LA Times Crossword 3 Jul 20, Friday

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Constructed by: David Alfred Bywaters
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): No Idea

Themed clues are well-known words or phrases that start with an animal. Each is reinterpreted literally:

  • 17A Horse sense? : EQUINE AWARENESS
  • 23A Cattle call? : BOVINE SUMMONS
  • 39A Cat’s paw? : FELINE EXTREMITY
  • 49A Fox hole? : VULPINE CAVITY
  • 61A Hog wash? : PORCINE ABLUTION

Bill’s time: 7m 03s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4 Brit. detective’s rank : INSP

Inspector (Insp.)

8 Gastropod associated with traditional mail : SNAIL

Snail mail is regular mail delivered by the postal service. The term “snail mail” arose as email gained in popularity, and is a reference to the difference in speed between email and paper mail.

13 It may result in an RBI : DBL

In baseball, a two-bagger is a double (dbl.), a hit that gets the batter onto second base.

14 Staircase post : NEWEL

A newel is a principal upright post that supports a handrail beside a staircase. Newels are found at the top and bottom of the banister, and sometimes in between. Newels are often adorned with decorative trim to set them apart from the other posts by the staircase.

16 Lead-in for jet or Tax : TURBO-

In a turbojet engine, it’s the expanding exhaust gases expelled from the rear of the engine that provide thrust. In a turboprop engine, on the other hand, the energy from the turbine energy is used to drive a propeller via a gearbox.

20 Tiny fraction of a min. : NSEC

“Nanosecond” is more correctly abbreviated to “ns” (as opposed to “nsec”) and really is a tiny amount of time: one billionth of a second.

21 Gas pump choice : DIESEL

There are two main types of internal combustion engine. Most cars in the US use spark injection engines (gasoline engines) in which a spark plug sparks in order to ignite the fuel-air mixture. A diesel engine, on the other hand, has no spark plug per se, and uses the heat generated by compressing the air-fuel mixture to cause ignition.

28 Piper’s son of rhyme : TOM

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son,
Stole a pig, and away did run;

The “pig” mentioned in the rhyme isn’t actually a live animal but rather a small pastry with an apple filling.

35 Gds. : MDSE

Merchandise (“mdse.” or “merch.”)

45 Actress Thurman : UMA

Robert Thurman was the first westerner to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Robert raised his children in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and called his daughter “Uma” as it is a phonetic spelling of the Buddhist name “Dbuma”. Uma’s big break in the movies came with her starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 hit “Pulp Fiction”. My favorite Uma Thurman film is the wonderful 1996 romantic comedy “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”.

47 “¿Cómo está __?” : USTED

“¿Cómo está usted?” is the more formal way of asking “How are you?” in Spanish.

49 Fox hole? : VULPINE CAVITY

“Vulpes” is Latin for “fox”.

56 Lincoln, familiarly : ABE

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the US. There are several stories told about how he earned the nickname “Honest Abe”. One story dates back to early in his career as a lawyer. Lincoln accidentally overcharged a client and then walked miles in order to right the wrong as soon as possible.

57 Inventor Tesla : NIKOLA

Nikola Tesla was born in Serbia, but later moved to the US. Tesla’s work on mechanical and electrical engineering was crucial to the development of alternating current technology, the same technology that is used by equipment at the backbone of modern power generation and distribution systems.

58 Austen’s aspiring matchmaker : EMMA

Jane Austen’s novel “Emma” is the tale of Emma Woodhouse and the wonderful George Knightley. At the end of the story, Emma marries Knightley and her young friend Harriet marries Robert Martin, who had been trying to get Harriet’s attention practically from page one of the novel. Emma interfered in that troubled courtship.

61 Hog wash? : PORCINE ABLUTION

Ablution is the cleansing of the body, especially as part of a religious rite.

64 Online financial services pioneer : E-LOAN

E-Loan used to be based just down the road from me in the San Francisco Bay Area, but after a takeover by a Rosemont, Illinois company it was moved to the parent’s headquarters. E-Loan was founded in 1997 to provide customers access to mortgages over the Internet.

65 “Nature’s soft nurse,” to Shakespeare : SLEEP

Here are some lines from William Shakespeare’s play “Henry IV, Part 2”:

O sleep, O gentle sleep, Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frightened thee. That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down, And steep my senses in forgetfulness?

67 Wasp’s assault : STING

While the wasp is considered to be a nuisance by many, the insect is very important to the agricultural industry. Wasps prey on many pest insects, while having very little impact on crops.

69 MASH staff : DRS

The first Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) was deployed in August 1945. MASH units really came into the public consciousness after publication of the 1969 Richard Hooker novel “MASH”, which spawned the hit film and TV series that were both titled “M*A*S*H”.

Down

2 Backyard parties, briefly : BBQS

It is believed that our word “barbecue” (BBQ) comes from the Taíno people of the Caribbean in whose language “barbacoa” means “sacred fire pit”.

5 “Then live, Macduff; what __ fear of thee?”: Macbeth : NEED I

Thanes were Scottish aristocrats. The most famous thanes have to be the Shakespearean characters Macbeth (Thane of Glamis, later “Thane of Cawdor”, and still later “King of Scotland”) and MacDuff (Thane of Fife). Other thanes in “Macbeth” are Ross, Lennox and Angus, as well as Menteith and Caithness.

6 Suffix with boat or cox : -SWAIN

A boatswain works on the deck of a boat. He or she is unlicensed, and so is not involved in the navigation or handling of the vessel, and instead is in charge of the other unlicensed workers on the deck. “Boatswain” is pronounced “bosun” and this phonetic spelling is often used interchangeably with “boatswain”. The contraction “bo’s’n” is also very popular.

The coxswain of a boat is one in charge of steering and navigation. The word “coxswain” is shortened to “cox”, particularly when used for the person steering and calling out the stroke in a competition rowing boat.

7 Small bird with a small-sounding name : PEWEE

A pewee is a small bird, so called because of the “pee wee” sound that it makes.

8 Sailor’s guardian : ST ELMO

Saint Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. More formally referred to as Erasmus of Formia, St. Elmo is perhaps venerated by sailors as tradition tells us that he continued preaching despite the ground beside him being struck by a thunderbolt. Sailors started to pray to him when in danger of storms and lightning. He lends his name to the electrostatic weather phenomenon (often seen at sea) known as St. Elmo’s fire. The “fire” is actually a plasma discharge caused by air ionizing at the end of a pointed object (like the mast of a ship), something often observed during electrical storms.

9 Cloistered female : NUN

Cloisters are usually such beautifully peaceful areas. They are found as part of religious buildings in particular. Cloisters are rectangular open spaces surrounded by covered walkways that are attached to other structures. The use of the term “cloister” has evolved to also describe a monastery or convent.

10 Riposte to “Am not!” : ARE SO!

“Riposte” is a fencing term, one describing a quick thrust after having parried a lunge from one’s opponent. We also use the term to describe a sharp verbal retort.

11 “A Doll’s House” dramatist : IBSEN

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright who is considered by many to be the greatest playwright since William Shakespeare. Ibsen was famous for shocking his audiences by exploring subjects that offended the sensibilities of the day (the late 1800s).

“A Doll’s House” is probably the most famous play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The play deals with the feminist awakening of the lead character, Nora Helmer. “A Doll’s House” is sometimes referred to as the “first true feminist play”.

15 Highlands miss : LASS

The Scottish Highlands are that part of the country not classified as the Lowlands(!). The Highlands make up the north and west of Scotland.

18 Wikipedia’s globe, say : ICON

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, and is the most-used reference site on the Internet. The site was launched by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001. I, for one, am very grateful …

19 News service since 1851 : REUTERS

The Reuters news agency was formed way back in 1851 by German-born, British entrepreneur Paul Julius Reuter. Reuter had checked the feasibility of a news service for a couple of years prior to launching the agency, and the technologies he used for his study were the telegraph and carrier pigeons!

24 Blood carrier : VEIN

Arteries are vessels that carry blood away from the heart, and veins are vessels carrying blood to the heart.

25 Campbell jingle letters : MMMM!

The Campbell’s Soup company is named for one of the enterprise’s two founders, Joseph A. Campbell. He and Abraham Anderson started the business in 1869. The iconic design of the Campbell’s can was introduced in 1898 and has hardly changed since then. The gold seal in the design comes from the 1900 Paris Exhibition.

27 Egyptian queen, familiarly : CLEO

Cleopatra was the last pharaoh to rule Egypt. After she died, Egypt became a province in the Roman Empire.

31 Skin pigment : MELANIN

Melanin is a natural pigment found in most organisms. In humans, melanin is the pigment in the skin, the production of which accelerates in response to UV radiation causing a “tan”. Melanin is also what is released as cephalopod ink, a defensive cloud squirted into the water by squids and octopodes.

32 Spherical legume : PEA

Plants called legumes are notable in that they work symbiotically with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, microorganisms found in the root nodules that convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium ions. As nitrogen is an essential component of proteins, legumes are exceptionally rich sources of plant protein. Examples of legumes are peas, beans, lentils and peanuts.

33 Tic-tac-toe loser : O-X-X

When I was growing up in Ireland we played “noughts and crosses” … our name for the game tic-tac-toe.

34 Jeanne d’Arc, e.g.: Abbr. : STE

Joan of Arc (also “Jeanne d’Arc”, her birth name) led the French Army successfully into battle a number of times during the Hundred Years War with England. When she was eventually captured, Joan was tried in Rouen, the seat of the occupying English government in France at that time. There she was burned at the stake having been found guilty of heresy. In fact, after the fire died down, the executioner raked the coals to display the charred body, proving Joan had died, and then burned the corpse again, twice, so that relics could not be collected. The remaining ashes were then cast into the Seine River. Joan of Arc was canonized some 600 years later, in 1920, and is now one of the patron saints of France.

36 Lascivious mental state : DIRTY MIND

“Lascivious” is such an appropriate-sounding word, I always think. It means “lecherous, salacious”.

37 Ophthalmologist’s concern : STYE

A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.

Ophthalmology is that branch of medicine dealing with the physiology and health of the eye. “Ophthalmos” is the Greek word for “eye”.

41 Needle case : ETUI

An etui is an ornamental case used to hold small items, in particular sewing needles. We imported both the case design and the word “etui” from France. The French also have a modern usage of “etui”, using the term to depict a case for carrying CDs.

46 One of the 3M Company’s M’s, originally : MINING

The company that is now called 3M was founded as a mining venture in 1902, and used to be known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (hence the name “3M”).

48 Editorial reconsideration 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.

49 Absorbs nicotine smokelessly : VAPES

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 …

Nicotine is an alkaloid stimulant found in the nightshade family of plants, most notably in the tobacco plant. The alkaloid takes its name from the tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum). In turn, the plant takes its name from French diplomat Jean Nicot. Nicot was the ambassador to Portugal from 1559 to 1561. When Nicot returned to Paris from his assignment in Lisbon, he brought with him tobacco plants, and introduced the French court to snuff.

51 “Vive __!” : LE ROI

“Vive le roi!” is French for “Long live the king!” “À bas le roi!” is French for “Down with the king!”, which was a phrase often heard during the French Revolution.

54 Edward who wrote “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” : ALBEE

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is an Edward Albee play that premiered on Broadway in 1962. The play won a Tony in 1963, and was adapted into a successful film in 1966 starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal and Sandy Dennis. The stage version is a lengthy production lasting over three hours.

55 Parking lot employee : VALET

A varlet was an attendant or servant, and perhaps a knight’s page. The term “varlet” comes from the Old French “vaslet” meaning “squire, young man”. “Vaslet” also gave us our contemporary word “valet”. The term “varlet” came to be pejorative, describing an unprincipled person.

60 Hill-building insects : ANTS

Anthills are actually underground nests. The ants in the colony excavate below ground, resulting in a pile of sand or soil above ground.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Abate : EBB
4 Brit. detective’s rank : INSP
8 Gastropod associated with traditional mail : SNAIL
13 It may result in an RBI : DBL
14 Staircase post : NEWEL
16 Lead-in for jet or Tax : TURBO-
17 Horse sense? : EQUINE AWARENESS
20 Tiny fraction of a min. : NSEC
21 Gas pump choice : DIESEL
22 Witness : SEE
23 Cattle call? : BOVINE SUMMONS
26 Act part : SCENE
28 Piper’s son of rhyme : TOM
29 Afflicted : ILL
30 Force oneself (on) : IMPOSE
35 Gds. : MDSE
39 Cat’s paw? : FELINE EXTREMITY
42 Lob : TOSS
43 Least strict : LAXEST
44 Bread grain : RYE
45 Actress Thurman : UMA
47 “¿Cómo está __?” : USTED
49 Fox hole? : VULPINE CAVITY
56 Lincoln, familiarly : ABE
57 Inventor Tesla : NIKOLA
58 Austen’s aspiring matchmaker : EMMA
61 Hog wash? : PORCINE ABLUTION
64 Online financial services pioneer : E-LOAN
65 “Nature’s soft nurse,” to Shakespeare : SLEEP
66 “You’re __ me” : NOT
67 Wasp’s assault : STING
68 Collections : SETS
69 MASH staff : DRS

Down

1 Paradise : EDEN
2 Backyard parties, briefly : BBQS
3 Flowers named for their color : BLUEBELLS
4 Place to stay : INN
5 “Then live, Macduff; what __ fear of thee?”: Macbeth : NEED I
6 Suffix with boat or cox : -SWAIN
7 Small bird with a small-sounding name : PEWEE
8 Sailor’s guardian : ST ELMO
9 Cloistered female : NUN
10 Riposte to “Am not!” : ARE SO!
11 “A Doll’s House” dramatist : IBSEN
12 Doesn’t prevail : LOSES
15 Highlands miss : LASS
18 Wikipedia’s globe, say : ICON
19 News service since 1851 : REUTERS
24 Blood carrier : VEIN
25 Campbell jingle letters : MMMM!
26 Go (through) carefully : SIFT
27 Egyptian queen, familiarly : CLEO
31 Skin pigment : MELANIN
32 Spherical legume : PEA
33 Tic-tac-toe loser : O-X-X
34 Jeanne d’Arc, e.g.: Abbr. : STE
36 Lascivious mental state : DIRTY MIND
37 Ophthalmologist’s concern : STYE
38 Looked at carefully : EYED
40 Has arisen : IS UP
41 Needle case : ETUI
46 One of the 3M Company’s M’s, originally : MINING
48 Editorial reconsideration word : STET
49 Absorbs nicotine smokelessly : VAPES
50 Letter-shaped fastener : U-BOLT
51 “Vive __!” : LE ROI
52 Manages to attain, with “out” : EKES …
53 Briquettes : COALS
54 Edward who wrote “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” : ALBEE
55 Parking lot employee : VALET
59 Secure in a harbor : MOOR
60 Hill-building insects : ANTS
62 Soup holder : CAN
63 Increases : UPS

28 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 3 Jul 20, Friday”

  1. No errors, quick fill until I got to ABLUTION. I stared at that for a few minutes with a head twist.. Ok, I learned a new word. Im going to use it today. Umm, uhh, err, … I got nuthin.

    Be safe

  2. Ablution I have never seen or heard of. And 6d, Swain I don’t know what that is or means. But stll a fun puzzle and theme. All the puzzles were fun this week so far. Saturday will probably be a mind blower.

  3. No errors; successfully avoided putting in the answer VULPINECAVERN for 49A.

    Bill, I suggest the theme be “I’m literally serious” as it seems to be a nod to the overuse of the word “literally” in today’s society.

  4. @Carrie – glad to hear your health problems are minimal.

    Today’s puzzle was surprisingly easy for a Friday. No Googles, errors, or unknowns for me. @Cathy – perhaps you’d have to be a certain age.

  5. 8:10, no errors. Contrary to my usual practice, I stared at this one for a while after I finished, trying to grok the theme … and failed … but I like Chris’s idea!

    @John Daigle … Thanks for the update. I did get a response (of sorts) from Wilson’s “consumer service” department: an email saying that they’re “working on it”. (Apparently, they didn’t make a whole lot of those egg-shaped balls and they didn’t make them recently.) I also posted a message, via eBay, to the guy who was trying to sell a similar “Golden Ram” ball, but have heard nothing from him; I have a feeling the eBay offer is defunct.

  6. If there was a theme I missed it other than I-N-E animal ending. Ablution and vulpine? Geez. Where do these constructors get their ideas?

    1. Maybe Bywaters got his idea for this puzzle from George Will. 😆 Poking fun at people who use highfalutin words instead of simple ones, to make themselves look smarter. How about “zoological grandiloquence” as the theme?

  7. 20:00 no errors which is good time for me on a Friday but I had no clue what the setter was trying to say in the theme answers but me and themes don’t always work out.
    Stay safe.

  8. “Performing one’s daily ablutions” went out with the pitcher and basin on the washstand in one’s boudoir. Today you would just jump in the shower.
    “Swain” was popular in Elizabethan times–maybe because it was easy to rhyme:
    “My swain hath rent my heart in twain”!

    1. I live in a town with an excellent university rowing team. Coxswains are alive and well.
      I thought this puzzle was easier than Monday’s. Several older literary references, but no latin or sports. That’s the way to this girl’s heart.

  9. 12 minutes, 13 seconds, no errors. Utterly picayune, meaningless, STUPID theme. What is the editor **thinking**? (A: clearly he is NOT)

  10. Very challenging, but we nailed it! I had to make a lucky guess at PORCINE, but found the
    other ones in my dictionary, i.e. ABLUTION under bath, VULPINE under fox, etc. CATTLE CALL
    reminded me of the time I saw my father-in-law switch his cows from one pasture to the other.
    He opened both gates, hollered out the “password” and the leader of the herd started
    walking to the new grazing ground, closely followed by the herd. Very impressive to me.
    Wonderful, actually.

    @A Nonny Muss – when I worked as an assistant golf pro in St. Louis, Wilson had a plant
    there and my boss and I were on their staff. I mentioned our salesman’s name in my
    recent query to Wilson about your oval ball. No reply yet. I still say it could be a Wilson
    ball that got run over by an 18-wheeler. Well, it could be! “Stuff” happens.

    Be safe. all. Social distancing is most important, followed by lots of hand washing and
    then masks when you are out and about, but indoors. Oxymoron? Not intentional.

    Happy Fourth of July!

    1. @John … I may have (at least partially) solved the mystery of the egg-shaped Wilson golf ball. Your instincts, as a long-term golfer, may have served you well … 😜 … but I think there’s more to it than just a rogue 18-wheeler. More tomorrow (and I’ll probably be sending you another snail-mail letter).

  11. Yes this was an easier puzzle for a Friday. But I’ll take it. We need a break once in awhile now, don’t we?

    Carrie: Glad to know the update on your health issue. Hope you (they) are on the right track with keeping you well.

  12. Nice and easy Friday; took me 17 minutes with no errors. Knew everything except VULPINE, so I learned something today. Like Nell, I remember seeing “performing one’s daily ablutions” in all the classic novels I’ve read.

    @Carrie – Good to hear that all is well. Yes, I’ve noticed our Bay Area traffic is fairly tolerable, even enjoyable, something I remember from the ’70s and early ’80s. I’ve gone for one take-out pizza but I’m not doing inside dining anytime soon. They’ve blocked off a street here in Menlo Park and two next door in Palo Alto, to accommodate outdoor dining. That seems plausible but I really like cooking my own food. Take care.

  13. Thank you Kay, Jane, Nonny, and Dirk for the good wishes! It’s amazing how LITTLE some doctors communicate among themselves. You really have to be your own advocate. I got in the habit of telling every doctor I spoke to: Please also send copies of test results to Dr A, Dr B, and Dr C. Had to be assertive with my insurance co. A little push here and there and people came thru. 🙃

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