LA Times Crossword 26 Aug 21, Thursday

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Constructed by: Chris Sablich
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Stale Material

Themed answers each end with an anagram of “STALE”:

  • 49A Dated jokes … and what the ends of four Across answers are, in a way : STALE MATERIAL
  • 19A Kin of urban legends : OLD WIVES’ TALES
  • 25A Possible result of a bankruptcy filing : CLEAN SLATE
  • 43A “That’s some bargain you got!” : WHAT A STEAL!

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

Bill’s time: 5m 40s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Group for whom “Drive” was a Top 10 hit, with “The” : … CARS

The Cars were a rock band from Boston, Massachusetts who were at the height of their success in the late seventies and early eighties.

5 Sarge’s charges, briefly : PFCS

Private First Class (PFC)

13 Part of an agenda : ITEM

“Agenda” is a Latin word that translates as “things to be done”, coming from the verb “agere” meaning “to do”.

14 Fracas : MELEE

Our term “melee” comes from the French “mêlée”, and in both languages the word means “confused fight”.

“Fracas”, meaning “noisy quarrel”, is a French word that we absorbed into English. In turn, the French usage evolved from the Italian “fracasso” meaning “uproar, crash”.

15 Bar purchase : SOAP

Soap is basically made by adding a strong alkali (like lye) to a fat (like olive oil or palm oil). The fats break down in the basic solution in a process called saponification. The crude soap is extracted from the mixture, washed, purified and finished in molds.

16 Wanted things : DESIDERATA

A desideratum (plural “desiderata”) is something considered necessary or highly “desirable”. The term “desideratum” comes from the Latin word for “to desire”.

18 Santa __: Sonoma County seat : ROSA

Santa Rosa is the largest city in California’s Wine Country, and the county seat of Sonoma County. The epicenter of the so-called 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was located near Santa Rosa. There was actually more damage in Santa Rosa, for the size of the city, than there was in San Francisco.

Did you know that there are far more wine grapes produced in Sonoma than Napa? Within Sonoma County some of the more well-known appellations are Chalk Hill, Anderson Valley and Russian River Valley. Personally, when I want to visit the wine country, I head for the Russian River Valley as it’s far less crowded and much more fun than Napa Valley.

24 James of jazz : 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.

25 Possible result of a bankruptcy filing : CLEAN SLATE

Our word “bankruptcy” comes from the Italian “banca rotta”, which translates as “broken bench”. This etymology may stem from the practice of breaking the bench or counter of a moneychanger’s place of business in order to signify insolvency.

31 ERA, for example : STAT

Earned run average (ERA)

33 Some, in Potsdam : EINES

Potsdam is a city in Germany that lies just on the outskirts of the nation’s capital of Berlin. Famously, Potsdam was the site of a conference between Stalin, Churchill and Truman after the end of WWII in Europe.

34 Dirt alternative, at times : TAR

The terms “tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call “tarmac”.

38 Member of the 2019 World Series champs : NAT

The 2019 World Series was played between the American League’s Houston Astros and the National League’s Washington Nationals. The Nationals emerged victorious, and were crowned champions for the first time. The last time a D.C. team won the world series was back in 1924, when the Washington Senators beat the New York Giants.

41 Beethoven preceder : VAN

Ludwig van Beethoven is my favorite composer from the Classical period. There are two excellent films that showcase his music and give fictionalized yet entertaining accounts of different aspects of his life: “Immortal Beloved” (1994) that speculates on the identity of one of Beethoven’s lovers, and “Copying Beethoven” (2006) that explores the events leading up to the triumphant premiere of his 9th Symphony.

42 “Qué __?” : PASA

In Spanish, ¿Qué pasa? translates literally as “what’s happening?” It is used to mean “how are things going for you?”.

46 Assist badly? : ABET

The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (literally “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.

47 Indian nurse : AMAH

“Amah” is an interesting word in that we associate it so much with Asian culture and yet the term actually comes from the Portuguese “ama” meaning “nurse”. Ama was imported into English in the days of the British Raj in India when a wet-nurse became known as an amah.

48 Jacques’ title, in a children’s song : FRERE

“Frère Jacques” is a children’s song from France. The French lyrics are:

Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous ? Dormez-vous ?
Sonnez les matines ! Sonnez les matines !
Ding, daing, dong. Ding, daing, dong.

The lyrics are usually translated into English as:

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

55 Guitarist’s gadget : CAPO

A capo is a clamp-like device that is placed around the neck of a guitar or other stringed instrument to shorten the strings, and hence raise the pitch. The full name, rarely used these days, is “capo tasto”, which is Italian for “head tie”.

56 Tennessee Williams specialty : ONE-ACT PLAY

Tennessee Williams was an American playwright from Columbus, Mississippi. Several of his plays are widely known, both for their live performances and for their film adaptations. Perhaps the most notable works are “The Glass Menagerie”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Cat on a Hot Time Roof” and “The Night of the Iguana”.

60 Brazilian range __ do Mar : SERRA

Serra do Mar is a long stretch of mountain ranges in the southeast of Brazil. It runs parallel to the Atlantic, and “Serra do Mar” translates as “Sea’s Ridge”.

61 Architect Saarinen : EERO

Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect who was renowned in this country for his unique designs for public buildings such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Dulles International Airport Terminal, and the TWA building at JFK. The list of his lesser-known, but still impressive, works includes several buildings erected on academic campuses. For example, the Chapel and Kresge Auditorium on the MIT campus, the Emma Hartman Noyes House at Vassar College, the Law School building at the University of Chicago, and Yale’s David S. Ingalls Rink.

63 Egyptian vipers : ASPS

The venomous snake called an asp was a symbol of royalty in ancient Egypt.

64 “Glee” character, usually : TEEN

The TV show “Glee” has proven to be very popular. The storyline focuses on a high school glee club in Lima, Ohio called New Directions.

Down

1 “Le __”: 1636 Corneille play : CID

“Le Cid” is a tragicomic play by French dramatist Pierre Corneille that premiered in 1636. It is based on an earlier play by Guillén de Castro, which in turn is based on the adventures of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Castilian knight who is best known as “El Cid”. “Le Cid” is considered Corneille’s finest work, and it forms the basis of the opera of the same name by French composer Jules Massenet.

5 Prefix meaning “all around” : PERI-

The prefix “peri-” is Greek in origin and means “around”. An example of its use is “periscope”, a device on a submarine for looking “around”.

6 Rapper with a clock necklace, familiarly : FLAV

Flavor Flav is a rap star born William Drayton, Jr. He was a founding member of the rap group Public Enemy. Part of Flav’s “look” is a clock worn around his neck. He tells us, “The reason why I wear this clock is because it represents time being the most important element in our life”.

7 Et __ : CETERA

The Latin phrase “et cetera” translates as “and other things”. The term is usually abbreviated to “etc.”

9 Begin, for one : ISRAELI

Menachem Begin was Prime Minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983. Perhaps most notably, Begin signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, following the Camp David Accords of 1978. This agreement earned Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat the Nobel Peace Prize.

12 Places to relax : SPAS

The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as “Spa” is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.

17 ADA member : DDS

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

The American Dental Association (ADA) is the largest and oldest national dental association in the world. Today the ADA is based in Chicago, but the association was founded in Niagara Falls, New York in 1859. The ADA started out as a group of 26 dentists, and it now has more than 152,000 members.

20 Tube, so to speak : TV SET

Television (TV, teevee, the tube, the boob tube)

25 Monopoly token that replaced the iron : CAT

The tokens included with a game of Monopoly have changed over the years. Two of the more interesting tokens are the battleship and cannon. These were created by Hasbro for a board game called Conflict. When Conflict failed in the market, the excess tokens were recycled and included with Monopoly.

26 Unlike Abner, actually : LI’L

“Li’l Abner” was created and drawn by Al Capp for over 43 years starting in 1934. Al Capp stopped producing the strip in 1977, largely due to illness (he died from emphysema two years later). As the strip finished up, he went so far as to apologize to his long-standing fans, saying that he should have stopped 3-4 years earlier as he felt that the quality of his work had gone down in those latter years. The title character’s full name is “Li’l Abner Yokum”. Despite being referred to as “Li’l”, Abner is 6’ 3” tall.

27 École attendee : ELEVE

In French, an “élève” (pupil) attends “école” (school).

28 “Kingdom by the sea” maiden of poetry : ANNABEL LEE

“Annabel Lee” was the last complete poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. The opening lines are:

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;

The closing lines are:

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

30 Executor’s concern : ESTATE

In general terms, an executor is a person responsible for the execution of some task. Most commonly, it is the person who has been designated to carry out the directions called out in someone’s will after the person is deceased. So, the executor has the necessary authority to distribute assets, pay bills etc. The executor usually works alongside the attorney for the estate.

36 Motorists’ org. : AAA

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit organization focused on lobbying, provision of automobile servicing, and selling of automobile insurance. The AAA was founded in 1902 in Chicago and published the first of its celebrated hotel guides back in 1917.

37 NBC weekend show : SNL

NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1975 under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. Back then “The Tonight Show” had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to put together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and he came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.

42 Castle feature : PARAPET

Originally, a parapet was a defensive wall or a fortifying elevation above a main wall. We use the term “parapet” now to describe several different structures, often a guardrail on a staircase or a roof. “Parapet” comes from the Italian “parapetto”, which in turn comes from “parare” (to cover, defend) and “petto” (breast).

44 Stuffed Indian pastry : SAMOSA

A samosa is quite a tasty appetizer. It is usually a triangular-shaped savory that often has a vegetarian filling. The word “samosa” is primarily used on Indian menus, and the name comes from “sanbosag”, the name for the dish in Persia.

45 Macduff and Macbeth : THANES

Thanes were Scottish aristocrats. The most famous thanes have to be the Shakespearean characters Macbeth (Thane of Glamis, later “Thane of Cawdor”, and still later “King of Scotland”) and MacDuff (Thane of Fife). Other thanes in “Macbeth” are Ross, Lennox and Angus, as well as Menteith and Caithness.

51 Primatologists’ subjects : APES

Apes and monkeys both belong to the order of primates. The most obvious way to distinguish apes from monkeys is by the presence or lack of a tail. Almost all apes have no tail, and almost all monkeys have tails.

52 UMD athlete : TERP

The sports teams of the University of Maryland are called the Maryland Terrapins, or “Terps” for short. The name dates back to 1932 when it was coined by the university’s president at the time, Curley Byrd. He took the name from the diamondback terrapins that are native to the Chesapeake Bay.

54 __ Building, now 30 Rockefeller Plaza : RCA

What is now called the GE Building in New York City, was originally known as the RCA Building, with the name changing in 1988 after the 1986 takeover of RCA by GE. The building was completed in 1933 as part of the Rockefeller Center and was named for its main tenant RCA. Famously, the skyscraper’s address of 30 Rockefeller Plaza is routinely shortened to “30 Rock”.

58 “… the morn … / Walks o’er the dew of __ high eastward hill”: “Hamlet” : YON

But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.

The above are lines from William Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”, and are spoken by the title character’s friend Horatio.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Group for whom “Drive” was a Top 10 hit, with “The” : … CARS
5 Sarge’s charges, briefly : PFCS
9 Finishes in the bakery : ICES
13 Part of an agenda : ITEM
14 Fracas : MELEE
15 Bar purchase : SOAP
16 Wanted things : DESIDERATA
18 Santa __: Sonoma County seat : ROSA
19 Kin of urban legends : OLD WIVES’ TALES
21 Shows : BARES
23 Wander : ROVE
24 James of jazz : ETTA
25 Possible result of a bankruptcy filing : CLEAN SLATE
31 ERA, for example : STAT
32 Suffer : AIL
33 Some, in Potsdam : EINES
34 Dirt alternative, at times : TAR
35 Minimally : AT LEAST
38 Member of the 2019 World Series champs : NAT
39 Large quantity : OCEAN
41 Beethoven preceder : VAN
42 “Qué __?” : PASA
43 “That’s some bargain you got!” : WHAT A STEAL!
46 Assist badly? : ABET
47 Indian nurse : AMAH
48 Jacques’ title, in a children’s song : FRERE
49 Dated jokes … and what the ends of four Across answers are, in a way : STALE MATERIAL
55 Guitarist’s gadget : CAPO
56 Tennessee Williams specialty : ONE-ACT PLAY
59 King toppers : ACES
60 Brazilian range __ do Mar : SERRA
61 Architect Saarinen : EERO
62 Leader : BOSS
63 Egyptian vipers : ASPS
64 “Glee” character, usually : TEEN

Down

1 “Le __”: 1636 Corneille play : CID
2 Put away : ATE
3 Vacation destination : RESORT AREA
4 Greet with a grin : SMILE AT
5 Prefix meaning “all around” : PERI-
6 Rapper with a clock necklace, familiarly : FLAV
7 Et __ : CETERA
8 Salt, say : SEASON
9 Begin, for one : ISRAELI
10 Hip : COOL
11 Alleviate : EASE
12 Places to relax : SPAS
14 Cry from a litter : MEW!
17 ADA member : DDS
20 Tube, so to speak : TV SET
21 Grant : BESTOW
22 Staple, e.g. : ATTACH
25 Monopoly token that replaced the iron : CAT
26 Unlike Abner, actually : LI’L
27 École attendee : ELEVE
28 “Kingdom by the sea” maiden of poetry : ANNABEL LEE
29 Come-on : TEASER
30 Executor’s concern : ESTATE
35 “What’s in __?” : A NAME
36 Motorists’ org. : AAA
37 NBC weekend show : SNL
40 Clueless : AT A LOSS
42 Castle feature : PARAPET
44 Stuffed Indian pastry : SAMOSA
45 Macduff and Macbeth : THANES
48 Hale : FIT
49 Sign of healing : SCAB
50 Snack from a truck : TACO
51 Primatologists’ subjects : APES
52 UMD athlete : TERP
53 Some crop units : EARS
54 __ Building, now 30 Rockefeller Plaza : RCA
57 Exist : ARE
58 “… the morn … / Walks o’er the dew of __ high eastward hill”: “Hamlet” : YON

22 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 26 Aug 21, Thursday”

  1. Wow, what’s with DESIDERATA showing up as a common term? First I thought it was one of the STALE words , then when I got the other 4 I though “huh”. I stared at it for a long time.

    Frera Jacques was a song my mom used to sing to us when we were kids. She picked it up when her and dad were stationed in France with the US Airforce back in the early ’50s.

  2. 34:37, no errors but obviously a slog. Last to fill in was 33A EINES – I knew from the get-go that the constructor was looking for EINES but I will argue that the clue should’ve been “someone” & not “some”

  3. Did not know “Flav” or “PFCs so was stuck as I wouldn’t fill in “Desirerata” as I never heard of it. A lot of old clues in this one that I haven’t seen in a while.

  4. 30 min. and I had desiRerata for desiderata…the story of my life😒
    Stay safe 😀
    The NYT crossword in my paper today was the same one that was in last Thursday and I still managed to get 2 errors…again the story……….

  5. A tip of the cap to Bill’s solve time on this grid. I finished without final error but I thought it had some tricky cluing and then there’s desiderata. Yowsa!

  6. 36:22 with 5 letter errors affecting 6 answers, 2 of the 5 being blank – sheesh!

    Never heard of desiderATa, the AT were my blanks; had PvtS instead of PFCS. I know of Flavor Flav, but was stuck on UL_V and so wanted a U or O in that space, assuming a rap artist I’d not heard of (which there are many). Briefly considered Et CETERA, but was firmly set on PVTS (forgot about PFC), and so DNF.

    The other error was on SAMOtA/tERRA. Did not know the Samoa pastry (the recipe looks pretty good!) and thought “terra” was a good word in the Brazilian range. BTW, a search on “terra do mar” turns up motels and RV parks in South America and California.

    An altogether ugly finish today, and it took a long time to get there.

  7. 13:35 at least half a dozen changes along the way, and 1 error I couldn’t find at the end.

    Today I learned about Flavor Flav.

    Theme was one of those after the fact types.

    @Anon Mike, DESIDERATA is quite a word. It always makes me think of the National Lampoon bit, “Deterioata”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFLvhKv-Lbo

  8. 9 minutes, 39 seconds, no errors. AMAH, among other things, just did not come readily to mind. Crossing that with an Indian food cuisine object was not appreciated.

    1. Hi Allen. If you think about it crossing an East Indian nurser with an East Indian savory pastry has a certain poetic symmetry to it.

  9. Mostly easy Thursday for me; took 14:37 with no errors or peeks, although I was surprised when I got the “all done” banner, being unsure of the last answer for me – DECIDERATA. I had left PE_I blank and decided it had to be R, for perimeter, and poof I was done!

    Go figure, I go down in flames yesterday and today it was mostly no problem. Didn’t know CARS and CID, for sure, but made an educated guess. Also new to CAT, SERRA and RCA but crosses helped there.

    As a fluent German speaker, EINE is not really correct. It really should be EINIGE, or perhaps ETWAS, as being equivalent to “some.” EINE is more equivalent to “one.”

  10. I always thought crossword CLUES were there to HELP one SOLVE the puzzle, not amuse the crossword creator.

    I solved today’s puzzle (08/27/21), but I feel cheated.

    I am rapidly losing interest with these “clever” puzzles.

  11. I am in complete agreement with Keith’s succinct assessment of more and more of today’s crossword puzzles. Today’s editors seem to simply ‘cut ‘n paste’ submissions without a thought towards making it a challenging, but fair, puzzle. His last sentence is my own feelings, too!!

  12. Two French words, two in Portuguese, one in Spanish, one in German (and incorrectly clued at that), and a Finnish proper name. Hmmmmm…

    Kind of interesting that no one commented that “all around” is not the same as “around”. He’s a good all around athlete. He’s a good around athlete. Let’s drive around the town. Let’s drive all around the town. Pretty silly, actually. ‘Peri-‘ can mean ‘around’ but it doesn’t mean ‘all around’. But then, as Keith said, it’s not about making clues that are helpful–or even being overly concerned that they are actually correct, is it…

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