SATURDAY, May 29, 2010—Fred Jackson III

THEME: No theme today—It's a themeless puzzle, just like every Saturday.

Well! Look at that. This is the final Saturday in May, and so concludes my run as a regular contributor to L.A. Crossword Confidential. I've enjoyed my time here, and I hope I've helped you learn how to kick crossword butt like never before. You're in great hands with the charming and delightful PuzzleGirl.

On to today's puzzle. Hmm, 4:48. Either this puzzle's harder than usual, or I'm tireder than I thought. No particular trouble spots leap out at me—I think the wheels were just turning a little slowly tonight.

Hot stuff:
  • 5A: [Movie warning] is the PG THIRTEEN rating. Odd to spell out the number, I know, but sometimes I like that in a crossword answer. (Just not in UTWO or THREED.)
  • 16A: [Unequaled] means the ONE AND ONLY.
  • 19A: Ooh, POE trivia! Edgar Allan Poe is the [Orphaned author raised by the Allans]. Did any of you read that New Yorker article some months back about Poe's messed-up life?
  • 22A: [Incomplete rainbow] is SUN DOG. Ha! Eleven days ago, we learned that a MOON DOG is a [Bright spot on a lunar halo]. I guessed SUN DOG because of that. The scientific name is parhelion, meaning "a bright spot in the sky appearing on either side of the sun, formed by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals high in the earth's atmosphere." Is that the same as an incomplete rainbow? I don't know.
  • 27A: A [Buff] is a FIEND. Yes, FIEND means an enthusiast, not just a demon. Case in point: Diary of a Crossword Fiend.
  • 58A: One famous [California shopping mecca] is RODEO DRIVE. I've never been.
  • 61A: ["It doesn't get any better than this"] clues "I'M IN HEAVEN." That was me on Tuesday, eating a Beard Papa's cream puff with fresh strawberry custard filling. Slices of perfectly sweet fresh berries in creamy custard inside a pastry shell? It was all I could do not to slide to the floor in bliss.
  • 3D: [Where one might anticipate being introduced] is in a TV show's GREEN ROOM. I was in one once, for a game show. It was crowded and the food was lame. I'm boycotting green rooms until I can present my demands in a binding contract. I want cream puffs, Diet Coke, and orange Peanut M&M's.
  • 5D: [Vernacular jackpot] is a POT O' GOLD. Don't bother looking for it at the end of a SUN DOG.
  • 33D: [Richard Simmons weight-loss program with color-coded cards] is DEAL A MEAL.
  • 34D: [At night] clues AFTER DARK. Any longtime Mac users out there remember After Dark's "Flying Toasters" screensaver?

You know what singer I really know nothing about? Laura NYRO, 14D: ["Stoned Soul Picnic" songwriter]. Here's that song, and no, it doesn't sound familiar to me. The "Flying Toasters" song, sure, I can hum that one. Don't know a single Nyro song.

Crosswordese 101: ELENA is about to get a new lease on crosswordese life. Those three vowels alternating with the most ordinary sort of consonants? Constructors love that sort of name because it can help cool words fit together. Today's clue for ELENA is "Uncle Vanya" role, but most often she's clued as actress Verdugo. Other clue choices include tennis players Dementieva or Makarova, skaters Valova or Sokolova (who??), the Spanish princess whose dad is Juan Carlos I, the last queen of Italy, or the song "Maria Elena." You're looking at that list of clues and probably having glimmers of recognition for very few of them, right? If ELENA Kagan's appointment to the Supreme Court is confirmed this summer, constructors will rejoice: At last! An ELENA solvers can reasonably be expected to know!

Everything Else — 1A: Powder holders (KEGS); 5A: Movie warning (PG THIRTEEN); 15A: Elision from Eliza ('ENRY); 16A: Unequaled (ONE AND ONLY); 17A: Times when the French fry? (ÉTÉS); 18A: Stern boss (TASKMASTER); 19A: Orphaned author raised by the Allans (POE); 20A: Winter warmer (HOT TEA); 21A: __'clock scholar (TEN O); 22A: Incomplete rainbow (SUNDOG); 24A: It may be fit for a queen (TIARA); 26A: Dry gulch (ARROYO); 27A: Buff (FIEND); 29A: Kit Carson House site (TAOS); 30A: They may come in a pack (LIES); 32A: Verbal flourishes (TA-DAS); 36A: "Here __ Again" (Whitesnake #1 hit) (I GO); 37A: Start of a religious title (DALAI); 39A: Amphibian youngster (EFT); 40A: Score markings (TEMPI); 43A: When both hands are up (NOON); 44A: Some bank holdings (DATA); 45A: Club newsletter (ORGAN); 47A: Like some kisses (STOLEN); 49A: Winter warmer (PARKA); 51A: "Let's keep moving!" ("ONWARD!"); 52A: Champagne designation (BRUT); 53A: Tangles, or disentangles (RAVELS); 57A: Year before Columbus's fourth voyage (MDI); 58A: California shopping mecca (RODEO DRIVE); 60A: Penn name (SEAN); 61A: "It doesn't get any better than this" ("I'M IN HEAVEN"); 62A: Pioneering puppeteer Tony (SARG); 63A: Alabama and Mississippi are in it (COTTON BELT); 64A: Large order (ELKS); 1D: Doesn't quit (KEEPS AT IT); 2D: Posse (ENTOURAGE); 3D: Where one might anticipate being introduced (GREEN ROOM); 4D: M.O. (SYS.); 5D: Vernacular jackpot (POT O' GOLD); 6D: No-see-um, e.g. (GNAT); 7D: Mike holder's opening, often (TEST); 8D: Cod cousin (HAKE); 9D: Cell dweller (INMATE); 10D: Dietary no. (RDA); 11D: Fiesta fare (TOSTADA); 12D: Decide to compete (ENTER); 13D: "Uncle Vanya" role (ELENA); 14D: "Stoned Soul Picnic" songwriter (NYRO); 20D: Today, in Tijuana (HOY); 23D: List of acceptable behavior (DOS); 25D: 1099-__: bank-issued tax form (INT); 27D: Record holder? (FELON); 28D: Five-time Japan Senior Open winner Aoki (ISAO); 31D: Ending for Louis (-IANA); 33D: Richard Simmons weight-loss program with color-coded cards (DEAL A MEAL); 34D: At night (AFTER DARK); 35D: Sports page feature (STANDINGS); 38D: Cheeky (INSOLENT); 41D: Sign to heed (PORTENT); 42D: Nettle (IRK); 44D: Average fellow? (DOW); 46D: Party locale (GARDEN); 48D: Shipping wts. (TNS.); 49D: Ad (PROMO); 50D: Review of books? (AUDIT); 52D: __-a-brac (BRIC); 54D: __ League (ARAB); 55D: On the qui __: alert (VIVE); 56D: Big name in jumping (EVEL); 59D: "Well, well!" ("OHO!"); 60D: 157.5 degrees from N (SSE).


Rex Parker said...

Harder than usual, yes. Hardest LAT of year for me. Still faster than today's (fast) NYT, but still, hurray! A genuine challenge. Most trouble in NE, where not seeing POT O' in POT O' GOLD made things rough — and SE, where having Average JOE and SLOPPY kisses likewise stalled me badly. A very nice puzzle overall.


Zeke said...

Just wanted to start the love/gratitude fest, and thank you Amy for all your efforts here. I don't know the extent the influence of this blog had upon returning the level of the puzzle to its past state, but I'm sure it was significant. Thank you all.

Oh - or should I say O', today was probably the first instance in puzzle history with two "O'"s in a puzzle.

Tinbeni said...

Thought it might be NOON before I finished my weekly Saturday Ink-Blot TEST.

Got the bottom fairly quickly, had Tempo then noticed it gave me ORK, so I looked for MORT, couldn't find him, this IRKed my so I made that change.
Also, when I disentangle something I call it UN-RAVEL.

NE was a slog since I have never heard of "Uncle Vanya" ELENA or the songwriter NYRO. Learning moments I will soon forget. Elena Kagan will take over this spot.

That recent lunar Moondog made the SUN DOG a measured wild ass guess.

Powder KEGS, well I prefer the other kind of kegs, and pack of LIES both got a grin.

AUDIT and 1099-INT were gimmies from my past life experiences.
DATA for bank holdings was a stretch, at best.

@Orange, I'll still see you at the FIEND.

sguiscreen said...

Since when is the DOW a fellow? (44D)
Don't get 27A Buff = fiend, 6D No-see-um, e.g., = gnat, a tiny irritating insect. Yeah, they are small but not that small. Bank holdings = data is a stretch, I agree, and Laura Nyro, underrated female singer songwriter had other hits like "Eli's Coming", "Wedding "Bell Blues",etc. Overshadowed by Carol King, Jonie Mitchell, maybe Janis Ian.

gespenst said...

I suppose it's a sign of the times when I didn't see the plural of "DO" in DOS ... I had TOS as in TERMS OF SERVICE as a list of acceptable online behaviors ;) But SUNDOG makes a heck of a lot more sense than SUNTOG, lol.

This was a bit of a slog, as befits a Saturday. I had a couple empty spots in the very middle (F--ON, DA-AI, LI-S) because I just couldn't look at them any longer ... I'd like to think I would have gotten them if I'd left the puzzle for a bit and come back, b/c I did get a lot of the others that way.

Thank you Orange, we'll miss you! Though you're right, we're in good hands with PuzzleGirl :)

Tinbeni said...

DOW or the Dow Jones Industrail Average was founded by Charles Dow in 1884.

BUFF like in "I'm a history buff" or @Orange, Amy Reynaldo is a crossword buff. After all her blog is "Diary of a Crossword FIEND"

As for the No-see-um's being GNAT, well we have a lot, I mean a whole lot of these things here in Florida. And we do call then GNATs.

My question is how 45A, Club newsletter and ORGAN?

Van55 said...

Very fine puzzle in my opinion. Just the right amount of resistance and plenty of fresh fill.

Orange, I am far from a long-timer here. I have enjoyed your write-ups thoroughly in my relatively brief time, and will miss your regular contributions to the blog.


Thank you Amy, for your devotion and interesting input to this most enjoyable blog.
Hope you keep up your FIENDing.

I agree with Van55 on this puzzle.
In the words of Goldilocks... "this one was just right".

Just returned from the Southwest National Parks trip and said over and over "I'M IN HEAVEN". Saw a few SUNDOGS and many a dry gulch (ARROYO). Wanted to see TAOS, but didn't have time. Now two days of R & R and I hit the road again... ONWARD! Still looking for that POT-O-GOLD.

Speaking of gold, I have been to RODEO DRIVE... a bit too pricey for me though.

Y'all have a safe and pleasant holiday weekend!

BTW, our President is visiting this place for Memorial Day... ABRAHAM LINCOLN NATIONAL CEMETERY in Elwood, Illinois... it's quite a touching place to visit.

Anonymous said...

My wife WANTS an explanation for 15A ENRY and 4D SYS ????

Anonymous said...

Here's a couple of possibilities for ENRY and SYS - -

Eliza's teacher was Henry Higgins. Her (Cockney?) accent drops the first H and he becomes 'enry 'iggins, a form of elision.

If MO is modus operendi, then sys could be short for system.

Randi said...

I need 45 across explained please.

dave1310 said...

Sorry you are leaving, but now you might have time to listen to Laura Nyro. In addition to the songs mentioned above, Laura wrote the first rock opera, "Eli and the Thirteenth Confession," "Walk On By" best known by Diane Warwick, "He's a Runner" recorded by BST but I don't remember if it was on an ablum or not, and a bunch of others you probably know but didn't know who wrote them. No matter how good any of the covers may have been, hearing the song performed by Laura is a thing of beauty!

shrub5 said...

This puzzle took me quite a while to finish but I did eventually get 'er done without errors. Some of my missteps along the journey: MITE for GNAT, HEATER before HOT TEA, JOE became DOW and a few others too lame to mention.

@Orange: Yes, I remember the flying toasters screensaver -- also the little scampering cat and the lawn mower man. Wes Boyd and Joan Blades were the founders of Berkeley Systems, the software co. that developed these AfterDark screensavers and many other products (e.g., the trivia game "You Don't Know Jack".) They sold the business in 1997 and went on to create MoveOn.org in response to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. They started with a petition asking Congress to "censure President Clinton and move on" as opposed to impeaching him. (wiki)

@Orange, again: I think the version of "Stoned Soul Picnic" by The 5th Dimension was more well known.
I'm glad you explained FIEND for Buff -- was thinking buff as in physically fit and thought I must have something wrong. Loved the SUN DOG and the POT O' GOLD pics. LOL!!

This was a wonderful puzzle, Fred Jackson III. Filled with fresh answers and crafty clues. Well done!

Orange said...

Have you heard of a house organ? That uses "organ" the way it's used in 45A, meaning a periodical that serves a single organization, political party, or company.

lit.doc said...

@Orange, thanks for explaining FIEND = "Buff". I was still totally in WTF mode when I got here.

Yes, very hard for me too. Enjoyed the 20A/49A "Winter warmer" feint, and the Random Roman Numeral was unusual. 44D John DOE slowed me down for quite a while.

CrazyCatLady said...

This one took me a long while. Had to put it down and pick it up a few times. The hardest part for me was in the NE with ONE AND ONLY and TASKMASTER. Got GNAT easily though. In laws lived on Hilton Head and had a serious No-ee-um problem in the summer. At least that what the MIL called 'em.

The Laura NYRO ablum, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession was a staple in dorm rooms in 1970. She was a gifted singer and writer and died way too young at 49 from ovarian cancer.
@Orange I'm sure you've heard Eli's Coming by Three Dog Night.
Had the hardest time connecting Buff to FIEND since I was thinking of the verb Buff or the hunky Buff. Liked ARROYO, POTOGOLD and SUNDOG which I remembered for a few days ago except it was MOONDOG. Thought 40A was a sports clue. D'oh. Im IN HEAVEN with a flute of chilled BRUT. RODEO DRIVE is only a good place to shop if you're into Prada or Dolce & Gabanna. It is a great place to people watch though.
Thanks Orange! Hope you'll still visit us.

KJGooster said...

Glad the rest of you thought it was tough as well. Never heard of a house organ, but knew ORGAN must be right from the crosses, so thanks for the explanation.

Orange, though I'm sure you will continue to post, your blogs (here, at least) will be missed.

Tinbeni said...

You asked if you (and Rex and PuzzleGirl) have helped me to kick some crossword butt like never before.

YES, a thousand times YES !!!

For about 35 plus years, on an "OFF & ON" basis I have done the newspaper crossword puzzles.
They were 'at best' a mild diversion.
Have to admit, I never really thought about whether a clue was "fair or too obscure" or hardly even noticed the themes.

Then I smashed my right hand last Sept. and had some time off and needed something to keep my mind busy ... and one day I thought to myself: "Hey, there has to be somewhere that has the puzzle answers before tomorrows paper."
That is how I found this site.

Now I find myself doing the NYT and sometimes printing the LAT at midnight not waiting for my paper that arrives at the late hour of 3:30 am.

I'll see you at the Diary of a Crossword Fiend.

PS Your times are amazing.
I'm lucky if I do Monday in 10 minutes.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you !!!

CrazyCatLady said...

I just wanted to quantify my statement about the Laura Nyro album being a staple in *girls' dorm rooms" in the *north east.* I doubt girls in TX were listening to LN. And most guys were listening to Led Zeppelin and such.
@Orange What @Tinbeni said.

CrazyCatLady said...

Oh just one more thing. In my third job after graduating from college, I got a job @ SUNY College @ Purchase in the office of student activities. One of my TASKs was to write up a weekly newsletter and calendar which was printed on the hated mimeograph machine. When I told my father what I did, he said "so you're in charge of the House Organ?" My response was "like Dad, that is so gross!"

Anonymous said...

I've begun just looking at your solution and copying it into the blanks. What a waste of quality time! A club newsletter is an ORGAN?? RODEO DRIVE is a shopper's Mecca??? Only if you have the income so that you can waste time figuring out these silly "puzzles". How elitist! TEMPI as a plural??? And I can find no dictionary that has ENTOURAGE as a synonym of posse! Please continue to post the answer so I can continue critiquing how inane the definitions really are!

groupie said...

@anon 11:06pm
You need an attitude adjustment but I will respond to one of your questions. The first on-line dictionary I looked at (Merriam-Webster) had entourage as definition 4 for posse. Posse is commonly used when referring to the people that surround a professional athlete and usually consist of relatives, friends, body guards, other hangers-on and the like.

Burner10 said...

I'm late to the party here - but a heartfelt thank you to Orange! Because of this blog I can actually enjoy a puzzle like this - can't quite finish, but with only three googles (sun dog, ISAO - yes I know better, and Sarg) and a few minor blanks that would have been solved with another break (p-thi-teen) I'm feeling pretty puzzLe proud - and Orange, Rex and Puzzlegirl, not to mention the fabulous cast of contributors on this site - its all your fault.
Now - to the garden.

Orange said...

Aww! Thanks for the kind words, folks.

Marilyn McCoo said...

Laura NYRO wrote "Wedding Bell Blues". In 1969 It was the first #1 hit for The Fifth Dimension.

ddbmc said...

Will definitely miss you and Rex! PG will have her work cut out for her, with all us devotees!

Thanks, Orange, for all your blogging.