LA Times Crossword 8 Dec 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Ed Beckert
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Interesting Attire

Themed answers are common phrases that end with an item one might wear:

  • 17A Execs who only look the part : EMPTY SUITS
  • 25A Ostentatiously nice sort : GOODY TWO-SHOES
  • 41A Pompous types : STUFFED SHIRTS
  • 55A Pretentiously elegant one : FANCY PANTS

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

Bill’s time: 5m 34s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Landlocked African land : CHAD

The landlocked African country called Chad takes its name from the second largest wetland on the continent, which is known as Lake Chad.

10 Acrimony : BILE

In days past, health was said to depend on the balance between the body’s four “humors”, four vital fluids. These humors were blood, phlegm, yellow bile (aka “choler”) and black bile. Excesses of yellow and black bile were thought to produce aggression and depression. As a result, we use the terms “bile” and “choler” today to mean “ill temper” and “anger”.

14 Common wrist measurement : PULSE

One’s pulse is the rhythmic throbbing of arteries that is usually detected at the wrist or the neck. The contraction of the heart creates a pressure wave in the blood that moves the arterial walls, which is detected as the pulse.

15 Tatting fabric : LACE

One is tatting when one is making lace. The word “tatting” has been around since the 1830s, but no one seems to have unearthed its etymology.

19 Pics for docs : MRIS

MRI scans can be daunting for many people as they usually involve the patient lying inside a tube with the imaging magnet surrounding the body. Additionally, the scan can take up to 40 minutes in some cases. There are some open MRI scanners available that help prevent a feeling of claustrophobia. However, the images produced by open scanners are of lower quality as they operate at lower magnetic fields.

20 Stephen Colbert’s network : CBS

CBS used to be known as the Columbia Broadcasting System. CBS introduced its “eye” logo in 1951. That logo is based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign.

Stephen Colbert is a political satirist who hosted his own show on Comedy Central, “The Colbert Report”. Colbert’s first love was theater, and so he studied to become an actor. He then moved into comedy, and ended up on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. He left “The Daily Show” in 2005 to set up his own spin-off, “The Colbert Report”. In his own inimitable way, Colbert likes to use a “French” pronunciation for the name of his show, so “The Colbert Report” comes out as “The Col-bear Rep-oar”. Colbert took over the “Late Show” when David Letterman retired.

25 Ostentatiously nice sort : GOODY TWO-SHOES

The expression “goody two-shoes” is used for someone who is virtuous, but in a smug way. The term comes from a nursery tale published in 1765 called “The History of Goody Two-Shoes”. Goody Two-Shoes is the heroine of the tale, and actually isn’t smug at all. Instead, she is a Cinderella-like character in a retelling of the Cinderella story.

32 Tomatoes used to make paste : ROMAS

The Roma tomato isn’t considered an heirloom variety but it is very popular with home gardeners, especially those gardeners that don’t have a lot of space. It is a bush type (as opposed to vine type) and needs very little room to provide a lot of tomatoes.

35 Pac-12 squad : UTES

The Utah Utes are the athletic teams of the University of Utah.

37 Spreadsheet input : DATA

Our word “data” (singular “datum”) comes from the Latin “datum” meaning “given”. The idea is that data are “things given”.

38 Debussy’s sea : MER

“La Mer” is a lovely group of three symphonic sketches for orchestra by the French composer Claude Debussy. Listen to it, and you can feel yourself at the ocean. “La Mer” is French for “The Sea”.

39 Expert : MAVEN

I’ve always loved the term “maven”, which is another word for “expert”. Maven comes into English from the Yiddish “meyvn” describing someone who appreciates and is a connoisseur.

44 High-flying mil. group : USAF

The US Air Force (USAF) is the youngest of the seven uniformed services in this country, having been formed in 1947. Today’s USAF was preceded by:

  • Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps (1907-1914)
  • Aviation Section, Signal Corps (1914-1918)
  • Division of Military Aeronautics (1918)
  • US Army Air Service (1918-1926)
  • US Army Air Corps (1926-1941)
  • US Army Air Forces (1941-1947)

45 __ museum : ART

The term “museum” comes from the ancient Greek word “mouseion” that denoted a temple dedicated to the “Muses”. The Muses were the patrons of the arts in Greek mythology.

57 Help in a bad way : ABET

The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (literally “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.

58 Puckish : ARCH

Someone described as puckish is impish, whimsical. Back in the 1800s, the term “puckish” arose to describe someone merry and mischievous, someone resembling the fairy Puck.

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 …

59 Type of coffee or whiskey : IRISH

Despite rumors to the contrary, I choose to believe that the Irish coffee cocktail was invented in my homeland, and specifically in Foynes flying-boat station in the west of Ireland. The terminal at Foynes was one of the busiest in Europe back in the late 1930s and early 1940s, in the days when airlines such as Pan Am were using flying-boats for transatlantic crossings. Joe Sheridan, chef at the terminal’s restaurant, started to serve coffee laced with whiskey to warm the incoming passengers, especially those who landed on a wet and blustery west of Ireland day. Sheridan, it is said, coined the term “Irish coffee” for the drink.

Down

3 European range : ALPS

There are eight Alpine countries:

  • Austria
  • Slovenia
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Germany
  • Monaco
  • Italy

4 Wisconsin winter hrs. : CST

Central Standard Time (CST)

The state of Wisconsin is a leading producer of dairy products, and is particularly known for its cheese. Wisconsin is sometimes referred to as the Dairy State, and the state’s licence plates have borne the motto “America’s Dairyland” since 1940.

6 Game with rooms : CLUE

Clue is a board game that we knew under a different name growing up in Ireland. Outside of North America, Clue is marketed as “Cluedo”. Cluedo was the original name of the game, introduced in 1949 by the famous British board game manufacturer Waddingtons. There are cute differences between the US and UK versions. For example, the man who is murdered is called Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in the US), one of the suspects is the Reverend Green (Mr. Green in the US), and the suspect weapons include a dagger (a knife in the US), and a spanner (a wrench in the US). I think it’s a fabulous game, a must during the holidays …

7 Rapunzel’s “ladder” : HAIR

“Rapunzel” is a fairy tale in the collection of the Brothers Grimm. Rapunzel was a maiden who was locked in a tower by an enchantress. The inevitable prince turns up, and he climbs up to Rapunzel using her long, fair hair as a climbing rope.

9 __ Moines : DES

The city of Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, and takes its name from the Des Moines River. The river in turn takes its name from the French “Riviere des Moines” meaning “River of the Monks”. It looks like there isn’t any “monkish” connection to the city’s name per se. “Des Moines” was just the name given by French traders who corrupted “Moingona”, the name of a group of Illinois Native Americans who lived by the river. However, others contend that French Trappist monks, who lived a full 200 miles from the river, somehow influenced the name.

10 Panda’s diet : BAMBOO

The grass known as bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Sadly, there are stories of growing bamboo being used as a device of torture. Supposedly, a victim can be staked out over bamboo shoots so that the shoots grow into the human flesh. Theoretically, bamboo can grow several inches in just three days.

The giant panda is a bear, and so has the digestive system of a carnivore. However, the panda lives exclusively on bamboo, even though its gut is relatively poorly adapted to extract nutrients from plants per se. The panda relies on microbes in its gut to digest cellulose, and consumes 20-30 pounds of bamboo each day to gain enough nourishment.

12 Parts of Hawaiian greetings : LEIS

“Lei” is a Hawaiian word meaning “garland, wreath”, although in more general terms a lei is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

23 Little piggies : TOES

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.

24 Winter Palace monarch : TSAR

The Winter Palace is a magnificent building in St. Petersburg in Russia that was home to the Russian tsars (and tsarinas). Today, the Winter Palace houses the famous Hermitage Museum. I was lucky enough to visit the Palace and museum some years ago, and I have to say that I have rarely been more impressed by a historical building.

27 Treasure __ : TROVE

The term “treasure trove” comes from the Anglo-French “tresor trové “ meaning “found treasure”.

31 What a capital sigma symbolizes, in math : SUM

Sigma is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and is the one used for an “ess” sound, equivalent to our letter S. Sigma is used in mathematics to represent a summation, the adding together of a sequence of numbers.

36 Informal London eatery : CAFF

“Caff” is an informal term used in Britain and Ireland for “café”.

39 Degs. for choreographers : MFAS

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

In its purest sense, choreography is the art of recording dance moves symbolically. The word “choreograph” comes into English via French, but originates in Greek. The Greek “khoreia” means “dance” and “graphein” means “to write”.

47 Rubik creation : CUBE

What was originally called the “Magic Cube” became better known as “Rubik’s Cube”, and was named for its inventor Ernő Rubik. Rubik’s Cube is the world’s biggest selling puzzle game, with over 350 million sold in just over 30 years.

50 Protest singer Phil : OCHS

Phil Ochs was an American protest singer who was active in the days of the Vietnam War. Sadly, the singer’s mental health declined at the very time the war was winding down. Saigon fell in 1975, and Ochs committed suicide in 1976.

51 Children’s author Blyton : ENID

Enid Blyton wrote stories for children that were very popular when I was growing up in Britain and Ireland. Some time back, I purchased and reread my favorite of her stories growing up, a children’s novel called “The Secret Island”. Now as an adult, it’s very obvious to me that Blyton’s writings were out of step with attitudes in post-WWII Britain, when she was most prolific as an author. Accusations ring true with me, that her writings exhibited sexism, xenophobia and racism …

52 Returning GI’s diagnosis : PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Midday tide-me-over : SNACK
6 Landlocked African land : CHAD
10 Acrimony : BILE
14 Common wrist measurement : PULSE
15 Tatting fabric : LACE
16 Geometry calculation : AREA
17 Execs who only look the part : EMPTY SUITS
19 Pics for docs : MRIS
20 Stephen Colbert’s network : CBS
21 Jury makeup : PEERS
22 Beyond heavy : OBESE
23 Burden : TAX
24 Screwdriver, e.g. : TOOL
25 Ostentatiously nice sort : GOODY TWO-SHOES
31 MLB game-ending accomplishments : SAVES
32 Tomatoes used to make paste : ROMAS
33 Guest beyond a velvet rope : VIP
35 Pac-12 squad : UTES
36 Shrink in fear : COWER
37 Spreadsheet input : DATA
38 Debussy’s sea : MER
39 Expert : MAVEN
40 More delicate : FINER
41 Pompous types : STUFFED SHIRTS
44 High-flying mil. group : USAF
45 __ museum : ART
46 Land divisions : ACRES
48 Hard stuff : BOOZE
51 Pollution watchdog org. : EPA
54 Designated money : FUND
55 Pretentiously elegant one : FANCY PANTS
57 Help in a bad way : ABET
58 Puckish : ARCH
59 Type of coffee or whiskey : IRISH
60 Start from scratch : REDO
61 Simple tops : TEES
62 Tot’s tea party guest : TEDDY

Down

1 Project detail : SPEC
2 Without feeling : NUMB
3 European range : ALPS
4 Wisconsin winter hrs. : CST
5 Security system components : KEYPADS
6 Game with rooms : CLUE
7 Rapunzel’s “ladder” : HAIR
8 Play divisions : ACTS
9 __ Moines : DES
10 Panda’s diet : BAMBOO
11 Of no consequence : IRRELEVANT
12 Parts of Hawaiian greetings : LEIS
13 Get (into) carefully : EASE
18 Attention-getting, in a way : SEXY
22 Reactions to fireworks : OOHS
23 Little piggies : TOES
24 Winter Palace monarch : TSAR
25 Starting spots for some races : GATES
26 Reversed on appeal : OVERTURNED
27 Treasure __ : TROVE
28 Blew away : WOWED
29 Dark clouds, maybe : OMENS
30 Internet destinations : SITES
31 What a capital sigma symbolizes, in math : SUM
34 Course standard : PAR
36 Informal London eatery : CAFF
37 Gossip : DIRT
39 Degs. for choreographers : MFAS
40 Campsite staple : FIREPIT
42 Familiar with : USED TO
43 Unclear : HAZY
46 Off in the distance : AFAR
47 Rubik creation : CUBE
48 Reveal : BARE
49 Almost never : ONCE
50 Protest singer Phil : OCHS
51 Children’s author Blyton : ENID
52 Returning GI’s diagnosis : PTSD
53 Pallid : ASHY
55 Considerable, as a bonus : FAT
56 “Where __ you now?” : ARE

18 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 8 Dec 21, Wednesday”

    1. The second and third meanings below could be applied to the Shakespeare character Puck.

      arch
      ärch
      adjective
      Chief; principal.
      Mischievous; roguish.
      Teasing, ironic, or sardonic.
      The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

    2. Not me, got it right via the cross words, but even after reading the “history”(?) of puckish, I don’t see the connection.

  1. @ken. ARCH has another definition.. “playful, especially in a playful way”. crossword constructors like to use it.

    I didn’t see FAT as ” considerable, as a bonus”?

    Anyway. Quick run today. No errors.

  2. 15:19 no errors…a Wednesday puzzle that’s easier than yesterday’s Tuesday puzzle…today area calculation is geometry yesterday it was calculus…are both answers correct?
    Stay safe😀

  3. 9:09 with no errors, lookups, or redos. Pretty good for a Wednesday.

    I don’t see how ARCH is an answer for “Puckish.”

    Did not know anything of Phil Ochs (1940-1976). However, after reading his Wikipedia entry and listening to some of his music, it’s a crying shame that he died so young. Sadly, his protest lyrics still seem relevant today.

  4. @Jack. I thought it was just me, but today’s puzzle was easier than Tuesday’s puzzle. I was feeling old and slow yesterday, but did much better today; “fat bonus” to my ego. Never heard of puckish-arch connection. One for the future!

  5. 5:34

    Today’s theme was pretty snarky.

    Does the TSAR ever become the CZAR in puzzles?

    Phil OCHS, that brings me back. What a tragic loss!

  6. 7 mins, 51 sec, and no errors or issues.
    Theme actually revealed itself early enough to aid in solving down-grid.

  7. 16:27 – no cheats/errors. Got hung up forever on taX/seXy – aaarrgghhh! Sad day when you can’t get an “X” to fill in …

    Great puzzle – not a single (unless I missed it) proper name, place, movie, etc in it. Very fair, loved it.

    Be Well

  8. I did not find todays puzzle easier than yesterdays. In fact I had to build from
    the bottom up in order to solve. No look
    ups, no errors. The theme helped!

    @ Pam
    Czar is definitely used in puzzles 🙂

  9. Was hung up with paPer SUITS until I Googled it and got EMPTY SUITS; then everything came together,
    Had “chest” before TROVE, AwAy before AFAR. Didn’t actually know SAVES, CAFF, CST, ENID but got by crosses.
    @Lou Lu – ya missed ENID, OCHS, so they must have been familiar.
    Phil Ochs was a favorite of ours. We played his tapes endlessly.
    As a kid I had a little black, round tatting device. It’s called a Tatting shuttle, but we never called it that. And I never thought of the result as LACE.

  10. I have to go with Jack and the others that said this one was easier than yesterday — although just by a hair. Not a hair shirt! See what I did there?

  11. Nice and easy Wednesday for me; took 8:39 with no peeks or errors. Only knew CLUE from doing crosswords and learned CAFF today. Got the theme early and went with it.

    @Jack – Yep, area works for both geometry and calculus. In geometry you’re usually figuring out the area of a some plane object and in calculus your calculating the area beneath the plotted curve, to come up with two examples.

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