Thursday, April 14, 2022, Josh M. Kaufmann


Today we are visited by Josh M. Kaufmann, who appears to be making his LA Times debut by asking us an existential question in the reveal to this themed puzzle:

58A. Head-scratching words ... and, phonetically, a feature of the four longest Down answers: WHY ON EARTH?  We've all seen this before, but now might be a good time to be reminded of it again:

Josh answers this question with 4 Down clues, often a giveaway to a visual theme.  In this case the theme puns on two homophones: the letter Y and the reveal word WHY, the former perched atop a synonym for the word EARTH.

3D. Big name in travel guides: LONELY PLANET.  Lonely Planet is an Australian travel guide book publisher.  Founded in 1973, the company had sold 120 million books as of 2011.  Their books look like a great way to find your way around Sagan's pale blue dot.

13D. Newspaper rival of the Bugle in the Spider-Man universe: DAILY GLOBE. This clue takes us off of the planet and enables us to explore the fantasy world inside our mind.

21D. Oz, for one: FANTASY WORLD.  Here's the moment when Dorothy tells Toto "We're not in Kansas anymore":

24D. Anaheim attraction: DISNEYLAND.  This attraction was a FANTASY of Walt Disney originally designed and built under his supervision in 1955. 

Here's how the theme stacks up:


1. "Leaves of Grass" name: WALT.  Written by another WALT with a fantastic imagination,  Leaves of Grass is a poetry collection by American poet Walt Whitman. Though it was first published in 1855, Whitman spent most of his professional life writing and rewriting Leaves of Grass, revising it multiple times until his death. Perhaps the most famous poem from it is his ode to Abraham Lincoln, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", added after Lincoln's assassination.

Walt Whitman
Frontispiece to the Leaves of Grass

5. Links to a social media post: TAGS.  Everything you might want to know about TAGS, HASHTAGS, and CATEGORIES.

9. Ivy, e.g.: Abbr.: SCH.

12. They're better boosted than inflated: EGOS.

13. Actor Willem: DAFOEWilliam James Dafoe born July 22, 1955) is an American actor. He is the recipient of various accolades, including the Volpi Cup for Best Actor (Venice Film Festival), in addition to receiving nominations for four Academy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and a British Academy Film Award.  Dafoe plays the hired assassin  J. G. Jopling in the Wes Craven comedy/drama Grand Budapest Hotel.  Here's the ski chase scene where he is being pursued by the heroes Gustav H and Zero, and at the very end almost turns the table on them:

14. NCAA's "Tide": ALA.  I tried RED first, as in CRIMSON TIDE, but it didn't perp.

15. Where many blood cells are produced: BONE MARROW.  Some more facts about blood.

17. Witty retort: MOT.  French for "word".  Usually proceeded by BON, literally "good word" or idiomatically, a response to a zinger.   The phrase MOT JUSTE  means "just the right word".

18. French film: CINE.  Where we get our word CINEMA:
19. Be in session: SIT.

20. Neutralize: DEFUSE

22. Indigo plant: ANIL.

23. Pleased: GLAD.

25. Challenges requiring nerve: DARES.  Dares usually involve risks.

26. Like some Sundays: LAZY.

27. Aleppo's land: SYRIAAleppo is a city in Syria, which serves as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. with an official population of 4.6 million in 2010.

29. Alliance acronym: NATOThe North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is much in the news these days.

30. Champs-Élysées lunch choice: CREPE. The Champs-Élysées being the boulevard in Paris, France.  Everything you need know to make a variety of French crepes.

32. Carrying process: GESTATION.  This normally takes about nine months.  When our IT projects used to run behind schedule and management  started piling on more help, we'd tell them: "Nine women can't make a baby in one month!".

34. Break in the action: LULL.

36. German pop star who sang "99 Luftballons": NENA. I have a sneaking suspicion that these were just the perps needed to make the themers 24D and 21D plus the fillers 28D and 33D work.  So Josh googled it and came up with "NENA".  As luck would have it, just like the band, he got one HIT.  Here it is (in the original German (English lyrics)), complete with audience participation).

37. The very beginning: SQUARE ONE.  Sometimes we have to go back there.

41. Russian rulers: TSARS.  A modern TSAR is currently pursuing a disastrous effort to make a comeback (see 29A).

45. Go left, say: TURN.

46. Does as told: OBEYS.

48. First name in fashion: YVES.   Yves Saint-Laurent (1 August 1936 – 1 June 2008) or simply YSL, was a French fashion designer who, in 1962, founded his eponymous fashion label. He is regarded as being among the foremost fashion designers of the twentieth century.

Yves Saint-Laurent

49. Wild party: RAGER.  In the 60's we called them "Happenings".

51. "Enchanted" movie girl: ELLA.  In case you're considering showing streaming this for your grandchildren, here's a capsule review, complete with trailer.  See also 46A for Ella's problem.

52. Gradually withdraw: WEAN.

53. Playground retort: ARE TOO.  We start learning BON MOTS early.

55. Droop: SAG.

56. "The Hobbit" creatures: ORCSENTS would have fit, but 21D needed this meany:

An Orc named Grishnakh

 57. Buffet server: URN.  A buffet served is a buffet urned.

61. Brief moment: SEC.  An eternity compared to a NSEC, shorthand for NANOSECOND.  Here's Admiral Grace Hopper, the inventor of COBOL, explaining just how short that really is ...

62. Fix: AMEND.

63. Protected, at sea: ALEE.

64. Word with devil or dog: SLY.

65. Brooklyn ballers: NETS.  As most sports are played with balls, I don't understand why the honorific "baller" was bestowed upon Basket ball players.  Anyway, as one might expect The Brooklyn Nets are an American professional basketball team based in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.  Here's the rest of their story.

66. Puts in: ADDS.


1. Online group study: WEBINAR.  These are older than you think, in more ways than one.

2. Fret (over): AGONIZE.

4. Mao __-tung: TSE.  This Chairman is becoming crosswordese.

5. Style of some surf and turf: TARTARE.  Raw fish I love; I'm not so sure about raw meat.

6. Cont. south of Western 31-Down: AFR.  Unless you perped this, you'd have to fill 31D first.

7. "Glad that's settled!": GOOD.  "Well, as long as we all agree on it".

8. Stitched up: SEWED.  Also Brit slang for someone who is framed for a crime.

9. Katana-wielding warrior: SAMURAISamurai were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan from the late 12th century until their abolition in 1876.  Not someone you'd want to mess with.
Samurai warrior
10. Approximately: CLOSE TO.

11. Slams, slangily: HATES ON.  Its more subtle cousin is THROWING SHADE.

16. Inbox list: Abbr.: MSGS.

18. Advanced math subj.: CALC.  The key word in the clue is "Advanced" and as this is not a subject that I'm qualified to explain, here's a CSO to Jayce, Picard, et al, for help with any technical comments on this.  However I did find this entertaining cartoon on the history of Calculus in a series called "Maths by Lisa".  It traces Calculus' origins back to the Greeks, provides visual explanations of what it's all about, and resolves the controversy over who actually developed it. It's about 10 minutes long:

28. Joined the clean-plate club, say: ATE.  My Mother enlisted the whole family.

31. See 6-Down: EUR.

33. Queen's subject: ANT.

35. Celestial feline: LEO.  A CSO to LEO III.

37. Big name in blue jeans: STRAUSS.  As in Levi Strauss.  Also my chance to slip in a piece of music by the Waltz King JOHANN STRAUSS II.  I'm positive you'll recognize this:

38. Bicker: QUARREL.

39. Reason for pacing: URGENCY.

40. Half or full holds: NELSONS.  A nelson hold is a wrestling hold executed by one person from behind the opponent, generally when both are on the mat face down with the opponent under the aggressor. One or both arms are used to encircle the opponent's arm under the armpit, and secured at the opponent's neck.

42. Turned aside: AVERTED.

43. Arrives at: REACHES.  Just a few more clues and we'll arrive at the end of this review.

44. W-2 IDs: SSNS.  Tomorrow is the deadline for filing your taxes!

47. Wise one: SAGE.

50. Atkinson of British comedy: ROWANRowan Sebastian Atkinson CBE (born 6 January 1955) is an English actor, comedian and writer.  After watching at least two dozen clips of Mr. Bean (they're very addictive) I started to get hungry and  settled on this one ...

54. Woeful cry: OH ME.

59. Still: YET.

60. Roadside help letters: AAAAmerican Automobile Association.  We rate them⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.  They've almost never failed to get us back up and running.  Given that your battery will probably die about once every 5 years and the replacement is free with basic membership, they're a great deal.  The only exception we found was that they don't replace "charging batteries" for hybrids (the battery that starts the car, not the one that stores a charge when you're decelerating).  Here's what you need to know.

And as always, special thanks to Teri for proofreading and for her constructive suggestions.



Notes from C.C.: 

Melissa sent me these two sweet pictures. She said "this was a little performance at jaelyn's school - she was the dance leader for an adorable 'Nine to Five" song and dance. Harper was there to cheer her on". 

Harper is Jaelyn's little sister. You can see more of their pictures here.