LA Times Crossword 13 Nov 18, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Mark McClain
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Acid Test

Themed answers each comprise two words starting the the letter PH (pH):

  • 39D. Ordeal … and a hint to the initials of the answers to starred clues : ACID TEST
  • 18A. *Safari head protector : PITH HELMET
  • 26A. *Traditional farm equine : PLOW HORSE
  • 47A. *Baked pork cut that sounds perfect for a blanket in the park : PICNIC HAM
  • 60A. *Lever for manual water extraction : PUMP HANDLE
  • 5D. *Kid’s homemade topper : PAPER HAT

Bill’s time: 6m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Source of spumante wine : ASTI

5. Mr. __: Former name of a Dr Pepper rival : PIBB

The soft drink on the market today called Pibb Xtra used to be known as Mr Pibb, and before that was called Peppo. Peppo was introduced in 1972 as a direct competitor to Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper was introduced in 1885 in Waco, Texas, one year before the competing Coca-Cola was released to the market. I spent an entertaining few hours at the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco a few years ago.

9. Light model wood : BALSA

Balsa is a very fast growing tree that is native to parts of South America. Even though balsa wood is very soft, it is actually classified as a hardwood, the softest of all the hardwoods (go figure!). Balsa is light and strong, so is commonly used in making model airplanes. Amazingly, in WWII a full-size British plane, the de Havilland Mosquito, was built largely from balsa and plywood. No wonder they called it “The Wooden Wonder” and “The Timber Terror”.

15. Et __: and others : ALIA

Et alii (et al.) is the equivalent of et cetera (etc.), with et cetera being used in place of a list of objects, and et alii used for a list of names. In fact “et al.” can stand for et alii (for a group of males, or males and females), aliae (for a group of women) and et alia (for a group of neuter nouns, or for a group of people where the intent is to retain gender-neutrality).

16. Provo native : UTAHN

Provo, Utah is a city located just over 40 miles south of South Lake City. Provo is home to Brigham Young University. The city was originally called Fort Utah, and the name was changed to Provo in 1850 in honor of Étienne Provost. Provost was a French-Canadian fur trader who was perhaps the first man of European descent to see the Great Salt Lake.

17. Beige look-alike : ECRU

The shade ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.

18. *Safari head protector : PITH HELMET

Pith helmets were worn by mainly Europeans in the tropics, often on safari or as part of a military uniform. The helmet was light in weight, covered with cloth and made from cork or pith. Pith helmets were also called “safari helmets”, “topees” and “topis”.

24. Packers quarterback Rodgers : AARON

Aaron Rodgers signed with the Green Bay Packers as quarterback in 2005. Aaron has a younger brother Jordan who played football with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

When Curly Lambeau founded his small-town football team in Green Bay in 1919, he was working for the Indian Packing Company. Lambeau went to his employers looking for sponsorship and was given $250 provided that the team was named for the company. And so, the team was originally referred to as the Green Bay Indians, but by the time they took to the field for their first game it had changed to the Packers, and Lambeau was $250 richer.

34. … Venus, __, Mars … : EARTH

There are several mnemonics used to remember the planets and the order in which they are found in the Solar System. One example is “My Very Easy Method Just Shows Us Nine Planets”, but that doesn’t really work since Pluto was relegated from “planethood”. The most oft-quoted mnemonic for the eight planets is “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos”. Given the relegation of Pluto, I kind of like “Many Very Educated Men Just Screwed Up Nature”.

36. Column slant: Abbr. : POV

Point of view (POV)

37. Overseas business abbr. : LTD

In Britain and Ireland the most common type of business (my perception anyway) is one that has private shareholders whose liability is limited to the value of their investment. Such a company is known as a private limited company, and has the letters “Ltd” after the name. If the shares are publicly traded, then the company is a public limited company, and has the letters “plc” after the name.

40. Sister Sledge’s “We __ Family” : ARE

“We Are Family” is a fabulous 1979 song released by Sister Sledge. The song was written specifically for Sister Sledge, a group that back then was actually “family”, comprising four sisters from Philadelphia.

43. Nike alternative : ASICS

ASICS is a Japanese company that produces athletic gear, including running shoes. The name comes from the Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano” which translates to “a healthy soul in a healthy body”.

49. Whirlpool brand : AMANA

The Amana Corporation takes its name from the location of its original headquarters, in Middle Amana, Iowa. Today, the Amana name is very much associated with household appliances. The company was founded in 1934 to manufacture commercial walk-in coolers.

Whirlpool is a manufacturer of home appliances that was founded as the Upton Machine Company in 1911. Whirlpool is now the largest manufacturer of home appliances in the world.

55. Air, mostly : NITROGEN

Air is mainly composed of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and argon (1%). We hear a lot about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It makes up (or should make up!) about 0.04%, but that’s an important 0.04%.

63. Medieval suit : ARMOR

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). The term “medieval” is used to describe something belonging to the Middle Ages.

65. Prickly husks : BURS

“Bur” is a variant spelling of the word “burr”. Both terms apply to a seed vessel that has hooks or prickles on the outside.

66. Nary a soul : NO ONE

The adjective “nary” means “not one”, as in “nary a soul”.

67. London rental : FLAT

“Flat”, in the sense of an apartment or condominium, is a word more commonly used in the British Isles than on this side of the pond. The term “flat” is Scottish in origin, in which language it used to mean “floor in a house”.

Down

3. Hatcher with a recurring role in TV’s “Supergirl” : TERI

Teri Hatcher’s most famous role is the Susan Mayer character on the TV comedy-drama “Desperate Housewives”. I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of “Housewives” but I do know Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl, as she appeared in “Tomorrow Never Dies”. More recently, she portrayed Lois Lane on the show “Lois & Clark”.

The television show “Supergirl” debuted in 2015. The title character is portrayed by Melissa Benoist, an actress who found fame playing Marley rose in the show “Glee”.

6. Nastase of tennis : ILIE

I think that Ilie Nastase was the most entertaining tennis player of the 1970s, the days of Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. No matter how much pressure there was in a match, Nastase always had time to give the crowd a laugh. After retiring from the sport, he had a few novels published (in French) during the eighties. Then Nastase went into politics, making an unsuccessful run for the mayorship of Bucharest in 1996. He made a successful run for the Hungarian Senate though, and has been a senator since May 2014.

7. Minor role : BIT PART

A “walk-on role” in a performance is one in which the actor makes an appearance on stage or on set, but has no dialog. One line of dialog elevates the role to a “bit part”.

8. Scrooge’s “Dang!” : BAH!

The classic 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens has left us with a few famous phrases and words. Firstly, it led to popular use of the phrase “Merry Christmas”, and secondly it gave us the word “scrooge” to describe a miserly person. And thirdly, everyone knows that Ebenezer Scrooge uttered the words “Bah! Humbug!”.

9. Good, in Guatemala : BUENO

Guatemala in Central America became independent from Spain in 1821, first becoming part of the Mexican Empire, and then becoming completely independent two years later.

10. Hawks’ home : ATLANTA

The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks started out as the Buffalo Bisons in 1946, although after only a few months the team was moved to Moline, Illinois as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were one of the 17 original teams playing at the founding of the National Basketball Association. There was another move in 1951 and a renaming to the Milwaukee Hawks, and yet again in 1955 when the team became the St. Louis Hawks. The latest move was to Atlanta, in 1968.

12. “A Light in the Attic” poet Silverstein : SHEL

Author Shel Silverstein had a varied career and did a lot more than write books. Silverstein was a poet, composer, cartoonist and screenwriter among other things. One of his successful children’s books is “A Light in the Attic”, a collection of poems that first published in 1981. Some parents have tried to get the book banned from libraries. The collection includes the poem “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes”, which encourages disobedience and making a mess. Scandalous …

13. Penny-__: unimportant : ANTE

Penny Ante poker is a game in which bets are limited to a penny, or some other small, friendly sum. The expression “penny-ante” has come to describe any business transaction that is on a small scale.

26. Stockholder’s agent : PROXY

Our word “proxy”, meaning “the agency of one who acts instead of another”, comes from the Latin “procurare” meaning “to manage”. So, “proxy” has the same root as our word “procure”.

27. Protective embankment : LEVEE

A levee is an artificial bank, usually made of earth that runs along the length of a river. It is designed to hold back river water at a time of potential flooding. “Levée” is the French word for “raised” and is an American term that originated in French-speaking New Orleans around 1720.

30. Eric Trump’s mom : IVANA

Ivana Zelníčková was born in Czechoslovakia. She married an Austrian named Alfred Winklmayr, in an arrangement that allowed her to leave Communist Czechoslovakia. The marriage was dissolved within two years, and Zelníčková settled in Canada. She was an excellent skier, and was named as an alternate for the 1982 Czech Olympic Team. She was promoting the Montreal Olympics in New York in 1976 when she met Donald Trump. Ivana and Donald’s marriage was very public and well-covered by the media, but not nearly as well-covered as their very litigious divorce in the early nineties.

Eric Trump is the second son of Donald Trump and his first wife Ivana Zelníčková. Eric works for his father, and in particular manages Donald’s golf courses and the Trump Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia. Eric also used to appear in the boardroom alongside his Dad on the reality show “The Apprentice”.

31. Off-the-cushion pool shot : CAROM

A carom is a ricochet, the bouncing of some projectile off a surface. Carom has come to mean the banking of a billiard ball, the bouncing of the ball off the side of the table.

32. Large quantity : SLEW

Our usage of “slew” to mean “large number” has nothing to do with the verb “to slew” meaning “to turn, skid”. The noun “slew” come into English in the early 1800s from the Irish word “sluagh” meaning “host, crowd, multitude”.

33. Pundit’s piece : OP-ED

“Op-ed” is an abbreviation for “opposite the editorial page”. Op-eds started in “The New York Evening World” in 1921 when the page opposite the editorials was used for articles written by a named guest writer, someone independent of the editorial board.

A pundit is a learned person who one might turn to for an opinion. “Pundit” is derived from the Hindi word “payndit” meaning “learned man”.

35. Daytona 500 org. : NASCAR

The coastal city of Daytona Beach in Florida is known for hard-packed sand on the beach. This makes a good surface for driving motorized vehicles, and resulted in Daytona Beach becoming a center for motorsports. The Daytona 500 is the event with the largest purse on the NASCAR calendar.

42. Ice-climber’s boot attachment : CRAMPON

Crampons are metallic devices attached to boots that provide traction when climbing on icy surfaces.

44. Tabloid fodder : SCANDAL

“Tabloid” is the trademarked name (owned by Burroughs, Wellcome and Co,) for a “small tablet of medicine”, a name that goes back to 1884. The word “tabloid” had entered into general use to mean a compressed form of anything, and by the early 1900s was used in “tabloid journalism”, applied to newspapers that had short, condensed articles and stories printed on smaller sheets of paper.

47. One of the Three Bears : PAPA

The story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was first recorded in 1837 in England, although the narrative was around before it was actually written down. The original fairy tale was rather gruesome, but successive versions became more family-oriented. The character that eventually became Goldilocks was originally an elderly woman, and the three “nameless” bears became Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.

48. Cold War threats : H-BOMBS

There are two classes of nuclear weapons, both of which get the energy for the explosion from nuclear reactions. The first nuclear bombs developed, called atomic bombs (A-bombs), use fission reactions. Uranium nuclei are split into smaller nuclei with the release of an awful lot of energy in the process. The second class of nuclear weapons are fusion bombs. These devices are called thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs (H-bombs). In a fusion reaction, the nuclei of hydrogen isotopes are fused together to form bigger nuclei, with the release of even greater amounts of energy.

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.

50. Skiing champ Phil or Steve : MAHRE

Phil Mahre is one of the great alpine ski racers, and is a native of Yakima, Washington. Phil’s twin brother Steve was also a skier on the World Cup circuit.

53. Tipperary tip jar coin : EURO

Tipperary is a town in south-central Ireland. A lot of the town’s celebrity comes from its appearance in the British music hall song “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” that dates back to the early 1900s. Said song became a hit with Irish regiments of the British Army during the First World War, and its popularity spread from there. Given that it’s a British Army song, you won’t hear it much in Ireland, and it’s best not to request that the band play it at your local Irish bar …

54. Hunter’s need : AMMO

The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.

56. Victor’s wife in “Casablanca” : ILSA

Ilsa Lund was played by Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie “Casablanca”. I love the words of one critic describing the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman in this film: “She paints his face with her eyes”. Wow …

Victor Laszlo was played by Austrian-born actor Paul Henreid in 1942’s “Casablanca”. Apparently, Henreid didn’t mix well with his co-stars. He referred to Humphrey Bogart as “a mediocre actor”, and Ingrid Bergman referred to Henreid as a “prima donna”.

57. Ancient France : GAUL

The Gauls were a Celtic race, with Gaul covering what is now known as France and Belgium. We use the term “Gallic” today, when we refer to something pertaining to France or the French.

58. Poet Pound : EZRA

Ezra Pound was an American poet who spent much of his life wandering the world, and spending years in London, Paris, and Italy. In Italy, Pound’s work and sympathies for Mussolini’s regime led to his arrest at the end of the war. His major work was the epic, albeit incomplete, “The Cantos”. This epic poem is divided into 120 sections, each known as a canto.

61. Bad check letters : NSF

Not sufficient funds (NSF)

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Source of spumante wine : ASTI
5. Mr. __: Former name of a Dr Pepper rival : PIBB
9. Light model wood : BALSA
14. Bore false witness : LIED
15. Et __: and others : ALIA
16. Provo native : UTAHN
17. Beige look-alike : ECRU
18. *Safari head protector : PITH HELMET
20. Superficial, as beauty : SKIN-DEEP
22. Make possible : ENABLE
23. Negative connector : … NOR …
24. Packers quarterback Rodgers : AARON
26. *Traditional farm equine : PLOW HORSE
29. Nervous twitches : TICS
33. Vein discovery : ORE
34. … Venus, __, Mars … : EARTH
35. Like sea battles : NAVAL
36. Column slant: Abbr. : POV
37. Overseas business abbr. : LTD
38. Sheep’s call : BAA!
40. Sister Sledge’s “We __ Family” : ARE
41. Corp. bigwigs : EXECS
43. Nike alternative : ASICS
45. __ showing: theater info : NOW
46. Textile mill worker : DYER
47. *Baked pork cut that sounds perfect for a blanket in the park : PICNIC HAM
49. Whirlpool brand : AMANA
51. Wee bit : DAB
52. Ship’s chart : SEA MAP
55. Air, mostly : NITROGEN
60. *Lever for manual water extraction : PUMP HANDLE
62. Intricate garden feature : MAZE
63. Medieval suit : ARMOR
64. Backtalk : SASS
65. Prickly husks : BURS
66. Nary a soul : NO ONE
67. London rental : FLAT
68. Blind part : SLAT

Down

1. Brewpub pints : ALES
2. Under the weather : SICK
3. Hatcher with a recurring role in TV’s “Supergirl” : TERI
4. [Shrug] : I DUNNO
5. *Kid’s homemade topper : PAPER HAT
6. Nastase of tennis : ILIE
7. Minor role : BIT PART
8. Scrooge’s “Dang!” : BAH!
9. Good, in Guatemala : BUENO
10. Hawks’ home : ATLANTA
11. Ewe kid : LAMB
12. “A Light in the Attic” poet Silverstein : SHEL
13. Penny-__: unimportant : ANTE
19. Roll call answer : HERE
21. Woodworking rods : DOWELS
25. Rubbish container : ASH BIN
26. Stockholder’s agent : PROXY
27. Protective embankment : LEVEE
28. Install, as a cleric : ORDAIN
30. Eric Trump’s mom : IVANA
31. Off-the-cushion pool shot : CAROM
32. Large quantity : SLEW
33. Pundit’s piece : OP-ED
35. Daytona 500 org. : NASCAR
39. Ordeal … and a hint to the initials of the answers to starred clues : ACID TEST
42. Ice-climber’s boot attachment : CRAMPON
44. Tabloid fodder : SCANDAL
47. One of the Three Bears : PAPA
48. Cold War threats : H-BOMBS
50. Skiing champ Phil or Steve : MAHRE
52. Cross over : SPAN
53. Tipperary tip jar coin : EURO
54. Hunter’s need : AMMO
56. Victor’s wife in “Casablanca” : ILSA
57. Ancient France : GAUL
58. Poet Pound : EZRA
59. Branch home : NEST
61. Bad check letters : NSF

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