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Greetings from Mammoth Lakes, California

My wife and I are on vacation until Friday, July 25th; a road trip through the backroads of the states east of California. I anticipate late-night solving and posting, with acknowledgement of comments and emails suffering. Please, don't be offended at my silence as I prioritize the writing of posts! We had probably the last hike of our trip this morning (strenuous, past beautiful alpine lakes), and then opted for vegging out by the pool for a change this afternoon. Almost home ...

Bill

LA Times Crossword Answers 24 Jul 14, Thursday






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CROSSWORD SETTER: Jeffrey Wechsler
THEME: Bird Parts … each of today’s themed answers starts with a type of bird, followed by a part of its anatomy:
20A. Adjustable light source GOOSENECK LAMP
38A. Donald Sutherland film role HAWKEYE PIERCE
55A. Carpentry connection DOVETAIL JOINT
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 9m 27s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

4. Group on a dais PANEL
Ultimately our word "dais", meaning “raised platform for a speaker”, comes from the Latin "discus" meaning a "disk-shaped object". I guess that many a dais was disc-shaped ...

9. Egyptian Peace Nobelist SADAT
Anwar Sadat was the third President of Egypt right up to the time of his assassination in 1981. Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 along with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for the role played in crafting the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1978 at Camp David. It was this agreement that largely led to Sadat's assassination three years later.

14. "Take heed, __ summer comes ...": Shakespeare ERE
“Take heed, ere summer comes" is a line from William Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor”.

“The Merry Wives of Windsor” is one of William Shakespeare’s comedies, and perhaps the most farcical of all his works. The main character is Sir John Falstaff, an overweight and jocular character intent on seducing one of the “merry wives”. The Windsor in the title is the Windsor Castle just outside London that is now a favored residence of Queen Elizabeth II.

16. Last Olds model ALERO
The Oldsmobile Alero was the last car made under the Oldsmobile brand. The Alero was produced from 1999 to 2004.

18. Britney Spears hit with the lyric "A guy like you should wear a warning" TOXIC
Britney Spears was the best-selling female artist in the first decade of the 21st century. And I didn’t buy even one song, and I couldn't name one right now …

… well, “Toxic” is mentioned in the clue!

19. Old-fashioned FUSTY
Our word “fusty” means “musty, stale-smelling”. The term comes into English from French via the word “fusté” meaning “tasting of the cask”, which in turn comes from the Old French “fuist”, the word for a wine cask.

23. His face is seen with Powell and Loy on many film posters 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.

24. Rodeo wrestling match participant STEER
"Rodeo” is a Spanish word, which is usually translated as “round up”.

31. Pot holder shape MITTEN
I guess the idea is that an oven glove is often shaped like a mitten.

33. Medieval slavery SERFDOM
A serf was a member of the lowest feudal class, someone attached to land owned by a lord. "Serf" comes from the Latin "servus", meaning "slave".

European history is often divided in three major periods: classical antiquity and the modern period, with the Middle Ages in between. Specifically, the Middle Ages are said to have begun in 476 AD, when the last Roman Emperor was deposed by a Germanic chieftain. The end date for the Middle Ages is less specific, but is about 1500 AD. The list of events signalling the end of the Middle Ages includes Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the New World (1492) and the Protestant Reformation (1517). The term “medieval” is used to describe something belonging to the Middle Ages.

38. Donald Sutherland film role HAWKEYE PIERCE
Hawkeye Pierce is the lead character in the “M*A*S*H” novel, movie and TV series. Hawkeye was originally portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the film, and then by Alan Alda in the television show. Pierce is the only character that appears in all 250 episodes of that groundbreaking TV series.

Donald Sutherland is an actor from Saint John, New Brunswick who I mainly associate with war movies from the sixties and seventies, notably “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), “The Eagle Has Landed” (1976), “M*A*S*H” (1970) and “Kelly’s Heroes” (1970). Donald is the father of actor Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer on TV’s hit show “24”.

41. Fed. org. researching neuropsychiatry NIMH
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is one the 27 organizations that make up the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

42. Solemn conclusion? SILENT N
The last letter in the word “solemn” is a silent N.

49. Classic Pontiac GTO
The acronym GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologato, which is an Italian phrase that translates as “Grand Touring Homologated”. Italian car manufacturers started the tradition of calling their luxury performance cars “Gran Turismo”, and calling those cars they approved for racing “Gran Turismo Omologato”. The phrase “gran turismo omologato” translates as “grand touring homologated”, with “homologated” being a technical term signifying official approval.

55. Carpentry connection DOVETAIL JOINT
One simple type of joint used in carpentry is a mortise and tenon, basically a projection carved at the end of one piece of wood that fits into a hole cut into the end of another. In a dovetail joint, the projecting tenon is not rectangular but is cut at a bias, so that when the dovetails are joined they resist being pulled apart. You'll see dovetail joints in drawers around the house.

59. Golfer Davies, seven-time Ladies European Tour Order of Merit awardee LAURA
Laura Davies is a golfer from Coventry in England. Davies was the first non-American to top the LPGA money list, doing so in 1994.

61. TV comic Kovacs ERNIE
Ernie Kovacs was an American comedian who was active in the fifties and early sixties. Famously, Kovacs was married to actress, singer and comedienne Edie Adams. Sadly, Kovacs died in a car accident in 1962.

66. Amtrak structure DEPOT
Amtrak is the name used commercially by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. “Amtrak” comes from a melding of the words “America” and “track”.

67. Tizzies SNITS
The exact etymology of “snit”, meaning “fit of temper”, isn’t really known. The term was first used in print in the play “Kiss the Boys Goodbye” by Clare Booth Luce, which dates back to the 1930s and is set in the American South.

68. Big Bird fan TOT
Big Bird is a character on the children’s TV show “Sesame Street”.

Back in 1966, the Carnegie Institute allocated money to study the use of television to help young children prepare for school. The institute gave an $8million grant to set up the Children's Television Workshop with the task of creating an educational TV program for young people. The program began to come together, especially after Jim Henson (of Muppet fame) got involved. The name "Sesame Street" was chosen simply because it was the "least disliked" of all names proposed just before the program went on the air.

Down
1. "Trust, but verify" president REAGAN
President Ronald Reagan used the phrase “trust, but verify” quite often when discussing US relations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. President Reagan chose the phrase not only because of its meaning, but also because it is an old Russian proverb ("doveryai no proveryai").

2. Melodic ARIOSO
The adjective “arioso” means “melodic, in the style of an aria”.

3. Giant with power MEL OTT
At 5' 9", Mel Ott weighed just 170 lb (I don't think he took steroids!) and yet he was the first National League player to hit over 500 home runs. Sadly, Ott died in a car accident in New Orleans in 1958 when he was only 49 years old.

4. Cracker topper PATE
Pâté is a rich spreadable paste made up of a mixture of ground meat and fat, to which various vegetables, herbs and spices may be added. The most famous version is pâté de foie gras, made from the fattened livers of geese ("foie gras" means "fat liver" in French).

5. "And she shall bring forth __": Matthew A SON
According to the Gospel of Matthew, an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph to tell him the destiny of the child that is being carried by his wife Mary:
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

6. Gives a thumbs-down NIXES
The use of "nix" as a verb, meaning "to shoot down", dates back to the early 1900s. Before that "nix" was just a noun meaning "nothing". "Nix" comes from the German "nichts", which also means "nothing".

8. Age of Reason philosopher LOCKE
John Locke was the English philosopher who postulated that the mind is a blank slate (or "tabula rasa") when we are born, and that we fill that slate with our experiences and observations.

The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason) was an era bridging the 17th and 18th centuries in which rationalism and scientific method started to hold sway against ideas grounded in tradition and faith. Key figures in the Age of Enlightenment were the likes of John Locke, Isaac Newton and Voltaire.

9. Exotic vacation SAFARI
"Safari" is a Swahili word, meaning "journey" or "expedition".

10. One at a reunion ALUM
An "alumnus" (plural ... alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is "alumna" (plural ... alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or an alumnus.

11. Totalitarian DESPOTIC
A “despot” is a ruler with absolute power, often one who wields that power oppressively. “Despot” is an old French term from the 14th century, ultimately derived from the Greek “despotes” meaning “master of a household, absolute ruler”.

Totalitarianism is the political system in which the state strives for complete control over all aspects of public and private life. One of the more famous leaders in recent times who openly embraced totalitarianism was Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy’s National Fascist Party up until his ousting in 1943.

12. Objet d'__ ART
An “objet d’art” is an item that has artistic merit. The term is French for “art object”.

13. Happy Meal bonus TOY
The McDonalds Happy Meal was introduced in 1977. The Happy Meal was inspired by a selection of food designed in a Guatemala McDonalds to suit children that was called “Menu Ronald”.

22. Migratory rodent LEMMING
Lemmings are small rodents that live in cold climates, usually in or around the Arctic. There is a misconception that lemmings are prone to commit mass suicide. What is true is that like many animal species, lemmings are prone to mass migration, especially when the population in one area gets too great. Lemmings can swim, and will jump into a body of water in order to cross it. However, some lemmings may drown in the attempt. So, the lemmings jump en masse into a body of water to cross it, not to commit suicide. Then there was the famous Disney “White Wilderness” incident. Disney shot footage of lemmings “committing mass suicide” for the 1958 film “White Wilderness”. In fact, the lemmings in the morbid scene were flown to the location of the shoot, and were launched off a cliff using a turntable. Despicable …

26. Expunge from a manuscript DELE
"Dele" is the editorial instruction to delete something from a document, and is often written in red.

27. USN rank ENS
Ensign is (usually) the most junior rank of commissioned officer in the armed forces. The name comes from the tradition that the junior officer would be given the task of carrying the ensign flag.

32. Phenomenon measured by the Fujita scale TORNADO
The Fujita scale (or F-scale) measures the intensity of tornadoes. It does so by measuring the effect that the tornado has on man-made structures and on vegetation. It was developed in 1971 by Tetsuya Fujita of the University of Chicago.

34. Forwarder's abbr. FYI
For your information (fyi)

35. Atl. state DEL
The state of Delaware takes its name from Virginia's first colonial governor, Englishman Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. Delaware is known as "The First State" as it was the first to ratify the US Constitution, in 1787. It is also the second smallest state in the union, after Rhode Island.

The earliest known mention of the name “Atlantic” for the world’s second-largest ocean was in Ancient Greece. The Greeks called the ocean “the Sea of Atlas” or “Atlantis thalassa”.

36. Ajar, in poems OPE
Our word "ajar" is thought to come from Scottish dialect, in which "a char" means "slightly open".

38. Maximum degree HILT
The “hilt” of a weapon is its handle. One might push in the blade of a knife say “to the hilt”, to the maximum degree.

40. Juillet's season ETE
“Août” is the French for August, and “juillet” is French for July (note that the name of months aren't capitalized in French). Both are months in the summer (été) season.

44. Erudite person SAVANT
A “savant” is a learned person. The term "savant" can also be short for "idiot savant", the outdated name for someone with a mental disability but who has above-normal capabilities in perhaps calculation or musical expression.

47. Ocean-warming phenomenon EL NINO
When the surface temperature of much of the Pacific Ocean rises more that half a degree centigrade, then there is said to be an El Niño episode. That small temperature change in the Pacific has been associated with climatic changes that can stretch right across the globe. El Niño is Spanish for "the boy" and is a reference to the Christ child. The phenomenon was given this particular Spanish name because the warming is usually noticed near South America and around Christmas-time.

51. Agenda fodder ITEMS
“Agenda” is a Latin word that translates as “things to be done”, coming from the verb “agere” meaning “to do”.

52. "Fanfare for the Common Man" composer Copland AARON
Aaron Copland was the most American of all classical composers, I think. Perhaps his most famous work is the "Fanfare for the Common Man", written in 1942 and a piece intended to be uplifting in the gloomy years leading up to WWII. This piece is recognized not just for performances of the original, but also for the progressive rock version that was recorded by Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1977.

53. Exodus mount SINAI
According to the Bible, Mount Sinai is the mountain on which Moses was given the Ten Commandments. The Biblical Mount Sinai is probably not the mountain in Egypt that today has the same name, although this is the subject of much debate. The Egyptian Mount Sinai has two developed routes that one can take to reach the summit. The longer gentler climb takes about 2 1/2 hours, but there is also the steeper climb up the 3,750 "steps of penitence".

57. Dryer detritus LINT
“Lint”, meaning “fuzz”, is one of those terms that I had to learn when I moved to the US. We call the same thing “fuzz” on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Detritus” is the loose material that results from the process of erosion. The usage of the term has evolved to man any accumulated material or debris. “Detritus” is Latin for “a wearing away”.

58. Zooey's "New Girl" role JESS
Zooey Deschanel is an actress and singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. Zooey is the younger sister of Emily Deschanel who plays the title role on the TV show “Bones”. Now Zooey is playing the lead on the sitcom “New Girl”.


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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Hit with force RAM
4. Group on a dais PANEL
9. Egyptian Peace Nobelist SADAT
14. "Take heed, __ summer comes ...": Shakespeare ERE
15. "Just like me" AS I DO
16. Last Olds model ALERO
17. Require medication AIL
18. Britney Spears hit with the lyric "A guy like you should wear a warning" TOXIC
19. Old-fashioned FUSTY
20. Adjustable light source GOOSENECK LAMP
23. His face is seen with Powell and Loy on many film posters ASTA
24. Rodeo wrestling match participant STEER
25. Dedicatory opus ODE
28. "Hold your horses!" NOT YET!
31. Pot holder shape MITTEN
33. Medieval slavery SERFDOM
37. Gallery array OILS
38. Donald Sutherland film role HAWKEYE PIERCE
41. Fed. org. researching neuropsychiatry NIMH
42. Solemn conclusion? SILENT N
43. Just about ALMOST
45. Got ready, with "up" GEARED
49. Classic Pontiac GTO
50. Misleading name ALIAS
54. Concave landform DALE
55. Carpentry connection DOVETAIL JOINT
59. Golfer Davies, seven-time Ladies European Tour Order of Merit awardee LAURA
61. TV comic Kovacs ERNIE
62. Golfer's concern LIE
63. Certain campaign managers ADMEN
64. Complaints MOANS
65. Solution: Abbr. ANS
66. Amtrak structure DEPOT
67. Tizzies SNITS
68. Big Bird fan TOT

Down
1. "Trust, but verify" president REAGAN
2. Melodic ARIOSO
3. Giant with power MEL OTT
4. Cracker topper PATE
5. "And she shall bring forth __": Matthew A SON
6. Gives a thumbs-down NIXES
7. Official order EDICT
8. Age of Reason philosopher LOCKE
9. Exotic vacation SAFARI
10. One at a reunion ALUM
11. Totalitarian DESPOTIC
12. Objet d'__ ART
13. Happy Meal bonus TOY
21. Skeptic's comeback SAYS WHO?
22. Migratory rodent LEMMING
26. Expunge from a manuscript DELE
27. USN rank ENS
29. Terrified cry EEK!
30. Bridge framework TRESTLE
32. Phenomenon measured by the Fujita scale TORNADO
34. Forwarder's abbr. FYI
35. Atl. state DEL
36. Ajar, in poems OPE
38. Maximum degree HILT
39. Military storage facility AMMO DUMP
40. Juillet's season ETE
41. Henpeck NAG
44. Erudite person SAVANT
46. Scold harshly RAIL AT
47. Ocean-warming phenomenon EL NINO
48. Find intolerable DETEST
51. Agenda fodder ITEMS
52. "Fanfare for the Common Man" composer Copland AARON
53. Exodus mount SINAI
56. Cookies n' Creme cookie maker OREO
57. Dryer detritus LINT
58. Zooey's "New Girl" role JESS
59. Youngster LAD
60. Sweet drink ADE


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About This Blog

This is the simplest of blogs.

I do the Los Angeles Times puzzle online every evening, the night before it is published in the paper. Then, I "Google & Wiki" the references that puzzle me, or that I find of interest. I post my findings, along with the solution, usually before midnight PST.

I've been writing the NYTCrossword.com blog (about the New York Times crossword) since 2009. I finally started this LAXCrossword.com blog in response to many requests over the years to write about the daily LA Times crossword.

About Me

The name's William Ernest Butler, but please call me Bill. I grew up in Ireland, but now live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am retired, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world.

I answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at bill@paxient.com, contact me on Google+ or leave a comment below.

Crosswords and My Dad

I worked on my first crossword puzzle when I was about 6-years-old, sitting on my Dad's knee. He let me "help" him with his puzzle almost every day as I was growing up. Over the years, Dad passed on to me his addiction to crosswords. Now in my early 50s, I work on my Los Angeles Times and New York Times puzzles every day. I'm no longer sitting on my Dad's knee, but I feel that he is there with me, looking over my shoulder.

This blog is dedicated to my Dad, who passed away at the beginning of this month.

Bill
January 29, 2009

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