LA Times Crossword Answers 2 Jan 2018, Tuesday

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Constructed by: John Lampkin
Edited by: Rich Norris

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Today’s Theme: Wrinkle-Free

Each of today’s themed answers ends with things used to make a shirt WRINKLE-FREE:

  • 60A. Like a shirt condition suggested by the ends of 16-, 27- and 46-Across : WRINKLE-FREE
  • 16A. Celebrate with abandon : LET OFF STEAM
  • 27A. Lift a few weights : PUMP SOME IRON
  • 46A. Sunday NBC public affairs show : MEET THE PRESS

Bill’s time: 6m 09s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

7. Topper with a tassel : FEZ

A fez is a red cylindrical hat worn mainly in North Africa, and by Shriners here in the US. The fez used to be a very popular hat across the Ottoman Empire. The etymology of “fez” is unclear, although it might have something to do with the Moroccan city named Fez.

10. Managed care gp. : HMO

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

14. Commuter vehicle : AUTO

Our verb “to commute”, meaning “to go back and forth to work”, ultimately derives from the Latin “commutare”, meaning “to often change”. Back in the late 1800s, a “commutation ticket” was a season pass, so named because it allowed one to “change” one kind of payment into another. Quite interesting …

15. Alley __ : OOP

“Alley Oop” is a comic strip that ran for four decades starting in 1932. “Alley Oop” was drawn by V. T. Hamlin. The title character lived in the prehistoric kingdom of Moo, although for much of the strip’s life, Alley Oop had access to a time machine. Alley Oop also had a girlfriend called Ooola. I had assumed that Ooola’s name was a play on “hula hoop”, but that wasn’t invented until the 1950s (a kind blog reader informs me) …

19. Teen sleuth Nancy : DREW

The “Nancy Drew” mystery stories were produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The founder of the Syndicate hired a team of writers to produce the “Nancy Drew” novels, but listed the author of each book as the fictional Carolyn Keene.

21. Deep opera voice : BASSO

The bass is the lowest male singing voice. A man with such a voice might be called a “basso” (plural “bassi”).

23. Razor sharpener : STROP

A strop is a strip of leather used to sharpen a razor.

31. “Wheel of Fortune” purchase : AN I

Contestants have been spinning the “Wheel of Fortune” since the game show first aired in 1975.

35. __ Jones’ locker : DAVY

No one is really sure why the phrase “Davy Jones’s locker” is used to refer to the bottom of the sea, but the first known reference to the idiom was made in “The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle” published in 1751, written by Scottish author Tobias Smollett. What is clear, is that Davy Jones is a euphemism for the devil or god of the seas.

40. Island off Tuscany : ELBA

I had a lovely two-week vacation in Tuscany once, including what was supposed to be a two-night stay on the island of Elba. I had envisioned Elba as a place full of history, and maybe it is, but it is also overrun with tourists who use it as a beach getaway. We left after one day and we won’t be going back again …

46. Sunday NBC public affairs show : MEET THE PRESS

NBC’s news and interview show “Meet the Press” first aired in 1947. That’s a long time ago, and so “Meet the Press” is the longest-running television series in US broadcasting history.

49. “The Well-Tempered Clavier” composer : BACH

J. S. Bach composed a set of 24 preludes and fugues published as a book in 1722, intended to be used as exercises for students of music. He composed another set of 24 in 1742, and the whole collection is today known as the “Well-Tempered Clavier”, the title of the original book. A “clavier” is a keyboard of a musical instrument.

50. Long-armed primate : APE

Primates are mammals, many of whom are omnivorous and make good use of their hands. They also have larger brains relative to their body size, compared to other animals. The order Primates includes apes, lemurs, baboons and humans.

51. Bit of prevention : OUNCE

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes …

58. Parliament member : LORD

The UK Parliament is divided into two houses, with the upper house known as the House of Lords and the lower house as the House of Commons. The members of the House of Commons are elected, but most new members of the House of Lords are appointed. Historically, a large proportion of the membership of the upper house were hereditary peers, but recent legislative changes are reducing the numbers who can sit in the House of Lords by virtue of birthright.

59. Ride for Jesus on Palm Sunday : ASS

According to the four Gospels in the Bible, Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem after having raised Lazarus from the dead. He descended from the Mount of Olives and rode into the city on an ass or a donkey.

Palm Sunday is a celebration in the Christian tradition that falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday. The day commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, soon after he raised Lazarus from the dead. The faithful carry palms on the day, a reference to the palms scattered in front of Jesus by the welcoming crowd. In many churches, the palms are saved from Palm Sunday and then burned on Shrove Tuesday, The ash from the palms is then used to anoint the faithful on the next day: Ash Wednesday.

65. Keen judgment : ACUMEN

“Acumen” is such a lovely word, I think, one meaning “keenness of judgment or insight”. “Acumen” is Latin for “point, sting”, the idea being that someone with acumen has mental sharpness.

67. Tweeter’s “Wow!” : OMG

OMG is text-speak for “Oh My Gosh!” “Oh My Goodness!” or any other G-words you might think of …

68. Parable messages : MORALS

A parable is story told to illustrate a lesson or principle. It is similar to a fable, but differs in that a fable uses mainly animals as characters, and a parable uses humans.

Down

1. Jell-O shapers : MOLDS

If you like Jell-O, then you might want to stop by LeRoy, New York where you can visit the only Jell-O museum in the world. While at the museum, you can walk along the Jell-O Brick Road …

4. “Grease” music genre : DOO-WOP

Doo-wop developed in the 1940s and can be described as a vocal-based R&B music. Even though the style has been around since the forties, the name doo-wop wasn’t introduced until the early sixties.

“Grease” was, and still is, a very successful stage musical with a blockbuster film version released in 1978. The movie stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Travolta wasn’t the first choice for the lead role. It was first offered to Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” fame in which he played “the Fonz”. Winkler turned down the role for fear of being typecast as a leather-clad fifties “hood”.

5. Munchkin kin : ELF

“Munchkin” is a word that we use quite commonly these days, usually to describe a young child. The first Munchkins were characters created by L. Frank Baum in his book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, published in 1900.

6. Gridiron zebras : REFS

A football referee is sometimes called a “zebra”, a reference to the striped shirt that is part of the official uniform.

7. Nuclear reactor tube : FUEL ROD

A common nuclear fuel is uranium dioxide (UO2). The UO2 comes in powder form and is compacted into pellets that are fired at high temperature producing ceramic pellets. The pellets are ground into a near-perfect cylindrical shape and are then stacked inside tubes made of zirconium alloy. These tubes are what we usually refer to as nuclear fuel rods.

8. H-like Greek vowel : ETA

Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was used as a long vowel in Ancient Greek.

9. “Shaun of the Dead” creature : ZOMBIE

A zombie is a corpse that has been brought back to life by some mystical means. Our modern use of the term largely stems from the undead creatures featured in the 1968 horror movie called “Night of the Living Dead”. Now that film I haven’t seen, and probably never will …

“Shaun of the Dead” is 2004 horror comedy movie starring English comic actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Written by Pegg and director Edgar Wright, “Shaun of the Dead” is the first in what’s known as their “Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy” of films, along with “”Hot Fuzz” (2007) and “The World’s End” (2013).

10. Kentucky Derby, e.g. : HORSE RACE

The first Kentucky Derby took place in 1875, and is a race modeled on the Epsom Derby in England and the Grand Prix de Paris (now called the “Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe”). As such, the Kentucky Derby was run over 1½ miles, although in 1896 this was shortened to 1¼ miles. The winning horse is presented with a very elaborate blanket made of red roses, and so the Derby is nicknamed “Run for the Roses”. The race is held on the first Saturday in May each year, and is limited to 3-year-old horses.

24. Saucony rival : PUMA

Puma is a German company that sells athletic shoes worldwide. The company is most famous for its line of soccer boots.

Saucony is a sportswear manufacturer that is known mainly making athletic shoes. The company was founded in 1898 on the banks of Saucony Creek in Pennsylvania, hence the name.

29. Three-card game : MONTE

Three-card monte is a confidence trick in which someone is goaded into betting money on the assumption that he or she can find the “money card” (usually a queen) among three cards placed face down. The “mark” who is being duped has all sorts of ways to lose and there are usually several people in on the scam, including others playing who seem to be winning.

30. Wall St.’s “Big Board” : NYSE

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is nicknamed the “Big Board”.

32. River drainage region that covers 11 African countries : NILE BASIN

Depending on definition, the Nile is generally regarded as the longest river on the planet. The Nile forms from two major tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, which join together near Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. From Khartoum the Nile flows north, traveling almost entirely through desert making it central to life for the peoples living along its length.

47. “Pinball Wizard” band : THE WHO

The English rock band called the Who was formed in 1964, bringing together famed musicians Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. According to “Rolling Stone” magazine, the Who were the third arm of the holy trinity of British rock, alongside the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

“Tommy” is the fourth album recorded by the British band called the Who. “Tommy” was the original rock opera and was adapted for both the stage and screen, with both adaptations becoming huge successes. The title character has an uncanny ability to play pinball, giving rise to the hit song “Pinball Wizard”.

48. Gunpowder element : SULFUR

Gunpowder is the earliest known explosive chemical. Also called “black powder”, it is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter (i.e. potassium nitrate). The saltpeter is a powerful oxidizing agent, providing the oxygen to burn the sulfur and charcoal, which acts as the fuel in the mixture. Gunpowder was invented by the Chinese in 8th century.

52. Bellini opera : NORMA

“Norma” is an opera written by Vincenzo Bellini that was first performed in 1831. One aria from the work is “Casta diva”, which is one of the most popular arias of the 1800s.

53. Angler’s basket : CREEL

A creel is a basket used for catching sea creatures (lobsters, for example). Creel is also the name given to the small wicker basket used to hold fish that have been caught by an angler. “Creel” is originally a Scottish word.

54. Utopian places : EDENS

The word “Utopia” was coined by Sir Thomas More for his book “Utopia” published in 1516 describing an idyllic fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More’s use of the name Utopia comes from the Greek “ou” meaning “not” and “topos” meaning “place”. By calling his perfect island “Not Place”, More was apparently making the point that he didn’t think that the ideal could actually exist.

55. Place for a Deere, but not deer : BARN

John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Prior to Deere’s invention, farmers used an iron or wooden plow that constantly had to be cleaned as rich soil stuck to its surfaces. The cast-steel plow was revolutionary as its smooth sides solved the problem of “stickiness”. The Deere company that John founded uses the slogan “Nothing Runs Like a Deere”, and has a leaping deer as its logo.

57. Hoax : FLAM

“Flim-flam” (sometimes “flam”) is another word for a confidence trick. The term has been in use since the 1500s, would you believe?

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. More hot under the collar : MADDER
7. Topper with a tassel : FEZ
10. Managed care gp. : HMO
13. Repetitive World Cup cheer : OLE OLE!
14. Commuter vehicle : AUTO
15. Alley __ : OOP
16. Celebrate with abandon : LET OFF STEAM
18. Boring routine : RUT
19. Teen sleuth Nancy : DREW
20. Exchange for cash : SELL
21. Deep opera voice : BASSO
23. Razor sharpener : STROP
25. Corn serving : EAR
26. “Uh-huh” : I SEE
27. Lift a few weights : PUMP SOME IRON
31. “Wheel of Fortune” purchase : AN I
34. High-priority task : MUST-DO
35. __ Jones’ locker : DAVY
36. Mob enforcer : HITMAN
38. Girls in the family : NIECES
40. Island off Tuscany : ELBA
41. Arts and __: summer camp activity : CRAFTS
45. Before, poetically : ERE
46. Sunday NBC public affairs show : MEET THE PRESS
49. “The Well-Tempered Clavier” composer : BACH
50. Long-armed primate : APE
51. Bit of prevention : OUNCE
55. Soak in the tub : BATHE
56. Ignoring, with “to” : DEAF
58. Parliament member : LORD
59. Ride for Jesus on Palm Sunday : ASS
60. Like a shirt condition suggested by the ends of 16-, 27- and 46-Across : WRINKLE-FREE
63. Edge of a glass : RIM
64. One shaken to seal a deal : HAND
65. Keen judgment : ACUMEN
66. SSW’s opposite : NNE
67. Tweeter’s “Wow!” : OMG
68. Parable messages : MORALS

Down

1. Jell-O shapers : MOLDS
2. Warn : ALERT
3. Ward off : DETER
4. “Grease” music genre : DOO-WOP
5. Munchkin kin : ELF
6. Gridiron zebras : REFS
7. Nuclear reactor tube : FUEL ROD
8. H-like Greek vowel : ETA
9. “Shaun of the Dead” creature : ZOMBIE
10. Kentucky Derby, e.g. : HORSE RACE
11. Position the cursor without clicking : MOUSE OVER
12. Vision: Pref. : OPTO-
14. “About time!” : AT LAST!
17. Goes (through) slowly : SEEPS
22. “All kidding __ … ” : ASIDE
24. Saucony rival : PUMA
28. Chew noisily : MUNCH
29. Three-card game : MONTE
30. Wall St.’s “Big Board” : NYSE
31. “Pardon me” : AHEM
32. River drainage region that covers 11 African countries : NILE BASIN
33. “I haven’t a clue!” : IT BEATS ME!
37. Fire lighter : MATCH
39. “That __ awesome!” : IS SO
42. Poetry performance : READING
43. Add as a supplement : APPEND
44. Flip (out) : FREAK
47. “Pinball Wizard” band : THE WHO
48. Gunpowder element : SULFUR
52. Bellini opera : NORMA
53. Angler’s basket : CREEL
54. Utopian places : EDENS
55. Place for a Deere, but not deer : BARN
57. Hoax : FLAM
61. Crash into : RAM
62. Green prefix : ECO-

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