LA Times Crossword 27 Aug 21, Friday


Constructed by: David Alfred Bywaters
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Abbreviated Regs, for Example

Themed clues are each words that have lost their starting and ending letters, as defined in the corresponding answer:

  • 17A Hi? : THIN-SKINNED
  • 24A A? : REDUCED FAT
  • 36A In? : CLIPPED WING
  • 51A Lower? : CUT FLOWERS
  • 58A Lea? : CLEAN-SHAVEN

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

Bill’s time: 9m 29s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • NEATO! (neeto!!!)
  • CHAW (chew)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies


1 Ending of a Greek story? : OMEGA

The Greek alphabet starts with the letter “alpha”, and ends with the letter “omega”.

11 Italian word that becomes its English synonym when “h” and “e” are added : TRE

The Italian “tre” (three) becomes the English “three” with the addition of the letters H and E.

14 May and others : CAPES

Cape May is a peninsula and an island that forms the southern tip of New Jersey. The US Coast Guard basic training camp is located in Cape May.

16 Veer off course : YAW

The word “yaw” means to deviate from the line of a course and is used mainly at sea and in the air. “Yaw” is derived from the Old Norse word “jaege” which means “to drive, chase”. As such, “yaw” is etymologically related to our word “yacht”.

19 Org. that began as the National Congress of Mothers : PTA

The National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA) was founded back in 1897 as the National Congress of Mothers. The PTA uses the slogan “everychild. onevoice” [sic].

20 Head turner : ADONIS

In Greek mythology, Adonis is a beautiful young god loved by Aphrodite. Adonis dies in a hunting accident (gored by a boar), but not before he gives Aphrodite a child. Adonis was originally a Phoenician god “absorbed” into Greek lore (Phoenicia is modern day Lebanon). The child born of Adonis to Aphrodite was called Beroe, after which is named Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. We also use the term “adonis” to mean “beautiful male”.

29 Jewish deli specialty : KNISH

A knish is a snack food from Germany and Eastern Europe that was made popular in the US by Jewish immigrants. A knish has a filling, often made of mashed potato and ground meat, covered by a dough that is baked or fried.

30 Bit of force : DYNE

A dyne is a unit of force. The name “dyne” comes from the Greek “dynamis” meaning “power, force”. Ergs and dynes are related to each other in that one erg is the amount of energy needed to move a force of one dyne over a distance of one centimeter.

31 Dickensian objects of pity : WAIFS

The English author Charles Dickens used the pen-name “Boz” early in his career. He had already established himself as the most famous novelist of the Victorian Era when he came to visit America in 1842. He was honored by 3,000 of New York’s elite at a “Boz Ball” in the Park Theater.

47 Annie who voiced Bo Peep in “Toy Story 4” : POTTS

Annie Potts is an actress from Nashville, Tennessee. She had roles in successful films such as “Ghostbusters” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and did voice work for “Toy Story” series of films (as Bo Peep). Potts was lucky to survive a car crash when she was 21 years old, as she broke nearly every bone in her lower body.

54 Low bones : TARSI

The tarsals (also “tarsi”) are the ankle bones, and are equivalent to the carpals in the wrist.

57 “The Blacklist” agcy. : FBI

“The Blacklist” is an entertaining, albeit a little formulaic, crime drama TV show starring James Spader and Megan Boone. Spader plays a successful criminal who surrenders to the FBI in order to help catch a “blacklist” of high-profile criminals.

64 Mall booth : KIOSK

Our word “kiosk” came to us via French and Turkish from the Persian “kushk” meaning “palace, portico”.

66 Cabernet or merlot : RED

The cabernet sauvignon (often just “cab”) grape has been around since the 17th century, and is the result of a chance crossing in southwestern France of the cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc grapes.

Merlot is one of the main grapes used to make Bordeaux wines, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

68 Analyze, in a way : PARSE

The verb “to parse” means “to state the parts of speech in a sentence”. “Parse” comes from the Latin word “pars” meaning “part”.


1 It was eighth in old Rome: Abbr. : OCT

October is the tenth month in our calendar but was the eighth month in the old Roman calendar, hence the prefix “octo-”. Back then there were only ten months in the year. “Ianuarius” (January) and “Februarius” were then added as the eleventh and twelfth months of the year. Soon after, the year was reset and January and February became the first and second months.

2 First name in gospel : MAHALIA

Mahalia Jackson was an African-American gospel singer who was known as the first Queen of Gospel Music. She recorded many records, including 12 that went gold, i.e. sold more than a million copies each.

3 Happening all over : EPIDEMIC

Something described as epidemic affects an unusually large proportion of a population. The term “epidemic” comes from the Greek “epi” meaning “among” and “demos” meaning “people”.

4 Ligurian Sea city : GENOA

Genoa is a seaport in the very north of Italy, in the region known as Liguria. One of Genoa’s most famous sons was Christopher Columbus. Another was the violinist Niccolò Paganini.

The Ligurian Sea is part of the Mediterranean, located off the Italian coast and north of the French island of Corsica.

9 Eponymous people of the Southwestern U.S. : UTE

The Ute are a group of Native-American tribes who now reside in Utah and Colorado. The Ute were not a unified people as such, but rather a loose association of nomadic groups. The word “Ute” means “Land of the Sun”, and “Ute” also gave us the state name “Utah”.

An eponym is a name for something derived from the name of a person, as in the food item we call a “sandwich”, named after the Earl of Sandwich.

10 Pigeon’s perch : LEDGE

Taxonomically, doves and pigeons are the only members of the order Columbidae. The terms “dove” and “pigeon” are often used interchangeably. Scientifically speaking, dove species tend to be smaller than pigeon species. Colloquially though, many refer to doves as the white or nearly white species in the family.

12 Wicker material : RATTAN

Rattan is the name of a large number of species of palms, all of which look less like trees and more like vines. The woody stems are used for making cane furniture.

The Wych elm is also known as the Scots elm. It is the most common species of elm found in Europe. The term “wych” comes from the Old English “wice” meaning “pliant, supple”. The word “wice” also gives rise to our word “wicker”.

18 Michael Douglas’ middle name : KIRK

Actor Michael Douglas is the son of Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas. Michael’s big career break came on television when he played alongside Karl Malden in the police drama “The Streets of San Francisco”. He married Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2000. Michael and Catherine share the same birthday (September 25th), although there’s a 25-year gap in their ages.

Megastar Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in Upstate New York. One of Douglas’ coups was to purchase the film-making rights to the play “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, in which he starred on Broadway in the mid-sixties. He gave those rights to his son, actor Michael Douglas, who made it into the magnificent movie of the same name. Kirk Douglas passed away in 2020 at the age of 103.

27 Tobacco wad : CHAW

“Chaw” is a slang term for “chew”, a plug of tobacco.

35 Hermana de la madre : TIA

In Spanish, a “tia” (aunt) is the “hermana del padre o de la madre” (sister of the father or the mother).

37 Cops, in slang : PO-PO

“Po-po” is a slang term meaning “police”.

42 Glittering headgear : DIADEMS

A diadem is a type of crown that is worn as a sign of royalty. The original diadem wasn’t made of metal and was simply an embroidered silk ribbon that was worn by a king as a symbol of his authority.

46 Consolatory post-failure reflection : I TRIED

… but I still got one letter wrong in the grid.

48 Swimming __ : TRUNKS

Swimming trunks are shorts used, usually by males, when swimming. The term “trunks” is used because centuries ago, people routinely wore underwear that covered the entire “trunk” of the body. Swimming usually involved stripping down to those “trunks”. We’re less modest when swimming nowadays, but the term “trunks” has persisted.

49 “Last four digits” IDs : SSNS

A Social Security number (SSN) is divided into three parts i.e AAA-GG-SSSS, Originally, the Area Number (AAA) was the code for the office that issued the card. Since 1973, the Area Number reflects the ZIP code from which the application was made. The GG in the SSN is the Group Number, and the SSSS in the number is the Serial Number. However, this is all moot. Since 2011, SSNs have been assigned randomly. However, some random numbers have been excluded from use, i.e. Area Numbers 000, 666 (!) and 900-999.

53 Togo neighbor : GHANA

The country name “Ghana” translates as “warrior king” in the local language. The British established a colony they named the Gold Coast in 1874, later to become Ghana, as part of the scramble by Europeans to settle as much of Africa as they could. One of Ghana’s most famous sons was Kofi Annan, the diplomat who served as General Secretary of the UN for ten years until the beginning of 2007.

Togo is a country on the West African coast, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. It is located between Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north.

56 Apt collie name : SHEP

The collie isn’t actually a breed of dog, but rather the name given to a group of herding dogs that originated in Scotland and Northern England. An obvious (and wonderful) example would be the Border collie. Many dogs classed as collies don’t have the word “collie” in the name of the breed, for example the Old English sheepdog and the Shetland sheepdog.

60 Fair-hiring abbr. : EOE

Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE)

61 Deadly viper : ASP

The asp is a venomous snake found in the Nile region of Africa. It is so venomous that the asp was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as a means of execution. Cleopatra observed such executions noting that the venom brought on sleepiness without any painful spasms. When the great queen opted to commit suicide, the asp was therefore her chosen method.

The Viperidae (also “viperids”) are a family of venomous snakes commonly referred to as vipers. Vipers are relatively unusual snakes in that they give birth to young that are alive, rather than laying eggs.

62 Bill promoting science? : 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


1 Ending of a Greek story? : OMEGA
6 Not just bad : AWFUL
11 Italian word that becomes its English synonym when “h” and “e” are added : TRE
14 May and others : CAPES
15 Way to go : ROUTE
16 Veer off course : YAW
19 Org. that began as the National Congress of Mothers : PTA
20 Head turner : ADONIS
21 Ways to go : GAITS
23 Guilty, at times : PLEA
28 Purpose : AIM
29 Jewish deli specialty : KNISH
30 Bit of force : DYNE
31 Dickensian objects of pity : WAIFS
34 “Fab!” : NEATO!
40 Common bike-lock design : U-BOLT
41 Brief digression : ASIDE
44 “Not likely!” : AS IF!
47 Annie who voiced Bo Peep in “Toy Story 4” : POTTS
50 Word on Italian street signs : VIA
51 Lower? : CUT FLOWERS
53 Stuff : GEAR
54 Low bones : TARSI
55 Barefoot : UNSHOD
57 “The Blacklist” agcy. : FBI
63 Cheering word : OLE!
64 Mall booth : KIOSK
65 One can be public or sworn : ENEMY
66 Cabernet or merlot : RED
67 Process parts : STEPS
68 Analyze, in a way : PARSE


1 It was eighth in old Rome: Abbr. : OCT
2 First name in gospel : MAHALIA
3 Happening all over : EPIDEMIC
4 Ligurian Sea city : GENOA
5 Pt. of 19-Across : ASSN
6 Come up : ARISEN
7 Captured : WON
8 Amusement : FUN
9 Eponymous people of the Southwestern U.S. : UTE
10 Pigeon’s perch : LEDGE
11 Be exemplary of : TYPIFY
12 Wicker material : RATTAN
13 Old computers and cellphones, say : E-WASTE
18 Michael Douglas’ middle name : KIRK
22 Extras : ADD-ONS
23 “Give me your __” : PAW
25 Kitchen set : DINETTE
26 Sold for less, as a rule : USED
27 Tobacco wad : CHAW
32 Blown lines, say : FLUFFS
33 Bro, e.g. : SIB
35 Hermana de la madre : TIA
37 Cops, in slang : PO-PO
38 Furrow maker : PLOW
39 Abandon : GIVE OVER
42 Glittering headgear : DIADEMS
43 Musical skill : EAR
44 Represent : ACT FOR
45 Subject to litigation : SUABLE
46 Consolatory post-failure reflection : I TRIED
48 Swimming __ : TRUNKS
49 “Last four digits” IDs : SSNS
52 The home team gets the last ones : LICKS
53 Togo neighbor : GHANA
56 Apt collie name : SHEP
59 On fire : LIT
60 Fair-hiring abbr. : EOE
61 Deadly viper : ASP
62 Bill promoting science? : NYE

77 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 27 Aug 21, Friday”

    1. “THIN” is “SKINNED” by dropping T and N, leaving the clue.
      “FAT” is “REDUCED” by dropping F and T, leaving the clue.
      In every case, the first and last letters are clipped, cut, shaven, etc.

      1. You might have said:
        Lea? and a clue to 17, 24, 36, 51 across;
        Or … and a clue to the ? Marked words ..

      1. This is absolutely the most ridiculous puzzle I have ever encountered. I have been doing puzzles for MANY years!! This one is disgustingly stupid!!!!!

    2. I’m with anonymous! I got the whole puzzle with no errors, but how does it tie together? Other than thin skinned, it’s about things that are cut (literally for 51A)! That’s all I can see.

    3. Totally agree – plus our paper doesn’t publish a title for the puzzle for I am usually trying to figure out the theme too. This one didn’t make sense at all.

  1. I don’t get it – first time in 14 years I’ve had to say that. The “theme” must seem clever to someone.

    1. It isn’t clever, since it’s ridiculously inscrutable. Clever would be a theme that makes you say, “Aha! I get it. That was fun.” This one just made me curse the puzzlemakers for their “cleverness”.

  2. I don’t get it either… what a slog. Messed up on 23D with PAN and that gave me NAIFS for 31A…. it could still work.

  3. I guess I get what Bill is saying but how contrived is that???
    Here’s my clue “F”..


  4. This is my first time to this site, I am trying to find the meaning to the theme of this puzzle, but like the others commenting I just don’t get it!

  5. After starting out with “Matthew” as 2down, I didn’t think I’d ever
    get this puzzle. But would you believe?….after I changed it to
    Mahalia after realizing that “gospel” wasn’t capitalized, the rest
    of it fell in to place! No errors and no lookups.

    A minor victory for me, but I still shake my head at the “theme”…
    I understand it when it’s all done now, but it was a real puzzle
    while I was working at it.

  6. I am so glad to see that you all don’t get the theme of this puzzle!! I thought I was missing something obvious, but alas it’s just a really stupid theme. 😒
    Stay safe! 😊

  7. The clue is “um.” The answer is “struck dumb.” I think that was the problem with the constructor! Doc

  8. OK
    someone PLEASE explain …
    I correctly solved the puzzle but honestly this is the first time I am stumped by the “theme”

  9. Remove first and last letters of part of the answer that doesn’t mean “trim”.

    You skin “thin” and get “hi”
    You reduce “fat” and get “a”
    You clip “wing” and get “in”
    You shave “clean” and get “lea”.

    Just explaining it, not endorsing it. Bit of a stretch I’d say.

    1. Thank you for the definition. After I had clean shaven I noticed the other ‘trim’ clues (except for cut), but didn’t see the dropped letter theme. Still it was a 6A puzzle.

  10. 39+ minutes, 2 errors (ASSC/ADOCIS). I guess I’m in the minority because I thought this was a lot of fun. Harder than a typical Friday but not as hard as a Saturday puzzle.
    The theme was definitely of use for me once the 1st answer was filled in via crosses (CLEANSHAVEN in my case).

  11. 44:11

    Wow! That was tough. I feel like changed my mind on about three-quarters of the squares along the way.

    As for the theme, I saw that the clue word was inside the answer. Then I sow there were two other letters with it. Then I saw the other half of the answer had something to do with making less, and the whole thing made sense as a phrase But I just couldn’t make sense of how the cluing fit in. It didn’t help that I kept wanting the two removed letters to have something to do with each other.

    What I understood about the theme did help me figure out that LOWER was part of fLOWERs, and the other word was CUT. Thus CUTFLOWERS. Which meant that LIABLE should be SUABLE, and I finally finished the puzzle.

  12. No errors and I got the theme. All the phrases are common. They actually helped me solve the puzzle. I had the letters LOWER in 51A. Although that wasn’t the first one I solved, I knew I needed to get the letters in the clue into the other answers.
    It was a slow start, but very satisfying to finish with no look ups or errors. I had a teen daughter who called cops ‘Popo.’

  13. No final errors. I thought this was a pretty tough Friday grid, made all the harder by a pretty enigmatic theme.

  14. If the Germans had used this theme for secret messages we might all be speaking Deutschland now👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎
    Stay safe😀
    The Orioles won 2 in row👍

  15. I’ve been doing crossword puzzles for years, and I’ve never seen a “theme” that was so contrived. How is “A” a clue, or “Hi”? Clearly a lot of other commenters agree with me. Crossword puzzles should be fun but this one left me confused and angry.

  16. This is Bywaters trademark. I have memorized his name and when I see it, I break out in hives. So, I’m just saying……you have been warned!

  17. Addendum to my former comment: The last clue could have been reversed, i.e. “have” as the clue rather than “lea.” You could “clean” shaven as well as “shave” clean.

  18. A puzzling puzzle … OMG! … how dreadfully unfair! … 😜

    (In reality: 12:34, no errors, enjoyed it immensely.)

  19. Add one more vote to those who found the “theme” utterly ridiculous. I usually enjoy the cleverness of the themes.
    This was a train wreck.

  20. I have been doing crosswords for years and I could not get anything.The theme was totally stupid. It seemed like the puzzle was in an another language.This writer stinks.

  21. Worst effort ever on my part – 1:09:09 with 2 lookups for Ligurian Sea city (didn’t know the sea) and Wicker material (forgot about RATTAN). Never mind the theme clues, there were a lot of clues that were vague or esoteric to me. To say OMEGA is end of a story stretches it, even as a question. Where did POPO come from? What LICKS does a home team get last of and in what sport? “May and others” is pretty generic. Head turner wanted an ER ending. GAIT as a “way” to go is another stretch.

    Had to change ROOST>LEDGE, USE>AIM, GAFFES>FLUFFS, HOER>BROW>PLOW, ASIS>USED, NOW>PTA which slowed down other answers.

    I now understand the theme, but it was no help in solving those clues, especially with no other clue to clarify the aim of the theme.

    1. I agree with you about LICKS and GAIT, and I would about POPO as well, but a young visiting friend into rap said it is a normal word in that world. And OMEGA as the end of a story is the kind of silly stretch that I’ve become accustomed to in crosswords these days.

      1. Thanks, Mark.
        Re: POPO, the English language is always evolving, and so new words are regularly introduced, but keeping up with slang from all corners is extremely difficult.
        Re: OMEGA, I agree that there are some characteristics one just has to learn in order to solve crossword puzzles.

  22. Since I’m here…and curiosity, well, after I solved this…

    9:13, no errors. Agreed with the others about the theme. I’ve learned though to give up (for most part) trying to make sense of these things a long time ago and just go with it. I did figure out what was going on pretty quickly. Part of dealing with these themes is learning to look for whatever the constructor is doing and just go with whatever the original statement seems to indicate. Of course, doing most themed things require downs-only solving until you have that information.

    While it made absolutely no sense, I noticed what was happening and reduplicated it in the other theme spots once I could fill in the blanks (so to speak). Ultimately though, I concur with the others. Really nothing clever about this (“asinine” would be a better description) and another good data point for abolishing themed puzzles altogether.

  23. Tough Friday for me; took 46:26 with me only solving most of the bottom 2/3 and the NW. I did a “check grid” and was surprised that everything I had up to that point was okay. Still, I was stuck and tried to make sense of the theme but to no avail. Two or three “check grids” later and I managed to get finished, but of course with plenty of help. TYPIFY, ADONIS, KIRK, EWASTE and MAHALIA were mysteries to me.

    And, the Giants blow a lead and lose in the 9th…grrr. At least the stock market was really good today.

  24. I actually found the theme here helpful. Had “lea” and “in” from the crosses so I knew it had to be some lexical trickery, and from there figured out A was either second or second-to-last for the “A” clue.

  25. I’ve been doing these puzzles for about 6 months now. Without question this was the WORST theme I’ve seen. The answers to the themed clues could have been anything – they had no context.

  26. This puzzle breaks the fundamental covenant between author and reader —that there is some cognitive link between clue and answer, usually in the area of meaning, even if a pun, foreign in origin, or other wise playful. Instead, the author jerks us around with answers that are potentially ridiculously numerous and random. Could he not think of clues within the agreed upon construct? Does he despise his readers? I don’t care. He certainly doesn’t. Shame on you!

  27. I’m posting again – even with all explanations, some still don’t see the theme. There is a cognitive link between clue and answer.
    You always take of the 1st and last letter of one of the words to get the clue. And the verb always is a way to reduce. What is left is the clue.
    And all answers are common. Cut Flowers. Clean Shaven, etc.
    If the answers weren’t known, then I could understand all the complaints. Clean flowers or reduced wing wouldn’t make sense.

  28. Completed with no errors.

    I am sad that I have ever complained about any other puzzlemaker. All that criticism should have been reserved exclusively for this one.

    In retrospect, I should not be surprised that such a monstrosity would emanate from one who brags about creating “language-torturing puzzles” and uses a pseudonym.

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