LA Times Crossword 31 Oct 20, Saturday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

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

Bill’s time: 11m 41s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 One of the alkali metals : POTASSIUM

The alkali metals form the first column of the periodic table of the elements, consisting of lithium, sodium, potassium and others. All are soft metals that are very reactive. Alkali metals are so reactive in air that they must be stored under oil.

10 Enjoy a meal, with “down” : CHOW …

“Chow” is a slang term for food that originated in California in the mid-1800s. “Chow” comes from the Chinese pidgin English “chow-chow” meaning “food”.

16 Yul’s “Solomon and Sheba” co-star : GINA

Gina Lollobrigida is an Italian actress, and also a photojournalist and sculptor. After her career in movies started to slow down in the seventies, she turned to photojournalism. She has photographed many of the greats, including Paul Newman, Salvador Dali, Audrey Hepburn and even the German national soccer team. In fact, she was also able to arrange an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro, much to the chagrin of the world’s professional journalists.

Yul Brynner was a Russian-born actor. Brynner was well known for his great performances, but also for his shaved head and his deep rich voice. He first adopted the “hairstyle” while playing the King of Siam in the stage version of “The King and I”, and he stuck with it.

“Solomon and Sheba” is a 1959 biblical epic starring Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida in the title roles. Hollywood star Tyrone Power was originally cast as Solomon, and indeed two-thirds of the film was shot with Power playing the part. While filming a duelling scene with George Sanders, Power suffered a massive heart attack and died while being transported to hospital in Madrid. Brynner replaced Power as Solomon, and close-up scenes were reshot.

17 Where fajitas may be seen : TEX-MEX MENU

“Fajita” is a Tex-Mex term that refers to grilled meat served on a tortilla. The original Mexican-Spanish term “fajita” is used to describe a small strip of chicken or beef. Nowadays, fajitas are often served on a sizzling platter with the tortillas and condiments on the side.

18 Senior suffix : -ITIS

“Senioritis” is the colloquial name given to the tendency of some senior students to lose motivation to study as they head towards the end of high school and college careers.

22 Big extinct bird : MOA

Moas were flightless birds native to New Zealand that are now extinct. The fate of the Moa is a great example of the detrimental effect that humans can have on animal populations. The Maoris arrived in New Zealand about 1300 AD, upsetting the balance of the ecosystem. The Moa were hunted to extinction within 200 years, which had the knock-on effect of killing off the Haast’s Eagle, the Moa’s only predator prior to the arrival of man. Moa were huge creatures, measuring up to 12 feet tall with their necks stretched upwards.

23 “Frozen” snowman : OLAF

In the 2013 animated film “Frozen”, Olaf is a happy-go-lucky snowman who provides a lot of comic relief in the movie. Olaf is voiced by actor and comedian Josh Gad.

28 Casino option : BACCARAT

Baccarat, in all of its three variants, is a relatively simple casino card game. Baccarat is the favored game of chance for James Bond 007, and it looks so cool when he plays it! Banco!

33 Out of control : AMOK

The phrase “to run amok” (sometimes “to run amuck”) has been around since the 1670s and is derived from the Malay word for “attacking furiously”, “amuk”. The word “amok” was also used as a noun to describe Malay natives who were “frenzied”. Given Malaya’s troubled history, the natives probably had a good reason for that frenzy …

36 Fungal rye disease : ERGOT

Ergots are fungi that cause disease in rye and related plants. If humans eat ergot-contaminated grain, a condition called ergotism can result. Ergotism is the result of consumption of alkaloids produced by the fungi, alkaloids that can cause seizures and manic behavior. It has even been suggested that the hysteria exhibited by the Salem “witches” was perhaps caused by the ingestion of ergot-contaminated rye.

40 Org. monitoring gas prices : AAA

The American Automobile Association (AAA) publishes a series of travel guides under the brand name “TourBook”.

41 Pram occupant’s diaper : NAPPY

“Diaper” is another word that I had to learn when I moved to America. What are called “diapers” over here, we call “nappies” back in Ireland. The term “diaper” is actually the original term that was used in England for the garment, where “diaper” referred to the cloth that was used. The term “diaper” was brought to the New World where it stuck. Back in Britain, “diaper” was displaced by the word “nappy”, a diminutive of “napkin”.

Another word used in the UK that’s rarely used over here is “pram”, which in my day was the most common term for what is called a “baby carriage” in the US. “Pram” is short for “perambulator”.

43 __ lily: Utah state flower : SEGO

The sego lily is the state flower of Utah, and is a perennial plant found throughout the Western United States.

44 W.E.B. Du Bois’ Tennessee alma mater : FISK

Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee was founded in 1866 as the Fisk Free Colored School. It was established soon after the end of the Civil War with the mission of providing education for freedmen.

W. E. B. Du Bois was a sociologist and civil rights activist from Massachusetts. Du Bois was the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, and went on to become a professor at Atlanta University. In 1909, he was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

47 Maker of Contadina products : DEL MONTE

Del Monte Foods is headquartered in San Francisco. The company’s roots go back to 1886 when a food distributor in Oakland used the name Del Monte on a premium blend of coffee, one specially prepared for the Hotel Del Monte on the Monterey peninsula.

Contadina is a brand of tomato products and breadcrumbs produced in the style of Italian cuisine. The brand first hit grocery store shelves in 1914, with the name “Contadina” translating from Italian as “woman of the fields”.

49 Shakespeare’s fairy queen : TITANIA

Oberon and Titania are the King and Queen of the fairies in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

61 1963 Johnny Thunder hit : LOOP-DE-LOOP

Johnny Thunder was the stage name of R&B singer Gil Hamilton. Thunder’s biggest hit, and only hit, was 1963’s “Loop de Loop”.

64 Footwear for the stealthy, maybe : MOCS

“Moc” is short for “moccasin”, a type of shoe. The moccasin is a traditional form of footwear worn by members of many Native American tribes.

Down

5 Blanche’s sister, in a Williams play : STELLA

“Stella! Hey, Stella!” is a famous line cried out by Marlon Brando’s character (Stanley Kowalski) as his wife Stella (played by Kim Hunter) leaves for the last time with her child, in the movie “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

Desire is the name of a neighborhood in New Orleans, a destination for a streetcar line. The name “Desire” appears on the front of streetcars bound for that neighborhood, hence the title of the 1947 Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

6 Number before Number? : SIX

In this clue, the number 6 appears before the first word “Number”.

8 Pickup cousins, briefly : UTES

A utility vehicle is often called a “ute” for short. Nowadays one mainly hears about sport-utes and crossover-utes.

Pickup trucks are probably so called because they can be used to “pick up” bulky items from say a store, and then deliver them elsewhere.

10 Movie SFX : CGI

Computer-generated imagery (CGI)

The abbreviation “FX” stands for “effects”, as in “special effects”. “Special effects” can also be shortened to “SFX”.

11 Request before reaching 21? : HIT ME AGAIN

The card game known as “twenty-one” was first referred to in print in a book by Cervantes, the author famous for writing “Don Quixote”. He called the game “veintiuna” (Spanish for “twenty-one”). Cervantes wrote his story just after the year 1600, so the game has been around at least since then. Twenty-one came to the US but it wasn’t all that popular so bonus payments were introduced to create more interest. One of the more attractive bonuses was a ten-to-one payout to a player who was dealt an ace of spades and a black jack. This bonus led to the game adopting the moniker “Blackjack”.

15 Dice, e.g. : CUBES

The numbers on dice are arranged so that the opposite faces add up to seven. Given this arrangement, the numbers 1, 2 and 3 all meet at a common vertex. There are two ways of arranging the 1, 2 and 3 around the common vertex, a so-called right-handed die (clockwise 1-2-3) or a left-handed die (counterclockwise 1-2-3). Traditionally, dice used in Western cultures are right-handed, whereas Chinese dice are left-handed. Quite interesting …

24 Ship that encountered Sirens : ARGO

In Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts sailed on the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece. The vessel was called “Argo” in honor of the ship’s builder, a man named Argus.

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were seductive bird-women who lured men to their deaths with their song. When Odysseus sailed closed to the island home of the Sirens he wanted to hear their voices, but in safety. He had his men plug their ears with beeswax and then ordered them to tie him to the mast and not to free him until they were safe. On hearing their song Odysseus begged to be let loose, but the sailors just tightened his bonds and the whole crew sailed away unharmed. We sometimes use the term “siren” today to describe a seductively charming woman.

27 Switz. neighbor : GER

The country that we know in English as “Germany” is known as “Deutschland” in German. The name “Germany” comes from “Germania”, which is the Latin name that Julius Caesar gave to the peoples located east of the Rhine. The name “Deutschland” comes from an Old High German word meaning “land belonging to the people”.

28 Campaigns rurally : BARNSTORMS

The original “barnstormers” were troupes of travelling actors who performed in barns in Upstate New York in the early 1800s. The term was then extended to apply to electioneers touring to make their case to the voters. In the 1920s the term was further extended to include airplane pilots who performed stunts at country fairs.

38 Talking Heads lead singer David : BYRNE

Musician David Byrne was a founding member of the New Wave band called Talking Heads. Byrne resides in the US, although was born in the UK.

39 Cone-like candy : ROLO

Rolo was a hugely popular chocolate candy in Ireland when I was growing up. Rolo was introduced in the thirties in the UK, and is produced under license in the US by Hershey. I was a little disappointed when I had my first taste of the American version as the center is very hard and chewy. The recipe used on the other side of the Atlantic calls for a soft gooey center.

44 Patti Austin album dedicated to a legendary jazz vocalist : FOR ELLA

Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song”, had a hard and tough upbringing. She was raised by her mother alone in Yonkers, New York. Her mother died while Ella was still a schoolgirl, and around that time the young girl became less interested in her education. She fell in with a bad crowd, even working as a lookout for a bordello and as a Mafia numbers runner. She ended up in reform school, from which she escaped, and found herself homeless and living on the streets for a while. Somehow Fitzgerald managed to get herself a spot singing in the Apollo Theater in Harlem. From there her career took off and as they say, the rest is history.

Patti Austin is an R&B singer from New York City. Apparently, her godparents were Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington.

50 Disinterested : ALOOF

I suppose one might guess from the “feel” of the word “aloof” that it has nautical roots. Originally “aloof” meant “to windward” and was the opposite of “alee”. A helmsman might be instructed to stay aloof, to steer the boat into the weather to keep a distance from a lee-shore. It is from this sense of maintaining a distance that aloof came to mean “distant” in terms of personality. Interesting, huh …?

54 Whiskey __ : SOUR

A whiskey sour is made from whiskey, lemon juice and sugar, and is usually garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

56 Palindromic time : NOON

Our word “noon”, meaning “midday”, comes from the Latin “nona hora” that translates as “ninth hour”. Back in ancient Rome, the “ninth hour” was three in the afternoon. Over the centuries, traditions such as church prayers and “midday” meals shifted from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m., and so “noon” became understood as 12 noon.

The three most famous palindromes in English have to be:

  • Able was I ere I saw Elba
  • A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
  • Madam, I’m Adam

One of my favorite terms is “Aibohphobia”, although it doesn’t appear in the dictionary and is a joke term. “Aibohphobia” is a great way to describe a fear of palindromes, by creating a palindrome out of the suffix “-phobia”.

57 Grammy honoree : SONG

The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959 and focused on recognizing outstanding achievement in the recording industry. The idea of a Grammy Award came up when recording executives were working on the Hollywood Walk of Fame project in the fifties. These executives concluded that there were many people in the recording industry deserving of accolades but who would probably never make it to the Walk of Fame. As a result, they founded the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The Academy considered naming the award the “Eddies” after Thomas Edison, but then opted for “Grammy” after Edison’s invention: the gramophone.

58 Duel tool : EPEE

The sword known as an épée has a three-sided blade. The épée is similar to a foil and sabre, although the foil and saber have rectangular cross-sections.The sword known as an épée has a three-sided blade. The épée is similar to a foil and sabre, although the foil and saber have rectangular cross-sections.

60 Mil. decoration : DSM

The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) is the highest non-valorous decoration awarded for services to the US military.

63 Land’s end? : DEE

At the end of the word “land” is a letter D (dee).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 One of the alkali metals : POTASSIUM
10 Enjoy a meal, with “down” : CHOW …
14 Lacking taste, say : UNARTISTIC
16 Yul’s “Solomon and Sheba” co-star : GINA
17 Where fajitas may be seen : TEX-MEX MENU
18 Senior suffix : -ITIS
19 Ability : SKILL
20 Breaks down : SOBS
22 Big extinct bird : MOA
23 “Frozen” snowman : OLAF
26 Chem lab substance : REAGENT
28 Casino option : BACCARAT
32 Exercise apparel : SWEATS
33 Out of control : AMOK
34 Increase : GROW
36 Fungal rye disease : ERGOT
37 Wheel part : RIM
38 Attack, as with questions : BOMBARD
40 Org. monitoring gas prices : AAA
41 Pram occupant’s diaper : NAPPY
43 __ lily: Utah state flower : SEGO
44 W.E.B. Du Bois’ Tennessee alma mater : FISK
45 Looks of contempt : SNEERS
47 Maker of Contadina products : DEL MONTE
49 Shakespeare’s fairy queen : TITANIA
51 Evening in Paris : SOIR
52 Dedicatory lines : ODE
53 Wings with rooms : ELLS
55 __ fog : DENSE
59 Outer layer : RIND
61 1963 Johnny Thunder hit : LOOP-DE-LOOP
64 Footwear for the stealthy, maybe : MOCS
65 “Where’s everyone else?” : YOU’RE ALONE?
66 Originate : STEM
67 Like some eggs : FREE RANGE

Down

1 With 31-Down, finalizes, in publishing : PUTS …
2 Short race : ONE-K
3 Approach the gate, perhaps : TAXI
4 Wrestling maneuver : ARMLOCK
5 Blanche’s sister, in a Williams play : STELLA
6 Number before Number? : SIX
7 Belief suffix : -ISM
8 Pickup cousins, briefly : UTES
9 Inconsequential : MINOR
10 Movie SFX : CGI
11 Request before reaching 21? : HIT ME AGAIN
12 Savory baked bread : ONION TOAST
13 Hung in the balance : WAS AT STAKE
15 Dice, e.g. : CUBES
21 Shortened a log : SAWED
24 Ship that encountered Sirens : ARGO
25 Rural spreads : FARMS
27 Switz. neighbor : GER
28 Campaigns rurally : BARNSTORMS
29 “That was so stupid of me!” : AM I AN IDIOT!
30 Skills : COMPETENCE
31 See 1-Down : … TO BED
35 Pay : WAGES
38 Talking Heads lead singer David : BYRNE
39 Cone-like candy : ROLO
42 Little veggie : PEA
44 Patti Austin album dedicated to a legendary jazz vocalist : FOR ELLA
46 Frivolous : SILLY
48 Piercing locale, perhaps : MID-EAR
50 Disinterested : ALOOF
54 Whiskey __ : SOUR
56 Palindromic time : NOON
57 Grammy honoree : SONG
58 Duel tool : EPEE
60 Mil. decoration : DSM
62 With “fix,” it describes itself : PRE-
63 Land’s end? : DEE

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 31 Oct 20, Saturday”

  1. No errors, but it was a hard slog for me. I guessed at Del Monte for the
    Contadina products, even though I had a can of Contadina tomato paste
    in the cupboard. I searched the printing on the can but never saw Del
    Monte.
    Fun, but a little frustrating at times.

  2. LAT: Less than an hour with no mistakes. Really seemed undoable at first, but after a few hits it started to flow. Just a small quibble with the answer to “Disinterested”: I think “Uninterested” is a better clue for “aloof.”

    1. Annoying for me. Loop de loop and Del Monte are pretty obscure, IMO. But I guess that comes with the territory on a Saturday puzzle.
      Six was somehow inventively uninventive.
      I agree with the “quibble” about uninterested vs. disinterested and have seen this misused before. Notwithstanding the secondary definition in the dictionary, disinterested means unbiased or objective and is exactly what we want in a judge, for instance; uninterested signals boredom. Since literal now also means figurative, I suppose all bets are off.
      Happy Halloween 🎃, all, despite the non-celebratory conditions

  3. One error.. Didn’t get who FORELLA was? … Oh wait,.. FOR ELLA!!!! Thanks Bill. But then I didn’t know FISK either., guess at MISK., ‘cuz MORELLA sounded like a name… Aarrrgghh! What is 26A ? RE-AGENT??

    @pam, thanks for explanation yesterday on “putting on AIRS”..

  4. My kind of puzzle… seems unsolvable at first, then clues start to fall into place. No errors, love “FORELLA” for Ella, only got that because I’d heard of FISK.

  5. 17:45 4 errors

    @Mary, it’s pretty common for the ultimate owner of a brand to NOT put their name on the product. Don’t want the customer to be confused, you know.

    Now I’ve got the old commercial jingle running through my head. “We put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can. Contadina! Contadina!”

  6. Had to Google for DELMONTE, CGI, ROLLO. Not bad for Saturday. Contadina means little farm girl, and I thought the owner was Cora. Had Texas TOAST before ONION TOAST, CHaW before CHOW. Didn’t know FISK, and didn’t understand SIX until Bill.

    Waiting for Trick or Treaters

    1. 6D has almost the logic of a cryptic clue, or what you might find in the video game “Baba is You”. I was wondering if it was meant to be some Biblical reference before I came here and it clicked.

      Think of the clue like this:
      6 Number before Number?
      a.k.a. – what is the (symbol for a) number before the word “number” in this clue?
      Since the clue is #6, the number before the text of the clue is ‘6’

      Does that help or does it just make things more confusing?

  7. 14:48 before giving up. Who the hell knows the name of a “fungal rye disease” off the top of their head? Onion *toast*??? And then the 6D clue: just unforgivable. I don’t even speak the same language as this constructor.

    1. Who the hell knows the name of a “fungal rye disease” off the top of their head?
      Me. I do. I was familiar with the ‘ergot poisoning’ hypothesis for the Salem Witch panic and I’d imagine several types of farmers and folks in the ag industry are probably aware of it. I mean, I personally don’t know the names of sportsrandos off the top of my head, but sometimes the pool of knowledge crossword setters draw from doesn’t overlap the knowledge solvers have gleaned from their surroundings. It happens.

      And then the 6D clue: just unforgivable. brilliant
      I love a good meta-clue. It’s like the “Baba is You” videogame I mentioned in my reply above (though I’m not sure if it actually posted?)

  8. Very tough Saturday for me; took longer than I care to admit and even then I still ended up with 3 errors.

    After finally finishing I still ended up with PiTS instead of PUTS, cOBED instead of TO BED and RaLO instead of ROLO. I really have heard of Put To Bed, but it didn’t come to mind and I was pretty sure it was SEGa Lily but…

    Interesting to read about Hotel Del Monte, which is now part of the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey. We used to pass by there when I was a kid on the way to Carmel beach.

  9. Okay what was I saying??? …..Accidentally erased my comment!!🙄

    I cheated for several answers on this one, and I STILL managed to have an error. Dirk, I also put SEGA. So, not a great job but a good puzzle anyway. Kudos to those of you who finished!🤗

    Be well~~🍷

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