LA Times Crossword 29 Oct 21, Friday

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Constructed by: Gary Larson
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): One Letter Short

Themed answers are common phrases with one word replaced by a similar-sounding letter:

  • 16A Submits a racy version of a film to the MPAA? : CHANCES R (from “chances are”)
  • 25A Trouble at the family rec center? : Y BOTHER (from “why bother”)
  • 36A Filling in for rapper Cardi? : SPELLING B (from “spelling bee”)
  • 49A Deans, professors and undergrads? : U PEOPLE (from “you people”)
  • 60A Mediocre bakery item in home ec class? : C BISCUIT (from “Seabiscuit”)

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

Bill’s time: 9m 10s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Bad-mouth : DIS

“Dis” (also “diss”) is a slang term meaning “insult” that originated in the eighties. It is a shortened form of “disrespect” or “dismiss”.

4 Times to call, in ads : AFTS

Afternoon (aft.)

8 Descendants of Muhammad, in Shi’ism : IMAMS

In the Shia Islam tradition, the Twelve Imams are the spiritual successors to the prophet Muhammad.

13 Mag for execs : INC

“Inc.” is a business magazine that specializes in articles about growing companies. “Inc.” publishes a list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the country each year, calling it the “Inc. 500”. The “Inc. 5000” is an expanded list also published by the magazine.

16 Submits a racy version of a film to the MPAA? : CHANCES R (from “chances are”)

The Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) film-rating system (PG-13, R, etc.) is purely voluntary and is not backed by any law. Movie theaters agree to abide by the rules that come with the MPAA ratings in exchange for access to new movies.

18 Certain war hero : AIR ACE

A flying ace (also “air ace”) is an aviator who has shot down a number of enemy planes during combat. The qualifying number of kills seems to vary, but five is common. The first use of “ace” was during WWI, when the French newspapers dubbed pilot Adolphe Pegoud “l’as” (French for “the ace”) when he shot down his fifth German plane.

19 Fictional spread near Jonesboro : TARA

In Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind”, Scarlett O’Hara’s home is the Tara plantation. Tara was founded not far from the Georgia city of Jonesboro by Scarlett’s father, Irish immigrant Gerald O’Hara. Gerald won the square mile of land on which Tara was built in an all-night poker game. He named his new abode after the Hill of Tara back in his home country, the ancient seat of the High King of Ireland. Rhett’s rival for the affections of Scarlet is Ashley Wilkes who lives at the nearby Twelve Oaks plantation.

20 “La Dolce Vita” co-star : EKBERG

Anita Ekberg is a Swedish model and actress, famous for her role on the big screen in the 1960 Fellini film “La Dolce Vita”. You might remember Ekberg cavorting in the Trevi Fountain in Rome in one famous scene, with the male lead, Marcello Mastroianni.

The title of the celebrated 1960 Federico Fellini film “La Dolce Vita” translates from Italian as “The Good Life”. There is a character in the film called Paparazzo who is a news photographer. It is this character who gives us our word “Paparazzi”, a term used for photographers who make careers out of taking candid shots of celebrities.

22 Sailor’s pronoun : SHE

“Mother’s Little Helper” is a marvelous 1966 song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and recorded by the Rolling Stones. The song deals directly with the increasing use of prescribed drugs by housewives of the time, and the dangers of overdose and addiction.

Kids are different today, I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day.

25 Trouble at the family rec center? : Y BOTHER (from “why bother”)

The YMCA (the Y) is a worldwide movement that has its roots in London, England. There, in 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded with the intent of promoting Christian principles through the development of “a healthy spirit, mind and body”. The founder, George Williams, saw the need to create YMCA facilities for young men who were flocking to the cities as the Industrial Revolution flourished. He saw that these men were frequenting taverns and brothels, and wanted to offer a more wholesome alternative.

31 Work unit : ERG

An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, with one joule comprising 10 million ergs. It has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off. The term comes from “ergon”, the Greek word for work.

36 Filling in for rapper Cardi? : SPELLING B (from “spelling bee”)

“Cardi B” is the stage name of rap artist Belcalis Almánzar from the Bronx in New York City. The name “Cardi B” comes from the brand name “Bacardi”.

Back in 18th-century America, when neighbors would gather to work for the benefit of one of their group, such a meeting was called a bee. The name “bee” was an allusion to the social nature of the insect. In modern parlance, a further element of entertainment and pleasure has been introduced, for example in a quilting bee, or even a spelling bee.

46 Frank McCourt memoir : ‘TIS

“‘Tis” was Frank McCourt’s sequel to “Angela’s Ashes”, the story of his life growing up in Ireland. Frank McCourt passed away in 2009.

47 Govt. security : T-BILL

A Treasury note (T-note) is a government debt that matures in 1-10 years. A T-note has a coupon (interest) payment made every six months. The T-note is purchased at a discount to face value, and at the date of maturity can be redeemed at that face value. A Treasury bill (T-bill) is a similar financial vehicle, but it matures in one year or less, and a T-bond matures in 20-30 years.

52 Qajar dynasty’s domain : PERSIA

The Qajar Dynasty ruled Persia (modern-day Iran) from 1785 to 1925.

54 Ebert’s partner in the 2000s : ROEPER

Richard Roeper is columnist and film critic for “The Chicago Sun-Times”, and came to national attention when he replaced Gene Siskel as co-host with Roger Ebert on the famous film review TV show. Roeper started work with Ebert in 2000, after Siskel died in 1999. Roeper stayed with the show right through 2008, even though Ebert had to bow out in 2006 as he recovered from cancer surgery.

57 Library ID : ISBN

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was invented by one Gordon Foster who was a professor at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. The code was originally developed for booksellers, so that they had a unique number (and now a barcode) for each publication. ISBNs are ten digits long if assigned before 2007. Since the start of 2007, ISBNs have been thirteen digits long.

60 Mediocre bakery item in home ec class? : C BISCUIT (from “Seabiscuit”)

Seabiscuit was a thoroughbred racehorse who dominated horse racing in the US in the 1940s. There have been a few films made based on the horse’s life, including 1949’s “The Story of Seabiscuit” starring Shirley Temple, and 2003’s “Seabiscuit” starring Tobey Maguire.

62 Muss : RUMPLE

“Muss” means “state of disorder”, and is a term that probably evolved from “mess”. The phrase “no muss, no fuss” means “no bother, no mess made, no excessive hustle and bustle”.

63 “Roll Tide” school : BAMA

The athletic teams of the University of Alabama (“Bama”) are nicknamed the Crimson Tide, which is a reference to the team colors of crimson and white.

65 Battle tactic : SIEGE

Our word “siege” comes from a 13th-century word for a “seat”. The military usage derives from the concept of a besieging force “sitting down” outside a fortress until it falls.

66 Kid stuff : SNAP

I think the idea is that kids’ clothes might have snaps instead of buttons.

67 Word in a recipe : ADD

The Latin “recipere” means “to take”, and the imperative form “recipe” was written at the top of medical prescriptions as an instruction, i.e. “take (the following)”. This use of “recipe” evolved into the instruction for preparing a dish of food in the mid-1700s.

Down

4 Fox competitor : ABC

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) was formed in 1943, when it was created out of the former NBC Blue radio network. Given the initialism “ABC”, it is sometimes referred to as “the Alphabet Network”.

6 Narwhal feature : TUSK

The narwhal is a whale species in which the male has a large tusk. The “tusk” is actually a canine tooth that projects from the jaw through the lip. Usually only one tusk develops, on the left side of the jaw. Occasionally, a second tusk develops as well, on the right side of the jaw. The tusk is unlike a tooth in that it contains many nerves, making it a sensory organ. It is rarely used in an act of aggression.

7 Macedonian’s neighbor : SERB

Serbia is a landlocked country in southeast Europe. After WWII, Serbia became one of several states making up the nation called Yugoslavia. Serbia became independent again in 2006 as Yugoslavia broke up after the declaration of independence by Montenegro.

8 __ Montoya, “The Princess Bride” role : INIGO

In the William Goldsmith novel “The Princess Bride”, the title character is kidnapped by a trio of outlaws that includes fencing master Inigo Montoya. In the 1987 film adaptation, Montoya is played by Mandy Patinkin.

11 Tool for the jungle : MACHETE

A machete is a large knife, one usually 13-18 inches long. The term “machete” is the diminutive of “macho” meaning “male, strong”.

15 Duds : GARB

“Duds” is an informal word meaning “clothing”. The term comes from the word “dudde” that was used around 1300 as the name for a cloak.

21 “__ of the Needle”: Ken Follett novel : EYE

“Eye of the Needle” is an engaging spy novel by Ken Follett that was first published in 1978 under the title “Storm Island”. The novel was adapted into a very entertaining film in 1981 starring Donald Sutherland.

Ken Follett is a Welsh author specializing in thrillers and historical novels. Among his most famous works are “Capricorn One”, “Eye of the Needle”, “The Man From St. Petersburg” and “On Wings of Eagles”. Quite a few of Follett’s novels have been adapted for the big screen, and you may recognize some movies made from the preceding list of titles.

28 Zippo : NIL

The use of the words “zip” and “zippo” to mean “nothing” dates back to the early 1900s, when it was student slang for being graded zero on a test.

29 Two-time loser to Ike : ADLAI

Adlai Stevenson (AES) ran for president unsuccessfully against Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE), once in 1952 and again in 1956. Some years after his second defeat, Stevenson served under President Kennedy (JFK) as Ambassador to the United Nations. Stevenson was always noted for his eloquence and he had a famous exchange in a UN Security Council meeting during the Cuban missile crisis. Stevenson bluntly demanded that the Soviet representative on the council tell the world if the USSR was installing nuclear weapons in Cuba. His words were “Don’t wait for the translation, answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’!” followed by “I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over!”

34 Safari sight : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

35 Rock with bands : AGATE

Agate is a micro-crystalline form of quartz (and so is related to sand/silica). Some agate samples have deposited layers that give a striped appearance, and these are called “banded agate”.

36 Rural skyline feature : SILO

“Silo” is a Spanish word that we absorbed into English. The term ultimately derives from the Greek “siros”, which described a pit in which one kept corn.

37 Nos. averaging 100 : IQS

Although it is correct these days to say that the abbreviation IQ stands for “intelligence quotient”, the term was actually coined by German psychologist William Stern, and so is actually an abbreviation for the German “Intelligenz-Quotient”.

39 Easter Island, to natives : RAPA NUI

“Rapa Nui” is the Polynesian name for what we are more likely to call “Easter Island”. The European name was coined by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who came across the island on Easter Sunday in the year 1722. Chilean-owned Easter Island is inhabited and is a location that is remarkably distant from neighboring civilization. The nearest inhabited island is Pitcairn Island, which is almost 1300 miles away.

42 Pageant held in Memphis in 2020 : MISS USA

The Miss USA beauty pageant was founded in 1952 in order to select the American candidate for the Miss Universe competition.

43 Said, “She was with me all day,” say : ALIBIED

“Alibi” is the Latin word for “elsewhere” as in, “I claim that I was ‘elsewhere’ when the crime was committed, I have an ‘alibi’”.

48 __-a-brac : BRIC

“Bric-a-brac” is a French phrase (actually “bric-à-brac”) that was used as far back as the 16th century. Back then, it was a nonsense term meaning “at random” or “any old way”. Since Victorian times we have used the phrase in English to describe a collection of curios, statues and the like. In modern usage, bric-a-brac tends to be a selection of cheaper items.

50 Worker, informally : PROLE

Author George Orwell introduced us to the proles, the working class folk in his famous novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. Collectively, the proles make up the section of society known as the proletariat.

52 __ ballerina : PRIMA

The title “prima ballerina” is the second-highest awarded to a female dancer in a company. The more prestigious “prima ballerina assoluta” is only awarded to the most notable dancers.

55 Banned pollutants, for short : PCBS

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were banned with good reason. Apart from their link to cancer and other disorders in humans and animals, they are extremely persistent in the environment once contamination has occurred. Among other things, PCBs were used as coolants and insulating fluids in electrical gear such as transformers and large capacitors, as well as a transfer agent in carbonless copy paper.

56 Meir contemporary : EBAN

Abba Eban was an Israeli diplomat and politician. He was born Aubrey Solomon Meir Eban in Cape Town, South Africa. While working at the United Nations after WWII, Eban changed his given name to “Abba”, the Hebrew word for “father”. Reportedly, he made this change as Eban saw himself as the father of the nation of Israel.

59 It’s usually higher on the hwy. : MPG

Miles per gallon (mpg)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Bad-mouth : DIS
4 Times to call, in ads : AFTS
8 Descendants of Muhammad, in Shi’ism : IMAMS
13 Mag for execs : INC
14 Down : BLUE
15 Irritate : GNAW AT
16 Submits a racy version of a film to the MPAA? : CHANCES R (from “chances are”)
18 Certain war hero : AIR ACE
19 Fictional spread near Jonesboro : TARA
20 “La Dolce Vita” co-star : EKBERG
22 Sailor’s pronoun : SHE
23 Come down : ALIGHT
25 Trouble at the family rec center? : Y BOTHER (from “why bother”)
27 Wound up : TENSE
28 Scottish refusal : NAE
30 Serious observance : RITE
31 Work unit : ERG
32 Passionate : AVID
34 Started to overtake, with “on” : GAINED …
36 Filling in for rapper Cardi? : SPELLING B (from “spelling bee”)
38 Watercolor user : ARTIST
41 Water color : AQUA
42 On the __: famous : MAP
45 Sailor’s emergency container : BAIL
46 Frank McCourt memoir : ‘TIS
47 Govt. security : T-BILL
49 Deans, professors and undergrads? : U PEOPLE (from “you people”)
52 Qajar dynasty’s domain : PERSIA
53 Wilt : SAG
54 Ebert’s partner in the 2000s : ROEPER
57 Library ID : ISBN
58 Win over : ENAMOR
60 Mediocre bakery item in home ec class? : C BISCUIT (from “Seabiscuit”)
62 Muss : RUMPLE
63 “Roll Tide” school : BAMA
64 Witness : SEE
65 Battle tactic : SIEGE
66 Kid stuff : SNAP
67 Word in a recipe : ADD

Down

1 Command : DICTATE
2 Asthma sufferer’s relief : INHALER
3 Working hard to find, with “up” : SCARING …
4 Fox competitor : ABC
5 Sails force? : FLEET
6 Narwhal feature : TUSK
7 Macedonian’s neighbor : SERB
8 __ Montoya, “The Princess Bride” role : INIGO
9 Scrape, say : MAR
10 Flooded with : AWASH IN
11 Tool for the jungle : MACHETE
12 Guided : STEERED
15 Duds : GARB
17 Won’t leave alone : NAGS
21 “__ of the Needle”: Ken Follett novel : EYE
24 Piles : HEAPS
26 Common newspaper nickname : TRIB
28 Zippo : NIL
29 Two-time loser to Ike : ADLAI
33 Check for accuracy : VET
34 Safari sight : GNU
35 Rock with bands : AGATE
36 Rural skyline feature : SILO
37 Nos. averaging 100 : IQS
38 Ones who take too much advantage of a privilege, e.g. : ABUSERS
39 Easter Island, to natives : RAPA NUI
40 Draw : TIE GAME
42 Pageant held in Memphis in 2020 : MISS USA
43 Said, “She was with me all day,” say : ALIBIED
44 Put in the ground : PLANTED
46 Three-way joint : TEE
48 __-a-brac : BRIC
50 Worker, informally : PROLE
51 Stuff of legends : LORE
52 __ ballerina : PRIMA
55 Banned pollutants, for short : PCBS
56 Meir contemporary : EBAN
59 It’s usually higher on the hwy. : MPG
61 Weaken : SAP

35 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 29 Oct 21, Friday”

  1. Well, I failed…
    Thought 45A was PAIL. Just don’t understand how BAIL is a container??

    Having said that, I couldn’t get the front letter of PEOPLE.. what are U PEOPLE? University I suppose??
    .. and since I’m on a “I don’t know” theme.. where is it that IQs average 100?

    The whole SW corner was inked up pretty good

    1. In total agreement with Anon Mike regarding bail. You can bail with some type of bucket or other container, but “bail” in not a container. It is an action you take using a container of some type to remove water from a vessel.

    2. Good description of the kinds of things that were awry on this one. I had PAIL there for the longest time but the crosses didn’t make sense, so I just ran the alphabet (mentally, wasn’t using that exploit for online solves) until I hit upon a letter where both crosses made reasonable words. The cluing was ultimately useless on that one and a number of other spots. UPEOPLE was another huge guess at what the constructor possibly meant. “Forced and strained” (from yesterday) is a pretty decent descriptor of the theme & cluing on most of this one.

    3. BAIL tripped me up, too … always thought that was something a sailor DOES in an emergency😋. (And 4A needed a nautical clue too, if you ask me.)

  2. Not a good puzzle when there was no clue for 14 across.
    To the above comment, stanford-binet IQ average somewhere between 95 and 105

  3. Yes, it was dreadful. Several things I never heard of and/or just didn’t know. Like Inigo, Rapanui, Roeper. Looks like alibi can be a verb now, too. I agree that bail doesn’t make sense as a container to me. Sigh.

  4. Regarding the noun “bail”, see the following site:

    https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/bail

    Definition 4 is “a bucket or scoop used for removing water from a boat”.

    I think the setter’s clue is vindicated, yes?!?!

    I did think this puzzle was unusually … thoughtful … (16:11, no errors).

    @Dirk (from yesterday): That wasn’t me, but you’re right that it sounds a bit like me, as I do ignore calls from numbers that I don’t recognize. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how one could get lost in the Rockies. (You just look around and somehow you know you’re in the Rockies, right? … 😜)

    Now to see if the link above will cause this message to run afoul of Bill’s predatory spam filter … 😳

  5. I’d like to see a citation that miles per gallon goes up at highway speeds. Compared to what? Since the 70s energy crisis, I’ve understood that higher speeds lower gas mileage. Lower MPG is what I see when my husband does 75 on the freeway, instead of 55.
    OTOH, MPH goes up on highways.

    SPELLING for someone can mean substituting.

    Soooo many irritants in this puzzle.

    1. @Catherine
      The general idea is that MPG is lower in city versus high way because of all the stop-and-go that happens within the city. You’re sitting at stoplights, sitting in queues behind stop signs and the like still burning gas and going nowhere.

  6. over 30 mins – stopped and started on 2 different computers, so it’s a guess.

    Lotsa lookups. Had to agree that a lot of the clues/answers were really forced.

    Seems these themes are getting more esoteric by the day … cute, but useless to me. Guess I’m not good enough (yet).

    Be well.

  7. 16:29 with no errors or lookups. Had to change CNN>ABC, YOUTH__>YBOTHER, TBOND>TBILL, SURGE>SIEGE.

    Based on today’s comments, there are many clue/answer irritations. I agree that some are “not obvious,” but isn’t that what makes for a Friday-type puzzle? Having said that, the BAIL clue seems obscure, at least to a non-sailor.

    In response to other posts:
    –IQ scales are designed to hold the average at 100 +/- 10 or 15 points.
    –Something that’s a snap is easy, or kid’s play (“kid stuff” is a bit off-kilter to me).
    –If you “spell” someone, you are allowing them to rest a spell, and so could be filling in for them.
    –MPG ratings for cars are typically given in terms of city vs highway driving, with city being lower than highway (as in 27 city vs 37 highway). It’s primarily because engine RPMs cause gas usage more than speed does (there are more spark plug ignitions at high RPMs), and RPMs are lower when a higher gear is used on the highway. Having said that, there may be a speed at which diminishing returns are observed.

  8. @Catherine: you’re correct that driving 55mph will yield better MPG than driving at 70mph. However, just about any reasonable highway speed will produce better MPG than city driving, which is what the constructor was comparing.

  9. If this is a duplicate, it’s because the site told me I was posted too fast, after I spend several composing my thoughts.

    15:11 no errors, much to my surprise

    SPELLINGB told me the theme.

    Today I learned that TARA is close to Jonesboro, that the Qajar dynastry ruled PERSIA not that long ago, and that EYE of the Needle is a Follet novel.

    I’m still puzzled by AFTS, or afternoons being a time to call. Isn’t the time to call always now, even in late-night TV ads?

    1. I figured out that spot was AFTS eventually having EVES there for the longest time, despite things. Given the clue, it definitely goes in the “awkwardly bad” pile of this puzzle that elicited a WYDM response.

  10. Very confusing clues ….. found it difficult to align authors direction in this puzzle !
    Had to struggle with mindset, also quite a few lookups !
    NO THEME !!

  11. Getting dumber and dumber, especially when there’s a clue missing (14 down). Actually got almost all of the themed clues.

  12. Too tricky for me today; took 40:41 with 2 errors discovered by “check-grid” at the same spot as several people: pAIL and ePEOPLE. I should have paid better attention to the theme – even though I did – and tried again to get ABUSERS, which makes much more sense that ApeSERS. I tried a few alphabet rolls but BAIL didn’t ring a bell…Oh Well!

    Otherwise a good challenge, that should be expected later in the week.

    @Nonny – Yeah, I saw it was on Mt Ebert, which is bit further away from where you usually go hiking, I think.

    1. @Dirk … Actually, the incident of the unanswered phone calls was on Mount Elbert, which is a mostly uninteresting walk-up (even if it is the highest mountain in Colorado). I’ve done it four times. On one occasion, just for the halibut, a climbing buddy and I spent the night up there; unfortunately, he tried to set the tent on fire with a cooking stove, as a result of which I breathed a lot of unhealthy fumes and spent a miserable night. Not one of my better memories (😳); of course, a bad night in the mountains is still better than a good night at home (😜). I think, at this point, doing Mount Elbert involves too much elevation gain at too high an altitude for my 78-year-old legs and lungs. (In a recent week, I walked 86 miles around the lake I use for exercise, so I’m not exactly decrepit, but elevation gain really takes the wind out of my sails.)

  13. In Bill’s explanation, I didn’t get how the Rolling Stones’ song related to 22 Across “Sailor’s pronoun.”

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