LA Times Crossword 12 Dec 21, Sunday

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Constructed by: Gary Larson
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: Prep Course

Themed answers are common phrases that start with a PREPOSITION. Each phrases has been reinterpreted in “punny” way:

  • 23A Like members of Gamblers Anonymous? : AGAINST ALL ODDS
  • 48A Like a church deacon? : ABOVE THE FOLD
  • 69A Like a balloon company with a depleted helium supply? : OUT OF THEIR ELEMENT
  • 94A Like one shopping for disposable phones? : AFTER BURNERS
  • 119A Like supporters of a Seattle daily? : BEHIND THE TIMES
  • 18D Like sausage’s main ingredients? : FROM THE GROUND UP
  • 44D Like one caught in a storm? : UNDER THE WEATHER

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

Bill’s time: 16m 10s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Guitarist Paul : LES

Les Paul was a guitarist, songwriter and inventor. When he was 33 years old, Paul was involved in a near-fatal car crash that left his right arm and elbow shattered. Surgeons offered him the choice of amputation or a rebuilding of the limb that would leave him unable to bend his elbow. He told them to set his arm at just under 90 degrees so that he could at least hold his guitar and perhaps play it.

4 Flamboyant Dame : EDNA

Dame Edna Everage is the outrageous character created and played by Australian comedian Barry Humphries. I saw him/her perform live in a San Francisco theater, and what a great show it was …

12 Chance to roll the dice, say : TURN

The numbers on dice are arranged so that the opposite faces add up to seven. Given this arrangement, the numbers 1, 2 and 3 all meet at a common vertex. There are two ways of arranging the 1, 2 and 3 around the common vertex, a so-called right-handed die (clockwise 1-2-3) or a left-handed die (counterclockwise 1-2-3). Traditionally, dice used in Western cultures are right-handed, whereas Chinese dice are left-handed. Quite interesting …

21 Customizable cookie : OREO

Nabisco offers customized packets of Oreo cookies through its OREOiD website. Users of the stie can choose filling colors and decorations, and can add a photo or a message to the cookie itself.

22 Ship’s accountant : PURSER

A purser is an official on a ship who is responsible for the handling of money and the keeping of accounts. The original “pursers” were makers of “money purses”.

23 Like members of Gamblers Anonymous? : AGAINST ALL ODDS

Gamblers Anonymous is a support group and fellowship of people who are compulsive gamblers. The organization was founded in Los Angeles in 1957 by Jim Willis. Willis was a recovering alcoholic who decided to use his experience in Alcoholics Anonymous to help people a gambling problem.

26 Tiny racer : SLOT CAR

Slot cars are those motorized toy cars that run around on tracks picking up power from a slot in the racing surface. The first slot cars were made in 1912 by the Lionel company, the manufacturer of toy train sets.

28 Resort town NNE of Santa Fe : TAOS

The town of Taos, New Mexico is named for the Native American village nearby called Taos Pueblo. Taos is famous for its art colony. Artists began settling in Taos in 1899, and the Taos Society of Artists was founded in 1915.

Santa Fe is New Mexico’s capital, and the fourth most-populous city in the state (after Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Rio Rancho). Sitting at 7,199 feet above sea level, Santa Fe is the highest state capital in the US. The city’s name translates from Spanish as “Holy Faith”. The full name of the city when it was founded in 1607 was “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís”, meaning “the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”. It became the capital of the province Santa Fe de Nuevo México in 1610, making Santa Fe the oldest state capital in the US.

29 Chopin wrote a “Revolutionary” one : ETUDE

Frédéric Chopin wrote his “Revolutionary Étude” around 1831. This coincided with the November Uprising, an armed rebellion that started in Warsaw against the Russian Empire. The uprising failed, causing the Polish composer great pain. Chopin expressed some of that pain in the étude.

34 Former British automaker : RELIANT

Reliant Motors was a British car manufacturer that was in business from 1935 through 2002. Reliant’s most famous vehicle by far was the Robin, a small three-wheeled car that I remember so vividly on the roads when I was growing up.

38 Autumn flower : ASTER

Apparently, most aster species and cultivars bloom relatively late in the year, usually in the fall. The name “aster” comes into English via Latin from the Greek word “astéri” meaning “star”, a reference to the arrangement of the petals of the flower.

40 Like a popular crusader : CAPED

Originally referred to as “Bat-Man” when introduced in comics in 1939, Batman is also referred to as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, the World’s Greatest Detective and, along with sidekick Robin, the Dynamic Duo.

43 King Cole and others : OLD SOULS

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl
And he called for his fiddlers three.
Every fiddler he had a fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he;
Oh there’s none so rare, as can compare
With King Cole and his fiddlers three.

47 Federal biomedical agcy. : NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) organization is made up of 27 different institutes that coordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.

48 Like a church deacon? : ABOVE THE FOLD

The area “above the fold” in a newspaper is considered that part of the front page that is most visible. As such, editors use it to display headlines that might entice readers. Also, advertisers usually pay more for placement of ads above the fold, to take advantage of the visibility. The term “above the fold” has migrated into web design, and refers to the portion of a webpage that is visible without the need to scroll.

The word “fold” describes an enclosure for sheep, and is also an alternative name for a flock, a group of sheep. Both “flock” and “fold” are used figuratively to describe a church’s congregation.

52 Draft status : 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 “Splendor in the Grass” screenwriter : INGE

“Splendor in the Grass” is a 1961 film with an Oscar-winning screenplay by William Inge. The film stars Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, and even Inge himself makes a brief appearance as a clergyman.

Playwright William Inge had a run of success on Broadway in the early fifties. His most celebrated work of that time is the play “Picnic”, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. The original 1953 cast of “Picnic” included a young male actor making his debut on Broadway. His name was Paul Newman. Many of Inge’s works are set in the American heartland and so he became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.

59 First name in Israeli statehood : GOLDA

Golda Meir was known as the “Iron Lady” when she was Prime Minister of Israel, long before that sobriquet came to be associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Golda Meir was born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev (in modern-day Ukraine), and when she was a young girl she moved with her family to the United States and settled in Milwaukee. As a teenager she relocated to Denver where she met and married Morris Meyerson, at the age of 19. She and her husband joined a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921, when she was in her twenties. Meir had been active in politics in the US, and continued her political work in Palestine. She was very influential during WWII, and played a leading role in negotiations after the war leading to the setting up of the state of Israel. By the time she was called on to lead the country, Meir had already retired, citing exhaustion and ill health. But serve she did, and led Israel during turbulent times (e.g. the massacre at the Munich Olympics, and the Yom Kippur War). She eventually resigned in 1974, saying that was what the people wanted.

63 Sister of the moon goddess Selene : EOS

In Greek mythology, Eos was the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos was Aurora. Rather delightfully, Homer referred to Eos as “rosy-fingered dawn” in both “Iliad” and “Odyssey”.

Selene was the Greek goddess of the moon, and the equivalent of the Roman deity Luna. Selene gave her name to the word “selenology”, the study of the geology of the moon, and also gave her name to the chemical element “selenium”. According to mythology, Selene fell in love with the handsome hunter/shepherd Endymion, a mere mortal.

66 Wafer brand : NECCO

Necco Wafers were the best-known product line of the candy manufacturer called the New England Confectionery Company. The firm’s name was abbreviated to “NECCO”, an acronym that became synonymous with the wafers.

67 “The Far Side” cartoonist Larson : GARY

“The Far Side” is a cartoon series drawn by Gary Larson. It ran from 1980 to 1995, and continues today in reruns in many papers. A lot of “The Far Side” cartoons feature animals, often in outrageous, human-like situations. Larson was so popular with people working with animals that in 1989 a newly discovered insect species was named Strigiphilus garylarsoni. How cool is that?

69 Like a balloon company with a depleted helium supply? : OUT OF THEIR ELEMENT

Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and the element symbol “He”. Helium is a gas, and lighter than air. It is the second-most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen). Helium was first detected in 1868 as an unknown yellow spectral line during a solar eclipse. As such, the gas was named for “Helios”, the Greek god of the Sun.

76 Sailor’s “Stop!” : AVAST!

“Avast” is a nautical term used to tell someone to stop or desist from what they are doing. The word comes from the Dutch “hou vast” meaning “hold fast”.

77 Utah national park : ARCHES

The gorgeous Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah, just outside of Moab. The main focus of the park is the preservation of over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The arches are relatively fragile, and 43 have collapsed since 1970, mainly due to erosion caused by wind and rain.

81 Cheap hooch : ROTGUT

In the Klondike gold rush, a favorite tipple of the miners was “Hoochinoo”, a liquor made by the native Alaskans. Soon after “hooch” (also “hootch”) was adopted as a word for cheap whiskey.

87 Rope material : HEMP

Hemp, also known as “cannabis”, is a hardy, fast-growing plant that has many uses mainly due to the strength of the fibers in the plant’s stalks. Hemp is used to make rope, paper and textiles. The term “hemp” is sometimes reserved for varieties of the plant grown for non-drug use.

88 Cello-supporting rod : ENDPIN

The word “cello” (plural “celli” or “cellos”) is an abbreviation for “violoncello”, an Italian word for “little violone”, referring to a group of stringed instruments that were popular up to the end of the 17th century. The name violoncello persisted for the instrument that we know today, although the abbreviation “‘cello” was often used. Nowadays, we just drop the apostrophe.

93 Aspersion : SLUR

To asperse is to spread false charges or make insinuations. The more common expression is “to cast aspersions”. “To asperse” comes from the Latin “aspergere” meaning “to sprinkle”. So, “to asperse” is also the term used when sprinkling holy water.

94 Like one shopping for disposable phones? : AFTER BURNERS

Prepaid cell phones are sometimes referred to as burner phones in the world of crime and policing. Anyone can buy a pay-as-you-go phone, and then top it up with a cash transaction. There is no need to register the phone or SIM card, and so police cannot track the phone’s owner. Nefarious characters might use such a phone to facilitate a criminal transaction, and then “burn” (discard) it, before buying a new phone in a retail outlet.

An afterburner on a jet engine can increase thrust by 50% or more, albeit very inefficiently. It works by injecting fuel into the exhaust gas of the engine. That fuel ignites, using up residual oxygen in the exhaust gas. That ignition accelerates the exhaust gas to a higher velocity, hence increasing the engine’s thrust.

99 Saturn moon named for a Titan : HYPERION

The moon of Saturn known as Hyperion was discovered in 1848. It is likely composed largely of water ice, with some rock content. It is a relatively unusual moon in that it isn’t round. Indeed, it was the first non-round moon to be discovered in our solar system.

Hyperion was one of the Titan deities, and was the personification of the Earth.

101 Yoga posture : ASANA

“Asana” is a Sanskrit word that translates literally as “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.

104 American League East city : TORONTO

The Toronto Blue Jays baseball franchise was founded in 1977. The Blue Jays are the only team based outside the US to have won a World Series, doing so in 1992 and 1993. And since the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, the Blue Jays are the only Major League Baseball team now headquartered outside of the US.

108 Back muscle, briefly : LAT

The muscles known as the “lats” are the latissimi dorsi, and are the broadest muscles in the back. “Latissimus” is Latin for “broadest”, and “dorsum” is Latin for “back”.

109 Three-time Tony winner Rivera : CHITA

Chita Rivera is an actress best known for her work in musical theater. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

112 Sitar music : RAGA

Raga isn’t really a genre of music, but has been described as the “tonal framework” in which Indian classical music is composed. Ravi Shankar was perhaps the most famous raga virtuoso (to us Westerners). Western rock music with a heavy Indian influence might be called raga rock.

115 Classic jazz nickname : SATCHMO

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans in 1900. Armstrong had a poor upbringing, and only stayed in school until he was 11 years old. The exact origin of Louis’s nickname “Satchmo” seems to be a little unclear. One story is that he used to dance for pennies in New Orleans as a youngster and would hide those pennies in his mouth away from the other kids. For this he earned the nickname “satchel mouth”, which was shortened to “Satchmo”.

119 Like supporters of a Seattle daily? : BEHIND THE TIMES

“The Seattle Times” newspaper was founded in 1891, and has the largest circulation in the Pacific Northwest. It was purchased in 1896 by teacher and attorney Alden J. Blethen, and the Blethen family have maintained a controlling interest in the newspaper to this day.

125 One-dimensional : LINEAR

The dimension of an object is defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify each point in the object. Therefore, a line is one-dimensional, as you only need an x-coordinate to specify a particular point on the line. A surface is two-dimensional, as you need both an x-coordinate and a y-coordinate to locate a point on the surface. The inside of a solid object is then three-dimensional, needing an x-, y- and z-coordinate to specify a point, say within a cube.

126 Seven-time Wimbledon winner : GRAF

Steffi Graf is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Germany. Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, which was more than any other man or woman until Serena Williams came along. Graf is married to another former World No. 1, namely Andre Agassi.

128 European luxury wheels : BMWS

The initialism “BMW” stands for “Bayerische Motoren Werke”, which translates into Bavarian Motor Works. BMW was making aircraft engines during WWI, but had to cease that activity according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The company then started making motorcycles, and moved into automobile production starting in 1928. BMW moved back into aircraft engine manufacturing during the build-up of the Luftwaffe prior to WWII.

132 Dutch word meaning “farmer” : BOER

“Boer” is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for “farmer”, a word that was used to describe the Dutch-speaking people who settled parts of South Africa during the 1700s.

Down

2 Sister of Orestes : ELECTRA

Electra was a princess in Greek mythology, the daughter of Agamemnon. Electra had to mourn the death of her father who was murdered, and then the death of her mother Clytemnestra, who was also murdered.

Orestes is a character appearing in Greek mythology, and is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays. In a story by Homer, Orestes kills his mother Clytemnestra. He does so in revenge as Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon, who was her husband and father to Orestes. Agamemnon was killed by his wife for sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia in order to get favorable winds on a sea voyage. Heavy stuff …

3 Flu fighters : SERA

Blood serum (plural “sera”) is the clear, yellowish part of blood i.e. that part which is neither a blood cell nor a clotting factor. Included in blood serum are antibodies, the proteins that are central to our immune system. Blood serum from animals that have immunity to a particular disease can be transferred to another individual, hence providing that second individual with some level of immunity. Blood serum used to pass on immunity can be called “antiserum”.

7 Actor __ Kate Dillon of “Billions” : ASIA

Asia Kate Dillon is an actor perhaps best known for portraying Brandy Epps in the comedy-drama “Orange Is the New Black” and Taylor Mason in the drama show “Billions”.

“Billions” is a Showtime drama series starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. It’s about a federal prosecutor going after a hedge fund manager in New York. I haven’t seen this one, but I hear good things. It must be good, with Giamatti and Lewis starring …

8 So last year : PASSE

“Passé” is a French word, meaning “past, faded”. We’ve imported the term into English, and use it in the same sense.

10 Raft, or where you might see one : SEA

A raft is a large amount, coming from the Middle English “raf” meaning the same thing.

11 Actor Mineo : 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.

13 Pakistani tongue : URDU

Urdu is one of the two official languages of Pakistan (the other being English), and is one of the 22 scheduled languages in India. Urdu partly developed from Persian and is written from right to left.

The suffix “-stan” in many place names is Persian for “place of”. One example is “Pakistan”, the Place of the Pure. “Pakistan” is a relatively recent name, first coined in 1933. It comes from the abbreviation PAKSTAN, standing for Punjab – Afghan Province – Kashmir – Sindh – BaluchisTAN, all regions in the north of India. The “I” was added to Pakistan to make it easier to pronounce, and to fit the translation “Land of the Pure”.

14 Comedian Foxx : REDD

“Redd Foxx” was the stage name of John Elroy Sanford, best known for starring in “Sanford and Son”. “Sanford and Son” was an American version of a celebrated hit BBC sitcom that I grew up with in Ireland called “Steptoe and Son”.

24 Easter opening? : NOR-

A nor’easter is a storm that blows from the northeast.

27 Ornate 18th-century style : ROCOCO

The rococo style is also known as “late baroque”. Rococo is a very floral and playful style, very ornate.

35 WC : LOO

When I was growing up in Ireland, a bathroom was a room that had a bath and no toilet. The separate room with the commode was called the toilet or sometimes the W.C. (the water closet). Apparently the term “closet” was used because in the 1800s when homeowners started installing toilets indoors they often displaced clothes and linens in a closet, as a closet was the right size to take the commode.

38 “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” soloist : ANNIE

“It’s the Hard-Knock Life” is a song written for the 1977 Broadway musical “Annie”. The musical was based on Harold Gray’s comic strip “Little Orphan Annie”. There were two subsequent film adaptations, both really quite successful, including one released in 1982 directed by John Huston of all people. “Annie” was Huston’s only ever musical.

39 Tuscany city : SIENA

Siena is a beautiful city in the Tuscany region of Italy. In the center of Siena is the magnificent medieval square called Piazza del Campo, a paved sloping open area made up of nine triangular sections. The square has to be seen to be believed. Twice a year, the famous bareback horse-race called the Palio di Siena is held in the Piazza.

41 Blues singer James : 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.

42 FedEx rival : DHL

Back in the sixties, Larry Hillblom was making pocket money as a Berkeley law student by doing courier runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After law school, Hillblom decided to parlay his experience into his own business and set up a courier service flying bills of lading ahead of freight from San Francisco to Honolulu. He brought in two buddies, Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn, as partners and the three were soon hopping on and off commercial flights and gradually making more and more money. And DHL was born … D (for Dalsey) H (for Hillblom) L (for Lynn). DHL was acquired by Germany’s Deutsche Post in 2002.

45 Brown in a Croce song : LEROY

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” is a song written and first performed by Jim Croce. It was a number-one hit for him in 1973. The song was inspired by a real-life Leroy Brown, who was someone that Croce met while serving in the US Army.

49 Beehive, e.g. : BIG DO

That distinctive beehive hairstyle is also called a B-52, because the round, beehive-shape also resembles the bulbous nose of a B-52 bomber! The style originated in 1958, and is credited to Margaret Vinci Heldt, the owner of a hair salon in downtown Chicago. I’m not a fan of the beehive, but I do have to say that Audrey Hepburn carried it off in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, as did Dusty Springfield in her heyday.

50 Peak in an Eastwood movie : EIGER

The Eiger is a mountain in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. It is a noted peak for mountain climbing, with its treacherous north face being the most famous approach to the summit. Over sixty climbers have died since 1935 on that north face.

“The Eiger Sanction” is a very entertaining action film that was released in 1975, which stars and was directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie is all about assassins and mountain climbers, and is based on a 1972 novel of the same name by Trevanian (a pen name of author Rodney William Whitaker).

51 Fight with foils : FENCE

Before the foil was introduced as a sporting weapon, it was used as a blunted weapon for sword practice. It has been suggested that the sword was blunted by wrapping metal foil around the tip, hence the name.

61 Commonly injured knee part, briefly : ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligaments that support the knee.

65 Where embryos grow : UTERI

“Uterus” (plural “uteri”) is the Latin word for “womb”.

66 Annual coll. hoops competition : NIT

The NCAA holds two National Invitation Tournaments (NIT) each season, both being men’s college basketball events.

68 Dried chili pepper : ANCHO

An ancho is a dried poblano pepper used in Mexican cuisine. The poblano is a mild chili.

72 __ cuisine : HAUTE

“Haute cuisine”, literally “high cooking” in French, is the name given to skillfully and elegantly prepared food, especially if it is in the French style.

73 Dimethyl sulfate, e.g. : ESTER

Dimethyl sulfate is a highly toxic chemical. It is a colorless, oily liquid, and was used as a chemical weapon in WWI.

74 “Politically Incorrect” host : MAHER

Bill Maher is a stand-up comedian and political commentator. Maher has an HBO television show called “Real Time with Bill Maher” which is essentially a follow-on from the very successful “Politically Incorrect” program that started out on Comedy Central.

75 Virile : MANLY

“Vir” is the Latin word for “man”. It is the root of our word “virile”, for example, meaning “manly”.

80 New Age pianist John : TESH

John Tesh is a pianist and composer, as well as a radio and television presenter. For many years Tesh presented the show “Entertainment Tonight”. For “ET” he once covered the filming of an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. As part of the piece, he volunteered to act as a Klingon warrior. If you see the “Star Trek: TNG” episode called “The Icarus Factor” in reruns, watch out for John Tesh engaging in ritual torture with Mr. Worf as his victim.

83 Heat meas. : BTUS

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 Unit (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.

84 Talk show host in the National Women’s Hall of Fame : OPRAH

What can you say about Oprah Winfrey that hasn’t been said already? Born into poverty to a single mother and with a harrowing childhood, Oprah is now the greatest African American philanthropist the world has ever known. Oprah’s name was originally meant to be “Orpah” after the Biblical character in the Book of Ruth, and that’s how it appears on her birth certificate. Apparently folks had trouble pronouncing “Orpah”, so she’s now “Oprah”.

The National Women’s Hall of Fame is located in Seneca Falls, New York, which was home to the nation’s first women’s rights convention, in 1848. The Hall was established in 1969, when it was hosted by Eisenhower College, which is also in Seneca Falls. The current facility opened for visitors in 1979. I was lucky enough to spend a very uplifting afternoon there several years ago ….

85 Metric weight : TONNE

The tonne, also known as a metric ton, is equivalent to 1,000 kg (or 2,205 lb). The tonne isn’t an official unit of mass in the metric system, but it is used a lot.

86 Bankrupts, with “out” : CLEANS …

To be bankrupt is to be reduced to a state of financial ruin, unable to pay debts. The term “bankrupt” arose in the mid-16th century from the Italian “banca rotta” meaning “broken bench”, although the meaning is more likely the idiomatic “broken bank”. That makes more sense to me …

89 Spruce up : PRETTIFY

Our verb “to spruce up” means “to make trim or neat”. The term comes from the adjective “spruce”, meaning “smart, neat”. In turn, the adjective comes from “spruce leather”, which was a Prussian leather that was used in England in the 15th and 16th centuries to make a popular style of jerkin that was widely considered to look quite smart.

91 Magic org. : NBA

The Orlando Magic were formed in 1989 as an NBA expansion team. A local paper was asked to run a competition to suggest names for the new team and the community came up with its four top picks of “Heat”, “Tropics”, “Juice” and “Magic”. A committee then opted for “Orlando Magic”. A good choice I think …

95 Rock’s __ Fighters : FOO

Foo Fighters are described as an alternative rock band, one formed in 1994 by the drummer from Nirvana, Dave Grohl. The term “foo fighters” originally applied to unidentified flying objects reported by allied airmen during WWII. Spooky …

96 Old Opry network : TNN

The Nashville Network (TNN) was a country music cable channel that operated from 1983 to 2003. When TNN closed down it was relaunched with a completely different format as Spike, which was marketed as “the first television channel for men”.

The Grand Ole Opry started out as a radio show in 1925 originally called the WSM “Barn Dance”. In 1927, the “Barn Dance” radio show was broadcast in a slot after an NBC production called “Musical Appreciation Hour”, a collection of classical works including Grand Opera. In a December show, the host of “Barn Dance” announced, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the ‘Grand Ole Opry'”. That name was used for the radio show from then on.

103 Rigg co-star on “The Avengers” : MACNEE

Patrick Macnee was a British-American actor. Born in London, he started his career playing minor TV roles in Canada and the US. Macnee’s most successful role came back in Britain when he played secret agent John Steed in “The Avengers” in the 1960s. He reprised the role in a 1970s reboot of the show called “The New Avengers”.

“The Avengers” was must-see television when I was growing up. It is a sixties comedy spy series set in England during the days of the Cold War. The hero was John Steed, played ably by Patrick Macnee. Steed had various female partners as the series progressed, the first of which was Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman (who also played Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger”). Following Ms. Gale was Emma Peel, played by the wonderful Diana Rigg. Finally there was Tara King, played by Linda Thorson.

106 Muesli morsel : OAT

“Muesli” is a Swiss-German term describing a breakfast serving of oats, nuts, fruit and milk. “Muesli” is a diminutive of the German word “Mues” meaning “puree”. Delicious …

109 Longtime NYC punk rock club : CBGB

The music club known as CBGB opened in 1973 intending to feature country, bluegrass and blues music (hence the name “CBGB”, Country, BlueGrass and Blues). The club developed an association in the eighties with New York’s underground hardcore punk music.

110 Sub : HERO

A hero is a submarine sandwich. The hero originated in New York City in the 1800s among Italian immigrants who wanted an Italian sandwich that reminded them of home. The name “hero” was coined in the 1930s, supposedly by a food critic in the “New York Herald Tribune” when he wrote that “one had to be a hero” to finish the gigantic sandwich. Hero is a prevalent term to this day in New York City, reserved for a submarine sandwich with an Italian flavor.

111 “If __ a Hammer” : I HAD

“If I Had a Hammer” is a song written in 1949 by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. The song has been released by many artists, but my guess would be that the most famous recordings are by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962, and by Trini Lopez in 1963.

113 The “Gee” in Bee Gees : GIBB

The Brothers Gibb (hence, the name “Bee Gees”) were born in England but grew up and started their musical careers in Australia. They moved back to Manchester in the north of England as youths, and there hit the big time.

114 Water, in some pistols : AMMO

The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.

116 Purina rival : ALPO

Alpo is a brand of dog food introduced by Allen Products in 1936, with “Alpo” being an abbreviation for “Allen Products”. Lorne Greene used to push Alpo in television spots, as did Ed McMahon and Garfield the Cat, would you believe?

118 Table scrap : ORT

Orts are small scraps of food left after a meal. “Ort” comes from Middle English, and originally described scraps left by animals.

120 Sleepy cohort? : DOC

In the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale called “Snow White”, the seven dwarfs were not given any names. The names were added for the 1937 classic Disney film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The seven dwarfs are:

  • Doc (the leader of the group)
  • Grumpy (that would be me, according to my wife …)
  • Happy
  • Sleepy
  • Bashful
  • Sneezy
  • Dopey

“Cohort” can be used as a collective noun, meaning “group, company”. The term can also apply to an individual supporter or companion, although usually in a derogatory sense. “Cohort” comes from the Latin “cohors”, which was an infantry company in the Roman army, one tenth of a legion.

121 Ref’s ruling : TKO

Technical knockout (TKO)

124 Ukr., once : SSR

Ukraine is a large country in Eastern Europe that was a Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) before the dissolution of the USSR. In English, we often call the country “the Ukraine”, but I am told that we should just say “Ukraine”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Guitarist Paul : LES
4 Flamboyant Dame : EDNA
8 Play with a receiver : PASS
12 Chance to roll the dice, say : TURN
16 In the archives : ON FILE
19 Wishes undone : RUES
20 Specialty : AREA
21 Customizable cookie : OREO
22 Ship’s accountant : PURSER
23 Like members of Gamblers Anonymous? : AGAINST ALL ODDS
26 Tiny racer : SLOT CAR
28 Resort town NNE of Santa Fe : TAOS
29 Chopin wrote a “Revolutionary” one : ETUDE
30 Assembled : MET
31 Put-__: masquerades : ONS
34 Former British automaker : RELIANT
38 Autumn flower : ASTER
40 Like a popular crusader : CAPED
43 King Cole and others : OLD SOULS
47 Federal biomedical agcy. : NIH
48 Like a church deacon? : ABOVE THE FOLD
52 Draft status : ONE-A
53 What a shortage suggests : NEED
55 “This is the truth” : I CAN’T LIE
56 Hang out in the sun : LET DRY
58 “Splendor in the Grass” screenwriter : INGE
59 First name in Israeli statehood : GOLDA
60 Plagued : GNAWED
63 Sister of the moon goddess Selene : EOS
64 Listening aid : EARBUD
66 Wafer brand : NECCO
67 “The Far Side” cartoonist Larson : GARY
69 Like a balloon company with a depleted helium supply? : OUT OF THEIR ELEMENT
75 Subdue, as a color : MUTE
76 Sailor’s “Stop!” : AVAST!
77 Utah national park : ARCHES
80 Beach tone : TAN
81 Cheap hooch : ROTGUT
83 Muff : BOTCH
87 Rope material : HEMP
88 Cello-supporting rod : ENDPIN
90 Support for a big top : TENT POLE
92 Boo-boo : OWIE
93 Aspersion : SLUR
94 Like one shopping for disposable phones? : AFTER BURNERS
98 List-ending abbr. : ETC
99 Saturn moon named for a Titan : HYPERION
101 Yoga posture : ASANA
102 Get a load of : AMASS
104 American League East city : TORONTO
107 Farm clucker : HEN
108 Back muscle, briefly : LAT
109 Three-time Tony winner Rivera : CHITA
112 Sitar music : RAGA
115 Classic jazz nickname : SATCHMO
119 Like supporters of a Seattle daily? : BEHIND THE TIMES
125 One-dimensional : LINEAR
126 Seven-time Wimbledon winner : GRAF
127 “Relax, I’ll take care of it!” : OK OK!
128 European luxury wheels : BMWS
129 Eye : PEER AT
130 Soul mate? : BODY
131 Gear teeth : COGS
132 Dutch word meaning “farmer” : BOER
133 Bank deposit, perhaps : ORE

Down

1 Directory name : LISTEE
2 Sister of Orestes : ELECTRA
3 Flu fighters : SERA
4 Horse-and-buggy, e.g. : ERA
5 Enjoyed, in slang : DUG
6 Bar order : NEAT
7 Actor __ Kate Dillon of “Billions” : ASIA
8 So last year : PASSE
9 Museum focus : ART
10 Raft, or where you might see one : SEA
11 Actor Mineo : SAL
12 Toddler’s train sound : TOOT TOOT!
13 Pakistani tongue : URDU
14 Comedian Foxx : REDD
15 Wine quality : NOSE
16 Special or black follower : … OPS
17 Nada, to Noël : NUL
18 Like sausage’s main ingredients? : FROM THE GROUND UP
24 Easter opening? : NOR-
25 Camera option : LENS
27 Ornate 18th-century style : ROCOCO
32 Kind of architect : NAVAL
33 Opposite of save : SPEND
35 WC : LOO
36 Poorly : ILL
37 Throw into confusion : ADDLE
38 “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” soloist : ANNIE
39 Tuscany city : SIENA
41 Blues singer James : ETTA
42 FedEx rival : DHL
44 Like one caught in a storm? : UNDER THE WEATHER
45 Brown in a Croce song : LEROY
46 Opines, for instance : SAYS
49 Beehive, e.g. : BIG DO
50 Peak in an Eastwood movie : EIGER
51 Fight with foils : FENCE
54 Coming-out : DEBUT
57 Lawn tool : EDGER
61 Commonly injured knee part, briefly : ACL
62 Trouble : WOE
65 Where embryos grow : UTERI
66 Annual coll. hoops competition : NIT
68 Dried chili pepper : ANCHO
70 Budgetary excess : FAT
71 Family-friendly rating : TV-G
72 __ cuisine : HAUTE
73 Dimethyl sulfate, e.g. : ESTER
74 “Politically Incorrect” host : MAHER
75 Virile : MANLY
78 Throws off : EMITS
79 Technical details : SPECS
80 New Age pianist John : TESH
82 Walking __ : ON AIR
83 Heat meas. : BTUS
84 Talk show host in the National Women’s Hall of Fame : OPRAH
85 Metric weight : TONNE
86 Bankrupts, with “out” : CLEANS …
89 Spruce up : PRETTIFY
91 Magic org. : NBA
95 Rock’s __ Fighters : FOO
96 Old Opry network : TNN
97 More crude, language-wise : SALTIER
100 Stable color : ROAN
103 Rigg co-star on “The Avengers” : MACNEE
105 Long hikes : TREKS
106 Muesli morsel : OAT
109 Longtime NYC punk rock club : CBGB
110 Sub : HERO
111 “If __ a Hammer” : I HAD
113 The “Gee” in Bee Gees : GIBB
114 Water, in some pistols : AMMO
116 Purina rival : ALPO
117 Goat quote : MAA
118 Table scrap : ORT
120 Sleepy cohort? : DOC
121 Ref’s ruling : TKO
122 Slop slurper : HOG
123 Fleecy one : EWE
124 Ukr., once : SSR

12 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 12 Dec 21, Sunday”

  1. Interesting seeing 67A. The theme seems like one that’d be missable, but catching on early to the theme was helpful.

  2. 15:14, 1 kinda dumb error after about 3 minutes of staring at that area and not seeing the intended words. Have to say for 50D, using the reference of a movie produced in 1975 that frankly isn’t all that well known today isn’t quite smart editing. But then again, I genuinely don’t know probably 90% of any puzzle for some reason or another.

    As for 67A, I did research and found this constructor is a different one than the comic artist. But it’s a certain interesting thing that there can easily be multiple people out there with the same first and last name that one can encounter at one time or another. Personally, I’ve encountered ones that you’d think would be relatively uncommon, though about 30 years apart, through the Internet. I imagine though it’d be a lot tougher if you actually knew multiple people with the same name all at once to keep them straight in one’s mind. I know just being in a group with multiple same first-names gets tricky without having the same last name too.

    1. Hi Glenn. When you say “Have to say for 50D, using the reference of a movie produced in 1975 that frankly isn’t all that well known today isn’t quite smart editing.” I have to take exception. I’m usually glad when the puzzle constructor and/or the editor doesn’t “dumb it down” and use the most well known movie or book or what have you in the grid. If all the clues are gimmies where’s the fun in that?

      1. No look ups,no errors. Today’s puzzle was
        enjoyably tough. Much like yesterday’s
        when starting out I’m thinking no way
        am I finishing this one but eventually it
        all comes together 🙂

        @ Tony Michaels
        And to add to your thought there’s a
        lot of new stuff that escapes me as well.
        I’m better at the in between…

  3. 22:10

    Amusing theme, I particularly liked AFTERBURNERS.

    Another contribution made to science by Gary Larson is the term “thagomizer” for the spiky tail of the stegosaurus.

  4. Finally, thanks to my notes, a finished puzzle with no errors this weekend.
    Glenn answered my question about 67A.
    Stay safe😀

  5. 23 minutes, 56 seconds, and needed Check help to uncover one “spelling error”: [P]EER AT (I had LEER AT, and didn’t notice it didn’t work with ALPO).

    There were a couple of cute clues in here which brought a smile, a real departure from the usual cynical puns and purposeful misdirection.

  6. Took quite awhile to finish this one, but ended up with no errors. One
    lookup: I looked up Titan names to find one that fit the “moon of Saturn”
    clue.

  7. I don’t think slot cars get their power from the slot itself. The slot just guides them and they pick up power from a strip on the track surface

  8. A respectable 28:39 with no errors or lookups. Had to change LESSEE>LISTEE, FDA>NIH, UPS>DHL, PIG>HOG. Never can remember ASANA. Got HYPERION with 3 or so blank letters. Didn’t know “Sister of Orestes,” but once most of the intersections are filled in, it becomes obvious.

    Haven’t touched a SLOTCAR in about 50 years. Those were pretty fun!

  9. billions is excellent* and asia kate dillon is particularly amazing as taylor mason. of note, taylor mason is the first nonbinary main character on US television.

    *this last season (which has been split into two parts as they had to cease production because of covid, the 2nd part airs next month) has not been great, i hate to say. i was completely hooked and loved every season prior, but recently the writers seem more focused on making the characters say topical zingers pulled from trending slang and/or make particularly obtuse analogies in a way that comes off incredibly forced, tryhard-y, cringey, etc and incongruous with the characters themselves. what was a fun background characteristic is now an awkward and distracting focus. i will still continue to watch as i am now quite invested in the characters, and hope the second half will be better. all the actors are amazing and don’t need so much puppeteering.

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