British sailors in the 1800s. These sailors found calcite crystals in the rock surrounding the volcanic tuff cone and mistook the crystals for diamonds.

In North America, ski runs are given a standardized rating in terms of skiing difficulty. The ratings are:

  • Green circles: easy to ski, often termed “bunny slopes”.
  • Blue squares: medium difficulty
  • Black diamond: steep and challenging terrain
  • Double black diamond: experts only (I’ve never braved one!)

A blackhead is a clogged hair follicle that is also known as an open comedo. A closed comedo is known commonly as a whitehead.

26 Opposite of trans : CIS

The term “cisgender” is now used as the opposite of “transgender”. Cisgender people have a gender identity that matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

28 Printer supply : TONER

The key features of a laser printer (or copier) are that it uses plain paper and produces quality text at high speed. Laser printers work by projecting a laser image of the printed page onto a rotating drum that is coated with photoconductors (material that becomes conductive when exposed to light). The areas of the drum exposed to the laser carry a different charge than the unexposed areas. Dry ink (toner) sticks to the exposed areas due to electrostatic charge. The toner is then transferred to paper by contact and is fused into the paper by the application of heat. So, that explains why paper coming out of a laser printer is warm, and sometimes powdery.

29 *Down time on Wall Street? : BEAR MARKET (black bear & black market)

The terms “bull market” and “bear market” come from the way in which each animal attacks. A bull thrusts his horns upwards (an “up” market), whereas a bear swipes with his paws downward (a “down” market).

The American black bear is the most common bear found in North America, and indeed the world.

A black market is one involving illegal transactions. Transactions in a grey market are legal, but are unauthorized by the original supplier. In this context, the regular, legal market is known as the white market.

33 ’80s soap rebooted in 2017 : DYNASTY

“Dynasty” was ABC’s shot at CBS’s incredibly successful soap opera “Dallas”. Both shows were centered on wealthy oil families, with “Dynasty” starring John Forsythe and Linda Evans in the lead roles. The show didn’t really make much impact on the viewing figures for “Dallas” until season two, when Joan Collins joined the cast as the scheming ex-wife Alexis. “Dynasty” had a very successful run then, from 1981 to 1989. The 1980s “Dynasty” was rebooted under the same title starting in 2017.

35 __ podrida: Spanish dish : OLLA

Olla podrida is a Spanish stew based on pork and beans. The name “olla podrida” translates into English as “rotten pot”. Hmm …

36 “Sweeney Todd” tool : STROP

A strop is a strip of leather used to sharpen a razor.

“Sweeney Todd” was originally a 1936 film, and later in 1973 a play, then a 1979 musical and a movie adaptation of the musical in 2007. After Sweeney Todd has killed his victims, his partner in crime Mrs. Lovett helped him dispose of the bodies by taking the flesh and baking it into meat pies that she sold in her pie shop. Ugh!

38 Mary __ : KAY

Mary Kay Ash founded her skincare and cosmetics company, somewhat ominously on Friday, 13th September 1963. In 1968, Mary Kay Ash bought herself a pink Cadillac, specially painted to match the color of one of her compacts. The car became so famous that she gave away five of them to her top saleswoman, a tradition that endures to this day.

40 One-named Deco artist : ERTE

“Erté” was the pseudonym of French (Russian-born) artist and designer Romain de Tirtoff. Erté is the French pronunciation of his initials “R.T.” Erté’s diverse portfolio of work included costumes and sets for the “Ziegfeld Follies” of 1923, productions of the Parisian cabaret show “Folies Bergère”, as well as the 1925 epic movie “Ben-Hur”. Erté’s most famous work by far is an image titled “Symphony in Black”. It depicts a tall and slender woman dressed in black, holding a black dog on a leash.

45 Discipline with poses : YOGA

“Asana” is a Sanskrit word that translates literally as “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.

46 2015 Best Actress Larson : BRIE

I mainly recognize actress Brie Larson from playing the daughter of Toni Collete’’s character on the excellent TV show “United States of Tara”. Larson is from Sacramento, and trained at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where she was the youngest person ever admitted.

47 *It’s larger than a littleneck : CHERRYSTONE (black cherry & Black Stone)

Hard clams are labelled in fish markets by size. Starting with the smallest, these labels are:

  • Countnecks or peanuts
  • LIttlenecks
  • Topnecks
  • Cherrystones
  • Quahogs or chowder clams

The Black Stone is rock in the Grand Mosque in Mecca that, according to Islamic tradition, fell from heaven to show Adam and Eve where to build an altar. Tradition also states that the prophet Muhammad set the Balck Stone into the wall of the Kaaba, the sacred building at the center of the Grand Mosque, where the stone resides today.

50 *Where land and ocean meet : SEABOARD (Black Sea & blackboard)

The Black Sea is in southeastern Europe just south of Ukraine. In the north of the Black Sea is the Crimean Peninsula.

54 Cascades peak : SHASTA

Mount Shasta is in northern California. The origin of the name “Shasta” seems to be unclear. It may have come from the Russian “tchastal” meaning “white, clean, pure”, a name given to the volcanic peak by early Russian immigrants.

Only two volcanoes in the Cascade Range in the northwest have erupted in the 20th century: Mount St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Lassen in 1915. The last significant eruption of Mount Shasta, a third volcano in the Cascades, was about 200 years ago. The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens resulted in ash being deposited in eleven US states and 5 Canadian provinces.

55 Bethesda medical agcy. : NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) organization is made up of 27 different institutes that coordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.

The community of Bethesda in Maryland lies just northwest of Washington, D.C. The original settlement in the area was called “Darcy’s Store”. a reference to the original store that drew settlers to the location along the toll road between Georgetown and Rockville. The community’s name was changed to Bethesda in 1871 by a local postmaster, after a Presbyterian church called the Bethesda Meeting House. Bethesda is home to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Naval Medical Center. During WWII, Bethesda also hosted the Norwegian Royal Family while their country was occupied by German forces.

57 Society page word : 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.

58 Duck named for the long-feathered part of its anatomy : PINTAIL

The pintail is a large duck, the male of which has a conspicuous set of long tail feathers. Those tail feathers give the species its name.

63 “Straight Up” singer : ABDUL

Paula Abdul is primarily a singer and dancer, and someone who endeared herself even more to the American public in recent years as a judge on “American Idol”. Abdul had a famous husband for a couple of years, as she was married to actor Emilio Estevez from 1992-94.

73 Broad Eurasian region : SIBERIA

Siberia is a vast area in Eurasia and Northern Asia. The region’s industrial development started with the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway from 1891 to 1916, which linked Siberia to Russia in the west.

75 GATT successor : WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The stated aim of the WTO is to liberalize international trade. The organization was founded in 1995 when an international agreement on trade was reached that effectively replaced the existing General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that was laid down in 1949.

81 *Negative-studier’s aid : LIGHTBOX (blacklight & black box)

A blacklight is a lamp that emits very little visible light, and mainly long-wave ultraviolet light. Blacklights are routinely used with materials that fluoresce in the presence of UV radiation.

In the aviation industry, a black box is an audio or data recorder installed in an aircraft as an aid in the event that an accident investigation is necessary. The “black” box is actually bright orange, so that it is easier to find after an accident.

83 *Kozy Shack dessert : RICE PUDDING (black rice & black pudding)

Kozy Shack puddings have been produced since 1967. The original recipe came from a delicatessen called the Cozy Shack in Brooklyn.

Black rice has a deep black color when raw, and turns dark purple when cooked.

Black pudding is a blood sausage that is very popular in Ireland (and Britain), where it is usually served as part of a traditional “full Irish breakfast”. The sausage is usually made using pork blood and pork fat, with a significant amount of oatmeal added.

86 MTV sci-fi show “__ Flux” : AEON

“Æon Flux” is an animated science-fiction television show that originally aired on MTV in the nineties. The TV show inspired a 2005 movie of the same name that starred Charlize Theron in the title role.

89 1964 Nobel Prize decliner : SARTRE

Jean-Paul Sartre was a leading French philosopher, as well as a writer and political activist. Sartre also served with the French army during WWII and spent nine months as a prisoner of war having been captured by German troops. He was one of the few people to have been awarded a Nobel Prize and to have then refused to accept it. Sartre was named winner of the prize for Literature in 1964, for his first novel “Nausea”. Before his win, Sartre knew that his name was on the list of nominees so he wrote to the Nobel Institute and asked to be withdrawn from consideration. The letter somehow went unread, so he found himself having to refuse the award after he had been selected.

93 Narc’s org. : DEA

“Narc” and “narco” are slang terms describing a law enforcement officer who tracks down criminals associated with illegal drugs. Both words are short for “narcotics officer”. Narcs might work for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

94 Best way to leave the casino : AHEAD

The term “casino” originated in the 1700s, then describing a public room for music or dancing. “Casino” is a diminutive of “casa” meaning “house”.

98 “A Death in the Family” writer : AGEE

James Agee was a noted American film critic and screenwriter. Agee wrote an autobiographical novel “A Death in the Family” that won him his Pulitzer in 1958, albeit posthumously. He was also one of the screenwriters for the 1951 classic movie “The African Queen”.

99 Land adjoining a mansion : DEMESNE

All of the land owned and managed by a lord of the manor under the feudal system was called “the demesne”. The demesne did not include land owned by the lord that was managed by tenants.

101 “Miss Saigon” setting : ‘NAM

“Miss Saigon” is a musical that premiered in London in 1989, and one that is based on Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly”. “Miss Saigon” was written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, the duo responsible for “Les Misérables”. We saw both shows in London during their heyday, and I much preferred “Miss Saigon”. Back then the big thing was to have a big “special effect” in a stage musical, and for “Miss Saigon” this is the landing of a life-size helicopter on the stage. At the performance we attended there was an announcement that “the helicopter was broken”, so we had a fun time watching actors running around pretending there was a helicopter in that climactic scene …

103 TiVo predecessor : VCR

Video Cassette Recorder (VCR)

TiVo was introduced in 1999 and was the world’s first commercially successful digital video recorder (DVR).

104 *Fancy decoration particles : GOLD POWDER (black gold & black powder)

Oil is sometimes referred to as “black gold”, or “Texas tea”.

Gunpowder is the earliest known explosive chemical. Also called “black powder”, it is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter (i.e. potassium nitrate). The saltpeter is a powerful oxidizing agent, providing the oxygen to burn the sulfur and charcoal, which acts as the fuel in the mixture. Gunpowder was invented by the Chinese in 8th century.

109 Phony (up) : HOKE

“To hoke” is a slang term meaning “to create a false impression”. The term derives from the noun “hokum”. “Hokum” was originally theater slang, meaning “melodramatic, exaggerated acting”. Now the term just means “empty talk”. It is also the root of our word “hokey” meaning “silly, old-fashioned”.

110 The “E” in BCE : ERA

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

111 Alaskan native : ALEUT

The Aleuts live on the Aleutian Islands of the North Pacific, and on the Commander Islands at the western end of the same island chain. The Aleutian Islands are part of the United States, and the Commander Islands are in Russia.

112 *Former Queens home of the US Open : FOREST HILLS (Black Forest & Black Hills)

Forest Hills is a neighborhood in Queens in New York City. It is home to Forest Hills Stadium, which hosted the US Open tennis tournament for many years.

114 Not of the cloth : LAY

Anything described as laic (or “laical, lay”) is related to the laity, those members of the church who are not clergy. The term “laic” ultimately comes from the Greek “laikos” meaning “of the people”.

115 Victoria, to William IV : NIECE

William IV ascended to the British throne at the advanced age of 64 years old, following the death of his older brother George IV. William was king for just seven years, until he died in 1837. Although he had several illegitimate children with his Irish mistress Dorothea Jordan, he had no children with his wife Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. William’s passing marked the demise of Britain’s House of Hanover. He was succeeded on the throne by his niece Victoria.

Queen Victoria ruled over the UK from 1837 until her death in 1901. Her reign saw the expansion of the British Empire, especially with the incorporation of British possessions on the Indian subcontinent. Indeed, for the last quarter century of her reign, Victoria also used the title Empress of India.

121 Art of verse : POESY

“Poesy” is an alternative name for poetry, and is often used to mean the “art of poetry”.

Down

1 Papyrus plants, e.g. : SEDGES

Sedges are a family of plants that resemble grasses and rushes. Sedges are more properly called Cyperaceae.

The papyrus plant was commonly found in the Nile Delta of North Africa. The pith of the plant was used to make a thick paper-like material on which one could write. This writing material, which became known as papyrus (plural “papyri”), became a competitor for the most popular writing surface of the day known as parchment, which was made from animal skins.

3 Jalopy : BEATER

“Beater” is slang for an old car that is in poor condition, and is a term that dates back only to the 1980s.

The origins of our word “jalopy” meaning “dilapidated, old motor car” seem to have been lost in time, but the word has been around since the 1920s. One credible suggestion is that it comes from Xalapa, Mexico as the Xalapa scrap yards were the destination for many discarded American automobiles.

5 ’60s song car with “three deuces and a four-speed and a 389” : GTO

“Three deuces and a four-speed” are words appearing the song “G.T.O”, the debut recording for the surf rock group of the sixties known as Ronny & the Daytonas.

6 “Call Me Irresponsible” lyricist : CAHN

Sammy Cahn wrote for them all, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Doris Day. Cahn’s most famous song was probably “Three Coins in the Fountain”. He also wrote “All the Way”, made famous by Frank Sinatra.

“Call Me Irresponsible” is a 1962 song composed by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. Apparently, the song was originally written for either Judy Garland or Fred Astaire (there are conflicting stories).

7 Outdoorsy, taste-wise : TWEEDY

Tweed is a rough woolen fabric that is very much associated with Scotland in the UK, and with County Donegal in Ireland. The cloth was originally called “tweel”, the Scots word for “twill”. Apparently a London merchant misinterpreted some handwriting in the early 1800s and assumed the fabric was called “tweed”, a reference to the Scottish River Tweed, and the name stuck …

8 Detroit Lions’ mascot : ROARY

There are a few sporting teams with a mascot named “Roary the Lion”. Here in the US, Roary is the mascot of the Detroit Lions football team. Over in the UK, there mascots named Roary for the Middlesbrough soccer club, as well as the England and Wales Cricket Board.

9 Honorary degree for attys. : LLD

The honorary degree of Legum Doctor (LL.D.) translates from the Latin as Doctor of Laws, a plural. This practice of using the plural originated in Cambridge University in England, as one was awarded an LL.D. after having been taught both Canon Law and Civil Law.

10 Sugar Plum Fairy’s instrument : CELESTA

A celesta (also “celeste”) is a keyboard instrument in which the keys operate hammers that strike a set of metal plates. The resulting sound is similar to that from a glockenspiel, although it is much softer in tone as the celesta’s plates are suspended over wooden resonators. I’d say that the most famous musical work featuring a celesta is Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from his ballet “The Nutcracker”.

13 City on Utah Lake : OREM

Orem, Utah was originally known as “Sharon” (a Biblical name), then “Provo Bench”, and in 1914 it was given the family name of a local railroad operator called “Orem”. Orem gave itself the nickname “Family City USA” and sure enough in 2010, “Forbes” rated Orem the 5th best place in the country to raise a family.

Utah Lake is a slightly saline freshwater body of water located in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area in Utah. The lakes salinity arises as over 40% of its water is lost to evaporation.

14 Vega’s constellation : LYRA

Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. Vega (along with Altair and Deneb from other constellations) is also part of the group of three stars that is called the Summer Triangle. Vega is the star at the right-angle of this triangle.

15 Tool with a curved blade : SICKLE

Sickles and scythes are similar tools that are used for reaping crops. A sickle has a short handle, forcing the user to stoop down. A scythe has a long handle, allowing it to be used while standing erect.

16 Protruding windows : ORIELS

An oriel window is a bay window that projects from a wall, but does not reach all the way to the ground.

17 “The Vampire Chronicles” vampire : LESTAT

Lestat de Lioncourt is the central character in Anne Rice’s series of erotic and Gothic novels “The Vampire Chronicles”. Lestat was played by Tom Cruise in the 1994 movie adaptation of Rice’s first novel “Interview with the Vampire”.

19 Word that may precede itself : UNTO …

The phrase “means unto itself” may apply to an activity that it worthwhile “in itself” regardless of what other benefit may be gained.

24 Shrek’s bestie : DONKEY

In the 2001 animated feature “Shrek”, the title character is voiced by Mike Myers. Eddie Murphy voices Shrek’s sidekick Donkey, and Princess Fiona is voiced by Cameron Diaz.

30 Loggers’ contest : ROLEO

The log-rolling competition traditionally engaged in by lumberjacks is referred to as “roleo”.

32 Peloponnesian War victor : SPARTA

The Peloponnesian War was fought from 431 to 404 BC between the Athenian Empire and the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Prior to the war, Athens was the strongest city-state in Greece. After the victory by the Peloponnesian League, Sparta emerged as the leading power.

34 Noble gas : NEON

Neon was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid. They then warmed that liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.

The rare gases are better known as the noble gases, but neither term is really very accurate. “Noble” gas might be a better choice though, as they are all relatively unreactive. But “rare” they are not. Argon, for example, is a major constituent (1%) of the air that we breathe.

37 Electra’s brother : ORESTES

Orestes is a character appearing in Greek mythology, and is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays. In a story by Homer, Orestes kills his mother Clytemnestra. He does so in revenge as Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon, who was her husband and father to Orestes. Agamemnon was killed by his wife for sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia in order to get favorable winds on a sea voyage. Heavy stuff …

Electra was a princess in Greek mythology, the daughter of Agamemnon. Electra had to mourn the death of her father who was murdered, and then the death of her mother Clytemnestra, who was also murdered.

39 PGA part: Abbr. : ASSN

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) was founded in 1916 and today has its headquarters (unsurprisingly) in Florida, where so many golfers live. Back in 1916, the PGA was based in New York City.

41 “Dies __” : IRAE

“Dies Irae” is Latin for “Day of Wrath”. It is the name of a famous melody in Gregorian Chant, one that is often used as part of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass.

42 Early fall baby’s sign : LIBRA

The constellation of Libra is named for the scales held by the goddess of justice. Libra is the only sign of the zodiac that isn’t named for a living creature.

45 Talk Like a Pirate Day refrain : YO-HO-HO

The fictional sea shanty called “Dead Man’s Chest” was introduced in Robert Louis Stevenson’s great novel, “Treasure Island”. In the book, Stevenson only describes the chorus, which goes:

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest–
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest–
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

International Talk Like a Pirate (TALP) Day is September 19th every year, a “holiday” that was created in 1995. The event started out as an inside joke between John Baur and Mark Summers of Albany, Oregon, but when they shared the notion with columnist Dave Barry, he promoted the idea and it took off.

46 Cuts at an angle : BEVELS

A beveled edged is like a chamfered edge. The edge of a mirror is often beveled, meaning that it is cut at an angle that isn’t perpendicular to the mirror’s surface.

47 Red wine : CHIANTI

Chianti is a red wine from the Chianti region of central Tuscany in Italy. Historically, Chianti was stored in a characteristically bulbous bottle wrapped in a straw basket. However, the pragmatists have won the day and regular wine bottles tend to be used nowadays.

48 Sad sack : HANGDOG

“Hangdog” is an adjective that can mean shamefaced and guilty, or downcast and intimidated. The word derives from the concept of a lowlife (a “dog”) that is only fit for “hanging”.

The slang phrase “sad sack” is used for a person who bungles things, someone who is pathetically inept. The phrase was coined in the twenties but gained popularity during WWII when it was used by a cartoon character in the US Armed Forces magazine “Yank”. The term is probably a shortened form of the much ruder phrase “sad sack of ****”.

51 Hearth item sometimes called a firedog : ANDIRON

Andirons (also “firedogs”) are those horizontal bars on which you rest logs to burn in an open fireplace. They usually come in pairs and can be quite decorative, and are often made out of wrought iron.

53 Mouth formations : DELTAS

A river delta is a triangular landform at the mouth of a river created by the deposition of sediment. The Nile Delta in Northern Egypt is one of the world’s largest river deltas, and covers 150 miles of coastline on the Mediterranean. The most famous “delta” in the United States isn’t actually a delta at all. The Mississippi Delta is an alluvial plain that lies 300 miles north of the river’s actual delta, yet it is known as the “Mississippi River Delta”. Very confusing …

56 Pin in a ring, say : SUBDUE

That could be wrestling.

61 Six-yr.-term pol : SEN

The six-year terms enjoyed by US senators are staggered, so that every two years about one third of the 100 US Senate seats come up for reelection.

68 Actress Swinton : TILDA

Tilda Swinton is an English actress who is quite famous in her native land. Swinton made a big name for herself outside the UK when she played the “baddie” in the 2007 movie “Michael Clayton”, opposite the “goodie” played by George Clooney.

74 Madhouse : BEDLAM

Bethlem Royal Hospital is a facility in London in the UK for treating mental illness. The original facility was a hospital way back in the 1300s, and had the name “Bedlam”. In the 1700s and 1800s the hospital actually made money out of its patients as it charged a penny to members of the public allowing them to visit the hospital and view the unfortunate inmates in their cells. Tens of thousands of such paid visits were made each year. Our word “bedlam”, meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital’s name, and it reflects the cruel and inhumane treatment endured by the inmates in days gone by.

77 Shawm descendant : OBOE

The shawm is a double-reed woodwind instrument that was at its height of popularity from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. The name “shawm” came into English via a tortuous route, from the Latin “calamus” meaning “reed”. The shawm lost its popularity with the arrival of the oboe family of instruments.

79 Fraternal gp. : BPOE

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a “club” in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren’t welcome. The list of US presidents that have been members of the BPOE includes Presidents Eisenhower, Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Ford.

83 Indy entrant : RACER

The Indianapolis 500 race is held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The race is run around a 2.5 mile oval, hence requiring 200 laps for completion. The first Indy 500 race was held on Memorial Day in 1911. The winner that day was one Ray Harroun. Harroun had seen someone using a rear view mirror on a horse-drawn vehicle, and decided to fit one on his Marmon “Wasp” motor car. Supposedly, that was the first ever use of a rear view mirror on a motor vehicle.

84 Egyptian fertility goddess : ISIS

Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, as well as the protector of the dead and the goddess of children. She was the personification of the pharaoh’s power. The name “Isis” translates as “throne”, and she is usually depicted with a headdress shaped like a throne.

85 Voyager 2 destination : URANUS

One of the unique features of the planet Uranus is that its north and south poles lie where most other planets have their equators. That means that Uranus’ axis of rotation is almost in its solar orbit.

NASA’s space probe Voyager 2 was launched in 1977, with the mission of exploring the outer planets. The probe is almost identical to Voyager 1, which paradoxically was launched 16 days after Voyager 2. Voyager 2 left our Solar System in 2018, entering interstellar space 6 years after Voyager 1.

87 Harvest goddess : DEMETER

In Greek mythology, Demeter was the goddess of the harvest. Her Roman equivalent was Ceres.

89 How Yoda spoke : SAGELY

Yoda is one of the most beloved characters of the “Star Wars” series of films. Yoda’s voice is provided by the great modern-day puppeteer Frank Oz of “Muppets” fame.

90 Trading places? : AGORAE

In early Greece, the agora was a place of assembly. The assemblies held there were often quite formal, perhaps for the reading of a proclamation. Later in Greek history, things became less formal as the agora evolved into a marketplace. Our contemporary word “agoraphobia” comes from these agorae, in the sense that an agoraphobe has a fear of open spaces, a fear of “public meeting places”.

96 “Supernatural” co-star Jensen __ : ACKLES

Actor Jensen Ackles is known for playing Dean Winchester on the horror series “Supernatural”, Eric Brady on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” and Jason Teague on “Smallville”.

99 Dimwitted “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story” dinosaur : DWEEB

“We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story” is a 1993 animated feature film that is based on a 1987 book of the same name by Hudson Talbott. The movie’s voice cast is quite impressive and eclectic, as it includes John Goodman and Martin Short, as well as the likes of Larry King, Walter Cronkite and even Julia Child!

102 Liberal __ : ARTS

The term “liberal arts” dates back to classical antiquity. The liberal arts were those subjects deemed essential to master for a citizen to take an active part in civil life. “Citizens” were “free people”, hence the use of the term “liberal arts”. The list of subjects studied in olden times were generally sevenfold: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy/astrology.

106 Potpourri : OLIO

The French term “pot pourri” literally translates literally to “rotten pot”, but in France it used to mean “stew”. Over time, the term “potpourri” evolved in English usage to mean a “medley”, and eventually a mixture of dried flowers and spices.

108 Random House co-founder : CERF

I remember Bennett Cerf as a regular panelist on the great television game show “What’s My Line?” Cerf was a publisher and co-founder of Random House, and was the man responsible for winning publishing contracts with authors such as Eugene O’Neill, Truman Capote and James Michener. He was hilarious on “What’s My Line?”, appearing in almost every episode of the show which ran from 1951 to 1967. He had such a gentlemanly way of making the most puerile puns.

109 Hawaii County seat : HILO

Hilo is the largest settlement on the big island of Hawaii, having a population of over 43,000 (that’s not very many!). I love the Big Island …

112 Pelt : FUR

A pelt is the skin of a furry animal.

113 Kangaroo move : HOP

The word “kangaroo” comes from the Australian Aborigine term for the animal. There’s an oft-quoted story that the explorer James Cook (later Captain Cook) asked a local native what was the name of this remarkable-looking animal, and the native responded with “Kangaroo”. The story is that the native was actually saying “I don’t understand you”, but as cute as that tale is, it’s just an urban myth.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Pulitzer-winning Ferber novel : SO BIG
6 PC key not used by itself : CTRL
10 “Joy to the World,” e.g. : CAROL
15 Costa del __ : SOL
18 Mocedades song covered by Eydie Gormé as “Touch the Wind” : ERES TU
20 Riskily off base : AWOL
21 All-inclusive adjective : EVERY
22 Peak pique : IRE
23 *Landmark near Waikiki : DIAMOND HEAD (black diamond & blackhead)
25 Carafe size : LITER
26 Opposite of trans : CIS
27 Comes down with : GETS
28 Printer supply : TONER
29 *Down time on Wall Street? : BEAR MARKET (black bear & black market)
31 67.5 deg. : ENE
32 Junior : SON
33 ’80s soap rebooted in 2017 : DYNASTY
35 __ podrida: Spanish dish : OLLA
36 “Sweeney Todd” tool : STROP
38 Mary __ : KAY
40 One-named Deco artist : ERTE
41 Sick to the max : ILLEST
43 What prospective borrowers compare : RATES
45 Discipline with poses : YOGA
46 2015 Best Actress Larson : BRIE
47 *It’s larger than a littleneck : CHERRYSTONE (black cherry & Black Stone)
50 *Where land and ocean meet : SEABOARD (Black Sea & blackboard)
54 Cascades peak : SHASTA
55 Bethesda medical agcy. : NIH
56 Cut : SEVER
57 Society page word : NEE
58 Duck named for the long-feathered part of its anatomy : PINTAIL
60 Stand-up quality? : POSTURE
63 “Straight Up” singer : ABDUL
65 Bad road condition? : RAGE
66 *Cowhide accessory : LEATHER BELT (black leather & black belt)
69 One often has ticks : LIST
70 “Consequently … ” : AND SO …
72 Snuggled, in a way : SPOONED
73 Broad Eurasian region : SIBERIA
75 GATT successor : WTO
76 Plain __: obvious : TO SEE
78 Gist : NUB
80 Recall targets : LEMONS
81 *Negative-studier’s aid : LIGHTBOX (blacklight & black box)
83 *Kozy Shack dessert : RICE PUDDING (black rice & black pudding)
86 MTV sci-fi show “__ Flux” : AEON
87 Quick run : DASH
88 Tough tests : ORALS
89 1964 Nobel Prize decliner : SARTRE
92 Tenth: Pref. : DECI-
93 Narc’s org. : DEA
94 Best way to leave the casino : AHEAD
98 “A Death in the Family” writer : AGEE
99 Land adjoining a mansion : DEMESNE
101 “Miss Saigon” setting : ‘NAM
103 TiVo predecessor : VCR
104 *Fancy decoration particles : GOLD POWDER (black gold & black powder)
107 Come to pass : OCCUR
109 Phony (up) : HOKE
110 The “E” in BCE : ERA
111 Alaskan native : ALEUT
112 *Former Queens home of the US Open : FOREST HILLS (Black Forest & Black Hills)
114 Not of the cloth : LAY
115 Victoria, to William IV : NIECE
116 Computer __ : USER
117 Gets to the bottom of : SOLVES
118 Cry of success : YES!
119 Unloaded? : SOBER
120 Submerged threat : REEF
121 Art of verse : POESY

Down

1 Papyrus plants, e.g. : SEDGES
2 Get situated : ORIENT
3 Jalopy : BEATER
4 Things to believe in : ISMS
5 ’60s song car with “three deuces and a four-speed and a 389” : GTO
6 “Call Me Irresponsible” lyricist : CAHN
7 Outdoorsy, taste-wise : TWEEDY
8 Detroit Lions’ mascot : ROARY
9 Honorary degree for attys. : LLD
10 Sugar Plum Fairy’s instrument : CELESTA
11 Fly : AVIATE
12 Take another shot : RETRY
13 City on Utah Lake : OREM
14 Vega’s constellation : LYRA
15 Tool with a curved blade : SICKLE
16 Protruding windows : ORIELS
17 “The Vampire Chronicles” vampire : LESTAT
19 Word that may precede itself : UNTO …
24 Shrek’s bestie : DONKEY
29 River transport : BARGE
30 Loggers’ contest : ROLEO
32 Peloponnesian War victor : SPARTA
34 Noble gas : NEON
37 Electra’s brother : ORESTES
39 PGA part: Abbr. : ASSN
41 “Dies __” : IRAE
42 Early fall baby’s sign : LIBRA
44 Are losing : TRAIL
45 Talk Like a Pirate Day refrain : YO-HO-HO
46 Cuts at an angle : BEVELS
47 Red wine : CHIANTI
48 Sad sack : HANGDOG
49 Walk quietly : TIPTOE
50 Desertlike : SERE
51 Hearth item sometimes called a firedog : ANDIRON
52 Extending the life of : REUSING
53 Mouth formations : DELTAS
54 Urban planner’s concern : SPRAWL
56 Pin in a ring, say : SUBDUE
59 Textbook section : LESSON
61 Six-yr.-term pol : SEN
62 Ditch : TRENCH
64 Complexion spoiler : BLEMISH
67 High point : APEX
68 Actress Swinton : TILDA
71 Weasel relative : OTTER
74 Madhouse : BEDLAM
77 Shawm descendant : OBOE
79 Fraternal gp. : BPOE
82 Despised : HATED
83 Indy entrant : RACER
84 Egyptian fertility goddess : ISIS
85 Voyager 2 destination : URANUS
87 Harvest goddess : DEMETER
89 How Yoda spoke : SAGELY
90 Trading places? : AGORAE
91 Track events : RELAYS
92 Figure out : DEDUCE
93 Formal order : DECREE
95 Advance in the race? : EVOLVE
96 “Supernatural” co-star Jensen __ : ACKLES
97 Beyond “business casual” : DRESSY
99 Dimwitted “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story” dinosaur : DWEEB
100 Rope loop : NOOSE
102 Liberal __ : ARTS
105 Chef’s collection : PANS
106 Potpourri : OLIO
108 Random House co-founder : CERF
109 Hawaii County seat : HILO
112 Pelt : FUR
113 Kangaroo move : HOP

11 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 15 Dec 19, Sunday”

  1. You stated that “Call Me Irresponsible” is most associated with Frank Sinatra. I remember hearing that song on the radio in 1963 and it was sung by Jack Jones. I looked it up on wikipedia and it mentions four renditions: Jack Jones, Eddie Fisher, Brenda Lee, and Dinah Washington. Therefore, I’m not sure that I would agree that the song is most associated with Sinatra.

  2. 1:17:34 with my usual one error….I had Onto for Unto….this one was loaded with “never heard ofs”…..It looks like the LAT is tired of taking a back seat to the NYT in degree of difficulty of their puzzles

  3. Didn’t do this puzzle, but I did the NYT in about 46 minutes. Tough Jeff Chen puzzle for me.

    Bill – There’s no link to post comments to today’s NYT grid. In so doing, you are depriving the crossword world of my comic genius….

    Best –

  4. 22:47, with one error: ROLEE / SEABEARD. I didn’t know the lumberjack contest but I know there’s one that involves rolling floating logs with your feet, and ROLEE was as good a guess as any. SEABEARD makes no sense but I got caught up in the black theme, said “Black SEA, blackBEARD, good enough!” 🤦🏻‍♂️

    I agree, the answers in this grid were often really obscure!

  5. Tough go this week. It took a long time but I finally finished with no errors only by making a lucky guess with the m in demeter and demense. The theme was a stretch…

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