LA Times Crossword 21 May 22, Saturday


Constructed by: Jeff Chen & Christina Iverson
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme: None

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

Bill’s time: 9m 40s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies


5 Role, metaphorically : HAT

To wear more than one hat is to have more than one role.

8 Pair sharing a <3 necklace, probably : BFFS

Best friend forever (BFF)

The emoticon “<3” represents a heart.

12 Instruments in some Gershwin works : ALTO SAXES

The saxophone was invented by Belgian musician Adolphe Sax, hence the name. Sax developed lip cancer at one point in his life, and one has to wonder if his affliction was related to his saxophone playing (I am sure not!). I had the privilege of visiting Sax’s grave in the Cemetery of Montmartre in Paris a few years ago.

George Gershwin was a remarkable composer in so many ways, not least in that he was respected for both his popular and classical compositions. Gershwin’s best known works for orchestra are the magnificent “Rhapsody in Blue” from 1924 and “An American in Paris” from 1928. Another noted work is the opera “Porgy and Bess” that was first performed in 1935. Surprisingly, Porgy and Bess was a commercial failure, and so Gershwin moved to Hollywood and started composing very successful film scores. He was only 38 years old when he died in 1937 from a brain tumor.

15 “I don’t mind __ / Except as meals. / And the way they feels”: Nash : EELS

Ogden Nash was a poet from Rye, New York who is remembered for his light and quirky verse. Nash had over 500 such works published between 1931 and 1972.

16 Tabula rasa : CLEAN SLATE

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”.

18 Joie de vivre : ELAN

“Joie de vivre” means “joy of living” in French. We use the phrase to mean the happy, carefree enjoyment of life, like when we finish our crossword puzzles …

19 Susan who wrote, “The writer’s first job is not to have opinions but to tell the truth” : SONTAG

Susan Sontag was a writer and political activist from New York City. Sontag wrote extensively on a number of subjects, including photography. She spent the last decade of her life in a relationship with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

According to author and political activist Susan Sontag:

A writer ought not to be an opinion-machine… The writer’s first job is not to have opinions but to tell the truth … and refuse to be an accomplice of lies and misinformation. Literature is the house of nuance and contrariness against the voices of simplification. The job of the writer is to make it harder to believe the mental despoilers. The job of the writer is to make us see the world as it is, full of many different claims and parts and experiences.

27 Postulant : NOVICE

A postulant is a candidate, with “postulant” coming from the Latin verb “postulare” meaning “to ask”. Nowadays, the term is really restricted to candidates “asking” for entry into a Christian religious order.

28 Grace period? : AMEN

A grace is a short prayer recited before or after a meal.

33 Tree on the Lebanese flag : CEDAR

The Lebanese flag has two red stripes, one at the top and one at the bottom, designed to symbolize the blood that was shed in the cause of the country’s liberation. Between each red stripe is a white background that represents peace as well as the snow on the Lebanese mountains. In the center of the flag is a green cedar tree, a reference to the cedars of Lebanon that are mentioned several times in the Bible.

37 Rx writers, often : DRS

There seems to be some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.

38 Device that requires spin control : LATHE

The dead center is the exact middle of something. “Dead center” was coined in the 1830s when it was used in reference to rotating machinery, such as a lathe. The “dead” center was the point in the middle, the point that did not move, the point that was “dead”.

40 Inoculation fluids : SERA

Blood serum (plural “sera”) is the clear, yellowish part of blood i.e. that part which is neither a blood cell nor a clotting factor. Included in blood serum are antibodies, the proteins that are central to our immune system. Blood serum from animals that have immunity to a particular disease can be transferred to another individual, hence providing that second individual with some level of immunity. Blood serum used to pass on immunity can be called “antiserum”.

Immunization is the process used to boost an individual’s immune system making it less likely to succumb to a particular disease. Before we learned to intervene, the immune system was bolstered only by contracting the disease and surviving it. Inoculation was developed specifically for the prevention of smallpox, and involves the introduction of small samples of diseased tissue into the body resulting in a mild case of the disease, and significant boost to the immune system. The related process of vaccination involves the introduction of a benign form of the microorganism or virus into the body so that a boost to the immune system can occur without catching the disease itself.

41 Literary alter ego : HYDE

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was published in 1886. There are many tales surrounding the writing of the story, including that the author wrote the basic tale in just three to six days, and spent a few weeks simply refining it. Allegedly, Stevenson’s use of cocaine stimulated his creative juices during those few days of writing.

44 Animal in Aboriginal cave paintings : DINGO

The dingo is a wild dog of Australia. It is thought to have originated from domesticated dogs that were brought to Australia with humans that settled the land centuries ago.

Even though the term “aborigine” is often associated with the indigenous peoples of Australia, in the widest sense “aboriginal” refers to any indigenous race. The Aborigines were a people in Roman mythology, the oldest inhabitants of central Italy.

50 One of two tarot card groups : ARCANA

In a 78-card tarot deck, the picture cards are referred to as the Major Arcana. The remaining cards are known as the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana included The Fool, the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man, and Death.

53 State whose road signs feature 8-Downs : UTAH
(8 Symbol of 53-Across : BEEHIVE)

When viewed on a map of the US, the state of Utah has six sides. It’s almost shaped like a rectangle, but there is a “bite” out of that rectangle in the northeast corner of the state.

57 Nice parent : MERE

In French, a “mère” (mother) bears an “enfant” (child).

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”.

58 Dessert with a high point : SOFT SERVE

Soft serve ice cream was developed by John McCullough in 1938. McCullough was able to get his new dessert carried by a local ice cream store in Illinois. He and the store owner became so swamped with sales that they opened a store specifically built around the product in Joliet, Illinois, hence creating the first Dairy Queen outlet. There are now over 5,700 Dairy Queen franchises in 19 countries. We’ve even got one in Ireland …

59 Son of Hera : ARES

The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of bloodlust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos (Fear), Deimos (Terror) and Eros (Desire). Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, and the Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars.

60 GRE org. : ETS

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) was founded in 1947, and produces standardized tests for students from kindergarten through college. Perhaps most famously, ETS operates the SAT testing process.

Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is usually a requirement for entry into graduate school here in the US.

61 Like a fly ball to the warning track : DEEP

In a baseball field, there is a dirt track around the outside of the grass field that runs parallel to the ballpark’s wall. This is the warning track, which serves as a warning to a fielder making a deep catch that he is approaching the wall.


1 Safari runners : MACS

Safari is Apple’s flagship Internet browser, one that is used on its Mac line of computers. A mobile version of Safari is included with all iPhones.

2 Heterogenous union : ALLOY

An alloy is a mixture of metals, or a mixture of metal with some other element, that behaves like a metal. Alloys are produced as perhaps cheaper alternatives to pure metals, or as alternatives that have enhanced metallurgical properties. Common examples of alloys are steel, solder, brass, pewter and bronze.

3 One working with a dictator : STENO

Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek “steno” (narrow) and “graphe” (writing).

4 Perfectly : TO A TURN

The term “done to a turn” means nicely cooked. The phrase dates back to 1780 and relates to meat cooked on a spit.

6 Rose up on stage : AXL

Axl Rose is the lead vocalist of the American rock band Guns N’ Roses.

8 Symbol of 53-Across : BEEHIVE

(53A State whose road signs feature 8-Downs : UTAH)
When Mormon pioneers were settling what is today the state of Utah, they referred to the area as Deseret, a word that means “beehive” according to the Book of Mormon. Today Utah is known as the Beehive State and there is a beehive symbol on the Utah state flag. In 1959, “Industry” was even chosen as the state motto, for the term’s association with the beehive.

9 Was awash in euphoria : FELT GIDDY

“Euphoria” is a Greek word meaning “power of enduring easily”. In the 18th century, the term was imported into English medical jargon to describe a sick person’s condition when feeling healthy and comfortable. Today, “euphoria” is used more generally to describe any feeling of well-being or elation.

11 Three-part fig. : SSN

A Social Security number (SSN) is divided into three parts, i.e AAA-GG-SSSS. Originally, the Area Number (AAA) was the code for the office that issued the card. Since 1973, the Area Number reflects the ZIP code from which the application was made. The GG in the SSN is the Group Number, and the SSSS in the number is the Serial Number. However, this is all moot. Since 2011, SSNs have been assigned randomly. However, some random numbers have been excluded from use, i.e. Area Numbers 000, 666 (!) and 900-999.

14 Eyelid issue : STYE

A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.

17 Make dough or bread : EARN

Lettuce, cabbage, kale, dough, bread, scratch, cheddar, simoleons, clams and moola(h) are all slang terms for money.

21 Earthenware vessel : CROCK

In the history of ceramic materials, earthenware (also “terra cotta”) is a relatively old material. It is porous, and needs a ceramic glaze to make it impervious to liquids. Stoneware was developed later, and is impervious to liquids in its own right due to the higher firing temperature. Porcelain came later still, and is fired at even higher temperatures to produce a stronger, harder and finer material.

24 Breeding grounds : HOTBEDS

A hotbed is formed from a pile of organic matter that is allowed to decay. As decomposition takes place due to the action of microorganisms, the pile becomes hotter than its surroundings, hence the name “hotbed”. We’ve been using “hotbed” figuratively since the mid-18th century to describe a place that fosters rapid growth.

32 Derived from gold : AURIC

The prefix “auri-” is used to mean “gold”. “Aurum” is Latin for “gold”.

35 Brandon __: Hilary Swank’s “Boys Don’t Cry” role : TEENA

“Boys Don’t Cry” is a 1999 biographical film about a real-life trans man who is the victim of gang rape and then murder in what was classified as a hate crime. The victim was Brandon Teena, who is portrayed in the movie by female actress Hilary Swank.

36 Tiny tech powering Iron Man and Black Panther’s suits : NANOBOTS

Nanorobots (also “nanobots”) are tiny devices that range from 0.1 to 10 micrometers in size. The technology of nanorobotics is in its infancy, but it is hoped that nanobots might be used (for example) in medicine one day. The oft-cited application is the use of nanobots inserted inside the body to identify and destroy cancer cells.

43 Fox holes : DENS

Male foxes are usually called dogs, and sometimes tods or reynards. Females are vixens, and young foxes are cubs, pups or kits.

45 “Mine! Mine! Mine!” criers in “Finding Nemo” : GULLS

“Finding Nemo” is a 2003 animated blockbuster from Pixar. The film was the winner of the Oscar that year for Best Animated Feature. Believe it or not, “Finding Nemo” is the best-selling DVD of all time and, until 2010’s “Toy Story 3”, it was the highest-grossing, G-rated movie at the box office.

48 Poetic contraction : ‘TWERE

“‘Twere” is a quaint contraction for “it were”.

49 Polished : SUAVE

The Latin word “suavis” translates as “agreeable, pleasant to the senses”. “Sauvis” is the root of the English word “suave” that describes someone who is gracious and sophisticated, and perhaps somewhat superficial. “Sauvis” also gave us the English word “sweet” meaning “pleasing to the taste”.

53 Actress Thurman : UMA

Uma Thurman started her working career as a fashion model, at the age of 15. She appeared in her first movies at 17, with her most acclaimed early role being Cécile de Volanges in 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons”. Thurman’s career really took off when she played the gangster’s moll Mia in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” in 1994. My favorite of all Thurman’s movies is “The Truth About Cats & Dogs”, a less acclaimed romcom released in 1996. She took a few years off from acting from 1998 until 2002 following the birth of her first child. It was Tarantino who relaunched her career, giving her the lead in the “Kill Bill” films.

Complete List of Clues/Answers


1 Support that’s often rigged : MAST
5 Role, metaphorically : HAT
8 Pair sharing a <3 necklace, probably : BFFS 12 Instruments in some Gershwin works : ALTO SAXES 15 "I don't mind __ / Except as meals. / And the way they feels": Nash : EELS 16 Tabula rasa : CLEAN SLATE 18 Joie de vivre : ELAN 19 Susan who wrote, "The writer's first job is not to have opinions but to tell the truth" : SONTAG 20 Sources of fleeting joy? : YACHTS 22 "Wrong hand, silly" : YOUR OTHER RIGHT 26 Active front? : RETRO- 27 Postulant : NOVICE 28 Grace period? : AMEN 31 "Toodles!" : TA-TA! 33 Tree on the Lebanese flag : CEDAR 34 Latin law : LEX 35 Place to get high and pass out? : TOP BUNK 37 Rx writers, often : DRS 38 Device that requires spin control : LATHE 40 Inoculation fluids : SERA 41 Literary alter ego : HYDE 42 Self-consoling sigh : I TRIED 44 Animal in Aboriginal cave paintings : DINGO 46 Line on a handwriting test : NEATNESS COUNTS 50 One of two tarot card groups : ARCANA 51 Went viral : BLEW UP 53 State whose road signs feature 8-Downs : UTAH 54 Academic term : SCHOOL YEAR 57 Nice parent : MERE 58 Dessert with a high point : SOFT SERVE 59 Son of Hera : ARES 60 GRE org. : ETS 61 Like a fly ball to the warning track : DEEP


1 Safari runners : MACS
2 Heterogenous union : ALLOY
3 One working with a dictator : STENO
4 Perfectly : TO A TURN
5 Lacks options : HAS GOT TO
6 Rose up on stage : AXL
7 Leaves in a pot : TEA
8 Symbol of 53-Across : BEEHIVE
9 Was awash in euphoria : FELT GIDDY
10 Study aid : FLASH CARD
11 Three-part fig. : SSN
13 Bag : SNARE
14 Eyelid issue : STYE
17 Make dough or bread : EARN
21 Earthenware vessel : CROCK
23 Bags : TRAPS
24 Breeding grounds : HOTBEDS
25 Clipped : TERSE
28 Wiped out : ALL IN
29 One having a cow? : MEAT EATER
30 Not well-done in the least : EXTRA RARE
32 Derived from gold : AURIC
35 Brandon __: Hilary Swank’s “Boys Don’t Cry” role : TEENA
36 Tiny tech powering Iron Man and Black Panther’s suits : NANOBOTS
39 Tours of duty : HITCHES
41 Sweet : HONEYED
43 Fox holes : DENS
45 “Mine! Mine! Mine!” criers in “Finding Nemo” : GULLS
47 Small pouches : SACS
48 Poetic contraction : ‘TWERE
49 Polished : SUAVE
52 Get set : PREP
53 Actress Thurman : UMA
55 Rowing implement? : HOE
56 Many times o’er : OFT

28 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 21 May 22, Saturday”

  1. LAT: Well over an hour with unbelievably no errors. Probably the hardest puzzle I’ve ever completed (I may have said that last week). Some of the clues were extreme reaches (e.g., Grace period), others just plan difficult requiring crosses to solve. For the longest time I persisted with “watches” instead of the correct “hitches” for “Tours of duty.”

  2. @Glenn – thanks for your thoughts yesterday on the LAX vs. NYT and the difficulties of each.

    It makes sense when you say that Parri Varol was an “early week” constructor, and that the difficulty of later-in-the-week puzzles may not be up to par.

    I’ve been killing (for met, at least) Thu-Fri and even solving Sat without too many cheats/errors.

    I could never do that before with Norris as editor.

    I think I”m getting better as time goes on, but not as quickly as the solve times are indicating. By comparison, my NYT solve times are slowly creeping up.

    There is another thing about Varol’s puzzle that I’ve pointed out before. I don’t know for sure if the PPPs have decreased, but the ones that are there are (for the most part, with the exception of the occasional nattick) often almost “gimmes.” Believe me, for a person at my level, that makes all the difference in solving times. “They” say that you don’t have to know trivia to solve puzzles. That may or may not be true, but it sure helps.

    Thanks and Be Well.

  3. What does “active front” have to do with RETRO – you gave no explanation for this answer. Please explain. Thank you.

    1. @Jose …

      You can put “retro” in “front” of “active” to get “retroactive” … 🤓.

    2. If you put “retro” before “active” (i.e., at the front of it), then you get the word retroactive.

  4. No errors. Took over an hour. Not sure what to think. The answers look easy but I had a hard time with cluing. Seems the answers are lengthier so I had to “piece” the words together.

    Or maybe it’s because I have a hangover.

  5. 26+ on this one. Pretty good for a Saturday for me. I felt like I was a little “onto their tricks” for a change. A fun puzzle.

  6. Geez (or maybe “yeesh” from a puzzle a day or two ago). I might as well have timed myself on a calendar.

  7. These two puzzle creators must sit beside each other uttering evil “heh, heh, heh, this answer will never be solved by our clue!” They are certainly sadistic and cruel in their clues/answers. This is probably the last time I will work on a puzzle by these two. Solving puzzles should be interesting, sometimes fun, but always fair. They flunk all three of those traits.

    1. @Steve …

      You’re welcome to your opinion, but, as I think I’ve said before, “interesting”, “fun”, and “fair” are subjective judgments that reveal more about you than they do about the constructors.

      For comparison, check out today’s Newsday puzzle, which I found to be very interesting, fun (well, in retrospect, given that I finally finished the damned thing with no errors … 😜), but perhaps a little unfair (especially since the final “Down” clue is missing):

      Enjoy … 🤨.

    2. ” Solving puzzles should be interesting, sometimes fun, but always fair.”
      Agreed. A view of that is always in the eye of the beholder though. Problem almost though is usually the “fair” part, which definitely falls short in a number of instances. But can’t say personally there’s a lot of issue with that on this one (compared to yesterday) – it’s a challenge, yes, but a fair one. But that’s just one person’s opinion, as everyone gets to have the right to theirs.

      1. So, if I understand what you’re saying here (which does seem to contradict itself at times), you agree with my (rather obvious) point that the views expressed here are subjective.

        I think what really raised my hackles about Steve’s post was his use of the words “evil”, “sadistic”, and “cruel” with reference to the setters. For me, those words rank right up there with “stupid” and “horrible” (which I often see used here to refer to clues and themes that someone has simply been unable to understand).

  8. Never heard of to a turn had to a tee in my mind so just let it fill in…some pretty “obscure”fills retro yachts yeesh….. I agree crazy but fun.

  9. 17:00, 1 dumb error.

    @Lou lu
    This one is very prototypical NYT Friday. To wit with my opinings of yesterday, Chen is probably more instructive to both Varol and Iverson, if anything. But being like Chen definitely won’t win a lot of points with solvers.

    To clarify on what I said yesterday, a lot of constructors tend to have an ability to either the easy or hard side and will tend to fall in and specialize. Hence you will only see certain names on certain days of the week. Like I pointed out long ago, Rich Norris showed up mainly on Thu-Sun as a constructor when he was doing that. For constructing, difficulty is kind of a U shape on the graph as you go throughout the week. It’s a lot harder to do a Monday grid or a Saturday grid than a Wednesday grid for reasons that become obvious when you think about them.

  10. 37:20 – no errors or lookups. Revisions were: CROCE>CROCK, PAS>RNS>DRS, WATCHES>HITCHES.

    New items: <3 is a heart, "Postulant," LEX, MERE, TEENA.

    Several clue meanings had multiple possibilities to me, and so took some time to figure out – like "fleeting joy," "get high," "devices that spin," "Safari runner," "dough or bread," "having a cow," "well-done."

    Much more challenging than Friday's puzzle. Initially wasn't sure if I would get enough to solve it all.

  11. 44:46 no errors😀
    I can’t believe that I finished a Jeff Chen and partner (always a partner) puzzle with no errors…he must be slipping🤪
    Stay safe😀

  12. No looks ups, no errors. 2 changes on the fly
    ciao/tata and oar/hoe. Garden tool issues for
    me the last couple of days 😂 I have heard
    the term “to a tender turn” yes. Great
    challenge and fun….

  13. I knew from the second I saw the by-lines that this was going to be completely impenetrable. And I was right. Although I made a little headway near the bottom of the grid, most of it was well well-nigh completely NATICK.

    Leave it to Chen to break a two-week skien of successful completions.

  14. The clues in this puzzle are pathetic.
    As are some of the responses – “subjective tells more about you than the constructors”???????? Pleeeeze get a life

    1. I’ve added “pathetic” to the list of words that signal a subjective view has been or is about to be expressed … 😜.

  15. I enjoyed this one, although it took a long time. Being led down the garden path, finding what I’ve put in doesn’t jibe with crosses, having to re-think my original, and finally getting it to all (or, sometime, practically all) come together is much of the pleasure of doing crosswords for me.

  16. Tough but very enjoyable Saturday; took 39:38 with 3 errors, because I was impatient. Couldn’t see ALLIN but really should have gotten AMEN, LATHE and ITRIED…as it is I had cLeaN.

    Looked really tough at first, but got a foothold in NE and SW, starting with BEEHIVE and UTAH. Slowly filled things in here and there. Put in SONATG, without being quite sure, but almost sure. Had to change empty to CLEAN, which helped get the NW and N. AND then I rushed the W section…sadly.

    BTW, the beehive used as the Utah symbol is called a skep, which hardly anyone uses anymore anywhere. The problem is that you have to practically take apart your hive completely to harvest any honey, thus destroying it. Not very sustainable. You can use them to catch swarms and transfer them to another type of hive though.

  17. So bad that I didn’t even want to finish it, just threw it out. Have never done that. Was not fun at all. Oh well, time to move on.

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