THEME: Happy Birthday, CLINT EASTWOOD (53A: Born 5/31/1930, entertainer associated with the phrase formed by the starts of 20-, 31- and 41-Across) — theme answers begin with MAKE, MY, and DAY, respectively
Hello and goodbye! Today is my last day blogging the LAT puzzle. Well, probably not my last time, as I'm bound to fill in now and again, but for the most part, as of tomorrow, this baby is all PuzzleGirl's. This was a nice puzzle to go on — both because I love me some CLINT EASTWOOD movies (esp. the westerns and the Dirty Harrys) and because I set a new personal best time: 2:32. Total insanity. Needless to say, I had no idea what was going on with the theme until I was done, but I imagine that was the case for a lot of people today. Until you hit the reveal, you don't have much to go on. Theme answers are somewhat blah (there have GOT to be many more interesting phrases that start with those simple, simple words) and the grid shape is ultra-conventional (i.e. tiny 4x4 or 3x5 sections all around the edges, with very few non-theme answers longer than 6 letters), but at least the long Downs are good — TALK SHOP and FRUIT CAKE. Also, if you mentally add a "P" onto the end of SLA (30A: 1970s radical grp.), you can create the phrase SLAP THAT BOOTY! (reading top to ... bottom) in the far east. Cool.
- 20A: Rise from the ashes, so to speak (MAKE A COMEBACK)
- 31A: "Pygmalion" on Broadway ("MY FAIR LADY")
- 41A: Tourist who doesn't stay overnight (DAYTRIPPER) — how does that *not* get a Beatles clue?
[saw Cheap Trick in concert in NYC in 2001 ... still Soooo good]
My parents live very close to CLINT EASTWOOD. Practically down the street. I keep hoping I'll see him around when I visit, but it hasn't happened yet. EASTWOOD is a big music buff (and his daughter a budding young singer) — I think he was one of the producers of a recent collection of Johnny Mercer songs. I know I saw a special about it, possibly on PBS? TCM, actually, I think. It was entertaining.
Crosswordese 101: AETNA (9A: Big name in insurance) — mmm, 60% vowels. Benefits both from that "AE" opener and that "TN" combo. Not lots of short words do that, and the ones that do, you see (AER, AERIE, AEGIS! — 21D: Protection). I always hesitate a bit on a five-letter insurance clue starting with "A" — you gotta look out for AFLAC. That damn duck will sneak up on you.
And with that, I'm out of here. With respect to servicemen and -women everywhere, and with gratitude to you all, who have helped us turn this into an 8,000 visitors/day site in just a year. I hope the site has proven useful and entertaining. I know it is in good hands. See you when I see you. And good luck, PG.
And one last thing: Pontiac used to make a FIERO. I feel certain that you'll need to know this, for some crossword, somewhere down the line... Also, I just wanted to post this picture I've been hanging onto for Months.
All the best,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
One very last thing: reader just tipped me to the existence of this poll re: syndicated puzzles. Apparently some N.O. Times-Picayune readers think the LAT too hard, or snooty, or whatever. I dare you to try one of the (terrible) alternatives they have in mind. And then vote to keep the LAT (whether you live in NOLA or not — someone's gotta stand up for craftsmanship).
Everything Else — 1A: Buck in the forest (STAG); 5A: Mil. three-stripers (SGTS.); 9A: Big name in insurance (AETNA); 14A: Wahine's dance (HULA); 15A: In __ of: replacing (LIEU); 16A: Sink outlet (DRAIN); 17A: Slightly (A BIT); 18A: Slightly open (AJAR); 19A: Fictional chocolatier Wonka (WILLY); 20A: Rise from the ashes, so to speak (MAKE A COMEBACK); 23A: Employ (USE); 24A: Laboriously earns, with "out" (EKES); 25A: Gets the lead out? (ERASES); 28A: Two sizes above sm. (LGE.); 29A: When the Kol Nidre is recited, vis-‡-vis Yom Kippur (EVE); 30A: 1970s radical gp. (SLA); 31A: "Pygmalion" on Broadway (MY FAIR LADY); 36A: Not this (THAT); 37A: Breath mint brand (CERTS); 38A: Yalie (ELI); 39A: Pirate's spoils (BOOTY); 40A: Sticky stuff on a stick (GLUE); 41A: Tourist who doesn't stay overnight (DAY-TRIPPER); 43A: Prefix with center (EPI-); 44A: "Blues Brother" Aykroyd (DAN); 45A: Connections that help you get ahead (INS); 46A: Think highly of (ESTEEM); 48A: Clue weapon (ROPE); 50A: "The Silence of the Lambs" org. (FBI); 53A: Born 5/31/1930, entertainer associated with the phrase formed by the starts of 20-, 31- and 41-Across (CLINT EASTWOOD); 56A: Easy __ (AS ABC); 58A: Golden rule word (UNTO); 59A: Green Gables girl (ANNE); 60A: Tea grade (PEKOE); 61A: Complaint (BEEF); 62A: October 15th, e.g. (IDES); 63A: Prepares 60-Across (BREWS); 64A: Low man on the feudal totem pole (SERF); 65A: Ultimate (LAST); 1D: SeaWorld star (SHAMU); 2D: Oompah brass (TUBAS); 3D: More than similar (ALIKE); 4D: Garden portal (GATE); 5D: Goof-off (SLACKER); 6D: Military action doll (GI JOE); 7D: Sides in a game (TEAMS); 8D: Certain (SURE); 9D: Online pop-up source (ADWARE); 10D: Soap vamp __ Kane (ERICA); 11D: Discusses business (TALKS SHOP); 12D: Zero (NIL); 13D: One or another (ANY); 21D: Protection (AEGIS); 22D: Quail group (BEVY); 26D: Really delight (ELATE); 27D: Lecherous woodland deity (SATYR); 28D: Tardy (LATE); 29D: Blue-pencil (EDIT); 31D: "Me and Bobby __" (MCGEE); 32D: Pound sounds (YELPS); 33D: "Nutty" individual (FRUITCAKE); 34D: Taboo for Mrs. Sprat (LEAN); 35D: Prince __ Khan (ALY); 36D: Blouses and shirts (TOPS); 39D: I.Q. test name (BINET); 41D: Rhett's last word (DAMN); 42D: Swipes (RIPS OFF); 44D: Prepares for a winter takeoff, as plane wings (DEICES); 47D: Jab with a bone (ELBOW); 48D: Actress Zellweger (RENEE); 49D: Western movie (OATER); 50D: Henry, Peter or Jane (FONDA); 51D: Forensic TV drama (BONES); 52D: That is, in Latin (ID EST); 54D: Beat-up boats (TUBS); 55D: Cry like a banshee (WAIL); 56D: Police broadcast, briefly (APB); 57D: Rev.'s speech (SER.).