LA Times Crossword 28 Dec 22, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Julian Lim
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Reveal Answer: Devious

Themed answers each end with a word in the format DxVxS, very “devious”, very D-V-S:

  • 35A Sly, and a phonetic hint to the pattern in the last words of 17-, 24-, 42-, and 58-Across : DEVIOUS, and D-V-S
  • 17A Actress who wrote the 2022 memoir “Dying of Politeness” : GEENA DAVIS
  • 24A Expeditions made by freegans, say : DUMPSTER DIVES
  • 42A Policy debate sides during an international conflict : HAWKS AND DOVES
  • 58A Prima donnas : OPERA DIVAS

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

Bill’s time: 6m 15s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Suffix with “Wrestle” : -MANIA

“WrestleMania” is a pay-per-view professional wrestling event that was first produced in 1985. I really don’t do wrestling …

10 Stinging insect : WASP

While wasps are considered a nuisance by many, they are very important to the agricultural industry. Wasps prey on many pest insects, while having very little impact on crops.

14 Both: Pref. : AMBI-

The prefix “ambi-” that we use to mean “both” is a Latin word that actually means “around” or “round about”.

16 Prepared to veto : ANTI

The verb “veto” comes directly from Latin and means “I forbid”. The term was used by tribunes of ancient Rome to indicate that they opposed measures passed by the Senate.

17 Actress who wrote the 2022 memoir “Dying of Politeness” : GEENA DAVIS

As well as being a successful Hollywood actress, Geena Davis is an accomplished archer and came close to qualifying for the US archery team for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Davis is also a member of American Mensa. She is quite the lady …

19 House spot : SEAT

A member of the US House of Representatives serves for a two-year term, whereas a member of the US Senate serves for a six-year term.

20 Spike Lee heist film starring Denzel Washington : INSIDE MAN

“Inside Man” is a 2006 thriller movie about a Wall Street bank heist. Directed by Spike Lee, the film stars Denzel Washington, Clive Owens and Jodie Foster. Fun movie …

Film director Spike Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia but has very much made New York City his home and place of work. Most of Lee’s films are set in New York City, including his first feature film, 1986’s “She’s Gotta Have It”. That film was shot over two weeks with a budget of $175,000. “She’s Gotta Have It” grossed over $7 million at the US box office.

Denzel Washington is an actor from Mount Vernon, just outside New York City. Washington’s big break came with a TV role, playing Dr. Philip Chandler on “St. Elsewhere” from 1982 to 1988.

21 Croquet sites : LAWNS

The very genteel game of croquet is played on lawns all over the world. It’s the game where mallets are used to hit wooden balls through hoops embedded in the grass. The name “croquet” is from French dialect and means “hockey stick”. The game originated in Brittany in France, and was popularized in Ireland in the 1830s.

22 Hawaii’s “Valley Isle” : MAUI

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands. It is sometimes called the “Valley Isle” as it is composed of two volcanoes to the northwest and southeast of the island, each with numerous beautiful valleys carved into them.

23 Groovy : FAB

The term “groovy” meaning “neat, cool” comes from the jazz slang phrase “in the groove”.

24 Expeditions made by freegans, say : DUMPSTER DIVES

“Dumpster” is one of those words that we use generically, even though it is actually a brand name. The original “Dumpster” was patented by the Dempster Brothers of Knoxville, Tennessee. “Dumpster” is derived from “dump” and “Dempster”.

Freeganism is an ideology promoting alternative living strategies that incur little or no cost by using resources that are generally discarded in the conventional economy. Notable tactics are “dumpster diving” (searching for discarded food) and “guerrilla gardening” (growing food in city parks).

33 Longoria of “Telenovela” : EVA

Eva Longoria is a fashion model and actress who had a regular role on TV’s “Desperate Housewives”, playing Gabrielle Solis.

“Telenovela” is a sitcom set in Miami that follows the activities behind the cameras shooting a fictional telenovela called “Las Leyes de Pasión”. Eva Longoria plays the telenovela star, an actress who does not speak a word of Spanish.

34 Olympic swimmer Thorpe : IAN

Ian Thorpe is a retired competitive swimmer from Australia. Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals, and earned himself the nickname “The Thorpedo”.

38 Band’s job : GIG

Musicians use “gig” to describe a job, a performance. The term originated in the early 1900s in the world of jazz. The derivative phrase “gig economy” applies to a relatively recent phenomenon where workers find themselves jumping from temporary job to temporary job, from gig to gig.

39 Bay Area airport letters : SFO

The San Francisco Bay Area is served by three major airports: San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC).

42 Policy debate sides during an international conflict : HAWKS AND DOVES

The dove is a symbol of peace, and the hawk is a symbol of war.

47 Onyx, for one : GEM

Onyx is a form of quartz that comes in many different shades, but most often it’s the black version that’s used for jewelry. The name “onyx” comes from the Greek word for “fingernail”, as onyx in the flesh color is said to resemble a fingernail.

52 Competition with rockets : SPACE RACE

The Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite towards the end of 1957 in a development that shocked the establishment in the US. Within months, President Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now DARPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Space Race had begun …

57 Hertz rival : AVIS

Avis has been around since 1946, and is the second largest car rental agency after Hertz. Avis has the distinction of being the first car rental company to locate a branch at an airport.

58 Prima donnas : OPERA DIVAS

The Italian operatic term “prima donna” is used for the lead female singer in an opera company. “Prima donna” translates from Italian as “first lady”. The lead male singer is known as the “primo uomo”. The term “prima donna assoluta” is reserved for a prima donna who is generally accepted as being an outstanding performer. We tend to use “prima donna” for a female performer who has an inflated ego.

59 Afternoon fare : SOAP

The original soap operas were radio dramas back in the fifties. Given the structure of society back then, the daytime broadcasts were aimed at women working in the home as housewives. For some reason the sponsors of those radio shows, and the television shows that followed, were soap manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers. And that’s how the “soap” opera got its name …

61 Half of dix : CINQ

In French, half of “dix” (ten) is “cinq” (five”).

62 Playwright Kushner : TONY

Tony Kushner is most famous for his two-part play “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes”. He is also known for collaborating with director Steven Spielberg as screenwriter for films such as “Munich” (2005, “Lincoln” (2012) and “West Side Story” (2021).

Down

1 Crèche figures : MAGI

“Magi” is the plural of the Latin word “magus”, a term applied to someone who was able to read the stars. Hence, “magi” is commonly used with reference to the “wise men from the East” who followed the star and visited Jesus soon after he was born. In Western Christianity, the three Biblical Magi are:

  • Melchior: a scholar from Persia
  • Caspar (also “Gaspar”): a scholar from India
  • Balthazar: a scholar from Arabia

In the Christian tradition, a nativity scene (also “crèche”) is a display representing the scene of the birth of Jesus. Nativity scenes might be subjects for paintings, for example, although the term is usually used for seasonal displays associated with the Christmas season.

3 Hollywood’s Vigoda and basketball’s Saperstein : ABES

Abe Vigoda played Detective Sergeant Phil Fish in television’s “Barney Miller” in the seventies, and even got his own spin-off show called “Fish”. On the big screen, Vigoda played Sal Tessio in “The Godfather” and Grandpa Ubriacco in “Look Who’s Talking”.

Abe Saperstein founded and coached the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in 1926. In the early days, the team was focused on touring to play other teams, and making a little money from their share of the gate. But even back then, the Globetrotters were showmen, and liked to show off their ball-handling skills. One of Saperstein’s claim to fame is that he’s the shortest male member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, at 5 ft. 3 in.

6 One of the Musketeers : ARAMIS

Alexandre Dumas’ “Three Musketeers” are Athos, Porthos and Aramis, although the hero of the novel is the trio’s young protégé D’Artagnan. A musketeer was an infantry soldier who was equipped with a musket. Funnily enough, the three “musketeers” really don’t use their muskets, and are better known for prowess with their swords.

7 Old Chevy model : NOVA

The Chevrolet Nova was produced by General Motors from 1962 to 1979, and from 1985 to 1988. I owned one of those 1985-1988 Novas many years ago. Those latter models were actually Toyota Sprinters that were assembled just down the road here in Fremont, California in a GM/Toyota joint venture.

10 __ peas : WASABI

Wasabi peas are peas that have been fried and then coated with wasabi powder mixed with sugar, salt and oil. They make for a crunchy snack, and are a favorite of mine …

12 Comics icon Lee : STAN

Stan Lee did just about everything at Marvel Comics over the years, from writing to being president and chairman of the board. If you like superhero movies based on the characters from Marvel Comics, then you could spend a few hours trying to spot Stan Lee in those films as he had a penchant for making cameo appearances. Lee can be spotted in “X-Men” (2000), “Spider-Man” (2002), “Hulk” (2003), “Fantastic Four” (2005), “Iron Man” (2008) and many other films.

13 La Brea Tar __ : PITS

The La Brea Tar Pits are located right in the heart of the city of Los Angeles. At the site there is a constant flow of tar that seeps up to the surface from underground, a phenomenon that has been around for tens of thousands of years. What is significant is that much of the seeping tar is covered by water. Over many, many centuries animals came to the water to drink and became trapped in the tar as they entered the water to quench their thirst. The tar then preserved the bones of the dead animals. Today a museum is located right by the Tar Pits, recovering bones and displaying specimens of the animals found there. It’s well worth a visit if you are in town …

18 Maroon 5 lead singer Levine : ADAM

Adam Levine is the lead vocalist of the pop rock band Maroon 5. Levine also served as one of the coaches on the reality show “The Voice” from 2011 through 2019.

21 Actresses Cheryl and Diane : LADDS

Cheryl Ladd’s most famous role was Kris Munroe in television’s “Charlie’s Angels”. Ladd replaced Farrah Fawcett-Majors when the latter opted out of the show. Cheryl Ladd was the daughter-in-law of famed Hollywood actor Alan Ladd, as she was married to Ladd’s son, David. After the couple divorced, Cheryl retained the Ladd name.

Diane Ladd is an American actress who was nominated for a Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the 1990 film “Wild at Heart”. The lead roles in the movie were played by Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. Laura Dern is Diane Ladd’s daughter in real life, as she was once married to actor Bruce Dern.

23 German woman : FRAU

In German, a “Herr” (Mr.) is married to a “Frau” (Mrs.), and they live together in a “Haus” (house).

25 “Hot corner” base : THIRD

That would be baseball.

26 Job listing inits. : EEO

“Equal Employment Opportunity” (EEO) is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was set up by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.

27 “What happens in __ … ” : VEGAS

The stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard on which most of the big casinos are concentrated is referred to as the “Las Vegas Strip”. The Strip was named for LA’s Sunset Strip by former Los Angeles law enforcement officer Guy McAfee. McAfee was a notoriously corrupt head of the LAPD vice squad in the 1920s and 1930s who ran several brothels and gambling saloons. McAfee moved to Las Vegas in 1939 where he opened several casinos, including the Golden Nugget.

“What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” is a marketing campaign slogan created for the city in 2004. The slogan helped bring a record 37.4 million visitors to Las Vegas in the year it was launched.

31 Nadal of tennis, familiarly : RAFA

Rafael “Rafa” Nadal is a Spanish tennis player. He is noted for his expertise on clay courts, which earned him the nickname “The King of Clay”.

36 Semisoft cheese : EDAM

Edam cheese takes its name from the Dutch town of Edam in North Holland. The cheese is famous for its coating of red paraffin wax, a layer of protection that helps Edam travel well and prevents spoiling. You might occasionally come across an Edam cheese that is coated in black wax. The black color indicates that the underlying cheese has been aged for a minimum of 17 weeks.

37 2016 Super Bowl MVP Miller : VON

American footballer Von Miller started his professional career with the Denver Broncos in 2011. A year later, Miller founded the Von’s Vision foundation that provides free eye exams and glasses for children living in the Denver area.

43 Cold War agent : KGB SPY

The “Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti” (KGB) was the national security agency of the Soviet Union until 1991. The KGB was dissolved after the agency’s chairman led a failed attempt at a coup d’état designed to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev.

The term “Cold War” was coined by novelist George Orwell in a 1945 essay about the atomic bomb. Orwell described a world under threat of nuclear war as having a “peace that is no peace”, in a permanent state of “cold war”. The specific use of “cold war” to describe the tension between the Eastern bloc and the Western allies is attributed to a 1947 speech by Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

45 Vehicle pulled by yoked animals : OX CART

A yoke is a wooden beam used between a pair of animals so that they are forced to work together.

50 Vinaigrette ingredient, briefly : EVOO

Virgin olive oil is oil produced from olives with no chemical treatment involved in the production process at all. To be labeled “virgin”, the oil must have an acidity level of less than 2% and must be judged to have “a good taste”. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) comes from virgin oil production, and is the portion with acidity levels of less than 0.8% acidity that is judged to have “superior taste”.

A vinaigrette is a mixture of oil with an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice. A traditional mixture of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar forms a stable emulsion that is commonly used as a salad dressing. The term “vinaigrette” is a diminutive form of the French word “vinaigre” (meaning “vinegar”). Back in the 1800s, such a mixture was referred to as “French dressing”, a term that has evolved to describe a creamy dressing in contemporary American cuisine.

51 “Knives Out” filmmaker Johnson : RIAN

Filmmaker Rian Johnson wrote and directed quite a few major films, including “Looper” (2012), “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017) and “Knives Out” (2019).

“Knives Out” is an intriguing murder mystery film released in 2019. There’s a great cast including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer. I really enjoyed this one, partly because it’s a clever, contemporary take on a classic whodunit movie …

53 Manila money : PESO

The writing on bank notes in the Philippines used to be in English, so the national currency was recorded as the “peso”. Since 1967 the language on the notes has been Filipino, and now the name of the currency is written as “piso”.

54 Sneaker brand : AVIA

The “Avia” brand name for athletic shoes was chosen as “avia” is the Latin word for “to fly”, and suggests the concept of aviation. Avia was founded in Oregon in 1979.

56 Legal honorifics: Abbr. : ESQS

The title “esquire” is of British origin and is used differently today depending on whether one is in the US or the UK. Here in America the term is usually reserved for those practicing the law (both male and female). In the UK, “esquire” is a term of gentle respect reserved for a male who has no other title that one can use. So a mere commoner like me might receive a letter from the bank, say, addressed to W. E. Butler Esq.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Title of respect : MA’AM
5 Suffix with “Wrestle” : -MANIA
10 Stinging insect : WASP
14 Both: Pref. : AMBI-
15 Scent : AROMA
16 Prepared to veto : ANTI
17 Actress who wrote the 2022 memoir “Dying of Politeness” : GEENA DAVIS
19 House spot : SEAT
20 Spike Lee heist film starring Denzel Washington : INSIDE MAN
21 Croquet sites : LAWNS
22 Hawaii’s “Valley Isle” : MAUI
23 Groovy : FAB
24 Expeditions made by freegans, say : DUMPSTER DIVES
30 Born in : FROM
32 Beer foam : HEAD
33 Longoria of “Telenovela” : EVA
34 Olympic swimmer Thorpe : IAN
35 Sly, and a phonetic hint to the pattern in the last words of 17-, 24-, 42-, and 58-Across : DEVIOUS, and D-V-S
38 Band’s job : GIG
39 Bay Area airport letters : SFO
40 Scent : ODOR
41 Black-tie party : GALA
42 Policy debate sides during an international conflict : HAWKS AND DOVES
47 Onyx, for one : GEM
48 Freeway sign : EXIT
49 Stop and go : VERBS
52 Competition with rockets : SPACE RACE
57 Hertz rival : AVIS
58 Prima donnas : OPERA DIVAS
59 Afternoon fare : SOAP
60 More sage : WISER
61 Half of dix : CINQ
62 Playwright Kushner : TONY
63 Derisive sound : SNORT
64 “__ off to you!” : HATS

Down

1 Crèche figures : MAGI
2 Blessing ender : AMEN
3 Hollywood’s Vigoda and basketball’s Saperstein : ABES
4 Least amount : MINIMUM
5 Reconciled : MADE UP
6 One of the Musketeers : ARAMIS
7 Old Chevy model : NOVA
8 “Sounds like a plan!” : I’M IN!
9 Thin batteries : AAS
10 __ peas : WASABI
11 All over again : ANEW
12 Comics icon Lee : STAN
13 La Brea Tar __ : PITS
18 Maroon 5 lead singer Levine : ADAM
21 Actresses Cheryl and Diane : LADDS
23 German woman : FRAU
24 “What am I supposed to __?” : DO NOW
25 “Hot corner” base : THIRD
26 Job listing inits. : EEO
27 “What happens in __ … ” : VEGAS
28 Wicked : EVIL
29 Drawn-out account : SAGA
30 Sneakily probe (for) : FISH
31 Nadal of tennis, familiarly : RAFA
35 Medical units : DOSES
36 Semisoft cheese : EDAM
37 2016 Super Bowl MVP Miller : VON
41 Make a bundle : GET RICH
43 Cold War agent : KGB SPY
44 More highly cherished : DEARER
45 Vehicle pulled by yoked animals : OX CART
46 Contended : VIED
49 Stretching on and on : VAST
50 Vinaigrette ingredient, briefly : EVOO
51 “Knives Out” filmmaker Johnson : RIAN
52 Washer cycle : SPIN
53 Manila money : PESO
54 Sneaker brand : AVIA
55 “__, or won’t?” : CAN’T
56 Legal honorifics: Abbr. : ESQS
58 Yelps of pain : OWS

14 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 28 Dec 22, Wednesday”

  1. 11 mins 9 sec, DNF. SW corner was one big natick for me. 48 across and 58 across were especially cynical. Fare brings to mind “food”, not so much “entertainment”. And “Stop and go” had me scouring my brain for short words describing traffic and congestion.

  2. 8:25 – no errors or lookups. False start: MINIMAL>MINIMUM.

    New: “Dying of Politeness,” “INSIDEMAN,” “freegan.”

    The theme, itself, was not so D-V-S, but pretty good with the letter pattern.

  3. Paper waaaaaay late so late finishing (ahem) the pretty good puzzle. Had INSIDE JOB at first, even though I have the very good movie. Didja know it had its roots in the classic Dog Day Afternoon? Even used some of the same actors. Also, didja know EVOO was first used by TV cook Rachael Ray? Just asking. Happy new year, everyone.

  4. I usually enjoy Julien Lim’s puzzles, and this one is no exception. The devious clue that tripped me up was 59A. Like Allen, I thought of it in terms of food rather than entertainment (though the latter is good usage). Soup seemed reasonable as something to eat in the afternoon to stave off hunger until dinnertime. It looked fine to me, since I had no idea who Johnson is or what his/her first name is. Didn’t feel as bad after I looked up Rian as a first name, and found it deemed “a rare given name for males.” Even Spellcheck here put a red line under it.

  5. Fun, tricky Wednesday for me; took 11:09 with no peeks or errors. Didn’t know a few things and had to wait for more than a few crosses and make a few guesses. Never heard of VON, RIAN and only vaguely knew about TONY and IAN. SW corner was a lulu, but I remembered EVOO and sussed out KGB SPY and that got AVIS, which did the trick.

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