LA Times Crossword 15 Mar 20, Sunday

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Constructed by: Pam Amick Klawitter
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: No Rhyme, No Reason

Themed answer each comprise two words that look like they should RHYME, but they don’t:

  • 23A Costuming choice for a “Cats” performance? : LEOPARD LEOTARD
  • 37A Proctor’s nightmare? : GREAT CHEAT
  • 41A Tree surgeon’s challenge? : TOUGH BOUGH
  • 51A One skilled at squandering? : MASTER WASTER
  • 70A Sweeping thoroughfare? : BROAD ROAD
  • 84A Expert on current energy options? : SOLAR SCHOLAR
  • 95A Dud of a car that Stephen King might write about? : DEMON LEMON
  • 100A Chophouse bandit? : STEAK SNEAK
  • 118A Lazy son, vis-à-vis his lazy dad? : YOUNGER LOUNGER

Bill’s time: 16m 17s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4 Quayle successor : GORE

Al Gore was born in Washington DC, and is the son of Al Gore, Sr., then a US Representative for the state of Tennessee. After deferring his military service in order to attend Harvard, the younger Gore became eligible for the draft on graduation. Many of his classmates found ways of avoiding the draft, but Gore decided to serve and even took the “tougher” option of joining the army as an enlisted man. Actor Tommy Lee Jones shared a house with Gore in college and says that his buddy told him that even if he could find a way around the draft, someone with less options than him would have to go in his place and that was just wrong.

Dan Quayle served as both a US Representative and a US Senator from Indiana before becoming the 44th Vice President, under President George H. W. Bush. Quayle refused to run for office in 1996, going up against the Clinton/Gore ticket, but entered the fray again in 2000 seeking the Republican nomination for president. Ironically, he was defeated by the son of his former Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush.

8 Part of PBR : PABST

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is the most recognizable brand of beer from the Pabst Brewing Company. There appears to be some dispute over whether or not Pabst beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle until it was dropped in 1916 and incorporated into the label.

13 Brazilian dances : SAMBAS

The samba is a Brazilian dance that is very much symbolic of the festival of Carnival. Like so much culture around the world, the samba has its roots in Africa, as the dance is derived from dances performed by former slaves who migrated into urban Rio de Janeiro in the late 1800s. The exact roots of the name “samba” seem to have been lost in the mists of time. However, my favorite explanation is that it comes from an African Kikongo word “semba” which means “a blow struck with the belly button”. We don’t seem to have a need for such a word in English …

19 1881 face-off spot : OK CORRAL

The most famous gunfight in the history of the Old West has to be the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place in Tombstone, Arizona. Strangely enough, the fight didn’t happen at the O.K. Corral, but played out six doors down the street in a vacant lot next to a photography studio.

21 “… only God can make __”: Kilmer : A TREE

American journalist and poet Joyce Kilmer is primarily known for his 1913 poem titled “Trees”. The original text of the poem is:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Kilmer died a few years after writing “Trees”. He was a casualty of the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918 at the age of 31.

23 Costuming choice for a “Cats” performance? : LEOPARD LEOTARD

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s source material for his hit musical “Cats” was T. S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. Eliot’s collection of whimsical poems was published in 1939, and was a personal favorite of Webber as he was growing up. “Cats” is the second longest-running show in Broadway history (“Phantom of the Opera” is the longest and is still running; deservedly so in my humble opinion). My wife and I have seen “Cats” a couple of times and really enjoyed it …

25 Move to protect a king : CASTLE

In the game of chess, the move known as “castling” involves the king two squares towards one of the rooks, and then placing that rook in the square over which the king crossed. It is the only chess move involving two pieces at the same time.

27 Mag. edition : ISS

Issue (iss.)

28 “Hulk” director Lee : ANG

“Hulk” is a 2003 film with Eric Bana starring in the title role, as the Hulk and as the superhero’s alter ego Dr. Bruce Banner. “Hulk” received a mediocre reception, and so it was remade as “The Incredible Hulk” in 2008.

29 Retired flier, briefly : SST

The first supersonic transport (SST) to fly was the Tupolev Tu-144, which was constructed in the Soviet Union. The Tu-144 first flew in 1968, but did not carry passengers until 1977. The aircraft was permanently grounded as a passenger craft in 1978 due to concerns about safety (there had been two Tu-144 crashes). The second SST to fly was the Anglo-French Concorde, which operated at a profit for over 27 years until it was withdrawn from service in 2003. There was one Concorde crash, in Paris in July 2000. Since then, there have been no commercial SST services.

30 Fair-hiring abbr. : EOE

Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE)

31 Narrow inlets : RIAS

A drowned valley might be called a ria or a fjord, and both are formed as sea levels rise. A ria is a drowned valley created by river erosion, and a fjord is a drowned valley created by glaciation.

33 Crowded subway metaphor : SARDINE

The commuters were packed in like sardines in a can.

36 Prince in “Frozen” : HANS

“Frozen” is a 2013 animated feature from Walt Disney Studios that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. The film is all about the exploits of Princess Anna, the younger sister of Elsa, Snow Queen of Arendelle. Spoiler alert: Prince Hans of the Southern Isles seems to be a good guy for most of the film, but turns out to be a baddie in the end. And, a snowman named Olaf provides some comic relief.

37 Proctor’s nightmare? : GREAT CHEAT

A proctor is a supervisor, and especially a person overseeing a school examination or a dormitory. The word “proctor” originated in the late 1500s, and is a contraction of the word “procurator”, the name given to an official agent of a church.

45 Yucatán’s yesterday : AYER

Yucatán is one of Mexico’s 31 states and is located in the east of the country, on the northern tip of the Yucatán peninsula.

47 Reeves of “Point Break” : KEANU

Keanu Reeves is a Canadian actor whose most celebrated roles were a metalhead in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989), a cop in “Speed” (1994) and the protagonist Neo in “The Matrix” series of films. Although Reeves is a Canadian national, he was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Reeves has some Hawaiian descent, and the name “Keanu” is Hawaiian for “the coolness” or “cool breeze”.

“Point Break” is a 1991 film about an FBI agent investigating a series of robberies, with suspicion falling on a group of surfer dudes. Famously, Patrick Swayze plays the leader of the surfers, and Keanu Reeves the rookie FBI agent. A “point break” is a location where waves hit a point of land jutting out from a coastline. The film was remade in 2015 under the same title.

48 Self-descriptive adjective : OLDE

“Olde” is an “old” way of writing “old”.

49 Prof’s assistants : TAS

Teaching assistant (TA)

57 “Mamma Mia!” song : SOS

The ABBA song “SOS” was originally titled “Turn Me On”. In the movie “Mamma Mia!”, “SOS” is performed by Meryl Streep (brilliantly) and by Pierce Brosnan (terribly).

The hit musical “Mamma Mia!” was written to showcase the songs of ABBA. I’m a big fan of ABBA’s music, so I’ve seen this show a couple of times and just love it. “Mamma Mia!” is such a big hit on the stage that on any given day there are at least seven performances going on somewhere in the world. There is a really interesting film version of the show that was released in 2008. I think the female lead Meryl Streep is wonderful in the movie, but the male leads … not so much! By the way, one can tell the difference between “Mamma Mia” the ABBA song and “Mamma Mia!” the musical, by noting the difference in the punctuation in the titles.

59 Midori in a rink : ITO

Midori Ito is a Japanese figure skater. Ito was the first woman to land a triple/triple jump and a triple axel in competition. In fact, she landed her first triple jump in training when she was only 8 years old. Ito won Olympic silver in 1992, and was chosen as the person to light the Olympic cauldron at the commencement of the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

60 Brother of Macaulay and Rory : KIERAN

Kieran Culkin began his acting career alongside his older brother Macaulay in the 1990 film “Home Alone”. Kieran’s most lauded performance was the title role in 2002’s “Igby Goes Down”, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

61 Like each succeeding eye chart line : TINIER

The commonly used eye chart (that starts with the letters “E FP TOZ LPED”) is called a Snellen chart. The test is named after its developer Herman Snellen, who introduced it way back in 1862.

66 Broad bean : FAVA

The fava bean is also known as the broad bean. “Broad bean” is used “broadly” (pun!) in the UK, whereas “fava bean” is common in the US. “Fava” is the Italian name for the broad bean.

72 Mont Blanc’s range, to its west : ALPES

In French, the “Alpes” (Alps) is a large range of “monts” (mountains).

Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps. The name “Mont Blanc” translates from French into “white mountain”. The mountain lies on the border between France and Italy, and it has been generally accepted for decades that the summit lies within French territory. However, there have been official claims that the summit does in fact fall within the borders of Italy.

74 Pool slip-up : MISCUE

The more correct name for the game of pool is “pocket billiards”. The designation “pool” arose after pocket billiards became a common feature in “pool halls”, places where gamblers “pooled” their money to bet on horse races.

75 Author of kids’ Busytown books : SCARRY

Richard Scarry was an author and illustrator of children’s books. His most famous series of books was set in the fictional Busytown, a locale inhabited by anthropomorphic animals.

79 Bit of animation : CEL

In the world of animation, a cel is a transparent sheet on which objects and characters are drawn. In the first half of the 20th century the sheet was actually made of celluloid, giving the “cel” its name.

89 “Mi __ es tu __” : CASA

The Spanish phrases “Mi casa es tu casa” and “Mi casa es su casa” are expressions of welcome translating as “My house is your house”. The former is more informal than the latter.

90 Wide receiver Don who played in five Super Bowls : BEEBE

Don Beebe is a former wide receiver who played for the Buffalo Bills, the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers. Beebe is remembered for a play in the Super Bowl XXVII between the Bills and the Cowboys. A Cowboys defensive tackle was celebrating as he approached the end zone after recovering a Bills fumble, with the ball held outstretched as he ran past the 10-yard line. Beebe appeared out of nowhere and knocked the ball out of his hand before he could score.

91 Shanghai money : YUAN

The Korean won, Chinese yuan, and Japanese yen (all of which are Asian currencies) take their names from the Chinese written character that represents “round shape”.

Shanghai is a major city on the east coast of China that is home to the busiest container port in the world. The name “Shanghai” translates as “Upon-the-Sea”.

93 Part of a Norwegian-sounding ice cream name : HAAGEN

Häagen-Dazs ice cream originated in the Bronx, New York in 1961. The name “Häagen-Dazs” is a “nonsense” term, words chosen for its Scandinavian feel that the producers thought would appeal to potential customers.

95 Dud of a car that Stephen King might write about? : DEMON LEMON

Stephen King is a remarkably successful author. He has sold well over 350 million copies of his books, with many of them made into hit movies. I’ve tried reading two or three of the novels, and didn’t get too far. I really don’t do horror …

103 Lasagna layer : RICOTTA

Ricotta is an Italian cheese made from the milk of a sheep or a cow. It produced from the whey of the milk, the liquid left after the curds have been separated out (curds are used to make “traditional” cheese). The whey is heated again so that the remaining protein precipitates out, producing ricotta cheese. The word “ricotta” literally means “recooked”, which makes sense to me now …

“Lasagna” was originally the name of a cooking pot, but the term came to mean a dish that was cooked in it. “Lasagna” also became the name of the flat noodle used in the dish. If you order lasagna on the other side of the Atlantic, you’ll notice the “lasagne” spelling, the plural of “lasagna”. The plural is used as there is more than one layer of pasta in the dish.

106 H.S. dropout’s goal : GED

The General Educational Development (GED) tests are a battery of five tests designed to demonstrate that a student has the academic skills of someone who has graduated from an American or Canadian high school.

107 Small shot : BBS

A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.070″ in diameter) to size FF (.230″). Birdshot that is size BB (0.180″ in diameter) gives the airgun its name.

109 Piece of TNT? : TRI-

“TNT” is an abbreviation for “trinitrotoluene”. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

110 First lady Hoover : LOU

Lou Henry met her future husband Herbert Hoover while studying at Stanford University. The couple traveled extensively in their lives, even before Herbert became US president. In fact, when Herbert proposed to Lou, he was living in Australia while Lou was in the US. He proposed by cable, and she accepted by with a return telegraph. The day after their marriage in Monterey, California, the Hoovers left for Shanghai, where they lived for a couple of years while Herbert pursued his career in mining. While there, Lou became proficient in Chinese. As such, Lou Hoover was to become the only First Lady of the US to have spoken an Asian language.

112 Garlicky spread : AIOLI

To the purist, especially in Provence in the South of France, aioli is prepared just by grinding garlic with olive oil. However, other ingredients are often added to the mix, particularly egg yolks.

116 “Aladdin” backdrop : ARABIA

“Aladdin” is a famous tale in “Arabian Nights”, also called “The Book of One Thousand and One Nights”. However, there is no evidence at all that the story was in the original collection. It is generally believed that one Antoine Galland introduced the tale when he translated “Arabian Nights” into French in the early 1700s.

118 Lazy son, vis-à-vis his lazy dad? : YOUNGER LOUNGER

We can use the French phrase “vis-à-vis” as a preposition meaning “compared with”. When used as an adverb or adjective, it means “face-to-face”, which is a more literal translation from French.

121 They bite : MOLARS

Molars are grinding teeth. The term “molar” comes from the Latin “mola” meaning “millstone”.

122 Sleep disorder : APNEA

Sleep apnea (“apnoea” in British English) can be caused by an obstruction in the airways, possibly due to obesity or enlarged tonsils.

124 Prominent Syrian family : ASSADS

Dr. Bashar al-Assad is the current President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the son of the former President Hafez al-Assad, whom he replaced in 2001. President Assad is a medical doctor, speaks fluent English and conversational French. Assad was studying ophthalmology in London when he met his wife, who is an Englishwoman by birth.

125 Bette’s “Divine” nickname : MISS M

One of my favorite singers, and indeed all-round entertainers, is Bette Midler. If you’ve ever seen her live show you’ll know that “camp” is a good word to describe it, as her humor is definitely “out there” and quite bawdy. Early in her career, Midler spent years singing in the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in New York City. There she became very close friends with her piano accompanist, Barry Manilow. While singing in the bathhouse, Bette only wore a white towel, just like the members of her audience. It was in those days that she created her famous character “the Divine Miss M” and also earned herself the nickname “Bathhouse Betty”.

126 Editor’s backpedaling : STET

“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.

127 Self starter? : ESS

The word “self” starts with a letter S (ess).

Down

2 DIY furniture brand : IKEA

Every IKEA store features a restaurant that serves traditional Swedish food, including Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam. Each store also has a Swedish Food Market where customers can purchase specialty foods from Sweden.

3 Robbie Coltrane, e.g. : SCOT

Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane is perhaps best known in North America for his portrayal of Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” movies. Coltrane is quite the celebrity in the UK. He appeared sixth on a UK list of “most famous Scots”, after the likes of Sean Connery and the Loch Ness Monster!

4 Curling stone : GRANITE

I think curling is such a cool game (pun!). It’s somewhat like bowls, but played on a sheet of ice. The sport was supposedly invented in medieval Scotland, and is called curling because of the action of the granite stone is it moves across the ice. A player can make the stone take a curved path (“curl”) by causing it to slowly rotate as it slides.

5 Hockey great : ORR

Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn’t skate anymore. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking. While still 31 years old, in 1979, Orr became the youngest person inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Prior to that, in 1967, Orr became the youngest person named the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

6 Salad slice : RADISH

Radishes are edible root vegetables that are commonly grown for use in salads. Gardeners also use radishes as companion plants as the odor given off can deter pests such as aphids, ants and cucumber beetles.

8 Kung __ chicken : PAO

Kung Pao chicken is a Sichuan stir-fry dish that includes chicken, peanuts, vegetables and chili peppers. The name “Kung Pao” is thought to come from a governor of the Sichuan province whose title was “Gongbao”, meaning “Palace Guardian”.

9 Rose oil : ATTAR

Attar of rose is also known as rose oil, and is an essential oil extracted from the petals of various types of rose.

10 1971 Peace Prize awardee : BRANDT

Willy Brandt was Chancellor of Germany (West Germany) from 1969 to 1974. He is perhaps best remembered for his efforts to reconcile West Germany with East Germany and the Soviet Bloc. Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for this work. He stepped down as Chancellor when it was discovered that one of his closest aides was an agent for the East German secret service, the Stasi.

11 Golfer Garcia : SERGIO

Sergio García is a professional golfer from Spain, and a very colorful character. Garcia also likes his football (soccer). He is the chairman of his hometown team CF Borriol.

12 Talks acronym : TED

The acronym “TED” stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design”. TED is a set of conferences held around the world by a non-profit group called the Sapling Foundation. The conference subjects are varied, and the meetings are often led by big names such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Gates and Jane Goodall. The Sapling Foundation then makes recordings of the conferences available for free online with the intent of disseminating the ideas globally. These conferences are known as “TED Talks”.

13 Unleashes (on) : SICS

“Sic ’em” is an attack order given to a dog, one instructing the animal to growl, bark or even bite. The term dates back to the 1830s, with “sic” being a variation of “seek”.

14 Med school subj. : ANAT

Anatomy (anat.)

15 Mic wielders : MCS

The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism used for a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.

16 Flat-bottomed boat : BATEAU

“Bateau” is a French word meaning “boat”. The term can be used in English to describe any small craft, but in particular in North America to describe a flat-bottomed boat with a shallow draft that was especially popular in the colonial period.

18 “Blimey!” cousin : SHEESH!

When I was a kid in London, a pretty common expression of surprise was “gor blimey”, a euphemism for “God blind me”.

29 Rocker Bob : SEGER

Bob Seger struggled as a performing artist right through the sixties and early seventies before becoming a commercial success in 1976 with the release of his album “Night Moves”. Since then, Seger has recorded songs that have become classics like “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Old Time Rock & Roll”.

32 Blackjack holding : ACE-TEN

The card game known as “twenty-one” was first referred to in print in a book by Cervantes, the author famous for writing “Don Quixote”. He called the game “ventiuna” (Spanish for “twenty-one”). Cervantes wrote his story just after the year 1600, so the game has been around at least since then. Twenty-one came to the US but it wasn’t all that popular so bonus payments were introduced to create more interest. One of the more attractive bonuses was a ten-to-one payout to a player who was dealt an ace of spades and a black jack. This bonus led to the game adopting the moniker “Blackjack”.

36 Indoor buzzer? : HOUSEFLY

Houseflies are very difficult to swat away. That’s because they can process visual information about seven times more quickly than humans. In effect, houseflies see movement in slow motion.

37 Sporty muscle cars : GTOS

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”, “homologated” being a technical term signifying official approval.

38 Milk Dud rival : ROLO

Rolo was a hugely popular chocolate candy in Ireland when I was growing up. Rolo was introduced in the thirties in the UK, and is produced under license in the US by Hershey. I was a little disappointed when I had my first taste of the American version as the center is very hard and chewy. The recipe used on the other side of the Atlantic calls for a soft gooey center.

39 “CSI” actor George : EADS

George Eads is an actor from Fort Worth, Texas. He is best known for playing the investigator Nick Stokes on the CBS show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, and more recently for playing Jack Dalton on the show “MacGyver”.

42 Sells aggressively : HAWKS

The verb “to hawk” has a Germanic origin, and comes from the Low German word “hoken” meaning “to peddle”. A hawker is actually slightly different from a peddler by definition, as a hawker is a peddler that uses a horse and cart, or a van nowadays perhaps, to sell his or her wares.

43 __ B’rith : B’NAI

B’nai B’rith is a Jewish service organization founded in New York City in 1843. “B’nai B’rith” is Hebrew for “Sons of the Covenant”.

50 The best one is airtight : ALIBI

“Alibi” is the Latin word for “elsewhere” as in, “I claim that I was ‘elsewhere’ when the crime was committed … I have an ‘alibi’”.

53 Bilbao bulls : TOROS

Bilbao is a city in the Basque region of northern Spain. One of the most famous buildings in the city is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a spectacular structure standing on the banks of the Nervión river in the downtown area.

56 Genetic strands : RNAS

Both DNA and RNA are complex molecules comprising nucleotide bases arranged in chains. Famously, DNA molecules form a double-helix structure, with two chains coiled around each other. RNA chains are single-stranded structures that usually fold onto themselves.

61 “Brava!” : TAKE A BOW!

To express appreciation for a male performer at an operatic performance, traditionally one calls out “bravo!”. Appreciation for a female performer is shown by using “brava!”, and for more than one performer of either sex by using “bravi!”

62 Cookbook author DiSpirito : ROCCO

Rocco DiSpirito is a celebrity chef from New York City. He was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2008, and did quite well in the competition.

64 Protective shot : VACCINE

A vaccine is a modified virus that is administered to an individual to stimulate the immune system into developing immunity. British physician Edward Jenner came up with the first vaccine, injecting people with the cowpox virus in order to prevent smallpox. The term “vaccination” comes from the Latin “vaccinus” meaning “from cows”, with “vacca” translating as “cow”.

65 Dutch wheels : EDAMS

Edam cheese takes its name from the Dutch town of Edam in North Holland. The cheese is famous for its coating of red paraffin wax, a layer of protection that helps Edam travel well and prevents spoiling. You might occasionally come across an Edam cheese that is coated in black wax. The black color indicates that the underlying cheese has been aged for a minimum of 17 weeks.

67 Diner menu staples : BLTS

The BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) is the second-most popular sandwich in the US, after the plain old ham sandwich.

68 MIT Chapel designer Saarinen : EERO

Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect who was renowned in this country for his unique designs for public buildings such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Dulles International Airport Terminal, and the TWA building at JFK. The list of his lesser-known, but still impressive, works includes several buildings erected on academic campuses. For example, the Chapel and Kresge Auditorium on the MIT campus, the Emma Hartman Noyes House at Vassar College, the Law School building at the University of Chicago, and Yale’s David S. Ingalls Rink.

69 Caesar’s France : GAUL

The Gauls were a Celtic race, with Gaul covering what is now known as France and Belgium. We use the term “Gallic” today, when we refer to something pertaining to France or the French.

71 Writer of really old stories? : AUEL

As Jean Auel prepared her first book in the “Earth’s Children” series, she did a lot of research about the Ice Age, the setting for her stories. She went as far as taking a survival course in cold conditions, learning to build an ice cave and how to make fire, tan leather and knap stone.

72 Valiant’s son : ARN

“Prince Valiant” is a comic strip that first appeared in 1937 when it was created by Hal Foster. Edward, Duke of Windsor called the “Prince Valiant” comic strip the “greatest contribution to English literature in the past one hundred years”. I’m not so sure …

74 German wine region : MOSEL

In Germany, there are thirteen regions that are officially defined as producers of “quality wines”. The best known of these regions is Mosel, which takes its name from the Moselle River. Mosel is the most prestigious region, but only the third largest in terms of production. And most of that production comes from the Riesling grape.

76 Abstract expressionist Mark : ROTHKO

Mark Rothko was a Russian-American painter who is often classified as an abstract expressionist. Rothko’s 1961 painting “Orange, Red, Yellow” was sold in 2012 at auction for over $86 million dollars, a record price for any post-war contemporary work of art.

78 Chihuahua choo-choo : TREN

Chihuahua is a state in northern Mexico that shares a border with Texas and New Mexico. Chihuahua is the largest state in the country, earning it the nickname “El Estado Grande”. The state takes its name from the Chihuahuan Desert which lies largely within its borders. The Chihuahua breed of dog takes its name from the state.

81 Stuffing stuff : SAGE

In Britain, sage is listed as one of the four essential herbs. And those would be “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”.

83 Reb’s rival : YANK

During the Civil War, the personification of the Southern states was “Johnny Reb”. The northern equivalent was “Billy Yank”.

85 Transmitting truckers : CB’ERS

A CB’er is someone who operates a Citizens Band (CB) radio. In 1945, the FCC set aside certain radio frequencies for the personal use of citizens. The use of the Citizens Band increased throughout the seventies as advances in electronics brought down the size of transceivers and their cost. There aren’t many CB radios sold these days though, as they have largely been replaced by cell phones.

86 Sphere opener : HEMI-

Ever wonder what the difference is between the prefixes “hemi-”, “demi-” and “semi-”, all of which mean “half”? Well, the general observation is that words using the “demi-” prefix date back to the days of Norman influence over the English language. As a result, “demi-” turns up in the world of period costume and coats of arms. Words using “hemi-” tend to have Greek roots, and are prevalent in the world of the sciences and the medical field. Words with “semi-” tend to have Latin roots, and are most often found in music and the arts, and mathematics.

89 Bar in Baja : CANTINA

Baja California is both the most northern and the most western of the Mexican states. The name translates from Spanish as “Lower California”.

92 Dickens title starter : A TALE …

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens is the most printed book that was originally written in English. The novel was first published in 1859 in 31 weekly installments in a literary periodical called “All the Year Round”, which Dickens himself produced. The “two cities” in the title are London and Paris.

95 First European to sail to India : DA GAMA

Vasco da Gama left on his first voyage of discovery in 1497. da Gama journeyed around the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost tip of Africa, and across the Indian Ocean making landfall in India. Landing in India, his fleet became the first expedition to sail directly from Europe to the sub-continent. Vasco da Gama was well known for acts of cruelty, especially on local inhabitants. One of his milder atrocities was inflicted on a priest whom he labelled as a spy. He had the priest’s lips and ears cut off, and sent him on his way after having a pair of dog’s ears sewn onto his head.

96 Juarez winter months : ENEROS

In Spanish, the years start off with “enero, febrero, marzo” (January, February, March).

The Mexican city sitting across the border from El Paso is more correctly called Ciudad Juárez. Juárez used to be called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). It was to be the younger settlement on the northern side of the Rio Grande which would retain the “El Paso” name.

97 Gold and silver : MEDALS

In the Ancient Olympic Games, the winner of an event was awarded an olive wreath. When the games were revived in 1896, the winners were originally given a silver medal and an olive branch, with runners-up receiving a bronze medal and a laurel branch. The tradition of giving gold, silver and bronze medals began at the 1904 Summer Olympic Games held in St. Louis, Missouri.

98 Well-armed swimmers? : OCTOPI

The name “octopus” comes from the Greek for “eight-footed”. The most common plural used is “octopuses”, although the Greek plural form “octopodes” is also quite correct. The plural “octopi” isn’t really correct as the inference is that “octopus” is like a second-declension Latin noun, which it isn’t. That said, dictionaries are now citing “octopi” as an acceptable plural. Language does evolve, even though it drives me crazy …

99 Shutout feature : NO RUNS

That would be baseball.

101 Good luck charm : AMULET

Amulets are items worn to ward off disease or to protect against harmful magic spells.

108 Singer Lance, or the part he sang with *NSYNC : BASS

Lance Bass sang with the very successful boy band NSYNC. As luck would have it, Bass’s voice type is a bass.

114 Island chains : LEIS

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

118 Thanksgiving tuber : YAM

Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the world than they are in this country, and are especially common in Africa.

119 Whale group : GAM

A group of whales can be called a gam, as well as a pod.

120 World Cup cry : OLE!

The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious tournament in the sport of soccer. The competition has been held every four years (excluding the WWII years) since the inaugural event held in Uruguay in 1930. The men’s World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, even outranking the Olympic Games. And, the women’s World Cup is fast catching up …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Just one of the fam : SIS
4 Quayle successor : GORE
8 Part of PBR : PABST
13 Brazilian dances : SAMBAS
19 1881 face-off spot : OK CORRAL
21 “… only God can make __”: Kilmer : A TREE
22 How some bills are paid : IN CASH
23 Costuming choice for a “Cats” performance? : LEOPARD LEOTARD
25 Move to protect a king : CASTLE
26 Put away : EATEN
27 Mag. edition : ISS
28 “Hulk” director Lee : ANG
29 Retired flier, briefly : SST
30 Fair-hiring abbr. : EOE
31 Narrow inlets : RIAS
33 Crowded subway metaphor : SARDINE
36 Prince in “Frozen” : HANS
37 Proctor’s nightmare? : GREAT CHEAT
41 Tree surgeon’s challenge? : TOUGH BOUGH
44 Just right : TO A TEE
45 Yucatán’s yesterday : AYER
47 Reeves of “Point Break” : KEANU
48 Self-descriptive adjective : OLDE
49 Prof’s assistants : TAS
51 One skilled at squandering? : MASTER WASTER
57 “Mamma Mia!” song : SOS
58 See 87-Down : … BELT
59 Midori in a rink : ITO
60 Brother of Macaulay and Rory : KIERAN
61 Like each succeeding eye chart line : TINIER
63 Butterflies : NERVES
66 Broad bean : FAVA
67 Fathered, biblically : BEGAT
70 Sweeping thoroughfare? : BROAD ROAD
72 Mont Blanc’s range, to its west : ALPES
73 News source, perhaps : LEAK
74 Pool slip-up : MISCUE
75 Author of kids’ Busytown books : SCARRY
77 Showing faith in : TRUE TO
79 Bit of animation : CEL
80 “We’re gonna be late!” : C’MON!
81 Utter : SAY
84 Expert on current energy options? : SOLAR SCHOLAR
88 Classic ending? : -IST
89 “Mi __ es tu __” : CASA
90 Wide receiver Don who played in five Super Bowls : BEEBE
91 Shanghai money : YUAN
93 Part of a Norwegian-sounding ice cream name : HAAGEN
95 Dud of a car that Stephen King might write about? : DEMON LEMON
100 Chophouse bandit? : STEAK SNEAK
102 All over : ANEW
103 Lasagna layer : RICOTTA
105 More than half : MOST
106 H.S. dropout’s goal : GED
107 Small shot : BBS
109 Piece of TNT? : TRI-
110 First lady Hoover : LOU
112 Garlicky spread : AIOLI
116 “Aladdin” backdrop : ARABIA
118 Lazy son, vis-à-vis his lazy dad? : YOUNGER LOUNGER
121 They bite : MOLARS
122 Sleep disorder : APNEA
123 Fib : TELL A LIE
124 Prominent Syrian family : ASSADS
125 Bette’s “Divine” nickname : MISS M
126 Editor’s backpedaling : STET
127 Self starter? : ESS

Down

1 What’s underfoot? : SOLE
2 DIY furniture brand : IKEA
3 Robbie Coltrane, e.g. : SCOT
4 Curling stone : GRANITE
5 Hockey great : ORR
6 Salad slice : RADISH
7 Some annexes : ELLS
8 Kung __ chicken : PAO
9 Rose oil : ATTAR
10 1971 Peace Prize awardee : BRANDT
11 Golfer Garcia : SERGIO
12 Talks acronym : TED
13 Unleashes (on) : SICS
14 Med school subj. : ANAT
15 Mic wielders : MCS
16 Flat-bottomed boat : BATEAU
17 Comparable in distance : AS LONG
18 “Blimey!” cousin : SHEESH!
20 Run or work : OPERATE
24 English homework : ESSAY
29 Rocker Bob : SEGER
32 Blackjack holding : ACE-TEN
34 “Up and __!” : AT ‘EM
35 Zap in the kitchen : NUKE
36 Indoor buzzer? : HOUSEFLY
37 Sporty muscle cars : GTOS
38 Milk Dud rival : ROLO
39 “CSI” actor George : EADS
40 Egg-hunt holidays : EASTERS
42 Sells aggressively : HAWKS
43 __ B’rith : B’NAI
46 Deluge result, perhaps : RAIN DELAY
50 The best one is airtight : ALIBI
52 Ending for hip : -STER
53 Bilbao bulls : TOROS
54 Con game, say : TRAP
55 Roof edge : EAVE
56 Genetic strands : RNAS
58 Trace : BIT
61 “Brava!” : TAKE A BOW!
62 Cookbook author DiSpirito : ROCCO
64 Protective shot : VACCINE
65 Dutch wheels : EDAMS
67 Diner menu staples : BLTS
68 MIT Chapel designer Saarinen : EERO
69 Caesar’s France : GAUL
71 Writer of really old stories? : AUEL
72 Valiant’s son : ARN
74 German wine region : MOSEL
76 Abstract expressionist Mark : ROTHKO
78 Chihuahua choo-choo : TREN
81 Stuffing stuff : SAGE
82 Well offshore : ASEA
83 Reb’s rival : YANK
85 Transmitting truckers : CB’ERS
86 Sphere opener : HEMI-
87 With 58-Across, area with severely declining industry : RUST …
89 Bar in Baja : CANTINA
92 Dickens title starter : A TALE …
94 Verbal attack : ASSAULT
95 First European to sail to India : DA GAMA
96 Juarez winter months : ENEROS
97 Gold and silver : MEDALS
98 Well-armed swimmers? : OCTOPI
99 Shutout feature : NO RUNS
101 Good luck charm : AMULET
104 Fork “fingers” : TINES
107 Frequent flier : BIRD
108 Singer Lance, or the part he sang with *NSYNC : BASS
111 Leftover scraps : ORTS
113 Check out creepily : OGLE
114 Island chains : LEIS
115 Ticks off : IRES
117 Barnyard bleat : BAA!
118 Thanksgiving tuber : YAM
119 Whale group : GAM
120 World Cup cry : OLE!

14 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 15 Mar 20, Sunday”

  1. 24:57, no errors. I love puzzles that, like this one, highlight the idiosyncrasies of English-language spelling and pronunciation.

    And, @Glenn, I must again protest that you are misusing the word “Natick”. I saw no crossing entries in the puzzle of which it could honestly be said that most people would not know either one.

    1. You think most people would know 75A and 76D, which was the source for the errors I mentioned? (Specifically 75A-76D, 75A-72D, and 88A-76D, 88A could have been IST or ISM, so it required 76D to solve it)

      1. The “Urban Dictionary” defines “natick” as “a word used in crosswordese, coined by blogger Rex Parker, meaning two crossing words/clues that very very few people would know”. I contend that a lot of people would know ROTHKO and ARN, as I did (though I knew ARN mostly from doing other crosswords). I did not know SCARRY, but it may be that younger folks with kids would be likely to know that one, as well.

        Mostly, what I object to is the notion that any one of us (myself included) has enough data about the knowledge bases of others to declare any crossing a Natick. Rex Parker has the requisite ego; I do not. Therefore, I limit myself to using the phrase “personal Natick”.

  2. 1:00:00 no errors…I started off fast but slowed down in the middle…everyone stay safe and don’t panic….we will get through this.

  3. No errors after a few head scratches…I liked the theme, too…but down
    in the southwest corner I didn’t know at first whether it was a demon
    lemon or a lemon demon, but I threw in DaGama and found my answer.

  4. Had a problem with GREATCHEAT, started out with chEATsHEeT. It didn’t help that Milk Duds have no rival-they stand alone.
    Otherwise. enjoyed the theme and the puzzle.

  5. Of time, this puzzle was a 51A. The theme is NO RHYME, NO REASON, but for my money, it should be NO FUN, NO FOOLIN’. I’m not a pro critic, but that’s OK, since this puz is not worth a serious critique. I’ll just thank the constructor and editor (assuming there was one) for the several answers that were NOT people, places, product names or other proper nouns. Solvers call them PPPs and have a low tolerance for them; I quit counting at 55 in this clunker. The theme couldn’t have been more pedestrian (“Look, the spelling of some words is similar, yet they don’t rhyme!”) And the fill? A quick scan turns up the likes of MCS, ISS, SST, TAS, GED, BBS, EOE, and IST. In closing, an error — nitpicky, but an error nonetheless: The plural of octopus is not OCTOPI (98D). With its -us ending, it might be … IF octopus were Latin in origin, but it’s derived from the Greek. (Octopodes is the correct plural).

    1. But, but, but … I just found this online: “According to Merriam-Webster, both octopuses and octopi are acceptable plurals.” And this: “We would go with ‘octopuses,’ a perfectly legitimate English plural, and the oldest attested to. ‘Octopi’ is also an acceptable choice, and one in wide use, but you run the risk of being informed that it’s incorrect. Well-meaning people may tell you that -i is a Latin plural, but “octopus” comes from the Greek.”

  6. I can see that “brava” would be the feminine version, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say it. Also, it made me think the answer was in Spanish. All things considered, this puzzle was too hard for me — or maybe just no fun.

  7. 28 mins 3 sec and DNF, thanks to the middle-right proper names crossing our constructor so thoughtfully placed in close proximity.

    Small side-issue: how come, when a spelling or a fill is doubtful or suspect, it’s Merriam-Webster that has the dissenting usage?

    1. Merriam-Webster is not the only source that accepts “octopi”. Other dictionaries agree (and some disagree). See the following “wiktionary” entry for more information:

      https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/octopus

      In any case, the fact is that one does see “octopi” in print with the exact meaning given in the clue that appeared in this puzzle. Crossword setters, like many lexicographers, do not attempt to dictate “proper” English usage, but to use/document the language as it exists. Sometimes, I find things in puzzles that I would not use in my own writing. That’s just how it is. Why should I rail at a setter for failing to follow my rules when contradictory rules are to be found in the dictionaries?

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