, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: August 2023


Aug 31, 2023

Thursday, August 31, 2023, Jeff Stillman



 That's Entertainment!
 Today constructor Jeff Stillman steps into the spotlight for his 51st appearance on the Corner, and entertains us with a bit of slight-of-hand.  The rare solver, who will remain anonymous, may be disappointed that Jeff conceals his tricks in (horrors!), circles.  But I think the former's time for today's puzzle would not have been as lightning fast (as I'm sure it was) without them.  The rest us, incapable of solving 3 dimensional crossword puzzles in our heads, would probably have been AT SEA.

Since each of the three themers consist of single letters spread across two consecutive lines and 4 consecutive columns we'll start with the grid ...

And here's Jeff's reveal ...

64A. Hollywood honors since 1995, and what the circled letters are?: SAG AWARDS

The honors he is referring two are those of the Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as SAG Awards),  accolades given by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA*).  Starting in 1995 SAG awards have been given in the major areas of Film, Film, and Life Achievement in various subcategories.  The statue given to each of the awardees looks like this:
"The Actor"
The bit of legerdemain that I referred to above is the fact that while the letters in the circles spell out awards that SAG on the grid, they are not given by The Screen Actors Guild, but rather by other organizations:

The TONY, formally known as The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in Manhattan. The ceremony is held on the second Sunday of June.  Here are this year's awards.
Tony Medallion
The ESPY Award, short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award, is an accolade currently presented by the American broadcast television network ABC.  Here are the winners and nominees for 2023.  Here's the statuette awarded to each winner ...
ESPY Statuette

The annual CLIO Awards, established in 1959, are named for the Greek goddess Clio, the mythological Muse known as "the proclaimer, glorifier and celebrator of history, great deeds and accomplishments" in the field of advertising. They are awarded. to recognize innovation and creative excellence in advertising, design, and communication, as judged by an international panel of advertising professionals.  Here are the 2023 winners.  This is what they won ...
Clio Award

Here are the rest of the clues ...

1. First word of a Shakespeare title: ALLSALL'S Well That Ends Well was published in the First Folio in 1623, where it is listed among the comedies. The play is considered one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", one that poses complex ethical dilemmas that require more than typically simple solutions.

5. Chorus member: ALTO.  Here "chorus member" Marianne Crebassa adds some exquisite harmonies to this performance of the Flower Duet with Soprano Sabine Devieilhe from Leo Delibes opera Lakmé (lyrics) ...
9. Autumn bloom: ASTER.  And here's a beautiful ASTER duet ...
14. Wobble: REEL.

15. Bellyache: MOAN.

16. Volleyball shot: SPIKE.  Would you believe, there is actually a machine that can help you improve your volleyball SPIKES? ...

17. Spot for a TV dinner: TRAY TABLE.  For those who eat dinner in their dens.

19. Realty listings: HOMES.

20. Young fella: SONNY.  A father's song to his SON? ...

21. Large amount: SCAD.  We've seen this fill SCADS of times.

23. Audition: TEST.

24. Unqualified: INEPTEPT qualifies as its antonym, at least according to the OED.

26. Yellowish pink: CORAL.  Actually CORALS come in a variety of hues.  Some little-known facts about these underwater ecosystems.
Coral Array
28. "YOLO" philosophy: SEIZE THE DAY.  Just make sure it's not a tiger ...

32. Slower than Mach 1: SUBSONIC.  Speeds faster than Mach 1 are SUPERSONIC.

35. Susan Swain's network: CSPANSusan Swain (born December 23, 1954) is an American journalist, author and the co-CEO of C-SPAN.
Susan Swain
37. Spanish "that": ESO.  Today's Spanish lesson on demonstrative pronouns ...

38. Horse barn sound: SNORT.

41. __-mo: SLO.

42. Scope of influence: AMBIT.  The AMBITIOUS want to increase theirs.

45. Low-alcohol beverage: NEAR BEER.

48. Brownie-making ingredient: COCOA POWDER.  We're still getting lots of zucchini.  If you are, here's last week's recipe again.

51. Ship with staterooms: LINER.

52. Oscar-winning role for Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno: ANITA.   Sixty years ago, Rita Moreno became the first Latina to win an Oscar, given for the role of ANITA in the 1961 film West Side Story. Recently Ariana DeBose won best supporting actress for the same role in the Steven Spielberg's 2021 reboot, becoming part of an elite club of Oscar-winners who've received the accolade for playing the same character. They're the first pair of women ever to accomplish this. Incidentally, Ariana hosted this years TONY Awards, and of course Rita has a TONY as a part of her EGOT.
And not coincidentally,  Rita played the role of Valentina in the new production, and served as an executive producer.  Here's Spielberg's take on her contributions as a consultant ...
Ironic note: The 1961 film was awarded a total of 10 Oscars, the musical film with the most Academy wins.  The composer of that music, the great Leonard Bernstein, didn't receive one for Best Original Score; in fact he wasn't even nominated. 

55. C __ Charlie: AS IN.

57. Dollars for quarters: RENT.  Also the name of a Broadway musical loosely based on Puccini's La Boheme.  Among several awards it won 3 OBIES, a TONY, and a Pulitzer Prize ...

60. Piano exercise: ETUDE.  As Annique Göttler demonstrates, 14 years of piano exercises makes a big difference when playing  Chopin's ETUDE Op.10 No.4 (the "Torrent"). ..

62. Photographer Dorothea: LANGE Dorothea LANGE (born Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn; May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965) was an American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange's photographs influenced the development of documentary photography and humanized the consequences of the Great Depression.
Dorothea Lange
64 [Theme reveal}

66. Caulking fiber: OAKUMOAKUM is a preparation of tarred fibre used to seal gaps. Its main traditional applications were in shipbuilding, for caulking or packing the joints of timbers in wooden vessels and the deck planking of iron and steel ships.
Hemp oakum
67. Nights before special days: EVES.

68. "Yeah, right": I BET.

69. Medicine amts.: TBSPS.

70. Poker player's giveaway: TELL.

71. Plant stem joint: NODE.


1. Creative pursuits: ARTS.  Here is yet another award for the musical ARTS -- the An Die Musik ("To Music")  Award, presented annually to a classical music enthusiast who has significantly furthered the work and mission of the Schubert Club.  The award is named for the most famous of the over 600 Lieder (songs) written by Franz Schubert.  It is sung here by the great tenor Fritz Wunderlich (lyrics and translation) ...

2. The king of France?: LE ROI.  Today's French lesson.

3. "The Right Kind of Wrong" singer Rimes: LEANNMargaret LeAnn Rimes Cibrian (born August 28, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She originally rose to success as a country music artist at age 13 with 1996's Blue, by writer Bill Mack (lyrics) ...
4. Craft: SLYNESS.

5. Reddit sesh for fans: AMAAsk Me Anything, but you'd better pull up a chair. 😁

6. Deft tennis shots: LOBS.

7. Soft mineral: TALC. Number 2 on MOE's Hardness Scale.

8. Staged without a break: ONE ACTHere is probably the most famous of them all and it's still playing!

9. Cigarette end: ASH.

10. Part of a politician's media campaign: SPOT ADS.  The season will soon be upon us ...

11. Like photographs of an eclipse, say: TIME LAPSE.  Here is a time lapse video of the 2018 solar eclipse taken in Casper, WY.  The photographer paused the video for a few seconds at the moment of totality.  Nice touch ...

12. __ out a win: EKES.

13. Musical interval: REST. Sometimes RESTS in music can be as beautiful as the music that surrounds them. This famous passage near the end of the 2nd movement of  Antonin Dvorak 's New World Symphony. has several. I've clipped this to begin after a brief allegretto at 9:21 sec.  After the music dies down to quiet passage in the English Horn, listen for the first REST at 11:18 followed by 3 or more toward the end ...

18. Versatile blood donor: TYPE O.

22. Quote from Homer: DOH. "Why didn't I think of that!?"

25. Cookie containers: TINS.

27. __ center: REC.

29. Cab alternative: ZIN.  As CABernet is abbreviated, so is ZINfandel.

30. Low-cost prefix: ECONO.

31. Handsome Dan's Ivy: YALEHere's the latest BDOC ...
Handsome Dan XIX
32. "Wide Sargasso __": Jean Rhys novel: SEAWide Sargasso SEA is a 1966 novel by Dominican-British author Jean Rhys, CBE. The novel serves as a postcolonial and feminist prequel to Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1847), describing the background to Mr. Rochester's marriage from the point-of-view of his wife Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress.  There have been several adaptations of the novel, some rated R and at least one rated NC-17.   The most unusual one I found told the story in the lyrics of the song Wide Sargasso Sea by Stevie Nicks from her 2011 album In Your Dreams  (rated PG) ...

33. "Oorah!" org.: USMCThe United State Marine Corps.  A CSO to our dear departed Wilbur Charles ...

34. Migratory songbirds: BOBOLINKS.  And sing they do ...

36. Negative conjunction: NOR.

39. Button with left-pointing arrows: Abbr.: REW.

40. Unveiling shout: TA DAVOILÀ  was too long.

43. Becoming treacherous, as a winter road: ICING UP.

44. Weigh station unit: TON.

46. Extend: RENEW.

47. Great place?: BRITAIN.  I'll drink to that!

49. __ Lingus: AER.  Ireland has some great brews too.

50. Adjusted beforehand: PRESET.

53. Engine booster, for short: TURBO.

54. Supplemented: ADDED.

55. Bushels: A LOT.  Note space between A and LOT.

56. Onetime Volvo rival: SAAB.

58. Cathedral part: NAVE.

59. Neutrogena dandruff shampoo: TGEL.

61. 90° from norte: ESTE.  More Spanish.

63. "Mamma Mia" quartet: EMS.  Oh my, how am I gonna stuff ABBA into a 3 letter fill?  DOH, with a EMeta clue of course! 

65. Communication sys. at Gallaudet: ASL.  One of the most interesting experiences we've had was attending a wedding Mass for a relative of Teri's who had attended Gallaudet University.  Many of the people there were deaf and prior to the service they were chattering away in ASL with one another all across the church.  We couldn't understand a word that they were saying, but we did get some some idea of what it must be like to be deaf in a crowded room.

*As many of you are aware, as of this writing the SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are still in the midst of a bitter strike against Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.  At a recent press conference, SAG president Fran Drescher gave a fiery speech rebuffing the AMPT, and showing she has certainly come a long way since her days as a Nanny.


And as always, thanks to Teri for proof reading and for her constructive criticism.


Aug 30, 2023

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 Rebecca Goldstein

Theme: CAFETERIA RUMBLE.  It's all about a lunch time brawl.

Let's start with the unifier to make things clear.

62 A. Cafeteria combat epitomized by the actions in 17-, 36-, and 42-Across?: FOOD FIGHT.  This is a presumably not-too serious battle in which food stuffs are used as projectiles.  Serious or not, it's sure to make a mess.

17 A. Condiment often served with egg rolls: DUCK SAUCE.  This is a sweet-sour condiment made from plums or other fruit, with sugar, vinegar, ginger and chili peppers.  Its name may have originated from a similar sauce served with Peking Duck.  Here, though, DUCK is verb meaning to get low and out of the way, as from, perhaps, a thrown [or flying] DUCK.

36 A. Budget beef cuts: CHUCK STEAKS.   Or maybe the flung object could be  a rectangular cut of beef, about 2.5 cm thick and containing parts of the shoulder bones.  It could be CHUCKED, that is to say "thrown" of "heaved" from across the room.  [Such a waste.  Sad.]

42 A. Vegetables that rank high on the Scoville scale: FIRE PEPPERS.  Prairie fire peppers are a type of Capsicum Annuum, the same species that gives us jalapeño and bell peppers. However, unlike those mild peppers, prairie fire peppers are much hotter, with a Scoville heat range from 70,000 to 80,000 SHU. This heat is comparable to spicy Thai peppers, with a fruity flavor that sets them apart from your typical ornamental pepper.   These chilies are nine to thirty-two times hotter than jalapeño peppers.  To FIRE something is to throw or propel it with great force.  If a pepper hits you in the eye, let's hope it is of a mild variety.

Hi Gang, JazzBumpa here to see if we can whip up some culinary delights, and get through the fray without any serious damage - or even a mess to clean up.


1. Arabic for "tower": BURJ.  As much as I like to give constructors a lot of leeway, and hate to start off on a sour note, I consider this entry to classify as a gratuitous obscurity.   Foreign words are, at best, second rate fill; and a word that is likely to be completely unknown to most solvers falls even lower.  Some grace could be given if the perps were easier than normal, but, alas, this is not the case.  Let's move on.

5. Hermana de la madre: TIA.  Your mother's sister is your aunt.  Another foreign word, but this one can be excused, as it's a word you could have encountered in daily life.  Plus, Spanish is a much more familiar language here in the USA.

8. "Skip me": I PASS.   It's my turn, but I don't want it.

13. State with Blue Jackets: OHIO.  The Columbus Blue Jackets are a team in the National Hockey League

14. Like bald tires: WORN.  A tire is WORN when the tread depth is depleted by use.  This can be dangerous, so get a new set.

16. Pastry in a pink box, in Los Angeles: DONUT.  A donut is a type of tire-shaped confection made from leavened fried dough.  No esta bien para los diabéticos.

19. "Drop it!": LET GO.  Either literally release your grip on something, or figuratively stop doing or thinking about something.

20. Extremely steep: SHEER.  Like a mountain cliff.

21. Circle or square: SHAPE.  The external form, contours, or outline of something.

23. Kings, on NBA scoreboards: SAC.  The Sacramento team in the National Basketball Association.

24. Queen Latifah's genre: RAP.  A type of popular music originating among African American communities in which words are recited rapidly and rhythmically over a prerecorded, typically electronic instrumental backing.

26. National Pickleball mo.: APR.  April.

Oh, yeah.. I LOVE this

27. Tined utensil: FORK.  In cutlery or kitchenware, a fork is a utensil, now usually made of metal, whose long handle terminates in a head that branches into several narrow and often slightly curved tines with which one can spear foods either to hold them to cut with a knife or to lift them to the mouth.

28. Loops in discreetly: BCCS.   Tricky clue.  Includes someone in a communication by Blind Copying them, i.e. eliminating their name form the published copy list

31. News letters: UPI.   United Press International, an American international news agency whose newswires, photo, news film, and audio services provided news material to thousands of newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations for most of the 20th century.  

33. Works for: EARNS.  Rerceives a money payment for labor or services rendered.

35. NPR host Glass: IRA.    Ira Jeffrey Glass is an American public radio personality. He is the host and producer of the radio and television series This American Life and has participated in other NPR programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Talk of the Nation.  I can't speak to the condition of his individual retirement account.

39. Cute nickname for a fuzzy pet: FUR BALL.   Self explanatory.

41. Reach new heights?: LEVEL UP.  A phrase from gaming meaning to finish one phase of the game and move on to the next, typically with new powers or abilities.  More generally, to improve one's self or some situation in a meaningful way.

44. "Yo," in Rio: OLA.  I recognize this word as informal greeting in English and Spanish.  The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, so let's assume it works there, as well..

45. Get a feeling: SENSE.  To have a thought about something based on real or imagined indirect clues, rather than factual information.

46. Go "vroom vroom": REV.  Increase the running speed of an engine or the engine speed of a vehicle by pressing the accelerator, especially while the clutch is disengaged.

47. Hideous: UGLY.  Unpleasant, especially in physical appearance.

48. Blow off steam: VENT.  The expression or release of a strong emotion, energy, etc.

49. Animal house?: ZOO.  Unlike the 1978 movie about a group a college misfits, this is a facility in which animals are kept within enclosures for public exhibition, and often bred for conservation purposes.

51. Triage ctrs.: ERS.  Emergency Rooms, hospital departments that provides immediate treatment for acute illnesses and trauma.   Triage is the preliminary assessment of patients or casualties in order to determine the urgency of their need for treatment and the nature of treatment required.

53. Rough calculation, briefly: EST.  Estimate.

54. Burdensome: HEAVY.  Oppressive or overwhelming, as of a task or situation.

56. Website with customizable RSVP options: EVITE.  A social-planning website for creating, sending, and managing online invitations. The website offers digital invitations with RSVP tracking. They also offer greeting cards, announcements, eGift cards, and party planning ideas. 

60. Performance platform: STAGE.  A raised floor or platform, typically in a theater, on which actors, entertainers, or speakers perform.

64. Ski equipment: POLES.   Lightweight slender shafts used in skiing that have a handgrip and usually a wrist strap at one end and an encircling disk set above the point at the other end

65. Inner Hebrides isle: SKYE.  The Isle of Skye, connected to Scotland's northwest coast by bridge, is known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles. The largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago, it has an indented coastline of peninsulas and narrow lochs, radiating out from a mountainous interior. The town of Portree, a base for exploring the island, features harbourside pubs and boutiques.   MAP.

66. Fly high: SOAR.   As defined.

67. Church nooks: APSES.  Any large semicircular or polygonal recess in a church, arched or with a domed roof, typically at the eastern end, and usually containing the altar.

68. Proterozoic or Hadean: EON.  An indefinite and/or very long period of time.  The Proterozoic Eon, meaning “earlier life,” is the eon of time after the Archean eon and ranges from 2.5 billion years old to 541 million years old. The Hadean Eon, named after the Greek god and ruler of the underworld Hades, is the oldest eon and dates from 4.5–4.0 billion years ago. This time represents Earth's earliest history, during which the planet was characterized by a partially molten surface, volcanism, and asteroid impacts.  Now - don't you suddenly feel young?

69. "Voyage to India" singer India.__: ARIE.  India Arie Simpson [b. 1975] also known as India Arie, is an American singer and songwriter. Her debut album, Acoustic Soul, was released in 2001, and she has since released six more studio albums.   Voyage to India is an album.  You can listen to it here.


1. Figures, casually: BODS.  This had me thinking of numbers or geometry, but it refers to the shapes of human torsos - bodies, or BODS, informally.

2. "Nope": UH-UH.  Informal negation.

3. Sushi roll ingredient: RICE.  As a cereal grain, domesticated rice is the most widely consumed staple food for over half of the world's human population, particularly in Asia and Africa. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize.   A sushi roll is a type of sushi wrapped in seaweed; usually cut into bite-sized pieces.

4. Wild cards?: JOKERS.  A wild card is a playing card that can have any value, suit, color, or other property in a game at the discretion of the player holding it.  The Joker is a playing card found in most modern card decks, as an addition to the standard four suits (Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades).  it often acts as a wild card, but may have other functions such as the top trump, a skip card (forcing another player to miss a turn), the lowest-ranking card, the highest-value card or a card of a different value from the rest of the pack 

5. JFK hotel named for a defunct airline: TWA.   John F. Kennedy International Airport, colloquially referred to as JFK Airport, Kennedy Airport, New York-JFK, or simply JFK, is the main international airport serving New York City.   TWA is the only on-airport, AirTrain-accessible hotel at JFK  Trans World Airlines [TWA] was a major airline in the United States that operated from 1930 until 2001 when it was acquired by American Airlines. It was formed as Transcontinental & Western Air to operate a route from New York City to Los Angeles via St. Louis, Kansas City, and other stops, with Ford Trimotors. 

6. Chits: IOUS. An IOU (abbreviated from the phrase "I owe you") is usually an informal document acknowledging monitary debt. An IOU differs from a promissory note in that an IOU is not a negotiable instrument and does not specify repayment terms such as the time of repayment. 

7. Ancient: ARCHAIC.  Very old or old-fashioned - of an earlier eon, perhaps.

8. Waste time: IDLE.  This looks like an adjective, but here it's a verb, indicating doing nothing.

9. "The Raven" poet: POE.  Edgar Allan Poe [1809 - 1849] was an American writer, poet, author, editor, and literary critic who is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism and Gothic fiction in the United States, and of American literature.

10. Celery topped with peanut butter and raisins: ANTS ON A LOG.    A snack made by spreading peanut butter, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, or another spread on celery, pretzels or bananas and placing raisins (diced olives, chocolate chips, etc.) on top. The snack and its name are presumed to be from the 1950s.   The classic peanut butter version of ants on a log is recommended as a healthy snack by the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

11. Day of the Dead symbol: SUGAR SKULL.   A sugar skull is a type of Calavera [any artistic representation of skulls or skeletons] or a representation of a human skull. These are called sugar skulls since they’re traditionally made of sugar. Today sugar skulls are often made of a variety of things like chocolate, nuts, and other treats. These skulls play a large role in the Day of the Dead. This holiday follows All Saints’ Day, and it’s a way for people to honor their dead. Families flock to gravesites, offering gifts and food for their ancestors. People join together to eat, drink, tell stories, and celebrate the circle of life.

12. Market share?: STOCK.   This is a nice word play and misdirection.  Market share means the portion of a commercial market controlled by a particular company or product.  A stock is a security that represents a fractional ownership in a company. When you buy a company's stock, you're purchasing a small piece of that company, called a share.  Shares of stock are bought and sold on the stock market.  Very tidy.

15. Semimonthly tide: NEAP.   This is a tide just after the first or third quarters of the moon when there is least difference between high and low water.

18. Mexican Mrs.: SRA.   Abbreviation of Señora, a title or form of address used of or to a Spanish-speaking woman, corresponding to Mrs. or madam.

22. Save for later, in a way: PRESERVE.  Assuming this is referring to food stuffs [and why not]  to can, pickle, or similarly prepare for future use.   Otherwise to keep something safe or intact.

25. "Gimme a break": PUH-LEEZE.   Used to express exasperation, protest, or disbelief.

27. Available: FREE.  As a day or time when one has unscheduled time, or unoccupied, as of a rest room.

28. "Back to the Future" bully: BIFF.

29. Port of call: CRUISE STOP.  Scheduled locations for the ship to dock so that passengers can have excursions on the land.  Granddaughter Amanda is on her 3rd cruise ship gig, traveling to stops in Alaska.

30. Wheels away?: CAR RENTALS.  Typically, this would indicate a rapid departure by vehicle.  But "Wheels," as a noun, is an also slang term for a vehicle, usually an automobile.  So  this clue refers to a CAR RENTAL when you are are away from home.  Clever.

32. Juicer discard: PULP.  The stringy fibre or crushed mass which is often removed from fruit juice

34. Dune buggies, e.g.: Abbr.: ATVS.  All Terrain Vehicles.

36. Lids offerings: CAPS. Lids or Hat World, Inc. is an American retailer specializing in athletic headwear. It primarily operates under the Lids brand with stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom plus various websites.  I did not know that.

37. Artist whose name is a homophone of a sculpture medium: KLEE.  Paul Klee [1879 - 1940]was a Swiss-born German artist. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism.

38. Fix, as a dog: SPAY.   Sterilize a female animal by removing the ovaries.

40. Dog-eared, say: BENT.   The folded down the corner of a page of a book or magazine, typically to mark a place.  Collectors and librarians hate this.  Cf next entry.

43. Get a rise out of: PROVOKE.  Stimulate or give rise to a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one, in someone.  

47. Document from an Amer. embassy: US VISA.  An endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country, issued by the United States.

48. Milanese moped: VESPA.   Vespa is both Latin and Italian for wasp—derived from the vehicle's body shape: the thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist, and the steering rod resembled antennae.

50. Bumblers: OAFS.   Stupid, uncultured, or clumsy persons.

52. WNBA official: REF.   Referee - an official who watches a game or match closely to ensure that the rules are adhered to and (in some sports) to arbitrate on matters arising from the play.   Here, one such in the Women's National Basketball Association.  There are also Refs in many other leagues and sports.

54. Collectible toy truck brand: HESS.  Created as a way to provide a fun, high-quality, and affordable toy for families during the holiday season, the first Hess Toy Truck was introduced in 1964. Ever since, the annual release of a new toy truck is a highly anticipated event and a treasured holiday tradition for millions of families.

55. Toy with an Eiffel Tower trick: YO-YO.  A yo-yo (also spelled yoyo) is a toy consisting of an axle connected to two disks, and a string looped around the axle, similar to a spool. It is an ancient toy with proof of existence since 500 BCE.

57. Rangers goalie Shesterkin: IGOR.  Igor Olegovich Shestyorkin (Russian: Игорь Олегович Шестёркин, commonly spelled as Shesterkin; born 30 December 1995) is a Russian professional ice hockey goaltender for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected by the Rangers in the fourth round, 118th overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. In his first 82-game season in 2021–22, Shesterkin won the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender.

58. Pad see ew cuisine: THAI.  Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. Australian chef David Thompson, an expert on Thai food, observes that unlike many other cuisines, Thai cooking is "about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it's got to have a smooth surface but it doesn't matter what's happening underneath. Simplicity isn't the dictum here, at all."

59. Raison d'__: ETRE.  The most important reason or purpose for someone or something's existence.

61. "Golly!": GEE.   An expression of surprise or delight.

62 Room for movie night:  DEN A multi-purpose room in a home that can be used as a secondary living space, an office, an at-home library, a games room, a kid's playroom, and much more. It can be distinguished from other rooms like the living room and dining room because it functions as a more private and informal space. 

And so we end on that informal note.  I had my nit, but despite that blemish this was a good puzzle with a tight theme and some lever clues.  Nope you enjoyed it.

Cool regards!

Aug 29, 2023

Tuesday, August 29, 2023 Amanda Cook

Double Speak:  Each word in the two-word theme answer can be paired with the word Talk, to give us two (Double) new concepts.

18-Across. Java joint: COFFEE SHOP.  Coffee Talk / Shop Talk

Coffee Doublespeak

26-Across. In-demand spot at a busy bistro: EMPTY TABLE.  Empty Talk / Table Talk

Table Talk circa 2023

46-Across. Source of lumbar support: BACK PILLOW.  Back Talk / Pillow Talk

And the unifier:
58-Across. Deliberately ambiguous language, and an apt description of 18-, 26-, and 46-Across: DOUBLE TALK.

1. Kindergarten basics: ABCs.

5. 1996 film that earned Frances McDormand her first Oscar: FARGO.  Frances Louise McDormand (née Cynthia Ann Smith; b. June 23, 1957) portrayed Marge Gunderson, a pregnant Minnesota police chief investigating a triple homicide in the film.  The movie earned McDormand her first Oscar.  [Name # 1.]

10. Tapped brew: BEER.

14. Ever so: VERY.

15. Cooked at home: ATE IN.

16. Church recess: APSE.

17. Business maj.: ECON.  As in Economics.

20. Snooze: NAP.

21. Cash dispensers: ATMs.  This used to be a crossword staple.  We haven't seen the Automated Teller Machines in a while.

22. Beginnings: ON SETS.

23. Affixes in a scrapbook, say: GLUES.

25. Not too late: IN TIME.

30. Italian evening: SERA.  Today's Latin lesson.

32. __ number: product ID: SERIAL.

33. Activate, as an alarm: TRIP.

34. Resistance unit: OHM.  Everything you wanted to know about the Ohm but didn't know to ask.  It was named in honor of Georg Ohm (né Georg Simon Ohm; Mar. 16, 1789 ~ July 6, 1854), a German physicist and mathematician.  [Name # 2.]

37. Patio: TERRACE.

40. Deed: ACT.

41. Pedicure beneficiaries: TOES.

43. Improper treatment: MISUSE.

45. "Ignore that suggested edit": STET.

50. Muscle injury: STRAIN.

52. Oscar-winning song from "Selma": GLORY.  Selma is the movie about Martin Luther King's 1965 protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Georgia in the fight for Civil Rights.

53. With no markup: AT COST.

54. "How've you __?": BEEN.

57. "His Dark Materials" actor __-Manuel Miranda: LIN.  Lin-Manuel Miranda (b. Jan. 16, 1980) is probably best known for Hamilton.  [Name # 3.]

60. Edinburgh resident: SCOT.  Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland.  [Name adjacent.]

61. Poker pot starter: ANTE.

62. Code with dots and dashes: MORSE.  The Morse Code was/is a method of telecommunication using a series of dots and dashes to encrypt text characters.  The Code is named after Samuel Morse (né Samuel Finley Breese Morse; Apr. 27, 1791 ~ Apr. 2, 1872).  He led a very interesting life and in his early years was a painter.   [Name adjacent.]

63. __ Alto, California: PALO.  Palo Alto considers itself to be the Birthplace of Silicon Valley.

64. Clarinet need: REED.

65. Concluded: ENDED.

66. "... with __-foot pole!": A TEN.

1. Get even for: AVENGE.

2. "Don't freak out": BE CALM.  The history behind the Keep Calm slogan.

3. Appear unexpectedly: CROP UP.

4. Thesaurus entry: Abbr.: SYN.  As in a synonym.

5. Indisputable point: FACT.

6. Elemental particle: ATOM.

7. Officials who may cry foul: REFs.  As in Referees.

8. Animated pic: GIF. GIF = Graphics Interchange Format.

9. Low-scoring tie: ONE-ONE.

10. Jazz band member: BASSIST.

11. Collectibles such as ticket stubs and matchbooks: EPHEMERA.  Not a Tuesday word.  Probably more of a 12-Down word.  Webster's defines Ephemera as: (1) something of no lasting significance; (2) ephemera plural : paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.

12. Understood by a select few: ESOTERIC.

13. Counts at a gym: REPS.  As in Repetitions.

19. Sinusitis doc: ENT.  The Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor has become a crossword staple.

21. Until now: AS YET.

24. Sci-fi film extras, briefly: ETs.

25. "Let me see if that's possible": I'LL ASK.

27. Italian three: TRE.  More of today's Italian lesson.

28. Low-ranking soldier on base: AIRMAN.

29. Relating to element 56: BARIC.  Barium has the atomic number of 56 on the periodic table.  Because of its high chemical reactivity, barium is never found in nature as a free element. 

31. Fitting: APT.

34. Bonus sports periods: OTs.  As in Over Times.

35. Warm element in some massages: HOT STONE.  Everything you ever wanted to know about Hot Stone Message but didn't know to ask.

36. Rom-com encounter: MEET CUTE.

38. Many a sports trophy: CUP.

The Stanley Cup.

39. Endorse digitally: E-SIGN.  During Covid, I found myself having to e-sign many documents.

42. Pulsed, as lights in a light show: STROBED.

44. Bracket shape: ELL.

46. Defiant retort: BITE ME.  Rather impolite.

47. Meme feline: LOL CAT.

48. Baltimore MLB player: ORIOLE.

49. Jazz trumpeter Marsalis: WYNTON.  Wynton Learson Marsalis (b. Oct. 18, 1961) is a New Orleanian Jazz trumpeter and composer.  He is currently the artistic director of Jazz at the Lincoln Center.  Below is a non-Jazz performance.  [Name # 4.]

51. Syst. with hand gestures: ASL.  As in American Sign Language.  As a point of interest, Dorothy Casterline (née Dorothy Chiyoko Sueoka; Apr. 27, 1928 ~ Aug. 8, 2023) lost her hearing as a teenager due to an illness.  She became  an American deaf linguist known for her contribution to A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles, which considered a foundational work of sign language linguistics.  Dorothy died earlier this month at age 95.

53. Hebrew month before Nisan: ADAR.  Everything you wanted to know about the Hebrew calendar but didn't know to ask.

54. The __ of Avon: BARD.  Also known as Willie the Shakes (William Shakespeare; 1564 ~ 1616).  [Name # 5.]

55. Besides: ELSE.

56. __ out a living: EKED.

59. Immense weight: TON.

60. Galentine's Day destination, perhaps: SPA.  I just recently learned about Galentine's Day, which falls on February 13.  If the first link doesn't work, try this one.

And the Grid: