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.
- 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).