LA Times Crossword 7 Feb 20, Friday

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Constructed by: Andrew Linzer
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Soirées

Themed answers are common phrases interpreted as specific “soirées”:

  • 20A Soiree for woodchip manufacturers? : SPLINTER PARTY
  • 26A Soiree for certain divers? : PEARL JAM
  • 37A Soiree for spreadsheet creators? : CELL RECEPTION
  • 47A Soiree for fake coin makers? : SLUGFEST
  • 55A Soiree for army enlistees? : PRIVATE AFFAIR

Bill’s time: 9m 37s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Component of an Olympic bronze medal : ZINC

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Compare this with bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. Brass and bronze are often mistaken for each other.

In the Ancient Olympic Games, the winner of an event was awarded an olive wreath. When the games were revived in 1896, the winners were originally given a silver medal and an olive branch, with runners-up receiving a bronze medal and a laurel branch. The tradition of giving gold, silver and bronze medals began at the 1904 Summer Olympic Games held in St. Louis, Missouri.

5 Off-road vehicle maker? : TONKA

The toy manufacturer today known as Tonka started out as a manufacturer of garden implements in Mound, Minnesota in 1946. By 1955, toys had become the main product line for the company. At that time the owners decided to change the company name and opted for “Tonka”, a Dakota Sioux word meaning “great, big”.

10 Peddle : HAWK

The verb “to hawk” has a Germanic origin, and comes from the Low German word “hoken” meaning “to peddle”. A hawker is actually slightly different from a peddler by definition, as a hawker is a peddler that uses a horse and cart, or a van nowadays perhaps, to sell his or her wares.

14 Brand in a studio, maybe : IKEA

The IKEA furniture chain was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, when he was just 17-years-old. IKEA is an acronym standing for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (don’t forget now!). Elmtaryd was the name of the farm where Ingvar Kamprad grew up, and Agunnaryd is his home parish in Sweden.

16 Onetime capital of the Mughal Empire : AGRA

Agra is a medieval city on the banks of the river Yamuna in India. Agra was also the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • The Taj Mahal: the famous mausoleum built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal.
  • Agra Fort: the site where the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
  • Fatehpur Sikri: a historic city that’s home to well-preserved Mughal architecture.

17 Seats facing the altar : PEWS

A pew is a bench in a church, one usually with a high back. The original pews were raised and sometimes enclosed seats in the church used by women and important men or families. “Pew” comes from the Old French “puie” meaning “balcony, elevation”.

18 Alley button : RESET

That would be a bowling alley.

19 Genesis problem : RAIN

According to the Bible’s Book of Genesis, rain fell for forty days and forty nights, resulting in the Great Flood. All creatures on the land perished, except Noah, his family, and the animals that he brought into the ark.

20 Soiree for woodchip manufacturers? : SPLINTER PARTY

A splinter group or party is one that has broken away from a larger group or party.

26 Soiree for certain divers? : PEARL JAM

Pearl Jam is an alternative rock band from Seattle, Washington.

30 Govt. stipend : SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides financial relief to persons with low incomes who are 65 or older, or who are blind or disabled. The SSI program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) even though the Social Security trust fund is not used for SSI payments. SSI payments come out of general tax revenue.

31 Angel dust letters : PCP

Phencyclidine is a recreational drug usually referred to on the street as “PCP” or “angel dust”.

32 Neural transmitter : AXON

A nerve cell is more correctly called a neuron. The branched projections that receive electrochemical signals from other neurons are known as dendrites. The long nerve fiber that conducts signals away from the neuron is known as the axon. A neuron that has no definite axon is referred to as “apolar” or “nonpolar”. In apolar neurons the nerve impulses radiate in all directions.

34 Powerful 2017 hurricane : IRMA

Hurricane Irma was a devastating category-5 hurricane that led to over 100 deaths in the contiguous US in 2017, and half as many in the Caribbean islands. Irma was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in the continental US since Katrina in 2005.

42 Gear for Lindsey Vonn : SKIS

Lindsey Vonn is a World Champion alpine ski racer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is one of the few women to have won World Cup races in all five alpine racing disciplines: downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined. In fact, Vonn is the most successful US ski racer in history.

45 PETA concern : FUR

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a very large animal rights organization, with 300 employees and two million members and supporters worldwide. Although the group campaigns for animal rights across a broad spectrum of issues, it has a stated focus in opposition of four practices:

  • Factory farming
  • Fur farming
  • Animal testing
  • Use of animals in entertainment

47 Soiree for fake coin makers? : SLUGFEST

A slug is a counterfeit coin that is used to trick a coin-operated machine. A slug might just be a metal blank, or another coin of lower value. I remember the Austrian Schilling trick that was used in the nineties in the UK. A counterfeiter simply glued two Austrian Schillings back-to-back, and these passed nicely as pound coins. Back then, that represented a 90% profit for the bad guy.

60 Louvre Pyramid architect : IM PEI

I. M. Pei (full name: Ieoh Ming Pei) was an exceptional American architect who was born in China. Of Pei’s many wonderful works, my favorite is the renovation of the Louvre in Paris, and especially the Glass Pyramid in the museum’s courtyard.

When I. M. Pei became the first foreign architect to work on the Louvre in Paris, he not only designed the famous glass and steel pyramid, but also worked on renovations throughout the museum. His design was very controversial, causing a lot of ill feelings among the public. Eventually, when the work was complete, public opinion became more favorable. Personally, I think it is magnificent, both inside and out.

61 Chatroom spammers : BOTS

A bot is a computer program that is designed to imitate human behavior. It might crawl around the Web doing searches for example, or it might participate in discussions in chat rooms by giving pre-programmed responses. It might also act as a competitor in a computer game.

67 Hot message : SEXT

Sexting (a portmanteau of “sex” and “texting”) is the sending of explicit dialog and images between cell phones. The term “sexting” was coined by the UK’s “Sunday Telegraph Magazine” in a 2005 article.

68 American in Paris, perhaps : EXPAT

Expatriate (expat)

69 One of 11 for Julia Louis-Dreyfus : EMMY

Actress and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an alum of the sketch show “Saturday Night Live”, in which she appeared from 1982 to 1985. Her really big break came when she was chosen to play Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld”. More recently, Louis-Dreyfus can be seen playing Vice President Selina Meyer on the HBO comedy show “Veep”.

Down

1 12345, for Schenectady, NY : ZIP

ZIP codes were introduced in 1963. The acronym “ZIP” stands for “Zone Improvement Plan”, a name indicating that mail travels more efficiently when the codes are included in the postal address.

Schenectady is a city in Upstate New York located just a few minutes from the state capitol, Albany. The name “Schenectady” comes from a Mohawk word meaning “beyond the pines”.

2 Turner on a turntable : IKE

Musician Ike Turner is perhaps best known for the work in the sixties and seventies with then-wife Tina Turner. Turner met his future wife on the local club circuit in St. Louis in the mid-fifties, and together they formed the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Despite all of his success, Ike’s life went downhill in the eighties and nineties, largely due to addiction to cocaine and crack. He served time in jail, and Tina later described episodes of domestic abuse in her autobiography “I, Tina”. Ike was diagnosed with emphysema in 2005, which left him very weak and in need of a constant supply of oxygen. He passed away in 2007 due to a cocaine overdose.

3 Times, at times : NEWSPAPER

Of the many newspapers around the world that use the moniker “Times”, the original was “The Times” of London. Founded in 1785 as “The Daily Universal Register”, the paper changed its name to “The Times” in 1788.

4 Spirited toon? : CASPER

Casper the Friendly Ghost features in a whole series of cartoon shorts made by Famous Studios. Casper made the big time in 1995 when he appeared in his own “Casper” movie, alongside Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman and Eric Idle.

5 Actress Hatcher : TERI

Teri Hatcher’s most famous role is the Susan Mayer character on the TV comedy-drama “Desperate Housewives”. I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of “Housewives” but I do know Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl, as she appeared in “Tomorrow Never Dies”. More recently, she portrayed Lois Lane on the show “Lois & Clark”.

6 “Top Chef” set piece : OVEN

“Top Chef” is a reality television show on the Bravo channel. It’s basically a cooking competition.

7 Building project for cranes? : NEST

The magnificent birds known as cranes have long legs and long necks. The species called the Sarus Crane is the world’s tallest flying bird.

9 First pro team to play on artificial turf : ASTROS

“AstroTurf” is the trademarked name of an artificial playing surface suitable for many ball sports. AstroTurf was invented in 1965 and originally went on the market as ChemGrass. The first really big application was in 1966 in the Houston Astrodome, so the name “AstroTurf” was applied and has remained ever since.

10 Samurai ritual : HARA-KIRI

“Hara-kiri” translates from Japanese as “cutting the belly”, and is a form of ritual suicide. “Hara-kiri” is the term used in speech that is equivalent to “seppuku”, the term used in writing for the same ritual suicide. The act is carried out by plunging a short blade into the belly and moving it from left to right, slicing through the organs within the abdomen.

11 Lab gelatins : AGARS

Agar (also “agar-agar”) is a jelly extracted from seaweed that has many uses. Agar is found in Japanese desserts, and can also be used as a food thickener or even as a laxative. In the world of science, it is the most common medium used for growing bacteria in Petri dishes.

13 GOOD Music record label founder : KANYE

Kanye West is a rap singer who was born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago. He also spent some time in Nanjing, China as a child, where his mother was teaching as part of an exchange program. West is married to reality star Kim Kardashian.

21 Cholesterol letters : LDL

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is one of the compounds responsible for transporting fats around the body. When LDL is combined with cholesterol it can be referred to as “bad cholesterol”. This is because LDL actually transports cholesterol into the inner walls of blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis.

24 Hajji’s destination : MECCA

Mecca is in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. It was the birthplace of Muhammad and is the holiest city in Islam. Every year several million Muslims perform the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

“Haji” (also “Hajji” and “Hadji”) is the term used for someone who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and it is sometimes also used as a form of address for such a person. The journey itself goes by the name “haj”, “hajj” or “hadj”.

33 “American Gods” author Gaiman : NEIL

“American Gods” is a 2001 fantasy novel by English author Neil Gaiman. The book has been adapted into a TV series, with the first season airing on Starz in 2017. It’s all about gods and mythological creatures in contemporary America. Not my cup of tea, although there is a leprechaun named Mad Sweeney in the mix …

36 Seasoning seed : ANISE

The essential oil in the anise plant is anethole. Anethole has a licorice-like flavor, and is used extensively in cooking and to flavor several distilled alcoholic drinks.

39 Actress Dern of “Twin Peaks” : LAURA

Actress Laura Dern is the daughter of the actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Among her many notable roles, Laura played the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the 2008 movie “Recount”, and Dr. Ellie Sattler in the 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park”.

“Twin Peaks” is an ABC TV drama about an FBI murder investigation in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The show originally ran for just two seasons, from 1990 to 1991. There followed a 1992 feature film called “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me”, and Showtime came up with “Twin Peaks: The Return” that started airing in 2017. I haven’t seen any incarnations of the show, but I hear good things …

40 Sch. with a Harrisburg campus : PSU

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) was founded in 1855 as the Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania. Penn State is listed as one of the “Public Ivies”, a public university that offers a quality of education comparable to that of the Ivy League.

The city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the state’s capital. The city was named for John Harris, Sr. who operated a ferry across the Susquehanna River that runs through Harrisburg. Harrisburg is home to the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, which is located alongside the Susquehanna, and which had a partial meltdown in 1979.

48 2.3, perhaps: Abbr. : GPA

Grade point average (GPA)

49 Slight character flaw : FOIBLE

Originally, a foible was the weak point of a sword’s blade. Over time, “foible” came to be used for a weak point in a person’s character.

50 2.3, roughly : C-PLUS

On a 4.0 GPA scale, a letter grade of C+ is equivalent to 2.3.

52 Big name in stopwatches : TIMEX

The Timex Group, a manufacturer of watches, evolved from the Waterbury Clock Company that was founded in 1854 in Waterbury, Connecticut. The company achieved tremendous success in the early sixties largely due to an innovative marketing campaign. Advertisements featured the memorable tagline “Timex – Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”. In 1962, one out of every three watches sold in the US was a Timex.

57 Spanakopita cheese : FETA

Spanakopita is a savory pastry from Greece. The term “spanakopita” translates from Greek as “spinach pie”. The pie’s filling includes feta cheese, onions and egg, along with the spinach.

62 First of a generic trio : TOM

That would be Tom, Dick and Harry.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Component of an Olympic bronze medal : ZINC
5 Off-road vehicle maker? : TONKA
10 Peddle : HAWK
14 Brand in a studio, maybe : IKEA
15 Chooser’s choice : EVENS
16 Onetime capital of the Mughal Empire : AGRA
17 Seats facing the altar : PEWS
18 Alley button : RESET
19 Genesis problem : RAIN
20 Soiree for woodchip manufacturers? : SPLINTER PARTY
23 Energized : AMPED
25 Inspection : LOOK-SEE
26 Soiree for certain divers? : PEARL JAM
30 Govt. stipend : SSI
31 Angel dust letters : PCP
32 Neural transmitter : AXON
34 Powerful 2017 hurricane : IRMA
37 Soiree for spreadsheet creators? : CELL RECEPTION
41 Solo number : ARIA
42 Gear for Lindsey Vonn : SKIS
43 Service reward : TIP
45 PETA concern : FUR
47 Soiree for fake coin makers? : SLUGFEST
50 Need for big dos : CATERER
54 Spherical extremities : POLES
55 Soiree for army enlistees? : PRIVATE AFFAIR
59 Green hue : LIME
60 Louvre Pyramid architect : IM PEI
61 Chatroom spammers : BOTS
64 Manipulates : USES
65 Really funny ones : RIOTS
66 City-circumventing road : LOOP
67 Hot message : SEXT
68 American in Paris, perhaps : EXPAT
69 One of 11 for Julia Louis-Dreyfus : EMMY

Down

1 12345, for Schenectady, NY : ZIP
2 Turner on a turntable : IKE
3 Times, at times : NEWSPAPER
4 Spirited toon? : CASPER
5 Actress Hatcher : TERI
6 “Top Chef” set piece : OVEN
7 Building project for cranes? : NEST
8 Get down to earth? : KNEEL
9 First pro team to play on artificial turf : ASTROS
10 Samurai ritual : HARA-KIRI
11 Lab gelatins : AGARS
12 Pen : WRITE
13 GOOD Music record label founder : KANYE
21 Cholesterol letters : LDL
22 Presume : POSIT
23 Common 99-cent purchase : APP
24 Hajji’s destination : MECCA
27 Potter’s creation : JAR
28 Plot lines : AXES
29 Imitates derisively : MOCKS
33 “American Gods” author Gaiman : NEIL
35 Traveler’s overnight spot : MOTEL ROOM
36 Seasoning seed : ANISE
38 Buoyant protection : LIFE VEST
39 Actress Dern of “Twin Peaks” : LAURA
40 Sch. with a Harrisburg campus : PSU
44 NBA stat : PTS
46 Hang up the spikes : RETIRE
48 2.3, perhaps: Abbr. : GPA
49 Slight character flaw : FOIBLE
50 2.3, roughly : C-PLUS
51 Come up : ARISE
52 Big name in stopwatches : TIMEX
53 Compilation album add-on : REMIX
56 Per item : A POP
57 Spanakopita cheese : FETA
58 Solidarity symbol : FIST
62 First of a generic trio : TOM
63 Expert on bugs? : SPY

22 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 7 Feb 20, Friday”

  1. 12345 is a real zip code called a “unique” by the USPS. In this case, it’s the actual zip for the General Electric offices in town.

  2. Typo in the explanation for 9D: “The first really big application was in 1996 in the Houston Astrodome” . The correct year is 1966.
    Good puzzle but I wasted time thinking Iris instead of Irma for the hurricane.

    1. @Paul. When you plot a graph, you generally have a vertical and a horizontal line and these are known as axes.
      In a spreadsheet, each little rectangle is a cell and a reception can be a big party. Take off on cell phone reception.
      (At least, these are my understandings.)
      Wayne

  3. 9:13 was my time today. Once I got the theme, it helped with some of the harder down crosses… I especially needed SPLINTER PARTY, because the middle north was really giving me trouble, especially because of the rash of “?” clues in that area.

    “Hara-kiri” is often misspelled by English speakers… I think I first learned it as “hari kari” (like the baseball announcer!) and I’ve also seen “hiri kiri.”

  4. Strangely easy for me today. No Googles, no errors. Only one I didn’t know was REMIX (age related, for old me). Even knew of Lindsey Vonn because our local girl, Erin Hamlin, was a luge winner, and in watching her, I learned about some of the other winter sports.

  5. By some quirk, this was my fastest Friday puzzle ever, probably a little north of an hour. How someone can do this in ten minutes is beyond me. I can’t do the Daily Commuter puzzle in ten minutes.

    The explanation for #1 across was confusing. If bronze is copper and tin, how is “zinc” correct? Because it’s an “Olympic” bronze medal? Isn’t the explanation saying the athletes are really getting a brass medal?

    1. Wikipedia says bronze is primarily copper and tin, but has traces of other metals, including zinc.

      But somehow this reminds of the old Lonnie Donegan song with the line “If tin whistles are made of tin, what do they make foghorns out of? Boom boom”
      From “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight”

    2. I totally agree with you about the composition of bronze and brass. So I was surprised and felt a bit ripped off to read this: https://www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018-medals

      … because it says more or less straight-up that:

      – silver medal is nearly-pure silver
      – gold medal is a silver medal with a (very heavy 6g) plating of gold
      – bronze medal is basically brass (copper + zinc)

      Disappointing really. In a way I’m glad that this puzzle brought it to light.

  6. This was a hard one for me. Got about 85% with a lot of empty squares. Oh well..such is life sometimes. Think I just lost interest about half way through.

    Jeff: Hello. I was just going to ask the group where you went. I haven’t posted in a while either so thought I’d missed your post. And where did the guy from Denver go?

  7. It went amazing fast for a Friday. Getting a theme answer early on helped . I did have 1 error. I had Cain for RAIN. …Worked for me.

  8. 17 mins 39 sec and still had close to 15 fills incomplete. The 2.3 clues were impossibly vague for me, the theme didn’t help (enough), and I wasn’t even close to being in sync with the constructor.

    So now, after two weeks of perfection, now I’ve got two days of DNF.

  9. Mostly easy Friday for me; took about 20 minutes with one error: HARAKaRI. I should have taken another look at SSa, since I kinda know that. Got the theme early and, although a bit slower than yesterday, filled in today’s fairly quickly.

    Did have to change nIlE to LIME and struggled a bit with the cross CPLUS, which was the last to fall.

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