LA Times Crossword 23 Dec 22, Friday

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Constructed by: Lewis Rothlein
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Centerpiece

Themed answers are each common phrases with a word missing (the CENTER PIECE). That word is cited in the clue:

  • 35A Pivotal element, and what each word in quotes in the starred clues literally is to its answer? : CENTERPIECE
  • 17A *Begin to chase, with “off” : TAKE off AFTER
  • 24A *Try to delay, with “for” : PLAY for TIME
  • 47A *Gaining prominence, with “and” : UP and COMING
  • 55A *Do some creative accounting, with “the” : COOK the BOOKS

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

Bill’s time: 8m 47s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Singer depicted in the biopic “Walk the Line” : CASH

I must admit that I am not a big country music fan, but who doesn’t love Johnny Cash? The man had such a unique voice, and indeed unique songs. I think that his biopic, “Walk the Line”, is very cool, as is the title song itself. Recorded back in 1956, “Walk the Line” is relatively creative for “popular” music. The basic rhythm of the song emulates the sound of a freight train, the “boom-chicka-boom” sound. Cash’s guitar has a unique tone to it as it plays this rhythm, achieved by threading a piece of paper between the guitar strings giving the rhythm a bit of a “buzz”. Above the rhythm line, each of the five verses is sung in different keys. You can actually hear Cash hum a note signifying the key change at the start of each verse. With all these modulations, the final verse is sung a full octave lower than the first. A remarkable tune …

9 1980s cloning target : IBM PC

In the early days of desktop computing, an IBM clone (also “PC clone”) was a computer built by an IBM competitor that was designed to function just like an IBM, but without using any copyrighted material or trade secrets that were the intellectual property of IBM. Clones were always a competitive issue for IBM, and perhaps were part of the reason that IBM doesn’t make desktop computers today …

15 “The __ for home lives in all of us”: Angelou : ACHE

Here is a quote from poet and activist Maya Angelou’s 1986 autobiography “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes”:

The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

16 Half a comedy duo : MEARA

Anne Meara married fellow comedic actor Jerry Stiller in 1954. The couple’s children are actors Ben and Amy Stiller. Meara co-starred with Carroll O’Connor and Martin Balsam in the eighties sitcom “Archie Bunker’s Place”, a spin-off from “All in the Family”.

20 Illuminates : EDIFIES

To edify is to provide instruction in order to improve spiritually, morally or intellectually. The intent is to “build up” someone’s faith or morality, and so “edify” comes from the Latin “aedificare” meaning “to build, construct”. This Latin root also gives us our word “edifice”, meaning “massive building”.

21 Seductive quality : ALLURE

To allure is to tempt by offering something very desirable. The verb “to allure” came into English from the Old French word “aleurer” meaning “to attract, train (a falcon) to hunt”. The ultimate root is the noun “loirre” meaning “lure for a falcon”.

23 One ensuring accuracy on a grand scale? : TUNER

A grand piano is one with the frame supported horizontally on three legs. An upright piano has the frame and strings running vertically. Grand pianos come in many sizes. For example, the length of a concert grand is about 9 feet, a parlor grand is about 7 feet, and a baby grand is about 5 feet.

26 Vare Trophy org. : LPGA

The Vare Trophy is awarded by the LPGA to the player with the lowest scoring average in a season. The trophy is named for Glenna Collett-Vare who is said to have been the greatest female golfer of the 1920s.

30 Start of an adage about humanity : TO ERR …

Alexander Pope’s 1709 poem “An Essay on Criticism” is the source of at least three well-known quotations:

  • A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
  • To err is human, to forgive divine.
  • For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

32 Solar __ : SYSTEM

All of the planets in the Solar System, except for Earth, were named for Greek and Roman gods and goddesses:

  • Mercury was Roman god of travel
  • Venus was the Roman goddess of love and beauty
  • Mars was the Roman god of war
  • Jupiter was the king of the Roman gods
  • Saturn was the Roman god of agriculture
  • Uranus was the Greek god of the sky
  • Neptune was the Roman god of the sea
  • (also, Pluto was the Roman god of the underworld)

39 WWII Polish resistance hero Sendler : IRENA

Irena Sendler was a Polish nurse who worked with the Polish Underground during WWII. She played a leading role in smuggling about 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, saving them from the Holocaust. Sendler was discovered by the Nazis, tortured and sentenced to death. However, Sendler managed to escape, and survived the war.

50 Revere alternative : BY SEA

“One if by land, and two if by sea” is the famous signal code used by Paul Revere to warn the people of Charlestown when the British army was approaching. The words “one if by land, and two if by sea”, are immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride”.

54 McCartney of Wings : LINDA

Linda Eastman is best-known for her marriage to Paul McCartney. Having said that, I was more aware of Linda’s work as a photographer prior to her relationship with the ex-Beatle. She really knew how to take black & white images. In 1968, Eastman’s portrait of Eric Clapton was the first photo by a woman to be used on the front cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine.

Wings (later “Paul McCartney and Wings”) were a rock band co-founded by Paul McCartney in 1971, soon after the Beatles broke up. Wings had many hits including, “Band on the Run”, “Jet” and “Live and Let Die”. Their biggest hit was 1977’s “Mull of Kintyre”, which was the first single to sell over two million copies in the UK.

59 Layered cookie : OREO

The Oreo was the best-selling cookie in the 20th century, and almost 500 billion of them have been sold since they were introduced in 1912 by Nabisco. In those early days the creme filling was made with pork fat, but today vegetable oils are used instead. If you take a bite out of an Oreo sold outside of America you might notice a difference from the homegrown cookie, as coconut oil is added in the overseas version to give a different taste.

62 Laura of “Big Little Lies” : DERN

Actress Laura Dern is the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Among her many notable roles, Laura Dern played the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the 2008 movie “Recount”, and Dr. Ellie Sattler in the 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park”.

“Big Little Lies” is a 2017 TV miniseries that is based on a 2014 novel of the same name. It stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley as three women who, while dealing with their own emotional problems, find themselves involved in a murder investigation. I haven’t seen this one, but hear very good things …

Down

1 Type of village in Isaac Bashevis Singer stories : SHTETL

The Yiddish word for “town” is “shtot”, and so “shtetl” is the diminutive form meaning “small town”.

Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Polish-born American author who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978. One of Singer’s most celebrated works is a short story titled “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy”. Along with Leah Napolin, he adapted the story into a 1975 stage play “Yentl”. Famously, Barbra Streisand co-wrote a screenplay based on the stage play that was released as a musical movie with the same title in 1983.

4 Tower of London figure : BEEFEATER

In one use of the word, a “yeoman” is a lower level official or attendant in a royal household. A famous group of yeomen are the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London. The role is ceremonial these days, theoretically safeguarding the crown jewels and guarding any prisoners in the Tower. More correctly, the Yeoman Warders are called Beefeaters, and nobody’s really sure why! If you get over to London, the Yeoman Warders might be your tour guides around the Tower of London; it’s a great day out!

7 Pop duo __ & Him : SHE

She & Him is a musical duo comprising guitarist M. Ward and vocalist Zooey Deschanel, the noted actress. Ward and Deschanel met on the film set for “The Go-Getter” in 2007, and got together to sing over the film’s end credits.

10 Corker : BEAUT

A “corker” is something astonishing, and also something that settles a debate or discussion. The term probably comes from putting a cork in a bottle, an act of finality.

11 “The Treachery of Images” painter : MAGRITTE

Belgian artist René Magritte was a surrealist. His most recognized work may be “The Son of Man”, a painting he created as a self-portrait. It is the work that shows a man in a bowler hat with his face covered by an apple. The image features prominently in a great movie, the 1999 remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair”.

“The Treachery of Images” is a painting by René Magritte. It is a very simple image of a pipe that one might smoke, with the words below (in French), “This is not a pipe”. Magritte’s point was that the painting wasn’t a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe.

12 Early delivery : PREEMIE

A “preemie” (sometimes “premie”) is a preterm or premature birth.

25 Dartboard wood : ELM

Darts is a game that’s often played in English and Irish pubs, even over here in America. The scoring in a traditional game of darts is difficult to describe in a sentence or two, but the game of darts called “Round the Clock” is simply hitting the numbers 1 through 20 on the dartboard in sequence.

31 Common Scrabble tile value : ONE

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

33 Nikkei index currency : YEN

The Nikkei is a stock market index for the Tokyo Stock Exchange that has been published by the “Nihon Keizai Shimbun” newspaper since 1950. The “Nihon Keizai Shimbun” has the largest circulation of any financial newspaper in the world, and is read by over 3 million people daily.

35 Tower for a pet who likes to climb and hide : CAT CONDO

A cat tree (also “cat condo”) is a manufactured structure provided to indoor cats for play, relaxation and sleep. Apparently, an important feature is height, as cats feel more secure lying high up, with an expansive view of their surroundings.

37 Target of an annual vaccine : FLU

Influenza (the “flu”) is an ailment that is caused by a virus. The virus is readily inactivated by the use of soap, so washing hands and surfaces is especially helpful in containing flu outbreaks, and other virus pandemics …

54 Place to ruminate : LEA

Ruminants are animals that “chew the cud”. Ruminants eat vegetable matter but cannot extract any nutritional value from cellulose without the help of microbes in the gut. Ruminants collect roughage in the first part of the alimentary canal, allowing microbes to work on it. The partially digested material (the cud) is regurgitated into the mouth so that the ruminant can chew the food more completely, exposing more surface area for microbes to do their work. We also use the verb “to ruminate” in a figurative sense, to mean “to muse, ponder, chew over”.

56 “Catch-22” pilot who crashes repeatedly : ORR

The bomber pilot in Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” is named Orr. He has no other name, just “Orr”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Common foundation : SLAB
5 Singer depicted in the biopic “Walk the Line” : CASH
9 1980s cloning target : IBM PC
14 Coil in a garden : HOSE
15 “The __ for home lives in all of us”: Angelou : ACHE
16 Half a comedy duo : MEARA
17 *Begin to chase, with “off” : TAKE off AFTER
19 “Your table’s ready” buzzer : PAGER
20 Illuminates : EDIFIES
21 Seductive quality : ALLURE
23 One ensuring accuracy on a grand scale? : TUNER
24 *Try to delay, with “for” : PLAY for TIME
26 Vare Trophy org. : LPGA
27 Praises : LAUDS
29 Up to, briefly : ‘TIL
30 Start of an adage about humanity : TO ERR …
32 Solar __ : SYSTEM
35 Pivotal element, and what each word in quotes in the starred clues literally is to its answer? : CENTERPIECE
37 Emergency signals : FLARES
39 WWII Polish resistance hero Sendler : IRENA
40 Illuminated : LIT
41 Country roads : LANES
43 Coarse file : RASP
47 *Gaining prominence, with “and” : UP and COMING
50 Revere alternative : BY SEA
51 Rumbled, as thunder : ROLLED
52 Less tender : TOUGHER
54 McCartney of Wings : LINDA
55 *Do some creative accounting, with “the” : COOK the BOOKS
57 Broke off : ENDED
58 Exhort : URGE
59 Layered cookie : OREO
60 Torment : AGONY
61 Walked (on) : TROD
62 Laura of “Big Little Lies” : DERN

Down

1 Type of village in Isaac Bashevis Singer stories : SHTETL
2 Pack, as a moving van : LOAD UP
3 __ price : ASKING
4 Tower of London figure : BEEFEATER
5 Cozy eatery : CAFE
6 Show parts : ACTS
7 Pop duo __ & Him : SHE
8 Announce grandly : HERALD
9 Intimate : IMPLY
10 Corker : BEAUT
11 “The Treachery of Images” painter : MAGRITTE
12 Early delivery : PREEMIE
13 Wheels : CAR
18 Cause of inflation : AIR
22 Scottish girls : LASSIES
24 Good vibrations? : PURRING
25 Dartboard wood : ELM
27 Leaves be : LETS LIE
28 “All bets __ off” : ARE
31 Common Scrabble tile value : ONE
33 Nikkei index currency : YEN
34 Impressive and then some : SCARY GOOD
35 Tower for a pet who likes to climb and hide : CAT CONDO
36 Not post- : PRE-
37 Target of an annual vaccine : FLU
38 Facial piercing : LIP RING
42 Scene-ending phrase : AND, CUT!
44 Washed up, maybe : ASHORE
45 One on a quest : SEEKER
46 Marrying sort? : PARSON
48 Of yore : OLDEN
49 Word said with a curtsy : M’LADY
50 Buster : BUB
52 Like drive-thru orders : TO-GO
53 Authorized : OKED
54 Place to ruminate : LEA
56 “Catch-22” pilot who crashes repeatedly : ORR

14 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 23 Dec 22, Friday”

  1. No errors. Quick run.

    Didn’t know of IRENA SENDLER. Did a little wiki reading on her. What a remarkable woman. Laser focused.

  2. Finished with no errors after I changed “Irene” to Irena”…but admit
    to several lookups. Did not know Magritte for one. The theme was
    helpful today. Plus some good guesses.

  3. Had to give up today. Upper left corner did me in. I thought the foundation clue was talking about makeup or something. Did not know Vare. Read the clue wrong, so put in took after instead of take after and that screwed things up. Shtetl is a new word to me. Did you all really just know that?

  4. Friday tough, but finished with no errors or lookups. Several good guesses plus helpful crosses overcame the PPP’s. Theme was lousy and no help. Whew!

  5. 15:30 – no errors or lookups. False starts: MADAM>MLADY, TREKER>SEEKER. It was a bit of a slow-go. I had to start with the short answers, then hope some of those letters would lead me to the intersecting answers (they did); and a couple of good guesses with PREEMIE, ____TIME, and LPGA also helped.

    New: “Isaac Bashevis Singer,” “Vare trophy,” IRENA Sendler, “The Treachery of Images” (but I knew of the name MAGRITTE), “ORR.”

    Took a bit to get the theme, but it helped with completing the NE and NW corners, which were the last sections to fall in. SHTETL did not come to me (filled it in by the intersections), but I recall seeing it before.

    Deducing the meaning came slowly for: “foundation,” “grand scale,” “Revere,” “Intimate,” “Early delivery,” “Good vibrations.”

    One clue sort of used twice: Illuminates and Illuminated.

  6. 32:05 no errors…didn’t get 50A until I read it here…thanks Bill👍
    Here’s hoping everyone stays safe from the “bomb cyclone” and has a happy and safe holiday😀😀

  7. 11 minutes even, no errors. This one took a while to “get”, and had some challenging (but fair) clues. Suitable for a Friday.

  8. “Creative accounting” always meant “cooking the books” to me so I was able to plug in 55A and discover the theme in 35A. That helped me finish a rather stubborn Friday puzzle. I was stuck in the NE corner because I had 9A locked in with “dolly”, thinking of the name of the cloned sheep back in those days. When I finally relented and looked up 11D, I was able to complete that corner.

  9. Bill, you are a treasure. Your aside on “Walk The Line” was fascinating. I just had to pull it up on Spotify and listen for the changes. Thanks! Best wishes for the holidays.

  10. I was stuck on Dolly the sheep being somehow the answer for 9 across 1980s cloning target, but after finally solving with crosses I looked up Dolly and that was in the 1990s.

  11. I had a problem today. Many times when I clicked on a square it skipped to an ad. Never happened before. Did this happen to anybody else? Any ideas as to why this happened?

  12. Fun, trick Friday; took 22:55 with no peeks or errors. Finally a solid finish this week and on a Friday to boot. Figured out the theme and it helped to solve two theme clues. I was going to go with dolly or sheep but CAR at the end made me reconsider. BY SEA, BUB and ASHORE had me for a while. BEAUT and MLADY as well.

    For some reason I always thought the BEEFEATERS were those guards with the fuzzy hats, but those are the Queen’s Guards (or I guess King’s Guards now.)

  13. 16:41, no errors. Had PLAN instead of SLAB & MISSINGLINK instead of CENTERPIECE but corrected both fairly early. I was also one who was thinking Dolly the sheep…

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