LA Times Crossword 21 May 20, Thursday

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Constructed by: Ross Trudeau
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Go To the Mat

Themed answers each end with a type of MAT:

  • 61A Struggle vigorously … and what four other long answers’ ending words can do? : GO TO THE MAT
  • 17A What the unalert might 61-Across to take : COLD SHOWER (giving “shower mat”)
  • 30A What a gracious host might 61-Across to give : WARM WELCOME (giving “welcome mat”)
  • 37A What a devout Muslim might 61-Across to perform : AFTERNOON PRAYER (giving “prayer mat”)
  • 45A What a tight pair might 61-Across to do : COUPLES YOGA (giving “yoga mat”)

Bill’s time: 8m 33s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Fifth pillar of Islam : HAJJ

Followers of the Muslim tradition believe in the Five Pillars of Islam, five obligatory acts that underpin Muslim life. The Five Pillars are:

  1. The Islamic creed
  2. Daily prayer
  3. Almsgiving
  4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan
  5. The pilgrimage to Mecca (haj, hajj, hadj) once during a lifetime

5 Air Jordans, e.g. : NIKES

Air Jordan is a Nike brand of shoe (and other apparel) endorsed by NBA great Michael Jordan. The silhouette of a basketball player that features on Air Jordans is known as the “jumpman” logo.

14 “Arrested Development” actress Shawkat : ALIA

Alia Shawkat is an actress who might be best known for playing Maeby Fünke on the sitcom “Arrested Development”. Shawkat is best friends with fellow actress Ellen Page, whom she met while filming the 2009 movie “Whip It”.

16 Grenoble gal pal : AMIE

Grenoble is a city at the foot of the French Alps. The Winter Olympic Games were held there in 1968.

19 Skier Lindsey with a record 20 World Cup titles : VONN

Lindsey Vonn is a World Champion alpine ski racer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is one of the few women to have won World Cup races in all five alpine racing disciplines: downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined. In fact, Vonn is the most successful US ski racer in history.

20 __ One vodka : KETEL

Ketel One is a brand of vodka from the Netherlands. The vodka is distilled from wheat in copper pot stills, and “ketel” is Dutch for “pot still, kettle”.

21 Title king in a Mozart opera : IDOMENEO

“Idomeneo” is a Mozart opera first performed in 1781, when Mozart was just 25 years old.

35 Yours, in Tours : A TOI

“À toi” is the French term for “yours”, when talking to someone with whom one is familiar. “À toi” literally means “to you”.

Tours is the largest city in the Centre region of France. Sitting on the Loire river, it is said that the people of Tours speak the “purest” form of French in the whole country. The French spoken by a local is also said to be free of any accent.

42 Sports doc’s pic : MRI

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine uses powerful magnetic fields to generate its images so there is no exposure to ionizing radiation (such as X-rays). We used MRI equipment in our chemistry labs at school, way back in the days when the technology was still called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI). Apparently the marketing folks didn’t like the term “nuclear” because of its association with atomic bombs, so now it’s just called MRI.

49 Women of Troy’s sch. : USC

The athletic teams of the University of Southern California are called the USC Trojans. The women’s teams are also called the Trojans, but are sometimes referred to as Women of Troy.

50 Pick up, in a way : ANSWER

That would be picking up the phone.

56 Potter’s supply : GLAZE

A glaze is a vitreous (glassy) layer applied to the external surface of a ceramic object. Glazes can have several functions. They are often decorative, and can render an object less prone to damage. They can also make porous objects suitable for holding liquids.

60 Biblical brother : ABEL

The story of Cain and Abel not only appears in the Christian and Hebrew Bibles, it also features in the Qur’an. In the Muslim account the brothers are named Qabil and Habil.

64 Enjoy some rays : BASK

Our verb “to bask”, meaning “to expose one to pleasant warmth”, is derived from the gruesome, 14th-century term “basken”, meaning “to wallow in blood”. The contemporary usage apparently originated with Shakespeare, who employed “bask” with reference to sunshine in “As You Like It”.

68 “Country Grammar” rapper : NELLY

“Nelly” is the stage name of rap artist Cornell Haynes, Jr. Nelly has had a few acting roles over the years, including an appearance in the 2005 remake of “The Longest Yard”. He also was a regular on “Real Husbands of Hollywood”.

Down

1 Talentless writer : HACK

We can use the term “hack” to describe someone who just writes for commercial success. The usage has been around since the 1820’s, and evolved from the term “hackney writer”.

Hackney is a location in London, and it probably gave its name to a “hackney”, an ordinary type of horse around 1300. By 1700 a “hackney” was a person hired to do routine work, and “hackneyed” meant “kept for hire”, and then “stale, uninteresting”. This morphed into a hackney carriage, a carriage or car for hire, and into “hack”, a slang term for a taxi driver or cab.

2 Natural healer : ALOE

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that grows in relatively dry climates. The plant’s leaves are full of biologically-active compounds that have been studied extensively. Aloe vera has been used for centuries in herbal medicine, mainly for topical treatment of wounds.

3 Leave high and dry : JILT

To jilt someone with whom you have a relationship is to drop them suddenly or callously. “Jilt” is an obsolete noun that used to mean “harlot, loose woman”.

4 Smith of “After Earth” : JADEN

Actor Jaden Smith is the son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Jaden played the title character in the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid”. I must say, that is a very entertaining film and young Jaden did a great job. More recently, Jaden Smith has focused more on a career as a rap singer.

“After Earth” is a 2013 movie directed and co-written by M. Night Shyamalan. It is a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic film with a storyline created by Will Smith. Smith’s son Jaden Smith leads the cast, with Will playing a supporting role. No one seemed to like “After Earth”, not even Will Smith. He called it “the worst failure” of his career.

6 Iconic WWII island, briefly : IWO

Iwo Jima is a volcanic island located south of Tokyo that today is uninhabited. The name is Japanese for “Sulfur Island”, referring to the sulfur mining on which Iwo Jima’s economy once depended. There were about a thousand Japanese civilians living on the island prior to WWII. In 1944, there was a massive influx of Japanese military personnel in anticipation of the inevitable US invasion. As the Japanese military moved in, the civilians were forced out and no one has lived there since. Control of the island was wrested from the Japanese in the five-week Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Said battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific theater in WWII.

7 Auckland native : KIWI

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and is located on the nation’s North Island. The metropolis is named for former Governor-General of India George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.

10 Hogwarts house with a corvine name : RAVENCLAW

In the “Harry Potter” series of books, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is divided into four houses:

  • Gryffindor
  • Hufflepuff
  • Ravenclaw
  • Slytherin

Each student is assigned to a house by the Sorting Hat. The Sorting Hat initially placed young Harry into Gryffindor House.

The adjective “corvine” can be used to describe things pertaining to crows and ravens. “Corvus” is the Latin word for “raven”.

18 Diner side : SLAW

The term “coleslaw” is an Anglicized version of the Dutch name “koolsla”, which in itself is a shortened form of “Koolsalade” meaning “cabbage salad”.

22 Distance runner : MILER

The 4-minute barrier for the mile run was first broken in 1954 by Roger Bannister, when he finished in just over 3m 59s. If you plan on running a 4-minute mile, you should probably be warned that this means you have to run the whole race at an average speed of over 15 mph (do the math!).

24 Indian bread : NAAN

Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.

25 Stella __: beer : ARTOIS

The Belgian beer Stella Artois is named for the brewer Sebastianus Artois. Artois was the master brewer at the Den Hoorn Brewery in Leuven, Belgium in the early 1700s. The Den Hoorn Brewery has been around at least since 1366 … yes, 1366!

27 Org. whose fans follow the links : PGA

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) was founded in 1916 and today has its headquarters (unsurprisingly) in Florida, where so many golfers live. Back in 1916, the PGA was based in New York City.

28 Lab report? : ARF!

The Labrador (Lab) breed of dog has been around at least since 1814, and the chocolate Labrador appeared over a century later in the 1930s. The name “Labrador Retriever” is simply a reference to the breed’s origin and behavior. Labs originally “retrieved” from the “Labrador Sea”.

29 Chemistry exam? : LITMUS TEST

Litmus is a mixture of naturally-occurring dyes that responds to acidity by changing color. Litmus was probably first used around 1300 by the Spanish alchemist Arnaldus de Villa Nova, who extracted the blue dye from lichens. One suggestion is that the term “litmus” comes from the Old Norse “litmose” meaning “lichen for dyeing”. Litmus is often absorbed onto filter paper, creating “litmus paper” or “pH paper”. We also use the phrase “litmus test” figuratively to describe any test in which a single factor decides the outcome.

32 Separate grain from chaff : WINNOW

We use the verb “to winnow” in a figurative sense to describe the separation of something good from a collection of worthless things. The more literal meaning is the freeing of grain from the lighter chaff by blowing on the mixture, or by throwing it in the air.

The chaff is the dry husk that surrounds grains in cereal grasses, and it’s what’s left after threshing. We use the term “chaff” in a figurative sense as well, to mean “trivial or worthless matter”.

34 Controversial pretrial police practices : PERP WALKS

When a crime suspect in the custody of the police is walked through a public place, often to and from a courthouse, it is known as a “perp walk”.

39 Possum pal of Porky Pine : POGO

“Pogo” is a comic strip launched in 1948 that was the creation of cartoonist Walt Kelly. The story centers on animals that live in the Okefenokee Swamp on the Georgia-Florida border, with the title character “Pogo Possum” being an anthropomorphic opossum.

45 Winter melon : CASABA

A casaba is a type of honeydew melon. The casaba takes its name from the Turkish city of Kasaba, from where the fruit was imported into America in the late 1800s.

Winter melons are named for the fact that they have a long shelf-life, and with careful storage may be available in the winter months.

46 Sign of bad service? : ONE BAR

That would be cell phone service.

47 Christopher Paolini fantasy best-seller : ERAGON

Christopher Paolini began writing his best-selling fantasy story “Eragon” at the age of 15. Christopher’s parents, when they read the final version two years later, decided to self-publish it and support Christopher as he toured the US promoting the novel. It was eventually republished by Alfred A. Knopf in 2003, and became the second-best-selling children’s paperback of 2005. The book was adapted for the big screen in 2006. I’d call that a success story …

52 Designer Calvin : KLEIN

Calvin Klein is an American fashion designer who was born in the Bronx in New York City. Klein’s biography, entitled “Obsession”, is named for one the most famous brands in his line of fragrances.

55 List-ending abbr. : ET AL

“Et alii” (et al.) is the equivalent of “et cetera” (etc.), with “et cetera” being used in place of a list of objects, and “et alii” used for a list of names.

57 Rifle filler : AMMO

The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.

58 Tases : ZAPS

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

59 DIY site : ETSY

Etsy.com is an e-commerce website where you can buy and sell the kind of items that you might find at a craft fair.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Fifth pillar of Islam : HAJJ
5 Air Jordans, e.g. : NIKES
10 Peel : RIND
14 “Arrested Development” actress Shawkat : ALIA
15 Between, poetically : TWIXT
16 Grenoble gal pal : AMIE
17 What the unalert might 61-Across to take : COLD SHOWER (giving “shower mat”)
19 Skier Lindsey with a record 20 World Cup titles : VONN
20 __ One vodka : KETEL
21 Title king in a Mozart opera : IDOMENEO
23 Granny : NANA
26 Patronize, as a restaurant : DINE AT
27 Amigo : PAL
30 What a gracious host might 61-Across to give : WARM WELCOME (giving “welcome mat”)
33 Climber’s asset : GRIP
35 Yours, in Tours : A TOI
36 Pole worker : ELF
37 What a devout Muslim might 61-Across to perform : AFTERNOON PRAYER (giving “prayer mat”)
42 Sports doc’s pic : MRI
43 “I’m __ hurry” : IN NO
44 Sported : WORE
45 What a tight pair might 61-Across to do : COUPLES YOGA (giving “yoga mat”)
49 Women of Troy’s sch. : USC
50 Pick up, in a way : ANSWER
51 Employment : WORK
53 Say when? : SET A DATE
56 Potter’s supply : GLAZE
60 Biblical brother : ABEL
61 Struggle vigorously … and what four other long answers’ ending words can do? : GO TO THE MAT
64 Enjoy some rays : BASK
65 Broadcasting : ON AIR
66 Rascals : IMPS
67 Music and theater : ARTS
68 “Country Grammar” rapper : NELLY
69 Asking too many questions : NOSY

Down

1 Talentless writer : HACK
2 Natural healer : ALOE
3 Leave high and dry : JILT
4 Smith of “After Earth” : JADEN
5 Last in a series : NTH
6 Iconic WWII island, briefly : IWO
7 Auckland native : KIWI
8 Struck (out) : EXED
9 Marched confidently : STRODE
10 Hogwarts house with a corvine name : RAVENCLAW
11 “We all have the same values” : I’M ONE OF YOU
12 When 51-Across starts, for many : NINE AM
13 Signify : DENOTE
18 Diner side : SLAW
22 Distance runner : MILER
24 Indian bread : NAAN
25 Stella __: beer : ARTOIS
27 Org. whose fans follow the links : PGA
28 Lab report? : ARF!
29 Chemistry exam? : LITMUS TEST
31 Dreamy : MOONY
32 Separate grain from chaff : WINNOW
34 Controversial pretrial police practices : PERP WALKS
38 Ticked off : RILED
39 Possum pal of Porky Pine : POGO
40 Trauma ctrs. : ERS
41 __ room : REC
45 Winter melon : CASABA
46 Sign of bad service? : ONE BAR
47 Christopher Paolini fantasy best-seller : ERAGON
48 “Gah!” : ARGH!
52 Designer Calvin : KLEIN
54 Mood : TONE
55 List-ending abbr. : ET AL
57 Rifle filler : AMMO
58 Tases : ZAPS
59 DIY site : ETSY
62 Alaskan resource : OIL
63 Taste : TRY

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 21 May 20, Thursday”

  1. 4 errors. Rather quick until i got stuck in the NW corner.. Really smeared it. Couldn’t remember 5th pillar. Went with BABA which gave me BUCK for 1D .. Then I went with BOLT for 3D and 14A was ULON and 4D was ANDEN.. whew, what a mess..

    Got the theme!! That was a bit of mental English usage exercise.. Not sure I would take a cold shower if I was unalert?? Maybe splash water but a shower.. That’s cold!!

    Be safe

  2. 4 errors for me also. Think three proper names and the fifth pillar all in the same corner is pushing things a bit. Got lucky on one, failed on the others.

  3. 13:01, no errors. For me, the theme required a little more thought than usual (“go to” = “go with”, maybe?) – somehow, a little awkwarder (😜) than most (but I made my peace with it).

  4. I was about to write no errors, but realized I forgot to fill in one box …
    the “c” in 49 across. A lot of unfamiliar names again.
    Oh well, another day another puzzle.

  5. Really no problems today. One little bobble when I stuck a second “g” on the end of 48 Down instead of the proper “argh” which quickly got fixed when I saw it needed to be the “h” in “the” for the Across answer.

  6. 41:00 no errors…I took longer to complete this puzzle than I did to complete the NYT 0416 which is very unusual for me.
    @tj law…an elf works at the North Pole .
    Stay safe y’all

  7. The amount of unfamiliar PPP’s intimidated me, but there were sufficient intersecting answers to allow me to finish without any errors. I did not get the theme until I read Bill’s note, but, to be fair, I didn’t try very hard. My estimation of this puzzle went from poor to excellent as the PPP’s became clear.

  8. I’m a casual Crossword Solver but love to attempt the L.A. Times puzzle. Being such a novice, abbreviations often go over my head.
    Lawrence: What does PPP stand for?

    1. I asked the same question here after my Google search came up with “Paycheck Protection Program”, (among other equally unsatisfying definitions). The answers I received were:
      “People, Places, and Products” – A Nonny Muss,
      “Proper Nouns” – Glenn

  9. 14 minutes, 47 seconds, and 4 “unforced errors” with proper noun names and convenient alternate spellings. I was expecting this… Monday through Wednesday went way too smoothly…

  10. @Carrie from yesterday – I don’t know why I didn’t think of PALM Springs first. I had a flamboyant cousin named Georgiana who lived there who occasionally visited us and left our heads spinning.

    I had GRIt before GRIP, and one Google – JADEN, but many words I did’nt know – ALIA, KETEL, COUPLES, USC, IDOMENEO, ERAGON.
    For Women of Troy’s School, all I could think of was Russell Sage, where I spent my Freshman year – or maybe RPI. Don’t know the name of sport’s teams.

    1. @Jane … Like you, sports is my weakest area … 😟. I also thought that “Women of Troy” must somehow refer to Troy, New York. After the fact, I did some Googling and found that, in addition to what Bill says above (that the athletic teams at the University of Southern California are referred to as Trojans and that the female teams are sometimes called the “Women of Troy”), there is a new HBO documentary by that name (now airing or about to air) that tells the story of some remarkable USC women’s basketball teams from the 80’s (and, in particular, one remarkable player named Cheryl Miller). That probably explains why this entry showed up in today’s puzzle.

  11. Decent but tough Thursday for me; took me 40 minutes with three errors in the end. After the first pass, I went straight to the theme reveal to try and get that. Leaned on that heavily and got all the rest of the theme answers.

    I knew the spelling of Hadj, Haaj, Hajj was in play, I just guessed the wrong one – Haaj, and I had no idea who Alia Shawkat was, although I do now – apparently her and Brad Pitt are possibly an item. The third error was stupid on my part as I put in STRiDE, when obviously the clue called for STRODE.

    @Nonny – So my weak spot is all the B,C and D list actors and corresponding movies, series they play in. I have watched a quite a few of them, but that is sometimes painful and it takes a long time. I get the feeling that this isn’t exactly your strong suite as well. Do you just make as many educated guesses as you can and then wiki and google after the fact to familiarize yourself? Thanks.

  12. Hello folks!!🦆

    DNF, mostly just cuz I was short of time today. Couldn’t get JADEN, simply because I didn’t bother to read the whole clue! Just saw the movie title, had never heard of it, and said to heck with it. 🙄 Had I taken the time to notice his last name, Smith, I woulda gotten it. I know who the kid is.

    ALIA Shawkat is adorbs!!🤗 I know her from Arrested Development. Her character’s name is pronounced “maybe,” which I find really funny. Good actress.

    Be safe~~🍷

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