LA Times Crossword 22 Dec 22, Thursday

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Constructed by: Freddie Cheng & Caroline Sommers
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Reveal Answer: Pruning Shears

Themed answers each start with the word “SHEAR”, but it has been PRUNED, had a letter or two cut off:

  • 57A Hedge trimmer’s tool, which seems to have been used on the starts of the answers to the starred clues? : PRUNING SHEARS
  • 20A *Strawberry’s field, once : SHEA STADIUM
  • 38A *”Listen, I can explain” : HEAR ME OUT
  • 48A *Warning that could come with a “Shush!” : EARS ARE FLAPPING

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

Bill’s time: 6m 13s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Auto industry pioneer : OLDS

Ransom Eli Olds was a pioneer in the automotive industry, and the founder of the Oldsmobile and REO brands. Olds introduced the first modern “stationary” assembly line (Henry Ford’s famous innovation was the “moving” assembly line). As a result, it can be argued that the Oldsmobile Curved Dash was the first mass-produced, low-priced automobile, rather than Ford’s Model T.

5 Couches : SOFAS

“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.

14 Christopher Robin’s friend : POOH

In A. A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” collection of stories, Pooh has many friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. Besides Christopher Robin, who doesn’t actually live in the woods, the list includes Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Tigger and Owl.

15 Novelist Desai : ANITA

Anita Desai is an Indian novelist whose list of works includes “In Custody”, which was made into a 1993 film of the same name.

16 Toll unit : AXLE

An 18-wheeler semi-trailer truck has eight wheels under the trailer, i.e. four on each of the two rear axles. There are 10 wheels under the tractor unit. Two of the ten wheels are on the front axle, and eight are on the rear two axles that sit under the front of the trailer.

17 Draped Roman garment : TOGA

In ancient Rome, the classical attire known as a toga (plural “togae” or “togas”) was usually worn over a tunic. The tunic was made from linen, and the toga itself was a piece of cloth about twenty feet long made from wool. The toga could only be worn by men, and only if those men were Roman citizens. The female equivalent of the toga was called a “stola”.

19 Used Google Wallet, say : PAID

Google Wallet is a clever mobile payment system that allows users to store credit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and the like on cell phones. The ideal use of the system involves just tapping one’s phone at a Wallet-enabled terminal at checkout. But, there aren’t many stores that have such a capability. Great idea though …

20 *Strawberry’s field, once : SHEA STADIUM

Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York was named after William A. Shea, the man credited with bringing National League baseball back to the city in the form of the New York Mets. Shea Stadium was dismantled in 2008-2009, and the site now provides additional parking for the new stadium nearby called Citi Field.

Darryl Strawberry is a retired MLB player who was known by the nickname “The Straw Man”. Strawberry led a troubled life while playing professional baseball, and was suspended three times by the league for substance abuse.

23 2020 and 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja : WILSON

Professional basketball player A’ja Wilson was the first pick in the 2018 WNBA draft, after which she signed for the Las Vegas Aces. She won Olympic Gold at the 2020 Olympics, and captained the Aces in 2022 when the team won their first league championship title.

28 Resource in Catan and Minecraft : ORE

The Settlers of Catan (now just “Catan”) is a board game that was introduced in 1995, in Germany as “Die Siedler von Catan”. The game is very popular in the US and was called “the board game of our time” by the “Washington Post”. My son plays it a lot, and as a lover of board games, I am going to have to check it out …

Minecraft is a video game that was released in 2011. It has been cited as one of the most influential video games of all time.

29 Rodeo hat : STETSON

Stetson is a brand of hat manufactured by John B. Stetson Company of St. Joseph, Missouri. The so-called “cowboy hat” that Stetson pioneered was such a success that the company became the largest hat maker in the world, producing over 3.3 million hats per year.

33 A Bobbsey twin : NAN

The “Bobbsey Twins” series of children’s novels was first written by Edward Stratemeyer in 1904. Stratemeyer used the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope, as did subsequent authors who wrote 72 books in the series between 1904 and 1979. The title characters are two sets of fraternal twins, one named Bert and Nan (who are 12) and the other named Flossie and Freddie (who are 6).

34 “De __”: “Gracias” response : NADA

In Spanish, one can respond to “Gracias” (Thank you) with “De nada” (It’s nothing).

41 Mid-Mar. honoree : ST PAT

The first Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in the US was held in 1600, in St. Augustine, Florida. There is some evidence that the first St. Paddy’s Day parade was held the following year, in the same locale. The annual parade in Boston dates back to 1737, in New York City dates back to 1762, and in Chicago dates back to 1843.

44 Flick : MOVIE

The slang term “flick” meaning “movie” came into use in the mid-1920s. It comes from the “flickering” appearance of films back then.

55 Late-March sign : ARIES

Aries the Ram is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries you would know that! “Aries” is the Latin word for “ram”.

66 Choir section : ALTOS

In choral music, an alto (plural “alti”) is the second-highest voice in a four-part chorus made up of soprano, contr(alto), tenor and bass. The word “alto” describes the vocal range, that of the deepest female singing-voice, whereas the term “contralto” describes more than just the alto range, but also its quality and timbre. An adult male’s voice (not a boy’s) with the same range as an alto is called a “countertenor”.

67 Mexican Mrs. : SRA

The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame), in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora) and in Portuguese is also “Sra.” (Senhora).

68 Hit just past the infield : BLOOP

In baseball, a bloop single is more usually called a blooper. It’s a fly ball that drops for a single between an infielder and an outfielder.

70 Tater __ : TOT

Ore-Ida’s founders came up with the idea for Tater Tots when they were deciding what to do with residual cuts of potato. They chopped up the leftovers, added flour and seasoning, and extruded the mix through a large hole making a sausage that they cut into small cylinders. We eat 70 million pounds of this extruded potato every year!

Down

2 British lav : LOO

It has been suggested that the British term “loo”, meaning “toilet”, comes from “Waterloo” (water closet … water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of “lanterloo”, in which the pot was called the loo!

Our word “lavatory” (sometimes “lav”) originally referred to a washbasin, and comes from the Latin “lavatorium”, a place for washing. In the 1600s, “lavatory” came to mean a washroom, and in the 1920s a toilet.

3 Arctic transport : DOGSLED

Most of us are used to seeing dogs pulling a sled side-by-side, in pairs. The traditional configuration for sleds in Greenland is to have the dogs pulling while fanned out in front of the vehicle.

4 Bravo’s “__ of Sunset” : SHAHS

“Shahs of Sunset” is a reality TV series that originally aired from 2012 to 2021. The show follows a group of Persian Americans living in Los Angeles. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, thousands of Iranians fled to the US. Many settled in Westwood, Los Angeles, and a community developed that is now referred to as Tehrangeles (a portmanteau of “Tehran” and “Los Angeles”).

5 Kim’s “Sex and the City” role : SAMANTHA

Kim Cattrall is a Canadian-English actress best known for playing Samantha Jones on HBO’s “Sex and the City”. My favorite film in which Cattrall features is the excellent 2010 film “The Ghost Writer”, in which she does a great job playing an Englishwoman.

Is it just me or would “Sex and the City” be so much better off without the two romantic leads, Carrie and Mr. Big? Carrie Bradshaw is played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mr. Big (aka John James Preston) is played by Chris Noth. We never found out Mr Big’s first name (John) until the series finale, and his full name wasn’t revealed until the first movie came out.

7 Rock, in a choosing game : FIST

Rock-paper-scissors is a hand game played by two people, at least here in North America. Back in Ireland we called the game “scissors-paper-stone”, and another name encountered around the English-speaking world is “roshambo”. The game is often used as a way to choose between two options or two individuals.

8 Flour for roti : ATTA

Atta is a whole-wheat flour used to make flatbreads in South Asian cuisine, such as chapati and naan. “Atta” is the Hindi or Urdu word for “dough”.

In an Indian restaurant, naan bread is very popular. Roti is an unleavened cousin of naan.

10 Shot : KAPUT

“Kaput” is a familiar term meaning “incapacitated, destroyed”, and comes to us from French (via German). The original word “capot” means “not having won a single trick” in the French card game Piquet.

12 Country’s __ Young Band : ELI

The Eli Young Band is a country group from Texas founded by Mike Eli and James Young when they were roommates in the University of North Texas.

13 Actor Beatty : NED

Actor Ned Beatty is possibly best remembered for the rather disturbing “squeal like a pig” scene in the movie “Deliverance”. Beatty also earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 1976 movie “Network”.

21 Canon SLR camera : EOS

I’ve been using Canon EOS cameras for decades now, and have nothing but good things to say about both the cameras and the lenses. The EOS name stands for Electro-Optical System, and was chosen because it evokes the name of Eos, the Titan goddess of dawn from Greek mythology.

22 Ziering of the “Sharknado” films : IAN

Ian Ziering is an actor best-known for playing Steve Sanders on the TV show “Beverly Hills, 90210”.

“Sharknado” is a 2013 tongue-in-cheek disaster movie that was made for the Syfy television channel. The basis of the plot is a freak hurricane that hits Los Angeles, resulting in a flood that leaves man-eating sharks roaming the city. I don’t think so …

24 401(k) kin : IRA

A 401(k) account resembles an IRA in that contributions can be made from a paycheck prior to the deduction of income taxes. A 401(k) differs from an IRA in that it is an employer-sponsored plan, with payments taken by the employer directly from an employee’s paycheck. Additionally, contributions can be fully or partially matched by an employer.

26 Airport shuttle, often : VAN

The vehicle we call a “van” takes its name from “caravan”, and so “van” is a shortened version of the older term. Back in the 1600s, a caravan was a covered cart. We still use the word “caravan” in Ireland to describe what we call a “mobile home” or “recreational vehicle” here in the US.

31 Director Burton : TIM

Movie director and producer Tim Burton makes my least favorite type of movie: dark, gothic, horror fantasies. The list of his titles includes “Edward Scissorhands”, “Sleepy Hollow”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland”. Also included in each of these movies is Johnny Depp in a starring role, as Depp and Burton are good friends and frequent collaborators. Another frequent star in Burton movies is English actress Helena Bonham Carter, who has been his domestic partner since 2001.

40 Diamond authority : UMP

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

41 Mermaid’s realm : SEA

The mythological creatures named mermaids are usually depicted with the head and upper body of a human female, and with the tail of a fish. The term “mermaid” comes from the Old English “mere” meaning “sea, lake” and “maid” meaning “young woman”. The original mermaids were probably tail-less, with that “fishy” addition likely coming with comparison to classical sirens. The male equivalent of a mermaid is “merman”.

42 Pond youngster : TADPOLE

A tadpole is an intermediate stage in the life cycle of some amphibians (like frogs and toads), between embryo and adult. Tadpoles are also known as pollywogs. The term “tadpole” comes from “tadde” meaning “toad” and “pol” meaning “head”.

43 Equitably divided : PRO RATA

“Pro rata” is a Latin phrase meaning “in proportion”.

45 Scathing criticism : VITRIOL

We use the term “vitriol” to mean “bitter or abusive feelings”. This usage stems from the original meaning of the term as a corrosive substance, a sulfate of iron that produces sulfuric acid when heated. Sulfuric acid used to be referred to as “oil of vitriol”. The use of the term in chemistry comes from the Latin “vitrium” meaning “glass”, as the iron sulfate sometimes had a glassy appearance.

47 Shakshouka ingredient : EGG

Shakshouka (also “shakshuka”) is a dish that originated in North Africa. It consists of eggs poached in a sauce made from tomatoes, chili peppers, garlic and several spices. I’m hungry …

49 Hindi cinema star Aishwarya __ Bachchan : RAI

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan won the 1994 Miss World pageant representing India. She parlayed that win into an incredibly successful acting career, mainly appearing in Hindi and Tamil films.

50 Actor Borgnine : ERNEST

“Ernest Borgnine” was the stage name of actor Ermes Borgnino from Hamden, Connecticut. One of Borgnine’s most famous roles was Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale in the hit TV series “McHale’s Navy”. Borgnine had himself served in the US Navy from 1935 to 1941. He then re-enlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served until 1945.

51 Mozart’s “The Marriage of __” : FIGARO

Figaro is the title character in at least two operas: “The Barber of Seville” (“Il barbiere di Siviglia”) by Rossini, and “The Marriage of Figaro” (“Le nozze di Figaro”) by Mozart. The two storylines are based on plays by Pierre Beaumarchais, with one basically being a sequel to the other.

52 “Interview With the Vampire” vampire : LESTAT

Lestat de Lioncourt is the central character in Anne Rice’s series of erotic and Gothic novels “The Vampire Chronicles”. Lestat was played by Tom Cruise in the 1994 movie adaptation of Rice’s first novel “Interview with the Vampire”.

“Anne Rice” is the pen name of American author of erotic and Gothic novels Howard Allen O’Brien. Her famous series of novels “The Vampire Chronicles” centers on her character Lestat de Lioncourt, a French nobleman who was turned into a vampire in the 18th century. One of the stories, “Interview with the Vampire”, was adapted for the big screen in 1994 and features Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and others in a star-studded cast. Not my kind of movie though, as I don’t do vampires …

53 Volcanic debris : ASH

Our word “volcano” comes from “Vulcano”, the name of a volcanic island off the coast of Italy. The island’s name comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. The Romans believed that the island of Vulcano was the chimney of the forge belonging to the god Vulcan. The Romans also believed that the eruptions on Mount Etna in Sicily were caused by Vulcan getting angry and working his forge so hard that sparks and smoke flew out of the top of the volcano.

59 Urquhart Castle’s loch : NESS

Urquhart Castle is a ruin that sits right on the edge of Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. What’s left of the old castle today dates from the 13th to 16th centuries.

61 Penne __ vodka : ALLA

Penne alla vodka is a pasta dish with a sauce made of vodka, cream, tomatoes, onions and sausage or bacon.

62 Gadot of “Wonder Woman” : GAL

Gal Gadot is an actress and former Miss Israel. She played Gisele Yashar in the “Fast & Furious” film franchise, and then began portraying Wonder Woman in superhero movies.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Auto industry pioneer : OLDS
5 Couches : SOFAS
10 Enthusiastic : KEEN
14 Christopher Robin’s friend : POOH
15 Novelist Desai : ANITA
16 Toll unit : AXLE
17 Draped Roman garment : TOGA
18 “Can’t you get someone else?” : MUST I?
19 Used Google Wallet, say : PAID
20 *Strawberry’s field, once : SHEA STADIUM
23 2020 and 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja : WILSON
25 Longtime local : NATIVE
28 Resource in Catan and Minecraft : ORE
29 Rodeo hat : STETSON
33 A Bobbsey twin : NAN
34 “De __”: “Gracias” response : NADA
36 Bank job : HEIST
37 Pop in the mail : SEND
38 *”Listen, I can explain” : HEAR ME OUT
41 Mid-Mar. honoree : ST PAT
44 Flick : MOVIE
48 *Warning that could come with a “Shush!” : EARS ARE FLAPPING
54 Rumpus : ADO
55 Late-March sign : ARIES
56 Label : TAG
57 Hedge trimmer’s tool, which seems to have been used on the starts of the answers to the starred clues? : PRUNING SHEARS
62 Lose one’s cool completely : GO APE
63 Ingest : EAT
64 Minor interruptions : BLIPS
66 Choir section : ALTOS
67 Mexican Mrs. : SRA
68 Hit just past the infield : BLOOP
69 Isn’t straight : LEANS
70 Tater __ : TOT
71 Like the ocean : SALTY

Down

1 Withdraw, with “out” : OPT …
2 British lav : LOO
3 Arctic transport : DOGSLED
4 Bravo’s “__ of Sunset” : SHAHS
5 Kim’s “Sex and the City” role : SAMANTHA
6 Burden : ONUS
7 Rock, in a choosing game : FIST
8 Flour for roti : ATTA
9 Turned down : SAID NO TO
10 Shot : KAPUT
11 Check carefully : EXAMINE
12 Country’s __ Young Band : ELI
13 Actor Beatty : NED
21 Canon SLR camera : EOS
22 Ziering of the “Sharknado” films : IAN
23 Hit a walk-off homer, say : WON
24 401(k) kin : IRA
26 Airport shuttle, often : VAN
27 Tip : END
30 Alway : E’ER
31 Director Burton : TIM
32 Compass pt. : SSE
35 Cries of discovery : AHAS
37 “Quit it!” : STOP!
39 Uber driver’s guess : ETA
40 Diamond authority : UMP
41 Mermaid’s realm : SEA
42 Pond youngster : TADPOLE
43 Equitably divided : PRO RATA
45 Scathing criticism : VITRIOL
46 Stuck : IN A SPOT
47 Shakshouka ingredient : EGG
49 Hindi cinema star Aishwarya __ Bachchan : RAI
50 Actor Borgnine : ERNEST
51 Mozart’s “The Marriage of __” : FIGARO
52 “Interview With the Vampire” vampire : LESTAT
53 Volcanic debris : ASH
58 Versed in : UPON
59 Urquhart Castle’s loch : NESS
60 Flows back : EBBS
61 Penne __ vodka : ALLA
62 Gadot of “Wonder Woman” : GAL
65 Undercover agent : SPY

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 22 Dec 22, Thursday”

  1. No errors, but did a couple of PPP lookups. Theme wasn’t much
    help to me this time as I already had most of the grid done by the
    time I got to the “theme answer.

    1. The grid is symmetric. It just has a different kind of symmetry. That’s becoming more common. (And, as I said a few weeks ago, even asymmetry is now appearing quite often – in the USA Today puzzles.)

  2. I’ve never heard “ears are flapping.” I thought the theme was kind of weak, but it wasn’t much needed anyway. Didn’t know Samantha or Wilson or Anita. In spite of all that, it wasn’t too hard to get it all from the crosses.

    1. I’d never heard “ears are flapping”, either. I just looked it up and it seems to be used in British English.

  3. 20:53 no errors…didn’t look at the theme until I finished the grid.
    I bought some erectile disfunction pills and they didn’t work…I was going to sue the manufacturer but I figured it wouldn’t stand up in court🤪
    Stay safe😀

  4. 11:17 – no errors or lookups. False starts: ABLE>UPON, ASKEW>LEANS.

    New: ANITA Desai, A’ja WILSON, SHAHS of Sunset, ELI Young Band, Aishwarya RAI Bachchan.

    Okay with the theme, but not needed to help with solving.

    I also don’t get the connection between “shush” and “ears are flapping.”

  5. Tricky Thursday for me; took 19:56 with 4 errors. I couldn’t figure out the H in POOH and sadly the HE in SHEA. I also accidentally left the R in RAI blank, which is why I didn’t get the banner.

    Never really learned the “Winnie the Pooh” story and never heard of Christopher Robin. I really did know SHEA, but “SHAHS of Sunset” was completely new to me. Not familiar with the Hindi actress but I think I’ve seen her picture before.

    Apparently “Ears are a flapping” stems from elephants flapping their ears which “…can help to amplify the sound of the environment around themselves”

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