LA Times Crossword 25 Dec 20, Friday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Carol and the Chorus

Merry Christmas, everyone! Themed answers the names of Christmas carols, and their choruses:

  • 21A Seasonal favorite : DECK THE HALLS
  • 40A With 43-Across, 21-Across chorus line : FA-LA-LA-LA-LA …
  • 43A See 40-Across : … LA-LA-LA-LA
  • 63A Seasonal favorite : LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
  • 66A 63-Across chorus line : PA RUM PUM PUM-PUM

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

Bill’s time: 8m 50s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Oft-heard disembodied voice : SIRI

Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

5 Fauna component : ANIMAL

The fauna is the animal life of a particular region, and the flora is that region’s plant life. The term “fauna” comes from the Roman goddess of earth and fertility who was called Fauna. Flora was the Roman goddess of plants, flowers and fertility.

15 Turkmenistan neighbor : IRAN

The countries of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan lie along Iran’s northern and eastern borders.

16 Ford’s second commercial success : MODEL A

The Ford Model A was the original car produced by the Ford Motor Company. The first production run lasted from 1903 to 1904, when it was replaced by the Model C. The name “Model A” was brought back in 1927 and used for the successor to the Model T.

18 One standing before the king and queen : PAWN

In the game of chess, the pawns are the weakest pieces on the board. A pawn that can make it to the opposite side of the board can be promoted to a piece of choice, usually a queen. Using promotion of pawns, it is possible for a player to have two or more queens on the board at one time. However, standard chess sets come with only one queen per side, so a captured rook is often used as the second queen by placing it on the board upside down.

19 Frederick Douglass, notably : ORATOR

Frederick Douglass was a leader of the abolitionist movement. Douglass had been born a slave in Maryland, and escaped to the North when he was about 20 years old. A few years later, Douglass wrote his most famous book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”. The book became a huge hit and was reprinted nine time within the first three years of its publication. Not only did Douglass champion the abolition of slavery, but he also vigorously supported women’s suffrage. He became the first African American to be nominated for the office of US Vice President when he ran alongside women’s suffragist Victoria Woodhull in 1872.

20 European border range : URAL

The eastern side of the Ural Mountains in Russia and Kazakhstan is generally regarded as the natural divide between the continents of Europe and Asia.

21 Seasonal favorite : DECK THE HALLS
40 With 43-Across, 21-Across chorus line : FA-LA-LA-LA-LA …
43 See 40-Across : … LA-LA-LA-LA

The music for the Christmas song “Deck the Halls” is a traditional Welsh tune that dates back to the 16th century. The same tune was used by Mozart for a violin and piano duet. The lyrics with which we are familiar (other than the “f-la-la”) are American in origin, and were recorded in the 19th century.

“’Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la!”

26 Circle 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.

27 Fabric-dyeing process : BATIK

Genuine batik cloth is produced by applying wax to the parts of the cloth that are not to be dyed. After the cloth has been dyed, it is dried and then dipped in a solvent that dissolves the wax. Although wax-resist dyeing of fabric has existed in various parts of the world for centuries, it is most closely associated historically with the island of Java in Indonesia.

30 Sycophant : TOADY

A toady is someone who is very servile, and somewhat of a parasite. Derived from “toad-eater” the term originally applied to the assistant of a quack, a seller of useless potions that had no actual benefit to health. The toady would eat an apparently poisonous toad in front of an audience, so that the charlatan could “cure” him or her with one of the potions for sale.

A sycophant is a selfish person, and one who flatters. The term comes from the Greek “sykophantes” which originally meant “one who shows the fig”. This phrase described a vulgar gesture made with the thumb and two fingers.

31 Toss insults (at) : SNIPE

Snipes are wading birds with very long and thin bills that they use to search for small invertebrates in mud. In bygone days, a shot taken by a hunter at one of these wading birds became known as a “snipe”. This usage evolved into the word “sniper” applying to anyone shooting from a hidden position.

32 Sport for swingers? : POLO

The sport of polo originated in Iran, possibly before the 5th century BC. Polo was used back then primarily as a training exercise for cavalry units.

33 They’re often seen on slides : AMEBAS

An ameba (also “amoeba”) is a single-celled microorganism. The name comes from the Greek “amoibe”, meaning change. The name is quite apt, as the cell changes shape readily as the ameba moves, eats and reproduces.

48 Part of BPOE : ELKS

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.

54 Fit to serve : ONE-A

The US government maintains information on all males who are potentially subject to military conscription, using what is called the Selective Service System (SSS). In the event that a draft was held, men registered would be classified into groups to determine eligibility for service. Class 1-A registrants are those available for unrestricted military service. Other classes are 1-A-O (conscientious objector available for noncombatant service), 4-A (registrant who has completed military service) and 4-D (Minister of religion).

58 Asian desert : GOBI

The Gobi, the large desert in Asia, lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi desert is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so-called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.

62 King of Judea : HEROD

Herod Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the Great, and like his grandfather was a Roman client king of Judea. It is thought that Herod Agrippa is the “Herod” mentioned in the Bible’s “Acts of the Apostles”, the king who imprisoned Peter and who had killed James son of Zebedee. Agrippa’s grandfather was the King Herod who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents described in the Gospel of Matthew. This was Herod’s attempt to kill the young Jesus by ordering the murder of all boys aged two or younger in Bethlehem and vicinity.

63 Seasonal favorite : LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
66 63-Across chorus line : PA RUM PUM PUM-PUM

The Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy” was written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941 (as “Carol of the Drum”). The first recording of the song was in 1955, by the famous Trapp Family Singers of “The Sound of Music” fame. Although many, many artists have recorded “The Little Drummer Boy” since then, my guess is that the best-known recording today is the 1977 medley with “Peace on Earth” released by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

68 Like Oscar of “The Odd Couple” or “Sesame Street” : MESSY

“The Odd Couple” is a play by the wonderfully talented Neil Simon that was first performed on Broadway, in 1965. This great play was adapted for the big screen in 1968, famously starring Jack Lemmon (as Felix Unger) and Walter Matthau (as Oscar Madison). The success of the play and the film gave rise to an excellent television sitcom that ran from 1970-1975, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. In 1985, Neil Simon even went so far as to adapt the play for an all-female cast, renaming it “The Female Odd Couple”. I’d like to see that one …

Oscar the Grouch is the Muppet that lives in a garbage can. Oscar’s persona comes from various sources. He is named after Oscar Brand who was one of the board members of the Children’s Television Workshop, the backers for “Sesame Street” as the Muppets were being developed in the sixties. Oscar’s personality was inspired by an angry waiter that once served Jim Henson (father of the Muppets). The voice was modeled on a grumpy New York cab driver encountered one day by Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who brings Oscar to life.

Down

2 Novelist Levin : IRA

As well as writing novels, Ira Levin was a dramatist and a songwriter. Levin’s first novel was “A Kiss Before Dying”, and his most famous work was “Rosemary’s Baby” which became a Hollywood hit. His best known play is “Deathtrap”, a production that is often seen in local theater (I’ve seen it a couple of times around here). “Deathtrap” was also a successful movie, starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. My favorite of Levin’s novels are “The Boys from Brazil” and “The Stepford Wives”.

5 Uncontrolled : AMOK

The phrase “to run amok” (sometimes “to run amuck”) has been around since the 1670s and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was also used as a noun to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. Given Malaya’s troubled history, the natives probably had a good reason for that frenzy …

6 Word with due or true : … NORTH

True north is the direction pointing towards the Earth’s geographic North Pole. Magnetic north is the direction pointing towards the Earth’s Magnetic North Pole, and is the directions indicated by a compass needle.

7 Yukon Gold source : IDAHO

Idaho has the nickname “Gem State”, mainly because almost every known type of gemstone has been found there. Idaho is also sometimes called the Potato State as potatoes are such a popular crop in the state. I’d go for the potatoes over the gems, but that’s probably just me …

8 Poet’s concern : METER

The meter of a poem is its rhythmic structure.

9 Greeting in a state nickname : ALOHA

The Hawaiian word “aloha” has many meanings in English: affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. More recently, “aloha” has come to mean “hello” and “goodbye”, but only since the mid-1800s.

The official nickname for Hawaii is “The Aloha State”. Hawaii is also referred to as “Paradise of the Pacific” and “The Islands of Aloha”.

10 Spencer of “Good Morning America” : LARA

Lara Spencer has been co-anchor of “Good Morning America” since 2011, working alongside Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. Back in 2004/2005, PBS viewers will have seen Spencer hosting the hit show “Antiques Roadshow”.

11 ’50s-’70s singer with 11 Top 12 hits : PAUL ANKA

Canadian-born Paul Anka’s big hit was in 1957, the song entitled “Diana”. Anka was the subject of a much-lauded documentary film in 1962 called “Lonely Boy”.

12 Inventory evaluation term : FIRST-IN

In the world of accounting, inventory might be managed on a FIFO or LIFO basis. FIFO stands for first-in, first-out. LIFO stands for last-in, first-out.

13 Org. that tests cosmetics : FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its roots in the Division of Chemistry (later “Bureau of Chemistry”) that was part of the US Department of Agriculture. President Theodore Roosevelt gave responsibility for examination of food and drugs to the Bureau of Chemistry with the signing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Bureau’s name was changed to the Food, Drug and Insecticide Organization in 1927, and to the Food and Drug Administration in 1930.

23 Freight meas. : LBS

The unit of mass that we know today as a pound is descended from the old Roman unit of weight known as a “libra”. That “libra” connection is why we abbreviate “pound” to “lb”. The name “pound” comes from the Latin “pondo” meaning “weight”. Our term “ounce” (abbreviated to “oz.”) comes from the Latin “uncia”, which was 1/12 of a Roman “libra”.

24 Indy 500 initialism : STP

STP is a brand name of automotive lubricants and additives. The name “STP” is an initialism standing for “Scientifically Treated Petroleum”.

28 Wall St. event : IPO

An initial public offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).

29 Royal Botanic Gardens locale : KEW

Kew Gardens is a beautiful location in southwest London that was formerly known as the Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew Gardens has the world’s largest collection of different living plants.

33 Like : A LA

The phrase “in the style of” can be translated as “alla” in Italian and “à la” in French.

34 What Y can imply : MALE

In most mammalian species, including man, females have two identical sex chromosomes (XX) and males two distinct sex chromosomes (XY). As a result it is the males who determine the sex of the offspring. However, in birds the opposite is true and so females determine the sex of the chicks.

35 Mideast carrier : EL AL

El Al Israel Airlines is the flag carrier of Israel. The term “el al” translates from Hebrew as “to the skies”. The company started operations in 1948, with a flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv. Famously, El Al only operates six days a week, not flying on the Sabbath.

36 Resist, with “at” : BALK

To balk is to stop and refuse to go on. It’s not just a baseball term …

38 Mineo of “Rebel Without a Cause” : SAL

Actor Sal Mineo’s most famous role was John “Plato” Crawford, the kid who was in awe of the James Dean character in “Rebel Without a Cause”. Sadly, Mineo was murdered in 1976 when he was just 37 years old. He was attacked in the alley behind his Los Angeles apartment and stabbed through the heart. When an arrest was made it was discovered that the murderer had no idea that his victim was a celebrity, and that his plan was just to rob anyone who came along.

“Rebel Without a Cause” is a 1955 drama movie starring actor James Dean, who died just before the film’s release. The title comes from a 1944 book by psychiatrist Robert M. Lindner “Rebel Without a Cause: The Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath”, although the content of the book has no bearing on the movie’s storyline. The three lead actors in the movie all died tragically, and while relatively young:

  • James Dean (24), in a car crash in 1955
  • Sal Mineo (37), in a stabbing in 1976
  • Natalie Wood (43), in a drowning in 1981

41 Gore and Green : ALS

Al Gore was born in Washington DC, and is the son of Al Gore, Sr., then a US Representative for the state of Tennessee. After deferring his military service in order to attend Harvard, the younger Gore became eligible for the draft on graduation. Many of his classmates found ways of avoiding the draft, but Gore decided to serve and even took the “tougher” option of joining the army as an enlisted man. Actor Tommy Lee Jones shared a house with Gore in college and says that his buddy told him that even if he could find a way around the draft, someone with less options than him would have to go in his place and that was just wrong.

Al Green is a gospel and soul music singer. Green was born in Arkansas, where he started out as a gospel singer and moved into R&B. In 1974, he was assaulted by a girlfriend who burned him badly on much of his body by pouring boiling grits over him (and then she committed suicide). The incident changed Green’s life and he turned to the church, becoming a pastor in Memphis in 1976. He continued to record music, but never really enjoyed the same success that he had in the early seventies with hits like “Let’s Stay Together” and “I’m Still In Love With You”.

42 __ Cruces : LAS

Las Cruces (Spanish for “the crosses”) is the second largest city in the state of New Mexico, and is the home of New Mexico State University.

44 Lanford Wilson’s “The __ Baltimore” : HOT L

“The Hot l Baltimore” is a play by Lanford Wilson about the manager and residents of a dilapidated hotel in Baltimore. The play’s name comes from the establishment’s neon sign which is meant to read “Hotel Baltimore”, but the burnt-out “e” in “Hotel” was never replaced.

46 Washington airport : SEA-TAC

Sea-Tac Airport (SEA) is more fully known as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Sea-Tac is the main hub for Alaska Airlines.

47 Hindu philosophy : TANTRA

Tantrism (sometimes “Tantra”) is a relatively recent class of religious ritual and meditation that has its roots in 5th century India. The tantras are sometimes considered as advanced teachings that extend the basic tenets of several Indian religions including Buddhism and Hinduism.

50 Annoying sorts : TWERPS

“Twerp” and “pipsqueak” are both terms used for someone who is insignificant and contemptible.

51 Boeing competitor : AIRBUS

Airbus is an aircraft manufacturer based in Blagnac, France just outside Toulouse. Airbus produces about half of the world’s jetliners. The company built the first fly-by-wire aircraft (the A320), and also builds the world’s largest airliner (the A380).

The Boeing Company was founded in Seattle in 1916 by aviation pioneer William Boeing, with the enterprise’s first name being “Pacific Aero Products Co.” Boeing had worked in the timber industry and set up his aircraft company in the Pacific Northwest to take advantage of the local supply of spruce wood.

52 Like Eeyore’s outlook : GLOOMY

Eeyore is the donkey character in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”. Eeyore is very lovable, but has a gloomy and pessimistic outlook on life.

57 “Project Runway” host : KLUM

German-born Heidi Klum was married to the successful English singer, Seal. Klum is a talented lady and has built a multi-faceted career based on her early success as a model. She is the force behind the Bravo reality show called “Project Runway” that has been on the air since 2004. Klum has been nominated 4-5 times for an Emmy for her association with the show. Klum was also signed up as the official ambassador for Barbie in 2009, the 50th anniversary of the Barbie Doll, and for her service that year a Heidi Klum Barbie was produced. She has been adding a touch of class to the judging panel on the show “America’s Got Talent” from 2013 through 2020.

“Project Runway” is a reality show that is hosted by model Heidi Klum. On the show, contestants compete by presenting clothes designs having been given limited time and materials. “Project Runway” is now a worldwide franchise. North of the border, the show is called “Project Runway Canada” and is hosted by supermodel Iman. The show in the UK is known as “Project Catwalk” and has had several hosts, including Elizabeth Hurley and Kelly Osbourne.

58 Econ. stat : GDP

A country’s Gross National Product (GNP) is the value of all services and products produced by its residents in a particular year. GNP includes all production wherever it is in the world, as long as the business is owned by residents of the country concerned. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is different, although related, and is the value of all services and goods produced within the borders of the country for that year.

59 Tulsa sch. with a Prayer Tower : ORU

Oral Roberts University (ORU) is a private school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ORU was founded relatively recently, in 1963 by the late televangelist Oral Roberts. The campus includes a Prayer Tower at its center, a spectacular glass and steel structure designed by architect Frank Wallace. The tower includes an observation deck, and is a popular tourist attraction. The school’s sports teams are known as the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.

62 Iron-rich blood pigment : HEME

Heme (also “haem”) is an organic structure containing iron, and is a component of hemoglobin, the protein that transports primarily oxygen around the body. It is the “heme” in “hemoglobin” that binds the oxygen atoms. A plant-derived version of heme is the magic ingredient in the famous Impossible Burger that has become so popular on vegetarian menus.

64 Ruler of anc. Rome : EMP

Ancient Rome went through three distinct periods. From 753 to 509 BC, Rome was a kingdom founded by the legendary Romulus. From 509 to 27 BC, Rome was a republic. The Roman Republic started with the overthrow of the last monarch Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. He was replaced by two elected consuls who were advised by a senate. The Republic evolved over time, but came to an end when Octavian expanded his power and declared himself “First Citizen”. Octavian effectively became Rome’s first emperor, and took the name “Caesar Augustus”. The “Fall of the Western Roman Empire” took place in the 5th century, formally ending in 476 CE when the last emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. The Eastern Roman Empire survived as the Byzantine Empire, which was centered on Constantinople.

65 Silent : MUM

The phrase “mum’s the word” has been around since the early 1700s. “Mum” has been used to mean “silent” for centuries, the idea being that “mum” is the sound made when the lips are tightly sealed.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Oft-heard disembodied voice : SIRI
5 Fauna component : ANIMAL
11 [It vanished!] : [PFFT!]
15 Turkmenistan neighbor : IRAN
16 Ford’s second commercial success : MODEL A
17 Senator’s helper : AIDE
18 One standing before the king and queen : PAWN
19 Frederick Douglass, notably : ORATOR
20 European border range : URAL
21 Seasonal favorite : DECK THE HALLS
24 Maneuver : STEER
26 Circle dance : HORA
27 Fabric-dyeing process : BATIK
30 Sycophant : TOADY
31 Toss insults (at) : SNIPE
32 Sport for swingers? : POLO
33 They’re often seen on slides : AMEBAS
39 Don’t have to guess : KNOW
40 With 43-Across, 21-Across chorus line : FA-LA-LA-LA-LA …
43 See 40-Across : … LA-LA-LA-LA
44 Entertains : HOSTS
48 Part of BPOE : ELKS
49 Phase : STAGE
54 Fit to serve : ONE-A
55 Seriously off the mark, as a throw : WILD
56 Show appreciation to : THANK
58 Asian desert : GOBI
62 King of Judea : HEROD
63 Seasonal favorite : LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
66 63-Across chorus line : PA RUM PUM PUM-PUM
67 Rascal : SCAMP
68 Like Oscar of “The Odd Couple” or “Sesame Street” : MESSY

Down

1 Opposite of guzzle : SIP
2 Novelist Levin : IRA
3 Unfair outcome : RAW DEAL
4 Demanding : IN NEED OF
5 Uncontrolled : AMOK
6 Word with due or true : … NORTH
7 Yukon Gold source : IDAHO
8 Poet’s concern : METER
9 Greeting in a state nickname : ALOHA
10 Spencer of “Good Morning America” : LARA
11 ’50s-’70s singer with 11 Top 12 hits : PAUL ANKA
12 Inventory evaluation term : FIRST IN
13 Org. that tests cosmetics : FDA
14 Business card no. : TEL
22 Yell : CRY
23 Freight meas. : LBS
24 Indy 500 initialism : STP
25 Excessively : TOO
28 Wall St. event : IPO
29 Royal Botanic Gardens locale : KEW
33 Like : A LA
34 What Y can imply : MALE
35 Mideast carrier : EL AL
36 Resist, with “at” : BALK
37 Woeful word : ALAS
38 Mineo of “Rebel Without a Cause” : SAL
41 Gore and Green : ALS
42 __ Cruces : LAS
44 Lanford Wilson’s “The __ Baltimore” : HOT L
45 Where impatient hands might be placed : ON HIPS
46 Washington airport : SEA-TAC
47 Hindu philosophy : TANTRA
50 Annoying sorts : TWERPS
51 Boeing competitor : AIRBUS
52 Like Eeyore’s outlook : GLOOMY
53 Swirl : EDDY
57 “Project Runway” host : KLUM
58 Econ. stat : GDP
59 Tulsa sch. with a Prayer Tower : ORU
60 Mooch : BUM
61 Pesky sort : IMP
62 Iron-rich blood pigment : HEME
64 Ruler of anc. Rome : EMP
65 Silent : MUM

13 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 25 Dec 20, Friday”

  1. Nice, seasonal puzzle. I had Reagan before SeaTac for Washington airport, which set me back a bit. Otherwise no problems. Merry Christmas everyone!

  2. Easy for Friday because of the carols. I did Google SEATAC and AMEBA to see if they were correct.
    Did not know KEW. I do know KEW Gardens in Queens.
    Had gOlf before POLO, cEL before TEL and mANTRA before TANTRA.

  3. 10:38 and two errors, where HEROD and HEME meet (both completely unknown to me). Took issue with PFFT instead of POOF in the top right. “PFFT” is more of a dismissive “exhale” than it is used to describe something disappearing as if by magic.

  4. Slightly tricky Friday for me; took 32:43 with 2 errors. Spent a bit of time in the SW before finally doing a “check-grid” and having _OS_S which needed to be HOSTS. The rest was mostly easy, although I had state before STAGE.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  5. American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.
    thanks

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