LA Times Crossword 9 Jan 19, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Debbie Ellerin
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Last Laugh

Themed answers each end with a syllable from a LAUGH:

  • 56A. Ultimate satisfaction, and a hint to the answers to starred clues : LAST LAUGH
  • 16A. *”Righto!” : YOU BETCHA!
  • 20A. *Big boss : HEAD HONCHO
  • 34A. *2005 Emma Thompson magical role : NANNY MCPHEE
  • 51A. *Cold-water salmon-like fish : ARCTIC CHAR

Bill’s time: 7m 00s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • HEDREN (Hedron!!)
  • PERUGIA (Porugia)

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Fall sign : LIBRA

The constellation of Libra is named for the scales held by the goddess of justice. Libra is the only sign of the zodiac that isn’t named for a living creature.

9. 6-Across’s “Pronto!” : STAT!

The exact etymology of “stat”, a term meaning “immediately” in the medical profession, seems to have been lost in the mists of time. It probably comes from the Latin “statim” meaning “to a standstill, immediately”. A blog reader has helpfully suggested that the term may also come from the world of laboratory analysis, where the acronym STAT stands for “short turn-around time”.

The Spanish and Italian (and now English) word “pronto” is derived from the Latin “promptus” meaning “ready, quick”.

15. “Leaving on a Jet __” : PLANE

“Leaving on a Jet Plane” was written by John Denver in 1966, but the most famous recording of the song was by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1969. The lyrics of the song are meant to portray a travelling musician saying goodbye to his beloved as he heads off on the road yet again. Because the song was released at the height of the Vietnam War, it was widely assumed that the words actually referred to a soldier heading off on a plane to fight overseas.

18. “Nick of Time” singer Bonnie : RAITT

Bonnie Raitt is a blues singer who is originally from Burbank, California. Raitt has won nine Grammys for her work, but she is perhaps as well known for her political activism as she is for her music. She was no fan of President George W. Bush while he was in office, and she sure did show it.

19. Enters the wrong area code, say : ERRS

Area codes were introduced in the 1940s. Back then the “clicks” one heard when dialling a number led to mechanical wear on various pieces of equipment. In order to minimize overall mechanical wear, areas with high call volumes were given the most efficient area codes (lowest number of clicks). That led to New York getting the area code 212, Los Angeles 213 and Chicago 313.

20. *Big boss : HEAD HONCHO

“Honcho” is a slang term used for a leader. The word comes to us from Japanese, in which language a “hancho” is a squad (han) leader (cho).

23. “Mean Girls” screenwriter Tina : FEY

“Mean Girls” is a teen comedy movie released in 2004 starring Lindsay Lohan. Tina Fey also puts in an appearance, which really isn’t surprising as Fey wrote the screenplay.

24. Coder’s conditional construct : IF-THEN

In the world of computer programming, an “if-then-else” construct is a type of conditional statement. The idea is that IF a particular condition is met THEN a particular action is executed. The additional ELSE statement can be used to define an alternative action.

25. Navy builder : SEABEE

The Seabees are members of the Construction Battalions (CB) of the US Navy, from which the name “Seabee” originates. There’s a great 1944 movie called “The Fighting Seabees” starring John Wayne that tells the story of the birth of the Seabees during WWII. The Seabees’ official motto is “Construimus. Batuimus”, Latin for “We build. We fight.” The group’s unofficial motto is “Can Do!”

27. Ink spot? : TAT

The word “tattoo” (often shortened to “tat”) was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word “tatau” into our “tattoo”. Tattoos are sometimes referred to as “ink”.

29. Uses Google Hangouts, briefly : IMS

Even though instant messaging (sending IMs) has been around since the 1960s, it was AOL who popularized the term “instant message” in the eighties and nineties. The “AOL Instant Message” service was known as AIM.

30. Apple’s virtual 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.

34. *2005 Emma Thompson magical role : NANNY MCPHEE

“Nanny McPhee” is a 2005 fantasy movie starring Emma Thompson and Colin Firth that is based on the “Nurse Matilda” books by Christianna Brand. The movie was successful enough to merit a 2010 sequel called “Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang”. I haven’t seen either film, but the cast alone is great enough to convince me that I need to do so …

Emma Thompson is one of my favorite English actresses, and someone who has appeared in many of my favorite films. She probably first came to attention in the US when she won an Oscar for her role in “Howards End”, which she followed up with “Remains of the Day” and “In the Name of the Father”. Perhaps my favorite production of hers is her own adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility”, which won her Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress. Emma Thompson went to Cambridge University and was good friends with a host of successful British actors and entertainers, including her ex-boyfriend Hugh Laurie who is famous in the US for playing the title role in television’s “House”.

40. Mauna __ : KEA

Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, the peak of which is the highest point in the whole state. Mauna Kea is in effect the tip of a gigantic volcano rising up from the seabed.

43. Mattel product : TOY

Mattel is the world’s largest toy manufacturer. Mattel was founded by Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler in 1945, and they chose the company name by combining “Matt” with “El-liot” giving “Matt-el”.

44. Tippi of “The Birds” : HEDREN

Tippi Hedren is an actress from New Ulm, Minnesota who is best known for her starring roles in two Alfred Hitchcock classics: “The Birds” (1963) and “Marnie” (1964). Famously, Hedren claimed that Hitchcock destroyed her movie career because she would not succumb to his sexual advances, a charge that has been denied. Hedren’s daughter is actress Melanie Griffith.

“The Birds” is a 1963 film made by Alfred Hitchcock based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier. I’ve read the story and seen the film and find them both strangely disturbing (it’s probably just me!). I can’t stand the ending of either version, as nothing resolves itself!

46. Parkway feature : ON-RAMP

The original parkways were scenic highways or roadways in or connecting parks. Sadly, many parkways are a lot less scenic these days, as buildings have sprouted up along the highway’s edges.

51. *Cold-water salmon-like fish : ARCTIC CHAR

The Arctic char is cold-water fish that is found in freshwater bodies in the very north of our planet, as the name suggests. In fact, no other freshwater fish is found as far north as the Arctic char.

55. High-tech eye surgery : LASIK

LASIK surgery uses a laser to reshape the cornea of the eye to improve vision. The LASIK acronym stands for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis”.

58. Far from klutzy : AGILE

A klutz is an awkward individual, with the term “klutz” coming from Yiddish. The Yiddish word for a clumsy person is “klots”.

59. Refuge for very old couples? : ARK

Genesis 6:19-20 states that Noah was instructed to take two animals of every kind into the ark. Later, in Genesis 7:2-3 Noah was instructed to take on board “every clean animal by sevens … male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth”. Apparently “extras” (7 rather than 2) were needed for ritual sacrifice.

60. 1973 Stones ballad : ANGIE

For my money, “Angie” is the greatest ballad ever performed by the Rolling Stones. Despite rumors to the contrary, “Angie” doesn’t refer to a particular woman. If fact, songwriter Keith Richard says that “Angie” is a pseudonym for heroin, and the lyrics tell of his efforts to get off the drug at a detox facility in Switzerland.

62. Oui or hai : YES

The word “yes” translates in to “oui” in French, and into “hai” in Japanese.

63. Western flatlands : MESAS

“What’s the difference between a butte and a mesa?” Both are hills with flat tops, but a mesa has a top that is wider than it is tall. A butte is a much narrower formation, and taller than it is wide.

Down

1. Features of lasagna and tiramisu : LAYERS

“Lasagna” was originally the name of a cooking pot, but the term came to mean a dish that was cooked in it. “Lasagna” also became the name of the flat noodle used in the dish. If you order lasagna on the other side of the Atlantic, you’ll notice the “lasagne” spelling, the plural of “lasagna”. The plural is used as there is more than one layer of pasta in the dish.

Tiramisu is an Italian cake. The name “tiramisu” translates from Italian as “pull me up”, and is often translated into our English phrase “pick-me-up”.

2. They may be tickled : IVORIES

The traditional materials used for the manufacture of piano keys were ebony (black) and ivory (white). Ebony is still used, but now for both white and black keys. The white keys are made by covering ebony with white plastic.

3. Late host of “Parts Unknown” : BOURDAIN

Anthony Bourdain was a chef, author and television personality from New York City. Bourdain’s celebrity came with the publication of his book “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” in 2000. He moved on to host the television shows “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”. Bourdain was working on an episode of “Parts Unknown” when he committed suicide in 2018, in his Paris hotel room. Sad …

4. Corduroy ridges : RIBS

There’s a myth that the name of textile known as “corduroy” comes from the French “corde du roi” (the cord of the king). It’s more likely that “corduroy” comes from a melding of “cord” and “duroy” (a coarse fabric that used to be made in England).

6. Unpredictable : DICEY

Something described as “dicey” is unpredictable or risky, as in rolling the “dice”. The term “dicey” originated in the 1940s as aviator jargon.

7. Whistleblower-protecting org. : OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 during the Nixon administration. OSHA regulates workplaces in the private sector and regulates just one government agency, namely the US Postal Service.

8. Landlocked African nation : CHAD

The landlocked African country called Chad takes its name from the second largest wetland on the continent, which is known as Lake Chad.

10. Meditative exercise regimen : TAI CHI

More correctly called “t‘ai chi ch‘uan”, tai chi is a martial art that is mostly practiced to improve overall health and increase longevity.

11. Country music? : ANTHEM

The word “anthem” used to describe a sacred song, especially one with words taken from the Scriptures. The British national anthem (“God Save the Queen/King”) technically is a hymn, and so it came to be described as “the national hymn” and later “the national anthem”. The use of the word “anthem” extended from there to describe any patriotic song.

12. “Grand” mountains : TETONS

Grand Teton National Park (NP) is located just south of Yellowstone NP, and a must-see if you are visiting the latter. The park is named after the tallest peak in the magnificent Teton Range known as Grand Teton. The origins of the name “Teton” is not very clear, although my one story is that it was named by French trappers, as the word “tetons” in French is a slang term meaning “breasts”.

15. Duke VIP : PROF

Duke University was founded in 1838 as Brown’s Schoolhouse. The school was renamed to Trinity College in 1859, and to this day the town where the college was located back then is known as Trinity, in honor of the school. The school was moved in 1892 to Durham, North Carolina in part due to generous donations from the wealthy tobacco industrialist Washington Duke. Duke’s donation required that the school open its doors to women, placing them on an equal footing with men. Trinity’s name was changed to Duke in 1924 in recognition of the generosity of the Duke family. Duke’s athletic teams are known as the Blue Devils.

17. “How do I love __?”: Browning : THEE

Here is the beautiful “Sonnet 43” penned by English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

26. Tops in a lingerie catalog : BRAS

“Lingerie” is a French term. As used in France, it just means any underwear, worn by either males or females. In English we use “lingerie” to describe alluring underclothing worn by women. The term “lingerie” comes into English via the French word “linge” meaning “washables”, and ultimately from the Latin “linum”, meaning “linen”. We tend not to pronounce the word correctly in English, either here in the US or across the other side of the Atlantic. The French pronunciation is more like “lan-zher-ee”, as opposed to “lon-zher-ay” (American) and “lon-zher-ee” (British).

27. “Pinball Wizard” show : TOMMY

“Tommy” is the fourth album recorded by the British band called the Who. “Tommy” was the original rock opera and was adapted for both the stage and screen, with both adaptations becoming huge successes. The title character has an uncanny ability to play pinball, giving rise to the title of the album’s hit song “Pinball Wizard”.

31. Greek lamb sandwich : GYRO

A gyro is a traditional Greek dish of meat roasted on a tall vertical spit that is sliced from the spit as required. Gyros are usually served inside a lightly grilled piece of pita bread, along with tomato, onion and tzatziki (a yogurt and cucumber sauce).

35. Unacceptable to some, for short : NOT-PC

Non-politically correct (non-PC)

39. Italian city that hosts the annual Eurochocolate Festival : PERUGIA

The Italian city of Perugia is the capital of the region of Cambria in central Italy. The city is home to the chocolate confectionery company known as Perugina. Perugia is also home to Eurochocolate, which is an annual chocolate festival that has been held since 1993.

40. Eucalyptus munchers : KOALAS

The koala bear really does look like a little bear, but it’s not even closely related. The koala is an arboreal marsupial and a herbivore, native to the east and south coasts of Australia. Koalas aren’t primates, and are one of the few mammals other than primates who have fingerprints. In fact, it can be very difficult to tell human fingerprints from koala fingerprints, even under an electron microscope. Male koalas are called “bucks”, females are “does”, and young koalas are “joeys”. I’m a little jealous of the koala, as it sleeps up to 20 hours a day …

Eucalyptus is a genus of flowering trees and shrubs that is particularly widespread in Australia. The species known as mountain ash or swamp gum is the tallest flowering plant in the world, with the tallest example located in Tasmania and standing at over 325 feet tall.

42. Inverse trig function : ARCSIN

The most familiar trigonometric functions are sine, cosine and tangent (abbreviated to “sin, cos and tan”). Each of these is a ratio: a ratio of two sides of a right-angled triangle. The “reciprocal” of these three functions are secant, cosecant and cotangent. The reciprocal functions are simply the inverted ratios, the inverted sine, cosine and tangent. These inverted ratios should not be confused with the “inverse” trigonometric functions e.g. arcsine, arccosine and arctangent. These inverse functions are the reverse of the sine, cosine and tangent.

45. Snacks : NOSHES

Our word “nosh” has been around since the late fifties, when it was imported from the Yiddish word “nashn” meaning “to nibble”. We use “nosh” as a noun that means “snack”, or as a verb meaning “to eat between meals”.

48. Greenberg or Golic of sports-talk radio : MIKE

“Mike and Mike” is a sports-talk show on ESPN radio networks (but you can “watch” it on TV as well). The two “Mikes” are Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.

49. Catches some rays : BASKS

Our verb “to bask”, meaning “to expose one to pleasant warmth”, is derived from the gruesome, 14th-century term “basken”, meaning “to wallow in blood”. The contemporary usage apparently originated with Shakespeare, who employed “bask” with reference to sunshine in “As You Like It”.

53. His nap cost him the race : HARE

“The Tortoise and the Hare” is perhaps the most famous fable attributed to Aesop. The cocky hare takes a nap during a race against the tortoise, and the tortoise sneaks past the finish line for the win while his speedier friend is sleeping.

57. Felon’s flight : LAM

To be on the lam is to be in flight, to have escaped from prison. “On the lam” is American slang that originated at the end of the 19th century. The word “lam” also means to “beat” or “thrash”, as in “lambaste”. So “on the lam” might derive from the phrase “to beat it, to scram”.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Fall sign : LIBRA
6. Medic : DOC
9. 6-Across’s “Pronto!” : STAT!
13. Keep clear of : AVOID
14. Sorta cousin : -ISH
15. “Leaving on a Jet __” : PLANE
16. *”Righto!” : YOU BETCHA!
18. “Nick of Time” singer Bonnie : RAITT
19. Enters the wrong area code, say : ERRS
20. *Big boss : HEAD HONCHO
22. Unburdened (of) : RID
23. “Mean Girls” screenwriter Tina : FEY
24. Coder’s conditional construct : IF-THEN
25. Navy builder : SEABEE
27. Ink spot? : TAT
29. Uses Google Hangouts, briefly : IMS
30. Apple’s virtual assistant : SIRI
31. Lose one’s shirt : GO BUST
34. *2005 Emma Thompson magical role : NANNY MCPHEE
37. Hurricanes and blizzards : STORMS
38. Enjoy, as benefits : REAP
40. Mauna __ : KEA
43. Mattel product : TOY
44. Tippi of “The Birds” : HEDREN
46. Parkway feature : ON-RAMP
49. Spring sign : BUD
50. Con’s opponent : PRO
51. *Cold-water salmon-like fish : ARCTIC CHAR
54. Summer sign? : PLUS
55. High-tech eye surgery : LASIK
56. Ultimate satisfaction, and a hint to the answers to starred clues : LAST LAUGH
58. Far from klutzy : AGILE
59. Refuge for very old couples? : ARK
60. 1973 Stones ballad : ANGIE
61. Dropped in the mail : SENT
62. Oui or hai : YES
63. Western flatlands : MESAS

Down

1. Features of lasagna and tiramisu : LAYERS
2. They may be tickled : IVORIES
3. Late host of “Parts Unknown” : BOURDAIN
4. Corduroy ridges : RIBS
5. Citrus suffix : -ADE
6. Unpredictable : DICEY
7. Whistleblower-protecting org. : OSHA
8. Landlocked African nation : CHAD
9. Bias : SLANT
10. Meditative exercise regimen : TAI CHI
11. Country music? : ANTHEM
12. “Grand” mountains : TETONS
15. Duke VIP : PROF
17. “How do I love __?”: Browning : THEE
21. Ask (for), as money : HIT UP
23. Deceptive move : FEINT
26. Tops in a lingerie catalog : BRAS
27. “Pinball Wizard” show : TOMMY
28. Basic skills : ABCS
31. Greek lamb sandwich : GYRO
32. Rip to pieces : SHRED
33. Really annoyed, with “off” : TEED
35. Unacceptable to some, for short : NOT-PC
36. Protection from snorers : EARPLUGS
39. Italian city that hosts the annual Eurochocolate Festival : PERUGIA
40. Eucalyptus munchers : KOALAS
41. Really rile : ENRAGE
42. Inverse trig function : ARCSIN
44. Offended : HURT
45. Snacks : NOSHES
47. Not straight up : ATILT
48. Greenberg or Golic of sports-talk radio : MIKE
49. Catches some rays : BASKS
52. Potter’s medium : CLAY
53. His nap cost him the race : HARE
54. Stained-glass piece : PANE
57. Felon’s flight : LAM

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19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 9 Jan 19, Wednesday”

    1. It’s a marvelously deceptive clue: A “summer” is an “adder” (one who sums or adds) and that involves plus signs! Sneaky!

  1. LAT: 8:19, no errors. Newsday: 5:51, no errors. WSJ: 9:22, no errors. Still no Matt Jones puzzle; I guess he’s taking the week off.

    @Glenn … Is the CHE online somewhere? I may consider the Agard puzzle later (but it scares the heck out of me 😜).

    @Bill … You are probably already working on this, but … (in case the problem is on my end and you’re not seeing it) … I am able to get to past dates on your “new” NYT blog, but it sometimes takes a long time and the grid mostly comes up as just an empty square. I will try further experiments later in the day …

    1. Annnddd … there went my morning! (All your fault, Glenn! 😜) …

      CHE: 22:14, with a one-square error at the intersection of 6D (the last name of a singer I’d never heard of) and 31A (the name of a Handel opera I’ve probably heard of, but did not know for sure how to spell).

      Eric Agard’s latest: 2:02:59, no errors. One of the most incredible crossword creations I’ve ever come across! Agard is a true genius … and some of his clues are truly fiendish (but, when you finally “get” them, spot on). A puzzle to frame and hang on the wall!

    2. Matt Jones: 10:58, with two one-square errors. I guessed “GEAR” instead of “BEAM” for 1A and the crossing entries that would have helped correct my error referred to things from outside my knowledge base (from a computer game and a TV show). Other guesses turned out okay … 😜

  2. 26:08 and one error, I spelled lasik as lasic.
    I could be wrong but isn’t 42 down spelled arcsinE ?
    Your website for ny times 1205 comes up as unavailable.

  3. 6 omissions and 5 errors, all in the SW quadrant.

    I either didn’t know the answer or couldn’t quite wrap my brain around
    what was wanted.

    I thought 69A was a poor choice, but was thinking of “mesa” as a flat-topped “hill” sitting on top of the flatland. My bad, I suppose.

    Not horrible for a Wednesday.

  4. 11:10 with the exact error(s) Bill had which I’ll wear as a badge of honor, as always.

    Interesting info on the meanings of lasagna and tiramisu.

    I’m curious as to why the url had to change for the NY Times site. Did the NYT see it as some sort of copyright infraction? I thought you could use any domain name as long as you had it first. Was the NYT that petty? Or did they offer Bill a boatload of cash for the domain? All I’m doing is throwing guesses out there. Someone will come up with some conspiracy theory or another..

    Best –

    1. @Steve … In theory, you ought to be able to go to the bottom of this page and click on “NYXCrossword,com” to get to a page with Bill’s comment about changes on the other blog. On that page, you should be able to click on “NYXCrossword.com” to get to that blog and, once there, you should be able to click on “… syndicated NY Times crossword” to get to the page you want (2018/12/05). However, there seem to be problems with this (hence my comment to Bill above). On my iPad and iMac, using Safari, I can get to the final page and I think I can leave a comment, but the completed grid that is usually at the top of the page has been replaced by a vacant square; your experience may be different. I assume Bill is working on the problem and that all will eventually be well … 😜.

      1. To search for a NYT puzzle, do so by this format: MO/DAY. So, you’d search Bills page for 1205. You might be prompted to select a year after that.

  5. 10:43, and the exact same two errors Bill had.
    Man, do I **hate** names in puzzles. They can have ANY spelling, and just invite errors like this!!

    Setter also had a few too-cute clues like for 54A. In the same grid as another clue that meant “Zodiac” sign, that’s getting really close to dirty pool.

  6. Had to Google for the CHAR in ARCTICCHAR, and for MIKE (sports). Didn’t know IMS, and still don’t get it. Had mUD before BUD, NOTok before NOTPC, Adept before AGILE, LASer before LASIK. Rough for a Wednesday.

  7. Pretty easy Wednesday; took about 20 minutes, with – you guessed it – the same error(s) that Bill, Jeff and Allen had. Also did the Uexpress puzzle in 18:26.

    I kinda knew Perugia is spelled with an “e”, and given that I’m an admitted chocoholic, can only explain it as carelessness. Hmm, so Oct 18th-Oct 27th in the lovely Umbria region.

    @Jack – According to Google and a few dictionaries, you can spell Arcsin(e) both ways.

  8. Aloha meine Freunden!!😎

    No errors, but — what in the Sam hill??? How did all you gentlemen manage to misspell HEDREN? 😯 Interesting! We’ve all seen the movie — I reckon my male cohorts remember HEDREN’s …. um …. dress….!😁

    Following up on Bill’s comments re “The Birds”: I agree it’s unresolved, but I think that’s the point. Catastrophes can befall us any time, out of the blue (literally in this case!!) and even on a lovely day in an idyllic seaside town. There could be darker interpretations too: do those birds represent the townspeople’s evil secrets? I never read the short story, but Du Maurier plays with good versus evil in Rebecca and in The Scapegoat…

    Be well~~✌🏻

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