LA Times Crossword Answers 16 Feb 2018, Friday

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Constructed by: David Alfred Bywaters
Edited by: Rich Norris

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Today’s Theme: Downgrade

Themed answers are well-known phrases that have been DOWNGRADED, have had an A changed to a B:

  • 63A. Rating reduction responsible for the answers to starred clues : DOWNGRADE
  • 17A. *Protection for a press feeding frenzy? : MEDIA BIBS (from “media bias”)
  • 26A. *Result of nodding off at an auction? : SLEEP BID (from “sleep aid”)
  • 27A. *Sandwich-centric extremists? : BLT-RIGHT (from “Alt-right”)
  • 50A. *Where to read all the latest computer port news? : USB TODAY (from “USA Today”)
  • 52A. *Female employee of a tech giant? : IBM WOMAN (from “I Am Woman”)

Bill’s time: 9m 33s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Scratch __: woodworking tools : AWLS

A scratch awl is a hand tool, basically a steel spike with a sharp point that is used for marking wood. A common usage os a scratch awl is to scribe a line that can then be followed when chiseling or sawing.

9. Green “Sesame Street” character : OSCAR

Oscar the Grouch is the Muppet that lives in a garbage can. Oscar’s persona comes from various sources. He is named after Oscar Brand who was one of the board members of the Children’s Television Workshop, the backers for “Sesame Street” as the Muppets were being developed in the sixties. Oscar’s personality was inspired by an angry waiter that once served Jim Henson (father of the Muppets). The voice was modeled on a grumpy New York cab driver encountered one day by Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who brings Oscar to life.

14. Scallion relative : LEEK

The leek is a vegetable closely related to the onion and the garlic. It is also a national emblem of Wales (along with the daffodil), although I don’t think we know for sure how this came to be. One story is that the Welsh were ordered to wear leeks in their helmets to identify themselves in a battle against the Saxons. Apparently, the battle took place in a field of leeks.
Scallions are edible plants with a mild onion flavor. They are also called green onions or spring onions.

15. Sea predator : ORCA

The taxonomic name for the killer whale is Orcinus orca. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.

16. Asian city translating to “place of the gods” : LHASA

Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet, with the name “Lhasa” translating as “place of the gods”. However, Lhasa used to be called Rasa, a name that translates into the less auspicious “goat’s place”. Lhasa was also once called the “Forbidden City” due to its inaccessible location high in the Himalayas and a traditional hostility exhibited by residents to outsiders. The “forbidden” nature of the city has been reinforced since the Chinese took over Tibet in the early 1950s as it has been difficult for foreigners to get permission to visit Lhasa.

17. *Protection for a press feeding frenzy? : MEDIA BIBS (from “media bias”)

The word “bib” comes from the Latin “bibere” meaning “to drink”, as does our word “imbibe”. So, maybe it’s less about spilling the food, and more about soaking up the booze …

19. Tight headgear : DO-RAG

Hip-hoppers might wear do-rags today, but they have been around for centuries. The etymology of “do-rag” is pretty evident: a piece of cloth (rag) to hold a hairstyle (do) in place.

20. Masseur’s workplace : 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”.

21. Word with fly or about : GAD

A gadfly is a fly that annoys horses and other livestock. It isn’t one particular species, but rather the name given to the horse-fly, botfly and other flies that bite and and generally irritate farm animals. “Gadfly” was absorbed into English in a figurative sense in the 17th century, when it was used for a particularly irritating person and one who is persistently critical of others.
“To gad about” is to move around with little purpose. The word “gad” comes from the Middle English “gadden” meaning “to hurry”.

22. Shining example : EPITOME

The more common meaning of “epitome” is “perfect example of a group, quality, type”. An epitome is also an abstract or summary of a book or article.

24. What a burglar hopes not to be : SEEN

The crime of burglary is the breaking into and entering of a building with the intent to steal. The actual theft itself is a separate crime.

27. *Sandwich-centric extremists? : BLT-RIGHT (from “Alt-right”)

The BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) is the second most popular sandwich in the US, after the plain old ham sandwich.
“Alt-right” is a term used to some groups with far-right leaning ideologies. We heard about the Alt-right a lot during the 2016 US presidential election, but the term “Alternative Right” was really popularized by white supremacist Richard Spencer, who used it as the title of an online publication in 2010.

30. Fort Collins sch. : CSU

Colorado State University (CSU) was founded in Fort Collins in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College. The school’s athletic teams are known as the Colorado State Rams, although back in the days of the Colorado Agricultural College, the teams were referred to as the Aggies.
The origins of the Colorado city of Fort Collins go back to Camp Collins, which was erected in the mid-1860s to protect the overland mail route passing through the area. The US Army then founded Fort Collins as a military outpost in 1864. The Collins name comes from army officer Lieutenant William O. Collins, who was in charge of Fort Laramie located 150 miles to the north. It was Collins who authorized the establishment of both Camp Collins and Fort Collins.

32. Italian capital : EURO

The eurozone (also “euro area”) is a monetary and economic union within the European Union that uses the euro as a shared legal tender and sole currency.

38. Letters for John Smith? : AKA

Also known as (aka)

39. Besmirch : TARNISH

“Besmirch” is a derivative of “smirch”, with both words meaning to “make dirty”. In particular, to besmirch is to sully someone’s reputation.

42. Dudley the Dinosaur’s org. : ADA

Dudley the Dinosaur is a character used in advertising campaigns by the American Dental Association (ADA). Dudley first appeared in public service messaging in 1991.

45. Twitter’s bird, e.g. : LOGO

The familiar blue Twitter logo is known as “Larry the Bird”. The logo was named for former Boston Celtics player Larry Bird.

50. *Where to read all the latest computer port news? : USB TODAY (from “USA Today”)

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.
The title of widest circulation of any American newspaper is an honor competed for by “The Wall Street Journal”, “The New York Times” and “USA Today”, with each paper selling about 2 million copies each day (including online subscribers). “USA Today” was launched in 1982.

52. *Female employee of a tech giant? : IBM WOMAN (from “I Am Woman”)

Tech giant IBM was founded as the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. The company changed its name to the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) in 1911 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1916. The name of International Business Machines (IBM) was given first to the company’s Canadian subsidiary, and then its South American subsidiary. In 1924, it was decided to adopt the International Business Machines name for the whole company. Good choice …
The successful singer Helen Reddy was born in Melbourne, Australia. In 1966, Reddy won a talent contest and earned herself a trip to New York City for an audition. The 25-year-old single mother decided to stay in the US, and a few years later was able to launch a successful singing career. Her hit song “I Am Woman”, released in 1972, was the first recording by an Australian artist to reach #1 in the US charts.

57. Lincoln output : ORATION

I admit to having profound respect and admiration for great speeches delivered by great men and great women. Forgive me as I reproduce here the full text of President Abraham Lincoln’s memorable Gettysburg Address:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

58. “No seats” sign : SRO

Standing room only (SRO)

62. Tuesday dish? : TACOS

Taco Tuesday is a promotion run by many American restaurants, especially in Southern California. Participating establishments offer deals on tacos, and perhaps other Mexican dishes served in tortillas. Apparently, “Taco Tuesday” is a trademark owned by Wyoming-based fast-food restaurant Taco John’s.

67. Northern terminus of I-79 : ERIE

Interstate 79 runs from Charleston, West Virginia in the south to Erie, Pennsylvania in the north.

68. Lute family members : UKES

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

70. Kind of lily : SEGO

The sego lily is the state flower of Utah, and is a perennial plant found throughout the Western United States.

Down

4. __ jump : SKI

The winter sport of ski jumping originated in Norway. The first recorded, measured ski jump was by Norwegian-Danish military officer Olaf Rye. He launched himself a distance of 9.5 metres in front of fellow soldiers in 1809. There is now an offshoot of ski jumping known as ski flying, which involves the use of larger hills. Ski flyers have made jumps in excess of 250 meters.

7. Chem. pollutant banned in 1979 : PCB

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were banned with good reason. Apart from their link to cancer and other disorders in humans and animals, they are extremely persistent in the environment once contamination has occurred. Among other things, PCBs were used as coolants and insulating fluids in electrical gear such as transformers and large capacitors, as well as a transfer agent in carbonless copy paper.

8. Canvas support : EASEL

The word “easel” comes from an old Dutch word meaning “donkey” would you believe? The idea is that an easel carries its load (an oil painting, say) just as a donkey would be made to carry a load.

9. Elvis hits, e.g. : OLDIES

Elvis Aron Presley (aka “the King”) was the younger of two identical twins. His brother was stillborn, and delivered 35 minutes before Elvis. The brother was named Jesse Garon Presley. So, although born a twin, Elvis was raised as an only child.

10. Decathlon event : SHOT PUT

Shot put, or events like shot put, have been around for millennia, but the first events that truly resemble today’s track and field event had to come with the invention of the cannonball. Soldiers would “putt” (throw) cannonballs as far as possible in attempts to outperform each other. Shot put has been in the modern Olympic Games since day-one, with American Robert Garrett winning the gold in the first games in 1896.
The decathlon event is a track and field competition, with the name “decathlon” coming from the Greek “deka” (ten) and “athlos” (contest). The ten events in the men’s decathlon are:

  • 100 meters
  • Long jump
  • Shot put
  • High jump
  • 400 meters
  • 110 meters hurdles
  • Discus throw
  • Pole vault
  • Javelin throw
  • 1500 meters

11. Chocolate substitute : CAROB

The carob is a tree or shrub in the pea family that is mainly grown for its seed pods. The carob seeds are dried or roasted, and when powdered or chipped make a good substitute for chocolate.

18. Elder hostile? : AGEIST

Discrimination against senior members of society is referred to as ageism. The term “ageism” was coined in 1969 by Dr. Robert Neil Butler. In 1975, Butler was appointed founding Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

23. River through New Mexico : PECOS

The Pecos River rises north of the village of Pecos in New Mexico, and flows almost a thousand miles before entering the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas.

25. Seaside eagle : ERN

The ern (sometimes “erne”) is also called the white-tailed eagle or the sea-eagle.

29. Forrest Gump, for one : HERO

The epic 1994 movie “Forrest Gump” is based on a 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. Groom said that he had envisioned John Goodman playing the title role, and not Tom Hanks.

33. Some are tributarios : RIOS

In Spanish, some “rios” (rivers) are “tributarios” tributaries.

35. Cordial greeting : HANDSHAKE

Back in the 14th century, we used the word “cordial” to mean “from the heart”. The most common meaning today is “courteous and gracious”. The original usage also evolved into the name for a drink that “stimulated the heart”. Today’s cordial beverages are strong, sweetened liqueurs.

37. Not : NARY

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

40. Budget competitor : ALAMO

The third largest car rental company over recent years is Alamo, which was founded in 1974. Alamo made inroads (pun!) into the market by popularizing the idea of “unlimited mileage”.
The Budget Rent a Car company started out in 1958 with the intent of undercutting the existing price of renting a car at airports. Budget was founded by Morris Mirkin. Mirkin enlisted Julius Lederer as a co-founder the following year. Lederer was the husband of newspaper columnist “Ann Landers”.

41. Cylindrical sandwich : HOT DOG

A hot dog is a sausage served in a split roll. The term “hot dog” dates back to the 19th-century and is thought to reflect a commonly-held opinion that the sausages contained dog meat.

51. World’s third-largest island : BORNEO

Borneo is the third largest island on the planet (after Greenland and New Guinea), and is located north of Australia in Maritime Southeast Asia. Most of the island is part of Indonesia (taking up 73% of the island) with almost all of the remainder being part of Malaysia (26%). The final 1% is home to the sovereign state of Brunei.

52. Tiny bits : IOTAS

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

54. Former Portuguese territory in China : MACAO

Macau (also “Macao”) is an autonomous territory of China located on the Pearl River estuary about 40 miles west of Hong Kong. Macau was a Portuguese colony from the mid-1500s until 1999. It was in fact the first European colony in China, and the last, having been handed back to the Chinese in 1999, two years after Hong Kong was returned by the British. Macau’s economy is driven by tourism and gambling. The territory’s gaming revenue is the highest for any gambling center in the world.

55. Aconcagua’s range : ANDES

The Andes range is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world, running right down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles. The highest peak in the Andes is Mt. Aconcagua, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the planet. That’s because of the equatorial “bulge” around the Earth’s “waist”.

64. Willamette Valley state: Abbr. : ORE

The Willamette River in northwestern Oregon is a major tributary of the Columbia River. The Willamette flows through the state capital of Salem, as well as through Portland, Oregon’s largest city. Today, the Willamette Valley is home to over 500 wineries and is often called “Oregon Wine Country”.

65. Obstacle : RUB

A rub is a difficulty or obstruction. The term comes from the game of lawn bowls in which a rub is a fault in the bowling surface. The most famous use of “rub” is in the “To be or not to be” soliloquy from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”.

To die — to sleep.
To sleep — perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Scratch __: woodworking tools : AWLS
5. Split wide open : GAPE
9. Green “Sesame Street” character : OSCAR
14. Scallion relative : LEEK
15. Sea predator : ORCA
16. Asian city translating to “place of the gods” : LHASA
17. *Protection for a press feeding frenzy? : MEDIA BIBS (from “media bias”)
19. Tight headgear : DO-RAG
20. Masseur’s workplace : SPA
21. Word with fly or about : GAD
22. Shining example : EPITOME
24. What a burglar hopes not to be : SEEN
26. *Result of nodding off at an auction? : SLEEP BID (from “sleep aid”)
27. *Sandwich-centric extremists? : BLT-RIGHT (from “Alt-right”)
30. Fort Collins sch. : CSU
31. Merits : EARNS
32. Italian capital : EURO
34. Dilute : THIN
38. Letters for John Smith? : AKA
39. Besmirch : TARNISH
42. Dudley the Dinosaur’s org. : ADA
43. Books with test answers : KEYS
45. Twitter’s bird, e.g. : LOGO
46. One with a title : OWNER
48. Cry of discovery : AHA!
50. *Where to read all the latest computer port news? : USB TODAY (from “USA Today”)
52. *Female employee of a tech giant? : IBM WOMAN (from “I Am Woman”)
56. Poems of praise : ODES
57. Lincoln output : ORATION
58. “No seats” sign : SRO
59. Egg producer … and product : HEN
62. Tuesday dish? : TACOS
63. Rating reduction responsible for the answers to starred clues : DOWNGRADE
66. Expect : AWAIT
67. Northern terminus of I-79 : ERIE
68. Lute family members : UKES
69. ATM features : SLOTS
70. Kind of lily : SEGO
71. Tendency : BENT

Down

1. Help for the poor : ALMS
2. Sob : WEEP
3. Acting on bad advice : LED ASTRAY
4. __ jump : SKI
5. Explode : GO BANG
6. Parched : ARID
7. Chem. pollutant banned in 1979 : PCB
8. Canvas support : EASEL
9. Elvis hits, e.g. : OLDIES
10. Decathlon event : SHOT PUT
11. Chocolate substitute : CAROB
12. “Me too” : AS AM I
13. Lost it : RAGED
18. Elder hostile? : AGEIST
23. River through New Mexico : PECOS
25. Seaside eagle : ERN
26. Immobilizing law-enforcement tool : STUN GUN
27. Nose, slangily : BEAK
28. Camp sight, perhaps : LAKE
29. Forrest Gump, for one : HERO
33. Some are tributarios : RIOS
35. Cordial greeting : HANDSHAKE
36. Notion : IDEA
37. Not : NARY
40. Budget competitor : ALAMO
41. Cylindrical sandwich : HOT DOG
44. Took care of things : SAW TO IT
47. Sorrow : WOE
49. Construction site apparatuses : HOISTS
51. World’s third-largest island : BORNEO
52. Tiny bits : IOTAS
53. Serious fight : BRAWL
54. Former Portuguese territory in China : MACAO
55. Aconcagua’s range : ANDES
58. Way more than a sip : SWIG
60. Paradise : EDEN
61. Animal home : NEST
64. Willamette Valley state: Abbr. : ORE
65. Obstacle : RUB

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