LA Times Crossword 2 Mar 19, Saturday

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Constructed by: Andrew J. Ries
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 11m 33s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

18. “Ben-Hur” Oscar winner : HESTON

As well as having a fine career as an actor, Charlton Heston was a noted political activist. In the fifties he was very much a progressive and left-leaning in his political views. He was one of few in Hollywood to speak out against racism and support the Civil Rights Movement. Later in his life Heston became more associated with the conservative right, and was president of the National Rifle Association.

The celebrated 1959 Charlton Heston movie “Ben-Hur” is a dramatization of a book published in 1880 by Lew Wallace titled “Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ”. The 1959 epic film won a record 11 Academy Awards, a feat that has been equaled since then but has never been beaten. The other winners of 11 Oscars are “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Rings”.

19. “Webspace” was added to it in Jun. 2017 : OED

Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

The term “webspace” can have several meanings depending on context. At the most basic level, webspace is disk space allocated on a server for a person or an entity to store web pages that can be accessed using the Internet. For example, I pay a web hosting service to allocate web space for me that I use to publish my two crossword blogs (LAXCrossword.com and NYXCrossword.com).

20. Hot BuzzFeed feature? : SEX QUIZ

BuzzFeed is an Internet media company that was founded in 2006 in New York City. Buzzfeed’s original focus was the publication of online quizzes and pop culture articles. The company branched into serious journalism in 2011 with the launch of the “Buzzfeed News” website.

22. “When we know, you’ll know”: Abbr. : TBA

Something not yet on the schedule (“sked” or “sched.”) is to be advised/announced (TBA).

23. Substitute : PROXY

Our word “proxy”, meaning “the agency of one who acts instead of another”, comes from the Latin “procurare” meaning “to manage”. So, “proxy” has the same root as our word “procure”.

25. “Tequila mockingbird” and “absinthe of malice,” for two : PUNS

Here are some of my favorite puns:

  • A man died today when a pile of books fell on him. He only had his shelf to blame.
  • I hate negative numbers and will stop at nothing to avoid them.
  • I wasn’t going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.
  • I should have been sad when my flashlight batteries died, but I was delighted.

26. Maverick on TV : BRET

“Maverick” is a TV series set in the Wild West and starring James Garner as Bret Maverick. Midway through the first series, Bret was given a brother called Bart, who was played by Jack Kelly. Once the brother’s character was introduced, Bart and Bret alternated as the lead character in each weekly episode. Both Mavericks were expert poker players who got themselves in and out of all sorts of trouble. After the third season, James Garner left the show and was replaced by actor Roger Moore who played a Maverick cousin called Beau. Still later, actor Robert Colbert was introduced as a third brother called Brent Maverick.

27. Big __ : SUR

Big Sur is a lovely part of the California Coast located south of Monterey and Carmel. The name “Big Sur” comes from the original Spanish description of the area as “el sur grande” meaning “the big south”.

30. “The History of the Standard Oil Company” author : TARBELL

Ida Tarbell was a teacher and what we would call today an “investigative journalist”, although back in her day she was known as a “muckraker”. Her most famous work is her 1904 book “The History of the Standard Oil Company”. It is an exposé that is credited with hastening the breakup of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in 1911.

32. Dunked discs : OREOS

There is an “official” competition involving Oreo cookies, in case anyone is interested in participating. A competitor has to take several steps to finish an OREO Lick Race:

  1. Twist open the cookie.
  2. Lick each half clean of creme.
  3. Show the clean cookie halves to the fellow competitors.
  4. Dunk the cookie halves in a glass of milk.
  5. Eat the cookie halves.
  6. Drink the milk.
  7. Ready, set, go …

38. Creamy sauce : ALFREDO

Alfredo sauce is usually associated with the Italian dish called fettuccine Alfredo. The sauce is made from Parmesan cheese and butter, and is named for the Italian restaurant owner Alfredo Di Lelio. Di Lelio’s nephews still own and run a restaurant in Rome called “Il Vero Alfredo”. Here in the US, we often add other ingredients to the basic cheese and butter recipe. The name “fettuccine Alfredo” won’t be found on a menu in Italy today, and instead one can order “fettuccine al burro”.

42. NOW center: Abbr. : ORG

The National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in 1966. The NOW bylaws include a Statement of Purpose:

NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.

44. Many a Baghdad dad : ARAB

According to the University of Baghdad, the name “Baghdad” dates way back, to the 18th-century BCE (yes, BCE!). The name can be translated into English from the language of ancient Babylon as “old garden” (bagh-) and “beloved” (-dad).

46. Part of some salesmen’s deliveries : SMARM

The term “smarm”, meaning insincere flattery, comes from a colloquial word “smalm” meaning to smear the hair with some sort of styling product.

48. Dietitian’s calc. : BMI

The body mass index (BMI) is the ratio of a person’s height to his or her mass.

49. ’70s Robert Blake cop show : BARETTA

“Baretta” is a detective show that originally aired from 1975 to 1978. Robert Blake played the title role of Tony Baretta, a New Jersey cop who lived in an apartment with his pet cockatoo named Fred. Famously, Blake ended up on the wrong side of the law in his real life. He was tried and acquitted of the 2001 murder of his wife, but found liable for her wrongful death in a 2005 civil suit.

57. Come out of the bullpen : RELIEVE

That would be baseball.

58. Like a date without a heart? : PITTED

Date palms can be either male or female. Only the female tree bears fruit (dates).

Down

4. 1994 Olympics host: Abbr. : NOR

Lillehammer, Norway hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1994. The ‘94 Winter Games were the first to be held two years after the Summer Olympics, and so took place only two years after the ‘92 Games, held in Albertville, France.

5. Dress (up) : GUSSY

To gussy up is to dress showily. The term “gussy” was a slang term that was used for an overly-dressed person.

6. Bygone blade : SNEE

“Snick or snee” is the name given to cut and thrust while fighting with a knife. The phrase is rooted in a pair of Dutch words. The expression gave its name to “snickersnee” (sometimes just “snee”), a term describing a light sword-like knife.

7. Crystalline rock : SCHIST

Schists are a family of metamorphic rocks. The name “schist” comes from the Greek word “schízein” meaning “to split”, and is a reference to the ease at which schists can be cleaved. Back in the mid-1700s, miners tended to use the terms “slate”, “shale” and “schist” interchangeably.

8. “In the home of,” literally : CHEZ

“Chez” is a French term meaning “at the house of”, which comes from the Latin word “casa” meaning “cottage” or “hut”.

9. Dawn goddess : EOS

In Greek mythology, Eos was the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos was Aurora. Rather delightfully, Homer referred to Eos as “rosy-fingered dawn” in both “Iliad” and “Odyssey”.

11. 1962 hit with the line “the samba’s the quickest way to make amor” : ESO BESO

“Eso Beso” is Spanish for “That Kiss”, and is the title of a 1962 hit song recorded by Canadian-born singer Paul Anka.

12. Legal bodies : SENATES

Our word “senate” comes from the Latin for such a body, namely “senatus”. In turn, “senatus” is derived from “senex” meaning “old man”, reflecting the original Roman senate’s makeup as a council of “elders”.

17. Fronts of cold fronts : SQUALL LINES

A squall line is a line of thunderstorms that sometimes precedes a cold front.

“Cold front” is the name given to the leading edge of a relatively cold mass of air that is replacing a warmer mass of air at ground level. In the presence of sufficient moisture in the air, a cold front can bring rain and perhaps thunderstorms.

21. Addams who can generate electricity : UNCLE FESTER

In the original television version of “The Addams Family”, the character called Uncle Fester was played by Jackie Coogan. In the first two adaptations for the big screen, Uncle Fester was portrayed by the talented Christopher Lloyd.

24. Where doctors may catch a break? : X-RAY LAB

X-rays were first studied comprehensively by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen (also “Roentgen”), and it was he who gave the name “X-rays” to this particular type of radiation. Paradoxically, in Röntgen’s native language of German, X-rays are routinely referred to as “Röntgen rays”. In 1901, Röntgen’s work on X-rays won him the first Nobel Prize in Physics that was ever awarded.

28. “Angie Tribeca” airer : TBS

“Angie Tribeca” is a sitcom created by Steve Carell and his wife Nancy Walls Carell. The title character is an LAPD police detective played by actress Rashida Jones. I hear that the show is pretty goofy, but well worth watching

34. Sound from a purse, possibly : ARF!

The toy group of dogs is made up of the smallest breeds. The smallest of the small breeds are sometimes called teacup breeds.

39. Wall Street whizzes, say : ORACLES

In Ancient Greece and Rome, an oracle was someone believed inspired by the gods to give wise counsel. The word “oracle” derives from the Latin “orare” meaning “to speak”, which is the same root for our word “orator”. One of the most important oracles of Ancient Greece was the priestess to Apollo at Delphi.

46. Pricey fur : SABLE

Sables are small mammals, about two feet long, that are found right across northern Europe and northern Asia. The sable’s black pelt is highly prized in the fur trade. Sable is unique among furs in that it feels smooth no matter which direction it is stroked.

50. Drivers’ elevators : TEES

That would be golf.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Throws : SLINGS
7. Some confrontations : SCENES
13. Good-for-nothin’ : NO-COUNT
15. Decide : CHOOSE
16. Abroad : OVERSEAS
18. “Ben-Hur” Oscar winner : HESTON
19. “Webspace” was added to it in Jun. 2017 : OED
20. Hot BuzzFeed feature? : SEX QUIZ
22. “When we know, you’ll know”: Abbr. : TBA
23. Substitute : PROXY
25. “Tequila mockingbird” and “absinthe of malice,” for two : PUNS
26. Maverick on TV : BRET
27. Big __ : SUR
28. Development home : TRACT HOUSE
30. “The History of the Standard Oil Company” author : TARBELL
32. Dunked discs : OREOS
33. Respectful assent : YES, PLEASE
35. Hardened, maybe : STALE
38. Creamy sauce : ALFREDO
40. Written argument : LEGAL BRIEF
42. NOW center: Abbr. : ORG
44. Many a Baghdad dad : ARAB
45. It helps you focus : LENS
46. Part of some salesmen’s deliveries : SMARM
48. Dietitian’s calc. : BMI
49. ’70s Robert Blake cop show : BARETTA
51. Pillow talk murmur : COO
52. Musical ineptitude : TIN EAR
54. Reference to a note : SEE BELOW
56. Going for less : ON SALE
57. Come out of the bullpen : RELIEVE
58. Like a date without a heart? : PITTED
59. Picked up : SENSED

Down

1. Private eye : SNOOP
2. They may put their initials on trunks : LOVERS
3. Wearing expensive jewelry, in modern slang : ICED OUT
4. 1994 Olympics host: Abbr. : NOR
5. Dress (up) : GUSSY
6. Bygone blade : SNEE
7. Crystalline rock : SCHIST
8. “In the home of,” literally : CHEZ
9. Dawn goddess : EOS
10. “Lies!” : NOT TRUE!
11. 1962 hit with the line “the samba’s the quickest way to make amor” : ESO BESO
12. Legal bodies : SENATES
14. Return specialist : TAX PREPARER
17. Fronts of cold fronts : SQUALL LINES
21. Addams who can generate electricity : UNCLE FESTER
24. Where doctors may catch a break? : X-RAY LAB
26. Yawning cause : BOREDOM
28. “Angie Tribeca” airer : TBS
29. Gardening aid : HOSE
31. 29-Down storage device : REEL
34. Sound from a purse, possibly : ARF!
35. Thick table surface : SLAB TOP
36. Ends : TERMINI
37. Playing on the field : AGAINST
39. Wall Street whizzes, say : ORACLES
41. Played loudly : BLARED
43. It’s good to be in one : GROOVE
46. Pricey fur : SABLE
47. Did yard work : MOWED
49. Block on a farm : BALE
50. Drivers’ elevators : TEES
53. Down : EAT
55. A, in German class : EIN

26 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 2 Mar 19, Saturday”

  1. Todays puzzle was not so hard, except I screwed up 7D. I had quartz, but I knew Heston was correct, so I left that spot. Then came down to 46A smarm, never heard that one. Thought 24D x ray lab was pretty clever. All in all a good week of puzzles. thx, everyone stay safe.

  2. Tricky puzzle, but fun. No errors, but admit I did look up the 1994
    Olympic host…and for awhile I had 48A as “RDA” but saw that wasn’t
    going to work…and when I finally tumbled to “termini” it came
    together for me.

  3. Pretty much agree with “cathy.” Not hard at all. Once I got a few, the rest fell into place just requiring some good guessing.

  4. 27:18 and 2 errors at the cross of BMI and TERMINI. That one error stood between me and an error-free week (although I have to admit that the web-based puzzle helped me locate and fix 8 little boo-boos on Sunday). I can live with that; it was a pretty good week, “flirting” with perfection.

    I must say, though, I thought the clue editing in this one to be a bit cynical, and worded to be as useless as possible. “Manufactured difficulty” is another way to describe it.

  5. Worked in a hospital orthopedic unit for 45 years and never heard the term “X-ray lab”. X-ray department or radiology department, yes.
    I’m horrible at crosswords but strange clues make it worse.

    1. This is a great example of something I’ve tried to describe here before: too precise knowledge as a handicap in doing a crossword. Since I’ve never worked in a hospital, “X-RAY LAB” made perfect sense to me. The entries in a single crossword puzzle can come from so many different areas that the setter is unlikely to be an expert in all of them, so he or she has to depend on source materials that provide, even with careful perusal, an incomplete picture of common usage. As a solver, one sometimes has to take this into account and be forgiving of things in one’s own area of expertise that sound “off”. Setters have to be generalists, so it helps us solvers to be generalists, as well.

    2. @Dave, @Ann
      FWIW, I popped “x-ray lab” into Google and came up with around 360,000 results, including addresses of medical establishments that perform x-rays, AND establishments that self-identify themselves as “x-ray labs”. So it’s common usage. So basically, it’s just another learning opportunity.

    3. I had also Googled “X-ray lab”, with similar results. My point was that Ann has extensive experience that provided her a term somewhat different from the one the setter had in mind, whereas, in my relative ignorance, I was willing to accept various possible terms, with no way to judge which of them might actually be common (which is to say, I’m in the same boat as the setter). It did seem to me that “laboratory” might be more common in research and/or university hospitals (but, again, I haven’t the experience needed to verify that).

  6. First entered CRACKHOUSE for 28A (where one could “develop” a habit 😏). Yeah, it’s goofy, but one of the crosses coulda been CBS instead of TBS, and the other SCHISK … which is every bit as likely to come up in conversation as SCHIST (or TERMINI).
    I’m not sure that “cynical,” as someone posted, is the right word for the cluing, but I agree that it left something to be desired (“Playing on the field” = AGAINST … say what? I’m guessing it’s an allusion to baseball, in which the side batting is the home team, therefore something, something … visiting team … against? I dunno. And “Hardened, maybe” = STALE. Oh … as a slice of bread! Wickedly clever, right?) Still, all in all a sound Saturday puzzle by Andrew Ries (better constructed than edited, it appears), with not a lot of proper nouns or crosswordese.

    1. I’ve heard of “SCHIST” (a gneiss word 😜), but what is “SCHISK”? Interestingly, both schist and gneiss, like granite, may contain mica (apropos of yesterday’s blog).

      “Cynical” is not at all the right word, but it’s the word “someone” frequently uses when the cluing gets difficult, as it often does on Saturday. Manufactured difficulty? Sure. So what? Crosswords are puzzles rather than knowledge quizzes. (But I digress … 😜.)

      “Playing on the field” is meant in the sense of “we’re playing the Eagles today”, which means the same thing as “we’re (up) against the Eagles today” or “it’s us against the Eagles today”. I paused over it for a bit.

      1. @Dave – If you want to play on the German language you might say a rock head is a schist kopf (instead of a scheißkopf and we can even delve into Catch 22 when Mr. Heller had one of his minor characters named Lieutenant Scheisskopf)?

        Went around in circles due to filling in cal for 48 Across and when I saw that the down answers weren’t working I went back and figured out BMI and then the grid was complete.

    2. >I’m not sure that “cynical,” as someone posted, is the right word for the cluing, but I agree that it left something to be desired

      I think we use it (Allen isn’t the only one) simply because it’s hard to come up with a one-word descriptor for some of the asinine idiotic cluing that happens in some of these puzzles (The New York Times being the biggest offender) that ultimately makes no sense (hence why I use “nonsense” a lot or refer to “guessing things”, myself, in describing puzzles). [Playing on the field] – AGAINST. being a perfect example out of many. Clues can be “hard”, but when you see the clue next to the answer it better make complete sense or the constructor/editor is falling down on their job. “Manufactured difficulty” fits the whole thing to a tee, as they can very well clue something a lot more accurate, even if they feel it makes the puzzle “easier”. It’s just a mark of bad communication when things like that pass through. No more.

      1. @Glenn … How about this: “Today we have the Eagles playing the Ducks and the Raptors against the Ratites!” Doesn’t that explain the clue? And doesn’t it make the connection perfectly clear? Works for me! … 😜.

        Whenever I see a clue that strikes me as “asinine” or “idiotic”, a little alarm bell goes off in my head to warn me that there’s probably something about the clue that I just don’t understand. I’ve asked about a few such clues here and had them explained to me by others. I would not presume to believe that every clue/answer connection should be instantly apparent to me.

        And, as for the phrase “manufactured difficulty”, I can only say again, “So what?”. Given answers that are part of my knowledge base, so that I’d come up with them immediately if the clues were dirt simple, it’s creative cluing that makes a puzzle interesting and fun, and of course such clues are “manufactured”. All part of the game … 😜.

  7. LAT: 18:18, with a stupid one-square error of the “I’m dead tired and I just want to go to bed, so why am I doing yet another crossword?” ilk … 😜. Newsday: 25:00, no errors; challenging, but a bit less so than usual. WSJ: 31:29, no errors; a bit tedious. I did all of these after spending two hours on that weird Croce I talked about yesterday, so my impressions of them may be a little off.

  8. 46:30 and as usual 1 error. I had termina for termini and pitted just didn’t sink ln .
    3 errors on the NYT and 1 here is still not bad for me on a Saturday .
    Again I’m really happy to have easy access to Bills blogs again.
    Good weekend to all.

    1. @Pat … The answer for 34D was “ARF”. I pictured a rich old dowager with a tiny Chihuahua in her purse … 😜.

  9. LAT: 31:26, 2 errors on bad guesses in the lower left. At least I finished this one, unlike this constructors last one in the NYT that I guessed all the way through, stumbled into mostly right answers and still couldn’t finish the rest. WSJ: 26:47, no errors. Newsday: Sometime later, fell asleep doing it and busy today. Erik Agard’s latest: DNF after about 30:00 with a lot of red ink due to the number of wrong guesses I had going through this grid.

  10. Pretty tricky Saturday puzzle for me; took way too long to mention, but I did finish error free. After an easy Thursday and Friday I guess I knew my number was up and was extra careful when things didn’t start to fall into place. But eventually everything did come together.

    Didn’t understand ARF, so thanks to Dave for the explanation. I also had fLINGS for the longest time, but finally saw SNOOP, which was the last to fall.

    Nice 3 little pigs poem.

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