LA Times Crossword 18 Apr 19, Thursday

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Constructed by: Roland Huget
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Shapeshifters

Themed answers include the letters S-H-A-P-E, but those letters have been SHIFTED around:

  • 38A Amorphous sci-fi beings, and a hint to what’s hidden in the four other longest answers : SHAPESHIFTERS
  • 18A Penny pincher : CHEAPSKATE
  • 23A Knot used to take up slack : SHEEPSHANK
  • 50A Prankster’s weapon : PEASHOOTER
  • 57A Project wrap-up : FINAL PHASE

Bill’s time: 5m 41s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Onetime capital of the Mughal Empire : AGRA

Agra is a medieval city on the banks of the river Yamuna in India. Agra was also the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • The Taj Mahal: the famous mausoleum built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal.
  • Agra Fort: the site where the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
  • Fatehpur Sikri: a historic city that’s home to well-preserved Mughal architecture.

15 Bering Sea port : NOME

In 1899, the Alaska city of Nome was briefly known as Anvil City by locals to avoid confusion with the nearby city of Cape Nome. However, the US Post Office refused to approve the change, and so the name was immediately changed back to Nome.

The Bering Sea in the very north of the Pacific Ocean is named for the Danish navigator Vitus Bering who was the first European to systematically explore the area in 1728. Many believe that the first humans arrived in the Americas from Asia when the waters of the Bering Sea were lower during the last ice age, over what is known as the Bering land bridge.

16 Center for Auto Safety co-founder : NADER

The Center for Auto Safety is a consumer advocacy group that was founded in 1970 by political activist Ralph Nader and Consumers Union. The group lists a number of successes in its quest for protection of automobile owners, including the introduction of Lemon Laws that provide consumers protections in all fifty states.

17 Part of the supreme Hindu trinity : SIVA

The Hindu Trinity comprises Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva (also “Siva”) the destroyer or transformer.

20 Trooper’s outfit? : ISUZU

Isuzu is a Japanese auto manufacturer that is very successful in the medium and heavy truck market in particular. You’ll be seeing fewer and fewer Isuzu passenger cars on American roads though, as the company exited the US passenger car market in 2008. The Isuzu Trooper was one of the company’s most successful SUVs, and was produced between 1981 and 2005.

23 Knot used to take up slack : SHEEPSHANK

A sheepshank is a knot used to shorten a rope, without the need to use the ends of said rope. The sheepshank was more helpful in days past. More recently, the knot is prone to slip due to the smoothness of synthetic rope.

30 Prof.’s helpers : TAS

Teaching assistant (TA)

37 Like lambs and rams : OVINE

The Latin word for “sheep” is “ovis”, giving us the adjective “ovine” meaning “like a sheep”.

38 Amorphous sci-fi beings, and a hint to what’s hidden in the four other longest answers : SHAPESHIFTERS

A mythical creature that can shapeshift has the ability to change its physical form.

42 Refreshers : TONICS

A tonic is medication that is said to restore health. The original use of the term “tonic” was as an adjective meaning “increasing body tone”.

43 Snapper? : CAMERA

The Latin term “camera” means “vaulted room”. In the 1600s, the term “camera obscura” was coined to describe a “darkened room”. This usage was extended to describe an optical device made from a room with a small hole in one wall. Light from the scene outside passes through the hole and projects an image onto the inside walls of the room. The smaller the hole, the sharper is the image. Camera obscuras also came in smaller sizes, in the form of darkened boxes instead of rooms. These boxes developed (pun!) into our modern “cameras”.

45 Chinese restaurant general : TSO

General Tso’s chicken is an American creation, and a dish often found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. The name General Tso may be a reference to General Zuo Zongtang of the Qing Dynasty, but there is no clear link.

46 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones music genre : SKA

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones is a ska punk band that formed in 1983 in Boston. The band hosts an annual music festival in Boston around Christmas that is known as the Hometown Throwdown.

54 Miniseries based on a Haley novel : ROOTS

Not only did Alex Haley author the magnificent novel “Roots”, he was also the collaborator with Malcolm X on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. His 1976 novel “Roots” is based on Haley’s own family history, and he claimed to be a direct descendant of the real life Kunta Kinte, the slave who was kidnapped in the Gambia in 1767. If you remember the original television adaptation of “Roots”, you might recall that Kunta Kinte was played by LeVar Burton, who later went on to play another famous role, Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: the Next Generation”.

63 Old saw : ADAGE

A saw is an old saying, one that is often repeated and is very familiar. The term “old saw” is actually a tautology, as by definition a “saw” is “old”.

66 Ins and outs, with “the” : ROPES

As one might expect perhaps, the phrase “learning the ropes” is nautical in origin. A new recruit on a sailing vessel would have to learn how to tie the appropriate knots and learn which rope controlled which sail or spar.

67 Like yellow bananas : RIPE

The banana is actually a berry, botanically speaking. And, they don’t really grow on trees. The “trunk” of the banana plant is in fact a pseudostem. The pseudostem is a false stem comprising rolled bases of leaves, and it can grow to 2 or 3 meters tall.

Down

2 “Memoirs of a __”: Arthur Golden novel : GEISHA

“Memoirs of a Geisha” is a novel by American writer Arthur Golden that recounts the life of a geisha working in Kyoto, Japan before, during and after WWII. Golden was helped in his research by a retired geisha called Mineko Iwasaki who claimed that she provided assistance on condition of anonymity. When her name was published in the book, Iwasaki sued and ended up with an undisclosed settlement. There was a 2005 movie adaption of the novel, which also led to some criticism in Japan. The concern was that Chinese actresses were used for the main female roles instead of Japanese actresses.

3 Musical shows : REVUES

“Revue” is the French word for “review”.

5 Business mag : INC

“Inc.” is a business magazine that specializes in articles about growing companies. “Inc.” publishes a list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the country each year, calling it the “Inc. 500”. The “Inc 5000” is an expanded list also published by the magazine.

7 Seamaster watchmaker : OMEGA

The Seamaster is line of watches that Omega has produced since 1948. The Seamaster name arose because the original design was based on watches made for the Royal Navy during WWII. On the silver screen, James Bond has been wearing an Omega Seamaster since 1995.

9 Clouseau’s rank, briefly : INSP

Apparently, some people think that the Inspector Clouseau character (played originally by Peter Sellers) is “The Pink Panther”. It’s actually the jewel that was stolen in the original movie. Would you believe there are eleven “Pink Panther” movies in the whole series?

11 Periodontist’s org. : ADA

American Dental Association (ADA)

Periodontics is that branch of dentistry dealing with the gums and the tissue supporting a tooth. The word “periodontal” was coined in the mid-19th century. The term comes from the Greek for “around the tooth”.

19 Toll road : PIKE

Back in the 15th century, a turnpike (tpk.) was a defensive barrier across a road. By the 17th century the term was used for a barrier that stopped travelers until a toll was paid. By the 18th century a turnpike was the name given to a road with a toll.

21 Passing muster : UP TO PAR

“To pass muster” means “to be deemed acceptable”. One musters troops, often for inspection. So, the original meaning of “pass muster” was to “get through a military inspection successfully”.

27 Many an oil-rich ruler : EMIR

An emir is a prince or chieftain, one most notably from the Middle East. In English, “emir” can also be written variously as “emeer, amir, ameer” (watch out for those spellings in crosswords!).

35 Old conductance unit : MHO

Conductance (measured in “mhos”) is the inverse of resistance (measured in “ohms”). The mho has been replaced by the SI unit called the siemens.

38 Mmes., in Madrid : SRAS

The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame), in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora) and in Portuguese is also “Sra.” (Senhora).

39 House-shaped browser button : HOME

A web browser is a piece of software used to access the World Wide Web. The first web browser was called “WorldWideWeb” and was invented in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the World Wide Web. The browser known as Mosaic came out in 1993, and it was this browser that drove so much interest in the World Wide Web, and indeed in the Internet in general. Marc Andreessen led the team that created Mosaic, and he then set up his own company called Netscape. Netscape created the Netscape Navigator browser that further popularized the use of the Web starting in 1994. Microsoft responded by introducing Internet Explorer in 1995, which sparked the so-called “browser war”, a war that Microsoft clearly won. As Netscape floundered, the company launched the open-source Mozilla project which eventually led to the Firefox browser. Apple then came out with it’s own Safari browser in 2003. Google’s Chrome browser, introduced in 2008, is by far the most popular way to view the Web today.

41 Puncture prefix : ACU-

Acupressure and acupuncture are related alternative medical techniques. Both aim to clear blockages in the flow of life energy through the body’s meridians. The treatment is given by stimulating “acupoints’ in the body, by applying pressure in the case of acupressure, and by applying needles in the case of acupuncture.

46 Disco light : STROBE

A strobe light is a device that produces regular flashes, like the light on top of a police car. The term derives from the Greek “strobos” meaning “twisting, whirling”.

51 Upper regions of space : ETHER

The Greek philosopher Empedocles proposed that there are four elements that made up the universe, namely earth, water, air and fire. Aristotle later proposed a fifth element which he called aether (also “ether”). Aether was the divine substance that made up the stars and planets. We’re still using the term “ether” with a similar meaning.

55 World Cup cheers : OLES

The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious tournament in the sport of soccer. The competition has been held every four years (excluding the WWII years) since the inaugural event held in Uruguay in 1930. The World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, even outranking the Olympic Games.

61 Côte d’Azur saison : ETE

In French, “été” (summer) is “la saison chaude” (the warm season).

The Côte d’Azur is on the Mediterranean coast of France and stretches from Saint-Tropez in the west and to the Italian border in the east. In English we often refer to the area as “the French Riviera”. It’s a little crowded for me (okay, “expensive”), especially in the summer.

64 Rd. efficiency stat : MPG

Miles per gallon (mpg)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Onetime capital of the Mughal Empire : AGRA
5 Pop star : IDOL
9 Idea, at times : IMAGE
14 Apparently are : SEEM
15 Bering Sea port : NOME
16 Center for Auto Safety co-founder : NADER
17 Part of the supreme Hindu trinity : SIVA
18 Penny pincher : CHEAPSKATE
20 Trooper’s outfit? : ISUZU
22 Moan and groan : GRIPE
23 Knot used to take up slack : SHEEPSHANK
26 Garden nuisance : WEED
30 Prof.’s helpers : TAS
31 Overly : TOO
32 Fill with affection : ENAMOR
34 Relax completely : GO LIMP
37 Like lambs and rams : OVINE
38 Amorphous sci-fi beings, and a hint to what’s hidden in the four other longest answers : SHAPESHIFTERS
41 Pizzeria allure : AROMA
42 Refreshers : TONICS
43 Snapper? : CAMERA
45 Chinese restaurant general : TSO
46 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones music genre : SKA
49 One logging on : USER
50 Prankster’s weapon : PEASHOOTER
54 Miniseries based on a Haley novel : ROOTS
56 Sucked (in) : LURED
57 Project wrap-up : FINAL PHASE
62 Voice quality : TONE
63 Old saw : ADAGE
64 Throw off : EMIT
65 Poetic black : EBON
66 Ins and outs, with “the” : ROPES
67 Like yellow bananas : RIPE
68 Slight damage : DENT

Down

1 Give a hand : ASSIST
2 “Memoirs of a __”: Arthur Golden novel : GEISHA
3 Musical shows : REVUES
4 Floor : AMAZE
5 Business mag : INC
6 Self-critical cry : D’OH!
7 Seamaster watchmaker : OMEGA
8 Come to know : LEARN
9 Clouseau’s rank, briefly : INSP
10 Rock the boat : MAKE WAVES
11 Periodontist’s org. : ADA
12 Come down with : GET
13 Long starter, once : ERE
19 Toll road : PIKE
21 Passing muster : UP TO PAR
24 Footprint maker : SOLE
25 Raise on a pole : HOIST
27 Many an oil-rich ruler : EMIR
28 Many ages : EONS
29 Death Row Records co-founder, familiarly : DRE
33 “You’re way over the line” : NOT COOL
34 Tantrum while playing Xbox : GAMER RAGE
35 Old conductance unit : MHO
36 Ice cream buys : PINTS
38 Mmes., in Madrid : SRAS
39 House-shaped browser button : HOME
40 School group : FISH
41 Puncture prefix : ACU-
44 Each : A POP
46 Disco light : STROBE
47 Passionate about : KEEN ON
48 Passionate : ARDENT
51 Upper regions of space : ETHER
52 “Likewise” : AS AM I
53 Blabbed about, in a way : OUTED
55 World Cup cheers : OLES
57 Go __: succeed : FAR
58 Rite answer? : I DO
59 Short snooze : NAP
60 Bit of a draft? : SIP
61 Côte d’Azur saison : ETE

12 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 18 Apr 19, Thursday”

  1. No errors. So, easier than yesterday. Had “Arab” before EMIR, but that didn’t sound P.C.
    Didn’t actually know Seamaster, Bosstones, Arthur Golden, Death Row Records, but would have got from simpler clues.
    Actually used the theme this time.

  2. Finally a normal puzzle. This came together fast and makes up for my struggle thru M/T/W. And I’m fine with that!

  3. I didn’t find this grid particularly difficult. Never got the theme until I saw Bill’s explanation, but that’s pretty typical for me.

    I found the WSJ puzzle a magnitude more difficult than the LAT’s today. It finally came to a successful conclusion, but not without a plethora of ink overs and a multitude of head scratching. Very tricky cluing!

  4. Wow! And I found it very difficult. But, perseverance gave only 1 error,
    call it 5 Down. I wanted to put INC, but wasn’t sure the author wasn’t
    looking for “business magazine”. I knew the other choice was magnate,
    leading to incorporated (inc.), but could not find the seaport for the Bering
    Sea for support going across.

    You guys and gals did great! Kudos.

    Happy Easter to all.

  5. 12:13. Theme helped a bit. Hands up for all those who wanted to put “foot” for “Footprint maker”….

    I didn’t realize that Mozilla grew out of Netscape. Also didn’t realize ETHER was looked at as the 5th element although given its effects, it’s easy to see why. Reminds me of the old Rodney Dangerfield joke “My wife was an earth sign, I was a water sign. Together we made mud..”

    Best –

  6. Hard for me today…got all the “themed” answers but made 3 dumb
    errors elsewhere. I missed “fish” for school group for one.

  7. 8 mins 11 sec, no errors. Nice to have an enjoyable puzzle, with interesting and delightful fills (like SKA) for a change. Hats off to Roland Huget.

  8. LAT: 9:34, no errors. Easier than yesterday. WSJ: 24:25, 1 dumb error. Good Thursday outing. Newsday: 11:55, no errors. Fireball: 44:17, no errors I’m aware of. 14×17 grid. Still looking at the meta part. BEQ: 15:30, 5 errors. Parts of this puzzle are just a terrible mess all the way around.

  9. Fairly easy Thursday done at a leisurely pace while selling my honey at market. Unusually was able to finish before noon, in between sales and getting lunch. Did have to change arab to EMIR and ENdeaR to ENAMOR and ShoE to SOLE, but that was it.

    …and sales were great…sold out! after the sucky market two weeks ago. After the flu season honey sales, now everyone has allergy issues.

    Busy time of year for beekeepers; off to bed early again tonight.

  10. Aloha!!😎

    No errors– good challenge today.

    Following Wednesday’s puzzle, which made me think about being old, I’m considering getting 1969 Pontiac Firebird. Am I trying to recapture my youth? I had one of those wonderful cars when I was 17 … bought used from a neighbor. Today, especially since I don’t know anything about repairing or restoring cars, I’d have to lay out about $50,000 to get that classic car in good condition. Do I blow my nest egg now, or wait until I’m too old to enjoy it?🤔

    Random thoughts for the wee hours! I’ll let y’all know what I decide…😊

    Be well~~🐔🚋

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