LA Times Crossword 22 Dec 20, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Jake Halperin
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: It’s Nothing

Themed answers each begin with a synonym of “NOTHING”:

  • 60A “Just a scratch, really” … and a hint to the starts of 17-, 27-, 36- and 46-Across : IT’S NOTHING
  • 17A “Quiet!” : ZIP YOUR LIP!
  • 27A Sinful financial craving : LOVE OF MONEY
  • 36A English national anthem originally in French : O CANADA
  • 46A Exercise involving a push-up position : SQUAT THRUST

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

Bill’s time: 6m 45s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Jobs for plumbers : LEAKS

“Plumbum” is Latin for “lead”, explaining why the symbol of the element in the Periodic Table is “Pb”. It also explains why the original lead weight on the end of a line used to check vertical was called a “plumb line”. And, as pipes were originally made of lead, it also explains why we would call in a “plumber” if one of those pipes was leaking.

6 Protein-rich vegan fare : TOFU

“Tofu” is a name for bean curd, and is a Japanese word meaning just that … bean that has curdled. Tofu is produced by coagulating soy milk, using either salt or something acidic. Once the protein has coagulated, the curds are pressed into the familiar blocks. Personally I love tofu, but my wife, she absolutely hates it …

10 “Warts and all” wart : FLAW

It is said that the phrase “warts and all” was coined by Oliver Cromwell, although there is no real evidence that he ever uttered the phrase. Cromwell had his portrait painted by Sir Peter Lely, an artist who had a reputation for producing works that flattered the subject. Cromwell was a puritan, and may indeed have instructed Lely to produce a less flattering and more objective image. Indeed, the painting includes warts on Cromwell’s face, imperfections that could easily have been omitted.

15 Library ID : ISBN

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was invented by one Gordon Foster who was a professor at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. The code was originally developed for booksellers, so that they had a unique number (and now a barcode) for each publication. ISBNs are ten digits long if assigned before 2007. Since the start of 2007, ISBNs are thirteen digits long.

19 Pre-performance pitch-setting wind : OBOE

When you hear an orchestra tuning before a performance, you’ll note (pun!) that the oboe starts off the process by playing an “A”. The rest of the musicians in turn tune to that oboe’s “A”.

20 Bible man made from earth : ADAM

According to the Bible, God created Adam from “the dust of the ground”. Eve was created as Adam’s companion, from Adam’s rib.

21 “The Matrix” hero : NEO

Neo is the character played by Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix” series of films.

22 Chipmunk, e.g. : RODENT

Chipmunks are rodents found almost exclusively in North America. It has been suggested that the name “chipmunk” comes from the Ojibwa word “ajidamoo”, which translates literally as “head first”. The idea is that the chipmunk was viewed as a red squirrel noted for descending tree trunks “head first”.

24 State-sponsored gambling game : LOTTO

Originally, lotto was a type of card game, with “lotto” being the Italian for “a lot”. We’ve used “lotto” to mean a gambling game since the late 1700s.

26 Play-calling gatherings : HUDDLES

That would be football.

31 Bacon go-with : EGGS

“Bacon” is an Old French word that we imported into English. The term ultimately comes from the Proto-Germanic “bakkon” meaning “back meat”.

35 Form W-2 org. : IRS

Form W-2 is provided by US employers to their employees by January 31 each year. The form reports wages paid to the employees, as well as taxes withheld.

36 English national anthem originally in French : O CANADA

Canada’s national anthem “O Canada” was commissioned in 1880 by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, so the original words are in French. The first English translation was made in 1906. The current English lyrics have been revised a few times, but the French version remains the same as it did back in 1880.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

40 Half of dos : UNO

In Spanish, “uno y uno” (one plus one) makes “dos” (two).

41 Belle’s counterpart : BEAU

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”.

43 Fútbol cheer : OLE!

In Spanish, a “fútbol” (football) announcer might shout “gol!” (goal!).

50 Bigwigs : TOP GUNS

A bigwig is someone important. The use of the term “bigwig” harks back to the days when men of authority and rank wore … big wigs.

56 Stop-motion medium : CLAY

Clay animation, also known as “claymation”, is a stop motion animation technique that has been around since the early 1900s. The list of famous claymation productions includes the “Gumby” series of TV show segments, the California Raisins musical group ad campaign, and “Wallace and Gromit” British comedy series.

59 Humans-on-the-moon org. : NASA

NASA’s Artemis program has the goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Artemis is viewed as a step along the road to sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.

Down

1 Minnelli of “Cabaret” : LIZA

Actress and singer Liza Minnelli is the daughter of Judy Garland and movie director Vincente Minnelli. Liza won her only Oscar for her lead performance in 1972’s “Cabaret”. She has also won an Emmy, Grammy and Tony, and is one of the very few entertainers to have made that “sweep”.

The musical “Cabaret” is based on “I Am a Camera”, a 1951 play written by John Van Druten. In turn, the play was adapted from a novel “Goodbye to Berlin” written by Christopher Isherwood. The action in the musical takes place in the 1930s, in a seedy Berlin cabaret called the Kit Kat Klub. “Cabaret” is a great stage musical, although the 1972 film of the musical isn’t one of my favorites.

2 Katelyn Nacon’s role on “The Walking Dead” : ENID

“The Walking Dead” is a horror television show made by AMC that is based on a comic book series of the same name. There are lots of flesh-eating zombies featured, so I won’t be caught “dead” watching it …

Actress Katelyn Nacon is perhaps best known for playing Elisia Brown on the thriller web series “Tagged”, and Enid on the horror series “The Walking Dead”.

3 Horse with a spotted coat : APPALOOSA

The Appaloosa is a breed of horse with a characteristic leopard-spotted coat. As of 1975, the Appaloosa is the state horse of Idaho.

5 __-Caps: candy : SNO

Sno-Caps are a brand of candy usually only available in movie theaters. Sno-caps have been around since the 1920s, would you believe?

7 Scandinavian capital : OSLO

Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an ancient city that was founded around 1048. The medieval city was destroyed by fire in 1624 and was rebuilt by the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV and renamed to Christiana. In 1877 there was an official change of the spelling of the city’s name to “Kristiana”, and then more recently in 1925 the name was restored to the original Oslo. Things have almost gone full circle and now the center of Oslo, the area that would have been contained by the original medieval walls, has apparently been renamed to Christiana.

8 “The Blacklist” agcy. : FBI

“The Blacklist” is an entertaining, albeit a little formulaic, crime drama TV show starring James Spader and Megan Boone. Spader plays a successful criminal who surrenders to the FBI in order to help catch a “blacklist” of high-profile criminals.

18 “Do __ others … ” : UNTO

The Golden Rule is also known as the ethic of reciprocity, and is a basis for the concept of human rights. A version of the rule used in the Christian tradition is attributed to Jesus:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

25 Choreographer Saarinen : TERO

Tero Saarinen is a dancer and choreographer from Finland.

26 “Hava Nagila” dance : HORA

The hora is a circle dance that originated in the Balkans. It was brought to Israel by Romanian settlers, and is often performed to traditional, Israeli folk songs. The hora (also “horah”) is a regular sight at Jewish weddings. Sometimes the honoree at an event is raised on a chair during the hora.

“Hava Nagila” is a Hebrew folk song, with the title translating into “Let Us Rejoice”. The melody is from a Ukrainian folk song. The words to “Hava Nagila” were composed in 1918 to celebrate the British victory in Palestine during WWI.

28 Painter Claude : MONET

French artist Claude Monet was one of the founders of the Impressionist movement, and indeed the term “Impressionism” comes from the title of his 1872 painting “Impression, Sunrise”. That work depicts the port of Le Havre, which was Monet’s hometown. Later in his life, Monet purchased a house in Giverny, and famously installed lily ponds and a Japanese bridge in the property’s extensive gardens. He spent two decades painting the water lily ponds, producing his most famous works.

29 Highchair wear : BIB

The word “bib” comes from the Latin “bibere” meaning “to drink”, as does our word “imbibe”. So, maybe a bib is less about spilling the food, and more about soaking up the booze …

33 Irksome insect : GNAT

Gnats are attracted to the smell of rotting food, and vinegar. Simple homemade traps that use vinegar are often constructed to attract and kill gnats.

34 Luke, to Anakin : SON

Anakin “Ani” Skywalker is the principal character in the first six of the “Star Wars” movies. His progress chronologically through the series of films is:

  • Episode I: Anakin is a 9-year-old slave boy who earns the promise of Jedi training by young Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • Episode II: Anakin is 18-years-old and goes on a murdering rampage to avenge the killing of his mother.
  • Episode III: Anakin is 21-years-old and a Jedi knight, but he turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader. His wife Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia Skywalker.
  • Episode IV: Darth Vader, comes into conflict with his children, Luke Skywalker and the Princess Leia.
  • Episode V: Darth Vader attempts to coax his son Luke over to the dark side, and reveals to Luke that he is his father.
  • Episode VI: Luke learns that Leia is his sister, and takes on the task of bringing Darth Vader back from the Dark Side in order to save the Galaxy. Vader saves his son from the Emperor’s evil grip, dying in the process, but his spirit ends up alongside the spirits of Yoda and Obi-Wan. They all live happily ever after …

38 Hooray antonym : ALAS

An antonym is an “anti-synonym”. A synonym is a word having the same sense as another, and an antonym the opposite. For example, “love” is an antonym of “hate”, and “stop” is an antonym of “go”.

42 R.E. Lee foe : US GRANT

US President Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. Ohio Congressman Thomas Hamer nominated a young Grant to attend West Point, and gave the candidate’s name as “Ulysses S. Grant” in error. Grant tried to fix the error while studying at the military academy, but bureaucracy won out and the future president eventually embraced the inaccurate name as his own.

Robert E. Lee was perhaps the most famous southern officer in the Civil War. Lee was a somewhat reluctant participant in the war in that he opposed the secession of his home state of Virginia from the Union. At the beginning of the war, President Lincoln invited Lee to take command of the whole Union Army but he declined, choosing instead to stay loyal to his home state. During the Civil War, Lee’s men referred to him affectionately as “Marse Robert”, with “marse” being slang for “master”.

45 Third-largest German city, to Germans : MUNCHEN

Munich is the capital of the German state of Bavaria, and is the third-largest city in the country (after Berlin and Hamburg). The city is called “München” in German, a term that derives from the Old German word for “by the monks’ place”, which is a reference to the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city in 1158.

47 Who, in Quebec : QUI

Québec is the largest province in Canada, and the only one with French as its sole official language. The name “Québec” comes from an Algonquin word “kebec” meaning “where the river narrows”. This refers to the area around Quebec City where the St. Lawrence River narrows as it flows through a gap lined by steep cliffs. The province has voted twice in referenda asking whether or not Quebec should become an independent country, once in 1980, and again in 1995. The 1995 result was 49% in favor of sovereignty, up from 40% in 1980.

48 How carpaccio is sliced : THINLY

Carpaccio can be meat or fish. It is sliced very thinly, or may be pounded until it is thin, and then served raw. Carpaccio is a relatively contemporary dish, first served in 1950 to a countess in Venice, Italy. The lady informed the restaurant owner that her doctor had advised her to eat only raw meat, so she was served thin slices of uncooked beef in a mustard sauce. The owner of the restaurant thought that the colors of the dish reminded him of paintings by Vittore Carpaccio, so he gave it the name “Carpaccio”. Well, so the story goes …

49 Angelic aura : HALO

The Greek word “halos” is the name given to the ring of light around the sun or moon, which gives us our word “halo” that is used for a radiant light depicted above the head of a saintly person.

50 Vodka mixer : TONIC

The original tonic water was a fairly strong solution of the drug quinine dissolved in carbonated water. It was used in tropical areas in South Asia and Africa where malaria is rampant. The quinine has a prophylactic effect against the disease, and was formulated as “tonic water” so that it could be easily distributed. In British colonial India, the colonial types got into the habit of mixing in gin with the tonic water to make it more palatable by hiding the bitter taste of quinine. Nowadays, the level of quinine in tonic water has been dropped, and sugar has been added.

51 Seed-bearing organ : OVARY

The ovary of a flowering plant is part of the female reproductive organ, the gynoecium. When pollen lands on the gynoecium, it germinates and grows down into the ovary to fertilize an individual ovule within that ovary and form a seed.

52 Cuban coins : PESOS

Cuba is the only country in the world that has two official currencies. The Cuban peso (CUP) is referred to as the “national currency”. Government workers are paid in CUPs, and CUPs can be used to pay for government-provided services and price-controlled items such as fruit and vegetables. There is also the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) that was introduced in 1994, when its value was pegged to the US dollar. Most products available in stores are imported, and have to be purchased with CUCs. Cubans with access to CUCs, like hotel workers interfacing with tourists, tend to have better lifestyles than government workers in general.

57 Diarist Frank : ANNE

Anne Frank has to be one of the most famous victims of the Holocaust. This is largely because the story of this young girl lives on in her widely published diary, and in adaptations of the diary for stage and screen. Anne Frank was a German until she lost her nationality in 1941 when the Nazis came to power. By this time she was living with her family in Amsterdam, as the Franks chose to flee Germany in 1933. When the Germans occupied the Netherlands, the family went into hiding in the attic of Otto Frank’s office building (Otto was Anne’s father). There the family hid for two whole years until they were betrayed. The family was split up, and Anne and her sister died from typhus in a concentration camp in 1945.

58 “Son of Frankenstein” role : YGOR

1939’s “Son of Frankenstein” is the third in the series of classic horror films featuring Boris Karloff as the Monster. The prior titles are “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein”. The demented blacksmith Ygor is played by Bella Lugosi. Frankenstein’s monster responds to Ygor’s commands, which isn’t a good thing …

61 Sailor : TAR

A jack tar, or just “tar”, was a seaman in the service of the British Empire. The term probably arose due to a sailor’s various uses of tar back then, including waterproofing his clothes and using tar in his hair to slick down his ponytail.

62 Nautical rope : TYE

In the nautical world, a tye can be either a chain or rope and is used to hoist a spar up a mast.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Jobs for plumbers : LEAKS
6 Protein-rich vegan fare : TOFU
10 “Warts and all” wart : FLAW
14 Written so as to discourage erasure : IN PEN
15 Library ID : ISBN
16 Witness’ promise : OATH
17 “Quiet!” : ZIP YOUR LIP!
19 Pre-performance pitch-setting wind : OBOE
20 Bible man made from earth : ADAM
21 “The Matrix” hero : NEO
22 Chipmunk, e.g. : RODENT
24 State-sponsored gambling game : LOTTO
26 Play-calling gatherings : HUDDLES
27 Sinful financial craving : LOVE OF MONEY
29 Ballpark hooter : BOOER
30 Iron mine output : ORE
31 Bacon go-with : EGGS
35 Form W-2 org. : IRS
36 English national anthem originally in French : O CANADA
40 Half of dos : UNO
41 Belle’s counterpart : BEAU
43 Fútbol cheer : OLE!
44 Clarifying words : I MEAN
46 Exercise involving a push-up position : SQUAT THRUST
50 Bigwigs : TOP GUNS
53 “It __ stopped me yet!” : HASN’T
54 Past the pain of a breakup, say : OVER IT
55 Have something : AIL
56 Stop-motion medium : CLAY
59 Humans-on-the-moon org. : NASA
60 “Just a scratch, really” … and a hint to the starts of 17-, 27-, 36- and 46-Across : IT’S NOTHING
63 Wrinkle remover : IRON
64 Hammer target : NAIL
65 Simple question type : YES/NO
66 Skin concern : CYST
67 Like a cloudy day : GRAY
68 Pencil maze word : ENTER

Down

1 Minnelli of “Cabaret” : LIZA
2 Katelyn Nacon’s role on “The Walking Dead” : ENID
3 Horse with a spotted coat : APPALOOSA
4 Decision that clinches the victory : KEY MOVE
5 __-Caps: candy : SNO
6 Lose interest in : TIRE OF
7 Scandinavian capital : OSLO
8 “The Blacklist” agcy. : FBI
9 Not cut back, as branches : UNPRUNED
10 Edible coloring : FOOD DYE
11 Nutrition info spot : LABEL
12 Make restitution : ATONE
13 Arouses : WHETS
18 “Do __ others … ” : UNTO
23 Emotional poem : ODE
25 Choreographer Saarinen : TERO
26 “Hava Nagila” dance : HORA
27 Passed-on stories : LORE
28 Painter Claude : MONET
29 Highchair wear : BIB
32 Party attendees lineup : GUEST LIST
33 Irksome insect : GNAT
34 Luke, to Anakin : SON
37 Relying (on) : COUNTING
38 Hooray antonym : ALAS
39 Goes public with : AIRS
42 R.E. Lee foe : US GRANT
45 Third-largest German city, to Germans : MUNCHEN
47 Who, in Quebec : QUI
48 How carpaccio is sliced : THINLY
49 Angelic aura : HALO
50 Vodka mixer : TONIC
51 Seed-bearing organ : OVARY
52 Cuban coins : PESOS
55 Where Israel is : ASIA
57 Diarist Frank : ANNE
58 “Son of Frankenstein” role : YGOR
61 Sailor : TAR
62 Nautical rope : TYE

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 22 Dec 20, Tuesday”

  1. Not proud of myself this morning. Had Igor instead of Ygor (hadn’t heard
    of this one) and forgot to enter the “w” in flaw/whets. Sure did not know
    the clay or claymotion, so it wasn’t my best attempt.

  2. Well, I knew the concept of claymation, but never heard the word before. Also, an antonym of “hooray” being “alas”? I got a chuckle trying to imagine fans at a basketball game (or something) shouting “alas” when someone does something wrong. 🙂 Anyway, 12 minutes.

  3. Meine Frau had several errors I had to correct and didn’t finish the puzzle . With the help of whiteout I managed to complete the puzzle
    and never reveal a smidgen of annoyance.
    Stay Safe,
    Eddie

    1. Yeah, with the emphasis on the “I”, it felt like the letter I. Apparently the joke was deeper than we knew.

  4. 21:03 no errors…I guess that O is for zero and Love is in tennis.
    Stay safe😀
    Go Ravens 🙏
    Anybody watch the Bengals destroy the Steelers last night? Who would have thunk it?👍👍

    1. @Jack
      Just about everybody, honestly. The Steelers are pretty much going to be a 7-9 or 6-10 team that just got lucky on several games (including against the Ravens both times). Roethlisberger is pretty much washed up if you look at his stat lines over the last few games (last game: 20 for 38 for 170 yards? Really?). If the Steeler fans are smart, the last thing they want is another year with him as QB.

  5. Theme worked. No problems or complaints. But because of Marty Feldman’s hilarious role in Young Frankenstein, it will always be Igor (with an eye) to me!

  6. 14 minutes, 12 seconds, needed Check help for 6 fills. NW corner just wouldn’t come together for me: I kept seeing IN PEN as, IN INK, and it went pear-shaped from there.

  7. Had a Natick at WHET crosses FLAW so one (or two) errors.
    Didn’t notice theme.
    Had blAh before ALAS, boRE OF before TIRE OF.
    Didn’t know TERO, ENID, ASIA, TYE. So, the Meditteranean is in 3 continents? Who’d a thunk it.
    Claymation was kind of neat. Lots of work. Tim Burton had some. I loved Gumby most. Claymation goes back to 1908

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