LA Times Crossword 4 May 19, Saturday

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Constructed by: Pawel Fludzinski
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 10m 56s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 One of the X-Men : WOLVERINE

In the Marvel Comics universe, Wolverine is a mutant with keen animal-like senses and an ability to regenerate body parts after injury. He usually appears as a member of the X-Men superhero team. On the big screen, Wolverine is regularly played by Australian actor Hugh Jackman.

15 Essential supply for an ophiologist : ANTIVENIN

Antivenom (also “antivenin”) is made by extracting venom from say a snake (so called “milking”) and then diluting it and injecting it into a host animal (like a cat, horse or sheep). The animal undergoes an immune response and produces antibodies to neutralize the poison. The antibodies are harvested from the animal’s blood and are stored for use with victims who are bitten by the same snake, or by some other creature that injects the same or a similar venom. I guess antivenom might also be called antiserum …

Ophiology (also “ophidology”) is the study of snakes.

16 Home of Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” : PRADO

The Museo del Prado is in Madrid, the capital of Spain, and has one of the finest art collections in the world. The gallery’s most famous work is “Las Meninas” By Velazquez.

Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch painter who worked late 15th and early 16th centuries. Perhaps his most recognized work is his triptych titled “The Garden of Earthly Delights”.

17 Vehicle in the 2012 film “Arbitrage” : HEDGE FUND

“Arbitrage” is an entertaining drama released in 2012 that stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, two favorite actors of mine. Gere plays a none-too-honest hedge fund manager who gets himself into a lot of trouble.

18 New Mexico school athletes : LOBOS

The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a school in Albuquerque, founded in 1889. The sports teams of UNM are called the Lobos, and there are two mascots who work the crowds called Lobo Louie and Lobo Lucy.

19 Italy’s equivalent of the BBC : RAI

Rai 1, 2 & 3 are three television channels owned and operated by the Italian government. Rai stands for “Radiotelevisione Italiana”, meaning “Italian public broadcasting”.

20 Some necklaces : CHOKERS

Back in the 1800s, a choker was a large neckerchief. In the late 1920s “choker” was first used to describe a kind of necklace worn tightly around the neck.

28 Collections of plant specimens : HERBARIA

A herbarium is a collection of dried plants, or the room in which the collection is stored. A herbarium that specializes in the collection of wood specimens is known as a xylarium. A collection limited to plants that are cultivated is known as a hortorium.

33 Fill a hold : LADE

The verb “to lade” meaning “to load” comes from an Old English word “hladan”. “Lade” also used to mean “draw water” and indeed gave us our word “ladle”. So “lade” and “ladle” are close cousins.

34 Ireland’s __ Féin : SINN

Sinn Féin is a political party in Ireland, and one of the largest parties in both the Northern Ireland Assembly and in the Oireachtas (the parliament of the Republic of Ireland). The party has the stated aim of uniting Ireland north and south. “Sinn Féin” is Irish for “we ourselves”.

35 Follower of the old school? : -MARM

A schoolmarm is a woman who is a schoolteacher.

36 Favor, slangily : SOLID

Do me a solid, a favor?

37 Jokers : WAGS

A card, wag or riot is a very amusing person.

38 “Everybody Loves __”: Johnny Cash novelty song : A NUT

“Everybody Loves a Nut” is the title track from an album of novelty songs recorded by country singer Johnny Cash in 1966. In a 1969 episode of “The Johnny Cash Show” on television, Cash performed “Everybody Loves a Nut”, with the Monkees, would you believe?

39 Pound, e.g. : POET

Ezra Pound was an American poet who spent much of his life wandering the world, and spending years in London, Paris, and Italy. In Italy, Pound’s work and sympathies for Mussolini’s regime led to his arrest at the end of the war. His major work was the epic, albeit incomplete, “The Cantos”. This epic poem is divided into 120 sections, each known as a canto.

40 Brawl : MELEE

Our term “melee” comes from the French “mêlée”, and in both languages the word means “confused fight”.

41 One with a family practice? : NEPOTIST

Nepotism is the practice of giving relatives preferential treatment. The term originated during the Middle Ages with favoritism shown by Roman Catholic bishops and popes. The ministers of the church had taken vows of chastity, and some gave prefered positions to their nephews, as they didn’t have sons of their own to favor. The term “nepotism” derives from the Latin “nepos” meaning “nephew”.

43 Gap-related : HIATAL

A hiatus is a break or opening in a material object. “Hiatus” is Latin for “opening”.

50 “Grand Hotel” star (1932) : GARBO

Famously, Greta Garbo lived a life of seclusion in New York City after she retired from the entertainment business. Commentators often associated her need for privacy with a line she uttered in the great 1932 movie “Grand Hotel”. Her character Grusinskaya the Russian ballerina said, “I want to be alone (…) I just want to be alone”.

“Grand Hotel” is a marvelous film released in 1932 based on a book of the same name by William A. Drake. Drake himself had based his book on a novel by Vicki Baum titled “Menschen im Hotel”. The 1932 movie has a stellar cast including Greta Garbo and John Barrymore. “Grand Hotel” was remade in 1945 as ‘Week-End at the Waldorf”, a film I saw not that long ago starring Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon.

58 Erin Brockovich, for one : PARALEGAL

Erin Brockovich is an environmental activist who is famous for the role she played in building a case against Pacific Gas & Electric for contaminating drinking water. Her story was told in a 2000 film title “Erin Brockovich” that starred Julia Roberts. Brockovich herself actually appeared in the film as she was given a cameo as a waitress in a restaurant scene.

Down

2 White Monopoly bill : ONE

The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman called Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.

3 Inc., in Ipswich : LTD

Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk in the south of England. Ipswich is an ancient town, but has achieved notoriety in recent times as well. There was a rash of killings in 2006 by the “Ipswich murderer” who killed five prostitutes before being brought to justice.

4 Bookie’s cut : VIG

A “vigorish” (also “vig”) is a charge paid to a bookie on an individual bet. It is a slang term that maybe comes into American English via Yiddish from the Russian “výigrysh” meaning “winnings, profit”.

5 High point of Hillary’s career : EVEREST

Mount Everest was first summited in 1953 by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hillary and Norgay were part of an expedition from which two pairs of climbers were selected to make a summit attempt. The first pair were Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, and they came within 330 feet of their goal but had to turn back. The expedition sent up the second pair two days later, and history was made on 29 May 1953.

7 Nunavut native : INUIT

Nunavut is Canadian territory that dates back to 1999 when it was separated from the Northwest Territories. That makes Nunavut the youngest of all Canada’s territories. It is also the nation’s largest territory, the least populous, as well as the furthest north. Even though it is the second-largest country subdivision in North America (after Greenland), Nunavut is home to just over 30,000 people, who are mostly Inuit.

8 “Under a Glass Bell” author : NIN

“Under a Glass Bell” was the breakthrough publication for French author Anaïs Nin. It is a collection of short stories that deals with subjects as diverse as diary keeping (“The Labyrinth”), life in Paris (“Houseboat”) and late-term abortion (“The Birth”).

9 Where a gaffer or grip is recognized : END CREDIT

Apparently, the word “gaffer” is a contraction of “godfather”, and so originally was used to me “old man”. This usage extended to a foreman or supervisor, and is used most often today to mean the chief electrician on a film set. That said, back in my part of the world we often refer to the “boss” at work as “the gaffer”.

On a film set, grips are lighting and rigging technicians who set up the infrastructure that supports lights, cameras etc. The key grip is the leader of the whole team. The first grips were technicians that worked in circuses in its early days. The name “grip” possibly comes from the bags called grips, in which the technicians carried their tools.

10 Equanimity : APLOMB

“Aplomb” is such a lovely word, one meaning “confidence, assurance”. It is a French word that literally means “perpendicularity”, or “on the plumb line”. The idea is that someone with aplomb is poised, upright, balanced.

Equanimity is the quality of being composed and calm. The term comes from the Latin”aequus” (even) and “”animus” (mind). “Equanimity” is one of my favorite words of all time …

12 Diamond immortal, with “The” : BABE

Jack Dunn was the owner/manager of the Baltimore Orioles back in 1913, when he signed on George Herman Ruth as a pitcher. The other players called Ruth “Jack’s newest babe”, and the name “Babe” stuck.

22 Iconic dot-eater : PAC-MAN

The Pac-Man arcade game was first released in Japan in 1980, and is as popular today as it ever was. The game features characters that are maneuvered around the screen to eat up dots and earn points. The name comes from the Japanese folk hero “Paku”, known for his voracious appetite. The spin-off game called Ms. Pac-Man was released in 1981.

23 Flammable gas : ETHANE

Ethane is the second largest component of natural gas, after methane. Ethane’s main use is in the production of ethylene, a compound that is widely used in the chemical industry.

25 “Knowing where your food comes from” movement : FARM-TO-TABLE

The farm-to-table movement promotes the serving of local food in restaurants and in schools.

26 Aspen abodes : CHALETS

“Chalet” is a Swiss-French name for an Alpine cottage.

Aspen, Colorado used to be known as Ute City, with the name change taking place in 1880. Like many communities in the area, Aspen was a mining town, and in 1891 and 1892 it was at the center of the highest production of silver in the US. Nowadays, it’s all about skiing and movie stars.

29 Grand Canal span : RIALTO

The Rialto is the financial and commercial center of Venice, and has been so for centuries. One of the most famous features of the area is the Rialto Bridge that spans the Grand Canal.

31 Canonized Archbishop of Canterbury : ANSELM

Anselm was one of the Archbishops of Canterbury (in England) during Medieval times, from 1093 to 1109. As well as holding the important office within the Church, Anselm was an active and respected philosopher. He is often referred to as the founder of scholasticism, a method of learning that reigned in Medieval universities right across Europe for about 400 years.

Canterbury is a cathedral city in the county of Kent in the southeast of England. Canterbury Cathedral is home to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England.

33 Part of a blabbing metaphor : LOOSE LIPS

“Loose lips sinks ships” is used as a warning that unguarded talk can be dangerous. The phrase originated during WWII when it was coined by the US War Advertising Council for use on posters.

40 Prayer books : MISSALS

Missals came into being in medieval times and were used primarily by priests and ministers. A missal is a book containing all the texts necessary for the celebration of Mass through the liturgical year. Nowadays missals are used by the congregation and not just by the celebrants. The term “missal” comes from the Latin for “Mass book”.

42 Occult decks : TAROTS

Tarot cards have been around since the mid-1400s, and for centuries were simply used for entertainment as a game. It has only been since the late 1800s that the cards have been used by fortune tellers to predict the future. The list of tarot cards includes the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man and the Lovers.

The adjective “occult” means “secret, beyond the realm of human comprehension”. The term derives from the Latin “occultus” meaning “hidden, concealed”.

43 Hard-to-overcome evils : HYDRAS

The Hydra of Lerna was a mythical sea snake that had multiple heads. Heracles had to slay the Lernaean Hydra as the second of his Twelve Labors. We now use the term “hydra” figuratively to describe a complex problem that presents new obstacles once once facet is resolved.

45 Brew in Brest : BIERE

“Bière” is French for “beer”.

Brest is a port city in northwest France, and is the second largest military port in the country. Brest was an important base for German U-boats during WWII when France was occupied by the Nazis. Brest is the most westerly city in the whole country.

46 Ottoman officers : AGAS

“Aga” (also “agha”) is a title that was used by both civil and military officials in the Ottoman Empire.

48 Grand __ : PRIX

Even though the term is used in many competitions, I think that we most associate “Grand Prix” with the series of Formula One motor races. These Formula One Grand Prix races trace their roots back to organized automobile road races from one French town to the next that date back to 1894. “Grand Prix” translates from French as “grand, big prize.”

52 Inventor’s monogram : TAE

Thomas Alva Edison (TAE) was nicknamed “The Wizard of Menlo Park” by a newspaper reporter, a name that stuck. He was indeed a wizard, in the sense that he was such a prolific inventor. The Menlo Park part of the moniker recognizes the location of his first research lab, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

53 Hanoi holiday : TET

Hanoi (“Hà Nội” in Vietnamese) was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

54 Franchise-based supermarket chain : IGA

The initialism “IGA” stands for “Independent Grocers Alliance”, and is a chain of supermarkets that extends right around the world. IGA’s headquarters is in Chicago. The company uses the slogan “Hometown Proud Supermarkets”.

55 Less-common spelling: Abbr. : VAR

Variant (var.)

56 Local boundaries? : ELS

There are two letters L (els) in the word “local”, one at either end.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 One of the X-Men : WOLVERINE
10 Prior’s superior : ABBOT
15 Essential supply for an ophiologist : ANTIVENIN
16 Home of Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” : PRADO
17 Vehicle in the 2012 film “Arbitrage” : HEDGE FUND
18 New Mexico school athletes : LOBOS
19 Italy’s equivalent of the BBC : RAI
20 Some necklaces : CHOKERS
22 Its solution refutes its existence : PERFECT CRIME
27 Not on edge : AT EASE
28 Collections of plant specimens : HERBARIA
32 Flow __ : CHART
33 Fill a hold : LADE
34 Ireland’s __ Féin : SINN
35 Follower of the old school? : MARM
36 Favor, slangily : SOLID
37 Jokers : WAGS
38 “Everybody Loves __”: Johnny Cash novelty song : A NUT
39 Pound, e.g. : POET
40 Brawl : MELEE
41 One with a family practice? : NEPOTIST
43 Gap-related : HIATAL
44 Becomes an overnight sensation in : TAKES BY STORM
46 Department store staple : APPAREL
49 Names : IDS
50 “Grand Hotel” star (1932) : GARBO
51 Like 24/7 news channels : ITERATIVE
57 Listing : ATILT
58 Erin Brockovich, for one : PARALEGAL
59 Classic battlers : SEXES
60 Reacts to a blow : SEES STARS

Down

1 Nursery noise : WAH!
2 White Monopoly bill : ONE
3 Inc., in Ipswich : LTD
4 Bookie’s cut : VIG
5 High point of Hillary’s career : EVEREST
6 Put a new front on, as a building : REFACE
7 Nunavut native : INUIT
8 “Under a Glass Bell” author : NIN
9 Where a gaffer or grip is recognized : END CREDIT
10 Equanimity : APLOMB
11 Started to perspire : BROKE A SWEAT
12 Diamond immortal, with “The” : BABE
13 Fridge-cleaning motivation : ODOR
14 Not sleep well : TOSS
21 Took on : HIRED
22 Iconic dot-eater : PAC-MAN
23 Flammable gas : ETHANE
24 Rise on hind legs : REAR UP
25 “Knowing where your food comes from” movement : FARM-TO-TABLE
26 Aspen abodes : CHALETS
29 Grand Canal span : RIALTO
30 Ready to roll : IN GEAR
31 Canonized Archbishop of Canterbury : ANSELM
33 Part of a blabbing metaphor : LOOSE LIPS
36 Abrupt increase : SPIKE
40 Prayer books : MISSALS
42 Occult decks : TAROTS
43 Hard-to-overcome evils : HYDRAS
45 Brew in Brest : BIERE
46 Ottoman officers : AGAS
47 Crown : PATE
48 Grand __ : PRIX
52 Inventor’s monogram : TAE
53 Hanoi holiday : TET
54 Franchise-based supermarket chain : IGA
55 Less-common spelling: Abbr. : VAR
56 Local boundaries? : ELS

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 4 May 19, Saturday”

  1. LAT: 54:43, no errors. Exceedingly difficult. WSJ: DNF after 52:07, 9 errors. Terrible, terrible puzzle. I’m think I’m done, at least for a good long while.

    1. What do you mean by done? Errors do not stop me from enjoying these challenging puzzles. I learn something from all of them and hope that an error today will lead to a solution tomorrow. Important not to get discouraged.

  2. LAT: 15:13, no errors. WSJ: 24:51, no errors. Newsday’s “Saturday Stumper”: 1:29:49, with an error in the last square that I filled in (a square that I should have looked at for another 15 seconds … sigh); a very difficult puzzle that I almost gave up on a couple of times … 😳.

  3. LAT: About 40 minutes. Easier than a typical Saturday puzzle. Only bit of difficulty was with the NW corner–never heard of antivenin (should have at my age) although I knew it had to be right.

  4. Finally got it after I changed “antivenom” to “antivenin” and did a
    little productive guessing. But it was fun.

  5. Some clues and some answers were clever. But, there were too many snarky clues or answers to some clues.

  6. I had the same mistake that Mary mentioned. But it was the whole right side that had me stumped. Think I only got about 2/3rd of the answers today. Alas.

  7. You spend 54:05 on what IMO was a tough puzzle only to find that you spelled nepotist with an I. Where the O is …….that’s discouraging

  8. Slowly the LAT’s grid came together. Finally finished with only one strike over and no final errors. A good challenge for sure.

    I had just discussed antivenin with my older brother who was a senior reptile keeper at the LA Zoo for 38+ years. He had told me a story of being tasked with transporting antivenin to the Los Angeles Airport by LAPD helicopter to have it picked up and flown to someone who had suffered a bite by a poisonous reptile.

    He said it was the one and only time he has ever flown on a helicopter and that both pilots were women, which at that time was a pretty rare event.

  9. 28:38. Hard one. I had some fortuitous guesses or else this might have been thrown into the DNF bin along with today’s Mark Diehl NYT Saturday debacle. The middle east was the last to fall when I changed “set-to” to MELEE. After that the section fell quickly. Didn’t know WAGS or ANSELM and had to rely on crosses there.

    I knew ANTIVENIN. In fact, for a long time I thought “antivenom” was incorrect and would pedantically correct people. Let’s hope they never find me again…

    Two toughies on Saturday here and across the country at the NYT.

    Best –

  10. Easiest Saturday puzzle I can remember in a long time. Unfortunately meant instead of scratching my head staring at empty squares I had to get to Saturday spring cleanup (if you can call it spring) that much sooner.

    Only two crossout corrections, rare for a Saturday. Good mix of fun and obscure clues.

  11. 16 mins 7 sec, and stumbled across the finish line with no errors. This one was CRATERED with bad clues, “precious” fills and poor editing. Bad show all round. ANTIVENIN, HIATAL, HIBARIA, MARM (the clue being the offender): who comes up with crap like this???

  12. Very difficult Saturday for me; took about 1.5 hrs with 6 errors, mostly in the NW. Actually had most of the long answers pretty quickly but the SE and NW took a long time for me to decipher.

    Had HERBARIe/eNSELM in the ME as one error. The rest were mostly because I didn’t know Hedge Fund and never heard of VIG. Also, had ANTIVENom and didn’t know the author of “Under a Glass Bell.” Just got antsy to call it a day, but I guess I should of come up with hedge fund, given that “Arbitrage” was the film title.

    Still pretty fun and I guess I sprouted a few new neurons. Also two of my teams won and two blew it. Now I just need the most important win for Monday…1. FC Koeln to get promoted back to the Bundesliga.

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