LA Times Crossword 2 Dec 22, Friday

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Constructed by: Jeff Stillman
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): En-Tails

Themed answers are each common phrases with a letter N added:

  • 17A Preference for the center of the road? : MEDIAN BIAS (from “media bias”)
  • 29A Where a Met singer reclines between arias? : OPERA DIVAN (from “opera diva”)
  • 46A Cereal that has amazing health benefits? : WONDER BRAN (from “Wonderbra”)
  • 61A Hotel choice leading up to Eid al-Fitr? : RAMADAN INN (from “Ramada Inn”)

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

Bill’s time: 7m 05s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Oft-misused pronoun : WHOM

The pronoun “who” is used when referring to either male or female humans. The objective form of “who” is “whom”, and the possessive is “whose”.

10 Scholastic nos. : GPAS

Grade point average (GPA)

17 Preference for the center of the road? : MEDIAN BIAS (from “media bias”)

Here in the US, the area separating opposing lanes of traffic on a divided highway called the “median strip”. Over in Britain and Ireland, that median strip is known as the “central reservation”.

20 Neruda’s “__ to Salt” : ODE

“Odes to Common Things” is a collection of poems by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Included in the list of 25 odes is “Ode to the Table”, “Ode to the Dog”, “Ode to the Artichoke”, “Ode to French Fries” and “Ode to Things”.

24 APB subject : PERP

In cop-speak, a “perp” (perpetrator) might prey on a “vic” (victim).

An All Points Bulletin (APB) is a broadcast from one US law enforcement agency to another.

26 “Pumice-powered” soap : LAVA

Lava is a brand of soap that was introduced as a heavy-duty cleanser in 1893. Unlike soaps that are marketed using a “soft” image, Lava touts the inclusion of ground pumice that is intended to abrade grime off the skin. Pumice is found in certain types of lava ejected from a volcano, hence the name of the soap.

Pumice is volcanic rock that is formed by lava cooling. There are bubbles in pumice due to water and carbon dioxide frothing out of the lava as it cools. Because of the frothy structure, pumice is relatively light and is a great thermal insulator. As such, it is used in construction to make insulating breeze blocks.

29 Where a Met singer reclines between arias? : OPERA DIVAN (from “opera diva”)

Divans are essentially couches without backs or arms. The design originated in the Middle East, where the couches were commonly found lining the walls of an office that was known as a “divan” or “diwan” meaning “government office”.

The term “diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. It is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

33 Valuable violin : AMATI

The first of the Amati family to make violins was Andrea Amati, who lived in the 14th century. He was succeeded by his sons Antonio and Girolamo. In turn, the two brothers were succeeded by Girolamo’s son Nicolo. Nicolo had a few students who achieved fame making musical instruments as well. One was his own son, Girolamo, and another was the famed Antonio Stradivari.

35 Hang out in a hammock : LOLL

Our word “hammock” comes via Spanish from Haiti, and evolved from a word used to describe a fishing net.

36 “Odds __ … ” : ARE

… not even.

37 __ cit.: footnote notation : LOC

“Loc. cit”. is short for “loco citato” meaning “in the place cited”. Loc. cit. is used in a footnote instead of op. cit. as it refers not only to a prior work, but also to the same page in that work.

41 Paris article : LES

The definite article in French can be “le” (with masculine nouns), “la” (with feminine nouns), and “les” (with plural nouns of either gender).

42 2010 health law, for short : ACA

The correct name for what has been dubbed “Obamacare” is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA).

43 Pests treated with Nix Ultra shampoo : LICE

Lice (singular “louse”) are small wingless insects, of which there are thousands of species. There are three species of lice affecting humans, i.e. head lice, body lice and pubic lice. Most lice feed on dead skin found on the body of the host animal, although some feed on blood. Ick …

46 Cereal that has amazing health benefits? : WONDER BRAN (from “Wonderbra”)

The world’s first push-up bra was the Wonderbra. The Wonderbra became very popular in the 1990s, although the brand name has been around since 1935.

50 Wasabi __ : PEAS

Wasabi peas are peas that have been fried and then coated with wasabi powder mixed with sugar, salt and oil. They make for a crunchy snack, and are a favorite of mine …

51 Carved symbol : TOTEM

“Totem” is a word used to describe any entity that watches over a group of people. As such, totems are usually the subjects of worship. Totem poles are really misnamed, as they are not intended to represent figures to be worshiped, but rather are heraldic in nature, and often celebrating the legends or notable events in the history of a tribe.

52 Wall calendar span : YEAR

Our word “calendar” ultimately derives from the Latin “calendae”. “Calends” were the first days of each Roman month. The Latin “calendarium” was an account book, as the debts fell due and accounts were reckoned on the first day of each month.

54 First woman Speaker of the House : PELOSI

Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker of the House in 2007, and was the 60th person to hold that position. Ms. Pelosi represents a district not far from here, which covers most of San Francisco. She was the first Californian, the first Italian-American and the first woman to be Speaker of the House. As Speaker of the House is second-in-line to the presidency, after the Vice President, Nancy Pelosi was for many years the highest-ranking female politician in US history. That was until Kamala Harris became Vice President in 2021.

57 Hon : BAE

“Bae” is a contemporary term of endearment. It is a pet name that is an abbreviation of “babe, baby”, although I’ve also read that it is an acronym standing for “before anyone else”.

60 Run __ : AMOK

The phrase “to run amok” (sometimes “to run amuck”) has been around since the 1670s and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was also used as a noun to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. Given Malaya’s troubled history, the natives probably had a good reason for that frenzy …

61 Hotel choice leading up to Eid al-Fitr? : RAMADAN INN (from “Ramada Inn”)

Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday in the Muslim tradition that is known in English as the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”. It marks the end of Ramadan, a period of dawn-to-sunset fasting.

The Ramada Inn hotel chain takes its name from the Spanish word for a shady resting place. A ramada is a shelter with a roof and no walls, mainly found in the American southwest. Nowadays a ramada can be temporary or permanent, but originally ramadas were makeshift shelters constructed by aboriginal Indians from branches or bushes.

64 Moreno of “West Side Story” : RITA

Puerto Rican singer, dancer and actress Rita Moreno is one of the few performers to have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony (EGOT). Moreno got her big break, and won her Oscar, for playing Anita in the 1961 screen adaptation of “West Side Story”. And, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2004.

Leonard Bernstein’s musical “West Side Story” is based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The musical is set in New York City and features two rival gangs: the Sharks from Puerto Rico and the Jets with working-class, Caucasian roots. Tony from the Jets (played by Richard Beymer) falls in love with Maria (played by Natalie Wood) from the Sharks. All this parallels Romeo from the House of Montague falling for Juliet from the House of Capulet in the Italian city of Verona. The stage musical was adapted into a very successful 1961 movie with the same title.

65 Jazz singer Anita : O’DAY

“Anita O’Day” was the stage name of jazz singer Anita Colton. She chose the name as “O’Day” is Pig Latin for “dough”, a slang term for “money”. O’Day had problems with heroin and alcohol addiction leading to erratic behavior, earning her the nickname “The Jezebel of Jazz”.

66 Govt. investment : T-BOND

A Treasury note (T-note) is a government debt that matures in 1-10 years. A T-note has a coupon (interest) payment made every six months. The T-note is purchased at a discount to face value, and at the date of maturity can be redeemed at that face value. A Treasury bill (T-bill) is a similar financial vehicle, but it matures in one year or less, and a T-bond matures in 20-30 years.

67 Crafty website : 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.

Down

1 Sport with referees called gyoji : SUMO

In Japanese sumo wrestling, a referee is known as a “gyoji”. There are about 40 professional gyoji working in Japan right now, and they have jobs for life. They start their training as teenagers, and retire at 65 years of age.

2 Linear : ONE-D

The dimension of an object is defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify each point in the object. Therefore, a line is one-dimensional, as you only need an x-coordinate to specify a particular point on the line. A surface is two-dimensional, as you need both an x-coordinate and a y-coordinate to locate a point on the surface. The inside of a solid object is then three-dimensional, needing an x-, y- and z-coordinate to specify a point, say within a cube.

4 “Pretentious? __?” : MOI?

“Moi” is the French word for “me”. One might say “Moi?” when feigning innocence.

5 Flabbergasted : IN AWE

Apparently, there was a 1772 magazine article that described “flabbergasted” as a word that was in vogue at the time. That article also stated that the origin of the term was uncertain. Someone who is flabbergasted is utterly astonished. Like me, most of the time …

6 Google Docs, e.g. : WEB APP

Google Docs is a word processing application that is part of the Google Drive suite of services. In fact, I am typing this blog post right now in Google Docs.

8 Egg cells : OVA

“Ovum” (plural “ova”) is Latin for “egg”.

9 Private eatery : MESS HALL

“Mess” first came into English about 1300, when it described the list of food needed for a meal. The term comes from the Old French word “mes” meaning a portion of food or a course at a meal. This usage in English evolved into “mess” meaning a jumbled mass of anything, from the concept of “mixed food”. The original usage, in the sense of a food for a meal, surfaced again in the military in the 1500s when a “mess” was a communal eating place.

10 NASA’s second human spaceflight program : GEMINI

Famously, President Kennedy launched the Apollo space program in 1961. The Mercury program had been the project that put Americans into space, and NASA decided that more development work was needed to bridge the gap in capabilities needed between what was known from Mercury and what was needed to land a man on the moon, the objective of the Apollo program. So, the Gemini program was born, in which astronauts learned to spend extended periods in orbit, rendezvous and dock spacecraft, walk in space, and improve the reentry and landing stage of a space flight.

12 Hammett dog : ASTA

Asta is the wonderful little dog in the superb “The Thin Man” series of films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles). In the original story by Dashiell Hammett, Asta was a female Schnauzer, but on screen Asta was played by a wire-haired fox terrier called “Skippy”. Skippy was also the dog in “Bringing Up Baby” with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the one who kept stealing the dinosaur bone. Skippy retired in 1939, so Asta was played by other dogs in the remainder of “The Thin Man” films.

Dashiell Hammett was an American author known for his detective fiction. Hammett was the creator of such enduring characters as Sam Spade from “The Maltese Falcon” as well as Nick and Nora Charles from “The Thin Man”. Outside of writing, Hammett was also politically active and served as the president of a group the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) after WWII. The CRC was deemed to be a Communist front group and was listed as a subversive organization by the US government. At one point, he even served time in jail for contempt of court, after refusing to answer some questions in a trial in which the CRC was involved.

18 Adopted son of Claudius : NERO

Nero was Emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 CE, and he had quite the family life. When he was just 16-years-old Nero married his step-sister Claudia Octavia. He also had his mother and step-brother executed.

I find Claudius to be the most fascinating of all the Roman Emperors. He had a lot going against him, as he walked with a limp and was slightly deaf. Claudius was put in office by the Praetorian Guard (the emperor’s bodyguards) after Caligula was assassinated. Claudius had very little political experience and yet proved to be very forward-thinking and capable.

23 Judy Blume books, e.g. : KIDLIT

Judy Blume writes novels for children and young adults. Blume’s novels for teens were groundbreaking when first published, tackling such difficult subjects as racism, divorce and bullying.

24 Butter square : PAT

A “pat” of butter is so called because of the tradition of forming it by “patting”.

25 Slangy slacks : TROU

Trousers are pants, the garment covering the lower body and each leg separately. Ultimately, the word “trousers” evolved from the Erse word “triubhas” that described close-fitting shorts. Back in the 1600s there was a colorful saying:

A jellous wife was like an Irish trouze, alwayes close to a mans tayle

26 Dey-time drama? : LA LAW

“L.A. Law” ran on NBC from 1986 to 1994, and was one of the network’s most successful drama series. It took over from the equally successful “Hill Street Blues” in the Thursday night 10 p.m. slot until, after a six-year run, it was itself replaced by yet another respected drama, “E.R.” The opening credits showed that famous California license plate. The plate was on a Jaguar XJ for most of the series, but moved onto a Bentley towards the end of the run. For each series the registration sticker was updated, so no laws were being broken.

Actress Susan Dey first appeared on “The Partridge Family” when she was 17-years-old when she had no acting experience. Years later, Dey won a Golden Globe for playing the leading role of Grace Van Owen in “L.A. Law”.

27 BP subsidiary : AMOCO

“Amoco” is an abbreviation for “American Oil Company”, an oil company that merged with BP in 1998. Amoco was the first oil company to introduce gasoline tanker trucks and drive-through filling stations. I wonder if they know what they were starting …?

BP is an oil and gas company headquartered in London, UK. BP started out as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909 with the remit of exploiting oil discovered in Iran. The company name was changed to British Petroleum in 1954, and today the name used is simply “BP”.

30 Cartoon hunter who tries to take a vacation in “Wabbit Twouble” : ELMER

Elmer Fudd is one of the most famous Looney Tunes cartoon characters, and is the hapless nemesis of Bugs Bunny. If you have never seen it, check out Elmer and Bugs in the marvelous “Rabbit of Seville”, a short cartoon that parodies Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”. Wonderful stuff …

31 Boxing venue : ARENA

Our term “arena” comes from the Latin “harena”, a place of combat. Originally “harena” was used to describe sand or a sandy place. Those Ancient Roman places of combat were covered with sand to soak up blood.

34 Archipelago units : ISLETS

“Archipelago” is our spelling of the Italian “arcipelago”, a word that has Greek roots. The Aegean Sea was once known as the Archipelago. The usage of “Archipelago” migrated over time, eventually applying only to the Aegean Islands. As a result, we use the term “archipelago” today not for a sea, but for a group or chain of islands.

39 Flat-changing tool, once : TIRE IRON

You won’t see tire irons in many trunks anymore, as they were tools used in working with tires that had inner tubes. That said, if you have a bicycle you might have a set of tire irons.

40 Disarmament subj. : ICBM

An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with the range necessary to cross between continents. Being ballistic (unlike a cruise missile), an ICBM is guided during the initial launch phase, but later in flight just relies on thrust and gravity to arrive at its target. It is defined as intercontinental as it has a range greater than 3,500 miles. ICBMs are really only used for delivering nuclear warheads. Scary stuff …

45 Spring mo. : APR

The exact etymology of “April”, the name of the fourth month of our year, seems to be uncertain. The ancient Romans called it “mensis Aprilis”, which roughly translated as “opening month”. The suggestion is that April is the month in which fruits, flowers and animals “open” their life cycles.

Apparently, we call the season “spring” because it is associated with the period when most plants and flowers “spring up” out of the ground.

49 Young Sheldon, e.g. : NERD

“Young Sheldon” is a spinoff prequel to the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” that follows the life of a 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper. The title character is played by child actor Iain Armitage. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”, is the narrator for the spinoff, and is also an executive producer. In another link between the shows, young Sheldon’s Mom is played by actress Zoe Perry. Perry is the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who plays “old” Sheldon’s mom in the original series.

56 MTV statuettes with an astronaut holding a flag : VMAS

The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) have been presented annually since 1984, and honor the best in the world of music videos. The award itself is a statue featuring an astronaut on the moon, which was an image associated with MTV when it launched in the early 1980s. The statues are known colloquially as “moon men”.

57 Many Wiki entries : BIOS

A wiki is a website on which users are allowed to create and edit content themselves. The term “wiki” comes from the name of the first such site, introduced in 1994 and called WikiWikiWeb. “Wiki” is a Hawaiian word for “quick”, and is used because comprehensive content is created very quickly, as there are so many collaborators contributing to the site.

58 Queen played by Olivia Colman in “The Favourite” : ANNE

Anne, Queen of Great Britain ruled from 1702 until 1714. She ascended to the throne on the death of King William III. She was the last monarch of the House of Stuart, and was succeeded when she died by her second cousin George I, the first monarch of the House of Hanover.

Olivia Colman has been a favorite actress of mine for many years, drawing my attention for the many comedic roles that she has had on mainly British TV and radio. I think that she reached a much broader audience starting in 2013 portraying Detective Sergeant Ekkie Miller in the excellent crime drama “Broadchurch”. She won an Emmy for playing Queen Elizabeth II on the Netflix drama “The Crown”, and an Oscar for playing Anne, Queen of Britain in the 2018 movie “The Favourite”.

“The Favourite” is an entertaining 2018 comedy about two women vying to be “the favourite” at the court of Queen Anne. The two competitors are portrayed by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, and the marvelous Olivia Colman plays the queen. Recommended …

63 Slam Dunk Contest org. : NBA

In basketball, a player makes a slam dunk by jumping up and powering the ball downward into the basket with his or her hands over the rim. The term “slam dunk” was coined by Chick Hearn, an announcer for the L.A. Lakers. The NBA even holds an annual Slam Dunk Contest.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “Likewise” : SO AM I
6 Oft-misused pronoun : WHOM
10 Scholastic nos. : GPAS
14 Labor alliance : UNION
15 Icicle spot : EAVE
16 “If all __ fails … ” : ELSE
17 Preference for the center of the road? : MEDIAN BIAS (from “media bias”)
19 Significant other : MATE
20 Neruda’s “__ to Salt” : ODE
21 Sport : WEAR
22 Slopes topper : SKI CAP
24 APB subject : PERP
25 Biblical possessive : THINE
26 “Pumice-powered” soap : LAVA
29 Where a Met singer reclines between arias? : OPERA DIVAN (from “opera diva”)
33 Valuable violin : AMATI
35 Hang out in a hammock : LOLL
36 “Odds __ … ” : ARE
37 __ cit.: footnote notation : LOC
38 Response producers : STIMULI
41 Paris article : LES
42 2010 health law, for short : ACA
43 Pests treated with Nix Ultra shampoo : LICE
44 Needle : TAUNT
46 Cereal that has amazing health benefits? : WONDER BRAN (from “Wonderbra”)
50 Wasabi __ : PEAS
51 Carved symbol : TOTEM
52 Wall calendar span : YEAR
54 First woman Speaker of the House : PELOSI
56 Hit or miss : VERB
57 Hon : BAE
60 Run __ : AMOK
61 Hotel choice leading up to Eid al-Fitr? : RAMADAN INN (from “Ramada Inn”)
64 Moreno of “West Side Story” : RITA
65 Jazz singer Anita : O’DAY
66 Govt. investment : T-BOND
67 Crafty website : ETSY
68 Plane part : NOSE
69 Alleviates : EASES

Down

1 Sport with referees called gyoji : SUMO
2 Linear : ONE-D
3 Assistant : AIDE
4 “Pretentious? __?” : MOI?
5 Flabbergasted : IN AWE
6 Google Docs, e.g. : WEB APP
7 Bun contents : HAIR
8 Egg cells : OVA
9 Private eatery : MESS HALL
10 NASA’s second human spaceflight program : GEMINI
11 Mathematical concept based on a digit’s position : PLACE VALUE
12 Hammett dog : ASTA
13 Permeate : SEEP
18 Adopted son of Claudius : NERO
23 Judy Blume books, e.g. : KIDLIT
24 Butter square : PAT
25 Slangy slacks : TROU
26 Dey-time drama? : LA LAW
27 BP subsidiary : AMOCO
28 Developers’ purchases : VACANT LOTS
30 Cartoon hunter who tries to take a vacation in “Wabbit Twouble” : ELMER
31 Boxing venue : ARENA
32 Egg holders : NESTS
34 Archipelago units : ISLETS
39 Flat-changing tool, once : TIRE IRON
40 Disarmament subj. : ICBM
45 Spring mo. : APR
47 Just get by : DO OKAY
48 “Understood, cap’n” : AYE AYE
49 Young Sheldon, e.g. : NERD
53 Lessen : ABATE
54 Peel : PARE
55 Discharge : EMIT
56 MTV statuettes with an astronaut holding a flag : VMAS
57 Many Wiki entries : BIOS
58 Queen played by Olivia Colman in “The Favourite” : ANNE
59 Concludes : ENDS
62 Big fuss : ADO
63 Slam Dunk Contest org. : NBA

21 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 2 Dec 22, Friday”

  1. No errors. About 20 minutes with pen. Didn’t have too much of a mess.

    Was stuck on TRAINING BRA for 46A for a long time. I let it go after my crosses revealed to me.

    Is a TRAINING BRA still a thing?

  2. 10:25 – no errors or lookups. False start: ASAMI>SOAMI, TBILL>TBOND.

    New: ODE to Salt, Wasabi PEAS, “gyoji.”

    An undifficult theme, easily figured out.

    Not sure what to think of wasabi peas.
    I’d have to sample a few before buying any. I guess sumo is still a big deal in Japan if referees have employment for their entire life.

    1. Search for sumo on youtube … it’s a whole ‘nother universe!

      30 min. 1 (two) errors: ASTi / SKICiP – didn’t remenber the dog, and didn’t proof the topper.

  3. Echoing Mary, very enjoyable. Tough, but fair, especially after getting the theme. Had a little trouble with VMAS but the crosses helped get 100%. Pretty good for a Friday! Oh, BTW, nice explanation of THINE.

  4. No look ups one Natick, cave/eave. Inked it
    in and didn’t revisit ☹️
    I still use a tire iron to crank the jack lift
    so not obsolete here.
    Bae…..seriously?
    Clever theme. Bring on Saturday!

  5. 10 mins 35 sec, no errors. Was all over the place with this, and just kept filling in what I knew, and ignored the naticky fills. Suddenly I was done. Not very enjoyable, but, oh well…

  6. Mostly easy Friday for me; took 22:46 with 2 dumb errors. I left in asAMI when I didn’t get the banner. Like Allen, I was all over the place filling in things and then I was finished.

  7. Really? When editors let “trou” get by as “slangy slacks,” and nobody objects, there is no hope for their crosswords. Why not require that such a word, if used, be legitimate, as in “trou-de-loup” or “trou madame?” If we allow sloppy made-up words merely because the finish the puzzle, there is no longer “art” to crosswords.

    1. Hi Doc. So, what you appear to be saying is “Drop trou!” I think that was a military command right before a vaccination hypo (Sorry – I hope hypo is okay?) with a needle that looked like something that was used for knitting was jabbed into ones backside. ;-D>

  8. Not very hard for a Friday, once I figured out what was going on, which I didn’t until I got all the way down to Ramadan Inn. From the “duh” department, when I got “just get by”, I wondered “what is doo-kay?”

  9. In defense of this puzzle’s creator and editor … I knew the slang word trou. One not knowing a word doesn’t negate its existence. Therefore, it was not “made up” by this puzzle’s creator, nor improperly included by the editor.

  10. I suppose this will sound harsh, but I’m always more than a little put off by posts like Doc’s. If you can get to this blog, you have access to the internet. You therefore have access to what amounts to a giant library of the sort that, when I was a kid, I only got to visit now and then, including dictionaries and encyclopedias of all kinds. So it’s possible to do a quick check to see if … maybe … just maybe … your memory in a particular area might be faulty. So maybe it’s worth doing, yes? … 🤨

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