LA Times Crossword 25 Dec 21, Saturday

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Constructed by: David Karp
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

“A Merry Christmas to us all …!”

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

Bill’s time: 9m 12s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

16 Mother of Judah : LEAH

In the Torah, the Israelites are traced back to Jacob, grandson of Abraham and twin brother of Esau. Jacob had twelve sons through his concurrent wives Leah and Rachel, and his two concubines Bilhah and Zilpah. The sons became the ancestors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The sons were:

  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Dan
  6. Naphtali
  7. Gad
  8. Asher
  9. Issachar
  10. Zebulun
  11. Joseph
  12. Benjamin

19 U.S.’s leading employer of mathematicians, it’s said : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) runs an annual Codebreaker Challenge that is aimed mainly at the student population. As best I can tell, the focus of the challenge is reverse software engineering. Checking out the Codebreaker Challenge website suggests that the NSA runs this program in order to identify and attract potential new employees.

20 How some agents travel : INCOGNITO

To be incognito is to have one’s identity concealed. “Incognito” is Italian for “unknown”.

38 Blank spaces : LACUNAE

A lacuna is a missing piece of text (or music) in a larger work. Usually the text has been lost due to damage of an older manuscript. Lacunae can be very controversial as experts vie with each other to suggest what words have been lost.

44 Cone’s counterpart : ROD

The retina is the tissue that lines the inside of the eye, the tissue that is light-sensitive. There are (mainly) two types of cells in the retina that are sensitive to light, called rods and cones. Rods are cells that best function in very dim light and only provide black-and-white vision. Cones on the other hand function in brighter light and can perceive color.

47 Trig calculation : SINE

The most familiar trigonometric functions are sine, cosine and tangent (abbreviated to “sin, cos and tan”). Each of these is a ratio: a ratio of two sides of a right-angled triangle. The “reciprocal” of these three functions are cosecant, secant and cotangent. The reciprocal functions are simply the inverted ratios, the inverted sine, cosine and tangent. These inverted ratios should not be confused with the “inverse” trigonometric functions e.g. arcsine, arccosine and arctangent. These inverse functions are the reverse of the sine, cosine and tangent.

51 Home of the 75-feet-tall Golden Driller statue : TULSA

The Golden Driller is a 75-foot tall statue that has been located in front of the Tulsa Expo Center. It was placed there for the 1966 International Petroleum Exposition. The statue depicts an oil worker whose right hand rests upon an oil derrick. That derrick was a working structure, and was moved from an abandoned oil field in Seminole, Oklahoma. The Golden Driller is the sixth-tallest statue in the nation, and was adopted as the state monument in 1979.

53 Controversial late Russian painter Glazunov : ILYA

Ilya Glazunov was an artist from Saint Petersburg (then “Leningrad”). He is widely considered a controversial figure, having been accused of Russian chauvinism, anti-Semitism, and even being a KGB agent.

54 Tiger, perhaps : EXOTIC PET

The word “exotic” means “belonging to another country”, and is derived from the Greek “exo-” meaning “outside”. Exotica are things that are excitingly strange, often from foreign parts.

57 Only team with a gold at every Summer Olympics: Abbr. : GBR

There are only five nations that have sent teams for every Summer Olympic Games: Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland. Only one country has won at least one gold medal at every Summer Games, and that is Great Britain.

British teams competing in the Olympic Games do so under the name Great Britain, as opposed to the United Kingdom. That is because Olympic athletes from Northern Ireland (part of the UK) have the option of representing the island of Ireland, alongside athletes from the Republic of Ireland.

The terms “United Kingdom”, “Great Britain” and “England” can sometimes be confused. The official use of “United Kingdom” originated in 1707 with the Acts of Union that declared the countries of England and Scotland as “United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain”. The name changed again with the Acts of Union 1800 that created the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” (much to the chagrin of most of the Irish population). This was partially reversed in 1927 when the current name was introduced, the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, in recognition of an independent Irish Free State in the south of the island of Ireland.

60 Bush advisor : ROVE

Karl Rove is a Republican political consultant, and the man who is usually credited with the successful election campaigns mounted by George W. Bush. As well as managing Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, Rove was also at the helm for Bush’s 1994 and 1998 gubernatorial victories in Texas. Rove is a Christmas baby, born on December 25, 1950.

65 Lumberjack : AXER

A lumberjack is a logger, one harvesting and transporting trees to mills. As one might perhaps imagine, “lumberjack” was originally a Canadian term.

67 Lawn care brand : TORO

Toro is a manufacturer of lawn mowers and snow removal equipment that is based in Bloomington, Minnesota. The company was founded in 1914 to build tractor engines.

Down

1 Leg, slangily : GAM

The American slang term “gams” is used for a woman’s legs. The term goes back to the 18th century “gamb” describing the leg of an animal on a coat of arms.

3 Mulder and Scully, briefly : FEDS

A fed is an officer of a US federal agency, although the term “fed” usually applies to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“The X-Files” is a very successful science fiction show that originally aired on the Fox network from 1993 to 2002. The stars of the show are David Duchovny (playing Fox Mulder) and the very talented Gillian Anderson (playing Dana Scully). By the time the series ended, “The X-Files” was the longest running sci-fi show in US broadcast history. An “X-Files” reboot started airing in 2016 with Duchovny and Anderson reprising their starring roles.

5 “The Fresh Prince of __-Air” : BEL

The sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” originally ran from 1990 to 1996, and starred Will Smith as a teenager from Philadelphia who arrives in Bel Air to live in a mansion with his wealthy aunt and uncle.

6 NFL passing stat : ATT

In football, one statistic (stat) used to track the performance of a quarterback (QB) is attempts (ATT).

8 New Jersey public university with a campus in China : KEAN

Kean University is a school in Union and Hillside, New Jersey. Kean University was founded in 1855 in Newark, and relocated in 1958. Unusually, Kean has a campus in China. The Kean University-Wenzhou campus produced its first graduates in 2016.

9 Swedish company that invented Bluetooth : ERICSSON

Bluetooth is a standard for wireless technology that was introduced by Swedish telecom vendor Ericsson in 1994. The name was chosen in honor of Harald Bluetooth, a medieval King of Denmark and Norway. Harald is said to have earned his name because of his love of blueberries, which stained his teeth. Harald was said to have a gift for convincing diverse factions to talk to one another, so Ericsson’s communication protocol was given Harald’s name.

10 Mortise mate : TENON

One simple type of joint used in carpentry is a mortise and tenon. It is basically a projection carved at the end of one piece of wood that fits into a hole cut into the end of another. In the related dovetail joint, the projecting tenon is not rectangular but is cut at a bias, so that when the dovetails are joined they resist being pulled apart. You’ll see dovetail joints in drawers around the house.

27 Dwarf planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter : CERES

Ceres is the smallest dwarf planet in our solar system. It was discovered in 1801 and is the largest body in the asteroid belt, and is the only asteroid that is classified as a dwarf planet. For fifty years, Ceres was classified as the eighth planet circling our sun. The Dawn space probe launched by NASA entered Ceres orbit in March 2015, and became the first mission to study a dwarf planet at close range.

31 Online flame thrower? : TROLL

In Internet terms, a troll is someone who attempts to disrupt online group activities. The fishing term “troll” is used to describe such a person as he or she throws out off-topic remarks in an attempt to “lure” others into some emotional response. I must admit to feeling sorry for people who have such sad lives …

“To flame” is an informal term used in Internet circles and means “to inflame”, to incite anger, to make insulting criticisms or remarks.

34 Swiss cultural city : BASEL

The city of Basel in Switzerland lies right where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, and so has suburbs that lie in both France and Germany.

36 2019 and 2020 Grammys host, or what she plays : KEYS

“Alicia Keys” is the stage name of Alicia Cook, an R&B and soul singer from Hell’s Kitchen in New York City.

40 Maker marketplace : ETSY

Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.

43 Not yet delivered : IN UTERO

“In utero” is a Latin term meaning “in the uterus”. The Latin “uterus” (plural “uteri”) translates as both “womb” and “belly”. “Uterys” comes from the Greek “hystera” that also means “womb”, which gives us the words “hysterectomy”, and “hysterical”.

46 Knickknack stand : ETAGERE

An “étagère” is a piece of furniture with open shelves that are often used to display small ornaments. The name is French, coming from “étage” meaning “shelf”. I can’t stand étagères …

48 Director Roth : ELI

Eli Roth is one of a group of directors of horror movies known quite graphically as “The Splat Pack”. I can’t stand “splat” movies and avoid them as best I can. Roth is also famous for playing Donny Donowitz in the Quentin Tarantino movie “Inglourious Basterds”, a good film I thought, if you close your eyes during the gruesome bits.

50 Signs of repetition : DITTOS

The word “ditto” was originally used in Italian (from Tuscan dialect) to avoid repetition of the names of months in a series of dates. So, “ditto” is just another wonderful import from that lovely land …

52 Hawk tickets : SCALP

Scalping of tickets, selling them above retail price for an excessive profit, originated in the mid-1800s with scalpers making money off theater tickets. There was also quite a bit of money made by people scalping railway tickets. Railroads gave discounts on tickets for longer journeys, so someone trying to get from San Francisco to Chicago might buy a ticket to New York. Once in Chicago the passenger would scalp the remainder of his/her ticket to someone wanting to get to New York, and make his or her invested money back with a bonus. The exact etymology of the term “scalper” seems unclear.

The verb “to hawk” has a Germanic origin, and comes from the Low German word “hoken” meaning “to peddle”. A hawker is actually slightly different from a peddler by definition, as a hawker is a peddler that uses a horse and cart, or a van nowadays perhaps, to sell his or her wares.

54 Q.E.D. part : ERAT

The initialism “QED” is used at the end of a mathematical proof or a philosophical argument. QED stands for the Latin “quod erat demonstrandum” meaning “that which was to be demonstrated”.

55 Amorous letters : X-O-X-O

In the sequence letter sequence “X-O-X”, the X represents a kiss, and the O a hug. “O-O-O” is a string of hugs, and “X-X-X” a string of kisses. Hugs and kisses …

59 Parks of Alabama : ROSA

Rosa Parks was one of a few brave women in days gone by who refused to give up their seats on a bus to white women. It was the stand taken by Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 that sparked the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. President Clinton presented Ms. Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. When she died in 2005, Rosa Parks became the first ever woman to have her body lie in honor in the US Capitol Rotunda.

63 Plant activity: Abbr. : MFG

Manufacturing (mfg.)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Surprise with cheese and wine, perhaps : GIFT BASKET
11 Craft fare : BREW
15 Traveler’s question : ARE WE THERE?
16 Mother of Judah : LEAH
17 Pieces for a wannabe conductor? : MODEL TRAIN
18 Afterthought preceder : ALSO
19 U.S.’s leading employer of mathematicians, it’s said : NSA
20 How some agents travel : INCOGNITO
22 What looks can’t do? : KILL
25 Wind : SNAKE
26 Arranges : SCHEDULES
30 Took off : LEFT
32 Give false hope : LEAD ON
33 __ wedge: golf club with maximum loft : LOB
35 Evil : DARK
37 Sunday morning server : URN
38 Blank spaces : LACUNAE
41 Underwater beginnings : ROE
42 First-aid product prefix : MEDI-
44 Cone’s counterpart : ROD
45 Long and hard, as a stare : STEELY
47 Trig calculation : SINE
49 Metaphors for high esteem : PEDESTALS
51 Home of the 75-feet-tall Golden Driller statue : TULSA
53 Controversial late Russian painter Glazunov : ILYA
54 Tiger, perhaps : EXOTIC PET
57 Only team with a gold at every Summer Olympics: Abbr. : GBR
60 Bush advisor : ROVE
61 Weather record : ALL TIME LOW
65 Lumberjack : AXER
66 Cleaning product claim : LEMON FRESH
67 Lawn care brand : TORO
68 Corridor : PASSAGEWAY

Down

1 Leg, slangily : GAM
2 Pressing need? : IRON
3 Mulder and Scully, briefly : FEDS
4 Fine-tuned : TWEAKED
5 “The Fresh Prince of __-Air” : BEL
6 NFL passing stat : ATT
7 Ear-piercing : SHRILL
8 New Jersey public university with a campus in China : KEAN
9 Swedish company that invented Bluetooth : ERICSSON
10 Mortise mate : TENON
11 Shut out : BLANKED
12 Place for pets at an airport : RELIEF AREA
13 Right way? : EAST
14 “Yay!” : WHOO!
21 __ pal : GAL
23 Role model : IDOL
24 Like some probes : LUNAR
26 Blighted area : SLUM
27 Dwarf planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter : CERES
28 “Give me that!” : HAND IT OVER!
29 Get past : ELUDE
31 Online flame thrower? : TROLL
34 Swiss cultural city : BASEL
36 2019 and 2020 Grammys host, or what she plays : KEYS
39 Get time off? : COP A PLEA
40 Maker marketplace : ETSY
43 Not yet delivered : IN UTERO
46 Knickknack stand : ETAGERE
48 Director Roth : ELI
50 Signs of repetition : DITTOS
52 Hawk tickets : SCALP
54 Q.E.D. part : ERAT
55 Amorous letters : X-O-X-O
56 Trees with split-resistant wood : ELMS
58 Squandered : BLEW
59 Parks of Alabama : ROSA
62 Words with bit and way : IN A …
63 Plant activity: Abbr. : MFG
64 Word that sounds like its last letter : WHY

29 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 25 Dec 21, Saturday”

  1. That whole LACUNAE LOB BASEL combination did me in. Had VEE for 33A and I thought EDSEL for 34D… and LACANDE and ERICSSEN was left.. boy did I mess that up.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

  2. re a38–if you are going to use foreign words, at least indicate what language. Big help for folks who only speak English.

  3. No errors but stuck on “relief area” for the longest time because I had “as an” as an “afterthought” preceder instead of “also.”
    Merry Christmas Everybody!

  4. Way too many “long reaches” from clue to answer for me.
    That being said, “Merry Christmas” and Happy Holidays to all.

  5. 39:30, 3 errors, because I misspelled ERICSSON, and that whole right hand side had me stymied in various ways. It took a Check Grid and brute-force guessing to come up with BLEW crossing ALLTIMELOW.

  6. 23:15 – 3 cheats.

    And darn proud of it for a Saturday, which I almost never complete or have so many cheats that it’s a technical DNF. Some days I make progress …

    Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it.

    Be Well.

  7. 22:22, and DNF with about 75% filled, and more blank spaces the further right I went.

    With all the foreign phrases choking this grid, the only thing I can say about not being able to finish it is, “C’est la vie”.

  8. If anyone here did today’s “Saturday Stumper”, from Newsday, I’d be curious to know what they thought of it. I finished with no errors, but it took me at least an hour and a half and I thought it was unusually hard. (In my own defense: I’m a bit distracted by cooking a meal for two, so that could be part of the problem … 😳.)

    1. 1hr, 47 minutes real clock time. Very much a challenge. 1 error though I made from guessing on a couple of highly questionable entries I spent probably 15 minutes or more just staring at. Course, I probably could have done a lot better if my mind didn’t space out from the usual boredom I fight doing these.

  9. Good puzzle. I had no errors and didn’t have to look up anything — just lucky guesses — but it was very challenging. I finally got “relief area” at the very last, which was a “relief”. Enjoyable puzzle for Christmas Day!

    Jeri

  10. Who says whoo? 😂
    Got most of the puzzle except the NW
    corner. Was done in by East and the
    aforementioned whoo…
    Happy Holidays to everyone and thank
    you Bill for all you do!

  11. Ugh! 33:55 with a look up to confirm ILYA and LACUNAE. Never heard of a lacuna before. The NE corner was v-e-r-y s-l-o-w to come in due to different readings of “wind,” “craft,” and “shut,” and taking a long time to recall Judah’s mother.

    Had to change YDS>ATT, SONAR>LUNAR, ___ING>SHRILL, EXOTICCAT>EXOTICPET, USA>GBR, OAKS>ELMS.

  12. Very fun and challenging Christmas special; took 42:00 with 2 “check-grids” to finally get the NE corner, although I probably could have used just 1 to get to the finish. Had ales then BeEr and finally BREW, which led to getting RELIEF…, LEAH and WHOO. Lots of other tricky fill, which was fun to get (LOB, SNAKE, ILYA.)

    Thanks Bill for all you do!!

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