LA Times Crossword 20 Oct 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Kurt Krauss
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Doff

Themed answers each end with a synonym of “DOFF”:

  • 69A Remove, as clothing … and a hint to the ends of the answers to starred clues : DOFF
  • 17A *Well-worn, as carpets : THREADBARE
  • 25A *Lawn mower’s spot : GARDEN SHED
  • 38A *Give the go-ahead from the control tower : CLEAR FOR TAKEOFF
  • 50A *”Dilbert,” e.g. : COMIC STRIP
  • 61A *Slapstick slipper? : BANANA PEEL

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

Bill’s time: 5m 42s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Triangular sails : JIBS

A jib is a triangular sail that is set at the bow of a sailboat.

5 Giant among speakers : BOSE

Bose Corporation was founded in 1964 by Amar G. Bose, and is a company that specializes in manufacture of audio equipment.

9 Belfry hangers : BATS

The expression “bats in the belfry” meaning “mad, crazy” conjures up images of bats flying around Gothic bell towers, but actually it’s a relatively recent addition to our vernacular. The term is American in origin, and dates back only to the early 1900s. The concept is that someone who is “crazy”, with wild ideas flying around his or her head, can be described as having bats (wild ideas) flying around the belfry (head). The terms “bats” and “batty” originated at the same time, and are clearly derivative.

15 Scoville __: chili pepper heat measurement : UNIT

The Scoville scale is a measure of the spiciness of chili peppers. The scale was invented by a pharmacist in 1912, Wilbur Scoville. To determine the position of a pepper on the Scoville scale, the amount of capsaicin in the chili is measured. Capsaicin is an irritant that causes the sensation of burning when it comes into contact with tissue, particularly mucous membranes.

16 Overly fussy, say : ANAL

The use of the word “anal” to mean “stiffly conventional” is an abbreviated form of “anal-retentive”, a term derived from Freudian psychology. Regardless, I’m not a big fan of the term …

21 Desert partly in northern China : GOBI

The Gobi, the large desert in Asia, lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi desert is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so-called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.

23 Greek Mars : ARES

The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of bloodlust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos (Fear), Deimos (Terror) and Eros (Desire). Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, and the Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars.

29 Internet connection : MODEM

A modem is a device that is used to facilitate the transmission of a digital signal over an analog line. At one end of the line, a modem is used to “modulate” an analog carrier signal to encode digital information. At the other end of the line, a modem is used to “demodulate” the analog carrier signal and so reproduce the original digital information. This modulation-demodulation gives the device its name: a MOdulator-DEModulator, or “modem”.

31 “Friendly Skies” co. : UAL

United Airlines used the tagline “Fly the Friendly Skies” in its marketing materials from 1965 to 1996. It was then replaced with “It’s time to fly”. United chose George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” as the company’s theme music in 1976, and paid the Gershwin estate a fee of $500,000 for the privilege.

32 URL ending of a 37-Across : EDU

The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

  • .com (commercial enterprise)
  • .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
  • .mil (US military)
  • .org (not-for-profit organization)
  • .gov (US federal government entity)
  • .edu (college-level educational institution)

38 *Give the go-ahead from the control tower : CLEAR FOR TAKEOFF

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) was founded in 1925. In 1930, Cleveland was home to the first air traffic control tower in the country, as well as the first airfield lighting system.

42 To the __: maximally : HILT

The hilt of a weapon is its handle. One might push in the blade of a knife to the hilt, to the maximum degree.

45 Diddley and Peep : BOS

Bo Diddley was the stage name of Ellas Otha Bates, the celebrated R&B artist.

The lines that are most commonly quoted from the rhyme about “Little Bo Peep” are:

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can’t tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, And they’ll come home,
Wagging their tails behind them.

But, there are actually four more verses, including this one:

It happened one day, as Bo-peep did stray
Into a meadow hard by,
There she espied their tails side by side,
All hung on a tree to dry.

50 *”Dilbert,” e.g. : COMIC STRIP

“Dilbert” is a comic strip drawn by Scott Adams, who used to be a “neighbor” of mine when I lived in the Bay Area. Adams used to be co-owner of a restaurant at the end of my street that had a menu replete with “Dilbertesque” comments.

55 Metz milk : LAIT

The city of Metz is in the northeast of France, and close to the German border. Given the proximity to Germany, Metz has both a strong German tradition and a strong French tradition. Metz was handed over to the French following WWI, after nearly 50 years of German rule. It quickly fell back into German hands in 1940 during WWII, with many German officers delighted to have returned to the city of their birth. Perhaps because of this long association with Germany, the US Army under General Patton encountered stiff resistance when liberating Metz in 1944. The cathedral in Metz is home to the largest expanse of stained glass in the world, almost 70,000 square feet in all.

56 Russo of “Tin Cup” : RENE

The talented actress Rene Russo is a native of Burbank, California. Russo went to high school (with actor/director Ron Howard), but dropped out in tenth grade. At seventeen, she was given the opportunity to train as a model and within a very short time appeared on the cover of “Vogue”. As her modelling jobs slowed down in her early thirties, Russo made a career change and studied theater and acting.

“Tin Cup” is a fun romantic comedy starring Kevin Costner. Costner plays a former golf prodigy who has hit bottom, but who drags himself up by the bootstraps thanks to the influence of the female lead played by Rene Russo. Costner plays the title character Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy.

57 Loads from lodes : ORES

A lode is a metal ore deposit that’s found between two layers of rock or in a fissure. The mother lode is the principal deposit in a mine, usually of gold or silver. “Mother lode” is probably a translation of “veta madre”, an expression used in mining in Mexico.

61 *Slapstick slipper? : BANANA PEEL

Slapstick is a physical form of comedy or horseplay. Back in the late 19th century, the term “slapstick” described a device made from two sticks loosely fastened together, which could be “slapped” together to create a sound effect offstage. The sound effect augmented the audience reaction when a clown or actor was given a slap on stage.

64 Entr’__ : ACTE

The term “entr’acte” comes to us from French, and is the interval “entre deux actes” (between two acts) of a theatrical performance. The term often describes some entertainment provided during that interval.

65 Writer Harte : BRET

Bret Harte was a storyteller noted for his tales of the American West, even though he himself was from back East, born in Albany, New York. One work attributed to him is “Ah Sin”, a disastrously unsuccessful play written by Harte with Mark Twain. The two writers didn’t get on at all well during the writing process, and when the play was produced for the stage it was very poorly received. Nevertheless, Twain suggested a further collaboration with Harte, and Harte downright refused!

66 Swiss Miss product : COCOA

Swiss Miss is a brand of cocoa powder and related products sold by ConAgra Foods. The original Swiss Miss product was introduced in the 1950s and sold exclusively to airlines. Back then, airlines were in the habit of making hot cocoa for their passengers. Swiss Miss became so popular on flights that it was later added to grocery store shelves.

68 Barrie’s nonconformist pirate : SMEE

In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is Hook’s bosun and right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on a pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.

69 Remove, as clothing … and a hint to the ends of the answers to starred clues : DOFF

One doffs one’s hat, usually as a mark of respect. To doff is to take off, with “doff” being a contraction of “do off”. The opposite of “doff” is “don”, meaning “to put on”.

Down

1 Stuff thrown overboard : JETSAM

“Flotsam” and “jetsam” are both terms used to describe garbage in the ocean. Flotsam is floating wreckage from a ship or its cargo. Jetsam is similar to flotsam, except that it is part of a ship or cargo that is deliberately cast overboard, perhaps to lighten a vessel.

2 10-time MLB All-Star : ICHIRO

Ichiro Suzuki holds quite a few batting records including the single-season record for base hits (262), and a record-breaking streak of 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons. Ichiro Suzuki is a huge celebrity in his native-Japan. His agent says that if you address fan mail to “Ichiro Suzuki, Japan”, he’ll get your letter …

5 Forrest’s shrimp-loving friend : BUBBA

In the celebrated movie “Forrest Gump”, Forrest befriends Bubba Blue after he enlists in the US Army. The pair make a pact to go into the shrimping business together. Bubba is killed in Vietnam, but Forrest decides to fulfill his promise to his friend and opens the very successful Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Tom Hanks of course plays the title role in the film, and Bubba Blue is played by Mykelti Williamson.

7 __ Elton John : SIR

Elton John’s real name is Reginald Dwight. Sir Elton was knighted in 1998, not for his music per se, but for his charitable work. He founded his own Elton John AIDS Foundation back in 1992.

8 Mont Blanc summer : ETE

Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps. The name “Mont Blanc” translates from French into “white mountain”. The mountain lies on the border between France and Italy, and it has been generally accepted for decades that the summit lies within French territory. However, there have been official claims that the summit does in fact fall within the borders of Italy.

10 Film noir protagonist : ANTIHERO

An “antihero” is a character perhaps in a movie or novel. He or she is the “hero” of the piece, but is also someone who doesn’t exhibit the qualities associated traditionally with a hero, such as bravery or moral fortitude.

The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.

14 “Macbeth” role : HAG

The Three Witches in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” are referred to in the text as the “weird sisters”. They cook up an ugly brew in their cauldron:

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravined salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digged i’ th’ dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat and slips of yew
Slivered in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-delivered by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab.
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

22 Kenan Thompson is its longest-tenured cast member, briefly : SNL

Kenan Thompson is an actor and comedian who is perhaps best known as a “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) cast member, joining the show in 2003. Thompson holds the record for the most celebrity impressions on SNL, at over one hundred. He also is the longest-tenured member of the cast in the history of the show.

24 Loi maker : SENAT

In French, members of the “Sénat” (Senate) participate in the enacting of “lois” (laws).

26 Uses Pledge, say : DUSTS

Pledge is a brand of cleaning products that was introduced in 1958 by SC Johnson & Son. Pledge products are sold under different names around the world, e.g. Pliz (France) and Blem (Argentina).

28 Behind : DUFF

“Duff” is a slang term meaning “buttocks, rump”. The exact etymology isn’t known, but the term dates back to the 1830s.

34 “Hair” styles : AFROS

The full name of the famed show from the sixties is “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical”, although the 1979 film adaptation was simply titled “Hair”. This controversial work outraged many when it was first performed in the sixties, as it attacked many aspects of life at the time. For example, the song “Air” is a satirical look at pollution, sung by a character who comes onto the stage wearing a gas mask. The opening lines are “Welcome, sulfur dioxide. Hello carbon monoxide. The air … is everywhere”. How things have changed over the past few decades said he … satirically …

38 In vogue : CHIC

“Chic” is a French word meaning “stylish”.

39 Chewy candy : LICORICE

Liquorice (also “licorice”) and aniseed have similar flavors, but they come from unrelated plants. The liquorice plant is a legume like a bean, and the sweet flavor is an extract from the roots. The flavor mainly comes from an ether compound called anethole, the same substance that gives the distinctive flavor to anise. The seedpods of the anise plant are what we know as “aniseed”. The anise seeds themselves are usually ground to release the flavor.

40 Periodic table items : ELEMENTS

Dmitri Mendeleev was a Russian chemist. When Mendeleev classified elements according to their chemical properties, he noticed patterns and was able to group elements into his famous 1869 Periodic Table. So powerful was his table that he actually predicted the properties of some elements that had not even been discovered in 1869. Element number 101 is mendelevium and was named after Mendeleev.

45 Dating letters : BCE

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

47 Mariners’ park, familiarly and formerly : SAFECO

T-Mobile Park (formerly “Safeco Field”) is the home stadium of the Seattle Mariners. Safeco Insurance was the highest bidder when it came to christening the new stadium opened in 1999, paying $40m for a 20-year contract. T-Mobile took over the naming rights in 2019, after signing a 25-year contract.

49 Minn. college : ST OLAF

St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota was named for the former king and patron saint of Norway, Olaf II.

52 Actress Blakley : RONEE

Ronee Blakley is an actress from Nampa, Idaho who is perhaps best known for playing the country singer Barbara Jean in the 1975 film “Nashville”.

54 Ballpoint, e.g. : PEN

The ballpoint pen was invented by László Bíró in the late thirties, a Hungarian newspaper editor. Over in Ireland we use the term “biro” as a generic word for “ballpoint pen”.

58 Bunt on a scorecard : SAC

To bunt in baseball is to barely hit the ball, just enough to have it roll slowly in front of the infielders.

61 Air rifle ammo : BBS

A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.070″ in diameter) to size FF (.230″). Birdshot that is size BB (0.180″ in diameter) gives the airgun its name.

63 i follower : -POD

The iPod is Apple’s signature line of portable media players. The iPod first hit the market in 2001 with a hard drive-based device, now known as the iPod Classic. Later models all use flash memory, allowing a smaller form factor. The smallest of the flash-based models is the iPod Shuffle, which was introduced in 2005.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Triangular sails : JIBS
5 Giant among speakers : BOSE
9 Belfry hangers : BATS
13 Online money : ECASH
15 Scoville __: chili pepper heat measurement : UNIT
16 Overly fussy, say : ANAL
17 *Well-worn, as carpets : THREADBARE
19 Tiny : ITSY
20 Bro or sis : SIB
21 Desert partly in northern China : GOBI
22 Put a thin cut in : SLIT
23 Greek Mars : ARES
25 *Lawn mower’s spot : GARDEN SHED
29 Internet connection : MODEM
31 “Friendly Skies” co. : UAL
32 URL ending of a 37-Across : EDU
33 Least distant : NEAREST
37 Campus VIP : PROF
38 *Give the go-ahead from the control tower : CLEAR FOR TAKEOFF
42 To the __: maximally : HILT
43 Oven pan : ROASTER
44 Cooling rocks : ICE
45 Diddley and Peep : BOS
46 Core concepts : GISTS
50 *”Dilbert,” e.g. : COMIC STRIP
55 Metz milk : LAIT
56 Russo of “Tin Cup” : RENE
57 Loads from lodes : ORES
59 To and __ : FRO
60 Marine steering mechanisms : FINS
61 *Slapstick slipper? : BANANA PEEL
64 Entr’__ : ACTE
65 Writer Harte : BRET
66 Swiss Miss product : COCOA
67 Common awards word : BEST
68 Barrie’s nonconformist pirate : SMEE
69 Remove, as clothing … and a hint to the ends of the answers to starred clues : DOFF

Down

1 Stuff thrown overboard : JETSAM
2 10-time MLB All-Star : ICHIRO
3 Like fishhooks, usually : BARBED
4 Atlanta-to-Miami dir. : SSE
5 Forrest’s shrimp-loving friend : BUBBA
6 Broadcasting : ON AIR
7 __ Elton John : SIR
8 Mont Blanc summer : ETE
9 Uses a bucket in a boat : BAILS
10 Film noir protagonist : ANTIHERO
11 Suggested, flavorwise : TASTED OF
12 Cunning : SLY
14 “Macbeth” role : HAG
18 Follow closely : DOG
22 Kenan Thompson is its longest-tenured cast member, briefly : SNL
24 Loi maker : SENAT
26 Uses Pledge, say : DUSTS
27 Patronize, as a restaurant : EAT AT
28 Behind : DUFF
30 French sea : MER
34 “Hair” styles : AFROS
35 Fowl pole : ROOST
36 Big time : ERA
37 Danger : PERIL
38 In vogue : CHIC
39 Chewy candy : LICORICE
40 Periodic table items : ELEMENTS
41 Tap site : KEG
45 Dating letters : BCE
47 Mariners’ park, familiarly and formerly : SAFECO
48 Lose interest in : TIRE OF
49 Minn. college : ST OLAF
51 Atlas box : INSET
52 Actress Blakley : RONEE
53 Steamed : IRATE
54 Ballpoint, e.g. : PEN
58 Bunt on a scorecard : SAC
60 Groovy : FAB
61 Air rifle ammo : BBS
62 Chair part : ARM
63 i follower : -POD

27 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 20 Oct 21, Wednesday”

  1. 5:37, no errors. Definitely feeling weird the last couple of days with how the puzzles are going (probably weirdest being last night’s Croce).

  2. Had to Google for BUBBA, never having finished watching that movie.
    Had “jay” before PaD before POD.
    The theme helped me. I didn’t actually know many downs: ICHIRO, SAC, SAFECO (all sports); SENAT, ST OLAF, RONEE.
    Why do they assume everyone knows French?
    I look forward to Bill’s explanations of the words I din’t know, but guessed.

    1. >Why do they assume everyone knows French?
      Geographical/Northeast specific information, where a lot of the constructors hail from. New York State/Vermont is very close to French-speaking Quebec. Kind of same reasons why everyone is assumed to know Spanish in these crosswords given the location of Los Angeles in relationship to Mexico. Constructors and editors really need to realize their puzzles are syndicated nation-wide.

  3. 6:55

    The theme helped quite a bit. So did having learned the difference between flotsam and JETSAM. And I learned two French words today: loi and SENAT.

    A good start to the day.

  4. 10:29 with no lookups or errors. Got the theme, but only after finishing the puzzle, and after not looking for a ‘D’ taken ‘OFF’ of each answer. Nothing particularly difficult, but did change DEAN>PROF and LEG>ARM.

    Working the puzzle online, there were several clues that I didn’t even read; because when all the squares were filled in, I got the response that all were correct.

    @Bill, today’s theme might be falling clothes, but I wouldn’t call it falling stars (yesterdays’s theme). 😉

  5. IMHO, crossword puzzles have historically been of interest to people who read a lot. Such people tend to be exposed to a smattering of words and phrases in a few other languages (French, German, Latin, and Spanish being the most common). Crossword puzzle constructors have historically taken advantage of this (more so in the past than now, in my judgment).

    Those who think that words from foreign languages don’t belong in crosswords should be aware that, to me, terms from team sports like basketball and football and hockey and soccer and jai alai and caber tossing are a far more troubling issue … 😜.

  6. Got everything except all the French words! The theme helped me on this one. By the way Nonny, I read a lot; probably 35 novels a year, and still don’t know French!

    1. I don’t know French, either (though my Norwegian-American mother used to repeat things she’d picked up in a high school class) , but I’ve read enough and (equally important, I guess ) widely enough to have picked up a few words here and there. A lot of English words came to us via French, so, if you pay attention to etymologies, you’re bound to learn a bit. And, of course, I can’t ignore all the French words I’ve learned from doing crossword puzzles (including “loi”, now … 😜).

  7. Mostly easy Wednesday for me; took 10:14 with no errors or peeks. I got a little stuck in the SW corner, where I had rAd before bAd before getting FAB to get the banner. And really, those crosses made a lot more sense 🙂

    re Foreign languages – Before I got to using Google Translate I used to use several paperback translation dictionaries. I bought them to help me when I ventured out of Germany, when I was in Europe. They helped a lot when I tackled Mann’s “The Magic Mountain”, where I had to haul them out practically on every page. But when I got to the whole chapter written in French, I capitulated and got this girl to read it to me…sheesh, a whole chapter.

    C’mon Nonny, you know your a big fan of the Rockies and Broncos…It’s all about regional pride 🙂

    Looks like the Dodgers got all petered out after playing the WC against the Cardinals and the NLDS against the Giants…so sad to watch…

  8. Man, it’s not like y’all were being asked to translate “Les Trois Mousquetaires” or something. (And those who “don’t know French” just try to pretend you have no clue what novel that is!)
    Loi for law? Senat for senate? (All it’s missing is an e!!!). Lait for milk? Cafe au lait anyone? Cmon!!!

  9. “Bunt” is usually a Sac, but it can also be a hit. 29A is an incomplete clue since another word is needed for it to be accurate. Otherwise, tres bien y’all.

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