LA Times Crossword 8 Oct 20, Thursday

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Constructed by: Paul Coulter
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Workmate

Themed answers each end with something that might be WORKED:

  • 61A Colleague … and, when preceded by “the,” what the end of 16-, 24-, 37- or 50-Across is : WORKMATE
  • 16A Figurative setting for many deals : BACKROOM (giving “work the room”)
  • 24A Alpha Centauri, for one : STAR SYSTEM (giving “work the system”)
  • 37A Terra firma : DRY LAND (giving “work the land”)
  • 50A Clash of personalities, say : EGO PROBLEM (giving “work the problem”)

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

Bill’s time: 5m 47s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 “Above the __”: 1994 basketball film : RIM

“Above the Rim” is a 1994 movie about a high schooler and his efforts to make it into Georgetown University to play basketball. The film is loosely based on the life of real-life former basketball player Stephon Marbury.

8 African capital on the Gulf of Guinea : ACCRA

Accra sits on Ghana’s coast and is a major seaport as well as the country’s capital city. The name “Accra” comes from a local word “Nkran” meaning “ants”, a name chosen because of the large number of anthills found in the area when the city was founded.

The Gulf of Guinea is a large gulf that forms part of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Africa. One of the Gulf of Guinea claims to fame is that it is home to the intersecting point between zero degrees of latitude and zero degrees of longitude, i.e. where the Equator and Prime Meridian cross.

13 Tip jar 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.

14 “Boo’d Up” Grammy winner __ Mai : ELLA

Ella Mai is an R&B singer from England who went to high school in New York City before returning to Britain.

20 Samoan capital : APIA

Apia is the capital city, and in fact the only city, of the Pacific island-nation of Samoa. The harbor of Apia is famous for a very foolish incident in 1889 involving seven naval vessels from Germany, the US and Britain. A typhoon was approaching so the safest thing to do was to head for open water away from land, but no nation would move its ships for fear of losing face in front of others. Six of the ships were lost in the typhoon as a result and 200 American and German sailors perished. The British cruiser HMS Calliope barely managed to escape from the harbor and rode out the storm safely. Apia is also known as the home of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, for the last four years of his life.

22 Big name in razors : ATRA

Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977, as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.

24 Alpha Centauri, for one : STAR SYSTEM (giving “work the system”)

The Alpha Centauri star system is a mere 4.37 light-years from the Sun, making it the closest star system to our solar system. Sometimes referred to as the closest “star”, Alpha Centauri is actually a binary star system, with two stars orbiting a common center. It is likely that Alpha Centauri is in fact a triple star system, as a third star called Proxima Centauri was discovered in 1915 that is probably linked gravitationally. It is Proxima Centauri that is actually the closest star to our own solar system, being just 4.24 light-years from the Sun.

26 Fizzles out : DIES

To fizzle (and often “to fizzle out”) is to die out after a promising start. The contemporary use of “fizzle” evolved from a 16th-century usage meaning “break wind without noise”. Quite amusing …

28 Hams it up : EMOTES

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

29 2008 Visa milestone, briefly : IPO

An initial public offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).

VISA doesn’t actually issue any credit or debit cards. VISA just sells the electronic systems and infrastructure to banks who then put the VISA logo on their own cards. Seeing the logo, both customer and merchant know to use the VISA system when making a transaction.

32 Weho or Soho, in slang : NABE

“Nabe” is a familiar term used to describe a neighborhood, or a local movie theater.

West Hollywood (WeHo) is a city in LA County that is home to the world-famous Sunset Strip. It has a large LGBT community and is one of the nation’s most prominent gay villages.

The Manhattan neighborhood known today as SoHo was very fashionable in the early 1900s, but as the well-heeled started to move uptown the area became very run down and poorly maintained. Noted for the number of fires that erupted in derelict buildings, SoHo earned the nickname “Hell’s Hundred Acres”. The area was then zoned for manufacturing and became home to many sweatshops. In the mid-1900s artists started to move into open loft spaces and renovating old buildings as the lofts were ideal locations in which an artist could both live and work. In 1968, artists and others organized themselves so that they could legalize their residential use of an area zoned for manufacturing. The group they formed took its name from the name given to the area by the city’s Planning Commission i.e “South of Houston”. This was shortened from So-uth of Ho-uston to SoHo as in “SoHo Artists Association”, and the name stuck.

34 Nostrils : NARES

The nostrils are also known as the nares (singular “naris”).

37 Terra firma : DRY LAND (giving “work the land”)

“Terra firma” is Latin for “solid ground”.

40 Brian of ambient music : ENO

Brian Eno was one of the pioneers of the genre of ambient music. Eno composed an album in 1978 called “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”, which was the first in a series of four albums with an ambient theme. Eno named the tracks, somewhat inventively, 1/1, 1/2, 2/1 and 2/2.

41 In __: awaiting delivery : UTERO

“In utero” is a Latin term meaning “in the uterus”. The Latin “uterus” (plural “uteri”) translates as both “womb” and “belly”. “Uterys” comes from the Greek “hystera” that also means “womb”, which gives us the words “hysterectomy”, and “hysterical”.

43 Arctic sight : FLOE

An ice floe is a sheet of ice that has separated from an ice field and is floating freely on the surface of the ocean.

44 Rehab hurdle : DTS

The episodes of delirium that can accompany withdrawal from alcohol are called delirium tremens (the DTs). The literal translation of this Latin phrase is “trembling madness”.

45 Colorful ring : AREOLA

An areola (sometimes “areole”) in anatomy is a small ring of color, as in the areola surrounding the nipple, and the areola surrounding the pupil of the eye. “Areola” (plural “areolae”) comes from Latin, meaning “small open space”, and is a diminutive of the Latin word “area”, meaning “open space”.

48 Animal fat : LARD

Fat, when extracted from the carcass of an animal, is called suet. Untreated suet decomposes at room temperature quite easily so it has to be rendered, purified to make it stable. Rendered fat from pigs is what we call lard. Rendered beef or mutton fat is known as tallow.

52 They may be wild : OATS

Traditionally, “wild oats” were a crop that one might regret sowing instead of “good grain”. Young and tempestuous people were rash enough to sow their wild oats, and had yet to comprehend their folly. Over time, to “feel one’s oats” came to mean “be lively and confident”.

56 Grimace : MOUE

The term “moue” comes from French, and means “small grimace, pout”.

57 San Joaquin Valley haze : SMOG

“Smog” is a portmanteau formed by melding “smoke” and “fog”. The term was first used to describe the air around London in the early 1900s. Several cities around the world have a reputation of being particularly smoggy. For example, the most smog-plagued city in Latin America is Mexico City, which is located in a highland “bowl” that traps industrial and vehicle pollution.

The San Joaquin Valley is in the southern part of the Central Valley of California (the northern part is the Sacramento Valley). The San Joaquin Valley is plagued with smog due to the surrounding mountains holding in pollution generated by traffic in built-up areas. The smog is bad that it is one of the three worst areas in the country for pollution, along with Los Angeles and Houston.

58 “Blue Ain’t Your Color” country singer Keith : URBAN

Keith Urban is a country singer from Australia who was actually born in New Zealand. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1992, and married Australian actress Nicole Kidman in 2006.

64 Art Deco artist : 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.

Down

1 Givens of “Riverdale” : ROBIN

Actress Robin Givens got her big break playing Darlene Merriman on the sitcom “Head of the Class”. She had a very rocky 2-year marriage with Mike Tyson that played out in the media.

2 Absurd : INANE

Our word “inane” meaning “silly, lacking substance” comes from the Latin “inanitis” meaning “empty space”.

3 Muslim holy city : MECCA

Mecca is in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. It was the birthplace of Muhammad and is the holiest city in Islam. Every year several million Muslims perform the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

4 Berlin address : HERR

In German, a “Herr” (Mr.) is married to a “Frau” (Mrs.), and they live together in a “Haus” (house).

5 Jeff Lynne rock gp. : ELO

Jeff Lynne is a singer-songwriter who is best known as the leader of the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Lynne went on to form the Traveling Wilburys supergroup, along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.

7 Florida host of the Outback Bowl : TAMPA

The Outback Bowl is a college football bowl game held annually on New Year’s Day in Tampa, Florida. The game stands out on a day full of football in that it is usually the first to be broadcast, with kickoff as early as 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

8 Sushi-grade tuna : AHI

Yellowfin and bigeye tuna are usually marketed as “ahi”, the Hawaiian name. They are both big fish, with yellowfish tuna often weighing over 300 pounds, and bigeye tuna getting up to 400 pounds.

9 Game with melds : CANASTA

The card game canasta originated in Uruguay apparently, with “canasta” being the Spanish word for “basket”. In the rummy-like game, a meld of seven cards or more is called a canasta.

12 Indian silk region : ASSAM

Assam is a state in the far northeast of India, and just south of the Himalayas. Assam is noted for its tea, as well as its silk.

17 Western Asia native : KURD

Most of the Kurdish people live in a region known as Kurdistan, which stretches into parts of Iran, Syria, Turkey as well as northern Iraq.

29 Post-op area : ICU

Intensive care unit (ICU)

30 Barren region in southern South America : PATAGONIA

Patagonia is a very sparsely populated region at the very southern tip of South America that is divided administratively between Chile and Argentina. The area is named for the Patagons, a race of giant humans that were rumored to live there.

33 Tolkien figure : ELF

In Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”, Elves are an immortal race that inhabit Middle-earth and Valinor.

35 “Help!” on the briny : SOS

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots). That said, in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so “SOS” is really only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are back-formations that were introduced after the SOS signal was adopted.

The briny is the sea, with “brine” meaning “salty water”. The term “briny” was originally used for “tears”.

39 First name in linguistics : NOAM

Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at MIT. Chomsky is known as one of the fathers of modern linguistics.

47 SDI weapon : ABM

An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a rocket designed to intercept and destroy a ballistic missile (as one might expect from the name). A ballistic missile, as opposed to a cruise missile, is guided during the initial launch phase but later in flight just relies on thrust and gravity (hence “ballistic”) to arrive at its target. As an aside, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with a range greater than 3,500 miles.

One of the positive outcomes of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), aka “Star Wars”, was a change in US defense strategy. The new approach was to use missiles to destroy incoming hostile weapons, rather than using missiles to destroy the nation attacking the country. The former doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction went by the apt acronym of MAD …

49 Quad building : DORM

A university often features a central quadrangle (quad).

54 Russet, informally : TATER

The full name of the potato that we commonly refer to as a “russet” is a “russet Burbank”. The russet is probably a mutation of the Burbank potato. One Luther Burbank developed the Burbank potato as a disease-resistant Irish potato, and gave the strain its name. The russet Burbank is a relatively large potato. As such, it is the favored potato for restaurant chains like McDonald’s as it can produce long French fries.

58 Hawaiian strings : UKES

The ukulele (uke) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.

60 “The Matrix” hero : NEO

Neo is the character played by Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix” series of films.

62 GPS suggestion : RTE

A global positioning system (GPS) might point out a route (rte.).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “Above the __”: 1994 basketball film : RIM
4 Influence : HEFT
8 African capital on the Gulf of Guinea : ACCRA
13 Tip jar bill : ONE
14 “Boo’d Up” Grammy winner __ Mai : ELLA
15 Fissile rocks : SHALES
16 Figurative setting for many deals : BACKROOM (giving “work the room”)
18 Locker hangers : PINUPS
19 Bring upon oneself : INCUR
20 Samoan capital : APIA
22 Big name in razors : ATRA
23 Almost at hand : NEAR
24 Alpha Centauri, for one : STAR SYSTEM (giving “work the system”)
26 Fizzles out : DIES
28 Hams it up : EMOTES
29 2008 Visa milestone, briefly : IPO
32 Weho or Soho, in slang : NABE
34 Nostrils : NARES
36 Recyclable item : CAN
37 Terra firma : DRY LAND (giving “work the land”)
40 Brian of ambient music : ENO
41 In __: awaiting delivery : UTERO
43 Arctic sight : FLOE
44 Rehab hurdle : DTS
45 Colorful ring : AREOLA
48 Animal fat : LARD
50 Clash of personalities, say : EGO PROBLEM (giving “work the problem”)
52 They may be wild : OATS
56 Grimace : MOUE
57 San Joaquin Valley haze : SMOG
58 “Blue Ain’t Your Color” country singer Keith : URBAN
59 Ill-judged, as a plan : INSANE
61 Colleague … and, when preceded by “the,” what the end of 16-, 24-, 37- or 50-Across is : WORKMATE
63 Groundbreaking invention : TILLER
64 Art Deco artist : ERTE
65 “Comprende?” : SEE?
66 Final word : SAY-SO
67 Turns to gold, perhaps : DYES
68 Zig when one should have zagged, say : ERR

Down

1 Givens of “Riverdale” : ROBIN
2 Absurd : INANE
3 Muslim holy city : MECCA
4 Berlin address : HERR
5 Jeff Lynne rock gp. : ELO
6 Passes on a lazy river : FLOATS BY
7 Florida host of the Outback Bowl : TAMPA
8 Sushi-grade tuna : AHI
9 Game with melds : CANASTA
10 Like an untidy desk : CLUTTERED
11 Stand for : REPRESENT
12 Indian silk region : ASSAM
15 Jerk : SPASM
17 Western Asia native : KURD
21 Anger : IRE
24 Scorch : SEAR
25 Over there : YONDER
27 Weatherproof, as a swimming pool : INDOOR
29 Post-op area : ICU
30 Barren region in southern South America : PATAGONIA
31 In a burdensome way : ONEROUSLY
33 Tolkien figure : ELF
35 “Help!” on the briny : SOS
38 Story with symbolism : ALLEGORY
39 First name in linguistics : NOAM
42 Takes off the books : REPEALS
46 Sore __ : LOSER
47 SDI weapon : ABM
49 Quad building : DORM
50 Gives forth : EMITS
51 Mooed : LOWED
53 Belittle : ABASE
54 Russet, informally : TATER
55 Curled-lip look : SNEER
58 Hawaiian strings : UKES
60 “The Matrix” hero : NEO
62 GPS suggestion : RTE

13 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 8 Oct 20, Thursday”

  1. Had trouble with this one.. ACM instead of ABM but I thought it should be one or the other. Couldn’t get LOWED..

    Never heard NARES, or NABE. Hope I remember that.. Didn’t come close to getting the theme.. Couldn’t follow the instruction. I was all over the place.

  2. Thought the theme was a bit of a stretch and kinda boring. Finished the puzzle without it. Had Noah before Noam. Got nares, nabe and lowed through the crosses. Have no idea what the clue for the latter was about.

    Not sure my comment went through. Apologies if this appears twice.

  3. 8:05, no errors, no write-overs, no complaints. Straightforward.

    @Jack … Like others, I’m glad you got stolen items back. There’s a lot more theft in the neighborhood I recently moved into (either that, or it’s just that the “Ring” system I now have tells me about it), so I can empathize. (So far, though, the thefts reported have been from vehicles, rather than homes. I’d be pretty creeped out if I woke up to the sound of someone invading my house.)

    Be safe, everyone …

  4. No errors or lookups, but the theme was kind of foggy. Had “littered” for
    a time for 10D but corrected it to cluttered in time to complete the NE
    corner.

  5. 20:00 no errors…I didn’t look at the theme until after the puzzle was complete…raise your hand of you ever used the abbr. NABE aloud.
    Stay safe😀
    Go Ravens.

  6. 11:02 no errors, one lookup

    I know the word NARES, now!

    As for the theme, even with Bill’s explanation, I’m joining the “bah humbug” crowd.

  7. 9 minutes, 33 seconds, no errors. This…. this was a GOOD puzzle. Not so easy as to be shrugged off, but not loaded with traps or ego-trips by the constructor/editor team. Wish we could go through entire weeks with nothing but examples such as this one. Hats off to the team on this one.

  8. Didn’t get the theme. Had to Google for ACCRA, SHALES and PATAGONIA. cuz I didn’t know PATAGONIA was barren.
    Didn’t actually know a ton of stuff: RIM, HEFT, APPIA, MOUE, ELO, TAMPA.

  9. Kind of a tough Thursday for me; took 23:23 on-line with two peeks, all in the SW, to get to the banner. In retrospect, it was a fair puzzle, I just was kind of fuzzy on my solving today. Besides the SW, everything else fell into place pretty quickly.

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