THURSDAY, July 9, 2009 — Dan Naddor

Theme: "Home for Sale Ads" — Theme answers tell us what Realtors really mean.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Realtor's "lavish landscaping"? Frankly, there are __ (WEEDS EVERYWHERE).
  • 24A: Realtor's "charming"? Actually, it's __ (REALLY TINY).
  • 35A: Realtor's "expansive backyard"? Honestly, there's __ (NO POOL OR SPA).
  • 45A: Realtor's "needs TLC"? Candidly, __ (IT'S A PIG STY).
  • 53A: Realtor's "quiet setting"? Truthfully, it's __ (OUT IN THE BOONIES).
Crosswordese 101: I'm pretty sure I learned the word ANA back in the Maleska era. Today it's clued as 51A: Anecdotal collection and that pretty much says it all. I've Ne-ever heard this word used in actual conversation. But store it away; you will definitely need it again someday.

I totally forgot that I was supposed to blog last night, so I solved the puzzle really late and now I'm sitting in the parking lot at the pool while the PuzzleKids are at their swim team practice. Hoping I can get this done and posted by 10:00 Eastern — which is the deadline my co-bloggers and I have given ourselves for this little adventure. No internet connection so I'll have to throw in pictures, etc., when I get back home. Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock! Better get started!

Having both bought and sold a home and found a rental house in the last few years, I could appreciate this theme. Those Realtors can sure be spin doctors, can't they?? I have to admit I'm not crazy about the middle theme answer: NO POOL OR SPA. It just seems like that's not something a Realtor would actually "lie" about because nobody would expect to have a pool unless the ad specifically said "pool." And the "or spa" part just feels clunky to me. I wonder if this puzzle would have been better with only the four theme answers. I'm thinking yes.

As for the fill, you really don't like to see a letter string (10D: E followers (FGH)) and a Random Roman Numeral (tm) (18D: CCLI doubled (DII)) in the same puzzle. But the only other real clunkers for me were the geographic-specific clues. Having never been to California ever in my entire life, I can get some of the cities, but I have no chance with 41A: Arroyo SECO (41A: Southern California watershed). But this is the Los Angeles Times, after all, so I'm going to call that clue fair. Then there's SYMS, the "Northeast clothing chain" (61A). Is Washington, D.C., considered northeast? If so, I've lived in the northeast for 17 years and I have just a really vague and hazy idea that I've heard of SYMS before. How about you guys?

But you know what? "The 'this' in 'This just in'" is an awesome clue for NEWS ITEM (35D). Do news anchors use this phrase any more? It feels to me like something old fashioned that comedians have co-opted to signal faux seriousness. Think "Weekend Update." (Why can't I find a video of Chevy Chase saying "This just in: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead"??) I also really like the clue for ROGET — 32D: Man of many words. Who hasn't been helped out by ROGET's many words at one time or another?

  • 28A: Opposite of FF (REW). I was thinking FF as fortissimo and wanted the answer to be "PP," which, of course, is something you'll never see in any good puzzle because it's only two letters.
  • 29A: Student's buy (TEXT). There's gotta be some clever ways to clue this word these days. I would have preferred a more up-to-date clue here. Plus, I don't ever remember referring to textbooks as texts in college.
  • 31A: Toaster treat (POP TART). I successfully talked myself out of buying some just yesterday! Mmmm, Pop Tarts!
  • 50A: Homer consequence (RBI). Veerrry tricky! In this case "homer" means a home run in baseball, for which the batter's statistics will subsequently reflect a Run Batted In.
  • 8D: Florida's "Blue Monster" golf course (DORAL). PuzzleHusband would be so proud of me for getting this one off just the D. I never watched golf before I met him and now I even follow Stewart Cink on Twitter. I think that alone makes me a fan of the sport.
  • 11D: City north of Des Moines (AMES, IOWA). So I'm thinking to myself "Well, Ames is north of Des Moines and that's really pretty much all there is of any consequence north of Des Moines that's still in Iowa. Eight letters? WTF?" Ames, Iowa, of course, is the home of the Iowa State University Cyclones, who will no doubt have their asses handed to them again this year by the University of Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team.
  • 12D: Perform a shampooing step (RERINSE). Me: "Lather. Rinse. Repeat. None of those fit." I guess this is the "repeat" part.
  • 36D: __-Cat (SNO). Still thinking about Pop Tarts, I misread this clue and only wanted Kit-Kat.
  • 48D: Cartoonist Wilson (GAHAN). Ooh, should have included him up top in the clunkers section. Wilson Gahan? Gahan Wilson? Who is this person? If I had an internet connection I'd look him up right now. Oh wait, I have an iPhone. Hold on. Okay, he's an illustrator/cartoonist often compared to Chaz Addams but, according to Wikipedia, "while both men sometimes feature vampires, graveyards and other traditional horror elements in their work Addams's cartoons tended to be more gothic, reserved and old-fashioned, while Wilson's work is more contemporary, gross, and confrontational, featuring atomic mutants, subway monsters, and serial killers." I'll see if I can find something appropriately contemporary, gross, and confrontational to accompany this post.
  • 57D: Alley __ (OOP). To my mind, there's nothing prettier in sports than the alley oop.

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: English majors' degs. (BAS); 4A: Not for most teens (RATED R); 10A: Gambling game (FARO); 14A: Downed (ATE); 15A: "Same here" ("I DO TOO"); 16A: "The X-Files" extras (G-MEN); 20A: Hi-tech eye surgery (LASIK); 21A: Sound at a spa (AAH); 22A: German pronoun (SIE); 23A: Actor Morales (ESAI); 30A: Stood (ROSE); 34A: Blown away (AWED); 37A: Eisner's successor at Disney (IGER); 39A: Ad staples (SLOGANS); 40A: Speaker before Dennis (NEWT); 42A: Mass vestment (ALB); 49A: Diction problem (SLUR); 52A: Deadly snake (COBRA); 58A: Tiny time pd. (N-SEC); 59A: Barrel cleaner (RAMROD); 60A: Robertson of CNN (NIC); 62A: Recorded (ON TAPE); 63A: "Starpeace" album maker, 1985 (ONO); 1D: Loud crier (BAWLER); 2D: Relaxed (AT EASE); 3D: Go up and down (SEE-SAW); 4D: Reward seeker's concern (RISK); 5D: Gator chaser? (-ADE); 6D: Good, in Hebrew (TOV); 7D: Hot time in Paris (ÉTÉ); 9D: King or queen (ROYAL); 13D: Like two jacks (ONE-EYED); 19D: Kid's query (WHY); 24D: Deadbeats' autos, eventually (REPOS); 25D: Praise (EXTOL); 26D: Baffled (AT A LOSS); 27D: Corners (TRAPS); 29D: Preeminent (TOP); 31D: Potty opening? (PORTA-); 33D: Frequent leading man for Hepburn (TRACY); 37D: Shackled (IN IRONS); 38D: Order to a slacker (GET BUSY); 42D: White rat, e.g. (ALBINO); 43D: Entice (LURE IN); 44D: FBI undercover agent Donnie, title subject of a 1997 film (BRASCO); 46D: Put down in writing? (PAN); 47D: Opening words (INTRO); 49D: Boy (SON); 52D: UPC part (CODE); 54D: Suffix with robot (-ICS); 55D: 911 respondent (EMT); 56D: Support provider (BRA).


Denise said...

I was up earlier than usual (east coast), and did the puzzle -- and no blog! You are amazingly efficient to get this thing up at 7 a.m.!!

Thank you for the alley oops -- I knew it was a basketball thing, but not exactly what -- the actual baskets are phenomenal -- what strong, long arms and bodies!!

My sister went to college at Ames, so I generally get it easily -- but the number of squares really threw me off this time.

John said...

I grew up in NJ and never heard of SYMS.
ALLEY OOP is (was) also a comic strip.
Puzzle felt sort of eratic in the solve. Fun though.

gjelizabeth said...

The Pasadena Rose Bowl is set in the Arroyo Seco so many people see it every New Year's Day. It's also the location of some beautiful Greene and Greene Craftsman-style houses and the subject matter of many glorious early 20th-century plein air paintings.
Now that I've shown off my California savvy I have to confess that I was pronouncing 11D "AM-ESS-EE-OH-WAH" in my head and thinking that it was an unfairly obscure place until I got here.
I loved the theme.

Blackhawk said...

Great theme, nice execution, slightly challenging but not mind-bending ... and an amusing writeup by Puzzlegirl-- good job all the way around.

*David* said...

I grew up in LA and remember going to a SYMS in NY when I was a kid. It was "the" place to buy the good quality suit for discount prices.

I found the theme quite humorous and translations from realtor "speak" is appreciated. The NO POOL OR SPA is uniquely SoCal in reference, since it is de rigieur that homes especially in the suburbs have pools.

Anonymous said...

Best LA puzzle of the week thus far, though still not much of a challenge. Enjoyed seeing words like 'one-eyed' & 'albino', so the fill was fairly lively too.

Lime D. Zeze said...

FGH, AMESIOWA AND RERINSE one after the other left a bad taste in my mouth. AMESIOWA bugged me the most, though, since the clue was a city, so I was looking for a city as an answer, not a city-state. Otherwise not bad. The Realtor clues/answers were entertaining.

Orange said...

Hey, PuzzleGirl, I saw a Hawkeye sticker on the back of an SUV on my block this week. There was also a Jesus fish rather than a worshipful sticker about Iowa wrestling. Go figure.

*David*'s comment about SoCal and pools makes me wonder if Dan Naddor lives in Southern California. Maybe he'll chime in and tell us a little about himself.

mac said...

I totally agree with Blackhawk.

@PuzzleGirl: find out if there's a Syms close to you; it is especially good for PuzzleHusbands and PuzzleSons.
I saw that cartoon somewhere just recently, where did you find it?
Don't re-shampoo and re-rinse, with the current products it is not necessary. I'm sure the manufacturers would love you to use up twice as much, of course!

I worked at the European office of the Ann Arbor, Michigan company that makes Porta Potties for yachts and campers. Went to some amazing boat shows!

Matt said...

I was ATALOSS in the SW corner for the longest time, mostly thanks to not understanding "Homer consequence". I should've immediately thought of baseball, my favorite sport, but instead wondered what on earth about "The Odyssey" or "The Iliad" could be expressed in three letters. Then, once I figured it was baseball, I put "run" in first, which only led to more confusion. None of this was helped by my first answer to "Order to a slacker" being "getajob". That J made things quite difficult, and it was quickly scrapped.

I like ONEEYED, but I dislike the AMESIOWA answer next to it. Ames is in enough puzzles that it doesn't need to have its state along with it.

Oh, and having never really been to the Northeast, I somehow came up with SYMS. I think it's because there used to be one in Dallas by Love Field.

Al said...

Hey Orange, Dan did an interview on the "other" LA T. blog if you want to read it...

eileen said...

Although I had a hard time filling this puzzle I still really thought the theme was fun. I loved seeing REPOS and BRASCO in the fill. Was totally at a lost with SYMS. Overall, time well spent and, of course, I enjoyed PG's blog.

Anonymous said...

You mean to tell me that all these years, Lawrence Welk was pushing his three volume collection of anecdotes his life in music, not lisping, when at the start of every song he went
ANA one, ANA two ANA three ...?

shrub5 said...

I loved this puzzle!
LOL at potty opening? (PORTA) and all the real estate euphemisms. I initially put LASIX (a diuretic) in for hi-tech eye surgery (LASIK) which BTW fit in nicely with the insane eye doctor cartoon.
PuzzleGirl, you amaze me. This was a very entertaining and funny write-up.

jazz said...

Usually thursdays push me to my limit...was happy that this one finally yielded.

Liked RATEDR and INIRONS because the crosses didn't seem to fit anything...

anyone else never heard of FARO? Maybe I'm underexposed, but 4-letter gambling ending with 'O' is *always* KENO...

Ruth said...

Gahan Wilson has been around a long time, but he's always been awesome. Still appears in The New Yorker. Bizarre and macabre in a light-hearted way!

I thought SECO was inferrable after ARROYO without specific CA knowledge--if you know a bit of Spanish. If not, probably not.

Dan Naddor said...

Hi all. Glad most of you liked the puzzle. Yes, I live in SoCal, the land of pools and spas where everybody's a realtor, or so it seems.

To those AMESIOWA haters out there in cyberspace, I admit I didn't much like it either. But I figured out a way to stack THE PINTA/ RERINSE/ AYEAYES in that corner, plus adding an S to WHY reduced the grid by one black square and got rid of the much-despised FGH in the process. Wish I'd have stumbled on that fix sooner.

Anonymous said...

Here in SoCal we have one Arroyo Seco, but more than one arroyo seco, which translates to dry ditch, or dry stream. I love this site because not is it entertaining, but it solves the problem of waiting for tomorrows paper. I read the LAT, but for serious cheaters,the Atlanta Journal Constitution, tho, prints the answerw with the puzzle

docmoreau said...

Some clunky items for me in this puzzle. Technically, the opposite of FF is not "rewind." (could've been clued "chaucerian series": REW). "Homer consequence" would have been a run or a score. An RBI would've been clued "Homer consequence, maybe." Realtor's "lavish landscaping" should have been clued "lavish greenery." ("Landscaping" here is a lie, "greenery" is a spin.) AMESIOWA was problematic. Will we someday have to include the country of cities as well? And, every "boy" is a SON, but not all sons are boys. "Boy, often." Am I carping too much?

gjelizabeth said...

@Jazz: I think Faro is an oldish card game-of-chance and I remember the Maverick brothers/cousins playing it. I have no idea of the rules.

Rex Parker said...

Live in upstate NY and never heard of SYMS. Lived in CA until I was 21 and never heard of ARROYO SECO.

This puzzle was harder than tomorrow's (which I have already done bec. I am magic). See you tomorrow,

Hey, I live in the 21st Century Guy said...

gjelizabeth just inspired me to look up FARO, and as such am belatedly calling foul on FARO.

From Wikipedia: Faro is a card game, a descendant of Basset. It enjoyed great popularity during the 18th century, particularly in England and France, and in the 19th Century in the United States, particularly in the Old West, where it was practiced by faro dealers such as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. It has since fallen out of fashion and is practiced mostly by dedicated Old West enthusiasts and Civil War reenactors.

Seriously, FARO?

Joon said...

doc moreau, yes, you're carping too much. :)

the answer does not have to always mean the same thing as the clue; it just has to sometimes mean the same thing. "boy" and "son" are interchangeable in at least one context ("the couple has one boy"). in fact, here's definition 2 of "boy" from m-w:

2 a : a male child from birth to adulthood b : SON

an RBI is most certainly a consequence of a home run. it's not the only one, of course, but it definitely is one, so the clue is just fine.

i don't understand your FF/REW gripe at all. if rewind isn't the opposite of fast forward, ... ? i don't even know how to finish that sentence, because it clearly is. (and really, it doesn't even have to be the opposite; just an opposite.) using middle english instead--now that would be a clue that would get solvers up in arms, and deservedly so.

finally, i fail to see what's wrong with AMES, IOWA. people say things like "los angeles, california" even though everybody knows LA is in california. it's just how cities are referred to. if a city is mentioned as being somebody's home town, it'll almost always have the state with it. in fact, AMESIA would be a perfectly fine entry, too, because that's often how it would be written (modulo punctuation), although i notice nobody seems to have used it despite its juicy vowel content. i've seen ERIEPA and ENIDOK enough times; why not?

mac said...

@Joon: thank you.

I have never lived in California and I don't speak Spanish, but somehow I figured out that a watershed was dry, sec-, and took the last letter from Arroyo. I guess I lucked out.

Burner10 said...

Old news but I had fun with the puzzle and actually knew the Syms reference from my tender years in upstate NY. Faro was new to me.