LA Times Crossword 4 Dec 21, Saturday

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Constructed by: Matthew Sewell
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

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

Bill’s time: 9m 03s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

15 HS course that may be lit? : AP ENGLISH

The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers college-level courses to kids who are still in high school (HS). After being tested at the end of an AP course, successful students receive credits that count towards a college degree.

16 Ambitious sort : TYPE-A

The Type-A and Type-B personality theory originated in the fifties. Back then, individuals were labelled as Type A in order to emphasize a perceived increased risk of heart disease. Type-A personality types are so-called “stress junkies”, whereas Type Bs are relaxed and laid back. But there doesn’t seem to be much scientific evidence to support the linkage between the Type-A personality and heart problems.

18 Twist : WRING

Oh how I remember my mother passing the clothes through the wringer out in our backyard. When did I get so old …?

19 City on Presque Isle Bay : ERIE

Erie is a port city in the very north of Pennsylvania, sitting on the southern shore of Lake Erie. The city takes its name from the Erie Native American tribe that resided in the area. Erie is nicknamed the Gem City, a reference to the “sparkling” water of Lake Erie.

20 Audio engineer’s accoutrements : EARPIECES

Accoutrements are accessory items, often pieces of clothing.

23 Low-carb alternative to oats : NUT MEAL

Nut meal is similar to nut flour, although oilier and grittier as it comprises ground whole nuts. Nut flour is prepared by grinding the cake that remains after oils are pressed from nuts.

25 Princess Margaret portrayer in “The Crown” : HELENA

Helena Bonham Carter is an actress from London. Some of her more famous roles have been Bellatrix Lestrange in the “Harry Potter” films and Queen Elizabeth in “The King’s Speech”. Bonham Carter is also well known for her appearances in movies made by director Tim Burton, who was her domestic partner from 2001 until 2014. She also had a 5-year domestic partnership with fellow actor Kenneth Branagh.

“The Crown” is a historical drama produced for Netflix that covers the life of British Queen Elizabeth II from her marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. For the first two seasons, Elizabeth is played by Claire Foy and Philip by Matt Smith. For the next two seasons, Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies take over as Elizabeth and Philip.

34 Bob Odenkirk title role : SAUL

“Better Call Saul” is a spin-off drama series from the hit show “Breaking Bad”. The main character is small-time lawyer Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, who featured in the original series. “Better Call Saul” is set six years before Goodman makes an appearance in the “Breaking Bad” storyline. The lawyer’s real name is James Morgan McGill, and his pseudonym is a play on the words “S’all good, man!”

36 Umbilicus formation : OUTIE

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.

37 __ the People: razor brand : OUI

OUI the People is a beauty product company that specializes in providing high-end razors. The company was founded as OUI Shave in 2015 by Karen Young. Young changed the name to OUI the People to recognize the diversity of her customer base.

38 Gulf of Guinea capital : ACCRA

Accra sits on Ghana’s coast and is a major seaport as well as the country’s capital city. The name “Accra” comes from a local word “Nkran” meaning “ants”, a name chosen because of the large number of anthills found in the area when the city was founded.

The Gulf of Guinea is a large gulf that forms part of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Africa. One of the Gulf of Guinea claims to fame is that it is home to the intersecting point between zero degrees of latitude and zero degrees of longitude, i.e. where the Equator and Prime Meridian cross.

39 Neuron speed unit: Abbr. : M/SEC

A nerve cell is more correctly called a neuron. The branched projections that receive electrochemical signals from other neurons are known as dendrites. The long nerve fiber that conducts signals away from the neuron is known as the axon. A neuron that has no definite axon is referred to as “apolar” or “nonpolar”. In apolar neurons the nerve impulses radiate in all directions.

40 Movie monster term meaning “alien form” : XENOMORPH

The antagonists in the “Alien” series of films are extraterrestrials, described at one point in the script as “xenomorphs”. The term “xenomorph” was coined for the screen using the Greek roots “xeno-” (other, strange) and “-morph” (shape).

42 Zoom sesh, e.g. : E-DATE

Zoom is a videoconferencing app that became remarkably popular in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The market deemed Zoom to be the easiest to use of the free videoconferencing apps. I’ve been using it, but really prefer Google’s Meet offering …

Session (abbreviated to “sess.” formally, and “sesh” informally)

45 Protective legwear : GAITER

A gaiter is a heavy cloth or piece of leather that covers the leg from the instep up to the ankle or perhaps knee.

46 Atsukan, at a sushi bar : HOT SAKE

Sake, often referred to as Japanese rice wine, is a beverage brewed from rice. The drink goes by different names depending on the temperature at which it is served:

  1. Reishi (chilled)
  2. Joon (room temperature)
  3. Atsukan (heated)

51 Idaho has the only one designed by a woman : STATE SEAL

Idaho’s state flag features the state seal with the words “State of Idaho” below, on a blue background. Idaho’s Great Seal was designed in 1891 by Emma Edwards Green, who is the only woman to have designed an American state seal.

55 Italian university city : PISA

Even though the University of Pisa was founded way back in 1343, it is only the 19th continuously operating university in the world, and only the 10th in Italy. The oldest existing university in the world is the University of Bologna (1088). The University of Oxford (1096) is the oldest in the English-speaking world.

56 Old orange-roofed eateries, for short : HOJOS

The Howard Johnson (sometimes “HoJo”) chain of hotels and restaurants was the largest restaurant chain in the US in the sixties and seventies. There are only two HoJo restaurants left now. One is in Bangor, Maine and the other is in Lake Placid, New York. I just realized that I’ve been in both those restaurants …

57 Reggie Jackson nickname : MR OCTOBER

Former baseball player Reggie Jackson is known as “Mr. October”, because of his memorable postseason performances.

60 Big name in gaming : ATARI

Founded in 1972, electronics and video game manufacturer Atari was once the fastest-growing company in US history. However, Atari never really recovered from the video game industry crash of 1983.

61 Charades skill : PANTOMIME

Our word “pantomime” comes from the Greek word “pantomimos” meaning “actor”. The literal translation of the Greek is “imitator of all”, from “panto-” (all) and “mimos” (imitator). We use the term today to describe communication by means of facial expression and physical gestures. On the other side of the Atlantic, pantomimes (often “pantos”) are also very popular Christmas entertainments based on nursery tales like “Mother Goose”, “Aladdin” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Great, great stuff …

In the parlor game known as charades, players take turns acting out words or phrases. “Charade” is a French word describing a literary puzzle that was popular in 18th-century France. In said game, the word or phrase was broken into its constituent syllables, with each syllable being described somewhat enigmatically. This puzzle evolved into “acted charades”, which we now refer to simply as “charades”.

62 Whammies : HEXES

“Hexen” is a German word meaning “to practice witchcraft”. The use of the word “hex” in English started with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the early 1800s.

“Whammy” is a slang term describing a hex, a supernatural spell.

63 Rapt : ENGROSSED

Back around 1400, to engross was to buy up the whole stock, with “engross” coming from the Old French “en gros” meaning “in bulk”. We use the term “engross” figuratively today, meaning “absorb the whole attention”.

Down

2 Sydney attraction : OPERA HOUSE

The stunning building that is the Sydney Opera House was designed by the Danish architect Jorn Utzon. The Sydney Opera House was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, making Utzon only the second person ever to be so honored during his own lifetime.

4 Hacky Sacker’s option : KNEE

A footbag is a small bag used to play games that involve kicking it in the air repeatedly, usually in an attempt to prevent the footbag landing on the ground. Although footbags have been around for a long time, the most famous one today is the Hacky Sack, made by Wham-O.

5 Ice-T’s “SVU” rank : SGT

Rapper Ice-T must be tired of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles (I know I am!). Born Tracy Marrow, Ice-T has been interested in acting for decades and made his film debut in the 1984 movie about breakdancing called “Breakin’”. He has also played Detective Fin Tutuola in the TV show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” since the year 2000.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a spin-off from the TV crime drama “Law & Order”. “SVU” has been on the air since 1999, and is set in New York City. Interestingly (to me), there is a very successful Russian adaptation of the show that is set in Moscow.

7 Yak : TIBETAN OX

The English word “yak” is an Anglicized version of the Tibetan name for the male of the species. Yak milk is much prized in Tibetan culture. It is made into cheese and butter, and the butter is used to make a tea that is consumed in great volume by Tibetans. The butter is also used as a fuel in lamps, and during festivals the butter is even sculpted into religious icons.

8 Major religion of Indonesia : ISLAM

Over 50% of the world’s population consider themselves to be adherents of the “big three” Abrahamic religions: Christianity (2-2.2 billion), Islam (1.6-1.7 billion) and Judaism (14-18 million).

11 Instrument depicted on Keats’ gravestone : LYRE

The lyre is a stringed instrument that is most closely associated with ancient Greece, and with the gods Hermes and Apollo in particular. According to myth, Hermes slaughtered a cow from a sacred herd belonging to Apollo and offered it to the gods but kept the entrails. Hermes used the entrails to make strings that he stretched across the shell of a tortoise, creating the first lyre. Apollo liked the sound from the lyre and agreed to accept it as a trade for his herd of cattle.

English poet John Keats died in Rome in 1821, and is buried there in the Protestant Cemetery. His last wish was that his grave be marked with a tombstone bearing just the words “”Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water”, and no name nor a date. Keats’ friends honored his request to some extent, as the words were included on the stone and no name is given. The full epitaph reads:

This Grave
contains all that was Mortal
of a
Young English Poet
Who
on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
Desired
these Words to be
engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water.
24 February 1821

13 Nobelist Cassin : RENE

René Cassin drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after WWII that was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. This work led to Cassin being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968.

21 __-12 : PAC

“Pac-12” is an abbreviation for the Pacific-12 Conference, a college athletic conference in the western US. The Pac-12 has won more NCAA National Team Championships than any other conference. The Pac-12 was founded in 1915 as the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC). Over time as it grew, the conference went by the names Big Five, Big Six, Pacific-8, Pacific-10 and became the Pacific-12 in 2011.

23 “The Craft” actress Campbell : NEVE

Neve Campbell is a Canadian actress whose big break in the movies came with the “Scream” horror film series, in which she had a leading role. I don’t do horror films, so I haven’t seen any of the “Scream” movies. Nor have I seen the TV series “Party of Five” that launched the acting careers of both Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt in the nineties.

“The Craft” is a 1996 teen horror film. I don’t do horror …

24 Paris article : UNE

In French, feminine nouns take the indefinite article “une”, and the definite article “la”.

26 German camera brand : LEICA

Leica is a German optics company that is famous for production of lenses and cameras. The 1913 Leica was the first practical camera that could use 35mm film, a size chosen because it was already the standard for film used in motion pictures.

28 Dandy accessory : ASCOT

An ascot is a wide tie that narrows at the neck, which these days is only really worn at weddings or part of a dress uniform. The tie takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race at which punters still turn up in formal wear at Ascot Racecourse in England.

A dandy is a man who is overly fastidious with regard to his personal appearance. There’s a suggestion that the term originated in Scotland, where “Dandy” is a diminutive of the name “Andrew”. Back in the early 1800s, when the use of “dandy” was at its height, the female equivalent was a dandizette.

29 Bird mummified by ancient Egyptians : SACRED IBIS

The ibis is a wading bird that was revered in ancient Egypt. “Ibis” is an interesting word grammatically speaking. You can have one “ibis” or two “ibises”, and then again one has a flock of “ibis”. And if you want to go with the classical plural, instead of two “ibises” you would have two “ibides”!

31 Nice handle? : NOM

In French, one might look up a “nom” (name) in “un annuaire” (a directory).

The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera. Something described as “à la niçoise” is “of Nice”.

32 Col. on a planner : TUE

We have seven days in a week because there are seven classical planets in the Solar System. The days were named for these “planets” during the Roman era:

  • Sun (Sunday)
  • Moon (Monday)
  • Mars (Tuesday)
  • Mercury (Wednesday)
  • Jupiter (Thursday)
  • Venus (Friday)
  • Saturn (Saturday)

38 BFF of Brittany : AMIE

Brittany is a large peninsula in the northwest of France that is known in French as “Bretagne”. A native of Brittany is a Breton.

Best friend forever (BFF)

44 Aurora counterpart : 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”.

47 Home of Arizona State : TEMPE

Arizona State University (ASU) has a long history, and was founded as the Tempe Normal School for the Arizona Territory in 1885. The athletic teams of ASU used to be known as the Normals, then the Bulldogs, and since 1946 they’ve been called the Sun Devils.

48 That’s a wrap : SARAN

What’s known as plastic wrap in America, we call cling-film in Ireland. The brand name “Saran” is often used generically in the US, while “Glad” wrap is common down under. Plastic wrap was one of those unintended inventions, a byproduct of a development program to create a hard plastic cover for cars.

51 Persian for “king” : SHAH

The last Shah of Iran was Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was overthrown in the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The post-revolution government sought the extradition of the Shah back to Iran while he was in the United States seeking medical care (he had cancer). His prolonged stay in the United States, recovering from surgery, caused some unrest back in Iran and resentment towards the United States. Some say that this resentment precipitated the storming of the US Embassy in Tehran and the resulting hostage crisis.

53 Mighty warrior of myth : AJAX

Ajax was a figure in Greek mythology, and was the cousin of Achilles. Ajax is an important figure in Homer’s “Iliad”. According to Homer, Ajax was chosen by lot to meet Hector in an epic duel that lasted a whole day. The duel ended in a draw.

55 Little dogs, briefly : POMS

The Pomeranian is a small breed of dog named for the Pomerania region of Europe (part of eastern Germany and northern Poland). The breed was much loved by the royalty of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria owned a particularly small Pomeranian. Due to the notoriety of the monarch’s pet, the Pomeranian was bred for small size, so that during the Queen’s admittedly long reign, the size of the average “pom” was reduced by 50% …

58 Lisa Leslie’s WNBA position : CTR

Lisa Leslie is a former professional basketball player who played in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks. Leslie is rather tall, and was the first player to dunk the ball in a WNBA game.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Applies sustained effort : WORKS AT IT
10 Caution : ALERT
15 HS course that may be lit? : AP ENGLISH
16 Ambitious sort : TYPE-A
17 Bean, e.g. : VEGETABLE
18 Twist : WRING
19 City on Presque Isle Bay : ERIE
20 Audio engineer’s accoutrements : EARPIECES
22 Hold back : DAM
23 Low-carb alternative to oats : NUT MEAL
25 Princess Margaret portrayer in “The Crown” : HELENA
27 __ act : CLASS
31 Anticlimactic happenings : NON-EVENTS
34 Bob Odenkirk title role : SAUL
36 Umbilicus formation : OUTIE
37 __ the People: razor brand : OUI
38 Gulf of Guinea capital : ACCRA
39 Neuron speed unit: Abbr. : M/SEC
40 Movie monster term meaning “alien form” : XENOMORPH
42 Zoom sesh, e.g. : E-DATE
45 Protective legwear : GAITER
46 Atsukan, at a sushi bar : HOT SAKE
49 Quick swim : DIP
51 Idaho has the only one designed by a woman : STATE SEAL
55 Italian university city : PISA
56 Old orange-roofed eateries, for short : HOJOS
57 Reggie Jackson nickname : MR OCTOBER
60 Big name in gaming : ATARI
61 Charades skill : PANTOMIME
62 Whammies : HEXES
63 Rapt : ENGROSSED

Down

1 Shook one’s hand? : WAVED
2 Sydney attraction : OPERA HOUSE
3 Strictly organized : REGIMENTED
4 Hacky Sacker’s option : KNEE
5 Ice-T’s “SVU” rank : SGT
6 Following : A LA
7 Yak : TIBETAN OX
8 Major religion of Indonesia : ISLAM
9 “Finished!” : THERE!
10 Whenever one wants : AT WILL
11 Instrument depicted on Keats’ gravestone : LYRE
12 Sprawling tale : EPIC
13 Nobelist Cassin : RENE
14 Handles : TAGS
21 __-12 : PAC
23 “The Craft” actress Campbell : NEVE
24 Paris article : UNE
26 German camera brand : LEICA
28 Dandy accessory : ASCOT
29 Bird mummified by ancient Egyptians : SACRED IBIS
30 “You pick” : SURPRISE ME
31 Nice handle? : NOM
32 Col. on a planner : TUE
33 Folk music gathering, often : SING-ALONG
35 “Well, __-di-dah!” : LAH
38 BFF of Brittany : AMIE
41 Whiskey barrel wood : OAK
43 Grad school hurdle : THESIS
44 Aurora counterpart : EOS
47 Home of Arizona State : TEMPE
48 That’s a wrap : SARAN
50 Clipped : PARED
51 Persian for “king” : SHAH
52 Subscriber’s bonus : TOTE
53 Mighty warrior of myth : AJAX
54 Bolted : TORE
55 Little dogs, briefly : POMS
58 Lisa Leslie’s WNBA position : CTR
59 Moreover : TOO

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 4 Dec 21, Saturday”

  1. took a while but i finished..
    messed up on 31D.. Had NON.. NOM is better but i thought NSEC made more sense.
    messed up also on 45A.. Had GARTER (: … as in GARTER BELT? Didn’t know there was a GAITER.. but that means i should have known 38D was AMIE and not AMRE?? what was i thinking..

    never heard of HOJO’s either.

    1. My grandparents used to take me to a Howard Johnson’s when I was a kid (like 5-6, I guess). They’re all gone now, I think.

  2. LAT: Went pretty fast but missed the u in “oui” because I couldn’t figure out “Col. on a planner” was Tuesday and oui was French. Also had a bit of trouble with “Whenever one wants,” entering “on call” before coming up with the correct “at will.”

  3. Just couldn’t get going today. 🙄

    ANON MIKE: You’ve never heard of HOward JOhnson=HOJO?

    Stay safe. 😊

  4. No errors, but like most Saturday puzzles took too many lookups
    for me to claim much credit. However I will say that “hojos” opened
    up a lot of answers for me. I thought first of “A and W” and “Ihops”
    but they didn’t go anywhere.

  5. 15:33

    Lots of changes and guesses along the way. I thought OATMEAL -> NUTMEAL seemed especially sneaky. Who eats a bowl of nutmeal for breakfast?

    1. Pam,

      “Who eats a bowl of nutmeal for breakfast?”

      Nut meal or nut flour is sometimes used in recipes for baked goods as a lower carb alternative for some or all of the oatmeal or oat flour. I’m guessing that may be the constructor’s reference rather than the morning bowl of cooked cereal.

  6. Bill, your answer to 18 across where you mention your mum running clothes through the wringer reminds me of my childhood in England but we called it a mangle, don’t know where that term comes from

    1. Hi Chris. I’m betting that term (mangle) had to do with getting one’s finger accidentally caught in the mechanism.

        1. I use the OED online, through the Toronto Public Library ( check out what *your* library card can get you). There is a long discussion at “mangle, n. 3” which traces this sense through Dutch to a Latin word meaning “to press cloth”. My mom had a mangle too!

  7. Good challenge today. Had one mishap on
    “amie”. I filled garter in early and never
    revisited it…

    Had no problem with 34A though 😂

  8. 19 mins, 51 sec, and no errors. 1Across summed it up for me: I had to work at it to finish this difficult grid. The bottom right came together quickly, but the top and left were a real struggle.

  9. 24:32 with no errors or lookups. The top section was tough to figure out. I worked it from the bottom-up, starting with 56A, 57A, 60A, and 61A. There were a lot things I didn’t know, but guessed at and then worked the inyersectikns to see if my guess fit.

    Did not know NUTMEAL, Ice-T’s rank (but guessed DET or SGT), XENOMORPH, “Atsukan,” or OUI the People razors. Took a while to realize that Brittany was not a person.

    Had to change first guesses: EARPHONES>EARPIECES, SAGA>YARN>EPIC, BAR>DAM, FOR>OUI, GARTER>GAITER.

  10. Tough but finally doable Saturday for me; took 34:12 with no peeks or errors. Besides guessing APENGLISH and putting in OPERAHOUSE and ISLAM, I worked from the bottom up. Didn’t know a bunch of stuff (SGT, RENE, ERIE, HOTSAKE, NEVE, PISA, HOJOS) and some I’d kind of heard of (HELENA, OUI).

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