LA Times Crossword 3 Mar 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Ed Sessa
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Pentangles

Themed answers each included the letter string “P-E-N”, but with the order changed, “TANGLED”:

  • 59A Five-pointed stars … or, in two words, what the sets of circles represent? : PENTANGLES or “PEN” TANGLES
  • 17A Once-common childhood ailment : CHICKENPOX
  • 27A Reporting live : IN PERSON
  • 45A Hereditary information for a species : GENE POOL
  • 11D Blended family relative : STEP-NIECE
  • 35D Somewhat revealing T-shirt option : SCOOP NECK

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

Bill’s time: 5m 25s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Aussie birds with drumbeat-like mating calls : EMUS

The large flightless birds called emus make sounds by manipulating inflatable neck-sacs. The sac is about a foot long, has a thin wall and allows the bird to emit a booming sound. The type of sound emitted is the easiest way to differentiate between male and female emus.

14 Lucy Lawless title role : XENA

The Xena character, played by New Zealander Lucy Lawless, was introduced in a made-for-TV movie called “Hercules and the Amazon Women”. Lawless reprised the role in a series called “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”. Xena became so popular that a series was built around her character, with Lawless retained for the title role. The fictional Xena supposedly came from the “non-fictional” Greek city of Amphipolis.

17 Once-common childhood ailment : CHICKENPOX

Chickenpox is a viral infection, and a classic disease of childhood most commonly caught by 4-10 year olds. There is a complication that can arise later in life as the virus sometimes reactivates to cause shingles.

20 Giant whose #4 was retired : OTT

At 5′ 9″, baseball legend Mel Ott weighed just 170 lb (I don’t think he took steroids!) and yet he was the first National League player to hit over 500 home runs. Sadly, Ott died in a car accident in New Orleans in 1958 when he was only 49 years old. And, according to Wikipedia, “Ott’s name frequently appears in crossword puzzles, on account of its letter combination and brevity.” True that …

21 Rock’s Pop : IGGY

Iggy Pop is a punk rock performer from Muskegon, Michigan. When he was in high school, he was a drummer for a local band called the Iguanas, and so was given the nickname “Iggy”. He was the vocalist for a band called the Stooges, and is often referred to as the Godfather of Punk.

22 Figures of speech : TROPES

A trope is a figure of speech. The term “trope” comes from the Greek word “tropos” that has the same meaning.

24 Saffron-flavored Spanish dish : PAELLA

Paella is sometimes referred to as the Spanish national dish, but not by Spaniards. In Spain, paella is regarded as a typical regional dish from Valencia.

The crocus (plural “croci”) is a plant genus in the iris family. The term “crocus” ultimately derives from the Sanskrit word for “saffron”. Saffron spice comes from Crocus sativus, the “saffron crocus”.

30 The eastern half of a frozen food brand : -IDA

Ore-Ida frozen foods are all made using potatoes. The company is located in Oregon, just across the border from Idaho. “Ore-Ida” is a melding of the two state names.

37 Anjou, e.g. : PEAR

The Anjou pear is a cultivar of the European Pear. The Anjou is thought to have originated in Belgium or France (Anjou is a province in the Loire Valley of western France).

39 Garson of “Mrs. Miniver” : GREER

Greer Garson was a British actress who made a name for herself in Hollywood films in the forties. One of Garson’s most famous roles was playing the title character in the 1942 film “Mrs. Miniver”, starring alongside Walter Pidgeon. Garson married a much younger man in 1943, actor Richard Ney who played her son in “Mrs. Miniver”.

“Mrs. Miniver” is a 1942 movie starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon that is based on a 1940 book of the same name by Jan Struther. The book itself is actually a compilation of newspaper columns that Struther wrote for “The Times” of London. The columns were reflections of daily life in the run up to WWII as seen through the eyes of the fictional “Mrs. Miniver”. When the film was completed, President Roosevelt stepped in and had it rushed to theaters as he believed it would help convince the American people that the US needed to intervene in the war raging in Europe.

41 A lot of time, in Spain : ANOS

In Spanish, an “año” (year) is a “periodo de tiempo” (time frame, period of time).

44 Corporate VIP : CEO

Chief executive officer (CEO)

45 Hereditary information for a species : GENE POOL

The set of all genes in a particular population is known as the “gene pool”, a term coined in Russian by geneticist Aleksandr Sergeevich Serebrovskii in the 1920s. In general, the larger the gene pool, the more diverse and robust the population.

49 Incan wool sources : LLAMAS

The wool from a llama is much softer than that from a sheep, and it is also free from lanolin.

55 Cruising the Arctic, say : ASEA

The Arctic Ocean is in the north polar region, and is almost completely covered by sea ice in the winter. The amount of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean during the summer has been dropping in recent times, as a consequence of climate change.

57 Fish served in poke : AHI

Poke is a Native-Hawaiian dish featuring diced raw fish. “Poke” is a Hawaiian word meaning “to slice”.

58 Butter substitute : OLEO

Emperor Louis Napoleon III of France announced a competition to develop a substitute for butter, a substitute that would be more accessible to the lower classes and more practical for the armed forces. A French chemist called Hippolyte Mege-Mouries came up with something he called oleomargarine in 1869, which was eventually manufactured under the trade name “margarine”. The name “oleomargarine” also gives us our generic term “oleo”.

59 Five-pointed stars … or, in two words, what the sets of circles represent? : PENTANGLES or “PEN” TANGLES

A pentagram is a star-shape with five points that has been drawn using five straight lines. The name “pentagram” comes from the Greek for “five line”. The shape is sometimes also called a “pentacle”, “pentalpha” or “pentangle”. The pentagram is used as a prominent symbol in several religions and movements, notably in modern occultism.

64 Maine, to Macron : ETAT

In French, an “état” (state) is an “entité politique” (political entity).

When Emmanuel Macron became President of France in 2017, he was 39 years of age, and so became the youngest person to ever hold that office.

65 The Dead Sea, actually : LAKE

The Dead Sea is a salt lake that lies over 1,000 feet below sea level in the Middle East. It is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, with a salt content that is almost ten times that of most oceans.

66 Cordial dealings : AMITY

Back in the 14th century, we used the word “cordial” to mean “from the heart”. The most common meaning today is “courteous and gracious”. The original usage also evolved into the name for a drink that “stimulated the heart”. Today’s cordial beverages are strong, sweetened liqueurs.

Down

1 Many a bodyguard : EX-COP

“To cop” was northern-English dialect for “to seize, catch”, and is still a slang term meaning “to get hold of, steal”. This verb evolved in the noun “copper”, describing a policeman, someone who catches criminals. “Copper” is often shortened to “cop”.

2 Maestro Zubin : MEHTA

Zubin Mehta is an Indian conductor of western classical music, from Mumbai. Mehta studied music in Vienna, where he made his conducting debut in 1958. In 1961 he was named assistant director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, creating a fuss with the music director designate of the orchestra, Georg Solti. Solti resigned as a protest, and Mehta took his job. In 1978 Mehta took over as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, eventually becoming the longest holder of that position. In 2019, the Los Angeles Philharmonic bestowed on Mehta the title of Conductor Emeritus.

“Maestro” is often used to address a musical conductor. “Maestro” (plural “maestri”) is the Italian word for “master, teacher”. The plural in English is usually “maestros”.

4 __ fly: RBI producer : SAC

That would be baseball.

6 Like the mind’s “i” : LONG

The letter I and in the word “mind” is a long I.

8 Former Prizm maker : GEO

Geos were small vehicles manufactured by General Motors mainly in the nineties. They were designed to compete head-to-head with the small imports that were gaining market share at the time in the US. Some Geo models that you might remember are the Metro, the Prizm and the Storm. The cars were actually built as joint-ventures with Japanese manufacturers. The Prizm was a GM/Toyota project, the Metro was GM/Suzuki, and the Storm was GM/Isuzu.

10 Big name in furs : ASTOR

John Jacob Astor was the patriarch of the famous American Astor dynasty. He was the country’s first multi-millionaire, making his fortune in the trade of fur, real estate and opium. In today’s terms, it has been calculated that by the time of his death he has accumulated a fortune big enough to make him the fourth wealthiest man in American history (in the company of the likes of Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller).

23 Oscar-winning director Howard : RON

Ron Howard sure has come a long way since playing Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show”. He has directed some fabulous movies including favorites of mine like “Apollo 13”, “The Da Vinci Code” and “A Beautiful Mind”, the latter earning Howard a Best Director Oscar.

25 YouTube clicks : LIKES

YouTube is a video-sharing website that was launched in 2005 by three ex-PayPal employees. Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. Yep, $1.65 billion, less than two years after it was founded …

26 Like Van Winkle, for 20 years : ASLEEP

“Rip Van Winkle” is a short story written by Washington Irving. In the tale, the hero falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains for twenty years. Van Winkle awakens to a much-changed world having snoozed right through the American Revolution. The story was an instant hit, and was adapted for the stage just a few years after its first publication in 1819. Since then “Rip” has featured on the small screen, big screen and even in an operetta.

29 “Still Me” memoirist : REEVE

Actor Christopher Reeve was most associated with his portrayal of Superman in the late seventies and early eighties. Reeve became paralyzed from the neck down when he fell from a horse in a jumping event in 1995. He published a best-selling autobiography 1999 called “Still Me), and sadly passed away in 2004.

32 Greek war god : ARES

The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of bloodlust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos (Fear), Deimos (Terror) and Eros (Desire). Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, and the Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars.

33 Storied bloodsucker, for short : DRAC

“Dracula” is a novel written by the Irish author Bram Stoker and first published in 1897. Dracula wasn’t the first vampire of literature, but he certainly was the one who spawned the popularity of vampires in theater, film and television, and indeed more novels. Personally, I can’t stand vampire fiction …

34 Mozart’s “__ Kleine Nachtmusik” : EINE

Mozart’s ”Serenade No. 13 for Strings in G major” is better known as “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”, which translates into “a little serenade”, but the more literal English translation of “a little night music” is often used. It is a delightful piece in four, very recognizable movements, although there is much debate about a “lost” fifth movement.

37 Journalist Zahn : PAULA

Paula Zahn has worked as a journalist and news anchor with ABC, NBC, Fox News and CNN. In 2009, she first appeared as the host of the long-running true crime show on the Discovery Channel called “On the Case with Paula Zahn”. Outside of her work on television, Zahn is an accomplished cellist and has even played at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra.

43 __ Heights: Mideast region : GOLAN

Geographically speaking, the Golan Heights is a plateau in the Middle East with the western two-thirds of its area falling within Israel, and the eastern third falling within Syria. The name Golan Heights also applies to the geopolitical region that was captured from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and occupied by Israel.

45 Wildebeest : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

46 Cate with a falsely accused cow : O’LEARY

The Great Chicago Fire blazed for almost three full days in October of 1871. By the time it was extinguished, hundreds of people had died and four square miles of the city had been destroyed. It is known that the fire started in or near a small barn owned by an Irish immigrant, a Mrs. Catherine “Cate” O’Leary. A reporter called Michael Ahern wrote in the “Chicago Tribune” that the fire was ignited when a cow in the barn kicked over a lantern. Years later, Ahern admitted that he made up the story about the cow and the lantern, as he felt it made colorful copy. Supposedly, Mrs. O’Leary died a heartbroken woman, as she spent the rest of her life with the public blaming her on the tragic loss of life and property.

50 Island near Sicily : MALTA

The island state of Malta is relatively small (122 square miles), but its large number of inhabitants makes it one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. Malta’s strategic location has made it a prized possession for the conquering empires of the world. Most recently it was part of the British Empire and was an important fleet headquarters. Malta played a crucial role for the Allies during WWII as it was located very close to the Axis shipping lanes in the Mediterranean. The Siege of Malta lasted from 1940 to 1942, a prolonged attack by the Italians and Germans on the RAF and Royal Navy, and the people of Malta. When the siege was lifted, King George VI awarded the George Cross to the people of Malta collectively in recognition of their heroism and devotion to the Allied cause. The George Cross can still be seen on the Maltese flag, even though Britain granted Malta independence in 1964.

In the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, the “boot” is the mainland of Italy, and the “ball” being kicked by the boot is the island of Sicily.

53 Ump’s call : FOUL

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

54 Forearm bone : ULNA

The radius and ulna are bones in the forearm. If you hold the palm of your hand up in front of you, the radius is the bone on the “thumb-side” of the arm, and the ulna is the bone on the “pinky-side”.

55 The Beatles’ “__ Love Her” : AND I

“And I Love Her” is a marvelous ballad recorded by the Beatles in 1964 (and one of my favorite Lennon/McCartney compositions). There’s a lovely rendition of the song in the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night”.

56 Editor’s “Let it be” : STET

“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.

60 Title tree in six horror films : ELM

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is a Wes Craven slasher-horror film that was released in 1984. As I don’t do “slasher” or “horror”, I was surprised to learn that Johnny Depp was in the movie, making his feature film debut.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Aussie birds with drumbeat-like mating calls : EMUS
5 Get in a row : ALIGN
10 Regarding : AS TO
14 Lucy Lawless title role : XENA
15 “Take a look” : GO SEE
16 Hit the brakes : STOP
17 Once-common childhood ailment : CHICKENPOX
19 Nomadic quarters : TENT
20 Giant whose #4 was retired : OTT
21 Rock’s Pop : IGGY
22 Figures of speech : TROPES
24 Saffron-flavored Spanish dish : PAELLA
26 Embellish : ADORN
27 Reporting live : IN PERSON
30 The eastern half of a frozen food brand : -IDA
33 Writers’ workplaces : DESKS
36 Move, in realty ads : RELO
37 Anjou, e.g. : PEAR
38 24-Across ingredient : RICE
39 Garson of “Mrs. Miniver” : GREER
40 Summit : ACME
41 A lot of time, in Spain : ANOS
42 Wild party : RAVE
43 Speculate : GUESS
44 Corporate VIP : CEO
45 Hereditary information for a species : GENE POOL
47 Having glass sections : PANED
49 Incan wool sources : LLAMAS
53 Race with no real losers : FUN RUN
55 Cruising the Arctic, say : ASEA
57 Fish served in poke : AHI
58 Butter substitute : OLEO
59 Five-pointed stars … or, in two words, what the sets of circles represent? : PENTANGLES or “PEN” TANGLES
62 Family nicknames : UNCS
63 Tribal leader : ELDER
64 Maine, to Macron : ETAT
65 The Dead Sea, actually : LAKE
66 Cordial dealings : AMITY
67 “I did it!” : TA-DA!

Down

1 Many a bodyguard : EX-COP
2 Maestro Zubin : MEHTA
3 Make one out of many : UNITE
4 __ fly: RBI producer : SAC
5 What separates the men from the boys? : AGE GAP
6 Like the mind’s “i” : LONG
7 Guessing game : I SPY
8 Former Prizm maker : GEO
9 Living very close by : NEXT DOOR
10 Big name in furs : ASTOR
11 Blended family relative : STEP-NIECE
12 Vocal quality : TONE
13 Gets involved, with “in” : OPTS …
18 Potters’ needs : KILNS
23 Oscar-winning director Howard : RON
25 YouTube clicks : LIKES
26 Like Van Winkle, for 20 years : ASLEEP
28 Trip to the market, say : ERRAND
29 “Still Me” memoirist : REEVE
31 Water containers? : DAMS
32 Greek war god : ARES
33 Storied bloodsucker, for short : DRAC
34 Mozart’s “__ Kleine Nachtmusik” : EINE
35 Somewhat revealing T-shirt option : SCOOP NECK
37 Journalist Zahn : PAULA
39 Pot pie veggie : GREEN PEA
43 __ Heights: Mideast region : GOLAN
45 Wildebeest : GNU
46 Cate with a falsely accused cow : O’LEARY
48 Sprang up : AROSE
50 Island near Sicily : MALTA
51 Winning : AHEAD
52 Slangy sibling : SISTA
53 Ump’s call : FOUL
54 Forearm bone : ULNA
55 The Beatles’ “__ Love Her” : AND I
56 Editor’s “Let it be” : STET
60 Title tree in six horror films : ELM
61 Understand : GET

11 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 3 Mar 21, Wednesday”

  1. Messed up on 29D. Actually had RAGE for 42A and didn’t bother to look at 29D because everything filled in.. rats!

    Thought the hint for for 30A was like a bad dad joke. I chuckled.

    Never heard of SCOOP NECK?? I’ll have to look that up.

  2. Oh, now I know what a SCOOP NECK is. Didn’t know the name but I’ve definitely seen them!!

    @glen, appreciate the insight on the NEWSDAY puzzle. I’m not quite to that level but I’m not sure I would have gotten started in this racket if I had to do those hard ones all the time. But there is definitely a place for them as I get “better”. I guess easy sells more than hard.

  3. So today I put “links” instead of “likes” for YouTube clicks and that threw me off in the middle left. Otherwise pretty easy.

  4. Easy enough Wednesday.
    Had EXCOn before EXCOP and Apex before ACME, both crosswordese.
    Did not know REEVE’s book, or the Hawaian poke (thanx Bill).
    My husband says a SAC fly is a sacrifice fly where you give up a good shot to give the guy on 3rd a chance to run home. Whatever.

  5. 6:50, no errors. Definitely was slow last night for some reason…

    @Anon Mike
    Definitely! I got blown out of the water by most of these things when I started for quite some time (you can even see it on this blog if you look back far enough). Always an opportunity to work your way up, though. Assuming “up” doesn’t get lowered on you. Speaking of that, I have to wonder what happened with yesterday’s Croce and if it was just me…

    Luckily though I did get to keep most of the Sat Newsday I ran across when I started this, so they’ll definitely be looked at, eventually.

    I do think “easy” gets sold a lot more than hard. If you look at all the trade books (Penny, Dell, etc) along with a lot of the other stuff, about 90% of the crosswords out there are Tuesday NYT level or (in some cases lots) easier. Good for those that want those kind of things (never “got” word finds or fill-ins), but hard when you want to find something challenging.

  6. 9:24, no errors. Couldn’t download the LAT puzzle from anywhere until almost 11 o’clock (Denver time) last night.

    @Glenn … I finished yesterday’s Croce with no errors and no Googles, but I found it very hard and it took me 1:39:43. Is that relevant to your question?

    FWIW, I think Croce is going through one of his difficult periods. What I normally like about his puzzles is the uncanny way in which his clues seem to give me just enough hints to guess at unfamiliar answers and get them right, but, every once in a while, things get a lot harder for a while. (Maybe he’s preoccupied with the little one in his household and unable to spend as much time on his cluing.)

    OTOH, it may be just me (🤪): Monday’s “Marching Bands” puzzle from BEQ also seemed unusually difficult; I finished it only by using Google.

    1. @A Nonny Muss
      Yep. 28 minutes and change for me. No Googles, no errors. Was kind of ironic to cakewalk that puzzle (by my average with his puzzles, it’s much higher) after I’ve talked about the things I’ve talked. I’ll probably be a little more scared about it if his Friday puzzle solves like that for me too.

      On another note for the curious, I tend to look for harder stuff to solve “recreationally” (basically just stuff to solve when I have downtime as opposed to the daily offerings I slate time for). Lately it’s been a puzzle set by Andrew Ries, which definitely has (mostly) been knock-down drag-out affairs but very interesting. Very hard, but clean and fair. I definitely was in a position to compare those to what shows up in the NYT by his by-line, so a good window as to what Shortz/et al. changes. He’s got a few freebies on his site (https://www.ariespuzzles.com/).

      As a side note, this kind of stuff is typically the only thing I spreadsheet/record times on because I don’t know exactly how much fresh material of that nature I’m going to be able to find.

  7. 8 minutes, 45 seconds, no errors or issues. Pretty smooth solve. Theme was a bit overwrought, with PEN-tangles obscuring PENT-angles in the pronunciation inside one’s head. That’s as annoying a “trick” as purposely phrasing a clue so that people misread and misunderstand it.

  8. Accidentally did the Thursday puzzle and had to come back to this one; took 11:24 with no errors or peeks. Was thinking 30A was the Dryer/Edys thing at first and PENTANGLE is new to me, but the crosses came through.

    Ah! Iggy Pop: Lust for Life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDU6TJcrZdA

    At 69 – although in this video 56, he’s still got it going…

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