LA Times Crossword 24 Sep 21, Friday

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Constructed by: Margit Christenson
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: No-see-ums

Themed answers are each common phrases that match the clue if we SEE NO “UM”, if we remove “UM”:

  • 57A Minuscule biters, and a clue to understanding 15-, 26- and 43-Across : NO-SEE-UMS
  • 15A Otolaryngologist’s colleagues? : EARDRUMS (EAR DRS)
  • 26A Solid vestment choice? : THE WHITE ALBUM (THE WHITE ALB)
  • 43A Rodent reduction measure? : VOLUME CONTROL (VOLE CONTROL)

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

Bill’s time: 8m 09s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Acid : LSD

LSD (known colloquially as “acid”) is lysergic acid diethylamide. A Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 in a research project looking for medically efficacious ergot alkaloids. It wasn’t until some five years later when Hofmann ingested some of the drug accidentally that its psychedelic properties were discovered. Trippy, man …

4 Pine product : SAP

The sap of a plant can be broadly divided into phloem sap and xylem sap. The phloem is the tissue that transports sugars made by photosynthesis from the leaves to the parts of the plant needing those sugars. The sugary solution flowing through the phloem is the phloem sap. The xylem is the tissue that transports water and other nutrients from the roots to the rest of the plant. The watery solution flowing through the xylem is the xylem sap.

There are many species of pine tree (well over 100). The smallest is probably the Siberian dwarf pine, which usually grows to less than 10-feet tall. The tallest is the ponderosa pine, which regularly grows to over 200-feet tall.

12 First name in pharmaceuticals : ELI

Eli Lilly is the largest corporation in the state of Indiana. Founder Eli Lilly was a veteran of the Union Army in the Civil War, and a failed Mississippi plantation owner. Later in life he returned to his first profession and opened a pharmaceutical operation to manufacture drugs and sell them wholesale. Under Lilly’s early guidance, the company was the first to create gelatin capsules to hold medicines and the first to use fruit flavoring in liquid medicines.

14 90% of Earth’s volcanic rock : BASALT

Basalt is a volcanic rock that is created when lava cools rapidly at the earth’s surface.

15 Otolaryngologist’s colleagues? : EARDRUMS (EAR DRS)

The eardrum lies at the intersection of the outer ear and middle ear. Also called the tympanic membrane, the eardrum picks up vibrations in air caused by sound waves, and transmits these vibrations to three tiny bones called “ossicles”. These ossicles (hammer, anvil and stirrup) are in the middle ear, and transmit the vibration to an oval window. The oval window is the membrane-covered opening lying at the intersection of the middle ear and the inner ear. The vibrations are transmitted into fluid in the inner ear, and converted into nerve impulses in the cochlea that are transmitted to the brain.

The branch of medicine known as “ear, nose and throat” (ENT) is more correctly called “otolaryngology”.

18 Home-away-from-home vacation : RV TRIP

Recreational vehicle (RV)

19 Departure notice? : OBIT

Our word “obituary” comes from the Latin “obituaris”. The Latin term was used for “record of the death of a person”, although the literal meaning is “pertaining to death”.

22 PIN points : ATMS

One enters a Personal Identification Number (PIN) when using an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Given that the N in PIN stands for “number”, then “PIN number” is a redundant phrase. And, given that the M in ATM stands for “machine”, then “ATM machine” is a redundant phrase as well. Grr …!

24 Big name in databases : ORACLE

Oracle is a huge software company with headquarters in Redwood City, California. Oracle’s main product is enterprise software, software that meets the needs of an organization rather than an individual user. Oracle was co-founded in 1977 by Larry Ellison, who is now one of the richest business people in the world.

26 Solid vestment choice? : THE WHITE ALBUM (THE WHITE ALB)

An alb is a white, neck-to-toe vestment worn by priests, usually with a rope cord around the waist. The term alb comes from “albus”, the Latin word for “white”.

The 1968 studio double album “The Beatles” is usually referred to as “The White Album”, a reference to the LP’s plain white sleeve. Most of the album’s tracks were written while the group were in India on a transcendental meditation course. The tranquility of their Indian retreat disappeared soon after they returned and started recording. “The White Album” is noted for the tensions that erupted between the band members, all of whom were rapidly transitioning into solo artists.

30 Water in the Seine : EAU

The Seine is the river that flows through Paris. It empties into the English Channel to the north, at the port city of Le Havre.

32 Foot specialist? : BARD

The original bards were storytellers, poets and composers of music in medieval Britain and Ireland, with the term coming from the Old Celtic word “bardos” that described a poet or singer. I guess the most famous bard was William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon.

In poetry, a foot is a metrical unit comprising usually two, three or four syllables. Lines of verse are often classified by the number of feet that they contain, e.g. pentameter: containing five feet.

37 Member of a noted sailing trio : NOD

“Wynken, Blynken and Nod” is a children’s poem written by Eugene Field, first published in 1889. The original title of the work was “Dutch Lullaby”.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

38 LGBTQ activist George : TAKEI

Mr. Hikaru Sulu was played by George Takei in the original “Star Trek” series. Takei has played lots of roles over the years, and is still very active in television. Did you know that he appeared in the 1963 film, “Pt-109”? He played the helmsman steering the Japanese destroyer that ran down John F. Kennedy’s motor torpedo boat. From destroyer helmsman to starship helmsman …

39 Hershey toffee bar : SKOR

The candy bar named “Skor” is produced by Hershey’s. “Skor” is Swedish for “shoes”, and the candy bar’s wrapping features a crown that is identical to that found in the Swedish national emblem. What shoes have to do with candy, I don’t know …

40 Home of The Trop : ST PETE

Saint Petersburg, Florida is often referred to as “St. Pete” by locals and visitors alike. Located on a peninsula lying between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, St. Pete was founded in 1888 and named for Saint Petersburg in Russia. The co-founders were Russian immigrant Peter Demens and Detroit native John C. Williams. The pair tossed a coin for the privilege of naming the new city, and Demens won. Williams lost, but did get to name the city’s first hostelry “The Detroit Hotel”.

Tropicana Field (“The Trop”) in St. Petersburg, Florida is home to the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball. It is a domed stadium, with four catwalks hanging from the roof. Those catwalks can interfere with the flight of a well-hit ball, and I’m told that upsets a lot of people …

42 Clean Water Act org. : EPA

The Clean Air Act of 1963 is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

43 Rodent reduction measure? : VOLUME CONTROL (VOLE CONTROL)

Vole populations can increase very rapidly. Mama vole is pregnant for just three weeks before giving birth to litters of 5-10 baby voles. Then, the young voles become sexually mature in just one month! If you have one pregnant vole in your yard, within a year you could have over a hundred of the little critters.

46 One getting smashed at a bash : PINATA

Piñatas originated in Mexico, probably among the Aztecs or Mayans. Today’s piñatas are usually made from cardboard that is brightly decorated with papier-mâché. Traditionally a piñata was made out of a clay pot, adorned with feathers and ribbons and filled with small treasures. During religious ceremonies the clay pots would be suspended and broken open so that the contents would spill out onto the ground at the feet of a god as an offering.

47 Big Island coffee region : KONA

Kona coffee is cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, two of the five volcanoes on the island. Coffee plants were brought to Kona in 1828 and late in the 19th century, coffee became a viable and worthwhile crop. Today Kona is one of the most expensive and popular coffees in the world.

48 Faux follower : … PAS

The term “faux pas” is French in origin, and translates literally as “false step” (or “false steps”, as the plural has the same spelling in French).

55 Afghanistan’s national airline : ARIANA

Ariana Afghan Airlines is the national carrier of Afghanistan. Ariana was founded back in 1955 and is owned 100% by the Afghan government.

57 Minuscule biters, and a clue to understanding 15-, 26- and 43-Across : NO-SEE-UMS

“No-see-um” is a familiar term used in North America for the small flies known as biting midges. We call them “midgies” in Ireland …

59 They take things in stride : STOICS

Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosopher famous for teaching at the Stoa Poikile, the “Painted Porch”, located on the north side of the Ancient Agora of Athens. Because of the location of his classes, his philosophy became known as stoicism (from “stoa”, the word for “porch”). We get our adjective “stoic”, meaning “indifferent to pleasure or pain”, from the same root.

60 Nice ways to say yes : OUIS

The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera. Something described as “à la niçoise” is “of Nice”.

61 Patel of “Lion” : DEV

Dev Patel is an actor from Harrow in England who is perhaps best known for playing the lead in the hit movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. He also stars in a lovely 2012 film called “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” alongside an incredible cast that included Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. Patel also had a regular role in the marvelous HBO drama series called “The Newsroom”.

“Lion” is a 2016 film based on the autobiographical book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley. Brierley is an Indian-born Australian who was accidentally separated from his mother when he was 5 years old, ending up stranded on a train that took the young boy nearly 1,500 km from his home. The excellent film adaptation stars Dev Patel as the older Brierley, who searches for his birth-family. Excellent movie …

62 __-pop: electronic music genre : SYNTH

Synth-pop is a musical genre that emerged in the eighties and that heavily features the synthesizer as a musical instrument. The list of performers that fall into the synth-pop genre includes Ultravox, the Human League, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet.

63 Test for M.A. seekers : GRE

Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is usually a requirement for entry into graduate school here in the US.

64 Medium claim : ESP

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

Down

2 Pole, e.g. : SLAV

The Slavic peoples are in the majority in communities covering over half of Europe. This large ethnic group is traditionally broken down into three smaller groups:

  • the West Slavic (including Czechs and Poles)
  • the East Slavic (including Russians and Ukrainians)
  • the South Slavic (including Bulgarians, Croats and Serbs)

3 Gossip : DIRT

To dish the dirt is to talk about someone or something without regard to veracity. The phrase comes from “dish” (in the sense of dishing out food) and “dirt” (in the sense of negative information). To be dishy is to be given to gossip.

4 Lipton product : SOUP MIX

There was a famous TV spot advertising Lipton instant soup in the seventies. Kids would watch as boiling water was added to powdered soup, exclaiming excitedly “Is it soup yet?” Ugh …

6 Currency of 25-Down : PESO
(25D Birthplace of Gloria Estefan : CUBA)

Cuba is the only country in the world that has two official currencies. The Cuban peso (CUP) is referred to as the “national currency”. Government workers are paid in CUPs, and CUPs can be used to pay for government-provided services and price-controlled items such as fruit and vegetables. There is also the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) that was introduced in 1994, when its value was pegged to the US dollar. Most products available in stores are imported, and have to be purchased with CUCs. Cubans with access to CUCs, like hotel workers interfacing with tourists, tend to have better lifestyles than government workers in general.

7 It may be closed at last call : BAR TAB

When we run a “tab” at a bar, we are running a “tabulation”, a listing of what we owe. Such a use of “tab” is American slang that originated in the 1880s.

8 Winner of the most medals at the 2020 Olympics : USA

The 2020 Olympic Games were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being held in 2021, in Tokyo, the Games were still labeled the “2020 Olympics”.

11 Sundance’s sweetie : ETTA

Etta Place is the schoolteacher character played by Katharine Ross in the superb 1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.

14 Certain break-dancers : B-GIRLS

B-girl is short for “bar girl”, a young lady employed by a tavern to encourage the (male, presumably) patrons to spend more money on drinks.

25 Birthplace of Gloria Estefan : CUBA

Gloria Estefan is a Cuban-American singer who was born in Havana. Estefan fled Cuba along with her family after the Cuban Revolution, and ended up in Miami. Her father fought for the US military in Vietnam, and also took part in the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion. Years later, Estefan herself was approached by the CIA to work for the agency due to her skill with languages. She ended up doing quite well singing instead …

27 Cybersecurity concern : HACK

A computer hacker is a computer expert, and in particular one who uses that expertise to solve problems with hardware and software. So, the original use of the term “hacking” was very positive. Since the 1980s, the term “hacker” is more commonly used for an expert in subverting computer security.

28 2021 musical contest held in Rotterdam : EUROVISION

Eurovision is a TV network that was founded in 1954 in Geneva. The network encompasses dozens of broadcasting organizations, not only in Europe, but around the world. Eurovision was set up initially to facilitate the exchange of TV programming. Today, the Eurovision brand is mainly associated (to the public) with multinational competitions that are arranged with a host broadcaster. The best example of such an event is the Eurovision Song Contest that is held annually. Another Eurovision event that was huge in Europe from the sixties through the nineties was “Jeux Sans Frontières”, a multinational TV game show.

Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, and the second-largest city in the Netherlands (after Amsterdam). Indeed, Rotterdam was the busiest port in the world from 1962 to 2004, when that honor went to Shanghai. Rotterdam’s economic importance is largely due to its location at the confluence of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers that provide navigation into the Central European hinterland.

33 Default result : REPO

Repossession (repo)

34 Old phone feature : DIAL

The first patent for a rotary dial mechanism for a phone was granted in 1898, and the familiar rotary dial phones (with holes for the finger) were introduced by the Bell System in 1919. This form of dialing was called “pulse dialing”. When you dialed the number 5, say, the dial would rotate back to the start position, opening and closing electrical contacts five times and sending five pulses over the telephone line. I used to love rotary dial phones when I was a kid. My grandfather was a telephone engineer and he showed me how to “tap out” the pulses on the “hook” at the top of a pay phone. I was able to make free calls that way. He definitely contributed to the delinquency of a minor …

38 Sneaks : TENNIES

Sneaks are sneakers, and tennies are tennis shoes.

40 Hindu teachings : SUTRAS

The word “sutra” is used in Hinduism for a learned text, one usually meant to be studied by students.

41 __ Roll : TOOTSIE

Tootsie Rolls were developed by an Austrian candy maker called Leo Hirschfeld in New York City in 1896. Hirschfeld named the candy after his daughter, who had the nickname “Tootsie”. A couple of derivative products have become quite popular, namely Tootsie Pops and Tootsie Roll Midgees.

50 Make out, in Britain : SNOG

“Snogging” is British slang of unknown origin that dates back to the end of WWII. The term is used for “kissing and cuddling”, what we call “making out” over here in the US.

52 “Hey __”: classic hit : JUDE

“Hey Jude” was originally a song titled “Hey Jules” written by Paul McCartney. He wrote the original song for John Lennon’s son Julian, in an attempt to comfort the boy during his parents’ divorce. There’s a phenomenal coda in “Hey Jude” after the fourth verse that lasts for over four minutes.

53 Iowa college town : AMES

Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU) is located in Ames, Iowa. Among many other notable milestones, ISU created the country’s first school of veterinary medicine, in 1879. The sports teams of ISU are known as the Cyclones.

54 Request on an invitation : RSVP

“RSVP” stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is French for “answer, please”.

56 River isle : AIT

Aits are little islands found in a river. Aits aren’t formed by erosion, but by the deposition of silt over time. As a result, aits often have a long and narrow shape running parallel to the banks as the sediment builds up with the flow of the water. Many of the islands in the River Thames in England have been given the name “Ait”, like Raven’s Ait in Kingston-upon-Thames, and Lot’s Ait in Brentford.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Acid : LSD
4 Pine product : SAP
7 Swell : BULGE
12 First name in pharmaceuticals : ELI
13 Irritated, with “on” : WORE …
14 90% of Earth’s volcanic rock : BASALT
15 Otolaryngologist’s colleagues? : EARDRUMS (EAR DRS)
17 Reach for rudely : GRAB AT
18 Home-away-from-home vacation : RV TRIP
19 Departure notice? : OBIT
21 Historic period : ERA
22 PIN points : ATMS
24 Big name in databases : ORACLE
26 Solid vestment choice? : THE WHITE ALBUM (THE WHITE ALB)
30 Water in the Seine : EAU
31 Rejoices : EXULTS
32 Foot specialist? : BARD
35 Like burnt coffee : ACRID
37 Member of a noted sailing trio : NOD
38 LGBTQ activist George : TAKEI
39 Hershey toffee bar : SKOR
40 Home of The Trop : ST PETE
42 Clean Water Act org. : EPA
43 Rodent reduction measure? : VOLUME CONTROL (VOLE CONTROL)
46 One getting smashed at a bash : PINATA
47 Big Island coffee region : KONA
48 Faux follower : … PAS
49 Servers at affairs : URNS
51 Donation drop-off site : TIP JAR
55 Afghanistan’s national airline : ARIANA
57 Minuscule biters, and a clue to understanding 15-, 26- and 43-Across : NO-SEE-UMS
59 They take things in stride : STOICS
60 Nice ways to say yes : OUIS
61 Patel of “Lion” : DEV
62 __-pop: electronic music genre : SYNTH
63 Test for M.A. seekers : GRE
64 Medium claim : ESP

Down

1 Not a nice look : LEER
2 Pole, e.g. : SLAV
3 Gossip : DIRT
4 Lipton product : SOUP MIX
5 Branch or limb : ARM
6 Currency of 25-Down : PESO
7 It may be closed at last call : BAR TAB
8 Winner of the most medals at the 2020 Olympics : USA
9 Tiny office printer : LABEL MAKER
10 Screen problem : GLARE
11 Sundance’s sweetie : ETTA
13 Squirmed : WRITHED
14 Certain break-dancers : B-GIRLS
16 Attract : DRAW
20 Where hands may be brought together : BOAT DECK
23 Double, often : STUNTMAN
25 Birthplace of Gloria Estefan : CUBA
26 Poured-over leaves : TEAS
27 Cybersecurity concern : HACK
28 2021 musical contest held in Rotterdam : EUROVISION
29 Get away to get together : ELOPE
33 Default result : REPO
34 Old phone feature : DIAL
36 Decrease? : IRON
38 Sneaks : TENNIES
40 Hindu teachings : SUTRAS
41 __ Roll : TOOTSIE
44 Set in motion : LAUNCH
45 Format for much ’80s music : TAPE
46 Bash : PARTY
48 Word with hall and press : … PASS
50 Make out, in Britain : SNOG
52 “Hey __”: classic hit : JUDE
53 Iowa college town : AMES
54 Request on an invitation : RSVP
56 River isle : AIT
58 Collective pronoun : OUR

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 24 Sep 21, Friday”

  1. 14 Certain break-dancers : B-GIRLS

    Are you sure a B-Girl doesn’t mean “block girl.” In Hip Hop, a B Boy was a “block boy” meaning a boy on the block. What does enticing men to buy drinks at a bar have to do with break dancing?

  2. Holy crap what a deluge of misdirects. I felt like I was in a marathon of bad dad jokes…
    I’ve never heard the term “NO SEE UMS” for those gnats. But I got enough of the theme to see NO – UMS and get on with it.
    Also never heard of BGIRLS.

  3. No errors but one desperate lookup i.e. the Lipton product
    “soupmix”. Then the “u” in that answer finally gave me the
    theme answer.

    There were a lot of clues that I didn’t know, but crossing
    letters did the trick. This was fun, but frustrating at times.

  4. I figured out the theme answer was going to tell me to remove “um” from the theme phrases pretty quickly…had never heard the term no see-um though. That’s why I love puzzles like this…learned something new…thanks Margit Christenson!

  5. No see um’s are no joke. I sailed as crew on a couple of boats for a year in Mexico and quite a bit of that time was spent in the Sea of Cortez which is the body of water between the Baja peninsula and mainland of Mexico. We had gone over to San Blas on the mainland side and as dusk fell the no see um’s suddenly attacked. You have never seen sailors get into their dingies so fast and row out to their boat anchored off shore in your life.

    This was one of those puzzles I finished but never felt in sync with. It was a struggle from start of finish and I was never sure, right up to the last letter, that I would finish it successfully. I have to say, Bill’s time of a little over 8 minutes blows my mind. Way to go Bill.

  6. 21:38

    Tough going. Lots of bad guesses, the biggest being ROCKAND instead of TOOTSIE.

    I have heard of NOSEEUMS, but I thought maybe the theme had to do with replacing Cs with Ms. THEWHITEALB(UM) finally clued me in.

    TENNIES, on the other hand, is not a usage I have heard before.

  7. 18:42 with one letter error – SYNcH/AIc. Couldn’t be sure of either answer. I wanted 62A to be TECHNO but that’s too many letters. Should have correlated that to SYNTHesizer. Live and learn!

    Several clues with multiple meanings to work through. Changed SURGE>BULGE, ELATES>EXULTS. Was able to use the theme to solve 26A, but had the others figured out on their own. Filled in 57A theme answer after a few beginning letters were filled in.

  8. Didn’t know what “The Trop” even meant. Never heard of ait. Lots of other mistakes, but finally finished with a grid check revealing two squares wrong.

  9. 30:44 – and an unmentionable number of lookups/errors (at least a dozen). Almost enough to qualify as a DNF …

    I find Fridays very tough, but this was excruciating difficult. I found that even when it was done I didn’t feel good. Good God, Bill’s time of 8:09 is quite a feat!

    Heard of and experienced NOSEEUMS. Got long answers but had difficulty with the crosses. Crossing ARIANA/AIT was uncalled for, didn’t know either.

    @Glenn et al – as a newbie, should I keep doing the more difficult puzzles and keep looking bunches of things up or just stick to Monday – Thursday, get better at them, and then move on?

    Be well

  10. A b-girl is a break girl (just like a b-boy is a break boy). These are the people who would dance (or breakdance) when the DJ continuously looped and repeated the best song breaks together by synchronizing two copies of the same record on his two turntables.

  11. Tough Friday for me; took 44:10 with two “grid-checks” to see where things were at. I forgot to count every error, but about 5 or 6, before I finally got the banner on an alphabet roll at TAP?

    Looking at the solved puzzle, it really is fair, I just had trouble with the theme, even though I could see which words they wanted in the theme answers. I just never heard of NO SEE UMS and didn’t make the key connection….

    Also, I’m pretty sure it’s B-Girl as in Beat Girl, but also Break, and it has to do with break dancing,

  12. Poured-over leaves is ‘tea’, not ‘teas’. Correct clues for ‘teas’ would be:
    Varieties of poured-over leaves.
    Poured over leaf beverages.

    ‘The white alb’ is redundant as albs are white by definition. I have no idea why the puzzlemaker thinks an ‘alb’ is a solid choice.
    Winken, Blinken and Nod were a literary sailing trio, not a ‘noted’ sailing trio.
    The clue for pinata should not have included ‘one’ used in the way it was as pinatas are not human. Correct clues for ‘pinata’ would be:
    What gets smashed at a bash.
    What gets bashed at a bash.
    Smashed at a bash.

    Decrease is not really a valid clue for ‘iron’. ‘De-crease’ would have been correct. The use of a ‘?’ at the end of the clue isn’t quite enough to completely transform one word into another.

    It’s possible to have clever cluing without being ridiculous.

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