LA Times Crossword 18 Jan 19, Friday

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Constructed by: Bruce Haight
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Letters First

Themed answers are each common phrases in which the first word has been replaced by a trio of letters that sound like that word when read aloud:

  • 17A. Likely to B surprisingly difficult : EZR SAID THAN DONE (sounds like “easier …”)
  • 23A. One might Q Shamu : NML TRAINER (sounds like “animal …”)
  • 38A. U can soak in one : JQZ HOT TUB (sounds like “Jacuzzi”)
  • 54A. Something to C at Carnegie Hall : PNO RECITAL (sounds like “piano …”)
  • 61A. Possible reason Y lights get turned off : NRG CONSERVATION (sounds like “energy …”)

Bill’s time: 10m 14s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Figura de __: Spanish skating move : OCHO

In Spanish, a skater might perform a “figura de ocho” (figure-eight).

16. Edmonton athlete : OILER

The National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers are so called because they are located in Alberta, Canada … oil country.

20. __ space : OUTER

The exploration and use of outer space is governed by the Outer Space Treaty that came into force in 1967. The initial signatories were the US, UK and USSR, and now 102 nations are party to the treaty. For the purposes of the treaty, outer space begins at the Kármán line, a theoretical sphere that lies at an altitude of 100km about the Earth’s sea level.

21. Spring bloom : IRIS

Iris is a genus of flowering plants that come in a wide variety of flower colors. The term “iris” is a Greek word meaning “rainbow”. Many species of irises are called “flags”. One suggestion is that the alternate name comes from the Middle English “flagge” meaning “reed”. This term was used because iris leaves look like reeds.

22. __-fa: set of musical syllables : SOL

The sol-fa syllables are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la & ti.

23. One might Q Shamu : NML TRAINER (sounds like “animal …”)

Shamu was the name of the third orca (aka “killer whale”) ever to be featured in a public exhibition. Shamu starred in a popular SeaWorld show in San Diego in the sixties. After she died in 1971, her name lived on as the “stage name” of orca shows in different SeaWorld parks. That original Shamu was retired after she grabbed and refused to let go of the leg of one of her trainers.

27. Place to drive from : TEE

In the game of golf, a “tee” is the wooden or plastic peg on which one can place a ball when “teeing off”. Also, the “teeing ground” (sometimes “tee” or “tee box”) is the area at the beginning of the hole from which the first stroke is taken, from where one tees off.

32. “The Aviator” (2004) Oscar nominee : ALDA

Alan Alda has had a great television career, especially of course as a lead actor in “M*A*S*H”. Alda won his first Emmy in 1972, for playing surgeon Hawkeye Pierce on “M*A*S*H”. He also won an Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of Presidential candidate Senator Arnold Vinick in “The West Wing”. When it comes to the big screen, my favorite of Alda’s movies is the 1978 romantic comedy “Same Time, Next Year” in which he starred opposite Ellen Burstyn.

“The Aviator” is a great 2004 film, and a biographical piece about much of the life of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the title role, with Cate Blanchett playing a very credible Katharine Hepburn, Hughes’ lover with whom he lived for quite some time. Blanchett won a very much deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Alan Alda received an Oscar nomination as a supporting actor, playing Senator Owen Brewster, a thorn in the side for Howard Hughes.

37. “The fool __ think he is wise …”: “As You Like It” : DOTH

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool” is a line from William Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It”.

“As You Like It” is one of Shakespeare’s comedies. It tells the tale of Rosalind fleeing from her Uncle’s court along with her cousin Celia and the court jester Touchstone. Rosalind lives in exile in the Forest of Arden, disguised as a male shepherd called Ganymede. The play is perhaps most memorable for an oft-quoted monologue that starts with:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players …

38. U can soak in one : JQZ HOT TUB (sounds like “Jacuzzi”)

“Jacuzzi” is one of those brand names that has become so much associated with the product that it is often assumed to be a generic term. The Jacuzzi company was founded in 1915 by the seven(!) Jacuzzi brothers in Berkeley California. The brothers, who were Italian immigrants, pronounced their name “ja-coot-si”, as one might suspect when one realizes the name is of Italian origin. The company started off by making aircraft propellers and then small aircraft, but suspended aircraft production in 1925 when one the brothers was killed in one of their planes. The family then started making hydraulic pumps, and in 1948 developed a submersible bathtub pump so that a son of one of the brothers could enjoy hydrotherapy for his rheumatoid arthritis. The “hydrotherapy product” took off in the fifties with some astute marketing towards “worn-out housewives” and the use of celebrity spokesman Jack Benny.

41. Biblical hunter : ESAU

Esau, was the grandson of Abraham and the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When Esau was born to Isaac and Rebekah, the event was described “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment”. Esau is portrayed later in life as being very different from his brother Jacob, as a hunter and someone who loves the outdoor life.

43. It was originally called a “Biscuit” : OREO

Our word “biscuit” comes from the Medieval Latin “biscotum” meaning “twice-baked”. This etymology reflects the original two-step process used to make biscuits. After initially baking at a relatively high temperature, biscuits were then dried out in an oven set at a lower temperature.

48. Bygone predators : T REXES

The Tyrannosaurus rex (usually written “T. rex”) was a spectacular looking dinosaur. “Tyrannosaurus” comes from the Greek words “tyrannos” (tyrant) and “sauros” (lizard) and “rex” the Latin for “king”. They were big beasts, measuring 42 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hips, and weighing 7.5 tons.

50. Long-legged runner : EMU

The emu has had a tough time in Australia since man settled there. There was even an “Emu War” in Western Australia in 1932 when migrating emus competed with livestock for water and food. Soldiers were sent in and used machine guns in an unsuccessful attempt to drive off the “invading force”. The emus were clever, breaking their usual formations and adopting guerrilla tactics, operating as smaller units. After 50 days of “war”, the military withdrew. Subsequent requests for military help for the farmers were ignored. The emus had emerged victorious …

52. Bulldog booster : ELI

The Yale Bulldogs are the athletic teams of Yale University. The Yale school mascot is “Handsome Dan”, the Yale bulldog. The Bulldogs’ logo features a bulldog in front of a letter Y.

54. Something to C at Carnegie Hall : PNO RECITAL (sounds like “piano …”)

The prestigious Carnegie Hall in midtown Manhattan opened for business in 1891. The magnificent edifice was named after the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who provided the funds for construction.

59. Countenance : MIEN

One’s mien is one’s bearing or manner. “Mien” shares the same etymological root as our word “demeanor”.

60. Lenya of “From Russia With Love” : LOTTE

Lotte Lenya was an Austrian singer and actress. She was married to composer Kurt Weill, and was noted for her performances of his works. Late in her career she played Rosa Klebb, one of the main villains in the 1963 Bond movie “From Russia With Love”. Klebb was the character who had the knife that popped out from the toe of her shoe.

The 1963 James Bond movie “From Russia with Love” was the second in the series of films, following “Dr. No” and ahead of “Goldfinger”. The “From Russia with Love” Bond girl is Daniela Bianchi who plays a corporal in Soviet Army Intelligence called Tatiana Romanova.

68. French greeting : SALUT

In French, “salut” means “hi”, and is less formal than “bonjour”. The term can also be used as a friendly toast.

Down

1. College town WSW of Albany : ONEONTA

The city of Oneonta in Upstate New York grew from a hamlet called “Milfordville” that started to develop around 1800. The name was changed to Oneonta in 1832, when it was incorporated as a village within the surrounding town of Oneonta. The city is home to the State University of New York at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta) that started out as a normal school and a teacher’s college in 1889.

2. Island resort near Cancún : COZUMEL

Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean of the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It is a tourist destination, and is especially attractive to scuba divers. My son and I spent a great week there diving some years ago …

Cancún is a city and island on the east coast of Mexico, on the other side of the Yucatan Channel from Cuba. The city is growing rapidly due to its booming tourist business. Cancún is the center of what’s often called “The Mexican Caribbean” or the “Mayan Riviera”.

3. Went like a runaway train : HURTLED

Our verb “to hurtle” means “to move rapidly or forcefully”, and comes from an early 14th-century word “hurteln” meaning “to crash together, knock down”. I guess the idea is that hurtling along can cause a nasty collision.

5. Lord of the ring? : ALI

After Muhammad Ali passed away in June 2016, there was a large prayer service and funeral procession in his hometown of Louisville. The pallbearers included actor Will Smith and boxer Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. Eulogies were delivered by Ali’s wife Lonnie, Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel and former President Bill Clinton.

8. Earthy tone : OCHRE

Ocher is a light, yellowy-brown color, although variations of the pigment are possible such as red ocher and purple ocher. “Ocher” is usually spelled “ochre” on the other side of the pond.

10. Razz : KID

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”.

12. Holiday candle holder : MENORAH

There is a seven-branched menorah used symbolically in ancient temples. However, the Hanukkah menorah is a nine-branched lampstand that is lit during the eight-day holiday called Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. “Menorah” is the Hebrew word for “lamp”.

13. Heat at a meet, for short : PRELIM

The term “heat”, meaning a qualifying race, dates back to the 1660s. Originally a heat was a run given to a horse to prepare it for a race, to “heat” it up.

18. LAX landings : ARRS

Arrival (arr.)

Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and the busiest here on the West Coast of the US. The airport was opened in 1930 as Mines Field and was renamed to Los Angeles Airport in 1941. On the airport property is the iconic white structure that resembles a flying saucer. This is called the Theme Building and I believe it is mainly used as a restaurant and observation deck for the public. The airport used to be identified by the letters “LA”, but when the aviation industry went to a three-letter standard for airport identification, this was changed to “LAX”. Apparently, the “X” has no significant meaning.

25. Shoshone Falls state : IDAHO

Shoshone Falls is a major waterfall on the Snake River in southern Idaho. Shoshone Falls is sometimes referred to as the Niagara of the West, and is actually 45 feet taller than Niagara Falls.

31. Nagano noodle : SOBA

Soba is a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. In Japan, the word “soba” tends to be used to describe any thin noodle, in contrast with the thicker noodles that are called udon.

Nagano is a city on Japan’s largest island, Honshu. Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

33. “Iliad” warrior : AJAX

Ajax was a figure in Greek mythology, and was the cousin of Achilles. Ajaz is an important figure in Homer’s “Iliad”. According to Homer, Ajax was chosen by lot to meet Hector in an epic duel that lasted a whole day. The duel ended in a draw.

39. Ont. neighbor : QUE

The name “Québec” comes from an Algonquin word “kebec” meaning “where the river narrows”. This refers to the area around Quebec City where the St. Lawrence River narrows as it flows through a gap lined by steep cliffs.

40. Heavy reading? : TOME

“Tome” first came into English from the Latin “tomus” which means “section of a book”. The original usage in English was for a single volume in a multi-volume work. By the late 16th century, “tome” had come to mean “large book”.

41. Coastal East African country : ERITREA

Eritrea is a country located in the Horn of Africa, and surrounded by Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Red Sea. Some scientists believe that the area now known as Eritrea was the departure point for the anatomically modern humans who first left Africa to populate the rest of the world.

42. Coastal West African country : SENEGAL

The Republic of Senegal is a country on the far western coast of Africa. For many years Senegal was a French colony, gaining independence in 1960. The capital of Senegal is Dakar. Dakar is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, thus making it the westernmost capital on the African mainland.

45. In a small-minded way : PETTILY

The word “petty”, meaning “small-minded”, comes from the French word for small, “petit”. When “petty” first came into English it wasn’t used disparagingly, and was used more literally giving us terms like “petty officer” and “petty cash”. The word “petty” evolved into a prefix “petti-” with the meaning of “small”, as in the word “petticoat”.

46. Army outfit : PLATOON

In military terms, a platoon is a subdivision of a company-sized unit, and is usually divided into squads or sections. The term “platoon” arose in the 1630s from the French “peloton”. “Peloton” translates literally as “little ball”, and is used to this day to mean “agglomeration”. “Pelaton” gives rise to our word “pellet”. Also, we use the Modern French “peloton” in English now to refer to the main body (agglomeration) of riders in a bicycle race.

47. Bit of obscenity? : SILENT C

The letter C (cee) in the word “obscenity” is a silent letter C.

48. Musical saw sounds : TWANGS

A handsaw can be used as a musical instrument by holding the handle between the knees, bending the blade and then using a bow along the blade’s non-serrated edge. The pitch of the sound produced is varied by changing the curve of the blade.

51. Pauley Pavilion Pac-12 team : UCLA

Pauley Pavilion is an indoor arena on the UCLA campus that is home to the UCLA basketball teams. Opening in 1965, the facility was named for former UC regent, and major donor, Edwin W. Pauley.

57. Frat letters : IOTAS

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, and 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.

59. Guinness book adjective : MOST

“The Guinness Book of World Records” holds some records of its own. It is the best-selling, copyrighted series of books of all time and is one of the books most often stolen from public libraries! The book was first published in 1954 by two twins, Norris and Ross McWhirter. The McWhirter twins found themselves with a smash hit, and eventually became very famous in Britain hosting a TV show based on world records.

62. French vineyard : CRU

“Cru” is a term used in the French wine industry that means “growth place”. So, “cru” is the name of the location where the grapes are grown, as opposed to the name of a specific vineyard. The terms “premier cru” and “grand cru” are also used, but the usage depends on the specific wine region. Generally it is a classification awarded to specific vineyards denoting their potential for producing great wines. “Grand cru” is reserved for the very best vineyards, with “premier cru” the level just below.

63. Biological chain letters : RNA

Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by what is called transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

64. Moving aid : VAN

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.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Figura de __: Spanish skating move : OCHO
5. Besides : ALSO
9. Cut back a lot : SKIMP
14. It might not be proper : NOUN
15. Secular : LAIC
16. Edmonton athlete : OILER
17. Likely to B surprisingly difficult : EZR SAID THAN DONE (sounds like “easier …”)
20. __ space : OUTER
21. Spring bloom : IRIS
22. __-fa: set of musical syllables : SOL
23. One might Q Shamu : NML TRAINER (sounds like “animal …”)
26. Cycle starter : TRI-
27. Place to drive from : TEE
28. Not irr. : STD
29. Affirmative reply : YES I AM
32. “The Aviator” (2004) Oscar nominee : ALDA
34. Buffoons : OAFS
37. “The fool __ think he is wise …”: “As You Like It” : DOTH
38. U can soak in one : JQZ HOT TUB (sounds like “Jacuzzi”)
41. Biblical hunter : ESAU
43. It was originally called a “Biscuit” : OREO
44. They’re mostly on the phone : APPS
48. Bygone predators : T REXES
50. Long-legged runner : EMU
52. Bulldog booster : ELI
53. Component of a sweep, maybe : WIN
54. Something to C at Carnegie Hall : PNO RECITAL (sounds like “piano …”)
58. Downed : ATE
59. Countenance : MIEN
60. Lenya of “From Russia With Love” : LOTTE
61. Possible reason Y lights get turned off : NRG CONSERVATION (sounds like “energy …”)
65. They’re changed on the road : GEARS
66. Sandwich staple : TUNA
67. Frequently : A LOT
68. French greeting : SALUT
69. Reach : SPAN
70. Out of __ : SYNC

Down

1. College town WSW of Albany : ONEONTA
2. Island resort near Cancún : COZUMEL
3. Went like a runaway train : HURTLED
4. It’s a start : ONSET
5. Lord of the ring? : ALI
6. Brit’s bud : LAD
7. Sub (for) : SIT IN
8. Earthy tone : OCHRE
9. Juniors, maybe : SONS
10. Razz : KID
11. “My temper got the best of me” : I LOST IT
12. Holiday candle holder : MENORAH
13. Heat at a meet, for short : PRELIM
18. LAX landings : ARRS
19. Opposite of stuffy : AIRY
24. Entire range : A TO Z
25. Shoshone Falls state : IDAHO
30. Academic address ending : EDU
31. Nagano noodle : SOBA
33. “Iliad” warrior : AJAX
35. Behind : FOR
36. Handle the wheel : STEER
39. Ont. neighbor : QUE
40. Heavy reading? : TOME
41. Coastal East African country : ERITREA
42. Coastal West African country : SENEGAL
45. In a small-minded way : PETTILY
46. Army outfit : PLATOON
47. Bit of obscenity? : SILENT C
48. Musical saw sounds : TWANGS
49. Bias : SPIN
51. Pauley Pavilion Pac-12 team : UCLA
55. Fits one within another : NESTS
56. Best : ONE-UP
57. Frat letters : IOTAS
59. Guinness book adjective : MOST
62. French vineyard : CRU
63. Biological chain letters : RNA
64. Moving aid : VAN

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10 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 18 Jan 19, Friday”

  1. LAT: 29:46, no errors. Too cute, for most part. WSJ: 19:36, 2 errors (guessing on the unknowns versus a vertical I wasn’t sure about). Spent a lot more time on the meta than usual, but still no idea. Newsday: 12:42, no errors. Nice clean puzzle.

    @Dave
    >It seems odd to me no one has chosen to preserve such monumental artifacts of cruciverbalism for a grateful posterity …

    I notice a lot of articles written in other places about the NYT doing the puzzle, but for it being print-only there probably wasn’t a lot of awareness of it unless you knew to look. For example, I wasn’t aware that the NYT did anything like that *at all* until BEQ started posting about writing his and would have never found out at all if he didn’t.

    Of course the question is 2019’s from here, but I did find from my library trip that as long as I have the exact date it comes out that I can photocopy the actual newspaper they have there until the cows come home, assuming it stays complete. Probably won’t have the interest to spend that kind of effort though. We’ll see if I can remember by then.

    >Perhaps we can compare notes on our translations of that blurred image of the clue page.

    That will probably have to be by e-mail. Feel free to drop me a note through my site.

    As for my JPZ efforts, I have a couple of projects I need to knock down first, but I added reading/writing these files to my other goals for the computer project I’ve been working on.

  2. LAT: 11:38, no errors; very cute; liked it. Newsday: 12:06, no errors; straightforward. WSJ: 12:32, no errors; meta solved and submitted.

    @Glenn …

    Digitizing that 2016 super mega is giving me even more respect for the amount of effort that went into it originally. I’m going to be tied up on other things for most of today and part of tomorrow, but I will send you what I end up with when it’s done.

    It belatedly occurred to me that I have a program of my own that, given a digital file very similar to the one for Across Lite, will draw the crossword puzzle described by that file. (I wrote the program thirty or forty years ago and used it occasionally to preserve puzzles that I was especially impressed with.) I don’t know if I have a working version of it (or whether it would handle such a large grid). We’ll see. (In any case, I’ve got to get off my duff and get my programming environment working again!)

    1. It turns out that I wrote a “C” version of my program, too. The binaries still work. The Fortran version will handle a 40×40, but I would need to recompile it to handle a 50×50. The C version will handle a 50×50, but the output is in a format peculiar to the organization where I once worked, rather than a PDF, so, again, the program would need to be tweaked and recompiled. More later (by email, probably, unless others here express interest).

  3. No errors on the ones we got, but we totaled less than half. Too cute on a
    couple of the answers and just too hard. I wish the constructors could
    cut us a little slack. I don’t mean to complain, because I solved the Jumble
    with a 14-word pun answer. I guess that is like comparing kindergarten to college. You guys did great, as always. Bill took twice as long as usual, but still did a great time. It would take me that long to fill the squares if I already
    knew all the answers! But, we would not miss at least trying. We are
    just outgunned. Kudos to all and hope better on Monday. Good weekend.

  4. 14:36. I think doing so many NYT Thursday puzzles helped me grasp this one pretty quickly. My “OIC” moment was EZRSAID….. After that I used the theme til the end. Another good one from Bruce Haight.

    Best –

  5. **Unforgivably** bad puzzle!!! There is NO WAY, NO *HOW* that JQZ is a letter phoneticization of “Jacuzzi” (it’s pronounced “Juh-COO-zee”, not J-Que-ZEE). The other theme fills, although they did sound like the letters, were just weak GROANERS of the highest (lowest?) order. This is Will Shortz-bad, but I’ll bet even HE wouldn’t buy this piece of garbage. So Bruce sold it to the LA Times instead.

    22 minutes, 59 sec, and 4 errors, in the top right; couldn’t get SKIMP and SONS to work.

  6. I had a tough time with this puzzle which took an eon to finish. Very very difficult. But it was cute and after the solve ——- very clever.
    I guess some of us have an upper limit of verbal and spatial Iq. Especially me.

    Have a great weekend folks
    I am headed to Florida for some work … and relaxation..

  7. Greetings compadres!!!😎

    No errors and a fun solve, tho challenging. Usually I don’t like puzzles that depend on MISSPELLINGS, but this one I enjoyed. Jeff, I had the same OIC moment, and I’m glad it came early on. More important, THANKS for the alternative to the irritating “Aha moment!” I intend to purloin your “OIC”!! ☺

    Vidwan, enjoy Florida!

    DIRK from yesterday re: Corolla– no worries! I find my Corolla pretty boring, but a gal’s got to be practical, and they’re so dependable. Wish I could afford my dream car…🤨

    Be well~~😻

  8. A bit too tough for me; had to look up the 2nd N in ONEONTA, the LEN in SILENTC, the N in TWANGS and change dNA to RNA. I kinda see it all now but it threw me for a loop while I was doing the “sounds like” stuff.

    Even though I wasn’t quite sure, it was a good thing that I watched all the James Bond movies recently and in the back of my head knew it was LOTT(?) something.

    Oh well, on to Saturday…

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