LA Times Crossword 29 Dec 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Debbie Ellerin
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Low Road

Themed answers are all in the down-direction. Each ends with a synonym of ROAD:

  • 24D Underhanded approach, and a hint to the answers to starred clues : LOW ROAD
  • 3D *Delivery job not as common as it once was : PAPER ROUTE
  • 9D *Computer storage device : USB DRIVE
  • 31D *Nostalgic locale : MEMORY LANE
  • 38D *Solar system’s home : MILKY WAY

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

Bill’s time: 6m 09s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Hula swivelers : HIPS

The hula is a native dance of Hawaii that uses arm movements to relate a story. The hula can be performed while sitting (a noho dance) or while standing (a luna dance).

5 Knife in the cooler? : SHIV

“Shiv” is a slang term describing a weapon crudely fashioned to resemble a knife. Mostly we hear of shivs that have been fashioned by prison inmates to do harm to others.

9 Jones, so to speak : URGE

Back in the late 60s, “Jones” was a slang term for an intense desire or an addiction. This usage probably came from an earlier meaning for “Jones” as a synonym for “heroin”. The etymology of the heroin definition is very unclear.

13 Boys Town is a suburb of it : OMAHA

The village of Boys Town, Nebraska is a suburb of Omaha. The village was founded in 1917 as the headquarter of the Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, which is dedicated to the care of at-risk children.

15 Stiff wind? : OBOE

The oboe is perhaps my favorite of the reed instruments. The name “oboe” comes from the French “hautbois” which means “high wood”.

17 Vatican-related : PAPAL

Vatican City is a sovereign city-state that is walled off within the city of Rome. Vatican City is about 110 acres in area, and so is the smallest independent state in the world. With about 800 residents, it is also the smallest state in terms of population. Although the Holy See dates back to early Christianity, Vatican City only came into being in 1929. At that time, Prime Minister Benito Mussolini signed a treaty with the Holy See on behalf of the Kingdom of Italy that established the city-state.

20 Half of an Arnold Palmer : ICED TEA

The drink named for golfer Arnold Palmer is made from lemonade and ice tea. The drink named for fellow golfer John Daly is also made from lemonade and ice tea, but with vodka added …

22 Loads : OODLES

It’s thought that the term “oodles”, meaning “a lot”, comes from “kit and caboodle”.

24 Madagascar mammal : LEMUR

Lemurs are unusual-looking creatures native to the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. With their white fur and dark eyes that are very reflective at night, they have a “ghostly” appearance. Indeed, the animals take their name from Roman mythology in which “lemures” were spirits of the restless dead.

Madagascar is a large island nation lying off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The main island of Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world (after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo).

26 It was deorbited in 2001 : MIR

Russia’s Mir space station was a remarkably successful project. It held the record for the longest continuous human presence in space at just under 10 years, until the International Space Station eclipsed that record in 2010. Towards the end of the space station’s life however, the years began to take their toll. There was a dangerous fire, multiple system failures, and a collision with a resupply ship. The Russian commitment to the International Space Station drained funds for repairs, so Mir was allowed to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in 2001. “Mir” is a Russian word meaning “peace” or “world”.

39 Bar mitzvah dances : HORAS

The hora is a circle dance that originated in the Balkans. It was brought to Israel by Romanian settlers, and is often performed to traditional, Israeli folk songs. The hora (also “horah”) is a regular sight at Jewish weddings. Sometimes the honoree at an event is raised on a chair during the hora.

A Jewish girl becomes a bat mitzvah at 12 years of age, the age at which she becomes responsible for her actions. Boys become bar mitzvahs at 13. The terms translate into English as daughter and son of the commandments.

41 Gulf States ruler : EMIR

An emir is a prince or chieftain, one most notably from the Middle East in Islamic countries. In English, “emir” can also be written variously as “emeer, amir, ameer” (watch out for those spellings in crosswords!).

The Persian Gulf is in effect an inland sea, although it technically is an offshoot of the Indian Ocean. The outlet from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean is one of the most famous maritime “choke points” in the world, and is known as the Strait of Hormuz. About 20% of the world’s supply of petroleum passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

42 Holmes who played Jackie Kennedy in two TV miniseries : KATIE

Tom Cruise’s third wife was actress Katie Holmes. The high-profile couple were dubbed “TomKat” by the entertainment media. Cruise and Holmes had one child together, a daughter Suri, who was born in 2006. TomKat divorced in 2012.

“The Kennedys” is a TV miniseries about the Kennedy political dynasty that first aired in 2011. Greg Kinnear played John F. “Jack” Kennedy, and Katie Holmes played Jacqueline Kennedy. There was a follow-up miniseries “The Kennedys: After Camelot” released in 2017. Katie Holmes reprised her role as Jacqueline Kennedy (Onassis), and Matthew Perry played Ted Kennedy.

50 Bounced, in a bad way : KITED

Check kiting is illegal. The idea behind kiting is to write a check, even though there are insufficient funds to cover the amount. The con artist then writes another check, also with insufficient funds, from another bank’s account to cover the original check. I am not sure it would work nowadays, but then I am as honest as the day is long! Oh, and I think the term “kiting” comes from the older phrase “go fly a kite”, the idea being that the bad check is floated on air (on non-existent funds).

52 Best Play, e.g. : ESPY

The ESPY Awards are a creation of the ESPN sports television network. One difference with similarly named awards in the entertainment industry is that ESPY winners are chosen solely based on viewer votes.

54 32-Down of July ’81 : LADY DI
(32D Wedding day VIP : BRIDE)

Charles, Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The wedding was a huge television event, with about 750 million people tuning in worldwide. Although the event was billed as the start of a fairytale marriage, the couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996. Famously, Lady Diana died in a car crash in Paris the following year.

63 Debonair : SUAVE

The Latin word “suavis” translates as “agreeable, pleasant to the senses”. “Sauvis” is the root of the English word “suave” that describes someone who is gracious and sophisticated, and perhaps somewhat superficial. “Sauvis” also gave us the English word “sweet” meaning “pleasing to the taste”.

Someone described as debonair is very courteous and gracious. The term comes into English via the French “debonaire”, which itself is derived from “de bon’ aire” meaning “of good race”, a phrase that originally applied to the breeding of hawks.

64 Bear with cold porridge : MAMA

The story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was first recorded in 1837 in England, although the narrative was around before it was actually written down. The original fairy tale was rather gruesome, but successive versions became more family-oriented. The character that eventually became Goldilocks was originally an elderly woman, and the three “nameless” bears became Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.

65 Spring or League opener : ARAB …

The term “Arab Spring” has been applied to the wave of protests, riots and civil wars that impacted the Arab world from 2010 to 2012. The uprisings were sparked by the Tunisian Revolution at the end of 2010 that led to the ouster of the longtime president and the institution of democratic elections. The period of instability that followed in some Arab League countries has been dubbed the “Arab Winter”

The Arab League was formed in 1945 in Cairo with six founding members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria. As a result of events during the 2011 Arab Spring, the Arab League has suspended Syria’s membership.

66 Navel formation : INNIE

The navel is basically the scar left behind when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby. One interesting use of the umbilicus (navel, belly button) is to differentiate between identical twins, especially when they are very young.

69 Kombu, e.g. : KELP

Kombu is an edible kelp that is used in East Asian cuisine, especially in Japanese dishes.

Down

1 Kachina doll carver : HOPI

Kachina dolls are wooden figures representing various Hopi spirits and deities. Traditionally, Kachina dolls were made by men and then passed on to the daughters of the village in a ceremony feting a particular spirit.

2 Apple product since 1998 : IMAC

When Apple chose the letter “I” prefix for the iMac in 1998, that letter “I” stood for “Internet”. Steve Jobs and his marketing team followed up with the message that I also stood for “individual, instruct, inform and inspire”.

3 *Delivery job not as common as it once was : PAPER ROUTE

I had one of those …

4 Beach umbrella benefit : SHADE

Our term “umbrella” ultimately derives from the Latin “umbra” meaning “shade, shadow”.

5 McGwire rival : SOSA

Both Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were named Sportsperson of the Year in 1998 by “Sports Illustrated” magazine.

6 Network with Comedy and Family channels : HBO

Home Box Office (HBO) is the oldest continuously-operating pay TV service in the US, having launched in 1972. HBO is a favorite of mine as I really like many of the HBO made-for-television movies and original series. Among the list of original series from HBO are “Mildred Pierce”, “The Pacific”, “John Adams”, “Big Love”, “Extras”, “The Wire”, “Sex and the City”, “From the Earth to the Moon”, “The Sopranos” and “Band of Brothers”.

8 Jellyfish defense : VENOM

Jellyfish are found all over the ocean, right across the whole planet. They have been around for 500-700 million years, and so are the oldest multi-organ animal extant.

9 *Computer storage device : USB DRIVE

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.

19 Midwife co-worker : DOULA

A doula is a person who provides non-medical support for women and their families during childbirth as well as in the period immediately following the arrival. The term “doula” comes from the Ancient Greek word “doule” which means “female slave”. Given such a negative association, “doula” is often dropped in favor of “labor companion” or “birthworker”.

21 Gloria’s mom in ’70s TV : EDITH

“All in the Family” is an American sitcom, and a remake of the incredibly successful BBC show called “Till Death Us Do Part”. Both the UK and US versions of the sitcom were groundbreaking in that the storyline brought into focus topics previously considered unsuitable for a television comedy, including racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, menopause and impotence. “All in the Family” is one of only three TV shows that has topped the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive seasons (the other two are “The Cosby Show” and “American Idol”). Stars of the show are:

  • Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker
  • Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker
  • Sally Struthers as Gloria Stivic née Bunker
  • Rob Reiner as Michael Stivic

25 Like knockoffs : ERSATZ

Something described as ersatz is a copy, and usually not a good one. “Ersatz” comes from the German verb “ersetzen” meaning “to replace”.

29 Search for, for many : GOOGLE

The Google search engine was originally called “BackRub” would you believe? The name was eventually changed to “Google”, an intentional misspelling of the word “googol”. A googol is a pretty big number, 10 to the power of 100. That would be the digit 1 followed by 100 zeros.

38 *Solar system’s home : MILKY WAY

The Milky Way is the name given to our own galaxy, the home to the Solar System. In fact, the word “galaxy” comes from the Greek “galaxias” meaning “milky”.

43 Omit in speech : ELIDE

To elide is to pass over, omit or slur a syllable when speaking.

45 Birthplace of St. Francis : ASSISI

The Italian town of Assisi is in Umbria. Assisi is famous as the birthplace of St. Francis and as the home to the Franciscan religious order. It was also the home to Saint Clare and her order of the Poor Sisters (later known as the Poor Clares).

51 Word with pool or wave : TIDAL …

A tidal pool (also “rock pool”) is a pool of seawater that is left along a rocky coastline after an ebb tide.

Even though the terms “tidal wave” and “tsunami” are often used interchangeably by the lay person, scientists use the terms to describe two related but different phenomena. A tsunami is an ocean wave triggered by the large displacement of water caused by a large earthquake (usually). A tidal wave is a wave triggered by the displacement of water under the gravitational influence of the Sun, Moon and Earth.

54 Genie’s digs : LAMP

The “genie” in the bottle takes his or her name from “djinn”. “Djinns” were various spirits considered lesser than angels, with people exhibiting unsavory characteristics said to be possessed by djinn. When the book “The Thousand and One Nights” was translated into French, the word “djinn” was transformed into the existing word “génie”, because of the similarity in sound and the related spiritual meaning. This “génie” from the Arabian tale became confused with the Latin-derived “genius”, a guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. Purely as a result of that mistranslation the word genie has come to mean the “djinn” that pops out of the bottle. A little hard to follow, I know, but still quite interesting …

55 Disappearing Asian sea : ARAL

The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …

57 Ball stars : DEBS

“Deb” is short for “debutante”, which translates from French as “beginner” when referring to a female.

61 Lode load : ORE

A lode is a metal ore deposit that’s found between two layers of rock or in a fissure. The mother lode is the principal deposit in a mine, usually of gold or silver. “Mother lode” is probably a translation of “veta madre”, an expression used in mining in Mexico.

62 Badger : NAG

To badger is to harass. The verb “to badger” comes from the cruel practice of badger-baiting, which dates back to medieval times. Badger-baiting is a blood sport in which a dog is used as bait for a badger in its den, to draw it out into the open. The den is an artificial structure built to resemble a natural badgers’ den, complete with a tunnel entrance. The dog is sent down the tunnel causing the badger and dog to lock their jaws on each other. The badger and dog are then removed from the den by pulling on the dog’s tail. Horrible …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hula swivelers : HIPS
5 Knife in the cooler? : SHIV
9 Jones, so to speak : URGE
13 Boys Town is a suburb of it : OMAHA
15 Stiff wind? : OBOE
16 Linger in the bath : SOAK
17 Vatican-related : PAPAL
18 Newsy snippet : SOUND BITE
20 Half of an Arnold Palmer : ICED TEA
22 Loads : OODLES
23 15-Across piece : REED
24 Madagascar mammal : LEMUR
26 It was deorbited in 2001 : MIR
28 Exacting standard : RIGOR
30 An arm and a leg : LIMBS
34 What turns pets into poets? : AN O
35 Uses the overhead bin for : STOWS
36 Turn aside : AVERT
37 Depressed area : SLUM
39 Bar mitzvah dances : HORAS
41 Gulf States ruler : EMIR
42 Holmes who played Jackie Kennedy in two TV miniseries : KATIE
44 “You __ be kidding!” : GOTTA
46 Dedicated lines : ODE
47 Peachy keen : SWELL
48 Goofs off : LAZES
49 DVR button : REW
50 Bounced, in a bad way : KITED
52 Best Play, e.g. : ESPY
54 32-Down of July ’81 : LADY DI
57 Used a bit, maybe : DRILLED
60 “Can I go already?” : ARE WE DONE?
63 Debonair : SUAVE
64 Bear with cold porridge : MAMA
65 Spring or League opener : ARAB …
66 Navel formation : INNIE
67 Bit of trickery : PLOY
68 Staying power : LEGS
69 Kombu, e.g. : KELP

Down

1 Kachina doll carver : HOPI
2 Apple product since 1998 : IMAC
3 *Delivery job not as common as it once was : PAPER ROUTE
4 Beach umbrella benefit : SHADE
5 McGwire rival : SOSA
6 Network with Comedy and Family channels : HBO
7 Letters for debtors : IOU
8 Jellyfish defense : VENOM
9 *Computer storage device : USB DRIVE
10 Churn : ROIL
11 Total ticket sales : GATE
12 Squeaks (by) : EKES
14 Changes : ALTERS
19 Midwife co-worker : DOULA
21 Gloria’s mom in ’70s TV : EDITH
24 Underhanded approach, and a hint to the answers to starred clues : LOW ROAD
25 Like knockoffs : ERSATZ
26 Costume ball sights : MASKS
27 Wedding day acquisition : IN-LAW
29 Search for, for many : GOOGLE
31 *Nostalgic locale : MEMORY LANE
32 Wedding day VIP : BRIDE
33 Scatter : STREW
38 *Solar system’s home : MILKY WAY
40 Take the wheel : STEER
43 Omit in speech : ELIDE
45 Birthplace of St. Francis : ASSISI
51 Word with pool or wave : TIDAL …
53 Pay, with “down” : PLUNK …
54 Genie’s digs : LAMP
55 Disappearing Asian sea : ARAL
56 Musician’s mailing : DEMO
57 Ball stars : DEBS
58 Bad doings : EVIL
59 Like an investigative dive : DEEP
61 Lode load : ORE
62 Badger : NAG

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 29 Dec 21, Wednesday”

  1. No errors today, or lookups, but quite a few “do-overs” when things
    became clearer. Paper routes….yes, all 5 of my boys had one of those
    jobs at one time.

    1. Regarding paper route for some reason in England we called it a paper round, maybe that’s what Bill called it in Ireland

  2. I just went back and read the comments from yesterday; thanks to all
    of you faithful puzzle-solvers for answering my question about “T-time”!!!
    I knew that was the way to get my questions anwered.

  3. Had to Google for KELP. Kombu does not look appetizing. My problem with modern salads is they don’t take the stems out of the lettuce.

    As far as the theme, I didn’t get why the answers were LOW. Now I know. But the puzzle didn’t lack LOW words: KITED, PLOY, LAZES, VENOM, EVIL, ERSATZ, NAG.

    Did not know KATIE or ARAB.

  4. 11:40 – one cheat couple of errors.

    I delivered 2 newspaper routes (morning/evening) from the age of 7 (with my older brother) and then alone until I was in high school. Paid for my tuition for my first year at Rutgers (at that time, yes it did). Made 2 cents for every paper I delivered …

    Be Well

  5. 6:36

    @Jane Drees Blando,
    As far as I know, KOMBU kelp is not usually eaten on its own as a sea vegetable. It is one of the two main ingredients of dashi, the foundational broth in Japanese cooking. The other ingredient is katsuobushi, dried, smoked bonito fish shaved into flakes.
    To make dashi from scratch, you simmer a piece of kombu in water for a few minutes. Then you drop in a handful bonito flakes, turn off the heat, let it steep, and strain the broth. This does make a lovely, fragrant, delicate broth, but most regular cooks use some kind of instant dashi.

    1. @Anon Mike (in case you weren’t just making a joke 🤨) …

      The clue for 56-Down is “Musician’s mailing” and the answer is “DEMO” (referring to a demo tape, I presume). No “magicians” in sight.

      Maybe this is another “autocorrect-gone-wild” problem … ?!

  6. 9:40 with no errors or lookups. Had to revise TAKE>GATE, SWEET>SWELL. KOMBU is a new word for me.

    At first, I wondered why the 4 themed answers were underhanded; and then I realized they weren’t. It was just the (low) location of the synonyms for ROAD.

  7. 2nd attempt to post:
    9:40 with no errors or lookups. Had to re ise TAKE>GATE, SWEET>SWELL.

    At first, I wondered why the 4 themed answers were underhanded; and then I realized they weren’t. It was just the (low) location of the synonyms for ROAD.

  8. Tricky Wednesday for me; took 11:46 with no peeks or errors, although I did have to go through and find an error. Never heard of DOULA and I accidentally put in eVERT, which I was able to find in my review. Stuff I didn’t really know: KATIE, HBO, Kombu, along with DOULA.

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