LA Times Crossword 24 Dec 21, Friday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Happy Holidays!

Themed answers refer to the holiday song “THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS”. There’s even a PARTRIDGE in a PEAR TREE defined by the letters circled in the grid. Happy Holiday’s, everyone …

  • 3D Start of a seasonal title : THE TWELVE …
  • 6D Title, part 2 : … DAYS OF …
  • 9D End of the title : … CHRISTMAS

39D With the contents of this grid’s circles, part of the refrain in 3-/6-/9-Down : PARTRIDGE (in a PEAR TREE)

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

Bill’s time: 8m 13s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Tbsp., for example : AMT

A tablespoon (tbsp.) is an amount (amt.).

4 Touchy monarch? : MIDAS

King Midas of Greek mythology might be termed an alchemist as he had the power to turn everything he touched into gold i.e. the Midas touch. That power became a curse, as everything he touched turned to gold, including his food and drink, and even his children.

9 “United States of Al” network : CBS

“United States of Al” is a sitcom starring South African-born actor Adhir Kalyan as an interpreter from Afghanistan who goes by the name “Al”. Parker Young co-stars, playing a Marine combat veteran who had worked with Al while serving in Afghanistan.

15 Edible seed : CHIA

Chia is a flowering plant in the mint family. Chia seeds are an excellent food source and are often added to breakfast cereals and energy bars. There is also the famous Chia Pet, an invention of a San Francisco company. Chia Pets are terra-cotta figurines to which moistened chia seeds are applied. The seeds sprout and the seedlings become the “fur” of the Chia Pet.

16 Port near the Red Sea : ADEN

Aden is a seaport in Yemen that is located on the Gulf of Aden by the eastern approach to the Red Sea. Aden has a long history of British rule, from 1838 until a very messy withdrawal in 1967. A native of Aden is known as an Adeni. Some believe that Cain and Abel are buried in the city.

The Red Sea (sometimes “Arabian Gulf”) is a stretch of water lying between Africa and Asia. The Gulf of Suez (and the Suez Canal) lies to the north, and the Gulf of Aden to the south. According to the Book of Exodus in the Bible, God parted the Red Sea to allow Moses lead the Israelites from Egypt.

19 Near-EGOT winner Midler (she’s missing the O) : BETTE

I am a huge, huge fan of Bette Midler. I love her bawdy humor, her expansive personality, and her amazing voice. Midler will forever be associated with the 1979 film “The Rose”, which is loosely based on the life of the self-destructive singer Janis Joplin, with Bette playing the lead. Midler shows that she can act in this movie, and boy does she show that she can sing. The title song was written by Amanda McBroom and became a huge hit for Midler in 1979.

The acronym “EGOT” stands for “Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony”, and is a reference to performers who have won all four awards. Also known as the “Showbiz Award Grand Slam”, there are relatively few individuals who have been so honored. The first five to do so were:

  1. Richard Rodgers in 1962
  2. Helen Hayes in 1977
  3. Rita Moreno in 1977
  4. John Gielgud in 1991
  5. Audrey Hepburn in 1994 (posthumously)

21 Org. with admirals : USN

US Navy (USN)

24 Bit of rebar : ROD

A steel bar or mesh used to reinforce concrete is called “rebar”, which is short for “reinforcing bar”.

25 Philippine currency : PESO

The writing on bank notes in the Philippines used to be in English, so the national currency was recorded as the “peso”. Since 1967 the language on the notes has been Filipino, and now the name of the currency is written as “piso”.

27 Text lead-in : PREFACE

A preface is a book’s introduction that is written by the author himself or herself. A “foreword” is an introduction written by a different person, and precedes the author’s preface. Note the spelling of “foreword”, as opposed to the spelling of the relative direction “forward”. A book may also have an “afterword”, a commentary that may or may not be written by the author.

30 “Oversharing!” : TMI!

Too much information (TMI)

32 Home of the Green Wave : TULANE

Tulane University is a private research university in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tulane was founded in 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana. The university was privatized with the aid of an endowment from philanthropist Paul Tulane in 1884, and as a result the school’s name was changed to Tulane University. The school’s sports teams use the name Tulane Green Wave, and the team mascot is Riptide the Pelican.

34 Shrewdness : ACUMEN

“Acumen” is such a lovely word, I think, one meaning “keenness of judgment or insight”. “Acumen” is Latin for “point, sting”, the idea being that someone with acumen has mental sharpness.

36 Inventing middle name : ALVA

Thomas Alva Edison (TAE) was nicknamed “The Wizard of Menlo Park” by a newspaper reporter, a name that stuck. He was indeed a wizard, in the sense that he was such a prolific inventor. The Menlo Park part of the moniker recognizes the location of his first research lab, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

37 Short two-pointer : TIP-IN

That would be basketball.

41 “Critique of Judgment” author : KANT

Immanuel Kant was an 18th-century German philosopher. Kant published “Perpetual Peace” in 1795, laying out what he believed were conditions for ending all wars and creating a lasting peace. The good news for us is that one of these conditions was to have a world full of constitutional republics, so it seems we are on the right track here in the US!

42 Animals drawn in the Lascaux caves : DEER

The cave paintings in a cave complex near the village of Lascaux in southwestern France are perhaps the best-known examples in the world of Upper Paleolithic art. The paintings are about 17,300 years old, are about 2,000 in number and mainly depict large animals and human figures. The cave complex was discovered in 1940 by an 18-year-old man, and was opened to the public in 1948. However, public access has created many problems with damage to the paintings caused by carbon dioxide and by fungus and mold. Right now, human access to the caves is extremely limited.

43 Opposite of après : AVANT

In French, “avant” (before) comes ahead of “après” (after).

44 Madrid pronoun : ESTO

In Spanish, if it’s not “esto” (this) or “eso” (that) then it’s the “otro” (other).

Madrid is the most populous city in Spain, and is the nation’s capital. It is located very close to the geographical center of the country. Madrid is the second-largest city in the European Union by population, after Berlin. People from Madrid called themselves Madrileños.

48 33-Down members: Abbr. : SRS
33D Organization for 48-Across : AARP

“AARP” is now the official name for the interest group that used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons. The name change reflects the current focus of the group on all Americans aged 50 or over, as opposed to just people who have retired.

52 “‘And when I __ my lips let no dog bark!'”: “The Merchant of Venice” : OPE

In William Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice”, the title character is Antonio, a merchant who fails to repay a large loan given to him by a moneylender named Shylock. Famously, Shylock seeks retribution for the lack of payment by demanding a “pound of flesh” from Antonio.

55 Old TWA competitor : PAN AM

Pan American World Airways (usually just “Pan Am”) started out as a mail and passenger service between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba in 1927. From very early in the company’s life it was the de facto representative air carrier of the United States. For many years, Pan Am’s fleet was built around the Boeing 314 Clipper, a long-range flying boat that was one of the largest aircraft around at the time. Pan Am adopted the Clipper as part of its image, even using “clipper” as the call sign for its flights.

Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a big carrier in the US, but was perhaps even more recognized for its extensive presence in Europe and the Middle East. For many years, especially after the collapse of Pan Am and TWA’s purchase by Howard Hughes, TWA was considered the unofficial flag carrier for the US. The company started in 1930, the product of a forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express. The Transcontinental and Western Air that resulted (the original meaning of the initialism “TWA”) was what the Postmaster General wanted, a bigger airline to which the Postal Service could award airmail contracts.

57 Coastal raptor : ERN

The ern (sometimes “erne”) is also known as the white-tailed eagle or the sea eagle.

“Raptor” is a generic term for a bird of prey, one that has talons to grip its victims.

61 __ al-Fitr: end-of-Ramadan feast : EID

Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday in the Muslim tradition that is known in English as the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”. It marks the end of Ramadan, a period of dawn-to-sunset fasting.

62 Greek letter : THETA

The Greek letter theta is the one that looks like the number zero with a horizontal line across the middle.

63 Apple product : IPAD

The groundbreaking iPad was introduced by Apple in 2010. The iOS-based iPads dominated the market for tablet computers until 2013, when Android-based tablets (manufactured by several companies) took over the number-one spot.

67 “Star Wars” role : LUKE

When the character Luke Skywalker was created for “Star Wars”, he was named “Annikin Starkiller”. Conceptually, he was a 60-year-old war veteran for a while, and also a female at one point. Luke is played by actor Mark Hamill in the “Star Wars” films.

68 Star in Orion : RIGEL

Rigel is the sixth brightest star in the night sky, and the brightest star in the constellation of Orion. If you can imagine the stars in Orion laid out, Rigel is at his left foot. The name “Rigel” is an abbreviated version of the Arabic term for “Left Foot of the Central One”.

70 1974 CIA spoof : S*P*Y*S

“S*P*Y*S” is a 1974 comedy starring Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland as two men mistaken as spies and targeted by the KGB. With all those asterisks in the film’s title, one has to assume the movie was intended to capitalize on the success of the 1970 Gould/Sutherland vehicle called “M*A*S*H”.

Down

1 Obsessed mariner : AHAB

In Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” the obsessed Captain Ahab manages with a final effort to lodge his harpoon in the whale’s flesh. He yells out “… to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” With that, the injured whale dives, and Captain Ahab is pulled under to his doom with a loop of the harpoon’s rope wrapped around his neck.

3 Start of a seasonal title : THE TWELVE …
6 Title, part 2 : … DAYS OF …
9 End of the title : … CHRISTMAS

The fabulous Christmas carol called “The Twelve Days of Christmas” dates back at least to 1780 when it was first published in England, though it may be French in origin. The concept of twelve days of Christmas comes from the tradition that the three kings came to visit the Christ Child twelve days after he was born. This same tradition is the origin of the title to Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”.

4 Fla. NBA team, on scoreboards : MIA

The Miami Heat basketball team debuted in the NBA in the 1988-89 season. The franchise name was chosen in a competitive survey, with “Miami Heat” beating out “Miami Vice”.

7 Chair’s prep job : AGENDA

“Agenda” is a Latin word that translates as “things to be done”, coming from the verb “agere” meaning “to do”.

8 Wimbledon division : SET

The Wimbledon Championships of tennis are held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club located in Wimbledon, a district of London. The Wimbledon Championships started in 1877, and have been played on grass since day one.

15 Smelting fuel : COKE

Coke is coal that has been baked at very high temperatures to drive off volatile constituents such as water, coal-gas and coal tar. The resulting coke looks like coal, but is grey, porous and much lighter.

20 “Around the Horn” airer : ESPN

“Around the Horn” is a 30-minute sports roundup aired every day on ESPN. I’m told that the show takes the format of a debating panel game.

22 It’s risky to work on it : SPEC

Something that is created on spec is done so without having a specific buyer or consumer in mind. Many crosswords are constructed on spec, and then submitted to the likes of “The New York Times” or the “Los Angeles Times” in the hope of publication.

35 Short strings? : UKES

The ukulele (uke) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.

40 Salton, for one : INLAND SEA

The Salton Sea is a lake lying directly on the San Andreas fault in Southern California. It is a rift lake, meaning that it formed as the result of ground subsiding along the fault line. The surface of the Salton Sea actually lies over 200 feet below sea level.

47 RBI, e.g. : STAT

Run batted in (RBI)

48 Booty : SPOILS

“Booty”, meaning “plunder, profit”, is derived from the Old French word “butin” that has the same meaning.

52 Puck handler? : OBERON

Oberon and Titania are the King and Queen of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Puck (aka “Robin Goodfellow”) is a character in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, one of the Fairies in the tale. One of Puck’s tasks in the storyline is to use love juice that is made from a flower that has been hit by cupid’s arrow. The magical juice is applied to the eyelids of someone sleeping, so that the person wakes and falls in love with the first living things he or she sees. Of course, Puck drops the love juice on the wrong character …

56 Long range : ANDES

The Andes range is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world. It runs down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles, from Venezuela in the north to Chile in the south. The highest peak in the Andes is Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the planet. That’s because of the equatorial “bulge” around the Earth’s “waist”.

59 Mary’s upstairs neighbor : RHODA

The seventies sitcom “Rhoda” was a spinoff of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” that starred Valerie Harper. The eighth episode of the show was an hour-long special in which Rhoda married her fiance Joe (played by David Groh). At the time of airing it was the second-most watched television episode in history, second only to the 1953 birth of Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy”.

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” originally aired from 1970 to 1977. It was a groundbreaking sitcom in that it featured a central female character who was not dependent on a man. Such was the success of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” that it launched no less than three spin-off shows: “Rhoda”, “Phyllis” and “Lou Grant”.

64 MGM motto word : ARS

It seems that the phrase “art for art’s sake” has its origins in France in the nineteenth century, where the slogan is expressed as “l’art pour l’art”. The Latin version “Ars gratia artis” came much later, in 1924. That’s when MGM’s publicist chose it for the studio’s logo, sitting under Leo the lion. Who’d a thunk it?

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Tbsp., for example : AMT
4 Touchy monarch? : MIDAS
9 “United States of Al” network : CBS
12 “Very droll” : HA HA
14 Representation : IMAGE
15 Edible seed : CHIA
16 Port near the Red Sea : ADEN
17 To date : AS YET
18 Wild party : ORGY
19 Near-EGOT winner Midler (she’s missing the O) : BETTE
21 Org. with admirals : USN
22 Reviews briefly : SKIMS
23 Gets gasps from : AWES
24 Bit of rebar : ROD
25 Philippine currency : PESO
26 Word often contracted : ARE
27 Text lead-in : PREFACE
30 “Oversharing!” : TMI!
32 Home of the Green Wave : TULANE
34 Shrewdness : ACUMEN
36 Inventing middle name : ALVA
37 Short two-pointer : TIP-IN
41 “Critique of Judgment” author : KANT
42 Animals drawn in the Lascaux caves : DEER
43 Opposite of après : AVANT
44 Madrid pronoun : ESTO
45 Like email notifications : PAPERLESS
48 33-Down members: Abbr. : SRS
51 Update follower, perhaps : RESTART
52 “‘And when I __ my lips let no dog bark!'”: “The Merchant of Venice” : OPE
55 Old TWA competitor : PAN AM
57 Coastal raptor : ERN
58 Shady place : ARBOR
60 Signs : OMENS
61 __ al-Fitr: end-of-Ramadan feast : EID
62 Greek letter : THETA
63 Apple product : IPAD
64 “Therefore … ” : AND SO …
66 Natural resources : ORES
67 “Star Wars” role : LUKE
68 Star in Orion : RIGEL
69 “That’s that!” : DONE!
70 1974 CIA spoof : S*P*Y*S
71 Word with home or bed : -STEAD
72 Tiny crawlers : ANTS

Down

1 Obsessed mariner : AHAB
2 Added to the official playbook : MADE A RULE
3 Start of a seasonal title : THE TWELVE …
4 Fla. NBA team, on scoreboards : MIA
5 “Not a doubt in my mind” : I’M SURE
6 Title, part 2 : … DAYS OF …
7 Chair’s prep job : AGENDA
8 Wimbledon division : SET
9 End of the title : … CHRISTMAS
10 Drumroll follower : BIG MOMENT
11 Comments : SAYS
13 Part of a pot : ANTE
15 Smelting fuel : COKE
20 “Around the Horn” airer : ESPN
22 It’s risky to work on it : SPEC
26 Slightly : A TAD
28 Fix a messy package, say : RETAPE
29 Certain rider’s pace : CANTER
31 Grooving on : INTO
33 Organization for 48-Across : AARP
35 Short strings? : UKES
38 Comment about a familiar film : I’VE SEEN IT
39 With the contents of this grid’s circles, part of the refrain in 3-/6-/9-Down : PARTRIDGE (in a PEAR TREE)
40 Salton, for one : INLAND SEA
46 __ control : ARMS
47 RBI, e.g. : STAT
48 Booty : SPOILS
49 Increase : RAMP UP
50 Not at all up-front : SNEAKY
52 Puck handler? : OBERON
53 Strong : POTENT
54 Gets rid of : ERASES
56 Long range : ANDES
59 Mary’s upstairs neighbor : RHODA
64 MGM motto word : ARS
65 Stale : OLD

13 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 24 Dec 21, Friday”

  1. No errors… quite enjoyable. Got the theme early so that helped. Some of the crosses were a bear. I knew COKE from working at a power plant that burned coal which I had first. OBERON was new to me. Went from LEIA to LUKE and RET to SRS in the same section.
    Took me more than 10 minutes.

  2. Very straight forward for a Friday (it’s a Christmas Eve miracle!). Now on to the WSJ…

    Here’s hoping ’22 is going to see some peace and good health for all of us!

  3. 16:06

    Fun puzzle. It’s neat to have multiple ways to express the theme. I lost track of where the circles were clued, but suddenly saw how they were placed. The PEAR TREE helped fill in the bottom half.

  4. 28:51 no errors but this blue collar guy had no clue what 52D was about.
    Stay safe and enjoy the holidays everyone 😀

  5. Well done, Jeffrey Wechsler! A symmetrical tour de force of construction, timely and clever theme well executed, solid fill, overall pleasant solve. Thank you, and happy holidays!

  6. 20:54 with no errors or lookups. Had several changes along the way: CNN>CBS (only seen the commercials, but couldn’t remember where), RAVE>RIOT>ORGY, SCANS>SKIMS, LAYUP>TIPIN, REWRAP>RETAPE, IPOD>IPAD.

    It helped to see the answer to the song title in 3-, 6-, and 9- down. Kind of neat that the circled letters plus 39D hint at the shape of a tree as well as illustrate the line of the song.

    Merry Christmas, everyone! Peace on earth, and good will to all.

  7. 22:47 – about 6 cheats.

    And happy at that for a Friday (for me).

    @Glenn – agree with you. Thought it was a fair and fun puzzle.

    Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it!

    Now on to our traditional meatless Christmas eve dinner with friends and family.

    And thanks to Bill for all the work he puts into this!

    Be Well.

  8. When I saw it was a Wechsler, I thought, “Oh NO….” but this one was actually pretty good. 14 minutes, 11 seconds, needed Check Grid to find 2 errors affecting 4 fills.

  9. Nice, mostly easy and very fun Friday for me; took 18:20 with no peeks or errors. Waited for a few crosses and only had to correct TiPIN to TAPIN, I think. Got the theme very early and even figured out what was supposed to be in all the circles before I got much into the bottom half.

    Happy Holidays to everyone, stay happy and healthy!!

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