LA Times Crossword 6 Jan 22, Thursday

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Constructed by: Jeffrey Wechsler
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Buzzes

Themed clues are all the same, namely “Buzz”:

  • 17A Buzz : NOISE MADE BY BEES
  • 25A Buzz : WORD ON THE STREET
  • 44A Buzz : ASTRONAUT ALDRIN
  • 57A Buzz : MILITARY HAIRCUT

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

Bill’s time: 8m 32s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Star-crossed : HAPLESS

One’s “hap” is one’s luck. So, to be “hapless” is to be out of luck, unfortunate.

Two lovers who are “star-crossed” are ill-fated, thwarted by the stars. The term was coined by William Shakespeare in the prologue to his play “Romeo and Juliet”

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life

8 Enhanced the recipe with : ADDED IN

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.

15 “Invisible Man” author : ELLISON

Author Ralph Ellison’s most famous book is “Invisible Man”, which won the National Book Award in 1953. Ellison’s full name is Ralph Waldo Ellison, as he was named for Ralph Waldo Emerson.

20 Org. monitoring insecticides : EPA

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

34 Rock box : AMP

An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier (amp) to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.

35 Marathon Petroleum brand : ARCO

The company name “ARCO” is an acronym standing for “Atlantic Richfield Company”. One of ARCO’s claims to fame is that it is responsible for the nation’s largest Superfund site. Mining and smelting in the area around Butte, Montana polluted the region’s water and soil, and ARCO has agreed to pay $187 million to help clean up the area.

Marathon Oil is an American oil and gas company headquartered in Houston, Texas. Marathon was founded in 1887 as the Ohio Oil Company.

36 “The spring is __ when green geese are a-breeding”: Shak. : NEAR

Here is a set of four rhyming lines, each spoken by different characters, from William Shakespeare’s play “Love’s Labour’s Lost”:

KING
How well he’s read, to reason against reading!

DUMAINE
Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!

LONGAVILLE
He weeds the corn and still lets grow the weeding.

BEROWNE
The spring is near when green geese are a-breeding.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” is a comedy by William Shakespeare that was first performed in 1597, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I.

37 Intuitively grasp, in slang : GROK

To grok is to understand. “To grok” is a slang term that’s really only used in “techie” circles. “Grok” is the creation of science fiction author Robert Heinlein, who coined it in his 1961 novel “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

39 “Medical” sports nickname : DR J

Julius Erving is a retired professional basketball player who is known as “Dr. J”, a nickname he picked up in high school. Dr. J was a trailblazer in many ways, being the first player associated with slam dunking and other moves above the rim.

42 Cuisine including jambalaya : CREOLE

“Creole” is the term used in Haiti to describe all of the native people, as well as the music, food and culture of the country. 80% of the Haitian Creole people are so-called black creoles, descendants of the original Africans brought to the island as slaves during the French colonial days.

Jambalaya is a Creole dish from Louisiana. The recipe has its origins in the Caribbean, and the recipe we know today also has Spanish and French influences.

44 Buzz : ASTRONAUT ALDRIN

Buzz Aldrin was a true American hero, I’d say. He flew 66 combat missions in Korea, shot down two MiGs, earned his Sc. D. degree from MIT, and was one of the two men who landed on the moon for the first time. Now that man, he lived a life worth living.

48 West African capital : ACCRA

Accra sits on Ghana’s coast and is a major seaport as well as the country’s capital city. The name “Accra” comes from a local word “Nkran” meaning “ants”, a name chosen because of the large number of anthills found in the area when the city was founded.

The country name “Ghana” translates as “warrior king” in the local language. The British established a colony they named the Gold Coast in 1874, later to become Ghana, as part of the scramble by Europeans to settle as much of Africa as they could. One of Ghana’s most famous sons was Kofi Annan, the diplomat who served as General Secretary of the UN for ten years until the beginning of 2007.

53 Puts out, in a way : TAGS

That might be baseball.

61 Developing : IN UTERO

“In utero” is a Latin term meaning “in the uterus”. The Latin “uterus” (plural “uteri”) translates as both “womb” and “belly”. “Uterys” comes from the Greek “hystera” that also means “womb”, which gives us the words “hysterectomy”, and “hysterical”.

62 Place to put your feet up : OTTOMAN

The piece of furniture known as an ottoman can be a couch, usually one with a head but no back or sides. Here in the US, the term more commonly applies to a padded and upholstered seat or bench that can also be used as a footrest. The original ottoman couch came from the Ottoman Empire, hence the name.

Down

1 Toothless farm denizens : HENS

Something might be described as scarcer than hen’s teeth, as hens don’t have teeth at all!

Nowadays we use “denizen” to mean simply “resident”, but historically a denizen was an immigrant to whom certain rights had been granted, somewhat like today’s resident alien.

3 Ballet motion : PLIE

The French word for “bent” is “plié”. In the ballet move known as a plié, the knees are bent. A “demi-plié” is a similar move, but with less bending of the knees. A fondu is similar to a plié, except that only one leg remains on the ground.

5 Santa Fe-to-Dallas dir. : ESE

Santa Fe is New Mexico’s capital, and the fourth most-populous city in the state (after Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Rio Rancho). Sitting at 7,199 feet above sea level, Santa Fe is the highest state capital in the US. The city’s name translates from Spanish as “Holy Faith”. The full name of the city when it was founded in 1607 was “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís”, meaning “the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”. It became the capital of the province Santa Fe de Nuevo México in 1610, making Santa Fe the oldest state capital in the US.

The settlement that was to become the Texas city of Dallas was established in 1841. The settlement became a city in 1856, and owed its early growth to the construction of railroads starting in 1873.

6 2013 Alice McDermott novel that was a National Book Award finalist : SOMEONE

Alice McDermott is an author who is perhaps best known for her 1998 novel “Charming Billy”, which won that year’s National Book Award for Fiction.

7 Get testy with : SNAP AT

Somebody described as testy is touchy, irritably impatient. The term “testy” comes into English from Old French, ultimately deriving from “testu” meaning “stubborn, headstrong”, literally “heady”. So, our word “testy” comes from the same root as the French word “tête” meaning “head”.

11 2013 Mandela portrayer : ELBA

English actor Idris Elba plays the drug lord Stringer Bell in the marvelous HBO drama series “The Wire”, and played the title character in the 2013 film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. Off the screen, Elba occasionally appears as a disk jockey using the name “DJ Big Driis”.

“Long Walk to Freedom” is a 1994 autobiography by the revolutionary and eventual statesman Nelson Mandela. The book was adapted into a very successful film entitled “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”, with English actor Idris Elba in the title role. The movie was released in South Africa at the end of November 2013, and Nelson Mandela passed away just a few days later.

13 Swedish superstore : IKEA

The IKEA furniture stores use the colors blue and yellow for brand recognition. Blue and yellow are the national colors of Sweden, where IKEA was founded and is headquartered.

14 Hornet home : NEST

A hornet is a large type of wasp, with some species reaching over two inches in length.

18 Russian retreat : DACHA

Dachas are usually second homes in Russia and the former Soviet Union that are located outside the city limits in rural areas. Residents/tenants of dachas are often called “dachniks”.

22 Trig. function : COS

The most familiar trigonometric functions are sine, cosine and tangent (abbreviated to “sin, cos and tan”). Each of these is a ratio: a ratio of two sides of a right-angled triangle. The “reciprocal” of these three functions are cosecant, secant and cotangent. The reciprocal functions are simply the inverted ratios, the inverted sine, cosine and tangent. These inverted ratios should not be confused with the “inverse” trigonometric functions e.g. arcsine, arccosine and arctangent. These inverse functions are the reverse of the sine, cosine and tangent.

24 Dubious ability : ESP

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

25 Sykes of “black-ish” : WANDA

Wanda Sykes is a very successful American comedian and comic actress. Interestingly, Sykes spent her first five years out of school working for the NSA. I saw her perform in Reno some years ago, and she is very, very funny.

“black-ish” is a sitcom starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross that premiered in 2014. The show is noted for tackling tough issues such as racism, police brutality, attitudes toward the LGBT community, and the 2016 US presidential election.

26 Treats with embossed surfaces : OREOS

If you take a close look at the embossed design on the front and back of an Oreo cookie, you’ll spot the main elements of the Nabisco logo. Those elements are an oval with a cross on top, a cross with two bars. Usually the company name “Nabisco” is inside the oval, but for the cookie it’s the brand name “Oreo”. The current embossed design was introduced in 1952.

27 __ beast: holiday dinner in a Seuss classic : ROAST

The Grinch is the title character in Dr. Seuss’s 1957 children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” He is a grouchy creature who lives as a hermit in a cave outside the town of Whoville. The Grinch’s only companion is his dog Max. Based on Seuss’s hero, we now use the term “grinch” for someone who is opposed to Christmas festivities or who is coarse and greedy in general.

28 Engraver Albrecht : DURER

Albrecht (also “Albert”) Dürer was a German artist who was noted for his etchings and engravings as well as for his paintings.

30 Diamond flaw? : ERROR

That would be a baseball diamond.

31 USDA concern : E COLI

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dates back to 1862, when it was established by then-president Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln referred to the USDA as the “people’s department” as our economy had such a vast agrarian base back then.

39 CSI stuff : DNA

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the DNA of living things is so very similar across different species. Human DNA is almost exactly the same for every individual (to the degree of 99.9%). However, those small differences are sufficient to distinguish one individual from another, and to determine whether or not individuals are close family relatives.

Crime scene investigation (CSI)

41 Like gossip worth spreading : JUICY

Our word “gossip” comes from the Old English “godsibb” meaning “godparent”. Back then, the term was used for female friends who attended a birth, and later for anyone engaging in idle talk.

42 Bach wrote one about coffee : CANTATA

“Coffee Cantata” is a more familiar name for Johann Sebastian Bach’s secular cantata “Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht” (“Be Still, Stop Chattering”). The Coffee Cantata isn’t really a cantata at all, and is better described as a mini-comic opera. It explores addiction to coffee.

43 “Kidnapped” monogram : RLS

“Kidnapped” is a novel written by Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) that he targeted at a young male audience. The book’s full name is the most descriptive title I’ve ever seen:

Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson.

51 Comic Rudner : RITA

Rita Rudner is a very funny comedian from Miami, Florida. Since 2001, Rudner has been performing almost exclusively in Las Vegas, and earned the title of longest-running solo comedy show in town.

55 __ gum: common thickening agent : GUAR

Guar gum is a powder that is extracted from guar beans. About 80% of the world’s supply of guar gum comes from India. It is used mainly in the food industry, often as a substitute for gluten in gluten-free recipes and products.

56 RR sched. components : STNS

A station (“stn.” or “sta.”) is a railroad (RR) or bus stop.

59 Dowel : ROD

A dowel is a rod made from plastic, wood or metal. In its complete form, it is referred to as a “dowel rod”. We are perhaps more used to the rod cut into short lengths known as “dowel pins”.

60 Repeated contraction in the ’50s TV “Superman” intro : IT’S

Here’s a famous line from the “Superman” television show from the fifties:

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. it’s Superman!

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Star-crossed : HAPLESS
8 Enhanced the recipe with : ADDED IN
15 “Invisible Man” author : ELLISON
16 Always raring to fight : WARLIKE
17 Buzz : NOISE MADE BY BEES
19 Increase, with “up” : STEP …
20 Org. monitoring insecticides : EPA
21 Vex : EAT AT
22 Sideline advisers : COACHES
25 Buzz : WORD ON THE STREET
33 Tickle : AROUSE
34 Rock box : AMP
35 Marathon Petroleum brand : ARCO
36 “The spring is __ when green geese are a-breeding”: Shak. : NEAR
37 Intuitively grasp, in slang : GROK
38 Calculated intake : DOSE
39 “Medical” sports nickname : DR J
42 Cuisine including jambalaya : CREOLE
44 Buzz : ASTRONAUT ALDRIN
47 Calculated intake : RATIONS
48 West African capital : ACCRA
52 Bed for an unexpected guest, maybe : COT
53 Puts out, in a way : TAGS
57 Buzz : MILITARY HAIRCUT
61 Developing : IN UTERO
62 Place to put your feet up : OTTOMAN
63 Lowered : DEBASED
64 Bygone employees of cautious royalty : TASTERS

Down

1 Toothless farm denizens : HENS
2 Plenty : A LOT
3 Ballet motion : PLIE
4 Struggle with scissors? : LISP
5 Santa Fe-to-Dallas dir. : ESE
6 2013 Alice McDermott novel that was a National Book Award finalist : SOMEONE
7 Get testy with : SNAP AT
8 Evoke an “ooh” from, maybe : AWE
9 Small application : DAB
10 Like a country at the bottom of a rainfall chart : DRYEST
11 2013 Mandela portrayer : ELBA
12 Food regimen : DIET
13 Swedish superstore : IKEA
14 Hornet home : NEST
18 Russian retreat : DACHA
22 Trig. function : COS
23 Verbal pause : HEM
24 Dubious ability : ESP
25 Sykes of “black-ish” : WANDA
26 Treats with embossed surfaces : OREOS
27 __ beast: holiday dinner in a Seuss classic : ROAST
28 Engraver Albrecht : DURER
29 Persisted noisily, as a storm : RAGED
30 Diamond flaw? : ERROR
31 USDA concern : E COLI
32 Memento : TOKEN
39 CSI stuff : DNA
40 Snitch : RAT
41 Like gossip worth spreading : JUICY
42 Bach wrote one about coffee : CANTATA
43 “Kidnapped” monogram : RLS
45 Speaks formally : ORATES
46 Likely to scald : TOO HOT
48 Within : AMID
49 With 50-Down, group for movie enthusiasts : CINE …
50 See 49-Down : … CLUB
51 Comic Rudner : RITA
53 Bring (out) : TROT
54 Top : ACME
55 __ gum: common thickening agent : GUAR
56 RR sched. components : STNS
58 “__ we on for tonight?” : ARE
59 Dowel : ROD
60 Repeated contraction in the ’50s TV “Superman” intro : IT’S

20 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 6 Jan 22, Thursday”

    1. This is one of the stupidist puzzles I have ever seen and I am going to complain to the newspaper. DID NOT ENJOY IT!!!

  1. No errors. Went round and round with 53A… TAP? hmmm. Then GUAR.

    Didn’t realize it was a Wechsler work until I got done.. he’s good!

    1. @Pam …

      I hadn’t heard of the Aldrin punching incident until now. I just watched the video of it and I wanted to stand up and cheer! Good for him! … 😜.

  2. No errors; one look-up: Wanda. For awhile I was stopped because I
    had “sound made by bees” instead of “noise made by bees”. 53A was
    iffy, but went with it. Good puzzle; it was fun.

  3. For me, another enjoyable Wechsler puzzle that shows that an interesting one can be constructed without a plethora of PPP.

  4. 20:20 with no errors or lookups. Had to revise DRIEST>DRYEST, HUM>HEM, ETAS>STNS.

    This one took a lot of cogitating and a little guesswork in order to get some answers filled in and then confirmed with their intersections. Still, I’ll take 20 min. on a Thursday puzzle, esp. one by Wechsler!

    Didn’t know the authors and their works (ELLISON, SOMEONE), Albrecht DURER, that ARCO was owned by Marathon Oil, and that HAPLESS could mean “Star-crossed” (that NW section was last to fill in for me).

    I worked in computer “tech” for 42 years, but never used, and don’t recall ever hearing, the word GROK. Reading the Wikipedia entry for “Stranger in a Strange Land” does not encourage me to want to read it.

  5. Saw this was a Wechsler from the off, and nearly decided to take a pass.

    15 minutes, 7 seconds later, I was relieved to finish. Top left was the last quadrant I finished, and I struggled mightily throughout.

    A sense of accomplishment with this one.

  6. Interesting. I would have said that I learned the word “grok” long ago, from reading science fiction, but, by 1991, when “Stranger in a Strange Land” came out, I was mostly reading other things. The title is very familiar, but I just read a description of the novel on Wikipedia and it didn’t ring any bells at all. Perhaps my age is showing again … 😳.

      1. Aha! Thank you, Jon! I misread the date: it was 1961. I’m still more or less convinced that I have never actually read the novel, but this explains how I could have picked up the word “grok” so long ago.

        (Aside: I have a weird kind of dyslexia that causes me to see 6’s as 9’s and vice-versa. Drives me nuts on occasion … 😳.)

  7. Just love Wechsler’s puzzles — this one was fun and challenging. Took a while, but no errors or look-ups!

    Jeri T.

  8. Tough but enjoyable Thursday Wechsler puzzle; took me 21:38 with no peeks or errors. Finished in the SE corner with TROT and GUAR as the last fill. Loved the NOISEMADEBYABEE, which I got fairly quickly.

    Great video of Buzz Aldrin punching that conspiracy theorist!

    @Dottie – Thanks for the note, and I’ll be sure to try an Apple Pandowdy in the near future, which look fairly easy to make.

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