LA Times Crossword 31 Dec 22, Saturday

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Constructed by: Evan Mulvihill
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme: None

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

Bill’s time: 7m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Accessory that may be paired with a smoking jacket : ASCOT

An ascot is a wide tie that narrows at the neck, which these days is only really worn at weddings or part of a dress uniform. The tie takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race at which punters still turn up in formal wear at Ascot Racecourse in England.

6 “Euphoria” network : HBO

“Euphoria” is an HBO teen drama show that is loosely based on a miniseries of the same name from Israel. Lead actress in the show is Zendaya, who plays a recovering teenage drug addict.

9 Okra or orca unit : POD

The plant known as okra is mainly grown for its edible green pods. The pods are said to resemble “ladies’ fingers”, which is an alternative name for the plant. Okra is known as “ngombo” in Bantu, a name that might give us the word “gumbo”, the name for the name of the southern Louisiana stew that includes okra as a key ingredient.

A group of whales can be called a gam, as well as a pod.

16 Largest moon of Uranus : TITANIA

All of the twenty-seven moons of the planet Uranus are named for characters from literature, with each being characters created by William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. The five major moons are so large that they would be considered planets in their own right if they were orbiting the sun directly. The names of these five moons are:

  • Miranda (from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”)
  • Ariel (from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock”)
  • Umbriel (from Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock”)
  • Titania (from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”)
  • Oberon (from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”)

18 Many of the “GoodFellas” main characters : MADE MEN

In the Mafia, a made man is a fully initiated member. A made man might also be called a goodfella or a wiseguy.

The Martin Scorsese classic “Goodfellas” is a 1990 adaptation of a nonfiction book by Nicholas Pileggi called “Wiseguy”. The film tells the story of a mob family that succumbs to the FBI after one of their own becomes an informant.

24 Maureen presented with an Honorary Academy Award in 2014 : O’HARA

The beautiful and talented Maureen O’Hara was an Irish actress, someone famous for films made with fellow actor John Wayne and director John Ford. Soon after color films hit the theaters, O’Hara earned the nickname “Queen of Technicolor”. This was because the combination of her vivid red hair and bright green eyes showed off the new technology to full advantage. O’Hara was born in a suburb of Dublin called Ranelagh, where many of my own ancestors were born …

25 Buff : FAN

A buff or nut is someone who is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a subject. For example, one might be a movie buff, or perhaps a baseball nut.

26 Kermit sipping tea and Keanu playing with puppies : MEMES

A meme (from “mineme”) is a cultural practice or idea that is passed on verbally or by repetition from one person to another. The term lends itself very well to the online world where links, emails, files etc. are so easily propagated.

30 Psyche segments : IDS

Sigmund Freud created a structural model of the human psyche, breaking it into three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is that part of the psyche containing the basic instinctual drives. The ego seeks to please the id by causing realistic behavior that benefits the individual. The superego almost has a parental role, contradicting the id by introducing critical thinking and morals to behavioral choices.

35 Puzzle that uses every letter : PANGRAM

A pangram is a phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet. The most famous example in English is “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”.

36 Athlete who wrote the memoir “My Life and the Beautiful Game” : PELE

“Pelé” is the nickname of Edson de Nascimento, a soccer player who has used the name “Pelé” for most of his life. Pelé is now retired, and for my money was the world’s greatest ever player of the game. He is the only person to have been a member of three World Cup winning squads (1958, 1962 and 1970), and is a national treasure in his native Brazil. One of Pele’s nicknames is “O Rei do Futebol” (the King of Football).

41 “Being the Ricardos” role : ARNAZ

“Being the Ricardos” is a 2021 biopic about the lives of married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Lucy and Desi are played by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. The title comes from the show “I Love Lucy”, in which Ball and Arnaz played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. I haven’t seen this one, but it’s on my list as the film was written and directed by the great Aaron Sorkin …

42 Robin DiAngelo book about race relations : WHITE FRAGILITY

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” is a 2018 book about race relations in America penned by Robin DiAngelo.

46 Shut up : KEPT MUM

The phrase “mum’s the word” has been around since the early 1700s. “Mum” has been used to mean “silent” for centuries, the idea being that “mum” is the sound made when the lips are tightly sealed.

49 Like some passes : LATERAL

Forward and lateral passes are thrown in several sports, including American and Canadian football.

53 Mag wheels? : EDS

An editor (ed.) is a big wheel at a magazine (mag).

54 Archipelago part: Abbr. : ISL

“Archipelago” is our spelling of the Italian “arcipelago”, a word that has Greek roots. The Aegean Sea was once known as the Archipelago. The usage of “Archipelago” migrated over time, eventually applying only to the Aegean Islands. As a result, we use the term “archipelago” today not for a sea, but for a group or chain of islands.

Down

1 Apropos : APT

“Apropos”, meaning “relevant, opportune”, comes into English directly from French, in which language “à propos” means “to the purpose”. Note that we use the term as one word (apropos), whereas the original French is two words (à propos).

2 Careless : SLIPSHOD

Someone of something described as slipshod is slovenly in appearance or sloppy. The term “slipshod” probably comes from the idea of someone appearing in one’s slippers, someone who hasn’t made an effort in their dress.

3 Film flashbacks, essentially : CUTAWAYS

In filmmaking, a cutaway scene is one inserted into another scene, thereby interrupting the continuously filmed action. After the cutaway, the film usually returns to the original scene.

5 Mystical text in Sanskrit : TANTRA

Tantrism (sometimes “Tantra”) is a relatively recent class of religious ritual and meditation that has its roots in 5th century India. The tantras are sometimes considered as advanced teachings that extend the basic tenets of several Indian religions including Buddhism and Hinduism.

Sanskrit is an Indo-Aryan language and one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. It has a rich tradition and is the language in which many historical and religious texts are written. There aren’t many speakers of the language today although efforts are underway to revive spoken Sanskrit.

6 Scenery chewer : HAM

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

To chew the scenery is to overact, to ham it up.

9 Santa hat feature : POMPOM

The French call a ball made of tufted wool a “pompon”, a word that we imported into English directly as “pompon”. We use “pompon” to describe perhaps bobbles on some hats, or the tufted balls that are shaken by cheerleaders at sports events. Over time, the spelling “pompom” has become common in English, probably due to mishearing. To confuse matters a little, we also use the word “pom-pom”, which is a nickname for a British autocannon used mainly as an anti-aircraft weapon, particularly during WWII.

11 Chain with “all day diner deals” : DENNY’S

Denny’s was the first restaurant I ate at on my initial visit to the US many moons ago. I thought I was in heaven. I’ve changed my opinion a little since then! Denny’s is famous for being “always open” (almost), something that blew my mind as a visitor from Ireland back in 1980. Denny’s was founded in 1953 in Lakewood, California, and originally went by the name “Denny’s Donuts”. The enduring Grand Slam breakfast has been on the menu since 1977.

13 Property claim for outstanding debt : LIEN

A lien is a right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.

24 Sash tied with a butterfly knot : OBI

The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied at the back in what is called a butterfly knot. The term “obi” is also used for the thick cotton belts that are an essential part of the outfits worn by practitioners of many martial arts. The color of the martial arts obi signifies the wearer’s skill level.

31 “Between the World and Me” writer Coates : TA-NEHISI

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a journalist and author from Baltimore, Maryland. His 2015 book “Between the World and Me” won that year’s National Book Award for Nonfiction. Coates also made a name for himself in the world of comic books, and is the writer of a “Black Panther” series for Marvel Comics.

35 Potpourri pieces : PETALS

The French term “pot pourri” literally translates literally to “rotten pot”, but in France it used to mean “stew”. Over time, the term “potpourri” evolved in English usage to mean a “medley”, and eventually a mixture of dried flowers and spices.

39 Kit parts with pedals : HI-HATS

In a drum kit, a hi-hat is a pairing of cymbals that sits on a stand and is played by using a foot pedal. The top cymbal is raised and lowered by the foot, hence creating a crashing sound.

41 Window-switching shortcut : ALT-TAB

On a Windows computer, the Alt-Tab keyboard shortcut allows a user to switch between open windows.

44 Apple TV+ device : IPAD

Apple TV+ is a video streaming service offered by Apple. Apple TV (without the “+”) is the name of Apple’s media player, and also the name of Apple’s streaming app.

48 Unadon fish : EEL

“Unadon” is the Japanese word for “eel bowl”. “Unadon” is actually a contraction of “unagi no kabayaki” (grilled eel) and “donburi” (rice bowl dish).

50 “__ Espookys”: 6-Across comedy series : LOS

“Los Espookys” is a comedy TV show about a group of friends who try to make a business out of fabricating horror scenes. Sounds a bit weird to me …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Accessory that may be paired with a smoking jacket : ASCOT
6 “Euphoria” network : HBO
9 Okra or orca unit : POD
12 Like pins and needles : PLURAL
14 “I cleaned my plate!” : ALL DONE!
16 Largest moon of Uranus : TITANIA
18 Many of the “GoodFellas” main characters : MADE MEN
19 Behavioral psychologist’s concern : PATTERN
21 Squash : STEP ON
22 Account statement? : SWORN TESTIMONY
24 Maureen presented with an Honorary Academy Award in 2014 : O’HARA
25 Buff : FAN
26 Kermit sipping tea and Keanu playing with puppies : MEMES
27 Clothing store department : BOYS
28 Turn in : GO TO BED
30 Psyche segments : IDS
31 Border dispute : TURF WAR
32 Corp. execs : VPS
35 Puzzle that uses every letter : PANGRAM
36 Athlete who wrote the memoir “My Life and the Beautiful Game” : PELE
37 Drained of color : ASHEN
40 Poetic dusk : E’EN
41 “Being the Ricardos” role : ARNAZ
42 Robin DiAngelo book about race relations : WHITE FRAGILITY
45 “Very funny” : HA HA HA
46 Shut up : KEPT MUM
47 “Did not expect to survive that” : I’M ALIVE
49 Like some passes : LATERAL
51 “Hm … ” : LET’S SEE …
52 Have the gumption : DARE TO
53 Mag wheels? : EDS
54 Archipelago part: Abbr. : ISL
55 Portends : BODES

Down

1 Apropos : APT
2 Careless : SLIPSHOD
3 Film flashbacks, essentially : CUTAWAYS
4 Figures of speech : ORATORS
5 Mystical text in Sanskrit : TANTRA
6 Scenery chewer : HAM
7 Heck of a party : BLAST
8 Honoree who might wear a vintage uniform : OLD-TIMER
9 Santa hat feature : POMPOM
10 Impossible NFL score : ONE-ONE
11 Chain with “all day diner deals” : DENNY’S
13 Property claim for outstanding debt : LIEN
15 Held : DEEMED
17 Master of disguise? : ART FORGER
20 One whose priorities are in order? : NEAT FREAK
23 Winter figure : SNOW ANGEL
24 Sash tied with a butterfly knot : OBI
28 Staple __ : GUN
29 “Just like that!” : BAM!
31 “Between the World and Me” writer Coates : TA-NEHISI
32 Hazarded, as a guess : VENTURED
33 Schoolyard friend : PLAYMATE
34 “__ who?” : SEZ
35 Potpourri pieces : PETALS
36 First, in Spanish : PRIMERO
37 For a spell : AWHILE
38 Brought low : SHAMED
39 Kit parts with pedals : HI-HATS
41 Window-switching shortcut : ALT-TAB
43 Top picks, slangily : FAVES
44 Apple TV+ device : IPAD
48 Unadon fish : EEL
50 “__ Espookys”: 6-Across comedy series : LOS

14 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 31 Dec 22, Saturday”

  1. Typical difficult Saturday puzzle; ended up with no errors but had to
    look up “tantra” and White Fragility. After I changed 1D from “fit” to
    “apt”…and “all gone” to “all done”, it sort of came together.

  2. Bill, unfortunately Mr Pele passed away a few days ago. Remarkable man.

    Messed up on BODES. Had BASES and never looked back.

    How about TANTRA and TANEHISI? wow, wasn’t sure about those but the crosses lead me there.

    Happy new years eve!

  3. Little less than thirty minutes with one incorrect letter : Had “pungram” instead of “pangram,” which I never heard of. Two other answers were also completely new to me: Tantra and Ta-Nehisi. The puzzle flowed nicely.

  4. 14 mins 36 seconds, and needed Check Grid help to unravel the “tense trick” of 46A and of the especially evil name-drop, TAHEHISI Coates. That was especially cynical and mean.

    Happy New Year all!

  5. 17:39 – no errors or lookups. False start: MENS>BOYS.

    New: “Euphoria,” TITANIA (but got it because it’s a lot like TITAN, another planetary moon), “Robin Diangelo” (but I’d heard of the book title before), LOS Espookys.”

    This one required filling lots of little bits, then hoping they’d lead to the bigger bits (which there were plenty of). For instance, guessing AWHILE for 37D helped with the SW section since it was the first letters of several other answers. 35D – leaves or petals? Getting ASCOT, POD, ___DONE, OHARA, ____WAR, and POMPOM right off helped fill in the top.

    A Happy New Year to all.

  6. No look ups,no errors. Good challenge to end the year with. I had the opportunity to
    meet Pele on one occasion. Great player and
    great man. R.I.P.
    Thank you Bill for all you do. Amazing how
    you do it day in, day out!
    Happy New Year everybody. Be safe….

  7. Fun challenging Saturday – except for the NW; took 55:00 with most of the NW filled with “check-grids.” Did fine elsewhere, except for P?NGRAM/T?NEHISI junction.

    Happy New Year everyone!!

  8. Some typical woke stuff (Tanehisi Coates, White Fragility) but I’m familiar with both, and a single puzzle creator, so this one was relatively easy.

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