LA Times Crossword 31 Mar 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Joe Deeney
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: First Things First

The FIRST word in each themed answer is often preceded by “FIRST”:

  • 61A “Start at the beginning,” and a hint to the four other longest Across answers : FIRST THINGS FIRST
  • 18 2010s sci-fi crime drama starring Michael Emerson : PERSON OF INTEREST (giving “FIRST PERSON”)
  • 24A Completed in haste : DOWN AND DIRTY (giving “FIRST DOWN”)
  • 39A Equine sprinter : QUARTER HORSE (giving “FIRST QUARTER”)
  • 53A Pull-and-peel food item : STRING CHEESE (giving “FIRST STRING”)

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

Bill’s time: 9m 05s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations __ Ujiri : MASAI

Masai Ujiri is a former professional basketball player who became president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors in 2016. Ujiri was born to a Nigerian family in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, and moved back to Nigeria with his family when he was a toddler. He left Nigeria to play college basketball in the US, before returning to England to play as a professional. After a playing career with various teams in Europe, he turned to coaching in North America.

6 “Ditto!” : SO AM I!

The word “ditto” was originally used in Italian (from Tuscan dialect) to avoid repetition of the names of months in a series of dates. So, “ditto” is just another wonderful import from that lovely land …

11 Qatar’s capital : DOHA

Doha is the capital city of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. The name “Doha” translates from Arabic as “the big tree”.

Qatar is a sovereign state in the Middle East occupying the Qatar Peninsula, itself located in the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar lies on the Persian Gulf and shares one land border, with Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar has more oil and gas reserves per capita of population than any other country in the world. In 2010, Qatar had the fastest growing economy in the world, driven by the petrochemical industry. Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, although the nation’s eligibility to do so is under question after a far-reaching bribery scandal was uncovered at the sport’s governing body.

15 Largest members of the dolphin family : ORCAS

The taxonomic name for the killer whale is “Orcinus orca”. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.

Cetaceans (aka “the dolphin family”) are mammals that have adapted to life in water. Examples of cetaceans are whales, dolphins and porpoises. The cetaceans’ nearest relative still living on land is the hippopotamus, with divergence having taken place about sixty million years ago.

17 Iridescent gem : OPAL

An opal is often described as having a milky iridescence known as opalescence.

An iridescent surface appears to change color gradually with a change in the angle of view, or a change in the angle that the light is hitting that surface.

18 2010s sci-fi crime drama starring Michael Emerson : PERSON OF INTEREST (giving “FIRST PERSON”)

“Person of Interest” is a sci-fi crime show on television that originally ran from 2011 and 2016. It’s all about a presumed-dead CIA agent who prevents crime, based on alerts given by “the Machine”. The Machine is a mass-surveillance system that can identify an individual who is about to commit a violent crime.

Michael Emerson is an actor best known for his appearances on television. He plays serial killer William Hinks of “The Practice”, good/bad guy Benjamin Linus on “Lost”, and billionaire software engineer Harold Finch on “Person of Interest”. Emerson married the marvelous actress Carrie Preston (Elsbeth Tascioni on “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight”) in 1998.

21 Two after epsilon : ETA

Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was used as a long vowel in Ancient Greek.

22 Full Sail offering : ALE

Full Sail is a craft brewery in Hood River, Oregon that was founded in 1987.

32 Diva’s numbers : SOLOS

The term “diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. “Diva” is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

38 Noodle output? : IDEA

“Noodle” and “bean” are slang terms for the head.

39 Equine sprinter : QUARTER HORSE (giving “FIRST QUARTER”)

A quarter horse is one that has been bred to run short-distance races of about quarter of a mile, hence the name.

46 NBC drama with two pronouns in its title : THIS IS US

“This Is Us” is a television drama that debuted in 2016. The storyline centers on three siblings and their parents. Two of the siblings are the surviving members of a triplet pregnancy. The parents decide to adopt a child born on the same day as the surviving siblings. The adopting family is white, and the adopted child is black.

48 Brass in parades : TUBAS

The tuba is the lowest-pitched of all the brass instruments, and one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra (usually there is just one tuba included in an orchestral line-up). “Tuba” is the Latin word for “trumpet, horn”. Oom-pah-pah …

53 Pull-and-peel food item : STRING CHEESE (giving “FIRST STRING”)

String cheese is made in such a way that proteins in the cheese line up, giving it a “stringy” texture. In the US, we are most familiar with string mozzarella that comes in individually-wrapped “cheese sticks”.

We’ve been using the phrases “first string” and “second string” in athletics since the mid-19th century. The expressions come from archery, in which a competitor would carry a second bowstring in case the first broke.

57 Dresden denial : NEIN

The German city of Dresden was almost completely destroyed during WWII, especially as a result of the famous firebombing of the city in 1945. Restoration work in the inner city in recent decades led to it being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, in 2006 when the city built a highway bridge close to the city center, UNESCO took Dresden off the list. This marked the only time a European location has lost World Heritage status.

59 Castle queenside, in chess notation : O-O-O

In the notation used to record moves in games of chess, castling with the kingside rook can be recorded as O-O, and with the queenside rook as O-O-O.

In the game of chess, the move known as “castling” involves the king two squares towards one of the rooks, and then placing that rook in the square over which the king crossed. It is the only chess move involving two pieces at the same time.

60 “Atonement” author McEwan : IAN

Ian McEwan is an English novelist with a track record of writing well-received novels. His most famous work of recent years I would say is “Atonement” which has benefited from the success of a fabulous movie adaptation released in 2007.

67 Smoothie berry : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

68 Traffic cop? : NARCO

“Narc” and “narco” are slang terms describing a law enforcement officer who tracks down criminals associated with illegal drugs. Both words are short for “narcotics officer”. Narcs might work for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

70 Ping-Pong supplies : NETS

Ping-Pong is called table tennis in the UK, where the sport originated in the 1880s. Table tennis started as an after-dinner activity among the elite, and was called “wiff-waff”. To play the game, books were stacked in the center of a table as a “net”, two more books served as “”rackets” and the ball used was actually a golf ball. The game evolved over time with the rackets being upgraded to the lids of cigar boxes and the ball becoming a champagne cork (how snooty is that?). Eventually the game was produced commercially, and the sound of the ball hitting the racket was deemed to be a “ping” and a “pong”, giving the sport its alternative name. The name “Ping-Pong” was trademarked in Britain in 1901, and eventually sold to Parker Brothers in the US.

71 Kids : TYKES

“Tyke” has been used playfully to describe a young child since at least 1902 For centuries before that, a tyke was a cur or mongrel, or perhaps a lazy or lower-class man.

Down

1 Fuel-efficient bikes : MOPEDS

The word “moped” was coined in 1952 by a Swedish journalist named Harald Nielsen. The term is a portmanteau of “motor” and “pedal”.

5 Prefix with metric : ISO-

The word “isometric” comes from Greek, and means “having equal measurement”. Isometric exercise is a resistance exercise in which the muscle does not change in length (and the joint angle stays the same). The alternative would be dynamic exercises, ones using the joint’s full range of motion.

8 Whom Clay became : ALI

Boxer Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. was born in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam in 1964. Who can forget Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame for the 1996 games in Atlanta?

10 Wednesday kin : ITT

In the television sitcom “The Addams Family”, the family had a frequent visitor called Cousin Itt. Itt is a short man with long hair that runs from his head to the floor. Cousin Itt was played by Italian actor Felix Silla.

Wednesday Addams is the daughter in the television sitcom “The Addams Family”. In the original cartoon strip, members of the Addams family had no given names. The names were introduced for the television show.

11 TV explorer with a monkey named Boots : DORA

“Dora the Explorer” is a cartoon series shown on Nickelodeon. Part of Dora’s remit is to introduce the show’s young viewers to some Spanish words and phrases. Dora’s constant companion is an anthropomorphic monkey named “Boots”, because he always wears red boots.

12 Hygienist’s request : OPEN WIDE

Hygieia was both the Greek and Roman goddess of health and cleanliness. She was a daughter of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. The name “Hygieia” gives us our contemporary term “hygiene”.

14 Ctrl-__-Del : ALT

Ctrl-Alt-Delete is a keyboard command on IBM PC compatible systems used for a soft reboot, or more recently to bring up the task manager in the Windows operating system. Bill Gates tells us that the command was originally just a device to be used during development and was never meant to “go live”. He once said that “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” was a mistake, and that he would have preferred a dedicated key on the keyboard that carried out the same function.

19 Photographer Goldin : NAN

Nan Goldin is an American photographer who works out of New York, Berlin and Paris. She is known for her work featuring LGBY models, and for images highlighting the HIV crisis and the opioid epidemic.

20 Freezer aisle brand : EDY’S

Dreyer’s ice cream sells its products under the name Dreyer’s in the Western United States, and Edy’s in the Eastern states. The company’s founders were William Dreyer and Joseph Edy.

25 Shutout feature : NO RUNS

That might be baseball.

26 Crossing the pond, say : ASEA

The Atlantic Ocean has been referred to as “the pond” for quite a long time. The expression dates back to the 1640s.

29 Emmy winner Cicely : TYSON

Cicely Tyson was an actress whose career really took off after her performance in the 1972 film “Sounder”, for which she received an Oscar nomination. In the outstanding mini-series “Roots”, she played the role of Binta, Kunta Kinte’s mother back in his homeland of Gambia. More recently, she played Analease Keating’s mother on the show “How to Get Away with Murder”. Tyson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2016. Sadly, she passed away in 2021 at the age of 96 years.

31 Anti-traffic org. : DEA

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was set up in 1973 while President Nixon was in office.

37 __ Challenge: soft drink promotion : PEPSI

The Pepsi Challenge is a marketing campaign that PepsiCo introduced in 1975 as a tactic in the Cola Wars with the Coca-Cola Company. The challenge itself involves a blind taste test.

41 With 66-Down, nest egg option : ROTH …
(66D See 41-Down : … IRA)

Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (Roth IRAs) were introduced in 1997 under a bill sponsored by Senator William Roth of Delaware, hence the name.

42 Cardinal letters : STL

The St. Louis Cardinals were originally called the “Brown Stockings”, changing their name to the “Perfectos” in 1899. That obviously didn’t go down well with the locals, as the owners changed it one year later to the Cardinals.

49 Lebanon’s capital : BEIRUT

Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon. After WWI, Lebanon was placed under administrative control of the French and Beirut flourished as a financial center in the Middle East and as a major world tourist destination. The city was devastated in the Lebanese Civil War that raged from 1975 to 1990, but reconstruction has restored the city to much of its former glory, making it a major cultural center once again.

50 How flatware is usually sold : AS A SET

“Flatware” is a term that still surprises me, because I grew up on the other side of the Atlantic. In the US, flatware is silverware, knives and forks, etc. Over in Ireland, we call silverware “cutlery”. We do use the term “flatware”, but it describes those items of dishware that are relatively “flat”, like plates, saucers and bowls. Very confusing …

54 Time being : NONCE

The quaint phrase “for the nonce” means “for the present, for now”.

55 “We Got the Beat” group : GO-GOS

The Go-Gos are an all-female rock band that formed in Los Angeles back in 1978. The band’s biggest hit was “We Got the Beat”, which was released in 1982.

56 Trig. ratio : COS

The most familiar trigonometric functions are sine, cosine and tangent (abbreviated to “sin, cos and tan”). Each of these is a ratio: a ratio of two sides of a right-angled triangle. The “reciprocal” of these three functions are cosecant, secant and cotangent. The reciprocal functions are simply the inverted ratios, the inverted sine, cosine and tangent. These inverted ratios should not be confused with the “inverse” trigonometric functions e.g. arcsine, arccosine and arctangent. These inverse functions are the reverse of the sine, cosine and tangent.

58 Goddess with cow’s horns : ISIS

Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, as well as the protector of the dead and the goddess of children. She was the personification of the pharaoh’s power. The name “Isis” translates as “throne”, and she is usually depicted with a headdress shaped like a throne.

62 Big bang letters? : TNT

“TNT” is an abbreviation for “trinitrotoluene”. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

63 Mare’s meal : HAY

There are lots of terms to describe horses of different ages and sexes, it seems:

  • Foal: horse of either sex that is less than one year old
  • Yearling: horse of either sex that is one to two years old
  • Filly: female horse under the age of four
  • Colt: male horse under the age of four
  • Gelding: castrated male horse of any age
  • Stallion: non-castrated male horse four years or older
  • Mare: female horse four years or older

65 Consumer protection org. : FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was established in 1914 with the mission of protecting consumers.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations __ Ujiri : MASAI
6 “Ditto!” : SO AM I!
11 Qatar’s capital : DOHA
15 Largest members of the dolphin family : ORCAS
16 B’s equivalent : C-FLAT
17 Iridescent gem : OPAL
18 2010s sci-fi crime drama starring Michael Emerson : PERSON OF INTEREST (giving “FIRST PERSON”)
21 Two after epsilon : ETA
22 Full Sail offering : ALE
23 “Rats!” : DANG!
24 Completed in haste : DOWN AND DIRTY (giving “FIRST DOWN”)
30 Bill collection? : WAD
32 Diva’s numbers : SOLOS
33 Stalls : BUYS TIME
35 NBA official : REF
37 “I’ll skip it” : PASS
38 Noodle output? : IDEA
39 Equine sprinter : QUARTER HORSE (giving “FIRST QUARTER”)
42 Leave speechless : STUN
44 “Silly me!” : OOPS!
45 Discouraging words : NOS
46 NBC drama with two pronouns in its title : THIS IS US
48 Brass in parades : TUBAS
52 Name that’s also a Roman numeral : LIV
53 Pull-and-peel food item : STRING CHEESE (giving “FIRST STRING”)
57 Dresden denial : NEIN
59 Castle queenside, in chess notation : O-O-O
60 “Atonement” author McEwan : IAN
61 “Start at the beginning,” and a hint to the four other longest Across answers : FIRST THINGS FIRST
67 Smoothie berry : ACAI
68 Traffic cop? : NARCO
69 More loyal : TRUER
70 Ping-Pong supplies : NETS
71 Kids : TYKES
72 Showing one’s claws, so to speak : CATTY

Down

1 Fuel-efficient bikes : MOPEDS
2 Playground rebuttal : ARE TOO!
3 Prescription, to a layperson? : SCRAWL
4 Remote batteries : AAS
5 Prefix with metric : ISO-
6 Take to task : SCOLD
7 Did in : OFFED
8 Whom Clay became : ALI
9 Fellow : MAN
10 Wednesday kin : ITT
11 TV explorer with a monkey named Boots : DORA
12 Hygienist’s request : OPEN WIDE
13 Can really play : HAS GAME
14 Ctrl-__-Del : ALT
19 Photographer Goldin : NAN
20 Freezer aisle brand : EDY’S
25 Shutout feature : NO RUNS
26 Crossing the pond, say : ASEA
27 Pronoun-shaped girders : I-BARS
28 Hurry : RUSH
29 Emmy winner Cicely : TYSON
31 Anti-traffic org. : DEA
34 Crying need : TISSUE
36 Cold coat : FROST
37 __ Challenge: soft drink promotion : PEPSI
39 Shake in fear over : QUIVER AT
40 Series of dates : TOUR
41 With 66-Down, nest egg option : ROTH …
42 Cardinal letters : STL
43 Metaphor for a treacherous situation : THIN ICE
47 Ain’t right? : ISN’T
49 Lebanon’s capital : BEIRUT
50 How flatware is usually sold : AS A SET
51 Guard at the gate : SENTRY
54 Time being : NONCE
55 “We Got the Beat” group : GO-GOS
56 Trig. ratio : COS
58 Goddess with cow’s horns : ISIS
61 Ceiling fixture : FAN
62 Big bang letters? : TNT
63 Mare’s meal : HAY
64 Really bug : IRK
65 Consumer protection org. : FTC
66 See 41-Down : … IRA

23 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 31 Mar 21, Wednesday”

  1. Ok, Mr Deeney got me on 5D. I went with BIO. that made 1A MASAB which I didn’t know, 15A became ORCAI which I thought was one of those crossword setters plural tricks. In the great words of Snidely Whiplash “… foiled again”.

    1. Interesting. For 5D I put GEO which made MASAG, which I didn’t know. It also made ORCAE, which I also thought could be. Another day, another challenge.

  2. @glen. That PUZ reference got me searching. Never heard of it. I don’t have a subscription to NY TIMES but does the software work independent of the newspaper?

  3. No errors, no look-ups, but quite a few start-overs. I didn’t know
    the chess castle bit, but got it through cross letters. The theme eluded
    me until I got the reveal clue. Enjoyable start to the day.

  4. I’m a basketball guy, but it took me a while to remember Masai at the top left though it was the first thing I looked at and he’s been a pretty prominent NBA executive the last few seasons. Fortunately, I started at the bottom and it came to mind when I got there.
    Still not clear on some of the cluing conventions. I know this is an area of interest for many, so please chime in. I appreciated the ?-mark with BILL COLLECTION, NOODLE OUTPUT, TRAFFIC COP, AIN’T RIGHT, and BIG BANG LETTERS as I knew not to be literal. But I don’t see why ANTI-TRAFFIC ORG (31D) doesn’t get a ? since it’s actually anti-trafficking, not traffic. When compared to the literal/direct clue for 65D (Consumer protection org.), that leaves me a bit fuzzy. Anyway, thoughts and correctives are welcome. I enjoy this first thing in the morning and have been doing it for 4-5 years, but that still makes me a newb compared to many of you.

  5. 24:25 no errors…1A might not be the most obscure clue ever but it’s close.
    Stay safe😀
    Play ball!!!
    I’m off to get m booster…wish me luck

  6. 6:25, no errors. Person of Interest is the last TV show I got into a lot and happen to have DVD sets of the entire series sitting here. Unfortunately, the writers had to skew the whole project in the middle when the world found out via Snowden that they weren’t as sci-fi as they intended. Sadly, it wasn’t as a good as a result.

    @Anon Mike
    PUZ is an offline file format (Internet connection not needed to use past downloading the file) that describes crossword puzzles. You can open them on your computer and either do the puzzle through the program or print them. The New York Times offers the files with their subscription but you can find them for about any other puzzle, and even from indie sources (lots of constructors have blogs they post puzzles to).

  7. The puzzle seemed more “Thursdayish” rather than “Wednesdayish” in terms of difficulty. While I finished without final error I admit to lightly inking in quite a few words in my uncertainty. If this is any indication of which direction we are headed in terms of difficulty for the remainder of the week color me worried…

  8. And just to piggyback on one of today’s long answers with an eye to bringing a little levity to the day: “Did you hear about the theoretical physicist who toyed with the idea of becoming a dairy farmer? He called it string cheese theory.

  9. 9:06

    I had no idea what the theme meant. Thanks for the explanation, Bill! There were also several people I learned of today. By the way, in the explanation for 19D, do you mean Nan Goldin photographed. “LGBT models”?

  10. 9 minutes, 42 seconds, no errors, marking the closest time I’ve had to Bill’s solve this year, I think. Straightforward and pretty easy for a Wednesday!

  11. Flatware made out of sterling silver is called silverware. Most people now in USA use stainless (or plastic in fast food takeout. )

  12. Flatware made out of sterling silver is called silverware. Most people now in USA use stainless (or plastic in fast food takeout. )

  13. Had to Google for MASAI or NO RUNS. Had shIVER before QUIVER. Thought QUIVERs were on arrows. Did not know NAN.
    @Tony – nice joke!
    My dad worked at Oneida Ltd. Silversmiths where they manufactured both steel and silverware. For toys, we had actual flat stainless spoons and forks. One time an entire truck of finished silverware was stolen and never found. That’s a heist.

  14. Took two hours lying on sofa, watching TV, snacking and doing puzzle. I am envious of guys who can finish puzzle in less time than it takes me to read clues.
    But I’m retired and supposed to challenge my brain, and this puzzle did it. Got most of it by putting in letters until they seemed to spell an appropriate word. Guessed “ooo” for chess clue because it seemed clever and gave me “nonce” which I am familiar with, but this is first time in my 85 years that I have ever used it.
    Slugged through crosses and downs and guessing until finished, but never got the “theme” which is kind of lame. I never complain about lame clues of which there are plenty. Just get in their and slug away.

  15. Tricky Wednesday for me; took 20:46 with no errors or peeks – surprising even me today. Didn’t know any of the people or shows referenced and made several wrong guesses, but when I finally fixed QUaVER AT, I got the banner!

    Really liked “Wednesday kin” – ITT – and from the WSJ: “Load wild animals onto the ark?” – BOARD GAME. Always good to laugh!

    @Pam – Maybe Yetis 🙂

    Got my second shot last Friday…woo hoo!

    1. Bill is the author of this blog, which he writes as a hobby and as a gift for us crossword lovers!!🤗 See top of page as well as FAQ link on the right.

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