LA Times Crossword 31 Jan 22, Monday

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Constructed by: Will Tobias
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: GIs

Themed answer each comprise two words beginning with “GI”:

  • 70A USO show audience … and a hint to the answers to starred clues : GIS
  • 20A *The Bible’s golden calf, e.g. : GRAVEN IMAGE
  • 26A *Giving a higher mark than students deserve : GRADE INFLATION
  • 48A *It’s not always the same as one’s assigned sex at birth : GENDER IDENTITY
  • 56A *Intuition, often : GUT INSTINCT

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

Bill’s time: 5m 14s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Relaxing retreat : SPA

The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as “Spa” is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.

4 Picket line crosser : SCAB

We first started calling strikebreakers scabs in the early 1800s, and before that a scab was a person who refused to join a trade union (back as early 1777). The word “scab” probably comes from the use of “scab” as a symptom of a skin disease, and so is a term that is meant to insult.

16 Old piano key material : IVORY

The traditional materials used for the manufacture of piano keys were ebony (black) and ivory (white). Ebony is still used, but now for both white and black keys. The white keys are made by covering ebony with white plastic.

17 European car brand that sounds sort of like a Western greeting : AUDI

“Audi” sounds like “Howdy”.

In most countries around the world, Audi uses its corporate tagline in advertising, namely “Vorsprung durch Technik” (which translates as “Advancement through Technology”). However, the literal translation from the German was dropped for the US market, in favor of “Truth in Engineering”.

20 *The Bible’s golden calf, e.g. : GRAVEN IMAGE

According to the Book of Exodus in the Bible, Moses’ brother Aaron made a golden calf as an idol for the Israelites to worship while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. When Moses returned, he became angry on seeing the calf and destroyed it.

24 About 1/2000th of a euro, in 2002 : LIRA

The word “lira” is used in a number of countries for currency. “Lira” comes from the Latin for “pound” and is derived from the British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. For example, the lira (plural “lire”) was the official currency of Italy before the country changed over to the euro in 2002.

34 Dolphin family “killer” : ORCA

The taxonomic name for the killer whale is “Orcinus orca”. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.

Cetaceans (aka “the dolphin family”) are mammals that have adapted to life in water. Examples of cetaceans are whales, dolphins and porpoises. The cetaceans’ nearest relative still living on land is the hippopotamus, with divergence having taken place about sixty million years ago.

35 Inventor Otis : ELISHA

Elevators (simple hoists) have been around for a long time. What Elisha Otis did was come up with the “safety elevator”, a design that he showcased at the 1853 World’s Fair in New York. At the Fair, Otis would stand on an elevated platform in front of onlookers and order his assistant to cut the single rope holding up the platform. His safety system kicked in when the platform had only fallen a few inches, amazing the crowd. After this demonstration, the orders came rolling in.

36 Roman moon goddess : LUNA

“Luna” is the Latin word for “moon”, and is the name given to the Roman moon goddess. The Greek equivalent of Luna was Selene. Luna had a temple on the Aventine Hill in Rome but it was destroyed during the Great Fire that raged during the reign of Nero.

40 Site of Napoleon’s exile : ELBA

Napoleon was sent into exile twice. A coalition of European powers sent him to the island of Elba in Tuscany in 1814, only for him to escape after a year and return to power. After Wellington defeated him at Waterloo, Napoleon was dispatched to the British-owned island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he spent the last six years of his life.

41 Where Amin ruled : UGANDA

Uganda is a landlocked county in East Africa lying just to the west of Kenya. Uganda was ruled by the British as a protectorate from 1894 and gained independence in 1962. Uganda is very much associated with the tyrannical rule of Idi Amin in the 1970s.

Idi Amin ruled Uganda as a dictator from 1971 until 1979. Amin started his professional career as a cook in the Colonial British Army. Amin seized power from President Milton Obote in a 1971 coup d’état. The former cook eventually gave himself the title “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”.

44 Puffin relatives : AUKS

Auks are penguin-like sea birds that live in colder northern waters including the Arctic. Like penguins, auks are great swimmers, but unlike penguins, auks can fly.

Puffins are seabirds found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. They feed primarily by diving into the water to catch fish, and are known for their ability to swim underwater using a “flying” technique.

47 Geological time span : EON

Geological time is divided into a number of units of varying lengths. These are, starting from the largest:

  • supereon
  • eon (also “aeon”)
  • era
  • period
  • epoch
  • age

62 Cape Cod and Baja : PENINSULAS

A peninsula is a landform that is almost completely surrounded by water. The connection to the mainland is referred to as an isthmus. The term “peninsula” comes from the Latin words “paene” (almost) and “insula” (island).

Cape Cod is indeed named after the fish. It was first referred to as “Cape Cod” by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, as his men caught so many fish there.

The Baja California Peninsula lies in the northwest of Mexico. It is bounded on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, and on the northeast by the Gulf of California. The border city of Mexicali sits at the north of the peninsula, and the resort city of Cabo San Lucas sits at the southern tip.

64 Former Neet rival : NAIR

Nair is a hair-removal product that has some pretty harsh ingredients. The most important active constituents are calcium hydroxide (“slaked lime”) and sodium hydroxide (“caustic soda”). Other Nair components seem to be there to soothe the skin after the harsher chemicals have done their job. The name “Nair” probably comes from combining “no” and “hair”.

The hair removal product “Neet” was launched in Canada in 1901, and was also sold as “Immac”. Today, it is sold under the name “Veet”.

65 Two in a deck : DEUCE

A two in a deck of playing cards might be called a “deuce”, from the Middle French “deus” (or Modern French “deux”) meaning “two”.

70 USO show audience … and a hint to the answers to starred clues : GIS

The initialism “GI” stands for “Government Issue”, and not “General Infantry” as is widely believed. “GI” was first used in the military to denote equipment made from Galvanized Iron and during WWI, incoming German shells were nicknamed “GI cans”. Soon after, the term GI came to be associated with “Government Issue” and eventually became an adjective to describe anything associated with the Army.

The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.

Down

1 Male deer : STAG

A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and the females called cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …

3 Verdi classic : AIDA

“Aida” is a celebrated opera by Giuseppe Verdi that is based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radames is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then complications arise!

5 Colombian metropolis : CALI

In terms of population, Cali is the third-largest city in Colombia (after Bogotá and Medellin). Santiago de Cali (the full name for the city) lies in western Colombia. Apparently, Cali is a destination for “medical tourists”. The city’s surgeons have a reputation for being experts in cosmetic surgery and so folks head there looking for a “cheap” nose job. Cali has also been historically associated with the illegal drug trade and money laundering.

6 Alarm clock toggle : AM/PM

The 12-hour clock has been around a long time, and was even used in sundial format in ancient Egypt. Our use of AM and PM dates back to Roman times, with AM standing for Ante Meridiem (before noon) and PM standing for Post Meridiem (after noon). However, the Romans originally used the AM concept a little differently, by counting backwards from noon. So, 2AM to the Romans would be two hours before noon, or 10AM as we would call it today.

9 D.C.’s Pennsylvania, e.g. : AVE

Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. is sometimes called “America’s Main Street”, as it runs between the White House and the US Capitol. The exact reason why this important thoroughfare was given the name “Pennsylvania” seems to be unclear. One favored theory is that it was a gesture to the state of Pennsylvania after moving the country’s capital from Philadelphia.

10 Pigeon shelter : COTE

The Old English word “cote” was used for a small house. Our modern word “cottage” comes from “cote”. We now use “cote” to describe a small shelter on a farm for sheep or birds.

11 Shallowest Great Lake : ERIE

Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the five Great Lakes by area (Lake Ontario is the smallest). The lake takes its name from the Erie tribe of Native Americans that used to live along its southern shore. Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume and the shallowest, something for which nearby residents must be quite grateful. Being relatively shallow, much of Erie freezes over part way through most winters putting an end to most of the lake-effect snow that falls in the snow belt extending from the lake’s edge.

12 Flemish painter Sir Anthony van __ : DYCK

Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish artist, although he was noted as a painter in the British royal court. His most famous portraits are of King Charles I of England and members of his family. The men in his paintings often sported a short, pointed beard that was in fashion at the time. When that style of beard became fashionable again centuries later, it was termed a “Van Dyke” in honor of the artist.

14 Wife of Augustus : LIVIA

Livia Drusilla (aka “Julia Augusta”) was the third wife of the Emperor Augustus, and a powerful woman in the Roman Empire. In the exceptional fictional work “I, Claudius” by Robert Graves, Livia doesn’t come across at all well. She is portrayed as quite the schemer, and very much the key individual who led to her grandson Claudius winning the imperial throne.

21 Prefix with scope : ENDO-

An endoscope is an instrument used to make a visual examination of the inside of an organ or cavity of the body.

27 Journalist Farrow : RONAN

Ronan Farrow is a former US government advisor in the Obama administration who hosted “Ronan Farrow Daily” on MSNBC from 2014 to 1025. Farrow is the son of actress Mia Farrow and filmmaker Woody Allen. Ronan is estranged from his father, ever since Allen started a relationship with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, who is now Allen’s wife.

29 Water nymph : NAIAD

The Naiads of Greek mythology were water nymphs associated with fountains, wells, springs and streams. The saltwater equivalents of the freshwater Naiads were the Oceanids.

32 Indian bread : NAAN

Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.

43 Jason’s shipbuilder : ARGUS

In Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts set sail on the Argo from the city of Iolcos in search of the Golden Fleece. Jason’s vessel was called the “Argo” in honor of the ship’s builder, a man named Argus.

45 Israeli parliament : KNESSET

The Knesset is the legislative branch of the Israeli government, and does its business in the Givat Ram neighborhood of central Jerusalem.

46 RBI or ERA : STAT

Those would be baseball statistics.

50 Russian supermodel Shayk : IRINA

Irina Shayk is an actress and supermodel from Russia. She was the first Russian model to appear on the cover of the swimsuit issue of “Sports Illustrated”. Shayk was in a relationship with Portuguese soccer professional Christiano Reynaldo until they split up in 2015. She then partnered with actor Bradley Cooper until 2019, and had a daughter with him.

54 Great Barrier __ : REEF

The Great Barrier Reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It is a system of almost three thousand individual reefs, and is the largest such system on the planet. The Great Barrier Reef is also the only living thing on Earth that can be seen from outer space.

57 Pelvic bones : ILIA

The sacrum and the two ilia are three bones in the human pelvis.

58 D.C. baseball team : NATS

The Washington Nationals (“Nats”) started out life as the Montreal Expos in 1969, and were the first Major League Baseball team in Canada. The Expos moved to Washington in 2005 becoming the Nats.

59 Vietnam’s Da __ : NANG

Da Nang is a major Vietnamese port city on the South China Sea. During the Vietnam War, it was the site of a major air base used by the South Vietnamese and US air forces. At the height of the war, Da Nang was the biggest airport in the whole world.

60 Banking giant : CITI

During the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, the US government rescued Citibank by providing loan guarantees and two payments of $25 billion each. It turns out that the government made a tidy profit on that deal, as Citibank has since repaid the loans in full, along with interest.

61 Uno y dos : TRES

In Spanish, “uno y dos” (one plus two) makes “tres” (three).

63 Rapper __ Cube : ICE

Rapper Ice Cube’s real name is O’Shea Jackson. Since the year 2000, Ice Cube has gradually moved away from rap music and focuses more on acting. The 2015 movie “Straight Outta Compton” tells the story of the gangsta rap group N.W.A., of which Ice Cube was a member. Ice Cube co-produced the film, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. played his real-life Dad on screen.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Relaxing retreat : SPA
4 Picket line crosser : SCAB
8 Tied, as sneakers : LACED
13 Work like heck : TOIL
15 Arrived : CAME
16 Old piano key material : IVORY
17 European car brand that sounds sort of like a Western greeting : AUDI
18 Ordered like dictionary words : ALPHABETIC
20 *The Bible’s golden calf, e.g. : GRAVEN IMAGE
22 Sound of fear : EEK!
23 Roadside haven : INN
24 About 1/2000th of a euro, in 2002 : LIRA
26 *Giving a higher mark than students deserve : GRADE INFLATION
33 Slimy substance : GOO
34 Dolphin family “killer” : ORCA
35 Inventor Otis : ELISHA
36 Roman moon goddess : LUNA
38 Tease : KID
40 Site of Napoleon’s exile : ELBA
41 Where Amin ruled : UGANDA
44 Puffin relatives : AUKS
47 Geological time span : EON
48 *It’s not always the same as one’s assigned sex at birth : GENDER IDENTITY
51 What a coach gives a base runner : SIGN
52 Corn unit : EAR
53 Suffix with script : -URE
56 *Intuition, often : GUT INSTINCT
62 Cape Cod and Baja : PENINSULAS
64 Former Neet rival : NAIR
65 Two in a deck : DEUCE
66 Evening, in ads : NITE
67 Required bet : ANTE
68 Rubbed out, gang-style : OFFED
69 NBA conference : EAST
70 USO show audience … and a hint to the answers to starred clues : GIS

Down

1 Male deer : STAG
2 Serve the wine, say : POUR
3 Verdi classic : AIDA
4 Medical diagnostic device : SCANNER
5 Colombian metropolis : CALI
6 Alarm clock toggle : AM/PM
7 On __ of: representing : BEHALF
8 Loose, like a translation : LIBERAL
9 D.C.’s Pennsylvania, e.g. : AVE
10 Pigeon shelter : COTE
11 Shallowest Great Lake : ERIE
12 Flemish painter Sir Anthony van __ : DYCK
14 Wife of Augustus : LIVIA
19 Light-footed : AGILE
21 Prefix with scope : ENDO-
25 “It’s __” : “Nobody wins” : A TIE
26 Charge triple, say : GOUGE
27 Journalist Farrow : RONAN
28 “Disgusting!” : ICK!
29 Water nymph : NAIAD
30 Speck in the ocean : ISLET
31 “That’s exciting!” : OH BOY!
32 Indian bread : NAAN
33 Water cooler sound : GLUG
37 “No ifs, __ or buts” : ANDS
39 Payable now : DUE
42 Condescended : DEIGNED
43 Jason’s shipbuilder : ARGUS
45 Israeli parliament : KNESSET
46 RBI or ERA : STAT
49 On key : IN TUNE
50 Russian supermodel Shayk : IRINA
53 High hairstyle : UPDO
54 Great Barrier __ : REEF
55 Plenty, phonetically : ENUF
57 Pelvic bones : ILIA
58 D.C. baseball team : NATS
59 Vietnam’s Da __ : NANG
60 Banking giant : CITI
61 Uno y dos : TRES
63 Rapper __ Cube : ICE

24 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 31 Jan 22, Monday”

  1. Well that took longer than I expected. Got all turned around with GRAVEN LIVIA and CALI. it started with CABO and AMFM (I don’t know how many times I mess up AMPM and AMFM). I was not expecting a GRAVEN IMAGE on a monday.
    Let the games begin!

  2. Spa is also the home of an amazing F1 race track. Originally the cars raced on public roads, but over the years it become too dangerous so a permanent track was built. Still very dangerous and extremely fast as it winds through the forested area.

    1. Its bad enough to have gender identity pushed in our face on the news as “normal”, now you have to put it in your puzzle? Do NOT appreciate it. You are what you are AT birth–period.

  3. 5:29

    Along the way, EBONY->IVORY, ARIA->AIDA, and TELE->ENDO.
    NAAN could have turned into ROTI but flat out wouldn’t change.

    Today I learned that SPA is the name of a town.

  4. 8:25 with no errors or lookups. Two revisions of AMFM>AMPM & DYKE>DYCK. It was a simple theme.

    It was interesting to get the insights from Brian Paquin on Saturday. It seems that most cluing “concerns” may fall on the editors and not on the constructors!

    It is my impression, then, that whether a puzzle is easy or hard, not only depends on one’s knowledge base, but also the “clarity” of the clues. In other words, the same grid could have a different level of difficulty for the same solver, depending on the set of clues that’s used.

    1. I think it’s appropriate to point out that, on Saturday, we did not see Brian Paquin’s puzzle in its original form. Failing that, I would hesitate to draw any conclusions about the relative “quality” of his clues and the ones that we saw.

      And yes, it’s true that the difficulty of a puzzle is very dependent on the nature of the cluing. A given entry can be intrinsically difficult, of course (if it’s obscure/obsolete/archaic or if it’s drawn from one of your particular weak areas), but, if it’s something you know, the clue is what determines how easily you can bring it to mind. Editors use this, to some extent, to adjust the difficulty level of a puzzle to an appropriate level for the day on which it will appear.

      1. @Nonny Muss, I agree that there is no conclusion to be drawn regarding whose clues are better or worse; only where the final responsibility most likely lies if the constructors’ clues are significantly
        changed on a regular basis.

    2. @RayC
      “depends on one’s knowledge base, but also the “clarity” of the clues.”

      Indeed this is very true as I’ve pointed out many times in many different ways. In fact, this is what is primarily depended upon to vary the difficulty level in most of the puzzles turned out today. The only real difference between a Monday and later week puzzles are how vague, specific, or even accurate the clues are.

      ” cluing “concerns” may fall on the editors”

      I’ve mentioned before seeing differences between puzzles with the same constructor posted in “indie” places, versus places like the LAT or NYT.

      1. I’ve read your prior posts, @Glenn, and I have no disagreement with them. Thanks for sharing your insights. Currently, I work only the LAT puzzle in my local paper, those that are in my Android phone app by Redstone Games, and some easy ones in a book my daughter gave me. In the app, I’ve occasionally seen puzzles by constructors that also appear in the LAT, but very few, such as Brendan Emmett Quigley and, I think, David A. Bywaters. However, I haven’t yet tried to analyze differences.

    3. Another factor in degree of difficulty is whether there’s a theme or not. Also the
      nature of the theme….
      And….grid construct. For instance Friday’s
      tend to have lots of short answers. Saturdays have lots of long answers.

  5. Took longer than expected and . One error, 22 I put EEE instead of EEK. Should have caught it with 12 down spelling, but unexpected spell for that threw me off. Oh well. I guess when scared I need to remember to yell EEK instead of EEE and I won’t get anymore ERR s.

  6. I don’t remember having a clock that had an AM/PM toggle, but I
    suppose there is such a thing. No errors, because I changed from AM/FM
    before I finished.

  7. This one was right up my alley, and I really enjoyed it.
    Ronan’s differences with Woody are beyond the Soon-Yi relationship, and further, it has been suggested that Frank Sinatra is actually his father.

  8. Almost beat Bill today oh boy was it close…more difficult for a Monday…but fun no real”stretches” keep up the great work

  9. 7:51 – no cheats/errors.

    Must have had a good “knowledge base”, as it came quite easily, even for a Monday. Should’ve/could’ve been a better time.

    Or (as I posted on NYT Jan31, which I also found easy) I took my smart pills today …

    Be Well.

  10. Mostly easy Monday for me; took 9:26 with no peeks or errors. Just a little dancing around to get ELISHA/OHBOY, GLUG and ENUF. I waited on the crosses for AM/PM, so I didn’t have problems there.

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