LA Times Crossword 2 Oct 20, Friday

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Constructed by: Gary Larson
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Special K

Themed answers are common words/phrases with a SPECIAL K added at the front:

  • 39D Total alternative … and a feature of the answers to starred clues? : SPECIAL K
  • 18A *Maximum number of jousters allowed in a Ren faire tournament? : KNIGHT CAP (from “nightcap”)
  • 37A *One who really, really knows how to spin a yarn? : KNIT WIT (from “nitwit”)
  • 61A *Excelled at filling in historical timelines? : KNEW YEARS (from “new years”)
  • 3D *Tree trunk? : KNOT HOME (from “not home”)

Read on, or jump to …
… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 8m 06s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Twinings product : PEKOE

A pekoe (or more commonly “orange pekoe”) is a medium-grade black tea. There is no orange flavor in an orange pekoe tea. The “orange” name most likely derived from the name of the trading company that brought the tea to Europe from Asia.

Twinings is a distributor of tea that was founded in England in 1706. That’s a long time ago! The Twinings logo is the oldest continuously-used logo in the world.

14 Immortal Detroit sportscaster Harwell : ERNIE

Ernie Harwell was a sportscaster best remembered for his play-by-play calls of Major League Baseball games, most notably with the Detroit Tigers.

15 Yarn : TALE

The phrase “to spin a yarn”, meaning “to tell a tall tale”, originated in the early 1800s with seamen. The idea was that sailors would tell stories to each other while engaged in mindless work such as twisting yarn.

17 One of 26 in the Maldives : ATOLL

An atoll is a coral island that is shaped in a ring that encloses a lagoon. There is still some debate as to how an atoll forms, but a theory proposed by Charles Darwin while on his famous voyage aboard HMS Beagle still holds sway. Basically an atoll was once a volcanic island that had subsided and fallen into the sea. The coastline of the island is home to coral growth which persists even as the island continues to subside inside the circling coral reef.

The Maldives is an island nation consisting of two chains of atolls in the Indian Ocean. The population of over 300,000 people is distributed over 192 inhabited islands, with about 1,000 islands remaining uninhabited. The Maldives is one of the countries in the world that is extremely endangered by rising sea levels.

18 *Maximum number of jousters allowed in a Ren faire tournament? : KNIGHT CAP (from “nightcap”)

A Renaissance faire (Ren faire) is an outdoor public event in which many participants recreate historical settings by dressing in costume. Usually held in North America, many such fairs are set during the English Renaissance, and more particularly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The definition of “Renaissance” is often stretched quite a bit, with fairs also set during the reign of Henry VIII, and maybe even during medieval times.

“Jousting” and “tilting” are synonyms describing the medieval competition in which two horsemen yielding blunted lances attempt to unseat each other. Such an event has been referred to as “jousting” since the 1300s. At some point, the path of the two charging horsemen was separated by a cloth barrier known as a tilt (“tilt” meant “cloth covering”). The term “tilting” was applied to the sport in the 1500s, although by then the cloth barrier had been upgraded to a wooden fence.

21 Entomologist’s tool : NET

Entomology is a 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.

23 Honker in old comedy films : HARPO

Harpo Marx was the second-oldest of the Marx brothers. Harpo’s real name was Adolph, and he earned his nickname because he played the harp. Famously, Harpe didn’t speak on screen, a routine that he developed after reading a review that he performed really well when he just didn’t speak! He would usually whistle or toot a hand-held horn instead of speaking.

26 “Silent All These Years” singer Tori : AMOS

Tori Amos is an American pianist and singer. She started playing the piano at two years old, and was composing piano pieces by age five. Amos was playing in piano bars (chaperoned by her father) when she was 14. I’m going to have to find some of her music …

39 Chic retreat : SPA

“Chic” is a French word meaning “stylish”.

42 “Uh-oh. Better get … ” collision repair company : MAACO

MAACO Collision Repair & Auto Painting was founded by Anthony A. Martino ten years after he launched AAMCO Transmissions. The names of both companies were derived from the first letters of his name, i.e. “AAM”.

45 Rum-soaked cake : BABA

Rum baba (also “baba au rhum” in French) is a small yeast cake saturated in rum, and sometimes filled with whipped cream. Rum baba is derived from the recipe for the tall “babka” yeast cake that was introduced to the world by the Polish communities. The Polish words “baba” and “babka” mean “old woman” or “grandmother” in English. I guess someone must have thought that all grandmothers were saturated in rum!

48 High-scoring club? : MENSA

If you ever learned Latin, “mensa” was probably taught to you in lesson one as it’s the word commonly used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means “table”. The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford, England back in 1946. To become a member, you have to have an IQ that is in the top 2% of the population.

50 Suds : HEAD

That would be the head on a glass of beer.

53 Fiber-__ cable : OPTIC

Optical fibers are lengths of glass or plastic that are slightly thicker than a human hair. They are usually bundled into cables, and then used for transmission of data signals. Optical transmission has advantages over electrical transmission, especially in terms of interference and loss of signal strength.

56 Trifle : SOU

A sou is an old French coin. We use the term “sou” to mean “an almost worthless amount”.

58 Poppy product : OPIUM

The opium poppy produces a latex that can be dried, producing the drug known as opium. The drug has been used since ancient times, and was usually absorbed by smoking it. The latex contains several alkaloids that have a profound effect on human metabolism, including morphine and codeine. Opium’s morphine is particularly significant for the illegal drug trade. The morphine can be extracted from the opium and converted to heroin.

63 Wolfgang Puck chain : SPAGO

Wolfgang Puck is a celebrity chef from Austria. Puck is the man behind the famous pair of restaurants in Southern California called “Spago”.

64 Trillion: Pref. : TERA-

The prefix “tera-” signifies a trillion, and comes from the Greek word “teras” meaning “monster”.

66 What Ma knows well : CELLO

The word “cello” (plural “celli” or “cellos”) is an abbreviation for “violoncello”, an Italian word for “little violone”, referring to a group of stringed instruments that were popular up to the end of the 17th century. The name violoncello persisted for the instrument that we know today, although the abbreviation “‘cello” was often used. Nowadays, we just drop the apostrophe.

Yo-Yo Ma is a marvelous American cellist who was born in Paris to Chinese parents. Ma started studying the violin when he was very young, working his way up (in size) to the viola and finally to the cello. He has said that he wanted to play the double bass, but it was just too big for his relatively small frame.

67 Baking soda target : ODOR

“Baking soda” is a common name for the compound sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3).

69 “The Kominsky Method” co-star : ARKIN

Actor Alan Arkin won his only Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) for his role in “Little Miss Sunshine” from 2006 (a movie that I just did not understand!). More recently, Arkin appeared alongside Michael Douglas in the TV show “The Kominsky Method”. Arkin plays the character Norman Newlander. Arkin chose the name “Newlander” in honor of his wife Suzanne Newlander.

“The Kominsky Method” is a TV series starring Michael Douglas as Sandy Kominksky, a former actor and revered Hollywood acting coach. Also starring in the show are Alan Arkin as Kominsky’s friend Norman Newlander, and Nancy Travis as Lisa, a newly divorced woman who starts taking acting lessons.

Down

2 Deco master : ERTE

“Erté” was the pseudonym of French (Russian-born) artist and designer Romain de Tirtoff. “Erté” is the French pronunciation of his initials “R.T.” Erté’s diverse portfolio of work included costumes and sets for the “Ziegfeld Follies” of 1923, productions of the Parisian cabaret show “Folies Bergère”, as well as the 1925 epic movie “Ben-Hur”. Erté’s most famous work by far is an image titled “Symphony in Black”. It depicts a tall and slender woman dressed in black, holding a black dog on a leash.

4 Primer type : OIL-BASE

Primer is the first layer of paint, a coating on the base surface that serves as a sealant.

5 Sushi bar supplier : EELER

Anyone going to a sushi restaurant can order all types of raw fish (known collectively as “sashimi”). However, eel is always served cooked, and that’s because the blood of eels contains a protein that cramps muscles if eaten. If the heart muscle “cramps”, the result can be death. The protein is easily rendered harmless by applying heat, i.e. by cooking.

6 Ky. army post : FT KNOX

Fort Knox is actually a US Army base that lends its name to the adjacent facility that is more correctly called the United States Bullion Depository. Most of the US gold reserves are in “Fort Knox”, although it isn’t the biggest gold repository in the US. That honor goes to the vault under the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Manhattan. Most of the gold stored in the New York vault belongs to foreign nations and banks.

24 George Eliot, e.g. : PEN NAME

“George Eliot” was the pen name of English novelist Mary Anne Evans. As one might think, Evans chose a male pen name in order that her work might be best appreciated in the Victorian era. Eliot wrote seven novels including “Adam Bede” (1859), “The Mill on the Floss” (1860), “Silas Marner” (1861) and “Middlemarch” (1871-72).

25 Supplemental health insurance : MEDIGAP

“Medigap” is a term used to describe Medicare supplemental insurance. Medigap insurance covers those many costs that might be incurred by Medicare beneficiaries, such as co-pays and services that fall outside of the Medicare umbrella.

26 Brouhaha : ADO

“Brouhaha”, meaning “ado, stir”, was a French word that back in the 1550s meant “the cry of the devil disguised as clergy” . Wow!

27 “Of Mice and __” : MEN

“Of Mice and Men” is a novella written by American author John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The title comes from the famous poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”. The inspirational line from the poem is “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft tagley.” Steinbeck actually wrote “Of Mice and Men” as a “novel-play”, intending that the line from the novel used as a script for a play. I actually saw the theatrical version on stage for the first time quite recently, and really enjoyed it.

29 Kate on the cover of Vanity Fair’s 100th anniversary issue : UPTON

Kate Upton is a fashion model from St. Joseph, Michigan. Kate is a niece of US Representative Fred Upton of Michigan. Kate married professional baseball pitcher Justin Verlander in 2014.

“Vanity Fair” is a pop culture and fashion magazine that was originally published from 1913 to 1936, and revived in 1983.

33 Dossier letters : AKA

Also known as (aka)

A dossier is a collection of papers with information about a person or subject. “Dossier” is a French term meaning “bundle of papers”.

39 Total alternative … and a feature of the answers to starred clues? : SPECIAL K

We’ve been eating Special K since 1956. One has to give credit to the marketing folks at Kellogg’s, as I am sure we all view special K as a diet breakfast cereal. In fact, there is more fat in Special K than Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and just one less calorie per serving.

General Mills produces a range of breakfast cereals using the “Total” name. The marketing message for the brand is that one serving provides the total daily allowance of several vitamins and minerals.

40 Wasabi-coated snack : PEA

Wasabi peas are peas that have been fried and then coated with wasabi powder mixed with sugar, salt and oil. They are crunchy snacks, and a favorite of mine …

41 Recipe verb : ADD

The Latin “recipere” means “to take”, and the imperative form “recipe” was written at the top of medical prescriptions as an instruction, i.e. “take (the following)”. This use of “recipe” evolved into the instruction for preparing a dish of food in the mid-1700s.

42 Thoroughbred grandfather of Seabiscuit : MAN O’WAR

Man o’ War is thought by many to be the greatest thoroughbred racehorse of all time, having won 20 of 21 races in his career just after WWI.

Seabiscuit was a thoroughbred racehorse who dominated horse racing in the US in the 1940s. There have been a few films made based on the horse’s life, including 1949’s “The Story of Seabiscuit” starring Shirley Temple, and 2003’s “Seabiscuit” starring Tobey Maguire.

44 Amazon, for one : SHIPPER

Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world. It is also the largest Internet company in the world by revenue. The company was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, in his garage in Bellevue, Washington. I’m a big fan of Amazon’s approach to customer service …

47 Short jacket : BOLERO

A bolero jacket is a very short tailored jacket that probably takes its name from the Spanish dance. Male bolero dancers often wear such a jacket. A less formal version of a bolero jacket is called a “shrug”. A shrug is usually knitted and resembles a cardigan.

49 Drunks : SOUSES

The verb “to souse” dates back to the 14th century and means “to pickle, steep in vinegar”. In the early 1600s, the usage was applied to someone pickled in booze, a drunkard.

54 Teatro Costanzi premiere of 1900 : TOSCA

Unlike so many operas, Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” was a big hit right from day one, when it was first performed in 1900 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Currently, “Tosca” is the eighth-most performed opera in America.

57 Whale also called a blackfish : ORCA

The taxonomic name for the killer whale is “Orcinus orca”. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.

59 Not-cute fruit : UGLI

The ugli fruit is a hybrid of an orange and a tangerine that was first discovered growing wild in Jamaica where most ugli fruit comes from today. “UGLI” is a trademark name that is a variant of “ugly”, a nod to the fruit’s unsightly wrinkled rind.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Twinings product : PEKOE
6 Spare tire : FLAB
10 Market aggressively : PUSH
14 Immortal Detroit sportscaster Harwell : ERNIE
15 Yarn : TALE
16 Wild about : INTO
17 One of 26 in the Maldives : ATOLL
18 *Maximum number of jousters allowed in a Ren faire tournament? : KNIGHT CAP (from “nightcap”)
20 Not touch : LET BE
21 Entomologist’s tool : NET
22 Old enough : OF AGE
23 Honker in old comedy films : HARPO
25 Unsubstantial : MEAGER
26 “Silent All These Years” singer Tori : AMOS
28 Radiate : EXUDE
31 Minus : LESS
32 Put down : DEMEAN
34 Step on it : PEDAL
36 United : ONE
37 *One who really, really knows how to spin a yarn? : KNIT WIT (from “nitwit”)
39 Chic retreat : SPA
42 “Uh-oh. Better get … ” collision repair company : MAACO
43 Showed surprise : GASPED
45 Rum-soaked cake : BABA
48 High-scoring club? : MENSA
50 Suds : HEAD
51 Urgent order : AT ONCE!
53 Fiber-__ cable : OPTIC
55 Sportscast embellishment : COLOR
56 Trifle : SOU
58 Poppy product : OPIUM
61 *Excelled at filling in historical timelines? : KNEW YEARS (from “new years”)
63 Wolfgang Puck chain : SPAGO
64 Trillion: Pref. : TERA-
65 It’s often steamed : RICE
66 What Ma knows well : CELLO
67 Baking soda target : ODOR
68 Word of woe : ALAS
69 “The Kominsky Method” co-star : ARKIN

Down

1 Toll : PEAL
2 Deco master : ERTE
3 *Tree trunk? : KNOT HOME (from “not home”)
4 Primer type : OIL-BASE
5 Sushi bar supplier : EELER
6 Ky. army post : FT KNOX
7 Country __ : LANE
8 Touched down : ALIT
9 Ask to be excused, with “off” : BEG …
10 Hidden danger : PITFALL
11 Set free : UNCAGE
12 Puts on : STAGES
13 Ones who never lose faith : HOPERS
19 Manual weed whacker : HOE
24 George Eliot, e.g. : PEN NAME
25 Supplemental health insurance : MEDIGAP
26 Brouhaha : ADO
27 “Of Mice and __” : MEN
29 Kate on the cover of Vanity Fair’s 100th anniversary issue : UPTON
30 Wet blanket : DEW
33 Dossier letters : AKA
35 __ discount : AT A
38 Bar staple : ICE
39 Total alternative … and a feature of the answers to starred clues? : SPECIAL K
40 Wasabi-coated snack : PEA
41 Recipe verb : ADD
42 Thoroughbred grandfather of Seabiscuit : MAN O’WAR
44 Amazon, for one : SHIPPER
45 __ basics : BACK TO
46 Made up (for) : ATONED
47 Short jacket : BOLERO
49 Drunks : SOUSES
52 Shout : CRY
54 Teatro Costanzi premiere of 1900 : TOSCA
56 Yacht outing : SAIL
57 Whale also called a blackfish : ORCA
59 Not-cute fruit : UGLI
60 Night light : MOON
62 Stretch often named for a music genre : ERA

34 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 2 Oct 20, Friday”

  1. 14:50, no errors. Either all these have been super-hard since Wednesday (this being one of the fastest) or I’ve gotten far worse at these things (can’t get much worse than “can’t do crosswords” anyway). Can’t say I’m satisfied with myself.

  2. No errors but tough slog.. Didn’t know that HOPERS was a thing.. Never heard of SPAGO (but it’s been in the crossword before).. Oh well. I made it to Friday.

    I would much rather do a soso puzzle any day rather than watch the news.. Can’t stomach the nonsense on tv anymore.

  3. 16:23 Took me a bit to make sense of the Revealer, since I had it before all the theme answers. Once I said it out loud, that helped me with all the theme answers.

    @Glenn, I remember about 2 months back you were advising a person not to worry too much about the solve times. Maybe you’re just in a slump, since I know that you’re VERY good at this – MUCH better than I am. Turn the clock off for a bit and take it easy. See what happens

    1. Thanks for the thoughts. What I said then was more about comparing with others, though. Obviously, it’s hard for me to not care about how I do in comparison with myself. Just find it hard to not care.

  4. Some of the answers were so far out there from the clue. Knew afew but had to cross fill to get them. Not into this puzzle at all.

  5. 41 minutes. I put knitter in and couldn’t seem to get past it. Plenty of things I didn’t know. One being Spago. Don’t know Kate Upton. What Ma knows well — I wanted calls or maybe bells, from Ma Bell. Doh, I said when I realized it was Yo-yo Ma. And so it goes.

    1. Eddie-

      In addition to Ernie Harwell, here are some other legendary baseball sportscasters that you might come across in future puzzles…

      Vince Scully Brooklyn and LA Dodgers
      Harry Caray St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs
      Mel Allen NY Yankees
      Red Barber Brooklyn Dodgers and NY Yankees
      Bob Uecker Milwaukee Brewers
      Jack Buck St Louis Cardinals
      Curt Gowdy Boston Red Sox

  6. Larson constructs fine puzzles (including this one), but he still seems to think part of his job is vague and general clueing that not only misdirects but also just plain irritates and discourages the solver. I hope that’s fun for you, Gary; it sure as hell ain’t for us.

  7. 18:09 no errors

    I’m glad Dogs in Elk provided some amusement yesterday.

    Today, I put in KNITWIT for the laugh, and it led me to the theme. Though I had to change a lot of things along the way, I found this a satisfying puzzle.

  8. I’m not a crossword pro like the rest of you. I do the crosswords to relax with my morning coffee, so I don’t time myself. I’m usually able to get through to Thursday’s without Googling too much. My Achilles heel? References to French phrases, operas, and Shakespeare. Of course, then there are those words that I swear are made up to fit the puzzle.
    BTW, I really look forward to the comments by y’all.

  9. 12 minutes, 42 seconds, and no errors. Took some doing, though, and I surely wasn’t sure that entering the last letter would result in the success dialog.

  10. Clues are stretched way too far away from the answer – including using the word “stretch” in the last clue. Puzzles that are challenging are fun, but obfuscation is sadistic and tiresome.

  11. I’ve been a daily follower of this site for years, but this is my very first posted comment, and a question/poll. What is your personal objective/taste in solving these puzzles?

    I don’t normally time myself but I do try to go as long as I can with no help. I did this one today with no look ups, but it took a while. The NE Corner stumped me and then I guessed at ATOLL, ERNIE and then somewhere in the dark recesses I associated Twinings with a tea and got PEKOE. (I first wanted to think Twinings was a Harvard or Yale music/theatrical ensemble).

    I am particularly fond of the puzzles that are solvable to the reasonably well read individual but perhaps the clue is a little misdirected. Puns are especially fun to figure out. (Yo Yo Ma for example). I don’t care for it when the constructor either due to laziness or a dead end just finds an obscure word that fits, such as a “Slovakian conductor in the early 1900’s” or something that virtually no one would know without googling.

    So, what’s your personal goal in these crosswords. Try and solve them as quick as possible, with google on a 2nd screen? Or time be d*mned I’m solving this on my on.

    1. My goal is to solve without googling, and it usually doesn’t go that way yet, though I’m getting better. For me it’s really about losing myself in an enjoyable task, setting aside anything else that may be on my mind.

    2. I like to finish, and without errors, as job one.

      In my years of religiously recording my efforts and watching those of Bill and a few of the old guard here on this page, I am under no delusion that I’ll ever be competitive at the yearly crossword competition. But, I also would like to see **improvement**. I saw marked improvement over my first three or four years of doing puzzles daily. However in the last year or so, I’ve plateaued a bit. My standards have gotten higher, too, but I rarely break the 5 minute mark for even a Monday puzzle, and that’s de rigeur for most of the “old pros” here. And I still don’t even understand the physical possibility of doing a Sunday grid in something like 14 minutes. But, like watching and listening to performers I admire, I realize that what is beyond my ability is not necessarily impossible.

      My other motives are, if I’m going to get beat by the constructor, let it be because of a lapse in my vocabulary, or a hole in my general knowledge. Not because of some “stretched pun” or a word so obscure that you have to get down into Merriam-Webster’s “fourth usage” to claim some kind of legitimacy for the fill. I do NOT like to be “tricked” “deluded” “hoodwinked” or “scammed” by the setters. And I don’t appreciate them using the puzzles we love doing as “I’m so clever” ego trips.

  12. I liked the puzzle, did better than I usually do on Fridays. I convert it as a PDF and do it on my iPad with the Apple Pencil, enjoy that way much more. Anyone else “print” them?
    First time commenter, love this blog.

  13. I love this blog too. To answer the question of the goal or point of doing these: It’s an amusing distraction and I get a kick out of the puns. Can’t time myself because otherwise I’d be discouraged! I especially enjoyed today’s puzzle.

  14. Nice tough Friday for me; took 57 minutes with no errors. Decided to do this on paper and it was just my luck that I got the small hard to read print. Didn’t know three things: ERNIE, MAACO and ARKIN. Tough clues made quite a few of the rest hard to get, even if I did know them.

    DEW, PEDAL and SHIPPER were the last to fall and took an inordinate amount of time. Still, very fun puzzle and very satisfied I got it all without errors.

    Welcome to all the new posters!

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