LA Times Crossword 8 Feb 20, Saturday

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Constructed by: Ed Sessa
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 11m 01s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 Lead-in for an old saw : AS THE SAYING GOES …

A saw is an old saying, one that is often repeated and is very familiar. The term “old saw” is actually a tautology, as by definition a “saw” is “old”.

17 Star associated with Venus : SERENA

Serena Williams is the younger of the two Williams sisters playing professional tennis. Serena has won more prize money in her career than any other female athlete.

Venus Williams is the older of the two Williams sisters playing professional tennis. In 2002, Williams became the first African-American woman to earn the World No. 1 ranking by the Women’s Tennis Association in the Open Era.

23 __ Stadium, home to the 49ers : LEVI’S

The San Francisco 49ers of the NFL have been playing their home games in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara since 2014. The team moved from the famous Candlestick Park, which they had been using since 1971. Levi’s Stadium, the team’s new home, got a big boost in January 2016 when it was used as the venue for the Super Bowl.

24 Wild fruit is a feature of it : PALEO DIET

The paleolithic (or “paleo, caveman”) diet is a fad diet that became popular in the 2000s. The idea is to eat wild plants and animals that would have been available to humans during the Paleolithic era (roughly the Stone Age). This period precedes the introduction of agriculture and the domestication of animals. As a result, someone on the diet avoids consuming grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods. The diet consists mainly of lean meat (about 45-65% of the total calorie intake), non-starchy vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts.

27 Unadon fish : EELS

“Unadon” is the Japanese word for “eel bowl”. “Unadon” is actually a contraction, of “unagi no kabayaki” (grilled eel) and “donburi” (rice bowl dish).

30 Either co-author of Curious George books : REY

Curious George is a character in a series of children’s books written by husband and wife Hans Augusto and Margret Rey. The couple wrote the original stories in Paris, taking the manuscripts with them as they fled from the city ahead of the Nazi invasion in 1940.

31 Ward of “FBI” : 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”.

The TV crime drama “FBI” premiered in 2018, and centers on the FBI office in New York City. Star of the show is Canadian actress Missy Peregrym, who plays FBI special agent Maggie Bell.

32 Clubs for Cubs : BATS

The Chicago Cubs is one of only two charter members of the baseball’s National League who are still playing, the other being the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs won the World Series in 2016 for the first time since 1908, which is a long time ago. In fact, the Cubs had the longest championship drought of any professional sports team in North America.

40 Aphrodite’s love child : EROS

As always seems to be the case with Greek gods, Eros and Aphrodite have overlapping spheres of influence. Aphrodite was the goddess of love between a man and a woman, and Eros was the god who stirred the passions of the male. The Roman equivalent of Aphrodite was Venus, and the equivalent of Eros was Cupid.

46 Baseball’s Maglie and Bando : SALS

Sal Maglie was a professional baseball pitcher, and one of just a few players who played for all three New York teams of his day, namely the New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Maglie was known as Sal the Barber because he was said to give “close shaves” to hitters, frequently pitching on the inside.

Sal Bando is a former Major League Baseball player and baseball executive. After retiring as a player, Bando worked for a while as a color analyst for NBC, appearing alongside Bob Costas.

47 TurboTax pros : CPAS

Certified public accountant (CPA)

TurboTax is a software- and online-based income tax preparation service. It’s what I’ve used since I retired, and I have no complaints …

49 Tequila sources : AGAVES

The agave is a succulent plant found mainly in Mexico. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), the agave is unrelated to the cactus, and isn’t related to the aloe plant either. The blue agave is used in the production of tequila.

Tequila is a city in Mexico that is located about 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. The city is the birthplace of the drink called “tequila”. Local people made a variety of a drink called mezcal by fermenting the heart of the blue agave plant that is native to the area surrounding Tequila. It was the Spanish who introduced the distillation process to the mescal, giving us what we now know as “tequila”.

51 Short-legged lizard : SKINK

Skinks are lizards with relatively small legs and without a pronounced neck. Most skink species have long tails that they can shed if it is grabbed by a predator. The tail can then be regenerated.

52 Song title line after “once, twice” : THREE TIMES A LADY

“Three Times a Lady” is a 1978 song that Lionel Richie wrote for the Commodores, the group for whom Richie was a lead singer. Richie was inspired to write the song after hearing his father toast his mother at their wedding anniversary with the words:

She’s a great lady, she’s a great mother, and she’s a great friend.

57 Basements, to Realtors : TERRACE LEVELS

“Real estate agent” is a general, generic term. “Realtor” is the name given to a member of the trade association known as the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The NAR has gone so far as the trademark the term “Realtor” in the US.

58 Sources of sprays : NEBULIZERS

A nebulizer is a device used to convert a liquid into a mist or spray. The term “nebulizer” comes from the Latin “nebula” meaning “mist”.

Down

1 Andorra’s only official language : CATALAN

Catalonia is an autonomous community in the northeast of Spain. The capital of Catalonia is the city of Barcelona. Sandwiched between Catalonia and France to the north, is the lovely Principality of Andorra that is nestled in the Pyrenees. Andorra is the country in the world in which Catalan is an official language.

Andorra is a small principality nestled in the Pyrénées between France and Spain. Andorra is a very prosperous country, mainly due to its status as a tax haven and thriving tourist industry. We used to help out the tourist industry there in the winters, enjoying a couple of skiing vacations there. Happy memories …

2 Victim of Paris : ACHILLES

Achilles is the protagonist in Homer’s “Iliad”. When Achilles was born, his mother attempted to make him immortal by dipping him into the River Styx. As he was held by the heel as he was immersed, this became the only vulnerable point on his body. Years later he was killed when a poisoned arrow struck him in the heel. That arrow was shot by Paris.

4 “Men in Black” gp. : ETS

Extraterrestrial (ET)

6 Myrna who played Nora Charles : LOY

The elegant Myrna Loy was one of my favorite actresses. Her career took off when she was paired up with William Powell in the fabulous “The Thin Man” series of films. Loy also appeared opposite Cary Grant in a couple of films that I like to watch every so often, namely “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” (1947) and “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” (1948).

“The Thin Man” is a detective novel written by Dashiell Hammett that was first published in the magazine “Redbook” in 1934. Hammett never wrote a sequel to his story, but it spawned a wonderful, wonderful series of “The Thin Man” films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles). “The Thin Man” was the last novel that Hammett wrote.

8 Figs. with two dashes : SSNS

A Social Security number (SSN) is divided into three parts i.e AAA-GG-SSSS, Originally, the Area Number (AAA) was the code for the office that issued the card. Since 1973, the Area Number reflects the ZIP code from which the application was made. The GG in the SSN is the Group Number, and the SSSS in the number is the Serial Number. However, this is all moot. Since 2011 SSNs are assigned randomly. However, some random numbers have been excluded from use, i.e. Area Numbers 000, 666 (!) and 900-999.

9 Tannenbaum topper : ENGEL

In German, there might be an “Engel” (angel) on top of a “Tannenbaum” (fir tree) at Christmas.

11 Depth-of-field setting : F-STOP

Varying the f-stop in a lens varies how big the lens opening (the aperture) is when a photograph is taken. Smaller apertures (higher f-stop values) admit less light, but result in a greater depth of field (more of the photograph is in focus).

13 Declining in later years : SENILE

Something described as senile relates to old age. The term “senile” comes from “senex”, which is Latin for “old man”.

14 Slithery danger : ASP

The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.

21 “El Cantar de mío __”: Castilian epic poem : CID

“El Cantar de mio Cid” (“The Song of my Cid” in English) is an old epic poem from Spain that recounts the exploits of the Castilian hero El Cid. The composition was written sometime between 1140 and 1207.

The Kingdom of Castile was one seven medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. The name “Catile” comes from the large number of castles that were built across the kingdom.

22 Minor league game? : TEE-BALL

Although there seems to be some dispute about who invented tee-ball, the game did emerge in the 1950s.

25 Farm animals that sound like trees : EWES

“Ewes” sounds like “yews”.

29 Hockey Hall of Famer Mikita : STAN

Stan Mikita is a retired professional Canadian hockey player who was born in Communist-controlled former Czechoslovakia.

36 Like a June day, to Lowell : SO RARE

James Russell Lowell was a Romantic poet from Massachusetts. Lowell was also known as one of the Fireside Poets, a group of New England poets who used a simpler style to make their work accessible to the general populace. One of his more famous works is the poem that starts, “And what is so rare as a day in June?”

38 Where many get manis : SPA

Manicure (mani)

39 Observations : ESPIALS

Espial: the act of noticing, espying.

41 The U.S. Naval Academy is situated at is mouth : SEVERN

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) is located in Annapolis, Maryland. The USNA was founded in 1845 and educates officers for both the US Navy and the US Marine Corps. The motto of the USNA is “Ex Scientia Tridens”, which translates as “From Knowledge, Sea Power”.

45 Caterpillar rival : DEERE

John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Prior to Deere’s invention, farmers used an iron or wooden plow that constantly had to be cleaned as rich soil stuck to its surfaces. The cast-steel plow was revolutionary as its smooth sides solved the problem of “stickiness”. The Deere company that John founded uses the slogan “Nothing Runs Like a Deere”, and has a leaping deer as its logo.

Back in the early 1900s, Benjamin Holt invented a steam tractor that was able to move over soggy land. The new vehicle crawled over the ground using wheels that drove tracks. Someone apparently noted that the tractor moved along like a caterpillar, and so the enterprise that was to be known as the Caterpillar Tractor Company was born.

50 Whack : STAB

Take a whack, take a stab, have a go, try.

53 Hosp. area with few visitors : ICU

Many a hospital (hosp.) includes an intensive care unit (ICU).

54 “AGT” judge __ B : MEL

“Mel B” is the stage name of Melanie Brown, who came to fame as a member of the Spice Girls musical group. She took the name Mel B to distinguish herself from fellow band member Melanie Chisholm (Melanie C). Mel B was also known as “Scary Spice”, a nickname given to her by the media. American viewers saw Mel B on the TV show “America’s Got Talent” from 2013 through 2019, on which show she served as a judge.

55 Singer in the Whiffenpoofs, e.g. : ELI

The Yale Whiffenpoofs are an a cappella group based in Yale University. They are the oldest such university group in this country, established in 1909. “The Whiffenpoof Song” is the group’s traditional closing number. The song was first performed back in 1909, and has been recorded by many artists including Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby.

We’re poor little lambs
Who have lost our way,
Baa Baa Baa,
We’re little black sheep
Who have gone astray
Baa Baa Baa.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “We’re done here” : CASE CLOSED
11 Wit : FACETIOUSNESS
14 Lead-in for an old saw : AS THE SAYING GOES …
16 Bio lab preparation : STAIN
17 Star associated with Venus : SERENA
18 It may be taken before a vote : POLL
19 Reality : FACT
23 __ Stadium, home to the 49ers : LEVI’S
24 Wild fruit is a feature of it : PALEO DIET
27 Unadon fish : EELS
28 Manufacturing statistic : NEW ORDERS
30 Either co-author of Curious George books : REY
31 Ward of “FBI” : SELA
32 Clubs for Cubs : BATS
34 Movement-controlling pedal : GAS
37 Decides when : SETS A DATE
40 Aphrodite’s love child : EROS
42 Fill up again : REPLENISH
44 Opposite of original : TIRED
46 Baseball’s Maglie and Bando : SALS
47 TurboTax pros : CPAS
49 Tequila sources : AGAVES
51 Short-legged lizard : SKINK
52 Song title line after “once, twice” : THREE TIMES A LADY
57 Basements, to Realtors : TERRACE LEVELS
58 Sources of sprays : NEBULIZERS

Down

1 Andorra’s only official language : CATALAN
2 Victim of Paris : ACHILLES
3 Understood : SEEN
4 “Men in Black” gp. : ETS
5 “Men in black” gp., some say : CIA
6 Myrna who played Nora Charles : LOY
7 Sí, across the Pyrenees : OUI
8 Figs. with two dashes : SSNS
9 Tannenbaum topper : ENGEL
10 Master’s award : DEGREE
11 Depth-of-field setting : F-STOP
12 To any extent : SO EVER
13 Declining in later years : SENILE
14 Slithery danger : ASP
15 Back-talking : SASSY
19 Bit of deception : FOOLER
20 Marketing fees : AD RATES
21 “El Cantar de mío __”: Castilian epic poem : CID
22 Minor league game? : TEE-BALL
25 Farm animals that sound like trees : EWES
26 Sports news highlights : TRADES
29 Hockey Hall of Famer Mikita : STAN
33 Exacting sort : STICKLER
34 Try to say : GET AT
35 Correctly : ARIGHT
36 Like a June day, to Lowell : SO RARE
38 Where many get manis : SPA
39 Observations : ESPIALS
41 The U.S. Naval Academy is situated at is mouth : SEVERN
43 Piano duet quartet : HANDS
45 Caterpillar rival : DEERE
48 Word with box or dome : SKY-
50 Whack : STAB
51 Act with a rainy day in mind? : SAVE
53 Hosp. area with few visitors : ICU
54 “AGT” judge __ B : MEL
55 Singer in the Whiffenpoofs, e.g. : ELI
56 Slangy states? : SEZ

22 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 8 Feb 20, Saturday”

  1. LAT: Never heard of “espials” or “skink,” entering a u instead of the i. Also stupidly entered “neworkers” instead of “neworders.” So close but no cigar this Saturday. Time: A little less than an hour.

  2. I knew after about 30 seconds that there was no hope on this one. Should have just quit. But two of us working together somehow got it done in about an hour. I think the only one I knew immediately was Myrna Loy. At least it’s sunny today!

  3. This puzzle sucked. Espials? yes give me a break too! No wonder there is no theme today, how could there be. I thought this week we had really good puzzles. Fyi, In the 60/70’s Skinks ruled the lizard family down here in S. Florida. They were black and disgusting to look at. They basically ate all the small multi colored chameleons that ate and kept the Palmetto bugs at bay. Now the invasion of the Iguanas have all but destroyed them. Haven’t seen a skink in years and the little ones l guess are all gone. You could feed them from your hand. They protected the patio & pool area, no palmettos bugs were around. Many times you would see one with a huge Palmetto bug in its mouth almost half its size. Just reminiscing before the Iguanas took over. U all be safe.

  4. No errors at the end, but it took some re-doing and Googling. When I
    finally figured out Achilles, the rest sort of fell together. Typical
    difficult Saturday puzzle. I, too, got my first answer ” Loy”. That shows
    about how old I am.

    1. FWIW, I got LOY first (and I get the feeling I’m much younger than most here), but that’s because it’s a pretty established piece of crosswordese. As is ESPIAL (think ESPY).

  5. For my feeble mind, there were too many long stretches from several clues to their solutions. If “espials” was the only stretch, then fine. But, espousing that Realtors mean terraces when talking about basements is ridiculous. Then, there’s the answer to “correctly.” Finally, using a poet who is basically obscure or unknown? C’mon!!
    All this (and much more) being said, I really enjoyed the answer to the star associated with Venus.

  6. 21:48. ARIGHT? Can’t wait for Carrie to get a hold of that one.

    Get to know that Paris killed ACHILLES. It shows up in a lot of different forms in crosswords.

    Time to go straighten up my house. I have things from my office in just about every room in the house, and I haven’t even begun to unpack yet. Do you ever have so much to do that you don’t want to do anything? That’s where I am right now with cleaning up this sty (to throw a little crosswordese into my rant).

    Best –

    1. >Do you ever have so much to do that you don’t want to do anything?
      Yep, got so much – don’t have to do a lot of it, but I want to do it that it kind of paralyzes me and I end up doing nothing trying to force myself past that bit of anxiety to do SOMETHING.

  7. Got the bottom half without too much angst and gnashing of teeth. Then the top, mostly blank, upper half yawned before me. Somehow, I know not the way that it happened, I slowly pecked away at it. I had put in “slide” for 16 Across, but once I saw that that answer was not going to work I came up with “stain” and then Achilles and finally ssn’s for 8 Down and suddenly the remainder fell into place. A definite Saturday level brain buster.

  8. I did better today than yesterday, but still DNF. Had trouble in the middle section even though when I saw the answers it wasn’t that difficult.

    Carrie: Thanks for the update. I must check in more often.

  9. In many years of doing multiple puzzles a day, I have never encountered espials, espy yes, but not the other. How, exactly, does one equate a terrace to a basement? I never encountered that in all my years in involvement with real estate.

  10. 1:02:13 with no errors….The center of this one really slowed me down.
    At least it wasn’t loaded with foreign words (except for Engle) .

  11. 9:57, which is a GREAT time for me on a Saturday, helped by some of the really long acrosses that were kind of gimmes (like THREE TIMES A LADY). I only stumbled in the very center, where PALEO DIET and NEW ORDERS eluded me for a while. I didn’t know the word ESPIALS, but knowing ESPY as standard crosswordese, it wasn’t that hard to guess once some crossing letters filled in.

    I wonder if LOY was the very first thing to go in for all of us?!

  12. 19:36 (I beat Glenn’s time for once?? Pinch me!!!) and emerged error-free with a series of **flat-out guesses** on the bottom to get SEVERN and NEBULIZERS.

    I found this grid to be both tough, and also hobbled by lots of really bad clueing, like the unforgiveable one to cover for the SEZ fill.

  13. A bit too tough for me; finished after an hour with 5 errors. I too had LOY first, but right after OUI and ENGEL (but I’m German-American.)

    Couldn’t get NEW_R_ERS or above it _A_T and screwed up SKIrK. Everything came slowly, especially SEZ, ARIGHT, SEEN, EWES (which doesn’t sound like trees) and “Bit of deception.” I did like TEEBALL.

    Still, mostly fair…

  14. Aloha y’all!!🦆

    DNF!! Cheated here and there and STILL had two errors, having misspelled FACETIOUSNESS.

    LOY was the first thing I filled in too, and the only thing for awhile.

    Hard puzzle, but I agree with Dirk- mostly fair. Steve, I think the point is not so much that the poet is obscure; the challenge is to see the phrase SO RARE. Sessa could have clued it “Like a June day, to a certain poet.” It is a puzzle!🤗 The intent is not to offer us a trivia quiz or something.

    My childhood memories came through for me on a coupla answers: SKINK and both SALS. 😁

    Jeff– HA HA!! I didn’t even want to fill that one in!!😁

    Kay- sure! FWIW he’s sometimes anonymous, so maybe that’s why it didn’t catch your eye.

    Be well ~~🍺

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