LA Times Crossword 28 May 21, Friday

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Constructed by: Zachary David Levy
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): EMETH

Themed clues are words written backwards, with that direction noted in the corresponding answer:

  • 17A YENOH : INVERT SUGAR (HONEY)
  • 26A GOC : REVERSE GEAR (COG)
  • 36A TAR : TURNED TRAITOR (RAT)
  • 50A CBA : BACKCHANNEL (ABC)
  • 60A NEMO : COUNTERSIGN (OMEN)

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

Bill’s time: 7m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Hardly inept : ABLE

If one is capable, one might jokingly be described as “ept”, the ostensible opposite of “inept”.

11 UFO occupants : ETS

One might speculate that an unidentified flying object (UFO) is flown by an extraterrestrial (ET).

15 Midsize Kia : OPTIMA

The Kia Optima was sold for a while in Canada and Europe as the Kia Magentis.

16 Howard who directed “Willow” (1988) : 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.

“Willow” is a 1988 fantasy film that received a relatively lukewarm reception, despite being directed by Ron Howard, and produced by George Lucas (who also came up with the story). I’ve never seen it …

17 YENOH : INVERT SUGAR (HONEY)

Inverted sugar syrup is a sweetener comprising a mixture of glucose and fructose. It is made by heating table sugar with water. Sucrose (table sugar) is a disaccharide with each molecule composed of two monosaccharides, namely fructose and glucose. Invert sugar syrup is used by bakers as the resulting food retains moisture more easily, and the sweetener is less likely to crystallize.

21 __ Plaines : DES

Des Plaines is a suburb of Chicago that is located next to O’Hare International Airport. The city is named for the Des Plaines river that runs through the area.

22 Eponym for a Queens stadium : ASHE

Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York opened in 1997, and is the largest outdoor, tennis-only venue in the world. The stadium was often criticized for not having a retractable dome to protect the playing surface from inclement weather. Well, that changed in 2016 when the stadium debuted its new retractable roof, a $150 million investment in the facility.

23 Support wear : BRA

The word “brassière” is French in origin, but it isn’t the word that the French use for a “bra”. In France, what we call a bra is known as a “soutien-gorge”, translating to “held under the neck”. The word “brassière” is indeed used in France but there it describes a baby’s undershirt, a lifebelt or a harness. “Brassière” comes from the Old French word for an “arm protector” in a military uniform (“bras” is the French for “arm”). Later “brassière” came to mean “breastplate” and from there the word was used for a type of woman’s corset. The word jumped into English around 1900.

32 Storied bear name : POOH

Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne was an English author who is best known for his delightful “Winnie-the-Pooh” series of books. He had only one son, Christopher Robin Milne, born in 1920. The young Milne was the inspiration for the Christopher Robin character in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Winnie-the-Pooh was named after Christopher Robin’s real teddy bear, one he called Winnie, who in turn was named after a Canadian black bear called Winnie that the Milnes would visit in London Zoo. The original Winnie teddy bear is on display at the main branch of the New York Public Library in New York.

33 Q neighbor : TAB

Like most features on our computer keyboards, the tab key is a hangover from the days of typewriters. When using a typewriter, making entries into a table was very tedious, involving lots of tapping on the spacebar and backspace key. So, a lever was added to typewriters that allowed the operator to “jump” across the page to positions that could be set by hand. Later this was simplified to a tab key which could be depressed, causing the carriage to jump to the next tab stop in much the same way that the modern tab key works on a computer.

35 Greek T : TAU

Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, and the letter that gave rise to our Roman “T”. Both the letters tau (T) and chi (X) have long been symbolically associated with the cross.

36 TAR : TURNED TRAITOR (RAT)

Treason is a serious crime committed against the nation (or the sovereign). One who commits “treason” is called a “traitor”. In the past, the term treason also applied to lesser crimes so there was a differentiation between high treason against the king, and “petit treason” against a more common citizen.

41 McKellen knighted in 1991 : IAN

Sir Ian McKellen is a marvelous English actor, one who is comfortable playing anything from Macbeth on stage to Magneto in an “X-Men” movie. On the big screen, McKellen is very famous for playing Gandalf in “The Lord of Rings”. In the UK, Sir Ian is noted for being at the forefront of the campaign for equal rights for gay people, a role he has enthusiastically embraced since the eighties.

45 Basket willow : OSIER

Most willows (trees and shrubs of the genus Salix) are called just that, “willows”. Some of the broad-leaved shrub varieties are called “sallow”, and the narrow-leaved shrubs are called “osier”. Osier is commonly used in basketry, as osier twigs are very flexible. The strong and flexible willow stems are sometimes referred to as withies.

50 CBA : BACKCHANNEL (ABC)

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) was formed in 1943, when it was created out of the former NBC Blue radio network. Given the initialism “ABC”, it is sometimes referred to as “the Alphabet Network”.

54 Spot for burners and beakers : LAB

The Bunsen burner is a common piece of lab equipment that is used for heating and combustion. The device was invented in 1854 by Robert Bunsen at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. It is sometimes referred to as an “etna”, a nickname coming from the Sicilian volcano.

56 Dating initials : BCE

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

57 “__ Is Rage 2”: Lil Uzi Vert album : LUV

“Lil Uzi Vert” is the stage name of rapper Symere Woods from Philadelphia.

65 Altar constellation : ARA

The constellation of Ara takes its name from the Latin word for “altar”.

68 Case, for example: Abbr. : SYN

“Case” is a synonym of “example”.

70 Hall of Famer known as “O Rei do Futebol” : PELE

“Pelé” is the nickname of Edson de Nascimento, a soccer player who has used the name “Pelé” for most of his life. Pelé is now retired, and for my money was the world’s greatest ever player of the game. He is the only person to have been a member of three World Cup winning squads (1958, 1962 and 1970), and is a national treasure in his native Brazil. One of Pele’s nicknames is “O Rei do Futebol” (Portuguese for “The King of Football”).

Down

1 NFL’s Cardinals, on scoreboards : ARI

The Arizona Cardinals were founded in 1898 as the Chicago Cardinals. That makes the Cardinals the oldest, continuously-run, professional football team in the whole country.

3 Actress Tyler : LIV

Actress and model Liv Tyler is the daughter of Steven Tyler, lead singer with Aerosmith, and Bebe Buell, a celebrated model and singer. Liv Tyler plays the Elf maiden Arwen Undómiel in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

5 Full of holes : MOTH-EATEN

The larvae of several types of moth are noted for eating fabrics made from natural fibers such as wool or cotton. Many people store woolens in cedar chests believing that the scent of the wood prevents a moth infestation. In fact, the only known effective repellent is the naphthalene found in mothballs, which might be a health concern for humans. One way to kill moth larvae in fabric is to freeze the garment for several days at a temperature below -8 degrees celsius.

6 Short mus. releases : EPS

An extended-play (EP) record, CD or download contains more music than a single, but less than an LP.

7 Piece for practicing technique : ETUDE

An étude is a short instrumental composition that is usually quite hard to play and is intended to help the performer master a particular technique. “Étude” is the French word for “study”. Études are commonly performed on the piano.

8 National animal of Malaysia : TIGER

The tiger is the national animal of Malaysia. More specifically, that national animal is the Malayan tiger, which is a critically endangered species.

9 It has a med school in Worcester : UMASS

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is located in Worcester. It is a public institute, and was established in 1962. The university now comprises three schools: the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Graduate School of Nursing.

12 Accessory for Mr. Monopoly : TOP HAT

Mr. Monopoly is also known as Rich “Uncle” Pennybags, and is the mascot of the game Monopoly. For years, we could spot Mr. Monopoly reaching out of the “O” in the word Monopoly on the game board.

22 Rabbitlike rodents : AGOUTIS

The term “agouti” is used for some rodents in Central and South America that have fur with bands of light and dark pigmentation.

25 Baseball family name : ALOU

Jesus Alou played Major League Baseball, as did his brothers Matty and Felipe, and as did Felipe’s son Moises.

27 Guerrero or Guerrero Jr. of baseball : VLAD

Vladimir Guerrero is a former Major League Baseball player from the Dominican Republic. He is known as an aggressive batter, and regularly hit balls thrown well outside the strike zone. In 2009, he even hit a pitch after it had bounced on the ground in front of home plate. He has a son Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who played his first MLB in 2019 for the Toronto Blue Jays.

28 Morales of “Criminal Minds” : ESAI

Actor Esai Morales is best known in the world of film for the 1987 movie “La Bamba”, which depicted the life of Ritchie Valens and his half-brother Bob Morales (played by Esai). On the small screen, Morales plays Lt. Tony Rodriguez on “NYPD Blue” and Joseph Adama on “Caprica”.

“Criminal Minds” is a police drama that has aired on CBS since 2005. The stories revolve around the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Virginia.

34 “Incidentally,” in texts : BTW

By the way (BTW)

37 Undercover figure : NARC

“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).

39 Milky white kind of glass : OPAL

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

40 “The King of Clay,” familiarly : RAFA

Rafael “Rafa” Nadal is a Spanish tennis player. He is noted for his expertise on clay courts, which earned him the nickname “The King of Clay”.

44 Ball honoree, perhaps : DEB

“Deb” is short for “debutante”, which translates from French as “beginner” when referring to a female.

45 2000s first family : OBAMAS

By tradition, the Secret Service code names used for the US President and family all start with the same letter. For the Bidens, that letter is C, and the First Couple chose:

  • Joe Biden: Celtic
  • Jull Biden: Capri

For the Trump First Family, that letter is M, and the family members chose:

  • Donald Trump: Mogul
  • Melania Trump: Muse
  • Ivanka Trump: Marvel
  • Donald Trump, Jr.: Mountaineer
  • Eric Trump: Marksman

For the Obama First Family, the code names start with the letter R:

  • Barack Obama: Renegade
  • Michelle Obama: Renaissance
  • Malia Obama: Radiance
  • Sasha Obama: Rosebud

47 Nickname for a clutch player : ICEMAN

A clutch player is someone who comes through in the clutch, who performs well at a critical moment in the game.

51 Former U.S. streaming option : HBO GO

The HBO Go offering was a “TV Everywhere” service, meaning that paid subscribers could stream content on a choice of platforms just by entering a username and password. HBO Go was superseded by the HBO Max service.

52 Upscale auto : ACURA

Acura is the luxury brand of the Honda Motor Company. As an aside, Infiniti is the equivalent luxury brand for the Nissan Motor Company, and Lexus is the more luxurious version of Toyota’s models.

53 Tijuana tots : NENES

Tijuana is the largest city in the Mexican state of Baja California, and lies just across the US-Mexico border from San Diego. Tijuana is also the most westerly of all Mexican cities. A lot of Tijuana’s growth took place in the twenties as tourists flocked south of the border during the days of prohibition in the US. One of the many casinos and hotels that flourished at that time was Hotel Caesar’s in the Avenida Revolución area. Hotel Caesar’s claims to be the birthplace of the now ubiquitous Caesar Salad.

58 Cognac designation : VSOP

Brandy is a spirit distilled from wine. The term “brandy” ultimately comes from the Dutch “gebrande wijn” meaning “burnt wine”. The length of this aging of the spirit defines the various grades of brandy:

  • VS: Very Special … at least 2 years storage
  • VSOP: Very Special (or Superior) Old Pale … at least 4 years storage
  • XO: Extra Old … at least 6 years
  • VSO: Very Superior Old … 12-17 years

Cognac is a famous variety of brandy named after the commune of Cognac in the very west of France. To be called “Cognac”, the brandy must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in very specific French oak barrels.

60 Lyft alternative : CAB

Lyft is a ridesharing service that is based in San Francisco, as is Uber, Lyft’s biggest competitor.

61 Hanoi holiday : TET

The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.

Hanoi (“Hà Nội” in Vietnamese) was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

62 34th prez : IKE

Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE) was the 34th US president, but he wanted to be remembered as a soldier. He was a five-star general during WWII in charge of the Allied Forces in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). President Eisenhower died in 1969 at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He was buried in an $80 standard soldier’s casket in his army uniform in a chapel on the grounds of the beautiful Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas.

63 “Wonder Woman” actress Gadot : GAL

Gal Gadot is an actress and former Miss Israel. She played Gisele Yashar in the “Fast & Furious” film franchise, and then began portraying Wonder Woman in superhero movies.

64 Emmy-winning scientist : NYE

That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on PBS for four years, from 1993-97.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hardly inept : ABLE
5 Informal get-together : MEETUP
11 UFO occupants : ETS
14 Law enforcement tactic : RAID
15 Midsize Kia : OPTIMA
16 Howard who directed “Willow” (1988) : RON
17 YENOH : INVERT SUGAR (HONEY)
19 Pretend to be : APE
20 Slangy denial : NAH
21 __ Plaines : DES
22 Eponym for a Queens stadium : ASHE
23 Support wear : BRA
26 GOC : REVERSE GEAR (COG)
29 Engine leak-preventing device : OIL SEAL
31 Arranges meaningfully : SORTS
32 Storied bear name : POOH
33 Q neighbor : TAB
35 Greek T : TAU
36 TAR : TURNED TRAITOR (RAT)
41 McKellen knighted in 1991 : IAN
42 Formerly held the position of : WAS
43 E-reader option : IPAD
45 Basket willow : OSIER
48 “You can come out now” : IT’S SAFE
50 CBA : BACKCHANNEL (ABC)
54 Spot for burners and beakers : LAB
55 GPS displays : AVES
56 Dating initials : BCE
57 “__ Is Rage 2”: Lil Uzi Vert album : LUV
59 Needy cry from the playroom : MOM!
60 NEMO : COUNTERSIGN (OMEN)
65 Altar constellation : ARA
66 Goes along : AGREES
67 Approve : OKAY
68 Case, for example: Abbr. : SYN
69 Crows : BOASTS
70 Hall of Famer known as “O Rei do Futebol” : PELE
Down
1 NFL’s Cardinals, on scoreboards : ARI
2 Prohibit : BAN
3 Actress Tyler : LIV
4 Paradise : EDEN
5 Full of holes : MOTH-EATEN
6 Short mus. releases : EPS
7 Piece for practicing technique : ETUDE
8 National animal of Malaysia : TIGER
9 It has a med school in Worcester : UMASS
10 Expected result : PAR
11 Writing tool : ERASER
12 Accessory for Mr. Monopoly : TOP HAT
13 Nasty looks : SNEERS
18 Not seen much : RARE
22 Rabbitlike rodents : AGOUTIS
23 Rap on the head : BOP
24 Real hoot : RIOT
25 Baseball family name : ALOU
27 Guerrero or Guerrero Jr. of baseball : VLAD
28 Morales of “Criminal Minds” : ESAI
30 High-pitched cries : SHRIEKS
34 “Incidentally,” in texts : BTW
35 Unseasoned, maybe : TASTELESS
37 Undercover figure : NARC
38 Pour, say : RAIN
39 Milky white kind of glass : OPAL
40 “The King of Clay,” familiarly : RAFA
44 Ball honoree, perhaps : DEB
45 2000s first family : OBAMAS
46 Food Network adjective : SAVORY
47 Nickname for a clutch player : ICEMAN
49 Speak indistinctly : SLUR
51 Former U.S. streaming option : HBO GO
52 Upscale auto : ACURA
53 Tijuana tots : NENES
58 Cognac designation : VSOP
60 Lyft alternative : CAB
61 Hanoi holiday : TET
62 34th prez : IKE
63 “Wonder Woman” actress Gadot : GAL
64 Emmy-winning scientist : NYE

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 28 May 21, Friday”

  1. Messed up on VSOP. Had ISOP since I guessed at 57A as LUI instead of LUV. if I would have focused on the cognac designation, I should have known V was correct.. ill take it for a Friday.

    1. EMETH or EMEHT?

      Was at quite a loss until one of the backward clues came clear. Not very enjoyable “OMI”

  2. No errors, but never would have realized the theme. I had to look up
    the Guerrero name. Vlad just doesn’t seem to go with Guerrero!

  3. The answers above for the 28th are not for the crossword puzzle in the Detroit Free Press today (5/28/22).

  4. 21:36 for a good Friday challenge without being ridiculously hard.

    Bill, you didn’t opine on 10D and 11D; there’s not much to comment on, but saying an “eraser” is a writing tool might fit with today’s theme since that seems “backwards” to me!

    Got stuck in the SW corner for a bit until I changed RTES to AVES for GPS displays after figuring out SAVORY for the Food Network adjective.

    I guessed on the “V” in luV and Vsop. Not knowing either of the clues, I picked up on the initials for Lil Uzi Vert and that it “spelled” luv, a contrast of rage. Then, VSOP seemed a little familiar.

  5. Clever, well executed theme, but overall a little easy for a Friday. Maybe a record number — I counted about 35 — of PPPs (Persons, Places, Products and other proper nouns). Clue/answer nits: 11D (Writing tool/ERASER … Writer’s tool, yes; but writing tool? Try it). 19A (Pretend to be/APE … Yeah, but aping more strongly suggests mere monkey-see-monkey-do mimicry; with very few exceptions, stage and screen actors are NOT apes). 63D (Tijuana tots/NENES … The nene is the state bird of Hawaii, but OK☺️). Happy holiday weekend, all. Stay safe.

  6. 25:22 1 error

    Wow. This was tough, even after I figured out the theme/emeht. Putting in ALTIMA before OPTIMA left me seriously stuck on the top.

    The theme itself is pretty neat. I especially like INVERTSUGAR.

    Why is 53D NENES? Is that slang for niños somewhere?

    1. I don’t think nene/a are particularly slang, but rather a synonymous with nino/a (sorry I don’t know how to get the tilde over the 2nd n). I might be inclined to use nene/a for small children (like tots) who are grammar school ages.

      If Carrie drops by, she may have input.

  7. This puzzle’s “name” should be BASS-ACKWARDS. First of all, the theme is a non-starter, too stupid to spend any time on.

    Secondly the clues are just TERRIBLE. Our editor should have been fired years ago. He is routinely awful at spotting poor grids, and at editing the clues to make puzzles even solveable.

  8. Same question as Pam in MA… nenes are the state birds of Hawaii — I tried niños and niñas before settling (unsettling) on nenes. I have a few Mexican friends, but I have never heard them refer to their children as nenes…

  9. a lot of harsh comments! I rather liked today — but, as with everyone, never heard of nenes and kept trying to make ninos, then bebes, work!

  10. After looking at the explanation for 53 down, “Tijuana tots” I’m still at a loss. All you posted was a brief history of Tijuana. We had Ninos at first, thinking tots were children. Perhaps include a definition of Nene, for non Spanish speaking people.

  11. First of all, Thank You Bill, Singlehandedly !, for all you do for the blog and the CW afficianados.

    I came here, to first find out about the Invert Sugar – Honey clue. Something more than just inverting the letter order of the word, Honey.

    And secondly, sbout the spanish word Nene(s), as a spanish word for babies, tots or little children. Per Google translator, the word is legitimate, and of Catalan usage. So, an alternative to the well known Nino(s) and Ninas, and also another meaning for the Hawaiian goose.

    So, is it conceivable, ……
    if a Hawaiian Nene were to land up in Barcelona, wearing a Lei, …. Is it possible that the creature is more likely to be adopted by a surrogate family, … rather than being merely caught, slaughtered and roasted ?

    Have a nice day, all.

    1. Thank you, Vidwan, both for doing the research on the Catalan roots of the word NENE and for a bit of humor to leaven the usual “end-of-week-I couldn’t-do-the-damned-puzzle-so-now-I’m-obliged-to-trash-it” bile that occasionally infects the blog. I do miss you, sir!

  12. A bit late today but there you go: 23:17 with no errors or peeks. I filled in stuff that I knew and them backtracked and fixed stuff that was obviously wrong…and struggled with some of the theme clues.

    Somehow after fixing one clue the “all done” banner came up…surprising me, but I’ll take it, even if there were some dodgy clues.

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