LA Times Crossword 16 Dec 21, Thursday

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Constructed by: Chris Sablich
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Striptease

Themed answers are common phrases, but with a beginning letter T STRIPPED away:

  • 62A 1996 Demi Moore film … and a hint to how four puzzle answers were created : STRIPTEASE
  • 17A Polished orator? : ABLE TALKER (from “table-talker”)
  • 22A Indication that the coffee is ready? : URN SIGNAL (from “turn signal”)
  • 38A Regret the choice of wall paint color? : RUE BLUE (from “true blue”)
  • 50A Carol Burnett, at the end of an episode? : EAR JERKER (from “tear jerker”)

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

Bill’s time: 7m 50s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 First name in old horror films : BELA

Bela Lugosi was a Hungarian stage and screen actor who was perhaps best known for playing the title role in the 1931 film “Dracula” and for playing the same role on Broadway. Lugosi found himself typecast for the rest of his career and almost always played the role of the villain, often in horror movies. When he passed away in 1956, his wife had him buried in the costume he wore playing Count Dracula on Broadway.

5 They’re earned at U’s : DEGS

One earns a degree (deg.), hopefully, at a university (U).

14 Artist Matisse : HENRI

Henri Matisse was a French artist renowned for his contribution to modern art. In his early career, Matisse was classed as a “fauve”, one of the group of artists known as the “wild beasts” who emphasized strong color over realism in their works. He was a lifelong friend of Pablo Picasso, and the two were considered to be good-natured rivals so their works are often compared. One major difference between their individual portfolios is that Picasso tended to paint from his imagination, whereas Matisse tended to use nature as his inspiration.

15 Start to freeze? : ANTI-

The antifreeze that we put into our cars has ethylene glycol as the active ingredient. Ethylene glycol is dangerous stuff, and is very poisonous. Ingestion causes calcium oxalate crystals to form in the kidneys. It sounds like a horrible way to go …

21 Steak __ : DIANE

Steak Diane is pan-fried filet mignon served in a flambéed sauce made from the juices in the pan along with butter, shallots, cream and brandy. The dish is named after Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt.

22 Indication that the coffee is ready? : URN SIGNAL (from “turn signal”)

I wish all drivers would use their turn signals. Back in Ireland, we don’t call them “turn signals”, but rather “indicators”.

25 One in a large octet : PLANET

Our word “planet” ultimately comes from the Greek word “plantai” meaning “wandering”. In olden times, the planets were deemed “wandering” stars, sort of like Lee Marvin …

There are several mnemonics used to remember the planets and the order in which they are found in the Solar System. One example is “My Very Easy Method Just Shows Us Nine Planets”, but that doesn’t really work since Pluto was relegated from “planethood” in 2006. The oft-quoted mnemonic for the eight planets is “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos”. Given the relegation of Pluto, I kind of like “Many Very Educated Men Just Screwed Up Nature”.

28 Southernmost of the Southeast’s Sea Islands : AMELIA

Amelia Island lies off the coast of Florida. It is one of the chain of barrier islands known as the Sea Islands that are located off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Amelia Island was named for the daughter of British King George II, Princess Amelia.

32 Main line : AORTA

The aorta originates in the heart and extends down into the abdomen. It is the largest artery in the body.

36 Skiff movers : OARS

A skiff is a small boat. The name can be used generically and applied to several unrelated styles of vessel, as long as they are relatively small. The term “skiff” comes from “scif”, the Old High German word for “boat” and a term that also gave us our word “ship”.

37 Corp. money manager : CFO

Chief financial officer (CFO)

38 Regret the choice of wall paint color? : RUE BLUE (from “true blue”)

The use of “true blue” to mean loyal and constant has been around since the days of Chaucer, but no one seems to know its etymology.

42 “__ Shanter”: Burns poem : TAM O’

Here are a few lines from the anglicized version of the poem “Tam o’ Shanter” by Robert Burns:

This truth finds honest Tam o’ Shanter,
As he from Ayr one night did canter;
Old Ayr, which never a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny lasses.

45 Bridge along the Arno : PONTE

In Italian, one might cross a “ponte” (bridge) spanning the Arno, perhaps.

The Arno is the principal river in the Tuscany region of Italy, and passes through the cities of Florence and Pisa. Famously the Arno flooded in 1966, the worst flood in the region for centuries. There were numerous deaths and extensive destruction of priceless art treasures, particularly in Florence.

50 Carol Burnett, at the end of an episode? : EAR JERKER (from “tear jerker”)

Comedian and actress Carol Burnett is perhaps best known for “The Carol Burnett Show” which ran on television for over ten years from 1967 to 1978. My favorite of Burnett’s performances is in the 1981 film “The Four Seasons”. The Golden Globe’s Carol Burnett Award for career achievement in television was inaugurated in 2019, with Burnett being the first recipient.

Carol Burnett routinely ended “The Carol Burnett Show” with a rendition of the song “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together”. As she sang the last line, she would gently tug on her left ear. According to Burnett, that ear tug was a secret signal to her grandmother meaning, “Hi Nanny. I’m fine. I love you”.

57 Small case : ETUI

An etui is an ornamental case used to hold small items, in particular sewing needles. We imported both the case design and the word “etui” from France. The French also have a modern usage of “etui”, using the term to depict a case for carrying CDs.

58 Field unit : ACRE

At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. Then, an acre was more precisely defined as a strip of land “one furrow long” (i.e. one furlong) and one chain wide. The length of one furlong was equal to 10 chains, or 40 rods. An area of one furlong times 10 rods was one rood.

62 1996 Demi Moore film … and a hint to how four puzzle answers were created : STRIPTEASE

“Striptease” is a 1996 black comedy film based on a 1993 novel of the same name by Carl Hiaasen. Demi Moore played the lead character, earning herself $12.5 million, which made her the highest paid movie actress at that time. Not a great film, though ….

64 Post : MAIL

We use the term “post” as an alternative to “mail”. The use of “post” in this context arose in the 1500s when messages and letters were carried by riders and horses posted at intervals along routes. I guess the idea was that mail was carried from “post” to “post”.

66 Sign of early spring : ARIES

Aries the Ram is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries you would know that! “Aries” is the Latin word for “ram”.

67 Senior __ : PROM

A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them “formals” over in Ireland). The term “prom” is short for “promenade”, the name given to a type of dance or ball.

68 Errors, say : STAT

That might be baseball …

69 PC connections : DSLS

The initialism “DSL” originally stood for Digital Subscriber Loop, but is now accepted to mean (Asymmetric) Digital Subscriber Line. It is a technology that allows Internet service to be delivered down the same telephone line as voice service, by separating the two into different frequency signals.

Down

1 Half a sex-ed metaphor, with “the” : … BEES

A talk about “the facts of life” might be referred to as a talk about “the birds and the bees”. The idea is that birds laying eggs and bees carrying pollen into flowers are useful metaphors for ovulation and fertilization respectively.

2 Trade show : EXPO

The first “World’s Fair” was held in 1851, known back then as the “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations”. The fair was the idea of Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria. It was held in a magnificent glass and cast-iron structure called the Crystal Palace that was purpose-built for the occasion. The “Great Exhibition” spawned a tradition of what became known as World’s Fairs, expositions that feature national pavilions created by participating countries. The term “Expo” was coined for Expo 67, a 1967 World’s Fair held in Montreal. Since then, we’ve been using “expo” to describe any large exposition or trade show.

3 Floral necklaces : LEIS

“Lei” is a Hawaiian word meaning “garland, wreath”, although in more general terms a lei is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

5 Financial statement items : DEBTS

The balance sheet of a company is a snapshot (single-point-in-time) view of a company’s financial position. The balance sheet lists all the company’s liabilities, all of its assets, and all of its ownership equity. The assets of a company, less its liabilities equals the ownership equity. The term “balance” is used because assets always balance out with the sum of liabilities and shareholder equity.

6 China’s Zhou __ : ENLAI

Zhou Enlai (also “Chou En-lai”) was the first government leader of the People’s Republic of China and held the office of Premier from 1949 until he died in 1976. Zhou Enlai ran the government for Communist Party Leader Mao Zedong, often striking a more conciliatory tone with the West than that of his boss. He was instrumental, for example, in setting up President Nixon’s famous visit to China in 1972. Zhou Enlai died just a few months before Mao Zedong, with both deaths leading to unrest and a dramatic change in political direction for the country.

7 System of shorthand : GREGG

Gregg shorthand was developed in 1888 by John Robert Gregg, a native of Ireland who was living in New York City at the time.

9 Probe that visited Jupiter : GALILEO

The unmanned NASA spacecraft called Galileo was launched from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1989, with the mission to explore the planet Jupiter and its moons. Galileo arrived at Jupiter over 6 years later, in December 1995, and became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet. Galileo’s mission was terminated in 2003 when NASA deliberately sent the orbiter into the planet’s atmosphere causing it to burn up and hence eliminating the possibility that Jupiter or its moons might be contaminated by any bacteria from Earth.

10 “She’s a Lady” songwriter : ANKA

“She’s a Lady” is a 1971 song composed by Paul Anka and released by Tom Jones that same year. It was destined to become the highest-charting single for Jones in the US.

11 British WWII gun : STEN

The STEN gun is an iconic armament that was used by the British military. The name STEN is an acronym. The letters S and T come from the name of the gun’s designers, Shepherd and Turpin. The letters EN comes from the Enfield brand name, which in turn comes from the Enfield location where the guns were manufactured for the Royal Small Arms Factory, an enterprise owned by the British government.

18 NBA commissioner Silver : ADAM

Adam Silver was appointed NBA commissioner in 2014. He had served in various posts with the league since 1992, and took over as commissioner on the retirement of David Stern.

24 First killer whale to perform with a human : NAMU

“Namu, the Killer Whale” is a movie that was released in 1966. The title role was “played” by a male Orca named Namu, who was one of the first killer whales ever to be displayed in captivity. Namu was captured near the fishing port of Namu in British Columbia, and transported to the Seattle Marine Aquarium. The owner of the aquarium captured a female orca to be a companion to Namu, and named that whale “Shamu”. Famously, Shamu was sold to SeaWorld in San Diego. And so, the famous name “Shamu” traces its origins to the Canadian port of Namu. Quite interesting …

34 Half a sawbuck : ABE

The US five-dollar bill is often called an “Abe”, as President Abraham Lincoln’s portrait is on the front. An Abe is also referred to as a “fin”, a term that has been used for a five-pound note in Britain since 1868.

“Sawbuck” is slang for “10-dollar bill”. The term was applied to the bill as the Roman numeral X (which used to appear on the reverse) resembles the end of a sawhorse.

35 Zugspitze, e.g. : ALP

The Zugspitze is an Alpine peak, and the highest mountain in Germany.

40 Olympics fencing event : EPEE

There are three fencing events in the modern Olympics, with each distinguished by the weapon used:

  • Foil
  • Épée
  • Sabre

46 Parts of cloverleafs : ON-RAMPS

Cloverleaf interchanges allow two highways to cross without the need for stopping traffic. They are so called as when viewed overheard they look like the leaves of a four-leaf clover.

48 Yokum cartoonist : CAPP

“Li’l Abner” was created and drawn by Al Capp for over 43 years starting in 1934. Al Capp stopped producing the strip in 1977, largely due to illness (he died from emphysema two years later). As the strip finished up, he went so far as to apologize to his long-standing fans, saying that he should have stopped 3-4 years earlier as he felt that the quality of his work had gone down in those latter years. The title character’s full name is “Li’l Abner Yokum”. Despite being referred to as “Li’l”, Abner is 6’ 3” tall.

49 Irving Berlin’s “Blue __” : SKIES

The song “Blue Skies” was written in 1926 by Irving Berlin. The song was written for a Rodgers and Hart musical called “Betsy” that was a flop. “Betsy” only ran for 39 performances, but the song “Blue Skies” was a huge hit. On the opening night of the show, the lead singer had to sing an encore of “Blue Skies” 24 times!

Irving Berlin’s real name was “Israel Baline”. He was a Russian immigrant who came to New York with his family in 1893. In the words of composer Jerome Kern, “Irving Berlin has no place in American Music – he is American music”. That would seem to ring true looking at a selection of his hits: “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, “White Christmas”, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and of course, “God Bless America”. Berlin was married twice. His first marriage was in 1912, to Dorothy Goetz. Sadly, Dorothy died just a few months later from typhoid fever that she contracted on their honeymoon in Havana. His second marriage was to a young heiress, Ellin Mackay. That marriage lasted a lot longer, until 1988 when Ellin passed away at the age of 85. Irving himself passed away in 1989, at the ripe old age of 101 years.

54 Goddess usually depicted holding an ankh : ISIS

Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, as well as the protector of the dead and the goddess of children. She was the personification of the pharaoh’s power. The name “Isis” translates as “throne”, and she is usually depicted with a headdress shaped like a throne.

The ankh was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character for “eternal life”. The ankh wasn’t just used in inscriptions but was often fashioned into amulets and as surrounds for mirrors (perhaps symbolizing a view into another world). The ankh is also known as “the key of the Nile” and “crux ansata” (Latin for “cross with a handle”).

55 Food package amt. : NT WT

Net weight (nt. wt.)

56 Bizet’s “Habanera,” e.g. : ARIA

When Georges Bizet wrote his famous opera “Carmen”, he used the melody of what he thought was an old folk song as a theme in the lovely aria “Habanera”. Not long after he finished “Carmen”, he discovered that the folk song was in fact a piece that had been written by another composer, who had died just ten years before “Carmen” was published. Fittingly, Bizet added a note to the score, declaring the original source.

63 Bit : TAD

Back in the 1800s, “tad” was used to describe a young child, and this extended into our usage of “small amount” in the early 1900s. The original use of “tad” for a child is very likely a shortened version of “tadpole”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 First name in old horror films : BELA
5 They’re earned at U’s : DEGS
9 Serious wound : GASH
13 Suit, so to speak : EXEC
14 Artist Matisse : HENRI
15 Start to freeze? : ANTI-
16 __ fail : EPIC
17 Polished orator? : ABLE TALKER (from “table-talker”)
19 Like C’s, in some cases : SO-SO
20 One way to go to a party : STAG
21 Steak __ : DIANE
22 Indication that the coffee is ready? : URN SIGNAL (from “turn signal”)
25 One in a large octet : PLANET
28 Southernmost of the Southeast’s Sea Islands : AMELIA
32 Main line : AORTA
33 Palindromic title : MA’AM
36 Skiff movers : OARS
37 Corp. money manager : CFO
38 Regret the choice of wall paint color? : RUE BLUE (from “true blue”)
41 Is, once : WAS
42 “__ Shanter”: Burns poem : TAM O’
44 Dance movement : STEP
45 Bridge along the Arno : PONTE
47 Golf lesson topic : STANCE
49 Becomes aware of : SENSES
50 Carol Burnett, at the end of an episode? : EAR JERKER (from “tear jerker”)
54 Like some online purchases : IN-APP
57 Small case : ETUI
58 Field unit : ACRE
62 1996 Demi Moore film … and a hint to how four puzzle answers were created : STRIPTEASE
64 Post : MAIL
65 Cry of success : I WIN!
66 Sign of early spring : ARIES
67 Senior __ : PROM
68 Errors, say : STAT
69 PC connections : DSLS
70 Gels : SETS

Down

1 Half a sex-ed metaphor, with “the” : … BEES
2 Trade show : EXPO
3 Floral necklaces : LEIS
4 Explanation : ACCOUNT
5 Financial statement items : DEBTS
6 China’s Zhou __ : ENLAI
7 System of shorthand : GREGG
8 Warm the bench : SIT
9 Probe that visited Jupiter : GALILEO
10 “She’s a Lady” songwriter : ANKA
11 British WWII gun : STEN
12 Put on : HIRE
14 “Who __?!”: “Join the club!” : HASN’T
18 NBA commissioner Silver : ADAM
23 Bring up : REAR
24 First killer whale to perform with a human : NAMU
25 Accords : PACTS
26 For dieters, in ads : LO-FAT
27 Coffee asset : AROMA
29 They may be manicured : LAWNS
30 Steaming : IRATE
31 Beasts of burden : ASSES
33 Ran into : MET
34 Half a sawbuck : ABE
35 Zugspitze, e.g. : ALP
39 Manipulative sort : USER
40 Olympics fencing event : EPEE
43 Ice cream purchase : ONE PINT
46 Parts of cloverleafs : ON-RAMPS
48 Yokum cartoonist : CAPP
49 Irving Berlin’s “Blue __” : SKIES
51 Signs of crowd displeasure : JEERS
52 Online biz : E-TAIL
53 Deceptions : RUSES
54 Goddess usually depicted holding an ankh : ISIS
55 Food package amt. : NT WT
56 Bizet’s “Habanera,” e.g. : ARIA
59 Diligence : CARE
60 Comedy club hit : RIOT
61 Stately trees : ELMS
63 Bit : TAD

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 16 Dec 21, Thursday”

  1. Got all the theme answers right, thanks to the Carol Burnett clue, but
    had one monstrous error: i.e: nails instead of lawns for 29D, which
    threw that whole section off.

  2. Stuck semi-momentarily on the SW corner while I worked out “I win” instead of “I won” and getting “stat” for 68 Across clue of “Errors, say”. Finally the grid was done and I came to Bill’s blog to see what was being discussed amongst out little group of crossword cognoscenti.

  3. Excellent puz, imho! Yeah, a little easy for this late in the week, but … fun theme, sensible clueing, and not much crosswordese (the 3’s were SIT, WAS, TAD, and CFO, and the only ragged 4’s were DEGS, TAMO, and DSLS). To top it off, there were fewer than 20 PPPs (People, Products, Places and other proper nouns). Well done, Chris Sablich!

  4. 18:18 3 errors contained in NAILS instead of LAWNS. You sneaky puzzle! Lulling me with your slightly helpful theme.

    So now I know about AMELIA Island, and that there is no bridge called “POLTE”, just the generic PONTE. And steak DIANE sounds pretty tasty.

  5. 21:37 with no errors or lookups. Took a while to figure out the E section with the Sea Island name. First putting in NAILS vs LAWNS didn’t help, either. I could not figure out where the Southeast Sea is! I should have understood the meaning of the apostrophe better. However, if the clue had been “the US Southeast’s Sea Islands,” it still wouldn’t have helped because I hadn’t heard of the Sea Islands before. Once I figured out the GN in URNSIGNAL (knowing the theme helped), I figured the whale’s name was probably NAMU (giving Amelia for the island’s name).

  6. 10 mins 11 sec, and DNF, with just over HALF filled. This puzzle was completely unsolveable for me. Couldn’t make heads nor tails out of most of the clues.

  7. No errors… got stuck for a bit in SW corner..
    INAPP? was the main culprit. Not sure what context this is used? Or is it an acronym? “I purchased it IN an APP?

    1. @Anon Mike apps may warn you that they contain “in app purchases” when downloading. in other words, the app itself may be free, but to access all the content within you may have to make “in app purchases” – pay for stuff in the app.

  8. 23:41 – maybe 6 cheats, no errors.

    The middle bottom ate me alive, ETUI, ARIES, DSLS. Originally had earPULLER instead of earJERKER – didn’t get the theme in time.

    Didn’t know ABE was half a sawbuck or NAMU or INAPP but got the crosses.

    But it’s a Thursday and I got it done … wouldn’t have happened 6 months ago.

    Be Well

  9. Slightly tricky Thursday for me; took 17:43 with 3 errors, same as Pam and a few others. Also, fixed nate to ADAM and managed to get DIANE. Theme helped me get EARJERKER.

    Well, I’m glad I recently reviewed most of the French impressionist and expressionist painters recently, making HENRI a gimme.

  10. A five is not commonly called an Abe. I’ve never heard it called that in person, read it called that in a book, or heard it called that in a movie. I’ve heard them called fives or fivers in persons, seen them called fins in books or in the movies, but never Abes. I did get the answer from the crosses and because I have rarely heard other bills (specifically ones, tens and hundreds) referred to by the president on them.

    I’m not sure where the Sablich got the idea that ‘put on’ has anything to do with ‘hire’. It’s too bad that it’s so common for a puzzlemaker to be more concerned with appearing clever than about making the clues correct.

    The section crossing a proper noun (first name) with another proper noun (obscure island) that also crossed with a clue that had two possible answers of the same length and sharing two letters that crossed with an italian word was maybe just a bit much. One could argue that the answer ‘was’ fitting the clue ‘Is, once’ should have provided the needed clue to which of the two possible answers should fit, but the rest of the puzzle made it obvious that the puzzlemaker was in the business of torturing clues and answers to fit together to the extent that sometimes the connection wasn’t entirely clear even after the answers were filled in.

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