LA Times Crossword Answers 1 Jan 2018, Monday

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Constructed by: Ross Trudeau
Edited by: Rich Norris

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Today’s Theme: Reform Party

Happy New Year, everyone!

Each of today’s themed answers includes the letter string PARTY, but that string has been REFORMED, rearranged in order:

  • 61A. Political organization founded in 1995 by 35-Down … and a literal hint to each set of circled letters : REFORM PARTY
  • 17A. 2006 best-selling Elizabeth Gilbert spiritual memoir : EAT, PRAY, LOVE
  • 24A. Place to go blond : BEAUTY PARLOR
  • 39A. Breakfast-in-bed surface : LAP TRAY
  • 51A. Carnivorous plant : VENUS FLYTRAP

Bill’s time: 5m 24s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6. Insurance giant with a spokesduck : AFLAC

In 1999, Aflac (American Family Life Assurance Company) was huge in the world of insurance but it wasn’t a household name, so a New York advertising agency was given the task of making the Aflac brand more memorable. One of the agency’s art directors, while walking around Central Park one lunchtime, heard a duck quacking and in his mind linked it with “Aflac”, and that duck has been “Aflacking” ever since …

14. Heap praise upon : EXTOL

To extol something is to praise it loudly. The term comes from the Latin “extollere” meaning “to raise up, elevate”.

15. Fortune-telling prefix with “sayer” : SOOTH-

A soothsayer is someone who claims to have the ability to predict the future. The term comes from “sooth”, an archaic word for “truth”. So a soothsayer was supposedly one who told the “truth” (about the future).

16. “Dude!” : BRO!

Our term “dude” arose as slang in New York City in the 1880s, when it was used to describe a fastidious man. In the early 1900s, the term was extended to mean “city slickers”, easterners who vacationed in the West. The first use of the term “dude ranch” was recorded in 1921.

17. 2006 best-selling Elizabeth Gilbert spiritual memoir : EAT, PRAY, LOVE

“Eat, Pray, Love” is a 2006 memoir by novelist Elizabeth Gilbert. “Eat, Pray, Love” is a huge best seller that receives a boost with the release of a 2010 screen adaptation starring Julia Roberts.

19. Texter’s “Egads!” : OMG

OMG is text-speak for “Oh My Gosh!” “Oh My Goodness!” or any other G-words you might think of …

22. Frozen waffles : EGGOS

Eggo is the brand name of a line of frozen waffles made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced “Froffles”, the original name chosen by melding “frozen” and “waffles”.

24. Place to go blond : BEAUTY PARLOR

I speak a little French (very badly) so have trouble with the usage of “blond” and “blonde” in English. Both are French words, with the “blonde” spelling applying to all feminine usages in that language. In English, we only use the “blonde” spelling when using the term as a noun, describing a female with light-colored hair. We use the “blond” spelling for all adjectives and in compound verbs, e.g. “blond women”, “women deciding to go blond”.

28. Capital of Zimbabwe : HARARE

Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe, and is the African nation’s largest city. It was founded by the British in 1890 as Fort Salisbury (later just “Salisbury”). The outpost was named after Lord Salisbury, who was Prime Minister of the UK at the time. Salisbury was renamed to Harare in 1982, on the second anniversary of the independence of Zimbabwe. The name “Haarare” applied to the area in which Fort Salisbury had been erected. “Haarare” is a local word meaning “It doesn’t sleep”, a word applied to locations with constant noise.

30. Celestial bear : URSA

The constellation named Ursa Major (Latin for “Larger Bear”) is often just called the Big Dipper because of its resemblance to a ladle or dipper. Ursa Major also resembles a plow, and that’s what we usually call the same constellation back in Ireland, the “plough”.

Ursa Minor (Latin for “Smaller Bear”) sits right beside the constellation Draco (Latin for “dragon”). Ursa Minor used to be considered the wing of Draco, and so was once called “Dragon’s Wing”. The tail of the “Smaller Bear” might also be considered as the handle of a ladle, and so the constellation is often referred to as the Little Dipper.

31. Honda luxury brand : ACURA

Acura is the luxury brand of the Honda Motor Company. As an aside, Infiniti is the equivalent luxury brand for the Nissan Motor Company, and Lexus is the more luxurious version of Toyota’s models.

32. iPhone assistant : SIRI

Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

38. Teen blemish : ZIT

The slang term “zit”, meaning “pimple”, came into the language in 1966, but no one seems to know its exact derivation.

42. Lowest Scrabble tile value : ONE

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

43. Biblical garden : EDEN

According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve lived in a garden “in” Eden, with Eden being geographically located by reference to four rivers including the Tigris and the Euphrates. Some scholars hypothesize that Eden was located in Mesopotamia, which encompasses much of modern-day Iraq.

48. Western gas chain : ARCO

The company name “ARCO” stands for the Atlantic Richfield Company. One of ARCO’s claims to fame is that it is responsible for the nation’s largest Superfund site. Mining and smelting in the area around Butte, Montana polluted the region’s water and soil, and ARCO have agreed to pay $187 million to help clean up the area.

51. Carnivorous plant : VENUS FLYTRAP

The Venus flytrap is a fascinating plant. Famously, it is carnivorous as it feeds on insects and spiders that it catches in its leaves. A flytrap leaf is quite ingenious. The inside of the leaf has an array of sensitive hairs. If one hair is moved (by a potential victim), then nothing happens. When a second hair is moved within about 20 seconds, the leaf snaps shut. This “fail safe” mechanism reduces the chances of the flytrap catching an inanimate object.

55. Like environments where you can walk on air? : ZERO G

The force of gravity (g-force) that we all feel is referred to as “one G”. As gravity is a actually an accelerating force, acceleration is measured relative to that force of gravity. So, if we are sitting in a vehicle that accelerates at 3G, then we are experiencing a force that is three times that which we feel from the gravitational pull of the earth. Zero G is weightlessness that is experienced when in space, outside the influence of the earth’s gravity.

61. Political organization founded in 1995 by 35-Down … and a literal hint to each set of circled letters : REFORM PARTY

The Reform Party of the USA was founded in 1995 by Ross Perot with the intent of creating an alternative to the Republican and Democratic Parties. The Reform Party’s biggest success was the election of Jesse Ventura as Governor of Minnesota.

65. Key & Peele, e.g. : DUO

The Comedy Central sketch show “Key & Peele” stars comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. The duo also wrote an action comedy film called “Keanu” that was released in 2016. The title character is a cat belonging to the boss of a drug cartel. Haven’t seen it …

69. Brass band heavyweights : TUBAS

The tuba is the lowest-pitched of all the brass instruments, and one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra (usually there is just one tuba included in an orchestral line-up). “Tuba” is the Latin word for “trumpet, horn”. Oom-pah-pah …

70. Crumbly cheeses : FETAS

Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months before it is eaten.

Down

1. Hive denizens : BEES

Nowadays we use “denizen” to mean simply a resident, but historically a denizen was an immigrant to whom certain rights had been granted, somewhat like today’s “resident alien”.

3. Caesar’s last question : ET TU, BRUTE?

It was Shakespeare who popularized the words “Et tu, Brute?” (And you, Brutus?). They appear in his play “Julius Caesar”, although the phrase had been around long before he penned his drama. It’s not known what Julius Caesar actually said in real life (if anything at all) as he was assassinated on on the steps of the Senate in Rome.

5. Nikon product, briefly : SLR

Nikon was founded in 1917 with the merger of three companies making various optical devices. After the merger, the company’s main output was lenses (including the first lenses for Canon cameras, before Canon made its own). During the war, Nikon sales grew rapidly as the company focused on (pun!) equipment for the military including periscopes and bomb sights.

6. To this point : AS YET

The initialism “SLR” stands for “single lens reflex”. Usually, cameras with changeable lenses are the SLR type. The main feature of an SLR is that a mirror reflects the image seen through the lens out through the viewfinder, so that the photographer sees exactly what the lens sees. The mirror moves out of the way as the picture is taken, and the image that comes through the lens falls onto unexposed film, or nowadays onto a digital sensor.

7. Seward’s __: Alaska purchase : FOLLY

Alaska was never a profitable colony for Russia, so the empire was probably glad to receive the $7.2 million forked out by the US in 1867. The Alaska Purchase took place during the administration of President Andrew Johnson, while William H. Seward served as Secretary of State. Famously, opponents of the administration labeled the purchase “Seward’s Folly”. The US military ran Alaska for a while, until it was made into a territory in 1884. Alaska was admitted to the Union as the 49th state in 1959.

William H. Seward was the Governor of New York, and then Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. On the night that President Lincoln was assassinated, the plan was to kill Vice President Johnson and Secretary Seward as well. The attack on Johnson never took place, but Seward was stabbed several times in the face and neck as he lay in bed. Seward survived, and continued to serve as Secretary of State in President Johnson’s administration. Two years later, Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

8. British john : LOO

It has been suggested that the British term “loo” comes from Waterloo (water closet … water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure. Another suggestion is that the term comes from the card game of “lanterloo”, in which the pot was called the loo!

Sir John Harington was an author and a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England. However, Harington is perhaps best remembered as the inventor of the flush toilet. Our slang term “john”, meaning “toilet”, is thought to be a reference to John Harington.

9. Off-road transp. : ATV

All-terrain vehicle (ATV)

10. Sitcom title bar : CHEERS

The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness two!). The owner of the Bill & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.

11. Streaming option for “Game of Thrones” : HBO GO

The HBO Go offering is a “TV Everywhere” service, meaning that paid subscribers can stream content on a choice of platforms just by entering a username and password.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is a fantasy television drama that is adapted from a series of novels by George R. R. Martin called “A Song of Ice and Fire”. “Game of Thrones” is actually filmed in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland. I recently binge-watched the show’s first seven seasons, and enjoyed it. There’s no doubt that the production value of “Game of Thrones” is remarkable, but to be honest, I never became riveted by the storyline …

18. Fever and chills : AGUE

An ague is a fever, one usually associated with malaria.

23. Kitchen bag brand : GLAD

Glad is a company making plastic products, especially food containers and trash bags. Glad was launched in 1963 to make Glad Wrap, a polyethylene wrap used to preserve food.

25. Decimated Asian sea : ARAL

The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …

27. Diva’s highlight : ARIA

The term “diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. “Diva” is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

29. Alkali neutralizer : ACID

The “opposite” of an acid is a base. Acids turn litmus paper red, and bases turn it blue. Acids and bases react with each other to form salts. An important subset of the chemicals called bases are the alkalis, the hydroxides of the alkali metals and of ammonium. The term “alkali” is sometimes used interchangeably with “base”, especially if that base is readily soluble in water.

32. “Spaceballs” or “Scary Movie” : SPOOF

The word “spoof” came into the language in the 1880s with the meaning “hoax, deception”. The term was coined by British comedian Arthur Roberts, when it used it as the name for a card game he invented that involved trickery and nonsense. The verb “to spoof” came to mean “to satirize gently” starting in the 1920s.

“Scary Movie” is one of those parody movies, and is a film released in 2000 that pokes fun at famous horror films. It was advertised with the tagline “No mercy. No shame. No sequel”. The “no sequel” reference was a parody in itself, making fun of the fact that slasher movies in particular were made into strings of sequels. But there was in fact to be a sequel to “Scary Movie”, in fact three of them with one more on the way. “Scary Movie 2” came out in 2001, with the tagline “We lied”.

“Spaceballs” is a 1987 spoof of sci-fi films that mainly pokes fun at the “Star Wars” franchise. It was co-written and directed by, and indeed stars, Mel Brooks.

35. ’90s presidential candidate : ROSS PEROT

Ross Perot graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1953, as president of his class. Perot served his 4-year commitment but then resigned his commission, apparently having become somewhat disillusioned with the navy. He was ranked number 101 on the Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans in 2012, and at that time was worth about $3.5 billion. Back in 1992, Perot ran as an independent candidate for US president. He founded the Reform Party in 1995, and ran as the Reform Party candidate for president in 1996.

40. Kindergarten basics : ABCS

“Kindergarten” is a German term, one translating as “children’s garden”. The term was coined by the German education authority Friedrich Fröbel in 1837, when he used it as the name for his play and activity institute that he created for young children to use before they headed off to school. His thought was that children should be nourished educationally, like plants in a garden.

41. Part of MYOB : YOUR

Mind your own business (MYOB)

44. iPod model : NANO

The iPod Nano was the successor to the iPod Mini and was introduced to the market at the end of 2005. There were seven versions of the Nano, until it was discontinued in 2017.

49. Nickelodeon toon tot : RUGRAT

“Rugrats” is a cartoon show that aired on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 2004. The show spawned a series of movies, starting with 1998’s “The Rugrats Movie”.

50. Champagne flute feature : STEM

The narrow bowl of a champagne flute is preferred over the wide bowl of a champagne coupe as the smaller surface area of the wine helps retain its carbonation.

52. Triage MD : ER DOC

Triage is the process of prioritizing patients for treatment, especially on a battlefield. The term “triage” is French and means “a sorting”.

53. Parkinson’s drug : L-DOPA

The name of the drug L-3,4-DihydrOxyPhenylAlanine can be shortened, thankfully, to L-DOPA. Swedish scientist Arvid Carlsson won a Nobel Prize for showing that L-DOPA could be used to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s Syndrome.

54. Mongolian tents : YURTS

A yurt is a wood-framed dwelling that is used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Although a yurt is a substantial structure, it is also extremely portable.

55. Pizza pieces in London? : ZEDS

The letter named “zed” has been around since about 1400, and derives from the Greek letter zeta. The spelling and pronunciation of “zee”, used in America today, first popped up in the 1670s.

There are two letters Z in the word “pizza”.

58. Sicilian volcano : ETNA

Mount Etna on the island of Sicily is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy. Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Mt. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-gauge railway, and two ski resorts.

62. Harvard URL ending : EDU

Harvard University was founded in 1636 as New College, the college at New Towne. The school was renamed three years later after John Harvard, a deceased clergyman and who donated books and money.

64. Adobe file format : PDF

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.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Edible epitomes of redness : BEETS
6. Insurance giant with a spokesduck : AFLAC
11. “No chance!” : HAH!
14. Heap praise upon : EXTOL
15. Fortune-telling prefix with “sayer” : SOOTH-
16. “Dude!” : BRO!
17. 2006 best-selling Elizabeth Gilbert spiritual memoir : EAT, PRAY, LOVE
19. Texter’s “Egads!” : OMG
20. Self-satisfied : SMUG
21. Salon goop : GEL
22. Frozen waffles : EGGOS
24. Place to go blond : BEAUTY PARLOR
28. Capital of Zimbabwe : HARARE
30. Celestial bear : URSA
31. Honda luxury brand : ACURA
32. iPhone assistant : SIRI
34. Dull-colored : DRAB
38. Teen blemish : ZIT
39. Breakfast-in-bed surface : LAP TRAY
42. Lowest Scrabble tile value : ONE
43. Biblical garden : EDEN
45. One signing the checks : BOSS
46. Ejects : OUSTS
48. Western gas chain : ARCO
50. End-of-day photo op : SUNSET
51. Carnivorous plant : VENUS FLYTRAP
55. Like environments where you can walk on air? : ZERO G
56. Deserved : DUE
57. Unwanted lawn plant : WEED
60. Means justifier : END
61. Political organization founded in 1995 by 35-Down … and a literal hint to each set of circled letters : REFORM PARTY
65. Key & Peele, e.g. : DUO
66. Modify to fit : ADAPT
67. Remote-controlled flying camera, say : DRONE
68. “Gimme a __” : SEC
69. Brass band heavyweights : TUBAS
70. Crumbly cheeses : FETAS

Down

1. Hive denizens : BEES
2. Oral or final : EXAM
3. Caesar’s last question : ET TU, BRUTE?
4. Fifth, often, for a manual transmission : TOP GEAR
5. Nikon product, briefly : SLR
6. To this point : AS YET
7. Seward’s __: Alaska purchase : FOLLY
8. British john : LOO
9. Off-road transp. : ATV
10. Sitcom title bar : CHEERS
11. Streaming option for “Game of Thrones” : HBO GO
12. Knight wear : ARMOR
13. Ones who don’t share : HOGS
18. Fever and chills : AGUE
23. Kitchen bag brand : GLAD
25. Decimated Asian sea : ARAL
26. Runs smoothly, as an engine : PURRS
27. Diva’s highlight : ARIA
28. Visibility inhibitor : HAZE
29. Alkali neutralizer : ACID
32. “Spaceballs” or “Scary Movie” : SPOOF
33. “__ your turn” : IT’S
35. ’90s presidential candidate : ROSS PEROT
36. First chip, maybe : ANTE
37. Oscar adjective : BEST
40. Kindergarten basics : ABCS
41. Part of MYOB : YOUR
44. iPod model : NANO
47. In the dark : UNAWARE
49. Nickelodeon toon tot : RUGRAT
50. Champagne flute feature : STEM
51. Trial locale : VENUE
52. Triage MD : ER DOC
53. Parkinson’s drug : L-DOPA
54. Mongolian tents : YURTS
55. Pizza pieces in London? : ZEDS
58. Sicilian volcano : ETNA
59. Hair-coloring agents : DYES
62. Harvard URL ending : EDU
63. Terrif : FAB
64. Adobe file format : PDF

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