LA Times Crossword 19 Oct 21, Tuesday

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Constructed by: David Poole
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Falling Stars

Themed answers are all in the FALLING (down) direction. Each includes the name of a STAR as a hidden word:

  • 23D Meteors, and what three Down answers aptly contain : FALLING STARS
  • 4D Movie with Minions : DESPICABLE ME (hiding “SPICA”)
  • 8D “Spoon-bender” debunked by the Amazing Randi : URI GELLER (hiding “RIGEL”)
  • 32D Diner list for animal product avoiders : VEGAN MENU (hiding “VEGA”)

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

Bill’s time: 6m 28s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 “Honey, I __ the Kids”: 1989 comedy : SHRUNK

“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” is a fun movie from 1989 starring Rick Moranis as a goofy professor who accidentally shrinks his children. The movie was written with Chevy Chase in mind for the starring role, but he was busy filming “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. John Candy was a second choice, but he decided to pass and suggested Rick Moranis instead. I think the final choice was a good one …

11 Brown bag staple, initially : PBJ

Peanut butter and jelly (PB&J or PBJ)

15 Like some sandpaper : COARSE

Records indicate that sandpaper was actually used in China as far back as the 13th century. Back then, it was made from parchment to which sand was bonded using natural gum. Today, there is no “sand” in “sandpaper”, and instead the abrasives used are usually aluminum oxide or silicon carbide.

16 Sam Adams, e.g. : ALE

Samuel Adams beers (sometimes ordered as “Sam Adams”) are named in honor of the American patriot who played a role in the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party. Samuel Adams came from a family associated with the brewing industry, mainly involved in the production of malt.

18 “24” analyst Chloe __ : O’BRIAN

One of the few characters in the television show “24” that wasn’t killed off was Chloe O’Brian, the abrasive computer scientist played by Mary Lynn Rajskub. In the real world, the Department of Homeland Security has a development program aimed at protecting airliners from missile attacks. It is called Project CHLOE, after the character on “24”. Apparently the show was a favorite of former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

20 Good thing to have for a change? : DIAPER BAG

“Diaper” is another word that I had to learn when I moved to America. What are called “diapers” over here, we call “nappies” back in Ireland. The term “diaper” is actually the original term that was used in England for the garment, where “diaper” referred to the cloth that was used. The term “diaper” was brought to the New World where it stuck. Back in Britain, “diaper” was displaced by the word “nappy”, a diminutive of “napkin”.

24 Judith of “Down Home” : IVEY

Judith Ivey is an actress from El Paso, Texas. Ivey is perhaps best known for playing B. J. Poteet in the last season of the TV show “Designing Women”.

“Down Home” is a sitcom from the early nineties that starred Judith Ivey as an executive from New York City who returns “down home” to a village on the Gulf Coast of Texas. She makes it her mission to save her father’s bait and tackle shop that is under threat from her ex-boyfriend, who has become a condo developer.

27 Reacted to a really bad pun, perhaps : WINCED

Here are some of my favorite puns:

  • A man died today when a pile of books fell on him. He only had his shelf to blame.
  • I hate negative numbers and will stop at nothing to avoid them.
  • I wasn’t going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.
  • I should have been sad when my flashlight batteries died, but I was delighted.

30 Thrash about : FLAIL

To flail about is to swing wildly, either literally or figuratively. The verb comes from the noun “flail”, which is an implement for threshing grain.

31 Think tank output : IDEAS

A think tank is a research institute. The use of the term “think tank” dates back to 1959, and apparently was first used to describe the Center for Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, California.

32 South African grassland : VELD

”Veldt” (sometimes “veld”) is the name given to large rural spaces in southern Africa. We might use the term “boondocks” for the same thing. The word “veldt” comes from the German for “field”.

33 Place to bowl : LANE

Bowling has been around for an awfully long time. The oldest known reference to the game is in Egypt, where pins and balls were found in an ancient tomb that is over 5,000 years old. The first form of the game to come to America was nine-pin bowling, which had been very popular in Europe for centuries. In 1841 in Connecticut, nine-pin bowling was banned due to its association with gambling. Supposedly, an additional pin was added to get around the ban, and ten-pin bowling was born.

37 Hunk of bacon, say : SLAB

“Bacon” is an Old French word that we imported into English. The term ultimately comes from the Proto-Germanic “bakkon” meaning “back meat”.

38 Flood deterrent : LEVEE

A levee is an artificial bank, usually made of earth, that runs along the length of a river. It is designed to hold back river water at a time of potential flooding. “Levée” is the French word for “raised” and is an American term that originated in French-speaking New Orleans around 1720.

39 Like a Frappuccino : ICED

The Frappuccino is a sweet, iced coffee drink sold by Starbucks.The drink was first developed and marketed by the Coffee Connection chain of coffee shops. Starbucks bought the Coffee Chain in 1994, and thus inherited the “Frappuccino” brand name and original recipe.

40 Severe criticism : HELL

Give ‘em hell.

41 Word with teen or golden : AGER

A golden ager is a senior citizen.

43 The Ellery Queen Award is one : EDGAR

The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (“Edgars”) are presented annually by the Mystery Writers of America. There are several categories of awards. For example, the Ellery Queen Award honors “writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry”. The Raven Award is presented to non-writers, who contribute to the mystery genre.

45 Mideast or Midwest : REGION

In geographical terms there are three “Easts”. “Near East” and “Middle East” are terms that are often considered synonymous, although “Near East” tends to be used when discussing ancient history and “Middle East” when referring to the present day. The Near/Middle East encompasses most of Western Asia and Egypt. The term “Far East” describes East Asia (including the Russian Far East), Southeast Asia and South Asia.

The US Census Bureau divides the nation into four statistical regions, and nine statistical divisions:

  1. Northeast Region
    • New England Division (1) – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
    • Mid-Atlantic Division (2) – New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
  2. Midwest Region
    • East North Central Division(3) – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin
    • West North Central Division (4) – Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota
  3. South Region
    • South Atlantic Division (5) – Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Maryland; North Carolina; South Carolina; Virginia; Washington, D.C. and West Virginia
    • East South Central Division (6) – Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee
    • West South Central Division (7) – Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas
  4. West Region
    • Mountain Division (8) – Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming
    • Pacific Division (9) – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington

49 “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” movie : JAWS

“Jaws” is a thrilling 1975 movie directed by Steven Spielberg that is based on a novel of the same name by Peter Benchley. The film has a powerful cast, led by Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. “Jaws” was perhaps the first summer blockbuster and had the highest box office take in history up to that time, which was a record that stood until “Star Wars” was released two years later.

The famous line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” from 1975’s “Jaws” was ranked no. 3 in a list of top movie quotes compiled by “The Hollywood Reporter”. The top of the list makes interesting reading, with the following comprising the top five:

  1. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” from “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
  2. “Here’s looking at you, kid.” from “Casablanca” (1942)
  3. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” from “Jaws” (1975)
  4. “May the Force be with you.” from “Star Wars” (1977)
  5. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

50 Biblical prophet : HOSEA

Hosea was one of the Twelve Prophets of the Hebrew Bible. The Twelve Prophets are also known as the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible.

51 Apple known by its first three letters : MACINTOSH

Macintosh (also “Mac”, since 1998) is a line of computers from Apple Inc. The first Macintosh was introduced in 1984, and I remember someone showing me one at work in those early days of personal computing. There was a piece of white plastic connected to the main computer by a cord, and I was amazed when the guy showed me that it controlled where the cursor was on the screen. My colleague told me that this lump of plastic was called “a mouse” …

57 Words to live by : CREDOS

A creed or credo is a profession of faith, or a system of belief or principles. “Credo” is Latin for “I believe”.

59 R&B’s India.__ : ARIE

India.Arie is an American soul and R&B singer who was born India Arie Simpson in Denver, Colorado.

60 Actress de Armas : ANA

Ana de Armas is an actress from Cuba. Having attended the National Theater School of Cuba, she moved to Spain at the age of 18. Thre, she made a name for herself in a Spanish TV series called “El Internado”. De Armas moved to Los Angeles in 2014, after which her performance opposite Ryan Gosling in 2017’s “Blade Runner 2049” earned her critical acclaim.

62 Demolish : RAZE

To raze (“rase”, in UK English) is to level to the ground. I’ve always thought it a little quirky that “raise”, a homophone of “raze”, means “build up”.

63 Bench press muscle, briefly : PEC

“Pecs” is the familiar name for the chest muscle, which is more correctly known as the pectoralis major muscle. “Pectus” is the Latin word for “breast, chest”.

64 Barflies : SOUSES

The verb “to souse” dates back to the 14th century and means “to pickle, steep in vinegar”. In the early 1600s, the usage was applied to someone pickled in booze, a drunkard.

Down

2 Calf-covering skirt : MAXI

The calf muscle actually consists of two muscles, both of which connect to the foot through the Achilles tendon.

3 DIY furniture brand : IKEA

Every IKEA store features a restaurant that serves traditional Swedish food, including Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam. Each store also has a Swedish Food Market where customers can purchase specialty foods from Sweden.

4 Movie with Minions : DESPICABLE ME (hiding “SPICA”)

“Despicable Me” is a 2010 animated comedy film. The main voice actor in the movie is the very funny Steve Carell. “Despicable Me” is a Universal Pictures production, although all of the animation was done in France. The 2010 film was followed by a sequel “Despicable Me 2” released in 2013, with a prequel/spin-off film called “Minions” released in 2015.

Spica is the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo, and the 15th brightest star in the night sky. Spica is actually a “binary star”, meaning that it is composed of two individual stars so close together that they cannot be resolved through a telescope. The two stars orbit each other every four days.

6 Avocation : HOBBY

One’s “avocation” is one’s hobby, an occupation that is subservient to one’s “vocation”. That said, the term “avocation” is sometimes also used to describe one’s regular job, one’s “bag”.

7 __ avis : RARA

A “rara avis” is anything that is very rare. The Latin term translates as “rare bird”.

8 “Spoon-bender” debunked by the Amazing Randi : URI GELLER (hiding “RIGEL”)

Uri Geller’s most famous performance was perhaps his uncomfortable failure on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson in 1973. Carson “hijacked” Geller on live television by providing him with spoons to bend and watches to start, none of which had been available to Geller before the show aired. Clever!

James Randi is a retired Canadian-American magician who had a stage career using the name “The Amazing Randi”. He now spends his time investigating the paranormal, or in fact mainly challenging claims of paranormal activity. If you’re interested, the James Randi Educational Foundation is offering one million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal activity under controlled test conditions.

The word “bunk” is short for “bunkum”, the phonetic spelling of “Buncombe”, which is a county in North Carolina. Supposedly, a state representative made a dull and irrelevant speech that was directed to his home county of Buncombe, bringing the term “bunkum” into the language with the meaning of “nonsense”. The derivative word “debunk” first appeared in a novel by William Woodward in 1923, when he used it to describe “taking the bunk out of things”.

Rigel is the sixth brightest star in the night sky, and the brightest star in the constellation of Orion. If you can imagine the stars in Orion laid out, Rigel is at his left foot. The name “Rigel” is an abbreviated version of the Arabic term for “Left Foot of the Central One”.

9 Code-breaking org. : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense (DoD) since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.

10 Jedi Master Obi-Wan ___ : KENOBI

The Jedi are the good guys in the “Star Wars” series of movies. The most famous Jedi knights from the films are Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Alec Guinness, and later Ewan McGregor) and Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz). Well, they’re my favorites anyway …

12 B.B. King genre : BLUES

“B.B. King” was the stage name of Riley B. King, the celebrated blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. Referred to as the King of the Blues, King truly was a dedicated performer. He was doing gigs for over 50 years, and made over 15,000 appearances on stage. King’s first hit was “3 O’Clock Blues”, recorded in 1952. He passed away in May of 2015.

13 Female donkey : JENNY

A female donkey/ass is known as a jenny, and a male is known as a jack, or sometimes “jackass”. We started using the term “jackass” to mean “fool” in the 1820s.

23 Meteors, and what three Down answers aptly contain : FALLING STARS

A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body travelling through space. Once in the atmosphere, the meteoroid is referred to as a “meteor” or “shooting star”. Almost all meteoroids burn up, but if one is large enough to survive and reach the ground then we call it a meteorite. The word “meteor” comes from the Greek “meteōros” meaning “high in the air”.

27 Genie’s offering : WISH

The “genie” in the bottle takes his or her name from “djinn”. “Djinns” were various spirits considered lesser than angels, with people exhibiting unsavory characteristics said to be possessed by djinn. When the book “The Thousand and One Nights” was translated into French, the word “djinn” was transformed into the existing word “génie”, because of the similarity in sound and the related spiritual meaning. This “génie” from the Arabian tale became confused with the Latin-derived “genius”, a guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. Purely as a result of that mistranslation the word genie has come to mean the “djinn” that pops out of the bottle. A little hard to follow, I know, but still quite interesting …

29 “Hud” Oscar-winner Patricia : NEAL

Patricia Neal won her Best Actress Oscar relatively late in her career, for playing a middle-aged housekeeper in 1963’s “Hud”. A few years’ later, she was offered the role of Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” but turned it down. Famously, Neal had an affair with Gary Cooper who was married at the time. She became pregnant with his child, but he persuaded her to have an abortion. Not long afterwards Neal married British writer Roald Dahl (of “Willy Wonka” fame) and the couple had five children together before divorcing in 1983.

30 Flu symptom : FEVER

Influenza (the “flu”) is an ailment that is caused by a virus. The virus is readily inactivated by the use of soap, so washing hands and surfaces is especially helpful in containing flu outbreaks, and other virus pandemics …

32 Diner list for animal product avoiders : VEGAN MENU (hiding “VEGA”)

A vegan is someone who stays away from animal products. A dietary vegan eats no animal foods, not even eggs and dairy that are usually eaten by vegetarians. Ethical vegans take things one step further by following a vegan diet and also avoiding animal products in other areas of their lives e.g. items made from leather or silk.

Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. Vega (along with Altair and Deneb from other constellations) is also part of the group of three stars that is called the Summer Triangle. Vega is the star at the right-angle of this triangle.

34 Antioxidant berry : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

35 Old Roman fiddler : NERO

The Great Fire of Rome raged for five and a half days in 64 AD. Of the fourteen districts of Rome, three were completely destroyed and seven more suffered serious damage. The emperor at the time was Nero, although reports that he fiddled, played his lyre or sang while the city burned; those accounts are probably not true. In fact, Nero was staying outside of Rome when the fire started and rushed home upon hearing the news. He organized a massive relief effort, throwing open his own home to give shelter to many of the citizens who were left living on the street.

36 Eve’s first home : EDEN

According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve lived in a garden “in” Eden, with Eden being geographically located by reference to four rivers, including the Tigris and the Euphrates. Some scholars hypothesize that Eden was located in Mesopotamia, which encompasses much of modern-day Iraq.

38 Italy’s Como, per esempio : LAGO

Lake Como is a glacial lake in Lombardy in Italy. Lake Como has long been a retreat for the rich and famous. Lakeside homes there are owned by the likes of Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Sylvester Stallone and Richard Branson.

In Italian, Como “per esempio” (for example) is a “lago” (lake).

44 Arizona MLBers : D-BACKS

The Arizona Diamondbacks (also “D-backs”) joined Major League Baseball’s National League in 1998. By winning the World Series in 2001, the Diamondbacks became the fastest expansion team to do so in Major League history.

47 “SNL” producer Michaels : LORNE

Lorne Michaels is a television producer who is best known as the creator of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). We can get some insight into Michaels’ character and demeanor by watching the show “30 Rock”. The character Jack Donaghy, played by Alec Baldwin, is inspired by Michaels.

48 Author Asimov : ISAAC

Isaac Asimov was a wonderful science fiction writer, and a professor of biochemistry. He was a favorite author as I was growing up and I must admit that some hero worship on my part led me to study and work as a biochemist for a short while early in my career. My favorite of his works is the collection of short stories called “I, Robot”, although Asimov’s most famous work is probably his “Foundation” trilogy of novels. Asimov wrote three autobiographies, the last of which was called “I, Asimov”, which was published in 1994, two years after his death.

49 Rapper with the 2013 #1 album “Born Sinner” : J COLE

“J. Cole” is the stage name of American rap artist Jermaine Cole. J. Cole was born in Germany, on the US Army base in Frankfurt.

58 Brazil metropolis : RIO

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil (after São Paulo). “Rio de Janeiro” translates as “January River”. The name reflects the discovery of the bay on which Rio sits, on New Year’s Day in 1502.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 In the thick of : AMID
5 “Honey, I __ the Kids”: 1989 comedy : SHRUNK
11 Brown bag staple, initially : PBJ
14 Waves from the back of a boat : WAKE
15 Like some sandpaper : COARSE
16 Sam Adams, e.g. : ALE
17 Flickered-out flames? : EXES
18 “24” analyst Chloe __ : O’BRIAN
19 Operate : RUN
20 Good thing to have for a change? : DIAPER BAG
22 A lot : OFTEN
24 Judith of “Down Home” : IVEY
25 Diplomat’s post : EMBASSY
27 Reacted to a really bad pun, perhaps : WINCED
30 Thrash about : FLAIL
31 Think tank output : IDEAS
32 South African grassland : VELD
33 Place to bowl : LANE
37 Hunk of bacon, say : SLAB
38 Flood deterrent : LEVEE
39 Like a Frappuccino : ICED
40 Severe criticism : HELL
41 Word with teen or golden : AGER
42 Nab in a trap : SNARE
43 The Ellery Queen Award is one : EDGAR
45 Mideast or Midwest : REGION
46 Motorcyclist’s invitation : CLIMB ON
49 “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” movie : JAWS
50 Biblical prophet : HOSEA
51 Apple known by its first three letters : MACINTOSH
56 Notable period : ERA
57 Words to live by : CREDOS
59 R&B’s India.__ : ARIE
60 Actress de Armas : ANA
61 Light, as a fire : KINDLE
62 Demolish : RAZE
63 Bench press muscle, briefly : PEC
64 Barflies : SOUSES
65 Winter ride : SLED

Down

1 Blown away : AWED
2 Calf-covering skirt : MAXI
3 DIY furniture brand : IKEA
4 Movie with Minions : DESPICABLE ME (hiding “SPICA”)
5 Got a run home : SCORED
6 Avocation : HOBBY
7 __ avis : RARA
8 “Spoon-bender” debunked by the Amazing Randi : URI GELLER (hiding “RIGEL”)
9 Code-breaking org. : NSA
10 Jedi Master Obi-Wan ___ : KENOBI
11 Repair bill heading : PARTS
12 B.B. King genre : BLUES
13 Female donkey : JENNY
21 12/24 and 12/31 : EVES
23 Meteors, and what three Down answers aptly contain : FALLING STARS
26 Manufactured : MADE
27 Genie’s offering : WISH
28 Run without moving : IDLE
29 “Hud” Oscar-winner Patricia : NEAL
30 Flu symptom : FEVER
32 Diner list for animal product avoiders : VEGAN MENU (hiding “VEGA”)
34 Antioxidant berry : ACAI
35 Old Roman fiddler : NERO
36 Eve’s first home : EDEN
38 Italy’s Como, per esempio : LAGO
42 Fixed with thread : SEWN
44 Arizona MLBers : D-BACKS
45 Workers’ rewards : RAISES
46 Inexpensive : CHEAP
47 “SNL” producer Michaels : LORNE
48 Author Asimov : ISAAC
49 Rapper with the 2013 #1 album “Born Sinner” : J COLE
52 Also includes : ADDS
53 Face-to-face exam : ORAL
54 XL or L, but not LX : SIZE
55 Take to heart : HEED
58 Brazil metropolis : RIO

13 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 19 Oct 21, Tuesday”

  1. 9:07 with no lookups or errors for a typical Tuesday.

    Learned of LAGO for lake, ANA de Armas, Chloe O’BRIAN, and the rapper JCOLE.

    Didn’t get how the theme answers “worked” until reading Bill’s explanation. I was thinking of entertainment stars instead of celestial bodies. I also was thinking of actual falling or declining status instead of the down direction of the answers. Ugh! Would have not gotten SPICA in any case.

  2. 7:26 1 error because my brain insisted on grammar when I shrank the kids.

    I recognized the star names, after finishing the puzzles. Meanwhile, I am failing to resist the urge to quibble about whether a meteor is a falling star, or a falling rock.

  3. I also struggled. Had to Google for J COLE and DBACKS. Also, had moanED before WINCED, igNitE before KINDLE, drUnkS before SOUSES. The greatest trouble was in the middle South. The theme helped only with WINCED.
    I’ll always be weak in sports and famous young people. Maybe I’ll age out.
    Luckily, I like cartoons and modern toys.

  4. 14:58 – no errors/lookups.

    Spent untold mins looking for EDGAR typo, happens sometimes.

    If you told me the theme ahead of time, it wouldn’t have helped …

    Be Well

  5. Mostly easy Tuesday for me; took 8:21 with no errors or peeks. Didn’t even notice some tough names because I was going in the opposite direction, like: IVEY, JCOLE, OBRIAN. They were all easily filled with crosses. I did have to change ARIa, since I seem to always seem to spell that wrong on first pass, but the cross fixed that.

    Didn’t notice the theme until I got here.

    @Bill – Ana de Armas also has an important role in the latest James Bond movie.

    1. If you look down from the circled letters you will see the name of the STARS alluded to in the 23D clue (FALLING STARS – ie appearing in the DOWN direction).

      And with that you get: (S)PICA (R)IGEL (V)EGA

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