LA Times Crossword 7 Dec 21, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Jeff Stillman
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Fire and Rain

Themed answers each comprise two words. The first often follows “FIRE”, and the second “RAIN”:

  • 38A James Taylor classic … or, respectively, what can precede the two words in each answer to a starred clue : FIRE AND RAIN
  • 17A *Spends time in the gym : WORKS OUT (FIREWORKS & RAIN OUT)
  • 26A *Upscale eatery service for topper wearers : HAT CHECK (FIRE HAT & RAIN CHECK)
  • 54A *Times Square New Year’s Eve custom : BALL DROP (FIREBALL & RAINDROP)
  • 65A *When employment ends, formally : EXIT DATE (FIRE EXIT & RAIN DATE)

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

Bill’s time: 5m 38s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Sneaker feature : LACE

“Sneaker” is a common name for an athletic shoe, one that is now used as everyday casual wear. The term “sneaker” is used widely across the US. Back in my homeland of Ireland, the terms “trainers” and “tennis shoes” are more common.

14 Milky white gem : OPAL

An opal is often described as having a milky iridescence known as opalescence.

15 Focus of modern-day surfing : EGO

We’ve all done it, googling our own names to see what comes up. It’s called “egosurfing”.

19 Shrimp entrée : SCAMPI

The Italian dish known as “scampi” is a serving of shrimp in garlic butter and dry white wine.

20 Prime meridian std. : GST

Greenwich Sidereal Time (GST)

Astronomers use sidereal time to know where to locate given stars in the night sky. Sidereal time is a time scale that takes into account the Earth’s rotation relative to stars with a fixed location in the night sky.

A meridian is a line of longitude, and the Prime Meridian is that line of longitude defined as 0 degrees. The Prime Meridian is also called the Greenwich Meridian as it passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in southeast London. Of course the line of longitude that is used to represent 0 degrees is an arbitrary decision. 25 nations formally decided in 1884 to use the Greenwich Meridian as 0 degrees as it was already a popular choice. That is all except the French, who abstained from the vote and used the Paris Meridian as 0 degrees on French charts for several decades.

23 Quaking tree : ASPEN

The “quaking” aspen tree is so called because the structure of the leaves causes them to move easily in the wind, to “tremble, quake”.

24 One of the Coen brothers : ETHAN

I think it’s great to see two brothers working together and being so successful. Joel and Ethan Coen are two movie producers and directors who both live in New York City. The Coen brothers do love the movie-making business and they even married industry “insiders”. Ethan’s wife is film editor Tricia Cooke, and Joel is married to one of my favorite actresses, the talented Frances McDormand.

26 *Upscale eatery service for topper wearers : HAT CHECK (FIRE HAT & RAIN CHECK)

The original rain check is a complimentary ticket for a future game given to paying spectators at a baseball game that has been canceled due to rain. The first such rain checks were issued in the 1870s. The first professional team to use a rain check system were the St. Louis Brown Stockings, in 1877.

31 P-like Greek letter : RHO

Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.

32 ACLU issues : RTS

Rights (rts.)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its roots in the First World War. It grew out of the National Civil Liberties Bureau (CLB) that was founded to provide legal advice and support to conscientious objectors. The ACLU’s motto is “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”. The ACLU also hosts a blog on the ACLU.org website called “Speak Freely”.

38 James Taylor classic … or, respectively, what can precede the two words in each answer to a starred clue : FIRE AND RAIN

Before finishing high school, James Taylor suffered from clinical depression and spent nine months in the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, a stay that he regards as a lifesaver. Taylor has said that his hit 1970 song “Fire and Rain” is actually about his experiences in mental institutions. The “fire” referred to in the song is symbolic of electric shock therapy, with the “rain” being the cold showers that followed the treatment.

43 Chaney of horror films : LON

Lon Chaney, Sr. played a lot of crazed-looking characters in the days of silent movies. He did much of his own make-up work, developing the grotesque appearances that became his trademark, and earning himself the nickname “the man of a thousand faces”. Most famous were his portrayals of the title characters in the films “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923) and “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925).

44 Where some surfers shop : EBAY

There have been some notable things sold on eBay over the years. For example:

  • Ad space on a guy’s forehead, in the form of a temporary tattoo – $37,375
  • William Shatner’s kidney stone – $25,000
  • A cornflake shaped like Illinois – $1,350
  • A single corn flake – $1.63
  • A box of 10 Twinkies – $59.99
  • The original Hollywood sign – $450,400
  • The meaning of life – $3.26

47 Nonprofit URL ending : ORG

The .org domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

  • .com (commercial enterprise)
  • .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
  • .mil (US military)
  • .org (not-for-profit organization)
  • .gov (US federal government entity)
  • .edu (college-level educational institution)

50 __ Lingus : AER

Aer Lingus is my favorite airline! Well, the service isn’t that great, but when I get on board an Aer Lingus plane I feel like I am back in Ireland. Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland, with “Aer Lingus” being a phonetic spelling of the Irish “aer-loingeas” meaning “air fleet”. These days Aer Lingus can only lay claim to the title of Ireland’s oldest airline as it is no longer the biggest. That honor goes to the controversial budget airline Ryanair.

52 Ophthalmologist’s field : EYECARE

Ophthalmology is that branch of medicine dealing with the physiology and health of the eye. “Ophthalmos” is the Greek word for “eye”.

54 *Times Square New Year’s Eve custom : BALL DROP (FIREBALL & RAINDROP)

The famous New Year’s Eve (NYE) ball-dropping tradition in Times Square started on January 1st 1908. The original ball was lit with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs and was dropped at one second after midnight. A fifth version of the ball was introduced in 2008 for the centennial anniversary of the ceremony. The 2008 ball was built by Waterford Crystal and was lit by 9,567 LED bulbs that consumed the same amount of power as ten electric toasters. The current ball was used for the first time in 2009, and is double the size of the 2008 ball at 12 feet in diameter. The ball now sits atop Times Square year round, so you can go see it next time you are in town.

59 NFL Dolphins’ home : MIAMI

The Miami Dolphins football team was founded in 1966 by politician Joe Robbie and comedian Danny Thomas.

63 Broadway’s Ethel : MERMAN

Ethel Merman was an actress and singer, one noted for having a very powerful voice. Merman was married and divorced four times. The last marriage was to actor Ernest Borgnine in 1964, although it lasted only 32 days.

65 *When employment ends, formally : EXIT DATE (FIRE EXIT & RAIN DATE)

A rain date is an alternative date scheduled if an event is postponed due to rain.

67 Cheese in some bagels : ASIAGO

Asiago is a crumbly cheese that is named for the region in northeastern Italy from where it originates.

69 Old Spice competitor : AFTA

Afta is a brand of shaving products in the Mennen range, which is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.

71 Aardvark’s morsel : ANT

The aardvark is the oddest looking of creatures, and a nocturnal burrowing animal that is native to Africa. Even though it is sometimes called the African ant bear, the name “aardvark” is Afrikaans for “earth pig”. Aardvarks are noted, among other things, for their unique teeth. Their teeth have no enamel and wear away quite readily, but continuously regrow. The aardvark feeds mainly on ants and termites.

Down

4 Lodge member : ELK

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a “club” in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren’t welcome. The list of US presidents that have been members of the BPOE includes Presidents Eisenhower, Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Ford.

5 Menial laborer : PEON

A peon is a lowly worker who has no real control over his/her working conditions. The word “peon” comes into English from Spanish, in which language it has the same meaning.

6 Océano filler : AGUA

In Spanish, “el océano” (the ocean) contains lots of “agua” (water).

9 Pepsi rival : COCA-COLA

“Cola Wars” is a phrase used to describe the competing marketing campaigns of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Coke is winning …

10 Vandalize : TRASH

A vandal is someone who destroys something beautiful or valuable. The term “vandal” comes from the Germanic tribe called the Vandals who sacked Rome in the year 455. Our contemporary term “vandalism” was coined by Henri Grégoire in 1794, when he was describing the destruction of artwork during the French Revolution.

11 Start of the Marines’ motto : SEMPER …

“Semper Fidelis” (often abbreviated to “Semper Fi”) is the motto of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The phrase is Latin and means “Always Faithful”. The US Marine Corps isn’t the only military unit using “Semper Fidelis” as a motto. It’s also used by the Portuguese Marine Corps, the Republic of China Marine Corps and the Swiss Grenadiers.

22 Driveway material : TAR

The terms “tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call “tarmac”.

27 Like rosebushes : THORNY

Believe it or not, roses don’t have any thorns as such. Thorns are derived from shoots, spines are derived from leaves, and prickles are derived from the epidermis. The rose’s defensive barbs are in fact prickles.

29 New Hampshire prep school town : EXETER

Exeter is a town in New Hampshire that was incorporated way back in 1638. Exeter takes its name from the Exeter River that passes through the town.

Phillips Exeter Academy is a private college prepatory school in Exter, New Hampshire that is usually referred to simply as “Exeter”. The list of Exeter former students includes US President Franklin Pierce, writers Gore Vidal, Dan Brown and John Irving, and businessman Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame.

30 Actor Stephen : REA

Stephen Rea is an Irish actor from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Rea’s most successful role was Fergus in 1992’s “The Crying Game”, for which performance he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In “The Crying Game”, Fergus was a member of the IRA. In real life, Rea was married to IRA bomber and hunger striker Dolours Price at the time he made the movie.

35 NBC weekend show : SNL

NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1975 under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. Back then “The Tonight Show” had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to put together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and he came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.

37 Cinque times due : DIECI

In Italian, “cinque” (five) times “due (two) is “dieci” (ten).

39 Blowup on the highway : ROAD RAGE

The term “road rage” dates back to a specific time and place. The phrase was used by newscasters on Los Angeles TV station KTLA in 1988 to describe a rash of freeway shootings in the area on interstates 405, 110 and 10, many sparked by incidents in heavy traffic.

40 Buck’s partner : DOE

A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and the females called cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …

45 Short operatic solo : ARIETTA

An arietta quite simply is a short aria.

47 Trumps’ White House predecessors : OBAMAS

By tradition, the Secret Service code names used for the US President and family all start with the same letter. For the Trump First Family, that letter is M.:

  • Donald Trump: Mogul
  • Melania Trump: Muse
  • Ivanka Trump: Marvel
  • Donald Trump, Jr.: Mountaineer
  • Eric Trump: Marksman

For the Obama First Family, the code names start with the letter R:

  • Barack Obama: Renegade
  • Michelle Obama: Renaissance
  • Malia Obama: Radiance
  • Sasha Obama: Rosebud

49 Vocalist Estefan : GLORIA

Gloria Estefan is a Cuban-American singer who was born in Havana. Estefan fled Cuba along with her family after the Cuban Revolution, and ended up in Miami. Her father fought for the US military in Vietnam, and also took part in the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion. Years later, Estefan herself was approached by the CIA to work for the agency due to her skill with languages. She ended up doing quite well singing instead …

51 CD follower : -ROM

“CD-ROM” stands for “compact disc read only memory”. The name indicates that you can read information from the disc (like a standard music CD for example), but you cannot write to it. You can also buy a CD-RW, which stands for “compact disc – rewritable”, with which you can read data and also write over it multiple times using a suitable CD drive.

55 Asian priests : LAMAS

“Lama” is a Tibetan word meaning “chief, high priest”.

56 Michelangelo masterwork : PIETA

The Pietà is a representation of the Virgin Mary holding in her arms the dead body of her son Jesus. The most famous Pietà is undoubtedly the sculpted rendition by Michelangelo that is located in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. That particular sculpture is thought to be the only work that Michelangelo signed. In some depictions of the Pietà, Mary and her son are surrounded by other figures from the New Testament. Such depictions are known as Lamentations.

The celebrated Italian Renaissance artist and poet Michelangelo was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni in a village near Arezzo in the present-day province of Tuscany. Michelangelo achieved renown during his own lifetime. He was the first Western artist to see his biography published during his own lifetime.

60 Neural transmitter : AXON

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.

66 Courtroom figs. : DAS

District attorney (DA)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Sneaker feature : LACE
5 Balance scale container : PAN
8 Plays the role of : ACTS AS
14 Milky white gem : OPAL
15 Focus of modern-day surfing : EGO
16 Most achy : SOREST
17 *Spends time in the gym : WORKS OUT (FIREWORKS & RAIN OUT)
19 Shrimp entrée : SCAMPI
20 Prime meridian std. : GST
21 Make into law : ENACT
23 Quaking tree : ASPEN
24 One of the Coen brothers : ETHAN
26 *Upscale eatery service for topper wearers : HAT CHECK (FIRE HAT & RAIN CHECK)
28 Big-time celeb : A-LISTER
31 P-like Greek letter : RHO
32 ACLU issues : RTS
33 Smell really bad : REEK
34 Crosses (out) : XES
36 Antiquated : OLD
38 James Taylor classic … or, respectively, what can precede the two words in each answer to a starred clue : FIRE AND RAIN
42 “__ on my watch!” : NOT
43 Chaney of horror films : LON
44 Where some surfers shop : EBAY
47 Nonprofit URL ending : ORG
50 __ Lingus : AER
52 Ophthalmologist’s field : EYECARE
54 *Times Square New Year’s Eve custom : BALL DROP (FIREBALL & RAINDROP)
57 Calf-length skirts : MIDIS
58 Like the sea when waves are crashing : AROAR
59 NFL Dolphins’ home : MIAMI
62 Bloodshot : RED
63 Broadway’s Ethel : MERMAN
65 *When employment ends, formally : EXIT DATE (FIRE EXIT & RAIN DATE)
67 Cheese in some bagels : ASIAGO
68 Freight weight : TON
69 Old Spice competitor : AFTA
70 Balanced conditions : STASES
71 Aardvark’s morsel : ANT
72 Common flag symbol : STAR

Down

1 Transmission choice for steep ascents : LOW GEAR
2 Biblical disciple : APOSTLE
3 One driving the wrong way? : CAR THIEF
4 Lodge member : ELK
5 Menial laborer : PEON
6 Océano filler : AGUA
7 V-shaped slit : NOTCH
8 Pack animal : ASS
9 Pepsi rival : COCA-COLA
10 Vandalize : TRASH
11 Start of the Marines’ motto : SEMPER …
12 Appearance : ASPECT
13 Smells really bad : STINKS
18 Dispatched : SENT
22 Driveway material : TAR
25 Welcome to one’s home : ASK IN
27 Like rosebushes : THORNY
29 New Hampshire prep school town : EXETER
30 Actor Stephen : REA
35 NBC weekend show : SNL
37 Cinque times due : DIECI
39 Blowup on the highway : ROAD RAGE
40 Buck’s partner : DOE
41 Annual hoops player selection event : NBA DRAFT
45 Short operatic solo : ARIETTA
46 “Whatever you say, honey” : YES, DEAR
47 Trumps’ White House predecessors : OBAMAS
48 Least cooked : RAREST
49 Vocalist Estefan : GLORIA
51 CD follower : -ROM
53 Radiate : EMIT
55 Asian priests : LAMAS
56 Michelangelo masterwork : PIETA
60 Neural transmitter : AXON
61 Like new : MINT
64 Turndowns : NOS
66 Courtroom figs. : DAS

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 7 Dec 21, Tuesday”

  1. 4:22, no errors.

    It’s A-LISTER as Bill’s summary notates it. It’s not a “who” more or less as a “what”. An A-Lister is someone that’s very well known in most circles as opposed to most that show up in crosswords, which are D-Listers or F-Listers that get a degree of “crossword fame” granted to them by the constructor for using their name in the grid.

  2. No errors, no lookups, but didn’t understand the theme until I was
    all finished with the grid. That “a-lister” gave me a problem for
    a while and I at first had “allstar” but that didn’t fit with Exeter and
    car thief, so I caught on (finally) and changed it to alister to solve.
    Interesting puzzle theme.

  3. So happy to see James Taylor’s music as a clue today. Couldn’t get enough of JT back in the ’70’s as a teen! Still love him so…..
    Stay safe. 😊

  4. On a Tuesday (!) I had 2 errors and one Natick. The Natick where ARIETTA crosses NAFTA; one error was RAwEST rather than RAREST, and I never looked at the cross; the other error was AqUA rather than AGUA, and, again, I didn’t look at the cross. That should learn me.
    Also, I didn’t know GST, or NBADRAFT, but got them anyway.

  5. 5:03

    A theme to admire for its construction after you’re done.

    Interesting to see STASES. It’s not often you need a plural for “stasis”.

  6. 8:45 – no peeks/errors.

    Clever theme, but without Bill’s expatiation I wouldn’t have gotten it in a million years. Got so much to learn …

    Be Well.

  7. like many commenters, confused by alister as I was also sure it was allstar! I loved some of the clues/answers like states and axon – more clever than your typical tuesday!

  8. Modestly tricky Tuesday for me; took 13:20 with no peeks or errors, but quite a bit of dancing around trying to make things fit.

    I too liked James Taylor as a teen. Didn’t realize that he actually underwent shock therapy for depression…yikes, although I vaguely remember hearing about depression.

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