LA Times Crossword 11 Aug 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano & Steve Mossberg
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: String Ensembles

Themed answers are items associated with “STRING”:

  • 59A Chamber groups … and the answers to starred clues? : STRING ENSEMBLES
  • 17A *Popular display after Thanksgiving : CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
  • 27A *Jewelry-themed treat : CANDY NECKLACE
  • 45A *Fortuneteller’s entrance item : BEADED CURTAIN

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

Bill’s time: 6m 41s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Overnight portmanteau : MOTEL

The term “motel” is a portmanteau of “motor” and “hotel”.

A portmanteau was a large suitcase, one that could be taken apart into two separate pieces. The word “portmanteau” is French for a “travelling bag”, from “porter” (to carry) and “manteau” (a coat, cloak). We also use “portmanteau” to mean a word that has been melded together from two parts (just as the suitcase comprised two parts). This usage was introduced to the world by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. He explained to Alice that the nonsense words in the “Jabberwocky” poem were actually portmanteau words. For example “slithy” comes from “slimy” and “lithe”.

6 Virtual video game characters : SIMS

SimCity is a very clever computer game. Players build and grow cities and societies by creating the conditions necessary for people (the Sims) to move in and thrive. SimCity was launched in 1989, and to this day it is consistently ranked as one of the greatest computer games of all time.

14 Northeast speedster : ACELA

The Acela Express is the fastest train routinely running in the US, as it gets up to 150 mph at times. The service runs between Boston and Washington D.C. via Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Introduced in 2000, the brand name “Acela” was created to evoke “acceleration” and “excellence”.

15 Cookie with a Red Velvet limited edition : OREO

Red Velvet Oreo cookies were introduced in 2015 and red cookies sandwiching a cream cheese-flavored cream filling.

16 Gobi location : ASIA

The Gobi, the large desert in Asia, lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi desert is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so-called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.

17 *Popular display after Thanksgiving : CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

The custom of decorating trees at Christmas seems to have originated in Renaissance Germany. Those first trees were placed in guildhalls and were decorated with sweets and candy for the apprentices and children. After the Protestant Reformation, the Christmas tree became an alternative in Protestant homes for the Roman Catholic Christmas cribs. The Christmas tree tradition was imported into Britain by the royal family because of its German heritage. That tradition spread from Britain into North America.

26 “You’ve got mail” ISP : AOL

AOL was a leading Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the 1980s and 1990s. The company does still provide dial-up access to the Internet for some subscribers, but most users now access AOL using faster, non-AOL ISPs.

The iconic phrase “You’ve got mail” was first used by AOL in 1989. The greeting was recorded by voice actor Elwood Edwards. Edwards has parlayed his gig with AOL into some other work. He appears in an episode of “The Simpsons” as a doctor who says the line “You’ve got leprosy”. Edwards also worked as a weatherman for a while and got to use the line “You’ve got hail” …

35 Common quote “source”: Abbr. : ANON

Anonymous (anon.)

37 Sty guys : BOARS

Domestic pigs might be referred to as swine or hogs. Males are boars, females are sows, and young pigs are piglets.

42 Torah holder : ARK

The Torah ark is found in a synagogue, and is the ornamental container in which the Torah scrolls are stored. The word “Torah” best translates as “teaching” or “law”, I am told.

43 Cabbage or cheddar : MOOLA

Lettuce, cabbage, kale, dough, bread, scratch, cheddar, simoleons, clams and moola(h) are all slang terms for money.

49 Walgreens rival : CVS

The name of the drugstore chain CVS once stood for “Consumer Value Stores”, although these days the company uses the initialism to denote “Convenience, Value and Service”.

50 Highly intelligent dogs : POODLES

The standard poodle breed of dog is considered by many to be the second-most intelligent breed, after the border collie. The name “poodle” comes from a Low German word meaning “to splash about”, reflecting the original use of the breed as a water retriever.

52 Vacuum challenge : PET HAIR

The first practical portable vacuum cleaner was invented by James Spangler in 1907. Spangler sold the patent for the design to his cousin’s husband, William Henry Hoover. Hoover then made his fortune from manufacturing and selling vacuum cleaners. Hoover was so successful in my part of the world that back in Ireland we don’t use the verb “to vacuum” and instead say “to hoover”. Also, “hoover” is what we call a vacuum cleaner, regardless of who makes it.

56 Strummed strings : UKE

The ukulele (uke) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.

57 Petting zoo bird : EMU

The emu has had a tough time in Australia since man settled there. There was even an “Emu War” in Western Australia in 1932 when migrating emus competed with livestock for water and food. Soldiers were sent in and used machine guns in an unsuccessful attempt to drive off the “invading force”. The emus were clever, breaking their usual formations and adopting guerrilla tactics, operating as smaller units. After 50 days of “war”, the military withdrew. Subsequent requests for military help for the farmers were ignored. The emus had emerged victorious …

59 Chamber groups … and the answers to starred clues? : STRING ENSEMBLES

Chamber music is a style of classical musical that is written for a small group of instruments, as opposed to a full orchestra. That number of players should be able to stage a performance in a “chamber”, traditionally a large room in a palace or other grand residence.

63 Cub pickup spot : NAPE

Some animals pick up their young by the nape of the neck.

65 They may be fake : TANS

The most effective fake tans available today are not dyes or stains. Instead, they are sprays with the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA reacts chemically with amino acids in the dead layer of skin on the surface of the body. Sounds a little risky to me …

67 Caroler’s selections : NOELS

“Noël” is the French word for the Christmas season, and ultimately comes from the Latin word for “birth” (natalis). “Noel” has come to be used as an alternative for “Christmas carol”.

Down

1 Eponymous physicist Ernst __ : MACH

The Mach number of a moving object (like say an airplane) is its speed relative to the speed of sound. A plane travelling at Mach 2, for example, is moving at twice the speed of sound. The term “Mach” takes its name from the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach who published a groundbreaking paper in 1877 that even predicted the “sonic boom”.

2 Autumn tone : OCHER

Ocher is a light, yellowish-brown color, although variations of the pigment are possible such as red ocher and purple ocher. “Ocher” is usually spelled “ochre” on the other side of the pond.

3 Color that literally means “baked earth” : TERRA COTTA

The tem “terra cotta” comes to us from Latin via Italian and means “baked earth”. Terra-cotta is a ceramic made from clay which is left unglazed. Maybe the most famous work in terra-cotta is the Terracotta Army, the enormous collection of life-size figures that was buried with Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China around 210 BC. I had the privilege of seeing some of this collection when it toured the US a few years ago, and even the few pieces on display were very impressive.

4 He’s “coming,” in a Laura Nyro song : ELI

“Eli and the Thirteenth Confession” is a 1968 album released by Laura Nyro. One of the singles from the album is “Eli’s Comin’”.

Laura Nyro was a singer-songwriter from the Bronx, New York. Nyro had success with her own recordings, but her songs were even more successful when recorded by other big names. Two of Nyro’s compositions were “Eli’s Coming” recorded by Three Dog Night, and “Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand.

5 Layered entrée : LASAGNA

“Lasagna” was originally the name of a cooking pot, but the term came to mean a dish that was cooked in it. “Lasagna” also became the name of the flat noodle used in the dish. If you order lasagna on the other side of the Atlantic, you’ll notice the “lasagne” spelling, the plural of “lasagna”. The plural is used as there is more than one layer of pasta in the dish.

10 Gorilla of ’60s cartoons : MAGILLA

Magilla Gorilla is an anthropomorphic gorilla, and star of Hanna-Barbera’s “The Magilla Gorilla Show” that aired in the mid-sixties. Magilla lives in the display window of a pet shop, and in each episode is sold (temporarily) to someone who takes him on adventures.

11 Queens stadium namesake : 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.

24 November tuber : YAM

Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the world than they are in this country, and are especially common in Africa.

Thanksgiving Day was observed on different dates in different states for many years, until Abraham Lincoln fixed the date for the whole country in 1863. Lincoln’s presidential proclamation set that date as the last Thursday in November. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November, arguing that the earlier date would give the economy a much-needed boost.

28 Shape of orecchiette pasta : EAR

Orecchiette are small dome-shaped pasta from Southern Italy. Each piece resembles a small ear, hence the name. “Orecchietta” (the singular) comes from the Italian “orecchia” meaning “ear” and “-etta” meaning “small”.

30 Out-of-favor power source : COAL

“Clean coal” is the term preferred by the coal industry and its supporters for what is more accurately referred to as “coal pollution mitigation”. In environmental terms, coal is one of the dirtiest of fuels, and causes a lot of pollution. Technologies can reduce that level of pollution, making coal “less dirty”. But “clean”, I’m not so sure …

31 “Orinoco Flow” singer : ENYA

“Orinoco Flow” is a song by Irish singer Enya that she released in 1988. It’s the one that goes “sail away, sail away, sail away …”

32 Speedy steed : ARAB

The Arab (also “Arabian”) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.

33 Mystical video game symbol : RUNE

A rune is a character in an alphabet that is believed to have mysterious powers. In Norse mythology, the runic alphabet was said to have a divine origin.

38 Tolkien villain : ORC

According to Tolkien, Orcs are small humanoids that live in his fantasy world of Middle-earth (also called “Mordor”). They are very ugly and dirty, and are fond of eating human flesh.

44 Olive extract : OIL

The olive tree developed in and around the Mediterranean Basin, but has been cultivated in many locations around the world for thousands of years. The fruit of the olive tree is prized as a foodstuff, as well as a source of olive oil. Our word “oil” ultimately derives from the Greek “elaia” meaning “olive”.

46 “Dear __ Hansen”: Tony Award-winning musical : EVAN

“Dear Evan Hansen” is a 2015 stage musical about a young man with awkward social skills and his efforts to make friends.

47 Wrestler Ronda : ROUSEY

Ronda Rousey is a mixed martial artist, and the first US woman to win an Olympic medal in judo. Rousey is a popular person online, with hers being the third-most searched name on Google in 2015 (after Lamar Odom and Caitlyn Jenner).

48 Joint puff : TOKE

“Toke” is a slang term describing a puff on a marijuana cigarette, or on a pipe containing the drug.

The term “joint” has a long history in the drug world. The word originally came from French in which it is the past participle of the word for “to join”. It became an Anglo-Irish term for a side-room “joined” onto a main room in the early 1800s. Towards the end of the 19th century it was US slang for a small, shady establishment, such as an opium den. By the 1930s a joint was a hypodermic needle used to inject heroin, and soon after became the term for a marijuana cigarette.

53 James with soul : ETTA

“Etta James” was the stage name of celebrated blues and soul singer Jamesetta Hawkins. James’ most famous recording was her 1960 hit “At Last”, which made it into the pop charts. James performed “At Last” at the age of 71 in 2009 on the reality show “Dancing with the Stars”, which was to be her final television appearance. She passed away in 2012.

54 2010 sci-fi sequel subtitled “Legacy” : TRON

Released in 1982, Disney’s “Tron” was one of the first mainstream films to make extensive use of computer graphics. The main role in the movie is played by Jeff Bridges. The original spawned a 2010 sequel called “Tron: Legacy”, as well as a 2012 TV show called “Tron: Uprising”.

60 D.C.-based airwaves org. : NPR

National Public Radio (now just called “NPR”) was established in 1970 after President Johnson signed into law the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. The station’s first broadcast took place in April of 1971, coverage of the US Senate hearings on the Vietnam War. The intent of the act was to provide funding for radio and television broadcasting that wasn’t simply driven by profit. As a longtime fan of the state-funded BBC in the UK, I’d have to agree with that intent …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Overnight portmanteau : MOTEL
6 Virtual video game characters : SIMS
10 Earn : MAKE
14 Northeast speedster : ACELA
15 Cookie with a Red Velvet limited edition : OREO
16 Gobi location : ASIA
17 *Popular display after Thanksgiving : CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
20 Word that can be possessive or objective : HER
21 __ moment : AHA
22 Easiest to kick back in : HOMIEST
23 Sci-fi zappers : RAY GUNS
26 “You’ve got mail” ISP : AOL
27 *Jewelry-themed treat : CANDY NECKLACE
32 5-Down attribute : AROMA
34 Have : EAT
35 Common quote “source”: Abbr. : ANON
36 Dirt road feature : RUT
37 Sty guys : BOARS
39 Ecstatic shout : YAY!
40 Negative start : ANTI-
42 Torah holder : ARK
43 Cabbage or cheddar : MOOLA
45 *Fortuneteller’s entrance item : BEADED CURTAIN
49 Walgreens rival : CVS
50 Highly intelligent dogs : POODLES
52 Vacuum challenge : PET HAIR
56 Strummed strings : UKE
57 Petting zoo bird : EMU
59 Chamber groups … and the answers to starred clues? : STRING ENSEMBLES
62 “That’s enough!” : STOP!
63 Cub pickup spot : NAPE
64 Market path : AISLE
65 They may be fake : TANS
66 Agile : SPRY
67 Caroler’s selections : NOELS

Down

1 Eponymous physicist Ernst __ : MACH
2 Autumn tone : OCHER
3 Color that literally means “baked earth” : TERRA COTTA
4 He’s “coming,” in a Laura Nyro song : ELI
5 Layered entrée : LASAGNA
6 Quite a lot of : SO MANY
7 Golden yrs. fund : IRA
8 Netting : MESH
9 One-person shows : SOLO ACTS
10 Gorilla of ’60s cartoons : MAGILLA
11 Queens stadium namesake : ASHE
12 Hobbyists’ purchases : KITS
13 Right on the map : EAST
18 Floor-hitting sound : THUD
19 Reassurance heard after a crash from another room : I’M OK!
24 November tuber : YAM
25 Prepare to surprise, with “on” : SNEAK UP …
28 Shape of orecchiette pasta : EAR
29 “Last chance to speak up!” : ANYONE ELSE?!
30 Out-of-favor power source : COAL
31 “Orinoco Flow” singer : ENYA
32 Speedy steed : ARAB
33 Mystical video game symbol : RUNE
37 Dark clouds, say : BAD SIGNS
38 Tolkien villain : ORC
41 Implanted tracking devices, briefly : ID CHIPS
43 Guy who’s set for life : MADE MAN
44 Olive extract : OIL
46 “Dear __ Hansen”: Tony Award-winning musical : EVAN
47 Wrestler Ronda : ROUSEY
48 Joint puff : TOKE
51 One of the senses : SMELL
52 Whispered call : PSST!
53 James with soul : ETTA
54 2010 sci-fi sequel subtitled “Legacy” : TRON
55 Collect, as rewards : REAP
58 Trades on : USES
60 D.C.-based airwaves org. : NPR
61 Twitter profile info : BIO

14 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 11 Aug 21, Wednesday”

  1. No errors, no lookups, but a couple of do-overs: changed
    bad omens to bad signs to make CVS and string ensembles.
    At first this one seemed impossible but turned out to be a
    great puzzle.

  2. Since I’m here, 4:53, no errors on this one.

    @Lou lu
    I hope you don’t get discouraged by anything here. We’re all at different points, and personally I’m happy to see people posting and doing well at all. “Good” is relative in a lot of senses. There’s a lot of people out there that can get half mine and Bill’s times on these.

    As far as progress and time goes, it wasn’t that long ago I started posting on here, frustrated that I couldn’t even finish a lot of these. (I’m sure a lot reading at the time hated that.) You do progress and get better. For a while, I’d be happy if I even finish one, then finish one without errors or having to use Google. Finally, really the only standard I could look at was time. Basically, when something would become so common place to me, I’d move to another standard.

    But yeah, I think I still have these days where I get super-frustrated about how poorly I do on some of these crosswords. But all you can do is do your best, be honest, and work to improve (if you want that). Try not to measure yourself against others and turn it into a competition. I will say I definitely don’t see posting here in that way. It’s not so much that one should be discouraged by the things you see from other people. Think of it as a view of what is possible. Not “I could never do that”, but “that’s what I could do one day”. First step in doing anything is believing in yourself and keeping at it.

    1. Glad to see you back and just as fast or faster. Also glad to see A Nonny Muss.

      I also tried to cheer Lou lu up, but did not see her post today.

      We bombed, lucky to get 60%. Just didn’t do well, follow up well and try very hard. My bad, mostly.

  3. 6:16

    Took a moment to understand the theme after I was done.

    @Bill, what a crazy story about the Emu Wars!

  4. 12:56 with no errors or lookups. Like with most puzzles, I filled in the ones I knew and then the less obvious ones became apparent with some letters filled in.

  5. I agree with Corky, I’ve heard all that Bill listed as slang for money except “cheddar”.

    Sometime in my past, I picked up the word “toke” as a gratuity or a tip for service. Now, with Bill’s explanation, I’m wondering if I am insulting my server when I offer, “Thanks, here’s your toke”. Is it a valid usage?

    1. The only usage of toke as a gratuity that I’m familiar with is specifically as a tip or gratuity given by a gambler to a dealer or other employee at a casino. I haven’t heard it used for a wider range of tipping – that said, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been. Language constantly evolves.

      https://www.dictionary.com/browse/toke

  6. 12:24, no errors or issues … besides taking twice as long as Bill and worse compared to some of you other speed demons.

    Glenn offers good advice to new solvers. It is sometimes daunting to see how easy it is for some of the hardened veterans. But it gives you something to shoot for, even if that’s unattainable.

    I often shake my head in wonder at how quickly some people can solve even the Sunday grid, with over 110 entries both across and down, in less than 15 minutes. I don’t understand how one can even read all the clues, mull a response [even instantaneous], record them in the grid (whether by pen or typing into an e-puzzle), and perhaps check other crossing answers to make sure you’re not making a mistake. It seems *physically* impossible (to me). But, as evidenced by the yearly NYT Crossword Puzzle contest, some DO perform that quickly. It’s truly a marvel.
    But, I track my personal progress against those yardsticks, no matter how unachievable they might be for me. I’ve learned that part of being a good crossword solver is simple **honesty**. Similar to playing golf strictly by the rules, you have to be totally objective and just let the results be as they are. Admit to TWO errors when one mistaken entry in a square affects two fills. Admit when you used any outside references or help. And keep records of your times and results. Over time, you’ll usually see that you are improving, even if it doesn’t seem like it on a particularly vexing day, on a puzzle full of evil, cynical tricks and poor editing.

    1. @Allen …

      While I agree with much of what you’ve said here, I strongly disagree with the attitude that allows you to write the words “puzzle full of evil, cynical tricks and poor editing”. When you encounter puzzles that you feel deserve to be so described, you have to ask yourself how it is that others managed to properly interpret the deceptive clues that you had trouble with and to finish relatively quickly, with no errors. IMO, regularly blaming the puzzles, the setters, and the editors for your own shortcomings is about as dishonest as it gets … 😳.

  7. Mostly easy Wednesday for me; took 13:29 with no errors or peeks. Theme didn’t really help and there were more than a few places I had to wait for crosses. Didn’t know: “Highly Intelligent Dog”, “Petting zoo bird”, the Laura Nyro song, “Dear….” musical” and only vaguely knew MACH – I was thinking Bohr – and the Sci-Fi TRON Legacy.

    re EMU – When I was in Australia we went to one wildlife park and had an Emu chase the car for a good 100 yards….kinda scary. Later at another zoo, there was a tame Emu, and I let it eat some seeds from my hand, but I was still kind of nervous with the memory of the first Emu. The ‘roos and devils were way cool though and I got to hold a koala 🙂

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