LA Times Crossword 4 Sep 20, Friday

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Constructed by: Paul Coulter
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): “Star Wars” Fare

Themed answers sound like common food and drink items, but are clued with reference to “Star Wars” characters:

  • 17A Solo’s favorite sandwiches? : HAN BURGERS (sounds like “hamburgers”)
  • 27A Vader’s favorite treat? : DARTH CHOCOLATE (sounds like “dark chocolate”)
  • 47A Wookiee’s favorite dessert? : CHEWIE BROWNIES (sounds like “chewy brownies”)
  • 63A Hutt’s favorite beverage? : JABBA JUICE (sounds like “Jamba Juice”)

Bill’s time: 9m 11s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

10 Request to a prospective guest : RSVP

“RSVP” stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is French for “answer, please”.

14 “Paint It Black” instrument : SITAR

The sitar has been around since the Middle Ages. It is a stringed instrument that is played by plucking, and is used most often in Hindustani classical music. In the West we have been exposed to the instrument largely through the performances of Ravi Shankar and some music by George Harrison of the Beatles, a onetime student of Shankar.

A close runner-up to my favorite Rolling Stones song (“Satisfaction”) is “Paint It, Black”, released in 1966. Due to the song’s prominent use in the movie “Full Metal Jacket” and the TV show “Tour of Duty”, “Paint It, Black” has become inextricably linked with the Vietnam War. That linkage gets reinforced even today as the song is often used in television shows and even video games whenever there is a Vietnam reference. It is interesting to note that the correct form of the title includes a comma (“Paint It, Black”) as this was how it was written when originally released. According to Keith Richards, the inclusion of the comma was a mistake made by the company printing the original record label, and it stuck.

16 “East of Eden” director Kazan : ELIA

Elia Kazan won Oscars for best director in 1948 for “Gentleman’s Agreement” and in 1955 for “On The Waterfront”. In 1999 Kazan was given an Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. He also directed “East of Eden”, which introduced James Dean to movie audiences, and “Splendor in the Grass” that included Warren Beatty in his debut role.

“East of Eden” is a 1955 film based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Among other things, the movie is noted for providing James Dean his first major role.

17 Solo’s favorite sandwiches? : HAN BURGERS (sounds like “hamburgers”)

Han Solo is the space smuggler in “Star Wars” played by Harrison Ford. Ford was originally hired by George Lucas just to read lines for actors during auditions for “Star Wars”, but over time Lucas became convinced that Ford was right for the pivotal role of Han Solo.

The dish we know today as a hamburger was referred to as a “hamburger sandwich” prior to 1939. “Hamburger” comes from “hamburg steak”, which was named for the German city starting in 1880.

19 “The Persistence of Memory” painter : DALI

“The Persistence of Memory” is probably Salvador Dalí’s most famous work. It features the celebrated “melting clocks”, and you can see them in the painting in the MoMA in New York City.

20 1914 battle river : YSER

The Yser is a river that originates in northern France and flows through Belgium into the North Sea. The Yser is often associated with WWI as it figured in a major battle early in the conflict. In the first three months of the war, the German Army pushed almost completely through Belgium, inflicting heavy losses on the Belgian Army as the defenders were forced to fight a fast-moving rearguard action. The Germans were intent on pushing right through Belgium and across France in a “race to the sea”. But the Belgians, with the help of their Allies, decided to make a final stand at the Yser Canal in an effort to prevent the Germans reaching the French ports of Calais and Dunkirk. The 22-mile long defensive line was chosen at the Yser because the river and canal system could be flooded to create a barrier that might be defended. The plan was successful and the front was “stabilized”. As we now know, millions of lives were lost over the coming years with very little movement of that battle line.

27 Vader’s favorite treat? : DARTH CHOCOLATE (sounds like “dark chocolate”)

Darth Vader is (to me) the most colorful antagonist in the “Star Wars” universe. Born as Anakin “Ani” Skywalker, he was corrupted by the Emperor Palpatine, and turned to “the Dark Side”. In the original films, Darth Vader was portrayed by English bodybuilder David Prowse, and voiced by actor James Earl Jones. Jones asked that he go uncredited for the first two “Star Wars” films, feeling that his contributions were insufficient to warrant recognition. I disagree …

34 Automne preceder : ETE

In French, “automne” (autumn/fall) follows “été” (summer).

36 Cabeza, across the Pyrenees : TETE

The Pyrénées is a mountain range that runs along the border between Spain and France. Nestled between the two countries, high in the mountains, is the lovely country of Andorra, an old haunt of my family during skiing season …

The English word “head” translates into Spanish as “cabeza”, and into French as “tête”.

40 “Friendly Skies” co. : UAL

United Airlines used the tagline “Fly the Friendly Skies” in its marketing materials from 1965 to 1996. It was then replaced with “It’s time to fly”. United chose George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” as the company’s theme music in 1976, and paid the Gershwin estate a fee of $500,000 for the privilege.

41 X-rated material : SMUT

“Smut” means “dirt, smudge” and more recently “pornographic material”. The term comes from the Yiddish “schmutz”, which is a slang word used in English for dirt, as in “dirt on one’s face”.

42 Jasmine __ : RICE

Jasmine rice is a variety of fragrant, long-grain rice that is named for its color, as it is said to be as white as the jasmine flower.

46 BlackBerry, e.g. : PDA

The PDA (personal digital assistant) known as a BlackBerry was given its name because the keyboard on the original device resembled the surface on the fruit of a blackberry.

47 Wookiee’s favorite dessert? : CHEWIE BROWNIES (sounds like “chewy brownies”)

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.

Apparently, the first brownies were created for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The recipe was developed by a pastry chef at the city’s Palmer House Hotel. The idea was to produce a cake-like dessert that was small enough and dainty enough to be eaten by ladies as part of a boxed lunch.

50 Protective cover : TARP

Originally, tarpaulins were made from canvas covered in tar that rendered the material waterproof. The word “tarpaulin” comes from “tar” and “palling”, with “pall” meaning “heavy cloth covering”.

51 Canapé topper : ROE

A canapé is a finger food, something small enough to eat in just one bite. In French, “canapé” is actually the word for a couch or a sofa. The name was given to the snack as the original canapés were savories served on toasted or stale bread that supposedly resembled a tiny couch.

55 Actor Hemsworth : LIAM

Liam Hemsworth is an Australian actor who is best known these days for playing Gale Hawthorne in “The Hunger Games” series of films. Hemsworth met Miley Cyrus while working on the movie “The Last Song”, and the two actors were engaged for a while. Liam is a younger brother of actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays the superhero “Thor” on the big screen.

58 Soak up the sun : 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”.

62 Rapper with a beverage-like name : ICE-T

Rapper Ice-T must be sick of having his name come up as an answer in crossword puzzles (I know I am!). Born Tracy Marrow, Ice-T has been interested in acting for decades and made his film debut in the 1984 movie about breakdancing called “Breakin’”. He has also played Detective Fin Tutuola in the TV show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” since the year 2000.

63 Hutt’s favorite beverage? : JABBA JUICE (sounds like “Jamba Juice”)

Jabba the Hutt is the big blob of an alien that appears in the “Star Wars” movie “The Return of the Jedi”. Jabba’s claim to fame is that he enslaved Princess Leia and kitted her out in that celebrated metal bikini.

The Jamba Juice chain of stores was founded in 1990 in San Luis Obispo, California and now has outlets across much of the US and as far as the Philippines and South Korea.

65 No ally of Asta : FLEA

An endoparasite is one that lives inside the host, an example being a parasitic worm. Parasites living outside the host, such as fleas and lice, are known as ectoparasites.

Asta is the wonderful little dog in the superb “The Thin Man” series of films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles). In the original story by Dashiell Hammett, Asta was a female Schnauzer, but on screen Asta was played by a wire-haired fox terrier called “Skippy”. Skippy was also the dog in “Bringing Up Baby” with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the one who kept stealing the dinosaur bone. Skippy retired in 1939, so Asta was played by other dogs in the remainder of “The Thin Man” films.

66 Uptight : ANAL

The use of the word “anal” to mean “stiffly conventional” is an abbreviated form of “anal-retentive”, a term derived from Freudian psychology. Regardless, I’m not a big fan of the term …

70 Brigantine’s pair : MASTS

A brig is a two-masted sailing vessel, with the name “brig” coming from the related vessel known as a brigantine. Brigs and brigantines are both two-masted, but there is a difference in the sails used. It was the use of retired brigs as prison ships that led to the use of “brig” as the word for a jail or prison cell on a seagoing vessel.

Down

2 “Buenos __” : DIAS

“Buenos dias” translates from Spanish as “good day”, but can also be used to say “good morning”.

3 “Cure Ignorance” online anthology : UTNE

The “Utne Reader” is known for aggregation and republishing of articles on politics, culture and the environment from other sources in the media. It was founded in 1984 by Eric Utne, with management taken over by Eric’s wife Nina Rothschild Utne in 1990. The magazine uses the slogan “Cure Ignorance”.

5 Capote nickname : TRU

The larger-than-life Truman “Tru” Capote was an author and comedian. Capote is perhaps most associated with his novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and his true crime novel “In Cold Blood”. Truman Capote grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. There he met, and became lifelong friends with, fellow novelist Harper Lee. Capote was the inspiration for the character “Dill” in Lee’s celebrated work “To Kill a Mockingbird”. In turn, Harper Lee was the inspiration for the character “Idabel” in Capote’s “Other Voices, Other Rooms”.

6 “Born This Way” Lady : GAGA

“Lady Gaga” is the stage name of Stefani Germanotta. Germanotta is a big fan of the band Queen, and she took her stage name from the marvelous Queen song titled “Radio Ga Ga”.

10 Revolutionary soldiers : REDCOATS

Here in the US, we refer to the British soldiers fighting in the revolutionary war as “Redcoats”, a reference to the color of their uniforms. Nowadays in the British Army, the red tunic is reserved only for ceremonial purposes. The vivid color proved to be a detriment after the invention of the rifle.

11 Deck chair piece : SLAT

A deckchair is a folding chair with a single strip of fabric that forms the backrest/seat. The term “deckchair” was coined when such folding chairs became common sights on the decks of ocean liners and cruise ships.

18 Part of a boxer’s “tale of the tape” : REACH

In the world of boxing, the phrase “tale of the tape” describes the objective comparison of the pre-fight measurements of the contestants. The use of the term “tape” suggests that the focus is on such measurements as length of reach and height. More comprehensively, the tale of the tape includes the boxers’ weights.

22 The NHL’s Thrashers : ATL

Winnipeg’s professional hockey team is the Winnipeg Jets. The team was founded as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999 and relocated to Winnipeg in 2011. The new team name was chosen in honor of the Manitoba city’s former professional hockey team called the Jets, a franchise that was founded in 1972 but relocated to become the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996.

24 Cannabis compound : THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive in cannabis.

Hemp, also known as “cannabis”, is a hardy, fast-growing plant that has many uses mainly due to the strength of the fibers in the plant’s stalks. Hemp is used to make rope, paper and textiles. The term “hemp” is sometimes reserved for varieties of the plant grown for non-drug use.

28 Room at the top : ATTIC

An attic or loft is a room or space located below the roof of a building. The term “attic” is a shortened form of “attic story”, the uppermost story or level of a house. This term “attic story” originally applied to a low, decorative level built on top of the uppermost story behind a building’s decorative facade. This use of decoration at the top of buildings was common in ancient Greece, and was particularly important in the Attica style. That Attica style was so called because it originated in the historical region of Attica that encompassed the city of Athens. And that’s how our attics are linked to ancient Greece.

29 1990s Labor secretary : REICH

Robert Reich is a political economist who served in three administrations, with Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and with Bill Clinton, for whom he was Secretary of Labor.

30 Boston fern, e.g. : HOUSEPLANT

The Boston fern (also “sword fern”) is a species of fern that is a popular house plant. It has been shown that the Boston fern can effectively filter formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air.

31 Sonicare rival : ORAL-B

The Oral-B toothbrush was introduced to the world in 1950, designed by a California periodontist. The first “model” was the Oral-B 60, a name given to reflect the 60 tufts in the brush. In 1969, the Oral-B was the first toothbrush to get to the moon as it was the toothbrush of choice for the crew of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

Sonicare is a brand of electric toothbrush made by Dutch electronics giant Philips. I’ve been using my Sonicare for years now, which earns me a pat on the back from my dentist every time I visit him …

32 Piano practice concerns : TEMPI

The tempo (plural “tempi”) of a piece of music is usually designated with an Italian word on the score. For example, “grave” is slow and solemn, “andante” is at a walking pace, “scherzo” is fast and light-hearted, and “allegro” is fast, quickly and bright.

33 Piano practice piece : ETUDE

An étude is a short instrumental composition that is usually quite hard to play and is intended to help the performer master a particular technique. “Étude” is the French word for “study”. Études are commonly performed on the piano.

37 Share-a-ride updates, briefly : ETAS

Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

39 Stay dry : TEETOTAL

Teetotalism is the practice of abstaining from alcohol. The teetotalism movement started in England in the 1800s.

44 Bellini opera : NORMA

“Norma” is an opera written by Vincenzo Bellini that was first performed in 1831. One aria from the work is “Casta diva”, which is one of the most popular arias of the 1800s.

Vincenzo Bellini was a composer of operas active in the Italian bel canto era of the early 1800s. Bellini’s most famous works are probably “Il pirata” (1827) and “Norma” (1831). Sadly, Bellini died at only 33 years of age, in 1835.

49 One of six awards for Ursula Le Guin : NEBULA

The best works of science fiction and fantasy published each year are recognized annually by the Nebula Awards. The first Nebulas were awarded in 1966.

Ursula K. Le Guin was an author best known for her fantasy and science fiction novels. One of Le Guin’s most famous novels is “The Left Hand of Darkness”, published in 1969. The novel’s storyline centers on an envoy from Earth who is sent to a planet inhabited by a race of ambisexual individuals. Le Guin uses this storyline to explore the effect of sex and gender on a culture and society.

53 Free speech org. : ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its roots in the First World War. It grew out of the National Civil Liberties Bureau (CLB) that was founded to provide legal advice and support to conscientious objectors. The ACLU’s motto is “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”. The ACLU also hosts a blog on the ACLU.org website called “Speak Freely”.

60 “Go on, git!” : SCAT!

Our word “scat!” means “get lost!” It comes from a 19th-century expression “quicker than s’cat”, which meant “in a great hurry”. The original phrase probably came from the words “hiss” and “cat”.

63 __ alai : JAI

Jai alai is a game that derives from Basque pelota, and is known as “cesta-punta” in the Basque language. The name “jai alai” translates from the original Basque as “merry festival”.

64 Improv session : JAM

The use of “jam”, meaning an improvised passage performed by a whole jazz band, dates back to the late twenties. This gave rise to “jam session”, a term used a few years later. The use of “jam” in this context probably stems from the meaning of “jam” as something sweet, something excellent.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Ticket category : ADULT
6 Goggle : GAPE
10 Request to a prospective guest : RSVP
14 “Paint It Black” instrument : SITAR
15 “That’s a shame” : ALAS
16 “East of Eden” director Kazan : ELIA
17 Solo’s favorite sandwiches? : HAN BURGERS (sounds like “hamburgers”)
19 “The Persistence of Memory” painter : DALI
20 1914 battle river : YSER
21 Side in some all-star games : EAST
22 Didn’t dawdle : ACTED
23 __ loss for words : AT A
25 Digging : INTO
27 Vader’s favorite treat? : DARTH CHOCOLATE (sounds like “dark chocolate”)
34 Automne preceder : ETE
35 Refrain : CHORUS
36 Cabeza, across the Pyrenees : TETE
38 Busy, busy, busy : AT IT
40 “Friendly Skies” co. : UAL
41 X-rated material : SMUT
42 Jasmine __ : RICE
43 Not on the level : ASLANT
46 BlackBerry, e.g. : PDA
47 Wookiee’s favorite dessert? : CHEWIE BROWNIES (sounds like “chewy brownies”)
50 Protective cover : TARP
51 Canapé topper : ROE
52 Hit gently : TAP ON
55 Actor Hemsworth : LIAM
58 Soak up the sun : BASK
62 Rapper with a beverage-like name : ICE-T
63 Hutt’s favorite beverage? : JABBA JUICE (sounds like “Jamba Juice”)
65 No ally of Asta : FLEA
66 Uptight : ANAL
67 Put to rest : ALLAY
68 What “F” may mean : FULL
69 Modest response to praise : I TRY
70 Brigantine’s pair : MASTS

Down

1 Far from ruddy : ASHY
2 “Buenos __” : DIAS
3 “Cure Ignorance” online anthology : UTNE
4 Unwitting test taker : LAB RAT
5 Capote nickname : TRU
6 “Born This Way” Lady : GAGA
7 Tavern pours : ALES
8 Hard to please : PARTICULAR
9 Double curve : ESS
10 Revolutionary soldiers : REDCOATS
11 Deck chair piece : SLAT
12 Beneath contempt : VILE
13 Treated : PAID
18 Part of a boxer’s “tale of the tape” : REACH
22 The NHL’s Thrashers : ATL
24 Cannabis compound : THC
26 Discouraging words : NOS
27 Honey : DEAR
28 Room at the top : ATTIC
29 1990s Labor secretary : REICH
30 Boston fern, e.g. : HOUSEPLANT
31 Sonicare rival : ORAL-B
32 Piano practice concerns : TEMPI
33 Piano practice piece : ETUDE
37 Share-a-ride updates, briefly : ETAS
39 Stay dry : TEETOTAL
43 Balloon filler : AIR
44 Bellini opera : NORMA
45 Wee hour : TWO
48 Blanched : WAN
49 One of six awards for Ursula Le Guin : NEBULA
52 Minor argument : TIFF
53 Free speech org. : ACLU
54 Zest : PEEL
56 Support beam : I-BAR
57 Well : ABLY
59 Is home sick, maybe : AILS
60 “Go on, git!” : SCAT!
61 Custodian’s ringfull : KEYS
63 __ alai : JAI
64 Improv session : JAM

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 4 Sep 20, Friday”

  1. No errors. Took about 30 minutes.. A few quirky answers that I had to pause on. ETEAUTOMNE I was confused.. Didn’t recognize a foreign word reference and wasn’t sure about REICH and just guessed. Never heard of JASMINE RICE, JAMBA JUICE or NEBULA. I’m once again humbled with my lack of cuisine, art and French knowledge.

  2. No errors, for me that is a rarity on a Friday puzzle. I thought maybe Chewie might be a reference to gooey brownies. Jabba could be Java juice? That might be a stretch. I don’t get wan either.
    Bob in Erie

  3. 25:46 no errors despite the foreign and “Star Wars” clues…I always thought 39D was teatotal because one would drink tea rather that booze…so much for logic.
    Stay safe😀

    1. @Jack
      Since I, too, originally had teatotal for the same reason you did, you caused me to look it up. According to Miriam-Webster teetotal has nothing to do with tea. It says it’s more likely the reduplication of the letter T that begins teetotal, emphasizing total abstinence.

  4. 10:17, no errors. Good theme.

    About that clue for 22-Down: I may start an argument with this, but “City in Russia” would still be an appropriate clue for “STALINGRAD”, even though its current name is “VOLGOGRAD” and it was only called Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961, when Russia was part of the USSR. (Similarly, “City in China’ is still an appropriate clue for “PEKING”.)

    So I have no problem with “The NHL’s Thrashers” for “ATL”. (And, yes, I’m pretty sports-illiterate, so I had to get it entirely from crosses, but still, you see my point, yes? … 😜.)

  5. for a change, no errors. I had Reich for 29D but checked with Dr. Google
    just to make sure. Never watched Star Wars, but heard the names often
    enough to not have a problem with the theme names. Good puzzle.

  6. 8:20 1 error

    There are two main classes of awards for the best in science fiction and fantasy.

    The Nebulas are awarded by the Science Fiction Writers Association, SFWA. Nebula winners tend to push boundaries in theme or other aspects of storytelling.

    The Hugos are awarded by fans who are members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon. Hugo winners tend to have big ideas.

    Needless to say, both aim to stretch your mind. Ursula LeGuin won several of both.

  7. I was surprised like some others: I had only one Google on a Friday, and that was REICH.
    There were many I didn’t know for sure: ETE, TETE (both foreign), REACH, ATL (both sports). After reading Bob’s comments, I realized I didn’t know JAmBA JUICE.
    An unindicated abbrev. – RSVP.

  8. 9 mins 49 seconds, and no issues. Even though I hopped about a bit, and didn’t just tear through it, it came together very quickly. Encouraging.

  9. Mostly easy Friday for me; took 19:04 before I got the banner, with no peeking. No real problems except for the SW corner, where I had to bounce around a bit, before nailing it down.

    Only had to change TEMPo along with 2 or 3 in the SW corner. Boy, good thing I watched all those Star War movies, and to be honest some of them were pretty good.

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