LA Times Crossword 1 Dec 20, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Bruce Haight
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Photo Finish

Themed answers each FINISH with a synonym of “PHOTO”:

  • 54A Very close race, and what 17-, 26- and 41-Across have in common : PHOTO FINISH
  • 17A Drain a basketball three-pointer, say : MAKE THE SHOT
  • 26A “Understand?” : GET THE PICTURE
  • 41A Mess up a football hike : FUMBLE THE SNAP

Read on, or jump to …
… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 6m 01s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

15 Ultra-masculine : MACHO

A macho man is one showing pride in his masculinity. “Macho” is a Spanish word for “male animal”.

19 Peter of Neverland : PAN

Neverland is the fictional location where Peter Pan lives in the works of J. M. Barrie. The name actually evolved in Barrie’s works, starting out as “Peter’s Never Never Never Land”. Also, Barrie used the names “the Never Never Land”, “the Neverland” and “the Neverlands”. Famously, entertainer Michael Jackson renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch as Neverland Valley Ranch when he took ownership in 1988, in a nod to “Peter Pan”.

23 __ Paulo : SAO

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It is also the city with the highest number of helicopters in the world. This is partly driven by the horrendous traffic jams in São Paulo, but also by the wealthy having a very real fear of being kidnapped on the city’s streets.

24 Richard’s running mate : SPIRO

Spiro Agnew served as Vice-President under Richard Nixon, before becoming the only VP in American history to resign because of criminal charges (there was a bribery scandal). Agnew was also the first Greek-American to serve as US Vice President as he was the son of a Greek immigrant who had shortened the family name from Anagnostopoulos.

31 Beauty at a ball : BELLE

A beau (plural “beaux”) is the boyfriend of a belle, a young lady. “Beau” and “belle” are the masculine and feminine forms of the French word for “handsome, beautiful”.

33 Back forty’s forty : ACRES

In the Public Land Survey System, land right across the country is divided into townships and sections. A section is roughly equivalent to a square mile, 640 acres. It became the practice to refer to quarter-quarter divisions of a section, with a quarter of a quarter of a section being equal to 40 acres (check the math!). From this sprung phrases like “lower 40” (nominally the lowest elevation 40 acres on a property) and the “back 40” (nominally a 40 acre parcel that was undeveloped on a property, “out the back”).

40 One of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” : IRINA

Olga, Masha and Irina are the “Three Sisters” in the play by Anton Chekhov. The three title characters were inspired by the three Brontë sisters, the English authors.

41 Mess up a football hike : FUMBLE THE SNAP

The quarterback (QB) starts each play in football with a snap (also called a “hike”). He announces to his teammates the exact moment of the snap by calling out signals, usually including the word “hut” one or more times in a prearranged sequence.

44 __-Turkish War, 1911-12 : ITALO

The Italo-Turkish War was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy from September 1911 and October 1912. At the end of the conflict the Ottoman Empire ceded to Italy the three provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. These provinces became Italian North Africa, and ultimately the country that we know today as Libya. The name “Libya” comes from the Ancient Greek “Libúē”, the historical name for Northwest Africa.

45 Prefix with center or dermal : EPI-

The epicenter is the point on the surface of the Earth that is directly above the focus of an earthquake.

The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. The thickest piece of epidermal tissue in humans is on the soles of the feet and the palms, and measures about 1.5 mm. The thinnest measures 0.1 mm, and that would be the human eyelid.

46 “Don’t wimp out, bro!” : MAN UP!

Our term “wimp”, describing a “timid person”, is probably an alteration of “whimper”, the sound that such an individual might make.

57 Dot follower, on campuses : EDU

The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

  • .com (commercial enterprise)
  • .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
  • .mil (US military)
  • .org (not-for-profit organization)
  • .gov (US federal government entity)
  • .edu (college-level educational institution)

59 Juliet’s love : ROMEO

William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is all about the love between the two title characters, which is forbidden as the pair come from two families who are sworn enemies. Early in the play, Romeo (a Montague) sneaks into a masquerade ball being held by the Capulets in the hope of meeting a Capulet girl named Rosaline. Instead, he meets and falls for Juliet, also a Capulet. Tragedy ensues …

61 Harped (on) : DWELT

To harp on something is to talk too much about it. The original expression with the same meaning was “to harp on the same string”, which is a reference to the musical instrument.

62 Rodeo ride : STEER

“Rodeo” is a Spanish word that is usually translated into English as “round up”.

Down

1 Hunting outfit, for short : CAMO

Our word “camouflage” (often abbreviated to “camo”) evolved directly from a Parisian slang term “camoufler” meaning “to disguise”. The term was first used in WWI, although the British navy at that time preferred the expression “dazzle-painting” as it applied to the pattern painted on the hulls of ships.

2 Norse king : OLAV

Of the many kings of Norway named Olaf/Olav (and there have been five), Olaf II is perhaps the most celebrated, as he was canonized and made the patron saint of the country. Olaf II was king from 1015 to 1028 and was known as “Olaf the Big” (or “Olaf the Fat”) during his reign. Today he is more commonly referred to as “Olaf the Holy”. After Olaf died he was given the title of “Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae”, which is Latin for “Norway’s Eternal King”.

6 “You said it!” : 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.

8 German gripe : ACH!

The German exclamation “ach!” is usually translated into English as “oh!”

9 HBO rival, briefly : SHO

Showtime (SHO) is a competitor of The Movie Channel (TMC) in terms of program lineup, although both channels are in fact owned by CBS.

10 They might capture embarrassing comments : HOT MICS

One of my favorite hot-mic moments took place in 2005, when Paris and London were vying to host the 2012 Olympics. French President Jacques Chirac compared Paris and London in that context while chatting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Chirac said, over a hot mic:

The only thing that they have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease … You cannot trust people who have such bad cuisine.

12 Spirited horse : ARAB

The Arab (also “Arabian”) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.

13 Chromosome carrier : GENE

A gene is a section of a chromosome that is responsible for a particular characteristic in an organism. For example, one gene may determine eye color and another balding pattern. We have two copies of each gene, one from each of our parents, with each copy known as an allele.

24 Lemon-lime drink since 1961 : SPRITE

Sprite is Coca-Cola’s answer to the very successful soft drink 7UP. Sprite was introduced in 1961, and Coca-Cola used its muscle to topple 7UP from its dominant position in the market. Sprite has been the number-one selling lemon soda since 1978.

28 PayPal payment, e.g. : ECASH

PayPal is an e-commerce business that has been around since the year 2000, born out of a merger of two older companies: Confinity and X.com. PayPal performs payment processing for online vendors. The company was so successful that it was the first of the beleaguered dot.com companies to successfully complete an IPO after the attacks of 9/11. Then in 2002, PayPal was bought by eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion.

30 James of blues : ETTA

“Etta James” was the stage name of celebrated blues and soul singer Jamesetta Hawkins. James’ most famous recording was her 1960 hit “At Last”, which made it into the pop charts. James performed “At Last” at the age of 71 in 2009 on the reality show “Dancing with the Stars”, which was to be her final television appearance. She passed away in 2012.

31 “Back to the Future” bully : BIFF

Biff Tannen is the bully character in the “Back to Future” trilogy. He is played by Thomas F. Wilson.

In the fun 1985 movie “Back to the Future”, Marty McFly finds himself back in 1955, and is trying to get back to HIS future, 1985. But on the other hand, 1985 is really Marty’s present, before he went back in time. Why does time travel have to be so complicated …?

32 Isaac’s eldest son : ESAU

Esau is a son of Isaac, and someone whose story is told in the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Esau had three wives, Adah, Aholibamah and Bashemath.

36 Author Silverstein : SHEL

Author Shel Silverstein had a varied career and did a lot more than write books. Silverstein was a poet, composer, cartoonist and screenwriter among other things. One of his successful children’s books is “A Light in the Attic”, a collection of poems that was first published in 1981. Some parents have tried to get the book banned from libraries. The collection includes the poem “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes”, which encourages disobedience and making a mess. Scandalous …

40 How ark creatures boarded : IN PAIRS

Genesis 6:19-20 states that Noah was instructed to take two animals of every kind into the ark. Later, in Genesis 7:2-3 Noah was instructed to take on board “every clean animal by sevens … male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth”. Apparently, “extras” (7 rather than 2) were needed for ritual sacrifice.

42 Utility bill meas. : BTU

In the world of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), the power of a heating or cooling unit can be measured using the British Thermal Units (BTU). This dated unit is the amount of energy required to heat a pound of water so that the water’s temperature increases by one degree Fahrenheit.

46 TV horse who “will never speak unless he has something to say” : MR ED

The sitcom “Mister Ed” first aired in 1961 and ran for almost five years. It was a very successful show (and even made it to Ireland!). Mister Ed, the talking horse, was a palomino that had the real name of Bamboo Harvester. Mister Ed’s “voice” was that of actor Allan “Rocky” Lane, a star of a lot of B-movie westerns from the forties and fifties. In the show, Mister Ed would only talk to the lead (human) character Wilbur, played by Alan Young, leading to some hilarious situations. Mister Ed had a stunt double and stand-in for the show, another horse called Pumpkin. Pumpkin later made frequent appearances on the show “Green Acres”.

47 BMW rival : AUDI

The predecessor to today’s Audi company was called Auto Union. Auto Union was formed with the merger of four individual entities: Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer. The Audi logo comprises four intersecting rings, each representing one of the four companies that merged.

52 Superhero with a hammer : THOR

Thor Odinson is a superhero who was introduced to us by Marvel Comics in 1962. The character is based on the Norse god Thor, and comes complete with a magical hammer. Like so many comic book heroes it seems, Thor has made it to the big screen. Actor Chris Hemsworth played the role in the 2011 film “Thor” directed by the great Kenneth Branagh. Branagh must have needed the cash. Thor’s father Odin is played by Anthony Hopkins. He must have needed the cash too …

56 Iron __ : ORE

Iron ore comes in a number of different forms, like magnetite (the most magnetic of all minerals) and hematite (the most commonly exploited iron ore).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Fountain orders : COLAS
6 Embarrass : ABASH
11 Zig counterpart : ZAG
14 Full of energy : ALIVE
15 Ultra-masculine : MACHO
16 Rage : IRE
17 Drain a basketball three-pointer, say : MAKE THE SHOT
19 Peter of Neverland : PAN
20 Like a medium steak that was ordered rare : OVERDONE
21 “We’ll see” : MAYBE
23 __ Paulo : SAO
24 Richard’s running mate : SPIRO
26 “Understand?” : GET THE PICTURE?
31 Beauty at a ball : BELLE
33 Back forty’s forty : ACRES
34 Road furrow : RUT
35 Brit’s “Goodness!” : I SAY!
36 Way up or down : STAIR
37 Flutter by like a butterfly : FLIT
38 Sibs, uncs, etc. : FAM
39 Treasure holder : CHEST
40 One of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” : IRINA
41 Mess up a football hike : FUMBLE THE SNAP
44 __-Turkish War, 1911-12 : ITALO
45 Prefix with center or dermal : EPI-
46 “Don’t wimp out, bro!” : MAN UP!
48 Start of a partial concession : I’LL ADMIT …
53 Bearskin floor covering, e.g. : RUG
54 Very close race, and what 17-, 26- and 41-Across have in common : PHOTO FINISH
57 Dot follower, on campuses : EDU
58 British noblemen : EARLS
59 Juliet’s love : ROMEO
60 Super Bowl party item : DIP
61 Harped (on) : DWELT
62 Rodeo ride : STEER

Down

1 Hunting outfit, for short : CAMO
2 Norse king : OLAV
3 Facebook response : LIKE
4 In opposition : AVERSELY
5 Fixed appointment : SET DATE
6 “You said it!” : AMEN!
7 Loyal political group : BASE
8 German gripe : ACH!
9 HBO rival, briefly : SHO
10 They might capture embarrassing comments : HOT MICS
11 “Shh!” : ZIP YOUR LIP!
12 Spirited horse : ARAB
13 Chromosome carrier : GENE
18 Partner of holler : HOOT
22 Museum collection : ART
24 Lemon-lime drink since 1961 : SPRITE
25 Place to tie up : PIER
26 Making more alluring : GLAMMING UP
27 Really would rather not : HATE TO
28 PayPal payment, e.g. : ECASH
29 Spoil : RUIN
30 James of blues : ETTA
31 “Back to the Future” bully : BIFF
32 Isaac’s eldest son : ESAU
36 Author Silverstein : SHEL
37 “Sorry, no can do” : ‘FRAID NOT
39 Turned (on) remotely, as the lights : CLAPPED
40 How ark creatures boarded : IN PAIRS
42 Utility bill meas. : BTU
43 __-esteem : SELF
46 TV horse who “will never speak unless he has something to say” : MR ED
47 BMW rival : AUDI
48 “__ cost you!” : IT’LL
49 Driving around in circles, maybe : LOST
50 Silent performer : MIME
51 “Gotcha” : I SEE
52 Superhero with a hammer : THOR
55 Hem partner : HAW
56 Iron __ : ORE

13 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 1 Dec 20, Tuesday”

  1. I woke up pretty groggy and should have waited to work on the puzzle, but didn’t. Struggled through it and couldn’t think of obvious things. One thing I didn’t like was “adversely” instead of “adverse to” for “in opposition.” Adversely seems grammatically incorrect to me. Once I’m fully awake I’ll probably change me mind.

  2. Had to Google BIFF.
    Didn’t get the theme until Bill explained it.
    Had AVERSE TO before AVERSELY, “kin” before FAM, GrooMING UP before GLAMMING UP. (Agree with @Tony.)
    As a matter of fact the middle of the left was a written over mess.

  3. About nine minutes, three errors from using “averse to” for 4D. And my pen ran out of ink, time to move on!

  4. Pretty standard Tuesday puzzle although not much of a theme. I also had ‘averse to’ before aversely….. and kin before fam.

  5. 7:36 no errors

    Another one where the long answers helped me figure out the theme reveal. Cool!

    I thought it was pretty funny to have HOTMICs next to ZIPYOURLIP.

  6. Tricky Tuesday for me; took 16 minutes on paper with no errors. Kept having to wait for crosses, but nothing overly difficult.

    @Bill – PayPal is free from the clutches of EBay once again.

  7. After nearly two decades of officiating high school and college football, I feel compelled to alert you to a technical error concerning 41 Across. By rule, it is impossible to fumble a snap, just like one can not “fumble” a kick, since “fumble” means loss of player possession. A loose ball following a snap or kick is not in player possession. These can be “muffed” in an attempt to gain possession of said loose ball, but they can only be “fumbled” once the ball is possessed, an event that ends any snap or kick.

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