LA Times Crossword 16 May 19, Thursday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer(s): Frankenstein

Themed answers all relate to the 1818 novel “Frankenstein”:

  • 17A Classic 1818 novel : FRANKENSTEIN
  • 20A Unnamed character in 17-Across : THE MONSTER
  • 35A Author of 17-Across : MARY SHELLEY
  • 47A 1974 portrayer of 17-Across : GENE WILDER
  • 53A 1931 portrayer of 20-Across : BORIS KARLOFF

Bill’s time: 9m 55s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Expert in Islamic law : MUFTI

A mufti is jurist who interprets Islamic law. A nonbinding opinion issued by a mufti is a fatwa.

12 Nation partly in the Arctic Circle : FINLAND

The Nordic country of Finland is the most sparsely populated nation in the European Union. The relatively modest population of 5.5 million people live in the eighth largest country on the continent.

17 Classic 1818 novel : FRANKENSTEIN

Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel has the full title of “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”. The subtitle underscores one of the themes of the book, i.e. a warning about the expansion into the Industrial Revolution.

19 Otoscope target : EAR

An otoscope is that instrument that an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) uses to look into the interior of one’s ears.

27 Antipoverty agcy. : OEO

The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) was created during the Lyndon Johnson administration. The agency was responsible for administering the War on Poverty programs that were part of the President Johnson’s Great Society agenda. The OEO was shut down by President Nixon, although some of the office’s programs were transferred to other agencies. A few of the OEO’s programs are still around today, e.g. Head Start.

28 Actor Stephen : REA

Stephen Rea is an Irish actor from Belfast. Rea’s most successful role was Fergus in 1992’s “The Crying Game”, for which performance he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In “The Crying Game”, Fergus was a member of the IRA. In real life, Rea was married to IRA bomber and hunger striker Dolours Price at the time he made the movie.

35 Author of 17-Across : MARY SHELLEY
(17A Classic 1818 novel : FRANKENSTEIN)

Not only did Mary Shelley pen the famous novel “Frankenstein”, she also edited the works of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was her husband.

37 Slapstick reaction : SPIT TAKE

The comic maneuver in which someone spits out a drink in response to a joke or a surprising statement, that’s called a “spit take”.

43 Namely : TO WIT

The verb “to wit” means “to know”. The verb really isn’t used anymore except in the phrase “to wit” meaning “that is to say, namely”.

47 1974 portrayer of 17-Across : GENE WILDER

Gene Wilder was an actor noted for his comedic roles. Wilder had a successful collaboration with Mel Brooks on three great films: “The Producers”, “Blazing Saddles” and my favorite, “Young Frankenstein”. For a while, Wilder dated his “Young Frankenstein” co-star Teri Garr, but he was married most famously to “Saturday Night Live” star Gilda Radner.

I am not really a big fan of movies by Mel Brooks, but 1974’s “Young Frankenstein” is the exception. I think the cast has a lot to do with me liking the film, as it includes Gene Wilder (Dr. Frankenstein), Teri Garr (Inga), Marty Feldman (Igor) and Gene Hackman (Harold, the blind man).

53 1931 portrayer of 20-Across : BORIS KARLOFF

The classic 1931 film “Frankenstein” is based on the Mary Shelley novel of the same name, and stars Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein and Boris Karloff as the Monster. Bela Lugosi was offered the role of Henry Frankenstein first, and then was recast as the Monster. Lugosi tried working with the Monster role but eventually bowed out. Many say that the decision to leave was one of the worst of Lugosi’s career.

56 King in 1 Kings : SOLOMON

According to the Bible, Solomon was the son of David and a king of Israel. Notably, Solomon is described as being very wise. In the story known as “the Judgment of Solomon”, Solomon was asked to decide who of two quarreling women was the mother of a baby. He suggested that they cut the baby in two with a sword, forcing one of the women to surrender the child rather than see it die. Solomon gave the child to the woman who showed compassion.

59 Shoulder piece : EPAULET

An epaulet (also “epaulette”) is an ornamental shoulder pad, particularly one worn with a military uniform. The term “epaulet”comes from French, and translates literally as “little shoulder”.

61 July 4, 1776, notables : SIGNERS

On 11 June 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of five people to draft a declaration of independence. Included in the five were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adams persuaded the other committee members to give Jefferson the task of writing the first draft. A resolution of independence was passed by the Congress on 2 July 1776. The final draft of the declaration was approved by the Congress two days later, on July 4th. John Adams wrote a letter to his wife that included an assertion that July 2nd (the date of the resolution of independence) would become a great American holiday. Of course Adams was wrong, and it was actually the date the Declaration of Independence was finalized that came to be celebrated annually.

Down

1 Kind of heart valve : MITRAL

The mitral valve lies between the left atrium and left ventricle in the heart.

6 “Did my heart love till now?” speaker : ROMEO

Here are some passionate lines from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” that are spoken by Romeo:

Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.

11 Mo. town : STL

The city of St. Louis, Missouri was settled by French explorers in 1763. Sitting on the Mississippi River, it grew into a very busy port. By the 1850s, it was the second busiest port in the country, with only New York moving more freight. St. Louis was named for Louis IX of France. Louis was canonized in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII, and was the only French king to be declared a saint.

12 High winds : FIFES

A fife is a small flute that is often used in military and marching bands. The name “fife” comes from the German “Pfeife” meaning “pipe”.

13 Honolulu-born singer : DON HO

The singer and entertainer Don Ho apparently had a pretty liberal arrangement with his wife. When Ho was touring with his two backing singers, Patti Swallie and Elizabeth Guevara, all three of them shared a room together. He had two children with each of his roommates, giving a total of ten kids including the six he had with his wife. The arrangement was quite open, it seems, with all ten kids visiting each other regularly. To each his own …

18 A dandelion’s are called blowballs : SEED HEADS

The name “dandelion” comes from the French “dent de lion” meaning “lion’s tooth”. The name is a reference to the coarse, tooth-like edges of dandelion leaves.

21 Fox NFL analyst Aikman : TROY

Troy Aikman is a former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Now that he is retired from football, Aikman works as a sportscaster on the Fox network.

25 Future JD’s exam : LSAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The law degree that is abbreviated to J.D. stands for “Juris Doctor” or “Doctor of Jurisprudence”.

26 Mongolian tent : YURT

A yurt is a wood-framed dwelling that is used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Although a yurt is a substantial structure, it is also extremely portable.

30 Shaggy rug from 12-Across : RYA
(12A Nation partly in the Arctic Circle : FINLAND)

A rya is a traditional Scandinavian rug that was originally used as heavy covers by mariners as an alternative to furs. The name “rya” comes from a village in southwest Sweden.

32 Kosovo neighbor: Abbr. : ALB

The Republic of Albania is a country in the Balkans in southeastern Europe. Albania was made a communist state after WWII but became independent again with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. Albania has been a member of NATO since 2009, and was accepted as an official candidate to join the European Union in 2014. The nation’s capital and largest city is Tirana.

The country name “Kosovo” is an adjectival form of the Serbian word “kos” meaning “blackbird”. The name commemorates the “field of the blackbirds” the site of a 1389 battle between Serbia and the Ottoman Empire. The dispute over Kosovo technically dates back to the implosion of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The capital of Kosovo is Pristina.

35 Bearing : MIEN

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

42 Short dogs, for short : PEKES

The pekingese (“peke”) breed originated in China, as one might suspect from the name. Breeding practices have resulted in the the dog having many health problems, including breathing issues related to the “desirable” flat face. Standards have been changed in recent years, demanding an “evident muzzle” in an attempt to breed healthier “pekes”.

46 Last family to keep a White House cow : TAFTS

A house cow is a cow that is kept by a household primarily to provide milk for the home kitchen, but also manure for the garden. President William Taft kept a house cow at the White House, a Holstein Friesian named “Pauline Wayne” that was gifted to him by a US senator from Wisconsin.

48 Dangerous virus : EBOLA

The Ebola virus causes a very nasty form of hemorrhagic fever. The name of the virus comes from the site of the first known outbreak, in a mission hospital in the Ebola River Valley in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire). The disease is transmitted from human to human by exposure to bodily fluids. In nature, the main carrier of Ebola is the fruit bat.

49 Lennon love song : WOMAN

“Woman” is a lovely song written by John Lennon that he recorded in 1980. The song was released in 1981, just a month or so after Lennon was murdered outside his New York apartment building. Lennon wrote the song as an ode to his wife Yoko Ono, and to women in general. He also stated that “Woman” was a grown-up version of “Girl”, a song that he wrote for the Beatles in 1965.

55 Large green moth : LUNA

The lime-green luna moth is one of the largest moths found in North America, growing to a wingspan of up to 4½ inches.

57 Dedicatee of 49-Down : ONO
(49D Lennon love song : WOMAN)

Yoko Ono is an avant-garde artist. Ono actually met her future husband John Lennon for the first time while she was preparing her conceptual art exhibit called “Hammer a Nail”. Visitors were encouraged to hammer in a nail into a wooden board, creating the artwork. Lennon wanted to hammer in the first nail, but Ono stopped him as the exhibition had not yet opened. Apparently Ono relented when Lennon paid her an imaginary five shillings to hammer an imaginary nail into the wood.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Expert in Islamic law : MUFTI
6 Classroom tools : RULERS
12 Nation partly in the Arctic Circle : FINLAND
14 Left : GONE OUT
15 “I didn’t lie!” : IT WAS SO!
16 Select, as a jury : EMPANEL
17 Classic 1818 novel : FRANKENSTEIN
19 Otoscope target : EAR
20 Unnamed character in 17-Across : THE MONSTER
24 In a calculating way : SLYLY
27 Antipoverty agcy. : OEO
28 Actor Stephen : REA
29 Prefix with plus : SUR-
31 Reduce in status : DRAG DOWN
35 Author of 17-Across : MARY SHELLEY
37 Slapstick reaction : SPIT TAKE
39 Borrow, but not really : BUM
40 “__ you serious?” : ARE
41 Talk and talk : YAP
43 Namely : TO WIT
47 1974 portrayer of 17-Across : GENE WILDER
52 “__ scale of 1 to 10 … ” : ON A
53 1931 portrayer of 20-Across : BORIS KARLOFF
56 King in 1 Kings : SOLOMON
59 Shoulder piece : EPAULET
60 Like some rural bridges : ONE-LANE
61 July 4, 1776, notables : SIGNERS
62 Green field? : BOTANY
63 Campus figures : DEANS

Down

1 Kind of heart valve : MITRAL
2 Easily led astray : UNWARY
3 Rich dessert : FLAN
4 Something to do : TASK
5 Map box : INSET
6 “Did my heart love till now?” speaker : ROMEO
7 Detach, as a dress pattern : UNPIN
8 Isn’t straight : LEANS
9 Big stretch : EON
10 Deeply regret : RUE
11 Mo. town : STL
12 High winds : FIFES
13 Honolulu-born singer : DON HO
14 Go back for a second helping : GET MORE
18 A dandelion’s are called blowballs : SEED HEADS
21 Fox NFL analyst Aikman : TROY
22 “Ick!” : EEW!
23 Fled : RAN
25 Future JD’s exam : LSAT
26 Mongolian tent : YURT
30 Shaggy rug from 12-Across : RYA
32 Kosovo neighbor: Abbr. : ALB
33 Surfeit : GLUT
34 How-to presentation : DEMO
35 Bearing : MIEN
36 Prominent New York City feature : SKYLINE
37 Give a little : SAG
38 Not post- : PRE-
42 Short dogs, for short : PEKES
44 Like some scarves : WOOLEN
45 Works out : INFERS
46 Last family to keep a White House cow : TAFTS
48 Dangerous virus : EBOLA
49 Lennon love song : WOMAN
50 Twist : IRONY
51 Fleet : RAPID
54 Heated state : RAGE
55 Large green moth : LUNA
56 One may be choked back : SOB
57 Dedicatee of 49-Down : ONO
58 __ alone: not to mention : LET

17 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 16 May 19, Thursday”

  1. No errors, but was surprised. I didn’t think “spit take” was a legitimate
    answer,but the down-words seemed to indicate it.

  2. LAT: 10:02, no errors. Newsday: 7:38, no errors. WSJ: 11:58, no errors. BEQ: 22:18, no errors; theme involved an unfamiliar quote, but, in the end, it could be inferred from context.

    Here’s a Wikipedia entry for “spit-take” (“a comic technique or reaction in which someone spits a beverage out of their mouth when they react to a surprising statement”).

    Re yesterday’s puzzle: I did find “ENSEAT” in Webster’s Third. (It’s also in the OED, but with a cryptic reference to the prefix “EX-” that I really don’t understand.) Maybe “ENSEAT” is in the “official” Scrabble dictionary and therefore deemed fair game for use in a crossword puzzle? In any case, the desired entry could be inferred relatively easily from the clue and the editor may have allowed it for that reason. (I’m not sure I would have.)

  3. for 26 down on 5/16/19: Mongolian tent is a ger. Yurt is used in Kazakhstan and other Turkic-based language steppe countries. I just returned from Mongolia and that’s what I was taught. Clue could have been easily corrected. Clearly a nit, but …

  4. 47 across. Other notables in Young Frankenstein: Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher, and Peter Boyle as the monster.

  5. An easy Thurs; was easier than Monday for me.

    Another impressive thing abt Mary Shelley is that she was published as a woman at a time when there were only a few other female English authors being published, and the others were gothic young-unprotected-female-is-kidnapped novels. Just a few years earlier, Jane Austen’s works were being sent in by her brothers because women were not taken seriously.

  6. I didn’t find this easy at all. Clawed my way through it and still didn’t finish the NW. I kept trying to fit Peter Boyle’s name in there and totally forgot the switcharoo at the end with Wilder doing Frankenstein. Wechsler is always good and always a challenge for me.

    Had a lovely rain here in LA., which will probably our last until Dec.

  7. LAT: 19:42, no errors. Very difficult to deal with the garbage that usually exists by this level. WSJ: 16:02, no errors. Newsday: 10:27, no errors. I may stop even doing this one given all the advertising filth that they’re generating on their web site – even into the PDFs the thing serves up. Instead of the answers, I got an answer grid with an advertisement over the top of it. Fireball: DNF, 40:36, 5 errors. Misremembered a particular actress name out of the 80’s. Got the meta, I think.

    BEQ sometime later as I’m running late and still have an errand to do.

    1. BEQ: DNF, 38:00, 3 errors, 17 omissions. Absolutely horrifically terrible puzzle, as all quote puzzles are. I may need to stop trying quote puzzles too.

  8. 13 mins 7 sec and DNF: the upper left quadrant had 7 unfilled spaces or errors. Oddly, I got MUFTI right on a guess, but all around it was a trainwreck. IT WAS SO? A real bullsh*t fill. **Nobody** says that, not even Captain Picard. MITRAL probably isn’t a fair thing to expect anyone to know who hasn’t taken anatomy in pre-med, either. I’m left with the impression that that top left was “made to fit” by the constructor.

  9. So, in the spirit of avoiding all the real chores I’m supposed to be doing, I tackled a Tim Croce puzzle from Friday, 2016/12/02. I didn’t actually time myself, but it took me most of four hours (on and off), I despaired of finishing only half a dozen times, and I succeeded in doing it with no errors. I am so grateful his recent puzzles are easier … 😜.

  10. Moderately difficult Thursday for me; took 29 minutes with no errors but a few rewrites and waiting for crosses.

    Stupidly misspelled Stephen Rae which screwed up the East for a while. Had trouble in the NW sticking with galES for too long. When I finally saw the novel was Frankenstein, I got FIFES and changed tort to FLAN…and got the rest of the NW. Had to change YAk to YAP to get a dog that made sense. Also, wavered on the virus between Ecoli and EBOLA but waited for crosses. Interestingly, Mary Shelley just showed up in the Jumble as well for her NOVEL IDEAS.

    And, of course the expected thunderstorms today just turned into a few mild cloud bursts….grumble, grumble..so lost out on a probably good market today.

  11. Greetings! ⚾️

    No errors– a good, challenging puzzle and I loved the theme! Once I got the book title the other themed answers went pretty quickly.

    I know for a fact that GENE WILDER had a few good SPIT TAKEs in his time.

    It is amazing that Mary Shelley published under her own name in 1818. 30 or so years later, the Bronte sisters used men’s names for their works. 😯 Maybe Jane Eyre was published under Charlotte Bronte’s real name by the 2nd edition … must Google that.

    Be well~~🚋

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