LA Times Crossword 24 May 21, Monday

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Constructed by: Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Backspace

Themed answers each end with a word that often precedes “SPACE”:

  • 36A PC key with a left-pointing arrow … and hint to the last words of the answers to starred clues : BACKSPACE
  • 18A *Major tennis tournament played on clay : FRENCH OPEN (giving “open space”)
  • 23A *Vegas vacation valuables holder : HOTEL SAFE (giving “safe space”)
  • 52A *TV headline ticker : NEWS CRAWL (giving “crawl space”)
  • 58A *99-year-old Emmy-winning actress with eight-plus decades in show business : BETTY WHITE (giving “white space”)

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

Bill’s time: 4m 59s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Winans of gospel : CECE

CeCe Winans (real given name “Priscilla”) is a Gospel music singer. She is part of a duo with her brother, BeBe Winans (real name Benjamin).

5 Nebula Award genre : SCI-FI

The best works of science fiction and fantasy published each year are recognized annually by the Nebula Awards. The first Nebulas were awarded in 1966.

16 “Suits” actress Torres : GINA

Actress Gina Torres plays the formidable Jessica Pearson on the USA Network show “Suits”. In real life, Gina is married to the actor Laurence Fishburne. Torres and Fishburne appeared together on the horror TV show “Hannibal”, in which they played a married couple.

17 Catch in a web : TRAP

The silk that makes up a web is a protein fiber that is “spun” by a spider. Spider silk is about one sixth of the density of steel, yet has a comparable tensile strength.

18 *Major tennis tournament played on clay : FRENCH OPEN (giving “open space”)

There are four different surfaces used for playing tennis competitively:

  • Clay courts (used for the French Open)
  • Hard courts (used for the US Open and the Australian Open)
  • Grass courts (used for Wimbledon)
  • Carpet courts

20 Letter after phi : CHI

The Greek letter chi is the one that looks like our Roman letter X.

21 Field with cases and briefs : LAW

A briefcase is a bag or case mainly designed for carrying papers. The name “briefcase” comes from the practise of lawyers carrying “briefs” to court in such a case. The term “brief”, in this context, applies to a written legal document presented in court as an argument in a legal process. “Brief” comes from the Latin “brevis” meaning “short”. So, I guess those arguments were originally meant to be short, concise.

22 Boring tools : AUGERS

An auger is a drill, a boring tool [yawn].

23 *Vegas vacation valuables holder : HOTEL SAFE (giving “safe space”)

The Flamingo Las Vegas is a casino hotel that opened for business in 1946, when it became the first luxury hotel on the las Vegas Strip. It was built by mobster Bugsy Siegel, who named the property “Flamingo” after his girlfriend Virginia Hill. Supposedly, Siegel referred to Hill as “Flamingo” as she had long and thin legs, although other stories attribute the nickname to her flushed, pink face after a few drinks.

27 Lone Ranger’s pal : TONTO

Tonto was played by the actor Jay Silverheels In the television version of “The Lone Ranger”. In the terrible 1981 movie “The Legend of the Lone Ranger”, Tonto was portrayed by Michael Horse. Tonto was then played by Johnny Depp In the 2013 movie “The Lone Ranger”. Famously, the Lone Ranger’s horse was called Silver and Tonto’s mount was named Scout. But, in the early TV shows, Tonto rode a horse called White Feller.

28 Justice Kagan : ELENA

Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General of the United States from 2009 until 2010, when she replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. That made Justice Kagan the first female US Solicitor General and the fourth female US Supreme Court justice. Kagan also served as the first female dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009.

29 ER pictures : X-RAYS

X-rays were first studied comprehensively by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen (also “Roentgen”), and it was he who gave the name “X-rays” to this particular type of radiation. Paradoxically, in Röntgen’s native language of German, X-rays are routinely referred to as “Röntgen rays”. In 1901, Röntgen’s work on X-rays won him the first Nobel Prize in Physics that was ever awarded.

32 Software help file : README

A readme (or “read me”) file is usually a simple text file that is issued with software when it is distributed. It often contains the latest information about the application, including bugs that were found at the last minute just before release.

34 Dublin’s land: Abbr. : IRE

The city of Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is known as “Baile Átha Cliath” in Irish (“town of the hurdled ford”). The English name “Dublin” is an anglicized form of the older Irish name for the city “Dubh Linn”, meaning “black pool”.

35 Govt. Rx watchdog : FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its roots in the Division of Chemistry (later “Bureau of Chemistry”) that was part of the US Department of Agriculture. President Theodore Roosevelt gave responsibility for examination of food and drugs to the Bureau of Chemistry with the signing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Bureau’s name was changed to the Food, Drug and Insecticide Organization in 1927, and to the Food and Drug Administration in 1930.

There seems to be some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.

41 Lang. of the Torah : HEB

The Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, are traditionally believed to have been written by Moses. As such, they are sometimes referred to as the Law of Moses, or Mosaic Law. Those five books are:

  • Bereshit/Genesis
  • Shemot/Exodus
  • Vayikra/Leviticus
  • Bamidbar/Numbers
  • Devarim/Deuteronomy

42 Fuselage fasteners : RIVETS

“Fuselage” is a French word that we imported into English in the early days of powered flight. The French term developed from “fuselé” meaning “spindle-shaped”, a reference to the shape of a fuselage. “Fusus” is Latin for “spindle”.

50 Canadian skater Brian : ORSER

Brian Orser is a retired Canadian figure skater. Orser was one of the “combatants” in the Battle of the Brians, the name given to the rivalry between Brian Orser and US skater Brian Boitano. Orser moved onto coaching after retiring from competition. He coached two Olympic champions: Kim Yuna (2010) and yuzuru Hanyu (2014).

52 *TV headline ticker : NEWS CRAWL (giving “crawl space”)

A news ticker, or “crawler”, is a text-based graphic that runs across the bottom of a TV screen providing perhaps news headlines or continuous stock quotes.

54 Early Web forum : USENET

Remember the good old days, when you read messages online in “newsgroups”? Well, that system of aggregating public messages is known as Usenet, and it’s still around today. Usenet started operating in 1980, some ten years before the World Wide Web was introduced (which system has displaced Usenet in terms of popularity). Usenet definitely played a significant part in the history of the Internet. For instance, the terms “FAQ” and “spam” were both born on Usenet.

57 Land in the Seine : ILE

There are two famous “îles” (islands) in the middle of the River Seine in Paris, one being the Île de la Cité, and the other Île Saint-Louis. Île de la Cité is the most renowned of the two, as it is home to the cathedral of Notre Dame.

58 *99-year-old Emmy-winning actress with eight-plus decades in show business : BETTY WHITE (giving “white space”)

Comic actress Betty White has been at the top of her game for decades. White started her television career with an appearance with high school classmates on a local Los Angeles show back in 1939. Her most famous TV run was co-hosting the Tournament of Roses Parade, a gig she had for nineteen years in the sixties and seventies. Given her long career, White holds a number of records in the world of entertainment. For example, she is the oldest person to host “Saturday Night Live” (at 88) and she is the oldest woman to win a Grammy (at 90).

61 Romance novelist Hilderbrand : ELIN

Elin Hilderbrand is an author of romance novels who was once dubbed “the queen of summer beach read” by the “New York Post”. When growing up, she spent her summers on Cape Cod, and now lives on Nantucket Island. As a result, Hilderbrand sets all of her works on and around Nantucket.

62 Any of four British art galleries : TATE

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.

63 Music rights org. : ASCAP

ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) collects licence fees for musicians and distributes royalties to composers whose works have been performed. BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) provides the same service.

64 What libraries do : LEND

Our word “library” ultimately derives from the Latin “liber” meaning “book”.

66 Undoes a dele : STETS

“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.

67 Think tank tidbit : IDEA

A think tank is a research institute. The use of the term “think tank” dates back to 1959, and apparently was first used to describe the Center for Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, California.

Down

1 Mask wearer at home : CATCHER

That would be baseball.

3 Indian spiced drink : CHAI TEA

Chai is a drink made from spiced black tea, honey and milk, with “chai” being the Hindi word for “tea”. We often called tea “a cup of char” growing up in Ireland, with “char” being our slang word for tea, derived from “chai”.

4 Debatable ability, briefly : ESP

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

5 Sectionals and sleepers : SOFAS

“Sofa” is a Turkish word meaning “bench”.

7 Clanton gang leader : IKE

Ike and Billy Clanton participated in what has to be the most famous gunfight in the history of the Old West, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that took place in Tombstone, Arizona. Strangely enough, the fight didn’t happen at the O.K. Corral, but took place six doors down the street in a vacant lot next to a photography studio.

9 Ancient Peruvian : INCA

The Inca people emerged as a tribe around the 12th century, in what today is southern Peru. The Incas developed a vast empire over the next 300 years, extending along most of the western side of South America. The Empire fell to the Spanish, finally dissolving in 1572 with the execution of Túpac Amaru, the last Incan Emperor.

10 Galore, in disco lingo : A GOGO

The term “à gogo” is French in origin, in which language it means “in abundance”.

Discotheques first appeared during WWII in Occupied France. American-style music (like jazz and jitterbug dances) was banned by the Nazis, so French natives met in underground clubs that they called discotheques where records were often played on just a single turntable. After the war, these clubs came out into the open. One famous Paris discotheque was called “Whisky à Gogo”. In that Paris disco, non-stop music was played using two turntables next to a dance-floor, and this concept spread around the world.

12 Subject of Newton’s first law : INERTIA

Newton’s first law of motion states that a body that is moving maintains the same velocity unless it is acted upon by an external force. That resistance to changing velocity is known as “inertia”. Johann Kepler introduced the Latin word “inertia” to describe the physical phenomenon in the 17th century. The Latin term translates as “apathy, inactiveness”. We started using the Latin “inertia” in English to mean the same thing only in the 19th century, after the term had bopped around in science texts for a couple of centuries.

13 Ted of “Cheers” : DANSON

Actor Ted Danson is noted in particular for three successful roles that he has played on television. He played Sam Malone on the sitcom “Cheers”, the title role on the sitcom “Becker”, and eventually led the cast on the drama series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”. Danson has been married to actress Mary Steenburgen since 1995.

The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness or two!). The owner of the Bull & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.

21 Andean wool source : LLAMA

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

The Andes range is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world. It runs down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles, from Venezuela in the north to Chile in the south. The highest peak in the Andes is Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the planet. That’s because of the equatorial “bulge” around the Earth’s “waist”.

25 Flying Wham-O toy : FRISBEE

The Frisbee concept started back in 1938 with a couple who had an upturned cake pan that they were tossing between each other on Santa Monica Beach in California. They were offered 25 cents for the pan on the spot, and as pans could be bought for 5 cents, the pair figured there was a living to be earned.

Wham-O was founded in 1948, with the company’s first product being the Wham-O slingshot. Since then, Wham-O has marketed a string of hit toys including the Hula Hoop, Frisbee, Slip ‘N Slide, Silly String, Hacky Sack and Boogie Board.

26 O.K. Corral lawman : EARP

Wyatt Earp is famous as one of the participants in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Earp was a city policeman in Wichita, Kansas and also in Dodge City, Kansas. Earp was also deputy sheriff in Tombstone, Arizona where the O.K. Corral gunfight took place. Years later, Earp joined the Alaska Gold Rush and with a partner built and operated the Dexter Saloon in Nome.

37 “Show Boat” composer Jerome : KERN

Jerome Kern was truly a great in the world of theater music. He wrote so many classic songs, including “Ol’ Man River”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and “The Way You Look Tonight”.

“Show Boat” is a 1926 novel by Edna Ferber that tells the story of performers on a floating theater, a riverboat named Cotton Blossom. The novel was famously adapted into a stage musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein that premiered in 1927. “Show Boat”, the musical, gave us classic songs such as “Ol’ Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”.

38 Greek sorceress : CIRCE

Circe was a minor goddess in Greek mythology. The goddess of magic, she was fond of transforming those who did not please her into animals by using magical potions. In Homer’s “Odyssey”, Odysseus was given the herb called “moly” to protect him from the magical powers of Circe.

39 Attack with profanity : CURSE AT

Something described as profane might be unholy or impure. The term “profane” came into English via French from the Latin “profanus”, which also meant “unholy, not sacred”. There is a suggestion that the Latin term comes from the phrase “pro fano” meaning “out in front of the temple”. The idea is that anything or anyone deemed to be profane would not be admitted to the temple. Quite interesting …

40 British Museum’s __ Stone : ROSETTA

Rosetta is a coastal city and port on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian artifact of tremendous importance in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. Carvings on the stone are actually three translations of the same passage of prose, one in Egyptian hieroglyphics, one in Egyptian Demotic language, and one in classical Greek. The stone was discovered by the French military during Napoleon’s 1798 campaign in Egypt. Before the French could get it back to France, the stone somehow ended up in enemy hands (the British), so it is now on display in the British Museum. Ownership of the stone is very much in dispute. The French want it and, understandably, the Egyptians would like it back.

The British Museum was established way back in 1753. Back then it was the first national museum, an institution owned by the nation and freely open to the public. The original collection was bequeathed by physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane. Part of Sloane’s wealth came via enslaved labor on sugar plantations in Jamaica. As a result, a bust depicting Sloane was removed from its prominent position in the museum in 2020.

45 Low-calorie sweetener : SPLENDA

“Splenda” is a brand name used for the artificial sweetener sucralose.

53 Fitbit units : STEPS

Fitbits are wearable activity trackers that are mainly used to track the number of steps walked, although more and more features have been added over time. A Fitbit was even used as evidence in at least one murder case. A Connecticut man claimed that a home intruder had shot and killed his wife. Police used data from the wife’s Fitbit to disprove the husband’s story, and ended up charging him with the murder.

55 “__ the night before … ” : ‘TWAS

The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in 1823, and is better known today by its first line “‘Twas the night before Christmas”. Most scholars believe that the poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore, a theologian from New York City. Others say that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr., a poet from Upstate New York.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash …

59 DDE’s predecessor : HST

The letter “S” in the middle of the name Harry S. Truman (HST) doesn’t stand for anything. The future-president was named “Harry” in honor of his mother’s brother Harrison “Harry” Young. The initial “S” was chosen in honor of young Harry’s two grandfathers: Anderson S-hipp Truman and S-olomon Young.

61 Yale student : ELI

“Eli” is the nickname for a graduate of Yale University, and a term used in honor of the Yale benefactor Elihu Yale.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Winans of gospel : CECE
5 Nebula Award genre : SCI-FI
10 Like deserts : ARID
14 Oohs and __ : AAHS
15 Like wine barrels : OAKEN
16 “Suits” actress Torres : GINA
17 Catch in a web : TRAP
18 *Major tennis tournament played on clay : FRENCH OPEN (giving “open space”)
20 Letter after phi : CHI
21 Field with cases and briefs : LAW
22 Boring tools : AUGERS
23 *Vegas vacation valuables holder : HOTEL SAFE (giving “safe space”)
27 Lone Ranger’s pal : TONTO
28 Justice Kagan : ELENA
29 ER pictures : X-RAYS
31 A, in German : EIN
32 Software help file : README
34 Dublin’s land: Abbr. : IRE
35 Govt. Rx watchdog : FDA
36 PC key with a left-pointing arrow … and hint to the last words of the answers to starred clues : BACKSPACE
39 Shed tears : CRY
41 Lang. of the Torah : HEB
42 Fuselage fasteners : RIVETS
46 Group of two : DUO
47 Skin openings : PORES
49 Swab again : REMOP
50 Canadian skater Brian : ORSER
52 *TV headline ticker : NEWS CRAWL (giving “crawl space”)
54 Early Web forum : USENET
56 Didn’t fast : ATE
57 Land in the Seine : ILE
58 *99-year-old Emmy-winning actress with eight-plus decades in show business : BETTY WHITE (giving “white space”)
61 Romance novelist Hilderbrand : ELIN
62 Any of four British art galleries : TATE
63 Music rights org. : ASCAP
64 What libraries do : LEND
65 Have the lead (in) : STAR
66 Undoes a dele : STETS
67 Think tank tidbit : IDEA

Down

1 Mask wearer at home : CATCHER
2 Football helmet opening : EARHOLE
3 Indian spiced drink : CHAI TEA
4 Debatable ability, briefly : ESP
5 Sectionals and sleepers : SOFAS
6 Auto body coat : CAR WAX
7 Clanton gang leader : IKE
8 Boggy lowland : FEN
9 Ancient Peruvian : INCA
10 Galore, in disco lingo : A GOGO
11 Matured on the vine : RIPENED
12 Subject of Newton’s first law : INERTIA
13 Ted of “Cheers” : DANSON
19 Makeshift shelters : HUTS
21 Andean wool source : LLAMA
24 Be over no later than : END BY
25 Flying Wham-O toy : FRISBEE
26 O.K. Corral lawman : EARP
30 Common subscription period : YEAR
33 Rebounding sound : ECHO
35 Above-normal body temperature : FEVER
37 “Show Boat” composer Jerome : KERN
38 Greek sorceress : CIRCE
39 Attack with profanity : CURSE AT
40 British Museum’s __ Stone : ROSETTA
43 Clicked “send” : EMAILED
44 Rope for a tugboat : TOWLINE
45 Low-calorie sweetener : SPLENDA
46 Uncertainties : DOUBTS
47 Hunter’s quarry : PREY
48 Try to hit, as a fly : SWAT AT
51 Go into : ENTER
53 Fitbit units : STEPS
55 “__ the night before … ” : ‘TWAS
59 DDE’s predecessor : HST
60 Highway hazard : ICE
61 Yale student : ELI

13 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 24 May 21, Monday”

  1. No errors.. some trip ups but I recovered. Quite a crossword duo for a monday.
    Currently watching CHEERS reruns on IMDB… “Norm!!!’

    Liked the SUITS reference also. My wife and I really enjoyed that series..

  2. A couple of typos in the Ted Danson explanation (13D): missing an “or” in “I’ve had a pint of Guinness two!)” & “Bull” instead of “Bill” in “The owner of the Bill & Finch…”

  3. 5:41

    The theme helped me quite a bit.

    I don’t like the clue for 4D: Until there solid evidence for ESP, there is no debate. It remains in the realm of fiction.

    There is a more fruitful debate to be had over whether the Nebulas or the Hugos are a better guide to the best works of science fiction and fantasy. The Nebulas are awarded by members of the Science Fiction Writers of America, or SFWA. The Hugos are awarded by attendees of the annual World Con. Whether the creators or the fans are the best judges is a matter of taste.

  4. No Googles or errors, but did not know 4 people: CECE, GINA, ORSER, ELIN. They’re all in their 50s, apparently too young for me to know. I fear there’ll come a time when I stop doing crosswords for being so out of date.

  5. No errors…inasmuch as I will never come close to the average posted times here I think I will stop posting my time unless By some freak circumstance I get real lucky ,but I don’t see that happening.
    Stay safe😀

    1. Jack,

      Start posting again. I think I might be in about the same boat as you. We’ll do it together …

      12:37 no lookups/errors.

      Yeah, for a Monday should be a bit better …

  6. No errors. I went back to Saturday’s puzzle to try again and after a
    frustrating hour and a few googles I finally finished it.

  7. I had “cuss” at the start of 39D and, because I didn’t know 50A, I entered “Osser” to intersect at the common “s”. I let it stand thinking that “cusse” was a rare but acceptable spelling. For some reason, the word “curse” never entered this peabrain. I was too smart for my own good.

  8. 10:13 with no errors or lookups. Didn’t even read a few of the across clues. I also liked the theme.

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