LA Times Crossword 27 Aug 19, Tuesday

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Constructed by: Paul Coulter
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Empty Words

Themed answers each comprise two words starting with the letters “MT”:

  • 62A Blather, and a phonetic hint to the four other longest answers : EMPTY WORDS (and “MT WORDS”)
  • 17A Toy on a track : MODEL TRAIN
  • 24A Native growth in an Asian orchard : MANGO TREE
  • 39A Grilling accessory : MEAT THERMOMETER
  • 49A Result of too-tight jeans, perhaps : MUFFIN TOP

Bill’s time: 5m 31s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Makes a hasty getaway : LAMS

To be on the lam is to be in flight, to have escaped from prison. “On the lam” is American slang that originated at the end of the 19th century. The word “lam” also means to “beat” or “thrash”, as in “lambaste”. So “on the lam” might derive from the phrase “to beat it, to scram”.

5 Insect stage after larva : PUPA

A pupa is a stage in the life of some insects. All four stages are embryo, larva, pupa and imago. Pupae can look like little dolls, hence the name. “Pupa” is the Latin for “doll”.

14 Umpires’ decisions : CALLS

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

16 Cabinet dept. with a windmill on its seal : ENER

The US Department of Energy (DOE) came into being largely as a result of the 1973 oil crisis. The DOE was founded in 1977 by the Carter administration. The DOE is responsible for regulating the production of nuclear power, and it is also responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons. The official DOE seal features a lightning bolt and symbols denoting five sources of energy: the sun, an atom, an oil derrick, a windmill and a dynamo.

19 Volcanic output : LAVA

Our word “volcano” comes from “Vulcano”, the name of a volcanic island off the coast of Italy. The island’s name comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. The Romans believed that the island of Vulcano was the chimney of the forge belonging to the god Vulcan. The Romans also believed that the eruptions on Mount Etna in Sicily were caused by Vulcan getting angry and working his forge so hard that sparks and smoke flew out of the top of the volcano.

20 WWI French soldier : POILU

“Poilu” is an informal term used for a French infantry soldier from WWI. The term translates literally as “hairy one”, which is a reference to the typical appearance of such a soldier, with unkempt hair, bushy beard and moustache. “Poilu” is an affectionate term, one actually embraced by the fighters themselves.

24 Native growth in an Asian orchard : MANGO TREE

The delicious mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Almost half of the world’s supply of mangoes comes from India.

25 Philosopher __-tzu : LAO

Lao Tse (also “Lao-Tzu”) was a central figure in the development of the religion/philosophy of Taoism. Tradition holds that Lao-Tzu wrote the “Tao Te Ching”, a classical Chinese text that is fundamental to the philosophy of Taoism.

27 Mme., in Madrid : SRA

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

32 Ancient colonnade : STOA

A stoa was a covered walkway in ancient Greece. A stoa usually consisted of columns lining the side of a building or buildings, with another row of columns defining the other side of the walkway. The columns supported a roof. Often stoae would surround marketplaces in large cities.

42 Award for “Green Book” : OSCAR

“Green Book” is a 2018 comedy film that is based on the true story of a 1962 tour of the Deep South by Florida-born classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley. Shirley, an African American, hires Italian-American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga as his driver and bodyguard. I haven’t seen this one, but I hear that audiences and critics loved it …

43 Spanish appetizer : TAPA

“Tapa” is the Spanish word for “lid”, and there is no clear rationale for why this word came to be used for an appetizer. There are lots of explanations cited, all of which seem to involve the temporary covering of one’s glass of wine with a plate or item of food to either preserve the wine or give one extra space at the table.

44 Ward of “Once and Again” : SELA

Actress Sela Ward turns up in crosswords a lot. Ward played Teddy Reed in the TV show “Sisters” in the nineties, and was in “Once and Again” from 1999-2002. I don’t know either show, but I do know Ward from the medical drama “House” in which she played the hospital’s lawyer and Greg House’s ex-partner. That was a fun role, I thought. More recently, Ward played a lead role on “CSI: NY” and was a very welcome and much-needed addition to the cast. And, Ward played Dr. Richard Kimble’s murdered wife in the 1993 film version of “The Fugitive”.

45 Korean soldier : ROK

A South Korean soldier is known as an “ROK”, an initialism standing for the Republic of (South) Korea.

47 Springsteen’s “Born in the __” : USA

“Born in the USA” is a 1984 song (and album) written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen. The song was written three years earlier as the title song for a movie, but was never used. That film ultimately was released as “Light of Day” starring Michael j. Fox. The original intention was for Springsteen to star in the film himself.

49 Result of too-tight jeans, perhaps : MUFFIN TOP

The term “muffin top” is used to describe fatty tissue that spills over a tight waistline of a skirt or pants. I guess the idea is that such a phenomenon resembles the top of a muffin hanging over its case.

54 TV monitoring device : V-CHIP

All television sets produced for the US market since the year 2000 are required by law to include a component called a V-chip. A V-chip allows a TV to be configured so that programming of specific “ratings” can be blocked from viewing. The “V” in V-chip stands for “viewer control”. It sounds like a great idea, but a lot of kids these days quickly do a search online and work out how to reset the password.

60 Maine college town : ORONO

The town of Orono is home to the University of Maine that was founded in 1862. The college is actually located on an island (Marsh island) lying between the Penobscot and Stillwater rivers. The town of Orono is named after Joseph Orono, a chief of the Penobscot Nation. The school’s athletic teams are named the Maine Black Bears.

61 “Star Trek” helmsman : SULU

Mr. Hikaru Sulu was played by George Takei in the original “Star Trek” series. Takei has played lots of roles over the years, and is still very active in television. Did you know that he appeared in the 1963 film, “Pt-109”? He played the helmsman steering the Japanese destroyer that ran down John F. Kennedy’s motor torpedo boat. From destroyer helmsman to starship helmsman …

65 “The Time Machine” race : ELOI

In the 1895 novel by H. G. Wells called “The Time Machine”, there are two races that the hero encounter in his travels into the future. The Eloi are the “beautiful people” who live on the planet’s surface. The Morlocks are a domineering race living underground who use the Eloi as food.

67 Foul mood : SNIT

The exact etymology of “snit”, meaning “fit of temper”, isn’t really known. The term was first used in print in the play “Kiss the Boys Goodbye” by Clare Boothe Luce, which dates back to the 1930s and is set in the American South.

68 Director Gus Van __ : SANT

Gus Van Sant is a movie director (among other things) who has been nominated twice for an Oscar, for “Good Will Hunting” in 1997 and for “Milk” in 2008.

70 Red and Coral, but not pink : SEAS

The Red Sea (sometimes called the Arabian Gulf) is a stretch of water lying between Africa and Asia. The Gulf of Suez (and the Suez Canal) lies to the north, and the Gulf of Aden to the south. According to the Book of Exodus in the Bible, God parted the Red Sea to allow Moses lead the Israelites from Egypt.

The Coral Sea is part of the South Pacific Ocean lying off the northeast coast of Australia. It is home to the renowned Great Barrier Reef.

Down

2 Underway, to Sherlock : AFOOT

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in writing the “Sherlock Holmes” stories, had his hero use the phrase “the game is afoot” on more than one occasion. Holmes first uttered the expression in “The Adventures of the Abbey Grange”. However, the phrase was used long before Conan Doyle put pen to paper. In William Shakespeare’s “King Henry IV Part I” there is the line “Before the game is afoot, thou let’st slip”.

5 Interest rate fig. : PCT

Percent (pct.)

6 Short-lived Egypt-Syr. alliance : UAR

The United Arab Republic (UAR) was a union between Egypt and Syria established in 1958. The UAR dissolved in 1961 when Syria pulled out of the arrangement.

7 __ del Rey: L.A. beach community : PLAYA

Playa del Rey is a beachside neighborhood and district of the City of Los Angeles. “Playa del Rey” translates from Spanish as “King’s Beach”.

8 Roswell crash victim, supposedly : ALIEN

The Roswell UFO Incident took place in 1947. Some people believe that an extraterrestrial spacecraft crashed, with aliens aboard. After the initial reports the public accepted the US Military’s explanation of the crash, that the debris recovered belonged to an experimental high-altitude surveillance balloon. The whole incident was dug up again over 30 years later when a claim was made that there was a cover-up in 1947, and that the armed forces had recovered an alien craft and brought it to Roswell Army Air Field. “The National Enquirer” ran the story, and it has been running ever since.

10 “… bombs bursting __” : IN AIR

The words “bombs bursting in air” come from “The Star-Spangled Banner” written by Francis Scott Key.

11 Protective river embankment : LEVEE

A levee is an artificial bank usually made of earth that runs along the length of a river. It is designed to hold back river water at a time of potential flooding. “Levée” is the French word for “raised” and is an American term that originated in French-speaking New Orleans around 1720.

22 Composer Ned : ROREM

American composer Ned Rorem is famous for his musical compositions, but also for his book “Paris Diary of Ned Rorem” that was published in 1966. Rorem talks openly about his sexuality in the book, and also about the sexual orientation of others including Noël Coward, Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber, much to some people’s chagrin.

24 Sacred choral piece : MOTET

A motet is a simple musical composition based on a sacred text that is usually sung without an accompaniment. The term “motet” is a diminutive form of “mot”, the French for “word”.

29 French article : LES

The definite article in French can be “le” (with masculine nouns), “la” (with feminine nouns), and “les” (with plural nouns of either gender).

30 Rock’s Fleetwood __ : MAC

Fleetwood Mac was founded in 1967 in London by Peter Green. He chose “Fleetwood Mac” from the names of two friends in former bands, i.e. “Fleetwood” and “McVie”). Green did this despite the fact that Fleetwood Mac’s drummer’s name happens to be Mick Fleetwood.

31 Tropical food that has a five-point shape when sliced : STAR FRUIT

The delicious star fruit comes from the carambola tree that is native to parts of Asia. The fruit gets its name from its shape. When it is sliced, the cross-section is like a star that can have 3-6 points.

33 U.K. singer Rita __ : ORA

Rita Ora is a British singer who was born Rita Sahatçiu in Pristina, Yugoslavia to Albanian parents. The family name “Sahatçiu” comes from a Turkish word meaning “watchmaker”. Rita’s parents changed their name to make it easier to pronounce. So, the family name morphed from “watchmaker” to “time”, which is “ora” in Albanian.

36 Hot time on the Riviera : ETE

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

“Riviera” is an Italian word meaning “coastline”. The term is often applied to a coastline that is sunny and popular with tourists. The term “the Riviera” is usually reserved for the French Riviera (the Mediterranean coastline in southeastern France), and the Italian Riviera (the Mediterranean coastline centered on Genoa).

37 Cartoon frame : CEL

In the world of animation, a cel is a transparent sheet on which objects and characters are drawn. In the first half of the 20th century the sheet was actually made of celluloid, giving the “cel” its name.

40 Square root of neuf : TROIS

In French, “trois” (three) is the square root of “neuf” (nine).

41 Western treaty gp. : OAS

The Organization of American States (OAS) was founded in 1948, and has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Not all of the independent states in the Americas are members. Cuba was barred from participation in the organization after a vote in 1962. Honduras had her membership suspended after the country’s 2009 coup.

49 Exodus leader : MOSES

The Book of Exodus is the second book in the Bible, and deals with Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt. The name “Exodus” comes from the Greek “exodos” meaning “departure”.

50 Throat dangler : UVULA

The uvula is that conical fleshy projection hanging down at the back of the soft palate. The uvula plays an important role in human speech, particularly in the making of “guttural” sounds. The Latin word for “grape” is “uva”, so “uvula” is a “little grape”.

51 Serious criminal : FELON

In the US, felony crimes are categorized according to the maximum prison term that can be imposed at sentencing (class A, B, C, etc.). For example, a class A felony can result in life imprisonment or even a death sentence. A class B felony can result in a jail term of 25 years or more.

53 “Hop __”: Dr. Seuss book : ON POP

“Hop on Pop” is a Dr. Seuss book that was first published in 1963 with the subtitle “The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use”. “Hop on Pop” was listed by former First Lady Laura Bush as her favorite title, citing the memories evoked of family life with her young daughters.

56 “Stormy Weather” singer Lena : HORNE

Lena Horne was an American jazz singer, actress, dancer and civil rights activist. Horne started out her career as a nightclub singer and then began to get some meaty acting roles in Hollywood. However, she ended up on the blacklist during the McCarthy Era for expressing left wing political views. One of Horne’s starring roles was in the 1943 movie “Stormy Weather” for which she also performed the title song.

57 Mumbai’s land : INDIA

Mumbai is the most populous city in India, and the second most populous city in the world (after Shanghai). The name of the city was changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995.

63 Ring ref’s decision : TKO

In boxing, a knockout (KO) is when one of the fighters can’t get up from the canvas within a specified time, usually 10 seconds. This can be due to fatigue, injury, or the participant may be truly “knocked out”. A referee, fighter or doctor may also decide to stop a fight without a physical knockout, especially if there is concern about a fighter’s safety. In this case the bout is said to end with a technical knockout (TKO).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Makes a hasty getaway : LAMS
5 Insect stage after larva : PUPA
9 Bathroom wall piece : TILE
13 Not many : A FEW
14 Umpires’ decisions : CALLS
16 Cabinet dept. with a windmill on its seal : ENER
17 Toy on a track : MODEL TRAIN
19 Volcanic output : LAVA
20 WWI French soldier : POILU
21 Almanacs, calendars, etc. : YEARLIES
23 Drag one’s feet : STALL
24 Native growth in an Asian orchard : MANGO TREE
25 Philosopher __-tzu : LAO
27 Mme., in Madrid : SRA
28 Money for the poor : ALMS
32 Ancient colonnade : STOA
35 Bumper sticker word : ELECT
39 Grilling accessory : MEAT THERMOMETER
42 Award for “Green Book” : OSCAR
43 Spanish appetizer : TAPA
44 Ward of “Once and Again” : SELA
45 Korean soldier : ROK
47 Springsteen’s “Born in the __” : USA
49 Result of too-tight jeans, perhaps : MUFFIN TOP
54 TV monitoring device : V-CHIP
59 Directed : OVERSEEN
60 Maine college town : ORONO
61 “Star Trek” helmsman : SULU
62 Blather, and a phonetic hint to the four other longest answers : EMPTY WORDS (and “MT WORDS”)
65 “The Time Machine” race : ELOI
66 Gave an address : SPOKE
67 Foul mood : SNIT
68 Director Gus Van __ : SANT
69 Laundry blemish : SPOT
70 Red and Coral, but not pink : SEAS

Down

1 Reading lights : LAMPS
2 Underway, to Sherlock : AFOOT
3 TV, radio, newspapers, etc. : MEDIA
4 “Great!” : SWELL
5 Interest rate fig. : PCT
6 Short-lived Egypt-Syr. alliance : UAR
7 __ del Rey: L.A. beach community : PLAYA
8 Roswell crash victim, supposedly : ALIEN
9 Stretch the truth : TELL TALES
10 “… bombs bursting __” : IN AIR
11 Protective river embankment : LEVEE
12 Clear from the blackboard : ERASE
15 Hitches : SNAGS
18 Temporary calm : LULL
22 Composer Ned : ROREM
24 Sacred choral piece : MOTET
26 Volcanic output : ASH
28 Latin “I love” : AMO
29 French article : LES
30 Rock’s Fleetwood __ : MAC
31 Tropical food that has a five-point shape when sliced : STAR FRUIT
33 U.K. singer Rita __ : ORA
34 Intensify : AMP UP
36 Hot time on the Riviera : ETE
37 Cartoon frame : CEL
38 La-la lead-in : TRA-
40 Square root of neuf : TROIS
41 Western treaty gp. : OAS
46 “Trick” joints : KNEES
48 Declare openly : AVOW
49 Exodus leader : MOSES
50 Throat dangler : UVULA
51 Serious criminal : FELON
52 Subs at the office : TEMPS
53 “Hop __”: Dr. Seuss book : ON POP
55 In a foul mood : CROSS
56 “Stormy Weather” singer Lena : HORNE
57 Mumbai’s land : INDIA
58 Twitter updates : POSTS
63 Ring ref’s decision : TKO
64 To this point : YET

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 27 Aug 19, Tuesday”

  1. No errors nor erasures.
    Re 24A: Mango trees are prevalent in southern Florida. In Miami, there are several on every block. I’m allergic to their fruit. When we lived in Miami, 1981-1983, we had an avocado trees in our yard. It partially overhung our house, and when the fruit was ripe, it would fall on our roof and wake us up at night. Our neighbor had a key lime tree. Almost all the neighbors had fruit trees, and would share their produce.
    Interesting notes about word origins from Bill today.

  2. 61 Across: George Takei played Sulu on the original “Star Trek”. The first name Hikaru was not heard until “Star Trek VI” The Undiscovered Country” in 1991, and only over creator Gene Roddenberry’s objections (he stated that he’d created the character, not George, and that if he wanted to call him Walter Sulu he could).

    1. Identical error for us; I only call this 1 error, even though it affects 2
      words. Could be looked at either way, as we discussed before, ref. letters
      versus words being the unit of measure. Results are comparable.

      I had to really work on this one and, even though it took us over an hour,
      we will gladly settle for 1 or 2 errors, as the case may be.

      Kudos to all.

  3. Had to Google CALLS and POSTS, 2 seemingly easy words, but not for me because I don’t follow sports or tweets.

    Mr. Coulter had 3 mini themes, foul moods, foreign soldiers and volcanic outputs. I enjoy finding those. Was unfamiliar with POILU, ROK, ORA, but this is how I learn.

  4. LAT: 6:30, no errors. Newsday: 5:26, no errors. WSJ: 10:30, no errors; curious theme. Jones: 17:14, no errors; did it over breakfast, so my time doesn’t mean much, but I did have to guess at a few names that were outside my ken and that slowed things down considerably.

    Friday’s WSJ mug missed me by less than a hundred miles! (It went to somebody in Colorado Springs.) And there were 1,544 entries, 90% of which were correct. It turns out that I have saved a little over three years worth of WSJ puzzles, so I’m going to extract all the metas and try to put together a little check list of all the tricks that I have seen used in them.

    Croce later …

    1. >extract all the metas and try to put together a little check list

      I actually got all of them they ever printed, including solutions. Thought of cataloging everything like that, but haven’t gotten the interest yet to sit down and actually do it.

    2. @Glenn … Well, if I finish the job and can find a way to send you a copy, I will (iff you want it, of course).

      The Alan Connor book arrived. I have made it all the way to page 5, on which he presents Arthur Wynne’s 1913 creation (credited as being the very first crossword puzzle). This is the fifth version of it that I’ve seen. Previous versions have had minor tweaks – mostly to correct an error in the original and, in one case (Ben Tausig’s “Curious History of the Crossword”), introducing a new error – but I must say that Connor has made a royal mess of the job: Instead of a blank grid with numbers in it, he prints the solution, with no numbers. Then he prints clues referencing the numbers (that we don’t have), and he sorts them into an incomprehensible order, with alternating across and down clues. If this is a harbinger of things to come in Connor’s book, I may as well toss it in the trash now. (See, I can be a critic! … 😜)

      1. @Dave
        I decided to start on it tonight.

        And yes I saw the treatment in Connor’s book. It’s one of the dings I’d put on it as a reviewer. Hard telling though – it could be him, it could be the editor. I used to do instructional writing on programming code – it’s definitely hard to make sure the editor gets things right when they reformat/so on for publication. Especially when whatever they do will be reflected on you as the author instead of the editor because you know you submitted the work in such a way that it would compile.

        1. I will send you a small sample of what I now have in mind doing with the WSJ metas. What I want to create is a single-page summary of each, with a completed grid on one side and the meta information on the other, giving me a sheaf of examples to peruse from time to time in hopes of improving my ability to solve the metas, and with the additional goal of creating a sort of checklist of gimmicks to look for the telltale signs of.

          And, as for Connor’s book … I did think about the possibility of the mess on page 5 partly being the fault of an editor reformatting a two-column list into a single-column list, but he or she would have to be awfully dumb not to understand that the numbers in the list make no sense if the numbers disappear from the grid. (And I also had my problems with editors mucking about with programming manuals that I wrote.) Oh, well … I’ll carry on with reading the book and hope for the best … 😳.

          1. I’m just cataloging information about each meta puzzle elements of each grid (date, title, meta question, answer, method to solving, description) – and I’m finding that enough is going to be tedious (I’m to the middle of 2016, first pass). It’s surprising how much I remember about doing each of the metas when I just see the solution. Of course, I actually spent a lot of time on trying to get them back then. Now? Not so much.

  5. It took me awhile to get up to speed on this one, but the outcome was good. Coulter is usually a late-in-the week dude, so I knew I’d have to work a little harder today. And that’s OK!

  6. It seemed a little tricky for a Tues, but I got there.

    My brother in law’s initials were MT, and he had IM MT for his license plate. I always wondered if that was really something to brag about!

  7. 8:01. I’m with Catherine. This seemed trickier than a normal Tuesday.

    Wasn’t there an old kids joke where you told another kid “Point to your head and abbreviate ‘mountain'” ? He’d point to his head and say “M-T”

    Carrie – Those unis were used for every game this past weekend. It was a blight on the game of baseball.

    Best –

    1. The White Sox had some silly uniforms in the ’70s and ’80s. Remember the shorts? I mean, it’s true they had the prettiest legs in baseball, but give me a break!

  8. 9:20 and no errors. This one wasn’t as simple as most Tuesdays. POILU was completely new to me, and I originally had AVER for 48 down instead of AVOW. That made up for some interesting moments.

  9. Tim Croce’s latest: 50:16, no errors. Terrifying for the first fifteen or twenty minutes of being unable to get a foothold, but everything slowly came together after that.

  10. Greetings y’all!!🦆

    SHOUT OUT TO SULU!!! 😍

    No errors– I didn’t know POILU or ROK, tho at least the latter should have been evident. Needed crosses.

    People I’ve known from South Korea (and that’s a lot!) refer to their country as Korea, no South. I think it is because they see their country as the “true” Korea, but I should ask …

    Michael! Re fruit trees: funny you mention falling avocados. I have a sapote tree– its fruit is round but tastes a bit like a banana. Just tonight I took my dogs out back and a sapote came crashing down right in front of me!! Scared the bejesus outta me!! 😯😫

    Jeff! Yes, I heard that those horrible unis were worn by all teams. Awful! So many complaints I wonder if there will be any repercussions for whoever in MLB had the bright idea….!!

    Be well ~~🚋⚾️

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