1.30.2011

01.30 Sun

S U N D A Y January 30, 2011
Mel Rosen


[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]


Theme: "How to Read the Personal Ads" — Tongue-in-cheek translations of statements found in personal ads.

Theme Entries:
  • 23A: "Free spirit" means ... (I LOST EVERY JOB I EVER HAD).
  • 31A: "Enjoys long conversations" means ... (I DIDN'T PAY MY CABLE BILL).
  • 49A: "Likes home cooking" means ... (I'M TOO CHEAP TO EAT OUT).
  • 67A: "Adventurous" means ... (I HAVE BEEN TO THE ZOO ONCE).
  • 85A: "Enjoys the beach" means ... (I OWN A METAL DETECTOR).
  • 103A: "Likes to cuddle" means ... (MY APARTMENT HAS NO HEAT).
  • 112A: "Takes long walks" means ... (MY CAR'S BEEN REPOSSESSED).

Hey, puzzle peeps. This is Doug, back for another Sunday extravaganza.

This theme reminded me of "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes. That's all about personal ads, right? I haven't heard it recently (thank goodness), but I remember the general idea. Some creepy guy likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. Seems a little weird to me, but maybe that's what women liked in the '70s. I was alive during the '70s, but fortunately I was too young to realize how weird everything was.

Bullets:
  • 15A: Story morals, e.g. (TAGS). This one made no sense to me. But I checked the dictionary, and a tag can be defined as "an epithet or verbal appendage, the refrain of a song, the moral of a fable, etc." In L.A., tags are spray-painted on freeway overpasses.
  • 55A: Solfeggio syllables (FAS). "Solfeggio" is a fancy name for the musical notes do, re, mi, etc.
  • 58A: Syr. and Eg., once (UAR). Not to be confused with UAE. Actually they are pretty confusing. Try to remember that the UAR (United Arab Republic) no longer exists, so its clues will usually include "former" or "old" or "once." The UAE (United Arab Emirates) is still around and includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If you're not sure, just fill in the UA and get the last letter from the crossing entry. (On a side note, who abbreviates Egypt as Eg.?)
  • 109A: Ending for ranch (ERO) / 33D: Buck suffix (AROO). One of these should have been left out.
  • 112A: "La ___ Breve": de Falla opera (VIDA). "Livin' la Vida Breve" is one of my favorite arias.
  • 5D: Windup toy device (DETENT). It's a little gear or something. Tough word.
  • 25D: Rogers Centre team, familiarly (JAYS). The Toronto Blue Jays play in Rogers Centre, which used to be called the SkyDome.
  • 46D: "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" author (ROSSNER). Another '70s flashback. I vaguely remember this being a very scandalous movie (I was 8 when it came out), and of course I thought it had something to do with candy bars.
  • 50D: "La Boheme" waltzer (MUSETTA). I tried SUSETTE at first, which is a more normal-looking name. Does Musetta just waltz, or does she have lines too? I'm baffled.
  • 63D: Research assoc.? (DEV). Research and development or R&D.
  • 98D: "Key Largo" co-star (BACALL). I tried BOGART first. They're both awesome. "The Big Sleep" is one of my all-time favorite films.
  • 108D: Right-hook man in "Peter Pan"? (SMEE). Best clue for SMEE I can remember. If you need a SMEE refresher, check out the entry in our Crosswordese Round-up below.
OK, it's way late on Saturday night, so I'm going to wrap it up. Be sure to tune in Monday for a full helping of PuzzleGirl.

    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 20A: Airline since 1948 (EL AL).
    • 28A: Outback runner (EMU).
    • 100A: Brewery oven (OAST).
    • 4D: 2002 British Open champ (ELS).
    • 87D: River of central Germany (EDER).
    • 108D: Right-hook man in "Peter Pan"? (SMEE).
    Everything Else 1A: Like electric basses (AMPED); 6A: Chorister's cover (ROBE); 10A: One of the Wayans brothers (SHAWN); 19A: Rouen room (SALLE); 21A: Chevy model (TAHOE); 22A: Another, in Ávila (OTRA); 27A: Without delay (NOW); 29A: Have something (AIL); 30A: Sarge's boss (LOOIE); 39A: Spohr's Opus 31 and others (NONETS); 40A: Flying Clouds, e.g. (REO'S); 41A: Came to the rescue (AIDED); 42A: Fractions of a joule (ERGS); 43A: They don't skip 48-Downs (LOCS); 44A: "Otello" composer (VERDI); 46A: They may be dirt: Abbr. (RDS.); 59A: "Wassup," formally ("HELLO"); 60A: Big name in vacuums (DYSON); 61A: Word of exhortation (RAH); 62A: E-mail button (SEND); 64A: Call's partner (BECK); 66A: Writable storage media, briefly (CDR'S); 74A: Daughter of Phoebe (LETO); 75A: Seaside cottage asset (VIEW); 76A: Describe in detail (LIMN); 77A: Canon camera named for a goddess (EOS); 78A: Alley "oops" (SPLIT); 80A: Common people (PLEBS); 83A: Rented (LET); 84A: Must-take coll. course (REQ.); 91A: Slapstick prop (PIE); 92A: Cuts, say (EDITS); 93A: Big cut (GASH); 94A: Terrier of film (ASTA); 98A: Ring for breakfast (BAGEL); 101A: Sans contractual buyers (ON SPEC); 108A: Pesto or aioli (SAUCE); 110A: British ref. (OED); 111A: Compass dir. (NNE); 120A: Env. stuffer (ENCL.); 121A: "History of the World: __": Brooks film (PART I); 122A: "La __ Breve": de Falla opera (VIDA); 123A: Tropical palm (ARECA); 124A: Handy abbr. (ET AL.); 125A: Liqueur herb (ANISE); 126A: Struck (out) (EXED); 127A: Small songbirds (LARKS); 1D: Just plain silly (ASININE); 2D: Stink (MALODOR); 3D: Digging up some dirt (PLOWING); 6D: Excite (REV UP); 7D: Opry adjective (OLE); 8D: Piano or roll follower (BAR); 9D: Bridge guru Culbertson (ELY); 10D: Impassive (STOIC); 11D: "Aquí se __ español" (HABLA); 12D: Some sushi tuna (AHI); 13D: Distressed state (WOE); 14D: Ariz. neighbor (NEV.); 15D: Doughnut-shaped (TOROID); 16D: Playwright Fugard (ATHOL); 17D: Chalice's cousin (GRAIL); 18D: "Smooth Operator" singer (SADE); 24D: Paramedics, briefly (EMT'S); 26D: North Sea feeder (ELBE); 32D: Lucie's dad (DESI); 33D: Buck suffix (-AROO); 34D: "Guh-ross!" ("YECCH!"); 35D: Six-Day War figure Dayan (MOSHE); 36D: Milhouse's pal (BART); 37D: Venice Film Festival site (LIDO); 38D: Warhol "superstar" Sedgwick (EDIE); 43D: "SNL" producer Michaels (LORNE); 44D: Restaurant worker who's rarely in the restaurant (VALET); 45D: Historic period (EPOCH); 47D: One may be an item (DUO); 48D: Stop: Abbr. (STN.); 51D: Exercise portmanteau (TAE BO); 52D: Jostled (ELBOWED); 53D: Enlarge, in a way (ADD ONTO); 54D: Rookie (TYRO); 55D: Calendar col. (FRI.); 56D: "That feels go-o-o-od" ("AAH"); 57D: "Let's" evoker (SHALL WE); 65D: Kenan's TV pal (KEL); 66D: Tailed orbiter (COMET); 68D: Ore source (VEIN); 69D: Bug like a pup (NIP AT); 70D: Doesn't hold back (TELLS); 71D: Zip (ZILCH); 72D: Cedar Rapids college (COE); 73D: Litigator's letters (ESQ.); 78D: Just a taste (SIP); 79D: Luau dish (POI); 81D: Had, in the Bible (BEGAT); 82D: Hidden supply (STASH); 86D: Big opening? (MEGA-); 88D: Arcade foul (TILT); 89D: "¿Cómo __?" (ESTÁ); 90D: Hardly thoughtful (RASH); 95D: "The Faerie Queene" poet (SPENSER); 96D: New Jersey town near the George Washington Bridge (TEANECK); 97D: Substituted for (ACTED AS); 99D: Me-tooer (APER); 100D: __ about (ON OR); 101D: Till bills (ONES); 102D: "I won't sign" ("NO DEAL"); 103D: Is forbidden to, quaintly (MAYN'T); 104D: New Mexico state flower (YUCCA); 105D: Bumps into (MEETS); 106D: Banks called "Mr. Cub" (ERNIE); 107D: "Such a pity" ("SO SAD"); 113D: Mud bath venue (SPA); 114D: Block (BAN); 115D: "__ tu": 44-Across aria (ERI); 116D: Apple pioneer? (EVE); 117D: Thumbnails, nowadays (PIX); 118D: Poetic praise (ODE); 119D: Málaga Mrs. (SRA).

    15 comments:

    imsdave said...

    What a fun puzzle. I had a blast trying to suss out the theme answers with minimal crosses.

    Don't think I've ever seen MALODOR without the "ous" attached and would have liked a poker clue for TELLS.

    Check out the CrosSynergy puzzle today if you get the chance. Fine work from an excellent constructor.

    Vega said...

    IOWNAMETALDETECTOR made me laugh. This sure was a fun puzzle and I did the same thing: try to figure out the answers without crosses. I learned a few things, too (detent, areca, some other stuff), which is always good. Thumbs up!

    Vega said...

    imsdave, thanks for the heads-up about the CrosSynergy puzzle. The long downs are fantastic. I love the understatedness of 2D, "Needing more explanation." Ha!

    cognitorex said...

    Your comment is same as I thought, re: "109A: Ending for ranch (ERO) / 33D: Buck suffix (AROO). One of these should have been left out. "
    However, ranchero is a Spanish word as in ran-chair-o. If it makes any difference. thanks 4alludo.

    lit.doc said...

    Having a stupid moment here. How does 78A “Alley ‘oops’” = SPLIT? As always I expect the answer to be embarrassingly obvious in retrospect, but still…help?

    PurpleGuy said...

    How is DETENT an answer for wind up toy device ?

    I tossed the puzzle after that fell from crosses. A real slog.

    lit.doc said...

    "A catch or lever that locks the movement of one part of a mechanism."

    I imagine it refers to the ratchet and pawl mechanism that you hear clicking as you wind up, say, a pendulum clock.

    Dave in Bend, OR said...

    @lit.doc...the oops meaning mistake on a bowling lane when you throw a split....I kinda like the clue all said and done. Oh and go AFC today and Packers next week!

    Doug P said...

    @lit.doc-Thanks for the explanation of DETENT. My "little gear or something" comment wasn't very helpful, I realize.

    @IMSDave-Thanks for the plug!

    lit.doc said...

    @Dave, thanks for unjamming my brain. Hey, I used to bowl in a league, so how can be expected to get a bowling clue? Sheesh.

    Eric said...

    The theme was funny. Less funny was how close the theme answers were to each other, which made it extra hard to get crosses. But that's not what stopped me in the end, so I won't complain about it too much.

    I ended up with three little areas incomplete, and needed a Google in each one to get me going: SHAWN (the only Wayans I've ever heard of is Damon), MUSETTA (I know even less about opera than I do about sports), and ROSSNER (like @Doug I knew of the movie, but I didn't even know it had been a book).

    Then I DNF'ed anyway, on VIDA (opera again) x EVE (I was too fixated on innovative producers of apples -- either fruit or computers -- to lateral-think my way over to an eater of one. I started with MAC, thinking of how a farmer named McIntosh discovered an unknown kind of apple tree on his property, and that one sapling is the ancestor of every McIntosh apple tree in cultivation).

    I knew DETENT in a different (though related) sense, but not in the "ratchet" sense used here, so resisted that answer for quite a while. The other sense is: you know how the balance knob on some stereos has a bit of a stop at the center point, and if a modern car radio has a tuner knob, the knob often doesn't turn smoothly, but in evenly spaced clicks? Those little clicks are DETENTS. (The word sounds as though it should be related to "detain", and that would make sense, but it isn't the case. It's from détente, "a loosening". Another 70s reference, that -- remember détente -- "an easing of strained relations" -- between the USA and USSR? Who knew?)

    Who abbreviates Egypt as "Eg."? Well, the Internet for one -- ".eg" is their top-level domain. Which means the ISO does so too -- those two-letter country domains are from an ISO-standard list of two-letter country ABBRs. There's also an ISO-standard list of three-letter ABBRs. (That two-letter ones are also used in the abbreviations for currencies; the Egyptian Pound is abbreviated as EGP, and the Yen as JPY. How to parse USD and CAD should now be obvious :-) )

    MPPuzzler said...

    I found this puzzle to be much more difficult than usual - I slogged through it though. I'm really tired of AROO in puzzles, even without the ERO (almost) duplication. Tought the theme answers were clever.

    stevenharper said...

    "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" is by Rupert Holmes, not Herb Alpert. Close, but no cigar.

    Doug P said...

    Oops! Thanks, Steven. I fixed it.

    JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

    Extremely entertaining puzzle.
    Fun theme, but I have to say that a lot of the crosses did not help me to get through it without some cheating. It's been a long time since I had to peek at parts of the answer sheet and that usually discourages me from finishing, but this puzzle was so fascinating for me that I just toughed it out with a good eraser in hand. Eventually I finished... yeah, a whole day late (AFTER Monday's puzzle).

    Another reason to plod through a difficult puzzle is to get to the reward... being able to read the fun Sunday writeup of Doug.

    I too was baffled by the MUSETTA thing.

    Here's an amusing clip of the Pina Colada song that Doug mentioned (except it's Rupert Holmes, but it has the lyrics too).