LA Times Crossword 24 Mar 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Jerry Edelstein
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Semper Fi

Themed answers each comprise two words starting with FI-:

  • 65A Marine Corps motto, briefly, and a hint to the answers to starred clues : SEMPER FI
  • 20A *Matches with known outcomes : FIXED FIGHTS
  • 56A *Music group’s lead violinist, casually : FIRST FIDDLE
  • 3D *Fast-food alternatives to burgers : FISH FILETS
  • 30D *Like half a chance : FIFTY-FIFTY

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

Bill’s time: 6m 09s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

12 Nighttime party : SOIREE

“Soir” is the French word for “evening” and a soirée is an evening party. The French word “soirée” has an acute accent over the first “e”, but we tend to drop this when using the word in English.

17 County on the English Channel : SUSSEX

Sussex is a county in the southeast of England that lies right on the English Channel. The county of Sussex has about the same boundaries as the ancient Kingdom of Sussex, a Saxon colony that existed for about five hundred years until the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Hastings, a town on the Sussex coast, was the site of the first battle of the Norman Conquest of England.

The English Channel is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, the narrow part that separates the south of England from northern France. The French call the same body of water “La Manche”, which translates literally as “the sleeve”. At its narrowest point the Channel is just over 20 miles wide, and it is indeed possible to see France from England and vice versa. Nowadays of course there is a tunnel under the channel making travel extremely convenient. When I was living and working in Europe, with the help of the Channel Tunnel, one day I had a breakfast meeting in Brussels, a lunch meeting in London, and a dinner meeting in Paris. That said, it’s a lot more fun sitting here blogging about the crossword …

18 Canyon namesake of dry California winds : SANTA ANA

Santa Ana Canyon is the canyon through which flows the Santa Ana River between the Santa Ana Mountains and the Chino Hills in Southern California. The canyon is known for experiencing some of the strongest Santa Ana winds in the region.

The Santa Ana winds are the very dry air currents that sweep offshore late in the year in Southern California. Because these air currents are so dry, they are noted for their influence over forest fires in the area, especially in the heat of the fall. The winds arise from a buildup of air pressure in the Great Basin that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Under the right conditions, that air spills over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and basically “falls” down the side of the Sierra range, heading for the ocean. As the air falls it becomes drier and heats up so that relative humidity can fall to below 10% by the time it hits the coast.

19 Tree with elastic wood : ASH

The wood of the ash tree is a hardwood, although it is relatively elastic. Famously, ash is the wood of choice for baseball bats. It is also the wood of choice for hurleys, the wooden sticks used in the Irish sport of hurling.

23 What “X” may mean : TEN

In Roman numerals, V (five) is half of X (ten).

24 Music center? : ESS

The center of the word “music” is a letter S (ess).

25 Dennis the Menace, for one : IMP

“Dennis the Menace” is a comic strip that first appeared in 1951, and was originally drawn by Hank Ketcham. The strip made the jump over the years from the newspaper to television and the silver screen. Dennis’s full name is Dennis Mitchell, and his parents are Henry and Alice (Johnson) Mitchell. Dennis’s nemesis is his neighbor, Mister George Everett Wilson. Hank Ketcham drew his inspiration for the story from his real life. When he introduced the strip he had a 4-year-old son called Dennis, and a wife named Alice.

30 Monk’s title : FRA

The title “Fra” (brother) is used to address Italian monks.

33 Cultural setting : MILIEU

We use the French term “milieu” (plural “milieux”) to mean “environment, surroundings”. In French, “milieu” is the word for “middle”.

39 H or O, in H2O : ELEMENT

A water molecule is composed of an oxygen atom with two hydrogen atoms on roughly opposite sides (at about a 150-degree angle). So, sometimes the molecule is represented by “HOH”, although more usually it’s “H2O”.

Here is a list of all the single-letter element symbols:

  • B = boron
  • C = carbon
  • F = fluorine
  • H = hydrogen
  • I = Iodine
  • K = potassium
  • N = nitrogen
  • O = oxygen
  • P = phosphorus
  • S = sulfur
  • U = uranium
  • V = vanadium
  • W = tungsten
  • Y = yttrium

42 Roald Dahl title heroine : MATILDA

“Matilda” is a children’s novel by Welsh author Roald Dahl. Hero of the piece is an extraordinary little girl called Matilda Wormwood.

43 Submitted, as a manuscript : SENT IN

A manuscript is a handwritten or typewritten document, as opposed to one that has been printed. The term “manuscript” comes from the Latin “manu scriptus” meaning “written by hand”.

44 Kvetching sounds : OYS

The word “kvetch” comes to us from Yiddish, with “kvetshn” meaning “to complain” or “squeeze”.

49 __ Lingus : AER

Aer Lingus is my favorite airline! Well, the service isn’t that great, but when I get on board an Aer Lingus plane I feel like I am back in Ireland. Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland, with “Aer Lingus” being a phonetic spelling of the Irish “aer-loingeas” meaning “air fleet”. These days Aer Lingus can only lay claim to the title of Ireland’s oldest airline as it is no longer the biggest. That honor goes to the controversial budget airline Ryanair.

51 Partner in a 2020 peace agreement with Isr. : UAE

The Israel-UAE normalization agreement signed in 2020 is officially known as the Abraham Accords. By signing the pact, the UAE became the third Arab country to normalize relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

56 *Music group’s lead violinist, casually : FIRST FIDDLE

In an orchestra, the first violins are led by the concertmaster, often referred to as the “first chair” in the US. The first chair is usually regarded as the most skilled of the first violin section, and will usually play any solo passages (unless a guest soloist is performing a violin concerto).

63 Photo taken backwards? : SELFIE

A selfie is a self-portrait, one usually taken with a digital camera or cell phone. A “group selfie” is sometimes referred to as a “groufie” or “wefie”. A “couple selfie” is known as an “usie” or “ussie”, although those terms are sometimes also used for a group picture.

65 Marine Corps motto, briefly, and a hint to the answers to starred clues : SEMPER FI

“Semper Fidelis” (often abbreviated to “Semper Fi”) is the motto of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The phrase is Latin and means “Always Faithful”. The US Marine Corps isn’t the only military unit using “Semper Fidelis” as a motto. It’s also used by the Portuguese Marine Corps, the Republic of China Marine Corps and the Swiss Grenadiers.

67 General on a menu : TSO

General Tso’s chicken is an American creation, and a dish often found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. The name General Tso may be a reference to General Zuo Zongtang of the Qing Dynasty, but there is no clear link.

68 Fair-hiring letters : EOE

Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE)

Down

1 Syrian leader : ASSAD

Dr. Bashar al-Assad is the current President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the son of the former President Hafez al-Assad, whom he replaced in 2001. President Assad is a medical doctor, speaks fluent English and conversational French. Assad was studying ophthalmology in London when he met his wife, who is an Englishwoman by birth.

2 W.C. Fields persona : SOUSE

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.

W.C. Fields worked hard to develop the on-screen image of a pretty grumpy old man. In his real life he was fairly grumpy too, and fond of protecting his privacy. He was famous for hiding in the shrubs around his house in Los Angeles and firing a BB gun at the legs of tourists who intruded on his property. Also Fields often played the drunk on-screen. In real life, Fields didn’t touch alcohol at all when he was younger, partly because he didn’t want to do anything to impair his skill as a juggler. But later in life he took to heavy drinking, so much so that it affected his health and interfered with his ability to perform.

3 *Fast-food alternatives to burgers : FISH FILETS

A fillet is a boneless cut of meat or fish. The term “fillet” comes from the Old French “filet” meaning “small thread, filament”. Apparently, we applied the term to food because the piece of fish or meat was tied up with string after it was boned. Here in the US, we tend to use the French spelling “filet”.

4 RN workplaces : ORS

Registered nurses (RNs) might be found in an operating room (OR) or emergency room (ER).

6 Ancient mystic : ESSENE

The Essenes were a Jewish religious group who are most noted these days perhaps as the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes led simple lives devoted to poverty.

7 Jazz trumpeter Jones : THAD

Thad Jones was a jazz trumpeter and bandleader from Pontiac, Michigan. Thad came from a very musical family. His older brother was Hank Jones the jazz pianist, and his younger brother was Elvin Jones the jazz drummer.

9 Biblical boater : NOAH

According to the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Noah was instructed to build his ark 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. That’s about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.

10 Bee, to Opie : AUNT

Aunt Bee is a character in “The Andy Griffith Show”. The character’s full name is Beatrice Taylor but everyone in Mayberry calls her “Aunt Bee”. In the storyline, she is the aunt of protagonist Sheriff Andy Taylor, and great-aunt to Andy’s son Opie. Aunt Bee was played by actress Frances Bavier.

11 School orgs. : PTAS

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

15 Name seen on one’s way to the penthouse? : OTIS

Elevators (simple hoists) have been around for a long time. What Elisha Otis did was come up with the “safety elevator”, a design that he showcased at the 1853 World’s Fair in New York. At the Fair, Otis would stand on an elevated platform in front of onlookers and order his assistant to cut the single rope holding up the platform. His safety system kicked in when the platform had only fallen a few inches, amazing the crowd. After this demonstration, the orders came rolling in.

Originally, the term “penthouse” described a modest building attached to a main structure. In fact, in centuries past, the manger in which Jesus was born was often referred to as a penthouse. The modern, more luxurious connotation dates back to the early twenties.

16 License plates : TAGS

Automobile tags are license plates. The informal term “tag” is actually the name of the small sticker that is issued annually to indicate that vehicle registration is current.

21 Marked on a ballot : XED

Today, a ballot is a piece of paper or equivalent used to cast a vote. Back in the 1500s, a “ballot” was a small “ball” used in the process of voting.

26 “La Bohème” role : MIMI

“La bohème” by Giacomo Puccini is the second-most frequently performed opera in the US (after “Madama Butterfly”, also by Puccini). The lead female role in the piece is Mimì, a seamstress.

27 Banana covering : PEEL

The banana is actually a berry, botanically speaking. And, bananas don’t really grow on trees. The “trunk” of the banana plant is in fact a pseudostem. The pseudostem is a false stem comprising rolled bases of leaves, and it can grow to 2 or 3 meters tall.

32 Pt. of AAA : ASSN

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit organization focused on lobbying, provision of automobile servicing, and selling of automobile insurance. The AAA was founded in 1902 in Chicago and published the first of its celebrated hotel guides back in 1917.

34 “Now __ me down to sleep … ” : I LAY

One of the prayers that I was taught as a child goes:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

38 Novelist Jaffe : RONA

Rona Jaffe was an American novelist perhaps most famous for two of her books, “The Best of Everything” and “Mazes and Monsters”. “The Best of Everything” was published in 1958 and has been compared with the HBO television series “Sex and the City” as it depicts women in the working world. “Mazes and Monsters” was published in 1981 and explores a role-playing game similar to Dungeons & Dragons and the impact it has on players.

40 Diner check : TAB

When we run a “tab” at a bar, we are running a “tabulation”, a listing of what we owe. Such a use of “tab” is American slang that originated in the 1880s.

46 Aussie parrot, briefly : BUDGIE

Parakeets are a group of bird species that are small parrots. The most common type of parakeet that we see in pet stores is the budgerigar.

54 Cartoon mermaid : ARIEL

In the 1989 Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid”, the title character is given the name “Ariel”. In the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that dates back to 1836, the Little Mermaid is given no name at all. There is a famous statue of the unnamed Little Mermaid sitting in Copenhagen Harbor, in Andersen’s homeland of Denmark.

55 Actress Witherspoon : REESE

“Reese” is not actually actress Witherspoon’s given name. She started out life as Laura Jeanne Witherspoon. “Reese” is her mother’s maiden name.

57 March time : IDES

There were three important days in each month of the old Roman calendar. These days originally depended on the cycles of the moon but were eventually “fixed” by law. “Kalendae” were the first days of each month, originally the days of the new moon. “Nonae” were originally the days of the half moon. And “idus” (the ides) was originally the day of the full moon, eventually fixed at the 15th day of a month. Well, actually the ides were the 15th day of March, May, July and October. For all other months, the ides fell on the 13th. Go figure …

58 San __: Italian resort : REMO

The Italian city of San Remo sits on the Mediterranean, right on the border with France. In Italian, the city is named “Sanremo”, just one word. That said, the spelling “San Remo” dates back to ancient times.

59 Recon target : INFO

A “recon” (reconnaissance) might provide “intel” (intelligence).

60 Sniggler’s catch : EELS

A sniggler is a person who angles for eels (also called an “eeler”). The term “sniggler” comes from “snig”, a young eel, which in turn is probably related to Old English “snegge” meaning “snail”.

64 Map line: Abbr. : LAT

Lines of latitude are imaginary horizontal lines surrounding the planet. The most “important” lines of latitude are, from north to south:

  • Arctic Circle
  • Tropic of Cancer
  • Equator
  • Tropic of Capricorn
  • Antarctic Circle

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Concerning : AS FOR
6 Letters replacing a list : ETC
9 Afternoon snooze : NAP
12 Nighttime party : SOIREE
14 Soccer tiebreaker, perhaps : SHOOT-OUT
17 County on the English Channel : SUSSEX
18 Canyon namesake of dry California winds : SANTA ANA
19 Tree with elastic wood : ASH
20 *Matches with known outcomes : FIXED FIGHTS
22 Hi-__ TV : DEF
23 What “X” may mean : TEN
24 Music center? : ESS
25 Dennis the Menace, for one : IMP
28 Beloved : DEAR
30 Monk’s title : FRA
33 Cultural setting : MILIEU
36 Black and blue? : BERRIES
39 H or O, in H2O : ELEMENT
41 Contrasting ornaments : SET-OFFS
42 Roald Dahl title heroine : MATILDA
43 Submitted, as a manuscript : SENT IN
44 Kvetching sounds : OYS
45 Weakens : EBBS
48 Give voice to : SAY
49 __ Lingus : AER
51 Partner in a 2020 peace agreement with Isr. : UAE
53 Quite a ways away : FAR
56 *Music group’s lead violinist, casually : FIRST FIDDLE
61 Anger : IRE
62 Imagining : IDEATING
63 Photo taken backwards? : SELFIE
65 Marine Corps motto, briefly, and a hint to the answers to starred clues : SEMPER FI
66 Thrills : ELATES
67 General on a menu : TSO
68 Fair-hiring letters : EOE
69 Flair : STYLE

Down

1 Syrian leader : ASSAD
2 W.C. Fields persona : SOUSE
3 *Fast-food alternatives to burgers : FISH FILETS
4 RN workplaces : ORS
5 Sailing danger : REEF
6 Ancient mystic : ESSENE
7 Jazz trumpeter Jones : THAD
8 Meeting group : CONFEREES
9 Biblical boater : NOAH
10 Bee, to Opie : AUNT
11 School orgs. : PTAS
13 Leave : EXIT
15 Name seen on one’s way to the penthouse? : OTIS
16 License plates : TAGS
21 Marked on a ballot : XED
26 “La Bohème” role : MIMI
27 Banana covering : PEEL
29 Hunk’s pride : ABS
30 *Like half a chance : FIFTY-FIFTY
31 APR-reducing loan : REFI
32 Pt. of AAA : ASSN
33 Office notice : MEMO
34 “Now __ me down to sleep … ” : I LAY
35 Being severely criticized : UNDER FIRE
37 Numbered rds. : RTES
38 Novelist Jaffe : RONA
40 Diner check : TAB
46 Aussie parrot, briefly : BUDGIE
47 Mournful : SAD
49 33-Down demand, perhaps : ASAP
50 Luncheon end? : -ETTE
52 “… or __!” : ELSE
54 Cartoon mermaid : ARIEL
55 Actress Witherspoon : REESE
56 Punch deliverer : FIST
57 March time : IDES
58 San __: Italian resort : REMO
59 Recon target : INFO
60 Sniggler’s catch : EELS
64 Map line: Abbr. : LAT

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 24 Mar 21, Wednesday”

  1. No errors. Did not know 46D BUDGIE or as Bill refers to its more common name in pet stores as the “BUDGERIGAR”. Sorry Bill, still never heard of either one.

    Is this the birthday of the marine corps or something?

  2. No errors, no lookups for a change. And for once I checked over the grid
    and sure enough I had left out a letter. All fixed before I checked in with
    Bill.

  3. 21:20 no errors…why call a parakeet a parrot?
    I got the FI at the start of each theme word but don’t get the “Semper fi”
    Stay safe😀
    Play ball!!!

    1. there are actually three clues with FI in them, and in each of the three, there are two FIs — fixed fights (20 across), first fiddle (56 across) and fifty-fifty (30 down)! And even tho it is not starred, selfie is a “fi”! Semper fi — very clever….

  4. Funny how every explanation of a term or word is given an in depth discussion EXCEPT when it comes to the Abraham Accords which was initiated and finalized by a great American, President Donald Trump. And he deserves all the credit!

  5. No Googles or errors. The theme allowd me to solve the puzzle. Never heard of THAD. I’m not an Aussie, but we called parrots BUDGIES. ABS should be indicated as an abbrev.
    One complaint – no one uses the word IMP except crossword puzzlers.
    Cute puzzle, nevertheless.

    1. Attributing an achievement of a past or present President is not political but merely fact. If that fact has been omitted then its inclusion is not political.
      If That President’s political affiliation was mentioned in order to place emphasis upon the political affiliation then one can conclude that the statement is of a political nature and may be deemed unwelcome!

  6. Fun Wednesday for me; took 10:38 with no errors or peeks. Had to change a few things and wait for one or two crosses but managed okay.

    Gee if calling a moronic, narcissistic seditionist a “great president” doesn’t take the cake. Why don’t you move to t**** in the occupied Golan Heights.

    1. And the “Accurate Descriptive Three-Word Phrase Of The Week” award goes to … drum roll! … Dirk! … 😀😀😀

  7. Gosh, I’m so honored!! Thank-you, Thank-you, I couldn’t have done it without the good upbringing I was honored with. 🙂 🙂

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