, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Thursday, December 26th 2019 Jeff Stillman


Dec 26, 2019

Thursday, December 26th 2019 Jeff Stillman

Theme: Dance Moves

I've highlighted the four dances in the grid for you in case you didn't see them during your solve. The reveal rather painfully spells out what to look for, I'd have been inclined to leave out the row numbers and just let the solver go dance-hunting.

Let’s go clue-hunting!


1. [This is so frustrating!]: ARGH! Not the best of starts

5. Ceiling: LIMIT

10. Mail often diverted to a separate folder: SPAM. Microsoft's spam filter gets a little over-enthusiastic, I make a point to check my junk mail every couple of days, there's often something in there I should read. I had a couple of emails from Lemonade a few weeks ago that got the Microsoft treatment and he probably wondered why I was ignoring him.

14. Sainted pope called "the Great": LEO I. There were 13 Popes Leo, therefore ending with Leo XIII. All sorts of opportunity there for crossword compilers stuck for an entry. If you think about it, Leo I would never have heard the term. By the time there was a II, the original had joined the choir celestial a good couple of hundred years before.

15. Modern Persian: IRANI. I want the next pope to style himself "IRAN I" just to cause confusion.

16. Celestial bear: URSA

17. Mosque bigwig: IMAM, "I, Mam" the sequel to "I, Carly", featuring her mother.

18. Daring move: BOLD STROKE

20. Barnyard mom: SOW

21. Bath-loving Muppet: ERNIE

22. Priest's robe: ALB

23. KITT on "Knight Rider": TRANS-AM. Not necessarily. There are two KITT characters, the first from the original 1982 series which is a Trans-Am, and the second from the 2008 TV pilot for the series reboot which was a Ford Shelby GT500. This is the kind of obfuscation that causes fights during trivia contests.

25. Hanging Gardens site: BABYLON

29. "You can tell me": SAY IT

30. Inhabitants of a myrmecologist's farm: ANTS

32. Big time: ERA

33. Thompson of "Thor: Ragnarok": TESSA. Who knew? Not me.

35. Getty and Rockefeller: OIL MEN. Because "CENTERS" doesn't fit.

38. Street moves since the '70s ... and what the black squares on rows 3, 5, 11 and 13 do: BREAK DANCES. Remember "b-boys" from a couple of weeks ago?

40. Unfolds: BLOOMS

42. Pertaining to the small intestine: ILEAC. A bit odd really, as the ileum is one of three sections of the small intestine.

43. Chest bone: RIB

44. Fling: HURL

46. Hardship: RIGOR

50. Judicial self-disqualification: RECUSAL

53. Zoe of "Avatar": SALDANA. I had a sulk around this section. The mess of SALDANA, ILIAC, ICARLY, LECID, ATNOS and AMATO seemed very clumsy, and just inviting cries of "Natick Foul".

55. Genetics lab material: RNA

56. Ragged: TATTY

58. Floral garland: LEI

59. Three-flavor block: NEAPOLITAN. This was such a treat when we were kids. Chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream ALL AT THE SAME TIME! I think we had to go to confession after eating it and plead forgiveness.

62. Mount Olympus group: GODS

63. "You Needed Me" singer Murray: ANNE. Thank you, crosses.

64. REO Speedwagon guitarist Dave: AMATO. Ditto

65. One is often hard to resist: URGE

66. Site in a Steinbeck title: EDEN

67. Network points: NODES

68. Financial aid criterion: NEED


1. Top celebrity groupings: A-LISTS. A-LISTER last week, A-LISTS today. Can be tricky to parse, especially in the downs.

2. Ride-hitching fish: REMORA

3. "Scram!": GO AWAY!

4. Word for a guy: HIM

5. Scales aloft: LIBRA

6. Facial apparatus in a Dumas novel: IRON MASK

7. Neighbor of Mauritania: MALI

8. Behind on bills: IN DEBT

9. Poetic contraction: 'TIS

10. Like a sourpuss: SURLY

11. Math test parts: PROBLEMS

12. Inquire or require: ASK

13. Novelist Rita __ Brown: MAE

19. File folder feature: TAB

21. Prize: ESTEEM

24. Explosion maker, briefly: NITRO

26. Not separately: AS ONE

27. Mine find: ORE

28. A Bobbsey twin: NAN

31. Rock bottom: NADIR

34. "Rizzoli & Isles" actress Alexander: SASHA

36. Nickelodeon sitcom starring Miranda Cosgrove: I, CARLY

37. Massenet opera about a Spanish hero: LE CID

38. "Hogan's Heroes" star: BOB CRANE

39. Auto insurance giant: ALLSTATE

40. Cold call?: BRR!

41. Fabrication: LIE

45. In the prior month: ULTIMO. Instant and proximo are its temporal cousins.

47. In great numbers: GALORE

48. Stressed out: ON EDGE

49. Elevated: RAISED

51. Let loose, as hogs: UNPEN

52. __ Tomé and Príncipe: SÃO. I discover this island nation is located off the central equatorial coast of west Africa. I was guessing that they were two islands off Brazil or Portugal. Wrong!

54. Chem. class data: AT. NOS. Atomic Numbers, apparently. I thought the Atomic Number abbreviation was simply "AN" but that appears to have been a figment of my chemistry teacher's imagination.

57. Not very much: A TAD

59. Rob Roy's refusal: NAE. When Kirkintilloch founded their football (fitba') team in 1878, they named themselves "Kirkintilloch Rob Roy" in his honor, and are still known thusly today, which I find rather splendid.

60. Boundary: END

61. PC-to-PC hookup: LAN

62. Rev: GUN. As in engine. If my last name were Gunn I'd become a preacher just so I'd be called "Rev Gunn". Or Counter. "The sermon was given by Rev. Counter".


Jinx in Norfolk said...

Gave up without too much thinking. I thought I was working a People Magazine puzzle with all the show biz stuff. SASHA x TESSA? IC?R?Y x SA??ANA? Really? Too much to do getting ready for departure tomorrow to slug through a puzzle I won't like in the end.

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

There were dances? Thanx for highlighting 'em, Steve. Once again, d-o failed to read the complete reveal clue, or even realize that it was a reveal clue. Got 'er done, though. Nice to see São and Sow. Do you suppose LEO put that I after his name? ("Hey, I'm number one!") Ran out of Wite-Out changing LIBRA to LIMIT -- put it in the wrong place. I thought I had another one. Nope. Time for a trip to A-Z. Enjoyed the outing, Jeff, and the expo, Steve.

Lemonade714 said...

Good morning. The post-holiday hangover has set in and no comments yet.

I am sure the puzzle was especially easy for Steve with his early training with British puzzle s that employ run-ons as one of the basic puzzle fill/clue combinations. The reveal was very fair and over-all the puzzle was very doable. Not that things like Inhabitants of a myrmecologist's farm ; Nickelodeon sitcom starring Miranda Cosgrove: I, CARLY and Ride-hitching fish: REMORA did not take work , but it all filled. I still remember SASHA ALEXANDER and her dramatic exit from NCIS

Thank you, Jeff and Steve. Party on! New year's Eve is coming your way soon!

Big Easy said...

ARGH? "Best of starts" crossing HIM? Okay. I got that fairly easily but it took some WAGS to complete three crosses of SIX unknowns to complete the puzzle. TESSA Thompson & SASHA Alexander (Rizzoli & Isles); I CARLY (Miranda Cosgrove) & SALDANA; Dave AMATO & ULTIMO. The shows and people were total unknowns. C'mon Jinx, I got it by sheer luck. I was thinking along the lines of "Entertainment Tonight" not People Magazine, but I don't watch that or any other TV show. Don't read People either.

Getting BREAK DANCES filled was easy but I never noticed them until after the puzzle was finished. The LE CID (unknown) instead of EL CID was unknown and just looked weird but I had to leave it for ILEAC to fit.

Well Christmas is over and I almost made it with no gifts but my daughter was determined to give me a shirt. My son knows better. The rolling joke is that he gives me a 5-lb bag of peanuts every year.

Unknown said...

Glad I'm not the only one who had trouble with this one. Thankfully I can get on the blog and enjoy the wisdom of the really experienced solvers.Does this qualify as cheating?

inanehiker said...

Steady solve with a few challenges - I thought the theme might have something to do with AM at the end of the first two theme answer - but the next one didn't have AM before the break so needed to get to the reveal to see the dances!
Thanks for the entertaining blog Steve and Jeff for the puzzle!

We ate our way through the day yesterday - our youngest son -who is the organizer - assigned different meals to different "twosomes". So brunch yesterday was a baked oatmeal with berries and the main dish was a croissant/cheeses/egg/mushroom/prosciutto dish from he & my husband (with Kringle our friends from Wisconsin sent us). Dinner was prepared by our older son & wife who live on the South Carolina/Georgia border who made a low country meal with ribs, a bean dish, cornbread, and a kale/brusselsprouts salad.

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

I liked the theme but saw the reveal far too early which lessens the challenge, IMO. I agree with Steve that omitting the row indicators would have given the solver an extra layer of difficulty. Late week puzzles should not have circles or helpful hints, again, IMO. Ultimo, Amato, and I, Carly were totally unknown but I did remember Tessa (the 5 letter Thompson) from previous puzzles, although I wouldn't know her (or Thor) if I fell over them. My only w/o was DNA before RNA. I liked the duos of Lei and Lie and Nae and Mae, but I missed DO's São and Sow. My favorite C/A was Cold call=Brr.

Thanks, Jeff, for a fun solve and thanks, Steve, for 'splainin' it all so well.

Jinx, safe travels.

Have a great day.

Sherry said...

As usual the proper names wiped me out:
Tessa,Saldana,Amato, I Carly, Sao.
First clue across killed me. Never heard of a Remora?

Madame Defarge said...

Good Morning.

My brain must have been on "pause" here. Thanks, Jeff, for a very clever theme. D-O and I are in some sort of on-going contest, I gather. I saw nothing until Steve explained both the theme and the reveal. This morning's names eluded me for the most part.

Thanks, Steve, for the fine tour.

Have a sunny Boxing Day everyone.

oc4beach said...

I agree with others about not knowing many of the proper names. Had to look up Cosgrove, ERNIE, TESSA and AMATO. But I did remember BOB CRANE and SASHA Alexander. Officially a DNF.

I didn't get the theme until I saw Steve's highlighted grid. DUH!

Like Lemon, I remember the exit that Sasha Alexander made from NCIS. I didn't like it. I think her character should have survived to become Tony's love interest instead of Ziva. But I'm not the writer so I had no say in the story line. DW likes NCIS and we still watch it, but I think it's days are numbered although it has had a very long run in TV years.

I hope everyone had a great day yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Terrible puzzle. I'm surprised the editor let it pass.


Anonymous said...

Way too many unknown proper names made this extremely unpleasant.Seems to be an almost daily trend lately in the L.A. Times puzzles. This turned out to be an enormous slog.Lots of marginal words and naticks galore led to a DNF. Need I go on about the theme reveal?

Husker Gary said...

-Me too, Steve: 53. Zoe of "Avatar": SALDANA. I had a sulk around this section. The mess of SALDANA, ILIAC, ICARLY, LECID, ATNOS and AMATO seemed very clumsy, and just inviting cries of "Natick Foul".
-Is this what IMAMS prefer for IRANIS?
-QB’s are said to have a low ceiling if parts of their games aren’t great
-In 1962, Steve Lawrence sang, GO AWAY, Little Girl
-I would love to have had this T-Shirt!
-Oda MAE Brown would have been easier for me
-Gotta run out to the nursing home

Montana said...

I solved the puzzle last night (surprise for me to solve on Thursday) but didn’t feel like I KNEW many of the answers. However, I knew enough of the perps, that my guesses were correct.
Could not figure out gal-ore until I read the expo this morning. The vertical threw me off, I guess.
I had no idea about the theme. Had to learn about that this morning, also


TTP said...

Great puzzle, great challenge, great review.

Oh so close.

My "Chem. class needs" were ETNAS (aka bunsen burners). Unfortunately the clue was "Chem. class data:"

So that screwed up SALDANA. I was thinking Zoe was Soldana, but left it with the E from etnas.

I was very confident with Dave AbATO as the REO guitarist. That left me with ULTIbO.

Only 15:36 to complete the puzzle, but it turned out to be a Filled In Wrong. Great job, Jeff !

Spent more tome on the review. Thanks, Steve !

Spitzboov said...

Happy Boxing Day.

Got the theme with BREAK DANCES. Only problem was one letter in a misspelled word SALDANA.
Got AMATO TESSA and TATTY from perps. Puzzle was mostly easy, though, for a Thursday. Note that part of the clue: "Thor: Ragnarok" highlights the namesake for Thursday.

Lucina said...

Hola! Happy Boxing Day!

Finished it but not without PROBLEMS from the Natick-filled area already mentioned but did not have to look up anything. I don't know exactly who Zoe SALDANA is but I tend to remember Spanish names and I once had a co-worker by that last name.

BOB CRANE was killed in a Scottsdale apartment not too far from me and the mystery remains unsolved.

My granddaughter used to watch I-CARLY so that was familiar and I well recall SASHA Alexander in Rizzoli and Isles which I loved.

ULTIMO is also Spanish but weirdly clued and AMATO took five perps.

I also liked SAO and SOW as well as NITRO and NADIR.

Thank you, Steve, not only for your information rich commentary but also for highlighting the DANCES which I did not see.

I hope all are recovered from your festivities and have a splendid day today!

CrossEyedDave said...

I like to chew on a good puzzle,
& live for that AHA moment.
However, I "eschewed" SALDANA, ILIAC,(Ileac?) ICARLY, LECID, ATNOS and AMATO
as they left a bad taste in my mouth.
(Luckily Neapolitan made up for it...)

Belated HAppy Birthday to Yellowrocks!

& Fermat Prime, I am still working on your cake...

P.S. Yellowrocks,
Tx for the B-cake suggestion,
but they still can't make it fly yet...

And so, in passing...

TTP said...

From yesterday,

Belated Happy Birthday to Yellowrocks and Fermatprime 1

Misty said...

Well, Thursdays often start to be tough for me, and all the unknown names made this one a real problem. But I got ERNIE--at least I know my Muppets. And religion helped me get both POPE LEO I and the ALB he might have worn at one time. But all that didn't help me get the GODS on Mount Olympus. Oh, well, the holidays are over and life is back to its usual routine. So thanks, Jeff, and you too, Steve.

Have a good day, everybody.

Abejo said...

Good afternoon, folks. Thank you, Jeff Stillman, for a fine puzzle. Thank you, Steve, for a fine review.

Puzzle was tough. Caught the theme after I was finished and took a hard look at it. Then I saw the dances.

IRON MASK was easy. I read that book many years ago. I think there was a movie, as well.

Got TESSA after I got NITRO.

My biggest problem area was I CARLY, LE CID, SALDANA, and ILEAC. I had ILEUM, LE MIS, I CURLY, and SALSANA. I had to throw in the towel and look them up. Hate to do that, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. Ours was fine.

See you tomorrow.


( )

Anonymous T said...

ARGG! It's ARGH... (so frustrating!)

Hi All!

Thanks Jeff for the fine puzzle. Thanks Steve for the fine review.
Calling yourself the 1st is kinda presumptuous; I don't hear Pope Frank walking around calling himself Francis I :-)

I agree WEES said re: names though I did know BOB CRANE andANNE Murray.

Needed a lookup: SALDANSA which lead to ICARLY, and LE-ID thus finishing ILEAC.
I didn't understand the Broken Dances until Steve high-lighted the grid.

ESPs: ILEAC, ULTIMO, MALI. AMATO took 3/5th perps before I remembered him
Fav: LAN crossing NODES //each computer on a LAN is called a node.

FLN - I've never heard of CODE SMELL either. I LIU and it makes sense. Basically, you can look at code and know if it's clean Or if it's possibly hiding a heap of crap. The term was adopted long after I was out of school.

Sherry - If you didn't click CED's last link, you may still think you don't know REMORA aka Sucker Fish.

HG - I love that t-shirt.

Lucina: I put ULTIMO into Google and it shows translation from Spanish -> English ("latest"). It also offered an English definition for Ultimo as "of or occurring in the month preceding the present." So, the words are False Friends".

BigE - Ok, you gotta explain the peanuts.
When asked, "What do you want?", I say "Nothing - I have too much crap as it is." Pop never listens and gave us a very nice pen-and-ink drawing of our house. DW & the girls gave me a Cuisinart and enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven. Ok, I did want a nice Dutch oven.

Cheers, -T

Ol' Man Keith said...

I didn't care much for the Natick nest either, but I managed to guess my way through it.

One of the things I miss about retirement is that we also gave up our annual Twelfth Night party. I'm one of those who lament the loss of a proper 12-day Christmas. What a let-down to give up the spirit right after December 25!
We always kept our tree glowing through January 6, Twelfth Night, and would host a party on that evening, complete with Yule Log and Christmas Pudding. These days, most folk end the "holidays" on New Year's Day--the coldest, bleakest holiday I know.
But by keeping the spirit of Noel alive through Twelfth Night, we had another chance to gather with friends around a cozy fireside, to face the winter together with warm hearts. (And over a bowl of wassail!)

Jayce said...

I liked this puzzle okay. At first I thought it was pretty easy for a Thursday but then I hit the Natick nest.

For Tony and everybody else who might be interested in cyber security, here is what I think is an excellent article about How Close Did Russia Really Come to Hacking the 2016 Election? This is about technical stuff, not politics.

Happy Boxing Day.

jfromvt said...

Just an OK puzzle. Weak theme, and too many arcane names. On to Friday.

WikWak said...

WEES about the southeast corner; otherwise a fairly quick romp through the grid. It was nice to see some fresh fill (REMORA, BABYLON, RECUSAL). Steve, I especially enjoyed your review.

On to prepare dinner. Then we will in all probability eat it.

Enjoy what’s left of your evening. Hasta la vista.

PK said...

Happy Holidays, continued! Thanks, for the challenge, Jeff! Thanks, Steve, for a little humor to sweeten the frustration.

First pass through, I had nothing on the top line across. ARGH! was discovered later. ARGH! is an apt beginning for this puzzle during which I was often growling thru clenched teeth at the obscure clues - WEES. I did fill it and am not too proud to say good old red-letter runs helped in several places.

Myrmecologist farm? Lucky WAG: ANTS. But that "M" word was just cruel. Another lucky WAG: TESSA. I had the "T".

Thought the BREAK DANCE clue was cute. I found MAMBO & SAMBA easily, then counted down the rows wrong & couldn't find the last two. Third countdown I got in the rhythm of things and found SALSA & TANGO -- all good party dances with a Spanish beat, but not usually done by B-Boys.

Inane Hiker: sounds like adventuresome meals at your house, but I gotta wonder if the pair serving a kale & brusselsprouts salad are mad at the rest of you and subtly getting even.

My son brought me a "care" plate yesterday with prime rib, baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon bits & grated cheese, and some yummy cookies -- well, only two cookies when I could have eaten ten, but he was thinking of my health. Or else, he ate the rest on the trip. Son & grandson stayed for a nice visit. I'll see my other descendants this weekend, hopefully. Sunny day with 60*. Nice Xmas.

PK said...

Jayce, very interesting articles about the voter hacking situation. Argh!

TTP said...

Wikwak, "On to prepare dinner. Then we will in all probability eat it."

HA ! That's funny.

My rib roast, Yorkshire Pudding, pasta and vegetables went largely untouched yesterday. DW decided to eat early at her brother's and wasn't hungry, and I snacked while cooking. Then my friend stopped over with a gift of his mother's Honduran tamales. My favorite ! Just one is so filling.

Made for great leftovers today.

Jayce said...

PK, I’m glad you found the article interesting.

CanadianEh! said...

Quick stop here to thank Jeff and Steve.
Busy with Christmas celebrations out of town, then travelled again to meet friends in from the Maritimes.
Hotel had a Toronto paper with the LA Times CW and I worked it while travelling. What a workout. Hand up for several Naticks
But I did find the dances, although it took a few readings of that theme clue to figure out where I was counting.

This Canadian knew ANNE Murray. Thanks for the link AnonT.
I had Junk before SPAM because that is the name of the folder.
I noted LEO and LIBRA.

More family celebration on the weekend and I must prepare.
Happy Boxing Day to all.
Belated Happy Birthday to Yellowrocks and fermatprime.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Argh!! Finished but what an inky mess.

Wagged ULTIMO crossed with AMATO. The former is the Italian word for last or latest and the latter a common Italian surname so a worthy guess.

Didn't think BREAKDANCES were still a thing. Should have known a French composer would use the title LE CID not EL CID although we didn't call the Charlton Heston character "The Cid."

Coincidence so many barnyard moms are three-lettered: hen,cow,ewe,SOW

Almost forgot about ERNIE and his friend rubber duckie..

Till tomorrow SAY IT...GO AWAY.

Hungry Mother said...

A couple of wags abd it was done fairly quickly. Too many names.

inanehiker said...

PK - the salad was amazingly good - I don't think I would have been able to say what exactly was in it - except it was yummy! (and I'm not a big fan of either of the main ingredients!)

OwenKL said...

FIWrong. The natick at TEmSA + mASHA got me when I WAGged it wrong.
One of my favorite kiddie shows is Masha and the Bear.
And speaking of kiddie shows, it's iCARLY, as in iMac or iPod. internet Carly, a girl and her webcast!

You may not want to read further, as it's T.M.I.
No poems for a while. I'm bummed out by my domestic situation. My wife, Brenda/Brent, had her breasts removed last Friday, but in addition to the physical trauma of the cosmetic surgery, it seems to have triggered what I think is referred to as a psychotic break. She's back in the hospital for the third time this week. I really ought to be writing a lot of poetry right now, as it's my escape from reality.

Misty said...

Owen, so sorry to hear about your problems and worries. Our hearts are with you.

Lucina said...

What Misty said. My heart aches for you and I miss your poems.

Bill G said...

Owen, best wishes for you and your family.

Anonymous T said...

OKL - Curiosity prompts so many questions that all would be considered rude - or so DW tells me. God Speed to you, yours, and your muse.

PK - I nearly choked on my drink reading your hypothesis re: Inane's "salad." LOL.

C, Eh! I nearly went with the Junk folder too but possible perps wouldn't support it. ANNE's songs are OK but not my bag. At least I know of her :-)

Jayce - The article you link'd filled in some details that I'd not yet come across. Thanks. Ya know, it's one thing to screw with home users, big software houses, or other fun stuff for glory and/or profit. It's a different ball game when the targets are critical infrastructure (or elections).
Someone might lose an eye!
It's funny (peculiar, not haha!) that 1/2 the folks I advise consider me a chicken-little whilst others are scared out of their britches. If both sides understood the real impact for a given advisory, risk could be better addressed.
E.g. There is a critical vuln that dropped Christmas eve that affects >1/2 Fortune 500 companies AND! and some teams have no sense of urgency. An exploit will likely be weaponized by year's end (then the fecal matter will hit the turbine blades).
//Based on the recommended mitigation b/f a patch is released, it's not hard to see the attack vector is a directory traversal. Trivial for someone with time on their side.

Cheers, -T

Anonymous T said...

er, "for a given adversary" not advisory. I'd fix it but I don't want to poke the bear //hi TTP :-)

Ol' Man Keith said...

Owen ~ You know you have the sympathy of every member of the Corner. May your wife recover health and peace of mind soon.
We send you much love,

PK said...

Owen, how sad for you! The pain & anesthetic with surgical procedures often messes up people's minds -- especially if they have some tendencies toward strangeness. Such an ordeal for you! Hope the new year is better. Hang in there!