LA Times Crossword 6 Jan 20, Monday

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Constructed by: Craig Stowe
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Leading Lady

Themed answers LEAD off with a LADY:

  • 58A Female box office star, and what the starts of the answers to starred clues can have : LEADING LADY
  • 17A *American independence symbol with a storied crack : LIBERTY BELL (giving “Lady Liberty”)
  • 25A *1990 Gibson/Hawn film : BIRD ON A WIRE (giving “ladybird”)
  • 35A *Pure chance, in poker and lotteries : LUCK OF THE DRAW (giving “lady luck”)
  • 50A *Group of narrow bodies of water in upstate New York : FINGER LAKES (giving “ladyfinger”)

Bill’s time: 4m 53s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Swiss currency : FRANC

Not only is the Swiss Franc legal tender in Switzerland, it is also the money used in Liechtenstein and the Italian exclave of Campione d’Italia.

11 Show with a Miami spin-off : CSI

I quite enjoyed the “CSI” franchise of television shows, all except “CSI: Miami”. I find the character played by David Caruso to be extremely annoying. “CSI: Miami” was cancelled in 2012. No loss …

14 With 31-Across, Spanish artist with a Blue Period : PABLO …
(31A See 14-Across : … PICASSO )

Picasso’s Blue Period comprises works completed between 1901 and 1904. All his paintings in the era were basically monochromatic, using different shades of blue. HIs best-known work from the period is “The Old Guitarist”, which you can see at the Art Institute of Chicago.

15 “Chicago” showgirl : ROXIE

The wonderful 1975 musical “Chicago” is based on a 1926 play of the same name written by a news reporter called Maurine Dallas Watkins. Watkins had been assigned to cover the murder trials of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the “Chicago Tribune”, and used the story that unfolded as the basis for her play. Annan became the character Roxie Hart, and Gaertner became Velma Kelly. I’ve only ever seen the movie version of “Chicago” and never a live performance …

16 “2001” computer : HAL

In Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey” (famously adapted for the big screen as “2001: A Space Odyssey”) the computer system that went rogue was called HAL 9000, or simply “HAL”. HAL stands for “Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer”. Even though, Clarke denied it, there’s a good argument that can be made that the acronym HAL is a veiled reference to IBM, the big player in the world of computing at the time of the novel’s publication (1968). The acronym HAL is just a one-letter shift from the initials “IBM”.

17 *American independence symbol with a storied crack : LIBERTY BELL (giving “Lady Liberty”)

The Liberty Bell was commissioned in 1752 and installed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The bell bears the inscription “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”, a quotation from the Book of Leviticus in the Bible. Famously, the bell cracked when it was first rung in Philadelphia after arriving from the foundry where it was made in London, England. The bell’s fame originated with a short story by George Lippard published in 1847 that gave a fictional account of an old bell-ringer ringing it on July 4, 1776 upon hearing that the Second Continental Congress had voted for independence. That ringing of the bell never actually happened, even though the account was constantly presented as fact in school texts around the country for generations.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the United States. It was designed by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and constructed in France by civil engineer Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). The statue was disassembled, shipped to the US, and reassembled on its pedestal on Bedloe’s Island (now “Liberty Island). A ceremony of dedication was held in 1886. If you take a boat ride down the Seine in Paris you will probably see a one-third replica of Lady Liberty standing on a small island in the river, looking quite magnificent. That copy was given to the people of Paris by the city’s American community in 1889.

19 Civil War prez : ABE

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the US, elected in 1860 as the first president from the Republican Party. Lincoln’s electoral support came almost exclusively from the north and west of the country, winning only 2 out of 996 counties in the Southern slave states. Lincoln led the country through the Civil War, and then was assassinated in 1865 just a few days after Robert E. Lee surrendered his army of Northern Virginia. President Lincoln was succeeded in office by Vice President Andrew Johnson.

20 Fencing sword : EPEE

The French word for sword is “épée”. In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.

21 “__ Haw” : HEE

The variety show “Hee Haw” aired on CBS from 1969-1971, and then had a 20-year run in syndication. The show was built around country music, although the format was inspired by “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In”.

22 About, on a memo : IN RE

The term “in re” is Latin, and is derived from “in” (in) and “res” (thing, matter). “In re” literally means “in the matter”, and is used to mean “in regard to” or “in the matter of”.

24 Some MIT grads : EES

Electrical engineer (EE)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

25 *1990 Gibson/Hawn film : BIRD ON A WIRE (giving “ladybird”)

“Bird on a Wire” is a fun film released in 1990, starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. The movie’s title comes from the Leonard Cohen song “Bird on the Wire”.

The insect we know as a ladybug (also “ladybird”) has seven spots on its wing covers. These seven spots gave rise to the common name “ladybug”, as in the Middle Ages the insect was called the “beetle of Our Lady”. The spots were said to symbolize the Seven Joys and Seven Sorrows, events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary called out in the Roman Catholic tradition.

29 Xterra automaker : NISSAN

The Xterra is a compact SUV built by Nissan in Smyrna, Tennessee (and in Brazil).

33 Four qts. : GAL

The quart, the unit of volume, is so called because it is one quarter of a gallon.

41 Peace symbol : VEE

One has to be careful making that V-sign depending where you are in the world. Where I came from, the V-for-victory (or peace) sign has to be made with the palm facing outwards. If the sign is made with the palm facing inwards, it can be interpreted as a very obscene gesture.

46 Maker of candy “Pieces” : REESE’S

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented by Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese. Peanut Butter Cups were originally called penny cups, reflecting the price at which they were sold. Then inflation took over, and maybe that’s why they were broken into smaller “Pieces” …

50 *Group of narrow bodies of water in upstate New York : FINGER LAKES (giving “ladyfinger”)

When I first moved to the US, I settled in Upstate New York and was lucky enough to live near the beautiful Finger Lakes. The largest of the eleven lakes is Seneca Lake, which is one of the deepest bodies of water in the United States.

53 European mount : ALP

There are eight Alpine countries:

  • Austria
  • Slovenia
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Germany
  • Monaco
  • Italy

55 Deux halved : UNE

In French, half of “deux” (two) is “un, une” (one).

62 All-hrs. cash source : ATM

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)

67 Like Oscar Madison’s room : MESSY

“The Odd Couple” is a play by the wonderfully talented Neil Simon that was first performed on Broadway, in 1965. This great play was adapted for the big screen in 1968, famously starring Jack Lemmon (as Felix Unger) and Walter Matthau (as Oscar Madison). The success of the play and the film gave rise to an excellent television sitcom that ran from 1970-1975, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. In 1985, Neil Simon even went so far as to adapt the play for an all-female cast, renaming it “The Female Odd Couple”. I’d like to see that one …

Down

1 Organ near the stomach : SPLEEN

The spleen has a couple of functions in the human body. It removes old red blood cells, and recycles the iron contained therein. The waste product of this recycling is bile. It also holds a reserve of blood that can be released when necessary (if the body goes into “circulatory shock”). Greek and Roman physicians ascribed to the theory that the body had four basic substances, the so-called four humors. All diseases were caused by these four substances getting out of balance. The four humors were:

  • Black bile (melancolia)
  • Yellow bile (cholera)
  • Phlegm (phlegma)
  • Blood (sanguis)

2 Taiwan’s capital : TAIPEI

Taipei (officially “Taipei City”) is the capital of Taiwan (officially “the Republic of China”). “Taipei” translates from Chinese as “Northern Taiwan City” and indeed, the capital is situated at the northern tip of Taiwan. The city is nicknamed “City of Azaleas” as flowers are said to bloom better in Taipei than in any other city on the island.

10 Pertaining to the abdominal cavity : CELIAC

Our word “celiac” is used for things related to the abdomen. The term is derived from the Greek “koiliakos” meaning “pertaining to the bowels”.

13 Land in la mer : ILE

In French, an “île” (island) is “terre dans la mer” (land in the sea).

23 “Straight Outta Compton” rappers : NWA

“Straight Outta Compton” was the first album by N.W.A. N.W.A was a hip hop group from Compton, California. The original five group members included rappers who have made a name for themselves as solo acts, including: Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. The story of NWA is told in a 2015 film, also called “Straight Outta Compton”.

25 Pitcher’s wrong move : BALK

To balk is to stop and refuse to go on. It’s not just a baseball term …

26 Colorful fish : OPAH

“Opah” is the more correct name for the fish also known as the sunfish, moonfish or Jerusalem haddock. I’ve seen one in the Monterey Aquarium. It is one huge fish …

27 Color named for an African river : NILE GREEN

Depending on definition, the Nile is regarded generally as the longest river on the planet. The Nile forms from two major tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, which join together near Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. From Khartoum the Nile flows north, traveling almost entirely through desert making it central to life for those living along its length.

30 [Not my mistake] : [SIC]

[Sic] indicates that a quotation is written as originally found, perhaps including a typo. “Sic” is Latin for “thus, like this”. The term is more completely written as “sic erat scriptum”, which translates as “thus was it written”.

33 Onetime telecom giant : GTE

GTE was a rival to AT&T, the largest of the independent competitors to the Bell System. GTE merged with Bell Atlantic in 2000 to form the company that we know today as Verizon. Verizon made some high-profile acquisitions over the years, including MCI in 2005 and AOL in 2015.

38 Bucks’ mates : DOES

A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and females cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …

39 Canapé topper : ROE

A canapé is a finger food, something small enough to eat in just one bite. In French, “canapé” is actually the word for a couch or a sofa. The name was given to the snack as the original canapés were savories served on toasted or stale bread that supposedly resembled a tiny couch.

40 Football official : REF

Back in the early 17th century, a referee was someone who examined patent applications. We started using the same term for a person presiding over a sporting event in the 1820s. “Referee” is a derivative of the verb “to refer”, and literally describes someone who has the authority to make a decision by “referring to” a book, archive etc.

44 Cinematic FX : CGI

Computer-generated imagery (CGI)

“FX” (sometimes “f/x”) is an abbreviation for “effects”, as in “special effects”.

45 Bank employee : TELLER

To tell can mean to count, as in “telling one’s blessings” and “there are 16, all told”. This usage of the word “tell” gives us the term “bank teller”.

56 Gin flavoring : SLOE

The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush, and the main flavoring ingredient in sloe gin. A sloe looks like a small plum, but is usually much more tart in taste.

57 Leno on TV : JAY

Jay Leno was born James Leno in New Rochelle, New York. Jay’s father was the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother was from Scotland. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and actually dropped out of school on the advice of a high school guidance counsellor. However, years later he went to Emerson College and earned a Bachelor’s degree in speech therapy. Leno also started a comedy club at Emerson in 1973. Today Jay Leno is a car nut and owns about 200 vehicles of various types. You can check them out on his website: www.jaylenosgarage.com.

59 Rock producer Brian : ENO

Brian Eno was one of the pioneers of the ambient genre of music. Eno composed an album in 1978 called “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”, which was the first in a series of four albums with an ambient theme. Eno named the tracks, somewhat inventively, 1/1, 2/1, 2/1 and 2/2.

61 Workout facility : GYM

Our word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek “gymnasion” meaning “public place where exercise is taken”. The Greek term comes from “gymnos” meaning “naked”, as that physical training was usually done unclothed in ancient Greece.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hired help : STAFF
6 Swiss currency : FRANC
11 Show with a Miami spin-off : CSI
14 With 31-Across, Spanish artist with a Blue Period : PABLO …
15 “Chicago” showgirl : ROXIE
16 “2001” computer : HAL
17 *American independence symbol with a storied crack : LIBERTY BELL (giving “Lady Liberty”)
19 Civil War prez : ABE
20 Fencing sword : EPEE
21 “__ Haw” : HEE
22 About, on a memo : IN RE
24 Some MIT grads : EES
25 *1990 Gibson/Hawn film : BIRD ON A WIRE (giving “ladybird”)
29 Xterra automaker : NISSAN
31 See 14-Across : … PICASSO
32 Type : ILK
33 Four qts. : GAL
34 Guy : MAN
35 *Pure chance, in poker and lotteries : LUCK OF THE DRAW (giving “lady luck”)
40 Gym exercise unit : REP
41 Peace symbol : VEE
42 Sticky stuff : GOO
43 One kicked out : EVICTEE
46 Maker of candy “Pieces” : REESE’S
50 *Group of narrow bodies of water in upstate New York : FINGER LAKES (giving “ladyfinger”)
53 European mount : ALP
54 Waggable dog part : TAIL
55 Deux halved : UNE
56 Shpeak thish way : SLUR
57 Cookie container : JAR
58 Female box office star, and what the starts of the answers to starred clues can have : LEADING LADY
62 All-hrs. cash source : ATM
63 Break up with a partner : END IT
64 Mountain song : YODEL
65 “I’ll do it!” : YES!
66 Plant anchors : ROOTS
67 Like Oscar Madison’s room : MESSY

Down

1 Organ Organ near the stomach : SPLEEN
2 Taiwan’s capital : TAIPEI
3 Monastic sister’s superior : ABBESS
4 Run away from : FLEE
5 Jump-joy link : … FOR …
6 Line cook’s cooker : FRYER
7 Dressed like a boxer entering the ring : ROBED
8 Firefighter’s tool : AXE
9 Nothing : NIL
10 Pertaining to the abdominal cavity : CELIAC
11 Compelling charm : CHARISMA
12 Handheld reciprocating cutting tool : SABER SAW
13 Land in la mer : ILE
18 Consider : THINK OVER
23 “Straight Outta Compton” rappers : NWA
25 Pitcher’s wrong move : BALK
26 Colorful fish : OPAH
27 Color named for an African river : NILE GREEN
28 Ages and ages : EON
30 [Not my mistake] : [SIC]
33 Onetime telecom giant : GTE
35 Rise in the air, as in a magic act : LEVITATE
36 Indignant : UP IN ARMS
37 Have a hunch : FEEL
38 Bucks’ mates : DOES
39 Canapé topper : ROE
40 Football official : REF
44 Cinematic FX : CGI
45 Bank employee : TELLER
47 Beet and bean : SALADS
48 Manages to evade : ELUDES
49 In an acrobatic fashion : SPRYLY
51 Accountant’s investigation : AUDIT
52 Furrows, as one’s brows : KNITS
56 Gin flavoring : SLOE
57 Leno on TV : JAY
59 Rock producer Brian : ENO
60 Excitement : ADO
61 Workout facility : GYM

15 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 6 Jan 20, Monday”

    1. An old comment from Saturday’s puzzle that I wanted to wait until I could get to the NYT puzzle to answer: Mainly I wanted to put that puzzle in perspective (for my efforts anyway and what I’m exposed to). That puzzle was: 14:06 slower than the Saturday NYT (1130). 8:02 slower than the Friday NYT (1129).

      Obviously, noticing stuff like this is a big reason why I looked askance at that particular puzzle. I thought the NYT was supposedly the harder puzzle? Solving experience is an interesting thing, I have to say…

      1. @Glenn …

        My times for those puzzles:

        – Sat LAT (2020/01/04): 17:27
        – Sat NYT (2019/11/30): 20:44
        – Fri NYT (2019/11/29): 20:16

        Bill’s times for those puzzles:

        – Sat LAT (2020/01/04): 14:13
        – Sat NYT (2019/11/30): 17:11
        – Fri NYT (2019/11/29): 12:03

        So, if we use timing as a measure of difficulty, both Bill and I found the Saturday LAT easier than the Saturday NYT.

        Of course, as I’ve said before, I don’t think timing is necessarily the best measure for the purpose and, in any case, one would have to look at average timings over many puzzles for such numbers to have much relevance.

        Perceived difficulty is a highly individual thing …

        Also … did you see my final comment on the “L WORD” issue?

        1. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a lot of good data points on one specific puzzle. I had made that comment because as one commenter put it, it wasn’t that awful after today’s NYT puzzle. All I can say is the comments a puzzle draws are about the only systemic data points one can get – and the number kind of makes it hard to dismiss.

          As for the “L Word” issue, what Anonymous wrote on Friday (January 5, 2020 at 9:20 am) and Carrie wrote on Saturday pretty much sums up my thoughts on it. Again, about the best one can do for a specific puzzle is look at what gets posted. When this blog and two others come up basically clueless in terms of explaining it, that should tell you something is wrong.

          1. No matter what measure you use to gauge the difficulty level of the puzzles, there are always going to be some out on the tail ends of the bell curve and, human nature being what it is, you’re going to see a lot of complaints about the ones on the upper end (and not so many about the feel-good ones on the lower end … 😜). What we see on this blog is a small sampling of that.

            If all of the puzzles could somehow perfectly tuned to my knowledge base and skill level, I would ultimately be bored to tears by them.

            I do think that, given Mr. Hart’s insight on the “L WORD” issue, it became quite possible to explain and appreciate the logic of the revealer, and I don’t buy into the notion that the difficulty of working out that logic made the puzzle a bad one (let alone a “terrible” one filled with “gibberish” … 😜).

            Well, this argument will probably never end … 😳.

  1. 5:16. It felt faster… easy Monday, just kind of sailed through it. Maybe the lack of coffee was just generally slowing my fingers down. In any event, not much to say about it.

  2. Standard Monday, with an automatic 1-point deduction from the Bulgarian judge for use of EPEE.

    Bob Newhart didn’t have a LISP, but he used his vocal quirk to good effect. When filming the first episodes of his TV show, the director told him his stutter was making the show run long. Newhart responded, “First, it’s a stammer, not a stutter. Second, that ‘stutter’ paid for my house in Bel Air.” 🙂

  3. Nice easy.

    Had “lisp” before SLUR. Hubster explained BALK to me. He said runners are awarded 1 base as a penalty against the pitcher.

    I remember watching the movie BIRD ON A WIRE being made in lower Manhattan.

  4. Fond Greetings!!🦆

    No errors. Hi HAL!! Long time no see!😊

    I had LISP before SLUR, GUM before GOO. Overall your basic easy Monday.

    Willie– nice note about Bob Newhart. I remember his saying once that the trick to playing drunk was to act as though you WEREN’T drunk. He used that technique to good effect in the episode where he, Jerry, and Howard are all plastered, and Bob is on the phone trying to order Chinese food….😁

    A fave moment from 2019 baseball was Kenley Jansen telling the umpire “I’m gonna BALK.” Then he did so….Kenley wanted the runner moved from second to third cuz he thought the guy was stealing signs. Ha!

    Be well ~~🍸

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