17. Horror film setting: VACANT HOUSE. I'm not a maven of this genre, but it seems like an appropriately scary choice.
24. Rural "Out of the office" sign: GONE FISHING. Alternatively, in slang, oblivious or unconcerned about the realities of daily life. Also, this:
37. Ammo for a starter pistol: BLANK CARTRIDGES. Contains gunpowder, but no bullet or shot. When fired, the blank makes a flash and an explosive sound (report), the wadding is propelled from the barrel of the gun, and the firearm's action cycles. [Wikipedia]
48. One whose "chicks" have flown?: EMPTY NESTER. Parents in the house, after the children are grown and gone. Tough transition for many. Our kids are approaching that point in life.
59. Explanation for an evolutionary transition: MISSING LINK. Presumed gap in the evolutionary fossil record. Most scientists find the term to be cringe-worthy.
Hi gang, JzB NOT absent today, and here to lead the way through - well - nothing, really. The irony is that, with 5 entries, a theme built around absence is so full of thematic richness. Let's see if we can poke holes in the rest of the puzzle.
1. Bullpen hero: CLOSER. The pitcher who is usually brought in for the 9th inning of a game when his team has a small lead he is supposed to protect.
7. Technical opening?: PYRO. PYRO-technical refers to fireworks displays or a brilliant performance of some specific skill. Fireworks and affix clues generally leave me cold.
11. Juan or Jose lead-in: SAN. City names. SAN Jose is the capital of Costa Rica. SAN Juan is a town in Trinidad and Tobago, located in the San Juan-Laventille Region in Saint George County.
14. Mom's sis: AUNTIE. My Mom's twin sis is still alive and will be 97 in a few days.
15. Semi warning: HORN. Beep-beep.
16. Asian menu general: TSO.
19. Physicist with a law: OHM. His law states that the current through a conductor is equal to the voltage divided by the resistance: I = V/R. R is a constant property of the conducting item, and the current flow depends on the applied voltage.
20. Bird feeder cake: SUET. White animal fat. The fat is white. The color of the animal doesn't matter.
21. Common math base: TEN. The base is the number of symbols [numerals or letters] that a counting system uses to represent numbers. In base TEN, these symbols are the digits 0 through 9.
22. Ocean dots: ISLES. Dots represent small islands on maps.
27. Acting twins Mary-Kate and Ashley: OLSENS. Former child actresses, born in 1986, they shared the roll of Michelle Tanner on the TV series FULL HOUSE. They have had several other acting projects, and are now fabulously wealthy fashion designers.
30. Feel some pain: ACHE. Day-after-yard-work syndrome.
31. Send forth: ISSUE. Emit.
32. Hotshot: ACE. High-level performer. What you want your CLOSER to be.
33. Easy gait: LOPE. A long, bounding stride.
41. Zingers: MOTS. Short for Bon MOT, which is French for "good word," said of a witticism or biting retort.
42. Vote, say: OPT. Make a choice from among a range of options. Also from French, and ultimately Latin optare, choose or wish.
43. Title Kazakh in a 2006 spoof: BORAT. More low humor.
44. Big heads?: EGOS. In psychoanalysis, the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. More loosely, a person's sense of self esteem and importance. In context, an overweening self-importance.
46. Revolver?: PLANET. Each PLANET in the solar system rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun.
52. Color separator: PRISM. This video, just under 6 minutes, gets pretty deep into the weeds. I suspect Gary, at least, will like it.
53. __ Gang: OUR. Kids comedy team from back in the day. There are lots of long vids on YouTube, if you want to go down that rabbit hole. Here's a short excerpt. Evidently the piano was over-dubbed later, so this 7-yr-old did a really good job of staying in tune on this great old song.
54. Minimally: A BIT. Not too much off the top. It's thin there.
58. Many times, in poems: OFT. Because "frequently" is hard to work into the metric scheme.
63. Pointillism unit: DOT. A neo-impressionist painiting technique that uses tiny dots of pure color that become blended in the viewer's eye. Interesting counter-point [so to speak] to the prism we encountered not so very long ago.
64. Stirring solo: ARIA. An operatic song, not mixing alone in the kitchen.
65. Rio Grande city: EL PASO. In far west Texas, across from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
66. George Strait's "All My __ Live in Texas": EXS. As long as we're in Texas, why not. George Strait is one of the few country singers I can tolerate for more than about 12 seconds. Here's a link.
67. Watch over: TEND.
68. Bird hangouts: ROOSTS. Birds' resting spots. They usually sit upright on roosts. Bats, however, will hang. Just sayin' . . .
1. LeBron et al., briefly: CAVS. LeBron James and his team mates on the Cleveland Cavaliers professional basketball team.
2. Waikiki party: LUAU. A traditional Hawaiian party or feast that is usually accompanied by entertainment. It may feature food such as poi, Kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, haupia and beer, and entertainment such as traditional Hawaiian music and hula. [Wikkipedia]
3. Back in the day: ONCE. Frex, when the OUR GANG kids were kids.
4. Saves, for a 1-Across: STAT. If the lead is 3 runs or fewer in the expected final inning of a baseball game when the CLOSER enters, it's a save situation. If he then shuts down the inning without the opposing team either tying or going ahead, his team wins, and the save is recorded. Otherwise, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
5. Strauss' "__ Heldenleben": EIN. "A Hero's Life," an 1898 tone poem by Richard Strauss. In it's entrirety, it lasts ca. 50 minutes. Here is a short low brass excerpt - and, oh, boy, are these guys good!
6. 1984 Olympics gymnastics standout: RETTON. Mary Lou [b 1968] won a gold medal, along with 2 silver and 2 bronze, back in the day.
7. LG product: PHONE. LG Electronics Inc. is a South Korean multinational electronics company headquartered in Yeouido-dong, Seoul, South Korea, and is part of the LG Group, employing 82,000 people working in 119 local subsidiaries worldwide. [Wikipedia]
8. "That's so __!": YOU. Said of clothing or a situation that seems to suit a person perfectly.
9. $200 Monopoly props.: RRS. The Rail Road properties.
10. Vague lunch date time: ONE-ISH. Approximately 1:00 pm. Hold a spot for me.
11. Skyy alternative, familiarly: STOLI. Vodkas. Skyy, now available in at least 17 flavors, is owned by the Campari Group of italy. Stolichnaya [for long] comes form the former Soviet Union. Ownership is disputed between a Russian state owned company and a private company owned by a Russian billionaire.
Now vodka is fine in its place;
in martinis, though, never a trace!
It’s swilled on the docks,
Can be used to clean clocks,
The gearwork, the hands and the face.
12. Looking drained: ASHEN. Pale from shock, fear or illness.
13. Chinese menu promise: NO MSG. MonoSodium Glutmate, a flavor enhancer.
18. Coop residents: HENS. Not sure if they are allowed to occupy the ROOSTS.
23. Jim's role on "The Big Bang Theory": SHELDON.
24. Best Buy "Squad" member: GEEK. Computer experts.
25. It's true: FACT. Something that is indisputably correct - though you can always find somebody who will dispute it. Cf, Flat Earth Society.
26. One piping frosting: ICER. Cake decorator.
27. Kon-Tiki Museum city: OSLO. The museum presents a broad selection of Thor Heyerdahl's life work.
28. Hurdle for atty. wannabes: LSAT. Law School Admission Test.
29. Stereotypical Western-ending backdrops: SUNSETS.
31. Watson's company: IBM. Watson is a computer designed to answer questions asked in natural language.
32. National Gallery attraction: ART. The Gallery is an ART museum located on the National Mall in Washington D. C.
34. Meanie: OGRE. A mythical man-eating giant, or, figuratively a mean-spirited boss, or bully.
35. Fuel used in some whisky production: PEAT. An earthy material made of partly decomposed vegetation. It's used in Scotland for whisky production. Anywhere else?
36. Md. winter hours: EST. Eastern Standard Time.
38. Masked critter: COON. The raccoon is the largest animal of the procyonid family,
39. Holy recess: APSE. Usually the semi-circular or polygonal shaped end of a church, where the altar is located.
40. Building girder: I-BAR. A metal structural beam shaped like the letter I. this shape maximizes stability in all dimensions.
45. Floor exercise surface: GYM MAT.
46. Spitting sound: PTUI. Erm . . .
47. "My Fair Lady" lyricist: LERNER. Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe also collaborated on Camelot, Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon.
48. Lyric poem: EPODE. A form written in couplets, with alternating long and short lines. Another meaning is the third and final part of an ode, following the strophe and the antistrophe Last time out, I had EPOS, and didn't know that, either.
49. "Fantastic" Dahl character: MR. FOX. Eponym for the 1970 novel, and then 2009 movie. A rare story, in which a predator is the hero, and the farmers and their live stock are the enemy.
50. Pulitzer-winning columnist Leonard: PITTS. His home paper is the Miami Herald. He won his Pulitzer in 2004.
51. "Alas!": SO SAD. [sigh]
54. Lunch for Spot, maybe: ALPO. A dog, and his dinner.
55. Fairness obstacle: BIAS. A skewed point of view that enables interpreting new information as confirmation of existing beliefs, even when it isn't.
56. Brookings, e.g.: Abbr.: INSTitution, a century-old American research group on Think Tank Row in Washington, D.C. It conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and global economy and development. [Wikipedia]
57. Boxing stats: TKO's. Technical Knock Out. A decision by the referee or ring physician that the boxing match cannot safely continue.
60. Fury: IRE. Anger.
61. Ignore a Commandment: SIN. A transgression of divine law.
62. Day-__: GLO. An American paint and pigment company, and it's registered trademark for luminescent decorative products.
That wraps up another Wednesday, in a bright and colorful manner. Here's the filled-in grid, then I really am outa-here.