LA Times Crossword 7 Dec 19, Saturday

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Constructed by: Stella Zawistowski
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 13m 31s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • SHAKSHUKA (shaishuka)
  • MARKKA (Marika!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

15 Period that ended with the death of Marcus Aurelius : PAX ROMANA

“Pax Romana” is Latin for “Roman Peace”. The term described a period in Roman history for the 1st and 2nd centuries AD during which the Roman Empire was ruled by Caesar Augustus. Under his control, expansionist ideas by powerful generals were held in check, and the peoples of foreign lands ruled by the Romans were relatively calm. The peace enjoyed was considered uneasy as Rome governed its conquered territories with an iron fist, and insurrection was likely at all times. The expression “pax Romana” then came to be used in English to describe any situation in which there is an uneasy peace, a peace imposed by a powerful state on a weaker state.

Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome from 161 until his passing in 180. His death in 180 is generally regarded as the end of the “Pax Romana”, the long period of relative peace in the Roman Empire that started in 27 BCE. So, the death of Marcus Aurelius also marked the beginning of what came to be known as the Fall of the Roman Empire.

18 Former TBS comedy “__ Tribeca” : ANGIE

“Angie Tribeca” is a sitcom created by Steve Carell and his wife Nancy Walls Carell. The title role is an LAPD police detective played by actress Rashida Jones.

19 Longtime E Street Band member : NILS LOFGREN

Musician Nils Lofgren was a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band for over 25 years. Lofgren provided vocals and played guitar, and was hired as the replacement for Steven Van Zandt.

21 Storage areas : CLOSETS

In Old French a “clos” was an enclosure, with the diminutive form “closet” describing a small enclosure or private room. Over time this evolved into our modern usage of “closet”, describing a cabinet or cupboard.

27 Jones of jazz : ETTA

Etta Jones was a jazz singer who was sometimes known as the “jazz musician’s jazz singer”. Because she has a similar name to Etta James, Jones was often confused with the more famous singer. Jones never really had any huge commercial success though, despite the respect that she engendered within the inner sanctums of the jazz world.

34 Org. that runs some 28-Across : USGA
(28A Certain tournaments : OPENS)

The United States Golf Association (USGA) was formed in 1894. The need for a governing body for the sport became evident that year when both the Newport Country Club and the St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Yonkers, declared that the winner of a tournament at each of their courses was the “national amateur champion”. The first president of the USGA was Theodore Havemeyer, and to this day the one and only US Amateur Trophy bears his name.

35 Bight, e.g. : INLET

A bight is a bend in a shoreline, or the body of water bounded by such a bend. A bight is therefore similar to a bay.

36 Words before many words : IN SO …

That would be “… in so many words”.

37 Sci-fi superweapon : DEATH STAR

In the “Star Wars” universe, a Death Star is a huge space station that is the size of a moon. A Death Star is armed with a superlaser that can destroy entire planets.

39 “The Lady of the Lake” author : SCOTT

Sir Walter Scott was a Scottish novelist and playwright, the first English-language author to gain popularity around the world during his own lifetime. The most famous of his works are “Ivanhoe”, “Rob Roy” and “The Lady of the Lake”.

“The Lady of the Lake” is an 1810 narrative poem by Scottish author Walter Scott. The poem includes the original lyrics of the song “Hail to the Chief”, which was to become the official Presidential Anthem of the US.

41 Rival of Kaspersky : MCAFEE

McAfee is a security software company now known as Intel Security Group. Purchased by Intel in 2011, the company was founded by John McAfee in 1987. John McAfee might be described as a “bit of a character”. He lived in Belize for several years, before being forced out of the country. After returning to the US, McAfee went after the Libertarian Party nomination for US president in the 2016 election.

Kaspersky Lab is a cybersecurity company based in Moscow that is perhaps best known for supplying antivirus software. Although popular in Europe, Kaspersky software is used far less over here in the US, largely because of claims by the US government of ties between Kaspersky and the Russian government.

49 One who can’t pass the bar? : TOPER

To tope is to drink alcohol excessively and habitually.

50 Savory North African poached-egg dish : SHAKSHUKA

Shakshouka (also “shakshuka”) is a dish that originated in North Africa. It consists of eggs poached in a sauce made from tomatoes, chili peppers, garlic and several spices. I’m hungry …

Down

2 Standard course number : PAR

That would be golf.

6 NFL great Smith who won “Dancing With the Stars” in 2006 : EMMITT

Emmitt Smith is a retired football player who turned out for the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals. Smith was on three Super Bowl-winning teams with the Cowboys. Smith is also quite a dancer and won the “Dancing with the Stars” mirror ball trophy in 2006.

7 Asian weight units : TAELS

The Far Eastern measurement known as a tael is used to weigh out precious metals, as well as herbal medicines.

8 Fawlty Towers et al. : INNS

“Fawlty Towers” might just be the world’s greatest sitcom, and is popular on both sides of the Atlantic. It was written by, and stars, John Cleese and his then-wife Connie Booth. There were two series, one broadcast in 1975, and the other in 1979. There have been three attempts to remake the series in the US, one of which starred John Larroquette as Basil Fawlty, but none of the remakes worked at all.

12 Combative, slangily : AGGRO

“Aggro” is a term that we use a lot in Ireland, and probably more so than in the UK. It can mean an “annoyance” (short for “aggravation”) but is more often used to mean “trouble”, as in someone caused trouble, created aggro.

13 ’60s-’70s South Vietnamese president : THIEU

Nguyen Van Thieu was president of South Vietnam from 1967 to 1975. He was also the last person to hold the office, as it was abolished following the reunification of the country at the end of the Vietnam War.

14 Medical tube : STENT

In the world of surgical medicine, a stent is an artificial tube inserted inside a vessel in the body, say an artery, in order to reduce the effects of a local restriction in the body’s conduit.

21 Storage area : CLOUD

In the world of computing, when one operates “in the cloud”, one’s files and key applications are not stored on one’s own computer, but rather are residing “in the cloud”, on a computer somewhere out on the Internet. I do 90% of my computing in the cloud. That way I don’t have to worry about backing up files, and I can operate from any computer if I have to …

23 Onassis’ first : OMEGA

Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and is the one that looks like a horseshoe when in uppercase. The lowercase omega looks like a Latin W. The word “omega” literally means “great O” (O-mega). Compare this with the Greek letter Omicron, meaning “little O” (O-micron).

The long O in “Onassis” would be written as Ω (omega) in Greek.

24 French upper house : SENAT

In French, the “Parlement français” (French parliament) is divided into the “Sénat” (Senate) and the “Assemblée nationale” (National Assembly).

27 Key of Beethoven’s “Eroica” : E-FLAT

Beethoven originally dedicated his “Symphony No. 3” to Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven admired the principles of the French Revolution and as such respected Bonaparte who was “born” out of the uprising. When Napoleon declared himself Emperor, Beethoven (and much of Europe) saw this as a betrayal to the ideals of the revolution so he changed the name of his new symphony from “Bonaparte” to “Eroica”, meaning “heroic, valiant”.

29 Ristorante courses : ANTIPASTI

Antipasto (plural “antipasti”) is the first course of a meal in Italy. “Antipasto” translates as “before the meal”.

30 Battery acronym : NICAD

A NiCad rechargeable battery is so called because the electrodes are made of nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium.

32 Bony prefix : OSTEO-

The prefix “osteo-” is a combining form meaning “bone”. The term comes from “steon”, the Greek for “bone”.

35 Faith with five pillars : ISLAM

Followers of the Muslim tradition believe in the Five Pillars of Islam, five obligatory acts that underpin Muslim life. The Five Pillars are:

  1. The Islamic creed
  2. Daily prayer
  3. Almsgiving
  4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan
  5. The pilgrimage to Mecca (haj, hajj, hadj) once during a lifetime

38 Julie of “Airplane!” : HAGERTY

The 1980 movie “Airplane!” has to be one of the zaniest comedies ever made. The lead roles were Ted Striker (played by Robert Hays) and Elaine Dickinson (played by Julie Hagerty). But it was Leslie Nielsen who stole the show, playing Dr. Barry Rumack. That’s my own humble opinion of course …

41 Pre-euro Finnish currency : MARKKA

The markka was the currency of Finland that was used until it was replaced by the euro in 2002. The markka was introduced by the Finns in 1860 to replace the Russian ruble.

42 First speaker in “Macbeth” : WITCH

The three witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” have some lovely lines as they boil up and evil brew and cast a spell:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

43 Marvel Comics’ original Enchantress : AMORA

In the Marvel Comics universe, “Amora” is the real name of one of the superheroes known as the Enchantress. There is a second character known as the Enchantress, who models herself on the first. The real name of the second Enchantress is Sylvie Lushton.

46 “A Guide to Confident Living” author : PEALE

Norman Vincent Peale was the author of the bestseller “The Power of Positive Thinking”. Peale was a Protestant preacher, and for decades was pastor of the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan in New York City. Peale also founded the nonprofit group that publishes “Guideposts” magazine.

48 “Star Trek” villain : KHAN

In the 1982 movie “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” William Shatner played James T. Kirk, and the evil Khan was played by Ricardo Montalbán. Leonard Nimoy didn’t want to appear in the sequel, and only agreed to do so when the producers agreed to “kill off” Spock at the end of the story (but he comes back … and back … and back …).

51 Catalaunian Plains combatant, 451 AD : HUN

The Huns were a nomadic people who originated in Eastern Europe in the 4th century. Under the command of Attila the Hun they developed a unified empire that stretched from modern-day Germany across to the steppes of Central Asia. The whole of the Hunnic Empire collapsed within a year of Attila’s death in 453 AD.

The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains of 451 CE was fought between the Huns and a coalition of Romans and Visigoths. There are many aspects of the battle that are disputed today, including the conclusiveness of the outcome, and the location of the Catalaunian Plains. It is generally agreed that the battle took place in the northeast of modern France, near the city of Troyes. Whether or not the Huns emerged victorious on the day of the battle, it is clear that the Huns returned the following year to invade modern-day Italy and trigger the decline of the Western Roman Empire.

52 Adaptable vehicle, for short : UTE

A utility vehicle is often called a “ute” for short. Nowadays one mainly hears about sport-utes and crossover-utes.

53 Ali had 37 : KOS

Muhammad Ali won 56 professional fights, 37 of which were knockouts. He lost 5 fights, 4 being decisions and one being a technical knockout (TKO). The TKO-loss was Ali’s second-to-last fight, against Larry Holmes. By the time Ali took on Holmes, he was already showing signs of Parkinson’s Syndrome, although the diagnosis would not come until four years later.

54 Blackbeard’s backward : AFT

Blackbeard the pirate was given the slave ship called La Concorde de Nantes in 1717 by his boss, the pirate Benjamin Hornigold. Blackbeard renamed the vessel Queen Anne’s Revenge, possibly as a nod to Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch. Blackbeard lost the vessel off the coast of North Carolina less than a year later. The wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered in shallow water in 1996 and is still undergoing excavation.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hardly rah-rah : APATHETIC
10 Peeved cries : DRATS
15 Period that ended with the death of Marcus Aurelius : PAX ROMANA
16 See 20-Down : EIGHT
17 Regimen : TREATMENT
18 Former TBS comedy “__ Tribeca” : ANGIE
19 Longtime E Street Band member : NILS LOFGREN
21 Storage areas : CLOSETS
25 Gives the cold shoulder, in slang : ICES OUT
26 Like the weakest excuse : LAMEST
27 Jones of jazz : ETTA
28 Certain tournaments : OPENS
29 When body temperature is typically highest : AFTERNOON
34 Org. that runs some 28-Across : USGA
35 Bight, e.g. : INLET
36 Words before many words : IN SO …
37 Sci-fi superweapon : DEATH STAR
39 “The Lady of the Lake” author : SCOTT
40 Touched down : ALIT
41 Rival of Kaspersky : MCAFEE
42 Employment hot topic : WAGE GAP
46 With nothing owing : PAID FOR
47 Public relations specialists : IMAGE MAKERS
49 One who can’t pass the bar? : TOPER
50 Savory North African poached-egg dish : SHAKSHUKA
55 Get ready to break : CREST
56 Dissuade from doing : TALK OUT OF
57 Last-minute : HASTY
58 Unjokingly : IN EARNEST

Down

1 Well put : APT
2 Standard course number : PAR
3 Splitting tool : AXE
4 Singing syllable : TRA
5 Sex appeal : HOTNESS
6 NFL great Smith who won “Dancing With the Stars” in 2006 : EMMITT
7 Asian weight units : TAELS
8 Fawlty Towers et al. : INNS
9 Useful remedy for getting stuck in snow : CAT LITTER
10 Unkind thing to turn : DEAF EAR
11 Championship awards : RINGS
12 Combative, slangily : AGGRO
13 ’60s-’70s South Vietnamese president : THIEU
14 Medical tube : STENT
20 Group of 16-Across : OCTET
21 Storage area : CLOUD
22 Slip : LAPSE
23 Onassis’ first : OMEGA
24 French upper house : SENAT
27 Key of Beethoven’s “Eroica” : E-FLAT
29 Ristorante courses : ANTIPASTI
30 Battery acronym : NICAD
31 Binary, in a way : ON/OFF
32 Bony prefix : OSTEO-
33 One who pays attention : NOTER
35 Faith with five pillars : ISLAM
38 Julie of “Airplane!” : HAGERTY
39 Cut out : SCISSOR
41 Pre-euro Finnish currency : MARKKA
42 First speaker in “Macbeth” : WITCH
43 Marvel Comics’ original Enchantress : AMORA
44 Reacts in wonder : GAPES
45 Discharge : EGEST
46 “A Guide to Confident Living” author : PEALE
48 “Star Trek” villain : KHAN
51 Catalaunian Plains combatant, 451 AD : HUN
52 Adaptable vehicle, for short : UTE
53 Ali had 37 : KOS
54 Blackbeard’s backward : AFT

28 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 7 Dec 19, Saturday”

  1. 24:36, 5 errors. All Natick crossings. Definitely a “if you thought yesterday’s puzzle was bad, wait until you get a load of this one” kind of affair. Horrible horrible puzzle that I consider myself lucky to even have finished, given all the “offness” about the language and cluing in this one.

  2. Wondering how “pedant” translates in Hiberno-English. BTW Mcafee wasn’t forced out of Belize he escaped.

    Aggro is ‘Urban’ appropriate for my response to this crossword abortion.

  3. Took a lot of looking up of unknown names, but did learn about
    shakshuka. Ended up with no errors, but can’t take much credit
    because of the look-ups.

  4. LAT: Ridiculously hard. After a few hours, off and on, I finally finished it with only one error: An e for an i in Nils and Emmitt. Of course I didn’t know several clues, and some answers I never heard of, namely “aggro, Markka, Shakshuka,” among others.

  5. Two “incredibly brilliant” people working together still took over an hour and had to look up some things. Note the sarcasm.

  6. I’m “aggro” about this one!! The clue “Onassis’ first” is much too snarky and vague. “Catalaunian Plains?” Give me a break!!

  7. 18:03, no errors. Easy compared to yesterday’s Croce, today’s Newsday, and today’s NYT, all of which I did last night. I fear that severe 🧠 damage may have resulted … 😳 … 😜.

  8. Once I looked up the answers they still meant nothing to me. Where in the heck did you fin the obviously foreign person who ever heard these words. Maybe they made them up. Even cheating like hell I gave up before I got a quarter finished. Who the hell is Etta Jones. North African poached egg dish. I don’t eat American poached eggs !

  9. Two letters wrong giving 3 errors. “Amara” for 43 Down instead of the correct “Amora” and “Gazer” 44 Down instead of the correct “Gaper” and that yielded my 3rd wrong word with “Tazer” for 49 Across instead of the correct “Toper”. D’oh!

    1. Suddenly edit showed up and I corrected my mistake in my explanation above. Bill, get rid of this comment if you would. Thanks!

  10. 17:05 was my time, long for a Saturday, I agree this was very snarkily clued. I got the O of TOPER/AMORA completely by guessing, and the part I struggled most with was the left middle. OMEGA was a boo-hiss, as was CLOUD for a storage area. I should have gotten CLOSETS sooner than I did, but I was just so at-sea about all of those clues.

    I lucked out by tentatively filling in AXE in the upper left, and once I did PAX ROMANA immediately jumped into my mind and I was off and running in that corner. It might have been much harder otherwise.

    All in all, not so enjoyable because the clues were not only difficult but just plain mean.

  11. 56:10 with 2 errors…..I was going to make some negative comments about this one but you all beat me to it…..I can’t resist just one…..50A we all knew that one .RIGHT?

  12. Just completed the WSJ 21X21 without any final errors. Good challenge for me today. Definitely fun too. Anyone else tackle it today?

    1. @Tony
      sub 20 minutes (sorry deleted the file yesterday), 2 dumb errors. Kind of stopped posting other puzzles lately… Didn’t think it was too awful an experience.

  13. Now I don’t feel so bad. 22 minutes and change, and DNF, with 14 entries unfilled or wrong. Too much I just didn’t know. But, it appears others are taking issue with a few of the clues and fills. Even Bill got two wrong, so…

    What the hell is a TOPER (49A)?

  14. I love devious, misleading clues, and (reasonably) obscure answers. Foreign words that an educated, worldly, media-aware person MIGHT know, and semi-well-known proper names of persons/companies, are all fine and fun. But “shakshuka” and “markka” were TOTALLY out of bounds. Do constructors and/or editors read this blog? Rich Norris should be horsewhipped for allowing those words. I wonder what Saint Will of Shortz would have to say about these two egregious abominations.

    1. I didn’t know “shakshuka”, but it was relatively easy to get from crossing entries. And “markka” was almost a gimme. (I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought it was a cognate of the German “mark”.)

  15. Pretty difficult Saturday for me and it looks like for quite a few other people. After about an hour I gave up with all of the NE corner and a bit of the SW corner undone. Also had EMMeTT, PErLE and UStA wrong.

    Still, definitely happy with what I got done after thinking it was hopeless. I even got the ANTIPASTI right…so that’s something. I should have got the SW corner, since I had most of it and I was thinking GAPES, which would have given me WAGE… and possibly WITCH. Still toper, crest and amora are kind of out there.

    Does CAT LITTER really work?

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