LA Times Crossword 29 Sep 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: August Miller
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Trailheads

Themed answers each end with a word that is often HEADS (precedes) “TRAIL”:

  • 61A Hikers’ starting points … or what the ends of the answers to starred clues can be? : TRAILHEADS
  • 18A *Steam : WATER VAPOR (giving “vapor trail”)
  • 24A *Western capital : SALEM, OREGON (giving “Oregon Trail”)
  • 40A *Systematic rumor spreading : WHISPER CAMPAIGN (giving “campaign trail”)
  • 52A*Wite-Out alternative : LIQUID PAPER (giving “paper trail”)

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

Bill’s time: 6m 29s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 A third of XXX, maybe? : TAC

When I was growing up in Ireland we played “noughts and crosses” … our name for the game tic-tac-toe.

4 Rorschach image : BLOT

The Rorschach test is a psychological test in which a subject is asked to interpret a series of inkblots. The test was created by Swiss Freudian psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach in the 1920s.

16 Spunk : MOXIE

Back as far as 1876, “Moxie” was a brand name of a “medicine” peddled with the claim that it “built up your nerve”. In 1924, “Moxie” was registered as a trademark for a bitter, non-alcoholic beverage (no more claims of nerve-building). We’ve used the term “moxie” to mean “nerve” ever since …

We’ve been using the word “spunk” to mean “pluck, courage” since the late 1700s. Prior to that, it was a Scottish word meaning “spark” that we had absorbed into English.

17 Colombian coin : PESO

Not only is the Colombian peso legal tender in Colombia, it is also used in parts of Venezuela due to hyperinflation of the Venezuelan bolívar.

18 *Steam : WATER VAPOR (giving “vapor trail”)

We talk so often about global warming these days but there is another fascinating phenomenon that is related, and known as “global dimming”. Global dimming is the reduction in the amount of heat that radiates daily from the planet due to the insulating effect of pollution and vapor trails (contrails) from aircraft that are present in the atmosphere. The effect has been touted as a theory for decades but dramatic empirical data became available in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Planes were grounded and the skies over America were clear for three days. There was a stark change in the temperature range measured across the US for these three days, demonstrating the impact that air travel has on our climate.

22 Yoko who played a self-named character in 2018’s “Isle of Dogs” : ONO

“Isle of Dogs” is a 2018 animated and stop-action film by Wes Anderson. The movie has a science-fiction storyline, and is set in near-future Japan. All dogs are banished to Trash Island after an outbreak of dog flu threatens to cross into the human population. The voice cast of “Isle of Dogs” is very impressive, and includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Yoko Ono and many other A-list names.

24 *Western capital : SALEM, OREGON (giving “Oregon Trail”)

Salem is the state capital of Oregon. It is thought that the city takes its name from the older city of Salem, Massachusetts.

The Oregon Trail was established by fur trappers and traders as early as 1811. The first migrant wagon train traveled the route in 1836, starting off in Independence, Missouri and going as far as Fort Hall, Idaho. In the coming years, the trail was extended for wagons as far as the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

28 PC file suffix : EXE

In the Windows operating system, a file with the extension “.exe” is an “executable” file.

29 Skip over : ELIDE

To elide is to pass over, omit or slur a syllable when speaking.

30 Come clean, with “up” : FESS …

The term “fess” is most often seen as part of the phrasal verb “to fess up” meaning “to admit to something”. “Fess” is simply a shortened form of “confess”.

32 __ buco : OSSO

“Osso” is the Italian word for bone, as in the name of the dish “osso buco” (bone with a hole), which features braised veal shanks.

34 Paul who founded a pet food company : IAMS

Iams dog food was introduced by animal nutritionist Paul Iams. He felt that household pets were suffering somewhat by being fed a diet of table scraps, so he developed a dry dog food that he felt was more nutritious and suitable for pet dogs. He founded the Iams company, now part of Procter & Gamble, in 1946.

43 “Buffalo Stance” singer Cherry : NENEH

Neneh Cherry is a rap singer from Stockholm, Sweden. Cherry was born Neneh Karlsson, but she took the name of her stepfather, American jazz trumpeter Don Cherry.

45 Love of money, to all evil? : ROOT

According to the Book of Timothy in the Christian Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the young disciple Timothy:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

These lines have been paraphrased into the commonly used phrase “money is the root of all evil”.

52 *Wite-Out alternative : LIQUID PAPER (giving “paper trail”)

Bette Nesmith worked her way up to the position of executive secretary in a bank in Texas, really as high a position as she could get being a woman with her education. She used to make extra money painting holiday windows at the bank, and made the observation that she could just fix her painting mistakes by painting over them, whereas her typing mistakes required a “do over”. For five years, she secretly painted over her typing mistakes, and in that time worked with a local chemistry teacher to perfect a quick-drying, durable formula. In 1956, she brought “Mistake Out” to the market, and then founded the Liquid Paper company. In 1979, she sold Liquid Paper to Gillette, for $47.5 million. Her son, Michael, got half of her estate when she passed away in 1980. Michael did well for himself too. We better know him as Michael Nesmith, guitarist with the Monkees!

59 Zero-__ game : SUM

A zero-sum game is one in which the gains of the winner are exactly offset by the losses of the loser. There is no net gain. So by definition, a win-win situation cannot be arrived at in a zero-sum game.

60 Hyundai sedan no longer sold in the U.S. : AZERA

“Azera” was the name used worldwide for the Hyundai model known as the “Grandeur” in its homeland of South Korea. The Azera was produced from 1986 to 1992.

66 They’re rarely worth splitting : HAIRS

We’ve been using the phrase “to split hairs” to mean “to make over-fine distinctions” for a long time, at least since 1650.

67 Blue prints, e.g.? : SMUT

“Smut” means “dirt, smudge” and more recently “pornographic material”. The term comes from the Yiddish “schmutz”, which is a slang word used in English for dirt, as in “dirt on one’s face”.

Down

2 Siri counterpart : ALEXA

Alexa is a personal assistant application that is most associated with Amazon Echo smart speakers. Apparently, one reason the name “Alexa” was chosen is because it might remind one of the Library of Alexandria, the “keeper of all knowledge”.

4 Munich-based automaker : BMW

The initialism “BMW” stands for “Bayerische Motoren Werke”, which translates into Bavarian Motor Works. BMW was making aircraft engines during WWI, but had to cease that activity according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The company then started making motorcycles, and moved into automobile production starting in 1928. BMW moved back into aircraft engine manufacturing during the build-up of the Luftwaffe prior to WWII.

5 Bucolic setting : LEA

The word “bucolic”, meaning “rustic, rural”, comes to us from the Greek word “boukolos” meaning “cowherd”.

6 En pointe : ON TOE

“En pointe” is ballet dancing on the tips of the toes, and is a French term. A ballerina wears pointe shoes (sometimes “toe shoes”) to perform this delightful-looking, albeit unhealthy, feat (pun!).

7 Taiwanese golfer Yani __, youngest to win five majors : TSENG

Yani Tseng is a professional golfer from Taiwan. Tseng was ranked number one in the Women’s World Golf Rankings from 2011 to 2013, and is the youngest player (male or female) to win five majors.

8 It’s known for lines, briefly : DMV

In most states, the government agency responsible for vehicle registration and the issuing of driver’s licenses is called the DMV. This initialism usually stands for the Department of Motor Vehicles, but there are “variations on the theme”. For example, in Arizona the responsible agency is called the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), and in Colorado the familiar abbreviation “DMV” stands for Division of Motor Vehicles.

10 Steel guitar device : EXPRESSION PEDAL

An expression pedal may be found on several instruments, including organs, pedal steel guitars and electronic keyboards. An organ’s expression pedal is used to vary volume. The expression pedal on electronic instruments can also control volume as well as several other aspects of sound.

A pedal steel guitar is a console-style guitar that features pedals controlled by the feet and levers controlled by the knees. I guess one has to be pretty adept to play such an instrument, coordinating the use of hands, knees and feet.

11 Dakota tribe : SIOUX

The Sioux are a group of Native American peoples who are also known as the Dakota. There are three divisions of Sioux, based on language: the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota.

12 Suit material : SERGE

Serge is a type of twill fabric with diagonal ridges on both sides. The name “serge” comes from the Greek word for “silken”.

21 Provençal pal : AMI

Provence is a geographical region in France, in the south of the country. The region was once a Roman province called Provincia Romana, and was the first Roman province beyond the Alps. It is this Roman name “Provincia Romana” that gives Provence its name. Something related to Provence is referred to as “Provençal” (note the use of the cedilla, even in English).

25 Dog in the comics : ODIE

Jon Arbuckle is a fictional character, and the owner of Odie from Jim Davis’s comic strip “Garfield”. Garfield is Arbuckle’s orange tabby cat. Odie is his less-than-smart beagle.

27 Half-moon tide : NEAP

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon on the oceans. At neap tide, the smaller gravitational effect of the sun cancels out some of the moon’s effect. At spring tide, the sun and the moon’s gravitational forces act in concert causing more extreme movement of the oceans.

31 Telescope toter : STARGAZER

The first patent application for a telescope was filed in 1608 in the Netherlands, to eyeglass maker Hans Lippershey. However, research has shown that there is some evidence that telescopes were built before 1608, perhaps as early as the mid-1500s. But it is clear that reports of Lippershey’s design spread quickly around Europe. By 1609, Galileo had built his own telescope and started to explore the night sky.

33 __-crab soup : SHE

She-crab soup is a specialty in coastal Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. It is very rich, as it is made with cream and is similar to a bisque. The list of ingredients includes Atlantic blue crab, and crab roe. It is the use of the roe that gives the name “She-crab”, as that’s where the roe comes from!

35 Commonly injured ligament for NFLers : MCL

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a ligament of the knee, one located on the inside (medial) side of the joint.

36 Riyadh native : SAUDI

Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia, and is located near the center of the country. The name “Riyadh” translates from Arabic as “the gardens”.

38 Freudian focus : EGO

Sigmund Freud created a structural model of the human psyche, breaking it into three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is that part of the psyche containing the basic instinctual drives. The ego seeks to please the id by causing realistic behavior that benefits the individual. The superego almost has a parental role, contradicting the id by introducing critical thinking and morals to behavioral choices.

39 Carpenter __ : ANT

Carpenter ants can wreak havoc in a wooden structure. They burrow into damp wood creating galleries and pathways that form a complex network of nests. Unlike termites though, carpenter ants don’t feed on the wood.

41 Singer Collins : PHIL

English musician Phil Collins is best known for his work as drummer with the rock group Genesis, as well as for his solo career. In fact, Collins is often grouped with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, two other artists who had tremendous solo success after careers with very well-known bands.

42 TV’s talking horse : MR ED

The opening lines of the theme song to the sitcom “Mister Ed” are:

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.

49 Brewpub initials : IPA

India pale ale (IPA) is a style of beer that originated in England. The beer was originally intended for transportation from England to India, hence the name.

51 Daytime TV mogul : OPRAH

What can you say about Oprah Winfrey that hasn’t been said already? Born into poverty to a single mother and with a harrowing childhood, Oprah is now the greatest African American philanthropist the world has ever known. Oprah’s name was originally meant to be “Orpah” after the Biblical character in the Book of Ruth, and that’s how it appears on her birth certificate. Apparently folks had trouble pronouncing “Orpah”, so she’s now “Oprah”.

54 MSG flavor : UMAMI

Umami is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. “Umami” is a Japanese word used to describe “a pleasant savory taste”. Umami was proposed as a basic taste in 1908, but it wasn’t until 1985 that the scientific community finally accepted it as such.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of a naturally-occurring,non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid. It is used widely as a flavor enhancer, particularly in many Asian cuisines. Whether or not it is harmful seems to be still under debate. I say that something produced in a test tube shouldn’t be in our food …

55 “Get Out” actress Alexander : ERIKA

Erika Alexander is the actress that played Pam Tucker, a cousin that came to live with the Huxtable household in “The Cosby Show”. Alexander also won many awards for playing Maxine Shaw on the Fox sitcom “Living Single”.

“Get Out” is a 2017 horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. I don’t do horror, but I do hear that this one is well made …

56 Like books on goodreads.com : RATED

Goodreads is a much-used website that provides an extensive database of books along with reader’s reviews and recommendations. Launched in 2007, Goodreads was purchased by Amazon in 2013. The change in ownership is somewhat controversial, as the world’s biggest bookseller has ownership of a book review website with about 100 million subscribers.

62 Drug whose effects are similar to psilocybin : LSD

Psilocybin is a compound found in many fungi species that converts to a psychedelic (psilocin) when metabolized. Absorbing psilocybin results in mind-altering effects similar to those produced by mescaline and LSD.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 A third of XXX, maybe? : TAC
4 Rorschach image : BLOT
8 Make oneself decent, so to speak : DRESS
13 “That’s rough” : ALAS
15 Clothing store website category : MEN’S
16 Spunk : MOXIE
17 Colombian coin : PESO
18 *Steam : WATER VAPOR (giving “vapor trail”)
20 One in a Hollywood crowd : EXTRA
22 Yoko who played a self-named character in 2018’s “Isle of Dogs” : ONO
23 Sedate, say : DRUG
24 *Western capital : SALEM, OREGON (giving “Oregon Trail”)
28 PC file suffix : EXE
29 Skip over : ELIDE
30 Come clean, with “up” : FESS …
32 __ buco : OSSO
34 Paul who founded a pet food company : IAMS
37 Utterly lost : AT SEA
40 *Systematic rumor spreading : WHISPER CAMPAIGN (giving “campaign trail”)
43 “Buffalo Stance” singer Cherry : NENEH
44 Fail to enunciate : SLUR
45 Love of money, to all evil? : ROOT
46 Faltering step : TRIP
48 Condescend : DEIGN
50 “So pretty!” : OOH!
52 *Wite-Out alternative : LIQUID PAPER (giving “paper trail”)
57 Made fun of : APED
59 Zero-__ game : SUM
60 Hyundai sedan no longer sold in the U.S. : AZERA
61 Hikers’ starting points … or what the ends of the answers to starred clues can be? : TRAILHEADS
65 Work on text, maybe : EDIT
66 They’re rarely worth splitting : HAIRS
67 Blue prints, e.g.? : SMUT
68 Do a fall chore : RAKE
69 Tear up : SHRED
70 With everything in its place : TIDY
71 Young guy : LAD

Down

1 Records, old-style : TAPES
2 Siri counterpart : ALEXA
3 Daydreams : CASTLES IN THE AIR
4 Munich-based automaker : BMW
5 Bucolic setting : LEA
6 En pointe : ON TOE
7 Taiwanese golfer Yani __, youngest to win five majors : TSENG
8 It’s known for lines, briefly : DMV
9 Fork locale : ROAD
10 Steel guitar device : EXPRESSION PEDAL
11 Dakota tribe : SIOUX
12 Suit material : SERGE
14 Postgame griper : SORE LOSER
19 It may be pitched : ROOF
21 Provençal pal : AMI
25 Dog in the comics : ODIE
26 Raises : REARS
27 Half-moon tide : NEAP
31 Telescope toter : STARGAZER
32 Come clean, with “up” : OWN …
33 __-crab soup : SHE
35 Commonly injured ligament for NFLers : MCL
36 Riyadh native : SAUDI
38 Freudian focus : EGO
39 Carpenter __ : ANT
41 Singer Collins : PHIL
42 TV’s talking horse : MR ED
47 “Don’t be silly!” : PISH!
49 Brewpub initials : IPA
50 They’re taken on stands : OATHS
51 Daytime TV mogul : OPRAH
53 Knight adventure : QUEST
54 MSG flavor : UMAMI
55 “Get Out” actress Alexander : ERIKA
56 Like books on goodreads.com : RATED
58 Very serious indeed : DIRE
62 Drug whose effects are similar to psilocybin : LSD
63 July 4th letdown : DUD
64 Pigs’ digs : STY

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 29 Sep 21, Wednesday”

  1. No errors…. got stuck on 3D for a llllooonnngggg time.
    CASTLES IN THE AIR??
    even when I got TAC for 1A , I didn’t know what it was…

    Okay, so I didn’t get TAC until Bill explained it… so how is DMV known for lines?

    Then there’s NENEH and AZURA..

    1. 20+ minutes!, no errors. DMV = Dept of Motor Vehicles, bring a bag lunch with you if you go there at the end of the month when registrations are being renewed. Also: see the scene in Zootopia in which the DMV employees are all sloths.

    2. Anon Mike, the Department of Motor Vehicles is notorious for long lines or wait times in most states and large cities.

      And did you just have a typo with AZURA in your post? Because it’s AZERA so that the intersection is a PEDAL and not a PUDAL. 😉

  2. 23:00 no errors.
    @anon Mike…if you have ever been to the DMV you know what the lines are…llllloooonnnnnggggg.
    In today’s syndicated NYT 0825 a clue says Pro Bowlers org. And the answer is NFL…what does the National Football League have to do with The Pro Bowlers org. Which is the PBA?
    Stay safe😀

    1. @Jack – I think the “pro bowlers” org. is referring to the NFL all star game in which the players selected for it are said to be “pro bowl” players. Tricky, but still within the realm of crossword cluing and answers.

  3. Anon Mike, if you go to the DMV to renew your license or any reason, you are very likely to wait in line for a long time. It’s awful.
    I took me close to 20 minutes and I guess I was at sea on this one.

  4. A little tougher Wednesday for me – 18:46 with no errors or lookups and a lucky guess on the “e” for NeNEH/SHe (had not heard of she-crab soup, but it seemed reasonable after SNO-crab didn’t work).

    The NW corner was the head-scratcher for me. 3D and 24A weren’t resolving, along with 1A & 3D, in large part because I read “Records” in the 1D clue as a noun instead of a verb. Hence, PAPER was my initial answer after realizing that VINYL wouldn’t work with 17A & 20A. Trying to figure out PA_ for “A third of XXX stumped me when looking at it as a Roman numeral or a video rating, and “something” INTHEAIR took a while for “Daydreams.” The “Western capital” for 24A had possibilities of in the western hemisphere or capital being currency of some kind.

    Using the puzzle’s theme, I eventually figured out Oregon trail, and therefore Salem, and the rest then fell into place. Whew!

  5. 9:48

    Nice theme that actually helped.

    Hoo boy, that XXX / 3 = TAC is a real stretch. Thanks for the explanation. I wonder if we’ll get another flush of newbies searching for that explanation.

  6. I can’t believe I finished this with only one blank, since it was too clever by half. Maybe I’m getting cleverer after all these years.
    I had Ten before TAC and “left” before road.
    Two Natticks – AZERA crosses ERIKA, but guessed right; and the NINEH crosses SHE, which I left blank.
    Did not know TSENG (sports).
    Whew! It’s over.

  7. Slightly tricky Wednesday for me; took 13:19 with no errors or peeks; albeit with an alphabet roll on the SH_/N_NEH intersection…well vowel roll, and third choice to finally get the banner.

    So, I tried to watch the Neneh Cherry “Buffalo Stance” video, but only made it half way through…I dunno, not my cup of tea.

    I also looked up the AZERA and apparently it is still being made; doesn’t look too bad actually.

    Nice story on the Liquid Paper tie in to the Monkee’s Mike Nesmith!

  8. Hello folks!!🤗

    Had to cheat for ROAD…. I had LEFT for Place for a fork and got caught in that stubborn mind place where I was SURE I was right.😯 Also cheated for another but now I don’t remember. One really dous get worse at these things without doing them regularly!!!! I did get TAC but no idea what it meant till I came here.

    Dodgers had an amazing come-from-behind win tonight!!!!!….but I don’t see how we catch the darn Giants – don’t tell Dirk I said that…..⚾️

    Be well ~~⚾️

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