LA Times Crossword 12 Dec 18, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Jeff Stillman
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Cross the Ts

Themed answers come in pairs that CROSS in the grid. Those answer are all types of TEA (a homophone of “T”):

  • 66A. Pay attention to detail … and, homophonically, what three pairs of puzzle answers do : CROSS THE TS
  • 17A. Indian town in the Himalayas : DARJEELING
  • 3D. Like some shampoos : HERBAL
  • 37A. There’s always a hole in one : GREEN
  • 11D. Massage therapy oil type : LAVENDER
  • 68A. Treated, as a sprain : ICED
  • 40D. William IV’s prime minister : EARL GREY

Bill’s time: 6m 14s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Israel Philharmonic music director Zubin : MEHTA

Zubin Mehta is an Indian conductor of western classical music, from Mumbai. Mehta studied music in Vienna, where he made his conducting debut in 1958. In 1961 he was named assistant director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, creating a fuss with the music director designate of the orchestra, Georg Solti. Solti resigned as a protest, and Mehta took his job. In 1978 Mehta took over as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, eventually becoming the longest holder of that position.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1936 as the Palestine Orchestra, with Arturo Toscanini conducting the first concert that same year. The orchestra was renamed in 1948 after the creation of the State of Israel.

6. Hook-shaped ski lift : J-BAR

A T-bar is a ski lift on which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of a T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skiers as they remain standing on their skis (hopefully!). There’s also a J-bar, which is a similar device but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.

14. Common Era starting date : ONE AD

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

15. Hebrides language : ERSE

There are actually three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).

The Hebrides is a group of islands just off the west coast of Scotland. The Hebrides are divided into two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

17. Indian town in the Himalayas : DARJEELING

Darjeeling is a town in West Bengal in the east of India in the Lesser HImalayas. Today, Darjeeling is perhaps best known outside India for the black tea that bears its name. In the days of the British Raj, the cooler climate of Darjeeling made it a popular destination for British residents seeking respite from the summer heat at the lower elevations.

The magnificent Himalaya range of mountains in Asia takes its name from the Sanskrit for “abode of snow”. Geographically, the Himalayas separate the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau to the north.

19. “Best Song __”: One Direction hit : EVER

One Direction is a UK-based boy band. Each member of the band competed in the reality show “The X Factor”, and didn’t do very well. The five were then combined in a boy band at a later stage of the competition. They only finished in third place, but I don’t think they care. They’re doing very, very well for “losers” …

21. The “P” of rock’s ELP : PALMER

Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) were an English supergroup who were popular in the seventies. Keith Emerson had been successful with the Nice, Greg Lake with King Crimson, and Carl Palmer with Atomic Rooster. Given that all three performers had already achieved success prior the formation of the group, ELP is termed a “supergroup”.

22. Badlands landform : MESA

Badlands may be “bad lands” for agriculture (hence the name), but they can be beautiful. A badlands is an extensive area from which the topsoil has been eroded by wind and water, leaving exposed rock and very little vegetation. One of the most beautiful badlands areas in the US is preserved for the nation as South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.

25. Spring singer : ROBIN

The American robin has a reddish-orange breast. This coloring gave the bird its name, due to the similarity to the European robin. The two species are not in fact related, with the American robin being a thrush, and its European cousin an Old World flycatcher. It is the American robin that famously lays light-blue eggs.

28. Glass of public radio : IRA

Ira Glass is a well-respected presenter on American Public Radio who is perhaps best known for his show “This American Life”. I was interested to learn that one of my favorite composers, Philip Glass, is Ira’s first cousin.

31. Dug up dandelions, say : WEEDED

The name “dandelion” comes from the French “dent de lion” meaning “lion’s tooth”. The name is a reference to the coarse, tooth-like edges of dandelion leaves.

37. There’s always a hole in one : GREEN

That would be golf.

41. Spy film poison : CYANIDE

Cyanide poisoning is caused by exposure to cyanide (CN) ions. The cyanide ions inhibit respiration at the cellular level, making the organism unable to use oxygen. “Cyanide” comes from the Greek “kyanos” meaning “dark blue”. The name was applied as cyanide was first obtained from the pigment called Prussian Blue.

43. Record label for Pink : RCA

“P!nk” is the stage name of American singer Alecia Beth Moore. I known so little about “modern” music, but I do like the P!nk song “Just Give Me a Reason” …

48. Gourmet mushrooms : MORELS

The morel is that mushroom with the honeycomb-like structure on the cap. Morels highly prized, especially in French cuisine. They should never be eaten raw as they are toxic, with the toxins being removed by thorough cooking.

50. D.C. bigwig : SEN

Senator (sen.)

51. “Unique everything” website : ETSY

Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.

55. Peruvian pack animal : LLAMA

The wool from a llama is much softer than that from a sheep, and it is also free from lanolin.

57. Not quite spherical : OBLATE

Something that is described as having an oblate shape is spherical and slightly depressed at top and bottom, just like the Earth for example.

59. Hence : ERGO

“Ergo” is a Latin word meaning “hence, therefore”, and one that we’ve absorbed directly into English.

61. Divination : AUGURY

The verb “to augur” means “to bode”, to serve as an omen. The term comes from the name of religious officials in Ancient Rome called augurs whose job it was to interpret signs and omens.

64. Med. centers for former soldiers : VAS

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was formed in 1930 to manage pre-existing government benefits affecting war veterans, some of which had existed since the days of the Continental Congress.

65. Actress Sorvino : MIRA

Mira Sorvino is an American actress, and a winner of an Oscar for her supporting role in the 1995 Woody Allen movie “Mighty Aphrodite”. Sorvino also played a title role opposite Lisa Kudrow in the very forgettable “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”.

69. Some jewelry stores, informally : KAY’S

Kay Jewelers is perhaps the most famous store brand owned by Sterling Jewelers. Sterling is the largest fine jewelry chain in the country, with the company’s main competitor being Zale Corporation.

71. Small dogs : TOYS

The toy group of dogs is made up of the smallest breeds. The smallest of the small breeds are sometimes called teacup breeds.

Down

3. Like some shampoos : HERBAL

Back in the 1760s, the verb “to shampoo” was an Anglo-Indian word meaning “to massage”. A century later we started to shampoo our hair.

4. __ Mahal : TAJ

The most famous mausoleum in the world has to be the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal was built after the death of the fourth wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal (hence the name of the mausoleum). The poor woman died in childbirth delivering the couple’s 14th child. When Shah Jahan himself passed away 35 years later, he was buried beside his wife Mumtaz, in the Taj Mahal.

6. Take shape : JELL

To “jell” means to “congeal, set”. The verb has been used since the early 1800s, and comes from the earlier word “jelly”. Nowadays, we tend to use the alternate spelling “gel”.

7. Fedora feature : BRIM

A fedora is a lovely hat, I think. It is made of felt, and is similar to a trilby, but has a broader brim. “Fedora” was a play written for Sarah Bernhardt and first performed in 1889. Bernhardt had the title role of Princess Fedora, and on stage she wore a hat similar to a modern-day fedora. The play led to the women’s fashion accessory, the fedora hat, commonly worn by women into the beginning of the twentieth century. Men then started wearing fedoras, but only when women gave up the fashion …

8. Ed with Emmys : ASNER

Ed Asner is most famous for playing the irascible but lovable Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and on the spin-off drama “Lou Grant”. Off-screen Asner is noted for his political activism. He served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and was very involved in the 1980 SAG strike. When “Lou Grant” was cancelled in in 1982, despite decent ratings, there was a lot of talk that the cancellation was a move by the network against Asner personally. In fact, one of Asner’s activist colleagues, Howard Hesseman (who played Johnny Fever) found that his show “WKRP in Cincinnati” was also canceled … on the very same day.

10. English football’s __ League : PREMIER

The best soccer teams in England and Wales play in the Premier League. The league was founded in 1992 as the FA Premier League to take advantage of a generous television deal. Today, the Premier League is the most-watched soccer league in the world.

12. Luau strings : UKES

The ukulele (uke) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.

Nowadays the word “luau” denotes almost any kind of party on the Hawaiian Islands, but to the purist a luau is a feast that always includes a serving of poi, the bulbous underground stems of taro.

13. Blood bank fluids : SERA

Blood serum (plural “sera”) is the clear, yellowish part of blood i.e. that part which is neither a blood cell or a clotting factor. Included in blood serum are antibodies, the proteins that are central to our immune system. Blood serum from animals that have immunity to some disease can be transferred to another individual, hence providing that second individual with some level of immunity. Blood serum used to pass on immunity can be called “antiserum”.

18. How a cinch is done : EASILY

The term “cinch” was absorbed into American English from Spanish in the mid-1800s, when it was used to mean a “saddle-girth”. “Cincha” is the Spanish for “girdle”. In the late 1800s, “cinch” came to mean a ‘sure thing”, in the sense that a saddle-girth can provide a “sure hold”.

24. After-tax amount : NET

In a statement of accounts, gross profit is the difference between revenue from sales and the cost of making goods or providing a service. So-called fixed costs, i.e. overhead, payroll, taxes and interest payments, are not included in gross profits. When these fixed costs have been deducted, what is left is called the net profit, also known as “the bottom line”.

26. Give rise to : BEGET

Despite the fact that the term “beget” appears in the English translation of the Bible, the use of “beget” in the sense of procreation only dates back to about 1200 AD. Prior to that, “beget” meant “to acquire, seize”.

30. Two of Henry VIII’s wives : ANNES

Famously, King Henry VIII had six queens consort. There is a rhyme that is commonly used to help remember the fates of each of his wives, which goes:

King Henry the Eighth, to six wives he was wedded. One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded.

The use of the term “divorce” isn’t quite accurate though, as in fact Henry had two of his marriages annulled. His wives (and their fates) were:

  1. Catherine of Aragon (Annulled),
  2. Anne Boleyn (Beheaded),
  3. Jane Seymour (Died)
  4. Anne of Cleves (Annulled),
  5. Catherine Howard (Beheaded),
  6. Catherine Parr (Survived).

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII of England. Anne was found guilty of high treason after about a thousand days of marriage to Henry, accused of adultery and incest (probably trumped-up charges). She was executed, but perhaps her legacy lived on in her only child, as her daughter reigned for 45 very prosperous years as Queen Elizabeth I.

Anne of Cleves was the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. It seems that Anne’s arranged marriage to Henry was doomed from the day the two met soon after she arrived in England. Henry just wasn’t attracted to her, but the couple went ahead with the wedding. The marriage was annulled six months later on the grounds that it had not been consummated. Anne lived the rest of her life in England, and in fact outlived Henry’s five other wives.

32. Common Market initials : EEC

The European Economic Community (EEC) was also known as the “Common Market”. The EEC was a NAFTA-like structure that was eventually absorbed into today’s European Union (EU).

33. Genetic matter : DNA

The two most common nucleic acids are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA), both of which play crucial roles in genetics. The DNA contains the genetic instructions used to keep living organisms functioning, and RNA is used to transcribe that information from the DNA to protein “generators” called ribosomes.

35. Big name in fast trains : ACELA

The Acela Express is the fastest train routinely running in the US, getting up to 150 mph at times. The service runs between Boston and Washington D.C. via Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Introduced in 2000, the brand name “Acela” was created to evoke “acceleration” and “excellence”.

36. Umpire’s cry : TIME!

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

38. Dogma : ISM

A dogma is a set of beliefs. The plural of “dogma” is “dogmata” (or “dogmas”, if you’re not a pedant like me!)

39. Greek consonant : RHO

Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.

40. William IV’s prime minister : EARL GREY

The Earl Grey blend of tea is supposedly named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey who was Prime Minister of the UK from 1830 to 1834. Earl Grey tea has a distinctive flavor that is largely due to the addition of oil from the rind of the bergamot orange.

William IV ascended to the British throne at the advanced age of 64 years old, following the death of his older brother George IV. William was king for just seven years, until he died in 1837. Although he had several illegitimate children with his Irish mistress Dorothea Jordan, he had no children with his wife Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. William’s passing marked the demise of Britain’s House of Hanover. He was succeeded on the throne by his niece Victoria.

54. Toadies’ answers : YESSES

A toady is someone who is very servile, and somewhat of a parasite. Derived from “toad-eater” the term originally applied to the assistant of a quack, a seller of useless potions that had no actual benefit to health. The toady would eat an apparently poisonous toad in front of an audience, so that the charlatan could “cure” him or her with one of the potions for sale.

56. Subtle glows : AURAE

An aura (plural “aurae”) is an intangible quality that surrounds a person or thing, a “je ne sais quoi”. “Je ne sais quoi” is French for “I don’t know what”.

58. Hard-drive units : BYTES

In the world of computing, a bit is the basic unit of information. It has a value of 0 or 1. A “byte” is a small collection of “bits” (usually 8), the number of bits needed to uniquely identify a character of text. The prefix mega- stands for 10 to the power of 6, so a megabyte (meg) is 1,000,000 bytes. The prefix giga- means 10 to the power of 9, and so a gigabyte (gig) is 1,000,000,000 bytes. Well, those are the SI definitions of megabyte and gigabyte. The purists still use 2 to the power of 20 for a megabyte (i.e. 1,048,576), and 2 to the power of 30 for a gigabyte.

60. P.R. part : RICO

Puerto Rico (PR) is located in the northeastern Caribbean (in the Atlantic Ocean), east of the Dominican Republic. The name “Puerto Rico” is Spanish for “rich port”. The locals often call their island Borinquen, the Spanish form of “Boriken”, the original name used by the natives.

62. “La maja desnuda” painter : GOYA

María Cayetana de Silva was the 13th Duchess of Alba. She was a favorite subject of the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The duchess is the subject in the famous portraits known as “La maja desnuda” (The Nude Maja) and “La maja vestida” (The Clothed Maja). “Maja” translates from Spanish as “beautiful lady”.

63. Cold War letters : USSR

The term “Cold War” was coined by the novelist George Orwell in a 1945 essay about the atomic bomb. Orwell described a world under threat of nuclear war as having a “peace that is no peace”, in a permanent state of “cold war”. The specific use of “cold war” to describe the tension between the Eastern bloc and the Western allies is attributed to a 1947 speech by Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Israel Philharmonic music director Zubin : MEHTA
6. Hook-shaped ski lift : J-BAR
10. Calculator button : PLUS
14. Common Era starting date : ONE AD
15. Hebrides language : ERSE
16. Low-tech leaf-blower alternative : RAKE
17. Indian town in the Himalayas : DARJEELING
19. “Best Song __”: One Direction hit : EVER
20. Flow’s partner : EBB
21. The “P” of rock’s ELP : PALMER
22. Badlands landform : MESA
23. Angles : SLANTS
25. Spring singer : ROBIN
27. Prefix with graph : TELE-
28. Glass of public radio : IRA
31. Dug up dandelions, say : WEEDED
34. Scout’s discovery : TALENT
37. There’s always a hole in one : GREEN
38. Hot state : IRE
41. Spy film poison : CYANIDE
43. Record label for Pink : RCA
44. Facebook option : SHARE
46. Surfer’s gadget : REMOTE
48. Gourmet mushrooms : MORELS
50. D.C. bigwig : SEN
51. “Unique everything” website : ETSY
55. Peruvian pack animal : LLAMA
57. Not quite spherical : OBLATE
59. Hence : ERGO
61. Divination : AUGURY
64. Med. centers for former soldiers : VAS
65. Actress Sorvino : MIRA
66. Pay attention to detail … and, homophonically, what three pairs of puzzle answers do : CROSS THE TS
68. Treated, as a sprain : ICED
69. Some jewelry stores, informally : KAY’S
70. Chill-causing : EERIE
71. Small dogs : TOYS
72. Lightly burn : SEAR
73. Brings into harmony : SYNCS

Down

1. Disinclined to brag : MODEST
2. Provide power to : ENABLE
3. Like some shampoos : HERBAL
4. __ Mahal : TAJ
5. Highly skilled : ADEPT
6. Take shape : JELL
7. Fedora feature : BRIM
8. Ed with Emmys : ASNER
9. Sprout anew : REGROW
10. English football’s __ League : PREMIER
11. Massage therapy oil type : LAVENDER
12. Luau strings : UKES
13. Blood bank fluids : SERA
18. How a cinch is done : EASILY
24. After-tax amount : NET
26. Give rise to : BEGET
29. Stern : REAR
30. Two of Henry VIII’s wives : ANNES
32. Common Market initials : EEC
33. Genetic matter : DNA
35. Big name in fast trains : ACELA
36. Umpire’s cry : TIME!
38. Dogma : ISM
39. Greek consonant : RHO
40. William IV’s prime minister : EARL GREY
42. Certain angels : DONORS
45. Winds new film into : RELOADS
47. Ribbonlike fish : EEL
49. Slaps sharply : SMACKS
52. Bar : TAVERN
53. Harsh criticism : STATIC
54. Toadies’ answers : YESSES
56. Subtle glows : AURAE
58. Hard-drive units : BYTES
59. Put forth : EMIT
60. P.R. part : RICO
62. “La maja desnuda” painter : GOYA
63. Cold War letters : USSR
67. “Hold it!” : HEY!

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