LA Times Crossword 1 May 20, Friday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Addy’s Puzzle

Themed answers are each common phrases with a Y added to the end of one word:

  • 18A Escargot gatherer’s bounty? : SLIMY PICKINGS (from “slim pickings”)
  • 21A Harvest worker needing a bath? : THE GRIMY REAPER (from “the Grim Reaper”)
  • 40A Much ado about nothing? : ARTIFICIAL FURY (from “artificial fur”)
  • 44A Successful gem seeker’s cry? : THERE’S THE RUBY (from “there’s the rub”)

Bill’s time: 9m 22s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

17 Relevant : APROPOS

“Apropos”, meaning “relevant, opportune”, comes into English directly from French, in which language “à propos” means “to the purpose”. Note that we use the term as one word (apropos), whereas the original French is two words (à propos).

18 Escargot gatherer’s bounty? : SLIMY PICKINGS (from “slim pickings”)

“Escargot” is the French word for “snail”. In order to eat snails, apparently they have to be “purged” before killing them. That means starving them or feeding them on something “wholesome” for several days before cooking them up. Ugh …

20 Quebec neighbor : MAINE

Québec is the largest province in Canada, and the only one with French as its sole official language. The name “Québec” comes from an Algonquin word “kebec” meaning “where the river narrows”. This refers to the area around Quebec City where the St. Lawrence River narrows as it flows through a gap lined by steep cliffs. The province has voted twice in referenda asking whether or not Quebec should become an independent country, once in 1980, and again in 1995. The 1995 result was 49% in favor of sovereignty, up from 40% in 1980.

There seems to be some uncertainty how the US state of Maine got its name. However, the state legislature has adopted the theory that it comes from the former French province of Maine. The legislature included language to that effect when adopting a resolution in 2001 to establish Franco-American Day.

21 Harvest worker needing a bath? : THE GRIMY REAPER (from “the Grim Reaper”)

The Grim Reaper is one of the personifications of death, along with the Hooded One and the Angel of Death. Death has been depicted since the 1400s as a skeleton in a hooded, black cloak and carrying a scythe. The name “Grim Reaper” only dates back to the mid-1800s.

30 Chewbacca trait : HAIRINESS

Wookiees are a biped race featured in “Star Wars”. The most notable Wookiee is Chewbacca (aka “Chewie”), the loyal friend and associate of Han Solo who serves as co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon spaceship.

33 Frisée is its curly variety : ENDIVE

Endive is a leaf vegetable belonging to the chicory genus, and so is in the daisy family. Endive is also known as “escarole”.

44 Successful gem seeker’s cry? : THERE’S THE RUBY (from “there’s the rub”)

The phrase “To sleep — perchance to dream” comes from Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy:

To die — to sleep.
To sleep — perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!

A rub is a difficulty or obstruction. The usage of the term “rub” predates Shakespeare, and comes from the game of lawn bowls in which a rub is a fault in the bowling surface.

54 Horn of Africa country : SOMALIA

The Horn of Africa is that horn-shaped peninsula at the easternmost tip of the continent, containing the countries Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia as well as Somalia. The Horn of Africa is also known as the Somali Peninsula.

55 Little Debbie competitor : HOSTESS

The Little Debbie brand of dessert snacks was introduced in the 1960s by O.D. and Ruth McKee. The couple named their product after their 4-year-old grandchild Debbie.

Down

2 Sloop feature : SAIL

Sloops and cutters are sailboats, and each has just one mast. One major difference between the two types of vessel is that the mast on a cutter is set much further aft than the mast on a sloop.

3 __ Valley, Calif. : SIMI

Simi Valley, California is perhaps best known as home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library is a great place to visit, and there you can tour one of the retired Air Force One planes.

8 Natural light refractor : CORNEA

The cornea is the transparent part of the eye in the front, and the part that covers the iris and the pupil. Even though the cornea is not part of the eye’s lens, it acts as a lens. In fact, the cornea does most of the work focusing light coming in through the eye. It is in effect a fixed-focus lens passing on light to the variable-focus lens that is inside the eye.

9 Sophisticated rock genre, briefly : PROG

Progressive rock (prog rock)

11 It offered soldiers Hope: Abbr. : USO

The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.

I remember my first non-business visit to Los Angeles. I was a typical tourist and bought a map showing the homes of the stars and drove around Beverly Hills absorbing all the glitz. At one point I drove past a Rolls Royce that was stopped in oncoming traffic, waiting to make a left turn. The window was down, and the driver was puffing away on a big cigar. It was none other than Bob Hope. Seeing him there right beside me; that was a big thrill …

12 Some hot rods : GTS

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.

A hot rod is an American car that has been modified for speed by installing a larger than normal engine. A street rod is generally a more comfortable type of hot rod, with the emphasis less on the engine and more on custom paint jobs and interiors. By definition, a street rod must be based on an automobile design that originated prior to 1949.

14 Muslim ascetics : FAKIRS

A fakir (also “faqir”) is an ascetic in the Muslim tradition. The term “fakir” is derived from “faqr”, an Arabic word for “poverty”.

19 Low isles : CAYS

A key (also “cay”) is a low offshore island, as in the Florida “Keys”. Our term in English comes from the Spanish “cayo” meaning “shoal, reef”.

22 Big name in animation : HANNA

William Hanna was an animator who is best known for his collaborations with Joseph Barbera. After creating “Tom and Jerry” for MGM, the partners founded the Hanna Barbera studio that produced such classics as “The Flintstones”, “The Huckleberry Hound Show”, “The Jetsons”, “Scooby-Doo”, “The Smurfs” and “Yogi Bear”.

23 Down for a pillow : EIDER

Eiders are large sea ducks. Their down feathers are used to fill pillows and quilts, giving the name to the quilt called an “eiderdown”.

24 Mill fill : GRIST

When grain has been separated from its chaff, to prepare it for grinding, it is called “grist”. Indeed, the word “grist” is derived from the word “grind”. Grist can be ground into a relatively coarse meal, or into a fine flour. The names can be confusing though. For example, the grist from maize when ground to a coarse consistency is called “grits”, and when ground to a fine consistency is called “corn meal”. There is an idiomatic phrase “grist for one’s mill”, meaning something used to one’s advantage. The grinding mechanism, or the building that holds the mechanism, is known as a “gristmill”.

25 Snake or Gila: Abbr. : RIV

The Snake River in the US northwest is the largest tributary of the Columbia River. The Snake River carved out the magnificent Hells Canyon, which is North America’s deepest river gorge.

The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado that flows through New Mexico and Arizona. From 1848 to 1853, the Gila marked part of the border between the US and Mexico.

27 Rice dish : PILAF

“Pilaf” is a Persian word, one that we use to describe rice that is browned in oil and then cooked in a seasoned broth.

28 Verdi baritone aria : ERI TU

Every crossword constructor’s favorite aria “Eri tu” is from Verdi’s opera “Un ballo in maschera” (“A Masked Ball”). The opera tells the story of the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden during a masked ball.

29 Relative of Fido : ROVER

“Fido”, the name for many a dog, is Latin for “I trust”.

32 “You ain’t gwyne to drink a drop–__ single drop”: Twain : NARY

“You ain’t gwyne to drink a drop–nary single drop” is a line from Mark Twain’s 1894 novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson”.

Mark Twain’s 1894 novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson” is about two boys who look alike. One has 1/32 black ancestry, and the other is white. The pair of boys are switched at birth, and live very different lives, with one born into slavery and the other destined to be master of the house.

34 Word with lion or horse : SEA …

There are three families of seals. The first is the walrus family, the second the eared seals (like sea lions), and thirdly the earless seals (like elephant seals).

Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus. The genus name comes from the Greek “hippo” meaning “horse” and “kampos” meaning “sea monster”. It’s the male seahorse who carries the fertilized eggs, and not the females. The region of the brain known as the hippocampus, is so called because it resembles a seahorse in shape.

37 Gallon’s 3.785 : LITERS

The name of our fluid measure called a “gallon” ultimately comes from the Medieval Latin term “galleta” meaning “bucket, pail”.

42 It may have many ashes : FOREST

The wood of the ash tree is a hardwood, although it is relatively elastic. Famously, ash is the wood of choice for baseball bats. It is also the wood of choice for hurleys, the wooden sticks used in the Irish sport of hurling.

46 ICU or ER site : HOSP

Many a hospital (hosp.) includes an intensive care unit (ICU) and an emergency room (ER).

47 Expressionist painter Nolde : EMIL

Emil Nolde was a German expressionist painter. He was actually born Emil Hansen, near the village of Nolde in the Prussian Duchy of Schleswig in 1867. Hansen officially changed his name to Nolde on the occasion of his marriage in 1902.

49 Radius neighbor : ULNA

The radius and ulna are bones in the forearm. If you hold the palm of your hand up in front of you, the radius is the bone on the “thumb-side” of the arm, and the ulna is the bone on the “pinky-side”.

51 School since 1701 : YALE

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut was founded in 1701, making it the third-oldest university in the US. Originally called the Collegiate School, it was renamed to Yale University in honor of retired merchant Elihu Yale, who made generous contributions to the institution. Yale University’s nickname is “Old Eli”, in a nod to the benefactor.

52 X as in Xerxes : CHI

The Greek letter chi is the one that looks like our letter X.

Xerxes was the eldest son of Darius I of Persia. He succeeded to the throne in 486 BC as Xerxes I, and was later to be known as Xerxes the Great. It was Xerxes who fought against the Spartans in the famous Battle of Thermopylae.

53 Chaney of film : LON

Lon Chaney, Sr. played a lot of crazed-looking characters in the days of silent movies. He did much of his own make-up work, developing the grotesque appearances that became his trademark, and earning himself the nickname “the man of a thousand faces”. Most famous were his portrayals of the title characters in the films “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923) and “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Declare : ASSERT
7 Domestic power connection, briefly : AC PLUG
13 Large envelope : MAILER
14 One working on arrangements : FLORIST
15 Feature of communication with space probes : TIME LAG
17 Relevant : APROPOS
18 Escargot gatherer’s bounty? : SLIMY PICKINGS (from “slim pickings”)
20 Quebec neighbor : MAINE
21 Harvest worker needing a bath? : THE GRIMY REAPER (from “the Grim Reaper”)
30 Chewbacca trait : HAIRINESS
31 Club usually numbered : IRON
33 Frisée is its curly variety : ENDIVE
34 Digestive aid : SALIVA
36 Your alternative : ONE’S
37 Flavored thirst quencher : LIME WATER
40 Much ado about nothing? : ARTIFICIAL FURY (from “artificial fur”)
43 Study aids : NOTES
44 Successful gem seeker’s cry? : THERE’S THE RUBY (from “there’s the rub”)
52 Butcher’s staple : CLEAVER
54 Horn of Africa country : SOMALIA
55 Little Debbie competitor : HOSTESS
56 Blinker, e.g. : SIGNAL
57 Many a Sunday magazine : INSERT
58 Kindly : PLEASE

Down

1 Tsp. and tbsp. : AMTS
2 Sloop feature : SAIL
3 __ Valley, Calif. : SIMI
4 Pre-K follower : ELEM
5 Be dependent : RELY
6 Kisser : TRAP
7 Type of skiing : ALPINE
8 Natural light refractor : CORNEA
9 Sophisticated rock genre, briefly : PROG
10 Kissers : LIPS
11 It offered soldiers Hope: Abbr. : USO
12 Some hot rods : GTS
14 Muslim ascetics : FAKIRS
16 Easy putt, in casual golf : GIMME
19 Low isles : CAYS
21 Religious prefix : THEO-
22 Big name in animation : HANNA
23 Down for a pillow : EIDER
24 Mill fill : GRIST
25 Snake or Gila: Abbr. : RIV
26 Analogue for -like : -INE
27 Rice dish : PILAF
28 Verdi baritone aria : ERI TU
29 Relative of Fido : ROVER
32 “You ain’t gwyne to drink a drop–__ single drop”: Twain : NARY
34 Word with lion or horse : SEA
35 Leather punch : AWL
37 Gallon’s 3.785 : LITERS
38 Summer treats : ICES
39 They may drift over valleys : MISTS
41 “You have some crust!” : I NEVER!
42 It may have many ashes : FOREST
44 Nickname for Esther : TESS
45 __-watch: continue viewing a show you no longer like : HATE
46 ICU or ER site : HOSP
47 Expressionist painter Nolde : EMIL
48 All the __: popular : RAGE
49 Radius neighbor : ULNA
50 Slant : BIAS
51 School since 1701 : YALE
52 X as in Xerxes : CHI
53 Chaney of film : LON

27 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 1 May 20, Friday”

  1. He’s baaaccckkk! Mr Wechsler, you sly one… No errors but took longer than normal.. Close to an hour..

    Now for some nits…
    1. What is ICES ?
    2. What is the reference to “YOU HAVE SOME CRUST!”… Is that a west coast thing?
    3. PROG for progressive rock? I don’t think so Jeffrey!! There are too many PROG’s out there to singly say this means just rock music..

    It was all fun!!! Be safe!

  2. 12:49, no errors. I kinda figured some would say the theme for this one was “Why, Why, Why?”, but I found it clever (and quite intelligible) … 😜.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever had an “ice”, but I think I know what they are: just a cup of finely shaved ice with some kind of syrup drizzled on it? Sometimes characterized as an “Italian ice”, maybe?

    And I don’t know what part of the country “YOU HAVE SOME CRUST” comes from. I’ve heard it, but I don’t think it was common in Iowa, where I grew up. I would have guessed the East Coast?

    Had to take yesterday off from walking. Antsy. Gotta get outta here.

  3. No errors, no look-ups. I took “you have some crust” answer to be
    the last part of “Well, I never!” That’s the only way I could think of
    it. Anyway, it worked.

  4. RIV? TRAP? Yup … Wechsler. (Pro tip, young solvers: Always check the constructor’s byline, first thing; it’ll help you avoid wasting your time on a vaguely clued, dreary slog.)

  5. “You have some crust” means the same thing as “You have a lot of nerve.”
    Ices are a big treat around NJ in the summer as a chain called “Ritas” opens up when winter is over. Long lines form to get one of them. They’re shaved ice with syrup poured over. I’ve never had one. I don’t think we will be having them this summer.
    I’m really stuck on understanding 36 across: “your alternative” and the answer “ones”.

  6. This puzzle was much too cryptic for me! Spent my puzzle time this morning watching visitors at the bird feeders.

    Eddie

  7. 40:40 no errors…I had rep (reptile) for 25D for a long while but finally saw the light..
    NYT #0327 1:17:14 no errors in what IMO was a tuffy.
    Stay safe.

  8. I only do Mr. Wechsler’s puzzles these days, because they are fun and challenging and clever. This one was difficult the first time through but then it became easier and easier the next few passes, and I was able to complete it without snags. Thanks, again, to Mr. Wechsler.

  9. I agree with LuLu, this was a fun puzzle.
    There seems to be a bit of animosity toward Mr Wechsler but who wants a puzzle that doesn’t make you think in different ways?

  10. I enjoy bad puns, so “It may have many ashes” made me gleefully groan. This was a hard one, but I managed it with no errors or Googles (except to verify “Eri Tu”, which I had never heard of), and to learn the origination of the Twain clue (Pudd’nhead Wilson). I never of “You have some crust”, but I seem to remember ices from my childhood, lo these many decades ago. I enjoyed this puzzle, but some of the clues aroused my ire.

  11. I got through this fairly quickly for a Friday. It is Friday, isn’t it? My brain has turned to mush.
    My nit is the _______ Valley clue. I grew up in California. Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Anderson Valley, Bennett Valley were all within close reach of Rincon Valley, where I lived. Not to mention Jack London’s Valley of the Moon, which is loveliest of all. Then there’s the Central Valley and San Joaquin Valley, which are each larger than several states. Getting further afield there’s Potter Valley, Cache Valley, and Noe Valley, plus a few hundred more I won’t name.
    I should go take a nap….

  12. Two wrong letters leading to 3 incorrect words. I ended 28 Down with an “a” instead of the correct “u” and I ended 32 Down with an “e” instead of the correct “y”. D’oh!

    I have been off from reading and crossword puzzle for some 4 or 5 weeks due to one of my new lenses (the one I use for reading having chosen “mono” vision in which my dominate eye sees distance and my non dominate eye sees close up and my brain just automatically toggles between the two) from my cataract surgery clouding over and the Covid-19 shutdown keeping my eye doc from being able to clear up the problem with his YAG laser until yesterday. Very frustrating! But I’m back and, I can see clearly now the blur has gone…(ha).

  13. Like most of you I thought I’d never get through this today. But got it all! Forgot about Wechsler’s style. Very fun and entertaining too.

  14. I am glad that somebody likes his puzzles. I found this one as hard or harder
    than a Saturday, made just a few entries and quit. So, mark us down for a
    typical DNF (could be Did Nothing Friday). There will be better times.

    Hope the warp speed works on the development of a vaccine for Corona. It has
    been around long enough.

    Looking for Monday!

    Stay safe and well, everybody, and it is good to see new commenters along with the
    ones I am used to seeing. Good luck to all of you guys and gals.

  15. 17 minutes, 9 seconds, and once again needed the help of the Check tool to find maybe 8 fills I could figure out how to correct. So many of these clues made no damned sense whatsoever, so it’s hard to even spot errors, since you’re not sure of anything you enter…

    I really grow tired of these puzzles where you’re battling the setter more than your vocabulary and knowledge recall…

  16. Liked the funny theme, and disliked the words everyone else mentioned. So, just checking in,
    Thanx to everyone who answered my question on Slips and Berths yesterday.

    Happy May Day!

  17. Fun Friday Wechsler for me; took about an hour with no errors. Things looked bleak after the first pass, but persistence and patience kept allowing a fill here and there, until it started to amount to something.

    I had to change the typical ELhi to ELEM and I had Rep, like a few others, before RIV. Never heard of Little Debbie and they seem to be hard to get around here – I’d have to go at least 15 miles, according to their website’s “find a product” to find one.

    re crust – Another strange clue that I looked up and found this way down the list: 8. slang impertinence.

    re Hanna – I spent some time on wiki with both Hanna and Barbera. Very interesting that they hardly ever argued, with Hanna preferring to spend time in the outdoors and with fellow illustrators and Barbera preferring to hang out with celebrities like Zsa Zsa for one. The were an almost perfect yin and yang.

  18. Hi gang!!🦆

    DNF….I’m Team Weschler all the way, but I just had too much to do today to conquer this puzzle. Couldn’t get started up north so I went and completed the entire bottom 25% before throwing in the towel. 😶

    Be safe~~🍺

  19. Took too long, especially for the last two that finally killed me. ” I never” and “Artificial fury” were my hang ups. That “You’ve got crust” I took as the British “He’s got chaff” or something, he (or she) has a lot of audacity. I never heard of hate-watching a TV show, but I’d pick the original “Rosanne” as my candidate. Grrr…

  20. This is late. I waited a bit to look at the comments. I got a few of the clues ,but not enough to really get going. I WILL in future check the byline. I am usually able to somewhat get in the mindset of the creator, without help, but this one threw me. He was playing with us. I’ve thought of “cruel” games to play on puzzlers like leaving out an essential letters; never thought about adding any. I did sppreciate the cleverness, but wasted entirely too much time on it. Just goes to show the nature of my “addiction”. I’ll proceed with caution next time I see his byline.

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