LA Times Crossword 19 May 21, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Adam Wagner
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Shell Games

Themed answers each start and finish with circled letters that spell out GAMES:

  • 65A Sleights-of-hand with cups, or a hint to this puzzle’s circles : SHELL GAMES
  • 17A Kiefer Sutherland and Ashley Olsen each has one : TWIN SISTER (Twister)
  • 23A Window washing aids : CHERRY PICKERS (Checkers)
  • 40A Memorable “Twilight Zone” feature : OPENING NARRATION (Operation)
  • 50A Pressure that won’t quit : CHRONIC STRESS (Chess)

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

Bill’s time: 7m 56s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 Scenery chewers : HAMS

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

To chew the scenery is to overact, to ham it up.

17 Kiefer Sutherland and Ashley Olsen each has one : TWIN SISTER (Twister)

Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland is perhaps best known for playing the lead role of Jack Bauer on the hit TV drama “24”. Kiefer was actually born in London, where his acting parents Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas were living at the time.

I know very little about the Olsen twins, but I am told that many folks believe Mary-Kate and Ashley to be identical twins. They look very much alike, but are in fact fraternal twins. The sisters were cast as Michelle Tanner on the eighties sitcom “Full House”, taking turns playing the role.

Twister is a game requiring a lot of physical dexterity and flexibility. It involves players placing specific hands and feet onto colored pads on a mat, as directed by a spinning arrow on a board. Sales of the game got a great boost in 1966, when Eva Gabor played Twister with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show”.

18 Tiny cake, maybe : EMOJI

An emoji is a character found on many cell phones that is much like an emoticon, but is more elaborate. “Emoji” is a Japanese word meaning “picture word”.

19 Movers but not shakers, ideally : VANS

The vehicle we call a “van” takes its name from “caravan”, and is a shortened version of the older term. Back in the 1600s, a caravan was a covered cart. We still use the word “caravan” in Ireland to describe what we call a “mobile home” or “recreational vehicle” here in the US.

20 “Blade Runner” genre : NEO-NOIR

A neo-noir film is a contemporary film that incorporates elements of the film noir style of the forties and fifties.

“Blade Runner” is a cult classic, a sci-fi film made in 1982 loosely based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. It was directed by Ridley Scott who regards “Blade Runner” as his most “complete” film. There is a phenomenon known as the “‘Blade Runner’ Curse”. An inordinate number of companies behind products that were displayed prominently in the movie found themselves in financial trouble soon after the movie’s release. Included in the list of troubled concerns are Atari, Cuisinart, Pan Am and the Bell System.

23 Window washing aids : CHERRY PICKERS (Checkers)

A cherry picker is a mobile crane in which the operator stands at the end of the boom. It is also known as a bucket truck, or more formally, an aerial work platform. Believe it or not, cherry pickers were actually invented to make the process of picking cherries more efficient.

“Checkers” is yet another word that I had to learn moving across the Atlantic. In Ireland, the game is called “draughts”.

26 Advanced sci. class : AP CHEM

The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers college-level courses to kids who are still in high school (HS). After being tested at the end of an AP course, successful students receive credits that count towards a college degree.

30 Confucian path : TAO

The name of the Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Taoism signifies the true nature of the world.

The sayings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (anglicized from “K’ung Fu-Tse”) are collected in a work called “The Analects” or “Linyu”. It wasn’t Confucius who wrote down his thoughts though, but rather his pupils, some 40 or so years after his death in 479 BC.

31 Three-sided pastry : SAMOSA

A samosa is quite a tasty appetizer. It is usually a triangular-shaped savory that often has a vegetarian filling. The word “samosa” is primarily used on Indian menus, and the name comes from “sanbosag”, the name for the dish in Persia.

40 Memorable “Twilight Zone” feature : OPENING NARRATION (Operation)

The iconic television series “The Twilight Zone” first aired in 1959 and then ran for 156 episodes before being pulled in 1964. “The Twilight Zone” was revived for four years in the late eighties, and was also spun-off into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1983.

The game called Operation was invented by John Spinello and was first produced in 1965 by Milton Bradley. The game is based on the old electric wire loop game where players had to guide a loop along a winding wire without touching it. Touching the wires completed a circuit causing a buzzer to go off and/or a light to come on.

44 Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence,” e.g. : SEXTET

Tchaikovsky named his string sextet “Souvenir de Florence” because he came up with one of the work’s main themes while he was staying in Florence. The work is scored for two violins, two violas and two cellos.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was one of Russia’s most celebrated composers of the romantic period. Tchaikovsky was helped in his career by Russian businesswoman Nadezhda von Meck, who served as his patroness for 13 years. Famously, von Meck provided financial support so that he could devote himself to composition, but on condition that Tchaikovsky was never to meet her. The pair never did meet, but they did exchange over 1,200 letters.

45 CPR pro : EMT

An emergency medical technician (EMT) might administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

46 “Illmatic” rapper : NAS

Rapper Nas used to go by an earlier stage name “Nasty Nas”, and before that by his real name “Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones”. Nas released his first album “Illmatic” in 1994, and inventively titled his fifth studio album “Stillmatic”, released in 2001.

48 ’90s White House Press Secretary Myers who wrote “Why Women Should Rule the World” : DEE DEE

Dee Dee Myers was a very capable White House Press Secretary in the Clinton administration, and was the first woman to hold that post. After leaving the White House, Myers acted as a consultant on the TV show “The West Wing”, and I am sure helped add that touch of authenticity to a great television program.

50 Pressure that won’t quit : CHRONIC STRESS (Chess)

It is believed that the game of chess originated in northwest India. It evolved from a 6th-century game called “chaturanga”, a Sanskrit word meaning “four divisions”. These four (military) divisions were represented in the game:

  • Infantry (now “pawns”)
  • Cavalry (now “knights”)
  • Elephants (now “bishops”)
  • Chariots (now “rooks”)

57 Camping gear brand : REI

REI is a sporting goods store, with the initialism standing for Recreational Equipment Inc. REI was founded in Seattle by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 as a cooperative that supplies quality climbing gear to outdoor enthusiasts. The first full-time employee hired by the Andersons was Jim Whittaker, who was the first American to climb Mount Everest.

58 Internal airway : TRACHEA

In the human body, the windpipe (trachea) divides into the left and right bronchi, which enter the lungs. Inflammation of the bronchi can cause the airways to contract and narrow, leading to the condition known as asthma.

63 Canvas-angling device : EASEL

The word “easel” comes from an old Dutch word meaning “donkey”, would you believe? The idea is that an easel carries its load (an oil painting, say) just as a donkey would be made to carry a load.

65 Sleights-of-hand with cups, or a hint to this puzzle’s circles : SHELL GAMES

A shell game (also “thimblerig”) is a gambling game, at least at first sight. It is usually a confidence trick. Typically, a small ball is placed under three face-down containers on a flat surface. The containers are shuffled around, and a player wins if he or she can “follow the ball” and correctly guess which container has that ball. In an illegal street game say, the operator will often use sleight of hand to fool the players. The alternative name “thimblerig” comes from the fact that the con was originally played out using sewing thimbles.

67 Big name in labels : AVERY

Avery Dennison Corporation was founded as Kum Kleen Products in 1935, by R. Stanton Avery. Kum Kleen Products were the first manufacturers of self-adhesive labels.

69 Actress Sedgwick : KYRA

Actress Kyra Sedgwick is perhaps best known for playing Deputy Chief Johnson, the lead character on the crime drama show “The Closer”. Sedgwick married fellow actor Kevin Bacon in 1988. Sedgwick appeared on a family history show, and discovered that she and her husband are cousins, albeit tenth cousins once removed. I bet that was a surprise …

70 Headphone jack letters : AUX

On a computer, for example, headphones might be plugged into an auxiliary input connector (often marked “AUX”).

71 U. of Md. team : TERPS

The sports teams of the University of Maryland are called the Maryland Terrapins, or “the Terps” for short. The name dates back to 1932 when it was coined by the university’s president at the time, Curley Byrd. He took the name from the diamondback terrapins that are native to the Chesapeake Bay.

Down

1 1970s-’80s sketch show : SCTV

“Second City Television” (SCTV) is a sketch show that was produced in Canada from 1976 to 1984. SCTV was very successful with audiences all over North America, and in effect launched the careers of several comedy greats. The list of SCTV alumni includes John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Harold Ramis and Martin Short.

2 “SNL” parody Baba __ : WAWA

Barbara Walters was originally quite upset at the caricature of her performed by Saturday Night Live star, Gilda Radner. She took offense at Radner exaggerating her speech impediment, which of course led to the name “Baba Wawa” being used for “Barbara Walters”. However, when she saw that her own daughter found the skit to be hilarious, Barbara decided that she needed to lighten up.

4 Good sort : MENSCH

“Mensch” is a word that comes to us via Yiddish, and is ultimately derived from the German “mensch” meaning “human being”. We use the term to describe someone of integrity and honor.

5 Mac rivals : PCS

The original IBM Personal Computer is model number 5150, which was introduced to the world on August 12, 1981. The term “personal computer” was already in use, but the success of the IBM 5150 led to the term “PC” being used for all computer products compatible with the IBM platform.

7 Fur tycoon : ASTOR

John Jacob Astor was the patriarch of the famous American Astor dynasty. He was the country’s first multi-millionaire, making his fortune in the trade of fur, real estate and opium. In today’s terms, it has been calculated that by the time of his death he has accumulated a fortune big enough to make him the fourth wealthiest man in American history (in the company of the likes of Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller).

10 Photoshop maker : ADOBE

Adobe Systems is a San Jose-based enterprise that is best known for developing Photoshop image editing software and the Portable Document Format (PDF). The company was founded in 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke, in Warnock’s garage. The Adobe Creek ran behind that garage, and the founders borrowed the name of the waterway for the company’s moniker.

Photoshop is a wonderful piece of software used for editing graphics. When I first bought a copy of Photoshop, it was really expensive (about $300 in 1995), but now there are cost-effective, stripped-down versions available. Also, the full version of Photoshop is now only available as a monthly subscription service.

21 King Richard __ : III

Richard III of England was king for just over two years, from 1483 until his death in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Famously, Richard’s body was discovered in 2012 under a parking lot in Leiceister, a town that is close to the site of the battle. His remains were reinterred in 2015, in Leicester Cathedral.

25 Sheepshank, e.g. : KNOT

A sheepshank is a knot used to shorten a rope, without the need to use the ends of said rope. The sheepshank was more helpful in days past. More recently, the knot is prone to slip due to the smoothness of synthetic rope.

28 Like Oberlin College since the 1830s : COED

Oberlin College was established way back in 1833 as Oberlin Collegiate Institute. It was named for J. F. Oberlin, a pastor from Alsace in France who also loaned his name to the Ohio city of Oberlin that grew up around the college. Oberlin was the first school in the US to permanently open its doors to women, doing to so in 1837.

32 Dosage amts. : MGS

Milligram (mg)

34 Doo-wop horn : SAX

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.

41 Billionth: Pref. : NANO-

The prefix “nano-” is used for units of one thousand-millionth part. “Nano-” comes from the Greek “nanos” meaning “dwarf”.

47 Dubbing title : SIR

Kneel, and a monarch might “dub thee a knight” if you’re lucky. “Dub” is a specific term derived from Old English that was used to mean “make a knight”. As the knight was also given a knightly name at the same time, “dub” has come to mean “give someone a name”.

53 Mama of music : CASS

Cass Elliot (born “Ellen Cohen”) was one of the four singers in the Mamas and the Papas, a sensational group from the sixties. “Mama Cass” was performing sold-out concerts in London in 1974 when she was found dead one morning, having had a heart attack. She was only 32 years old. Eerily, Elliot died in the same flat (on loan from Harry Nilsson) in which the Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die just four years later.

54 Sound that starts “around” : SCHWA

A schwa is an unstressed and toneless vowel found in a number of languages including English. Examples from our language are the “a” in “about”, the “e” in “taken” and the “i” in pencil.

55 Brexit target org. : THE EU

The UK held a referendum in June 2016 in which 52% of voters chose to leave the European Union (EU). The term “Brexit” was used for the vote, a portmanteau of “Britain” and “exit”. The vote led to some debate about the future of the UK. The Scottish electorate voted for the UK to stay in the EU, and so that revived speculation about Scotland leaving the UK. There is also some discussion about Northern Ireland’s future in the UK, as the Northern Irish electorate also voted to stay in the EU.

60 Don Juan’s love : AMOR

Don Juan is a flighty character who has been featured by a number of authors, poets and composers, including Molière, Byron, and Mozart. In the underlying legend, Don Juan ends up talking to the statue of the dead father of one of his conquests. Don Juan dines with the ghost of the dead man and when shaking the hand of the ghost he is dragged away to hell. We now use the term “Don Juan” to describe any womanizer or ladies’ man.

62 Former Mach 2 fliers, briefly : SSTS

Supersonic transport (SST)

The Mach number of a moving object (like say an airplane) is its speed relative to the speed of sound. A plane travelling at Mach 2, for example, is moving at twice the speed of sound. The term “Mach” takes its name from the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach who published a groundbreaking paper in 1877 that even predicted the “sonic boom”.

64 Part of BCE : ERA

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Overwhelm : SWAMP
6 Perfectly : PAT
9 Scenery chewers : HAMS
13 “End of discussion” : CASE CLOSED
16 “Bike faster!” : PEDAL!
17 Kiefer Sutherland and Ashley Olsen each has one : TWIN SISTER (Twister)
18 Tiny cake, maybe : EMOJI
19 Movers but not shakers, ideally : VANS
20 “Blade Runner” genre : NEO-NOIR
22 Go quickly : BOP
23 Window washing aids : CHERRY PICKERS (Checkers)
26 Advanced sci. class : AP CHEM
29 It carries a charge : ION
30 Confucian path : TAO
31 Three-sided pastry : SAMOSA
36 Plenty o’ : LOTSA
40 Memorable “Twilight Zone” feature : OPENING NARRATION (Operation)
43 Upset with : MAD AT
44 Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence,” e.g. : SEXTET
45 CPR pro : EMT
46 “Illmatic” rapper : NAS
48 ’90s White House Press Secretary Myers who wrote “Why Women Should Rule the World” : DEE DEE
50 Pressure that won’t quit : CHRONIC STRESS (Chess)
57 Camping gear brand : REI
58 Internal airway : TRACHEA
59 Works on roofs, say : TARS
63 Canvas-angling device : EASEL
65 Sleights-of-hand with cups, or a hint to this puzzle’s circles : SHELL GAMES
67 Big name in labels : AVERY
68 Go through the wringer : SWEAT IT OUT
69 Actress Sedgwick : KYRA
70 Headphone jack letters : AUX
71 U. of Md. team : TERPS

Down

1 1970s-’80s sketch show : SCTV
2 “SNL” parody Baba __ : WAWA
3 Words that clarify spelling : AS IN
4 Good sort : MENSCH
5 Mac rivals : PCS
6 Baffling question : POSER
7 Fur tycoon : ASTOR
8 Super small : TEENY
9 Clothes line : HEM
10 Photoshop maker : ADOBE
11 Serious : MAJOR
12 Loses one’s footing : SLIPS
14 Football offense position : LINEMAN
15 Little bit : DROP
16 Prepares, in a way, as coffee : PERCOLATES
21 King Richard __ : III
24 With pause : HESITANTLY
25 Sheepshank, e.g. : KNOT
26 Elemental unit : ATOM
27 Dad : PAPA
28 Like Oberlin College since the 1830s : COED
32 Dosage amts. : MGS
33 Gender-neutral pronoun : ONE
34 Doo-wop horn : SAX
35 Works on walls : ART
37 Like a 25-Down : TIED
38 Vague amount : SOME
39 Chip in a pot, maybe : ANTE
41 Billionth: Pref. : NANO-
42 Remedied a distribution error : REDEALT
47 Dubbing title : SIR
49 Will focus : ESTATE
50 Loose floorboard sound : CREAK
51 Like anvils : HEAVY
52 Early __ : RISER
53 Mama of music : CASS
54 Sound that starts “around” : SCHWA
55 Brexit target org. : THE EU
56 Stretch out, maybe : RELAX
60 Don Juan’s love : AMOR
61 Do another stint : RE-UP
62 Former Mach 2 fliers, briefly : SSTS
64 Part of BCE : ERA
66 “Scram!” : GIT!

19 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 19 May 21, Wednesday”

  1. No errors, no lookups, but learned some new terms; i.e. neo-noir
    and samosa. Did some guesses and got lucky.

  2. 38:26 no errors…IMO 18 & 22A are horrible clues…all in all it felt like a Friday puzzle to me👎
    Stay safe😀

  3. Twister, checkers and chess are not shell games or gambling games. They are simply board games.
    And what the H is the meaning of BOP as an answer. You guys go into fantastic explanation for answers that I usually understand but never just a quick definition. Not a history lesson. Bop, to me, has to do with music! Or “I’ll bop you up side yo head!” So explain that one.

    1. Twister and the rest are not shell games but each game forms a shell around the answer.
      OPE ning nar RATION

      Gotta agree on BOP. Seems there was another puzzle within the last week where BOP IN was the answer to something like Unexpectedly stop by

  4. @Anne

    One of the slang meanings/usages of bop:

    verb (used without object), bopped, bop·ping.
    Slang. to move, go, or proceed (often followed by on down):
    Let’s bop on down to the party.

      1. Thanks Nonny. I thought perhaps it was a West Coast usage. I remember hearing and using it when I was younger and more apt be into slang or, for that matter, into bopping anywhere.

  5. 10:51

    Playful theme that helped.

    Samosas are delicious! Order some, next time you get Indian food.

  6. 12 minutes, 33 seconds, no errors, although I had no end to problems penetrating all the “cute” that was jammed into this overwrought grid.

    The depths to which the constructors will go for these tortured themes and poorly-edited clues is astounding. The whole lot of ’em need to be replaced in favor of new blood, INCLUDING the asleep-at-the-wheel “editor”.

  7. Re 28D–Salem College was founded in 1772 in the Moravian Settlement
    of Old Salem in North Carolina, for the education of women…well before Oberlin…is the first college to educate women.
    Ann L.

  8. Fully agree with the BOP and “shell games” complaints. I would also add the misleading addition of “offensive” to the clue to 14D. A lineman also can be on the defensive side.

  9. 6:45, no errors. Couple of lags but nothing that couldn’t be solved easily.

    More interesting is last Monday’s BEQ. That one took me 1:41ish of actual clock time (the 1 being hours) with 3 errors and finally finished it last night. Don’t know what it was precisely (probably a lot of unfamiliar pop culture, but some very imprecise clues too), but struck me as particularly hard. Still haven’t even got to Tuesday’s Croce…

    1. @Glenn …

      I agree that the BEQ was unusually difficult. I finished in 39:49, with two one-square errors that I should have been able to fix quite easily, but the puzzle had worn me out to the point of neglecting the final check. Tuesday’s Croce (58:47, no errors) was easier than usual, I thought, but a couple of missteps in the lower right held me up for several minutes.

      And, today’s LAT: 11:25, no errors.

    1. @Michael D …

      The Wikipedia entry for “Saxophone” has this to say: “The saxophone is also used as a solo and melody instrument or as a member of a horn section in some styles of rock and roll and popular music.” I think the clue is defensible.

  10. Tough Wednesday. Didn’t know SAMOSA was a pastry.. never heard of NEO NOIR .. let alone Blade Runner being one of them..

    Didn’t quite get the “Shell” part of the GAME other than they were split apart. Is that the Shell?

  11. Nice quick, mostly easy, Wednesday; took 13:12 online with no errors or peeks. I could see cherry turnover wasn’t going to fit, so I went with the savory SAMOSA – also quite delicious. Had to avail myself of the theme in the S and SE, to get past SCHWA and SWEAT…

    At least for one day….SF Giants #1 in all of MLB!!

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