LA Times Crossword 4 Sep 19, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Julie Berube
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): ABC, Six Ways

Themed answers each include the letter string “ABC”. Those letters are in a different order in each themed answer:

  • 15A Chemist’s garb : LAB COAT
  • 25A Apples on teachers’ desks : MACBOOK PROS
  • 47A Soccer powerhouse from Spain : FC BARCELONA
  • 63A Bony thoracic structure : RIB CAGE
  • 3D Curios assortment : BRIC-A-BRAC
  • 35D ISP service : WEB ACCESS

Bill’s time: 6m 54s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Devices at one’s fingertips : TABLETS

Tablet computers are like a cross between a laptop and a smartphone. Tablets differ from laptops in that they usually have fewer input/output capabilities. They differ from smartphones in that they are larger, and often lack access to a cellular network. We got our first real glimpse of the tablet computing concept in the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The first really successful tablet computer was Apple’s iPad, which was released not in 2001, but in 2010.

11 Old NCAA football ranking sys. : BCS

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was the ranking system used to match up the top ten ranked NCAA football teams for five bowl games. The BCS was abandoned in 2014 with the introduction of the College Football Playoff tournament.

14 Music genre for Ladysmith Black Mambazo and King Sunny Adé : AFRO-POP

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a male choral group that came to prominence singing with Paul Simon his 1986 album “Graceland”. The group is from South Africa, and their style of music is referred to as Afro-Pop.

King Sunny Adé is a musician from Nigeria. He is a pioneer of what’s called world music, a genre that encompasses many styles of music from all around the globe.

17 __ kick: martial arts maneuver : SCISSOR

Martial arts are various fighting traditions and systems used in combat or simply to promote physical well-being. The term “martial” ultimately derives from Latin and means “Arts of Mars”, a reference to Mars, the Roman god of war.

18 Adriatic country whose flag has a double-headed eagle : ALBANIA

The Albanian flag is red, with a black, double-headed eagle in the center. The flag’s basic design was adopted in 1912 when Albania finally gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

The Adriatic is the sea separating Italy from the Balkans.

19 Corp. bigwig : CEO

A bigwig is someone important. The use of the term “bigwig” harks back to the days when men of authority and rank wore … big wigs.

25 Apples on teachers’ desks : MACBOOK PROS

The MacBook Pro is the high-end model in Apple’s MacBook family of portable computers.

28 “The Wire” actor Idris : ELBA

English actor Idris Elba plays the drug lord Stringer Bell in the marvelous HBO drama series “The Wire”, and played the title character in the 2013 film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. Off the screen, Elba occasionally appears as a disk jockey using the name “DJ Big Driis”.

I didn’t watch the HBO series called “The Wire” when it first aired. We ending up buying all five series on DVD and we watched the whole thing several years ago. It’s is a great drama series, and I thoroughly recommend it. Personally, I think that HBO produces some of the best dramas on American television.

31 Floorboard-ruining insects : TERMITES

Termites are insects that are somewhat unique in that they can digest cellulose (as can ruminants such as cattle). Because of this diet, they cause a lot of trouble for human populations by feeding on wood in man-made structures.

33 2005 slasher film sequel : SAW II

The “Saw” franchise of movies is gruesome in the extreme. I’ve only seen a few minutes of “Saw” footage (accidentally). The storylines center on imprisoned victims who are faced with having to mutilate themselves in order to escape. Ugh …

43 18-Across capital : TIRANA
(18A Adriatic country whose flag has a double-headed eagle : ALBANIA)

Tirana is the capital of Albania, and the nation’s largest city.

46 Premier League soccer team, to fans : MAN U

Manchester United (“Man U”) is one of the most successful football (soccer) clubs in England, having won more League titles than any other in the history of the game. The club is also famous for an airplane crash known as the 1958 Munich air disaster. The British European flight crashed during takeoff, resulting in the death of 23 passengers including eight members of the Manchester United team.

47 Soccer powerhouse from Spain : FC BARCELONA

“Barça” is the nickname of the soccer club FC Barcelona (Futbol Club Barcelona). Barcelona is one of the most financially successful football clubs in the world in terms of revenue, along with the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

52 “Middle” note : CEE

On the keyboard of a standard piano, the fourth C-key from the left is in the center of the keyboard and is referred to as “middle C”.

53 Flowery rings : LEIS

“Lei” is the Hawaiian word for “garland, wreath”, although in more general terms a lei is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

54 Young newts : EFTS

Newts wouldn’t be my favorite animals. They are found all over the world living on land or in water depending on the species, but always associated with water even if it is only for breeding. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental stages during their lives. They start off as larvae in water, fertilized eggs that often cling to aquatic plants. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, the first developmental form of the newt. After living some months as tadpoles swimming around in the water, they undergo another metamorphosis, sprouting legs and replacing their external gills with lungs. At this juvenile stage they are known as efts, and leave the water to live on land. A more gradual transition takes place then, as the eft takes on the lizard-like appearance of the adult newt.

55 Epidemic-fighting agcy. : CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based in Atlanta, Georgia. The CDC started out life during WWII as the Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities. The CDC worries about much more than malaria these days …

63 Bony thoracic structure : RIB CAGE

The thorax is another name for the chest, the part of the human body between the neck and the diaphragm.

65 Eastern principle : TAO

The name of the Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Taoism signifies the true nature of the world.

67 Waters near the South Pole : ROSS SEA

The Ross Sea is a bay in the Southern Ocean of Antarctica. It was discovered by one James Ross in 1841. A more recent discovery, in the waters of the Ross Sea, was a 33 feet long giant squid that was captured in 2007.

Down

1 Some grad students : TAS

Teaching assistant (TA)

2 Org. with Colts and Broncos : AFC

American Football Conference (AFC)

3 Curios assortment : BRIC-A-BRAC

“Bric-a-brac” is a French phrase (actually “bric-à-brac”) that was used as far back as the 16th century. Back then, it was a nonsense term meaning “at random” or “any old way”. Since Victorian times we have used the phrase in English to describe a collection of curios, statues and the like. In modern usage, bric-a-brac tends to be a selection of cheaper items.

5 __ salts : EPSOM

The Surrey town of Epsom in England is most famous for its racecourse (Epsom Downs), at which is run the Epsom Derby every year, one of the three races that make up the English Triple Crown. We also come across “Epsom salts” from time to time. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters. Epsom was indeed a spa town at one time. The town is also home to Epsom College, an English “public school” (which actually means “private, and expensive”). One of Epsom’s “old boys” was the Hollywood actor Stewart Granger.

8 Post-rehab support group : AL-ANON

Al-Anon and Alateen are fellowships for relatives and friends of alcoholics. Alateen specifically supports teens who are affected by another’s drinking, whereas Al-Anon focuses on people of all ages.

9 Bit part : WALK-ON

A “walk-on role” in a performance is one in which the actor makes an appearance on stage or on set, but has no dialog. One line of dialog elevates the role to a “bit part”.

11 Ugly mistake : BONER

Boner is one of those terms that I just don’t like because it can be used offensively. “Boner” can be used to mean “faux pas, error”.

12 Tahrir Square city : CAIRO

Tahrir Square is a major location in Cairo, Egypt. The name “Tahrir” translates to “Liberation” in English. The square was a focal point in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution staged against former president Hosni Mubarak.

16 Abner drawer : CAPP

Al Capp was a cartoonist from New Haven, Connecticut who is best remembered for cartoon strip “Li’l Abner”. Capp created “Li’l Abner” in 1934 and drew it himself until 1977. Capp passed away two years after “Li’l Abner” was retired.

21 Venerated bird in ancient Egypt : IBIS

The ibis is a wading bird that was revered in ancient Egypt. “Ibis” is an interesting word grammatically speaking. You can have one “ibis” or two “ibises”, and then again one has a flock of “ibis”. And if you want to go with the classical plural, instead of two “ibises” you would have two “ibides”!

23 __ four: teacake : PETIT

A petit four is a small confection served at the end of a meal, either as a dessert or with coffee. The name “petit four” is French for “small oven”.

24 Justice Kagan : ELENA

Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States from 2009 until 2010, when she replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. That made Justice Kagan the first female US Solicitor General and the fourth female US Supreme Court justice. Kagan also served as the first female dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009.

26 Italian bubbly : ASTI

Asti is a sparkling white wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, and is named for the town of Asti around which the wine is produced. The wine used to be called Asti Spumante, and it had a very bad reputation as a “poor man’s champagne”. The “Spumante” was dropped in a marketing attempt at rebranding associated with a reduction in the amount of residual sugar in the wine.

27 Bandleader Kay known as “The Ol’ Perfessor” : KYSER

Kay Kyser was popular bandleader in the thirties and forties. He was known as the “Ol’ Professor of Swing”, mainly because he hosted an act called “Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge”. That act incorporated a quiz and music.

35 ISP service : WEB ACCESS

An Internet service provider (ISP) is just what the name indicates, a company that provides its customers with access to the Internet. One way that ISPs differentiate themselves from each other is in the way in which end users are connected to the ISP’s network. So, there are cable ISPs, DSL ISPs, dial-up ISPs and satellite ISPs.

36 Dancer Castle : IRENE

Vernon and Irene Castle were a husband-wife team of ballroom dancers who regularly performed on Broadway at the start of the 20th century. The Castles have been credited with creating or at least popularizing the dance called the “foxtrot”.

42 Brewer’s supply : MALT

Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried. The cereal is germinated by soaking it in water, and then germination is halted by drying the grains with hot air.

44 Film franchise with a saber-toothed tiger named Diego : ICE AGE

“Ice Age” is a 2002 animated film that has spawned a whole series of movies: “Ice Age: The Meltdown” (2006), “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (2009) and “Ice Age: Continental Drift” (2012).

48 “Queen of Salsa” Cruz : CELIA

Celia Cruz was born and bred in Cuba, but spent most of her working life in the United States, playing out her salsa singing career in New Jersey. Around the world, Cruz was known as the “Queen of Salsa”.

49 “The Hobbit” hobbit : BILBO

In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel “The Hobbit”, the title character is Bilbo Baggins. He is a hobbit who stumbles across a magical ring and then embarks on a series of adventures.

60 Classic muscle car : GTO

The initialism “GTO” was used on several touring cars (including a famous Pontiac) and stands for “Gran Turismo Omologato”. Italian car manufacturers started the tradition of calling their luxury performance cars “Gran Turismo”, and calling those cars they approved for racing “Gran Turismo Omologato”. The phrase “gran turismo omologato” translates as “grand touring homologated”, with “homologated” being a technical term signifying official approval.

By definition, a “muscle car” is a small vehicle with a large and maybe oversized engine.

62 Lisbon greeting : OLA

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. It is the westernmost capital city in Europe, and indeed is the westernmost large city on the continent. Lisbon is also the oldest city in Western Europe, and was founded hundreds of years before London, Paris and Rome.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Devices at one’s fingertips : TABLETS
8 Bowl over : AWE
11 Old NCAA football ranking sys. : BCS
14 Music genre for Ladysmith Black Mambazo and King Sunny Adé : AFRO-POP
15 Chemist’s garb : LAB COAT
17 __ kick: martial arts maneuver : SCISSOR
18 Adriatic country whose flag has a double-headed eagle : ALBANIA
19 Corp. bigwig : CEO
20 Pen pal greeting? : OINK!
22 Impudent : PERT
23 Split __ soup : PEA
25 Apples on teachers’ desks : MACBOOK PROS
28 “The Wire” actor Idris : ELBA
30 Very thin : SKINNY
31 Floorboard-ruining insects : TERMITES
33 2005 slasher film sequel : SAW II
38 Rather cross : IN A SNIT
39 Some losers : DIETERS
41 Food truck fare : TACOS
42 Tiny organisms : MICROBES
43 18-Across capital : TIRANA
46 Premier League soccer team, to fans : MAN U
47 Soccer powerhouse from Spain : FC BARCELONA
52 “Middle” note : CEE
53 Flowery rings : LEIS
54 Young newts : EFTS
55 Epidemic-fighting agcy. : CDC
57 Prohibited : ILLEGAL
59 Go along with : AGREE TO
63 Bony thoracic structure : RIB CAGE
64 Place setting item : UTENSIL
65 Eastern principle : TAO
66 __ object : SEX
67 Waters near the South Pole : ROSS SEA

Down

1 Some grad students : TAS
2 Org. with Colts and Broncos : AFC
3 Curios assortment : BRIC-A-BRAC
4 Take a beating : LOSE
5 __ salts : EPSOM
6 In addition : TOO
7 Toothed wheel : SPROCKET
8 Post-rehab support group : AL-ANON
9 Bit part : WALK-ON
10 Retreat, as the tide : EBB
11 Ugly mistake : BONER
12 Tahrir Square city : CAIRO
13 Sports data : STATS
16 Abner drawer : CAPP
21 Venerated bird in ancient Egypt : IBIS
23 __ four: teacake : PETIT
24 Justice Kagan : ELENA
26 Italian bubbly : ASTI
27 Bandleader Kay known as “The Ol’ Perfessor” : KYSER
29 Playground comeback : AM SO!
32 Orch. piece : INSTR
34 Nuclear energy source : ATOM
35 ISP service : WEB ACCESS
36 Dancer Castle : IRENE
37 Magazine copy : ISSUE
39 “Jurassic World” beast : DINOSAUR
40 Volunteer’s words : I CAN
42 Brewer’s supply : MALT
44 Film franchise with a saber-toothed tiger named Diego : ICE AGE
45 Involuntary, as a reaction : REFLEX
47 Tease : FLIRT
48 “Queen of Salsa” Cruz : CELIA
49 “The Hobbit” hobbit : BILBO
50 “Wait __!” : A SEC
51 Lots of land : ACRES
56 Sanctuaries : DENS
58 Oxygen or hydrogen : GAS
60 Classic muscle car : GTO
61 Make fast : TIE
62 Lisbon greeting : OLA

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 4 Sep 19, Wednesday”

  1. No errors/erasures. Challenging for a Wed. Sun-Thur, I usually go in numerical order, across. I did so today, but it wasn’t easy.
    2D: Being an old-type person, I thought at first it was going to be AFL, which those teams were before the merger. I used to enjoy the quirkiness of the diffs. in rules.
    39A: Coincidental b/c today I reached a milestone: Down to 180, from 213 in April. 15 more to go.
    41A: My favorite is the taco truck on Vine by the Pavillions, b/c it’s not so spicy.
    47A: My sons’ maternal grandma came from Barcelona, where many cousins remain due to her sister returning there from Cuba. Her hubby brought her instead to America, splitting the family, but enabling me to meet her daughter.
    In 2017, I observed some proceeding at the Palais de Justice in Paris, where an entire soccer team, including coaches, was on trial for some misbehavior. It was not reported in the press. I won’t say which team it was, but to an English-speaker, it rhymes with paint her main.
    54A: As a youth, I was an amateur naturalist. Once the head naturalist took us underlings on a hike. When we uncovered a newt, he made the mistake of referring to it as a reptile. The specialist in that area said “Sorry to correct you, Mr. Rock, but when you’re talking newts, you’re talking amphibian.” We laughed and asked him if they also have a written language.
    23A: In a restaurant, my sister, prone to Spoonerisms, once ordered “pou seap.”
    Re 5D notes: Remember Upson Downs? From Auntie Mame.
    Bill- your site is misbehaving- it took me five tries to post, and six yesterday. I posted as anon, thinking it would make a diff. It went through like that, but probably didn’t make the diff.

  2. 22:05 no errors…we live in a suburb of Baltimore and when “The Wire” first came on TV we started to watch the first episode and the police seemed to be having a contest to see who could use the F word the most in one sentence…..my wife and I looked at each other, shook our heads and that was the last time we tried to watch it

  3. Hey Mr. Mensa- you didn’t get it. How can you “unearth” something on Mars? You’d have to unmars it.
    But I do appreciate the correction to “up there.” B/c, if you live in Australia, Mars would be “down there.” I get it.

  4. ABC! When I saw the first rearrangement, I thought, “My, how clever!” By the third, though, I realized I was being treated to true constructor genius. Not until I found not a hint of explanation in the clues did I realize the editor is a regular Einstein, too! Can’t wait to be dazzled again!

    1. I get your point. If I were to critique/review this, the whole point of the theme is kind of a big mystery. On a level, I get what’s happening, but at the same time there’s no entertainment value to it.

      At least the last time I saw this (WSJ 06-15-2017 – the ABC combos as a rebus), there was a revealer “Now I Know My ABCs”, along with a title: “If At First You Don’t Succeed…” It might have been too close to plagiarism to ape either of those as a revealer (or Berube didn’t realize this existed), but another one should have been possible.

  5. 10:26. I suspect Anonymous is showing some sarcasm, but I understand his/her point. I expected there to be more to the theme than ABC as well.

    I was curious about “curios”. I even thought it was a misprint, but it’s a word I didn’t know – “a rare, unusual or intriguing object”.

    Michael/Anon – Aha. Point taken. I completely missed that one. I had no unearthly idea…. This is why I had to get into Mensa via a loophole rather than by actually taking the exam…..

    Best –

  6. By the 3rd ABC, I realized what the theme was. (Yawn.) But half the time I don’t notice themes.

    Had to Google for FCBARCELONA, sports or course. Had never heard of: BCS, AFROPOP, SAWII.

    As for KAY KYSER, I remember The College of Musical Knowledge. Also, @Carrie yesterday, the film, Forever Amber, had flashed across my brain.

  7. Just for laughs – I suspect anyone who’s really good at crosswords would do well on the Mensa exam. I would guess that correlation would be pretty high. E.g. I’d be surprised if Bill couldn’t qualify…if he were so inclined to try. Dave Kennison could never qualify simply because I’d veto him 😛

    Sally likes 225 but not 224. Sally likes 900 but not 800. Sally likes 144 but not 145. Which would Sally like 1600 or 1700?

    Some questions are not at all hard, but it’s a matter of how fast you can do them:

    If you count from 1-100 how many 7’s do you pass?
    or
    What vowel comes at the midpoint between J and T?
    or
    What is half of a quarter of a tenth of 400?

    That’s what the exam looks like. A lot of it is finishing in the time alloted. There are a lot of “which diagram would come next in the series?” type questions I can’t reproduce here. I’m looking for a really outside the box type, but I can’t find a good one yet…I have to solve all these before I go on to the next one and I was getting tired….

    Best –

    1. I seem to recall things a lot harder than what was posted when I looked into Mensa. I know taking the GMAT once was pretty grinding. I had a qualifying ACT score back when I was a teenager and they took that test. I will say for me these weren’t too difficult (did them in about 2 minutes just in my head sitting here). Now meta puzzles – those are the Mensa tests. 😛

      1. Most of it is harder. This is primarily the speed type questions. There are different ways to solve them. None are difficult but some are more efficient than others, and that’s what that part of the test looks like. I’m trying to find the harder ones, but I may have to dig deeper

  8. Got to the puzzle pretty late in the day and had one box wrong, which
    of course meant two error words. Did not know “afropop” but guessed
    aeropop. The rest was okay, but didn’t even look for a theme, although
    the circles should have had me looking.

  9. I had to guess at two letters, but we finally scored 100 on this one.
    I sure wouldn’t call it easy; I never look for themes and doubt if
    I am alone on this. We labored to get half of it after one pass and
    like they sometimes do, they just started to appear. Ended up being
    fun after a real challenging start. Very pleased with the result.

    Again, I don’t agree that one letter missed is two errors, even though
    two words are missed. But, different strokes; the comparisons of the
    word versus letter scoring method has been shown to be very close, so
    whatever turns your “toothed wheel”.

  10. Slightly tricky Wednesday for me; took 18 minutes with no errors. Had to wait for a few crosses and make some guesses but managed through (SAW II/KYSER) without ever having heard of Kyser or seen even Saw I, let alone Saw II.

    Off to bed early to get up for my Farmers Market.

  11. Aloha!🦆

    To Tuesday’s German poster– Willkomen!! I hope I spelled that right…!

    No errors. This was a good puzzle and a fun challenge, but I agree that the theme was …. nothing. 🙄

    Jane! Great minds…

    Speaking of great minds, I also got the Mensa test items that Jeff posted, but I don’t know how I’d fare on the tougher ones. 🤔

    Be well ~~🚋⚾️

  12. Re 8-down Wednesday September 4. Alanon and Alcoholics Anonymous are NOT synonymous. Alanon is for FAMILIES of alcoholics. Alcoholics Anonymous is for post rehab.

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