LA Times Crossword 18 Dec 21, Saturday

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Constructed by: Craig Stowe
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme: None

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

Bill’s time: 14m 10s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

10 __ al pomodoro: Tuscan soup : PAPPA

Pappa al pomodoro is a thick soup from Tuscany that includes tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and basil. The bread used is often stale, so the soup is a way of getting rid of unused bread. “Pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato”, and “Pappa al pomodoro” translates literally as “Mush of Tomato”, which admittedly doesn’t sound too appetizing …

18 Wagner’s father-in-law : LISZT

Cosima Wagner (nee Listz) was a daughter of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and his partner Marie d’Agoult, a Franco-German author and historian who used the pen name “Daniel Stern”. Cosima married German conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow, one of her father’s students. Cosima and Hans had two children together, but Cosime left her husband and embarked on a longstanding relationship with composer Richard Wagner, with whom she was having an affair. Cosima and Richard had a daughter together named Isolde, although Cosima’s husband agreed to registering Isolde as the legitimate daughter of Hans and Cosima von Bülow. Some years later, Hans agreed to a divorce, and Cosima and Richard were free to marry.

20 Zaire’s Mobutu __ Seko : SESE

Mobutu Sese Seko was the longtime President of Zaire (later to be called the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Mobutu was known to be a very corrupt dictator and it is believed that he embezzled over $5 billion from his country. On a lighter note, Mobutu was the money man behind the famous 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”. Mobutu was anxious to expand the image of Zaire so he used his nation’s funds to entice the fighters to have a go at each other in his homeland.

21 __ ball : MATZO

Matzo is an unleavened bread that is very brittle. The bread is crushed, creating a Matzo meal that is then formed into balls using eggs and oil as a binder. The balls are usually served in a chicken stock.

22 “Doe, __ … ” : A DEER

The famous song that starts off with “Doe, a deer …” is a show tune from the 1959 musical “The Sound of Music”, by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The correct name of the song is “Do-Re-Mi”.

25 “The Last O.G.” network : TBS

“The Last O.G.” is a sitcom starring Tracy Morgan. Morgan plays a the title character, an “original gangster or OG”, who is released from prison after serving 15 years. The ex-con returns to his Brooklyn neighborhood to find it very different, 15 years on. And, his ex-girlfirend is raising his twin children with her husband. I haven’t seen this one, but the premise sounds intriguing …

27 Chi preceder : TAI

More correctly called “t‘ai chi ch‘uan”, tai chi is a martial art that is mostly practiced to improve overall health and increase longevity.

30 Shipping rope : TYE

In the nautical world, a tye can be either a chain or rope and is used to hoist a spar up a mast.

35 Stop digressing : CUT TO THE CHASE

To cut to the chase is to get to the point. It is thought that the term was at least popularized, if not coined, by legendary film producer Hal Roach. In the days of silent movies, many films would climax in a chase scene. Producers who didn’t appreciate extra dialogue in films would demand that the “padding” be removed and that the story “cut to the chase (scene)”.

36 Words often embroidered : HOME SWEET HOME

“Home! Sweet Home!” is a song that has been around at least since 1827. The melody was composed by Englishman Sir Henry Bishop, using lyrics written by American John Howard Payne.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.
Home! Home!
Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home
There’s no place like home!

37 “Love & Basketball” actor Omar : EPPS

Omar Epps is the actor who played Eric Foreman on the excellent television series “House”. Prior to playing Dr. Foreman, Epps had a recurring role playing Dr. Dennis Gant on “ER”. And, in another link to the world of medicine, Epps was born in Savannah, Georgia to single mom, Dr. Bonnie Epps.

“Love & Basketball” is a romantic sports film released in 2000 starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan as two basketball players who eventually fall in love. The film, written and directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood, has been described as semi-autobiographical. Critics praised the on-screen chemistry between the leads. Well, Epps and Lathan actually started dating just before the start of filming, so that might have helped …

38 All Saints’ __ : EVE

All Saints’ Day is November 1st each year. The day before All Saints’ Day is All Hallows’ Eve, better known by the Scottish term “Halloween”.

39 Bonobo, for one : APE

The bonobo used to be called the pygmy chimpanzee, and is a cousin of the common chimpanzee. The bonobo is an endangered species that is now found in the wild only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. Along with the common chimpanzee, the bonobo is the closest species to humans genetically.

40 First animal in the Chinese zodiac : RAT

The 12-year cycle in the Chinese calendar uses the following animals in order:

  • Rat
  • Ox
  • Tiger
  • Rabbit
  • Dragon
  • Snake
  • Horse
  • Goat
  • Monkey
  • Rooster
  • Dog
  • Pig

41 #34 : DDE

Dwight D. Eisenhower (DDE) was the 34th US president, but he wanted to be remembered as a soldier. He was a five-star general during WWII in charge of the Allied Forces in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). President Eisenhower died in 1969 at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He was buried in an $80 standard soldier’s casket in his army uniform in a chapel on the grounds of the beautiful Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas.

46 Toot : SPREE

“Toot” and “tear” are slang terms for a drinking binge.

48 Latin for “scraped,” in a phrase : RASA

Tabula rasa (plural “tabulae rasae”) is the idea that people are born with a “blank, clean slate”, and that knowledge comes from experience and perception. “Tabula rasa” translates literally from Latin as “scraped tablet”.

57 Massenet opera about a Spanish legend : LE CID

“Le Cid” is an opera by Jules Massenet that premiered at the Paris Opéra in 1885. The opera is adapted from a play of the same name by Pierre Corneille. Both works are based on the legends surrounding Spanish military leader El Cid.

59 Curator’s concerns : FAKES

The term “curator” is Latin and applies to a manager, guardian or overseer. In English, the original curators were the guardians and overseers of minors and those with mental disease. Today, we use the term “curator” particularly for someone in charge of a museum, zoo or other exhibition.

Down

1 Two after pi : SIGMA

Sigma is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and is the one used for an “ess” sound, equivalent to our letter S. Sigma is used in mathematics to represent a summation, the adding together of a sequence of numbers.

3 Sierra __ : LEONE

The Republic of Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa that lies on the Atlantic Coast. The capital city of Freetown was originally set up as a colony to house the “Black Poor” of London, England. These people were mainly freed British slaves of Caribbean descent who were living a miserable life in the run-down parts of London. Perhaps to help the impoverished souls, perhaps to rid the streets of “a problem”, three ships were chartered in 1787 to transport a group of blacks, with some whites, to a piece of land purchased in Sierra Leone. Those who made the voyage were granted British citizenship and protection. The descendants of these immigrants, and others who made the journey over the next 60 years, make up the ethnic group that’s today called the Sierra Leone Creole.

5 Soirees : DOS

“Soir” is the French word for “evening” and a soirée is an evening party. The French word “soirée” has an acute accent over the first “e”, but we tend to drop this when using the word in English.

7 Musical collaboration instruction : A DUE

“A due” is a musical term meaning “together” that translates literally from Italian as “by two”.

11 Adidas rival : AVIA

The “Avia” brand name for athletic shoes was chosen as “avia” is the Latin word for “to fly”, and suggests the concept of aviation. Avia was founded in Oregon in 1979.

12 What most novels are written in : PAST TENSE

Our word “novel”, used for a lengthy work of fiction, comes from the Latin “novella” meaning “new things”.

13 Round item in a square box : PIZZA PIE

Pizza was invented in Naples, where it has a long tradition that goes back to ancient Rome. During an 1889 visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Savoy was served a special pizza that was created with toppings designed to mimic the colors of the Italian flag. The ingredients of tomato (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green) can still be found together on menus today, on a pie usually named Pizza Margherita after the queen. I do love basil on my pizza …

14 Charlie Parker, at times : ALTOIST

An altoist is someone who plays the alto saxophone.

Charlie Parker was a jazz saxophonist who was often just called “Bird” or “Yardbird”. He was a leader in the development of the style of jazz called “bebop”, which gained popularity in the forties. Parker had a rough life outside of music. He was a heroin addict, and a heavy drinker. When he died, the coroner who performed his autopsy estimated his age as between 50 and 60 years old based on the appearance of his body and condition of his organs. Charlie Parker was actually 34-years-old when he died in a New York City hotel room in 1955.

24 Jeremiads : RANTS

A jeremiad is a work of literature, sometime poetic but mainly prose. The tone of the piece is always that of a bitter lament as the author derides the state of society and predicts its downfall. The name “jeremiad” is imitative of the prophet Jeremiah who wrote the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations in which he prophesies the fall of the Kingdom of Judah due to the wayward practices of its leaders.

33 “Into Thin Air” setting : MT EVEREST

“Into Thin Air” is a 1997 book by Jon Krakauer in which he gives a firsthand account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. That disaster was centered on a rogue storm that enveloped the summit of the mountain and led to the death of eight climbers. The book was adapted into an intense 1997 TV movie of the same name.

36 “Nature would not invest __ in such shadowing passion without some instruction”: Othello : HERSELF

“The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice” is a tragedy penned by William Shakespeare that is usually referred to as simply “Othello”. The title character is a military commander (of Moorish origin) in the Venetian army. The villain of the piece is Iago, Othello’s scheming ensign.

43 Stuffed hors d’oeuvre : OLIVE

An hors d’oeuvre is a first course in a meal. “Hors d’oeuvre” translates from French as “apart from the work”, which really means “not the main course”.

45 Pretty pitchers : EWERS

A pitcher is a container for liquid that has a handle, mouth and spout. The term “jug” is used for the same container in other English-speaking countries. “Ewer” is an older term describing a pitcher/jug. Today, a ewer is a highly decorative pitcher, often with a base and flared spout.

47 Carmela portrayer on “The Sopranos” : EDIE

Actress Edie Falco won three Emmy Awards for playing Carmela Soprano on HBO’s outstanding drama series called “The Sopranos”. Falco also won an Emmy in 2010 for playing the title role in “Nurse Jackie”, an excellent black comedy.

49 Semi shaft : AXLE

A “semi” is a “semi-trailer truck”. The vehicle is so called because it consists of a tractor and a half-trailer. The half-trailer is so called because it only has wheels on the back end, with the front supported by the tractor.

50 Arm of the Korean War : STEN

The STEN gun is an iconic armament that was used by the British military. The name STEN is an acronym. The letters S and T come from the name of the gun’s designers, Shepherd and Turpin. The letters EN comes from the Enfield brand name, which in turn comes from the Enfield location where the guns were manufactured for the Royal Small Arms Factory, an enterprise owned by the British government.

Korea was occupied by the Japanese military from 1910 until Japan surrendered at the end of WWII in 1945. While the UN was working towards a trusteeship administration for Korea, the Soviet Union managed the Korean Peninsula north of the 38th parallel and the US managed the south. The UN’s plans came to naught as the Cold War dictated the establishment of the two separate states of North Korea and South Korea. North Korea invaded the South in 1950, leading to the Korean War. After three years of fighting, the border between the two states became the demarcation line between the two military forces on the day the Armistice Agreement was signed. That line runs diagonally across the 38th parallel, and is better known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

51 Father of the Amazons : ARES

The Amazons of Greek mythology were a tribe of female warriors who were the daughters of Ares and Harmonia.

55 Bridge Base Online offering, e.g. : APP

Bridge Base Online is a website that has offered free, multiplayer contract bridge play since 2001.

56 Duff Beer server : MOE

The regulars on “The Simpsons” hang out at Moe’s Tavern, which is named for and run by Moe Szyslak. The most popular beer at Moe’s is Duff Beer. The name “Duff” is a reference to the real-life Duffy’s Tavern that used to be East 13th Street in Eugene, Oregon. “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening used to frequent Duffy’s regularly, and Moe’s looks very much like Duffy’s in terms of decor and floor plan.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Some assembly stations : SALAD BARS
10 __ al pomodoro: Tuscan soup : PAPPA
15 “Beats me” : I’VE NO IDEA
16 Use : AVAIL
17 “Nice work!” : GOOD STUFF!
18 Wagner’s father-in-law : LISZT
19 Least amt. : MIN
20 Zaire’s Mobutu __ Seko : SESE
21 __ ball : MATZO
22 “Doe, __ … ” : A DEER
25 “The Last O.G.” network : TBS
27 Chi preceder : TAI
28 Family nicknames : MAS
30 Shipping rope : TYE
31 Gym sets : REPS
32 “No worries” : DON’T MENTION IT
35 Stop digressing : CUT TO THE CHASE
36 Words often embroidered : HOME SWEET HOME
37 “Love & Basketball” actor Omar : EPPS
38 All Saints’ __ : EVE
39 Bonobo, for one : APE
40 First animal in the Chinese zodiac : RAT
41 #34 : DDE
42 Diminish slowly : ERODE
46 Toot : SPREE
48 Latin for “scraped,” in a phrase : RASA
52 Pasture sound : LOW
53 Get around : ELUDE
54 Metaphor for doing more than is required : EXTRA MILE
57 Massenet opera about a Spanish legend : LE CID
58 Party where no one goes home? : SLEEPOVER
59 Curator’s concerns : FAKES
60 Bike shop array : TEN-SPEEDS

Down

1 Two after pi : SIGMA
2 Get around : AVOID
3 Sierra __ : LEONE
4 “Then what?” : AND?
5 Soirees : DOS
6 Parts of drills : BITS
7 Musical collaboration instruction : A DUE
8 Calls on a field : REFS
9 Insurance metaphor : SAFETY NET
10 Conceals, in a way : PALMS
11 Adidas rival : AVIA
12 What most novels are written in : PAST TENSE
13 Round item in a square box : PIZZA PIE
14 Charlie Parker, at times : ALTOIST
23 Isn’t subtle, in a way : EMOTES
24 Jeremiads : RANTS
26 “You __!” : BETCHA
29 Put away : STOWED
30 Giggly sound : TEHEE
31 Nomad : ROAMER
32 Sandbox toy : DUMP TRUCK
33 “Into Thin Air” setting : MT EVEREST
34 “With any luck” : I HOPE
35 Bargain in court : COP A PLEA
36 “Nature would not invest __ in such shadowing passion without some instruction”: Othello : HERSELF
41 Title pages? : DEEDS
43 Stuffed hors d’oeuvre : OLIVE
44 Parceled (out) : DOLED
45 Pretty pitchers : EWERS
47 Carmela portrayer on “The Sopranos” : EDIE
49 Semi shaft : AXLE
50 Arm of the Korean War : STEN
51 Father of the Amazons : ARES
55 Bridge Base Online offering, e.g. : APP
56 Duff Beer server : MOE

21 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 18 Dec 21, Saturday”

  1. LAT: About a half hour with no mistakes. Fairly easy with trouble only in the NE corner because I first entered “apple pie” instead of “pizza pie.”

  2. Bike shop array clue is SERIOUSLY outdated. Most bicycles have at least 24 gears these days unless they are single speeds, even off road bikes.

    1. Twenty-four gears?!?! Boy, do I feel outdated! … 😜

      (I “learned” to ride a bike seventy years ago, on rough gravel roads, using a single-speed that had previously been used by three older brothers … and now you tell me the ten-speed that’s been mostly hanging in my garage for the last twenty years is passé, so, yes, I guess I am seriously behind the times. … 😜)

  3. Not overly tricky for a Saturday, at least by the way the grid came together for me. A bobble with 53 Across clue of “Get around” for which I inked in “evade” and then ended up having to correct it to the final “elude” and I both evaded and eluded any final errors. Ha!

  4. 19:40

    Good puzzle and a lot of interesting things in the googlies today. I was seriously stuck in corners, with the last one to fall being the northeast, where I was convinced that the “chi” clue referred to the Greek letter.

    On a non-puzzle note, I got my covid booster Thursday. As I have learned to expect, I spent Friday with my immune system hogging all my energy. Still a bit off today, but it beats the alternative.

  5. No errors but took a long time; I gave up on it once, went shopping and
    tried again. Once I got “cut to the chase ” everything sort of fell into place.
    A few more proper name lookups than I’d like, but it was an interesting
    puzzle. Not bad for Saturday.

  6. a long time, 4 errors
    errors were missing out on the first 3 letters of DEEDS. I had no clue re #34. And so it goes…

  7. Over half an hour, but not really indicative of the effort.

    Really, a technical DNF bc of all the cheats.

    Maybe some day when I grow up I’ll get a Saturday ….

    @cycle freak – yeah, I learned on a beat up fat-tired one-speed bike at the age of six. Had to deliver Sunday newspapers (boy, dating myself) loaded down with on bag over the handle bars and one bag on each side of the back tire. When I fell over my older brother would just laugh at me instead of helping. Somehow I can’t even start to imagine my kids doing that when they were six …

    Be Well

  8. An impenetrable mess of a grid, with clues so opaque or references so esoteric, as to defy description (literally). Obviously, DNF, after just 13 mins I can’t get back.

  9. 12:21, no errors. Ironically, this and the NYT being by far the easiest today on the order of about 4 times at minimum. Then there’s the 1:55 (hours, minutes) on the Newsday. Still working on the Croce.

    The [Bike shop array] clue was a good example (out of many) of just a plain poorly written clue. It’s not so much the specified speeds but the poor communication behind it. TENSPEEDS as an answer to that clue is completely nonsensical and was ultimately a “Yeah, whatever (eyeroll)” fill-in.

    1. But, but, but … One hears exchanges like the following: “What kind of bike do you have?” “It’s a ten-speed.” Similarly, I can say that my car is an “automatic”, as opposed to a “manual”. A bit slangy, perhaps, but totally understandable; nothing that I would describe as even remotely “nonsensical”.

      LAT: 12:45, no errors. Newsday: 53:01, no errors, pretty stiff challenge. Croce: 2:05:53, no errors, very difficult (almost gave up on it).

  10. No errors.. with all these stories about learning how to ride a bike reminded me of mine.
    I was about 7. My two older brothers were 9 and 11. There was a dirt/rock road near where we lived . It seemed to be more of a walking path . It was arc shaped. Like a short bypass around the main road. Enough width for a large bike path. Barb wire fences on both sides. Not sure what they told me but I believe their motivation was “learn how to ride or land on the barb wire”. I don’t remember if I really learned how to ride a bike that day or not. !! Weird what the brain remembers.

  11. 21:51 with one lookup for spelling Mobutu Seko’s middle name – SESE vs SOSE (wasn’t sure of ADUE and initially had ADUO for musical collaboration), and one error in RASp/pRES.

    Had to change CAWS>REFS, MOO>LOW, EVADE>ELUDE, ELCID>LECID, METED>DOLED.

  12. Way too tough for me today; took 47:50 struggling before I just gave up and did a bunch of “check-grids” to the finish. At least I had the NW and SE on my own, but not much else.

    I had no idea on the Liszt/Wagner/Von Bulow intrigues! *Wow*

    I learned on a Schwinn American, which I also used on my paper route. And yeah, I used to rue the Sundays with all that extra weight. My next was a white Gitane 10 speed, that I bought with my summer job savings…sadly it was stolen and I didn’t get another until I bought my brother’s 80s Peugeot 10 speed, which I still have for city riding. My other bike is a 27 speed LeMond Zurich, which is a really nice, but now slightly outdated bike. Everything now, supposedly, has electric gear shifts.

    1. >Everything now, supposedly, has electric gear shifts.

      I kinda dabble in bicycles (even got the tools sitting here to do a lot of the basic stuff, and rode to the degree that Nonny walks plus some once upon a time) and found out about that. Electric gear shifting actuated via Bluetooth. I haven’t seen any bike in person like it yet, but I definitely have a lot of questions. Can imagine the battery problem to be pretty challenging, unless it recharges via movement or something like that. But if it works well, it’d definitely be a lot better than tweaking a couple of derailleurs via cable anytime things get out of sync. At least that part was a lot easier with the 10-speed stuff than the 20+ speed type stuff.

      But I can definitely recite a number of different interesting “innovations” over the last 10 years or so intended to counter some catch or problem on bicycles that don’t seem to catch on.

  13. I had a newspaper delivery job too! Got really good at porching the darn things as well. Practice makes perfect just like crossword puzzles sorta. I used to spend my
    tip money on Nestlé crunch bars and Delaware Punch soda. A sugar OD ☹️

    Appreciate you all. Happy Holidays!
    Saul

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