MONDAY, May 31, 2010 — Donna S. Levin

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.

Theme answers:
  • 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.).


Tinbeni said...

Rex thanks for the learning moments.

I like the grid. Liked it when we had it on Saturday.

GI JOE crossing SGTS three stripes made for a great Memorial Day start.

Was watching on TCM, A Fistful of Dollars, as I did this CLINT EASTWOOD 80th Birthday tribute puzzle. DAMN, he got old as I aged.

Liked SLACKER showing up. My current profession.

Anonymous said...

Bye Bye Rex & Thanks...Crossword grid is wrong...

Rex Parker said...

HA ha. Memorial Day Fool's!?

I fixed the grid.

Sfingi said...

Banshee's lonely "croon," but no room. I had "howL" before WAIL. Banshees are all different, not unlike cats. There might be YELPS.

For some reason, I thought entertainer meant stand-up comedian, and slowed myself down.

I have no interest in CLINTEASTWOOD except to know the answer to the question, "What about this Sondra Locke thing?"

Tinbeni said...

Rex this was just a FUN Donna S. Levin puzzle.
You had to give us something to BEEF about before you made the fix. LOL

Had a FIERO when they first came out. Worst auto ever. Four engine replacements (all covered by Pontiac, but ...) so during my 30 months of ownership, it was in the shop for about 10. Olds had the right engine block but would not sell them to their GM brother, but competing brand.
Replaced with a MR-2 Supercharge Mid Engine that I kept for 8 years. A total pocket-rocket.

STAG and then SATYR crossing BOOTY, there's a message in there somewhere

ddbmc said...

Rex, sorry that you're leaving us! It's been real. We can always count on you for for your "Simon Cowl" moments-no BS, truth, sometimes harsh, but always accurate. I assume you'll still be doing your other blogs?

Liked me some Clint Eastwood. Considering today is Memorial Day- his birthday. He did some great movies (Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima)enlightening us on the the perils of war, opening our eyes and paying tribute to our war vets. The war ended just as my dad was about to be sent to the Pacific Theater, but my uncles all went-and thankfully came back. My brother in law flew over 700 sorties in Vietnam and lived to tell about it. Some of his friends were not so lucky.

The puzzle was a Monday. I whipped through it (for me). Sorry to hear there are complainers that think the LA Times x-word is too hard. I like a struggle and it has lead me to work at the NYT puzzles-something I c/wouldn't have done a year ago. The blog has been a wonderful source of learning & entertainment. So, just like Simon has left Idol, Rex will leave this blog. Farewell. Come back and visit.

mac said...

Yes Rex, thanks and auf Wiedersehen!
Nice puzzle, and good to celebrate Clint's birthday.

Enjoy your Memorial Day, everybody. We're in NYC, so no barbecue, although I suspect there are plenty of them on the roofs!

ddbmc said...

Oops. That would be "Cowell"....my bad.

C said...

Thanks, Rex for the writing and blogging on the LAT puzzle. Good to hear a constructor perspective on puzzles.

On topic, puzzle was OK today, it is Monday after all.

Eric said...

IDES crossing IDEST? Holy Latin substring, Batman! :-) I like it.

lit.doc said...

See you back at Rexville! And thanks for that link to that Reality Imitates Stereotypes discussion re the LAT puzzles. OMG! If the complainers are such good effing puzzlers, how is it they apparently don't subscribe to Peter Gordon, the NYT, or (try to) do BEQ's puzzles? I've gotten lots better this past year and a half, and I still look forward to having the LAT to practice on .

KJGooster said...

As a 1989 HS grad, that Fiero is right in my wheelhouse.

Thanks, Rex. See you in NYT syndication-land.

shrub5 said...

Hard to believe Clint is 80! Time flies... Just finished reading his bio on wiki -- whew, he must need to keep working to support all his past wives and other relationships plus many children, though most of those are probably adult by now. Very talented man with diverse interests.

I always like Donna Levin puzzles. This one was a little more meaty than the average Monday. I had MAKE A NEW START before GI JOE started the correction to MAKE A COMEBACK. Also thought of TUGS before TUBS for beat-up boats. RIPS OFF and SLACKER were fresh entries and I LOL'd at "Nutty" individual: FRUITCAKE.

@RP: I'm sad about your decision to leave this blog but have recently bought a NYT puzzle subscription so I'll check in with you there now and then. Thanks for all the time you spent here, your teaching efforts and sharing your funny personal stories.

When you say there are 8000 visitors on the blog, can you tell if they are unique? I know I check in a couple of times a day, sometimes more if I've asked a question.

chefbea said...

Good Monday puzzle. Thanks Rex for being here. See you on the NYT blog and good luck Puzzle Girl

CrazyCat said...

Adieu Rex and thanks for sharing your crossword insight and fun write ups with us. Liked the good bye musical extravaganza. Hope you have time to still be a commenter occasionally.

Seeing FRUITCAKE in a puzzle made MY day.

Fun, easy Monday puzzle with a nice Memorial Day theme.

Rex Parker said...

Now that I look at it, "Absolute Unique Visitors" stat puts us closer to 7000/day, it's true.

Tinbeni said...

Where is the link @Lit.doc mentioned re: Reality Imitates Stereotypes discussion of the LAT puzzles?

Just curious, how many "Absolute Unique Visitors" re: Your RP does the NYT?

I wish more of the visitors who drop by would comment and add to the discussion.

And it should be noted, when I found this site I could do the LAT Mon-Thur. on a regular basis, Fri. Sat. were mostly DNF's. The thought of doing the NYT was not a rational thing to consider.

Now, and I credit You, Orange & Puzzlegirl for this, I rarely have a LAT DNF, maybe every thrid or fourth SAT. And do the NYT, though the Fri. & Sat. DNF's are about 50/50.

Rex, Thank you for the insight.

CrazyCat said...

@Tinbeni There's a link in the paragraph between Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Everything Else which takes you to the NOLA.com LAT crossword poll. At least that's what I think @Lit.doc's talking about. Not really sure.

PurpleGuy said...

My only nitpick is that a group of quail is a COVEY, not a BEVY.
Otherwise an enjoyable puzzle.

It's been fun,Rex. See you over at the NYT blog.

Rex Parker said...

Traffic at "RP" is much higher. But I've been at it somewhat longer.

Off to do tomorrow's LAT (I still have my secret access ... for now).


lit.doc said...

@CCL, you are correct.

Sfingi said...

@Class - I believe the word "unique" cannot be modified.

@Tinbeni - Agree. We need to catch up to the NYTCW blog. Any suggestions?

lit.doc said...

@Sfingi, for my part, I print out and copy the early-week LATs for students I see working the low-grade CW from the low-grade daily paper.

There's a pretty sizable subculture of weekday solvers at my high school, but they don't realize what a crappy puzzle they're struggling with.

Every semester, I rescue a few from the matrix, and then tell about this blog. Maybe I need to organize a Lunch-Time Crossword Club.

MsLindyLu said...

I found your site trying to figure out where to vote at NOLA.com. I will vote early and often (in the LA way) for the LAT. I have really missed it!