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Greetings from San Jose, 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 a long and spectacular drive across the Sierra Nevada today, and saw Julianne and Derek Hough's dance spectacular this evening. Back home and back to reality tomorrow (Friday) ...

Bill

LA Times Crossword Answers 5 Dec 12, Wednesday





CROSSWORD SETTER: Robin Stears
THEME: Columns … each of the themed answers (starred clues) starts with a type of column and fittingly, each of the theme answers is in one of the columns of the grid i.e. is a down answer:
22D. The answers to starred clues start with kinds of them, and are arranged in them COLUMNS

5D. *"Break Like the Wind" band SPINAL TAP (spinal column)
10D. *TV drama narrated by a teen blogger GOSSIP GIRL (gossip column)
26D. *Double-date extra FIFTH WHEEL (fifth column)
34D. *Chemical connection that involves a transfer of electrons IONIC BOND (Ionic column)
COMPLETION TIME: 8m 08s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across
7. Heavy shoe BROGAN
A brogan is a heavy boot, with the original brogans being boots worn by soldiers on both sides during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Apparently some British soldiers in the Revolutionary War wore brogans that could be worn on either foot in an attempt to get more even wear.

13. Like Steven Wright's delivery DEADPAN
Steven Wright is a remarkable and drole comedian from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

15. Fragrant hybrid bloom TEA ROSE
The first tea roses were so called because they had a fragrance reminiscent of Chinese black tea.

17. They enjoy being cruel SADISTS
A sadist is someone who derives pleasure from inflicting pain, with that pleasure often being sexual in nature. The term “sadist” comes from the Marquis de Sade who was known to exhibit such tendencies.

The Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat with a reputation for a libertine lifestyle. De Sade was also a writer, well known for his works of erotica. He fell foul of the law for some of his more extreme practices and for blaspheming the Catholic church. On an off, de Sade spent 32 years of his life in prison and in insane asylums.

18. GPS display RDS
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The modern GPS system that we use today was built by the US military who received the massive funding needed because of fears during the Cold War of the use of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. We civilians, all round the world, owe a lot to President Ronald Reagan because he directed the military to make GPS technology available to the public for the common good. President Reagan was moved to do so after the Soviet Union shot down KAL flight 007 carrying 269 people, just because the plane strayed accidentally into Soviet airspace.

20. Melodic passages ARIOSOS
An arioso (plural “ariosi”) is part of an opera with an arioso's structure lying somewhere between that of a full-blown aria and speech-like recitative.

21. Cabbage head? HARD C
The head of the word “cabbage” is a hard letter C.

23. E. __ bacteria COLI
Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.

27. Buckeyes' sch. OSU
The athletic teams of Ohio State University (OSU) are called the Buckeyes, named after the state tree of Ohio. In turn the buckeye tree gets its name from the appearance of its fruit, a dark nut with a light patch thought to resemble a "buck's eye".

29. Blunt blade EPEE
The French word for sword is "épée". In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.

33. Defensive story ALIBI
"Alibi" is the Latin word for "elsewhere" as in, "I claim that I was 'elsewhere' when the crime was committed ... I have an 'alibi'".

36. Balkan Peninsula capital SOFIA
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. Natives pronounce the name "Sofia" with the emphasis on the "o", while the rest of us tend to stress the "i". Bulgarians do agree with us though when it comes to the girl's name "Sofia", then they stress the "i" like we do!

38. Heavenly hunter ORION
The very recognizable constellation of Orion is of course named after the Greek God Orion, the Hunter. If you take a look at the star in Orion's "right shoulder", the second brightest star in the constellation, you might notice that it is quite red in color. This is the famous star called Betelgeuse, a red supergiant, a huge star that is on its way out. Betelgeuse is expected to explode into a supernova within the next thousand years or so. You don't want to miss that ...

40. Prov. on Lake Superior ONT
The Canadian province of Ontario takes its name from the Great Lake. In turn, Lake Ontario's name is thought to be derived from "Ontari:io", a Huron word meaning "great lake". Ontario is home to the nation's capital of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Canada's most populous city (and capital of the province).

41. Tottenham tot toters PRAMS
Another word used in the UK that's rarely used over here is "pram", which in my day was the most common term for what is called a baby carriage in the US. "Pram" is short for "perambulator".

Tottenham is an area in north London in England. It is home to a famous football club called Tottenham Hotspur, the team that I used to follow as a kid many moons ago ...

44. Grape soda brand NEHI
The brand of Nehi cola has a name that sounds like “knee-high”, a measure of a small stature. Back in the mid-1900’s the Chero-Cola company, which owned the brand, went for a slightly different twist on "knee-high" in advertising. The logo for Nehi was an image of a seated woman’s stockinged legs, with her skirt pulled up to her knees, to hint at “knee-high”.

47. Light spectrum extreme VIOLET
The number of colors in the visible spectrum is actually infinite because the spectrum is a continuum. However, the human eye can distinguish about 100 different colors in all. The brain tends to divide the rainbow of colors into a smaller number, seven so-called primary colors:
- Red
- Orange
- Yellow
- Green
- Blue
- Indigo
- Violet

48. L.A. Sparks' org. WNBA
The Los Angeles Sparks women's basketball team was founded just before the WNBA opened its doors for business in 1997.

56. "Grimm" network NBC
“Grimm” is an NBC television police drama, one that I haven’t seen. It doesn’t sound like my cup of tea though, as the hero of the piece is a Portland Police Bureau detective who has to battle with mythological creatures who come in and out of the human world.

62. Many a Nickelodeon watcher PRETEEN
The children’s television channel called Nickelodeon started out in 1977 as the Pinwheel Network in Columbus, Ohio. The channel was relaunched in 1979 as Nickelodeon, at first broadcasting only in Buffalo, New York.

65. Carol opener ADESTE
The lovely hymn "Adeste Fideles" (aka "O Come, All Ye Faithful") was written by one John Francis Wade in the 13th century. Well, he wrote the original four verses, with four more verses being added over time.

Down
1. Air Wick target ODOR
The first Air Wick air freshener was introduced in the United States, in 1943.

5. *"Break Like the Wind" band SPINAL TAP (spinal column)
“This Is Spın̈al Tap” is a rock musical mockumentary about the fictional band Spinal Tap, directed by the great Rob Reiner. I love Rob Reiner’s work, but this movie … not so much …

7. Berenstain youngster, e.g. BEAR CUB
Stan and Jan Berenstain were a married couple from Philadelphia famous for creating the series of books for children called “Berenstain Bears”. The first in the series was published in 1962 and now over 250 million copies have been sold with over 300 titles.

9. Maryland state bird, for one ORIOLE
The Baltimore Oriole is a small blackbird. It is the state bird of Maryland, and of course gives its name to the Baltimore Major League Baseball team.

10. *TV drama narrated by a teen blogger GOSSIP GIRL (gossip column)
“Gossip Girl” is a series of young adult novels by American author Cecily von Ziegesar. The Gossip Girl in the title is the narrator of the tale, a gossip blogger who recounts the experiences of two friends, Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen. “Gossip Girl” is now a television series as well, first appearing on the CW in 2007.

11. Apropos of AS TO
"Apropos" comes into English directly from French, in which "à propos" means "to the purpose". Note that we use the term as one word (apropos), but the original French is two words (à propos).

12. Storied 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 moster really sparking the imagination.

15. Bag-checking agcy. TSA
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was of course created in 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks.

21. Hägar's daughter HONI
"Hagar the Horrible" is a comic strip that was created by the late Dik Browne and is now drawn by his son, Chris Browne. "Hagar the Terrible" (not "Horrible") was the nickname given to Dik by his sons.

24. Canon rival EPSON
Seiko Epson is a Japanese company, one of the largest manufacturers of printers in the world. The company has its roots in the watch business, roots that go back to 1942. Seiko was chosen as the official time keeper for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and was asked to supply a timer that produced a printed record. This request brought Seiko into the business of printer production. The company developed the world's first mini-printer for the 1964 Games and called it EP-101 (EP standing for Electronic Printer). In 1975 Seiko introduced the next generation of EP printers which was called EPSON, from “SON of EP”. Cute, huh?

26. *Double-date extra FIFTH WHEEL (fifth column)
“Fifth column” is the name given to a group of people who work from within to undermine or sabotage a nation or larger group. The term originated during the Spanish Civil War and was coined by General Emilio Mola who said that he had four columns of troops approaching Madrid and a “fifth column” of supporters within the city who would rise and up assist the regular troops.

31. Arp contemporary ERNST
Max Ernst was a painter and sculptor, a pioneer in the Dada movement and Surrealism. Ernst was born near Cologne in Germany in 1891 and he was called up to fight in WWI, as were most young German men at that time. In his autobiography he writes "Max Ernst died the 1st of August, 1914" a statement about his experiences in the war. In reality, Ernst died in 1976 having lived to the ripe old age of 85.

Hans Arp was a French artist renowned for his work with torn and pasted paper, although that wasn't the only medium he used. Arp was the son of a French mother and German father and spoke both languages fluently. When he was speaking German he gave his name as Hans Arp, but when speaking French he called himself Jean Arp. Both "Hans" and "Jean" translate into English as "John". In WWI Arp moved to Switzerland to avoid being called up to fight, taking advantage of Swiss neutrality. Eventually he was told to report to the German Consulate and fill out paperwork for the draft. In order to get out of fighting, Arp messed up the paperwork by writing the date in every blank space on the forms. Then he took off all his clothes and walked with his papers over to the officials in charge. He was sent home …

33. Trendy healthful berry ACAI
Açaí is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

34. *Chemical connection that involves a transfer of electrons IONIC BOND (Ionic column)
In the world of chemistry, an ionic bond is formed between two oppositely-charged ions, like that between positively-charged sodium atoms and negatively-charged chlorine atoms to form table salt (NaCl). A covalent bond, on the other hand, is formed when two atoms share electrons, making each of the sharing atoms more stable, so they prefer to stay together rather than apart.

An Ionic column is relatively ornate. It usually has grooves running up and down its length and at the top there is a "scroll" design called a "volute". The scroll design makes it a popular inclusion in academic buildings.

39. Classic autos REOS
The REO Motor Company was founded by Ransom E. Olds (hence the name REO). The company made cars, trucks and buses, and was in business from 1905 to 1975 in Lansing, Michigan.

47. Shakespearean setting VERONA
Three of William Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona, a city in northern Italy:
- “Romeo and Juliet”
- “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”
- “The Taming of the Shrew”

51. Fleshy fruit POME
The Latin word for "fruit" is “pomum”, which gives us the botanical term "pome" used for a group of fleshy fruits, including apples and pears.

52. "Mike and Mike in the Morning" broadcaster ESPN
“Mike and Mike in the Morning” is a talk show on ESPN radio (but you can “watch” it on TV as well). The two "Mikes" are Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.

54. China's Sun Yat-__ SEN
Sun Yat-sen is known as the "Father of the Nation" in China, and is uniquely revered in both the mainland of China and on the island of Taiwan. During his rule as president of the country he promoted his political philosophy known at the Three Principles of the People, namely nationalism, democracy and the people’s livelihood.

56. Calligrapher's points NIBS
"Nib" is a Scottish variant of the Old English word "neb", with both meaning the beak of a bird. This usage of "nib" as a beak dates back to the 14th century, with "nib" meaning the tip of a pen or quill coming a little later, in the early 1600s.

58. Hudson Bay native CREE
The Cree are one of the largest groups of Native Americans on the continent. In the US most of the Cree nation live in Montana on a reservation shared with the Ojibwe people. In Canada most of the Cree live in Manitoba.

Hudson Bay in northern Canada is the second largest bay in the world, after the Bay of Bengal. Hudson Bay was named by English explorers after Henry Hudson who explored the area in 1610 on his ship “Discovery”. Hudson’s crew mutinied during that voyage and set Hudson and his officers adrift in a small boat. It is presumed that the castaways didn’t survive for very long.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Unapproachable OFFISH
7. Heavy shoe BROGAN
13. Like Steven Wright's delivery DEADPAN
15. Fragrant hybrid bloom TEA ROSE
16. Unusually large OUTSIZE
17. They enjoy being cruel SADISTS
18. GPS display RDS
19. Scottish refusal NAE
20. Melodic passages ARIOSOS
21. Cabbage head? HARD C
23. E. __ bacteria COLI
24. Hug ENFOLD
27. Buckeyes' sch. OSU
29. Blunt blade EPEE
32. Main idea POINT
33. Defensive story ALIBI
35. "I hate when you do that!" GRR
36. Balkan Peninsula capital SOFIA
37. Profit share CUT
38. Heavenly hunter ORION
40. Prov. on Lake Superior ONT
41. Tottenham tot toters PRAMS
43. Squares NERDS
44. Grape soda brand NEHI
46. A in German class EIN
47. Light spectrum extreme VIOLET
48. L.A. Sparks' org. WNBA
50. Contractor's details SPECS
52. Ones with a common heritage ETHNICS
55. Eyeball ORB
56. "Grimm" network NBC
59. Put away, as a hunting knife SHEATHE
60. More apt to pout MOODIER
62. Many a Nickelodeon watcher PRETEEN
63. Exalt ENNOBLE
64. Astonishingly enough NO LESS
65. Carol opener ADESTE

Down
1. Air Wick target ODOR
2. It can go on for years FEUD
3. Dieter's count FATS
4. Picks from a lineup IDS
5. *"Break Like the Wind" band SPINAL TAP
6. Thin ice, say HAZARD
7. Berenstain youngster, e.g. BEAR CUB
8. Active beginning? RADIO-
9. Maryland state bird, for one ORIOLE
10. *TV drama narrated by a teen blogger GOSSIP GIRL
11. Apropos of AS TO
12. Storied loch NESS
14. Can't be without NEED
15. Bag-checking agcy. TSA
21. Hägar's daughter HONI
22. The answers to starred clues start with kinds of them, and are arranged in them COLUMNS
24. Canon rival EPSON
25. Worst possible turnout NO ONE
26. *Double-date extra FIFTH WHEEL
28. Tries to please a master, perhaps SITS
30. Diminish by degrees ERODE
31. Arp contemporary ERNST
33. Trendy healthful berry ACAI
34. *Chemical connection that involves a transfer of electrons IONIC BOND
39. Classic autos REOS
42. Is guilty of a dinner table no-no REACHES
45. Congenital INNATE
47. Shakespearean setting VERONA
49. Falls for a joke BITES
51. Fleshy fruit POME
52. "Mike and Mike in the Morning" broadcaster ESPN
53. Via, briefly THRO
54. China's Sun Yat-__ SEN
56. Calligrapher's points NIBS
57. Seat restraint BELT
58. Hudson Bay native CREE
61. Forest female DOE


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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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