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LA Times Crossword Answers 1 Sep 14, Monday






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CROSSWORD SETTER: Amy Johnson,
THEME: Pig Houses … we have the BIG BAD WOLF in today’s grid, and a nod to the type of houses he destroyed in the “Three Little Pigs” fairy tale at the end of three themed answers:
18A. Unlucky thing to draw SHORT STRAW
26A. Tabletop game requiring steady hands PICK-UP STICKS
47A. Go on strike, in slang HIT THE BRICKS

60A. Menace who destroyed houses made of the ends of 18-, 26- and 47-Across BIG BAD WOLF
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 6m 10s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Junk email SPAM
Apparently the term "SPAM", used for unwanted email, is taken from a "Monty Python" sketch. In the sketch (which I've seen) the dialog is taken over by the word SPAM, a play on the glut of canned meat in the markets of Britain after WWII. So "SPAM" is used for the glut of emails that takes over online communication. I can just imagine nerdy Internet types (like me) adopting something from a "Monty Python" sketch to describe an online phenomenon ...

5. "A Streetcar __ Desire" NAMED
Desire is the name of a neighborhood in New Orleans, a destination for a streetcar line. The name "Desire" appears on the front of streetcars bound for that neighborhood, hence the title of the Tennessee Williams play "A Streetcar Named Desire".

14. Strauss of denim LEVI
Levi Strauss was the founder of the first company in the world to manufacture blue jeans. Levi Strauss & Co. opened in 1853 in San Francisco. Strauss and his business partner were awarded a patent in 1873 for the use of copper rivets to strengthen points of strain on working pants.

Denim fabric originated in Nimes in France. The French phrase "de Nimes" (from Nimes) gives us the word "denim". Also, the French phrase "bleu de Genes" (blue of Genoa) gives us our word "jeans".

15. Double-reed instruments OBOES
The oboe is perhaps my favorite of the reed instruments. The name "oboe" comes from the French "hautbois" which means "high wood". When you hear an orchestra tuning before a performance you'll note (pun intended!) that the oboe starts off the process by playing an "A". The rest of the musicians in turn tune to that oboe's "A".

16. Author __ Stanley Gardner ERLE
I must have read all of the Perry Mason books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when I was facing the pressure of exams. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn't get into the profession the easy way. Gardner went to law school, but got himself suspended after a month. So, he became a self-taught attorney and opened his own law office in Merced, California. Understandably, he gave up the law once his novels became successful.

17. Fateful date for Caesar IDES
There were three important days in each month of the old Roman calendar. These days originally depended on the cycles of the moon but were eventually "fixed" by law. "Kalendae" were the first days of each month, originally the days of the new moon. "Nonae" were originally the days of the half moon. And "idus" (the ides) was originally the day of the full moon, eventually fixed at the 15th day of a month. Well, actually the ides were the 15th day of March, May, July and October. For all other months, the ides fell on the 13th. Go figure ...

Julius Caesar was assassinated on the 15th (the ides) of March, 44 BC. He was attacked by a group of sixty people in the Roman Senate, and was stabbed 23 times. The first to strike a blow was Servilius Casca, who attacked Caesar from behind and stabbed him in the neck.

23. Banned apple spray ALAR
The chemical name for Alar, a plant growth regulator and color enhancer, is daminozide. Alar was primarily used on apples but was withdrawn from the market when it was linked to cancer.

24. Solved, as a cryptogram DECODED
In the world of word puzzles, a “cryptogram” is a short piece of encrypted text that is solved by working out which letters have been substituted for which letters. I think cryptograms are my favorite type of word puzzle, after the crossword of course …

26. Tabletop game requiring steady hands PICK-UP STICKS
The simple game of pick-up sticks is played with a bundle of sticks similar to wooden skewers or toothpicks. The bundle is dropped onto a tabletop and then players must remove one stick per turn, without disturbing the rest of the bundles. It is thought that the name of the game comes from a line from a nursery rhyme that goes “... five, six, pick up sticks!”

30. Witch trials town SALEM
Salem is a seaport on the Massachusetts coast. It is noted as the location of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, an event that the city commemorates during the run up to Halloween every year in October.

31. Like a prof. emeritus RET
Emeritus (female form “emerita”, plural “emeriti”) is a term in the title of some retired professionals, particularly those from academia. Originally an emeritus was a veteran soldier who had served his time. The term comes from the Latin verb "emerere" meaning to complete one's service.

36. Supermarket chain initials IGA
IGA stands for Independent Grocers Alliance, a chain of supermarkets that extends right around the world. IGA's headquarters is in Chicago.

37. McCain's title SENATOR
John McCain went into the US Naval Academy in 1958, following a family tradition as his father and grandfather were both four-star admirals. The younger McCain did not achieve the same rank, retiring from the Navy as a captain in 1981, but his career development was interrupted by almost six years spent as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

44. Univ. proctors, often TAS
Teaching assistant (TA)

A "proctor" is a supervisor, especially of an examination in a school, or perhaps of a dormitory. The word "proctor" originated in the late 1500s as a contraction of the word "procurator", the name given to an official agent of a church.

45. Seat of New York's Oneida County UTICA
Utica in New York is known as “Second Chance City” these days, due to the recent influx of refugees from war-torn parts of the world and from Bosnia in particular. These immigrants have helped revitalize the area and reverse a trend of population loss.

47. Go on strike, in slang HIT THE BRICKS
The idiomatic phrase “hit the bricks” means to walk the streets, or perhaps to go on strike.

51. Vehement speeches TIRADES
A “tirade” is a long and vehement speech, and is a word that came into English from French. “Tirade” can have the same meaning in French, but is also the word for “volley”. So, a tirade is a “volley of words”.

56. "Language" that gave us "amscray" PIG LATIN
Pig Latin is in effect a game. One takes the first consonant or consonant cluster of an English word and moves it to the end of the word, and then adds the letters "ay". So the Pig Latin for the word "nix" is "ix-n-ay" ... ixnay, and for "scram" is "am-scr-ay"

60. Menace who destroyed houses made of the ends of 18-, 26- and 47-Across BIG BAD WOLF
The fairy tale of “The Three Little Pigs” has been around for centuries, although it first appeared in print in the 1840s. One little pig built a house using straw and another built one using wood. The clever little pig built his house using bricks.

64. List-shortening abbr. ET AL
Et alii (et al.) is the equivalent of et cetera (etc.), with et cetera being used in place of a list of objects, and et alii used for a list of names. In fact "et al." can stand for et alii (for a group of males, or males and females), aliae (for a group of women) and et alia (for a group of neuter nouns, or for a group of people where the intent is to retain gender-neutrality).

65. "... had a farm, __" E-I-E-I-O
There was an American version of the English children's song "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" (E-I-E-I-O), that was around in the days of WWI. The first line of the US version goes "Old MacDougal had a farm, in Ohio-i-o".

66. Bullpen stats ERAS
Earned run average (ERA)

68. Rose essence ATTAR
Attar is a fragrant essential oil obtained from flowers, and the term may particularly refer to attar of roses.

69. Hankerings YENS
The word "yen", meaning "urge", has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word "yin" imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium!

Down
2. Feet pampering, briefly PEDI
Pedicure (“pedi”)

5. "Never gonna happen" NO SOAP
“No soap” is a slang term meaning “not possible”. The term probably originated with the slang usage of “soap” to mean “money”, so “no soap” meant, “I have no money (to lend you)”. Over time, the usage of “no soap” generalized to “it’s not going to happen, so don’t ask”.

8. At any time, to Frost E’ER
The wonderful poet Robert Frost was a native of San Francisco, but lived most of life in New England. He also spent a few years in England, just before WWI. Frost was well recognized for his work during his lifetime, and received four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.

9. Summer hrs. DST
On the other side of the Atlantic, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is known as "summer time". The idea behind summer/daylight-savings is to move clocks forward an hour in spring and backwards in the fall so that afternoons have more daylight.

11. Extra Dry deodorant ARRID
Arrid is an antiperspirant deodorant brand introduced in the thirties. Slogans associated with Arrid have been "Don't be half-safe - use Arrid to be sure", "Stress stinks! Arrid works!" and "Get a little closer".

12. Eubie of jazz BLAKE
James Hubert “Eubie” Blake was a composer and pianist from Baltimore, Maryland. Blake was a noted composer and performer of ragtime music. The 1978 musical revue “Eubie!” features his music. Apparently Blake claimed to have started smoking cigarettes at the age of 10 years, and died 85 years later in 1983. Blake’s celebrity status and long life as a smoker was often cited by politicians who opposed anti-tobacco legislation.

21. Future prunes, perhaps PLUMS
A prune is a dried plum. The name “prune” comes from the Latin “prunum”, the word for “plum”.

27. "Othello" villain IAGO
Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare's "Othello". Iago is a soldier who fought alongside Othello and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. He hatches a plot designed to discredit his rival Cassio by insinuating that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello's wife. By the end of the play it's Iago himself who is discredited and Othello (before committing suicide) apologizes to Cassio for having believed Iago's lies. Heavy stuff …

28. Scottish family CLAN
Our word “clan” comes from the Gaelic “clann” meaning “family, stock”.

38. Suffix with major or Smurf -ETTE
A drum major is a the leader of a marching band, and is a position that originated in the British Army’s Corp of Drums in 1650. The drum major’s job is to lead the group and ensure that the whole ensemble keeps time. To help him do so, a drum major often uses a large baton. Over time, it became customary for the baton to be twirled and tossed in an elaborate display. The drum major tradition was embraced by high school marching bands in America. Drum-majorettes became popular in the 1930s, with groups of females taking up baton-twirling and marching with bands. According to an article in “Life” magazine published on October 10th, 1938, “the perfect majorette is a pert, shapely, smiling extrovert, who loves big, noisy crowds and knows how to make those crowds love her.” It was a different time …

The Smurfs are little blue men created by a Belgian cartoonist in 1958. The Smurfs became famous in the US when Hanna-Barbera used them in a children's cartoon series. The characters are largely a group of males. The original lineup included just one "Smurfette", who is wooed by almost all of the boy Smurfs. Later, another female was introduced into the mix called Sassette, and still later along came Granny Smurf.

39. D.C. baseball team NATS
The Washington Nationals baseball team started out life as the Montreal Expos in 1969. The Expos moved to Washington in 2005 becoming the Nats. There are only two Major Leagues teams that have never played in a World Series, one being the Mariners and the other the Nats.

43. Shuffling gait SHAMBLE
“To shamble” is to walk awkwardly, to shuffle along. The term may derive from the use of “shamble” as a noun meaning a butcher’s shop. A shambling gait might involve the leg’s being someone splayed, resembling the legs on a butchers’ table. As an aside, the most famous old street in York in the north of England is called “the Shambles”. Back in the late 1800s, the relatively short street was home to twenty-five butchers’ show, although all are long gone now.

46. "30 Rock" creator TINA FEY
“30 Rock” is a sitcom on NBC that was created by the show’s star Tina Fey. Fey is an ex-performer and writer from “Saturday Night Live” and uses her experiences on that show as a basis for the “30 Rock” storyline. “30 Rock” aired its last episode in early 2013.

49. Wife of 27-Down EMILIA
Emilia and Iago are characters in William Shakespeare’s play “Othello”. Emilia and Iago are a married couple, although Iago kills Emilia late in the play.

52. "Lord, __?": Matthew IS IT I
At the Last Supper, Jesus told his apostles that one of them would betray him that day. According to the Gospel of Matthew:
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

57. Michelin product TIRE
Michelin is a manufacturer of tires based in France. The company was founded by brothers Édouard and AndrĂ© Michelin in 1888. The brothers were running a rubber factory at the time, and invented the world’s first removable pneumatic tire, an invention that they used to launch their new company. Michelin is also noted for rating restaurants and accommodation in its famous Michelin Travel Guides.

58. Tennis great Lendl IVAN
Ivan Lendl is a former professional tennis player from Czechoslovakia. Lendl appeared in eight consecutive US Open finals in the eighties, a record that stands to this day.

59. Mythical monster's loch NESS
The Loch Ness monster has been talked about for centuries, but modern interest started in 1933 when a spate of sightings was reported. Those sightings don't seem to have stopped, with photographs of what is purported to be the monster really sparking the imagination.

61. Org. with narcs DEA
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

“Narc” is a slang term for a law enforcement officer who tracks down criminals associated with illegal drugs.

62. Oscar Wilde's forte WIT
If you didn't know Oscar Wilde was Irish, you will when you see the name he was given at birth: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde!


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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Junk email SPAM
5. "A Streetcar __ Desire" NAMED
10. Talks and talks and talks GABS
14. Strauss of denim LEVI
15. Double-reed instruments OBOES
16. Author __ Stanley Gardner ERLE
17. Fateful date for Caesar IDES
18. Unlucky thing to draw SHORT STRAW
20. Poverty-stricken DIRT POOR
22. Share and share __ ALIKE
23. Banned apple spray ALAR
24. Solved, as a cryptogram DECODED
26. Tabletop game requiring steady hands PICK-UP STICKS
30. Witch trials town SALEM
31. Like a prof. emeritus RET
32. Narrate TELL
36. Supermarket chain initials IGA
37. McCain's title SENATOR
41. Pizzeria order PIE
42. Male offspring SONS
44. Univ. proctors, often TAS
45. Seat of New York's Oneida County UTICA
47. Go on strike, in slang HIT THE BRICKS
51. Vehement speeches TIRADES
54. Have in mind MEAN
55. "I'll do whatever you need" USE ME
56. "Language" that gave us "amscray" PIG LATIN
60. Menace who destroyed houses made of the ends of 18-, 26- and 47-Across BIG BAD WOLF
63. Common quitting time FIVE
64. List-shortening abbr. ET AL
65. "... had a farm, __" E-I-E-I-O
66. Bullpen stats ERAS
67. Really annoy RILE
68. Rose essence ATTAR
69. Hankerings YENS

Down
1. Got one's uniform dirty, as a base runner SLID
2. Feet pampering, briefly PEDI
3. State confidently AVER
4. Error MISTAKE
5. "Never gonna happen" NO SOAP
6. Finds repugnant ABHORS
7. Tie up in the harbor MOOR
8. At any time, to Frost E’ER
9. Summer hrs. DST
10. "Amscray!" GET LOST!
11. Extra Dry deodorant ARRID
12. Eubie of jazz BLAKE
13. Embroidered, e.g. SEWED
19. Potato bag SACK
21. Future prunes, perhaps PLUMS
24. Weight loss plan DIET
25. Opposite of endo- ECTO-
26. Trident-shaped Greek letters PSIS
27. "Othello" villain IAGO
28. Scottish family CLAN
29. Garbage TRASH
33. Larger-than-life EPIC
34. Kiss from a dog LICK
35. Grazing grounds LEAS
38. Suffix with major or Smurf -ETTE
39. D.C. baseball team NATS
40. Beyond the burbs RURAL
43. Shuffling gait SHAMBLE
46. "30 Rock" creator TINA FEY
48. Brainstorm IDEA
49. Wife of 27-Down EMILIA
50. Request earnestly, as mercy BEG FOR
51. Potato or yam TUBER
52. "Lord, __?": Matthew IS IT I
53. Fit for a king REGAL
56. Couplet creator POET
57. Michelin product TIRE
58. Tennis great Lendl IVAN
59. Mythical monster's loch NESS
61. Org. with narcs DEA
62. Oscar Wilde's forte WIT


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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.

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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.

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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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