LA Times Crossword 8 Sep 20, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Jerome Gunderson
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Scotch This

Themed answers are phrases one might say when ordering a scotch whisky. Each is clued reference to a particular professional placing that order:

  • 17A Housekeeper’s whisky request? : MAKE IT NEAT
  • 61A Bachelor’s whisky request? : SINGLE MALT
  • 11D Geologist’s whisky request? : ON THE ROCKS
  • 29D Astronaut’s whisky request? : STRAIGHT UP

Bill’s time: 5m 03s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Explosive compound, briefly : NITRO

Nitroglycerin (also known as “nitro”) is a very unstable, oily, colorless liquid. It is usually used as the explosive ingredient in a stabilized product like dynamite or cordite. Nitroglycerin is also used medically, as a vasodilator. Right after it hits the bloodstream, nitroglycerin causes the blood vessels to dilate so that the heart has less work to do. I had occasion to take it a couple of times, and boy, what a speedy and fundamental effect it has …

15 Still soft, as concrete : UNSET

The terms “cement”, “mortar” and ”concrete” are related, and tend to get confused at times. Cement is a binder that hardens over time and binds other materials together. Cement mixed with a fine aggregate forms mortar, a workable paste used to bind building blocks together. Cement mixed with sand and gravel forms concrete, a pourable slurry that hardens into an extremely robust building material.

16 First-year law student : ONE L

“One L” is a name used in general for first-year law students, especially those attending Harvard.

17 Housekeeper’s whisky request? : MAKE IT NEAT

We use the spelling “whiskey” for American and Irish versions of the drink, and “whisky” for Scotch, the Scottish version.

19 Gillette razor : ATRA

Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977, as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.

20 Wire-bending hand tool : PLIERS

The verb “to ply” can mean “to twist together”, and used to mean “to bend”. A pair of “pliers” can be used to bend something, hence the tool’s name.

23 Really big cats : LIONS

The four “big cats” are the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard. The largest of the big cats is the tiger, and the smallest is the leopard.

30 International shipping co. : UPS

United Parcel Service (UPS) is based in Sandy Springs, Georgia and has its own airline that operates out of Louisville, Kentucky. UPS often goes by the nickname “Brown”, because of its brown delivery trucks and brown uniforms.

32 Red wine grape known as Shiraz in Australia : SYRAH

The Iranian city of Shiraz has long been associated with wine, but there is no proven link between the city and the wine/grape we know today as “Shiraz” (also called “Syrah”). Having said that, some clay jars were found just outside of the city of Shiraz that contained wine; wine that was 7,000 years old!

40 “Li’l” comic strip character : ABNER

“Li’l Abner” was created and drawn by Al Capp for over 43 years starting in 1934. Al Capp stopped producing the strip in 1977, largely due to illness (he died from emphysema two years later). As the strip finished up, he went so far as to apologize to his long-standing fans, saying that he should have stopped 3-4 years earlier as he felt that the quality of his work had gone down in those latter years. The title character’s full name is “Li’l Abner Yokum”.

42 Bering or Black : … SEA

The Bering Sea, in the very north of the Pacific Ocean, is named for the Danish navigator Vitus Bering, who was the first European to systematically explore the area in 1728. Many believe that the first humans arrived in the Americas from Asia when the waters of the Bering Sea were lower during the last ice age, over what is known as the Bering land bridge.

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

45 Type style that sounds like a Disney mermaid : ARIAL

Arial is a basic font.

“The Little Mermaid” is a 1989 animated feature from Disney that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. It tells the story of a mermaid princess named Ariel who falls in love with the human Prince Eric. Ariel’s father is chief merman King Triton. Her best friend is Flounder, who despite his name is not a flounder at all and is actually a tropical fish. Ariel is also friends with Sebastian, a red Jamaican crab whose full name is Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian.

48 Johnny Mathis classic that begins, “Look at me” : MISTY

“Misty” was written in 1954 by jazz pianist and composer Erroll Garner. Johnny Mathis had a hit with “Misty” five years later, and it was to become his signature tune. The song features prominently in the 1971 Clint Eastwood thriller “Play Misty for Me”, which I suppose isn’t so surprising given the title.

49 FBI agent : G-MAN

The nickname “G-men” is short for “government men” and refers to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

53 Hawaiian medicine men : KAHUNAS

Like many words in Hawaiian, “kahuna” has several English translations, everything from a priest to an expert in some profession. The expression “the Big Kahuna” comes from the 1959 movie “Gidget”. The Big Kahuna was the leader of one of the surfing gangs in the film, and was played by Cliff Robertson.

56 Saudi __ : ARABIA

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab country in the Middle East and is the world’s largest oil producer, home to the world’s largest oil reserves. The Saudi dynasty started in central Arabia in 1744 when the secular leader Muhammad ibn Saud joined forces with the Islamic scholar and Imam, Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab. At the time, Saud was a ruler of a town near Riyadh and he was determined to bring “true” Islam to the Arabian peninsula. Since 1744 the fortunes of the Saudi family have risen and fallen, but it is that same family who rules what we know today as Saudi Arabia.

61 Bachelor’s whisky request? : SINGLE MALT

In order to be labelled as “single malt” scotch, the whisky must come from a single distillery (hence “single”), and from a mash of malted grain (hence “malt”) that has been processed in a pot still.

66 ExxonMobil brand : ESSO

The Esso brand has its roots in the old Standard Oil company as it uses the initial letters of “Standard” and “Oil” (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but ESSO is still used in many other countries.

The Exxon Corporation was a descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Exxon merged with Mobil (yet another descendant of Standard Oil) in 1999 to form ExxonMobil.

68 British race car maker : LOTUS

Lotus is a British manufacturer of sports cars and racing cars. If you remember the car driven by James Bond in “The Spy Who Loved Me”, the one that converted into a submarine, that was a custom built Lotus Esprit S1 nicknamed “Wet Nellie”. Wet Nellie was purchased by Elon Musk in 2013, and it actually travels underwater.

69 Half-moon 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.

Down

1 Femme fatale : VAMP

A vamp (short for “vampire”) is a seductive woman. The term was first used in reference to the sultry performance of actress Theda Bara in the 1915 film “A Fool There Was”. The movie’s title is a quotation from Rudyard Kipling’s 1897 poem “The Vampire”. Bara’s role was positioned as a “vampire”, a woman out to seduce a man, launching the use of “vamp” as an alternative term for “femme fatale”.

A “femme fatale” is a dangerously seductive woman. “Femme fatale” is French for “deadly woman”.

3 Symbolic carving in Maori culture : TIKI

A tiki is a large carving of wood or stone resembling a human form that is found in Polynesian cultures. The carvings often mark out boundaries surrounding sites that are sacred to the locals.

The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They are eastern Polynesian in origin and began arriving in New Zealand relatively recently, starting some time in the late 13th century. The word “māori” simply means “normal”, distinguishing mortal humans from spiritual entities. The Māori refer to New Zealand as “Aotearoa”.

7 “Cats” poet’s monogram : TSE

“Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” is a 1939 collection of poems by T. S. Eliot (TSE). The collection of whimsical poetry was a favorite of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber when he was a child. Webber used Eliot’s poems as inspiration for his megahit musical “Cats”.

9 Frolicking swimmer : OTTER

Sea otters actually hold hands while sleeping on their backs so that they don’t drift apart. When sea otter pups are too small to lock hands, they clamber up onto their mother’s belly and nap there.

12 Fiddling Roman emperor : NERO

The Great Fire of Rome raged for five and a half days in 64 AD. Of the fourteen districts of Rome, three were completely destroyed and seven more suffered serious damage. The emperor at the time was Nero, although reports that he fiddled, played his lyre or sang while the city burned; those accounts are probably not true. In fact, Nero was staying outside of Rome when the fire started and rushed home upon hearing the news. He organized a massive relief effort, throwing open his own home to give shelter to many of the citizens who were left living on the street.

18 Colored eye part : IRIS

The iris is the colored part of the eye. It has an aperture in the center that can open or close depending on the level of light hitting the eye.

25 Fishing lure : SPINNER

A spinnerbait (sometimes “spinner”) is a fishing lure that spins when moved through the water. As a result, the lure mimics the movement of small fish that are the prey of larger fish.

34 Comic Youngman : HENNY

Henny Youngman was a comedian known for his one-liners, most famously “Take my wife – please!” Youngman grew up in Brooklyn, New York but was actually born in Liverpool in England.

36 Maple-syrup-to-be : SAP

About 75% of the world’s maple syrup comes from the province of Quebec. The US’s biggest producer is the state of Vermont, which produces 5-6% of the world’s supply.

41 Ended a prayer : SAID AMEN

The word “amen” translates as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is also likely to be influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.

43 “The Good Earth” heroine : O-LAN

Pearl S. Buck’s novel “The Good Earth” won a Pulitzer in 1932, and helped Buck win the Nobel Prize for literature a few years later. The novel tells of life in a Chinese village and follows the fortunes of Wang Lung and his wife O-Lan. Although “The Good Earth” has been around for decades, it hit the bestseller list again in 2004 when it was a pick for Oprah’s Book Club.

53 Green Hornet’s sidekick : KATO

In “The Green Hornet” television series, Kato was famously played by Bruce Lee. The Kato role has been cited as a driving force behind the increase in popularity of martial arts in the US during the sixties.

The Green Hornet is a masked crime-fighter who first appeared in a radio show in 1936. The alter ego of newspaper publisher Britt Reid, the Green Hornet fights crime in a long, green overcoat, green fedora hat and green mask. He also drives around in a hi-tech car called the Black Beauty that is driven by his masked partner Kato. Britt Reid’s use of a face mask to hide his identity is reminiscent of the Lone Ranger. That’s because the Lone Ranger was Reid’s great-uncle. Both “The Lone Ranger” and “The Green Hornet” originated as radio programs on local Detroit station WXYZ.

54 Jackson 5 hairdo : AFRO

The Jackson 5 singing group was originally made up of brothers Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. The four eldest brothers continued to perform, using the name “The Jacksons”, after Michael went solo.

55 Storage building for crops : SILO

“Silo” is a Spanish word that we absorbed into English. The term ultimately derives from the Greek “siros”, which described a pit in which one kept corn.

58 Ingrid’s “Casablanca” role : ILSA

Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund were played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie “Casablanca”. I love the words of one critic describing the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman in this film: “She paints his face with her eyes”. Wow …

63 Beast with a beard : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Former soldiers : VETS
5 Explosive compound, briefly : NITRO
10 A lot : TONS
14 Quarreling : AT IT
15 Still soft, as concrete : UNSET
16 First-year law student : ONE L
17 Housekeeper’s whisky request? : MAKE IT NEAT
19 Gillette razor : ATRA
20 Wire-bending hand tool : PLIERS
21 Place to adopt a dog : PET SHOP
23 Really big cats : LIONS
26 Mechanical learning routine : ROTE
27 Itemizes : LISTS
30 International shipping co. : UPS
32 Red wine grape known as Shiraz in Australia : SYRAH
35 Eight: Pref. : OCTO-
36 Grins : SMILES
38 Be in debt : OWE
39 One of a bike’s two : TIRE
40 “Li’l” comic strip character : ABNER
41 Medical image for diagnosis : SCAN
42 Bering or Black : … SEA
43 First game of the season : OPENER
44 Related by blood : AKIN
45 Type style that sounds like a Disney mermaid : ARIAL
47 Gun, as an engine : REV
48 Johnny Mathis classic that begins, “Look at me” : MISTY
49 FBI agent : G-MAN
51 Fix a lawn : RESOD
53 Hawaiian medicine men : KAHUNAS
56 Saudi __ : ARABIA
60 Ships’ rears : AFTS
61 Bachelor’s whisky request? : SINGLE MALT
64 Loyal : TRUE
65 Letter-shaped dress style : A-LINE
66 ExxonMobil brand : ESSO
67 Clumsy one’s exclamation : OOPS!
68 British race car maker : LOTUS
69 Half-moon tide : NEAP

Down

1 Femme fatale : VAMP
2 And others: Abbr. : ET AL
3 Symbolic carving in Maori culture : TIKI
4 Type of durable work boot : STEEL-TOE
5 Insane, as a scheme : NUTSO
6 Lodging choice : INN
7 “Cats” poet’s monogram : TSE
8 Harvest : REAP
9 Frolicking swimmer : OTTER
10 Warm and cozy : TOASTY
11 Geologist’s whisky request? : ON THE ROCKS
12 Fiddling Roman emperor : NERO
13 Open-handed hit : SLAP
18 Colored eye part : IRIS
22 Throw softly : TOSS
24 Phone __ : NUMBER
25 Fishing lure : SPINNER
27 Much, casually : LOTSA
28 More slippery : ICIER
29 Astronaut’s whisky request? : STRAIGHT UP
31 Magician’s hiding place : SLEEVE
33 Be in store for : AWAIT
34 Comic Youngman : HENNY
36 Maple-syrup-to-be : SAP
37 Make a mistake : ERR
41 Ended a prayer : SAID AMEN
43 “The Good Earth” heroine : O-LAN
46 Makes laugh : AMUSES
48 __ or less: about : MORE
50 Like a facial cavity : NASAL
52 Clearance events : SALES
53 Green Hornet’s sidekick : KATO
54 Jackson 5 hairdo : AFRO
55 Storage building for crops : SILO
57 It may be stolen on a diamond : BASE
58 Ingrid’s “Casablanca” role : ILSA
59 Upon : ATOP
62 Petty gripe : NIT
63 Beast with a beard : GNU

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 8 Sep 20, Tuesday”

  1. Didn’t know 43D OLAN and so I guessed OLAV which made 53A KAHUVAS.. Then when I saw the answer for 53A and said it out loud i wanted to kick myself.. One of those “I know that” moments!.. Anyway, quick solve. Little under 10 minutes..

  2. No errors; my only guess was the ‘N’ cross between OLAN & KAHUNA. I went with the Hawaiian word I knew, but for me it meant the ‘ultimate’ or ‘tidal’ wave (I’m guessing from the movie Gidget though I don’t remember seeing the movie). Interestingly, in my former profession, it also meant the big event that we never, ever wanted to see happen.

    My favorite Lotus was the Lotus 7 seen in the opening credits of the British series ‘The Prisioner’. Growing up, I always wanted that car.

    @Nonny: Tell us how you go from 90 F to 30 F in one day!

    1. @Chris C … Yesterday’s high was 93, right now it’s 33, and the predicted low for tonight is 29. Strange (but I prefer it to what my daughter and my ex have been dealing with in LA the last couple of days).

  3. Just saw yesterday’s response to my golf comment from A Nonny Muss and Carrie. Thank you!

    Another easy day. My Natick was KAHUNAS crosses KATO. I’ve heard of KAHUNA but did not know he was a medicine man. Also unfamiliar with SPINNER, LOTUS, SYRAH.

  4. 6:08, no errors, no complaints (about the puzzle, anyway … yesterday wasn’t my best day ever in other ways … 😳).

  5. Got a late start on the puzzle today, but it went quickly with no errors.
    I knew I’d heard the phrase “the big Kahunas” somewhere…was it on the
    Magnum P. I.? Old movies and old TV shows I know….new ones, not so
    much. My only problem was putting one of the answers into the wrong
    numbered box…and that had me going there for awhile!

    For a few minutes I wanted to put “Kalo” instead of Kato for the Green Hornet chum. That answer reminded me of the infamous Kato
    Kaelin.
    Temperatures here (in the Midwest state where I live) vary a lot this week;
    we went from high 80’s to mid-50’s in the last few days, but thankfully we
    are finally getting some good rains we needed badly.

  6. Greetings y’all!!🦆

    Fun puzzle; cute theme. I’m not a big drinker but if it’s good whisky I like it NEAT. 🥃

    Only didn’t know SYRAH.

    @Jane, now you have to write the rest of that poem!!🤗

    Be well ~~⚾️

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