LA Times Crossword 26 Jan 22, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Darryl Gonzalez
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Diff’rent Strokes

Themed answers each start with a “DIFF’RENT” swimming “STROKE”:

  • 39A ’70s-’80s series about the Drummond family … and what the starts of four long answers are : DIFF’RENT STROKES
  • 17A Oxymoronic ’80s sci-fi film title : BACK TO THE FUTURE (giving “backstroke”)
  • 28A Out-of-the-way access : SIDE ENTRANCE (giving “sidestroke”)
  • 47A Place for a pen : BREAST POCKET (giving “breaststroke”)
  • 65A Seafood order : BUTTERFLY SHRIMP (giving “butterfly stroke”)

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

Bill’s time: 8m 28s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Natural sand bank : BERM

A berm is a narrow ledge, usually at the top or bottom of a slope. The term “berm” can also be used to describe a physical barrier of some kind. For example, berms can be constructed along a highway to protect those living and working nearby from noise pollution.

14 Diva’s solo : ARIA

The term “diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. “Diva” is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

15 Meter starter : DECI-

A decimeter is one tenth of a meter.

17 Oxymoronic ’80s sci-fi film title : BACK TO THE FUTURE (giving “backstroke”)

In the fun 1985 movie “Back to the Future”, Marty McFly finds himself back in 1955, and is trying to get back to HIS future, 1985. But on the other hand, 1985 is really Marty’s present, before he went back in time. Why does time travel have to be so complicated …?

In swimming, the backstroke is also known as the “back crawl”. An advantage of swimming the backstroke is that it is relatively easy to breathe. A disadvantage is that the swimmer cannot see where he or she is going.

The word “oxymoron” is in itself an oxymoron. It is derived from the Greek words “Oxys” and “moros” meaning “sharp” and “stupid” respectively.

20 “Jeopardy!” contestant : ASKER

The TV show “Jeopardy!” first went on the air in 1964, and is another successful Merv Griffin creation. But, it took the introduction of Alex Trebek as host in order to bring the show into the big times. Trebek was host from 1984 until his sad passing in 2020.

21 Cub slugger : SOSA

Sammy Sosa was firmly in the public eye in 1998 when he and Mark McGwire were vying to be the first to surpass the home run record held by Roger Maris. McGwire fell out of public favor due to stories of steroid abuse (stories which he later admitted were true) while Sosa fell out of favor when he was found to be using a corked bat in a 2003 game.

23 Anasazi home setting : MESA

The Ancient Pueblo Peoples were Native Americans who lived in what is now called the Four Corners area of the US. Archeologists sometimes refer to these ancestral Pueblo peoples as the Anasazi, a Navajo word meaning “Ancient Ones”. The Pueblo name was given by early Spanish explorers in reference to the villages that they found. “Pueblo” is Spanish for “village”.

25 “__ the season … ” : ‘TIS

The music for the Christmas song “Deck the Halls” is a traditional Welsh tune that dates back to the 16th century. The same tune was used by Mozart for a violin and piano duet. The lyrics with which we are familiar (other than the “f-la-la”) are American in origin, and were recorded in the 19th century.

“’Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la!”

27 Crowd no., often : EST

Estimate (est.)

28 Out-of-the-way access : SIDE ENTRANCE (giving “sidestroke”)

The sidestroke is a swimming stroke in which the swimmer lies on his or her side. It is a stroke that can be very useful in lifesaving, as well as in distance swimming.

34 Nice water? : EAU

In French, the “mer” (sea) is full of “eau” (water).

The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera. Something described as “à la niçoise” is “of Nice”.

35 Lanai greeting : ALOHA

Lanai is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Lanai was first spotted by Europeans just a few days after Captain Cook was killed on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1779. In 1922, the Hawaiian Pineapple Company bought the whole island of Lanai and turned most of it into the world’s largest pineapple plantation. Since then, Lanai has been known as “The Pineapple Island”. Today, 98% of the island is owned by Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, and 2% is owned by the State of Hawaii.

39 ’70s-’80s series about the Drummond family … and what the starts of four long answers are : DIFF’RENT STROKES

The sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” originally ran from 1978 until 1986. Stars of the show were Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, who played two relatively poor brothers from Harlem taken in by a wealthy businessman. “Diff’rent Strokes” was known in its day as one of the first comedy shows to tackle so-called “difficult” subjects such as racism, illegal drugs, alcoholism, kidnapping and sexual abuse.

45 Call to Jude? : HEY!

“Hey Jude” was originally a song titled “Hey Jules” written by Paul McCartney. He wrote the original song for John Lennon’s son Julian, in an attempt to comfort the boy during his parents’ divorce. There’s a phenomenal coda in “Hey Jude” after the fourth verse that lasts for over four minutes.

46 RN workplaces : ORS

A registered nurse (RN) might work in an operating room (OR).

47 Place for a pen : BREAST POCKET (giving “breaststroke”)

The breaststroke is a style of swimming that is extremely popular with infrequent swimmers as they can keep their heads out of the water for much of the time. It might also be referred to as the “frog stroke”, as the movement of the arms and legs resembles the movements of a frog swimming.

52 African snake : ASP

The venomous snake called an asp was a symbol of royalty in ancient Egypt.

55 Major NJ airport : EWR

Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) is the busiest of all the airports in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. It opened in 1928 and became the busiest commercial airport in the world through the 1930s. The airport’s name was changed to Newark Liberty in 2002 to honor the victims of 9/11.

The three big airports serving New York City (NYC) are John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark (EWR).

57 Small deer : ROES

Roe deer are found mainly in Europe. They would be the deer shown on television and in movies when Robin Hood was out hunting in Sherwood Forest.

59 NYC’s __ River : EAST

The East River is a strait in New York City connecting Upper New York Bay to Long Island Sound, separating Manhattan Island from Long Island. As it connects to Long Island Sound, the East River was once known as the Sound River.

61 Salamanca snacks : TAPAS

“Tapa” is the Spanish word for “lid”. There is no clear rationale for why this word came to be used for an appetizer. There are lots of explanations cited, all of which seem to involve the temporary covering of one’s glass of wine with a plate or item of food to either preserve the wine or give one extra space at the table.

Salamanca is a city and province in the commune of Castile and León in northwestern Spain. The University of Salamanca is the oldest university in the country, having been founded in 1218.

65 Seafood order : BUTTERFLY SHRIMP (giving “butterfly stroke”)

Butterfly shrimp is simply shrimp that has been split and pressed flat, so that the shrimp meat takes on the shape of a butterfly.

The butterfly is the newest swimming stroke used in competition, having been introduced in 1933. It was originally used as a variant of the breaststroke, in an attempt to gain an advantage in speed over swimmers using the traditional breaststroke movement. The butterfly was carved out as a style of its own in 1952, and made its Olympic debut in 1956.

68 Frisky swimmer : OTTER

Sea otters actually hold hands while sleeping on their backs so that they don’t drift apart. When sea otter pups are too small to lock hands, they clamber up onto their mother’s belly and nap there.

69 “The Clan of the Cave Bear” protagonist : AYLA

Ayla is a little Cro-Magnon girl who is orphaned and then adopted by a Neanderthal tribe, as told in “The Clan of the Cave Bear”, the first of a series of novels written by Jean Auel that set in prehistoric times. I haven’t read any of Auel’s books myself, but they are on my reading to-do list as my wife recommends them. They sound interesting …

70 Fencing tool : EPEE

The French word for sword is “épée”. In competitive fencing the épée is connected to a system that records an electrical signal when legal contact is made on an opponent’s body.

71 Feature of Mike and Ike candy? : RHYME

“Mike and Ike” is a brand of fruit-flavored candy made by Just Born starting in 1940. Just Born launched quite a unique marketing campaign in 2012 asserting that Mike and Ike had “split up due to creative differences”. The campaign involved production of two different boxes for the candy showing one or the other name scratched out. Clever …

Down

1 Quick Draw’s sidekick __ Looey : BABA

“Quick Draw McGraw” was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon show starring a horse named Quick Draw who was a sheriff in the old West. His deputy was also an equine creature, a Mexican burro named Baba Looey. When I was a little kid, I had curtains on my bedroom window featuring Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw. Happy days …

3 “Casablanca” hero : RICK

Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund were played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie “Casablanca”. I love the words of one critic describing the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman in this film: “She paints his face with her eyes”. Wow …

8 Afternoon break : SIESTA

We use the word “siesta” to describe a short nap in the early afternoon, and imported the word into English from Spanish. In turn, the Spanish word is derived from the Latin “hora sexta” meaning “the sixth hour”. The idea is that the nap is taken at the sixth hour after dawn.

9 Long-legged runner : EMU

The large flightless birds called emus make sounds by manipulating inflatable neck-sacs. The sac is about a foot long, has a thin wall and allows the bird to emit a booming sound. The type of sound emitted is the easiest way to differentiate between male and female emus.

11 Radiate : EXUDE

To exude is to ooze out, or to display conspicuously. “To exude” comes from the Latin verb “exudare” meaning “to ooze out like sweat” (from “ex-” meaning “out” and “sudor” meaning “sweat”).

12 Roman goddess of agriculture : CERES

Ceres was a Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility, and was the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter. Our modern word “cereal” comes from the name “Ceres”.

13 Stoke-on-__: English city : TRENT

Stoke-on-Trent is a city in the West Midlands of England. The city and the surrounding area is known as the home of the British industrial-scale pottery industry. Famous pottery brands such as Royal Doulton, Spode, Wedgewood and Minton were all established in and around Stoke. As a result, the city’s nickname is “The Potteries”, and people from Stoke are known as “Potters”.

19 Gladly, to Shakespeare : FAIN

“Fain” is an archaic way of saying “gladly, joyful”.

24 Old-time knife : SNEE

A “snee” is a type of dagger formerly used by Scottish highlanders.

29 Down but not out : IN IT

In a competition or game, one might be down but not out, still in it.

31 Babe and a doctor : RUTHS

Jack Dunn was the owner/manager of the Baltimore Orioles back in 1913, when he signed George Herman Ruth as a pitcher. The other players called Ruth “Jack’s newest babe”, and the name “Babe” stuck.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a German sex therapist who made a name for herself as a media personality. Westheimer is the daughter of Orthodox Jews and was sent away from Germany by her family just before WWII. She ended up in Palestine and participated in the 1948 Palestine War serving as a scout and sniper. Westheimer was seriously wounded, and spent several months unable to walk. She moved to France in 1950, and soon after arrived in the US. It was in the US where she did her training as a sex therapist.

32 “Do Ya” rock gp. : ELO

“Do Ya” is a song written by Jeff Lynne. Lynne first recorded “Do Ya” in 1972 with his band the Move. The Move gradually “moved” in a new artistic direction and rebranded themselves as the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). ELO recorded a hit version of “Do Ya” in 1976.

36 “That’s enough!” : OK OK!

Back in the late 1830s, there were some slang abbreviations coined mainly in Boston. The craze called for two-letter abbreviations of deliberately misspelled phrases. For example “no use” became “KY” from “know yuse”, and “enough said” became “NC” from “‘nuff ced”. Fortunately (I say!), the practice was short-lived. But, one of those abbreviations persists to this day. “All correct” was misspelled to give “oll korrect”, abbreviated to “OK”.

37 “You are __”: mall map info : HERE

Surprisingly (to me!), our word “mall”, meaning “shady walk” or “enclosed shopping space”, comes from the Italian for “mallet”. All of our shopping-style malls are named for “The Mall” in St. James’s Park in London. This tree-lined promenade was so called as it used to be a famous spot to play the croquet-like game called “pall-mall”. The game derived its name from the Italian for ball (palla) and mallet “maglio”. The London thoroughfare called the Mall still exists, at one end of which is Buckingham Palace. Indeed, parallel to the Mall is a street called Pall Mall.

40 Big mo. for chocolate purchases : FEB

The name of the month February comes from the Latin word “februum” meaning “purification”. The Romans had a ritual named Februa (purification) on February 15th every year. I don’t think many people pronounce the first letter R in “February”, leaving it silent, but I could be wrong …

Saint Valentine’s Day was introduced by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD to honor various martyrs with the name Valentine. However, the saint’s day was dropped by the Roman Catholic church in 1969, by Pope Paul VI. Try telling that to Hallmark though …

48 Pretty pitcher : EWER

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.

49 1994 Peace co-Nobelist with Rabin and Peres : ARAFAT

Yasser (also “Yasir”) Arafat was born in Cairo in 1929, the son of two Palestinians and the second-youngest of seven children. Arafat was beaten by his father as a child and so did not have a good relationship with him. Arafat did not attend his father’s funeral, nor did he visit his grave. The beatings were apparently administered because the young Arafat was repeatedly attending religious services in the Jewish quarter of Cairo. Arafat’s explanation was that he wanted to “study the mentality” of the Jewish people.

Yitzhak Rabin was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, and the first Prime Minister to have been born in the relatively young state of Israel. Rabin was a signatory of the Oslo Accords in 1993, along with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and US President Bill Clinton. Sadly, this led to his death as he was assassinated two years later by a right-wing radical who opposed the Accords.

Shimon Peres was an Israeli statesman who was born in Poland, in a township that is now part of Belarus. Peres served as President of the State of Israel from 2007 to 2014. Born Szymon Perski, Peres was the oldest head of state in the world while he served as president of Israel. While serving as foreign minister, he represented Israel in the secret negotiations that led to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. For that work, Peres was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

51 Brit’s Bordeaux : CLARET

Clairet is a dark rosé wine. Although it is uncommon today, clairet used to be the most common wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. For centuries now, British consumers have used the derivative term “claret” to describe any red wine from Bordeaux.

Bordeaux is perhaps the wine-production capital of the world. Wine has been produced in the area since the eighth century. Bordeaux has an administrative history too. During WWII, the French government relocated from Paris to the port city of Bordeaux when it became clear that Paris was soon to fall to the Germans. After the Germans took France, the capital was famously moved to Vichy.

53 TV’s “__ Park” : SOUTH

“South Park” is an adult-oriented cartoon series on Comedy Central. I don’t do “South Park” …

54 Tom of the Traveling Wilburys : PETTY

Singer-songwriter Tom Petty first became interested in rock and roll music when he met Elvis Presley at ten-years-old. Later Petty was inspired to get into a band when he saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. He became the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and later co-founded the supergroup called the Traveling Wilburys.

The Traveling Wilburys were a supergroup consisting of Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and George Harrison. The group formed in 1988. The name “Wilbury” came from a line uttered by Harrison to Lynne referring to errors created by faulty equipment during a recording session, i.e. “We’ll bury ‘em in the mix.”

60 Roy Rogers’ birth name : SLYE

Cowboy actor and singer Roy Rogers’ real name was Leonard Franklin Slye, and his nickname was “King of the Cowboys”. Roy Rogers married Dale Evans in 1947. Evans’ nickname was “Queen of the West”.

62 Plumbing part : PIPE

“Plumbum” is Latin for “lead”, explaining why the symbol of the element in the Periodic Table is “Pb”. It also explains why the original lead weight on the end of a line used to check vertical was called a “plumb line”. And, as pipes were originally made of lead, it also explains why we would call in a “plumber” if one of those pipes was leaking.

63 “Right you are!” : AMEN!

The word “amen” translates as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is also likely to be influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.

67 Yosemite __ : SAM

Yosemite Sam is a cartoon character who frequently goes up against Bugs Bunny. As Sam himself would say, “I’m the fastest gun north, south, east, aaaaaaand west of the Pecos.” Yosemite Sam made his debut appearance in a 1945 cartoon short titled “Hare Trigger”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Natural sand bank : BERM
5 Historic times : AGES
9 Standing at attention, say : ERECT
14 Diva’s solo : ARIA
15 Meter starter : DECI-
16 Cookie maker’s tool : MIXER
17 Oxymoronic ’80s sci-fi film title : BACK TO THE FUTURE (giving “backstroke”)
20 “Jeopardy!” contestant : ASKER
21 Cub slugger : SOSA
22 Paradise : EDEN
23 Anasazi home setting : MESA
25 “__ the season … ” : ‘TIS
27 Crowd no., often : EST
28 Out-of-the-way access : SIDE ENTRANCE (giving “sidestroke”)
33 It’s its own square : ONE
34 Nice water? : EAU
35 Lanai greeting : ALOHA
39 ’70s-’80s series about the Drummond family … and what the starts of four long answers are : DIFF’RENT STROKES
44 Enjoying a scone, maybe : AT TEA
45 Call to Jude? : HEY!
46 RN workplaces : ORS
47 Place for a pen : BREAST POCKET (giving “breaststroke”)
52 African snake : ASP
55 Major NJ airport : EWR
56 Prepare to mail : SEAL
57 Small deer : ROES
59 NYC’s __ River : EAST
61 Salamanca snacks : TAPAS
65 Seafood order : BUTTERFLY SHRIMP (giving “butterfly stroke”)
68 Frisky swimmer : OTTER
69 “The Clan of the Cave Bear” protagonist : AYLA
70 Fencing tool : EPEE
71 Feature of Mike and Ike candy? : RHYME
72 Pour : TEEM
73 Look after : TEND

Down

1 Quick Draw’s sidekick __ Looey : BABA
2 Historic times : ERAS
3 “Casablanca” hero : RICK
4 Bully’s challenge : MAKE ME!
5 Turmoil : ADO
6 Enjoys the beach, say : GETS A TAN
7 Canyon comeback : ECHO
8 Afternoon break : SIESTA
9 Long-legged runner : EMU
10 Serious ceremony : RITE
11 Radiate : EXUDE
12 Roman goddess of agriculture : CERES
13 Stoke-on-__: English city : TRENT
18 Plant with a trunk : TREE
19 Gladly, to Shakespeare : FAIN
24 Old-time knife : SNEE
26 Sign of surgery : SCAR
28 Pop at a counter : SODA
29 Down but not out : IN IT
30 Slick : DEFT
31 Babe and a doctor : RUTHS
32 “Do Ya” rock gp. : ELO
36 “That’s enough!” : OK OK!
37 “You are __”: mall map info : HERE
38 Exec.’s helper : ASST
40 Big mo. for chocolate purchases : FEB
41 Steakhouse order : RARE
42 Established method : SET STYLE
43 Work at a keyboard : TYPE
48 Pretty pitcher : EWER
49 1994 Peace co-Nobelist with Rabin and Peres : ARAFAT
50 Solemn vow : OATH
51 Brit’s Bordeaux : CLARET
52 Garden recess : ARBOR
53 TV’s “__ Park” : SOUTH
54 Tom of the Traveling Wilburys : PETTY
58 Stop, as a flow : STEM
60 Roy Rogers’ birth name : SLYE
62 Plumbing part : PIPE
63 “Right you are!” : AMEN!
64 Went too fast : SPED
66 Before, to a poet : ERE
67 Yosemite __ : SAM

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 26 Jan 22, Wednesday”

  1. Very interesting write up about 36 Down, OKOK.

    I often question whether to use OK or okay. The history is interesting so thanks for that!
    I think we are revisiting part of that convention by using abbreviations in texts like IMHO or YOLO. Let’s hope at least people stick to known spellings!

  2. 23A I thought was the comedian AZIZ ANSARI as opposed to the ANASAZI people. It’s almost an anagram except without a Z and an R and an I…

    I guessed wrong on 69A and went with AILA which means I also messed up 60D with SLIE.

  3. No errors, no lookups but relied on cross-letters a lot to get it right.
    I knew there was a theme in there somewhere, but I didn’t get it until
    the end.

  4. 15:37, no errors. Finally figured out the spelling of diffrent, that led to the theme and that led to Butterfly. Somehow remembered Ayla from my reading of the 1st Cave Bear book 30+ years ago.

  5. 10:49 with no lookups, errors, or revisions. Had to ponder the intersection of 60D and 69A – two names I did not know. Finally settled on the Y, as I had a vague recollection of Roy Rogers’ birth name from having previously read about him.

  6. 10:52 and no errors, but only because of a complete guess on 60D/69A.

    HORRIBLE, INEXCUSABLE construction error to cross two obscure names.

  7. Slightly tricky Wednesday for me; took 15:55 with no peeks or errors. Had a bit of an issue with DIFFRENT… and had BUTTERFat… for a while, but managed to straighten them out with crosses, and FLY with finally remembering. Didn’t know SLYE. Also had D U/E NE before BERM.

  8. Bill… You say you’re interested in reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series. I can recommend it highly. It’s very interesting but naturally there was a lot of liberty taken with events and human achievements during that period of our existence.

  9. For once the theme helped me! I remembered the strange spelling of the TV show. Then just had to think of the different types of swimming strokes from watching the Olympics. 69 across and 60 down stumped me.

  10. First of all, I finished the puzzle with no errors and no lookups. Which basically redundant–if you have errors or lookups you didn’t really finish the puzzle.

    That was just to forestall those who think that all negative comments must come from people who were stymied by the puzzle.

    Crossing a rather obscure proper name with a made up name is underhanded, especially when the cross is placed in a puzzle section where ‘teem’ is clued with ‘pour’. The relationship between ‘teem’ and ‘pour’ is nebulous at best. Someone’s over-using their thesaurus…

    An “arbor” isn’t really a “recess”, it’s just a shelter covered with vines/greenery.

    There’s nothing about being “in it” that has anything to do with being “Down”, so “Down but not out” isn’t really a proper clue for “in it”.

    “Small deer” for “roes” is obviously intentionally misleading. With four letters, the answer should be ‘fawn’, but intentionally misleading isn’t a problem. Unless it’s done in a section of the puzzle with an incorrect clue for “arbor”, a proper name, a TV show name, and the impressively vague clue for 71 across.

    This is a classic case of a puzzlemaker trying too hard to be really clever instead of trying to make a really good puzzle. When that happens, neither goal is attained.

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