LA Times Crossword 1 Nov 19, Friday

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Constructed by: Ed Sessa
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): A Little “Mad”

We have a mini-theme today, with two long answers at the center of the grid referring to “Mad” magazine:

  • 30A One on many covers since 1954 : ALFRED E NEUMAN
  • 17A 30-Across catchphrase : WHAT, ME WORRY?

Bill’s time: 10m 07s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Kia sedan : OPTIMA

The Kia Optima was sold for a while in Canada and Europe as the Kia Magentis.

7 Nincompoop : SAPHEAD

“Sap” is slang for “fool, someone easily scammed”. The term arose in the early 1800s in Britain when it was used in “saphead” and “sapskull”. All these words are derived from “sapwood”, which is the softwood found in tree trunks between the bark and the heartwood at the center.

14 Made dapper, with “up” : SPRUCED

Our verb “to spruce up” means “to make trim or neat”. The term comes from the adjective “spruce”, meaning “smart, neat”. In turn, the adjective comes from “spruce leather”, which was a Prussian leather that was used in England in the 15th and 16th centuries to make a popular style of jerkin that was widely considered to look quite smart.

16 1957 title role for Michael Landon : TEENAGE WEREWOLF

“I Was a Teenage Werewolf” is a 1957 horror movie starring Michael Landon in the title role. The film was a breakthrough role for Landon, and two years later he landed the role of Little Joe on TV’s “Bonanza”.

Actor Michael Landon’s big break on TV came with his role as Little Joe Cartwright in the long-running Western show “Bonanza”. He continued his television success with leading roles in “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven”. One of Landon’s other claims to fame is that in 1954, he threw a javelin over 193 feet. That was the longest javelin throw by a high schooler that year.

20 Teammate of Babe : LOU

The New York Yankees baseball team of the late twenties had a particularly successful core group of batters. That line-up was nicknamed “Murderers’ Row”. The most famous “Murderers’ Row” played with the 1927 Yankees, and was made up of:

  • Earle Combs
  • Mark Koenig
  • Babe Ruth
  • Lou Gehrig
  • Bob Meusel
  • Tony Lazzeri

21 Lash with a bullwhip : LARUE

Alfred LaRue was an actor who appeared in a series of eleven western movies in the forties and fifties, playing the character Marshal Lash LaRue. He was very adept with the bullwhip, and so earned the nickname “Lash”. Years after his onscreen career ended, LaRue was the guy who trained Harrison Ford how to use a bullwhip for his role in the “Indiana Jones” series of films.

22 Like jawbreakers : HARD

Jawbreakers (also “gobstoppers”) are spherical, hard candy that usually consist of a number of layers that reveal themselves as the sweet dissolves in the mouth.

23 Mountain __: soft drinks : DEWS

If you check the can, you’ll see that “Mountain Dew” is now marketed as “Mtn Dew”.

24 “Wheel” deal : TRIP

Contestants have been spinning the “Wheel of Fortune” since the game show first aired in 1975.

25 November honorees : VETS

Veterans Day used to be known as Armistice Day, and is observed on November 11th each year. This particular date was chosen as the Armistice that ended WWI was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

26 Range rovers? : POSSE

Our word “posse” comes from an Anglo-Latin term from the early 15th century “posse comitatus” meaning “the force of the county”.

29 Mekong River native : LAO

The official name for the country of Laos is the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. In the Lao language, the country’s name is “Meuang Lao”. The French ruled Laos as part of French Indochina, having united three separate Lao kingdoms. As there was a plural of “Lao” entities united into one, the French added the “S” and so today we tend to use “Laos” instead of “Lao”.

At over 2,700 miles in length, the Mekong is the twelfth longest river in the world. It rises in the Tibetan Plateau and empties into the South China Sea at the famed Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

30 One on many covers since 1954 : ALFRED E NEUMAN

Alfred E. Neuman is the mascot of “Mad” magazine, although the image of the smiling, jug-eared youth had been around for decades before the magazine. “Mad” first used the likeness in 1955, and young Mr. Neuman has appeared on the cover of almost every issue of the magazine since then. Neuman’s name was inspired by American composer Alfred Newman, a prolific writer of film scores.

37 Some govt. hospitals : VAS

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was formed in 1930 to manage pre-existing government benefits for war veterans. Some of those benefits dated back to the Continental Congress.

39 Eponymous musical revue of 1978 : EUBIE

James Hubert “Eubie” Blake was a composer and pianist from Baltimore, Maryland. Blake was a noted composer and performer of ragtime music. The 1978 musical revue “Eubie!” features his music. Apparently Blake claimed to have started smoking cigarettes at the age of 10 years, and died 85 years later in 1983. Blake’s celebrity status and long life as a smoker was often cited by politicians who opposed anti-tobacco legislation.

43 1995 comet spotter Thomas : BOPP

Comet Hale-Bopp was an unusually bright comet that was observable in the night sky for 18 months in the late 1990s. The comet was discovered in 1995 by professional astronomer Alan Hale and amateur observer Thomas Bopp, hence the name. Famously, claims were made that there was an alien spaceship travelling behind Hale-Bopp. 39 members of a San Diego religious cult called Heaven’s Gate committed mass suicide in 1996 in order to reach the spacecraft.

45 10-year-old adventurer who was 7 when she debuted in 2000 : DORA

“Dora the Explorer” is a cartoon series shown on Nickelodeon. Part of Dora’s remit is to introduce the show’s young viewers to some Spanish words and phrases.

46 Group taking power by force : JUNTA

A junta is a group of military officers that rule a country, usually after having seized power forcibly. “Junta” is a Spanish word meaning “council”.

48 Othello, for one : MOOR

The most famous Moor in literature has to be Othello, the title character in William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello, the Moor of Venice”. The word “Moor” describes various peoples of North Africa, usually of the Muslim faith. At the height of their geographic influence the Moors occupied much of the Iberian peninsula, calling it Al Andalus (from which modern Andalusia gets its name).

50 Show that has appeared in various versions for six decades : THE NEWLYWED GAME

“The Newlywed Game” first went on the air in 1966 and has been resurrected a few times and is still being shown today. The couples often disagreed on air and started arguments, some of which actually led to divorces.

53 “Pork fat rules!” chef : LAGASSE

Emeril Lagasse is an American chef who was born in Massachusetts. Lagasse first achieved celebrity as executive chef in Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Now famous for his television shows, his cuisine still showcases New Orleans ingredients and influences. Lagasse started using his famous “Bam!” catchphrase in order to keep his crew awake during repeated tapings of his show.

54 Smokey’s target : SPEEDER

In CB slang, a “smokey” is a police officer. The term is used because Smokey Bear, the US Forest Service’s mascot, wears a hat that is similar to that worn by many highway patrol officers.

56 Square-burgers server : WENDY’S

Famously, the Wendy’s chain of fast food restaurants was founded by Dave Thomas, in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Dave named his establishment after his fourth child, Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas.

Down

5 Parts of gigs : MEGS

In the world of computing, a bit is the basic unit of information. It has a value of 0 or 1. A “byte” is a small collection of “bits” (usually 8), the number of bits needed to uniquely identify a character of text. The prefix mega- stands for 10 to the power of 6, so a megabyte (meg) is 1,000,000 bytes. The prefix giga- means 10 to the power of 9, and so a gigabyte (gig) is 1,000,000,000 bytes. Well, those are the SI definitions of megabyte and gigabyte. The purists still use 2 to the power of 20 for a megabyte (i.e. 1,048,576), and 2 to the power of 30 for a gigabyte.

8 Ban competitor : ARRID

Arrid is an antiperspirant deodorant brand introduced in the thirties. Slogans associated with Arrid have been “Don’t be half-safe – use Arrid to be sure”, “Stress stinks! Arrid works!” and “Get a little closer”.

11 They give lessons in French : ECOLES

In French, one might learn “une leçon” (a lesson) in an “école” (school).

23 Marvel doctor : DOOM

Doctor Doom is a supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe, and is an archenemy of the Fantastic Four.

26 Simon with songs : PAUL

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon’s career took off when he was partnered with Art Garfunkel. Simon was the really the writing powerhouse of Simon & Garfunkel, and wrote most of their big hits, including “The Sound of Silence”, “Mrs. Robinson”, and “Bridge over Troubled Water”. Simon has had three wives, including actress Carrie Fisher (1983-1984), and singer Edie Brickell whom he wed in 1992.

29 Waikiki neckwear : LEIS

Waikiki is a neighborhood of Honolulu that is home to the famous Waikiki Beach. The name “Waikiki” means “spouting fresh water” in Hawaiian.

31 Move like a hummingbird : FLIT

Hummingbirds are the smallest of all the birds. The bee hummingbird is native to Cuba and weighs less than a tenth of an ounce and is about two inches in length!

32 Pan pooch : NANA

In J.M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Peter takes Wendy Darling and her two brothers on adventures on the island of Neverland. Back in the real world, the Darling children are taken care of by a nanny, a Newfoundland dog called Nana. It is Nana who takes Peter Pan’s shadow away from him as he tries to escape from the Darling house one night.

33 Peripatetic bell ringer : AVON LADY

The adjective “peripatetic” means travelling on foot, or walking from place to place. The term comes from a Latin word that was applied to the disciples of Aristotle. Aristotle had the habit of teaching while strolling through the public meeting place in Athens. The Latin word comes from the Greek “peripatetikos” meaning “given to walking about”.

In 1886, a young man called David McConnell was selling books door-to-door. To enhance his sales numbers he was giving out free perfume to the ladies of the houses that he visited. Seeing as his perfume was more popular than his books, he founded the California Perfume Company in New York City and started manufacturing and selling across the country. The company name was changed to Avon in 1939, and the famous “Avon Calling” marketing campaign was launched in 1954.

38 “The Blacklist” star : SPADER

Actor James Spader’s breakthrough role was the male lead in the 1989 film “Sex, Lies and Videotape”. After building a successful career on the big screen, Spader played some high-profile characters on the small screen in shows like “The Practice”, “Boston Legal” and “The Blacklist”. Spader worked as a yoga instructor while he was starting out his career, and indeed met his ex-wife while working at a yoga studio in the eighties.

“The Blacklist” is an entertaining, albeit a little formulaic, crime drama TV show starring James Spader and Megan Boone. Spader plays a successful criminal who surrenders to the FBI in order to help catch a “blacklist” of high-profile criminals.

39 Calif. barrio region : EAST LA

East Los Angeles (usually “East LA”) is the most populous census-designated place in California, and is home to over 125,000 people.

“Barrio” is the name given to an urban district in Spanish-speaking countries.

40 Jazz fan? : UTAHAN

The Utah Jazz professional basketball team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. As one might guess from the name, the team originated in New Orleans, but only played there for five seasons. New Orleans was a tough place to be based because venues were hard to come by, and Mardi Gras forced the team to play on the road for a whole month.

45 Seek out water : DOWSE

Dowsing is the practice of divining, not just for water but also for buried metals and gemstones. Often a dowser will use a Y-shaped or L-shaped rod as a tool, which can also be called a dowser. Here in the US, the tool used might be referred to as a “witching rod”, as it is usually made from witch-hazel.

46 Actor/rapper Smith : JADEN

Actor Jaden Smith is the son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Jaden played the title character in the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid”. I must say, that is a very entertaining film and young Jaden did a great job. More recently, Jaden Smith has focused more on a career as a rap singer.

48 Dovetail : MESH

In the world of carpentry, a dovetail joint is one using a “pin” cut into the end of one piece of wood mating with a “tail” cut into another. That shape of that “tail” is said to resemble the tail of a dove, hence the name. We use the verb “to dovetail” in a figurative sense, meaning to “to unite closely”.

49 First name in smelly romantics : PEPE

Pepé Le Pew is a very likeable cartoon character from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. Pepé is a French skunk, first introduced way back in 1945. He is always thinking of “l’amour” and chases the lady skunks, or a black cat with a white stripe accidentally painted down her back.

51 __ Geo: cable channel : NAT

The National Geographic Channel (Nat Geo) is jointly owned by Fox and the National Geographic Society, and was launched in 2001.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Kia sedan : OPTIMA
7 Nincompoop : SAPHEAD
14 Made dapper, with “up” : SPRUCED
15 Syrupy stuff : TREACLE
16 1957 title role for Michael Landon : TEENAGE WEREWOLF
18 Lays to rest : INTERS
19 Recipient of unearned income, perhaps : HEIR
20 Teammate of Babe : LOU
21 Lash with a bullwhip : LARUE
22 Like jawbreakers : HARD
23 Mountain __: soft drinks : DEWS
24 “Wheel” deal : TRIP
25 November honorees : VETS
26 Range rovers? : POSSE
27 Sub mission site : SEA
28 Law __ : FIRM
29 Mekong River native : LAO
30 One on many covers since 1954 : ALFRED E NEUMAN
35 Showed the way : LED
36 Cry : WAIL
37 Some govt. hospitals : VAS
39 Eponymous musical revue of 1978 : EUBIE
42 Downsides : CONS
43 1995 comet spotter Thomas : BOPP
44 In a tussle : AT IT
45 10-year-old adventurer who was 7 when she debuted in 2000 : DORA
46 Group taking power by force : JUNTA
47 Sink : SAG
48 Othello, for one : MOOR
49 Lacking color : PALLID
50 Show that has appeared in various versions for six decades : THE NEWLYWED GAME
53 “Pork fat rules!” chef : LAGASSE
54 Smokey’s target : SPEEDER
55 One way alternative? : ANOTHER
56 Square-burgers server : WENDY’S

Down

1 Place to go fly a kite : OPEN AREA
2 Like some hearings : PRETRIAL
3 Cause of purring? : TUNE-UP
4 Words of sympathy : I CARE
5 Parts of gigs : MEGS
6 Lemon finish : -ADE
7 Follows directions? : STEERS
8 Ban competitor : ARRID
9 One in a jury box : PEER
10 Equivocate : HAW
11 They give lessons in French : ECOLES
12 Permits : ALLOWS
13 Neutralize : DEFUSE
14 Uplifting things : STILTS
17 30-Across catchphrase : WHAT, ME WORRY?
22 Trail mix? : HERD
23 Marvel doctor : DOOM
25 Competed : VIED
26 Simon with songs : PAUL
28 __ ride : FREE
29 Waikiki neckwear : LEIS
31 Move like a hummingbird : FLIT
32 Pan pooch : NANA
33 Peripatetic bell ringer : AVON LADY
34 Breaks for sitters : NAP TIMES
38 “The Blacklist” star : SPADER
39 Calif. barrio region : EAST LA
40 Jazz fan? : UTAHAN
41 Problem in an ensemble : BIG EGO
42 Tailgating sight : COOLER
43 Stuck out : BULGED
45 Seek out water : DOWSE
46 Actor/rapper Smith : JADEN
48 Dovetail : MESH
49 First name in smelly romantics : PEPE
51 __ Geo: cable channel : NAT
52 Denver-to-Vegas dir. : WSW

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 1 Nov 19, Friday”

  1. LAT: 17:45, 1 dumb error. A Saturday puzzle dropped into Friday. WSJ: 9:30, no errors. No idea on the meta (do I ever?). Newsday: 12:13, no errors. New Yorker: 15:49, no errors.

  2. After about 10 minutes, I had 4 things filled in and was tempted to quit. Got stuck in the NE corner. Don’t speak French and had “etoles” instead of “ecoles”. Haw for equivocate? Yuk. Couldn’t get “treacle.”

  3. Today’s New Yorker crossword, by Erik Agard, is an unusually elegant creation, a puzzle to be done slowly and appreciatively, savoring the moments as each entry locks firmly into place. And I got a chuckle out of 43-Down, which used “Ante up?” as a clue for “ETNA” … 😜

  4. So the other long answers have nothing in common? Good to know, because I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to connect them somehow. A slightly-themed puzzle on a Friday is a trick, not a treat.

  5. 33:11 with one error….I had Hubie for Eubie which left 39D as hastla which I thought was another Spanish word (what else?) but it turned out not to be so….I am from Baltimore and should have known better

  6. 18:57 with one square off – same issue as Wayne: EtOLES/TREAtLE. I was upset it took me so long to get the mini theme answers as I was a big fan of Mad Magazine as a kid. Another good Ed Sessa late week puzzle that didn’t disappoint. It is curious why they put a Saturday-ish puzzle on a Friday. Interesting to see what tomorrow’s puzzle will be like.

    I actually wondered if this was a rebus or something when I saw “Square burgers server” that begins with “W”. I thought it had to be a White Castle reference, but it wasn’t.

    Best –

  7. I had to dictionary syrupy~ aka~ treacle, then got in trouble with the bottom left corner. Did get # 55across ~another but that alone wasn’t enough to crack the rest of the corner. The rest worked itself out.
    Eddie

  8. After 4 wonderful smooth days, today I had 6 Googles, including the 2 longest lines.

    Agree on HAW and SAPHEAD as a bit off, but I remember TREACLE from the British tune, Pop Goes the Weasel:

    “Half a pound of two penny rice, Half a pound of TREACLE,
    That’s the way the money goes, Pop goes the weasel!

  9. Exhibit A in how NOT to construct a puzzle. Fill it with proper names and obscure references, and then have the nerve to play it coy and cute with the clues. Worthless exercise.

  10. Did not like it all, although I knew many of the ones we missed. Just too hard and
    somehow disconnected. Very unreasonably hard, I thought.

    Come on Monday and Tuesday and be easy ones.

  11. Well I got TREACLE, SAPHEAD, HAW and WENDYS but none of the long answers and almost none of the proper nouns. I had to do it on-line and eventually turned on the red letters to give me a chance. Finally finished in 40 minutes, with cheating.

    Too much for me today. Hopefully Saturday will be a Friday puzzle.

  12. Greetings!!🦆

    I’m back to the duck emoji — calm on the outside (above water), frantically paddling on the inside (below the surface.)

    Ultimately I did well on this, but at the start I couldn’t get out of that darn NW corner!! 😣 So I peeked for OPTIMA and SPRUCED; then I was okay. I think the clue for ANOTHER should have been “One alternative?” That would have been cleverer, IMO. 🙂

    The LA air is so smoky!! I’m close to Griffith Park, but no fires there yet. Think I’ll take the hose and douse my house on Saturday– one feels like one has to do SOMETHING. I suppose watering the house won’t help much in a fire, but maybe if the winds pick up we’ll have floating embers….

    Be well ~~🥂

  13. I am a day late because of late delivery of my paper, but I got it with
    no errors…but my last entry was “Lash with a bullwhip” clue…a real
    groaner.

    I’m glad somebody else thought of White Castle too, but I knew there
    wasn’t room for that.

  14. I have never seen “haw” by itself when used as a synonym of ‘equivocate.’ Where is the Usage Police when you need one? C’mon!!

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