LA Times Crossword 6 Feb 20, Thursday

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Constructed by: Robert Wemischner
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Puzzling Reflections

Themed answers each comprise four words, with the last two being the same as the first two in the reverse order:

  • 20A Parvenu’s business venture? : UPSTART START-UP
  • 25A Quarterback’s nonchalant move? : OFFHAND HANDOFF
  • 42A Down Under withdrawal? : OUTBACK BACK OUT
  • 48A TSA agent’s perfected search technique? : DOWN PAT PAT-DOWN

Bill’s time: 5m 50s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Plush carpet : SHAG

Shag carpet is one with a deep pile, one with a “shaggy” appearance.

9 Test versions : BETAS

In the world of software development, the first tested issue of a new program is usually called the alpha version. Expected to have a lot of bugs that need to be fixed, the alpha release is usually distributed to a small number of testers. After reported bugs have been eliminated, the refined version is called a beta and is released to a wider audience, but with the program clearly labeled as “beta”. The users generally check functionality and report further bugs that are encountered. The beta version feeds into a release candidate, the version that is tested just prior to the software being sold into the market, hopefully bug-free.

14 Feminist poet Adrienne : RICH

Adrienne Rich was a poet and feminist. Famously, Rich declined to the National Medal of Arts in 1997 as a protest. She decried the Clinton Administration’s policies towards the arts, and the efforts by Newt Gingrich to shut down the National Endowment for the Arts.

16 Valuable violin : AMATI

The first of the Amati family to make violins was Andrea Amati, who lived in the 14th century. He was succeeded by his sons Antonio and Girolamo. In turn, the two brothers were succeeded by Girolamo’s son Nicolo. Nicolo had a few students who achieved fame making musical instruments as well. One was his own son, Girolamo, and another was the famed Antonio Stradivari.

17 Italian wine region : ASTI

Asti is in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. It is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine. Moscato d’Asti is produced from the same grape (Moscato Bianco). Moscato is a much sweeter wine with a lower alcohol content, and is usually served as a dessert wine.

18 Founder of Edom : ESAU

Edom is an ancient Iron Age kingdom located in the south of modern-day Jordan. The area is known for its red-colored sandstone, which gave the kingdom its name. According to the Bible, the Edomites were the descendants of Esau. “Edom” translates from Hebrew as “red”, and was the name given to Esau when he ate the “red pottage”.

19 R2-D2 or BB-8, e.g. : ROBOT

Artoo’s proper name is R2-D2 (also “Artoo-Detoo”). R2-D2 is the smaller of the two famous droids from the “Star Wars” movies. British actor Kenny Baker, who stood just 3 ft 8 ins tall, was the man inside the R2-D2 droid for the first six of the “Star Wars” movies.

BB-8 (also “Beebee-Ate”) is a droid in the “Star Wars” universe, that first appeared in the 2015 film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. BB-8 is the spherical robot with a free-moving domed head. The “8” in the name “BB-8” was chosen as the robot’s outline resembles a figure-8.

20 Parvenu’s business venture? : UPSTART START-UP

A parvenu is an upstart, someone who has recently achieved wealth or power but who has yet to demonstrate the ability to handle that wealth or power with dignity.

23 Beantown NHL nickname : ESPO

Phil “Espo” Esposito is a former professional hockey player who played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Espo scored 126 points in the 1969 season, hence becoming the first NHL player to score 100 points in a season.

In the days of sail, the natural trade routes across the Atlantic involved a lot of ships arriving in Boston directly from West Indies. One of the main cargoes carried by these vessels coming from the West Indies was molasses. An abundance of cheap molasses led to an abundance of baked beans in the port city, and all those baked beans gave rise to Boston’s nickname “Beantown”.

33 Spots for AirPods : EARS

AirPods are Apple’s line of bluetooth earpods. When AirPods were introduced in 2016, the market reacted with some skepticism. The left and right AirPods are not connected by any wire, so there was concern that individual earbuds could fall out of the ear, and possibly get lost. Another concern is Apple’s stated intent to abandon the wired headphone socket on new iPhone models.

34 One may be decorated for the holidays : FIR

The custom of decorating trees at Christmas seems to have originated in Renaissance Germany. Those first trees were placed in guildhalls and were decorated with sweets and candy for the apprentices and children. After the Protestant Reformation, the Christmas tree became an alternative in Protestant homes for the Roman Catholic Christmas cribs. The Christmas tree tradition was imported into Britain by the royal family because of its German heritage. That tradition spread from Britain into North America.

36 Marmalade bits : RINDS

Marmalade is my favorite fruit preserve. The essential ingredients in a marmalade are fruit juice and peel, and sugar and water. “Marmalade” comes from the Portuguese “marmelada” meaning “quince jam”.

38 __ Ren, “Star Wars” villain : KYLO

Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa in the “Star Wars” universe. The character’s birth name was Ben Solo. He was trained as a Jedi knight by his uncle, Luke Skywalker. However, Ben came to embrace the Dark Side, and changed his name to Kylo Ren. Ren is played by actor Adam Driver.

39 Trig. function : COS

The most familiar trigonometric functions are sine, cosine and tangent (abbreviated to “sin, cos and tan”). Each of these is a ratio: a ratio of two sides of a right-angled triangle. The “reciprocal” of these three functions are cosecant, secant and cotangent. The reciprocal functions are simply the inverted ratios, the inverted sine, cosine and tangent. These inverted ratios should not be confused with the “inverse” trigonometric functions e.g. arcsine, arccosine and arctangent. These inverse functions are the reverse of the sine, cosine and tangent.

40 Aloha State bird : NENE

The nene is a bird that is native to Hawaii, and is also known as the Hawaiian goose. The name “nene” is imitative of its call. When Captain Cook landed on the islands in 1778, there were 25,000 nene living there. By 1950, the number was reduced by hunting to just 30 birds. Conservation efforts in recent years have been somewhat successful. The nene was named State Bird of Hawaii in 1957.

The official nickname for Hawaii is “The Aloha State”. Hawaii is also referred to as “Paradise of the Pacific” and “The Islands of Aloha”.

41 Plumlike fruit : SLOES

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.

42 Down Under withdrawal? : OUTBACK BACK OUT

In Australia, the land outside of urban area is referred to as the outback or the bush. That said, I think that the term “outback” is sometimes reserved for the more remote parts of the bush.

46 Disney doe : ENA

Ena is Bambi’s aunt in the 1942 Disney film “Bambi”. The movie is based on the novel “Bambi, A Life in the Woods” written by Austrian author Felix Salten and first published in 1923. There is a documented phenomenon known as the Bambi Effect, whereby people become more interested in animal rights after having watched the scene where Bambi’s mother is shot by hunters.

47 It’s just over a foot : SHIN

The tibia is the shin bone, and is the larger of the two bones right below the knee. It is the strongest weight-bearing bone in the human body. “Tibia” is the Roman name for a Greek flute and it is thought that the shin bone was given the same name because flutes were often fashioned out of the shin bones of animals.

48 TSA agent’s perfected search technique? : DOWN PAT PAT-DOWN

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

55 Tropical porch : LANAI

A lanai is a type of veranda, and a design that originated in Hawaii. A kind blog reader tells me that the etymology of “lanai” seems unclear, but that the island name of “Lana’i” is not related.

56 Murdoch who received the 1978 Booker Prize for “The Sea, the Sea” : IRIS

Dame Iris Murdoch was an Irish-born British author and philosopher. She was awarded the Booker Prize in 1978 for her novel “The Sea, the Sea”, although her best-known work is probably her first novel “Under the Net”, which was published in 1954.

61 Zaps : TASES

To tase is to use a taser, a stun gun.

62 Neverland pirate : SMEE

In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is his Hook’s bosun and right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on a pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.

Neverland is the fictional location where Peter Pan lives in the works of J. M. Barrie. The name actually evolved in Barrie’s works, starting out as “Peter’s Never Never Never Land”. Also, Barrie used the names “the Never Never Land”, “the Neverland” and “the Neverlands”. Famously, entertainer Michael Jackson renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch as Neverland Valley Ranch when he took ownership in 1988, in a nod to “Peter Pan”.

Down

1 German spouse : FRAU

In German, a “Herr” (Mr.) is married to a “Frau” (Mrs.), and they live together in a “Haus” (house).

4 Plant leaf pest : WHITEFLY

Whiteflies are a large family of insects that can be a real problem for gardeners and farmers. They feed mainly on the underside of leaves, and can transmit several diseases that can devastate crops.

5 Himalayan guide : SHERPA

In the Tibetan language, “Sherpa” means “eastern people” (sher = east, pa = people). Sherpas are an ethnic group from Nepal, but the name is also used for the local guides who assist mountaineers in the Himalayas, and particularly on Mount Everest.

The magnificent Himalaya range of mountains in Asia takes its name from the Sanskrit for “abode of snow”. Geographically, the Himalaya separates the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau to the north.

6 “Prizzi’s Honor” director or actress : HUSTON

Movie director John Huston was also a prolific screenwriter and an actor. Unusually, Huston directed his father Walter Huston, and his daughter Anjelica Huston. Walter appeared in “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948). Anjelica was in “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985).

Anjelica Huston has a great pedigree in the movie business. When she won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in the 1985 movie “Prizzi’s Honor”, she became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award. Anjelica is the daughter of director John Huston, and granddaughter of veteran actor Walter Huston.

10 Chewed the scenery : EMOTED

“To chew the scenery” is to overact, to ham it up.

11 Perfume that sounds forbidden : TABU

Tabu is a whole line of cosmetics and perfumes produced by the House of Dana. The company’s brand names were purchased by a Florida company called Dana Classic Fragrances in 1999.

21 Arthur in the International Tennis Hall of Fame : ASHE

The great American tennis player Arthur Ashe spent the last years of his life writing his memoir called “Days of Grace”. He finished the manuscript just a few days before he passed away, dying from AIDS caused by a tainted blood transfusion.

22 Seaweed-based thickeners : AGARS

Agar (also “agar-agar”) is a jelly extracted from seaweed that has many uses. Agar is found in Japanese desserts, and can also be used as a food thickener or even as a laxative. In the world of science, it is the most common medium used for growing bacteria in Petri dishes.

25 Buckeye State sch. : OHIO U

Ohio University was founded well over 200 years ago in 1804 in Athens, the city in which it is still located today.

Ohio is sometimes referred to as the Buckeye State, taking the name from the state tree. In turn, the buckeye tree gets its name from the appearance of its fruit, a dark nut with a light patch, thought to resemble a “buck’s eye”.

27 Brightest star in Cygnus : DENEB

Deneb is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. The name “Deneb” comes from the Arabic word “dhaneb” meaning “tail”, as it lies at the tail of the swan.

29 “All Because __”: 2005 U2 song : OF YOU

The band known today as U2 was originally called Feedback, and then The Hype. The band members searched for yet another name and chose U2 from a list of six names suggested by a friend. They picked U2 because it was the name they disliked least …

30 Steakhouse order : FILET

A fillet is a boneless cut of meat or fish. The term “fillet” comes from the Old French “filet” meaning “small thread, filament”. Apparently, we applied the term to food because the piece of fish or meat was tied up with string after it was boned. Here in the US, we tend to use the French spelling “filet”.

32 Dr Pepper Museum city : WACO

Dr Pepper was introduced in 1885 in Waco, Texas, one year before the competing Coca-Cola was released to the market. I spent an entertaining few hours at the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco a few years ago. And, note the lack of a period after “Dr”.

38 Yukon gold rush region : KLONDIKE

The Klondike is a region in Canada’s Yukon territory that is perhaps most famous for the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s. About 100,000 prospectors migrated to the area, with many coming from Seattle and San Francisco. While a few prospectors did make their fortunes, the vast majority of prospectors endured the long trek and harsh conditions in vain.

40 Au pairs : NANNIES

An au pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working and living as part of a host family. The term “au pair” is French, and means “on a par”, indicating that an au pair is treated as an equal in the host family.

41 Burlesque bit : SKIT

“Burlesque” came into English from French, although the word is rooted in the Italian “burla”, the word for a joke, or mockery. A burlesque is work of literature, drama or music that is intended to amuse and cause laughter. Burlesques in the US took on a variety show format and were popular in the US from the 1860s. Over time, the variety acts started to include female striptease, and the term “burlesque” has come to be mainly associated with such entertainment. The derivative verb “to burlesque” means “to imitate mockingly”.

43 “‘__ the Jabberwock, my son!'”: Carroll : BEWARE

Here are the first two verses of “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, probably the one poem that we all just loved learning to recite at school

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

48 Mike’s “Wayne’s World” co-star : DANA

Dana Carvey, along with the likes of Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon, was part of the new breed of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) comedians credited with resurrecting the show in the late eighties. One of Carvey’s most popular characters was the Church Lady, and he became so associated with her that among fellow cast members Carvey was often referred to simply as “the Lady”. Another favorite Carvey character was Garth Algar who went to feature in the “Wayne’s World” movies. Carvey had open-heart surgery in 1997 to clear a blocked artery, but the surgical team operated on the wrong blood vessel. To recover, he had to have five more procedures. He ended up suing for medical malpractice and donated his $7.5 million compensation payment to charity.

“Wayne’s World” was originally a “Saturday Night Live” sketch starring Mike Myers (as Wayne Campbell) and Dana Carvey as Garth Algar. The sketch was so successful that it was parlayed into two hit movies, released in 1992 and 1993. Not my cup of tea though …

52 Norse god : ODIN

In Norse mythology, Odin was the chief of the gods. He is usually depicted as having one eye, reflecting the story of how he gave one of his eyes in exchange for wisdom.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Diamond problem : FLAW
5 Plush carpet : SHAG
9 Test versions : BETAS
14 Feminist poet Adrienne : RICH
15 It’s partially submerged : HULL
16 Valuable violin : AMATI
17 Italian wine region : ASTI
18 Founder of Edom : ESAU
19 R2-D2 or BB-8, e.g. : ROBOT
20 Parvenu’s business venture? : UPSTART START-UP
23 Beantown NHL nickname : ESPO
24 “__ whiz!” : GEE
25 Quarterback’s nonchalant move? : OFFHAND HANDOFF
32 Vague time period : WHILE
33 Spots for AirPods : EARS
34 One may be decorated for the holidays : FIR
35 Sprightly : AIRY
36 Marmalade bits : RINDS
38 __ Ren, “Star Wars” villain : KYLO
39 Trig. function : COS
40 Aloha State bird : NENE
41 Plumlike fruit : SLOES
42 Down Under withdrawal? : OUTBACK BACK OUT
46 Disney doe : ENA
47 It’s just over a foot : SHIN
48 TSA agent’s perfected search technique? : DOWN PAT PAT-DOWN
55 Tropical porch : LANAI
56 Murdoch who received the 1978 Booker Prize for “The Sea, the Sea” : IRIS
57 “What’s the big __?” : IDEA
58 Habituate : INURE
59 Retail outlet : MART
60 Mattress option : KING
61 Zaps : TASES
62 Neverland pirate : SMEE
63 What this puzzle does here : ENDS

Down

1 German spouse : FRAU
2 Speech therapy target : LISP
3 Tries to look : ACTS
4 Plant leaf pest : WHITEFLY
5 Himalayan guide : SHERPA
6 “Prizzi’s Honor” director or actress : HUSTON
7 Word of regret : ALAS
8 Excess : GLUT
9 Scrubby wastelands : BARRENS
10 Chewed the scenery : EMOTED
11 Perfume that sounds forbidden : TABU
12 Surmounting : ATOP
13 “Pull up a chair” : SIT
21 Arthur in the International Tennis Hall of Fame : ASHE
22 Seaweed-based thickeners : AGARS
25 Buckeye State sch. : OHIO U
26 Leading : FIRST
27 Brightest star in Cygnus : DENEB
28 Taken in : HAD
29 “All Because __”: 2005 U2 song : OF YOU
30 Steakhouse order : FILET
31 Picked dos : FROS
32 Dr Pepper Museum city : WACO
36 Postgame postmortem : RECAP
37 Skin pics : INK
38 Yukon gold rush region : KLONDIKE
40 Au pairs : NANNIES
41 Burlesque bit : SKIT
43 “‘__ the Jabberwock, my son!'”: Carroll : BEWARE
44 Have great plans : ASPIRE
45 Pure : CHASTE
48 Mike’s “Wayne’s World” co-star : DANA
49 Obligation : ONUS
50 Gets in the crosshairs, with “at” : AIMS
51 Disneyland transport : TRAM
52 Norse god : ODIN
53 Make (one’s way) : WEND
54 Old horses : NAGS
55 Put a match to : LIT

11 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 6 Feb 20, Thursday”

  1. 6:47, no errors. (Way slow doing this one today!)

    @From yesterday on WSJ
    Indeed. Today’s WSJ was far easier than that one, as well as the last two Fireballs.

  2. No Googles or errors, which is good for me on a Thurs.
    Did not know DENEB, OF YOU, KYLO, ESAU.

    Didn’t like sprightly=AIRY.

    Liked the theme. Apparently, these are Word-Unit palindromes.

  3. 10:34. Haven’t done an LAT crossword in a WHILE. I was amused by the theme. Nice to get back to some semblance of normalcy…if only for a day or so.

    John Daigle – I was perusing the comments of the last week last night at the airport. I appreciate you asking about me. I didn’t even know if anyone would notice I hadn’t been around.

    I’ve just been very busy working. I just got home around midnight last night after a week long trip including being in 4 cities and 3 countries in the last 72 hours of the trip. All business, no fun. Although I won’t have many weeks like this past one, I will be quite busy for a few months. I’ll stop by here when I have the time.

    Best –

    1. Carrie – I just got to last night’s late night comments. Thanks for noticing too lol. Was a little crazy seeing all the people in masks at all the airports presumably in fear of the Coronavirus. My way of protecting myself: I just drank Budweiser instead of Corona!

      Best –

  4. 16:17, and 5 errors in the top center. Just couldn’t make that quadrant work at all. My grid was full of writeovers, indicating I struggled throughout. My two week-plus streak comes to an end with a dull >THUD<.

  5. Mostly easy Thursday for me, done at a leisurely pace while selling my honey at market. Got the theme early and quickly filled in the rest, despite working on 5 1/2 hours sleep. I did have a bit of a problem with HUSTON and a lot of problems with OHIO U/AIRY. That took about 5 minutes after changing spRY and putting in WACO. Not sure I agree that sprightly means airy…I see it is definition 3a in Webster, so I guess its okay. Great sales today, so plenty of interruptions, but I finished well before lunch, which meant it was easy.

    @Jeff – I noticed you were gone, but I remember you saying you took on a lot of work at the time you disappeared. Nice way to protect yourself from the Coronavirus 🙂 I haven’t had one of those in a long time, so I’m probably okay.

    I just miss Anony muss’ regular input. I hope he gets settled soon.

  6. Aloha meine Freunden!!🦆

    No errors, thank God….after errors on two of the three early-week puzzles this week! This was a good puzzle and a fun theme. Don’t remember seeing this setter before but nicely done. 🤗 I did get the theme early on, tho I actually wrote OUTBACK BACK OFF at first….just distracted. Also wasn’t 100% sure of DENEB/NENE but had vague memories of both from past grids.

    FWIW– I recently read that when you take quizzes and get correct answers your brain releases dopamine. I’m sure the same is true of crossword puzzles….

    Hey Jeff! Glad to see you and glad you’re taking appropriate precautions….🍺

    Sfingi/Jane – word-unit palindromes! I wondered if there was a term for this kind of thing!!🤗

    Yes, hope we hear from A Nonny Muss soon..!!

    Be well ~~🍸

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