LA Times Crossword 16 May 20, Saturday

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Constructed by: Erik Agard & Leslie Rogers
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 10m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Silver, in heraldry : ARGENT

In heraldry, “argent” is a silver color used to emblazon a coat of arms. The name comes from the Latin “argentum” meaning “silver”.

7 Works with small bricks : LEGO ART

Lego produces some wonderful specialized sets with which you can build models of celebrated structures, including:

  • The Statue of Liberty (2,882 pieces)
  • The Sydney Opera House (2,989 pieces)
  • The Eiffel Tower (3,428 pieces)
  • Tower Bridge (4,295 pieces)
  • The Taj Mahal (5,922 pieces)

18 Houston, for one : OIL TOWN

The city of Houston, Texas was named for General Sam Houston, who served as President of the Republic of Texas and then as Governor after Texas was annexed as a US state in 1845.

19 Microscopic messenger : RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

24 One with a Florida nest egg : EGRET

Egrets are a group of several species of white herons. Many egret species were faced with extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s due to plume hunting, a practice driven by the demand for egret plumes that could be incorporated into hats.

29 ’60s hallucinogen : LSD

LSD (known colloquially as “acid”) is lysergic acid diethylamide. A Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 in a research project looking for medically efficacious ergot alkaloids. It wasn’t until some five years later when Hofmann ingested some of the drug accidentally that its psychedelic properties were discovered. Trippy, man …

30 Soprano’s note : HIGH B

The soprano (plural “sopranos” or “soprani”) is the highest singing voice. The term “soprano “ comes from the Italian “sopra” meaning “above”. A male countertenor who is able to sing in the soprano voice range is known as a sopranist. A castrated male who can sing in the same range is known as a “castrato”, and a boy soprano is referred to as a treble.

35 1521 Magellan landing site : PHILIPPINES

When the Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos discovered the islands of Leyte and Samar, he called them Felipinas, after King Philip II of Spain. Eventually, the name was used for the whole archipelago, becoming what we now call in English, the Philippines.

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who was hired by King Charles I of Spain to find a westward route to the Spice Islands, now known as the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. Magellan headed west through the Atlantic starting out in 1519. He passed south of the Americas through what is now called the Strait of Magellan. He gave the name “Peaceful Sea” to the body of water that he encountered west of the Americas, which we now know as the Pacific Ocean. He and his expedition reached the Spice Islands in 1521, and returned home via the Indian Ocean. This voyage was the first circumnavigation of the globe in history.

39 Checked out ahead of time : CASED

The phrase “to case the joint” is American slang meaning “to examine a location with the intent of robbing it”. The origins of the phrase are apparently unknown, although it dates back at least to 1915.

41 “All the Stars” one-named singer with Kendrick Lamar : SZA

“SZA” is the stage name of American singer olána Imani Rowe.

Kendrick Lamar is a hip-hop singer from Compton, California. Lamar’s full name is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, with the singer’s given name honoring Motown artist Eddie Kendricks. Notably, his 2017 album “Damn” won a Pulitzer Prize for Music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz album to do so.

45 Crisp fruit, maybe : PEARS

A crisp is a dessert comprising fruit with a crispy topping. Similar to a crumble, the most common version of the dish is apple crisp.

47 Like crossword clues about crossword clues, say : META

In recent decades the prefix “meta-” has been used as a standalone adjective. In this sense “meta” means “self-referential”, describing something that refers to itself. For example, “This sentence starts with the word ‘this’ and ends with the word ‘this’” might be called a meta sentence. A movie that is about the making of the very same movie could also be described as meta.

52 Proof word : 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.

56 Astronaut Jemison : MAE

Mae Jemison was a crew member on the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a 1992 mission, and as such became the first African-American woman to travel in space. She is also a big fan of “Star Trek” and appeared on an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. That made Jemison the first real astronaut to appear on any of the “Star Trek” shows.

58 Crane producer? : ORIGAMI

Origami is the traditional Japanese art form of paper folding. The best-known example of the craft is the paper crane. The word “origami” is derived from “ori“ (folding) and “kami” (paper).

61 Equipment company named for a cycling group : PELOTON

In military terms, a platoon is a subdivision of a company-sized unit, and is usually divided into squads or sections. The term “platoon” arose in the 1630s from the French “peloton”. “Peloton” translates literally as “little ball”, and is used to this day to mean “agglomeration”. “Peloton” gives rise to our word “pellet”. Also, we use the Modern French “peloton” in English now to refer to the main body (agglomeration) of riders in a bicycle race.

Peloton is a New York-based company that manufactures exercise equipment, and also provides fitness classes. Those classes are streamed to touchscreens incorporated into the equipment itself. Participation in the classes requires a subscription.

62 __ syndrome: allergic reaction to insect bites : SKEETER

Skeeter syndrome is an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite. Such bites usually create an itchy bump on the skin, but the reaction of a person with skeeter syndrome is more severe, involving inflammation and perhaps fever.

63 Craps naturals : SEVENS

If one considers earlier versions of craps, then the game has been around for a very long time and probably dates back to the Crusades. It may have been derived from an old English game called “hazard” also played with two dice, which was mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” from the 1300s. The American version of the game came here courtesy of the French and first set root in New Orleans where it was given the name “crapaud”, a French word meaning “toad”.

Down

1 Totes presh : ADORBS

“Adorbs!” is a colloquial term meaning “So cute, adorable!”

8 Relating to knowledge : EPISTEMIC

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy concerned with the limitations of knowledge. Epistemology addresses such questions as “What is knowledge?” and “How is knowledge acquired?”. The term “epistemology” comes from the Greek for “study of knowledge”.

9 Hanukkah reward : GELT

“Gelt” is the Yiddish word for “money”.

12 Subjects of “The Boys in the Boat” : ROWERS

“The Boys in the Boat” is a novelized account of the narrow victory the American 8-man rowing team had in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Author Daniel James Brown published the book in 2013, and I hear that there’s a movie adaptation in the works …

15 Vaper’s need, informally : E-CIG

An electronic cigarette (also called an “e-cigarette”) is a battery-powered device that resembles a real cigarette. The e-cigarette vaporizes a solution that contains nicotine, forming a vapor that resembles smoke. The vapor is inhaled in a process called “vaping”, delivering nicotine into the body. The assumption is that an e-cigarette is healthier than a regular cigarette as the inhaled vapor is less harmful than inhaled smoke. But, that may not be so …

21 School dance invite portmanteau : PROMPOSAL

A portmanteau was a large suitcase, one that could be taken apart into two separate pieces. The word “portmanteau” is French for a “travelling bag”, from “porter” (to carry) and “manteau” (a coat, cloak). We also use “portmanteau” to mean a word that has been melded together from two parts (just as the suitcase comprised two parts). This usage was introduced to the world by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. He explained to Alice that the nonsense words in the “Jabberwocky” poem were actually portmanteau words. For example “slithy” comes from “slimy” and “lithe”.

23 Venetian bridge composition? : SIGHS

The Bridge of Sighs is a famous bridge over a narrow canal (the Rio di Palazzo) in Venice. The short bridge connects a prison to interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. A popular story explaining the bridge’s name is that prisoners crossing the bridge would sigh as they looked out through the windows at their last views of freedom. English poet Lord Byron popularized this etymology in his writings.

27 TV Dr. : PHIL

Dr. Phil (McGraw) met Oprah Winfrey when he was hired to work with her as a legal consultant during the Amarillo Texas beef trial (when the industry sued Oprah for libel over “Mad Cow Disease” statements). Oprah was impressed with Dr. Phil and invited him onto her show, and we haven’t stopped seeing him since!

31 Fly off the handle : BLOW A FUSE

33 Fly off the handle : SNAP

The phrase “to fly off the handle” means “to become suddenly enraged”. The imagery evoked here is of an axehead flying off the handle and causing some damage or injury.

40 Two-word phrase that’s synonymous with its second word backwards : DREAM ON

“Dream on” is a way of saying “no”.

41 Close parentheses, at times : SMILES

An emoticon is a glyph created using text characters to represent facial features, and usually oriented sideways. The emoticon is designed to indicate emotion or attitude. The classic example is the smiley face: 🙂

42 Striped equine hybrid : ZEDONK

There are seven living species of mammals in the genus Equus, each of which is referred to as “equine”. The seven species include all horses, asses and zebras. All equine species can crossbreed. For example, a mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse, a zorse is a cross between a zebra and a horse, and a zedonk is a cross between a zebra and a donkey.

46 Draft holders : STEINS

A stein is a type of beer glass. The term is German in origin, and is short for “Steinkrug” meaning “stone jug”. “Stein” is German for “stone”.

48 Theta, in geometry : ANGLE

The Greek letter theta is commonly used in geometry to represent the angle between two lines (say at a corner of a triangle).

55 “Looney Tunes” first name : WILE

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner are two much-loved cartoon characters from Warner Bros. Wile E. Coyote was created first, and Road Runner was invented as someone for Wile E. to play off. I love this cartoon; it’s definitely one of the best …

59 URL ending : GOV

The .gov domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

  • .com (commercial enterprise)
  • .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
  • .mil (US military)
  • .org (not-for-profit organization)
  • .gov (US federal government entity)
  • .edu (college-level educational institution)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Silver, in heraldry : ARGENT
7 Works with small bricks : LEGO ART
14 Legal opposite of negligence : DUE CARE
16 Leaving exposed nails : OPEN-TOE
17 Material : ON TOPIC
18 Houston, for one : OIL TOWN
19 Microscopic messenger : RNA
20 Enjoys a lakeside diversion : SKIPS STONES
22 Makes a plea : BEGS
24 One with a Florida nest egg : EGRET
25 Reduce : PARE
26 Word before steak or after chicken : STRIP
28 Single : ONE
29 ’60s hallucinogen : LSD
30 Soprano’s note : HIGH B
32 Gran’s daughter, humorously : MUMSY
35 1521 Magellan landing site : PHILIPPINES
38 Like some sports highlights : SLO-MO
39 Checked out ahead of time : CASED
41 “All the Stars” one-named singer with Kendrick Lamar : SZA
44 Is in the past? : WAS
45 Crisp fruit, maybe : PEARS
47 Like crossword clues about crossword clues, say : META
49 Audibly stunned : AGASP
52 Proof word : STET
53 “You lost me” : I DON’T FOLLOW
56 Astronaut Jemison : MAE
57 Sign of Broadway success : LONG RUN
58 Crane producer? : ORIGAMI
60 Wrap : ENCLOSE
61 Equipment company named for a cycling group : PELOTON
62 __ syndrome: allergic reaction to insect bites : SKEETER
63 Craps naturals : SEVENS

Down

1 Totes presh : ADORBS
2 Biblical flows? : RUNNETH
3 Keep it together, so to speak : GET A GRIP
4 Lead-in to “lodge” or “logy” : ECO-
5 Short rests : NAPS
6 Minor cycle : TRIKE
7 Stretch, say : LOOSEN UP
8 Relating to knowledge : EPISTEMIC
9 Hanukkah reward : GELT
10 Leading : ON TOP
11 Not exactly hummable : ATONAL
12 Subjects of “The Boys in the Boat” : ROWERS
13 Got edgy : TENSED
15 Vaper’s need, informally : E-CIG
21 School dance invite portmanteau : PROMPOSAL
23 Venetian bridge composition? : SIGHS
27 TV Dr. : PHIL
31 Fly off the handle : BLOW A FUSE
33 Fly off the handle : SNAP
34 Committed replies : YESES
36 Toast words? : I’M A GONER
37 Flying companion, say : SEATMATE
40 Two-word phrase that’s synonymous with its second word backwards : DREAM ON
41 Close parentheses, at times : SMILES
42 Striped equine hybrid : ZEDONK
43 Instantly : AT ONCE
46 Draft holders : STEINS
48 Theta, in geometry : ANGLE
50 Unappealing food : SLOP
51 Skin features : PORES
54 More than walk : TROT
55 “Looney Tunes” first name : WILE
59 URL ending : GOV

23 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 16 May 20, Saturday”

  1. 13:31, 1 dumb error. Pretty much as I expected out of Agard (alas).

    Newsday: 38:00, 2 errors off of Naticks for not knowing 45D. Fairly pleasant time though. No Croce though for the word game he put up for yesterday (a “guess the letters in common” thing).

  2. 2 errors. Had PHILLIPINES misspelled for the longest time so I couldn’t get 36D to work.. And I was then stuck on 38A for a long time. I had CLEOS for a long time. That gave me LOAGONER for 36D.??? Then I looked up how to spell PHILLIPINES!!! It’s PHILIPPINES!!! Aaarrggghhhh!!!
    My two errors was 41A and 42D… SZA and ZEDONK?? Have to look that up.
    Be safe.

      1. I assume it means “totally precious” and come from the same prolific source that gave us “totes adorbs”, meaning “totally adorable” … but I’ve been resisting the urge to look it up … 😜.

  3. LAT: Struggled for two hours but finally finished with unbelievably (for me) no errors. A worthy Saturday puzzle.

    1. >What happened to genuine language?

      Genuine English, alas, died out when it became more important in schools to teach feeling over thought, emotion over reason, and experience over intellect. Enough people taught this way changed society for the very worse. If you want to look at crosswords, that would be when Shortz took over as NYT editor and everyone else followed after his example…

      1. For those who think a language should be static and unchanging, then “Genuine English” died out at least a century ago, according to “My Fair Lady” (after Shaw’s “Pygmalion”). I don’t know the play. But in the film (set in 1912), phonetics professor Henry Higgins says, “There even are places where English completely disappears. In America, they haven’t used it for years!”

        Maybe you’d like an Edwardian-English-only crossword. But then maybe the Victorian-English adherents might castigate you. For the rest of us, “adorbs” is just a new word, like “beatnik” and “nuke” once were.

  4. 15:41, no errors. I also misspelled PHILIPPINES at first, but recovered in due course. (And, next time I see it, I’ll probably misspell it again … so I feel Mike’s pain … 😜.)

    Newsday: 1:11:43, no errors. The bottom half was easy, but I got held up for a long time in the upper right (mostly by a font name I’d never heard of). So … a struggle … but I got ‘er done … 😜.

    As Glenn says, Tim Croce’s latest puzzle is not a crossword. It consists of 30 two-word phrases, from which the three or four letters common to both words have been omitted; you have to come up with the original phrases. (For example, given “PP BIRTD”, the answer would be “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”.) I worked on the easier version, in which the blank is left in, and have gotten 22 of the 30 so far. Interesting, but not necessarily my cup of tea – the sort of thing I leave sitting there and pick up at odd moments.

    It rained last night, so my usual walking routes will be wet, and I hate walking on concrete. How inconsiderate of the elements, to treat me so!

  5. I feel fortunate that I had only two boxes wrong. I had RNA instead
    of DNA and intopic instead of on topic. …but could the clues have
    been more obscure???? Glenn is that one of those Natick things???
    Adorbs????

    1. What I’m calling a Natick is when you have a crossing where the clues reveal nothing specific and ultimately turns into a guess. For example in the Newsday, I didn’t know LOVETT (Bonham Carter’s character in “Sweeney Todd”) and crossing that was NEV (State admitted after W. Va) and SEGAL (Gramps on “The Goldbergs”). I could figure out that the state was either NEB or NEV. I could figure out the other one was either SEGAL or SEGAR. (letters have natural patterns so you can just run the alphabet) Either choice on both was *reasonable*, given that I didn’t really know the answers. So just had to WAG letters on both and failed.

      Of course, this illustrates the bane of proper nouns in puzzles. You just either know them or you don’t.

  6. Can’t believe I finished this one. I could only get 5 or 6 sure clues to get a start. Seriously considered bagging it and then stuck with it. The other day I saw the word Philippines when reading something and stopped to stare at the spelling. If not, I know I would have spelled it “Phillipines”. I don’t understand “1D’ either.

  7. Way too esoteric and obscure for my tastes. Should have read the author first because I find Eriik A. much too arcane for what should be a challenging, but fair diversion. 1D and 1A are prime examples.

  8. My hat’s off to all of you who finished this puzzle. It’s been a while since I last gave up on one of these puzzles, but I had to throw the towel in with this one… twice. Far too many clues that left me clueless.

  9. Now that I read today’s comments, I see it illustrates perfectly what I write about communication in puzzles. While you want a certain amount of mystery *before* you do the puzzle, any good puzzle needs to communicate well *after* the answer is known. In other words, the clue/answer pair needs to communicate clearly and accurately, and is best when there’s a “click” in your mind that tells you a particular answer is right without any doubt. And in the end, the puzzle needs to make perfect logical sense and clarity needs to reign when the answer key is revealed. Of course, this heavily contributes to the enjoyment of the puzzle and perception that it is “fair” in the mind of the solver.

    Most of the time, when I mention a language issue, it’s because something failed at doing that somewhere. The Thu WSJ is an excellent example. While it was pretty challenging and good while it was good, it failed at certain points (notably 28D, 37A, and 37D being the worst), hence my review. Usually, Wechsler and Agard provide similar examples in spades, as illustrated in the other comments.

    Notably, you can find other things where the language is more incumbent. There’s different crossword variants I’ve been dabbling with when I find them (notably, Row’s Garden, Marching Bands, and a couple of other variants in things like “Games Magazine”) where the clue has to a lot more heavy lifting and a lot of this is more revealed.

    1. But what do you make of the fact that others here do the puzzles that you find wanting and do not see in them the problems that you do? Is your skill set the one against which all puzzles are to be judged?

      For me, much of what you say about specific puzzles is utter nonsense (your comments about that WSJ being a case in point).

  10. Two Eric Agard puzzles in one day…both with a second setter and both DNF. Thank you Mr Agard for a wasted Saturday but what else was there to do?
    Stay safe y’all .

  11. We almost drew a blank, but got a whopping 3 words in today’s DNF.

    I solved the Jumble and Wonderword, so not a total loss.

    Stay well, everybody.

    Onward to Monday, hoping for two straight 100’s.

  12. Saw the Agard by-line, opened the puzzle, read the first three across clues, and decided to save myself several minutes of complete frustration. I’ll take a DNF for this one, and just keep stepping. Life’s too short…

  13. Boy what a puzzle; took me 1:39 with one stupid error, but plenty of lucky wild guesses. I saw the byline but was determined to get through this even though I almost gave up twice.

    Had to change eraT to STET, AgGENT to ARGENT, GifT to GELT. Those were all fixed in the last minute or so. Lastly I fixed MoMSY to MUMSY and then was going to change WaLE/ORaGAMI, but stupidly left it the way I had it…drat.

    Usually I feel pretty good when I finish a real tough puzzle, but this time I felt mostly numb. I was surprised that I hadn’t made more errors. Still, woo hoo!!

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