LA Times Crossword Answers 5 Jan 2018, Friday

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Constructed by: C.C. Burnikel
Edited by: Rich Norris

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Today’s Theme: Sounds Like Letters

Each of today’s themed answers sounds like a common phrase that includes a pair of initial letters:

  • 17A. Attire with a spreadsheet design? : EXCEL SHIRT (sounds like “XL shirt”)
  • 24A. Disreputable court proceeding? : SEEDY CASE (sounds like “CD case”)
  • 50A. Extracts from Wrigley Field’s walls? : IVY FLUIDS (sounds like “IV fluids”)
  • 61A. Transports for fertilizer? : PEATY BOATS (sounds like “PT boats”)

Bill’s time: 8m 45s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Fey of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” : TINA

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a 2016 film based on a memoir called “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan” by Kim Barker. Tina Fey stars as a TV journalist on assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. Despite the somber setting, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a comedy-drama. The title is the initialism WTF spelled out using the NATO phonetic alphabet. WTF stands for “what the fudge?!”, or similar …

10. Mug shot subject : PERP

Perpetrator (perp)

A mugshot is a photograph of a person’s face, one often taken for a police record.

15. Wheels since 1986 : 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.

16. Adidas rival : AVIA

The Avia brand name for athletic shoes was chosen as “avia” is the Latin word for “to fly”, and suggests the concept of aviation. Avia was founded in Oregon in 1979.

The brand name Adidas dates back to when Adolf “Adi” Dassler started making his own sports shoes in his mother’s laundry room in Bavaria after returning from WWI. With his brother, Adi founded Dassler shoes. The company’s big break came in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics, when Adi persuaded American sprinter Jesse Owens to use his shoes, and with the success of Jesse Owens came success for the fledgling shoe company. After WWII the brothers split, acrimoniously. Adi’s brother, Ru-dolf Da-ssler, formed “Ruda” shoes (later to become Puma), and Adi Das-sler formed “Adidas”.

17. Attire with a spreadsheet design? : EXCEL SHIRT (sounds like “XL shirt”)

Microsoft Excel is the spreadsheet program included in the Microsoft Office suite of applications. Microsoft’s first spreadsheet program was introduced back in 1982 and called Multiplan. Multiplan’s popularity waned due to the success of the competing product Lotus 1-2-3. Microsoft then introduced Excel, initially just for the Macintosh. When Excel was extended to Windows, Lotus was slow to respond and Microsoft took over the market.

23. Liquor in a Singapore sling : GIN

A sling is a cocktail made of brandy, whiskey or gin, that is sweetened and flavored with lemon. The most famous version of the sling is the Singapore sling, which was invented by a bartender at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. I am proud to report that I once had a Singapore sling in Raffles Hotel, many moons ago …

24. Disreputable court proceeding? : SEEDY CASE (sounds like “CD case”)

A CD case is also known as a jewel box, and I am not sure why …

29. Hebrides tongue : 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.

38. Superstation that broadcasts some Cubs games : WGN

WGN America is a cable television network based in Chicago. The WGN name has long been associated with Chicago, and is the initialism for the former slogan of the Chicago Tribune: “World’s Greatest Newspaper”.

39. Old Testament prophet : EZEKIEL

Ezekiel is recognized as a Hebrew prophet in the three main Abrahamic religions. Ezekiel’s story is told in the Jewish and Christian traditions in the Book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s final resting place is said to be a tomb in southern Iraq near the town of Al Kifl.

41. Creature for whose shape Anguilla was named : EEL

The genus of fishes known as Anguilla is made up of freshwater eels. These eels spend their lives in rivers, lakes or estuaries but return to the ocean to spawn. The genus gives its name to the island of Anguilla, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean Sea. The island was so named because it is said to be shaped like an eel.

42. “Broca’s Brain” author : SAGAN

Carl Sagan was a brilliant astrophysicist and a great communicator. Sagan was famous for presenting obscure concepts about the cosmos in such a way that we mere mortals could appreciate. He also wrote the novel “Contact” which was adapted into a fascinating 1997 film of the same name starring Jodie Foster.

“Broca’s Brain” is a 1979 book written by Carl Sagan. The title is a reference to French physician Paul Broca who first discovered that different functions are controlled by different parts of the brain.

44. Speed away, with “out” : PEEL

One might peel out at the start of a drag race, for example.

45. Syrup brand since 1902 : KARO

Karo is a brand of corn syrup, an industrially manufactured sweetener derived from corn. The brand was introduced in 1902 by the Corn Products Refining Company.

48. Sacred crawler : SCARAB

Scarabs were amulets in ancient Egypt. Scarabs were modelled on the dung beetle, as it was viewed as a symbol of the cycle of life.

50. Extracts from Wrigley Field’s walls? : IVY FLUIDS (sounds like “IV fluids”)

The famous ballpark that is home to the Chicago Cubs was built in 1914. Back then it was known as Weeghman Park, before becoming Cubs Park when the Cubs arrived in 1920. It was given the name Wrigley Field in 1926, after the owner William Wrigley, Jr. of chewing gum fame. Wrigley Field is noted as the only professional ballpark that has ivy covering the outfield walls. The ivy is a combination of Boston Ivy and Japanese Bittersweet, both of which can survive the harsh winters in Chicago.

55. Monopoly quartet: Abbr. : RRS

The four railroad (RR) properties in the Monopoly board game are:

  • Reading Railroad
  • Pennsylvania Railroad
  • B&O Railroad
  • Short Line

56. __ network : NEURAL

It used to be that “neural network” was just the name given to a network nerve cells in an organism. In the modern world, the term “neural net” (short for “neural network”) also applies to virtual or electronic devices designed to mimic the function of the human brain, and in particular learning from past experiences.

61. Transports for fertilizer? : PEATY BOATS (sounds like “PT boats”)

When dead plant matter accumulates in marshy areas, it may not fully decay due to a lack of oxygen or acidic conditions. We are familiar with this in Ireland, because this decaying matter can form peat, and we have lots and lots of peat bogs.

PT boats were motor torpedo boats: small speedy vessels that used torpedoes as their primary weapon against large surface ships. The “PT” stands for “Patrol Torpedo”. The most famous PT boats that served during WWII were probably PT-41 that carried General Douglas MacArthur and his family from Corregidor to Mindanao in his escape from the Philippines, and PT-109 that was commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, future President of the United States.

65. Umbilical variety : INNIE

The navel is basically a scar left behind when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby. One interesting use of the umbilicus (navel, belly button) is to differentiate between identical twins, especially when they are very young.

67. Old U.S. pump sign : 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.

68. Bluto and Pluto : TOONS

Bluto is the villain in the Popeye cartoon strip, a character who has been around since 1932. Sometimes you will see Bluto go by the name Brutus, depending on the date of the publication. This “confusion” arose because there was an unfounded concern that the name “Bluto” was owned by someone else. Bluto, Brutus … it’s the same guy.

Pluto is Mickey Mouse’s pet dog, as well as a star in his own right. Pluto is an unusual Disney character in that he is portrayed basically as a dog as opposed to a “humanized” version of a dog, as are the other Disney characters.

69. “Echoes in Rain” singer : ENYA

Enya’s real name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, which can translate from Irish into Enya Brennan. Her Donegal family (in the northwest of Ireland) formed a band called Clannad, which included Enya. In 1980 Enya launched her very successful solo career, eventually becoming Ireland’s best-selling solo musician. And, she sure does turn up a lot in crosswords!

Down

2. Sydney band originally called The Farriss Brothers : INXS

INXS (pronounced “in excess”) was a rock band from Australia. The band formed in 1977 in Sydney as the Farriss Brothers, as three of the original lineups were indeed brothers.

8. Miss on “Jeopardy!,” e.g. : ERR

The TV show “Jeopardy!” first went on the air in 1964, and is another successful Merv Griffin creation. But it took the introduction of Alex Trebek as host in order to bring the show into the big times. Trebek has been host since 1984.

9. Involving nudity, maybe : RATED R

The Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) film-rating system (PG-13, R, etc.) is purely voluntary and is not backed by any law. Movie theaters agree to abide by the rules that come with the MPAA ratings in exchange for access to new movies.

10. Cure-all : PANACEA

Panacea was the Greek goddess of healing. She lent her name to the term “panacea” that was used by alchemists to describe the beguiling remedy that could cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely.

11. 1980 Tony winner for Best Musical : EVITA

“Evita” was the follow up musical to “Jesus Christ Superstar” for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Both of these works were originally released as album musicals, and very successful ones at that (I remember buying them when they first came out). “Evita” was made into a film in 1996, with Madonna playing the title role and Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce playing her husband Juan Perón.

12. Bat mitzvahs, e.g. : RITES

A Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah at 12 years of age, the age at which she becomes responsible for her actions. Boys become Bar Mitzvahs at 13. The terms translate into English as daughter and son of the commandments.

13. So yesterday : PASSE

“Passé” is a French word, meaning “past, faded”. We’ve imported the term into English, and use it in the same sense.

18. Superboy’s girlfriend : LANA

Smallville, Kansas is the town on Earth in which Superman grew up (as Clark Kent). One of Clark’s best friends in Smallville, and the romantic interest of his youth, was Lana Lang.

22. Disinfectant brand : LYSOL

The disinfectant called Lysol takes its name from the words “lysosome” and “solvent”. Lysosomes are structures found within cells that have the job of breaking up waste material and cellular debris.

25. Like many “Buffy” settings : EERIE

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a TV series that originally aired from 1997 to 2003. “Buffy …” was incredibly successful, especially given that it wasn’t aired on the one of the big four networks. The show was created by Joss Whedon and stars Sarah Michelle Gellar in the title role.

27. Lingerie brand : OLGA

Olga is a brand of lingerie that is produced by American clothing retailer Bare Necessities.

28. Whirling toon : TAZ

The “Looney Tunes” character known as the Tasmanian Devil, or “Taz”, first appeared in a cartoon short with Bugs Bunny called “Devil May Care” in 1954.

32. Drink with a Zero Sugar variety : PEPSI

Diet Pepsi Max was introduced to the soft drink market in 2007. The “Diet” was dropped from the name in 2009. In 2015, the name was further changed to “Pepsi Zero Sugar”.

35. Mark on a Dear John letter, perhaps : TEAR STAIN

The expression “Dear John letter” originated in WWII among American troops who were serving abroad. The servicemen highly valued letters from girlfriends and wives back home, and almost invariably those missives started out with “Dearest”, or “My Darling” or some other expression of affection. A curt, “Dear John” set the tone for a letter which was likely to contain news of a new love interest in the life of the girlfriend or wife. The contemporary equivalent missive from a male to a female is a “Dear Jane letter”.

36. Zeus’ jealous wife : HERA

In Greek mythology, Hera was the wife of Zeus and was noted for her jealous and vengeful nature, particularly against those who vied for the affections of her husband. The equivalent character to Hera in Roman mythology was Juno. Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea.

39. __ Gay : ENOLA

The Enola Gay was the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb, on Hiroshima in August 1945. Enola Gay was the name of the mother of pilot Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.

40. “The Complete Short Game” author : ELS

Ernie Els is a South African golfer. Els a big guy but he has an easy fluid golf swing that has earned him the nickname “The Big Easy”. He is a former World No. 1 and has won four majors: the US Open (1994 & 1997) and the British Open (2002 & 2012).

43. Fettuccine sauce : ALFREDO

Alfredo sauce is usually associated with the Italian dish called fettuccine Alfredo. The sauce is made from Parmesan cheese and butter, and is named for the Italian restaurant owner Alfredo Di Lelio. Di Lelio’s nephews still own and run a restaurant in Rome called “Il Vero Alfredo”. Here in the US, we often add other ingredients to the basic cheese and butter recipe. The name “fettuccine Alfredo” won’t be found on a menu in Italy today, and instead one can order “fettuccine al burro”.

45. Bar attraction : KARAOKE

“Karate” is a Japanese word meaning “open hand”, and the related word “karaoke” translates as “open orchestra”.

47. Ministry : PULPIT

A pulpit is a platform in a church from which a sermon is delivered by a preacher. The term comes from the Latin “pulpitum” meaning “scaffold, stage, platform for actors”. “Pulpit” can also be used figuratively, to describe the clerical profession generally.

50. Absurd : INANE

Our word “inane” meaning silly or lacking substance comes from the Latin “inanitis” meaning “empty space”.

52. Celebrated seasons : YULES

Yule celebrations coincide with Christmas, and the words “Christmas” and “Yule” (often “Yuletide”) have become synonymous in much of the world. However, Yule was originally a pagan festival celebrated by Germanic peoples. The name “Yule” comes from the Old Norse word “jol” that was used to describe the festival.

53. Pipe cleaner : DRANO

To clean out drains we might buy Crystal Drano which is sodium hydroxide (lye) mixed with sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (table salt) and aluminum. The contents of Drano work in concert to clear the clog. The lye reacts with any fats creating soap which may be enough to break up the clog. Also, the finely-divided aluminum reacts with water creating tremendous heat so that that mixture boils and churns, then any hair or fibers are cut by the sharp edges of the nitrate and chloride crystals. Having said all that, I find that boiling water poured down the drain quite often does the job …

54. Chemise fabric : SATIN

A modern chemise is a female undergarment or perhaps a loose-fitting dress. “Chemise” is a French term, one that today is used for a shirt.

59. Site for handicrafts : 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.

62. “Reflection” musician : ENO

Brian Eno was one of the pioneers of the “ambient” genre of music. Eno composed an album in 1978 called “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”, which was the first in a series of four albums with an ambient theme. Eno named the tracks somewhat inventively: 1/1, 2/1, 2/1 and 2/2.

63. Issuer of five million-plus IDs annually : SSA

Social Security Administration (SSA)

The main purpose of a Social Security Number (SSN) is to track individuals for the purposes of taxation, although given its ubiquitous use, it is looking more and more like an identity number to me. The social security number system was introduced in 1936. Prior to 1986, an SSN was required only for persons with substantial income so many children under 14 had no number assigned. For some years the IRS had a concern that a lot of people were claiming children on their tax returns who did not actually exist. So, from 1986 onward, it is a requirement to get an SSN for any dependents over the age of 5. Sure enough, seven million dependents “disappeared” in 1987.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Fey of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” : TINA
5. Ready to rock : EAGER
10. Mug shot subject : PERP
14. “I got this!” : ON IT!
15. Wheels since 1986 : ACURA
16. Adidas rival : AVIA
17. Attire with a spreadsheet design? : EXCEL SHIRT (sounds like “XL shirt”)
19. Minor points : NITS
20. Under : SEDATED
21. More than tickles : ELATES
23. Liquor in a Singapore sling : GIN
24. Disreputable court proceeding? : SEEDY CASE (sounds like “CD case”)
26. Unskilled in : POOR AT
29. Hebrides tongue : ERSE
30. Arrived, in a way : ALIT
31. Hardly an original : APER
34. Office administrations : OATHS
38. Superstation that broadcasts some Cubs games : WGN
39. Old Testament prophet : EZEKIEL
41. Creature for whose shape Anguilla was named : EEL
42. “Broca’s Brain” author : SAGAN
44. Speed away, with “out” : PEEL
45. Syrup brand since 1902 : KARO
46. Cuts (off) : LOPS
48. Sacred crawler : SCARAB
50. Extracts from Wrigley Field’s walls? : IVY FLUIDS (sounds like “IV fluids”)
55. Monopoly quartet: Abbr. : RRS
56. __ network : NEURAL
57. Emit : RADIATE
60. Greased auto part : AXLE
61. Transports for fertilizer? : PEATY BOATS (sounds like “PT boats”)
64. Scholarship consideration : NEED
65. Umbilical variety : INNIE
66. Lover’s greeting : KISS
67. Old U.S. pump sign : ESSO
68. Bluto and Pluto : TOONS
69. “Echoes in Rain” singer : ENYA

Down

1. Ring site : TOE
2. Sydney band originally called The Farriss Brothers : INXS
3. “Good work!” : NICE GOING!
4. Swallowed one’s pride : ATE DIRT
5. Needle point? : EAST
6. Soreness : ACHES
7. Museum offering : GUIDE
8. Miss on “Jeopardy!,” e.g. : ERR
9. Involving nudity, maybe : RATED R
10. Cure-all : PANACEA
11. 1980 Tony winner for Best Musical : EVITA
12. Bat mitzvahs, e.g. : RITES
13. So yesterday : PASSE
18. Superboy’s girlfriend : LANA
22. Disinfectant brand : LYSOL
25. Like many “Buffy” settings : EERIE
26. Kittens play with them : PAWS
27. Lingerie brand : OLGA
28. Whirling toon : TAZ
32. Drink with a Zero Sugar variety : PEPSI
33. __ out a meager existence : EKE
35. Mark on a Dear John letter, perhaps : TEAR STAIN
36. Zeus’ jealous wife : HERA
37. One who doesn’t pick up much : SLOB
39. __ Gay : ENOLA
40. “The Complete Short Game” author : ELS
43. Fettuccine sauce : ALFREDO
45. Bar attraction : KARAOKE
47. Ministry : PULPIT
49. Bed with enclosed sides : CRIB
50. Absurd : INANE
51. Annoys : VEXES
52. Celebrated seasons : YULES
53. Pipe cleaner : DRANO
54. Chemise fabric : SATIN
58. Salon assortment : DYES
59. Site for handicrafts : ETSY
62. “Reflection” musician : ENO
63. Issuer of five million-plus IDs annually : SSA

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