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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 6 Feb 13, Wednesday





CROSSWORD SETTER: Jeff Stillman
THEME: Country Sounds … each of the theme answers starts with the name of a country, and the whole answer sounds like a well-known, 2-word term:
17A. European auto club device? HUNGARY JACK (sounds like “Hungry Jack”)
27A. Balkan primate? GREECE MONKEY (sounds like “grease monkey”)
43A. Mideast orchestral group? QATAR STRINGS (sounds like “guitar strings”)
57A. South Pacific 18-wheelers? TONGA TRUCKS (sounds like “Tonka trucks”)
COMPLETION TIME: 09m 14s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across
1. Middle Ages century opener MCCC
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).

10. "Survivor" airer CBS
The reality show "Survivor" is based on a Swedish television series created in 1997 called "Expedition Robinson".

15. Foofaraws TO-DOS
"Foofaraw" is excessive or flashy ornamentation, or a fuss over something that is unimportant.

17. European auto club device? HUNGARY JACK (sounds like “Hungry Jack”)
Hungry Jack is a brand of syrup and waffles, and also mashed potatoes.

20. Pronouncement of Pontius Pilate ECCE HOMO
According to the Gospel of John, when Pilate presented a scourged and beaten Jesus to the crowd he used the words "Ecce homo", Latin for "Behold the man".

21. Device commonly used in "The Twilight Zone" IRONY
The iconic television series called “The Twilight Zone” first aired in 1959 and then ran for 156 episodes before being pulled in 1964. “The Twilight Zone” was revived for four years in the late eighties, and was also spun-off into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1983.

23. "Citizen Kane" studio RKO
The RKO Pictures studio was formed when RCA (RADIO Corporation of America) bought the KEITH-Albee-ORPHEUM theaters (and Joe Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America). The RKO acronym then comes from the words “Radio”, “Keith” and “Orpheum”.

"Citizen Kane" was the first film made by Orson Welles, one considered by many to be the finest film ever made. It's a remarkable achievement by Wells, as he played the lead, and also produced and directed. Despite all the accolades for "Citizen Kane" over the decades, the movie was far from a commercial success in its early run and actually lost money at the box office.

24. One-time ring king ALI
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. was born in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam in 1964. Who can forget Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame for the 1996 games in Atlanta? Ali was presented with a gold medal during those '96 Games, a replacement for the medal he won at the 1960 Olympics. He had thrown the original into the Ohio River as a gesture of disgust after being refused service at a "whites only" restaurant.

25. Raise objections DEMUR
"To demur" is to voice opposition, to object. It can also mean to delay and has it roots in the Latin word "demorare", meaning "to delay".

27. Balkan primate? GREECE MONKEY (sounds like “grease monkey”)
“Grease monkey” is a slang term for a mechanic, a term we’ve been using since the late twenties.

36. Yokel RUBE
A “rube” is person lacking sophistication, often described as "a country bumpkin". The term derives from the masculine name “Reuben”, which was considered back in the early 1800s to be a typical name used in rural areas.

40. "Star Trek" rank: Abbr. 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.

When Gene Roddenberry first proposed the science fiction series that became "Star Trek", he marketed it as "Wagon Train to the Stars", a pioneer-style Western in outer space. In fact his idea was to produce something more like "Gulliver's Travels", as he intended to write episodes that were adventure stories on one level, but morality tales on another. Personally I think that he best achieved this model with the spin-off series "Star Trek: The Next Generation". If you watch individual episodes you will see thinly disguised treatments of moral issues such as racism, homosexuality, genocide etc. For my money, "The Next Generation" is the best of the whole franchise ...

43. Mideast orchestral group? QATAR STRINGS (sounds like “guitar strings”)
Qatar is a sovereign state in the Middle East occupying the Qatar Peninsula, itself located in the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar lies on the Persian Gulf and shares one land border, with Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar has more oil and gas reserves per capita of population than any other country in the world. In 2010, Qatar had the fastest growing economy in the world, driven by the petrochemical industry.

48. One of the Bobbsey twins NAN
The “Bobbsey Twins” series of children’s novels was first written by Edward Stratemeyer in 1904. Stratemeyer used the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope, as did subsequent authors who wrote 72 books in the series between 1904 and 1979. The title characters were two sets of fraternal twins, one called Bert and Nan (who were 12) and the other called Flossie and Freddie (who were 6).

57. South Pacific 18-wheelers? TONGA TRUCKS (sounds like “Tonka trucks”)
The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of 176 islands in the South Pacific, 52 of which are inhabited and scattered over an area of 270,000 square miles.

The toy manufacturer today known as Tonka started out as a manufacturer of garden implements in Mound, Minnesota in 1946. By 1955, toys had become the main product line for the company. At that time the owners decided to change the company name and opted for “Tonka”, a Dakota Sioux word meaning “great, big”.

60. Counterterrorist weapon UZI
The first Uzi submachine gun was designed in the late 1940s by Major Uziel Gal of the Israel Defense Forces who gave his name to the gun.

61. "__ Heartbeat": Amy Grant hit EVERY
Amy Grant is known as "The Queen of Christian Pop" and her most famous songs are Gospel and Contemporary Christian works. Grant recorded two songs that made it to number one in the commercial charts: "The Next Time I Fall" (1981, duet with Peter Cetera) and "Baby Baby" (1991).

64. Indian tunes RAGAS
Raga isn't really a type of music, but has been described as the "tonal framework" in which Indian classical music is composed. Ravi Shankar was perhaps the most famous raga virtuoso (to us Westerners).

Down
1. "Real Time" host MAHER
Bill Maher is a stand-up comedian and political commentator. Maher has an HBO television show called “Real Time with Bill Maher” which is essentially a follow-on from the very successful “Politically Incorrect” that started out on Comedy Central.

3. Dos y tres CINCO
In Spanish, two plus three (dos y tres) is five (cinco).

5. Buffalo STYMIE
The word “stymie” comes from golf, and is a situation in which one’s approach to the hole is blocked by an opponent’s ball.

“To buffalo” can mean “to deceive, hoodwink”.

6. Magic charm MOJO
The word “mojo”, meaning magical charm or magnetism, is probably of Creole origin.

7. Craters of the Moon st. IDA
Craters of the Moon National Monument in Central Idaho is a beautiful spot. The park includes three extensive lava fields that really do give one the impression that one is looking at craters on the moon. The term “Craters of the Moon” was coined in 1923 during a campaign to get the National Park Service to protect the area. Apollo astronauts actually trained in the park, learning to seek out and collect rock specimens just as they would be doing on the actual moon.

8. __ cit.: footnote abbr. LOC
Loc. cit. is short for "loco citato" meaning "in the place cited". Loc. cit. is used in a footnote instead of op. cit. as it refers not only to a prior work, but also to the same page in that work.

9. Native Alaskans, historically ESKIMOS
Although still used in the US, the term “Eskimo” tends to be avoided in Canada and Greenland as there it is considered pejorative.

14. 1943 war film set in a desert SAHARA
The 1943 war movie called “Sahara” stars Humphrey Bogart. Bogart plays an American tank commander in Libya who gets separated from his unit, along with his crew, as Rommel’s forces make a rapid advance. I’ve seen this one a couple of times and I recommend it. It is of course pretty one-sided given that it was made in the middle of WWII, but still is a good film.

26. Acting award EMMY
The Emmy Awards are the television equivalent of the Oscars in the world of film, the Grammy Awards in music and the Tony Awards for the stage. Emmy Awards are presented throughout the year, depending on the sector of television being honored. The most famous of these ceremonies are the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Daytime Emmy Awards. The distinctive name of "Emmy" is a softened version of the word "immy", the nickname given to the video camera tubes found in old television cameras.

27. Coll. senior's test GRE
Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is usually a requirement for entry into graduate school here in the US.

29. Biblical twin ESAU
Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When their mother Rebekah gave birth to the twins "the first emerged red and hairy all over (Esau), with his heel grasped by the hand of the second to come out (Jacob)". As Esau was the first born, he was entitled to inherit his father's wealth (it was his "birthright"). Instead, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of a "mess of pottage" (a meal of lentils).

30. School with the motto "Lux et veritas" YALE
“Lux et veritas” translates from Latin as “Light and Truth”. “Lux et veritas” is used as a motto of several universities including Indiana University, the University of Montana and Yale University. However, Yale’s motto is often given in Hebrew, as “Urim and Thummim”.

31. It's measured in Hz FREQ
The unit of frequency measure is the hertz (Hz) and is the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon.

32. Roman moon goddess LUNA
“Luna” is the Latin word for “moon”, and is the name given to the Roman moon goddess. The Greek equivalent of Luna was Selene. Luna had a temple on the Aventine Hill in Rome but it was destroyed during the Great Fire that raged during the reign of Nero.

33. Relating to childbirth OBSTETRIC
In Latin, the word for midwife is “obstetrix”. “Obstetrix” translates more literally as “one who stands opposite” i.e. the one opposite the woman giving birth.

39. Org. in old spy stories OSS
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was formed during WWII in order to carry out espionage behind enemy lines. A few years after the end of the war the OSS functions were taken up by a new group, the Central Intelligence Agency that was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.

41. HP product PRINTER
The giant multinational called HP (originally Hewlett-Packard) was founded in 1939 with an investment of $538, in a one-car garage in Palo Alto, California by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The company name would have been Packard-Hewlett if Dave Packard had won a coin toss!

45. Puts down, as parquetry INLAYS
Parquetry is a geometric pattern using pieces of wood. It is often seen in flooring, but also in some items of furniture.

46. Harper's Weekly cartoonist NAST
Thomas Nast was an American caricaturist and cartoonist. He 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.

49. Bangladesh capital, old-style DACCA
Dacca is now known as Dhaka, and is the capital city of Bangladesh. Dhaka is known for many things, including production of the finest muslin in the world. It's also the rickshaw capital of the world with about 400,000 rickshaws running each day.

52. Musical number OPUS
The Latin for "work" is “opus”, with the plural being “opera”.

54. Uttar Pradesh tourist city AGRA
The city of Agra is located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (which translates into English as
Northern Province”).

The Indian city of Agra is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- The Taj Mahal: the famous mausoleum built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal.
- Agra Fort: the site where the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
- Fatehpur Sikri: a historic city that’s home to well-preserved Mughal architecture.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Middle Ages century opener MCCC
5. Request before a snap SMILE
10. "Survivor" airer CBS
13. Something to assume ALIAS
15. Foofaraws TO-DOS
16. You can dig it ORE
17. European auto club device? HUNGARY JACK (sounds like “Hungry Jack”)
19. Floor application WAX
20. Pronouncement of Pontius Pilate ECCE HOMO
21. Device commonly used in "The Twilight Zone" IRONY
23. "Citizen Kane" studio RKO
24. One-time ring king ALI
25. Raise objections DEMUR
27. Balkan primate? GREECE MONKEY (sounds like “grease monkey”)
31. Vegetation FLORA
34. Butts RAMS
35. Julio's "that" ESA
36. Yokel RUBE
37. Mythological do-gooder FAIRY
39. Word-of-mouth ORAL
40. "Star Trek" rank: Abbr. ENS
41. Greenhouse square PANE
42. Matter to debate ISSUE
43. Mideast orchestral group? QATAR STRINGS (sounds like “guitar strings”)
47. Who's who ELITE
48. One of the Bobbsey twins NAN
49. __ double take DO A
52. "Come here __?" OFTEN
54. Losers ALSO-RANS
56. Expected result PAR
57. South Pacific 18-wheelers? TONGA TRUCKS (sounds like “Tonka trucks”)
60. Counterterrorist weapon UZI
61. "__ Heartbeat": Amy Grant hit EVERY
62. One handling a roast EMCEE
63. Jiff SEC
64. Indian tunes RAGAS
65. Makes, as a visit PAYS

Down
1. "Real Time" host MAHER
2. Coop sound CLUCK
3. Dos y tres CINCO
4. Batting practice safety feature CAGE
5. Buffalo STYMIE
6. Magic charm MOJO
7. Craters of the Moon st. IDA
8. __ cit.: footnote abbr. LOC
9. Native Alaskans, historically ESKIMOS
10. Water cooler gatherers CO-WORKERS
11. Muffin mix stir-in BRAN
12. Hot SEXY
14. 1943 war film set in a desert SAHARA
18. Play thing? ROLE
22. Bolt RUN
25. Letter opener? DEAR
26. Acting award EMMY
27. Coll. senior's test GRE
28. Old-time news source CRIER
29. Biblical twin ESAU
30. School with the motto "Lux et veritas" YALE
31. It's measured in Hz FREQ
32. Roman moon goddess LUNA
33. Relating to childbirth OBSTETRIC
37. Like some clocks FAST
38. First few chips, usually ANTE
39. Org. in old spy stories OSS
41. HP product PRINTER
42. Overlook IGNORE
44. Tankard filler ALE
45. Puts down, as parquetry INLAYS
46. Harper's Weekly cartoonist NAST
49. Bangladesh capital, old-style DACCA
50. Pitched perfectly ON KEY
51. Toting team ASSES
52. Musical number OPUS
53. Throw for a loop FAZE
54. Uttar Pradesh tourist city AGRA
55. __ roast RUMP
58. Eggs, in old Rome OVA
59. Not pos. NEG

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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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