LA Times Crossword 8 Dec 22, Thursday

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Constructed by: David Alfred Bywaters
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Saws

Themed answers are common SAWS (sayings), clued “punnily” as types of SAW (the tool):

  • 20A Band saw? : UNITED WE STAND
  • 25A Circular saw? : IT IS WHAT IT IS
  • 48A Power saw? : MIGHT IS RIGHT
  • 56A Coping saw? : ONE DAY AT A TIME

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

Bill’s time: 6m 03s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 __ mater : ALMA

The literal translation for the Latin term “alma mater” is “nourishing mother”. The phrase was used in ancient Rome to refer to mother goddesses, and in Medieval Christianity the term was used to refer to the Virgin Mary. Nowadays, one’s alma mater is the school one attended, either high school or college, usually one’s last place of education.

16 Fairy-tale antagonist : OGRE

An ogre is a monster of mythology and folktales that has the appearance of a man, and which eats human beings. The term “ogre” comes to us via French from the name of the Etruscan god Orcus, who feasted on the flesh of humans.

17 Expanding Asian desert : GOBI

The Gobi, the large desert in Asia, lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi desert is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so-called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.

24 Genetic material in some vaccines : RNA

A vaccine used to be a modified virus administered to an individual to stimulate the immune system into developing immunity, until mRNA vaccines were introduced to combat COVID-19. British physician Edward Jenner came up with the first vaccine, injecting people with the cowpox virus in order to prevent smallpox. The term “vaccination” comes from the Latin “vaccinus” meaning “from cows”, with “vacca” translating as “cow”.

36 Photographer Leibovitz : ANNIE

Annie Leibovitz is an outstanding photographer who is best known for her portraits of celebrities. Perhaps her most famous image is one taken of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine. It features Ono and Lennon lying together on the floor, with a nude Lennon kissing the cheek of a fully clothed Ono. Five hours after the photo was taken, Lennon was murdered outside the Dakota Building in Manhattan, where he lived.

40 Zenith’s opposite : NADIR

The nadir is the direction pointing immediately below a particular location (through to the other side of the Earth for example). The opposite direction, that pointing immediately above, is called the zenith. We use the terms “nadir” and “zenith” figuratively to mean the low and high points in a person’s fortunes.

43 Back up an apology, say : ATONE

To atone is to make “reparations”, to “repair” a wrong.

45 Pampering treatments for feet, informally : PEDIS

Pedicure (pedi)

61 Stylish : CHIC

“Chic” is a French word meaning “stylish”.

63 City south of Gainesville : OCALA

The city of Ocala, Florida was founded near a historic village with the same name. In the local Timucua language “Ocala” means “Big Hammock”. Back in the 1890s, Ocala was famous for its oranges, with over one third of that fruit shipped from Florida coming from the city. Also, thoroughbred horse farming in Florida started in Ocala, back in 1943. Some folks today call Ocala the “Horse Capital of the World”, but I bet that’s disputed by others …

The Florida city of Gainesville was established in 1853. The settlement was named for US Army officer Major General Edmund P. Gaines. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida.

64 Image in the Timberland logo : TREE

The Timberland Company was founded in 1957 by Nathan Swartz, a shoemaker from Boston. The business’s first successful product was the waterproof boot called the Timberland. It was so successful that the company adopted Timberland for its name.

68 “Cheers” bartender Woody : BOYD

Woody Boyd is the lovable and naive bartender on several seasons of the sitcom “Cheers”. Woody is portrayed by Woody Harrelson. The Woody character replaced the bartender named “Coach” when actor Nicholas Colasanto passed away.

The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness or two!). The owner of the Bull & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.

69 Accounting giant __ & Young : ERNST

Ernst & Young is one of the Big Four accountancy firms, alongside Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ernst & Young is headquartered in London. The company was founded in 1989 with the merger of Ernst & Whinney with Young & Co.

Down

1 Wizard : MAGUS

“Magi” is the plural of the Latin word “magus”, a term applied to someone who was able to read the stars. Hence, “magi” is commonly used with reference to the “wise men from the East” who followed the star and visited Jesus soon after he was born. In Western Christianity, the three Biblical Magi are:

  • Melchior: a scholar from Persia
  • Caspar (also “Gaspar”): a scholar from India
  • Balthazar: a scholar from Arabia

3 Sphere of influence : AMBIT

An ambit is an outer boundary or limit, a circumference. The term can also be used to mean the sphere or scope of influence. “Ambit” comes from the Latin “ambire” meaning “to go around”.

4 Cocktail typically garnished with an orchid : MAI TAI

The mai tai cocktail is strongly associated with the Polynesian islands, but the drink was supposedly invented in 1944 in Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California. One recipe is 6 parts white rum, 3 parts orange curaçao, 3 parts orgeat syrup, 1 part rock candy syrup, 2 parts fresh lime juice, all mixed with ice and then a float added of 6 parts dark rum. “Maita’i” is the Tahitian word for “good”.

5 Surface for beach volleyball : SAND

Indoor volleyball was invented in 1895 and was originally called “mintonette”, a reference to the related game of “badminton”. The variant called beach volleyball originated in 1915 on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, but was popularized on the beaches of Santa Monica starting in 1920.

8 “Inside Story” novelist Martin : AMIS

I suppose the successful English novelist Martin Amis must have writing in his blood. He is the son of the respected author Kingsley Amis, a Booker Prize winner. Martin Amis’s best-known novels comprise his so-called “London Trilogy” consisting of “Money” (1984), “London Fields” (1989) and “The Information” (1995).

9 Words of incantation : MANTRA

A mantra is a word that is used as a focus for the mind while meditating. The term is Sanskrit in origin, and is now used figuratively in English to describe any oft-repeated word or phrase.

13 Chaps : MEN

“Chap” is an informal term meaning “lad, fellow” that is used especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.

21 James who sang “At Last” : ETTA

“Etta James” was the stage name of celebrated blues and soul singer Jamesetta Hawkins. James’ most famous recording was her 1960 hit “At Last”, which made it into the pop charts. James performed “At Last” at the age of 71 in 2009 on the reality show “Dancing with the Stars”, which was to be her final television appearance. She passed away in 2012.

22 Inhabitants of a classroom “farm” : ANTS

“Formicary” is another name for “ant nest”, and comes from the Latin “formica” meaning “ant”. The phrase “ant colony” describes the ants living in an ant nest. A formicarium is similar to an aquarium, and used to house an ant colony perhaps for study. The phrase “ant farm” is usually reserved for ant nests built by an ant colony in a formicarium.

27 Round closers on a onesie : SNAPS

A onesie is a baby’s one-piece bodysuit, and is a common gift at a baby shower.

29 Former North Dakota senator Heitkamp : HEIDI

Attorney and politician Heidi Heitkamp took her seat in Congress in 2013, making her the first woman elected to the US Senate for North Dakota. Democrat Heitkamp lost her seat to Republican Kevin Cramer in the 2018 election.

30 Long part of a comet : TAIL

Comets and asteroids are similar, both being relatively small celestial bodies orbiting the sun. Comets differ from asteroids in that they have a coma or tail, especially when they are close enough to the sun. The coma and tail are temporary fuzzy atmospheres that develop due to the presence of solar radiation. Comets are sometimes referred to as “dirty snowballs”, a reference to their composition: rock, dust, water ice and frozen gasses.

32 Crockpot dish : STEW

We often use the term “crockpot” as an alternative for “slow cooker”. The generic term comes from the trademark “Crock-Pot”, which is now owned by Sunbeam products.

33 Hemsworth of “The Hunger Games” : LIAM

Liam Hemsworth is an Australian actor who is best known these days for playing Gale Hawthorne in “The Hunger Games” series of films. Hemsworth met Miley Cyrus while working on the movie “The Last Song”, and the two actors were engaged for a while. Liam is a younger brother of actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays the superhero “Thor” on the big screen.

35 Rum-and-water quaff : GROG

Edward Vernon was a naval officer with the nickname “Old Grog”. In 1740, Vernon ordered that the daily ration of rum for his sailors should be watered down, in order to reduce discipline problems caused by drunkenness. The diluted rum was sweetened with sugar, and lemon or lime added to help preserve it on long voyages. This recipe, found to reduce scurvy among sailors (because of the citrus) spread throughout the Royal Navy, and “grog” was born. As an aside, George Washington’s older half-brother named the famous Washington Mount Vernon Plantation in honor of Edward Vernon. We use the derivative term “groggy” to mean “unsteady on the feet”, as if under the influence of “grog”.

44 Raison d’__ : ETRE

“Raison d’être” is a French phrase meaning “reason for existence”.

46 Home of the N.Y. Mets until 2008 : SHEA

Citi Field is a relatively new baseball stadium used by the New York Mets that sits right next door to the site of Shea stadium, where the Mets had played for decades. The new facility’s name comes from corporate sponsor Citigroup.

50 Spill the beans : TATTLE

Something described as tattletale is revealing, it gives away a secret. The term is a combination of “tattle” and “tale”, and is probably patterned on the similar word “telltale”. “To tattle” means “to tell secrets”, and the noun “tattletale” applies to someone who tells secrets and informs.

To spill the beans is to divulge a secret. The expression first appeared in American English, in the early 1900s. The phrase arose as an alternative to “spoil the beans” or “upset the applecart”. The similarly meaning phrase “spill the tea” is more prevalent on the other side of the Atlantic.

53 Tornado watch sound : SIREN

Although a tornado (plural “tornadoes, tornados”) can be encountered in many locations around the world, it is most likely to be experienced in North America, and particularly in “Tornado Alley” in the central US. The Canadian Tornado Alley in southern Canada is where one is second most likely in the world to encounter a tornado.

54 Fix : EMEND

The verb “to amend” means “to change for the better, put right, alter by adding”. The related verb “to emend” is used more rarely, and mainly in reference to the editing of professional writing. Both terms are derived from the Latin “emendare” meaning “to remove fault”.

56 Unctuous : OILY

A person described as “unctuous” is oily and insincere. “Unctum” is the Latin for “ointment”.

57 Aspire notebook maker : ACER

Acer’s Aspire line is a series of personal computers, both desktops and laptops, that were introduced in 1999.

61 Taxi : CAB

A hansom cab is a very specific design of horse and buggy that was patented by Joseph Hansom in 1834 in England. The “cab” in the name is short for “cabriolet”, an earlier design of carriage on which the hansom was based. It’s from “hansom cab” that we get our modern term “cab”.

We call cabs “taxis”, a word derived from “taximeter cabs” that were introduced in London in 1907. A taximeter was an automated meter designed to record distance traveled and fare to be charged. The term “taximeter” evolved from “taxameter”, with “taxa” being Latin for “tax, charge”.

62 “Barry” cable network : HBO

“Barry” is a dark comedy TV series starring Bill Hader as an Ohio hitman who questions his life of crime. Veteran actor Henry Winkler plays an award-winning supporting role as the teacher of an acting class that the hitman joins.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Courteous title : MA’AM
5 “Make tracks!” : SCRAM!
10 Be rife (with) : TEEM
14 __ mater : ALMA
15 Fragrance : AROMA
16 Fairy-tale antagonist : OGRE
17 Expanding Asian desert : GOBI
18 Temporarily unavailable : NOT IN
19 Work hard for : EARN
20 Band saw? : UNITED WE STAND
23 Tuned to, as a radio dial : SET AT
24 Genetic material in some vaccines : RNA
25 Circular saw? : IT IS WHAT IT IS
33 Trail behind : LAG
36 Photographer Leibovitz : ANNIE
37 Incline : SLANT
38 Concerning : IN RE
40 Zenith’s opposite : NADIR
42 Place to build : SITE
43 Back up an apology, say : ATONE
45 Pampering treatments for feet, informally : PEDIS
47 Sad : LOW
48 Power saw? : MIGHT IS RIGHT
51 Spot for a sleeve tattoo : ARM
52 Abates : EASES
56 Coping saw? : ONE DAY AT A TIME
61 Stylish : CHIC
63 City south of Gainesville : OCALA
64 Image in the Timberland logo : TREE
65 Proficient : ABLE
66 More up-to-date : NEWER
67 Allow to borrow : LEND
68 “Cheers” bartender Woody : BOYD
69 Accounting giant __ & Young : ERNST
70 Finishes : ENDS

Down

1 Wizard : MAGUS
2 Unaccompanied : ALONE
3 Sphere of influence : AMBIT
4 Cocktail typically garnished with an orchid : MAI TAI
5 Surface for beach volleyball : SAND
6 Imitate a rooster : CROW
7 Mechanical learning method : ROTE
8 “Inside Story” novelist Martin : AMIS
9 Words of incantation : MANTRA
10 Canvases for 45-Across : TOENAILS
11 “Zounds!” : EGAD!
12 Make a blunder : ERR
13 Chaps : MEN
21 James who sang “At Last” : ETTA
22 Inhabitants of a classroom “farm” : ANTS
26 Travel guide listing : INN
27 Round closers on a onesie : SNAPS
28 Not as narrow : WIDER
29 Former North Dakota senator Heitkamp : HEIDI
30 Long part of a comet : TAIL
31 Very much a fan of : INTO
32 Crockpot dish : STEW
33 Hemsworth of “The Hunger Games” : LIAM
34 Opposed to : ANTI
35 Rum-and-water quaff : GROG
39 Made better : ENHANCED
41 Drilling structure : RIG
44 Raison d’__ : ETRE
46 Home of the N.Y. Mets until 2008 : SHEA
49 “Stick a fork in me” : I’M DONE
50 Spill the beans : TATTLE
53 Tornado watch sound : SIREN
54 Fix : EMEND
55 Botanic beginnings : SEEDS
56 Unctuous : OILY
57 Aspire notebook maker : ACER
58 Show fatigue : YAWN
59 Many taps in a brewpub : ALES
60 Fruit-filled dessert : TART
61 Taxi : CAB
62 “Barry” cable network : HBO

17 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 8 Dec 22, Thursday”

  1. 11:11, no errors. A fun puzzle and theme – I knew early on that today was not a day to be setting records and so I didn’t get too upset about false starts (like ORBIT for AMBIT).

  2. No errors.

    Would have been a good opportunity to give a nod to Kirstie Alley instead of Woody. Maybe these things are made way too far in advance.

  3. Despite the clever to a fault theme, esoteric clues 1D, 10D and others (is there a little–well, maybe not so little–book of virtually unknown words, people and places) and, as almost always, too many PPP’s, almost nailed it. Missed MAGU_ and AMBI_, but got everything else, thanks to some good guesses. Not the best puzzle.

  4. 8:06 – no errors, lookups, or false starts.

    New: MAGUS (apparently, I knew only the plural form), AMBIT (seems to be rarely used), Martin AMIS, hadn’t previously thought of OILY for unctuous.

    Got the theme with 25A, and that helped to quickly get the others.

    Don’t ever recall getting an orchid with a mai tai (not that I’ve had all that many).

  5. 4:26

    @Jack, TOENAILS are a canvas for the PEDIS in 45A.

    Very nice theme today!

    After all my talk about not trying to solve quickly, I’m still excited that I set a Thursday record for this crossword.

    Meanwhile, at the other crossword site, there is a 24 hour strike of NYT staff, including the puzzles. That includes the crossword, the mini, Spelling Bee, and Wordle.

    May I suggest you try the Worldle?
    https://worldle.teuteuf.fr/

  6. @Jack-

    I’m only guessing but a pedicure usually involves toenails being polished or “painted”, a “canvas” for toe art.

  7. 8 minutes 53 seconds, and needed Check Grid to ferret out errors on 3 fills. Both of these had rather poorly worded clues, in my opinion.

  8. Solved this one with just over 19 minutes which is very good for
    me. No errors and 1 lookup…”Ocala” because I didn’t know “acer”
    so didn’t guess Ocala.

  9. Mostly easy Thursday for me; took 9:10 with no peeks or errors. Cute theme that helped move things along. Didn’t know MAGUS, but fortunately knew AMBIT and the other crosses. Just hesitated on BOYD, since I knew his first name, but went with the crosses.

    re Worldle – I highly recommend – they’ve even enhanced it recently. I managed to get today’s Cocos Islands, but forgot or wasn’t sure about the Capitol. Didn’t know that Wordle is down – It worked when I did it…

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