LA Times Crossword 20 May 21, Thursday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Mrs.

Themed answers are celebrated “Mrs.”:

  • 66D Title for eight puzzle answers : MRS
  • 1A *Historic barn owner : … O’LEARY
  • 7A *Screen seductress : … ROBINSON
  • 38A *Dried spices brand : … DASH
  • 39A *1993 Williams role : … DOUBTFIRE
  • 41A *Bart’s teacher : … KRABAPPEL
  • 43A *Frozen fish brand namesake : … PAUL
  • 69A *Virginia Woolf protagonist : … DALLOWAY
  • 70A *Big name in cookies : … FIELDS

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

Bill’s time: 7m 21s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 *Historic barn owner : … 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 for colorful copy. Supposedly, Mrs. O’Leary died a heartbroken woman, as she spent the rest of her life with the public blaming her for the tragic loss of life and property.

7 *Screen seductress : … ROBINSON

When Mike Nichols was making the 1967 film “The Graduate” he apparently became obsessed with the music of Simon and Garfunkel, who were just coming into the limelight. Nichols made a deal with Paul Simon to write three songs that he could use on the soundtrack of his new movie. Simon and Garfunkel were touring constantly around that time, so Nichols had to badger Simon to hold up his end of the bargain. When Nichols was ready to lay down the film’s soundtrack there was only one commissioned song available, so Nichols had to basically beg Paul Simon for anything. Simon mentioned that he was finishing up one new song, but it wasn’t written for the film. It was more a celebration of former times, with lyrics about baseball great Joe DiMaggio and former First Lady, Mrs. Roosevelt. Nichols informed Simon that the song was no longer about Mrs. Roosevelt, and instead was about Mrs. Robinson …

15 “Peter Pan” playwright : BARRIE

Author and dramatist J.M. Barrie is best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan. Barrie wrote a play in 1904 called “Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”. He turned this into a novel called “Peter and Wendy” in 1911. The girl’s name “Wendy” was very uncommon before Barrie named his character, and he is given credit for making the name as popular as it is today.

17 Sells at a huge markup : SCALPS

Scalping of tickets, selling them above retail price for an excessive profit, originated in the mid-1800s with scalpers making money off theater tickets. There was also quite a bit of money made by people scalping railway tickets. Railroads gave discounts on tickets for longer journeys, so someone trying to get from San Francisco to Chicago might buy a ticket to New York. Once in Chicago the passenger would scalp the remainder of his/her ticket to someone wanting to get to New York, and make his or her invested money back with a bonus. The exact etymology of the term “scalper” seems unclear.

19 Sorbonne summer : ETE

“Sorbonne” is the name usually used for the old University of Paris, and some of the institutions that have succeeded it. The institution was named for French theologian Robert de Sorbonne who founded the original Collège de Sorbonne in 1257. That’s quite a while ago …

20 Sticker shock source, perhaps: Abbr. : MSRP

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP)

22 ESPN analyst who was a three-time A.L. MVP : A-ROD

Professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez earned more nicknames than just “A-Rod”. He has been called “the Cooler” by some players as there was a perception that teams went cold when he joined them and hot when he left. He has also been called “A-Fraud” by teammates because of another perception, that he is over-demanding. Rodriguez was in a world of hurt not so long ago, for using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He retired from baseball in 2016.

23 Shakespeare’s 154 : SONNETS

William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Here is Sonnet 110:

Alas! ’tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made my self a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new;
Most true it is, that I have looked on truth
Askance and strangely; but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
Now all is done, have what shall have no end:
Mine appetite I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confined.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.

25 Small ammo : BBS

A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.070″ in diameter) to size FF (.230″). Birdshot that is size BB (0.180″ in diameter) gives the airgun its name.

27 Tokyo’s Yoko : ONO

Yoko Ono was born in 1933 in Tokyo into a prosperous Japanese family, and is actually a descendant of one of the emperors of Japan. Yoko’s father moved around the world for work, and she lived the first few years of her life in San Francisco. The family returned to Japan, before moving on to New York, Hanoi and back to Japan just before WWII, in time to live through the great firebombing of Tokyo in 1945. Immediately after the war the family was far from prosperous. While Yoko’s father was being held in a prison camp in Vietnam, her mother had to resort to begging and bartering to feed her children. When her father was repatriated, life started to return to normal and Yoko was able to attend university. She was the first woman to be accepted into the philosophy program of Gakushuin University.

29 Classic ref. work : OED

Work started on what was to become the first “Oxford English Dictionary” (OED) in 1857. Several interim versions of the dictionary were published in the coming years with the first full version appearing, in ten bound volumes, in 1928. The second edition of the OED appeared in 1989 and is made up of twenty volumes. The OED was first published in electronic form in 1988 and went online in 2000. Given the modern use of computers, the publishing house responsible feels that there will never be a third print version of the famous dictionary.

35 Iridescent stones : OPALS

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

38 *Dried spices brand : … DASH

Mrs. Dash is a brand name of seasoning mixes. Just before the product first went to market in 1981, brand owner B&G Foods also considered the name “Mrs. Pinch”.

39 *1993 Williams role : … DOUBTFIRE

The 1993 comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire” is based on a 1987 novel called “Madame Doubtfire” by Anne Fine. The movie is set and was filmed in San Francisco. The title role is played by Robin Williams, who spent most of the movie dressed as the female Mrs. Doubtfire. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the movie won the Oscar for Best Makeup.

41 *Bart’s teacher : … KRABAPPEL

In “The Simpsons” television show, Bart Simpson’s teacher was one Edna Krabappel. Edna married Ned Flanders, who is the next-door neighbor to the Simpson family. Sadly, Edna passed away in 2013. Edna was voiced by actress Marcia Wallace, who passed away the same year.

43 *Frozen fish brand namesake : … PAUL

In 1946, Edward Piszek started to sell devilled crab cakes in a bar in Philadelphia. Sales were less than anticipated, so Piszek had to freeze most of his stock. When he discovered that the thawed crab cakes tasted almost as good as the fresh, then he decided to start a frozen seafood business. A friend called John Paul gave him a $350 contribution so he named his brand after his investor’s mother, Mrs. Paul. Pizsek bought out his partner in the fifties and sold the company to Campbell Soup in 1982, for about $70 million.

44 Continental trade org. : 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).

45 Metal en una mina : PLATA

In Spanish, “plata” (silver) is a “metal en una mina” (metal in a mine).

51 Qantas luggage tag letters : SYD

Australia’s Sydney Airport (SYD) is located just five miles south of the city center, and next to Botany Bay. There have been plans dating back to the 1940s to build a second airport on the outskirts of the city.

Qantas is the national airline of Australia. The company name was originally an acronym standing for “Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services”. QANTAS has featured a koala in advertising campaigns for many years, although the company’s logo is a kangaroo and the company’s nickname is “Flying Kangaroo”.

52 Mediterranean language : MALTESE

The language of Malta is one of twenty-three official languages of the European Union, and is the only Semitic language on that list. Maltese is also the only Semitic language in the world that uses Latin script as standard.

59 BLT component : MAYO

Mayonnaise originated in the town of Mahon in Menorca, a Mediterranean island belonging to Spain. The Spanish called the sauce “salsa mahonesa” after the town, and this morphed into the French word “mayonnaise” that we use in English today.

60 L.A. commuter org. : MTA

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is known as the Metro, and sometimes the MTA.

61 Ornamental shrub : OLEANDER

The oleander shrub or tree is extremely toxic, especially to humans and dogs. That said, rodents and birds seem to be relatively insensitive to the toxic compounds found in the plant.

64 Eastern philosophy : TAOISM

The name of the Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Taoism signifies the true nature of the world.

68 Old-timey stable groom : OSTLER

A hostler (also “ostler”) is a groom usually employed at an inn to tend to horses. The spelling “Hostler” is used in American English, while “ostler” is used in British English. The term derives from the Latin “hostilarius”, the word for a monk who entertains guests at a monastery.

69 *Virginia Woolf protagonist : … DALLOWAY

“Mrs. Dalloway” is a novel by Virginia Woolf that was first published in 1925. The story tells of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a day in which she is preparing for a party that she is hosting. The novel has been compared to “Ulysses” by James Joyce, a story about a day in the life of Leopold Bloom.

70 *Big name in cookies : … FIELDS

The Mrs. Fields brand of snack foods was founded in the late seventies by Debbi Fields. Fields opened her first store in Palo Alto, California.

Down

1 Out of use: Abbr. : OBS

Obsolete (obs.)

3 Bard’s Muse : ERATO

In Greek mythology, Erato was the Muse of lyric poetry. She is often depicted with a wreath of myrtle and roses, and playing a lyre.

4 “Over the Rainbow” composer : ARLEN

Harold Arlen is a composer of popular music who will forever be associated with his composition “Over the Rainbow” from the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. Arlen also composed the music to “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” and the wonderful “Stormy Weather”.

“Over the Rainbow” is a classic song written especially for the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”. It was sung by the young Judy Garland (Dorothy) in the film, and it was to become her signature song. There is an introductory verse that wasn’t used in the movie, and is very rarely heard:

When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around,
Heaven opens a magic lane
When all the clouds darken up the skyway,
There’s a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your window pane
To a place behind the sun,
Just a step beyond the rain.

10 Skater Midori : ITO

Midori Ito is a Japanese figure skater. Ito was the first woman to land a triple/triple jump and a triple axel in competition. In fact, she landed her first triple jump in training when she was only 8 years old. Ito won Olympic silver in 1992, and was chosen as the person to light the Olympic cauldron at the commencement of the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

21 Didn’t draw a card : STOOD PAT

To stand pat is to resist change. The term comes from the game of poker, in which one stands pat if one keeps one’s hand as is, not drawing any extra cards.

29 Kind of poppy : OPIUM

The opium poppy produces a latex that can be dried, producing the drug known as opium. The drug has been used since ancient times, and was usually absorbed by smoking it. The latex contains several alkaloids that have a profound effect on human metabolism, including morphine and codeine. Opium’s morphine is particularly significant for the illegal drug trade. The morphine can be extracted from the opium and converted to heroin.

32 Madison Ave. figure : AD REP

Madison Avenue became the center of advertising in the US in the twenties, and serves as the backdrop to the great TV drama “Mad Men”. There aren’t many advertising agencies left on Madison Avenue these days though, as most have moved to other parts of New York City. The street takes its name from Madison Square, which is bounded on one side by Madison Avenue. The square in turn takes its name from James Madison, the fourth President of the United States.

33 Spingarn Medal org. : NAACP

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) awards the Spingarn Medal every year, to honor outstanding achievement by an African American. The award was created in 1914 and is named for Joel Elias Spingarn, the NAACP’s first Chairman of the Board.

34 Modern sort of port : USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.

36 Sappho or Pindar : POET

Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet born on the Greek island of Lesbos. Sappho was much admired for her work, although very little of it survives today. She was renowned for writing erotic and romantic verse that dealt with the love of women as well as men. It was because of this poetry that the word “lesbian” (someone from Lesbos) is used to describe a gay woman.

Pindar was an ancient Greek poet who is best known perhaps for composing a series of “Victory Odes” that celebrated triumph in competition, most notably the Olympian Games of the day.

41 Mauna __ : KEA

Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, the peak of which is the highest point in the whole state. Mauna Kea is in effect the tip of a gigantic volcano rising up from the seabed.

52 McFly in “Back to the Future” : MARTY

Michael J. Fox was the first choice to play the lead character, Marty McFly, in 1985’s “Back to the Future”. Unfortunately, the producers of his TV sitcom “Family Ties” would not release him to make the movie, so the crew started filming with a different choice for the lead, namely actor Eric Stoltz. Weeks into production, it was decided that Stoltz was miscast, and Fox was approached again. An arrangement was made with the “Family Ties” producers to “share” Fox, which led to an exhausting schedule. Fox worked seven days a week, filming “Family Ties” during the day and working on “Back to the Future” at night, usually until 2:30 in the morning.

57 Part of TAE : ALVA

Thomas Alva Edison (TAE) was a very successful inventor. He held over a thousand US patents in his name. Included in the list of Edison’s inventions is the phonograph, the movie camera and the long-lasting light bulb. He passed away in 1931. There is a test tube at the Henry Ford Museum that supposedly holds Edison’s last breath. Ford convinced Thomas’s son Charles to seal up a tube of air in the room just after the inventor died, as a memento.

62 Cpl., e.g. : NCO

A non-commissioned officer (NCO) might be a sergeant (sgt.) or a corporal (cpl.).

63 Crow cousin : DAW

Daws are better known today as jackdaws and belong to the crow family. The jackdaw features in a famous pangram (i.e. a short sentence containing all 26 letters of the alphabet), i.e. “Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz”.

66 Title for eight puzzle answers : MRS

“Mr.” is an abbreviation for “mister”, and “Mrs.” is an abbreviation for “mistress”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 *Historic barn owner : … O’LEARY
7 *Screen seductress : … ROBINSON
15 “Peter Pan” playwright : BARRIE
16 Intimate : ONE-TO-ONE
17 Sells at a huge markup : SCALPS
18 Modernize, as a factory : AUTOMATE
19 Sorbonne summer : ETE
20 Sticker shock source, perhaps: Abbr. : MSRP
22 ESPN analyst who was a three-time A.L. MVP : A-ROD
23 Shakespeare’s 154 : SONNETS
25 Small ammo : BBS
27 Tokyo’s Yoko : ONO
28 Color variant : HUE
29 Classic ref. work : OED
32 “… some kind of __?” : A NUT
35 Iridescent stones : OPALS
37 Wages : PAY
38 *Dried spices brand : … DASH
39 *1993 Williams role : … DOUBTFIRE
41 *Bart’s teacher : … KRABAPPEL
43 *Frozen fish brand namesake : … PAUL
44 Continental trade org. : EEC
45 Metal en una mina : PLATA
46 General’s domain : ARMY
47 One of many on today’s phones : APP
48 Word with luck or hole : POT-
49 Price __ : WAR
51 Qantas luggage tag letters : SYD
52 Mediterranean language : MALTESE
56 Give a heads-up : WARN
59 BLT component : MAYO
60 L.A. commuter org. : MTA
61 Ornamental shrub : OLEANDER
64 Eastern philosophy : TAOISM
67 Cloudy : OVERCAST
68 Old-timey stable groom : OSTLER
69 *Virginia Woolf protagonist : … DALLOWAY
70 *Big name in cookies : … FIELDS

Down

1 Out of use: Abbr. : OBS
2 What slippers generally lack : LACES
3 Bard’s Muse : ERATO
4 “Over the Rainbow” composer : ARLEN
5 Tear : RIP
6 Agreeable types : YES-MEN
7 Crowd approval : ROARS
8 “Come __!”: loft dweller’s invite : ON UP
9 Raise, say : BET
10 Skater Midori : ITO
11 Eduardo’s “Enough!” : NO MAS!
12 Glide high : SOAR
13 Aware of : ONTO
14 Require : NEED
21 Didn’t draw a card : STOOD PAT
24 Discontented : NOT HAPPY
25 Light source : BULB
26 Majority (of) : BEST PART
28 Remove with trucks : HAUL AWAY
29 Kind of poppy : OPIUM
30 Like an eager “bird” : EARLY
31 Coloring agent : DYE
32 Madison Ave. figure : AD REP
33 Spingarn Medal org. : NAACP
34 Modern sort of port : USB
36 Sappho or Pindar : POET
40 Partner of away : FAR
41 Mauna __ : KEA
42 Walk with effort : PLOD
50 Much : A LOT OF
51 Sound from a cornered cur : SNARL
52 McFly in “Back to the Future” : MARTY
53 Overact : EMOTE
54 Yet : STILL
55 Simplified : EASED
56 Timber : WOOD
57 Part of TAE : ALVA
58 Projection booth item : REEL
59 Southwestern sight : MESA
62 Cpl., e.g. : NCO
63 Crow cousin : DAW
65 Just-thought link : AS I
66 Title for eight puzzle answers : MRS

11 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 20 May 21, Thursday”

  1. Went fast until I hit OLEANDER DALLOWAY and DAW… none of those rang a bell but I let the crosses fill it in. I guessed at DAW because it sounded like CAW!!

  2. No errors, but had to Google a bit to come up with Dalloway.

    I never thought about why the dried spices were called Mrs. Dash
    until I read Bill’s comment that they considered Mrs. Pinch. I guess
    I always thought there was a real “Mrs. Dash.”

  3. 7:17

    Helpful theme. Some interesting words too, like MALTESE and OSTLER. And just when I was getting used to Mauna Loa, Mauna KEA pops up.

  4. 16 minutes, 16 seconds, and needed Check Grid help for 10 fills. Another Wechsler nightmare. I **really** have come to hate seeing his byline on puzzles, almost as much as some of the NY Times constructors like Erik Agaard.

  5. Was doing so well until I got snarled in the middle W section. Took 21:00 with 4 errors: UcB, D_sH, EEu and APs. I should’ve gotten USB and APP and probably EEC – even though its been gone forever. Never heard of Mrs. Dash(?)

    Other than that, it was kind of fun.

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