LA Times Crossword 8 Dec 18, Saturday

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

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 8m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9. Fictional brother with a green hat : LUIGI

Mario Bros. started out as an arcade game back in 1983, developed by Nintendo. The more famous of the two brothers, Mario, had already appeared in an earlier arcade game “Donkey Kong”. Mario was given a brother called Luigi, and the pair have been around ever since. In the game, Mario and Luigi are Italian American plumbers from New York City.

18. General who’s the subject of the 2012 biography “All In” : PETRAEUS

General David Petraeus retired from the US military in 2011 after a very distinguished 38-year career. He then took over as the Director of the CIA under President Obama. However, Petraeus resigned from the post just over a year later when it was revealed that he had conducted an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, the co-author of his 2012 biography “All In”.

20. Org. whose employees may have to lift 70-lb. bags : TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks that check passengers and baggage at airports.

21. Country star at age 13 : RIMES

LeAnn Rimes has been a country music star since she was 13 years old. In 2008 she disclosed publicly that she suffered from the autoimmune disease psoriasis. She has been active since then in raising money to fight the disease and helping fund cancer research as well. So, not only did Rimes win three Grammy Awards in 1997, she also won a 2009 Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Country Music.

25. “Va-va-__!” : VOOM

“Va-va-voom!” is an expression that turns up a lot of places. For example, it was a frequent utterance by comic actor Art Carney, most notably while playing Ralph Kramden in the sitcom “The Honeymoons” from the 1950s. Carney even released a comedy song “Va Va Va Voom” in 1954.

26. “You got that right!” : AMEN!

The word “amen” translates as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is also likely to be influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.

27. Puck, say : DISC

Before wooden and rubber pucks were introduced in the late 1800s, ice hockey was played balls. The first rubber pucks were made by cutting down rubber balls into the shape of discs.

28. Bouquet __ : GARNI

“Bouquet garni” is French for “garnished bouquet”, and is the name given to a bundle of herbs often tied together and added to soups, stocks and stews. The bouquet garni adds flavor, but is removed prior to serving. The list of herbs included in the “bundle” varies, but thyme and bay leaf are often the base ingredients.

30. Raymond James Stadium pro : BUC

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the NFL in 1976, along with the Seattle Seahawks, as an expansion team. The Bucs had a tough start in the NFL, losing their first 26 games. Things went better in the early eighties, but then the team went through 14 consecutive losing seasons. Their luck changed again though, and they won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season.

Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. The naming rights for the stadium were purchased in 1998 Raymond James Financial, which is headquartered in St. Petersburg.

31. Some stingers : HORNETS

A hornet is a large type of wasp, with some species reaching over two inches in length.

33. Took off, slangily : BAILED

The phrase “to bail out” (sometimes just “to bail”) means to leave suddenly. We’ve been using the term since the early thirties, when it originated with airline pilots. To bail out is to make a parachute jump.

35. Nice, for one : RESORT

The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera.

38. Lines of thought?: Abbr. : EEG

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a record of electrical activity caused by the firing of neurons within the brain. The EEG might be used to diagnose epilepsy, or perhaps to determine if a patient is “brain dead”.

39. Long on-screen : NIA

Nia Long is an American actress who is probably best known for playing Will Smith’s sometime girlfriend and fiancee Lisa Wilkes on the TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.

43. Bad thing to catch : FLAK

“Flak” was originally an acronym standing for the German term for an aircraft defense cannon (FLiegerAbwehrKanone). “Flak” then became used in English as a general term for antiaircraft fire and ultimately a term for verbal criticism, as in “to take flak”.

46. “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” author : DOYLE

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” is a line from the story “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” in “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle.

According to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his character Sherlock Holmes was based on a Dr. Joseph Bell for whom Doyle worked in Edinburgh. That said, Bell actually wrote a letter to Doyle in which he said “you are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it”.

47. Gain competitor : FAB

Fab is a laundry detergent that was introduced by Colgate-Palmolive, but sold off to Phoenix Brands in 2005.

Gain is a detergent that was introduced in 1969 by Procter & Gamble. Gain was originally position in the market as the most powerful stain remover. That focus evolved into Gain being the detergent with the unique, fresh scent.

48. Frequent Robert De Niro co-star : JOE PESCI

Joe Pesci got his big break in movies with a supporting role in “Raging Bull” starring Robert De Niro, earning Pesci an Oscar nomination early in his career. There followed a string of gangster roles played alongside De Niro, namely “Once Upon a Time in America”, “Goodfellas” and “Casino”. But I like Pesci’s comedic acting best of all. He was marvelous in the “Home Alone” films, the “Lethal Weapon” series, and my personal favorite, “My Cousin Vinny”. Pesci gets a mention in the stage musical “Jersey Boys”, which isn’t too surprising as he is one of the show’s producers.

50. Bar supply : OLIVES

The olive tree developed in and around the Mediterranean Basin, but has been cultivated in many locations around the world for thousands of years. The fruit of the olive tree is prized as a foodstuff, as well as a source of olive oil. Our word “oil” ultimately derives from the Greek “elaia” meaning “olive”.

52. Portrayer of Nero in “Star Trek” (2009) : ERIC BANA

The 2009 movie “Star Trek” is in effect a prequel to the original “Star Trek” series. The film features a young James T. Kirk (played by Chris Pine) and a young Spock (played by Zachary Quinto) battling Romulan named Nero (played by Eric Bana) who comes back in time. There’s an appearance by the original Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) who does a bit of time travel himself.

56. Skateboard moves : OLLIES

An ollie is a skateboarding trick invented in 1976 by Alan “Ollie” Gelfand. Apparently it’s a way of lifting the board off the ground, while standing on it, without touching the board with one’s hands. Yeah, I could do that …

58. President who had 15 children : TYLER

President John Tyler was one of two US presidents who lost their wives and remarried while in office (the other was Woodrow Wilson). President Tyler’s first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler, who died of a stroke in the White House in 1842. Two years later, Virginia-born Tyler married 22-year-old Julia Gardiner, a native New Yorker who was thirty years his junior. Tyler already had eight children from his first marriage, and eventually had seven more with his second wife. That total of fifteen means that John Tyler fathered more children than any other US president.

59. Subarus named for a NYC area : TRIBECAS

The Tribeca is a crossover SUV that Subaru produced from 2005 until 2014.

“TriBeCa” is a clever little acronym that expands into “TRI-angle BE-low CA-nal Street”. The name of the New York City neighborhood was developed by local residents who basically copied the naming technique used by residents of the adjacent area of SoHo, with “SoHo” being short for “SO-uth of HO-uston Street”.

Down

1. Measly amount : SOU

A sou is an old French coin. We use the term “sou” to mean “an almost worthless amount”.

Back in the 17th century, someone measly was affected with measles. The use of “measly” to describe something insultingly small was initially recorded as slang in the mid-1800s.

2. Jake Tapper’s channel : CNN

Jake Tapper is a journalist working for CNN as Chief Washington Correspondent. Tapper is also a cartoonist. He wrote a comic strip called “Capitol Hell” that appeared in the Washington, DC paper “Roll Call” from 1994 to 2003.

3. Court official : REF

Back in the early 17th century, a referee was someone who examined patent applications. We started using the same term for a person presiding over a sporting event in the 1820s. “Referee” is derivative of the verb “to refer”, and literally describes someone who has the authority to make a decision by “referring to” a book, archive etc.

4. Camp nurse’s item : EPIPEN

EpiPen is a brand name of epinephrine auto-injector. An EpiPen delivers a measured dose of epinephrine, which is a common treatment for an extreme allergic reaction.

6. Gael or Breton : CELT

The Celts are a very broad group of people across Europe who are linked by common languages. The original Celts were largely absorbed by other cultures, although a relatively modern revival of the “Celtic identity” is alive and well in the British Isles. Such Celtic peoples today are mainly found in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany in France.

A Gael is anyone of a race that speaks or spoke one of the Erse tongues. 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).

A Breton is a native of Brittany. Brittany is a large peninsula in the northwest of France that is known in French as “Bretagne”.

8. Piano trio : PEDALS

Most modern pianos have three pedals. The left pedal is the soft pedal (also “una corda”), the sostenuto pedal, and the sustaining pedal (also “damper pedal”).

9. The elephant is its national animal : LAOS

The present-day nation of Laos can trace its roots back to the historic Lao kingdom of Lan Xang that existed from 1354 to 1707. The full name of the kingdom was “Lan Xang Hom Khao”, which translates as “The Land of a Million Elephants and the White Parasol”.

10. Game with a colorful deck : UNO

In my youth I remember being taught a great card game by a German acquaintance of mine, a game called Mau Mau. Years later I discovered that UNO is basically the same game, but played with a purpose-printed deck instead of the regular deck of playing cards that’s used for Mau Mau. I hear that Mau Mau is derived from the game called Crazy Eights.

13. Alleged perp’s denial : IT’S A MISTAKE

In cop-speak, a “perp” (perpetrator) might prey on a a “vic” (victim).

15. Driver, e.g. : CLUB

That would be golf.

21. Furry talisman : RABBIT’S FOOT

The foot of a rabbit is believed by some to bring good luck to the person carrying it. Such a belief probably originated with the Celts. In some North American traditions, there are some restrictions on the selection of a rabbit’s foot in order for each to qualify as an amulet:

  1. It has to be the rabbit’s left hind foot.
  2. The rabbit must have been captured or killed in a cemetery.
  3. The rabbit must be sacrificed while there is a full moon.

25. Handymen’s transports : VANS

The vehicle we call a “van” takes its name from “caravan”, and is a shortened version of the older term. Back in the 1600s, a caravan was a covered cart. We still used the term “caravan” in Ireland to describe what we call a “mobile home” or “recreational vehicle” here in the US.

28. Maddux in Cooperstown : GREG

Baseball pitcher Greg Maddux won the Cy Young Award for the four consecutive years of 1992 through 1995, a record that wasn’t matched until Randy Johnson did the same thing in 1999 through 2002.

34. First name in early exploring : LEIF

Leif Erikson was a Norse explorer and the first European to land in North America, some 500 years before Christopher Columbus’s landing in 1492. The Norsemen named the area they discovered “Vinland”, which might translate as “Wine Land” or “Pasture Land”. Erikson built a small settlement called Leifsbudir, which archaeologists believe they have found in modern day Newfoundland, at L’Anse aux Meadows. The settlement discovered in Newfoundland is definitely Norse, but there is some dispute over whether it is actually Erikson’s Leifsbudir.

37. Lake in four states and Canada : ERIE

Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes by area (Lake Ontario is the smallest). The lake takes its name from the Erie tribe of Native Americans that used to live along its southern shore. Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume and the shallowest, something for which nearby residents must be quite grateful. Being relatively shallow, much of Erie freezes over part way through most winters putting an end to most of the lake-effect snow that falls in the snow belt extending from the lake’s edge.

38. Chinese ruler until 1912 : EMPEROR

The Xinhai Revolution of 1911 overthrew the Qing dynasty, China’s last imperial dynasty. That led to the establishment of the Republic of China on January 1st, 1912.

46. 1983 Mr. T comedy : DC CAB

“D.C. Cab” is a comedy movie released in 1983 starring Mr. T. I don’t hear many good things about the film, although there is a special appearance by Irene Cara of “Fame” fame …

48. Raspberry : JEER

Not so much here in America, but over in the British Isles “blowing a raspberry” is a way of insulting someone (I think that it’s usually called “a Bronx cheer” in the US). The verb “to razz” comes from a shortened form of “raspberry”.

49. Multilingual 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.

54. “Read Across America” org. : NEA

Read Across America is a reading initiative launched in 1997 by the National Education Association (NEA) labor union. Part of the initiative was the observance of National Read Across America Day. Said day is observed annually on the school day nearest to March 2nd, at date chosen because it is the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Top that turns : SCREW CAP
9. Fictional brother with a green hat : LUIGI
14. Like some snowsuits : ONE-PIECE
15. Lacks the wherewithal to : CANNOT
16. Vacant, as positions : UNFILLED
17. Sets free : LOOSES
18. General who’s the subject of the 2012 biography “All In” : PETRAEUS
20. Org. whose employees may have to lift 70-lb. bags : TSA
21. Country star at age 13 : RIMES
24. State secrets : BLAB
25. “Va-va-__!” : VOOM
26. “You got that right!” : AMEN!
27. Puck, say : DISC
28. Bouquet __ : GARNI
29. Resting place : BED
30. Raymond James Stadium pro : BUC
31. Some stingers : HORNETS
33. Took off, slangily : BAILED
35. Nice, for one : RESORT
36. Holy smoke : INCENSE
38. Lines of thought?: Abbr. : EEG
39. Long on-screen : NIA
40. Feature : TRAIT
41. Hits hard : RAMS
43. Bad thing to catch : FLAK
44. Mirror image : SELF
45. Have trouble with chess? : LISP
46. “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” author : DOYLE
47. Gain competitor : FAB
48. Frequent Robert De Niro co-star : JOE PESCI
50. Bar supply : OLIVES
52. Portrayer of Nero in “Star Trek” (2009) : ERIC BANA
56. Skateboard moves : OLLIES
57. Bright lipstick color : CORAL RED
58. President who had 15 children : TYLER
59. Subarus named for a NYC area : TRIBECAS

Down

1. Measly amount : SOU
2. Jake Tapper’s channel : CNN
3. Court official : REF
4. Camp nurse’s item : EPIPEN
5. Cunning : WILES
6. Gael or Breton : CELT
7. Tart : ACERBIC
8. Piano trio : PEDALS
9. The elephant is its national animal : LAOS
10. Game with a colorful deck : UNO
11. Marketing limitation : IN-STORE ONLY
12. Faces a jury : GOES ON TRIAL
13. Alleged perp’s denial : IT’S A MISTAKE
15. Driver, e.g. : CLUB
19. Pricing word : EACH
21. Furry talisman : RABBIT’S FOOT
22. “Seriously?!” : I MEAN, REALLY?!
23. Insurance may cover one : MEDICAL BILL
25. Handymen’s transports : VANS
27. Lemons : DUDS
28. Maddux in Cooperstown : GREG
30. Like paper clips : BENT
32. Valuable rocks : ORES
34. First name in early exploring : LEIF
37. Lake in four states and Canada : ERIE
38. Chinese ruler until 1912 : EMPEROR
42. Facet : ASPECT
43. Minor flaw : FOIBLE
45. Perfect season spoiler : LOSS
46. 1983 Mr. T comedy : DC CAB
48. Raspberry : JEER
49. Multilingual assistant : SIRI
51. Compete : VIE
53. Parabolic path : ARC
54. “Read Across America” org. : NEA
55. Showstoppers? : ADS

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24 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 8 Dec 18, Saturday”

  1. LAT: 13:07, no errors. Pretty much a softball. WSJ: 36:23, 1 error (Natick 97A-97D). Newsday: DNF after 56:20, 14 errors. Finished the grid unaided after that in 20 minutes or so. Pretty much normal there.

    @Allen
    I may regret asking, but what do you mean by “cynical clueing and poor editing”? (Yesterday)

    1. Allen often speaks of “manufactured” or “artificial” difficulty in crossword puzzles. But … that’s a characteristic of essentially all the crossword puzzles I/we do (especially the late-week ones). In the book “Word Play”, pages 146, 147, and 148 contain three different versions of the “same” puzzle (a puzzle that was used in the ACPT). They’re the “same” only in the sense that the filled-in grids are identical; all that changes from one page to the next are the clues, but it dramatically affects the level of difficulty. This sort of obfuscation is deliberate (though I balk at calling it “cynical” or “mean-spirited” or “poor”) and your reaction to it will depend on your particular skill level. (Bill often breezes through puzzles that I find difficult: It’s not the fault of the puzzle; it’s just that he’s better than I am. My two cents’ worth … 😜.)

    1. Trouble with pronouncing it (LITHP). Nothin’ wrong with having a little fun at the expense of someone with a speech defect, right?

  2. LAT: 11:33, no errors; a total Nerf ball 🤪 (but fun).

    WSJ: 26:06: no errors. I printed a copy using a “.puz” file downloaded from “herbach.dnsalias.com/wsj/wsj181208.puz” instead of a “.pdf” file from the WSJ site itself and, as a result, the solve wasn’t as much of a squint-fest as usual. Enjoyable.

    Newsday’s “Saturday Stumper”: 32:35, no errors. Pretty thoughtful one (but not as difficult as some).

  3. @Bill …

    For the last couple of days, I’ve been seeing a lot more ads on this site, and a lot of them are showing up in between comments. Has something changed on your end or should I experiment with other browsing software?

    Also, is anyone else noticing this?

    1. Data point: The “Firefox” browser doesn’t show any ads at all: even the one I’m used to seeing up at the top of the page (in Safari) is essentially gone, replaced by the single word “Advertisement”. So, that gives me a possible solution to the problem … 😜.

  4. @Dave
    I am looking at said ads right now. Is anything exempt?
    I am on the do not call list and yet I am deluged with spam calls everyday
    24 min. with 3 errors if anyone cares

    1. I agree , Madison Avenue has taken over the internet and television with repetitious mindless ads. It has become obscene.

    2. @Jack and @Eddie … Thanks for responding. I have the same problem with my phone, and it drives me nuts (a short drive, some would say 😜).

      “Firefox” just made a long post disappear, so … more experiments … 😳.

  5. A rare event I finally finished a Saturday puzzle. Todays was enjoyable !
    Not enjoyable, Those new and annoying advertisings between reply responses that have infected this site for a couple days
    Eddie

  6. @All
    Apologies for the ad situation. Believe it or not, I just moved to a new ad management system that focuses on a better reader experience. Apparently, there’s some machine learning going on. I will let it run for a while and see how things settle down.

  7. That SE corner is a PPP nest:
    Two actors, one movie, an author, and a car model — with CORAL RED the only common-noun/adjective cross tying the mess together. That really the best you can do, CC?

  8. Fairly easy Saturday for me, albeit with one error – WILEy/RIMEy, which, in retrospect I should have gotten…grumble. Took about 30 minutes approximately.

    The “Y” in WILEY, was just supposed to be a place holder, since it didn’t feel right. I thought I would wiff on the name, but I’ve actually heard of LeAnn Rimes, although I’m not familiar with her music. Should have left it blank, which would have made me think about it again. At least I’m starting to pick up on C.C.’s usual proper names like NIA, TRIBECA, SIRI and DCCAB – although I had to think a bit on that last one.

    No ads at all with Firefox and Ad Block Plus. Also haven’t had any posts disappear on me.

  9. Hey y’all!!🙃

    Just had to Google for CNN. Other than that, no errors. Of course I now wish I hadn’t googled but I just couldn’t get out of the starting gate. The puzzle went pretty smoothly after that. 😊

    Re the book Dave mentioned: I’ve ALWAYS wished that there were a way to get an alternate clue on a puzzle! How cool would that be?! What if you were stuck on just one answer and you could click “View alternate clue!” And maybe you’d have to pay, in the form of half point of or 30 seconds added to your time.

    Be well ~~🏇

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