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Greetings from Blackrock, in Dublin, Ireland

I am on vacation in Ireland until October 9th. I plan on doing the puzzle each day (with a pint, no doubt), although I may be a little late due to time zone differences. I am sure that you understand. Happy puzzling, and slainte!

Bill

LA Times Crossword Answers 24 Nov 12, Saturday





CROSSWORD SETTER: Brad Wilber
THEME: None
COMPLETION TIME: 17m 32s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across
8. Pedestrian PROSAIC
Something that is prosaic is “like prose”. We use the term “prosaic” to mean “dry, arid, ordinary”, as in comparing prose to poetry ... well, in a way ...

15. New Jersey City across from Staten Island BAYONNE
The city of Bayonne, New Jersey is situated next to Jersey City and connects to Staten Island via the Bayonne Bridge that spans the tidal strait known as the Kill Van Kull.

16. Play that inspired Puccini LA TOSCA
“La Tosca” is a play written by Frenchman Victorien Sardou. We rarely get a chance to see the play these days, but the musical adaptation by Puccini called “Tosca” is one of the most frequently performed operas in the contemporary repertoire.

17. 19th-century literary trio BRONTES
The Brontë family lived in the lovely village of Haworth in Yorkshire, England. The three daughters all became recognised authors. The first to achieve success was Charlotte Brontë when she published “Jane Eyre”. Then came Emily with “Wuthering Heights” and Anne with “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”.

19. Pickett's Charge soldier REB
Pickett’s Charge was an infantry assault that took place on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The charge was a futile manoeuvre ordered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee that resulted in a loss of 50% of the attacking rebel forces. The defeat turned the course of the battle, and the Battle of Gettysburg turned the course of the Civil War.

22. First family when D.C.'s earliest cherry trees were planted TAFTS
The famous cherry trees that line the Potomac River in Washington D.C. were a gift from the city of Tokyo, Japan. The first two of the trees were planted in a ceremony by First lady Helen Herron Taft and the wife of the Japanese ambassador. The US government reciprocated the gesture and presented the people of Japan with flowering dogwood trees.

William Howard Taft may have been the 27th President of the United States, but his lifelong ambition was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. President Taft was able to realize that dream in 1921, eight years after losing his bid for re-election as president. As Chief Justice, this former US President swore in two new presidents: Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929).

23. 1790s diplomatic powder keg XYZ AFFAIR
During the administration of President John Adams, there was a drawn-out exchange between three American and three French diplomats in an attempt to avoid war between the two countries. The French diplomats made demands that were considered insulting by the US. Documents released by the Adams administration denoted the three French diplomats as simply X, Y and Z. There was public outcry when the documents were released and the demands disclosed, and the whole incident became known as the XYZ Affair. The end result was an undeclared war between the US and France with American ships capturing 80 vessels that flew the French flag.

25. Chianti container CARAFE
Chianti is a red wine from Tuscany in Italy. Historically, Chianti was stored in a characteristically bulbous bottle wrapped in a straw basket, although these days the pragmatists have won the day and regular wine bottles tend to be used.

33. Miami Dolphins uniform color AQUA
The Miami Dolphins football team was founded in 1966 by politician Joe Robbie and the comedian Danny Thomas.

35. Garden blooms named for medieval music makers CANTERBURY BELLS
Canterbury Bells is the common name for the flowering plant Campanula medium. The term “campanula” means "small bell", a reference to the shape of the flower. The common name is derived from the bells of Canterbury Cathedral in the county of Kent in England. Canterbury Cathedral is home to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England.

38. Ship with a prophetic prow ARGO
In Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts set sail on the Argo from the city of Iolcos in search of the Golden Fleece. Jason's vessel was called the "Argo" in honor of the ship's builder, a man named Argus.

39. Mythical bowman EROS
As always seems to be the case with Greek gods, Eros and Aphrodite have overlapping spheres of influence. Aphrodite was the goddess of love between a man and a woman, and Eros was the god who stirred the passions of the male.

40. Motrin competitor ALEVE
Aleve is a brand name for the anti-inflammatory drug Naproxen sodium.

Advil and Motrin are brand names for the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofin.

41. Oklahoma tribe OTO
The Otoe (also Oto) Native American tribe originated in the Great Lakes region as part of the Winnebago or Siouan tribes. The group that would become the Otoe broke away from the Winnebago and migrated southwestwards ending up in the Great Plains. In the plains the Otoe adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle dependent on the horse, with the American bison becoming central to their diet.

44. Highly rated court figure JUDGE JUDY
Judge Judy of television fame is actually Judith Sheindlin, a retired family court judge from New York. Ms. Sheindlin's contract was renewed in the middle of 2010, so that she now earns $45 million per year taping her show. That's a tad more than she was earning on the "real" bench I think ...

46. Claptrap HOKUM
"Hokum" was originally theater slang, meaning "melodramatic, exaggerated acting". Now it just means empty talk.

“Claptrap” these days means nonsense talk. It was originally a term used on the stage meaning a trick to attract applause, hence the name “clap trap”.

49. Clay + straw + water + sunshine ADOBE
The building material known as adobe has been around a long time, and has been used in dry climates all over the world. The original form of the word "adobe" dates back to Middle Egyptian times, about 2000 BC. The original "spelling" is dj-b-t, and translates as mud (sun-dried) brick.

53. Type of mining used for near-the-surface minerals OPEN-PIT
Open-pit mining is the extraction of of rock and minerals from the earth by the removal from an open pit. This is compared with the alternative form of mining that requires tunnelling into the ground. A quarry is an example of an open-pit mine, one that produces common building materials.

60. "Act I: Daily Life" play OUR TOWN
“Our Town” is a play by Thornton Wilder, first performed in 1938. Wilder won a Pulitzer for the work. “Our Town” was actually banned by the Soviet authorities in East Berlin in 1946. Their reasoning was that “the drama was too depressing and could inspire a German suicide wave”.

Down
3. Initial warning to an intruder? MYOB
Mind Your Own Business!

4. Longtime Cub Santo RON
Ron Santo was a professional baseball player most noted for his appearances as third baseman for the Chicago Cubs. Santo suffered diabetes, something he managed to keep to himself for most of his playing career. After he retired, the disease necessitated the amputation of both his legs and complications from diabetes eventually contributed to his death.

7. Inventor hired by Westinghouse TESLA
Nikola Tesla was born in Serbia, but later moved to the US. Tesla's work on mechanical and electrical engineering was crucial to the development of alternating current technology, the same technology that is used by equipment at the backbone of modern power generation and distribution systems.

George Westinghouse was an American engineer and businessman, a rival to Thomas Edison in developing the first robust electrical grid for the country. Edison’s approach was to distribute electrical power using DC current, but Westinghouse opted to partner with Nikola Tesla and worked with AC current. AC technology won the day!

8. Golfer's knickers PLUS FOURS
Plus fours are so called because the traditional design extends four inches in the leg longer than knickerbockers. You can also get hold of plus twos, plus sixes and plus eights should you be interested.

10. Canal malady OTITIS
Otitis is inflammation of the ear.

13. "Johnny Mnemonic" actor ICE-T
Rapper Ice-T must be sick of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles. Maybe he should have stuck to his real name, Tracy Marrow? Then again, maybe not ...

“Johnny Mnemonic” is a 1995 film based on a short story of the same name by William Gibson. The movie stars Keanu Reeves in the title role.

21. Like an old saw OFT-QUOTED
A “saw” is an old adage, a saying.

23. Maker of the Vortex electric pencil sharpener X-ACTO
The X-Acto knife was invented in the thirties by a Polish immigrant, although his intention was to come up with a scalpel for surgeons. The knife couldn't cut it as a scalpel though (pun intended!), because it was difficult to clean. The inventor's brother-in law suggested it be used as a craft knife, and it is still around today.

25. Evergreen bean CACAO
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree. The seeds are very bitter and the traditional drink made with the seed was called “xocolatl” by the Aztecs, meaning “bitter water”. That’s how our "chocolate" got its name.

27. Movie chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp RANGO
“Rango” is a 2011 animated feature film starring the voice of Johnny Depp. The anti-smoking organization known as Breathe California labelled “Rango” as a public health hazard because of 60 instances of smoking in the movie.

30. Volley SALVO
A salvo is a simultaneous discharge of guns. Ironically, “salvo” comes from the Latin “salve” meaning “be in good health!” Salvo was originally the name given to the firing of guns in the air as a sign of respect or greeting for an important visitor. Good health!

31. Ruhr valley city ESSEN
I knew a man back in Ireland, a German national from the city of Essen. He had very sad tales to tell from the days of WWII. As a young boy he lost his (socialist) parents during the Nazi purges early in the war. In 1943 he was living with his grandmother and still attending school when he was drafted into the army along with the rest of his class (at 14 years of age). His platoon leader was his school teacher who made a point of tutoring the boys in place of military drilling. One day he was on guard duty with his class/platoon at the dam above the city, and along come the Dam Busters with their bouncing bombs. The raid was successful (from the perspective of the Allies), but he described terrible famine faced by the people below the dam due to flooding of the farmland that surrounded the factories.

33. Repeals ABROGATES
Abrogate is such a lovely sounding word. It means to annul or do away with, especially by authority.

36. Senate Majority Leader after Frist REID
Democrat Harry Reid became the Senate Majority leader in 2007. Reid had a big day in the Senate from a Democratic perspective with the successful passage of the so-called ObamaCare Bill. Paradoxically, Harry Reid's wife was in hospital at the time, having broken her back in a car accident. Reid took over as Senate Majority leader from Bill Frist who retired from politics in 2007.

Bill Frist was Senate Majority Leader for the Republicans from 2003 to 2007. Prior to becoming a politician, Frist was a heart and lung transplant surgeon. He has also been a pilot since he was 16-years-old, and has run seven marathons.

37. Tourist guidebook publisher BAEDEKER
Baedeker travel guides have been around since 1827. Baedeker guides were so popular in the early 20th century that “baedekering” came to mean travelling a country with the intent of writing a travel guide. During WWII the British used the term “Baedeker Blitz” for a series of air attacks on English towns that seemed to have no strategic importance. The suggestion was that the towns were targeted simply because they rated three stars in the Baedeker guide book.

43. Legacy producer SUBARU
Subaru is the automobile division of the Japanese company, Fuji Heavy Industries. The name “Subaru” is the Japanese name of the Pleiades star cluster. As a result, the Subaru logo is also a cluster of stars.

44. Coup group JUNTA
A junta is a group of military officers that rule a country, usually after having seized power forcibly. “Junta” is a Spanish word meaning “council”.

45. Game with five-letter words JOTTO
Jotto is a word guessing game for two players. I used to play a game with colored pegs as a kid that works on the same principle, but for the life of me I cannot remember the name ...

46. Traditional dance HORA
The hora (also "horah") is a circle dance that originated in the Balkans. The hora was brought to Israel by Romanian settlers, and is often performed to traditional Israeli folk songs. The dance is a regular sight at Jewish weddings.

47. Australian export OPAL
97% of the world’s opals come from Australia, so it’s no surprise perhaps that the opal is the national gemstone of the country. The state of South Australia provides the bulk of the world’s production, about 80%.

48. Foreign Legion cap KEPI
The kepi is that circular cap with a visor, worn in particular by the French military.

The French Foreign Legion is a military wing of the French Army that is noted for accepting foreign nationals in its ranks. The Legion is open to French recruits, but they only make up about a quarter of the fighting force. Having said that, the majority of the officers are Frenchman.

51. Bamboozle SNOW
It's thought that the lovely word "bamboozle" came into English from the Scottish "bombaze" meaning "perplex". We've been using "bamboozle" since the very early 1700s.

52. School in the Quaker Consortium PENN
The Quaker Consortium is an arrangement between four colleges in the Philadelphia area that allows their students to take courses in any of the participating schools and still get academic credit. The schools in the consortium are:
- Bryn Mawr
- Haverford
- Swarthmore
- The University of Pennsylvania
The name “Quaker” is a nod to the influence of Quakers in the founding of the participating schools.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Cup holder site ARMREST
8. Pedestrian PROSAIC
15. New Jersey City across from Staten Island BAYONNE
16. Play that inspired Puccini LA TOSCA
17. 19th-century literary trio BRONTES
18. Not 26-Down UNIFIED
19. Pickett's Charge soldier REB
20. Some moves, briefly RELOS
22. First family when D.C.'s earliest cherry trees were planted TAFTS
23. 1790s diplomatic powder keg XYZ AFFAIR
25. Chianti container CARAFE
28. Takes off the shoulder, perhaps TOWS
29. La Paz-to-Montevideo dir. SSE
32. Expeditiously APACE
33. Miami Dolphins uniform color AQUA
34. Fluff pieces? BOAS
35. Garden blooms named for medieval music makers CANTERBURY BELLS
38. Ship with a prophetic prow ARGO
39. Mythical bowman EROS
40. Motrin competitor ALEVE
41. Oklahoma tribe OTO
42. Barrel of laughs RIOT
43. Flavor, in a way SEASON
44. Highly rated court figure JUDGE JUDY
46. Claptrap HOKUM
49. Clay + straw + water + sunshine ADOBE
50. Recipe meas. TSP
53. Type of mining used for near-the-surface minerals OPEN-PIT
55. Sample tray sign TAKE ONE!
57. Ecstasy RAPTURE
58. Walk all over TREAD ON
59. What con men may assume ALIASES
60. "Act I: Daily Life" play OUR TOWN

Down
1. 50-Across, e.g. ABBR
2. Infrequent RARE
3. Initial warning to an intruder? MYOB
4. Longtime Cub Santo RON
5. Contestant's payment ENTRY FEE
6. Reaction to a tickle, maybe SNEEZE
7. Inventor hired by Westinghouse TESLA
8. Golfer's knickers PLUS FOURS
9. Operated RAN
10. Canal malady OTITIS
11. To date SO FAR
12. "Never gonna happen!" AS IF
13. "Johnny Mnemonic" actor ICE-T
14. Heels CADS
21. Like an old saw OFT-QUOTED
23. Maker of the Vortex electric pencil sharpener X-ACTO
24. Off AWAY
25. Evergreen bean CACAO
26. Like exes APART
27. Movie chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp RANGO
29. Clog bottoms SOLES
30. Volley SALVO
31. Ruhr valley city ESSEN
33. Repeals ABROGATES
34. Anchor, as a nautical rope BELAY
36. Senate Majority Leader after Frist REID
37. Tourist guidebook publisher BAEDEKER
42. Clamor RUMPUS
43. Legacy producer SUBARU
44. Coup group JUNTA
45. Game with five-letter words JOTTO
46. Traditional dance HORA
47. Australian export OPAL
48. Foreign Legion cap KEPI
50. Clamor TO-DO
51. Bamboozle SNOW
52. School in the Quaker Consortium PENN
54. Haranguer's fuel IRE
56. Absorb, as costs EAT


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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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