LA Times Crossword 19 Feb 19, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Paul Coulter
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Umami

Themed answers each start with one of the five basic tastes:

  • 38A. Fifth and newest member of the set that includes the starts of the answers to starred clues : UMAMI
  • 17A. *Sore loser’s reaction : SOUR GRAPES
  • 58A. *Valentine recipient : SWEETHEART
  • 11D. *Finale to fight to, with “the” : BITTER END
  • 34D. *Hip-hop trio with a condimental name : SALT-N-PEPA

Bill’s time: 5m 04s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Deep opera voices : BASSI

The bass is the lowest male singing voice. A man with such a voice might be called a “basso” (plural “bassi”). In an opera, the villain of the piece is usually played by a basso.

10. “SOS” pop group : ABBA

The ABBA song “SOS” was originally titled “Turn Me On”. In the movie “Mamma Mia!”, “SOS” is performed by Meryl Streep (brilliantly) and by Pierce Brosnan (terribly).

15. Pair on a Disney World hat : EARS

Walt Disney World, located near Orlando in Florida, is the most visited vacation resort in the world. The resort comprises four different theme parks as well as two water parks:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach

16. Little brook : RILL

The word “rill”, meaning a small brook or rivulet, has German roots. It has the same roots as “Rhine”, the name of the major European river.

17. *Sore loser’s reaction : SOUR GRAPES

Our expression “sour grapes” is an allusion to one of Aesop’s fables, namely the story of “The Fox and the Grapes”. In the fable, a squirrel could climb up to grapes high in a tree that a fox was unsuccessful in getting to. On seeing this, the fox said, “It’s okay, the grapes were sour anyway”.

21. Clytemnestra’s son : ORESTES

Orestes is a character appearing in Greek mythology, and is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays. In a story by Homer, Orestes kills his mother Clytemnestra. He does so in revenge as Clytemnestra had killed Agamemnon, who was her husband and father to Orestes. Agamemnon was killed by his wife for sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia in order to get favorable winds on a sea voyage. Heavy stuff …

23. Soap-making chemical : LYE

Soap is basically made by adding a strong alkali (like lye) to a fat (like olive oil or palm oil). The fats break down in the basic solution in a process called saponification. The crude soap is extracted from the mixture, washed, purified and finished in molds.

26. Road’s end? : -STER

A roadster is a two-seater car with an open body and a sporty appearance. The term “roadster” is American in origin, and was first used back in the 19th century to describe a horse that was used when traveling by road.

27. Versatile vehicle, for short : UTE

A utility vehicle is often called a “ute” for short. Nowadays one mainly hears about sport-utes and crossover-utes.

28. Handel’s “Messiah” is one : ORATORIO

An oratorio is a large musical work for orchestra, choir and solo singers, and usually has a religious theme. It is similar to an opera, but without the action, costume and scenery.

“Messiah” is a famous oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel that was first performed in Dublin, Ireland in 1742. The libretto is a text from the King James Bible that was compiled by Handel’s friend Charles Jennens. Not long after he received the libretto from Jennens, Handel took just 24 days to compose the full oratorio. He was obviously on a roll, became Handel started into his next oratorio, “Samson” just one week after finishing “Messiah”. He finished the first draft of “Samson” within a month.

32. Vertical billiards stroke : MASSE

In billiards, a massé shot is one in which the cue ball makes an extreme curve due to the player imparting heavy spin on the ball with his or her cue held relatively vertically.

36. Ambient music pioneer Brian : ENO

Brian Eno was one of the pioneers of the ambient genre of music. Eno composed an album in 1978 called “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”, which was the first in a series of four albums with an ambient theme. Eno named the tracks, somewhat inventively, 1/1, 2/1, 2/1 and 2/2.

37. Apple computer : IMAC

Apple makes versions of its iMac line of computers that are aimed at schools. These are usually low-end machines that sell at a reduced price. Apple used to name such an offering an “eMac”, short for “education Mac”.

38. Fifth and newest member of the set that includes the starts of the answers to starred clues : UMAMI

Umami is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. “Umami” is a Japanese word used to describe “a pleasant savory taste”. Umami was proposed as a basic taste in 1908, but it wasn’t until 1985 that the scientific community finally accepted it as such.

39. NYPD rank : INSP

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is the largest municipal police force in the country. The department’s roots go back as far at 1625 when there was an eight-man night watch in the days when New York was still known as New Amsterdam. Several disparate forces with policing responsibility were amalgamated in 1844 to form the New York City Police Department, signalling the end of the night watch force that had existed for over 200 years.

41. “Full court” NBA defense : PRESS

“Full court press” is a basketball term describing the tactic of pressuring the offensive team along the entire length of the court.

42. Pat Conroy’s “The Prince of __” : TIDES

Pat Conroy is a very successful author who presumably has made quite a bit of money out of at least two of his books. Both “The Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini” were made into highly successful Hollywood movies.

45. Hawaiian dish : POI

The corm of some taro plants is used to make poi, the traditional Hawaiian dish (that I think tastes horrible). When a taro plant is grown as an ornamental, it is often called Elephant Ears due to the shape of its large leaves.

46. “Chestnuts roasting __ open fire” : ON AN

The Christmas classic known as “The Christmas Song”, which starts out with the line “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, was written in 1944 by Bob Wells and singer Mel Tormé. According to Tormé, the song was actually written on a very hot summer day, with Wells providing the lyrics. Apparently without the intention of writing a song, Wells jotted down four “Christmassy” phrases in an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool”. Those phrases were:

  • Chestnuts roasting
  • Jack Frost nipping
  • Yuletide carols
  • Folks dressed up like Eskimos

“The Christmas Song” is now the most-performed Christmas song in the world.

47. Online craft store : ETSY

Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.

49. Rap sheet abbr. : AKA

Also known as (aka)

A rap sheet is a criminal record. “Rap” is a slang term dating back to the 1700s that means “blame, responsibility” as in “to take the rap”, “bad rap” and “to beat the rap”. This usage morphed into “rap sheet” in the early 1900s.

52. Elks, in Canada : WAPITIS

The elk (also known as “wapiti”) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the “huge” wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely “elk”. The more correct name for the beast is “wapiti”, which means “white rump” in Shawnee. It’s all very confusing …

55. __ Kodak : EASTMAN

George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company, which he named after the Kodak camera that he had invented four years earlier. He came up with the name of Kodak after careful consideration. Firstly he was a big fan of the letter “K”, calling it “strong, incisive”. He also wanted a word that was short, easy to pronounce and difficult to mispronounce, and a word that was clearly unique with no prior associations. “Kodak” fit the bill.

58. *Valentine recipient : SWEETHEART

Saint Valentine’s Day was introduced by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD to honor various martyrs with the name Valentine. However, the saint’s’ day was dropped by the Roman Catholic church in 1969, by Pope Paul VI. Try telling that to Hallmark though …

61. Half of Mork’s sign-off : NANU

“Mork & Mindy” is a sitcom that originally aired from 1978 to 1982. The title characters were played by Robin Williams and Pam Dawber. Mork is an alien from the planet Ork who reports back to his superior called Orson. Orson is played by voice actor Ralph James. Ralph James was also known for providing the voice of Mr. Turtle in famous Tootsie Pop commercials in the seventies. Nanu nanu!

62. Novelist Joyce Carol __ : OATES

Joyce Carol Oates is a remarkable writer, not just for the quality of her work (her 1969 novel “them” won a National Book Award, for example) but also for how prolific is her output. She published her first book in 1963 and since then has published over fifty novels as well as many other written works.

63. Smartphone ancestors, briefly : PDAS

Personal digital assistant (PDA)

64. Cookbook amt. : TBSP

Tablespoon (tbsp.)

65. “Elder” Roman scholar : PLINY

Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger were important figures in Ancient Rome. Pliny the Elder was a scientist and historian, the author of “Naturalis Historia”, commonly referred to as “Pliny’s Natural History”. Pliny the Younger was the nephew and adopted son of Pliny the Elder. Pliny the Younger was a noted Roman statesman, orator and writer.

Down

1. Fragrant herb : BASIL

Traditionally, basil is considered “the king of herbs”. And in fact, the herb’s name comes from the Greek “basileus” meaning “king”.

3. Fry : SAUTE

“Sauté” is a French word. The literal translation from the French is “jumped” or “bounced”, a reference to the tossing of food while cooking it in a frying pan.

6. Pedro’s “I love you” : TE AMO

“I love you” translates into “te amo” in Spanish, and into “je t’aime” in French.

7. WWII General __ Arnold : HAP

Henry “Hap” Arnold was the Commanding General of the US Army Air Corps during the Second World War. Before the war, Arnold was taught to fly by the Wright Brothers. After the war, Arnold was one of the co-founders of Pan American Airways, but opted not to become president of the company and instead remained in the military.

8. Crumbled sundae-topping cookie : OREO

There’s a lot of speculation about how the dessert called a sundae got its name, but there seems to be agreement that it is an alteration of the word “Sunday”.

9. Cold War power: Abbr. : USSR

The term “Cold War” was coined by the novelist George Orwell in a 1945 essay about the atomic bomb. Orwell described a world under threat of nuclear war as having a “peace that is no peace”, in a permanent state of “cold war”. The specific use of “cold war” to describe the tension between the Eastern bloc and the Western allies is attributed to a 1947 speech by Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

10. Noble Brit : ARISTO

“Aristo” is short for “aristocrat”.

11. *Finale to fight to, with “the” : BITTER END

The “bitter end” is a conclusion of a difficult situation. The phrase is nautical in origin. “Bitts” are pairs of posts on the deck of a ship or on a wharf around which mooring lines are wound to secure a vessel. The “bitter end” of a cable or rope is the part at the extremes of the line that is wound around the bitts.

13. Swiss peaks : ALPS

There are eight Alpine countries:

  • Austria
  • Slovenia
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Germany
  • Monaco
  • Italy

22. 90° from sur : ESTE

In Spanish, “este” (east) is ninety degrees from “sur” (south).

27. Trojans’ sch. : USC

The athletic teams of the University of Southern California are called the USC Trojans. The women’s teams are also called the Trojans, but are sometimes referred to as Women of Troy.

30. Thrilla in Manila boxer : ALI

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had three memorable fights. The first was billed as the “Fight of the Century” and took place in 1971 in Madison Square Garden. It was a fight between two great boxers, both of whom were undefeated up till that point. Frazier won in a unanimous decision after fifteen rounds. A couple of years later, in 1973, Frazier lost his title to George Foreman. Ali and Frazier had a non-title rematch in 1974, with Ali coming out ahead this time, also in a unanimous decision. Later that year, Ali grabbed back the World Heavyweight Title in “The Rumble in the Jungle”, the famous “rope-a-dope” fight against George Foreman. That set the stage for the third and final fight between Ali and Frazier, “The Thrilla in Manila”. Ali won the early rounds, but Frazier made a comeback in the middle of the fight. Ali took control at the end of the bout, so much so that Frazier wasn’t able to come out of his corner for the 15th and final round. He couldn’t come out of his corner because both of his eyes were swollen shut, giving Ali a victory due to a technical knockout (TKO).

33. Protein building block : AMINO ACID

Amino acids are essential to life in many ways, not least of which is their use as the building blocks of proteins. Nine amino acids are considered “essential” for humans. These nine must be included in the diet as they cannot be synthesized in the body.

34. *Hip-hop trio with a condimental name : SALT-N-PEPA

Salt-N-Pepa are an all-female hip hop trio from New York made up of “Salt” (Cheryl James), “Pepa” (Sandra Denton) and “DJ Spinderella” (Deidra Roper). The group’s 1991 song “Let’s Talk Sex” created quite a fuss as the lyrics explored the subject of sex, and safe sex in particular. A later version addressed the dangers of AIDS.

35. “Peter Pan” pirate : SMEE

In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is Hook’s right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on the pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.

J.M. Barrie’s stage play “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” premiered in London in 1904. Barrie adapted the play into a 1911 novel titled “Peter and Wendy”. The character Peter Pan actually predated the play, having been introduced by Barrie as baby in his 1902 adult novel called “The Little White Bird”.

45. 10th-grader’s exam, for short : PSAT

Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)

48. Start a golf hole : TEE UP

In the game of golf, a “tee” is a 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.

49. Vintage violin : AMATI

The first of the Amati family to make violins was Andrea Amati, who lived in the 14th century. He was succeeded by his sons, Antonio and Girolamo. In turn, they were succeeded by Girolamo’s son, Nicolo. Nicolo had a few students who achieved fame making musical instruments as well. One was his own son, Girolamo, and another was the famed Antonio Stradivari.

50. Megan’s “Will & Grace” role : KAREN

I’ve always thought the real stars of “Will & Grace” were not the title characters, by rather the supporting characters Jack (played by Sean Hayes) and Karen (played by Megan Mullally).

51. Anxious : ANTSY

The word “antsy” embodies the concept of “having ants in one’s pants”, meaning being nervous and fidgety. However, “antsy” has been used in English since the 1830s, whereas “ants in the pants” originated a century later.

52. __ speed: “Star Trek” rate : WARP

In the “Star Trek” universe, warp speed achieved by the warp drive engines is very much like our real-world Mach number. Just as a plane traveling at Mach 1 is moving at the speed of sound, a starship traveling at warp factor 1 is moving at the speed of light. Mach 2 is twice the speed of sound, and warp factor 2 is twice the speed of light. Cool, huh …?

54. Q-tip : SWAB

Cotton swabs were originally marketed under the name “Baby Gays”. This was changed in 1926 to “Q-Tips”, with the Q standing for “quality”.

56. Greenish-blue : TEAL

The beautiful color teal takes it name from the duck called a teal, which has dark greenish-blue (teal) markings on its head and wings.

59. Nav. rank : ENS

Ensign (ens.)

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Deep opera voices : BASSI
6. Quaint “you” : THOU
10. “SOS” pop group : ABBA
14. From square one : AGAIN
15. Pair on a Disney World hat : EARS
16. Little brook : RILL
17. *Sore loser’s reaction : SOUR GRAPES
19. Live __: party hearty : IT UP
20. Temporary period : INTERIM
21. Clytemnestra’s son : ORESTES
23. Soap-making chemical : LYE
24. Often : A LOT
26. Road’s end? : -STER
27. Versatile vehicle, for short : UTE
28. Handel’s “Messiah” is one : ORATORIO
32. Vertical billiards stroke : MASSE
35. Not fresh : STALE
36. Ambient music pioneer Brian : ENO
37. Apple computer : IMAC
38. Fifth and newest member of the set that includes the starts of the answers to starred clues : UMAMI
39. NYPD rank : INSP
40. Zero, like chances : NIL
41. “Full court” NBA defense : PRESS
42. Pat Conroy’s “The Prince of __” : TIDES
43. Corporate info-sharing system : INTRANET
45. Hawaiian dish : POI
46. “Chestnuts roasting __ open fire” : ON AN
47. Online craft store : ETSY
49. Rap sheet abbr. : AKA
52. Elks, in Canada : WAPITIS
55. __ Kodak : EASTMAN
57. Top poker cards : ACES
58. *Valentine recipient : SWEETHEART
60. Ready for harvesting : RIPE
61. Half of Mork’s sign-off : NANU
62. Novelist Joyce Carol __ : OATES
63. Smartphone ancestors, briefly : PDAS
64. Cookbook amt. : TBSP
65. “Elder” Roman scholar : PLINY

Down

1. Fragrant herb : BASIL
2. Ecstasy’s opposite : AGONY
3. Fry : SAUTE
4. “Your Highness” : SIRE
5. Unappreciative one : INGRATE
6. Pedro’s “I love you” : TE AMO
7. WWII General __ Arnold : HAP
8. Crumbled sundae-topping cookie : OREO
9. Cold War power: Abbr. : USSR
10. Noble Brit : ARISTO
11. *Finale to fight to, with “the” : BITTER END
12. Treatment for gray hair : BLUE RINSE
13. Swiss peaks : ALPS
18. Irritate but good : RILE
22. 90° from sur : ESTE
25. How food may be seasoned : TO TASTE
27. Trojans’ sch. : USC
29. Male sheep : RAMS
30. Thrilla in Manila boxer : ALI
31. “My bad!” : OOPS!
32. Revealing skirt : MINI
33. Protein building block : AMINO ACID
34. *Hip-hop trio with a condimental name : SALT-N-PEPA
35. “Peter Pan” pirate : SMEE
38. Reception server : URN
39. Three, on a sundial : III
41. Breathe heavily : PANT
42. Kid’s favorite store, often : TOY SHOP
44. Elevates : RAISES
45. 10th-grader’s exam, for short : PSAT
48. Start a golf hole : TEE UP
49. Vintage violin : AMATI
50. Megan’s “Will & Grace” role : KAREN
51. Anxious : ANTSY
52. __ speed: “Star Trek” rate : WARP
53. Fails to be : ISN’T
54. Q-tip : SWAB
56. Greenish-blue : TEAL
59. Nav. rank : ENS

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15 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 19 Feb 19, Tuesday”

  1. No errors, nice theme. Did not know MASSE, PRESS, UTE, TEEUP (all sports), INTRANET, HAP. @Cathy – learn something new. Don’t know if the sports stuff will stick, considering my lack of interest.

    We have a beautiful blue sky, but the temp won’t hit 20 today, so I prolly won’t go for a drive. And my favorite restaurant up North isn’t open during the week in the winter.

  2. LAT: 7:20, no errors. Newsday: 6:08, no errors. WSJ: 8:18, no errors. Jones: 12:17, no errors. Croce later …

    Bill’s NYX blog is back up! (But some comments that I tried to post over there a bit ago subsequently disappeared and I don’t know if they will reappear or not, so step carefully … Bill is probably still working on it.)

    1. Various tests seem to indicate that perhaps a spam filter got concerned that I was posting too many comments in a row to the NYT blog and removed them (either that, or there was a remaining problem that Bill fixed while I was doing my tests). In any case, all now looks well there.

  3. LAT 15:22 with one error. I had UNC for USC and didn’t know masse.
    NYT 0115 from my paper today 20:15 with no errors. A bit much for a Tuesday puzzle IMO.

  4. 11:37. I actually struggled in the NE. I’d never heard of a BLUE RINSE. That along with ARISTO (really?) ORESTES and RILL made even IT UP difficult. I eventually pieced it together.

    I guess a BLUE RINSE is what blue-haired old ladies got to cover their gray. According to the UK Telegraph, the era of the blue rinse died in 2006. I guess I’m the only one that didn’t know that since Bill didn’t bother to comment on it in the write up.

    Glad to hear the NYT blog is up again. I’ll cross the country over there momentarily.

    Best –

  5. 10:17, 4 errors, predictably, in the NE corner. I had to go with a guess in the bottom right to navigate the unfortunate cluster of proper names. Also getting annoyed with seeing ETSY pop up in too many grids. It’s not *that much* of a “thing” to rate appearances in crossword grids.

    The theme was, ahem, not to my taste. I soured on the entire thing as time went on.

  6. Had “caribou” instead of “wapitis” at first corrected by perps. Never heard “aristo.” Only for noble Brits? For some reason thought “south” in Spanish was “sud” like French and Italian. My bad. Otherwise finished fairly quickly.

  7. 0 omissions and 1 error. Used GILL for RILL; may have misread that answer
    in my puzzle dictionary. Could have changed it, because I saw the correct
    name when I looked it up. Pretty fun, though. Took longer than yesterday.
    Bill was on his A Game; kudos.

  8. I am glad the ‘other’ web site is now functioning normally… not that I would have any reason to go there … but Bill seems to have worked overtime to get it up to speed… maybe his problems are now slowly receding into the distance… I’m glad and relieved.

    This was a tougher puzzle and I didn’t know my masse’s from my blue rinses. I’ve never heard of blue rinses but then I’m cheap … I just use arsenic oxide or sulphide to color my hair ( 😉 ) I mean who wants to look like a Clairol girl?

    I thought of oest thinking sur was German, but corrected it later. The umami I got right away even though I didn’t know the theme …. I use msg and soy sauce both of which have plenty of umami tastes… basically I think umami is a salty taste without the salt …. there, I’ve described it perfectly. Lol .

    All in all, I’m happy with my solve.

    Last month I went to Orlando for two weeks and never went to any of the Disney theme parks or any parks or tourist attractions ! And after a period of 22 years ! Now, that’s what I call self control. Lol.

    Have a nice day all you folks,

  9. Yes, the NYT blog is back. But I left a note today re: Sun. crossword, but it only put in my first name. Oh well, at least we are back up and running. Glad Bill was able to deal with this and everything else he has on his plate. Thanks Bill.

  10. Hello gang!!🐔

    No errors, but, like Jeff, I got stuck in the NE. I didn’t know ARISTO or RILL but guessed right.😏

    Also started to write BLUEING at first, till I realized there weren’t enough letters! I believe the hair solution is called blueing, altho that’s also what they call the stuff you put in the laundry with whites to make them brighter.

    Wonder if blue rinse fell out of favor because of the mid-2000s trend among young ‘uns to dye their hair lavender. Kelly Osbourne, for one. In certain lights it looked grey….I never liked that trend. 🤔

    Vidwan! In response to your rhetorical question, “Who wants to look like a Clairol girl?” ….💃 I DO!!!!! 💃

    Be well~~😻

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