Hairdo for Snooki of Jersey Shore / MON 1-31-11 / Old-time evangelist Semple McPherson / Bronze animal in New York's financial district
Monday, January 31, 2011
Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Fictional Food Folk (or, Where the Hell is Uncle Ben?) — commercial "icon"s associated with various food brands
Word of the Day: POUF (52A: Hairdo for Snooki of "Jersey Shore") —
- A woman's hairstyle popular in the 18th century, characterized by high rolled puffs.
- A part of a garment, such as a dress, that is gathered into a puff.
- A rounded ottoman.
[French, from Old French, interjection used for a fall, of imitative origin.] (answers.com)
Nifty, simple theme, though I have some mixed feelings about it. I get that they are all food "icons," but the list seems a little ragged and arbitrary. Some have titles, some don't. Some are human, some aren't ... I guess CAP'N CRUNCH is humanoid, as is JOLLY GREEN GIANT, but I'm pretty the giantness takes him out of our species, as does his vegetable composition. And lord only knows what BETTY CROCKER is, since, unlike the rest of the icons, she is iconic for her name alone, not for her picture. I mean, maybe she has a face, but I've never seen it, whereas I can picture all the other icons instantly. And where is Uncle Ben, or Toucan Sam, or Count Chocula, or Tony the Tiger, etc. If we're limiting it to humans, Tony's at least as human as that damned giant. Plus, as we've established, BETTY CROCKER could be a lizard for all any of us knows. No, wait—she appears to have had a physical, human form in days gone by. I can't find a pic of her more recent than 1986, but my cursory research does verify her (fictional) humanity. Still, I'd have kicked BETTY to the curb and replaced her with COUNT CHOCULA — he gets you a title *and* a truly iconic figure with a familiar physical form. . . but I guess the puzzle already has one "Breakfast cereal icon," so ... hmmm ...
Andrea certainly knows how to put together a Monday grid—smooth and easy all around. Well, almost all around. Something about the POUF / EDUC / BEDELIA section felt slightly chunky by contrast. I'm pretty sure it's all POUF's fault. I've heard the word, but have never seen it, in a puzzle or anywhere else. I really thought it was spelled POOF, as in "it POOFs up on top." It's a perfectly real word (I looked it up, as you can see, above), but it's a real outlier, familiarity-wise, today. Not fond of the three-O'd OOOH, but the rest of the fill seems solid. One strange feature—somehow, in that one tiny section in the east, you've got JAI crossing JAI, ANT crossing ANT, and ITS crossing ITS. A JAITS square with an "N" center. Odd. Still, all in all, a reasonably delightful two minutes and forty-five seconds.
- 17A: Pancake syrup icon (AUNT JEMIMA)
- 23A: Baking icon (BETTY CROCKER)
- 35A: Frozen vegetable icon (JOLLY GREEN GIANT)
- 47A: Spaghetti-in-a-can icon (CHEF BOYARDEE)
- 57A: Breakfast cereal icon (CAP'N CRUNCH)
- 12D: Old-time evangelist ___ Semple McPherson (AIMEE) — I know the name, but realize now that I had no idea at all why she was famous. I'm more familiar with AIMEE Mann.
- 54D: Wile E. Coyote's go-to company (ACME) — I have no problem at all with constructors being a little self-referential in their puzzles...
- 36D: ___ Linda, Calif. (Nixon's birthplace) (YORBA) — like POUF, this seems non-Mondayish to me. I think I know LOMA LINDA (I went to school near there). YORBA took some crosses. Nixon went to college at Whittier, where there was a fairly sizable earthquake my first semester of college. I was reading Wordsworth's "The Prelude" in bed, preparing for my 8:20 class, when it hit. The memory is still weirdly vivid.
- 23D: Bronze animal in New York's financial district (BULL) — had the "BU-," saw the first clue word, "Bronze," and instantly wrote in BUST.
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