LA Times Crossword 29 Dec 22, Thursday

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Constructed by: Damon Gulczynski
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Questionable Clues

Themed clues are all kinds of QUESTIONS:

  • 17A Trick question? : WAS THIS YOUR CARD?
  • 23A Quick question? : DONE ALREADY?
  • 38A Burning question? : WHERE’S THE FIRE?
  • 49A Leading question? : WHO’S WINNING?
  • 58A Probing question? : FIND ANYTHING YET?

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

Bill’s time: 7m 13s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 Samoa’s biggest city : APIA

Apia is the capital city, and the only city, of the Pacific island-nation of Samoa. The harbor of Apia is famous for a very foolish incident in 1889 involving seven naval vessels from Germany, the US and Britain. A typhoon was approaching so the safest thing to do was to head for open water away from land, but no nation would move its ships for fear of losing face in front of others. Six of the ships were lost in the typhoon as a result and 200 American and German sailors perished. The British cruiser HMS Calliope barely managed to escape from the harbor and rode out the storm safely. Apia is also known as the home of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, for the last four years of his life.

15 Fat-heavy diet : KETO

A ketogenic (also “keto”) diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. When a body consumes insufficient carbohydrates to meet the need for energy, then the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies in order to make up the energy deficit. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the bloodstream is known as “ketosis”, a term that gives rise to the name “ketogenic diet”. Medical professionals sometimes prescribe a ketogenic diet in order to control epilepsy in children. A condition of ketosis can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures.

16 Prenatal test, for short : AMNIO

Amniocentesis (“amnio” for short) is the prenatal test which involves the removal of a small amount of the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus using a hypodermic needle. The fluid naturally contains some fetal cells, the DNA of which can then be tested to determine the sex of the child and to check for the presence of genetic abnormalities.

20 Role for Flockhart : MCBEAL

“Ally McBeal” is a very successful television show that aired from 1997 to 2002. It starred Calista Flockhart in the title role, playing a successful lawyer. I must admit, I never watched the show, but I am told by a kind blog reader that it’s good viewing. It was created by David E. Kelley, who is also the man behind other successful legal dramas including “The Practice”, “Boston Legal” and “Harry’s Games’. Kelley is married to actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

Actress Calista Flockhart is perhaps best known for playing the title role in the legal comedy drama “Ally McBeal” that ran from 1997 to 2002. She also played one of the leads in 1996’s “The Birdcage”, a favorite movie of mine. Flockhart met fellow actor Harrison Ford at the Golden Globes in 2002, and the couple married in 2010.

21 Like much event swag : FREE

Swag is loot, stolen property, and a term that started out as criminal slang in England in the 1830s. “Swag” is also the name given to the promotional freebies available at some events. That said, there’s an urban myth that the promotional version of “swag” is an acronym standing for “stuff we all get”.

29 Fictional Wolfe who was born in Montenegro : NERO

Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective and the hero of many stories published by author Rex Stout. There are 33 Nero Wolfe novels for us to read, and 39 short stories. There are also movie adaptations of two of the novels: “Meet Nero Wolfe” (1936) which features a young Rita Hayworth, and “The League of Frightened Men” (1937). One of Wolfe’s endearing traits is his love of good food and beer, so he is a pretty rotund character.

Montenegro is a country in Southeastern Europe that once was part of Yugoslavia. “Montenegro” is a historical Italianate translation of “black mountain”.

31 Netflix’s “__ White People” : DEAR

“Dear White People” is a comedy-drama TV show based on a 2014 film of the same name. Both the TV series and the movie are about a group of black college students studying at a fictional Ivy League school.

33 “Battle of the Sexes” loser : RIGGS

Bobby Riggs was a World No. 1 tennis player in the thirties and forties, both as an amateur and a professional. However, Riggs is best remembered for playing “The Battle of the Sexes” match against Billie Jean King in 1973. Riggs was defeated by King in three straight sets.

The 2017 film “Battle of the Sexes” is a fictional account of the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. In the movie, King is portrayed by Emma Stone, and Riggs by Steve Carell. Stone and Carell had body doubles for the tennis scenes. Stone’s double was Kaitlyn Christian, and Carell’s double was Vince Spadea.

42 “__ Meenie”: Kingston/Bieber hit : EENIE

“Eenie Meenie” is a 2010 dance-pop song co-written and recorded by Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston. Apparently, Canadian Bieber brings R7B vocals to the song, and American-Jamaican gives it a reggae vibe.

43 “CODA” communication method : ASL

“CODA” is a 2021 movie, a remake of the 2014 French-Belgian film “La Famille Bélier”. The English-language version stars Emilia Jones as the only hearing member of a deaf family struggling with a fishing business in Gloucester, Massachusetts. “CODA” was the first film distributed by a streaming service (Apple TV+) to win a Best Picture Oscar. The title “CODA” is an acronym standing for “child of deaf adults”.

44 Blues singer Thomas : IRMA

Irma Thomas is a singer from New Orleans who had a challenging start to her life. She had been married twice by the time she was 19 years old, and had four children. Thomas is often referred to as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”.

54 Currency of Laos : KIP

The kip has been the unit of currency in Laos since 1952. One kip is divided into 100 att.

55 Roth investments : IRAS

Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (Roth IRAs) were introduced in 1997 under a bill sponsored by Senator William Roth of Delaware, hence the name.

56 Screenwriter Cody who won an Oscar for “Juno” : DIABLO

“Diablo Cody” is the pen name of writer and producer Brook Maurio. Cody’s breakthrough work was her 2005 memoir “Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper”. She followed that up with an Oscar-winning screenplay for the film “Juno”, the excellent comedy drama TV series “United States of Tara”, which created, wrote and produced.

“Juno” is a great comedy-drama released in 2007 that tells the story of a spunky teenager who is faced with an unplanned pregnancy. The title character is played by Ellen Page, with Michael Cera playing the father of her child. The film won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The relatively low-budget movie earned back its initial budget on the first day of its full release to the public. Low-budget blockbuster; my kind of movie …

64 Bread served with mattar paneer : NAAN

Mattar paneer is a dish from North Indian cuisine. It consists mainly of paneer (a freshly-made cheese) combined with peas in a tomato-based sauce.

67 Fail suddenly, with “out” : CONK …

The phrase “conk out” was coined by airmen during WWI, and was used to describe the stalling of an engine.

Down

1 Wyatt Earp, for one : LAWMAN

Wyatt Earp is famous as one of the participants in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Earp was a city policeman in Wichita, Kansas and also in Dodge City, Kansas. Earp was also deputy sheriff in Tombstone, Arizona where the O.K. Corral gunfight took place. Years later, Earp joined the Alaska Gold Rush and with a partner built and operated the Dexter Saloon in Nome.

2 Southwestern people : APACHE

The Apache are a group of Native American peoples originally from the Southwest US. The Navajo are a separate but related people, through culture and language, and are often described as “Apachean”.

10 Awards show host : EMCEE

The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism used for a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.

11 Genetic molecule translated into protein : RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

12 Ultrathin MacBook : AIR

The MacBook Air is a notebook computer from Apple that is extremely thin and very light.

19 Short address : URL

An Internet address (like NYXCrossword.com and LAXCrossword.com) is more correctly called a uniform resource locator (URL).

24 Photo sources : NEGS

Negative (neg.)

25 Conference of Magic and Wizards : EASTERN

The Orlando Magic were formed in 1989 as an NBA expansion team. A local paper was asked to run a competition to suggest names for the new team and the community came up with its four top picks of “Heat”, “Tropics”, “Juice” and “Magic”. A committee then opted for “Orlando Magic”. A good choice I think …

The Washington Wizards are the professional basketball team based in the nation’s capital. The franchise began playing in Chicago as the Packers, in 1961. One year later, the Chicago team changed its name to the Zephyrs. After one more season, the franchise relocated and became the Baltimore Bullets. In 1973, the team moved to Landover, Maryland to become the Capital Bullets, and then took the Washington Bullets name the following season. The final name change came in 1995, as the owner was uncomfortable with the violent images conjured up by the “Bullets” name. The Wizards name was chosen after a fan contest.

36 “100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time” org. : AFI

The American Film Institute (AFI) was founded in 1967 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). One of the AFI’s more visible programs is the “100 Year Series”, including lists of Best Movies in several categories and a list of the Best Movie Quotes in 100 years of movie-making.

Here are the top five in the American Film Institute’s list titled “100 Years…100 Movie Quotes”, published in 2005:

  1. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (Gone with the Wind – 1939)
  2. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” (The Godfather – 1972)
  3. “You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” (On the Waterfront – 1954)
  4. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” (The Wizard of Oz – 1939)
  5. “Here’s looking at you, kid.” (Casablanca – 1942)

37 Traditional March 14 desserts : PIES

The first three digits of the mathematical constant pi are 3.14. Pi Day has been celebrated on March 14th (3/14) every year since 1988, when it was inaugurated at the San Francisco Exploratorium. In countries where the day is usually written before the month, Pi Day is July 22nd, reflecting the more accurate approximation of pi as 22/7. Interestingly, March 14th is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

38 Break-even proposition : WASH

The phrase “it’s a wash”, meaning “there’s no gain either way”, comes from the underworld. Back in the 19th century, a “wash” was a fake transaction between a seller and a buyer for some illegal purpose.

39 Oldest city in Hawaii : HILO

Hilo is the largest settlement on the Big Island of Hawaii, and has a population of over 43,000 (that’s not very many!). I love the Big Island …

40 Half up front? : HEMI-

Ever wonder what the difference is between the prefixes “hemi-”, “demi-” and “semi-”, all of which mean “half”? Well, the general observation is that words using the “demi-” prefix date back to the days of Norman influence over the English language. As a result, “demi-” turns up in the world of period costume and coats of arms. Words using “hemi-” tend to have Greek roots, and are prevalent in the world of the sciences and the medical field. Words with “semi-” tend to have Latin roots, and are most often found in music and the arts, and mathematics.

47 Enter en masse : PILE IN

“En masse” is a French term, one that best translates as “as a group”

52 McKellen who plays Gandalf : IAN

Sir Ian McKellen is a marvelous English actor, one who is comfortable playing anything from Macbeth on stage to Magneto in an “X-Men” movie. On the big screen, McKellen is very famous for playing Gandalf in “The Lord of Rings”. In the UK, Sir Ian is noted for being at the forefront of the campaign for equal rights for gay people, a role he has enthusiastically embraced since the eighties.

53 Martini ingredient : GIN

The term “martini” probably takes its name from the “Martini & Rossi” brand of dry vermouth, although no one seems to be completely sure. What is clear is that despite the Martini name originating in Italy, the martini drink originated in the US. The original martini was made with gin and sweet vermouth, but someone specifying a “dry” martini was given gin and dry vermouth. Nowadays we use dry vermouth for all martinis, and the term “dry” has become a reference to how little vermouth is included in the drink. Famously, Noël Coward liked his drink very dry and said that a perfect martini is made by “filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy”. The German-American journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken referred to the martini as “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet”.

58 Newton fruit : FIG

The Fig Newton cookie is based on what is actually a very old recipe that dates back to ancient Egypt. Whereas we grew up with “Fig Rolls” in Ireland, here in America the brand name “Fig Newton” was used, as the cookies were originally produced in Newton, Massachusetts.

60 DOD intel arm : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense (DoD) since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.

The largest government department in the cabinet is the Department of Defense (DOD), with a permanent staff of over 600,000. The smallest department, by far, is the Department of Education, with a mere four or five thousand employees.

61 Living-in-harmony principle : TAO

The name of the Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Taoism signifies the true nature of the world.

62 “To All the Boys” novelist Jenny : HAN

The “To All the Boys” films are a series of teenage romance dramas based on a trilogy of novels of the same name by Jenny Han. The series title is a reference to five letters written by a young lady to boys that she had crushes on. She never plans to mail the letters, but they get sent out anyway.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Young chaps : LADS
5 Methodology: Abbr. : SYST
9 Played over : RERAN
14 Samoa’s biggest city : APIA
15 Fat-heavy diet : KETO
16 Prenatal test, for short : AMNIO
17 Trick question? : WAS THIS YOUR CARD?
20 Role for Flockhart : MCBEAL
21 Like much event swag : FREE
22 “That’s it!” : AHA!
23 Quick question? : DONE ALREADY?
29 Fictional Wolfe who was born in Montenegro : NERO
31 Netflix’s “__ White People” : DEAR
32 By way of : VIA
33 “Battle of the Sexes” loser : RIGGS
35 Like dried rose petals : PAPERY
38 Burning question? : WHERE’S THE FIRE?
41 Bumps : RAISES
42 “__ Meenie”: Kingston/Bieber hit : EENIE
43 “CODA” communication method : ASL
44 Blues singer Thomas : IRMA
45 Soaks (up) : SOPS
49 Leading question? : WHO’S WINNING?
54 Currency of Laos : KIP
55 Roth investments : IRAS
56 Screenwriter Cody who won an Oscar for “Juno” : DIABLO
58 Probing question? : FIND ANYTHING YET?
63 Hawaii or Alaska, on many a map : INSET
64 Bread served with mattar paneer : NAAN
65 Radiate : EMIT
66 Grind, as teeth : GNASH
67 Fail suddenly, with “out” : CONK …
68 Turn down : DENY

Down

1 Wyatt Earp, for one : LAWMAN
2 Southwestern people : APACHE
3 Keep from practicing? : DISBAR
4 Fill until full : SATE
5 Places to recover after going downhill fast : SKI LODGES
6 “Sweet!” : YES!
7 Farm pen : STY
8 Over the line : TOO FAR
9 Like more expensive art, often : RARER
10 Awards show host : EMCEE
11 Genetic molecule translated into protein : RNA
12 Ultrathin MacBook : AIR
13 Go-ahead : NOD
18 Conned : HAD
19 Short address : URL
24 Photo sources : NEGS
25 Conference of Magic and Wizards : EASTERN
26 Assert as true : AVER
27 Bleak : DIRE
28 “Woot!” : YAY!
30 Rich deposits : ORES
34 Intense anger : IRE
35 No-frills drawing style : PEN AND INK
36 “100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time” org. : AFI
37 Traditional March 14 desserts : PIES
38 Break-even proposition : WASH
39 Oldest city in Hawaii : HILO
40 Half up front? : HEMI-
41 Gritty, in a way : RAW
44 Thinking alike : IN SYNC
46 “No objection here” : OK BY ME
47 Enter en masse : PILE IN
48 Like bad cell reception : SPOTTY
50 Teams : SIDES
51 Intense anger : WRATH
52 McKellen who plays Gandalf : IAN
53 Martini ingredient : GIN
57 Matured : AGED
58 Newton fruit : FIG
59 Overnight option : INN
60 DOD intel arm : NSA
61 Living-in-harmony principle : TAO
62 “To All the Boys” novelist Jenny : HAN

10 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 29 Dec 22, Thursday”

  1. This was a tricky one…ended up with no errors, but had
    a few do-overs, notably changing “is that your card” to
    “is this your card”, which finally gave me “ski-lodges.”

  2. Dumbest theme in a while, almost matched by the difficulty of the puzzle. Finished with but one error–had AMBIO instead of AMNIO, which I should have got. Too many “did not knows” but, fortunately, the crosses helped. Can’t say the same for the theme. UGH!

  3. Tricky but doable Thursday for me; took 21:39 with no peeks or errors – well maybe one peek. Did a “check-grid” with one square remaining and didn’t have any errors. Ended up doing an alphabet roll on DO?E ALREADY/?EG, which just wouldn’t come to me.

    Other tricky spots were: D/H/SEMI, EENIE, IRMA, KIP, DIABLO and it took a while to remember MCBEAL.

  4. 16:32 – one error square at DOmEALREADY/mEGS. I was thinking digital photo sources and “do me.” Ugh!

    False starts: TCM>AFI, PENCIL____>PENANDINK, TAU>TAO.

    New: EENIE Meenie, IRMA Thomas, KIP, Cody DIABLO, Jenny Han.

    The theme helped with most of the five, but not quite enough with 23A it would seem.

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