LA Times Crossword 19 May 23, Friday

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Constructed by: Alexander Liebeskind
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Why Y?

Themed answers are punny reinterpretations of common phrases with the first word ending with -Y:

  • 17A Building a fire without any charcoal or lighter fluid? : STICKY SITUATION
  • 23A Mountain of comfy shoes? : SLIPPERY SLOPE
  • 37A Artichokes eaten first thing in the morning? : HEARTY BREAKFAST
  • 48A “Should this potted plant go in the dining room window or the bedroom window?,” e.g. : SILLY QUESTION
  • 58A Relinquishing one’s noble title? : EARLY RETIREMENT

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

Bill’s time: 7m 34s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 College-level HS English course : AP LIT

The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers college-level courses to kids who are still in high school (HS). After being tested at the end of an AP course, successful students receive credits that count towards a college degree.

10 Party loot : SWAG

Swag is loot, stolen property, and a term that started out as criminal slang in England in the 1830s. “Swag” is also the name given to the promotional freebies available at some events. That said, there’s an urban myth that the promotional version of “swag” is an acronym standing for “stuff we all get”.

14 Place for a bench warmer? : SAUNA

As my Finnish-American wife will tell you, “sauna” is a Finnish word. It is pronounced more correctly as “sow-nah” (“sow”, as in the female pig).

16 Melodramatic sigh : AH ME

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”.

17 Building a fire without any charcoal or lighter fluid? : STICKY SITUATION

Charcoal is made by heating wood in an atmosphere that minimizes the exposure to oxygen. This process, known as pyrolysis, removes water and volatile materials from the wood leaving the black carbon residue that we call charcoal. The charcoal itself will burn, at a higher temperature, if exposed to oxygen and an ignition source.

20 Brain wave readout, for short : EEG

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a record of electrical activity caused by the firing of neurons within the brain. The EEG might be used to diagnose epilepsy, or perhaps to determine if a patient is “brain dead”.

22 Hindu spiritual writing : SUTRA

The word “sutra” is used in Hinduism for a learned text, one usually meant to be studied by students.

27 Only cardinal direction not in a state name : EAST

Here is a list of the US state names that contain a cardinal direction:

  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • West Virginia

32 Mesopotamian region where cuneiform was invented : SUMER

Iraq is often called the “Cradle of Civilization” as it was home to Sumer, which was the earliest known civilization on the planet. By 5000 BC the Sumerian people were practicing year-round agriculture and had a specialized labor force. For the first time, a whole race was able to settle in one place by storing food, instead of having to migrate in a pattern dictated by crops and grazing land.

Cuneiform writing is a very early form of written expression that uses characters that are variants of a wedge shape. The first form of cuneiform writing was developed in Sumer (in modern-day Iraq), and was largely a system of pictographs. Over time, the number of characters decreased and became smaller and simpler, until they eventually evolved into the characters that we use in alphabetic writing today.

37 Artichokes eaten first thing in the morning? : HEARTY BREAKFAST

As one might imagine from their appearance, artichokes are actually a type of thistle. The edible part of the artichoke is the flower bud, which is harvested before it fully blooms. If left unharvested, the flower of the artichoke plant will eventually bloom into a large, bright purple flower.

42 Dawn goddess : EOS

In Greek mythology, Eos was the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos was Aurora. Rather delightfully, Homer referred to Eos as “rosy-fingered dawn” in both “Iliad” and “Odyssey”.

43 Specks : IOTAS

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, and one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small, as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

44 Gesture-based communication syst. : ASL

It’s really quite unfortunate that American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one cannot understand someone signing in the other.

46 Designer Gucci : ALDO

Gucci was founded in Rome, in 1921, by Guccio Gucci. Guccio’s son Aldo took over the company after his father’s death in 1953. It was Aldo who established the international presence for the brand and opened the company’s first overseas store, in New York City.

48 “Should this potted plant go in the dining room window or the bedroom window?,” e.g. : SILLY QUESTION

“Sill plate”, or simply “sill”, is an architectural term describing a bottom horizontal member to which vertical members are attached. Window sills and door sills are specific sill plates found at the bottoms of windows and door openings.

56 “High Drama” singer Lambert : ADAM

Singer Adam Lambert is one of the “successes” to come out of the “American Idol” machine. After hitting the big times, Lambert started a collaboration with Brian May and Roger Taylor, performing as Queen + Adam Lambert.

57 Premier __: French wine designation : CRU

“Cru” is a term used in the French wine industry that means “growth place”. So, “cru” is the name of the location where the grapes are grown, as opposed to the name of a specific vineyard. The terms “premier cru” and “grand cru” are also used, but the usage depends on the specific wine region. Generally it is a classification awarded to specific vineyards denoting their potential for producing great wines. “Grand cru” is reserved for the very best vineyards, with “premier cru” the level just below.

58 Relinquishing one’s noble title? : EARLY RETIREMENT

In the ranking of nobles, an earl comes above a viscount and below a marquis. The rank of earl is used in the British peerage system and is equivalent to the rank of count in other countries. Other British ranks have female forms (e.g. marquis and marchioness, viscount and viscountess), but there isn’t a female word for the rank of earl. A female given the same rank as an earl is known as a countess.

62 Oxford, but not Cambridge : SHOE

An oxford is a type of lace-up shoe that originated not in Oxford, but actually in Scotland and/or Ireland.

The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The exact date of the school’s founding is uncertain, although teaching was recorded there as early as 1096. Back in the early 1200s, the authorities from the town of Oxford hanged two Oxford University scholars following the death of a woman. There followed a dispute between the townsfolk and the university that resulted in many academics leaving Oxford. Many ended up in Cambridge, leading to the founding of the University of Cambridge in 1209. The two universities have a similar status today, and are often referred to jointly as “Oxbridge”.

63 Quod __ demonstrandum : ERAT

The initialism “QED” is used at the end of a mathematical proof or a philosophical argument. QED stands for the Latin “quod erat demonstrandum” meaning “that which was to be demonstrated”.

67 Full of fluff : LINTY

“Lint”, meaning “fluff”, is one of those terms that I had to learn when I moved to the US. We call the same thing “fuzz” on the other side of the Atlantic.

Down

2 “Lion” Oscar nominee Dev : PATEL

Dev Patel is an actor from Harrow in England who is perhaps best known for playing the lead in the hit movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. He also stars in a lovely 2012 film called “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” alongside an incredible cast that included Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. Patel also had a regular role in the marvelous HBO drama series called “The Newsroom”.

“Lion” is a 2016 film based on the autobiographical book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley. Brierley is an Indian-born Australian who was accidentally separated from his mother when he was 5 years old, ending up stranded on a train that took the young boy nearly 1,500 km from his home. The excellent film adaptation stars Dev Patel as the older Brierley, who searches for his birth-family. Excellent movie …

3 “Super Mario” brother : LUIGI

Mario Bros. started out as an arcade game back in 1983, developed by Nintendo. The more famous of the two brothers, Mario, had already appeared in an earlier arcade game “Donkey Kong”. Mario was given a brother called Luigi, and the pair have been around ever since. In the game, Mario and Luigi are Italian American plumbers from New York City.

4 Fortune rival : INC

“Inc.” is a business magazine that specializes in articles about growing companies. “Inc.” publishes a list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the country each year, calling it the “Inc. 500”. The “Inc. 5000” is an expanded list also published by the magazine.

6 Antarctica, for one : DESERT

On average, Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest of all seven continents. Although Antarctica is very cold, it is essentially a desert, receiving only 8 inches of precipitation annually at the coasts and even less inland.

9 Serengeti grazer : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch word meaning “wild beast”.

The Serengeti is a region in Africa located in northern Tanzania and southwest Kenya. The name “Serengeti” comes from the Maasai language and means “Endless Plains”.

12 Omnia vincit __ : AMOR

“Omnia vincit amor” is a line from Eclogue X, one of the major works of the Latin poet Virgil. We know the phrase in English as “love conquers all”.

13 Actress Rowlands : GENA

Gena Rowlands is an actress best known for the films made with her husband, actor and director John Cassavetes. Notably, Rowlands played a lead role opposite James Garner in the weepy, weepy 2004 film “The Notebook”. “The Notebook” was directed by her son Nick Cassavetes. Rowlands was nominated for Oscars for her performances in two films: “Gloria” (1980) and “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974).

18 Part of YSL : YVES

Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)

26 “The Practice” actress __ Flynn Boyle : LARA

Actress Lara Flynn Boyle played Donna Hayward on “Twin Peaks” and Helen Gamble on “The Practice”.

“The Practice” is a legal drama set in a Boston law firm. “The Practice” ran for seven seasons, after which many of the main cast were fired as ABC would only renew the show if its budget was drastically reduced. Regardless of the cuts, “The Practice” only survived one more season, although it did spawn the successful spin-off “Boston Legal”.

30 __ Minor : URSA

Ursa Minor (Latin for “Smaller Bear”) sits right beside the constellation Draco (Latin for “Dragon”). Ursa Minor used to be considered the wing of Draco, and was once called “Dragon’s Wing”. The tail of the “Smaller Bear” might also be considered as the handle of a ladle, and so the constellation is often referred to as the Little Dipper.

32 __ butter : SHEA

Shea butter is a common moisturizer and lotion used as a cosmetic. It is a fat that is extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. There is evidence that shea butter was used back in Cleopatra’s Egypt.

33 One-eighties : UEYS

Hang a “uey” or “uie”, make a u-turn, make a 180.

34 Violent vortex : MAELSTROM

A maelstrom is a violent or turbulent situation, or a very large whirlpool. “Maelstrom” is derived from the name of a notorious whirlpool located off the northwest coast of Norway.

35 Triage ctrs. : ERS

Triage is the process of prioritizing patients for treatment, especially on the battlefield. The term “triage” is French and means “sorting”.

45 Skin care brand : OLAY

Oil of Olay was developed in South Africa in 1952. When Oil of Olay was introduced internationally, it was given slightly different brand names designed to appeal in the different geographies. In Ireland we know it as Oil of Ulay, for example, and in France it is Oil of Olaz.

46 Open-book exams? : AUDITS

An audit is a formal examination of the accounts or financial situation of an individual or organization. Such a process was originally an oral affair, and indeed, the term “audit” comes from the Latin “audire” meaning “to hear”.

47 Prolific TV producer Norman : LEAR

Norman Lear wrote and produced some great television shows, including “All in the Family”, “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons”. He also did some film work, including writing and producing the great 1967 movie “Divorce American Style”.

49 Caribbean spots : ISLES

The Caribbean Sea takes its name from the Island Carib people. The Island Caribs are an American Indian people that live in the Lesser Antilles islands, part of the West Indies.

50 2022 FIFA World Cup host : QATAR

Qatar is a sovereign state in the Middle East occupying the Qatar Peninsula, itself located in the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar lies on the Persian Gulf and shares one land border, with Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar has more oil and gas reserves per capita of population than any other country in the world. In 2010, Qatar had the fastest growing economy in the world, driven by the petrochemical industry.

55 Diamond Head locale : OAHU

Diamond Head on the Hawaiian island of Oahu was given its name by British sailors in the 1800s. These sailors found calcite crystals in the rock surrounding the volcanic tuff cone and mistook the crystals for diamonds.

59 __ center : REC

Recreation (rec.)

61 Sports doc’s scan : MRI

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine uses powerful magnetic fields to generate its images so there is no exposure to ionizing radiation (such as X-rays). We used MRI equipment in our chemistry labs at school, way back in the days when the technology was still called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI). Apparently the marketing folks didn’t like the term “nuclear” because of its association with atomic bombs, so now it’s just called MRI.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 College-level HS English course : AP LIT
6 __ and drop : DRAG
10 Party loot : SWAG
14 Place for a bench warmer? : SAUNA
15 Bag : EARN
16 Melodramatic sigh : AH ME
17 Building a fire without any charcoal or lighter fluid? : STICKY SITUATION
20 Brain wave readout, for short : EEG
21 Not bumpy : EVEN
22 Hindu spiritual writing : SUTRA
23 Mountain of comfy shoes? : SLIPPERY SLOPE
27 Only cardinal direction not in a state name : EAST
28 Big lug : OAF
29 Dirty word? : MUD
32 Mesopotamian region where cuneiform was invented : SUMER
35 Missay, say : ERR
36 Prefix with dynamic : AERO-
37 Artichokes eaten first thing in the morning? : HEARTY BREAKFAST
41 Potato spots : EYES
42 Dawn goddess : EOS
43 Specks : IOTAS
44 Gesture-based communication syst. : ASL
45 Ancient : OLD
46 Designer Gucci : ALDO
48 “Should this potted plant go in the dining room window or the bedroom window?,” e.g. : SILLY QUESTION
54 Many, casually : LOTSA
56 “High Drama” singer Lambert : ADAM
57 Premier __: French wine designation : CRU
58 Relinquishing one’s noble title? : EARLY RETIREMENT
62 Oxford, but not Cambridge : SHOE
63 Quod __ demonstrandum : ERAT
64 Hilarious : A RIOT
65 Basic math homework : SUMS
66 Autos : CARS
67 Full of fluff : LINTY

Down

1 Pack animals : ASSES
2 “Lion” Oscar nominee Dev : PATEL
3 “Super Mario” brother : LUIGI
4 Fortune rival : INC
5 Share : TAKE PART
6 Antarctica, for one : DESERT
7 Unlike a 6-Down : RAINY
8 Quilting, e.g. : ART
9 Serengeti grazer : GNU
10 Broke out of a slump? : SAT UP
11 Poultry choice : WHITE MEAT
12 Omnia vincit __ : AMOR
13 Actress Rowlands : GENA
18 Part of YSL : YVES
19 Starting on : AS OF
24 Equals : PEERS
25 Like some subjects : SORE
26 “The Practice” actress __ Flynn Boyle : LARA
30 __ Minor : URSA
31 Colon units : DOTS
32 __ butter : SHEA
33 One-eighties : UEYS
34 Violent vortex : MAELSTROM
35 Triage ctrs. : ERS
36 In the offing : AFOOT
38 Give a shout-out? : YELL
39 Word with surf or shop : BODY …
40 Restaurant offering that may have an age limit : KIDS’ MEAL
45 Skin care brand : OLAY
46 Open-book exams? : AUDITS
47 Prolific TV producer Norman : LEAR
49 Caribbean spots : ISLES
50 2022 FIFA World Cup host : QATAR
51 Strand during a ski trip, say : ICE IN
52 ” … never mind, then” : … OR NOT
53 Like brown butter : NUTTY
54 Minus : LESS
55 Diamond Head locale : OAHU
59 __ center : REC
60 Stretch of history : ERA
61 Sports doc’s scan : MRI

16 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 19 May 23, Friday”

  1. Pretty quick and easy for a Friday, though I had KIDS’ MEnu before KIDS’ MEAL and I was confused by SHOE being both an answer and part of a clue elsewhere in the puzzle.

  2. Found the theme super early but I still got stuck. Most Latin and Greek clues are beyond me and these seemed to be the cross whenever I needed help with a clue.
    3 lookups. 2 errors (kids menu instead of meal, erao instead of erat).
    Still, a decent Friday for me!

  3. No errors at the end but needed a couple of proper name lookups: i.e.
    47D – Lara and 56A- Adam. Once I got the “slippery slope” I realized
    the theme and the rest came fairly easily. Fun (or should I say “pun”}
    puzzle.

  4. Should this theme go in the dining room window or the bedroom window?

    Very fast Friday for me (6:15) thanks to very guessable theme answers. Disliked the dubious spelling of UEYS (uey vey), the vestigial article in A RIOT, and I see AH ME way too often in crosswords for how often actual humans have spoken those words in the last hundred years

  5. 31:03 – on letter error at ChU/OhNOT. Might have fixed it if I had perused it more. But, I had already spent over 10 minutes figuring out the N middle section. Took a long time to come up with DESERT for “Antarctica, for one.” With GNU already in place, DRAG and EARN then revealed themselves. Technically, Antarctica is a desert, but that’s not my perception of it.

    False starts: BEE>ART, ASIA>URSA, LIGHT>LINTY, EARLYRETURN…>EARLYRETIRE…

    New: “High Drama,” LARA Flynn Boyle.

    Reading about, and seeing a couple of videos of, the Saltstraumen tidal current in Norway was interesting. Quite a phenomenon!

    Thanks to Bill for pointing out the ‘Y’ aspect of the theme answers. I didn’t catch that.

  6. For a Friday, surprisingly fairly quick. Like others, when I got the theme, most everything fell into place. That is, except for SUMER/SHEA. Finally settled on the “S” but kept thinking it should have been Ghee. Well, a banner’s still a banner.

  7. 10 mins 28 sec, and no errors. Sighed heavily at the groaner puns in the theme fills. C’mon, this isn’t “clever” … it’s just STUPID. Knock it off.

  8. I’m not an English whiz, so pardon me for asking. I’m curious, couldn’t the theme be described as turning nouns into adverbs to meet the clue?

  9. 48:56 which isn’t bad for a Friday for me. 22A eluded me, even with SUT already showing. It GoK several grid checks to figure it out. The theme was helpful as I got EARLY RETIREMENT early (very punny. Eric).

  10. 21:20, 2 errors. Spent a lot of time in the upper central portion. I had DESERT & GNU but could not easily see DRAG, ART & EARN. When I finally submitted it I found I had made a stupid error in the SE with NUTSY instead of NUTTY.

  11. No look ups, no errors. One change on the
    fly, audios/audits. Never really got the
    theme so no help there. Found this one a
    little tough. Probably because of all the
    foreign terms….Bring on Saturday!

  12. Fairly easy Friday for me; took 13:06 with no peeks or errors. Worked out the theme early and was able to use it in the later clues. Just wasn’t quite sure on SUMER and CRU but crosses made those obvious. Only know PATEL and LUIGI from crosswords, but knew all the other people.

    I think Cambridge SHOES are the ones with velcro…

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