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Greetings from Dundalk, County Louth in Ireland

I am on vacation in Ireland, and have extended my stay until October 24th. I am focused on getting the puzzle solved and at least a basic post up each day. It's proving to be difficult to do much more than that due to pressure of time, which I am sure you can understand. Happy puzzling, and slainte!

Bill

LA Times Crossword Answers 2 Dec 12, Sunday





CROSSWORD SETTER: Kathleen Fay O'Brien
THEME: Heard Down Under … each of the themed answers sounds like be a well known expression, if spoken by an Australian:
23A. Arranged pickling solutions on the shelf? RACKED ONE’S BRINES (racked one’s brains)
40A. Funhouse admission fee? FRIGHT CHARGE (freight charge)
73A. "Your shingle work stinks!" e.g.? ROOFING SLIGHT (roofing slate)
105A. "Don't take candy from strangers," say? GUILE WARNING (gale warning)
123A. Empty church basket? COLLECTION PLIGHT (collection plate)
16D. Landing with just a toothbrush? LIGHT ARRIVAL (late arrival)
67D. Indian chef's series of adventures? SPICE ODYSSEY (space odyssey)
COMPLETION TIME: 30m 31s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across
6. Influential collegian, briefly BMOC
Big Man On Campus (BMOC)!

15. Dalmatian, e.g. SLAV
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, with most of its area falling in modern-day Croatia.

20. Sphere opening IONO-
The ionosphere is that layer of the atmosphere that is ionized by solar radiation.

22. __ colada PINA
Piña colada is a Spanish term which translates into "strained pineapple". The cocktail was introduced in the Caribe Hilton in 1954, and since 1978 it has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico. Yum ...

27. Name on sweet pieces REESE
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were invented by Harry Burnett "H.B." Reese. Peanut Butter Cups were originally called penny cups, reflecting the price at which they were sold. Then inflation took over, and maybe that’s why they were broken into smaller “pieces” ...

29. Memorable Shakespearean trio WITCHES
As the three witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” are boiling up their evil brew, they call out all the exotic ingredients. Stirring away they also repeat several times the famous lines:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

31. Solstice mo. DEC
A solstice occurs twice in every year. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year (has the most daylight), and the winter solstice is the shortest.

32. "Ghostbusters" goo SLIME
1984's "Ghostbusters" really is a fun movie. It stars Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, and was directed by Ivan Reitman (a trio that also worked together on 1981's "Stripes"). The first draft of the screenplay was written by another star of the movie, Dan Akroyd. Akroyd originally envisioned "Ghostbusters" as a vehicle for himself and John Belushi, but sadly Belushi passed away before the project could be realized.

37. Cosa __ NOSTRA
Apparently “Cosa Nostra” is the real name for the Italian Mafia. “Cosa Nostra” translates as “our thing” or “this thing of ours”. The term first became public in the US when the FBI managed to turn some members of the American Mafia. It was established that “Cosa Nostra” was also used in Sicily when Italian authorities penetrated the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s. The term “mafia” seems to be just a literary invention that has become popular with the public.

38. Virginie, e.g. ETAT
In French, Virginia (Virginie) is a state (état).

43. Syst. with gestures ASL
It's really quite unfortunate that American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one cannot understand someone signing in the other.

47. Island S. of 10-Down SAR
Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy, an island in the Mediterranean off the west coast of the country and south of the French island of Corsica. Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean (Sicily is the largest).

58. ACLU concerns RTS
I am not sure, but my guess is that “rts.” is short for "rights". I could be wrong …

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its roots in the First World War when it was founded to provide legal advice and support to conscientious objectors.

63. Drug in Shatner novels TEK
The “Tekwar” series of science-fiction novels was co-authored by Ron Goulart and the actor William Shatner, although it’s only Shatner’s name that appears on the bookcovers. The stories center around the microchip “drug” called “tek” which dominates the Tekwar universe.

68. Firenze's land ITALIA
“Firenze” is the Italian name for the city that we know in English as Florence.

70. Verb in the classic "Mission: Impossible" opening scene DISAVOW
"As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions."

72. One in a military march? HUP
Hup, two three, four …

76. Litigator's org. ABA
The American Bar Association (ABA) was founded back in 1878 and is a voluntary association for lawyers and law students. The ABA focuses on setting academic standards for law schools and setting ethical codes for the profession.

83. President pro __ TEM
"Pro tempore" can be abbreviated to "pro tem" or "p.t." "Pro tempore" is a Latin phrase that best translates as "for the time being". It is used to describe a person who is acting for another, usually a superior.

87. "Fawlty Towers" producer, with "the" BEEB
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is also known as "the Beeb", a name given to the network by the great Peter Sellers on the classic British radio comedy called "The Goon Show".

"Fawlty Towers" might be the world's greatest sitcom, popular on both sides of the Atlantic. It was written by, and starred, John Cleese and his then-wife Connie Booth. There were two series, one broadcast in 1975, and the other in 1979. There have been three attempts to remake the series in the US, one of which starred John Larroquette as Basil Fawlty, but none of the remakes worked at all.

88. Old dagger SNEE
"Snick or snee" is the name given to cut and thrust while fighting with a knife. The phrase is rooted in a pair of Dutch words, and it gave its name to a "snee", a light sword-like knife.

90. Cognac grade, initially VSOP
Cognac is a most famous variety of brandy named after the town of Cognac in the very west of France. To be called cognac, the brandy must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in very specific French oak barrels. It is the length of this aging that defines the various grades of cognac (and other brandies):
- VS: Very Special ... at least 2 years storage
- VSOP: Very Special (or Superior) Old Pale ... at least 4 years storage
- XO: Extra Old ... at least 6 years
- VSO: Very Superior Old ... 12-17 years

92. Reuben need SWISS
There are conflicting stories about the origin of the Reuben sandwich. One is that it was invented around 1914 by Arnold Reuben, an immigrant from Germany who owned Reuben's Deli in New York.

103. Goal for a H.S. dropout GED
The General Education Diploma (GED) is a substitute for a high school diploma, available perhaps for high school dropouts or students who are homeschooled.

110. Beefeater product DRY GIN
Beefeater Gin is a brand of spirit from the UK, with a Yeoman Warder (beefeater) on the label.

Beefeater is the popular name for a Yeoman Warder of the Tower of London. The official responsibility of a beefeater is to guard any prisoners in the Tower, and to look after the crown jewels. But the cadre of beefeaters actually spend their day guiding tours around the magnificent castle. No one really knows where the origin of the name "beefeater". Any time you are in London, be sure to check out the Tower. As you leave the Tower, turn left and walk down to the river. There you can catch a water taxi to Westminster which will take you by St. Paul's and drop you off at the Houses of Parliament, just around the corner from Westminster Abbey. A great day out ...

112. Algerian port ORAN
Oran lies on the Algerian coast, and is famous for being the port where the French Navy was largely destroyed by the British during WWII in order to avoid the French vessels falling into the hands of Nazi Germany after France surrendered. This decisive and unexpected unilateral action by the British sent a very strong message around the world that Britain was willing to fight alone against the axis powers if necessary.

113. Oct. 24, 1947 declaration UN DAY
The Charter of the United Nations was signed by the member states in San Francisco in June 1945 and came into force on 24 October 1945. October 24 was chosen as United Nations Day in 1947. In 1971  the United Nations further resolved to make UN Day a public holiday in all UN member states.

116. Abby and Martha's poison of choice, in a 1939 play ARSENIC
I suppose that most famously “Arsenic and Old Lace” is a Frank Capra film, released in 1944. The movie was based on a 1939 stage play by Joseph Kesselring. The film stars Cary Grant as a completely madcap and frantic Mortimer Brewster. Grant was only the fourth choice for the role, after Bob Hope, Jack Benny and Ronald Reagan. That’s quite an eclectic mix of actors …

120. Asian wraps SARIS
The item of clothing called a "sari" (also "saree") is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that is unstitched along the whole of its length. The strip of cloth can range from four to nine meters long (that's a lot of material!). The sari is usually wrapped around the waist, then draped over the shoulder leaving the midriff bare. I must say, it can be a beautiful item of clothing.

122. Democratic donkey designer NAST
Thomas Nast was an American caricaturist and cartoonist. Nast was the creator of the Republican Party elephant, the Democratic Party's donkey, Uncle Sam and the image of the plump and jocular Santa Claus that we use today.

129. Water from France EVIAN
Évian-les-Bains (or simply Évian) is in the very east of France, on the shores of Lake Geneva directly across the lake from Lausanne, Switzerland. As you might imagine, Évian is the home of Évian mineral water, the most successful business in town. I can't stand the taste of Évian water ...

130. City west of Caen ST LO
Saint-Lô is a town in Normandy that was occupied by Germany in 1940. Saint-Lo stood at a strategic crossroads and so there was intense fighting there during the Normandy invasion of 1944. After the bombardment, very little of the town was left standing.

Caen, on the River Orne, lies in the Calvados department of France in the northwest of the country. Caen is famous for the WWII Battle of Caen that left the town practically destroyed. Caen is also the burial place of the Norman King William I of England, also known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

131. Reverberations in une grotte ECHOS
“Grotte” is French for “cave”.

132. Mitty portrayer KAYE
The actor Danny Kaye was a big hit in his native US, but also in France. Kaye was the first ambassador-at-large for UNICEF and the French awarded him the Legion of Honor in 1986 for his work.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a short story by James Thurber first published in 1939 in “The New Yorker”. The story was made into a film in 1947 with Danny Kaye in the title role. Mitty is a mild-mannered man with a very active fantasy life.

135. Venezia casino winner SETTE
“Sette” is a Italian for “seven”.

Venezia (Venice) is in Italia (Italy).

Down
2. Disaronno Originale product AMARETTO
Amaretto is an Italian liqueur with a sweet almond flavor. Even though the drink is sweet, it has a bitterness lent to it by the bitter almonds that are often used as a flavoring. The name "amaretto" is a diminutive of the Italian word "amaro" meaning "bitter".

4. Sommer of film ELKE
Elke Sommer is a German-born actress who was at the height of her success on the silver screen in the sixties. Sommer won a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer Actress for her role opposite Paul Newman in 1964's "The Prize". She also sings and has released several albums. Now she focuses on painting, producing artwork that is strongly influenced by Marc Chagall.

7. My friend abroad MON AMI
“Mon ami” is French for “my friend”, when addressing a male.

8. Long John Silver feature ONE LEG
Long John Silver is a character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”, and is a pirate with a peg leg.

Robert Louis Stevenson's most celebrated work I'd say is "Treasure Island", originally written as a series for a children's magazine in 1881. I remember "Treasure Island" as the first "real" novel I read as a youngster ...

9. "__ fan tutte": Mozart opera COSI
Mozart's comic opera "Così fan tutte" is also known in English as "The School for Lovers". A more literal translation is "Thus do all (women)", or "Women are like that".

10. Napoleon I's birthplace CORSICA
Corsica is a large island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France. Napoléon Bonaparte was born on Corsica, in the town of Ajaccio.

12. Suffix with Jacob -EAN
The Jacobean era is that period in England and Scotland when the thrones were occupied by King James VI of Scotland, also known as King James I of England. “Jacobus” is the Latin for “James”.

13. Diving duck SMEW
The smew is a beautiful-looking species of duck found right across northern Europe and Asia.

24. Dutch pottery city DELFT
Delft is a city in the Netherlands located between Rotterdam and the Hague. Delft is noted for its pottery, and was also home to one of my favorite painters, Johannes Vermeer.

25. St. __: Caribbean island BARTS
The correct name for the island we often call St. Barts is Saint Barthélemy. St. Barts is in the Caribbean and is one of the French West Indies.

42. Like "Mary Poppins" RATED G
The “Mary Poppins” series of children’s novels was written by Australian-born English writer and actress P. L. Travers. Mary Poppins is a magical children’s nanny with a best friend called Bert. In the famous musical film adaptation of the Mary Poppins stories, Poppins is played by Julie Andrews and Bert is played Dick Van Dyke.

45. Maestro Toscanini ARTURO
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor of classical music. Toscanini took up the baton for the first time under sensational circumstances in 1886. He was attending a performance of "Aida" in Rio de Janeiro in the role of assistant chorus master, on a night when a substitute conductor was leading the orchestra. The substitute was in charge because the lead conductor had been forced to step down by striking performers who would not work with him. The disgruntled lead conductor led the audience in booing the unfortunate substitute, forcing him off the stage. Yet another substitute attempted to lead the performance, but he could not overcome the hostility of the crowd. The musicians themselves begged Toscanini to take up the baton, for the first time in his life, and simply because he knew the score by heart. After over an hour of mayhem, Toscanini led the company in a remarkable performance to marvelous acclaim. He had just launched his conducting career.

48. Magician's opening ABRA
The incantation "abracadabra" has a long history. It was used as far back as the 2nd century AD in Ancient Rome when the word was prescribed by a physician to be worn on an amulet to help his emperor recover from disease. "Abracadabra" is Aramaic, and roughly translates as "I will create as I speak".

51. Arabic alphabet opener ALIF
“Alif” is the first letter in the Arabic Semitic alphabet, equivalent to the Hebrew “aleph”.

52. Funny Fields TOTIE
Totie Fields was the stage name of comedienne Sophie Feldman. “Totie” is a corruption of “Sophie” and was the nickname she was given as a child.

56. Hacienda brick 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.

61. Onetime Rolex rival ELGIN
The Elgin Watch company was a US manufacturer of watches from 1867 until it closed down in 1968.

74. Subtitle of the sequel "Damien" OMEN II
The original film "The Omen" was released in 1976. "Damien: Omen II" hit the screens in 1978. We were regaled with "Omen III: The Final Conflict" in 1981, and there was even a TV movie "Omen IV: The Awakening" in 1991. I haven't seen any of them, and have no interest in doing so (despite the excellent cast).

81. Spoke Siamese? MEWED
The exact origins of the Siamese cat aren't very clear, but it is believed to be from Southeast Asia. The Siamese takes its name from the sacred temple cats of Thailand (once called Siam).

84. __ Park: Edison lab site MENLO
Thomas Alva Edison was nicknamed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter, a name that stuck. He was indeed a wizard, in the sense that he was such a prolific inventor. The Menlo Park part of the moniker recognizes the location of his first research lab, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

103. Southern Baltic Sea port GDANSK
Gdańsk is a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland and is the country’s biggest seaport. Gdańsk was where the European Solidarity movement was born, with Lech Wałęsa in the leadership position. Wałęsa was an electrician working in the Gdańsk shipyards.

106. Worldwide relief org. UNICEF
The United Nations Children’s Fund is known by the acronym UNICEF because its original name when it was founded in 1946 was the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

111. "Capisce?" GET ME?
"Capisce?" is an Italian word meaning "understand?" It comes from the Latin verb "capere" meaning "to grasp, seize", and is related to our word "capture".

114. Many pin tumbler locks YALES
The Yale brand name comes from the name of the founder of the original company, Linus Yale Jr. Linus Yale was the inventor of the pin tumbler lock.

119. Airline investigative org. NTSB
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responsible for the investigation of major accidents involving transportation. Included in this broad definition is the transportation of fluids in pipelines. The organization is independent in that it has no ties to other government agencies or departments so that its investigations can be viewed as "impartial". The NTSB also earns a little money for the US as it hires out its investigation teams to countries who don't have the necessary resources available on their own soil.

127. "Cats" poet's monogram TSE
T. S. Eliot was born in New England but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Much of Eliot's college education was at Oxford, and clearly he became comfortable with life in England. In 1927 he became a British citizen and lived the rest of life in the UK.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's source material for his hit musical "Cats" was T. S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats". Eliot's collection of whimsical poems was published in 1939, and was a personal favorite of Webber as he was growing up. "Cats" is the second longest running show in Broadway history ("Phantom of the Opera" is the longest and is still running; deservedly so in my humble opinion). We’ve seen “Cats” a couple of times and really enjoyed it ...

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Not as risky SAFER
6. Influential collegian, briefly BMOC
10. Mus. direction in a dramatic passage CRESC
15. Dalmatian, e.g. SLAV
19. Where surfers shop EMALL
20. Sphere opening IONO-
21. Romney foe OBAMA
22. __ colada PINA
23. Arranged pickling solutions on the shelf? RACKED ONE’S BRINES (racked one’s brains)
26. Breakfast fare EGGS
27. Name on sweet pieces REESE
28. Deceptive handle ALIAS
29. Memorable Shakespearean trio WITCHES
31. Solstice mo. DEC
32. "Ghostbusters" goo SLIME
34. Like blue cheese RICH
37. Cosa __ NOSTRA
38. Virginie, e.g. ETAT
40. Funhouse admission fee? FRIGHT CHARGE (freight charge)
43. Syst. with gestures ASL
44. Furrowed STRIATE
46. Patriotic chant USA! USA!
47. Island S. of 10-Down SAR
49. Program writer CODER
50. Pre-coll. exams SATS
53. Place setting items MATS
55. __ flakes BRAN
58. ACLU concerns RTS
60. Like leaves LOBED
63. Drug in Shatner novels TEK
64. Roller coaster, e.g. RIDE
65. Tough call TOSS-UP
68. Firenze's land ITALIA
70. Verb in the classic "Mission: Impossible" opening scene DISAVOW
72. One in a military march? HUP
73. "Your shingle work stinks!" e.g.? ROOFING SLIGHT (roofing slate)
76. Litigator's org. ABA
77. Outfit for an outfit UNIFORM
79. Official commands EDICTS
80. Biceps band ARMLET
82. 13th-century date MCCI
83. President pro __ TEM
85. Uppity sort SNOOT
86. Beach shirt TEE
87. "Fawlty Towers" producer, with "the" BEEB
88. Old dagger SNEE
90. Cognac grade, initially VSOP
92. Reuben need SWISS
96. Spanish she-bear OSA
98. Not really, with "only" IN NAME
101. Quiet EASEFUL
103. Goal for a H.S. dropout GED
105. "Don't take candy from strangers," say? GUILE WARNING (gale warning)
109. Urgent DIRE
110. Beefeater product DRY GIN
112. Algerian port ORAN
113. Oct. 24, 1947 declaration UN DAY
115. __ school MED
116. Abby and Martha's poison of choice, in a 1939 play ARSENIC
118. Types KINDS
120. Asian wraps SARIS
122. Democratic donkey designer NAST
123. Empty church basket? COLLECTION PLIGHT (collection plate)
128. Wineglass feature STEM
129. Water from France EVIAN
130. City west of Caen ST LO
131. Reverberations in une grotte ECHOS
132. Mitty portrayer KAYE
133. Data update mechanisms FEEDS
134. Partings BYES
135. Venezia casino winner SETTE

Down
1. Sun. speech SER
2. Disaronno Originale product AMARETTO
3. King or queen FACE CARD
4. Sommer of film ELKE
5. Like May through August, in a way R-LESS
6. Book flap feature BIO
7. My friend abroad MON AMI
8. Long John Silver feature ONE LEG
9. "__ fan tutte": Mozart opera COSI
10. Napoleon I's birthplace CORSICA
11. Sac fly result RBI
12. Suffix with Jacob -EAN
13. Diving duck SMEW
14. Sausage skin CASING
15. Short details? SPECS
16. Landing with just a toothbrush? LIGHT ARRIVAL (late arrival)
17. Infuriates ANGERS
18. Feudal servant VASSAL
24. Dutch pottery city DELFT
25. St. __: Caribbean island BARTS
30. Little piggies TOES
31. Invoice column hdg. DESC
33. Infuriates IRES
35. Pal CHUM
36. Goes after HAS AT
39. Theater sections TIERS
41. Conserves HUSBANDS
42. Like "Mary Poppins" RATED G
45. Maestro Toscanini ARTURO
48. Magician's opening ABRA
51. Arabic alphabet opener ALIF
52. Funny Fields TOTIE
54. Topper seen on a mogul SKI HAT
56. Hacienda brick ADOBE
57. A beginner in NEW AT
59. Man cave topic SPORTS
61. Onetime Rolex rival ELGIN
62. Find DISCOVER
65. Opposable digit THUMB
66. Prevention measure? OUNCE
67. Indian chef's series of adventures? SPICE ODYSSEY (space odyssey)
69. Choir section ALTOS
71. Put in bold type, say STRESS
74. Subtitle of the sequel "Damien" OMEN II
75. Analogy words IS TO
78. Trivial lies FIBS
81. Spoke Siamese? MEWED
84. __ Park: Edison lab site MENLO
89. Nuke-testing dept. ENER
91. Remain undecided PEND
93. "Allow me ..." IF I MIGHT
94. Deadeye SURE SHOT
95. Arctic carrier SLED
97. Rube's "anti" AGIN
99. Opens one's eyes AWAKENS
100. Crazed MANIC
102. Audibly awed AGASP
103. Southern Baltic Sea port GDANSK
104. List of typos and such ERRATA
106. Worldwide relief org. UNICEF
107. It's common in some camps NUDITY
108. Boot part INSOLE
111. "Capisce?" GET ME?
114. Many pin tumbler locks YALES
117. Shelter from a storm, perhaps COVE
119. Airline investigative org. NTSB
121. Fried __ RICE
124. Golfer's concern LIE
125. Chap LAD
126. Stats, e.g. NOS
127. "Cats" poet's monogram TSE


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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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