LA Times Crossword Answers 4 Dec 2017, Monday

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Constructed by: Jeff Stillman
Edited by: Rich Norris

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Today’s Theme: Theme Me!

Today’s themed answers are two or three-word phrases, with the last word a repeat of the final letter string in the preceding word:

  • 17A. Devotee of singer Gloria : ESTEFAN FAN
  • 24A. Precise price : ACCURATE RATE
  • 39A. Mata Hari story, e.g. : FEMME FATALE TALE
  • 51A. Garden purchase from a Lowe’s rival : HOME DEPOT POT
  • 63A. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s 63 for retirement : AVERAGE AGE

Bill’s time: 4m 53s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6. Elegant : POSH

No one really knows the etymology of the word “posh”. The popular myth that “posh” is actually an acronym standing for “port out, starboard home” is completely untrue, and is a story that can actually be traced back to the 1968 movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. The myth is that wealthy British passengers travelling to and from India would book cabins on the port side for the outward journey and the starboard side for the home journey. This trick was supposedly designed to keep their cabins out of the direct sunlight.

10. WWII servicewomen : WACS

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was formed in 1942, and the unit was converted to full status the following year to become the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Famously, General Douglas MacArthur referred to the WACs as his “best soldiers”, saying they worked harder, complained less and were better disciplined than men. The WACs were disbanded in 1978 and the serving members were integrated into the rest of the army.

14. Car body style : COUPE

The type of car known as a “coupe” or “coupé” is a closed automobile with two doors. The name comes from the French word “couper” meaning “to cut”. In most parts of the English-speaking world the pronunciation adheres to the original French, but here in most of North America we go with “coop”. The original coupé was a horse-drawn carriage that was cut (coupé) to eliminate the rear-facing passenger seats. That left just a driver and two front-facing passengers. If the driver was left without a roof and out in the open, then the carriage was known as a “coupé de-ville”.

15. Mennen shaving lotion : AFTA

Afta is an aftershave in the Mennen range of products that is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.

17. Devotee of singer Gloria : ESTEFAN FAN

Gloria Estefan is a Cuban American singer who was born in Havana. Estefan fled Cuba along with her family after the Cuban Revolution, and ended up in Miami. Her father fought for the US military in Vietnam, and also took part in the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion. Years later, Estefan herself was approached by the CIA to work for the agency due to her skill with languages. She ended up doing quite well singing instead …

19. Heavy book : TOME

“Tome” first came into English from the Latin “tomus” which means “section of a book”. The original usage in English was for a single volume in a multi-volume work. By the late 16th century “tome” had come to mean “a large book”.

20. Buck or doe : DEER

A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and females cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …

21. Beluga yield : ROE

Caviar is the roe of a large fish that has been salted and seasoned, and especially the roe of a sturgeon. Beluga caviar comes from the beluga sturgeon, found primarily in the Caspian Sea. It is the most expensive type of caviar in the world. 8 ounces of US-farmed beluga caviar can be purchased through Amazon.com for just over $850, in case you’re feeling peckish …

27. Mineral springs : SPA

The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as Spa is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.

31. Five-time Wimbledon champ Bjorn : BORG

Björn Borg is a retired tennis player from Sweden, and a former World No. 1. Borg won 41% of the 27 Grand Slam singles tournaments that he entered, which is a record that stands to the day. He was known for reacting very calmly under pressure on the tennis court and hence earned the nicknames “Ice Man” and “Ice Borg”, which is my personal favorite.

34. “Westworld” network : HBO

“Westworld” is an HBO series that is based on a 1973 movie of the same name, which was written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. Westworld is a high-tech theme park populated by androids that interact with the guests.

35. Bon Ami alternative : AJAX

Ajax cleanser has been around since 1947, and it’s “stronger than dirt!” That was the most famous slogan over here in the US. On my side of the pond, the celebrated slogan was “it cleans like a white tornado”.

Bon Ami cleanser was introduced just a few years after Bon Ami soap went to market in 1886. The cleanser was marketed by emphasising its “non-scratch” properties. The label showed a chick coming out of an egg, the idea being that a newly hatched chick hasn’t yet scratched the ground looking for worms and insects.

39. Mata Hari story, e.g. : FEMME FATALE TALE

“Mata Hari” was the stage name used by Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, born in the Netherlands in 1876. After an unsuccessful and somewhat tragic marriage, Zella moved to Paris in 1903 where she struggled to make a living. By 1905 she was working as an exotic dancer and using the name Mata Hari. She was a successful courtesan, notably moving in various circles of high-ranking military officers. She apparently worked as a double agent, both for the French and the Germans. When Mata Hari was accused by the French of passing information to the enemy, she was tried, found guilty and executed by firing squad at the height of WW1, in 1917.

44. The “I” in TGIF : IT’S

“Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF) is a relatively new expression that apparently originated in Akron, Ohio. It was a catchphrase used first by disk jockey Jerry Healy of WAKR in the early seventies. That said, one blog reader wrote me to say that he had been using the phrase in the fifties.

45. Family car : SEDAN

The American sedan car is the equivalent of the British saloon car. By definition, a sedan car has two rows of seating and a separate trunk (boot in the UK), although in some models the engine can be at the rear of the car.

46. Disney’s “__ & Stitch” : LILO

“Lilo & Stitch” was released by Disney in 2002. Compared to other Disney feature-length cartoons, “Lilo & Stitch” was relatively cheaply produced, using the voices of lesser-known actors. One interesting change had to take place in the storyline during production, when Lilo was meant to fly a Jumbo Jet through downtown Honolulu in one sequence. This was replaced with a sequence using a spaceship instead, as the producers were sensitive to public sentiment after the September 11 attacks.

51. Garden purchase from a Lowe’s rival : HOME DEPOT POT

The Home Depot is the largest home improvement retail chain in the US, ahead of Lowe’s. Home Depot opened their first two stores in 1979. The average store size if just over 100,000 square feet. The largest Home Depot outlet is in Union, New Jersey, and it is 225,000 square feet in size. That’s a lot of nuts and bolts …

62. Gadget’s rank: Abbr. : INSP

“Inspector Gadget” is a cartoon television show from the 1980s in which the title character is a cyborg detective. There’s a lot of similarity in Inspector Gadget’s behavior to the behavior of Maxwell Smart from the sitcom “Get Smart”. Actor Don Adams played the title role in “Get Smart” and also provided the voice for Inspector Gadget.

63. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s 63 for retirement : AVERAGE AGE

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age for retirement in the US is 63, even though that’s early relative to the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare benefits. Also according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average length of retirement is 18 years.

66. Slugger Sammy : SOSA

Sammy Sosa was firmly in the public eye in 1998 when he and Mark McGwire were vying to be the first to surpass the home run record held by Roger Maris. McGwire fell out of public favor due to stories of steroid abuse (stories which he later admitted were true) while Sosa fell out of favor when he was found to be using a corked bat in a 2003 game.

67. Earth orbiter : MOON

The Earth’s moon is the largest satellite in the Solar System, relative to the size of the planet it orbits. The Moon is believed to have formed after a huge collision between Gaia (the early Earth) and a planet-size object referred to as Theia.

68. Wafer brand : NILLA

As one might expect, “Nilla” is a shortened form of “vanilla”. However, you won’t find any vanilla in Nilla brand cookies or wafers. They have always been flavored with vanillin, which is synthetic vanilla. Is nothing sacred …?

69. Jacob or Esau : TWIN

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).

Down

4. Wagner work : OPERA

Richard Wagner was born in the Jewish quarter of Leipzig in 1813. Decades later, Wagner became known not only for writing magnificent music, but also for his anti-semitic views and writings.

5. Striped-shirt wearer : REF

A football referee is sometimes called a “zebra”, a reference to the striped shirt that is part of a referee’s uniform.

6. Happen as expected : PAN OUT

When prospectors pan for gold, they do so by mixing soil and water in a pan. Because gold is very dense, gravel and soil can be washed over the side of the pan leaving the heavy precious metal at the bottom. The gold has been “panned out”, and so we often use “pan out” figuratively to mean “turn out, succeed”.

8. BART stop : STA

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a commuter rail system serving the San Francisco Bay Area (and indeed, my home town).

10. Nixon Era scandal : WATERGATE

The Watergate scandal is so named because it involved a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The Watergate complex is made up of five units, three of which are apartment buildings, one an office building, and one a hotel-office building (which housed the DNC headquarters). Watergate led to the “-gate” suffix being used for many subsequent scandals, such as “Irangate”, “Bridgegate” and “Deflategate”.

12. Tailed celestial body : COMET

Comets and asteroids are similar, both being relatively small celestial bodies orbiting the sun. Comets differ from asteroids in that they have a coma or tail, especially when they are close enough to the sun. The coma and tail are temporary fuzzy atmospheres that develop due to the presence of solar radiation. Comets are sometimes referred to as “dirty snowballs”, a reference to their composition: rock, dust, water ice and frozen gases.

18. Rainbow shapes : ARCS

Sunlight shining through airborne water droplets can produce rainbows. The water droplets act as little prisms, dispersing the white light into its constituent colors. Sometimes we see double rainbows. If we look carefully, we can see that the order of the colors in the first and second arcs is reversed.

26. “Dancing Queen” group : ABBA

“Dancing Queen” is a great, great song from 1976 that was released by the Swedish group ABBA. ABBA’s music has never been as popular in the US as it is in other countries, but “Dancing Queen” did make it to the number-one spot in the charts here. It was in fact, ABBA’s only #1 hit in the US.

36. Green stone : JADE

Jade is actually the name given to two different mineral rocks, both of which are used to make gemstones. The first is nephrite, a mineral with a varying degree of iron content, the more iron the greener the color. The second is jadeite, a sodium and aluminum-rich pyroxene. As well as being used for gemstones, both jade minerals can be carved into decorative pieces.

37. Banned apple spray : ALAR

The chemical name for Alar, a plant growth regulator and color enhancer, is daminozide. Alar was primarily used on apples but was withdrawn from the market when it was linked to cancer.

38. TV warrior princess : XENA

The Xena character, played by New Zealander Lucy Lawless, was introduced in a made-for-TV movie called “Hercules and the Amazon Women”. Lawless reprised the role in a series called “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”. Xena became so popular that a series was built around her character, with Lawless retained for the title role. The fictional Xena supposedly came from the “non-fictional” Greek city of Amphipolis.

40. It’s often followed by .pdf : FILENAME

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format introduced by Adobe Systems in 1993. PDF documents can be shared between users and read using many different applications, making them more universally accessible than documents saved by one particular program.

42. Old U.S. gas brand : ESSO

The brand name Esso has its roots in the old Standard Oil company as it uses the initial letters of “Standard” and “Oil” (ESS-O). The Esso brand was replaced by Exxon in the US, but ESSO is still used in many other countries.

49. Women’s links gp. : LPGA

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) was founded in 1950 by a group of 13 lady golfers, and today it is the oldest ongoing women’s sports professional organization in the US.

The oldest type of golf course is a links course. The name “links” comes from the Old English word “hlinc” meaning “rising ground”. “Hlinc” was used to describe areas with coastal sand dunes or open parkland. As a result, we use the term “links course” to mean a golf course that is located at or on the coast, often amid sand dunes. The British Open is always played on a links course.

53. Soccer great Lionel : MESSI

Lionel “Leo” Messi is a soccer player from Argentina. Messi was awarded FIFA’s Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) award from 2009 to 2013. The Ballon d’Or is presented to the player who is considered the best in the world in the prior year.

54. Black-and-white cookies : OREOS

How the Oreo cookie came to get its name seems to have been lost in the mists of time. One theory is that it comes from the French “or” meaning “gold”, a reference to the gold color of the original packing. Another suggestion is that the name is the Greek word “oreo” meaning “beautiful, nice, well-done”.

60. Look at lasciviously : OGLE

“Lascivious” is such an appropriate-sounding word, I always think. It means “lecherous, salacious”.

65. Bearded antelope : GNU

A gnu is also known as a wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. Wildebeest is actually the Dutch word for “wild beast”.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Knight’s “shining” protection : ARMOR
6. Elegant : POSH
10. WWII servicewomen : WACS
14. Car body style : COUPE
15. Mennen shaving lotion : AFTA
16. Get one’s ducks in __ : A ROW
17. Devotee of singer Gloria : ESTEFAN FAN
19. Heavy book : TOME
20. Buck or doe : DEER
21. Beluga yield : ROE
22. Viewed to be : DEEMED
24. Precise price : ACCURATE RATE
27. Mineral springs : SPA
30. Believer’s suffix : -IST
31. Five-time Wimbledon champ Bjorn : BORG
32. Portion out : ALLOT
34. “Westworld” network : HBO
35. Bon Ami alternative : AJAX
39. Mata Hari story, e.g. : FEMME FATALE TALE
43. Simplicity : EASE
44. The “I” in TGIF : IT’S
45. Family car : SEDAN
46. Disney’s “__ & Stitch” : LILO
48. Above-the-street trains : ELS
50. Chapter in history : ERA
51. Garden purchase from a Lowe’s rival : HOME DEPOT POT
56. Truck capacity : ONE TON
57. Coffee order: Abbr. : REG
58. Image to click on : ICON
62. Gadget’s rank: Abbr. : INSP
63. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s 63 for retirement : AVERAGE AGE
66. Slugger Sammy : SOSA
67. Earth orbiter : MOON
68. Wafer brand : NILLA
69. Jacob or Esau : TWIN
70. Choice word : ELSE
71. Not reached, as a goal : UNMET

Down

1. Scored 100 on : ACED
2. Went up : ROSE
3. Sound-off button : MUTE
4. Wagner work : OPERA
5. Striped-shirt wearer : REF
6. Happen as expected : PAN OUT
7. Buyer’s proposal : OFFER
8. BART stop : STA
9. Hammer or screwdriver : HAND TOOL
10. Nixon Era scandal : WATERGATE
11. Pleasing smell : AROMA
12. Tailed celestial body : COMET
13. 31-Across, by birth : SWEDE
18. Rainbow shapes : ARCS
23. Poetic “always” : E’ER
25. Credit in a footnote : CITE
26. “Dancing Queen” group : ABBA
27. Place for valuables : SAFE
28. Not guilty, for one : PLEA
29. Gift for the poor : ALMS
33. Skillet for folded egg dishes : OMELET PAN
34. Growth chart nos. : HTS
36. Green stone : JADE
37. Banned apple spray : ALAR
38. TV warrior princess : XENA
40. It’s often followed by .pdf : FILENAME
41. On the summit of : ATOP
42. Old U.S. gas brand : ESSO
47. Swearing-in words : I DO
48. Timeless, in verse : ETERNE
49. Women’s links gp. : LPGA
51. Lift up : HOIST
52. Televised as we speak : ON NOW
53. Soccer great Lionel : MESSI
54. Black-and-white cookies : OREOS
55. Marketing gimmick : TIE-IN
59. Period “before the storm” : CALM
60. Look at lasciviously : OGLE
61. Without ice, at the bar : NEAT
64. TV loud-soft control: Abbr. : VOL
65. Bearded antelope : GNU

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