LA Times Crossword 20 Oct 22, Thursday

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Constructed by: David Alfred Bywaters
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Declined to Solve This One

Themed answers are all common two-word phrases in the down-direction. Each starts with a synonym of “descending”, and is reinterpreted in the clue:

  • 3D Committee members parachuting from an airplane? : DIVING BOARD
  • 9D Feathers during a no-holds-barred pillow fight? : DROPPING DOWN
  • 21D Church steeple in hurricane-strength winds? : TIPPING POINT
  • 27D Ball carrier on a wet football field? : FALLING BACK

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

Bill’s time: 7m 31s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Realm surrounded by the Styx : HADES

Hades was the god of the underworld to the ancient Greeks. Over time, Hades gave his name to the underworld itself, the place where the dead reside. The term “Hades” was also adopted into the Christian tradition, as an alternative name for hell. But, the concept of hell in Christianity is more akin to the Greek “Tartarus”, which is a dark and gloomy dungeon located in Hades, a place of suffering and torment.

The River Styx of Greek mythology was the river that formed the boundary between the Earth and the Underworld (or “Hades”). The souls of the newly dead had to cross the River Styx in a ferry boat piloted by Charon. Traditionally, a coin would be placed in the mouths of the dead “to pay the ferryman”.

10 Preliminary race : HEAT

The term “heat”, meaning “qualifying race”, dates back to the 1660s. Originally, a heat was a run given to a horse to prepare it for a race, to “heat” it up.

15 Gulf States ruler : EMIR

An emir is a prince or chieftain, one most notably from the Middle East in Islamic countries. In English, “emir” can also be written variously as “emeer, amir, ameer” (watch out for those spellings in crosswords!).

The Persian Gulf is in effect an inland sea, although it technically is an offshoot of the Indian Ocean. The outlet from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean is one of the most famous maritime “choke points” in the world, and is known as the Strait of Hormuz. About 20% of the world’s supply of petroleum passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

16 Pennsylvania city on I-90 : ERIE

Erie is a port city in the very north of Pennsylvania, sitting on the southern shore of Lake Erie. The city takes its name from the Erie Native American tribe that resided in the area. Erie is nicknamed the Gem City, a reference to the “sparkling” water of Lake Erie.

I-90 runs in an east-west direction from Seattle to Boston, and is the longest interstate in the US. When I-90 was built, it made use of several existing roads, including the Massachusetts Turnpike, New York State Thruway, Ohio Turnpike, Indiana Toll Road, Chicago Skyway, and the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.

17 Piercing site : NAVEL

The navel is essentially the scar left behind when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby. One interesting use of the umbilicus (navel, belly button) is to differentiate between identical twins, especially when they are very young.

18 Plot-heavy work : MELODRAMA

A melodrama is a play or film that usually pits good against evil, with an obvious hero or heroine vying against an obvious villain. Melodrama has evolved over time, originating in the 18th century as a drama for which there was a musical accompaniment. The term is derived from the Greek “melos” meaning “music” and the French “drame” meaning “drama”.

20 Table protector : TRIVET

A trivet is an item placed under a hot serving bowl to protect the surface of a dining table. The term “trivet” is also used for a tripod supporting pots over an open fire. “Trivet” comes from the Latin “tripes” meaning “tripod”.

26 Audit firm exec : CPA

Certified public accountant (CPA)

30 Sales meeting diagrams : GRAPHS

A graph is a diagram that represents how one variable changes when compared with another (or more than one other). The same diagram was known as a graphic formula prior to the 1870s, when “graph” emerged as an abbreviation of “graphic formula”.

33 Enter en masse : INVADE

“En masse” is a French term, one that best translates as “as a group”

35 Udon kin : SOBA

Soba is a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. In Japan, the word “soba” tends to describe any thin noodle, in contrast with the thicker noodle called “udon”.

39 MBA field : ECON

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

40 Choosing from a lineup : ID’ING

Identity document (ID)

46 News magazine since 1923 : TIME

“TIME” magazine was first published in 1923 in New York City, making it the nation’s first weekly news magazine.

47 Loose garment : SARONG

“Sarong” is the Malay word for “sheath”. The term originally described a garment worn by Malay men and women around their waists. The Malay sarong is actually a tube of fabric, about a yard wide and two-and-a-half yards long. Many variations of the sarong are worn all over South Asia and the Pacific Islands. I had occasion to wear one in Hawaii many years ago, and found it very … freeing!

48 The 1973 Mets’ “Ya Gotta Believe!,” e.g. : SLOGAN

“Ya Gotta Believe” is a phrase associated with the New York Mets baseball team. It was popularized in 1973 by pitcher Tug McGraw, after the Mets had a poor season but miraculously made it to that season’s World Series (although they eventually lost to the Oakland As).

51 Tailless simian : APE

Apes and monkeys both belong to the order of primates. The most obvious way to distinguish apes from monkeys is by the presence or lack of a tail. Almost all apes have no tail, and almost all monkeys have tails.

“Simian” means “pertaining to monkeys or apes”, from the Latin word “simia” meaning “ape”.

53 Leatherwork tool : AWL

An awl is a pointed tool used for marking a surface or for piercing small holes. The earliest awls were used to pierce ears, apparently. The tool then became very much associated with shoemakers.

54 Controversial agribusiness letters : GMO

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is one with genetic material that has been altered by genetic engineering. One might argue that the oldest form of genetic engineering is selective breeding, the use of animals or plants with desired traits for the creation of the next generation.

57 Treat with disdain : SCORN

To show disdain towards something is to look on it with scorn. The verb “disdain” comes from the Old French “des-” (do the opposite of) and “deignier” (treat as worthy).

66 Midday : NOON

Our word “noon”, meaning “midday”, comes from the Latin “nona hora” that translates as “ninth hour”. Back in ancient Rome, the “ninth hour” was three in the afternoon. Over the centuries, traditions such as church prayers and “midday” meals shifted from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m., and so “noon” became understood as 12 noon.

67 “You’ve Got Mail” director Ephron : NORA

Nora Ephron had many talents, including writing film scripts and novels. Many of the movies that she wrote, she also directed. These would include some of my favorite movies of all time like “Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail” and most recently, the wonderful “Julie & Julia”. And, did you know that Nora Ephron’s second marriage was to journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame? She wrote an autobiographical novel based on her life with Bernstein, which deals in particular with Bernstein’s affair with the daughter of British Prime Minister James Callaghan.

71 Whitehorse’s territory : YUKON

Canada’s federal territory known as Yukon takes its name from the Yukon River. “Yukon” means “Big Stream” in the local Gwich’in language.

Whitehorse is the capital city of Canada’s Yukon Territory. It sits at the head of the Yukon River and its location made it an important supply center during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Down

2 Classic arcade name : ATARI

I remember being quite addicted to the Atari video arcade game called Asteroids back in the early eighties. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as Asteroids was Atari’s best selling game of all time.

5 Gomez of “Only Murders in the Building” : SELENA

Selena Gomez is an actress and singer from Grand Prairie, Texas. Gomez’s first television role was in the children’s show “Barney & Friends”. She then played the lead in the TV series “Wizards of Waverly Place”. Gomez’s fans often refer to themselves as “Selenators”. Offscreen, Gomez made a splash as the girlfriend of Canadian singer Justin Bieber for a couple of years.

“Only Murders in the Building” is a comedy-mystery TV show starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez as a trio of true-crime podcasters who band together to solve a murder in their apartment building. Steve Martin co-created the series. I’ve got to see it one day …

7 Like a retired prof. : EMER

“Emeritus” (female form “emerita”, and plural “emeriti”) is a term in the title of some retired professionals, particularly those from academia. Originally an emeritus was a veteran soldier who had served his time. The term comes from the Latin verb “emerere” meaning to complete one’s service.

8 Amethyst hue : LILAC

Amethyst is a form of quartz that is purple in color. There was a belief that the stone protected the owner from drunkenness, which is how amethyst got its name. The Ancient Greek “ἀméthystos” means “not intoxicated”. I’m not into jewelry, but maybe I should get some amethyst [hic!] …

9 Feathers during a no-holds-barred pillow fight? : DROPPING DOWN

Down feathers are the very fine feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers of a bird. There is fossil evidence that some non-avian dinosaurs had down-like feathers.

10 Bunch of buffalo : HERD

There are two species of bison left (four species are extinct). We are most familiar with the American bison (commonly called the American buffalo), but there is also a European bison, which is sometimes called a “wisent”.

11 Pitching stat : ERA

Earned run average (ERA)

19 “Outlander” series novelist Gabaldon : DIANA

Author Diana Gabaldon is best known for her “Outlander” series of novels, which were adapted into a very successful (and entertaining) television drama. The “Outlander” books are set in Scotland, and involve time travel. Gabaldon tells us that she was inspired to write her first “Outlander” book after watching an episode of “Doctor Who”.

The “Outlander” period drama TV show is based on a series of novels of the same name by Diana Gabaldon. Stars of the show are Irish actress Caitríona Balfe and Scottish actor Sam Heugan. Balfe plays a military nurse who is transported back in time to mid-17th century Scotland, where she falls in love with a Highland warrior played by Heugan. Because of the success of the TV show, there’s a prequel in the works titled “Outlander: Blood of My Blood.

28 Intense dislike : ODIUM

Odium is a strong dislike or aversion. The term “odium” is Latin in origin and relates to the Latin word “odi” meaning “I hate”.

29 Britcom or bromance : GENRE

British sitcom (Britcom)

“Bromance” is a name given these days to a close relationship between two straight males.

34 Panoramic view : VISTA

Panoramic paintings have existed for centuries, but the word “panorama” was coined around 1790 to describe an invention by the artist Robert Barker. He created an apparatus for exhibiting pictures on the inside of a cylindrical surface, allowing the viewer to stand in the middle with access to a 360-degree vista. The term comes from Greek “pan-” meaning “all” and “horama” meaning “sight, spectacle”.

35 Intuit : SENSE

“To intuit” is a verb formed from the noun “intuition”, and means “to know intuitively”.

36 Setting for much of “Aquaman” : OCEAN

Aquaman is a comic book superhero who first appeared in 1941. He was inspired by a character in a Russian science-fiction novel named “Amphibian Man”.

41 The Big Easy, for short : NOLA

The city of New Orleans, Louisiana has the nickname “The Big Easy”. This name might come from the early 1900s when musicians found it relatively “easy” to find work there. The city is also known by the acronym NOLA, standing for New Orleans (NO), Louisiana (LA).

55 NHL great Lemieux : MARIO

Mario Lemieux is a retired Canadian NHL player. He played his whole professional career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, from 184 to 2006, and in 1999 took over ownership of the team.

56 Ancient Greek theater : ODEON

In ancient Greece, an odeon (also “odeum”) was like a small theater, with “odeon” literally meaning “building for musical competition”. Odea were used in both Greece and Rome for entertainments such as musical shows and poetry readings.

57 “I Will Wait” band Mumford & __ : SONS

Mumford & Sons is a folk rock band formed by Marcus Mumford in 2007 in London. My guess is that the group’s most famous song is the excellent “I Will Wait”, written by Mumford and released in 2012.

58 Fictional Wolfe : NERO

Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective and the hero of many stories published by author Rex Stout. There are 33 Nero Wolfe novels for us to read, and 39 short stories. There are also movie adaptations of two of the novels: “Meet Nero Wolfe” (1936) which features a young Rita Hayworth, and “The League of Frightened Men” (1937). One of Wolfe’s endearing traits is his love of good food and beer, so he is a pretty rotund character.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Realm surrounded by the Styx : HADES
6 Didn’t release : HELD
10 Preliminary race : HEAT
14 Serving a purpose : UTILE
15 Gulf States ruler : EMIR
16 Pennsylvania city on I-90 : ERIE
17 Piercing site : NAVEL
18 Plot-heavy work : MELODRAMA
20 Table protector : TRIVET
22 Swift : RAPID
23 Moral lapse : SIN
24 Trivial thing : NIT
26 Audit firm exec : CPA
27 Non-magical source of invisibility : FOG
30 Sales meeting diagrams : GRAPHS
33 Enter en masse : INVADE
35 Udon kin : SOBA
37 “To __ it mildly” : PUT
38 Affix with a hammer : NAIL IN
39 MBA field : ECON
40 Choosing from a lineup : ID’ING
42 Fail to enunciate : SLUR
43 Make tidy : NEATEN
45 Curtain holder : ROD
46 News magazine since 1923 : TIME
47 Loose garment : SARONG
48 The 1973 Mets’ “Ya Gotta Believe!,” e.g. : SLOGAN
50 Finish : END
51 Tailless simian : APE
53 Leatherwork tool : AWL
54 Controversial agribusiness letters : GMO
57 Treat with disdain : SCORN
59 “I’ve seen worse” : NOT BAD
61 Words from the weary : I’M SO TIRED
65 Play group reminder : SHARE
66 Midday : NOON
67 “You’ve Got Mail” director Ephron : NORA
68 Political leader? : SOCIO-
69 Agrees quietly : NODS
70 Took steps : TROD
71 Whitehorse’s territory : YUKON

Down

1 Looks (for) : HUNTS
2 Classic arcade name : ATARI
3 Committee members parachuting from an airplane? : DIVING BOARD
4 Alt. : ELEV
5 Gomez of “Only Murders in the Building” : SELENA
6 Garment edge : HEM
7 Like a retired prof. : EMER
8 Amethyst hue : LILAC
9 Feathers during a no-holds-barred pillow fight? : DROPPING DOWN
10 Bunch of buffalo : HERD
11 Pitching stat : ERA
12 Objective : AIM
13 Leaves in a bag : TEA
19 “Outlander” series novelist Gabaldon : DIANA
21 Church steeple in hurricane-strength winds? : TIPPING POINT
25 Impact sound : THUD
27 Ball carrier on a wet football field? : FALLING BACK
28 Intense dislike : ODIUM
29 Britcom or bromance : GENRE
31 Wound up costing : RAN TO
32 Arouses : STIRS
34 Panoramic view : VISTA
35 Intuit : SENSE
36 Setting for much of “Aquaman” : OCEAN
41 The Big Easy, for short : NOLA
44 Put on the books : ENACT
49 Shiny print : GLOSSY
52 Mistake : ERROR
55 NHL great Lemieux : MARIO
56 Ancient Greek theater : ODEON
57 “I Will Wait” band Mumford & __ : SONS
58 Fictional Wolfe : NERO
60 Second person of old : THOU
61 Travel guide listing : INN
62 Dairy farm noise : MOO
63 Landscaping layer : SOD
64 Pops : DAD

14 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 20 Oct 22, Thursday”

  1. Easy Thursday–just waiting for the other shoe to drop with killer Friday and Saturday puzzles. 7:41 with no errors or lookups.

  2. No errors.
    Anyone notice the ODIUM ODEON, which could have been ODEUM (which i had first), on the right side of the grid?

    Anyway, straight forward grid.

  3. 99.5%. Woulda been 100 except for NAILIN which I didn’t like but made more sense than anything else. Pretty good puzzle for a Thursday. Nice theme.

  4. 12:13 – no errors or lookups. False starts: NAILON>NAILIN, KIMONO>SARONG.

    New: DIANA Gabaldon, ODEON (accustomed to ODEUM).

    Interesting that all themed answers are from Down clues insttead of the typical Across clues.

  5. 8 minutes 35 seconds, needed Check Grid to locate one error that affects 2 entries. Comfortable, but not TOO easy. The “theme” provided a little mid-solve help with the “downward” verbs.

  6. Whoa! Opened up Bill’s site, and glanced at the the theme line as I walked away. Bill declines to solve!!! That’s a first! This puzzle must be a bugger in some respect, and I thought it was so easy for a Thursday.

    1. Hi Catherine. I think Bill’s use of “decline” was somewhere on the pun spectrum given the theme was all about going in the downward direction. So, maybe the decline and fall of Bill’s Empire? ;-D>

  7. No look ups,no errors. One change on the fly, Enid/Erie. Was too easy at first but I
    got bogged down in the middle. Dropping
    the ball….

  8. Catherine: “Bill declined to solve this one” is a pun.
    He did solve it – he gives his time (as usual).
    “Declined” has to do with down/falling clues/answers.
    Have a great day!

  9. Mostly easy Thursday for me; took 10:24 with no peeks or errors. Got the theme early and ran with it. Always get TRIVET and tribble (Star Trek) confused…I guess a squashed tribble would protect a table too 🙂

    May be “I Will Wait” is Mumford & Sons most famous songs but I think this version of an old Dylan song “Kansas City” is better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X3hdFWmerQ

    Hi Carrie from yesterday…

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