LA Times Crossword 21 Aug 20, Friday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Sounds Flighty

Themed answers are each BIRDS or BYRDS:

  • 18A Byrd : SOUTH POLE AVIATOR
  • 26A The Byrds : TURN! TURN! TURN! BAND
  • 49A “The Birds” : HITCHCOCK CLASSIC
  • 62A Bird : FLIER IN BADMINTON

Bill’s time: 11m 38s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • LYME (Lime!!!)
  • ALYSSA (Alissa!!!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 For that reason : ERGO

“Ergo” is a Latin word meaning “hence, therefore”, and one that we’ve absorbed directly into English.

5 Mekong River land : LAOS

The present-day nation of Laos can trace its roots back to the historic Lao kingdom of Lan Xang that existed from 1354 to 1707. The full name of the kingdom was “Lan Xang Hom Khao”, which translates as “The Land of a Million Elephants and the White Parasol”.

At over 2,700 miles in length, the Mekong is the twelfth longest river in the world. It rises in the Tibetan Plateau and empties into the South China Sea at the famed Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

15 “Banjo on my knee” song of 1848 : OH! SUSANNA

“Oh! Susanna” is a song that was published in 1848, written by Stephen Foster. The song is often called “Banjo on My Knee”, an understandable slip given the words of the chorus. “Oh! Susanna” came to be associated with the Forty-Niners, the miners who traveled to California in the 1849 Gold Rush. The lyrics were changed to suit the Gold rush theme with “Alabama” being replaced by “California”, and “banjo” being replaced by “washpan”.

17 Weapon for Spain’s Philip II : ARMADA

King Philip II of Spain ruled from 1556 until his death in 1598. Philip was also King of England from 1554 to 1558, by virtue of his marriage to Queen Mary I of England. When Mary died, Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne. Philip wanted to maintain his ties with England, and went so far as to send a proposal of marriage to the new queen, even though she was a Protestant and he a Catholic. The efforts to maintain peace between England and Spain were fraught with difficulty. Eventually, Philip famously dispatched the Spanish Armada to participate in an invasion of England in 1588, but that didn’t go too well …

18 Byrd : SOUTH POLE AVIATOR

Rear Admiral Richard Byrd was an officer in the US Navy, famous as an aviator and explorer of the polar regions. Byrd was the first person to cross the South Pole by air, in 1929. Three years earlier, Byrd claimed he had flown over the North Pole, and would have been the first person to have done so if this was true. But whether or not Byrd actually made it over the North Pole continues to be the subject of much debate.

21 Female beast that sounds like a river : TIGRESS

The Tigris is one of the two rivers that form the main boundaries of Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates.

25 __ chi : TAI

More correctly called “t‘ai chi ch‘uan”, tai chi is a martial art that is mostly practiced to improve overall health and increase longevity.

26 The Byrds : TURN! TURN! TURN! BAND

There aren’t many pop hits that have lyrics taking almost entirely from the Bible. Pete Seeger took some words from the Book of Ecclesiastes, and set them to music in 1959, using the title “To Everything There Is a Season”. He recorded the song in 1962 for one of his albums. It wasn’t until it was recorded by the Byrds as “Turn! Turn! Turn!” that the song climbed the charts. It’s a nice contemplative song, I always think …

The Byrds were a rock band that formed in Los Angeles in 1964. The band’s most successful songs were cover versions of earlier hits i.e. “Mr. Tambourine Man” (Bob Dylan) and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (Pete Seeger).

37 Power source : SOLAR

Solar panels are arrays of solar cells that make use of what’s known as the photovoltaic effect. We are more likely to have learned about the photoelectric effect in school, in which electrons were ejected from the surface of some materials when it was exposed to light or other forms of radiation. The photovoltaic effect is related but different. Instead of being electrons ejected from the surface, in the photovoltaic effect electrons move around in the material creating a difference in voltage.

38 Gp. with related interests : ASSN

Association (assn.)

40 Provides a buffet, say : CATERS

Our word “buffet” comes from the French “bufet” meaning “bench, sideboard”. So, a buffet is a meal served from a “bufet”.

43 Disease namesake : LYME

Lyme disease is an infectious disease that is becoming more and more common. The condition takes its name from the town of Lyme, Connecticut where several cases were diagnosed in 1975. Humans catch the disease when bitten by infected ticks. If caught early enough, the disease is usually treated successfully with antibiotics.

44 Staff figures : CLEFS

“Clef” is the French word for “key”. In music, a clef is used to indicate the pitch of the notes written on a stave. The bass clef is also known as the F-clef, the alto clef is the C-clef, and the treble clef is the G-clef.

48 D.C. VIP : SEN

The US Senate comprises 100 senators, with each of the fifty states being represented by two popularly elected senators. US senators were appointed by their state legislators from 1798 through 1913, until the Seventeenth Amendment called for popular elections.

49 “The Birds” : HITCHCOCK CLASSIC

“The Birds” is a 1963 film made by Alfred Hitchcock based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier. I’ve read the story and seen the film and find them both strangely disturbing (it’s probably just me!). I can’t stand the ending of either version, as nothing resolves itself!

53 Organ with a hammer : EAR

The middle ear is the portion of the ear immediately behind the eardrum. The middle ear contains three small bones called the ossicles, the three smallest bones in the human body. The ossicles’ job is to transmit sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. The shape of the bones gives rise to their names: the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus) and stirrup (stapes).

55 Root that’s a source of tapioca : CASSAVA

The cassava plant is a woody shrub native to South America grown largely for its carbohydrate-rich tubers. In fact, the cassava is the third largest food source of carbohydrates (for humans) in the world. Ordinarily, that carbohydrate is extracted from the plant and dried as flour, and is known as tapioca.

59 Hip-hop star Green : CEELO

“CeeLo Green” is the stage name of rapper Thomas DeCarlo Callaway. Apparently Green is one of the coaches for the contestants on the singing TV show “The Voice”. That’s all I need to know …

62 Bird : FLIER IN BADMINTON

The game of badminton was developed in the mid-1700s by British military officers in India. There was already an old game called battledore and shuttlecock, so the creation of badminton was essentially the addition of a net and boundary lines for play. The game was launched officially as a sport in 1873 at Badminton House in Gloucestershire in England, hence the name that we now use.

A shuttlecock (also “bird, birdie”) is the conical, feathered projectile used in the game of badminton. Previously referred to as a “shuttlecork”, the object is probably so named because it is “shuttled” back and forth over the net, and because the feathers resemble those on a cockerel.

68 Many in Caltech’s faculty : ENGINEERS

Caltech is more properly known as the California Institute of Technology, and is a private research-oriented school in Pasadena. One of Caltech’s responsibilities is the management and operation of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. If you watch “The Big Bang Theory” on television like me, you might know that the four lead characters all work at Caltech.

69 Like troublesome mascara : SMEARY

Variants of mascara have been around a long time, and certainly there was a similar substance in use in ancient Egypt. “Mascara” is a Spanish word meaning “stain, mask”.

71 Indian music : RAGA

Raga isn’t really a genre of music, but has been described as the “tonal framework” in which Indian classical music is composed. Ravi Shankar was perhaps the most famous raga virtuoso (to us Westerners). Western rock music with a heavy Indian influence might be called raga rock.

Down

1 Aurora’s Greek counterpart : EOS

In Greek mythology, Eos was the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos was Aurora. Rather delightfully, Homer referred to Eos as “rosy-fingered dawn” in both “Iliad” and “Odyssey”.

2 P-like letter : RHO

Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.

3 Atlanta sch. fielding the Panthers : GSU

Georgia State University is located in downtown Atlanta. It was established in 1913 as a branch of Georgia School of Technology called the Evening School of Commerce.

5 “Major Crimes” force, briefly : LAPD

The TV cop show “Major Crimes” is a follow-on spin-off of “The Closer”. The first episode of “Major Crimes” was aired right after the last episode of “The Closer” on August 13, 2012.

6 “And giving __, up the chimney … ” : A NOD

The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in 1823, and is better known today by its first line “‘Twas the night before Christmas”. Most scholars believe that the poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore, a theologian from New York City. Others say that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr., a poet from Upstate New York.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash …

8 Encl. to an editor : SAE

An SAE is a “stamped, addressed envelope”. An SASE is a “self-addressed, stamped envelope”.

9 Eggs on crackers, perhaps : CAVIAR

Caviar is the roe of a large fish that has been salted and seasoned, and especially the roe of a sturgeon. Beluga caviar comes from the beluga sturgeon, which is found primarily in the Caspian Sea. It is the most expensive type of caviar in the world. 8 ounces of US-farmed beluga caviar can be purchased through Amazon.com for just over $850, in case you’re feeling peckish …

11 Little on “The Wire” : OMAR

The character Omar Little is played by Michael K. Williams on the HBO series “The Wire”.

14 Works on a route : TARS

The terms “tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call “tarmac”.

19 Westernmost Aleutian Island : ATTU

Attu is the westernmost island in the Aleutian chain and so is the westernmost part of Alaska (and is in the Eastern Hemisphere). Japanese forces took the island in October 1942, eventually landing as many as 2,900 soldiers there. In May 1943, the US Army retook the island in twenty days of fighting that is now called the Battle of Attu, the only land battle to take place on US soil during WWII. I am very proud of my father-in-law, who served in the Aleutians during WWII …

23 Granola relative : MUESLI

“Muesli” is a Swiss-German term describing a breakfast serving of oats, nuts, fruit and milk. “Muesli” is a diminutive of the German word “Mues” meaning “puree”. Delicious …

27 Sch. with an Asheville campus : UNC

Samuel Ashe was the Governor of North Carolina from 1795 to 1798. North Carolina’s Ashe County and the cities of Asheboro and Asheville are named in his honor.

28 Genetic molecule : 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.

29 Insensitive, in a way : NOT PC

Non-politically correct (non-PC)

30 Gyrate like Cyrus : TWERK

Twerking is a dancing move in which someone (usually a woman) shakes her hips up and down causing a lot of “wobbling”. It’s possible that “twerk” is a portmanteau of “twist” and “jerk”. The term may have been coined back in the early 2000s with the song “Whistle While You Twurk” released by the Ying Yang Twins. Twerking became a real phenomenon in 2013 when Miley Cyrus posted a video of herself twerking in a unicorn suit to the 2011 song “Wop” by J. Dash. That video went viral on YouTube, amassing over 4 million views in no time at all.

31 Neighbor of Arg. : BOL

Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America, bordered by Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and Argentina. The land now occupied by Bolivia was originally part of the Inca Empire. The country declared independence from Spain in 1809, which led to 16 years of war. When the Republic was finally named, “Bolivia” was chosen in honor of Venezuelan-born revolutionary leader, Simón Bolívar.

32 Actress Milano : ALYSSA

Alyssa Milano is an actress who started her career at a very young age. Milano played Samantha Micelli on “Who’s the Boss”, the daughter of the character played by Tony Danza.

39 It has Giants but not Titans: Abbr. : NFC

National Football Conference (NFC)

The New York Giants (NYG) football team plays home games in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, a stadium shared with the New York Jets (NYJ). The Giants are the only team remaining from a group of five that joined the league in 1925. For many years, the Giants shared team names with the New York Giants MLB team, before the baseball franchise moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season.

The Tennessee Titans are a football team based in Nashville. The team relocated to Nashville from Houston in 1997. They were called the Tennessee Oilers for two seasons, before adopting the “Titans” moniker.

41 Mythical aerial menace : ROC

The mythical roc is a huge bird of prey, one reputedly able to carry off and eat elephants. The roc was said to come from the Indian subcontinent. The supposed existence of the roc was promulgated by Marco Polo in the accounts that he published about his travels through Asia.

42 Roman sun god : SOL

Sol was the Roman god personifying the Sun. The Greek equivalent was Helios.

47 Order to soldiers : FALL IN

The order “fall in” directs soldiers to take their proper place in a military formation.

51 Algerian port : ORAN

Oran lies on the Algerian coast, and is famous for being the port where the French Navy was largely destroyed by the British during WWII in order to avoid the French vessels falling into the hands of Nazi Germany after France surrendered. This decisive and unexpected unilateral action by the British sent a very strong message around the world that Britain was willing to fight alone against the axis powers if necessary.

55 Ozone-depleting chemicals, briefly : CFCS

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used to be widely used as propellants in aerosols, and as refrigerants in cooling systems. CFCs make their way up into the ozone layer and trigger a chain reaction that converts ozone (O3) into regular oxygen (O2). That conversion creates “holes” in the ozone layer. Regular O2 is good stuff, but we need O3 to absorb harmful UV radiation raining down on us. CFC is not good stuff …

56 Donor drive target : ALUM

An alumnus (plural “alumni”) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural “alumnae”). The term comes into English from Latin, in which an alumnus is a foster-son or pupil. “Alum” is an informal term used for either an alumna or alumnus.

57 Browser’s find : SITE

A web browser is a piece of software used to access the World Wide Web. The first web browser was called “WorldWideWeb” and was invented in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the World Wide Web. The browser known as Mosaic came out in 1993, and it was this browser that drove so much interest in the World Wide Web, and indeed in the Internet in general. Marc Andreessen led the team that created Mosaic, and he then set up his own company called Netscape. Netscape created the Netscape Navigator browser that further popularized the use of the Web starting in 1994. Microsoft responded by introducing Internet Explorer in 1995, which sparked the so-called “browser war”, a war that Microsoft clearly won. As Netscape floundered, the company launched the open-source Mozilla project which eventually led to the Firefox browser. Apple then came out with it’s own Safari browser in 2003. Google’s Chrome browser, introduced in 2008, is by far the most popular way to view the Web today.

58 Ward of “House” : SELA

Actress Sela Ward turns up in crosswords a lot. Ward played Teddy Reed in the TV show “Sisters” in the nineties, and was in “Once and Again” from 1999-2002. I don’t know either show, but I do know Ward from the medical drama “House” in which she played the hospital’s lawyer and Greg House’s ex-partner. That was a fun role, I thought. More recently, Ward played a lead role on “CSI: NY” and was a very welcome and much-needed addition to the cast. And, Ward played Dr. Richard Kimble’s murdered wife in the 1993 film version of “The Fugitive”.

59 Candy __ : CANE

Apparently, candy canes were created at the behest of the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany in 1672. The sweet sticks were basically used as bribes to keep children quiet during services. The choirmaster specified that the candy sticks should have a crook at the top so that they reminded the children of the three shepherds who visited the infant Jesus just after his birth.

61 Burnoose-wearing leader : EMIR

A burnoose (also known as burnous) is a hooded cloak made out of coarse woolen fabrics and is usually white in color. It is worn by Arab and Berber men throughout North Africa. Ceremonial versions of the burnoose are worn during important events and by high-ranking officials.

64 Leaves for a spot : TEA

I guess the reference here is to the oft-quoted English phrase “a spot of tea”. Mind you, I’ve only ever heard that said in jest …

66 CIA relative : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 For that reason : ERGO
5 Mekong River land : LAOS
9 “Settle down!” : COOL IT!
15 “Banjo on my knee” song of 1848 : OH! SUSANNA
17 Weapon for Spain’s Philip II : ARMADA
18 Byrd : SOUTH POLE AVIATOR
20 Frivolous : GIDDY
21 Female beast that sounds like a river : TIGRESS
22 Strengthen : AMP UP
25 __ chi : TAI
26 The Byrds : TURN! TURN! TURN! BAND
35 Top often with an image : TEE
36 Showing presently : ON NOW
37 Power source : SOLAR
38 Gp. with related interests : ASSN
40 Provides a buffet, say : CATERS
43 Disease namesake : LYME
44 Staff figures : CLEFS
46 Object of a detective’s quest : PROOF
48 D.C. VIP : SEN
49 “The Birds” : HITCHCOCK CLASSIC
53 Organ with a hammer : EAR
54 Unwilling : LOATH
55 Root that’s a source of tapioca : CASSAVA
59 Hip-hop star Green : CEELO
62 Bird : FLIER IN BADMINTON
67 Butcher’s offering : CUTLET
68 Many in Caltech’s faculty : ENGINEERS
69 Like troublesome mascara : SMEARY
70 Forest grazers : DEER
71 Indian music : RAGA

Down

1 Aurora’s Greek counterpart : EOS
2 P-like letter : RHO
3 Atlanta sch. fielding the Panthers : GSU
4 Defeat : OUTGUN
5 “Major Crimes” force, briefly : LAPD
6 “And giving __, up the chimney … ” : A NOD
7 Without siblings : ONLY
8 Encl. to an editor : SAE
9 Eggs on crackers, perhaps : CAVIAR
10 Starting places : ORIGINS
11 Little on “The Wire” : OMAR
12 Running behind : LATE
13 Loving exchanges : I DOS
14 Works on a route : TARS
16 Mailing label words : SHIP TO
19 Westernmost Aleutian Island : ATTU
22 Join : ATTACH
23 Granola relative : MUESLI
24 Like some hotel thermostats : PRESET
27 Sch. with an Asheville campus : UNC
28 Genetic molecule : RNA
29 Insensitive, in a way : NOT PC
30 Gyrate like Cyrus : TWERK
31 Neighbor of Arg. : BOL
32 Actress Milano : ALYSSA
33 “Whatever you want” : NAME IT
34 Spray with a hose : DRENCH
39 It has Giants but not Titans: Abbr. : NFC
41 Mythical aerial menace : ROC
42 Roman sun god : SOL
45 Woolgatherer? : SHEARER
47 Order to soldiers : FALL IN
50 Hollowed-out area : CAVITY
51 Algerian port : ORAN
52 With less delay : SOONER
55 Ozone-depleting chemicals, briefly : CFCS
56 Donor drive target : ALUM
57 Browser’s find : SITE
58 Ward of “House” : SELA
59 Candy __ : CANE
60 Periphery : EDGE
61 Burnoose-wearing leader : EMIR
63 Word with sea or seed : -BED
64 Leaves for a spot : TEA
65 38-Across relative : ORG
66 CIA relative : NSA

21 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 21 Aug 20, Friday”

  1. 16:37, no errors. This grid is pretty apt for another expression that would work great to describe it as well: “For the birds”.

  2. Bit of a grind.. I enjoyed it. Took me over 30 minutes.. Messed up in NW corner. Had EON for 1D and GSR for 3D which gave me NORTH POLE for BYRD. It didn’t occur to me to at least try SOUTH POLE. GSU would have made sense. Argh!!

  3. 10:24, no errors. I momentarily had PRINT instead of PROOF, otherwise a straightforward solve, in spite of the long theme answers. (Note that there are four of them, each exactly sixteen characters in length. How elegant!)

  4. No errors, but a hard slog for me today. Finally getting “caviar” for
    9D helped and changing “notes” for “clefs” did it for me.

  5. It took me awhile to complete. I think of Richard Byrd as a South Pole explorer instead of aviator. And the first three crosses I had in Flier in Badminton were NBA so I was thinking of Larry Bird. Was also looking for Senator Robert Byrd, who was nowhere to be found. Hitchcock classic was easy enough and I knew the Byrds were a musical band but took me some time to get Turn, Turn, Turn. Overall, a fun, challenging puzzle.

  6. I kept thinking that this puzzle was going to get hard at some point, but it never did. Tomorrow will probably savage me for having the hubris to say that, but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. ;-D>

  7. It was a slog for me, but I only had to Google CASSAVA. Never wondered where tapioca came from (the tapioca plant?).
    Didn’t know OMAR, GSU, ASSN,

    IMHO, there were 3 clues which should have indicated abrevs: NOT PC, ALUM, ORG.

    1. On the rare occasion that there’s a clue from The Wire, I thank my lucky stars that I’m a fan of this, THE #1 best series in the history of television. As Omar would say, “You come at the King, you best not miss.”

  8. 16:42 and no errors (avoided Bill’s pitfalls!) Lots of overwrites, and a few fills were made harder by overwrought clueing (e.g., 64 down: come ON!!!) Contributes to an overall feel that you’re being set-up and tricked throughout.

  9. Me too lyme/lime, alyssa/alissa — I guess the “lime” disease was rickets (don’t even know if rickets is a disease)? Never watched “Who’s The Boss”

  10. 20:39 1 error, 1 lookup as I had a mental block about the chemicals that caused the ozone hole.

    I also liked “leaves for a spot”. TEA seems to inspire many creative clues.

    1. Is this comment an example of a classic “Pb balloon”? It certainly goes over like one for me … 😜.

  11. I wanted this one bad, but didn’t quite get there. The Byrds band threw
    me for three loops, I could say. 2 errors there. I actually changed
    ATTU to the other dictionary choice of ATKA because KAI going across
    seemed to fit better with “chi”. Otherwise, we would have solved it. Did
    not know the word TWERK. Still, a positive finish to a pretty good week – about 95% average. Miss hearing from A Nonny Muss.

    Stay safe and well, everybody.

  12. Mostly easy Friday for me, although I had to do something about half way through. Not really sure of the time, but about 45 minutes with no errors.

    Had to change ALYSiA, mlb to NFC and boost to AMPUP. The rest I was able to wait for crosses to get the right fill the first time.

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