LA Times Crossword 5 Nov 20, Thursday

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Constructed by: Jerry Edelstein
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Jack Sprat

Themed answers each end with an anagram of “SPRAT”:

  • 57A Nursery rhyme guy whose last name inspired the answers to starred clues? : JACK SPRAT
  • 17A *Helmet part : CHINSTRAP
  • 23A *Diamond protectors : INFIELD TARPS
  • 35A *Unlikely roles for mimes : SPEAKING PARTS
  • 46A *Crustacean catchers : LOBSTER TRAPS

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

Bill’s time: 6m 28s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 “Sistas” and “Being Mary Jane” cable channel : BET

Black Entertainment Television (BET) is a TV network with programming primarily aimed at the African-American community. BET was launched in 1980, and is now owned by Viacom.

“Sistas” is a comedy-drama series created and written by Tyler Perry. It’s about a group of young, single women who are questioning themselves about being single, despite a wish to develop long-term relationships.

“Being Mary Jane” is a drama TV show that aired from 2013 to 2019. It stars Gabrielle Union in the title role, a successful television news anchor living in Seattle.

9 Toaster, often : EMCEE

The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism used for a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.

The tradition of toasting someone probably dates back to the reign of Charles II, when the practice was to drink a glass of wine to the health of a beautiful or favored woman. In those days, spiced toast was added to beverages to add flavor, so the use of the word “toast” was an indicator that the lady’s beauty would enhance the wine. Very charming, I must say …

14 Like Lindbergh in the Spirit of St. Louis : ALONE

Charles Lindbergh was the American pilot who made the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of nearly 3,600 miles. He won the accolades of a whole country for that feat, and was awarded the Medal of Honor (for which Lindbergh was eligible, as an Army Reserve officer). His new-found fame brought tragedy to his door, however, when a kidnapper took his infant son from his home in East Amwell, New Jersey. A ransom was paid in part, but the child was never returned, and was found dead a few weeks later. It was as a result of this case that Congress made kidnapping a federal offence should there be any aspect of the crime that crosses a state line.

15 Former boxer Laila who wrote “Food for Life” : ALI

Laila Ali is the daughter of the great Muhammad Ali and is a very capable boxer in her own right. Laila’s professional record is an impressive 24 wins, including 21 knockouts. Now retired, she never lost a fight, and nor did she ever draw. One of those victories was against Jackie Frazier-Lyde, daughter of her father’s nemesis Joe Frazier. Laila is not a bad dancer either, coming in third place in the fourth season of “Dancing with the Stars”.

16 Ancient Greek physician : GALEN

Galen of Pergamum was a physician of ancient Rome (of Greek ethnicity). Galen mainly worked on monkeys, dissecting their bodies to learn about physiology, as it was not permitted to dissect human bodies in his day.

20 In __: as found : SITU

“In situ” is a Latin phrase meaning “in the place”, and we use the term to mean “in the original position”.

21 Tate Modern collection : ART

The museum known as “the Tate” is actually made up of four separate galleries in England. The original Tate gallery was founded by Sir Henry Tate as the National Gallery of British Art. It is located on Millbank in London, on the site of the old Millbank Prison, and is now called Tate Britain. There is also the Tate Liverpool in the north of England that is located in an old warehouse, and the Tate St. Ives in the west country located in an old gas works. My favorite of the Tate galleries is the Tate Modern which lies on the banks of the Thames in London. It’s a beautiful building, a converted power station that you have to see to believe. As of 2018, the Tate Modern was the most visited art museum in the UK.

22 Taj Mahal location : ASIA

The most famous mausoleum in the world has to be the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal was built after the death of the fourth wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal (hence the name of the mausoleum). The poor woman died in childbirth delivering the couple’s 14th child. When Shah Jahan himself passed away 35 years later, he was buried beside his wife Mumtaz, in the Taj Mahal.

23 *Diamond protectors : INFIELD TARPS

Originally, tarpaulins were made from canvas covered in tar that rendered the material waterproof. The word “tarpaulin” comes from “tar” and “palling”, with “pall” meaning “heavy cloth covering”.

30 Hosp. areas : ORS

Surgery (surg.) is usually performed in an operating room (OR).

31 Half a cocktail : … TAI

The mai tai cocktail is strongly associated with the Polynesian islands, but the drink was supposedly invented in 1944 in Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California. One recipe is 6 parts white rum, 3 parts orange curaçao, 3 parts Orgeat syrup, 1 part rock candy syrup, 2 parts fresh lime juice, all mixed with ice and then a float added of 6 parts dark rum. “Maita’i” is the Tahitian word for “good”.

32 Neat as __ : A PIN

Apparently, the idiom “neat as a pin” arose in the early 1800s, with the advent of mass production. Up until that time, pins were handmade and so were irregular and relatively flawed. Mass-produced pins were uniform and of consistent quality. So, something that was uniform and of consistent quality came to be described as “neat as a pin”.

33 Artist Yoko : ONO

Yoko Ono is an avant-garde artist. Ono actually met her future husband John Lennon for the first time while she was preparing her conceptual art exhibit called “Hammer a Nail”. Visitors were encouraged to hammer in a nail into a wooden board, creating the artwork. Lennon wanted to hammer in the first nail, but Ono stopped him as the exhibition had not yet opened. Apparently Ono relented when Lennon paid her an imaginary five shillings to hammer an imaginary nail into the wood.

34 Scuttlebutt : DIRT

Just as modern day office workers gather around the water cooler to gossip, on board a ship back in the early 1800s the sailors would gather around the water barrel on the deck to shoot the breeze. That water barrel was called a “scuttlebutt”, from “scuttle” (opening in a ship’s deck) and “butt” (barrel). Quite interesting …

39 Pol. units until 1991 : SSRS

When the former Soviet Union (USSR) dissolved in 1991, it was largely replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The formation of the CIS underscored the new reality, that the former Soviet Republics (SSRs) were now independent states. Most of the 15 former SSRs joined the CIS. Notably, the three Baltic SSRs (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) opted not to join the new commonwealth, and in 2004 joined NATO and the EU.

40 “The Sign” pop group __ of Base : ACE

Ace of Base is a pop group from Sweden. The band had several names before settling on “Ace of Base”, which was inspired by the Motörhead song “Ace of Spades”.

41 Start to commute? : TELE-

Our verb “to commute”, meaning “to go back and forth to work”, ultimately derives from the Latin “commutare”, meaning “to often change”. Back in the late 1800s, a “commutation ticket” was a season pass, so named because it allowed one to “change” one kind of payment into another. Quite interesting …

46 *Crustacean catchers : LOBSTER TRAPS

A male lobster is called a cock, and a female a hen. A lobster weighing less than a pound is called a chicken.

Crustaceans are a subphylum of animals that are quite closely related to insects. Crustaceans all have exoskeletons, and most live in aquatic environments.

50 Golfer Poulter or Woosnam : IAN

Ian Poulter is a golfer from England who for a while was ranked number five in the world. Poulter might be described as a colorful and perhaps controversial character. Perhaps that’s why he has millions of followers on Twitter, the most of anyone on the PGA Tour besides Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

I’ve always thought Ian Woosnam to be the most unlikely-looking of golfers. He is just over 5’ 4” tall and yet is noted as a very powerful hitter of the ball. Woosnam is a Welshman, and was ranked the world’s number-one golfer for most of 1991.

51 Hybrid Jamaican 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.

57 Nursery rhyme guy whose last name inspired the answers to starred clues? : JACK SPRAT

“Jack Sprat” is a nickname given in the 16th century to people of small stature. Jack featured in a proverb of the day:

Jack will eat not fat, and Jull doth love no leane. Yet betwixt them both they lick the dishes cleane.

Over time, this mutated into a nursery rhyme that is still recited in England:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. And so between them both, you see, they licked the platter clean.

60 Boat on a 40-day mission : ARK

The term “ark”, when used with reference to Noah, is a translation of the Hebrew word “tebah”. The word “tebah” is also used in the Bible for the basket in which Moses was placed by his mother when she floated him down the Nile. It seems that the word “tebah” doesn’t mean “boat” and nor does it mean “basket”. Rather, a more appropriate translation is “life-preserver” or “life-saver”. So, Noah’s ark was Noah’s life-preserver during the flood.

61 Clinton running mate : KAINE

Tim Kaine took office as US Senator for Virginia in 2013, having served as the state’s governor from 2006 to 2010. He was also chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 until 2011. Famously, Senator Kaine ran as vice presidential running mate in Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2016.

62 Halley’s __ : COMET

Edmond Halley was an English astronomer who lived at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1705 he declared that comet sightings recorded in 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 were in fact observations of the same comet returning to fly by Earth at regular intervals. He predicted that this comet would return in 1758. Hally was right, and so the comet was named after him. Sadly, Halley didn’t live long enough to see that his prediction came true.

64 Ski resort that shares its name with a tree : ASPEN

Aspen, Colorado used to be known as Ute City, with the name change taking place in 1880. Like many communities in the area, Aspen was a mining town, and in 1891 and 1892 it was at the center of the highest production of silver in the US. Nowadays, it’s all about skiing and movie stars.

The “quaking” aspen tree is so called because the structure of the leaves causes them to move easily in the wind, to “tremble, quake”.

Down

1 Brits’ raincoats : MACS

When I was growing up in Ireland, we had to take our macs to school in case it rained (and it usually did!). “Mac” is short for “Macintosh”, a waterproof raincoat made of rubberized fabric. The coat was named after its inventor, Scotsman Charles Macintosh.

2 Pre-college, briefly : ELHI

“Elhi” is an informal word used to describe anything related to schooling from kindergarten through grade 12, i.e. elementary through high school.

5 Article in Elle France : LES

“Elle” magazine was founded in 1945 in France and today has the highest circulation of any fashion magazine in the world. “Elle” is the French word for “she”. “Elle” is published monthly worldwide, although you can pick up a weekly edition if you live in France.

6 Spanish district : BARRIO

“Barrio” is the name given to an urban district in Spanish-speaking countries.

10 Former first daughter : MALIA

Malia Obama is the eldest of Barack and Michelle Obama’s two daughters. Malia graduated from the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., the same school that Chelsea Clinton attended. Malia took a gap year after leaving high school, and spent the 2016 summer as an intern in the US Embassy in Madrid, before heading off to Harvard in 2017.

12 Continental trade gp. : EEC

The European Economic Community (EEC) was also known as the Common Market. The EEC was a NAFTA-like structure that was eventually absorbed into today’s European Union (EU).

13 Sinus doc : ENT

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

In anatomical terms, a sinus is a cavity in tissue. Sinuses are found all over the body, in the kidney and heart for example, but we most commonly think of the paranasal sinuses that surround the nose.

18 1920s chief justice : TAFT

William Howard Taft may have been the 27th President of the United States, but his lifelong ambition was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. President Taft was able to realize that dream in 1921, eight years after losing his bid for re-election as president. As Chief Justice, this former US President swore in two new presidents: Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929). William Howard Taft is also remembered as the most obese president. In the last year of his presidency, he weighed about 340 pounds (he was 5 feet 11 inches tall). Twelve months after leaving the White House, President Taft had dropped 80 pounds and substantially lowered his blood pressure.

25 Word with Beach or Island : LONG …

The California city of Long Beach is home to the second-busiest container port in the nation. Anyone visiting the waterfront can tour the famous transatlantic liner RMS Queen Mary, which has been docked there since 1967.

New York State’s Long Island is the largest island in the 48 contiguous states. The western end of Long Island is home to Brooklyn and Queens, two of the five boroughs that comprise New York City. As a result, most of New York City’s residents live on Long Island. The population of the whole island is over 7 million, making it the most populous island in the 50 states.

28 One way to earn $200 : PASS GO

The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman named Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.

29 Cause of disgrace : OPPROBRIUM

Opprobrium is disgrace brought about by shameful behavior. The Latin verb “opprobare” means “to reproach, taunt”.

33 Number of Eagles’ Super Bowl wins : ONE

Super Bowl LII was played at the end of the 2017 season, with the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the defending champions, the New England Patriots. That result marked the first ever Super Bowl victory for the Eagles.

The Philadelphia Eagles were established in 1933 and joined the National Football League as a replacement for the bankrupt Frankford Yellow Jackets, also from Philadelphia. The “Eagle” name was inspired by the Blue Eagle insignia that was used by companies who were in compliance with the National Industrial Recovery Act that was central to President Roosevelt’s New Deal Program.

36 Beckinsale and Winslet : KATES

Kate Beckinsale is an English actress probably best known here for playing the romantic lead opposite Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett in 2001’s “Pearl Harbor”. Kate is the daughter of actor Richard Beckinsale who is well known in Britain for his roles in the sitcoms “Porridge” and “Rising Damp”.

Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses, one known for taking both the big Hollywood roles while still finding the time to act in smaller independent films. Perhaps Winslet’s most famous part was opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic”, although she won her Oscar for a more dramatic role in “The Reader”. But my favorite of her performances is in the romantic comedy “The Holiday” from 2006. I love that movie …

39 Cantina condiment : SAL

In Spanish, one might find “sal” (salt) on the table in a “cantina” (canteen, café).

44 Finally spills the beans : CRACKS

To spill the beans is to divulge a secret. The expression first appeared in American English, in the early 1900s. The phrase arose as an alternative to “spoil the beans” or “upset the applecart”. The similarly meaning phrase “spill the tea” is more prevalent on the other side of the Atlantic.

45 Slender : LANK

The term “lank” can describe something that is straight and flat, particularly hair. The usage was extended in the early 1800s (especially in the form “lanky”) to mean “awkwardly tall and thin”.

54 Hwy. through San Antonio and Houston : I-TEN

I-10 is the most southerly of the interstate routes that cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I-10 stretches from Santa Monica, California to Jacksonville, Florida. Various stretches of the route have been given different names, for example, the Rosa Parks Freeway, the Santa Monica Freeway, the San Bernardino Freeway and the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway.

55 Email option, briefly : BCC

A blind carbon copy (bcc) is a copy of a document or message that is sent to someone without other recipients of the message knowing about that extra copy.

56 Pi follower : RHO

Rho is the Greek letter that looks just like our Roman letter “p”, although it is equivalent to the Roman letter R.

57 Beemer rival : JAG

Auto manufacturer Jaguar started out as a manufacturer of sidecars for motorcycles back in 1922, when the company was known as the Swallow Sidecar Company (SS for short). The company changed its name to Jaguar after WWII, because of the unfortunate connotations of the letters “SS” in that era (i.e. the Nazi paramilitary organization).

The initialism “BMW” stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, which translates into Bavarian Motor Works. BMW was making aircraft engines during WWI, but had to cease that activity according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The company then started making motorcycles, and moved into automobile production starting in 1928. BMW moved back into aircraft engine manufacturing during the build-up of the Luftwaffe prior to WWII.

58 Reggae kin : SKA

Ska originated in Jamaica in the late fifties and was the precursor to reggae music. No one has a really definitive etymology of the term “ska”, but it is likely to be imitative of a sound.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Competition prize : MEDAL
6 “Sistas” and “Being Mary Jane” cable channel : BET
9 Toaster, often : EMCEE
14 Like Lindbergh in the Spirit of St. Louis : ALONE
15 Former boxer Laila who wrote “Food for Life” : ALI
16 Ancient Greek physician : GALEN
17 *Helmet part : CHINSTRAP
19 Pick at the polls : ELECT
20 In __: as found : SITU
21 Tate Modern collection : ART
22 Taj Mahal location : ASIA
23 *Diamond protectors : INFIELD TARPS
28 Chip raw material : POTATO
30 Hosp. areas : ORS
31 Half a cocktail : … TAI
32 Neat as __ : A PIN
33 Artist Yoko : ONO
34 Scuttlebutt : DIRT
35 *Unlikely roles for mimes : SPEAKING PARTS
39 Pol. units until 1991 : SSRS
40 “The Sign” pop group __ of Base : ACE
41 Start to commute? : TELE-
42 Previously : AGO
43 Polished off : ATE
44 Sign usually seen at night : CLOSED
46 *Crustacean catchers : LOBSTER TRAPS
49 Teases : RIBS
50 Golfer Poulter or Woosnam : IAN
51 Hybrid Jamaican fruit : UGLI
55 Pickling solution : BRINE
57 Nursery rhyme guy whose last name inspired the answers to starred clues? : JACK SPRAT
59 Gulps down : CHUGS
60 Boat on a 40-day mission : ARK
61 Clinton running mate : KAINE
62 Halley’s __ : COMET
63 Grill fuel : GAS
64 Ski resort that shares its name with a tree : ASPEN

Down

1 Brits’ raincoats : MACS
2 Pre-college, briefly : ELHI
3 “Stop stalling!” : DO IT!
4 Recurring payments : ANNUITIES
5 Article in Elle France : LES
6 Spanish district : BARRIO
7 Get a big grin out of : ELATE
8 Money left on the table : TIP
9 Expels : EGESTS
10 Former first daughter : MALIA
11 Proof of legal ownership : CLEAR TITLE
12 Continental trade gp. : EEC
13 Sinus doc : ENT
18 1920s chief justice : TAFT
22 __ in the bucket : A DROP
24 Grammy : NANA
25 Word with Beach or Island : LONG …
26 Grammatically analyzed : PARSED
27 Convene : SIT
28 One way to earn $200 : PASS GO
29 Cause of disgrace : OPPROBRIUM
33 Number of Eagles’ Super Bowl wins : ONE
34 Play the part of in costume : DRESS UP AS
36 Beckinsale and Winslet : KATES
37 Bakery employee : ICER
38 Resting on : ATOP
39 Cantina condiment : SAL
43 Ideally : AT BEST
44 Finally spills the beans : CRACKS
45 Slender : LANK
47 Burn a bit : SINGE
48 Crown : TIARA
52 Golf lesson subject : GRIP
53 Country road : LANE
54 Hwy. through San Antonio and Houston : I-TEN
55 Email option, briefly : BCC
56 Pi follower : RHO
57 Beemer rival : JAG
58 Reggae kin : SKA

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 5 Nov 20, Thursday”

  1. No errors, but had a time with the northeast corner because I wanted
    to put Agra for Taj Mahal site until I finally used egests as 9D. Pretty
    sneaky to use Asia instead of Agra. The rest was pretty easy.

      1. 10:14 no errors

        I too was snared by AGRA vs ASIA. Worse, “fixing” it reveals EGEST, which I regard as a rather nasty word. At least OPPROBRIUM has a rhythm to it.

  2. Except for an unknown word, “opprobrium” ~~which I got by filling in the surounding areas, but had to check the dictionary . All else fell into place.
    A pleasent distraction from the unfolding election drama.
    Thanks
    Eddie

  3. I had cASinO before PASS GO, AgrA before ASIA. Then I hit EGEST. Did not know the word, and tried to adjust everything around it, until I finally Googled it. Guess it’s time I learned it.
    Didn’t actually know KAINE or ACE.
    Theme was clever.
    I believe EMCEE is an abbreviation, but that’s one of my obsessions. It’s a good idea to know the source of words, according to this retired teacher.
    I disagree with what is meant by AT BEST. I hold that it is synonymous with optimistic or hopeful, not ideal.

  4. Also went with AGRA first, but soon corrected it. Did not fully read clue for 39A and I had PACS (I was doing this at 4 a.m. is my excuse) which held me up for a bit until I sussed out SSRS. Once finished I had to look at the revealer for a couple minutes until I recognized all the anagrams for SPRAT

    OPPROBRIUM – great word to see in a crossword.

  5. A thought left over from yesterday:

    Setters use dictionaries. Dictionaries record what lexicographers find in print. So, ultimately, if you find a spelling in a puzzle that you think is wrong, but it’s in the dictionary, it’s not the setter’s fault, and it’s not the lexicographer’s fault: it’s your fault (using an admittedly broad interpretation of the word “your” 😜).

  6. 17:15 no errors as compared to almost 2 hours and a DNF for NYT#1001.
    I also had the Agra, Asia switch and I also never heard of opprobrium.
    Earlier this morning I got a spam call from someone wanting to reduce my credit card interest…I told them where to go and within a half hour I got a second call from the same idiots…this time I was less polite…I await call #3.
    Stay safe.😀

    1. @Jack – Use caller ID. Don’t pick up unless you recognize the name/number. Almost all unknown callers will hang up without leaving a voicemail.

  7. Nice puzzle. Theme worked. I too had Agra before Asia. Sneaky clue. Emcee is indeed an abbreviation of Master of Ceremonies (MC) but I think why it wasn’t clued as such is because when spelled out, the word stands on its own.

  8. 11 minutes, 3 seconds, no errors. Theme was actually helpful. Not a very smooth or linear solve for me; I was all over the place. Never quite comfortable with this one.

  9. Slightly tricky Thursday for me; took 14:34 on-line with no errors or peeking. I picked up on the theme during the solve and it helped a bit. A bit of backtracking and checking for crosses and a few false starts, but sorted it out in the end.

    It looks like CA, MA and VT are waging a “most blue % battle.” At 65.1% we’re pulling up the rear at the moment but we’ve only counted 66% of ballots…there’s still time 🙂 Of course DC is way ahead, but it’s not yet a real state.

  10. @Carrie – Not seeing it here. I’m still experiencing a 3 hr wait. A week ago, though, I did see an immediate post, but I think that was a fluke.

  11. Greetings y’all!!🦆

    Hey Bill! I noticed a typo – the reveal answer at the beginning of the blog is misspelled. As you wrote it, it sounds like something different….🤗

    Good Thursday puzzle!! No errors. I also had AGRA before ASIA, so it’s almost unanimous here. I remembered EGEST from previous puzzles.

    It’s 1:30 a.m. and they may call Pennsylvania within the hour….but I’ve got to get some sleep already!! Wake me when it’s over….🤗

    Be well ~~🍷

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