LA Times Crossword 23 Oct 20, Friday

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Constructed by: Gary Larson
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Sounds of the Country

Themed answers sound like adjectives relating to a nation, but instead are phrases starting with a country name:

  • 17A Grasslands around Dakar? : SENEGAL LEAS (sounds like “Senegalese”)
  • 36A Feature of a map of Baghdad? : IRAQ KEY (sounds like “Iraqi”)
  • 57A Laid-back attitude in Hanoi? : VIETNAM EASE (sounds like “Vietnamese”)
  • 11D Longing in São Paulo? : BRAZIL YEN (sounds like “Brazilian”)
  • 32D Hot spot in Al Ahmadi? : KUWAIT TEA (sounds like “Kuwaiti”)

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

Bill’s time: 12m 03s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Ancient wizard : MAGE

“Mage” is an archaic word meaning “magician, wizard”.

5 Serbian-born NBA center __ Jokic : NIKOLA

Nikola Jokić is a professional basketball player who was born in former-Yugoslavia. He was playing in the Serbian League before being drafted in 2014 by the Denver Nuggets of the NBA. Jokić won a silver medal with the Serbian national team when they lost to the USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

15 Bordeaux wine : CLARET

Clairet is a dark rosé wine. Although it is uncommon today, clairet used to be the most common wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. For centuries now, English consumers have used the derivative term “claret” to describe any red wine from Bordeaux.

16 Narrow inlet : RIA

A drowned valley might be called a ria or a fjord, and both are formed as sea levels rise. A ria is a drowned valley created by river erosion, and a fjord is a drowned valley created by glaciation.

17 Grasslands around Dakar? : SENEGAL LEAS (sounds like “Senegalese”)

The Republic of Senegal is a country on the far western coast of Africa. For many years Senegal was a French colony, gaining independence in 1960. The capital of Senegal is Dakar. Dakar is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, thus making it the westernmost capital on the African mainland.

20 High ranges : SIERRAS

The word “serra” appears in the name of many mountain ranges in Brazil. “Serra” is Portuguese for “mountain range”, and for “saw”, and is equivalent to the Spanish “sierra” that has the same meaning.

21 Holder of 61 NHL records : GRETZKY

Wayne Gretzky is regarded by many as the greatest ever player of ice hockey, and indeed he has the nickname “The Great One”.

23 Chamber group : TRIO

In the world of chamber music, a trio often includes a piano. Common forms are:

  • Clarinet-cello-piano
  • Clarinet-viola-piano
  • Clarinet-violin-piano

Chamber music is a style of classical musical that is written for a small group of instruments, as opposed to a full orchestra. That number of players should be able to stage a performance in a “chamber”, traditionally a large room in a palace or other grand residence.

24 Comet relative : BON AMI

Bon Ami cleanser was introduced just a few years after Bon Ami soap went to market in 1886. The cleanser was marketed by emphasising its “non-scratch” properties. The label showed a chick coming out of an egg, the idea being that a newly hatched chick hasn’t yet scratched the ground looking for worms and insects.

The Comet brand of household cleanser produced a famous series of ads in the sixties through the eighties that featured a character known as “Josephine the Plumber”. Played by actress Jane Withers, she was noted for uttering the line “Nothing can hold a can to Comet!”

28 Jessica of “Dark Angel” : ALBA

Actress Jessica Alba got her big break when she was cast in the Fox science fiction show “Dark Angel”. Alba had a tough life growing up as she spent a lot of time in hospital and so found it difficult to develop friendships. As a youngster she twice had a collapsed lung, frequently caught pneumonia, suffered from asthma, had a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst. On top of all that, Alba acknowledges that she suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child.

“Dark Angel” is a sci-fi series that ran from 2000 to 2002, and gave the star Jessica Alba her big break as an actress. Alba plays a genetically-enhanced super-soldier in post-apocalyptic Seattle. The show is a creation of celebrated producer and director James Cameron.

33 Part of a late 1900s demographic : GEN-YER

The Millennial Generation are sometimes referred to as “Generation Y” (Gen-Y). Millennials were born after the “Gen-Xers”, from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

35 “The Simpsons” storekeeper : APU

The fictional Kwik-E-Mart store is operated by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on “The Simpsons” TV show. Apu is married to Manjula, and the couple have eight children. The convenience store owner doesn’t seem to be making much use of his Ph.D in computer science that he earned in the US. Apu’s undergraduate degree is from Caltech (the Calcutta Technical Institute), where he graduated top of his class of seven million students …

36 Feature of a map of Baghdad? : IRAQ KEY (sounds like “Iraqi”)

Iraq is often called the “Cradle of Civilization” as it was home to Sumer, which was the earliest known civilization on the planet. By 5000 BC the Sumerian people were practicing year-round agriculture and had a specialized labor force. For the first time, a whole race was able to settle in one place by storing food, instead of having to migrate in a pattern dictated by crops and grazing land.

According to the University of Baghdad, the name “Baghdad” dates way back, to the 18th-century BCE (yes, BCE!). The name can be translated into English from the language of ancient Babylon as “old garden” (bagh-) and “beloved” (-dad).

38 MD treating canals : ENT

The branch of medicine known as “ear, nose and throat” (ENT) is more correctly called “otolaryngology”.

39 Oklahoma tribe : PAWNEE

The Pawnee people, now of Oklahoma, refer to themselves in the Pawnee language as “Chaticks si Chaticks” meaning “Men of Men”.

43 Genesis twin : ESAU

Esau was the grandson of Abraham and the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When Esau was born to Isaac and Rebekah, the event was described with “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment”. Esau is portrayed later in life as being very different from his brother Jacob, as a hunter and someone who loves the outdoor life.

44 Middle of a three-part start : … GET SET …

Ready, get set, go!

48 Present time? : XMAS

The abbreviation “Xmas” that is used for “Christmas” comes from the Greek letter chi (X), which is the first letter of the Greek word for “Christ” (“Χριστός”).

53 Late author whose daughter wrote, “As far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends in Y” : GRAFTON

Sue Grafton wrote detective novels, and her “alphabet series” feature the private investigator Kinsey Millhone. She started off with “’A’ Is for Alibi” in 1982 and worked her way up to “‘Y’ is for Yesterday” before she passed away in 2017.

57 Laid-back attitude in Hanoi? : VIETNAM EASE (sounds like “Vietnamese”)

Hanoi (“Hà Nội” in Vietnamese) was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

59 Charlotte of “The Facts of Life” : RAE

Charlotte Rae was an American actress best known for playing the character Edna Garrett on two sitcoms from the seventies and eighties: “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life”. Towards the end of the series, the Edna Garrett character operated her own gourmet food shop called “Edna’s Edibles”.

60 Bivouac : ENCAMP

A bivouac is a temporary camp out of doors. The term comes to us via French from the Swiss/Alsatian word “biwacht” meaning “night guard”. The original bivouac was a group of soldiers camped out as a night guard.

62 Uma’s “Pulp Fiction” role : MIA

I’m not a big fan of director Quentin Tarantino. His movies are too violent for me, and the size of his ego just turns me right off. Having said that, I think “Pulp Fiction” is a remarkable film. If you can look past the violence, it’s really well written. And what a legacy it has. John Travolta’s career was on the rocks and he did the film for practically no money, and it turned out to be a re-launch for him. Uma Thurman became a top celebrity overnight from her role. Even Bruce Willis got some good out of it, putting an end to a string of poorly-received performances.

64 Caesar and others : SIDS

Sid Caesar achieved fame in the fifties on TV’s “Your Show of Shows”. To be honest, I know Sid Caesar mainly from the very entertaining film version of the musical “Grease”, in which he played Coach Calhoun.

Down

1 One side of a physics equivalence principle : MASS

Oh boy … Einstein’s general theory of relativity is beyond me. I think that the basic idea behind Albert Einstein’s equivalence principle is that inertial mass and gravitational mass are equivalent. I like to imagine a spaceship “floating” in a location with little or no gravitational field so that the astronauts are “weightless”. We can create the equivalence of gravity by accelerating the spaceship. If that rate of acceleration is a steady 9.8 m/s2, then the astronauts will experience the inertial equivalent of Earth’s gravitational field.

4 Honored retirees : EMERITI

“Emeritus” (female form “emerita”, and plural “emeriti”) is a term in the title of some retired professionals, particularly those from academia. Originally an emeritus was a veteran soldier who had served his time. The term comes from the Latin verb “emerere” meaning to complete one’s service.

5 Indiana-based sports org. : NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) dates back to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. When his son broke his nose playing football at Harvard, President Roosevelt turned his attention to the number of serious injuries and even deaths occurring in college sports. He instigated meetings between the major educational institutions, leading to the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) in 1906, which was given the remit of regulating college sports. The IAAUS became the NCAA in 1910. The NCAA has been headquartered in Indianapolis since 1999.

7 Penn of “House” : KAL

Indian-American actor Kal Penn made a name for himself in the “Harold & Kumar” series of comedy films. These so called “stoner comedies” are not my cup of tea, but I enjoyed him playing his more mainstream roles on TV’s “House” and “24”. He left the world of acting when President Obama won the 2008 election to work as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement (although he did leave the White House briefly to film the “Harold & Kumar” sequel).

I think that “House” is one of the better shows made by Fox television. It is fun for me, coming from the other side of the Atlantic, to see English actor Hugh Laurie in the dramatic title role. I have been watching him in various comedic roles for decades. Famously, he played Bertie Wooster opposite Stephen Fry in P.G. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves & Wooster”, as well as one of the bumbling “bad guys” in the film “101 Dalmatians” (the version starring Glenn Close).

8 Crater Lake locale : OREGON

Crater Lake is my favorite locale in the whole country. Crater lake sits in a volcanic crater giving it a near perfect circular shape. The water appears to have a deep, deep blue color and is extremely pure. There are no rivers running into the lake, so man hasn’t really had the chance to contaminate it with pollutants.

11 Longing in São Paulo? : BRAZIL YEN (sounds like “Brazilian”)

The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium.

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It is also the city with the highest number of helicopters in the world. This is partly driven by the horrendous traffic jams in São Paulo, but also by the wealthy having a very real fear of being kidnapped on the city’s streets.

13 Wine nuance word : OAKY

Oak barrels are sometimes used to store wine during fermentation and aging. The oak wood has a profound effect, usually changing the wine’s color, flavor and texture. If the wine is stored in stainless steel barrels, then a similar effect can be achieved by adding oak chips or staves to the liquid.

22 IRS agent : T-MAN

A T-man is a law-enforcement agent of the US Treasury (T stands for “Treasury”).

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was set up during the Civil War to raise money to cover war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, the government was funded by levies on trade and property.

24 Fish restaurant offerings : BISQUES

A traditional bisque is a creamy soup made from crustaceans such as lobster, crab or shrimp. The term “bisque” probably comes from the Bay of “Biscay” off the west coast of France, a nod to the French origin of the soup and its seafood content. So, if you see a vegetable “bisque” in a restaurant, you’ll know that the term is being misused …

27 Eavesdropping org. : NSA

National Security Agency (NSA)

To eavesdrop is to listen in on someone else’s conversation without being invited to do so. The term comes from the practice of spies loitering in the area just outside the walls of a house, particularly in the “eavesdrip”, the ground close to a house that catches the drips of rainwater falling from the eaves of the roof.

31 Watering holes : SPAS

The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as “Spa” is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.

32 Hot spot in Al Ahmadi? : KUWAIT TEA (sounds like “Kuwaiti”)

The State of Kuwait sits at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf, famously sharing a border to the north with Iraq. After WWI, Kuwait was a Protectorate within the British Empire and then gained independence from the UK in 1961. Iraq annexed Kuwait in 1990, which led to the Gulf War of 1990-1991.

The city of Al Ahmadi takes up most of the southeast of the relatively small nation of Kuwait. Al Ahmadi was founded in 1946 following the discovery of oil in the area.

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

34 Test involving gradually longer lines : EYE EXAM

The commonly used eye chart (that starts with the letters “E FP TOZ LPED”) is called a Snellen chart. The test is named after its developer Herman Snellen, who introduced it way back in 1862.

37 Round Table VIP : KNT

Knight (knt.)

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.

44 Homer’s home : GREECE

Homer was a famous poet of ancient Greece who is believed to be the author of the two classic epic poems “Iliad” and “Odyssey”. However, some scholars believe that Homer did not actually exist, but rather he is the personification of oral tradition that was passed down through the ages.

46 Fins : FIVES

The US five-dollar bill is often called an “Abe”, as President Abraham Lincoln’s portrait is on the front. An Abe is also referred to as a “fin”, a term that has been used for a five-pound note in Britain since 1868.

47 Slate, for one : E-ZINE

“Slate” is an online magazine that was founded in 1996. “Slate” was originally owned by Microsoft and was part of the MSN online offering. The magazine has been available for free since 1999 (it is ad-supported) and has been owned by the Washington Post Company since 2004.

52 Smoothie fruit : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

53 Fed. lending agency : GNMA

“Ginnie Mae” is the familiar nickname for the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA), a government-owned corporation created in 1968 with the objective of promoting home ownership. The “Ginnie Mae” nickname is derived from the “GNMA” abbreviation.

55 Storied loch : NESS

Loch Ness is one of the two most famous lakes in Scotland. Loch Ness is famous for its “monster”, and Loch Lomond is famous for the lovely song “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”. Oh, ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Ancient wizard : MAGE
5 Serbian-born NBA center __ Jokic : NIKOLA
11 Fella : BRO
14 Speck : ATOM
15 Bordeaux wine : CLARET
16 Narrow inlet : RIA
17 Grasslands around Dakar? : SENEGAL LEAS (sounds like “Senegalese”)
19 Petition : ASK
20 High ranges : SIERRAS
21 Holder of 61 NHL records : GRETZKY
23 Chamber group : TRIO
24 Comet relative : BON AMI
25 Retire : TURN IN
28 Jessica of “Dark Angel” : ALBA
31 Winter vacation purchase : SKI PASS
33 Part of a late 1900s demographic : GEN-YER
35 “The Simpsons” storekeeper : APU
36 Feature of a map of Baghdad? : IRAQ KEY (sounds like “Iraqi”)
38 MD treating canals : ENT
39 Oklahoma tribe : PAWNEE
41 Accidental : UNMEANT
43 Genesis twin : ESAU
44 Middle of a three-part start : … GET SET …
45 Subtly points out : INFERS
48 Present time? : XMAS
51 Uniform concern, maybe : HAT SIZE
53 Late author whose daughter wrote, “As far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends in Y” : GRAFTON
56 Behave : ACT
57 Laid-back attitude in Hanoi? : VIETNAM EASE (sounds like “Vietnamese”)
59 Charlotte of “The Facts of Life” : RAE
60 Bivouac : ENCAMP
61 Times past : ERAS
62 Uma’s “Pulp Fiction” role : MIA
63 Perceived to be : SEEN AS
64 Caesar and others : SIDS

Down

1 One side of a physics equivalence principle : MASS
2 Bit the dust : ATE IT
3 One with no hope : GONER
4 Honored retirees : EMERITI
5 Indiana-based sports org. : NCAA
6 Troubles : ILLS
7 Penn of “House” : KAL
8 Crater Lake locale : OREGON
9 Hear (of) : LEARN
10 Without a clue : AT SEA
11 Longing in São Paulo? : BRAZIL YEN (sounds like “Brazilian”)
12 Take a shot at : RISK
13 Wine nuance word : OAKY
18 Exuberant fan : GROUPIE
22 IRS agent : T-MAN
24 Fish restaurant offerings : BISQUES
26 Unusual : RARE
27 Eavesdropping org. : NSA
29 Twisted : BENT
30 Focus for some collectors : ART
31 Watering holes : SPAS
32 Hot spot in Al Ahmadi? : KUWAIT TEA (sounds like “Kuwaiti”)
33 Masterpieces : GEMS
34 Test involving gradually longer lines : EYE EXAM
35 Mimic : APE
37 Round Table VIP : KNT
40 Creatures of habit? : NUNS
42 Some bank acct. charges : ATM FEES
44 Homer’s home : GREECE
46 Fins : FIVES
47 Slate, for one : E-ZINE
49 Original Flashback games console designer : ATARI
50 “What a pity” : SO SAD
51 Wrong : HARM
52 Smoothie fruit : ACAI
53 Fed. lending agency : GNMA
54 Criticizes : RAPS
55 Storied loch : NESS
58 Brown shade : TAN

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 23 Oct 20, Friday”

  1. Holy crap.. This took longer than I thought. Odd cluing.. UNMEANT? ACT for Behave? Misspelling on NIKOLA.. Had NICOLA.. but then I didn’t know PENN of house….

    Oh, and then throw in BONAMI for good measure.. Never heard of it.. But I seem to recall this came up once before like a dejavu kinda thing..

    Still struggled overall..

  2. Checking in on whether website delay is fixed.

    Today, had ‘hurt’ initially before changing to HARM for 51D.

    5A/7D: My last fill-in.
    Serbian NBAer & actor last name Penn, first name not Sean.
    Is it a ‘C’, is it a ‘K’? Try C. Ohhhh Kra…!

    45A: INFERS. I always understood this word as a judgement call on info received that you are making, not something you are pointing out. So I broke out my classic 1975 edition of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary from 6th grade (Gerald Ford listed as vice-president!) and indeed definition 3b. does say ‘to point out’. The sentence they have to illustrate the use of it however was [this doth infer the zeal I had to see him – Sha.]. If you have to reach back to Middle English to show a use of a particular word I wonder about it’s value in today’s world.
    If I’m wrong about this definition’s value nowadays, I apologize. But if not, I think Mirriam-Webster should be a littler quicker on the updating of a word’s definition. (Anyways that would be my preference😉).

  3. 45 minutes. Had Gman instead of Tman and was sure the hockey player was Greg somebody, but I didn’t know who.
    Another long slog.

  4. 34:39…I had sage for mage and Kuwaittee for Kuwaittea …IMO these LAT puzzles are tougher than they used to be.
    On a different topic I was trying to do something on my IPad and I got a message about not having the right cookies so I crunched up an Oreo and sprinkled it on my screen but for some reason it didn’t work…HELP.
    Stay safe😀
    Go Ravens😀

  5. 11:02. Learned MAGE from a x-word a couple months back. Also was a bit unsure about INFERS and the secondary / tertiary meaning. Had to look hard at BONAMI and realize that “Comet” refers to a cleanser. Haven’t seen BON AMI in the grocery in years.

  6. Would’ve had a time within shouting distance of Bill’s but screwed up the A in RIA/OAKY. Doggone it. Clever theme…

  7. 13:35 1 error, the same bad guess in Nikola/kal

    Fun theme!

    I agree that the clue for INFER is wrong.

    Bon Ami has long been our favorite sink cleanser, but it’s been hard to find in the last two years.

  8. 19 mins 11 sec, and needed Check help to “correct” the spellings of NIKOLA/KAL and GENYER (I don’t even think I’ve ever heard that term uttered, although GEN X-ER is fairly common).

    This was just not a good puzzle because the spelling of the forced punny fills and the very nature of names like NIKOLA (can be spelled a variety of ways, and who’s to know?). Mix two such names in a cross and you’re on pretty shaky ground. Too many things hinge on spellings that can’t be called “correct” or “incorrect”.

  9. Love BON AMI – my favorite little chick! 🐥
    Really struggled with this puzzle. One of these days I’ll start thinking out of the box!
    Happy weekend!
    Stay safe! 🙂

  10. Kind of tough Friday for me; took 58 minutes on paper, with the small print, and ended up with 1 error: NIcOLA/cAL.

    Clever theme, which I made use of to get to the finish. Had to change MAGi to MAGE and SyDS to SIDS. Vaguely remembered BONAMI, having never seen it, from crosswords…and UNMEANT/KNT was the last to fall.

    Finally got my flu shot, so I’m reasonably safe from that. Boy, a lot less painful than my last one back in the service with the airgun. Stay safe.

  11. I agree with all the complaints above and have a couple of my own. GNMA is NOT a lending agency. They sell mortgage-backed bonds. I have never seen the abbreviation for the word “knight.” KNT, c’mon Gary. You are better than that (or the editors should be).

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