LA Times Crossword 9 May 24, Thursday

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Constructed by: Joe Rodini
Edited by: Patti Varol

Today’s Reveal Answer: Close, but no Cigar!

Themed answers each include the letter string C-I-G-A-R. Well, CLOSE to that string, with one letter off:

  • 54A “Not quite!,” and what can be said about a letter string in the answer to each starred clue : CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR!
  • 17A *Opera buffa by Mozart : LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (FIGAR is close, but no CIGAR)
  • 29A *Landscape options in dry climates : ROCK GARDENS (CKGAR is close, but no CIGAR)
  • 39A *One skilled at manipulating characters : ASCII ARTIST (CIIAR is close, but no CIGAR)

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

Bill’s time: 10m 19s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Department concerned with wages : LABOR

The US Department of Labor (DOL) was founded as the Bureau of Labor in 1889 under the Department of the Interior. The Bureau’s status was elevated to Cabinet level by President William Howard Taft in 1913, with a bill he signed on his last day in office. The DOL has been headquartered in the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. since 1975. The building was named for Frances Perkins who served as Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945 and who was the first female cabinet secretary in US history.

10 Kazakhstan’s North __ Sea : ARAL

The former Soviet Union decided to divert the two rivers feeding the Aral Sea in order to irrigate food and cotton crops. Once the fourth largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea began to shrink dramatically in the 1960s due to the loss of water. Today, the Aral Sea is no more. Instead, there are two relatively small bodies of water labeled as the North Aral Sea and the South Aral Sea.

The Republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia is the world’s largest landlocked country. Kazakhstan was also the last of the former Soviet Republics (SSRs) to declare itself independent from Russia.

14 D-Day beach name : OMAHA

The Normandy landings on D-Day in 1944 took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The worst fighting by far took place on Omaha Beach, a sector assigned to the US Army that was transported by elements of the US Navy and the Royal Navy.

15 Sushi wrapper : NORI

Nori is an edible seaweed that we used to know as “laver” when we were living in Wales. Nori is usually dried into thin sheets. Here in the US, we are most familiar with nori as the seaweed used as a wrap for sushi.

17 *Opera buffa by Mozart : LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (FIGAR is close, but no CIGAR)

Figaro is the title character in at least two operas: “The Barber of Seville” (“Il barbiere di Siviglia”) by Rossini, and “The Marriage of Figaro” (“Le nozze di Figaro”) by Mozart. The two storylines are based on plays by Pierre Beaumarchais, with one basically being a sequel to the other.

23 Leaves at the altar : JILTS

To jilt someone with whom you have a relationship is to drop them suddenly or callously. “Jilt” is an obsolete noun that used to mean “harlot, loose woman”.

24 Tropical trees : PALMS

Palms are perennial flowering plants that take many forms, some as shrubs and some as vines, for example. Some take on a tree-like shape, with a woody stem topped by a crown of leaves. Such palms are usually referred to as “palm trees”. The coco de mer palm tree has the largest seeds of any plant on the planet. We are more familiar with the coconut palm tree, which has the second-largest plant seeds known.

25 Vegan milk source : ALMOND

I’m a big fan of plain, unsweetened almond milk. Basic almond milk is made by combining almonds and water in a blender, and then straining out the almond pulp.

28 Mountainous region of the Levant : JUDEA

Judea was the southern part of the historic Land of Israel. The most famous location within Judea is the city of Jerusalem.

The Levant is the geographic region that lies east of the Mediterranean, covering modern-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Egypt. The term is sometimes also used synonymously with the Near East. Syria and Lebanon, when under French rule, were called the Levant States, a name still used at times for the two nations. As one might expect, the word Levant comes from French and was the Middle French word for “the Orient”. The term was used for the Orient as it described lands to the east, where the sun rises (from “lever”, the French word meaning “to rise”). Really, quite interesting …

39 *One skilled at manipulating characters : ASCII ARTIST (CIIAR is close, but no CIGAR)

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) lists codes for 32 “control” characters, as well as the 95 printable characters. These binary codes are the way that our computers can understand what we mean when we type, say a letter or a number. Unicode is a more contemporary standard, and is like “Ascii on steroids”, encompassing more characters.

45 Crow’s-nest cry : LAND HO!

The cry of “land ho!” from a sailor means that land has just been spotted. A similar shout is “sail ho!”, indicating that another boat has been spotted.

A crow’s nest is a structure atop the mainmast of a ship that is used as a lookout point. The first crow’s nest was erected in 1807, and was simply a barrel that was lashed to the tallest mast. Supposedly, the structure is named for the crows or ravens that Vikings carried with them on their voyages. The birds were released and used as navigation aids as invariably, the crow or raven headed straight for the nearest land.

46 Race town near Windsor Castle : ASCOT

Ascot Racecourse is used for thoroughbred horse racing, and is located in the town of Ascot, Berkshire in England. The course is located just six miles from Windsor Castle, and is often visited by members of the royal family. Royal Ascot is the name given to the most famous race meeting in the year, at which members of the royal family attend each day, arriving in horse-drawn carriages amidst great ceremony.

Windsor Castle is located on the River Thames in Berkshire, just 20 miles outside London. It was built in the early 11th century by William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion of England. Queen Elizabeth II used to spend many of her weekends at Windsor. She had lots of room to move around there, as it’s the largest inhabited castle in the world.

47 Red carpet brand : PRADA

Prada started out in 1913 as a leather-goods shop in Milan, one established by the two Prada brothers. One of the brothers, Mario Prada, prevented the female members of his family from participating in the running of the company as he didn’t believe women should be involved in business (!). When the sexist brother died, his son had no interest in the business so it was his daughter who took over and ran the company for about twenty years, handing it over to her own daughter. I’d say the devil loved that …

49 Pertaining to bees : APIAN

Something described as apian is related to bees. “Apis” is Latin for “bee”.

50 __ Sound Machine : MIAMI

Miami Sound Machine was a band that was founded as the Miami Latin Boys in 1975. Gloria García (now “Estefan”) joined as a vocalist in 1977, by which time the band had changed its name to Miami Sound Machine. A further name change came in 1987, to Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine.

51 Explosive letters : TNT

Trinitrotoluene (TNT)

59 Protein-building acid : AMINO

Amino acids are essential to life in many ways, not least of which is their use as the building blocks of proteins. Nine amino acids are considered “essential” for humans. These nine must be included in the diet as they cannot be synthesized in the body.

61 __ up: tell all : FESS

The term “fess” is most often seen as part of the phrasal verb “to fess up” meaning “to admit to something”. “Fess” is simply a shortened form of “confess”.

Down

1 Kirke of “Mozart in the Jungle” : LOLA

Lola Kirke is an actress and singer-songwriter who is perhaps best known for playing the lead in the TV show “Mozart in the Jungle”. Although raised in New York City, she was actually born in London.

If you want to read a fun book (almost an “exposé”) about life playing the oboe, you might try “Mozart in the Jungle” by oboist Blair Tindall. Amazon Studios adapted the book into a TV comedy-drama series that first aired in 2014.

3 Boston or Chicago : BAND

Boston is a rock band from … Boston. Boston’s biggest hit was “Amanda”, released in 1986.

The rock band called Chicago was formed in … Chicago. The band’s biggest hits are “If You Leave Me Now” (1976) and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” (1982). The band’s lineup has changed a lot over the years. The most tragic reason for a change was in 1978 when Terry Kath, one of the band’s founding members, died from an accidentally self-inflicted gun wound. Kath enjoyed playing with guns and as a joke held a pistol with an empty magazine to his temple and pulled the trigger. A round in the chamber killed him instantly.

6 Like noble gases : INERT

An inert gas can be different from a noble gas. Both are relatively non-reactive, but a noble gas is an element. An inert gas might be a compound, i.e. made up of more than one element.

7 Long-extinct flightless birds : DODOS

The dodo was a direct relative of the pigeon and the dove, although the fully-grown dodo was usually three feet tall. One of the reasons the dodo comes to mind when we think of extinction of a species, is that it disappeared not too long ago (last recorded alive in 1662) and humans were the reason for its demise. The dodo lived exclusively on the island of Mauritius and when humans arrived, we cut back the forests that were its home. We also introduced domestic animals, such as dogs and pigs, that ransacked the dodo’s nests. The dodo was deemed to be an awkward flightless bird and so the term “dodo” has come to mean a dull-witted person.

10 Sock pattern : ARGYLE

The argyle pattern is based on the Campbell tartan. The Campbell clan is based in the Argyll region (note the spelling) in the west of Scotland, giving the Argyle pattern its name.

11 La Liga team that plays in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium : REAL MADRID

Real Madrid is a professional soccer team based in Madrid, Spain. The team name translates as “Royal Madrid”. Real Madrid is often ranked as the world’s most valuable soccer team, and is one of the most widely supported sports teams on the planet.

The premier division of Spanish club soccer is the “Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División”, or more usually “La Liga” (The League).

13 Wildebeest hunter : LION

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

18 Nintendo princess : ZELDA

“The Legend of Zelda” is a whole series of video games. First released in 1986, I hear that it is very successful …

27 Supersize suburban homes : MCMANSIONS

“McMansion” is a word used for a large, luxury house that many believe is “too much” for the neighborhood. Similar pejorative terms are “garage Mahal” and “Hummer house”.

28 Ryan of “Bosch” : JERI

Jeri Ryan’s most famous role is the de-assimilated Borg known as Seven of Nine on “Star Trek: Voyager”. I haven’t seen that show, but I know Ryan from a supporting role on the legal drama “Shark”, playing opposite James Woods. She also plays Ronnie Cooke on “Boston Public”.

“Bosch” is a well-written police drama series produced by Amazon Studios. The title character, detective Harry Bosch, is portrayed by Titus Welliver. Harry Bosch features in a series of novels by Michael Connelly, who is also the TV show’s creator.

31 Soft & __ : DRI

Soft & Dri is an antiperspirant.

34 Apropos of : AS TO

“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).

37 Sicilian mount : ETNA

Mount Etna on the island of Sicily is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy, and indeed the largest of all active volcanoes in Europe. Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Mt. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-gauge railway, and two ski resorts. It is sometimes referred to as “Mongibello” in Italian, and as “Mungibeddu” (sometimes “Muncibeddu”) in Sicilian. The English name “Etna” comes from the Greek “aitho” meaning “I eat”.

44 Irish dramatist Seán : O’CASEY

Seán O’Casey was an Irish playwright noted for his works exploring the plight of the working class in Dublin. O’Casey’s most famous works are “Juno and the Paycock” and “The Plough and the Stars”.

47 Falafel holders : PITAS

Falafel is a ball of ground chickpeas or fava beans that has been deep fried and served in pita bread. I love chickpeas, but falafel is often too dry for me …

48 Tirades : RANTS

The term “tirade” describes a long and vehement speech, and is a word that came into English from French. “Tirade” can have the same meaning in French, but is also the word for “volley”. So, a tirade is a “volley” of words.

49 Cartoon maker of Invisible Paint and Instant Road : ACME

The Acme Corporation is a fictional company used mainly by Looney Tunes, and within the Looney Tunes empire it appears mostly in “Road Runner” cartoons. Wile E. Coyote is always receiving a new piece of gear from Acme designed to finally capture the Road Runner, but the equipment always leads to his downfall.

50 Stubborn beast : MULE

A hinny is the offspring of a male horse (the “h-” from h-orse) and a female donkey/ass (the “-nny” from je-nny). A mule is more common, and is the offspring of a female horse and male donkey/ass.

51 “Yay, the weekend’s almost here!” : TGIF!

“Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Department concerned with wages : LABOR
6 “Word” : I DIG
10 Kazakhstan’s North __ Sea : ARAL
14 D-Day beach name : OMAHA
15 Sushi wrapper : NORI
16 Get a better rate, for short : REFI
17 *Opera buffa by Mozart : LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (FIGAR is close, but no CIGAR)
20 “Your point being?” : AND?
21 They mean nothing : ZEROS
22 End zone marker : PYLON
23 Leaves at the altar : JILTS
24 Tropical trees : PALMS
25 Vegan milk source : ALMOND
28 Mountainous region of the Levant : JUDEA
29 *Landscape options in dry climates : ROCK GARDENS (CKGAR is close, but no CIGAR)
32 “CSI” evidence : DNA
35 __ in handy : COME
36 Missay, say : ERR
37 God of love : EROS
38 Swanky hotel amenity : SPA
39 *One skilled at manipulating characters : ASCII ARTIST (CIIAR is close, but no CIGAR)
43 Memos : NOTES
45 Crow’s-nest cry : LAND HO!
46 Race town near Windsor Castle : ASCOT
47 Red carpet brand : PRADA
49 Pertaining to bees : APIAN
50 __ Sound Machine : MIAMI
51 Explosive letters : TNT
54 “Not quite!,” and what can be said about a letter string in the answer to each starred clue : CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR!
57 “Get your own!” : MINE!
58 Free of fizz : FLAT
59 Protein-building acid : AMINO
60 Online crafts site : ETSY
61 __ up: tell all : FESS
62 Lite : LO-FAT

Down

1 Kirke of “Mozart in the Jungle” : LOLA
2 “Preach!” : AMEN!
3 Boston or Chicago : BAND
4 Cry of discovery : OHO!
5 Poking fun at : RAZZING
6 Like noble gases : INERT
7 Long-extinct flightless birds : DODOS
8 Eye part : IRIS
9 Many a moving meme : GIF
10 Sock pattern : ARGYLE
11 La Liga team that plays in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium : REAL MADRID
12 Curly hairstyles : AFROS
13 Wildebeest hunter : LION
18 Nintendo princess : ZELDA
19 Tablets at some checkout counters : IPADS
23 Routine element : JOKE
24 Many a 23-Down : PUN
25 Circle parts : ARCS
26 Roller coaster feature : LOOP
27 Supersize suburban homes : MCMANSIONS
28 Ryan of “Bosch” : JERI
30 Suggestions, informally : RECS
31 Soft & __ : DRI
33 Have a snack : NOSH
34 Apropos of : AS TO
37 Sicilian mount : ETNA
39 Back up an apology, say : ATONE
40 Gel : SET
41 Avis rival : ALAMO
42 Far beyond the norm : RADICAL
44 Irish dramatist Seán : O’CASEY
46 College-level HS English course : AP LIT
47 Falafel holders : PITAS
48 Tirades : RANTS
49 Cartoon maker of Invisible Paint and Instant Road : ACME
50 Stubborn beast : MULE
51 “Yay, the weekend’s almost here!” : TGIF!
52 Grandmother’s nickname : NANA
53 Moderate gait : TROT
55 Lifelong pal, briefly : BFF
56 “If u ask me … ” : IMO …

12 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 9 May 24, Thursday”

  1. The theme was a bit too “clever” for me. Got the last of 17A and 39A but had no clue on the first parts. 39A was filled by the crosses but I had Aha on 4D not OHO, so that was an error (though I still think Aha is right!!@).
    The rest fell into place with time, crosses and guesses.

  2. The top half was very rough for me, primarily because of Le nozze di Figaro. I had absolutely no idea. Never heard of nori, didn’t know Lola, Jeri, Prada, etc.

  3. 16 min. 2 errors
    LO(M)A (M)ENOZZED…..

    didn’t know who Kirke is or the Opera buffa. Guessed …

    Close but no cigar for me… literally.

  4. No errors.
    Fortunately 17A was used in a previous puzzle and I found it in “my notes”
    Stay safe😀
    Go Orioles⚾️

  5. Did not care for this puzzle. I agree with previous poster, I have never heard a cry of discovery as “oho”.

  6. I got the theme fill by crossing letters that suggested the answer, not by figuring out the gyrations needed to solve it “naturally”.

  7. I got the theme fill by crossing letters that suggested the answer, not by figuring out the gyrations needed to solve it “naturally”.

    Honestly, I don’t know why constructors go through these mental gymnastics, when it usually adds nothing to the puzzle; it usually DETRACTS.

  8. Le Nozze Di Figaro held me up for the longest time. Could not figure it out. The crosses helped some but had to make guesses for the rest. Harder than a typical Thursday for me.

  9. @Tim – So you’re probably familiar with the more common “I dig” or “I can dig it” to signify approval. Modern slang just shortens that to “Word.”

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