LA Times Crossword 7 Sep 20, Monday

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Constructed by: John Guzzetta
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: RNs

Themed answers each comprise two words, starting with the letters RN:

  • 69A Hosp. staffers, or an initial feature of the answers to starred clues : RNS
  • 16A *Glowing circular phenomenon in the constellation Lyra : RING NEBULA
  • 19A *Harlequin publication, e.g. : ROMANCE NOVEL
  • 35A *Sound of tires on a highway, say : ROAD NOISE
  • 55A *Budget college meal : RAMEN NOODLES
  • 60A *Letter stereotypically created from cut-and-paste newsprint : RANSOM NOTE

Bill’s time: 4m 57s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

13 Nairobi resident : KENYAN

Nairobi is the capital and largest city in the African nation of Kenya. The city is named for the Nairobi River, which in turn takes its name from the Maasai “Enkare Nairobi” meaning “Cool Water”. Nairobi was founded in 1899 as a stop on the Kenya-Uganda railroad, at a time when the country was a British colony.

15 Sheltered from the wind : ALEE

Alee is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing aweather.

16 *Glowing circular phenomenon in the constellation Lyra : RING NEBULA

The Ring Nebula is located in the Lyra constellation, was discovered in 1779 by Charles Messier. The “ring” is a shell of ionized gas that was expelled by a degenerating star as it evolves into a white dwarf.

18 Cranberry sites : BOGS

When early European settlers came across red berries growing in the bogs of the northern part of America, they felt that the plant’s flower and stem resembled the head and bill of a crane. As such, they called the plant “craneberry”, which evolved into “cranberry”.

19 *Harlequin publication, e.g. : ROMANCE NOVEL

The romance genre of novels was first introduced by the British company Mills and Boon in the UK. These books were resold in the US by Canadian firm Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, beginning in 1957. Harlequin continued to publish exclusively British romance novels until 1975, when it finally published an American author, namely Janet Dailey.

21 “The Time Machine” author : HG WELLS

The full name of the English author known as H. G. Wells was Herbert George Wells. Wells is particularly well known for his works of science fiction, including “The War of the Worlds”, “The Time Machine”, “The Invisible Man” and “The Island of Doctor Moreau”. He was a prolific author, and a prolific lover as well. While married to one of his former students with whom he had two sons, he also had a child with writer Amber Reeves, and another child with author Rebecca West.

In the 1895 novella by H. G. Wells titled “The Time Machine”, the author never actually names the antagonist, and refers to him as “the Time Traveller”. In the famous 1960 movie adaption, also called “The Time Machine”, Rod Taylor plays the Time Traveller, and is given the name “George”. Perceptive viewers of the movie might catch sight of a plaque on the side of the time machine that elaborates on the Time Traveller’s name, naming him “H. George Wells”, a homage to the author.

25 Dollar bill : ONE

The nation’s first president, George Washington, is on the US one-dollar bills produced today. When the original one-dollar bill was issued in 1863, it featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury.

26 Strong old-time cleanser : LYE SOAP

What we call “lye” is usually sodium hydroxide, although historically the term “lye” was used for potassium hydroxide. Lye has many uses, including to cure several foodstuffs. Lye can make olives less bitter, for example. The chemical is also found in canned mandarin oranges, pretzels and Japanese ramen noodles. More concentrated grades of lye are used to clear drains and clean ovens. Scary …

30 TSA agents’ requests : IDS

Identity document (ID)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks who check passengers and baggage at airports.

31 Toothpaste holder : TUBE

The first toothpaste in a tube was introduced by Johnson & Johnson, in 1889. Back then, toothpaste tubes were made from tin, zinc or lead.

33 Entomologists’ subjects : INSECTS

Entomology is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects. The etymology(!) of “entomology” is the Greek “entomon” (meaning “insect”) and “logia” (meaning “study of”). In turn, the Greek word “entomos” for insect is a literal translation into Greek of “having a notch or cut”, in deference to the observation by Aristotle that insects have segmented bodies.

41 Tolkien brutes : ORCS

Orcs are mythical humanoid creatures that appear in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. Since Tolkien’s use of orcs, they have also been featured in other fantasy fiction as well as in fantasy video games.

46 Golden __: General Mills crackers : GRAHAMS

General Mills was founded in 1928 in Minneapolis with the merger of four mills, most notably one owned by the Washburn-Crosby Company. The newly formed General Mills paid a dividend in the year of its founding, and has paid a dividend every year since then. There are only a few companies that have consistently paid out dividends to their investments for such a long period.

51 “Laughing” critter : HYENA

The spotted hyena of Sub-Saharan Africa is also known as the laughing hyena because of the sound it oftens makes, which resembles maniacal laughter.

55 *Budget college meal : RAMEN NOODLES

Ramen is a noodle dish composed of Chinese-style wheat noodles in a meat or fish broth flavored with soy or miso sauce. Ramen is usually topped with sliced pork and dried seaweed. The term “ramen” is also used for precooked, instant noodles that come in single-serving, solid blocks.

59 Greek god of war : ARES

The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of bloodlust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos (Fear), Deimos (Terror) and Eros (Desire). Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, and the Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars.

69 Hosp. staffers, or an initial feature of the answers to starred clues : RNS

Registered nurse (RN)

Down

1 Knighted one : SIR

Kneel, and a monarch might “dub thee a knight” if you’re lucky. “Dub” is a specific term derived from Old English that was used to mean “make a knight”. As the knight was also given a knightly name at the same time, “dub” has come to mean “give someone a name”.

2 Zen garden fish : KOI

Koi are fish that are also known as Japanese carp. Koi have been bred for decorative purposes and there are now some very brightly colored examples found in Japanese water gardens.

Japanese Zen gardens are inspired by the meditation gardens of Zen Buddhist temples. Zen gardens have no water in them, but often there is gravel and sand that is raked in patterns designed to create the impression of water in waves and ripples.

3 The Boar’s Head in “Henry IV,” e.g. : INN

The Boar’s Head Inn was a tavern in Eastcheap in central London that opened for business sometime before 1537, and was finally demolished in 1831. William Shakespeare cited the Boar’s Head Tavern as a favorite hangout for Falstaff and his friends in the play “Henry IV, Part I”. Although there’s no real evidence that Eastcheap’s Boar’s Head Inn was the actual tavern mentioned by Shakespeare, the boar’s head sign from the inn demolished in 1831 is now on display in Shakespeare’s Globe theater.

6 Olympic miler Jim : RYUN

Jim Ryun is a former US congressman and retired Olympic track and field athlete. In 1964, he became the first high school athlete to run a mile in under four minutes. He ran in the 1964 Olympics when he was only 17 years old, making him the youngest American male track athlete to ever qualify for the Olympic Games. He competed again in 1968, and came away with the silver medal for the 1,500 meters. Ryun entered politics in 1996, and represented Kansas’s 2nd District in the US Congress from 1996 to 2007.

7 Barber’s powder : TALC

Talc is a mineral, hydrated magnesium silicate. Talcum powder is composed of loose talc, although these days “baby powder” is also made from cornstarch.

10 Arthurian tales : LEGENDS

King Arthur (and his Round Table) probably never really existed, but his legend is very persistent. Arthur was supposedly a leader of the Romano-British as they tried to resist the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.

11 Some electric cars : TESLAS

Tesla Motors shortened its name to just “Tesla” in early 2017.

17 College sr.’s test : GRE

Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is usually a requirement for entry into graduate school here in the US.

22 Wildebeest : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

23 Spider’s creation : WEB

The silk that makes up a web is a protein fiber that is “spun” by a spider. Spider silk is about one sixth of the density of steel, yet has a comparable tensile strength.

27 Three-time PGA leading money winner Vijay __ : SINGH

Vijay Singh is a professional golfer from Fiji who led the list of PGA money winners in 2003, 2004 and 2008.

28 Tokyo’s Yoko : ONO

Yoko Ono was born in 1933 in Tokyo into a prosperous Japanese family, and is actually a descendant of one of the emperors of Japan. Yoko’s father moved around the world for work, and she lived the first few years of her life in San Francisco. The family returned to Japan, before moving on to New York, Hanoi and back to Japan just before WWII, in time to live through the great firebombing of Tokyo in 1945. Immediately after the war the family was far from prosperous. While Yoko’s father was being held in a prison camp in Vietnam, her mother had to resort to begging and bartering to feed her children. When her father was repatriated, life started to return to normal and Yoko was able to attend university. She was the first woman to be accepted into the philosophy program of Gakushuin University.

34 Title for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos : CEO

Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, a company that he set up in his garage in 1994. Bezos used some of the fortune that he made with Amazon to purchase “The Washington Post” in 2013.

36 Wurlitzer product : ORGAN

Franz Rudolf Wurlitzer started the Wurlitzer Company in 1853 to make various musical instruments. Over time, the company focused on marketing automated instruments like the “Mighty Wurlitzer” theater organ.

38 Target of a cheek swab : DNA

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the DNA of living things is so very similar across different species. Human DNA is almost exactly the same for every individual (to the degree of 99.9%). However, those small differences are sufficient to distinguish one individual from another, and to determine whether or not individuals are close family relatives.

39 San Francisco vicinity : BAY AREA

The San Francisco Bay Area comprises the nine counties that impinge on the San Francisco Bay itself: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma. The region also includes the major cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

The city of San Francisco was established in 1776, just a few days before the US declared independence from Britain on the other side of the continent. San Francisco was founded by Spanish colonists who set up a fort at the Golden Gate and a nearby mission named for St. Francis of Assisi.

40 H or O, in H2O : ELEMENT

A water molecule is composed of an oxygen atom with two hydrogen atoms on roughly opposite sides (at about a 150-degree angle). So, sometimes the molecule is represented by “HOH”, although more usually it’s “H2O”.

43 Technique used for many film explosions: Abbr. : CGI

Computer-generated imagery (CGI)

44 Boozer : SOT

Our word “sot” comes from the Old English “sott”, meaning “fool”. The word “sot” started to be associated with alcohol and not just foolery in the late 1500s. The derivative term “besotted” means “muddled with drunkenness”, or more figuratively “infatuated”.

48 Cantaloupes and honeydews : MELONS

The cantaloupe is the most popular type of melon consumed in the US. Apparently the cantaloupe was first cultivated in Cantalupo in Sabina, a town near Rome in Italy.

What we call honeydew melons are also known as white antibes, especially in France and Algeria where the cultivar has been grown for many years. Antibes is a commune in southeastern France, located between Nice and Cannes.

54 AOL rival : MSN

The Microsoft Network (MSN) used to be an Internet service provider (ISP). These days, MSN is mainly a web portal.

56 New Deal prog. : NRA

The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was one of the first agencies set up under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program. On the one hand the NRA help set minimum wages and maximum working hours for workers in industry, and on the other hand it helped set minimum prices for goods produced by companies. The NRA was very popular with the public, and businesses that didn’t opt to participate in the program found themselves boycotted. The NRA didn’t survive for long though, as after two years of operation it was deemed to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court and so it ceased operations in 1935.

62 Metal in bronze : TIN

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Compare this with bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. Brass and bronze are often mistaken for each other.

63 Raised urban trains : ELS

Elevated railroad (El)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hit the slopes : SKI
4 Divide according to delivery area, as mail : SORT
8 Pleasant vocal cadence : LILT
12 Charged particle : ION
13 Nairobi resident : KENYAN
15 Sheltered from the wind : ALEE
16 *Glowing circular phenomenon in the constellation Lyra : RING NEBULA
18 Cranberry sites : BOGS
19 *Harlequin publication, e.g. : ROMANCE NOVEL
21 “The Time Machine” author : HG WELLS
24 Big sports venue : ARENA
25 Dollar bill : ONE
26 Strong old-time cleanser : LYE SOAP
30 TSA agents’ requests : IDS
31 Toothpaste holder : TUBE
33 Entomologists’ subjects : INSECTS
35 *Sound of tires on a highway, say : ROAD NOISE
39 Manner of behavior : BEARING
41 Tolkien brutes : ORCS
45 Friend : PAL
46 Golden __: General Mills crackers : GRAHAMS
50 It can be bruised : EGO
51 “Laughing” critter : HYENA
53 Find suitable : DEEM FIT
55 *Budget college meal : RAMEN NOODLES
59 Greek god of war : ARES
60 *Letter stereotypically created from cut-and-paste newsprint : RANSOM NOTE
64 Mailed : SENT
65 Harmonize : ATTUNE
66 Feel crummy : AIL
67 Consumes : EATS
68 Jumps on one leg : HOPS
69 Hosp. staffers, or an initial feature of the answers to starred clues : RNS

Down

1 Knighted one : SIR
2 Zen garden fish : KOI
3 The Boar’s Head in “Henry IV,” e.g. : INN
4 Fitting : SEEMLY
5 Hoping to score a run : ON BASE
6 Olympic miler Jim : RYUN
7 Barber’s powder : TALC
8 Hard work : LABOR
9 “Couldn’t be happier!” : I LOVE IT!
10 Arthurian tales : LEGENDS
11 Some electric cars : TESLAS
13 Small hill : KNOLL
14 Scottish denial : NAE
17 College sr.’s test : GRE
20 Parts of necks : NAPES
21 Sizzling : HOT
22 Wildebeest : GNU
23 Spider’s creation : WEB
27 Three-time PGA leading money winner Vijay __ : SINGH
28 Tokyo’s Yoko : ONO
29 “__ see it … ” : AS I
32 Disco or jazz : ERA
34 Title for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos : CEO
36 Wurlitzer product : ORGAN
37 Broadcast : AIR
38 Target of a cheek swab : DNA
39 San Francisco vicinity : BAY AREA
40 H or O, in H2O : ELEMENT
42 NFL official : REF
43 Technique used for many film explosions: Abbr. : CGI
44 Boozer : SOT
45 Sentence segment : PHRASE
47 Makes sense : ADDS UP
48 Cantaloupes and honeydews : MELONS
49 Terse summons about an exam grade : SEE ME
52 They’re built in birdhouses : NESTS
54 AOL rival : MSN
56 New Deal prog. : NRA
57 Sworn promise : OATH
58 Leery of : ONTO
61 Rowboat mover : OAR
62 Metal in bronze : TIN
63 Raised urban trains : ELS

13 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 7 Sep 20, Monday”

  1. 4:18, no errors.

    @Nonny Muss
    To add to the commentary I made about your original post on Saturday (what makes a puzzle easy or hard?), I think a lot of it is probably whether the solver knows what’s in the grid along with the communication factor behind the clues (talked about this at length in the past, main thing being whether the clue is functionally/logically correct when paired with the answer – which should exist irrespective of how “challenging” the cluing is meant to be).

    I’m sure there’s a general average for solvers, but there’s always exceptions and variability. To add to your musings about Agard, I wonder sometimes on other puzzles back when we were posting most all of our puzzles on the flip side (Jones mainly but a few others). I habitually finish in last place on the Sunday NYT and find those much harder than the average Saturday, even though everyone swears they’re supposed to be “Thursday difficulty”. Or to go the other way with a recent example, I finished the Birnholz 27×23 in 17 minutes and change, no errors and wouldn’t call it much harder on average than any of his other efforts (one of those “I can’t say I understands” to quote you). For the Kwong puzzle, I think I gather from a lot of comments I’ve read on that one that it suffers from a communication problem (mainly people not being able to tell that certain entries were themers – a lot of wishing for them to be
    “starred or something” in those comments).

    I could make similar observations about countless other puzzles, but I think overall the knowledge and communication factor are what makes puzzles hard or easy. Those are obviously highly individual to the solver, so it’s hard to peg whether a puzzle is “easy” or “hard” in an objective sense without a huge statistical cross-section outside of one’s own experience (I think all the NYT comment boards around tend to make it easiest with that grid series). But I’ve learned long ago to not belittle an individual solver’s experience and try not to (though I’m sure I’ve failed at that sometimes).

    1. @Glenn … I’m too tired to respond in detail, but … a couple of comments:

      As I have said before, I almost always find that, once I have finished a puzzle, all the answers make perfect sense, with clues that are completely logical and correct, once I understand them. So, I seldom see in clues what you say that you see in them: some line that should not have been crossed. What I don’t always understand is why it can sometimes takes me so much longer to arrive at that understanding.

      I found the cluing in Birnholz’s puzzle (as is usual for his puzzles) quite straightforward and the solve quite easy. There’s certainly no way that I could have done it in “17 minutes and change”, but I did it with only two one-square write-overs and my 40-minute time includes a lot of minutes spent in trying to figure out what the circled squares were supposed to tell me. Once “Idris Elba” and “Luther” showed up, I was even more bemused. After finishing the puzzle, it took me more time to finally figure out all the various pieces of the theme. So, it could be said that the theme was unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive (but I still appreciated it … 😜).

      Now, about all those damned houseplants … 😳. (Maybe it’s time for them to toughen up and take a little freezing weather … 😜.)

    2. Something about the Evan Birnholz puzzle was still mystifying me, so I finally looked for and found his notes about the puzzle:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/09/06/evan-birnholz-sept-6-solution/

      So I finally understand the relevance of “LUTHER”: He’s a fictional character, played by Idris Elba, who has the same first name as all the guys whose last names form the WALL of JOHNs around JOHN WALL, who has the same birthday as Idris Elba, which is also the day on which the puzzle was published. Very clever. All the disparate elements of the theme are now tied together, my plants are (temporarily) protected, and my life is once more serene. Time for a looonnnggg naaappp … 😜.

  2. No errors. Typical 10 minutes for me and my pen and paper…
    In reference to running comments about difficulty of puzzles.. I’ve noticed since I first started doing crosswords about 10 years ago that there are no rules. Being a computer science and math major in college and later a bit of business management knowledge combined with my military background, there are no firm or standard rules about how to create puzzles. They are all over the board. I’ve discovered the LAT and NYT seemed to have adopted a standard. But even that is loose. There is no SOP (standard operating procedure). There are no programming rules. Its just an adopted way of doing something with editors who attempt to “referee” an ill defined sport. And maybe that’s part of the allure. You’re not sure what you are going to get but we’ve gotten accustomed to what to expect. I’ve tried to do some indiscriminate puzzles on the market and it is just frustrating. I keep coming back to LAT and NYT. I did the USA TODAY for awhile but I found that one a bit ecclectic.. I still do that one on occaision.

    I’m not looking for the holy grail. I’ve found my brain very comfortable with NYT and LAT… warts and all!!

  3. Tight and easy Monday puzzle. Never heard of RYUN, or of that last name (sports, of course). Had to decide between rNA and DNA, and ROAr and ROAD. Picked the right one.
    Watched 1/3 of the only sport I watch this past weekend. Over in 3 minutes. Sometimes I use golf to put me to sleep, blue and green and whispering.

  4. 5:34, no errors. Not feeling my best. That ill-advised hike on Saturday has left me still feeling “77-going-on-90” … 😳.

  5. Greetings y’all!!🦆

    Easy Monday; no errors. Wasn’t sure of RYUN but managed to get it right. I guess DISCO is now an “era”? What other eras have I lived through that I’m not aware of? It seems to confer an all-encompassing importance to something…a time of great change….hmm– 🤔

    Be well~~

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